THE WEEKLY BLAB
Volume 10, Issue 10–October 27, 2015
Back to Back
This is the time of year that everything gets backed up. No one wants to schedule anything around Thanksgiving, and Christmas comes soon after that. As a result, the end of October and the beginning of November are the weeks when everything happens all at once, and it’s a struggle to get it all to fit in. Fortunately, I have the intrepid Michaela Young working with me to make it all happen as smoothly as humanly possible, and she does a fantastic job.
There’s been a lot going on. On Tuesday, October 13, we had the Fall Career Fair on our campus. As usual, it was so large, it needed two spaces to hold it—in the Campus Center, and in the Automotive Lab in Neveldine. I dropped in at both locations, and the businesses visiting were all happy to be there and all wanted to hire our graduates. It’s always great to hear from companies that have hired our students because that’s the true mark of success—have the students been well prepared for their chosen avocations? The universal answer I get when I talk to our visitors is “Yes—your graduates are great. You need to produce more of them, because we ant to hire more.” Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to make the Fair happen.
Speaking of graduates, that evening, I had dinner with Ken Stanton (Class of ’97). Ken graduated with a degree in Engineering Science and went on to Clarkson for his B.S. in Engineering and to Virginia Polytechnic Institute for his Ph.D. in Engineering Education. He has helped design some cool engines, taught at Colorado State, and now runs his own business out there. When I asked Ken what he attributed his success to, he answered “the foundation I got at SUNY Canton”—a response I hear all the time from our alumni. I spoke to Ken about our proposed Mechatronics Engineering program, and also talked about how he might be part of it in the future.
On October 14th, we tried something new—instead of the wine and cheese receptions we had been doing the past few years, we switched to P3—Pizza with the president, provost, and presiding officer of the faculty. We tried to keep what P3 stood for secret for a while, but by the time we held it, everyone knew. We had a decent turnout of about 15, and had a chance to enjoy each other’s company, eat some good pizza, and then discuss some issues of concern (such as the need for expanded facilities for GMMD and for Physics; that the Automotive program would like to expand, but is maxed out in its facilities; and that some faculty though we need a break between the start of classes and Thanksgiving). On the latter topic, hey—we had a discussion and vote on that last year, with the majority deciding to leave things as they were. There is a way to keep the week-long Thanksgiving and still have a short spring break by starting two days earlier. If folks want to take that one up again, we can certainly look at it.
After the P3, I went home to get Jill and Mark and we came back to campus to participate in the Diverse Discussion “Integration & Culture Shock”. It was a pleasure to talk with many of our international students and to hear how well they were reacting to our American ways, and if they felt welcomed on campus. They all commented on how friendly they found our campus environment to be, and how this friendliness (in some cases) contradicted the stereotype they had back home that Americans were standoffish. We talked about what they missed from home and what they liked over here, and told stories about strange occurrences we had all encountered when traveling. Jill and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and are looking to more opportunities to interact with our international students
On Thursday night (October 15), I went to SUNY Potsdam for the St. Lawrence County Democratic Dinner. As a state employee, I can only attend political events as president if I’m comped, which I was. It was nice to see several friends there, including Tony Collins (president of Clarkson) and June O’Neill (Chair of SUNY Potsdam’s College Council and wife of Ron O’Neill, our own College Council Chair). The event was very interesting, and both SUNY Canton and Clarkson got a few shout-outs during the remarks. A few weeks ago, I was sorry to miss the St. Lawrence County Republican Dinner due to a schedule conflict, but I hope to attend next year.
I had to leave the dinner a little early, because the next morning, I had to come back to SUNY Potsdam again for Chemtoberfest, an annual celebration of chemistry they put on for middle, and high school students. I gave a short talk on sources of color in inorganic chemistry, but had to modify it from my original plans because I thought that the audience was going to be mostly high school students who had taken high school chemistry, but it turned out to be mostly middle school students and high schoolers who hadn’t taken chem yet. Still, I had a good time, and it was wonderful to see so many students who were interested in chemistry.
Later on the 16th, I hopped in the car for the drive to Saratoga Springs, where the annual Association of Council Members & College Trustees (ACT) conference was being held at the Gideon Putnam resort, a really beautiful place. The conference mainly focused on how college presidents, college councils, and college foundations can work effectively together. The panel discussions and presentations (including one on “Stand Up with SUNY” from the Chancellor and one on diversity from Board of Trustees Chair H. Carl McCall) were quite interesting and useful. I spoke on a panel about the hiring process for college presidents (representing new presidents going through the process, of course). On the 17th, there was no scheduled dinner, so several of us went downtown to a jazz bistro, where the food and music were both great.
Leaving Saratoga on Sunday morning (the 18th), I headed into Albany and had lunch at my favorite Indian restaurant. I drove to the airport, parked the car, and managed to get on an earlier flight to Philadelphia and then to Indianapolis, arriving at about 10PM. I headed downtown the next morning, to meet up with David Penepent for the final visit with the accreditation commission for our Funeral Services Administration program. I flew out of Indianapolis at 2PM, changing planes in Philadelphia and arriving in Albany at 7PM. I hopped in the car and drove home to Canton, on nearly empty roads once I entered the Adirondacks. It was a beautiful and clear night, and I got home at about 11PM. Whew!
On Tuesday the 20th, we had a meeting with architects on the first stage of redoing Dana Hall. This stage will consist of changing the building envelope, i.e., the walls, windows, and entryways. The architects proposed several possible types of materials and some schematics. We told them which ones we preferred, and asked that they lay out three potential designs, so that we can share them and get some input from the campus community.
On Wednesday, it was in an out day in Albany for the North Country Regional Economic Development Council’s report to the Governor’s taskforce. I took the 7:30 AM flight from Ogdensburg to Albany, grabbed a taxi, and went to Empire State Plaza, where the presentations were made. Our region’s presentation was at 11AM, and Tony Collins and Garry Douglas did a fine job of making the North Country’s case. After hobnobbing a little with folks from the taskforce and from the Research Foundation, I grabbed a taxi and headed back to the airport to catch my 2:20 flight. Going through security, the agent told me they would have to check my stomach and my right knee. After running his hands over me there and being told all was OK, I headed to the conveyor belt to pick up my shoes when a woman came over to me laughing, and asked “can I rub your stomach too?” I told her “yes, if you think it will bring you some luck!”
That evening, I had the pleasure of attending the latest installment of our Living Writers Series, featuring Rahul Mehta. Rahul read a portion of a short story from his book Quarantine, which is a book of stories exploring the emotions and conflicts associated with being an Indian-American gay man—having cosmopolitan views and trying to reconcile them with a conservative culture. The reading was engaging, as were his responses to the various questions raised by the audience. Phil LaMarche does a great job with this series. If you haven’t attended one yet, you’ve been missing out.
The Big Event—St. Lawrence International Film Festival
Of course, the big event for the past few days has been the inaugural year of the St. Lawrence International Film Festival. SUNY Canton is one of the cosponsors of the Festival, with many from the college volunteering their time, presenting talks, submitting films, and lots of other such things.
The Festival began Thursday afternoon, with Canton folks meeting at Josie’s for a pizza buffet and to get on buses to Ottawa, Canada, where the opening gala was being held. It’s less than a two-hour ride, including crossing the border, and having left at about 3PM, we were in Ottawa a little after 5PM. On the way up, I sat next to Amanda Homi, a singer who specializes in world music, who will be performing at the Festival’s finale on Sunday. We had a nice time talking about various types of music, and she was kind enough to give me a copy of her CD (“Till I Reach Bombay”), more about which below.
The gala was being held at the Canadian Museum of History, a beautiful location with great views of Ottawa’s Parliament Hill.
After a little time for drinks and hors d’oeuvres, in came special guest celebrity Dan Aykroyd, who was interviewed, posed for pictures, and mingled with the guests.
We then went into a larger social room for more drinks and mingling, and then into the theatre for a screening of the 35th anniversary cut of the movie “The Blues Brothers”. The movie was preceded by an interview with Aykroyd, which was very interesting. Among lots of other things, he revealed that his favorite character to play was the father in the Coneheads. I hadn’t seen the movie in about 10 years, so I’d forgotten some parts of it, and got to enjoy them as if it were the first time.
The audience had a great time, and after the movie, we were all invited to another location in the museum for some snacks and a blues concert. Dan Aykroyd sat in on a few numbers, proving he still has his chops. The party broke up at about 11:45, and after boarding our buses home, we got back to Canton at about 2:00 AM.
I had to wake up early on Friday, because I was giving the welcome at the open house. We had an excellent crowd of prospective students (especially for a Friday). Our admissions folks did their usual excellent job in welcoming the parents and students, as did the many faculty and student participants. After doing some paperwork, I joined Doug Scheidt to get some lunch from Curry-Q, a NYC based West-Indian cooking company, whose owner’s son is a member of our Delta Omega Epsilon fraternity, who were sponsoring the lunch as a fund-raiser. The food was excellent and I hope they saved me any left-overs! I then went down to the American Theatre to catch Sean O’Brien’s talk on James Bond and Empire, which was very enlightening.
That evening, SUNY Canton hosted the Film Festival’s Block Party, which lasted from 6PM to about 10PM. The party was held at TAUNY’s (the Traditional Arts of Upstate New York) location on Main Street, and the food, music, and fun were all fabulous. The main entertainment was provided by uprooted, a bluegrass band made up of Lenore VanderZee, Rosemary Phillips (both from SUNY Canton), Camilla Ammirati, and C.J. Jahnke, who started with cool versions of both Canada’s and the US’s national anthems.
Uprooted took up again and played a nice range of bluegrass music. The food, provided by SUNY Canton’s food service, earned raves from everyone—excellent sausage and peppers, pulled chicken, chili, and macaroni, not to mention a wide range of deserts including fabulous maple flavored cannoli! Everything was just about perfect, with about 300 people coming by and having a good time.
As a film festival, there were lots of cool movie premieres and showings each day. Saturday also featured the annual Canton Phantoms in the Park Halloween parade and party. It was lots of fun seeing just about every child in Canton dressed up in a cute Halloween costume and marching through town collecting candy.
Sunday began with the Film Festival’s awards brunch at the Best Western Hotel. We got there a little late and every seat was taken, but the folks were nice enough to bring us a few extra chairs to sit in the back and enjoy the food and proceedings. In the afternoon, we headed over to SUNY Potsdam for the short film “For the Love of Mambo”, followed by a live performance by Mambo Legends Orchestra leaders John ‘Dandy’ Rodriguez, Mitch Frohman and Jose Madera, each who spent over 25 years working with Tito Puente. The music was absolutely great!
The Festival concluded with a great closing night party sponsored by SUNY Potsdam.
The St. Lawrence International Film Festival was just great, and I can’t say enough good things about Adam Paul, who organized the Festival and did so many things to pull it together. I’m really looking forward to next year’s edition. If you didn’t come, you missed plenty—make plans now to attend the 2nd Annual Festival next year.
Last Week’s Trivia Contest
Last week’s challenge dealt with College Team nicknames. The winners? There weren’t any. What happened folks? Here are the correct answers:
- SUNY Canton Kangaroos.
- Syracuse University Orange.
- University of Alabama Crimson Tide.
- Duke University Blue Devils.
- Yale University Elis or Bulldogs.
This Week’s Trivia Challenge
This week’s challenge will be about song titles with colors in them. The first five winners win a CD, DVD, or whatever else I come up with from the vast Szafran repository of duplicates or good stuff I want to get rid of. As usual, the first with the most takes the prize. No looking up the answers now! SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO firstname.lastname@example.org since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.
- Beatles song about an underwater vehicle.
- Song about Elvis’ footwear.
- Prince song about precipitation.
- Fats Domino found his thrill there.
- Van Morrison remembers when he used to sing sha-la-la with her.