THE WEEKLY BLAB
Volume 9, Issue 36– June 3, 2015
Things Have Been So Busy Lately…
I always think that once graduation is over, things will quiet down and I’ll be able to catch up with all the stuff that’s accumulated over the course of the semester. Each year, that becomes less and less true. Yes, some things go away, but new things take their place. Things have been extremely busy the past three weeks, keeping me from generating a new issue of the BLAB. At least that’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.
My first SUNY Canton Commencement (the college’s 107th) was on Saturday, May 9. I can’t believe that it has been almost a month since then. The day began with a College Council Meeting at 8:00 AM, which went well. Commencement was at 10:30 AM, and since it is the single commencement for the year, it was very large indeed—more than 1100 students having completed either a certificate, an associates degree, or a bachelors degree; more than 400 students walking; and more than 1500 parents and family members present.
The large numbers meant that every seat was filled, all the bleachers were filled, and some folks had to stand around the sides of the field house where the ceremony was held. What’s more, since so many people were trying to come onto campus at once, those coming from the direction of Ogdensburg (requiring a left turn onto campus) were backed up on Route 68 quite a ways, since there was pretty much constant traffic turning right onto campus coming from everywhere else. Needless to say, all the closer parking spots were quickly taken, and lots of folks had to park further off. Our campus police did an outstanding job, and shuttles were available to bring in folks from the farther off lots.
The ceremony itself was very nice, albeit long. It began with an outstanding rendition of the National Anthem by student Noelle Murray, and a welcome from Ron O’Neill, the Chair of the College Council. Three faculty, Jill Martin (English), Pamela Quinn (Dental Hygiene), and Stephen Frempong (Electrical Engineering Technology) had won Chancellor’s Awards and gave brief speeches, as did Dan Gagliardi (Mathematics), the winner of the Distinguished Faculty Award. The top bachelors degree student (Alyssa Baker, CET) and the top associates degree student (Christopher Dwyer, EET) gave talks, as did the President of Student Government (Melissa Cummings). The Northstar Award was given by students to Johanna Lee, the college’s Director of Tutoring Services. The keynote speech was given by former congressman William “Bill” Owens, who was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in recognition of his advocacy for the North Country and his devoted support of SUNY Canton.
The students then lined up by school, marching across the stage to receive their degrees, shake hands, and get their pictures taken. As you might expect, there was lots of cheering and excitement. After some closing remarks, the ceremony was over. Refreshments were served in the ice arena, and I spoke to a few reporters who had come to cover the graduation. A few minutes later, it was back to the field house for the Nurses’ Pinning Ceremony, which also drew a huge crowd—more than 100 nurses graduating, with lots of family in attendance.
I drove home to pick up Jill and Mark, and then drove down to DeKalb Junction, where one of the graduates, Pierre Nzuah, was having a party. Pierre is an exemplary student who came from a very poor family in a village in Cameroon, came to Canton, participated in everything that could be participated in at the college, and graduated as a Chancellor’s Award winning student. Pierre is back in Cameroon now, and will be starting graduate school at Clarkson in the Fall. The party was great, complete with lots of African and North Country food, and lots of wonderful company.
All in all, it was quite a day!
And Then…Recognition Day!
The following week it was time for the end of semester meetings. These included meetings of advisory boards, an Executive Cabinet meeting, a Strategic Planning Committee Meeting, a meeting of a search committee, a meeting with the Village Board, and many others. Wednesday (May 13) also featured the Student Affairs Division Barbeque.
Friday (May 15) was my first Recognition Day, an annual event where faculty and staff who have served the college for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years are honored, as are retirees and Emeritus faculty and staff. The President’s Meritorious Service Awards are also presented at Recognition Day, and were won by Kathy Limoges (secretary in the School of Business and Liberal Arts Deans Office) and Randy Sieminski (Director of Athletics). Between the various awards, several “name that tune” competitions were held between faculty and staff, featuring tunes that would have been popular in the year they started working at SUNY Canton. The final round was between Ron O’Neill (representing the staff) and me (representing the faculty). Recognition Day was a really upbeat time and lots of fun.
On Wednesday, May 13, the College had a Farewell Reception for David Gerlach, our Vice President for Advancement, who will be leaving SUNY Canton after 30 years to become the President of Lincoln College in Illinois. The Reception was packed with people wishing Dave well, including former college President Earl MacArthur, during whose administration Dave both graduated and was first hired. Later that evening, a dinner was held for Dave and his wife Lisa, during which Randy Sieminski presented a powerpoint “roast” featuring some of Dave’s greater (and more dubious) moments on campus. Thanks for a great 30 years, Dave, and we only wish you the best at Lincoln!
Off to Boston and then Albany
On Saturday (May 16), the family and I hopped in the car and took off for Boston for my cousin Danielle’s Bat-Mitzvah. Going to Boston from Canton is a real pleasure, because the ride is so beautiful. After driving on US 11 to Rouses Point (a small village north of Plattsburgh) through some nice North Country scenery, you cross into Vermont on a scenic bridge at the north end of Lake Champlain.
You can pick up I-89 soon thereafter, but I usually go through the Lake Champlain Islands on US 2 instead, since it is only about 20 minutes longer that way and the route is so scenic, with nice lake views on both sides of the road. Picking up I-89 a bit north of Burlington, it’s very pretty mountain scenery all the way through Vermont and northern New Hampshire. We checked into our hotel in Nashua, NH, and after resting for an hour, took off for Newton, MA where the Bat Mitzvah was held.
Danielle is the younger child of my 1st cousin Ifat Bejerano, who is in turn the oldest child of my Aunt Dina (whose proper name is Alexandrina—wow!), my mother’s youngest sister. My Aunt Dina and Uncle Ze’ev had come over from Israel for the event, and my sister Drorit had joined us, flying up from Houston. Danielle did an outstanding job at the ceremony and with her speech. The party afterwards was great too.
L-R: Yaniv Bejerano (father), Stav (brother), Danielle, and Ifat (mother)
On Sunday, we went to Ifat’s house for a family brunch, and then got back on the highway, driving to Albany. After dropping me off at my hotel for the upcoming SUNY Presidents Meeting, the rest of the family drove back to Canton.
On Monday, I met with Senator Patti Ritchie to discuss things going on at the College. It was a beautiful day in Albany, so after the meeting I took a tour of the State Capitol building (which I had never done before—it’s well worth seeing).
Flag used to wrap President Lincoln’s casket on his funeral train–on exhibit at the State Capitol.
I then took a walk up to the main park, where there’s a cool statue of Moses and a lot of tulips were in bloom. After enjoying the park and sunshine for a while, I ambled down to Lark Street for a (you guessed it!) Indian buffet for lunch. I spent most of the rest of the day doing paperwork on my computer in the hotel room.
Tuesday began with an early morning meeting with Assemblymember Addie Russell to discuss what we’re doing at the college, followed by a quick hop down to SUNY central for the Presidents Meeting. Most of the meeting was focused on how we can increase graduation rates and attract more students to SUNY, to try to meet the Chancellor’s goal of increasing the number of graduates to 150,000 per year. After the main meeting, the “new” presidents then met for an afternoon session on how the New York and SUNY budget process works, which was very enlightening. SUNY Potsdam President Kristen Esterberg was kind enough to give me a ride to the airport (I had no car—the family had taken it back to Canton on Sunday, remember?), and I caught the 6:15 flight to Ogdensburg, with my father picking me up there to come home. Whew—talk about exhausted!
Back on campus on Wednesday, it was time for more meetings on various topics. Memorial Day weekend came up quickly, and I was able to enjoy a little downtime, unpacking boxes in the garage each day. The garage is still about 60% full of unpacked items, which I hope to finally finish off unpacking over the summer.
Off to Boston Again!
Believe it or not, on Tuesday morning, it was back into the car and back to Boston again, this time to attend the NAFSA conference on attracting and serving international students. We went via the same route as before, enjoying nice weather the whole way. We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Natick, MA (about 15 miles out of Boston) because the hotels in Boston are fantastically expensive, and this particular Hampton Inn is both quite nice and located conveniently to everything. I took commuter rail into Boston the next day—there’s a station in West Natick, about 2 miles from the hotel, and the trains run pretty much hourly into South Station, a short 10 minute walk from the conference.
The conference began in the afternoon with a plenary session. As it finished and I was walking out, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Diane Rigos and Cynthia McGowan, two chemistry faculty from Merrimack College who I had hired, back in the days when I was Chair of the Chemistry Department there. I was wonderful to see them and catch up a little, and I was then off to a reception and dinner for presidents and provosts attending the conference. I took the train back to West Natick for the night.
L-R: Cynthia McGowan, me, and Diane Rigos at the NAFSA Conference
Thursday, it was back into Boston for the Presidents’ Day events at NAFSA. The talks were quite interesting, and there exhibits for study abroad from pretty much every country around the world. After finishing with the talks and exhibits, I took the train back to West Natick, picked up Jill and Mark, and drove to Harvard MA (not where the University is—the town of Harvard is in the north-central part of the state) to visit some old friends from back when we lived in Manchester NH. It was wonderful seeing John McGarry, his wife Nancy, and most of their children that evening—they’re among the nicest people I know, and I’ve had some of the most interesting conversations I’ve ever been involved in with John over the years. All the children are grown up now, with the youngest son (Andrew) engaged to be married this September.
After returning to West Natick for the night, we left for home on Friday, stopping in Worcester to visit Jill’s parent’s graves to pay our respects. We then went to That’s Entertainment, a comic book store I’ve done business with since I was in college, and then had lunch. We left Worcester at about 1:00, and going through Albany and the Adirondacks, got back to Canton at about 8:00.
And Wrapping Things Up…
This week began with a mini-retreat to discuss how graduation had gone, and how we might make it a bit shorter. This was followed by a Strategic Panning Committee meeting, where we focuses on outcomes metrics that should line up with our required SUNY Excels metrics. Tuesday began with a Deans Cabinet Meeting, and included a preparatory meeting for our upcoming Alumni Weekend events.
Last Week’s Trivia Contest
Last week’s trivia contest dealt with May, but not necessarily the month. Our winner was Christina Lesyk. Others getting all five right included Bill Prigge and my sister, Drorit Szafran. Here are the correct answers:
- What April Showers bring. May Flowers.
- Spider-man’s elderly aunt (first and last name, please). May Parker.
- Ship that the Pilgrims sailed on.
- When one of the spouses is old and the other is much younger. May-December marriage.
- Billy Joel song that includes the lines: “I may be crazy, But it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for, Turn out the light, Don’t try to save me. You May Be Right.
This Week’s Trivia Challenge
Staying with last time’s theme, this week’s challenge deals with June, but not necessarily the month. As usual, the first with the most takes the prize. No looking up the answers now! SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO email@example.com since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!
- Someone who gets married during the most popular month for weddings.
- Johnny Cash’s second wife.
- A type of beetle, also a song by the B-52’s.
- The mother’s name on “Leave it to Beaver”.
- Actress who played Timmy’s mom on “Lassie”, she was also the mom on “Lost in Space”.