September 15, 2017


Volume 12, Issue 1–September 15, 2017


We’re Back!

Summer is over and the Fall term has begun.  The summer went by in the blink of an eye, in part because of the frequent rain and the high humidity that were present for much of the time.  The weeks before the start of the semester are always very busy, with lots of meetings to make sure everything is planned out for the students’ arrival; lots of last-minute scramble from students trying to finalize their financial aid, housing, schedules, and what have you; and this year, with the complications associated with the new Excelsior Scholarship program. Due to a lot of hard work by a lot of people, things mostly went very well.  The students are all here, classes have begun, the first few campus events have been held, and things are getting even busier.

On the home front, we just got our house repainted in exactly the same colors as it is now.  For the past few days, we’ve had a work crew washing the house, scraping, putting on a coat of primer and then the paint.  They did a meticulous job and I’m very happy with it.  The one problem we ran into is that since my house is on well water, we didn’t have enough water pressure for the sprayers that they used.  Fortunately, our neighbors out back are on the village water lines, and they were kind enough to let us run a line to their water spigot for the two days.

My father, who is now 90, came up for a visit on August 17th and will be staying until September 27.  Flights from Las Vegas (where he lives) to Syracuse, Watertown, and Albany were oddly expensive this year ($600+), but fortunately, flights to Ottawa were quite reasonable at $400, and we were able to find one that only involved one plane change in Philadelphia.  The Ottawa airport is only about 90 minutes from Canton, including the time it takes to cross the border, so it’s actually more convenient to fly there than either Syracuse or Albany.  Anyway, he’s all settled in now, going to SUNY Canton’s gym each morning and impressing our students with how well he can still throw three-pointers.  Every day or so, I run into another student who says “Was that your father I saw down at the gym?  He’s cool!”  We’re back to our family routine, which consists of us arguing about politics, attending SUNY Canton athletic events, and him gearing up to make very large dinners, since he loves to cook.  If you see me gaining weight over the next few weeks, you’ll know why.


50th Anniversary

Everyone knows that SUNY Canton was founded in 1906, originally as a state-supported “add on” to St. Lawrence University.  Due to strong enrollment growth at both colleges, a new campus for us was needed.  Several locations in the county were considered, but to make sure that the College stayed in Canton, Edson Martin donated 555 acres of land on a hill overlooking the Grasse River, just west of downtown.


The governor of New York, Nelson Rockefeller, turned the first shovelful of dirt in 1965 to inaugurate the new campus, which took three years to construct.  The St. Lawrence Plaindealer newspaper editorialized: “By his words, and above all, by the vigor of his shovel, Governor Rockefeller had made it certain that an expanded ATI [Agricultural and Technical Institute, as we were then known] will rise on its own campus on a hilltop which the Governor declared to be one of the most magnificent sites for a university in the whole of New York State.”

The first building to begin operations on the new campus was Heritage Hall, where female students were housed, in 1966.  Chaney Dining Center also began operations that year.  Students were bused to the old campus for classes.  The remaining operations moved to our new campus with the opening of several additional buildings in 1967.  This makes 2017 our 50th anniversary on the hill.  To help celebrate, we’ve released a new video with images across these 50 years.  It’s definitely great, so give it a look.



There will be a variety of events throughout the year to look forward to, and I hope everyone in our community will join us in our celebration!  The official announcement of the celebration took place at the State of the Campus program on August 23 (more on that below).


The first event took place on August 25, which was taking a special 50th anniversary group photograph.  You can see that photo above.

It took a lot of logistics to make that picture happen.  Pat Hanss (Director of Physical Plant), directed the creation of the 50 on the ground, ably abetted by Jason Haggett (Grounds Supervisor), Richard Flanagan (Senior Groundsworker), Eric Sanford (General Mechanic) and Martha Rookey (Maintenance Helper).  Big thanks to all!  I’d also like to give a big thank you to Greg Kie and Morgan Elliott for taking the great photographs and video, and to all who participated in the photograph.



Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going

Each year, campuses submit a President’s Report of their accomplishments the past year to SUNY Central.  Due to the hard work of pretty much everyone on campus, we had a very successful 2016-17, and you can see the expanded online version of the report here.

Also, as has been our tradition at SUNY Canton, we began the year with the State of the Campus Address.  In it, I talked about some of the issues that our College is facing in the coming year, as well as a plan for moving ahead in several key areas.  Our Provost, Vice Presidents, and co-Chief Diversity Officers then spoke about accomplishments in their areas, and their plans for the coming year.  You can see the State of the Campus powerpoint presentation here.



Busy Campus

Events have begun on campus, and I’d like to mention a few that have taken place.


Unity—In Remembrance of Charlottesville

To show solidarity after the horrific events in Virginia a few weeks ago, we held a brief Unity—In Remembrance of Charlottesville ceremony and moment of reflection on campus on August 30.  A letter from me including comments from SUNY about Charlottesville was sent out on August 24th, but I’d like to add something here that I mentioned at the unity event.  As Americans, we should all know that the original motto of the United States (selected by the framers of the Constitution) is E Pluribus Unum, which translates to “out of many—one”.  While the motto’s meaning is usually taken to be “out of 13 original colonies (or out of the many states)—one nation”, another relevant interpretation is “out of many American people (from many different heritages)—one American nation”.

Interestingly enough, this motto is not original to the founding of the United States.  A much earlier form of this motto can be found in Cicero’s De Officiis (44 B.C., translation: “On Obligations”), where he quotes Pythagoras as saying: “When each person loves the other as much as himself, it makes one out of many”.  The first half of Pythagoras’ quote is obviously one form of what we normally call the Golden Rule, a version of which can be found in pretty much every civilization’s and religion’s beliefs.  A more recent and scientific form of the Golden Rule was written by Carl Sagan: “And you are made of a hundred trillion cells.  We are, each of us, a multitude.”

So, in the face of the hatred exhibited in Charlottesville, let’s all stand up to oppose bigotry of all kinds and remember the original motto of America, the Golden Rule, the great mathematician Pythagoras, and the great scientist Sagan, all combined into a single ideal:

When each person loves the other as much as themself, it makes one out of many.   We are many.  We are one.  We are a multitude.  E Pluribus Unum.


Softball Team Barbeque

I had the pleasure of hosting a barbeque for the Women’s Softball Team on August 31 to congratulate them on their excellent season last spring.


Since they were in the national playoffs as the semester ended, there was no time to do it then, so we scheduled it for early this semester.  It was great meeting and hearing a little bit about each of our players, and having a chance to hear what each of them thought the best thing was during the season.  Congratulations ladies!


Soccer Match

Speaking of sports, I attended the Men’s Soccer match against SUNY Potsdam on September 5.  I was happy to see such a good turnout for the game, with the first 200 attendees getting a special Roo-Roo-zela (a SUNY Canton version of the horns that everyone was blowing during the South African soccer world cup a few years ago).  Since I used to play the trumpet a million years ago, it was a lot of fun blowing the Roo-Roo-zela and seeing how many different notes I could force out of it!


The game was very exciting, with Potsdam taking an initial lead, but Canton hung in there and tied it up with about 5 minutes to go.  It looked like it was going to end in a tie, but with 0.2 seconds left to play, Potsdam scored an exceptionally unlikely shot, and we lost 2-1.  It was still an outstanding effort by our players, who have somce gone on to win a few including a 2-0 shutout of SUNY Poly on Wednesday and 4-1 defeat of Southern Vermont.  Great job, guys!


OK—I’m out of time.  More next issue!



Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest dealt with word that begin with the letter “X”.  Our fastest five responders with all five correct were Doug Scheidt, Elizabeth Madlin, Josh Suttles, Janel Smith, and Joel Canino.  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 Greg Kie, Carmela Young, Debbie Flack, Kirk Jones, Patrick Hanss, Jesse Clark-Stone, my sister Drorit Szafran, Amanda Rowley, and SPSU friend Bob Brown.

Here are the correct answers:

  1. Video game console brand made by Microsoft. X-Box.
  2. Superman’s vision of this type is blocked by lead. X-Ray vision.
  3. The original Marvel comic team consisted of the Angel, Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, and Marvel Girl. Wolverine and a whole bunch of others joined later.  X-Men.
  4. Duplicating machine company (two x’s in this one!).  Xerox.
  5. Drug used to treat anxiety disorders (two x’s in this one!)  Xanax.

Bonus Question:  The element under Krypton on the Periodic Table of the Elements.  Its name comes from the same root as in the word for “fear of strangers”.  Xenon.




This Time’s Trivia Challenge

Almost at the end our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge is about words starting with the letter “Y”.  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. Children’s toy consisting of two connected circular pieces of wood or plastic, with a string in the middle.
  2. One of the most popular search engines on the internet.
  3. In the old days, you let your fingers do the walking through these to find a business’ phone number.
  4. You can find almost every old TV show or music clip on this app.
  5. A long haired wild ox, found in the Himalayas.



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