March 23, 2018

THE WEEKLY BLAB

Volume 12, Issue 10–March 23, 2018

 

Spring is Here?

This has been an odd March.  Things got warmer for a spell, and a few weeks ago the snow was all gone.  Just as I was fooled into the belief that we might have an early Spring, the northeast was blasted with four nor’easters.  The first pretty much missed us, the second one gave us a little snow, the third one more or less missed the big cities on the coast but got us with up to 10 inches of snow (though by my house, it was more like 5 inches), and the current one has missed us altogether.  My former stomping grounds of New Hampshire and metro Boston have gotten hit time after time, making this the third winter in a row where their weather has been worse than ours.  May I suggest, to my New England friends, that you consider leaving the high costs of New England and moving to the bucolic North Country of New York?  The predictions are for weather in the high thirties to the fifties for the next 15 days, with only an occasional flurry, so the snow should be gone soon up here.  We’ll see if Mother Nature has another surprise in store for us.

Anyway, Spring Break has come and gone.  That’s also the time for conferences and travel, so I was booked up pretty much throughout, more about which can be found below.

On more esoteric subjects, as everyone who reads the BLAB should know by now, I’ve been obsessed with buying a number of box sets of excellent classical music, given the extensive nature and low prices that are available now.  I had managed to buy every box set but one of the conductor Herbert von Karajan, arguably the best conductor of the 20th century.  You might think that the ones I have should be enough—a set of Karajan’s orchestral music output on EMI (88 discs), four more orchestral boxes (80 discs each or so) and one of operas (70 discs) on Deutsche Grammophon, and one more from a European label that may or may not duplicate parts of the others (117 discs here).  But no—I had to have them all!  There was still one missing—a set of 72 discs of operas and choral music on EMI that was now up to more than $550 on Amazon—a price I was unwilling to pay.  After a year of searching, I finally found one on Discogs at only $160, so I quickly snapped it up and hoped for the best in terms of quality.  It was shipped to me quickly and when it came I breathed a sigh of relief—all the discs were there and it was in nice shape.   My collection is now complete.

Karajan is an interesting case study of a person who is artistically top-notch, but morally, not so much.  The consensus of opinion is that he was an opportunist, joining the Nazi party in the 1930’s (twice!) in order to take advantage of the opportunities that that would provide, though never being particularly active in the party or doing anything overtly anti-Semitic.  There is an interesting documentary called Das Reichsorchester (available on DVD in English) about the history of the Berlin Philharmonic during this period, and how the various musicians responded to the racism of that time.

 

Recent Travels

On Friday March 9th, I flew down to DC for the American Council on Education (ACE) Conference.  I decided to fly down on Boutique Air out of Massena, which has a direct flight to Baltimore-Washington International Airport.  The flight was fine, with the exception of the part just before the landing which was about as bumpy as I have ever experienced.  We landed smoothly, and I took a shuttle for a few minutes to the BWI rail station to catch a train into Washington.  The station serves both Amtrak and MARC (the Maryland commuter rail organization).  The first train was an Amtrak train, but I decided to take the MARC train about 20 minutes later, since the Amtrak ticket would have been $42, and the MARC ticket was $7.  It was a nice sunny day (though only in the high 30’s), so I didn’t mind sitting on the platform and waiting.  The trip into Washington was quite pleasant, and after looking around Union Station (which is quite beautiful) for a while, I took a taxi to my hotel.

The ACE conference is always pleasant because the topics being discussed are important and I run into lots of old friends from the various places I have worked in the past.  This time was a bit sparser, but there were still a few SUNY presidents as well as several from Georgia and elsewhere that I knew.  The presidents’ session began with a discussion on “Telling the Truth in Public: A Dialogue on Free Speech, Inclusion, and Social Movements on Campus”.  The main speaker, DeRay McKession, is the host of the podcast “Save the People”.

This was followed by a “Presidents/Chancellors/Rectors Caucus” on the subject of “Labor Market 2.0: Preparing for the Future of Work”.  The focus was on bridging the skills gap between the graduates produced by colleges and the skills industry wants.  Frankly, I didn’t think the session was very good—it had too much scare-mongering and too little recognition of the fact that graduates need to have flexible skills and an appreciation for lifelong learning, since today’s high technology is tomorrow’s outdated knowledge.

The luncheon discussion was on competency-based education and had a number of good ideas we need to think about.  Western Governors University has been doing some interesting things in this area (resulting in letting students learn at their own pace) and has reached an impressive enrollment of 90,000 in doing them.   The afternoon session was the always interesting session on Federal Relations given by Terry Hartle, who has done this analysis for many years.  The bottom line of this session was that there is still a lot of support in congress for higher education, there is lots of concern that this support is dwindling.

The plenary speaker at the ACE conference, “The Solving the Completion Puzzle: Leadership Counts”, was delivered by our own former Chancellor, Nancy Zimpher, who won the ACE Council of Fellows/Fidelity Investments Mntor Award.  It was nice to see Chancellor Zimpher once more, and when I went up to say “hi” and to wish her well on her talk, she laughed and said “It’s nothing you haven’t heard from me before!”

 

I flew out of DC on Monday to Albany, where I had a meeting with some folks from SUNY to discuss our plans for the Entrepreneurship Accelerator and how we might best be able to carry them out.

On Tuesday, I met with several legislators about our (and SUNY’s) budget priorities.  I was able to meet with our own Assemblywoman Addie Jenne, Assemblymember Deborah Glick (chair of the Higher Education Committee in the Assembly), and staff from Senator Kenneth LaValle (chair of the Higher Education Committee in the Senate), and Senator Kemp Hannon‘s offices.  All the sessions went well, and the legislature is showing strong support for funding maintenance of effort (i.e., the state paying for the salary increases that it negotiates).  I also met with representatives of the New York Dental Association, which is helping us try to secure funding for our Dental Hygiene program.

On Wednesday morning, I took the train down to New York City for some alumni visits.  The trip along the Hudson River is always nice and it was a sunny day which made it even nicer.

I arrived in NYC on time, and walked up to the Residence Inn Times Square to join up with Anne Sibley (V.P. for Advancement) and Jordan Walker (Assistant Director of Individual Giving).  We had a meeting with Tamara Bullock (Class of ’01), who is now a funeral director in NYC, and has recently joined our Foundation Board.  I enjoyed talking to Tamara about her business, her background, and how she came to SUNY Canton.

Later that evening, we had an alumni reception at the Houndstooth Pub on 8th Avenue, hosted by Tom Walsh (Class of ’96 and also on the Foundation Board).  The reception was very nice, with alumni attending ranging from the Class of ’56 to one current student doing an internship in the city.  I gave a short talk on what’s new at the College, which was well received—the alumni were all happy to hear how well things are progressing and about all our new programs.

On Thursday morning, I had a meeting in the morning about the Entrepreneurship Accelerator, and then took the subway up to Penn Station to catch the 1:20 to Albany.  It was another nice day, though the train car I was in was unpleasantly warm.  While on the trip, I got a call from Michaela Young (my Executive Assistant) and then Debbie Flack (my Secretary) telling me that my flight to Massena was likely to be cancelled, as the plane was having mechanical problems.  The airline arranged for a rental car for the four of us booked on the plane that didn’t want to wait at least three hours to see if they could repair it.  So, when I got to Albany, I took a taxi to the airport and the four of us drove on to Massena, arriving at about 8:30 PM, which wasn’t that much later than the 7:15 PM the flight was supposed to arrive.  There wasn’t that much snow on the car—only about 3-4 inches, with a bit of crust at the top.  Wiping it off was easy, and the roads were fine from Massena to home.

 

 

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest had to do with words starting with “spr”, in honor of spring.  Our fastest responders with all five correct were Jordan Walker, Betsy Rohr Adams, Kimberly Boyd, Greg Kie, and Alan Gabrielli (from SPSU!).   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. If you turn your ankle, you’re likely to get one of these.  Sprain.
  2. In the nursery rhyme, the last name of Jack, who could eat no fat (his wife could eat no lean)?  Sprat.
  3. You can get this done at a salon in Canton or Potsdam in the dead of winter, to make it look like you’ve been in Florida. Spray-on Tan.
  4. Microsoft Excel is the best known one. Spreadsheet Program.
  5. It means lively, agile, and energetic. It’s also the brand name of a dental defense system, and of a vegetable shortening almost as popular as Crisco.  Spry.

 

 

This Time’s Trivia Challenge

This issue’s challenge has to do with songs about dancing. The first five entries with the most correct answers win a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, as well as the admiration of their peers. 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. Beatles song that starts “Well, shake it up baby now”.
  2. David Bowie song with lyrics: “And if you say run, I’ll run with you/And if you say hide, we’ll hide.
  3. Chubby Checker had two song hits about this dance, the second one about doing the dance “like we did last summer”.
  4. Most dances require having a partner, but not in this song by Billy Idol.
  5. Halloween song by Bobby Pickett, the lyrics begin: “I was working in the lab late one night/When my eyes beheld an eerie sight/For my monster from his slab began to rise/and suddenly to my surprise…”
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