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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April 7, 2016


Volume 11, Issue 14–April 7, 2017


Into Each Life…

Back in 1944, the Ink Spots (featuring Bill Kenny and Ella Fitzgerald) sang the song “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall”, and the weather up here has done its best to live up to it.  The snow is nearly gone (though there might be a flurry this weekend), and has been replaced by a lot of, well, you know.  We have a “hairline” crack in our wall in the basement and some water is seeping in.  I have a few towels on the floor arranged so that the water is wicked toward the sump pump, so the wet area is confined at the moment to a small area in the corner, but the area is expecting some flooding today from the rain, and hopefully things won’t get worse.  I have someone lined up to repair the wall when the rain stops and the ground has defrosted, so the problem will be gone in a few weeks (I hope!), but in the meanwhile, it’s time to keep the fingers crossed.  If you’ve never heard the song, just click on the link below. 



Fire Hose

I know I’m not the first one to mention this, but time is moving so quickly on campus that it’s like drinking from a fire-hose.  The term is just blasting by, and we’re already looking at commencement and recognition day.  Is time really moving faster, is it the constant media barrage about crazy things, or is this a function of being old?  Probably all three.

I’ve been off campus a lot lately, traveling around the state for several important reasons.  On Monday and Tuesday March 19-20, I was in Albany for legislative visits.  The main topic is the proposed Excelsior Scholarships, which have become a major topic of discussion.  As of this writing, there have been some significant disagreements between the Assembly, the Senate, and the Governor, and I talked to our legislative colleagues about how the proposal would affect our campus and SUNY in general.  Part of the problem is that a lot of the details aren’t known at this point, so there are lots of news reports and many rumors, many of which contradict each other.  The matter is supposedly close to resolution, and we may hear what the result is as soon as today.

I flew home on Tuesday night, but then turned around and on Wednesday morning, drove down to Auburn, NY, for a visit with Carl Haynes, the president of Tompkins Cortland Community College.   On Thursday morning, I met with Cayuga Community College’s president, Brian Durant, grabbed a quick lunch, and then drove to Canandaigua to meet with Finger Lakes Community College’s president, Robert Nye.  Finally, on Friday, I drove to Syracuse to meet with Onondaga Community College’s president, Casey Crabill.  All four meetings went very well, with us discussing some of the new degree programs we have recently had approved, and ways that we can work more closely together.

The following Tuesday (March 28), I was off again, this time to Watertown to meet Jefferson County Community College’s president Carol McCoy.  Again, we talked about ways JCC and Canton could work more closely together.  President McCoy will be retiring at the end of the year, after many years of accomplishment at JCC.

On the way home, I stopped in Watertown to meet with College Council member Joe Rich, who I had promised to get together with for quite some time.  We had a nice lunch together, whereupon I found out that pretty much everyone in Watertown knows him, because he has been so active for so long in the community.  After lunch, we visited Channel 7 in Watertown, where he had worked for many years, and I had a chance to tour their extensive facilities and meet with several of their excellent directors, anchors, news, and sportscasters.  We also went to the Disabled Persons Action Organization’s Drop in Center.  The DPAO is a not-for-profit organiztion that Joe Rich started in 1974, offering services to developmentally disabled children, adults, and their families; and now employing more than 150 full- and part-time employees serving Jefferson and Lewis counties.

On Thursday March 30, I was off again, this time to SUNY Farmingdale (a Long Island college that is part of our Colleges of Technology sector in SUNY), for the inauguration of their new president, John Nader.  Farmingdale is not easy to get to from Canton.  I had to take the 7:30 AM flight from Ogdensburg to Albany, take a taxi from the airport to the Amtrak station, take a train from there to Penn Station in New York City, and finally take the Long Island Railroad from there to Farmingdale, finally arriving at about 3:30 PM.  There was a breakfast at 8:00 AM the next morning, and the robing started at 10.  The ceremony began at 11, and was very nice, and included a small band and a chorus.  Candace Vancko, formerly president of SUNY Delhi when he was the provost gave a humorous background history of the new president, and then it was time for John to get his official medallion of office and to give his inaugural address, which was quite good.


President John Nader (left) and SUNY Board of Trustees Chairman H. Carl McCall (right)

The reception afterwards was very good too, but I had to rush off to do the trip back to Canton in reverse, staying in Albany overnight.  I was afraid my morning flight was going to be cancelled because 8 inches of heavy snow was predicted, but the bad weather never came, and there was no problem.  By a nice coincidence, while getting my boarding pass for the morning flight, the family behind me had come up from New York City and was also going to Canton.  I asked what they were going there for, and it turned out it was for SUNY Canton’s Accepted Students Day program!  They were very surprised when I told them I was the president, and we had a chance to talk while waiting for the flight, and after landing, I gave them a ride to campus and introduced them to our Admissions folks.


Chancellor’s Award Winning Students

My only trip this week was yesterday, down to Albany for the day for the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence ceremony.  The ceremony is always quite nice, as it celebrates all kinds of student accomplishment across the SUNY system.  SUNY Canton had two winners this year, who I happened to run into just as I walked into the Empire State Plaza Convention Center, where the ceremony was held—quite a coincidence since we had traveled separately!


Our first winner is Poornima Rathika Balasubramaniam Nanayakkara, who is a Sri Lankan student majoring in Health and Fitness Promotion.  Poornima works as a tutor in several subjects, as a health advocate for our Davis Halth Center, and as an RA.  In Fall 2016, she was awarded the “Break a Leg Award”, recognizing her as a devoted RA who was able to accomplish all her tasks while overcoming a severe injury, and was still needing to use a crutch during the ceremony.  Poornima complete two research papers in Fall 2016 and is completing a third one for our upcoming honors presentation.

Our second winner is Sarah Nuss, a Civil and Environmental Engineering Technology major from Wyantskill, NY.  Sara is vice president of our American Society of Civil Engineering student chapter, a member of Tau Alpha Pi National Honor Society (which recognizes academic achievement in Engineering Technology), and an active member of six campus organizations including the ASCE Steel Bridge Team, which regularly competes at the national level. 

A total of only 256 students across all of SUNY won this award.  Congratulations to Sarah and Poornima on their fine accomplishments!


And, Speaking of Congratulations…

SUNY Canton’s own Student Activities Coordinator Kashonda M. Watson was named Campus Event Planner of the Year from Power Performers, a celebrity entertainment resource company. Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students Courtney B. Bish and Director of Student Activities Priscilla Leggette recognized Kashonda on March 22 at a division meeting.

There are a lot of great activities taking place in SUNY Canton’s School of Business and Liberal Arts.  On Monday April 24, the Financial Literacy Center will be presenting a College Planning Seminar at 6:30 PM in the Campus Center, Room 212.


They are also hosting the annual Mock Trial Tournament, which runs until tomorrow on campus, and has its final trial at 5:30 PM at the St. Lawrence County Court House.  Students in the tournament argue both sides in a fictitious civil trial.  The program is co-sponsored by the New York State Bar Association, the New York Bar Foundation, and the Law, Youth, and Citizenship Program. Thanks to all who are involved with these activities!


A big thank you to Edward Bedell (’69) who spoke as part of our Excellence in Leadership Program on March 29.  Ed is the owner and president of COP Construction, a leading company that specializes in bridges, dams, concrete structures, and sanitary sewer and storm drain utilities and treatment plants.  The company has operations in Montana, Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho, and employs more than 200 full-time personnel.  His presentation was very interesting, focusing on his own pathway to executive leadership.  The series is sponsored by Corning, with logistics handled by SUNY Canton’s Office of Advancement. 


Edward Bedell (’69)

I was on the road that day, but I hear that SUNY Canton’s 7th Annual Law Enforcement Day, focusing on “Investigative Perceptions”, held on March 27, went very well.  The event featured new crime scene investigation methodology, a session on Victim-Centered Death Investigations presented by noted authority Dr. Laura Pettler, and the presentation of the documentary “Officer Involved”, with the director, Patrick Shaver, providing the introduction and leading a discussion afterwards.  Thanks to everyone who helped plan and offer the events!


Dr. Laura Pettler

Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest dealt with word that begin with the letter “T”.  Our fastest five responders with all five correct were Geoffrey VanderWoude, Jennifer Church, Lenore VanderZee, 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.  Others getting all five right included Kathleen Mahoney, Christina Lesyk, and Ronald Tavernier.  Here are the correct answers: 

  1. In a children’s game, what you say before “You’re It”.  Tag.
  2. Art that you wear on your skin.  Tattoo.
  3. Book that answers the question, “What’s another word for that?”  Thesaurus.
  4. Larval stage for a frog or a toad.  Tadpole.
  5. Beautiful mausoleum in Agra, India. It’s one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.  Taj Mahal.


This Time’s Trivia Challenge

Continuing our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “U”.  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. Mom always said you should wear clean ones of these, in case you got into an accident.
  2. In this Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, it grew up to be a swan.
  3. Let a smile be your this, and you’ll get wet teeth.
  4. New kind of taxi company where you can be the driver.
  5. The Mormon Tabernacle is in this US state.




Posted in Uncategorized

March 14, 2017


Volume 11, Issue 13–March 14, 2017


So Much For Spring

Sadly, as everyone suspected, winter was not done with us yet.  As I’m typing this, New York is in the midst of a blizzard, and a state of emergency has been declared for most of the State.  The North Country (at least for now) is an exception—while non-emergency employees everywhere else in the state are allowed to stay home without using leave, the six northernmost counties are not included in this and are required to go to work, or use leave time if they stay home.  On the plus side, this is also Spring Break, so there are essentially no students and faculty affected.  At the moment, it is snowing very lightly, but things are supposed to get heavier this afternoon. 

Due to the weather, Doug Scheidt (Provost) and I left Washington DC a day early.  We had been at the annual ACE Conference, but as the blizzard was headed north, airlines started calling attendees to try to get them out before it hit so that they wouldn’t be stuck there.  The ever-intrepid Michaela managed to get us seats on a flight on Monday afternoon, so we flew from DC to Toronto without any incident, other than National Airport being quite crowded with people who had the same idea.  When we landed in Toronto, the visibility was dropping and there was light snow.  We got into the terminal without any delays, but soon thereafter, they started keeping jets in the air waiting for the visibility to improve and the wind to die down.  Our connecting flight to Ottawa was delayed by a little over an hour, but once it took off, all was fine and the weather in Ottawa was clear and dry.  Followers of the BLAB will already be aware that Ottawa is the nearest big city to Canton, so we often fly out of its airport, which is only about an hour and a quarter away.  The drive back to Canton was fine—no snow on the road—so we timed things just about perfectly.

The prediction is for anything between six inches and 24 inches of snow from today to tomorrow afternoon.  My guess is that we’ll be on the low side of that total, but you never know.



Catching Up

It’s been a busy few weeks, so here’s a brief recap of what’s been happening.

SUNY Canton hosted another of our Excellence in Leadership Series, with Mark Bondoni (’82) being the speaker.  Mark has worked at Ford for 32 years in a series of important positions , including Luxury Car Manager (for the Lincoln division), Parts and Service Operations Manager (in Puerto Rico!), Ford NASCAR Motorsports Manager, Regional Manager for the Customer Service Division, Global Warranty Manager, Fleet National Service Manager, and his current position as Global Remanufacturing and Core Supply Manager (in Dearborn, MI).  That’s a lot of leadership!  Mark has also served on the advisory board of our Automotive Technology program for the past 18 years.  The talk was well attended and very interesting, tying in with Engineers Week on campus.

There were several other great events held on campus for Engineers Week (February 27-March 3).  On the 28th, there was an all-day Engineering Career Fair, sponsored by the Career Services Office.  I had a chance to pay a visit, and it was great to see the many interested students there, as well as representatives from more than 30 companies, many of whom were our own alumni.  Later that evening, our 3rd annual Engineering Open House was held for the community, featuring lots of demonstrations and hands-on opportunities for visitors, showcasing our engineering facilities.  We had a bit more than 200 attendees ranging from K-12 as well as their families, with the highlight being a zipline race competition where participants could win prizes (3rd to 8th grade division) and scholarships (9th to 12th grade division).  Each pair of students had 20 minutes to build a zipline racer from wooden blocks, pipe cleaners, and a balloon.  Everyone had a good time, and you can read more about it here.  A big thanks to everyone who participated in and planned these events.

I wasn’t able to attend the Engineering Open House because SUNY Canton was also hosting the annual Associated Colleges Presidents and Spouses Dinner at the same time.  It was nice to see my colleagues from Clarkson University, St. Lawrence University, and Paul Smith’s College (Kristin Esterberg from SUNY Potsdam was away and couldn’t make it), and we had some interesting conversations on the changing landscape for higher education in New York.  It’s always a challenge to try to find a day that we can all get together, and this was the only evening that we could even get four out of the five of us in the same place!  The dinner, catered by our SUNY Canton food service, was excellent as always.

On March 1, I hosted the Agriculture Subcommittee of the St. Lawrence County Economic Development Planning Group.  The meeting was from 5:00-6:30, and we had a very interesting conversation about year-round greenhouses and looking into interacting with the Canadian market.  Afterwards, I dashed home to pick up Jill, came back to campus, and popped in to the Out in the Country Student Activities event.  There was a very good country band playing there, as well as lots of booths with food and fun events.  We were only able to stay for a few minutes, because we were then off to a rather important basketball game.  SUNY Canton’s men’s basketball team won the first ever ACAA conference championship, and were then invited to participate in the ECAC Championship, for which we hosted the first round.  It was an exciting game.  SUNY Canton got off to a slow start, being behind as much as 15 points, but caught up before the half and took a small lead.  The second half was much tighter, with our lead growing as much as 12 points and shrinking to a tie shortly before the close.  Our players gritted it out and ultimately won, 90-86, defeating Pine Manor.  Unfortunately, we lost the next round to Penn State Behrend in another close one, by a score of 68-65.  Congratulations to our team for an outstanding season.  Congratulations also to our Women’s Ice Hockey team for their outstanding season, making it into the league quarterfinals!

Another Engineers Week event was held on March 2nd, namely an Industry Dinner for representatives of local engineering firms, to come visit and learn about SUNY Canton and to see our facilities.  The dinner was great, and there were lots of attendees including several student guides from the engineering technology programs.  A very nice video was prepared showcasing our facilities in Neveldine Hall, which you can see here:


The next week began on Monday with a quick hop to Albany for some legislative visitsI did another legislative visit on Tuesday morning, followed by my evaluation by SUNY (which went well) on Tuesday afternoon.  The main message was we’re doing the right things at the College, and we need to move forward aggressively to do them and to let the world know about them.  Thank you to everyone who participated in the 360° feedback.  I flew back to Canton that evening.

Whenever you’re away from campus, the meetings accumulate for when you get back, and that’s what Wednesday-Friday of last week were like.  On Thursday night, I also attended the Open House for the new St. Lawrence Health System Medical Campus that just opened in Canton—it’s a very impressive facility, and promises much improved local care in a number of vital areas.  On Friday, I had my most fun event:  I guest-lectured in Kirk Jones’ Comic Books as Literature class, giving a history of comic books and bringing in a bunch of items from my own collection, including a copy of Batman #25 (from back in the 1940’s), some original art used in making comics, and some comics from other countries.  The class was a lot of fun, and hopefully the students enjoyed it too.

On Saturday, March 11th, Doug and I flew to D.C. for the abovementioned ACE Conference, flying out of Ottawa.  The flight down was fine, and the conference had some interesting moments that I’ll be talking about on campus in the next few weeks.  The main topics of discussion centered on several recent freedom of speech issues that have arisen on campuses (such as the well-publicized protests at Berkeley and Middlebury), topics related to diversity, and public perception of higher education (hint: a lot of it isn’t good and is based on false information).

And that brings us back to the present!


Mascot Madness

It’s time for SUNY Mascot Madness once again.  Last year, our own Roody Roo did very well, getting into the quarter finals before losing out to Stony Brook’s Wolfie.  This year we’re determined to win it all.  Roody has been training hard for the competition, and you can see his regimen in the video below: 

You can vote for Roody in Round 1, where his opponent is SUNY Broome’s Stinger the Hornet.  You can read more about the mascots in our Region 2 competition here.  Voting starts today, and you can vote every 12 hours from every email account you have at this url: http://blog.suny.edu/mascot-madness-2017/.  So vote for Roody—the world’s greatest Kangaroo!




Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest dealt with word that begin with the letter “S”.  Our fastest five responders with all five correct were Patrick Hanss, Megan Warren, Jennifer Church, Alice Reed, and Martha Cole.  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 Marcia Sullivan-Marin, Terri Clemmo, Tony Beane, Christina Lesyk, and Kevin Elliott.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. Children’s playground ride where one side goes up as the other goes down. See-saw.
  2. Seattle football team.  Seahawks.
  3. Neutral country in central Europe, known for its mountains.  Switzerland.
  4. You pay into it each paycheck so you’ll have money when you retire. Social Security.
  5. The General Sherman, the tallest tree in the world, is one of these.  Sequoia.




This Time’s Trivia Challenge

Continuing our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “T”.  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. In a children’s game, what you say before “You’re It”.
  2. Art that you wear on your skin.
  3. Book that answers the question, “What’s another word for that?”
  4. Larval stage for a frog or a toad.
  5. Beautiful mausoleum in Agra, India. It’s one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.





Posted in Uncategorized

February 24, 2017


Volume 11, Issue 12–February 24, 2017


Happening ’17

Maybe it’s the thaw in the weather, and maybe it’s all the good stuff going on here on campus.  I’m feeling quite optimistic about things up here at SUNY Canton and in the North Country.

In the words of Paul Revere and the Raiders on their classic rock album Happening ’68,

People, something’s happening
Something in the air
Listen to the sound now
Come from everywhere.

You know you’ve got to hurry
You don’t want to be late
But people don’t you worry
What’s happenin’ is great.


As you will see below, two of our new degree proposals have been approved by State Ed, and will be offered beginning this Fall.  We’ve gotten good publicity and a lot of good comments about them, and I’m confident that they will be well received and attract new students SUNY Canton, thanks to our crack admissions team.

We’re seeing strong legislative support for what we’re doing, and I’m hearing lots of folks in the economic development sector telling me how critical SUNY Canton is to the success of our region, and how we’re moving in the right directions.  Our alumni are increasingly engaged, and they like what they’re hearing.

Our students are doing well, and are in high demand when they graduate.  Our Student Government is active, and a number of initiatives that they wanted to propose tie in perfectly with ideas we have had and are working to implement.  Several will be going to DC next month to advocate for higher education in general, and student empowerment in particular.  Our student athletes have done well, beating the local competition and some teams we’ve never beaten before by solid margins.

Every time I turn around, I hear about another faculty member who has won an award, is working on a book or has published a paper, or is doing something innovative in the classroom to support our students.  Our new Center for Diversities and Inclusion is planning a strong set of programs, and has started a weekly “Soup and Solidarity” series, that will feature free soup, music, and good conversations on a variety of topics.

There are lots of cool events coming up soon (including the annual Snow Ball this weekend) in the Student Life area, thanks to the hard work of our colleagues in those areas.  The campus has never looked better, and there are plans that will soon be implemented to take us to the next level with Dana  and Chaney Halls.

There’s still a lot to do to bring all of the above to fruition.  Like all good kangaroos, we need to keep a hop ahead and keep moving forward.  But like I said before, things are happening, and SUNY Canton just keeps getting better and better.


New Degrees!

We’ve gotten final approval lately about new degrees that we will be offering at SUNY Canton.  Getting a new degree approved is a long process–it can take more than a year to write the proposal up, get it approved on campus, send it to SUNY, respond to other colleges that may comment on it (or not want you to offer it), get approval from SUNY, and get approval from the NY State Department of Education.  It can get quite complicated, but we have some good news to announce.


Our first new degree is in Game Design and Development.  This is a 4-year Bachelor of Science degree that will focus on the design and production of modern video games.  Students enrolling in the program will learn how to design and program these games on multiple computer platforms and for different kinds of devices, and will get lots of hands-on experience creating video games for commercial, educational, and medical audiences.  Video games are a multi-billion dollar industry, and a major hub of video game manufacture is nearby in Montreal.  The program will be offered starting this coming fall semester.


The second degree approved is in Agribusiness.  This is a 4-year Bachelor of Business Administration degree that will focus on the management side of modern farming.  As many of you may know, SUNY Canton began its history way back in 1906 as a College of Agriculture.  Many of our most successful graduates in St. Lawrence County and across the state began their careers in the college’s agriculture programs.  Over the years, most of these programs were phased out, so offering this program is a way for us to tie in to our original roots.  Students in this program will learn principles of accounting, finance, marketing, strategy, operations, human resources, economics, ethics, and communications, and learn to apply them to agriculture.  We will also be partnering with local agricultural enterprises to provide internship opportunities for students.  The Agribusiness program will be offered starting this coming fall semester.

Several other degrees have been approved by SUNY, and are awaiting final approval from State Ed.  The most recent of these is a B.S. in Technological Communication.  The A.S. and A.A.S. in Business and the A.A. and A.S. in General Studies are awaiting approval from State Ed. to be certified as online degrees.

A big thanks to all the faculty who have worked hard to develop these degree proposals and to create the new courses that will be part of them.


New Athletic Conference!


I’m happy to report that SUNY Canton is now part of an athletic conference, namely the American Collegiate Athletic Association.  We just heard this past Tuesday that the ACAA has been given conference membership in Division III of the NCAA.  SUNY Alfred is also a member of this conference.   This conference is a good step forward for our athletic programs, and will provide our students an opportunity for post-season play.


Top 100 in Online Programs Again!


SUNY Canton’s online programs are in the top 100 nationally, for the third time, according to US News and World Report.  Only three SUNY schools have this distinction!


Top in Pet-Friendliness Again!


I’m also happy to report that SUNY Canton was named as one of the 25 most pet-friendly colleges in the country, coming in at #13, and was 1st in New York, and the only SUNY on the list.


Visit to SUNY

While some people got chocolates and flowers on Valentine’s Day,  SUNY Canton got to celebrate with a visit to Albany for our Campus Visit, which was an opportunity for us to speak with folks at the systems office about how we’re doing on campus relative to our performance improvement plan; what our current vision is for the College; what we think the College could be in 2025 if money weren’t an issue; what we think our strengths,  weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are; and to propose some areas that we’d like some funding from SUNY for.  A group of 11 of us participated in preparing our responses, including me, the vice presidents, our student government president Nikki Zeitzman, our associate provost, our co-chief diversity officers, our Faculty Assembly moderator (who got sick and wasn’t able to attend the meeting), and our UUP local union president.


We left Canton at about 7 AM for the drive down to Albany and fortunately the weather cooperated, so we had a pleasant ride.  We got there just in time for a quick lunch, and then went over to SUNY for our 1 PM meeting.

By all accounts the meeting went well, and I think our colleagues at SUNY now have a stronger understanding of the many great things going on at SUNY Canton today, and the even greater things we are planning and working toward for the future.  Hopefully, they’ll invite us to submit  proposals for funding on some of the ideas we presented.


Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest dealt with word that begin with the letter “R”.  Our fastest five responders with all five correct were Megan Warren, Patrick Hanss, Carmela Young, Christina Lesyk, and Douglas Scheidt.  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 Kevin Elliott and Bruce Hanson.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. You can rent a dvd from this in front of Price Chopper, Walmart, and many other places.  Redbox.
  2. Fairy tale female with very long hair that was locked up in a tower.  Rapunzel.
  3. Best known boxer from Philadelphia, better known as Sylvester Stallone.  Rocky.
  4. City that’s home to Eastman Kodak.  Rochester, NY.
  5. Small streaming TV and media player—it’s either a separate box or may be part of a smart TV.  Roku.



This Time’s Trivia Challenge

Continuing our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “S”.  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. Children’s playground ride where one side goes up as the other goes down.
  2. Seattle football team.
  3. Neutral country in central Europe, known for its mountains.
  4. You pay into it each paycheck so you’ll have money when you retire.
  5. The General Sherman, the tallest tree in the world, is one of these.


Posted in Uncategorized

February 10, 2017


Volume 11, Issue 11–February 10, 2017


This Just In

Our new degree programs in Game Design and Development (B.S.) and Agribusiness (B.B.A.) have now been fully approved!  More on this next issue.


Welcome Back

We’re well into the Spring Semester, though it really doesn’t look a lot like spring.  There’s a little bit of snow on the ground and it has gotten a bit cold at times, but nothing too serious.  All in all, it has been a mild winter up until now.  Hopefully, February and March won’t go the other way, though some snow is predicted for the weekend.

As anyone who lives up here knows, the weather can vary tremendously in just a few miles.  I just returned from an alumni visit trip in Florida (more on that below) and when I landed in Syracuse, I was surprised to see that there was no snow whatsoever on the ground.  When I drove onto I-81, after a few miles I saw an electronic warning sign saying “heavy snow between exits 34 and 40.”  For those who don’t know, these exits correspond to the Tug Hill region between Parish and Adams NY, where the wind comes whipping in from Lake Ontario, often bringing lake effect snow with it.  Sure enough, a mile after exit 34, the weather instantaneously changed from clear to very fine (but heavy) snow, and it got worse quickly.  At first the road stayed clear, but soon it was covered and the plows hadn’t come out yet.  I had to slow down to 35 mph since it was a bit slippery.  The snow was sometimes lighter for a time but it always came back to heavy, until about one mile from exit 40 where it stopped as suddenly as it started.  I stopped in Watertown for dinner at the new Indian restaurant there, and had an easy ride up to Canton thereafter.


Happy Birthday!

It’s birthday time in the Szafran household.  My father Daniel just turned 90 on February 8, and son Mark turned 33 on February 9.  True story:  When wife Jill was pregnant with Mark, my father was hoping that he’d be born on February 8 so that they could celebrate their birthdays together.  When February 8 came, Jill hadn’t gone into labor, so I called my father and told him that it looked like he wasn’t going to get his wish.  Just as we were preparing to go to bed, Jill came over to me and said “It’s time”, and sure enough, she delivered Mark at about 3:00 AM on February 9.  When I told my father he had just missed having his wish granted, he said “What are you talking about?  I was born in Poland—there’s a 7 hour time difference between here and there, so you made it!”  So, for many years, they indeed always celebrated their birthdays together.


Long Trip

The trip I got back from was a long one, starting on January 17th and running to the 29th.  Leg one had me driving from Canton down to Syracuse to catch a flight there on American Airlines to go to Nashville for the NCAA National Convention.  SUNY Canton became a full member of NCAA Division III this past year.

The drive down was mostly fine, though it rained as I got closer to Syracuse.  The temperature had dropped to 29°, but it never turned to snow.  The flight took off on time for Chicago, where I was changing planes, and was uneventful.  My connecting flight was only three gates away, so that was very easy, and we got on the Nashville flight right on time.  After taxiing out from the gate, we sat there for about 45 minutes (which the pilot initially said was due to heavy traffic), and were then told there was a mechanical problem—fuel wasn’t being pumped to one side of the plane’s tanks.  The plane returned to the gate, we sat there a bit longer while a repair crew looked things over, and were then taken off the plane.  After about an hour or so, they announced that we would be going onto another plane in a short while, and after about 45 minutes, we did.  I arrived in Nashville about 2.5 hours late, and by the time I took the bus to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, all the restaurants were closed so I had to content myself with a pretty dismal pre-packaged sub.

For those who have never been there, the Gaylord Opryland Hotel is a pretty impressive place—they say it’s the biggest hotel in the US that doesn’t have a casino associated with it.  After checking in, I had a rather long walk from one area of the hotel complex to where my room was, involving a couple of escalators, a sky bridge, and two elevators before I got there.  The hotel reminded me of San Antonio’s Riverwalk—there are several “rivers” inside (you can even take a boat ride on one of them) with restaurants alongside, and the skywalk was over a “jungle” area with lots of exotic plants.  My room was quite nice, with a TV that also provided internet access, so I connected to YouTube and watched a few episodes of What’s My Line from 1953 while eating my sub.


The next day I registered for the conference, ran into several people I know, and the first big event was the NCAA Honors Celebration.  The Honors Celebration is really something, showcasing students who have overcome great adversity or challenge to excel both scholastically and athletically.  There were also others who were chosen on the 25th anniversary of their graduation.  The Theodore Roosevelt Award for Astounding Accomplishment went to Beth Brooke-Marciniak, who was a great basketball player who went on to become a business leader at Ernst and Young and is now their Global Vice Chair of Public Policy, serves on the Women’s Advisory Board of the World Economic Forum, is the co-chair of the International Council on Women’s Business Leadership, and was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the world’s 100 most powerful women.


Other sessions during the week focused on the Fair Labor Standards Act, social justice in in college sports, and the usual business meetings.  Our own Courtney Bish (VP for Student Affairs) was selected to attend the Athletics Direct Reports Institute at the NCAA Conference, one of only 43 selected nationwide from Division III.

On Saturday, I got to look around the area a little bit, including a walk down to the Grand Ole Opry.  Unfortunately, they were doing renovations there and the concerts were downtown, but it was still a cool place to see.


I left Nashville on Sunday morning, taking an early United Airlines flight to Washington DC.  By an odd coincidence, the person sitting next to me on the flight was Skip Sullivan, president of Alfred State College, and a friend from back in Georgia days.  My connection time in Washington was supposed to be an hour, but after getting on the plane to Albany, we had to get off because of mechanical problems.  This time the delay was five hours before they could get us on another plane.  The airport was filled with women who had participated in the National Women’s March the previous day and were returning home.  It was interesting to hear their stories about the March, and how excited and energized they were to get more politically involved.  The flight finally took off at about 5:30 PM, and was otherwise uneventful.  I got into Albany, checked into my hotel, and went down to Jack’s Oyster House for a great seafood meal.  While there, I got a news announcement on my phone—all domestic flights on United had been cancelled due to a computer malfunction, so I had barely made it onto the flight on time.

On Monday morning, I went over to the Egg in Albany to attend a breakfast honoring SUNY’s Chancellor, Nancy Zimpher.  Chancellor Zimpher will be leaving her position at the end of the academic year, so this was our chance to say “thanks” for everything she has done and to wish her well in the future.  The breakfast was followed by the Chancellor’s annual State of the University Address, where she talked about two new initiatives.  The first, the SUNY Impact Foundation, will be created to raise funds to support degree completion and student success on all campuses.  The second was the creation of the SUNY Center for Systems Change, which will focus on continuous improvement within the system.  There were several pictures of SUNY Canton in her presentation, thanks to the good efforts of our PR folks.

Following the Address, I joined Lenore VanderZee (Executive Director for University Relations) to speak with our own State Senator Patty Ritchie.  Senator Ritchie is a strong supporter of SUNY Canton, and is especially interested in our efforts in agriculture, nursing, and economic development.  She noted: “Centers of learning—like SUNY Canton—are key to helping people have bright futures, and I’m looking forward to continuing to work together to improve higher ed opportunities for students.”


We then met with Deborah Glick, the Chair of the Assembly’s Higher Education Committee.  Assemblymember Glick is a strong supporter of SUNY, and of higher education in general.  We discussed some of the new initiatives we are taking at the College, as well as Governor Andrew Cuomo’s new Excelsior Scholarship initiative.  Our third meeting was with members of State Senator Kenneth LaValle’s staff on the same issues, and they were strongly supportive.

That evening, we attended the Business Council’s Legislator’s Reception, where we met several colleagues from other SUNY campuses and several business leaders, including one I found out was our own alumnus—Tom Landry (no, not the football player, though he’s met him!), who works at blueRock Solar.

On Tuesday morning, I met with our local Assemblywoman, Addie Jenne.  I’ve met with her many times, both at formal meetings and at various events around the region, and I always enjoy hearing her viewpoints.  She is also a strong supporter of the College and is interested in several of our new initiatives.  From there, it was down to SUNY Central to meet with Gloria Lopez, who is the System – wide Affirmative Action Officer in SUNY’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and a Fulbright scholar.  We chatted a bit about world music, and then went to lunch at LaZeez (an Indian restaurant) where we talked about some of the initiatives we are planning that will increase diversity on our campus.  Gloria has lots of interesting ideas that I look forward to sharing with our Executive Diversity Council.

After lunch, I checked out of the hotel and went to the airport for the third leg of my trip—visiting alumni in Florida.  The flight was a non-stop on Jet Blue, which is a pretty nice airline with above average legroom.  There was no one in the middle seat (which is unusual these days), so I was able to stretch out a bit.  They also have free wi-fi on the flight, and also had those little TV screens that gave access to three movies and some 60 TV channels.  Unfortunately, the wi-fi was wonky and never really worked, and the TV conked out from time to time.  Still, the flight was fine and I arrived in Orlando on time.  The moment I walked out of the terminal, Peggy Sue Levato from our Advancement Office was there, having correctly guessed which door I’d emerge from.  We went to the Courtyard Marriott, which was a nice enough hotel, but it had a really strange room numbering scheme—there were two wings on the second floor, but they don’t connect anywhere.  I made the mistake of taking the elevator to the second floor on the wrong side, and the room numbers ended at a number lower than the number on my key.  I called the office to tell them I had the wrong room number, but they laughed and told me I had to go back to the first floor, go around to the other side of the hotel, and go up to the second floor there.

On Wednesday we got together with Bob Raymo, his wife Kathy, and some friends of theirs for a very nice fish dinner.  Bob was the Director of Development for 10 years at SUNY Canton and is a Foundation Board member.  On Thursday, we drove to New Smyrna Beach and met with Carol Roche for lunch.  She has a lovely home painted in pastel colors, with an office area that opens out to an indoor porch and then an enclosed pool area.  I loved the layout of the place, and may try to do the same enclosure thing on our patio at home.  Carol is an accountant who has a thriving business in Florida.  We then checked into the Best Western, which is right on the beach.  My room had a very nice beach view and even had a small balcony.


I joined up with Peggy Sue and we went to Norwood’s for an alumni gathering.  The gathering was well attended, and I was very happy to see former SUNY Canton President Joe Kennedy and his wife Dine there, as well as foundation board members Gil White, Bob Raymo, and Chris Gray.  I gave a short presentation updating everyone about what’s going on at the College, and they all were very pleased at our progress on multiple fronts.


On Thursday, we drove down to the Villages, a new and very large city that has been established near Leesburg.


On the local news, they reported there had just been an incident that was all over the local press (but I never saw in the national news) about some local middle school students who had gotten guns and intended to carry out a Columbine-style massacre at their school that morning, but had been caught at the last minute when other students who had heard about it said something to the right people. Pretty shocking!

We met with Rosella Valentine (’68) and her husband John at a very nice restaurant.  It’s always nice to see them—Rosella is a long-time member of the foundation board (I learned it was her 40th anniversary of service on the board!) and John and I share a love of classical music and opera.  On Saturday, we went to another alumni gathering, this time in Summerfield.  Joe and Dine Kennedy had made the trek out to be at this meeting too, and it was another well-attended gathering.


Afterwards, it was back in the car for the ride up to Orlando, to stay at the Airport Fairfield Inn.  We left Orlando on Sunday, getting to Syracuse at about 4 PM, and after a stop in Watertown for dinner, I finally got home at about 8 PM.  The next morning?  Back to work on campus for a bunch of meetings that had stacked up in the 12 days I was gone.


Last Time’s Trivia Contest

There was none.



This Time’s Trivia Challenge

Continuing our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “R”.  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. You can rent a dvd from this in front of Price Chopper, Walmart, and many other places.
  2. Fairy tale female with very long hair that was locked up in a tower.
  3. Best known boxer from Philadelphia, better known as Sylvester Stallone.
  4. City that’s home to Eastman Kodak.
  5. Small streaming TV and media player—it’s either a separate box or may be part of a smart TV.





Posted in Uncategorized

December 21, 2016

Happy Holidays to All!

It’s only a few days before Christmas and Chanukah and things are definitely winding down on campus.  I walked down the hall in Cook this morning and at the time, all the lights were off, with the only thing open being the Dean’s Office.  The parking lots are half-empty, with lots of people having begun their vacations.

While we’ve had some below zero nights, most days have been right around the freezing mark of 32°F.  There’s some snow on the ground, though not too much, and since the weather was warm enough for rain a few days ago (which then froze overnight), there is a bit of ice under the snow.  It’s gotten as high as 37°F today, which has caused the ice on the cars (at least) to melt, and the icicles on the house are going fast.  The weather report is predicting a cold but sunny Christmas day, with the day after rising to a practically tropical 40°F.

There have been tons of holiday parties on campus which are always fun.  Our college-wide party was on December 9th, and our College Association delivered the usual excellent spread.  Everyone was commenting on how nice the decorations were and how good the food was.  Live music was provided by a jazz quartet that included SUNY Canton family member Dan Gagliardi on bass and his son on trombone, and they were great too.  In fact, I was inspired enough to grab wife Jill and dance with her when they did a nice rendition of “Georgia on My Mind”.  On Saturday December 10th, the annual Children’s Holiday Party took place in Dana Hall.  The full report on that party is further below.  I also attended Governor Cuomo’s Holiday Reception in Albany when I was down for the Regional Economic Development Council announcements on December 8th–it was a very  nice affair as well.  There were lots of other potlucks, department parties, and secret santa parties as well.

I hope everyone has a happy and restful holiday and a fabulous new year, and I’ll see you all on the flip side.


Children’s Holiday Party

One of my favorite events of the year is the Children’s Holiday Party that is given by the Early Childhood Education Program’s faculty and students.  Many of the children in attendance started coming when they were babies and have come every year since.  The theme is different every year to keep things interesting, and this year’s theme was the game “Candyland”.


Jill, Mark, and I had fun greeting the children at the entrance table and seeing the excited looks on their faces when they saw all the great activities that filled our intramural gym.


The students from the Early Childhood program and the volunteers from Kappa Xi Omega Sorority each staffed either a game that children could play or a table at which they could do a crafts activity, so there were dozens of things to occupy each child.


The College Association provided ice cream, popcorn, drinks, and other snacks for the children, ably staffed by Sean Conklin and Nicole Fullerton.

The big event at the party, of course, was the arrival of Santa Claus, who spoke to each child and gave them a small present.


Santa and Finn O’Brien

All the children had a great time.  Big thanks to Program Director Maureen Maiocco, and faculty member Christina Martin for all their hard work organizing the event, as well as:


Our Early Childhood students: Morgan Morse, Jennifer Blair, Janel Gordon, Savanna-Lin Boadway, Mya Motley, Tianna Parkes, Sarrah Williams, Jenna Murtagh, Fatima Kamara, Lashay Pressley, Molly Atkinson, Jenna Holmes, and Alexandria McIntosh.

Our Kappa Xi Omega volunteers: Bailie Young, Peighton Laffin, Taylor Gray, Kristen Avellino, Carolyn Lorenzi, Ariel Mann, Aaliyah Guzman, Brittaney Carey, and Kennedy Casiano.

Shout Outs


Congratulations to the Betty J. Evans Tutoring Center in becoming CRLA-certified! This certification means that our tutoring program has met internationally accepted standards of assessment, skills, and training for our tutors. We are extremely proud of the tutoring center staff and tutors for achieving such a stamp of quality–it took several  years of preparation and training to attain this distinction and it was a true team effort.  A special shout-out to Paul Todd for leadership in this effort, both in the writing of the self-study and in the development and implementation of the training program   Congratulations on a job well done!



Two college ranking web sites have evaluated SUNY Canton as being among the best value colleges in their rankings.  According to bestvalueschools.com, SUNY Canton is the best value online school in New York for 2016.  They wrote: “What makes SUNY Canton the best online college in New York? How about its impressive selection of more than 400 online courses and 10 majors? Or what about its extreme affordability and well-developed online support system? Or how about all of the above? All in all, SUNY Canton excels where online learners need them to the most – at student support! In addition to an active advising office and helpful Career Resources center, the school also provides a free “Mastering American ELearning” course for international students. And despite their already high standing, SUNY Canton is always looking for areas of improvement and employs a staff of dedicated online faculty that work to continuously enhance the distance education experience.”

SUNY Canton was ranked #14 in greatcollegedeals.net’s national list of colleges with energy research programs.  They wrote: “For students seeking a degree program in energy research, SUNY Canton offers an Alternative and Renewable Energy Systems major that covers a fascinating spectrum of study in this field. Some of the courses offered related to energy include thermodynamics, heat transfer, environmental science, and many more. Students following this major are taught to become solution-oriented professionals on issues pertaining to alternative and renewable energy.”  We’re in very good company on this list, with the only schools ahead of us being NC State, U. Colorado, Texas A&M, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Ecotech Institute, Cornell, San Juan College, U. Michigan, U. California Berkeley, Stanford, the Colorado School of Mines, and Boston College.


In Memorium


SUNY Canton lost a great friend and benefactor in the passing away of John L. Halford, Sr. on December 7, 2016.  He was born on Jan. 24, 1925 in Gouverneur. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1942 and served in the South Pacific attached to the 3rd Marine Raider Battalion and the 3rd Marine Division. He earned his degree in Air Conditioning Engineering Technology at the Agricultural and Technical College at Canton (as SUNY Canton was known then) in 1949.

Mr. Halford worked for the Gouverneur Hospital from 1951 to 1953, and then at Brookhaven National Laboratory from 1953 to 1970, where he was a technical specialist whose primary responsibilities were in the development of liquid containment materials for nuclear reactors. He then worked as maintenance supervisor for Suffolk County in the Buildings and Grounds Department from 1972 until his retirement in 1988.

Mr. Halford was a dedicated believer in helping students to achieve their potential. In 1989 he established an endowed scholarship at SUNY Canton that is given annually to five students who are in need of financial assistance. In 1999, Mr. Halford established a memorial scholarship to honor the World War II service of the six Halford brothers, awarded to two Gouverneur High School seniors who are planning to attend one of our four-year programs.  In a 2005 article for the After Canton alumni magazine, Mr. Halford said, “College is all about opportunities in life. A lot of young people don’t see a future, but I hope that with these scholarships I can help them see all of the possibilities that lie ahead for them.

Mr. Halford had the distinct honor of being the alum with the most locations named for him on SUNY Canton’s campus. The college dedicated the John L. Halford, Sr. Lobby in 2005, Halford Suite in the Roos House in 2011, Halford Classroom in 2012, a Veterans Tree in 2014, and Halford Hall (which houses the CREST Center) in 2014. Mr. Halford also served on the Canton College Foundation Board of Directors since 2004.

He received the college’s Distinguished Alumnus award in 2010, was inducted into the College Hall of Fame in 2011, and was inducted into the New York State Veterans Hall of Fame by State Senator Patty Ritchie in 2014.

On a more personal note, Mr. Halford gave a generous donation to SUNY Canton in honor of my installment as president. I remember well when I first met him and introduced him to my father Daniel in  2014.  They became fast friends and saw each other many times, always talking about their military experiences, basketball, and their love for their wives.

John Halford did a tremendous amount of good in this world.  He served America in World War II, and served the communities that he lived in when he returned. He always wanted to help others, through his church, his town, and through funding scholarships and supporting his college. He will be sorely missed.

Donations in Mr. Halford’s memory can be made to the Canton College Foundation.


Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest dealt with word that begin with the letter “Q”.  Our fastest five responders with all five correct were Debbie Flack, Patrick Hanss, Kelly Carter, Geoffrey VanderWoude, and Kevin Elliott.  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 Christina Lesyk.  Here are the correct answers:

    1. Sound a duck makes.  Quack.
    2. The current one in England has set a record for the longest reign of any monarch.  Queen.
    3. The number of members that must be present in order to vote on something.  Quorum.
    4. Religious group also known as the Society of Friends, who refuse to participate in war or take oaths. The oats company has nothing to do with them.  Quakers.
    5. Formula that lets you calculate the solutions for any equation in the form ax2+bx+c = 0.  Quadratic Equation.


This Time’s Trivia Challenge

The trivia challenge is on vacation!  It will return in January.


Posted in Uncategorized

December 6, 2016


Volume 11, Issue 9–December 6, 2016



It’s December Already?

How can it be December already?  It seems like the semester just started and yet, in another two weeks it will be over.   I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving, ate lots of turkey, and is feeling invigorated to make the final end-of-semester push.

We stayed around the area for Thanksgiving, and after a little discussion (OK, argument), decided that we’d stay traditional again this year and get a turkey.  Jill had the nice folks at Price Chopper look around the back to find the smallest possible turkey since it’s just the three of us, and she really doesn’t like turkey all that much.  They found a nice 12 pounder, and after thawing it out, washing it, adding some stuffing, and rubbing the outside with some seasoning, it was quite delicious.  One of the best inventions of all time is the oven cooking bag—it keeps the turkey moist, requires no basting, retains the gravy inside, and even makes the bird cook faster.  What more can you ask for less than a dollar?  Anyway, after gorging on the turkey, stuffing, and rice for a few days, we had all had enough and dumped the little bit that was left.

This year, Chanukah comes on the same day as Christmas.  Since Jewish holidays are based on the lunar calendar, they float relative to the “normal” calendar.  Chanukah can come as early as November 28 or as late as December 27, so this year it is an unusually late one.  We have a number of Chanukah menorahs (candelabras) that we’ve picked up over the years.  Our favorite is one we got for Mark’s first Chanukah—it has Mickey and Minnie Mouse lying on the floor in front of a fireplace, playing with dreidels (little spinning tops).


Another one I like has eight different rabbis all doing various things, with the candle holder on top of each one’s head.  I’ve wanted an electric menorah that we could put in the window for a while now (you don’t want lit candles there, right?), but never seen one that I liked.  We finally found an acrylic one yesterday at the food festival at the synagogue in Potsdam, where by moving a pair of sliding panels in the back, each of the arms can be lit up in different colors, one by one.  It’s pretty nice, so look for it when you drive by my house this year.



Diversity Conferences

Back on November 8, Jill and I went to the Canton Fire Department to vote at about 6:45 AM, because I was heading out of town for a pair of diversity conferences.  The lines weren’t long at that hour, so finding a parking space and voting only took a few minutes.  Something I hadn’t run into before was that the lines were divided by district—since I live in the Town of Canton just outside the Village of Canton, there were a few village positions we weren’t eligible to vote on, so my ballot would be a little different from that of someone who lives in the village.  Everybody who’s not a New Yorker follow that?

After dropping Jill back at home, I turned around and picked up Provost Doug Scheidt for a drive down to Saratoga Springs to attend the Cultural Competency and Inclusive Excellence Institute for Senior SUNY Leadership (CCIEI, November 8) and the SUNY Diversity Conference (November 9-11).  The trip down was quite nice—a crisp fall day through the Adirondack Mountains.  There are several choices of ways to get there that are all about the same distance and time, but I usually go through Newcomb and Minerva on Route 28N toward Olmstedsville, and pick up I-87 in Pottersville.  This time I noticed a sign for Olmstedsville a bit earlier and turned off to go there, only to find myself on a road that I had never been on before (I think we were on County Road 24), in an area where there was no GPS signal.  I knew we’d be fine if we kept heading east, since we’d eventually run into either US 9 or I-87, and sure enough we did at Schroon Lake, which turned out to be quite beautiful.  Anyway, we got to Saratoga Springs just in time for the conferences.

The CCIEI was good, with a very interesting session on how we’re wired to see and do certain things in a particular way.  The speaker, Howard Ross, showed a series of words representing colors that were the same color as the word (i.e., the word “red” was colored red), and had us read them as quickly as we could.  No one had any problem with that.  He then showed a similar series of words representing colors, but this time, the word was colored in a different color (i.e., the word “red” was colored blue), and asked us to say what color each word was (blue in this example).  This caused a mental “disconnect”, since our minds are trained to read the word, not its color, and it was much harder to do it.  This phenomenon, Doug tells me, is called the Stroop Effect.

Ross then showed it wasn’t just our minds that work that way—our bodies do too.  He showed a film clip with people riding a bicycle that had been modified so that when the handlebars were turned in one direction, the bicycle would turn in the opposite direction.  People were offered $50 if they could ride the bicycle about 20 feet without falling off, and no one could do it, because we’re conditioned when we learn to ride a bicycle that it will react only in one way.

Both things illustrated that it’s really hard to see or do things in new ways, because we’re so conditioned to doing them in the way we’re used to.

In the same way, our prior experiences give us biases.  If you got ill after eating carrots when you were young, you might avoid carrots from that point forward.  The bias could be conscious (you remember the earlier bad experience) or unconscious (you’ve forgotten why you don’t like carrots but you still avoid them, or you may even shy away from all orange foods because you associated the bad experience with orange-colored foods in general).  There’s no particular harm to this kind of bias, since we all have individual preferences in food, style of clothing, and so on.

However, through their upbringing or experiences, some people associate negative traits with whole groups of people.  If one person from Potsdam treated you meanly, you may associate meanness (and other negative traits) with all people from Potsdam, and avoid going there, hiring someone from there, or simply being fearful of someone from there, without even being conscious that you are doing this.  This type of bias, even when unconscious, results in discrimination, since fear quickly triggers the more primitive part of the brain, whereas the intellectual part of our brain reacts more slowly.  Harvard University has a website where you can take a test to see if you have an unconscious bias (they call it implicit bias) in a number of areas.  If you want to give it a try, you can click here.

Since everyone has unconscious biases, that’s part of the reason it is important to make sure that decision-making groups are diverse. A diverse group will be less likely to have all had the same experiences or unconscious biases, and if group members are willing to speak up, less likely to arrive at discriminatory outcomes.  Also, when one is aware of unconscious biases in general, and one’s own biases in particular, it is easier to avoid acting in ways that result from them.

The SUNY Diversity Conference featured of a number of keynote speakers as well as parallel sessions of individual presentations.  A number of the speakers made last-minute changes in their talks to editorialize about the election outcome, with several expressing concern about what the future Trump administration might do regarding issues related to diversity, and resolved to fight anything that would push back on recent social gains.

As is always the case, some of the talks were more interesting than others.  I personally would have liked more talks to have focused on strategies that had been found to be successful and how they were implemented and fewer on advocacy, but on the whole, the conference was quite worthwhile.

At the very end of the conference, I was part of a panel of four presidents talking about how they were implementing the Board of Regents’ Diversity Agenda on their campuses.  I presented a PowerPoint on what we have done at SUNY Canton.  It was interesting to see the similarities and differences in the various campus’ approaches, and I was able to get a few ideas of new things that might be worth trying.

So what was the most interesting talk at the conference?  Other than mine (of course), I’d have to say it was the speaker who ended his talk on how to implement a strong diversity program with “The Wisdom of Yoda”, which he delivered in a very good vocal imitation of Yoda.  I’ll let you read the five bullet points for yourself and decide how accurate they are.


The Conference ended at about 1:30, so we hopped back in the car, had a nice ride back through the Adirondacks, and made it back to Canton at about 5:30, just in time for dinner.


Shout Outs

Congratulations to our Health Care Management program, which was just listed among the Top 10 Low Cost Online Degree Programs 2016 by bestdegreeprograms.org.


The website praised the degree, saying “SUNY Canton rivals even the most accommodating online colleges with its B.S. in Health Care Management, which allows students to select any combination of online, hybrid and face-to-face courses.”  Health Care Management (part of the general category of Health Administration) is a high demand field.  The website goes on to say “If you graduate with a B.S. in Health Administration, you’ll find yourself gazing into a future with explosive career opportunities. The BLS anticipates an immense 17% growth in health management positions before 2024 – that’s more than 56,000 new jobs…the data indicates that a degree in this discipline could be your ticket to a reliable future with high ROI and room to grow.”


Kudos to DianeMarie Collins for her good work with the SUNY Canton’s new electronic sign.


It’s a harder job than you may think—DianeMarie often stays late to create signs for events, rearranges the order of events to accommodate requests, and diplomatically fields requests or addresses complaints about submissions that don’t fit the agreed upon criteria.  The sign looks great, and I enjoy reading it as I drive in each morning!   


Congratulations to Emily Hamilton-Honey (English) who recently won the St. Lawrence County Chapter of the American Association of University Women’s (AAUW) Research Award for her in-depth study of young women’s serial novels.


She is the author of a book in progress titled Girls to the Rescue: Mixed Messages From American Girls’ Series Fiction in World War I. Her research is based on series books including The Red Cross Girls, The Khaki Girls, and the Ruth Fielding novels. The book is slated to be published next year.


If you liked the chocolates that my office sent out as a small holiday appreciation for your efforts all year, the people to really thank are the good elves that distributed them to everyone on campus.


Here’s a list of Santa’s helpers:  Brenda Mullaney, Lisa Perry, Memorie Shampine, Aimee Felt, Ellie Prashaw, Tammy Carr, Dianne Chappell, Karen McAuliffe, Toni Besio, Tina Demo, Mary Loomis, Linda LaParr, Brienne Rose, Patrick Harrington, Lisa St. Germain, Art Garno, Brenda Dean, Jennifer Jones, Michael Smith, Gisele Fleury, Penny Ames, Pat Hanss, Marty Avery, Nancy Rowledge, DianeMarie Collins, and Debbie Flack.


Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest dealt with word that begin with the letter “P”.  Our fastest five responders with all five correct were Megan Warren, Jacob Yaeger, Patrick Hanss, Renee Campbell, and Anne Williams.  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 Mary Rishe, Kevin Elliott, Jennifer McCluskey, Geoffrey VanderWoude, Drorit Szafran, and Doug Scheidt. Here are the correct answers:

  1. Head of the Catholic Church.  The Pope.
  2. Flightless bird found in the Antarctic.  Penguin.
  3. Germany invaded this country in September 1939.  Poland.
  4. Poet who wrote “The Raven”.  Edgar Allan Poe.
  5. Someone who does something exceptionally well, often at a young age.  Prodigy.



This Time’s Trivia Challenge

Continuing our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “Q”, which should certainly test your vocabulary!  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. Sound a duck makes.
  2. The current one in England has set a record for the longest reign of any monarch.
  3. The number of members that must be present in order to vote on something.
  4. Religious group also known as the Society of Friends, who refuse to participate in war or take oaths. The oats company has nothing to do with them.
  5. Formula that lets you calculate the solutions for any equation in the form ax2+bx+c = 0.



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