September 20, 2016


Volume 11, Issue 3–September 20, 2016



How It’s Going

This is the time of year when everyone I meet asks how it’s going at the college, so let me answer that question.  We’re starting the fourth week of classes, with the first college-wide evaluation of how students are doing due now via our early warning system to see which students are engaged and which students aren’t.  We’ll be analyzing the results and reaching out to students having difficulty to offer help.

We haven’t seen the official census enrollment numbers yet, but it looks like we’re up a little bit in enrollment—the residence halls were running about 43 ahead of last year, and that’s a good sign.  Everyone is commenting about just how nice the first-year students are.  While our students have always been friendly and pleasant, this year’s class is exceptionally nice and everyone has noticed.  The average high school average of the new students is up a full point, too.  This obviously doesn’t just happen—it’s the result of a lot of hard work by our excellent admissions staff, and the many others who help them in their work.

The college is looking great too, with lots of improvements having been carried out over the summer by our always excellent buildings and grounds staff.  If you want a list of all the improvements, you can read them here.  We just did two ribbon cuttings to formally open the Rendezvous Café and Roo’s Court, and everyone is talking about how good the food is and happy about the expanded range of choices.  This is just part of the planned upgrades for our food service, and thanks to the fine folks working in our College Association.


We’re getting a lot of good press and have done well in the rankings.  In the U.S. News & World Report standings, we’ve moved up from #44 on the Regional Colleges—North list to #23, which is a darned good rise.  Our degree programs continue to have top accreditations and lead to great jobs, and we got a clean sweep on our recent Middle States report.  We’ve been designated ‘Military Friendly’ again, and we’re in the top 10 for several online programs and for pet friendliness.  Our library and tutoring services are #1 in SUNY.  All of this is due to our excellent faculty, superb student support staff, and captured by our top-notch public relations folks.  A lot of last year’s accomplishments were summarized in this year’s President’s Report, and you can read the digital version of it here.

Of course, it takes a lot of people make our college a conducive place for students to live and learn.  Our great student life staff make sure that there are lots of quality programs on campus for our students to enjoy outside of class, and make sure that our residence halls are nice places to live.  Our Athletics staff help our student athletes to reach their full potential, and our athletic teams proudly represent our College.  Our campus police make sure everyone is safe and secure.  Our student government officers help keep our students active, and let us know the student pulse on things. Our grounds crew keep the campus looking nice, despite the mess we all make.  Our Advancement folks raise money for scholarships, keep our alumni connected, and even found time to grill hot dogs at our residence halls for our students all week.

As a result, because of all of you and your hard work, I’m able to tell everyone we’re off to a fine start and to hear them tell me what a great place SUNY Canton is.



Congratulations to…


Charles Fenner, a faculty member in Business Administration, who competed in the “CapsimCore Professor Challenge against faculty across the country who acted as CEOs of manufacturing companies, making decisions about product lines, marketing tactics, and production.  How well did he do?  He came in 2nd­­ in a field of 240 (including faculty from Duke, Georgia Tech, U. Florida, and Pepperdine), which is pretty darn awesome.



Courtney Bish, our Vice President for Student Life, who was recently selected to attend the 2017 NCAA Division III Athletic Direct Report Institute in Nashville, Tennessee this January.  Across the entire country, only 43 participants are selected through a nomination process, so the competition was high. The Institute focuses on improving the relationships between ADRs and their presidents, athletics directors and conference commissioners, and on enhancing the effectiveness of the ADR at the campus, conference and national levels.



9-11 Memorial

On Monday, September 12th, our Criminal Justice student organization did an exceptional job organizing a memorial ceremony for the 15th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks.  The ceremony was held at 7:30 PM at Roselle Plaza, where a gigantic American flag suspended from two firetrucks’ extended ladders served as the backdrop.


The ceremony started with a bagpiper and military honor guard, followed by a prayer given by Minister Pedro Morales, from the 1st Baptist Church in Parishville, NY.  I gave the welcome for the event and read a poem by Billy Collins (the poet laureate of the Unites States at the time) that was first read before a joint session of Congress held in NYC one year after the attack.  This was followed by a wonderful and moving talk by Rob Parcel, a first-responder during 9-11.  After Minister Morales gave the benediction, the audience was invited to attach names of persons they wanted to honor to flags that lined the plaza.  We all then walked to our memorial tree by Payson Hall, and affixed a memorial wreath to end the ceremony.

It is critically important that we always remember those who were lost on 9-11, and the many first-responders who risked their lives, running toward danger, trying to rescue and protect.  The poem by Billy Collins is called The Names, and is full of haunting imagery about how the names of those killed are now part of the very fabric of the city.


The Names

Yesterday, I lay awake in the palm of the night.

A fine rain stole in, unhelped by any breeze,

And when I saw the silver glaze on the windows,

I started with A, with Ackerman, as it happened,

Then Baxter and Calabro,

Davis and Eberling, names falling into place

As droplets fell through the dark.


Names printed on the ceiling of the night.

Names slipping around a watery bend.

Twenty-six willows on the banks of a stream.

In the morning, I walked out barefoot

Among thousands of flowers

Heavy with dew like the eyes of tears,

And each had a name —

Fiori inscribed on a yellow petal

Then Gonzalez and Han, Ishikawa and Jenkins.

Names written in the air

And stitched into the cloth of the day.


A name under a photograph taped to a mailbox.

Monogram on a torn shirt,

I see you spelled out on storefront windows

And on the bright unfurled awnings of this city.

I say the syllables as I turn a corner —

Kelly and Lee,

Medina, Nardella, and O’Connor.


When I peer into the woods,

I see a thick tangle where letters are hidden

As in a puzzle concocted for children.

Parker and Quigley in the twigs of an ash,

Rizzo, Schubert, Torres, and Upton,

Secrets in the boughs of an ancient maple.


Names written in the pale sky.

Names rising in the updraft amid buildings.

Names silent in stone

Or cried out behind a door.

Names blown over the earth and out to sea.


In the evening — weakening light, the last swallows.

A boy on a lake lifts his oars.

A woman by a window puts a match to a candle,

And the names are outlined on the rose clouds —

Vanacore and Wallace,

(let X stand, if it can, for the ones unfound)

Then Young and Ziminsky, the final jolt of Z.


Names etched on the head of a pin.

One name spanning a bridge, another undergoing a tunnel.

A blue name needled into the skin.

Names of citizens, workers, mothers and fathers,

The bright-eyed daughter, the quick son.

Alphabet of names in green rows in a field.

Names in the small tracks of birds.

Names lifted from a hat

Or balanced on the tip of the tongue.

Names wheeled into the dim warehouse of memory.

So many names, there is barely room on the walls of the heart.



Articles Worth Considering

Each issue of the BLAB, I’ll try to include a link to an article that I’ve read recently that makes an interesting point that I think is worth considering.  If you have an opinion about the article, positive or negative, I’d love to hear it.

Here’s this week’s article, titled “Why Are We Ambivalent About Ambition”, about how we often get nervous when we find out that a faculty member wants to take on a leadership role.  You can read it here.



Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest dealt with word that begin with the letter “k”.  Our fastest responder with all five correct was Jamie Garrett, followed by Jennifer Church, Julie Cruickshank, Karen Spellacy, Greg Kie, Carmela Young, Janel Smith, Alan Gabrielli, Thomas Locke, Bruce Hanson, and my sister Drorit Szafran.  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:

  1. Our mascot Roody is one.  Kangaroo.
  2. Superman was born here. Krypton.
  3. They say the grass is blue there, but they drink a lot of bourbon there too.  Kentucky.
  4. Based in Rochester, it was once the biggest manufacturer of film. Kodak.
  5. According to the Glenn Miller song, “I got a gal” there.  Kalamazoo.



This Time’s Trivia Challenge

Continuing our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “L”. 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 since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. Pop singer whose hits include “Poker Face”, “Paparazzi”, and “Born this Way”.
  2. Popular TV sitcom star born in Jamestown, NY. Other characters on her first show included her husband Ricky Ricardo, and neighbors Fred and Ethel Mertz.
  3. Disney animated movie with main characters Simba, Mufasa, Pumbaa, and Timon. Hakuna Matata!
  4. Adirondacks location where two Winter Olympics were held.
  5. Song you sing to young children as they go to sleep.


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