February 16, 2016


Volume 10, Issue 17–February 16, 2016



Making Up for Lost Time

As everybody knows, it has been an unusually mild winter up her on the fourth coast, with el Nino to thank for it.  Well, el Nino must have gone on a brief vacation, because we had some mighty cold weather this past weekend, with the thermometer dipping all the way down to -28 by me, and I’m told even colder in the hinterlands.  What’s more, while the temperature is up into the 30’s tomorrow, it will also come with a snow/rain/sleet storm that is being forecast at up to 8”.  This amount would be about equal to the total snowfall we’ve had so far this winter.

For you non-northerners reading this, don’t be frightened by the low temperatures or potential snow.  You just make the best of it.  Sunday, Jill, Mark and I went to Ogdensburg.  Mark wanted some more video games, so we went to Game Stop while Jill got some groceries.  After, we got some fast food (Chinese for me, McDonalds for them) and took it down by the riverside to have lunch.  Even though it was -9° and the St. Lawrence was frozen most of the way across, on the positive side it was still a sunny, pretty day and we enjoyed the view and the stillness while eating.

So, what do folks up north do when it’s this cold for fun?  Just check out the video below and you’ll see.



Canton Meets the Motor City

Last Wednesday, SUNY Canton hosted “Sounds of the Motor City”, a musical revue that focused on music ranging from Louis Jordan to Motown to Earth, Wind, and Fire.  A small but enthusiastic audience enjoyed the group’s performance in the Student Center Theatre.  The three main singers, if I’m remembering right, were Derrick Baker, Valencia Emanuel, and Darren Lorenzo.


The group started up with Louis Jordan’s well known song, “Let the Good Times Roll”.  Louis Jordan is one of my all time favorite musicians, one of the main influences on Rock & Roll, and was a major recording star (second in popularity only to Bing Crosby on the Decca label) who also appeared in a small number of movies.  His songs had more weeks at #1 on the R&B charts than any other musician, even up to today.  “Let the Good Times Roll” was the B-side of a 78 on which “Ain’t Nobody Here but Us Chickens” was the A-side.  Together, the two songs were #2 and #1 respectively on the 1947 Billboard R&B Chart, staying on the chart for six months.  Two of the members of the revue (Baker and Emanuel) were in the cast of Five Guys Named Moe, a West End (London) and Broadway show devoted to Jordan’s music.  I had a chance to see the show in the West End on my first sabbatical, and have been a fan of Jordan’s music ever since.

Other major hits sung by the group included “Johnny B. Goode” (Chuck Berry), “My Girl” and “Just My Imagination” (Temptations), “Soul Man” (Sam & Dave), “Stop in the Name of Love” (Supremes), “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” (Otis Redding), “Boogie Oogie Oogie” (A Taste of Honey) and “September” (Earth, Wind, and Fire), among many others.  At various points, one or another of the singers would come out into the audience and serenade a particular individual, much to their embarrassment.  That happened to me at one point too, but it was really a lot of fun.  Many thanks to our student life office for putting this one on.



Trip to Albany

The SUNY presidents had a meeting in Albany last Wednesday, so I flew from Ogdensburg to Albany on Tuesday evening.  As readers of the BLAB are all aware, Ogdensburg has a very small airport with three flights a day, all in 7-passenger seat planes, all going to Albany.  The flight was full (which means we were all squashed into the plane), but the trip was fine—smooth flying the whole way.  As soon as we landed in Albany, it started to snow.  I picked up my rental car, dropped my suitcase off at the hotel, and went out in search of food.  The rental car was fine—it was a Ford Escape, which has the kind of windshield wipers that go in opposite directions in the front, and no wiper in the back, both of which were a bit annoying.

Since the snow was coming down fairly hard, I didn’t want to drive to downtown.  Instead, I went to Latham, which is a nearby suburb not too far from the airport, which my TripAdvisor app told me had a good Indian restaurant—the Karavalli.  The directions from the GoogleMaps app were basically fine, except that a key road was blocked off for some reason.  I went down a few more blocks, the app reset, and directed me to go up Hill Street, which was quite aptly named—it was only a little more than one lane wide, and went straight up and then down a hill from a little housing development—and it hadn’t been plowed or sanded.  After a bit of a slide on the downhill side, I was able get to the restaurant, and it was indeed quite good.  I ordered some vegetable samosas as an appetizer and then the house special, rack of lamb with vegetable biryani and garlic naan.  I was glad I did.  I took the highway on the way back, which was the right move since it had been plowed and treated, and got back to the hotel without a fuss.

The meeting started with an 8:00 AM pre-meeting of the seven presidents from the Colleges of Technology.  I know most of them pretty well, so its always good to see them and discuss how we handle things on our respective campuses.  One of the topics that came up was alcohol policy—what did each of us do at parties?  Some campuses ban parties entirely (we did until last year, where we brought them back on a trial basis, which has worked well so far), while some have police present, use metal detectors, and have students take a Breathalyzer test before being allowed in.  Another topic was Martin Luther King Day—if the school is in session, should there be classes that day?  SUNY Canton traditionally holds classes on MLK day (“it’s a day on, not a day off” as the expression goes) as do some of the other colleges in our sector, but this has become an issue on one of the campuses.  As it turns out, we won’t be starting spring classes until the week after MLK day for the next few years due to how the calendar works, but we’ll have to take up the issue again in the future.

The regular president’s meeting began at 10:00 AM.  We were each assigned to a table according to interests we had selected in a previous survey, to have a discussion on two of four issues:

  • Revising the Presidential Search and Review Process
  • Launching Open SUNY 2.0 (online programs)
  • Building the path to SUNY PATH (Predictive Analytics) and
  • Research/scholarship across SUNY.

I had selected the last two, and the discussions were interesting, though very preliminary.  Predictive analytics is something everyone is talking about, but no one has gotten very far with.  We’re launching a project at SUNY Canton that will provide us with predictive analytics regarding student retention and graduation rates, but it’s very early in the game.  The Research and scholarship discussion was geared more to the research universities, but I wanted to see what the expectations might be for us, and the folks from SUNY central wanted to hear what we though might be reasonable.  Fair enough.

There were then some updates on the Investment and Performance Fund, the Performance Improvement Plans (three main foci will be Diversity & Inclusion, Completion & Student Success, and Impact), and the Stand with SUNY budget and advocacy plan.

After lunch, there was a panel discussion on Responding to Campus Crises.  Some SUNY campuses have been dealing with some very serious issues, such as major student protests on several campuses and a murder suicide on another.  Perspectives were given from several directions—university police, student affairs, communications, and counseling—on how to best respond to these crises.  During the presentation, SUNY Canton was thanked for the help we had provided by sharing our police chief, several officers, and folks from our P.R. office with another campus during their time of need.  By all accounts, our support was much appreciated.

The meeting ended at 2:30, but that only meant that I now went to the meeting for new presidents.  The main topic there was compliance—between SUNY, local governments, state governments, and the federal government, there are lots of rules we have to obey and many we have to report on.  Whenever a new requirement is devised, we’re generally responsible for meeting it, though new funds for the necessary time or personnel are almost never provided.  The topic is very complicated, and we were only able to scratch the surface before our time was up. 

I made a brief stop at the SUNY International Programs Office to resolve a few quick questions, and then drove back to the airport to catch the 6:05 PM back to Ogdensburg.  It was still snowing lightly, but the flight was fine, as was the drive home.



New Scholarship at SUNY Canton

SeaComm Federal Credit Union recently made a pledge of $25,000 with an initial gift of $5,000 to the SUNY Canton College Foundation and will be continuing to make donations for the next four years to create an endowed scholarship designed to promote financial literacy at the College. The award will be given to a deserving student from St. Lawrence, Franklin or Clinton County who excels in their coursework and who demonstrates leadership.  The scholarship is designed for a student who is majoring or minoring in Finance, Accounting, Business Administration or Management.

Seacomm Big Check 160122 Edit

L-R:  VP for Advancement Anne Sibley, me, SeaComm President Scott A. Wilson, and Alumni and Development Associate Geoffrey VanderWoude.

Higher education plays a critical role in not only helping to shape the minds of our neighbors, but also as a significant economic driver in the North Country,” said SeaComm President and CEO Scott A. Wilson, who was a speaker in the College’s Excellence in Leadership Lecture Series this past fall semester. “SeaComm is committed to SUNY Canton’s mission and the essential work they provide in developing educated talent that we as an employer depend on to fill our human resource need. This perpetual SeaComm Financial Literacy Scholarship in partnership with SUNY Canton will ensure that resource is available for many years to come.

In addition to providing this scholarship, SeaComm has hosted internships for SUNY Canton students and has hired our alumni.  SeaComm Federal Credit Union serves over 41,000 members with assets of $498 million and is open to anyone who lives, works, or attends school anywhere in St. Lawrence, Franklin or Clinton counties.



Excellence in Leadership Series

As most of you know, SUNY Canton offers a monthly Excellence in Leadership Lecture Series of speakers.  The most recent speaker, on January 26, was David Acker, who is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Canton-Potsdam Hospital (CPH).  Mr. Acker spoke to an attentive group of about 80 students and faculty about the history of health care in the north country, and the challenges facing the health care system today.   He also spoke about his own somewhat unusual path to becoming a hospital chief executive.

 Acker-Szafran 160126

CPH is a leading healthcare provider and a part of the St. Lawrence Health System (SLHS). In addition to operating the two main hospital campuses in Potsdam and Gouverneur, SLHS also operates extension outpatient facilities in Antwerp, Gouverneur, DeKalb Junction, Edwards, Canton, Colton, Potsdam, Norwood, Norfolk, Brasher Falls, and Massena. It has 130 full-time medical staff members, 1,350 employees and is a major area employer for SUNY Canton alumni.

The next Excellence in Leadership Lecture Series speaker will be Mr. Mark Dzwonczyk, President and CEO of Nicholville Telephone Company, on February 25 at 3:30 in the Miller Campus Center room 212-214.



Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s  trivia contest dealt with capitols–I name the capitol, you name the country.  Our first person with all the right answers was Terry Clemmo, with Lenore VanderZee and my sister Drorit also getting them all right.  You can pick up your prizes in my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. Ottawa.  Canada
  2. Stockholm.  Sweden
  3. New Delhi.  India
  4. Cairo.  Egypt
  5. Canberra.  Australia


This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s challenge is about the movie Casablanca.  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 president@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. Lead actor in the movie.
  2. Where is Casablanca?
  3. Name one of the oscars the movie won.
  4. Swedish actress that played the female lead, Ilsa.
  5. The line that everybody THINKS is said in the movie regarding the song “As Time Goes By”, but is never actually said.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.