November 15, 2016


Volume 11, Issue 8–November 15, 2016


So Many Thanks

Words can’t describe how much I appreciate how everyone rallied around my family last week after my mother, Simona, passed away.

The funeral was held in Syracuse on Sunday, October 30, at the Sisskind Funeral Home.  My father had flown in on October 27 from Las Vegas, and stayed in Syracuse with some family friends.  My sister Drorit had handled most of the arrangements from her home in Houston, and flew in with her partner Susanne on the 28th.  By 1:00 PM, the funeral home’s hall was packed—all the seats were taken and there were many people standing.  Several family members from Israel and Las Vegas weren’t able to come in person and skyped in through an arrangement my cousin Assaf (who flew in from Seattle) had set up.  Family flew and drove in from around the country, some making it to the funeral and others during the week where we sat Shiva. So many people came from Syracuse, where I grew up and my parents lived for so many years.  They included some of their oldest friends, many of the teachers and students (past and present) from the Syracuse Hebrew Day School where my mother had taught for so many years, and many other friends and neighbors.  Several people drove down from Canton representing the synagogue and the College.  Please forgive me for not individually listing those in attendance, as I’m sure I’d unintentionally miss someone.  Our deepest thanks to everyone who was able to come.

The service was officiated by Rabbi Yaakov Rapoport (from Syracuse University Hillel, who also did the benediction at my inauguration at SUNY Canton) and Rabbi Evan Shore (from synagogue Young Israel-Shaarei Torah).  Syracuse Hebrew Day School principal Barbara Davis spoke about what a fine teacher my mother had been for so many years, and how she never gave up on any student—she was determined that each one would be able to succeed.  I gave the eulogy, and my sister Drorit shared some remembrances and read a poem called “Letter from Heaven”.

My father Daniel then spoke, about how he and my mother had first met and dated, and how they were married after only three months.  He spoke about their early life together, how we moved to the United States, and how he surprised her by signing her up to take her first college classes, ultimately resulting in her getting her associates degree from OCC, and her bachelors and masters degrees from SUNY Cortland.  She originally agreed to teach at the Hebrew Day School for one year, which then turned into 26 years.  He talked about how close she was to my son Mark, and how proud she was at his bar-mitzvah.  He ended by saying even near the end, she would hold his hand in the hospice, and clap along to music.

After the burial, we drove back to Canton for the Shiva—the traditional seven-day mourning period—that was held in the College’s Alumni House.  So many people from the College and the community came by to pay their respects that I couldn’t possibly list them all, many bringing food for the mourners.  So many others sent sympathy cards and posted their condolences on Facebook.  Our deepest thanks to everyone for lending us support in this trying time. 

Some specific things we’ll never forget include Prof. David Penepent and all the Funeral Services Administration students who came by to give their condolences; our Student Government officers and all the students who drew and signed the beautiful angel poster—we’ll always treasure it; and the many kindnesses extended by Michaela Young, Peggy Levato, Sue Law, and Sean Conklin in going so far out of their way to meet the needs of my family during the mourning period.

My family and I feel extremely blessed to have such wonderful family members, friends, colleagues, and students to lend us support.  We’ll always remember how you were there when we needed you.


Presidential Inauguration

Congratulations to Dr. Margaret Venable, a good friend, a fellow chemist, and one of the best people I know, on her inauguration as president of Dalton State College in Georgia.  I flew into Chattanooga on October 20 (and it’s not easy to get there from Canton—Ogdensburg to Albany, Albany to Atlanta, and finally Atlanta to Chattanooga), arriving at about 10:15 PM, getting a rental car, and then driving the 30 miles or so from the airport to Dalton.  Dalton is a small city of 33,000 residents, and the hotel wasn’t hard to find as it was alongside the college.

The next morning, I drove onto campus and went to the administration building, hoping to be able to have a few minutes to chat with Margaret before the festivities began.  Fortunately, she was free and we were able to talk over old times—Margaret had been an ACE Fellow on the SPSU campus several years earlier, with President Lisa Rossbacher and me acting as her mentors.


The inauguration ceremony was preceded by a nice luncheon, where I ran into lots of Georgia friends, including Dr. Al Panu, another fellow chemist and ACE Fellow, who I learned was now the president at University of South Carolina—Beaufort.  Congratulations Al!

The inauguration itself was quite nice.  It had rained the previous day (good, because Dalton was experiencing a severe drought) and there was some concern it might rain again, but instead it was quite windy, which kept the temperature down—especially good since I was wearing my regalia.


There were the usual greetings and best wishes from various campus constituencies, and Margaret gave a very good speech.  And just like that, it was over and she was Dalton State’s first female president.  Congratulations Margaret!



In My Mind, I’m Going to Carolina

The next day, I drove from Dalton to Raleigh, NC for some alumni visits.  It’s a long ride, but the weather was good and the traffic was relatively light.  Since there are no good west-east roads in northern Georgia, the fastest way to go is to head southeast on I-75 until reaching the Atlanta beltway, then around on I-285, before heading northeast on I-85 through South Carolina and Charlotte.  I stopped for lunch at, you guessed it, an Indian restaurant there, and arrived in Cary, NC (a Raleigh suburb where we were staying) at about 4PM.

I was joined there by Director of Individual Giving Amanda Stopa and later by V.P. of Advancement Anne Sibley, whose flight in had suffered several breakdowns and delays.  While there, we had a very nice gathering of about 25 alumni who now live in North Carolina at the Tribeca Tavern in Cary, followed by several individual visits with alumni:  Louis Shaheen (’76), Lea-Ann Berst (’82), and Bill Blasko (’99), all of which went very well.

I left on the morning of October 25th, driving to Columbia, SC, where I was speaking at the Southeast Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).  On the way down, I stopped for lunch in Florence, SC, which I was pleased to find had an Indian restaurant that I quickly located and enjoyed.  The ride from there to Columbia is only a few hours, but when I got there, I was surprised to find that I hardly recognized the city at all.  I had been there for graduate school between 1976 and 1981, and had visited a few times since, but relatively recently, they had totally redeveloped the area where the Seaboard railroad station and tracks used to be.  It was now an area composed of upscale restaurants and clubs, several new hotels, and a new Alumni Center and Convention Center for the University of South Carolina.

The ACS meeting featured a symposium in honor of Dr. Jerome D. Odom, my research professor when I got my Ph.D., and I was delighted to have been invited to speak there.  Jerry and I got together for breakfast, and we then proceeded to the symposium where I was happy to see two other professors I had taken during my time at USC, Drs. Paul Ellis and Dan Reger, as well as several of Jerry’s other graduate students.  It was also wonderful to see Dr. Tom Moore, who had been a grad student in Jerry’s group at the same time I was there, and his wife Marcia.  Tom went on from grad school to teach at Lander College and then to become the president of the University of South Carolina—Upstate before retiring recently.  The symposium was a lot of fun, with lots of interesting chemistry and funny stories about when things had gone less than well in the lab.  After the symposium, we all went out to lunch where we joined Jerry’s wife Toni, who in a long convoluted way, I was responsible for his having met many years ago!


New York Frame of Mind

I left the lunch at about 2:00 PM, because I had to drive out to the airport, drop off the car, and catch the 4:15 PM flight to New York City, where I was attending SUNYCON, an annual SUNY conference that focuses on issues affecting higher education.  The flight actually got there a little early, but I quickly lost the time waiting in line for a taxi to take me into Manhattan.  The traffic was extra heavy the whole way, and I didn’t arrive in Greenwich Village until 7:45, where I was staying at Jill’s sister Ellen’s apartment.

The next morning (October 27th), I took the subway up to Times Square where SUNYCON was held and joined up with Doug Scheidt, Lenore VanderZee, Greg Kie, Lorrette Murray, and Travis Smith who were also there for the meeting.  The sessions were interesting with some good speakers (you can see the agenda here, and of course we ran into lots of people we know from around SUNY, including former acting president Joseph Hoffman.


After the sessions ended for the day, I walked crosstown in some miserable weather (fortunately, I had an umbrella) to join up with Megan Panek, the Director of Academic Advancement (Engineering) from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) for dinner.  WPI was my undergraduate college, and on the 40th anniversary of my graduation back in 1976, gave me their Goddard Professional Achievement Award.  Unfortunately, the WPI award ceremony had been back in June at their Alumni Reunion, which fell on the exact same day as SUNY Canton’s Alumni Reunion!  Needless to say I couldn’t attend theirs since I was at ours, and this was the first time we were able to meet up so they could give me the actual award—a very nice framed citation, and a very heavy obelisk made of green marble that has my name carved on one side and the award name on the other.


The conference ended on the 28th, and I took a taxi crosstown to meet two representatives of the Korean Consulate for lunch, Consul Hyun-joo Kim, and Director/Education Attache Yong Hak Lee.  As many of you will recall, Korean Consul Yunju Ko had visited our campus last year as part of our Excellence in Leadership series.  The talk he gave then was excellent and well-attended.  He contacted me a few weeks ago, asking if we could arrange for him and the Korean Consul-General, Gheewhan Kim, to come up and speak on campus again this year.  I told him we’d be delighted, but there was one small problem—I’d be in NYC at the time they’d be at Canton!  It turned out that was fine—Consul-General Kim gave a very good talk on campus, then drove back to NYC that evening, and we met at the Consulate the next afternoon after lunch!  The meetings went very well, and we’ll be signing some articulation agreements with several Korean universities in the near future, which will bring in some new students and provide some exchange opportunities for faculty.

After the meetings, I took the subway to Penn Station and caught the 4:20 train to Albany where I spend the night before flying up to Ogdensburg on the first morning flight.


Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest dealt with word that begin with the letter “O”.  Our fastest five responders with all five correct were Mary Rishe, Doug Scheidt, DianeMarie Collins, Jennifer McCluskey, and Patrick Hanss.  Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prizes—a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository.  Others getting all five right included Megan Warren, Carmela Young, and Kevin Elliott. Here are the correct answers:

  1. President of the United States. Barack Obama.
  2. TV show where the host gave everyone a car. Oprah!
  3. Newspaper listing about someone who died.  Obituary.
  4. Japanese art of paper-folding.  Origami.
  5. Ancient Greek epic poem attributed to Homer—it’s the sequel to the Iliad. The Odyssey.



This Time’s Trivia Challenge

Continuing our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “P”.  The first five 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. Head of the Catholic Church.
  2. Flightless bird found in the Antarctic.
  3. Germany invaded this country in September 1939.
  4. Poet who wrote “The Raven”.
  5. Someone who does something exceptionally well, often at a young age.
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