April 26, 2017

I’m Sick of Rain…

The weather has warmed up a bit and Spring is finally here.  Rain washed the last bits of snow away and the ground thawed, but there was so much rain that it led to some local flooding, including in my basement.  There were leaks where I’ve never seen water before, which led to some panicky moments when water was leaking out of the bottom of the box where the power lines come into my house—apparently, water had seeped into the conduit pipe.  I opened the box to make sure water didn’t accumulate, called the plumber (who said I had done the right thing), and had the folks from National Grid look at it the next day (who agreed I had done what could have been done).  Anyway, I have a masonry guy fixing the wall where the main leak was, and I’ll have him look at the other places too.  Ultimately, the water didn’t cause very much damage and the basement is dried out now.  There’s still rain on and off this week, but the ground is now capable of absorbing most of it, so barring a hurricane or something, I should be good for the rest of the season.  The weather was really nice Sunday, and our patio furniture is now outdoors again.  I’ll put the grill out this weekend, and may do a little cooking on it first chance I get.



New Chancellor

SUNY has just appointed Dr. Kristina Johnson as the new Chancellor, taking office in September.


Dr. Johnson has significant prior experience as an educator and in higher education administration, as well as significant achievements in applied research and in the private sector.  She previously served as Undersecretary of Energy in the Obama administration, as provost at John Hopkins, as dean of the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke, and as professor at the University of Colorado-Boulder.  She is a strong advocate for women in leadership and for STEM, both of which bode well for SUNY Canton.  I’m looking forward to meeting Chancellor Johnson—she sounds like a fascinating and accomplished person.



Scholarship Celebration

I was pleased to attend last week’s Scholarly Activities Celebration, which began on Monday evening with a talk by renowned bird expert and author David Sibley.  Prior to the talk, Mr. Sibley signed copies of his best-selling field guides (of which he has written several) for a never-ending line of admirers. The talk was very well attended and very interesting.  Afterwards, there was a very nice dinner and lots of interesting conversation.


Poster Session

On Tuesday at noon, lots of students presented posters on their research projects.  I was one of the judges, but was only able to evaluate half of the posters before I had to leave for another meeting, so I think they used my “votes” as tie-breakers.  The students all did a very good job, were poised and had prepared well.  The top nine posters (by Samantha Schramp, Lakeesha Perera, Courtney Cotter and Jessen Swider, Sean Marciano, Jessica Fischer, Dalton Moore, Joseph Butera, Zach Baxter, and Poornima Nanayakkara) were selected as “Featured Student Poster Series” displays that will be installed around campus.  Sarrah Williams was selected for a prize for her Early Childhood Education tri-fold Counting Baby Ducks.

Later that evening, I attended a series of oral presentations.  These covered a wide range of topics including building a mechatronic skateboard, building a windmill in Peru, and sects in Islam.  The session I attended even included an original song composed for guitar, and a love poem told in chemistry terms (by Prof. Rajiv Narula, of course)!  The two oral presentation prize winners were Jessica Fischer and Rebecca Burns.

Congratulations to everyone who helped plan and participated in the Scholarly Activities Celebration!



Student Specialty Awards

I’m always happy to be part of the Student Specialty Award Ceremony, which was held last Wednesday evening.  Our Vice President for Student Affairs, Courtney Bish, organizes the event, which recognizes students not only for academic achievement, but also for having overcome adversity and challenges.  It’s always a wonderful ceremony, filled with emotion and excitement.

SUNY Canton EMS 

The SUNY Canton EMS Squad won an award

It’s not only students who are honored—awards are also given to faculty and staff who support our students.  This year, well-deserved awards were given to our Director of Financial Aid, Kerrie Cooper (receiving the North Star Award), and to Melissa Lee (receiving the Dean of Students Specialty Award for Faculty).



Center for Diversities and Inclusion

Last Thursday featured the official opening of SUNY Canton’s Center for Diversities and Inclusion, located in the Miller Student Center.  The opening ceremony began with a prayer delivered by Tom Porter, spokesman and spiritual leader of the Mohawk community of Kanatsiohareke, reminding us that we are all people of the Earth and need to thank our “mother” for all that we have.  Also speaking were Carlos Medina (Vice Chancellor and the Chief Diversity Officer at the State University of New York), Louise McDonald Herne (Mama Bear, Condoled Bear Clan Matron of the Akwesasne Nation), SUNY Canton’s co-Chief Diversity Officers Bill Jones and Lashawanda Ingram, and me.


L-R: Bill Jones, Tom Porter, Doug Scheidt (Provost), Carlos Medina, me, Louise McDonald Herne, Mike Dalton (Mayor of Canton), Courtney Bish (VP for Student Affairs), Lashawanda Ingram, Anne Sibley (VP for Advancement)

A special thank you to our State Senator Patty Ritchie, a great friend to SUNY Canton, who helped secure the funding to refurbish the space for the Center.  Senator Ritchie was represented at the opening by Jim Reagen.



SUNY Plenary

As if all that wasn’t enough, SUNY Canton also hosted the Plenary for all the SUNY University Faculty Senate on Friday and Saturday.  The Plenary was held in our beautiful field house, giving the 100 or so participants plenty of room to conduct their business.  While this was the 176th plenary meeting (three are currently held each year), it was the first time that it was ever held at SUNY Canton.

From all accounts, the Plenary went very well, and the senators enjoyed true SUNY Canton hospitality.  We gave each participant a small Amish gift basket filled with North Country treats, as well as a special SUNY Canton recipe book specially prepared for the occasion.  The recipe book was Assistant to the President Michaela Young’s idea, and she did a great job gathering the recipes and getting the book produced in relatively short order.  Event Coordinator Diane-Marie Collins did her usual great job handling the logistics for the Plenum.

It was nice to meet many of the senators, one of whom was a fellow chemist who (unbelievably) has the same research specialty as me back in the day—Boron Hydride chemistry!  I had the pleasure of presenting Chancellor Nancy Zimpher a thank-you gift from our campus, a beautiful vase made by a local craftsperson, which she quickly noted was colored beautiful SUNY blue.


L-R:  Marc Cohen (SUNY Student President), me, Chancellor Nancy Zimpher

At the dinner on Friday evening (excellent as always, thanks to our superb College Association Food Service), I also had the pleasure of giving a gift to outgoing Faculty Senate President Peter Knuepfer, and Executive Assistant Carol Donato, who is retiring after this meeting.


Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest dealt with word that begin with the letter “U”.  Our fastest five responders with all five correct were Carmela Young, Christina Lesyk, Marcia Sullivan-Marin, Tony Beane, 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.  Here are the correct answers: 

  1. Mom always said you should wear clean ones of these, in case you got into an accident.  Underwear.
  2. In this Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, it grew up to be a swan. Ugly Duckling.
  3. Let a smile be your this, and you’ll get wet teeth.  Umbrella.
  4. New kind of taxi company where you can be the driver.  Uber.
  5. The Mormon Tabernacle is in this US state.  Utah.




This Time’s Trivia Challenge

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

  1. Common white-colored flavor of ice cream.
  2. He was the bad guy in Star Wars, who turned out to be Luke’s father.
  3. You better give your sweetie a gift on this February day.
  4. I’ll bet you think this Carly Simon song is about you.
  5. The kind of dinosaur causing trouble in the movie Jurassic Park.
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