THE WEEKLY BLAB
Volume 10, Issue 22–April 29, 2016
Is It Finally Over?
As I’ve mentioned before, this has been an extremely weird year weather-wise. On Sunday the 17th, I attended a baseball game and a lacrosse game on campus. It was a beautiful and sunny day, with most people wearing shorts. In fact, it was so hot I was a little worried I might get sunburned. On the other hand, yesterday (April 26th), we woke up to snow showers, which accumulated until about 12 noon. The sun broke through the clouds, and by 3 PM, most of the snow had melted off. We’re schedule for nice sunny weather (though a bit coolish) through the week. I’d like to think that we’re done with it for the season, and we probably are. I’ve also been told that is has snowed in May and even June in the past.
Anyway, the term is rolling along and we’re almost at the end. Finals are coming and most students are buckling down. Lots of students will be graduating and for many, it’s bittersweet. They want to get their degrees and move on with their lives, of course, but it also means leaving SUNY Canton and so many have told me that they hate to leave their “family away from home”. That obviously means we’ve done things right.
We’re in the middle of Passover right now, so that means no bread and related products (rolls, bagels, cake, etc.) for me, which puts a severe crimp in my eating habits. I tell myself that it’s healthier this way, since I’m having lots of soups and salads, but I really still want the bread! Matzoh (the unleavened bread one eats on Passover) isn’t called the bread of affliction for nothing—most people don’t really like it, though I have to admit that at a seder (ritual meal) I went to last Friday night, they had a kind of matzoh that tasted pretty good. The meal at that seder was vegetarian, and then on Saturday night, I went to another seder that was non-vegetarian. On Wednesday, we had a model seder on campus, with about 40 people there. Passover lasts eight days, so it ends on Saturday at sunset. That means that Orthodox Easter is on Sunday (if you want to know why, see the March 30 BLAB), so happy Orthodox Easter to all who celebrate it.
Congratulations to…Four More Chancellor’s Award Winners!
We’ve already announced several Chancellor’s Award Winners, namely Fred Saburro for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching (see the March 21 BLAB for details) and students Codi McKee and Rebecca Burns for the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence (see the April 15 BLAB).
We have now heard about four other Chancellor’s Award winners, and they are (drum roll please): Michelle Currier (Library Director), who has won the Excellence in Professional Service Award; William Jones (Business Dept. Chair), who has won the Excellence in Faculty Service Award; Umesh Kumar (Finance), who has won the Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities Award; and Diane Para (Sports Management Program Director), who has won the Excellence in Teaching Award.
Please join me in congratulating Michelle, Bill, Umesh, and Diane on their fine accomplishment! You all do SUNY Canton proud.
Trip to Albany
On Sunday the 17th, I began the day by attending the baseball game against St. John Fisher College. Fisher is one of the top rated teams in the country, and unfortunately, they lived up to that reputation, winning by a score of 24-6. I was going back and forth between that game and the women’s lacrosse game against Elmira College, where we won 15-7. Our women have now set a team record with 11 wins this season, with one game remaining. As mentioned earlier, it was a beautiful day—sunny and hot, and almost everyone was out sunning themselves and having a fine time.
A cookout was held after the game, so I grabbed a hot dog and some water. I had to run soon thereafter, because I had to catch the 4:30 PM flight from Ogdensburg into Albany to get there on time for meetings on Monday morning. The trip went off without a hitch, and I got my rental car and went to the hotel. For dinner, of course I went to oneof my favorite Indian restaurants in Albany—Lazeez. After going to sleep that evening, at about 1:30 AM, my cell phone rang. I had to take off my sleep apnea mask to answer it, and it turned out to be a recorded message from the airline that my flight that evening to Washington DC to attend SUNY Days would be delayed by an hour. It’s not obvious to me why they needed to tell me about a flight delay at 5:30 PM at 1:30 AM, but there you go. I put on the mask again and tried to get back to sleep, and two minutes later the phone rang again to repeat the message.
Monday morning, the presidents of the Colleges of Technology within SUNY met at 9:00, and discussed some local campus issues. At 10:00, we went to an emergency meeting of all SUNY presidents that was called to discuss the budget. When I said “hello” to the Chancellor, I found out that she had been called at 1:30 AM too, and was taking the same flight out that evening as I was.
The budget this year is disappointing, since it contains no funds for maintenance of effort (i.e., to cover salary increases that are negotiated in Albany), no additional funds to cover the gap in the State’s Tuition Assistance Plan (TAP—the campuses have to cover the gap between the awards the State gives and the amount of money the State provides to fund them), no tuition increase, and no increase in funding for SUNY. We hope to meet with our legislative colleagues over the next week or two and discuss several proposals that can still be implemented to improve the budget situation. We also discussed several ways we can work more efficiently together, and parley our individual efforts to support the whole SUNY system.
After the meeting ended, I drove back to the airport, returned the rental car, and waited for my flight, which was now supposed to leave at 6:30 PM. As the time approached, there were a whole bunch of people from SUNY also waiting for it. We got on the plane on time, began to taxi out, and then got an announcement over the p.a. that a warning light had come on regarding the plane’s hydraulic system. We taxied back, got off the plane, and waited for them to check out the problem. The next issue was that the maintenance crews had all gone home for the night, so they had to call them back to the airport. When the maintenance crew returned and checked the plane, they tried to fix it, but when they fired up the engines again, the warning light returned. Ultimately, they cancelled the flight. Fortunately, we had anticipated this and put a hold on some seats on the 9:30 AM flight. The airline switched our reservations, comped me for a hotel room for the night, gave me a food voucher, and put me in first class the next morning. Not so bad.
The next morning, we took off more or less on time with me in first class, which basically meant a somewhat wider seat, coffee served in a mug, and a complimentary bag of snacks. I got to Washington DC at almost exactly the same time as the College’s Executive Director for University Relations, who was attending SUNY Days as well. We shared a cab to the hotel, checked into our rooms, and dashed off to the first SUNY Days meeting. It was a beautiful day in DC, with lots of sunshine and warm temperatures.
After some meetings, we went to meet with Senator Chuck Schumer to discuss some of our plans at the college and to get his support. His assistant, Veronica Duran, was kind enough to take us around to catch up with the Senator, including for a ride on the subway underneath the capitol, which was very cool. When we met, Senator Schumer was very supportive. A bit later, we met with Senator Schumer’s and Senator Gillibrand’s staff members to discuss our needs and how they might be able to help us.
That evening, SUNY threw a party for alumni in the DC area, as well as inviting our New York congressional delegation. Each of the campuses present (there were about a dozen of us) had a table set up providing information about the college, and usually providing some small giveaways. Schenectady Community College had a leg up on the rest of us, because they had folks from their culinary program there serving petit-fours and other deserts, but we did well too, with a lot of people stopping by our table to get more information about the College. One of the people who stopped by was our own Representative Elise Stefanik, who had helped secure the venue for the party and was giving a small speech supporting SUNY.
L-R: Lenore VanderZee, me, and Representative Stefanik
The next day, there were more meetings in the morning which included some presentations about what the upcoming election might mean for higher education. In the afternoon, we had a very positive meeting with Representative Stefanik, who was very supportive of our main initiatives. We invited her to speak on our campus as part of the Leadership series next fall, and I’m hopeful that her schedule will allow her to do so.
On Thursday, I took a taxi to Reagan National Airport to catch my flight to Albany. I put my bags in the overhead bin and took my seat, and after a few minutes, the main attendant for the plane came over and asked where my baggage was. I pointed to the bin overhead, and he said “please get them and follow me”. I turned to the stewardess to see what that was about and she whispered “he’s putting you in first class”. So, at the end of the day, I would up being bumped up to first class in both directions of the trip. Not bad at all. After a somewhat long connection in Albany, I caught the flight to Ogdensburg, and was home at 4:00 PM.
And the Rest of the Week…
As you can imagine, since the only day I was on campus last week was Friday, there were lots of catch up meetings and paperwork to sign. One of the nicer meetings was with our student government officers. Two of them are graduating this year—president Khaina Solomon and treasurer Fatizjah Burnett. Both have done an exemplary job as student leaders, and are exceptionally nice individuals as well. I’m sure they’re both going to do very big things in the future. The students summed up the year from their perspective, and were all either sad to be leaving SUNY Canton or looking forward to next year. They also introduced our new SGA vice-president, Fitzroy Saunders.
As mentioned earlier, Friday night featured a seder at a friend’s house. On Saturday, wife Jill, son Mark and I went to the baseball game against Utica College, which was also designated as a military appreciation game. There was a color guard from the Golden Knights Batallion present, and three SUNY Canton alumni who had served in the military were honored and all got to simultaneously throw out the first pitch. It was a very nice event, and we split the double header 4-5, 9-4. I was also able to watch some of the men’s lacrosse game against SUNY Delhi, which we won 19-14. The win means we also won the USCAA tournament against SUNY Delhi, Alfred State College, and the University of Dallas.
On Sunday, Mark wanted to go to Massena to shop at his favorite store—Game Stop—and when we went in, ran into Doug Scheidt, our provost, and his son. Small world! Afterwards, we crossed the border into Canada to visit Cornwall, which I’d never been to before. I was surprised at how large the city is—about 46,000 people live there—making it twice the size of any city in the North Country. The international crossing there is a little unusual—first you cross a bridge that takes you onto Cornwall Island, which is on the Canadian side of the border, though the island belongs to the Akwesasne Nation and is part of a reserve that spans both the US and Canada. After crossing the island, you cross a second bridge into the city of Cornwall, which is where the customs and immigration post is. According to Wikipedia, US residents are not allowed to patronize any of the stores on the island until they go to the Canadian customs post, though no one mentioned anything about that to me when I crossed. We ate lunch in Cornwall, which I was pleased to see has two Indian restaurants. The one we ate at was pretty good, and the portions were amazingly large. After driving around the city a bit and looking at the riverfront, we went back home.
And One More Passover Seder
A model Passover seder was held on our campus this past Wednesday evening. A model seder is meant for a general audience who can be of any religion, or no religion at all. The purpose is to tell what Passover is all about, including the various rituals. It is also to show how Passover is a universal holiday, since we all celebrate liberation from slavery of various kinds—some historical (such as the liberation of the Jews from Pharoah and bondage in Egypt and the ending of slavery in the United States), some contemporary (marriage equality) and some kinds we impose on ourselves (the slavery of addiction to alcohol or drugs, for example).
About 40 people participated in the seder, and the College Association catering staff really outdid themselves for this one—every single person commented on how nicely the tables were decorated and laid out, and how excellent the food was. Tremendous thanks go to Steve Maiocco, Sean Conklin, and Sue Law and all the staff who helped plan, prepare and serve the wonderful meal. I got several emails from folks who couldn’t make it to this one and hoped we’ll repeat it next year. We will, so look for the announcement about a month before Passover next year.
Last Week’s Trivia Contest
Last week’s contest dealt with word that begin with the letter “g”. Our fastest responder was Melinda Miller, with others getting all five right including Geoffrey VanderWoude, Greg Kie, and Terri Clemmo. Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prizes—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository. Here are the correct answers:
- They sell cookies every year to raise money, and have the motto “Be prepared”. Girl Scouts.
- Singer Stefani Germanotta, known for her songs Poker Face, Paparazzi, and Born This Way. Lady Gaga.
- Big web search engine, it also has a really good map app. Google.
- Big Japanese dinosaur-type monster. Godzilla.
- Evil creature in “The Hobbit” that loved “his precious”. Gollum.
This Week’s Trivia Challenge
Just to show that the BLAB is always fair and balanced, this week’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “h”. In fact, some answers will have more than one “h” in it! Everyone with all five correct wins a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, or whatever else I’ve dredged up as a 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.
- Dance done on the beaches of Hawaii.
- Column in the newspaper that tells you your future.
- Actress who appeared in the movies “Twister”, “Cast Away”, The Sessions” and on TV on “Mad About You”.
- LBJ’s vice president, ran for president but lost to Nixon.
- Greeting in a song by the Doors that precedes “Won’t you tell me your name?”.