August 29, 2016


Volume 3, Issue 1–August 29, 2016



FROM THE POUCH is a blog I write for SUNY Canton students.  During the fall and spring semesters, it comes out every week more or less, depending on how busy I am.  It consists of news, answers to student questions, and random thoughts that cross my mind.  There’s even a trivia contest in each issue—if you’re the first to get every question right, you win a $10 gift card, good anywhere on campus.  Even if you’re not the first, you get your name published in the blog, and that’s priceless!  I hope you enjoy it, and I’d love to hear your comments.

Best regards,

Dr. Zvi Szafran

President, SUNY Canton



Welcome Back!

Summer is now over and I’m sure we can all agree it went by extremely quickly.  It used to be that summer was a time for rest and refreshing of the brain cells, but for me at least, each year it actually gets busier.  I hope you had a good time and are rested up for what I’m sure will be a busy and engaging fall.  I took the week of July 4th as vacation, but really didn’t go anywhere then or the rest of the summer.  It’s so nice up here I don’t really feel the urge to travel except to the local rivers, lakes, and mountains.

 St. Lawrence River

The big change at the Szafran homestead is that we had a patio put in, and it turned out really well.  We had been thinking about having this done for a year or so, to fix up an area that had a honeysuckle tree that was overgrown and scratching at our window.  Provost Doug Scheidt beat us to it and had one put in at his house, and when I saw how nice it was, I hired the same guy (J&J Groundworks–I think the owner is a SUNY Canton graduate) to put one in for me.  It has been unusually hot this summer, with temperatures going into the 90’s on multiple occasions, and it’s a bit buggy when the sun goes down and it cools off, so I haven’t put the patio to as much use as I’d like.  The weather has been nice the past few days, so we’re now enjoying it, and will probably have a few barbeques in the near future.

Patio, Before

Patio, After

 The new patio before and after.


Get Off to a Good Start—Early Warning System

If you’re a new student at SUNY Canton, I want to remind you that it is extremely important to make a good start in your studies.  There’s a lot of evidence that students who get off to a good start in the first three weeks wind up doing well all semester.  To help, we have what we call an Early Warning System here on campus, where our faculty let us know which of our students are engaged in their studies (meaning that you show up to class, turn in your homework, participate, and have done well if there has been an early quiz or the like), which are not engaged (which means that you’re skipping too many classes, haven’t turned in your work, and don’t participate), and which are no-shows (meaning you essentially never showed up).  This happens at the end of week 3 of classes. 

If one or more of your teachers mark you down as not engaged, you’re going to hear from us.  We’re not trying to give you a hard time—we’ll be calling to offer you help and to make suggestions as to how to do better. It’s really bad if you’re a no-show, because that means we may have to cancel your financial aid and let the federal government know.

Here’s some data you should know:  Students who were “engaged” in all their classes had an average grade point average of 3.0, which is a “B”.  Students who had one or more “not engaged” grades had an average GPA of 1.5, which is a “D+”.  That’s a huge difference.  A good early start means a good finish.

Why do we do this?  Because we want you to succeed, do well in your classes, and eventually graduate.  Believe it or not, we do care about your success.


Challenge Coins

Something a little different we do at SUNY Canton is an idea that we borrowed from the military—when a soldier completes a difficult job, they are sometimes awarded with a challenge coin.  We do that at SUNY Canton too—if you complete the fall semester of your 1st year with a good grade point average, you win a special challenge coin—with Roody our mascot on the front side, and our college seal on the back.   

We started doing this in Fall 2014 with a 1st year coin, which is white in color (pictured above) and requires at least a 2.0 GPA to win it.  In Fall 2015, we added a 2nd year coin, which is green in color and requires at least a 2.33 GPA and having completed at least 36 credits. This year, we’re adding a 3rd year coin, which is blue in color and requires at least a 2.67 GPA and having completed 60 credits.  Finally, next year we’ll issue the 4th year challenge coin for those with at least a 3.0 GPA and having completed at least 84 credits.  This coin is a gold-colored beauty.

If you are going for an associates degree and have won both coins, or if you are going for a bachelors degree and earn all four coins, what do you get?  A special gift at the end, but you’ll have to earn the coins to find out what it is, because it’s a surprise.  So, meet the challenge and earn the coins!



Important Events Coming Up!

Please try to attend the following important events, all to be held at the Memorial Rock adjacent to French Hall.

 vigil poster



Grand Tour of Campus

While many of you will have been away for the summer, there are many new things that have recently been completed or that will be done this fall.  Folks have been really busy making our campus a more beautiful and welcoming place for everyone to enjoy.  Here’s a nice campus tour you’ll want to take to see them all:

When you first come onto the campus from Route 68, you’ll immediately see several beautiful flowerbeds, containing a riot of purple, white, and other colored blooms.

Zvi Flowers1

Along the side of Cornell Drive, you’ll see the new LED light poles which provide more light but consume less electricity.


Something you won’t be able to see are the new underground gas lines that will assure our ability to keep the campus warm during the winter.  A bit further up the road at the Y, you’ll see the beautiful new electronic sign welcoming folks to campus, giving information about the day’s events, and providing directions to major campus buildings.


Going left at the Y, next on our tour will be French Hall, with its beautiful new windows and entranceways, refurbished offices for Admission, Advancement, and Administration, and its newly repaved parking lot (Lot 8).

French Hall

On the grounds to the left of French Hall you can visit the Memorial Rock, a place for reflection, remembrance, and celebration of life.  The memorial was installed last February by our Student Government to remember Elliot Mullings, a well-liked student majoring in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement Leadership who passed away in Spring 2014.


The Memorial Rock was installed last February

Right alongside is the campus’ new Butterfly Garden.  It’s quite lovely with the plantings that have already attracted quite a number of butterflies and bees.  The Butterfly Garden was funded through a Campus Enhancement Award from the SUNY Canton Foundation, and students in Prof. Rajiv Narula’s Introduction to Environmental Science course and members of the Environmental Change Organization on campus will be responsible for its upkeep.

Butterfly Garden 

Continuing down the road, you’ll pass MacArthur Hall and Dana Hall (which will be renovated beginning next year) and come to newly paved Parking Lot 3.  If you stop there and walk over to Heritage Hall, you can see the newly renovated wing of that residence hall.  It’s quite nice, and our plans are to redo one wing every year until all the residence halls have been totally refurbished.



From there, continue around the loop, enjoy the beautiful views of the Grasse River on your left, and take a right turn on Miller Drive.  Go down to the end to Lot 13, and enter the Miller Student Center.  On the first floor, look for one of our two newly refurbished casual dining spots—the Rendezvous in the Underground Lounge—where you can get a sandwich, pizza, salads, and many other tasty items.


Once you’ve eaten, walk upstairs to the second floor and head for Room 224, home of the College’s Ready Center, which opened last March and has offices of lots of helpful folks who would like to meet you.  The Center offers students help with advising, career services, and international programs.  It’s a great facility whose motto is “College Ready, Career Ready, World Ready”.


The Miller Campus Center is so nice you’ll probably want to stay for quite a while, and if you do, in Room 222, we will be opening the new Center for Diversities and Inclusion this October.  The Center will be a great space for students to talk about issues related to diversity with our two new co-Chief Diversity Officers, Lashawanda Ingram and Bill Jones, as well as for small-scale events and just to hang out and learn more about the diversity that is one of our campus’ greatest assets.  With the support of North Country Senator Patty Ritchie, a grant was obtained to fund the renovations for the Center.  Two additional grants were obtained to support the Center—one for outreach to Native American students in the Akwesasne Nation, and one to support the Center’s programming.  Many thanks to Lashawanda, Bill, Doug Scheidt, Lenore Vanderzee (Executive Director for University Relations) and Courtney Bish (Vice President for Student Life) for their grant writing, planning, and support for this effort.

Now go out the front doors of the Miller Campus Center onto Roselle Plaza, and to your left you’ll see the newly refurbished Southworth Library, with its lovely windows and copper fixtures.  Stop in and say congratulations to the librarians, because the library was rated #1 in all of SUNY for both resources AND services!  The Cyber-café is located in the the library in case you want a cup of coffee and a dessert, and will be renovated later this year as well.


Now walk over to MacArthur Hall (the tallest building on campus, shaped like a cube).  In the unlikely event you’re still hungry, stop at the newly refurbished Roos Court (replacing the former JT’s), where they had a preview tasting this week, and I can personally attest that they look very nice and the food is quite good, with a variety of cool new offerings.

 Roos Court

For our final stop, take the elevator up to the sixth floor, turn right, and walk toward my office in Room 616.  As you walk you will see the updated Gallery of SUNY Canton Directors and Presidents.  It’s pretty darned nice, and the pictures have all been reframed and appear in date order, including the interim and acting presidents who served throughout our College’s history but weren’t represented before.


A huge thank you goes to the following people for their help on this project—Michaela Young (Assistant to the President), Greg Kie (Senior Media Relations Manager), Pat Hanss (Director of Physical Plant), Stan Robert (General Mechanic), The Frame Mill (Paul and Roberta Heer), and Mike’s Trophies.  When you’re done seeing the gallery, come in and say “Hi”.  I’ll be waiting to meet you.



This Time’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s challenge is about words starting with the letter “J”.  The first response with all five correct wins a $10 gift card, good anywhere on campus. 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. It goes perfectly with peanut butter.
  2. Successful hip-hop artist, married to Beyonce.
  3. Star Wars knights.
  4. Actor that played Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean, John Dillinger in Public Enemies, Tonto in the Lone Ranger,  and the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland.
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May 2, 2016


Volume 2, Issue 15 – May 2, 2016


Graduation is Coming…

It’s finals week, and graduation is coming this Saturday.  I can’t believe this semester has gone by so fast.  I hope everyone has studied hard for their finals and does well.  It’s been a good semester, filled with fun events, great speakers, winning athletics, and lots of other great things.   It’s wonderful to see the large majority of our students continuing to excel in their studies, research, community service, and campus activities.  Congratulations to all for another successful year.



Scholarly Activities Celebration

Speaking of successful students (and faculty), I attended the Scholarly Activities Celebration last Tuesday.  The Celebration consisted of two parts—a set of poster presentations at the Southworth Library from 12-2 PM and two parallel sessions of talks from 3-5 PM.  There were about 25 posters presented, as well as a dozen or so talks, so there was plenty to see and hear.


At a lot of colleges, students are reluctant (or scared) to speak before the public, and the last thing that they’d want is for the college president to show up for their poster or talk.  I’m proud to say that wasn’t the case here—several students came up to me, took me by the arm, and wanted me to see their posters and hear their talk about them.  Invariably, the posters I saw were interesting and well presented.  I was only able to see a few of the talks, since I could only be in one room at a time and my schedule pulled me away a bit early.  Still, the talks I was able to attend were quite good, and the students presenting were well poised and had strong presentation materials.

There were a few faculty presenting posters and talks as well, and I was happy to see that two were in my own area of chemistry.  After hearing their presentations, I was able to ask a few questions and talk about the chemistry behind their results.  It’s always enjoyable to be able to talk about current research in your own field.

Congratulations to everyone who participated—presenters and advisors alike.  You did us all proud.



Celebrating Our Faculty

And speaking of successful faculty, we’ve already announced several Chancellor’s Award Winners, namely Prof. Fred Saburro for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching (see the March 21 “From the Pouch”) and students Codi McKee and Rebecca Burns for the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence (see the April 15 “From the Pouch”).

We have now heard about four other faculty who have won Chancellor’s Awards, and they are (drum roll please):  Ms. Michelle Currier (Library), who has won the Excellence in Professional Service Award; Prof. William Jones (Business Dept. Chair), who has won the Excellence in Faculty Service Award; Dr. Umesh Kumar (Finance), who has won the Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities Award; and Dr. Diane Para (Sports Management Program Director), who has won the Excellence in Teaching Award.

Please join me in congratulating them on their fine accomplishments!   Excellent faculty are among the foremost reasons that SUNY Canton is the great place it is.



Battle Buddies

Last Thursday, SUNY Canton held two events to celebrate our students who are veterans.  The first was to celebrate the creation of a Battle Buddy Center (a place for veterans to socialize and to access needed services) on our campus.  The Center is sponsored by the New York State Industries for the Disabled (NYSID), who presented the college with a check for $10,000.  The event was very nice, and started with a presentation of the colors by our local VFW post, followed by a welcome and several speeches.  Among the speakers were Mr. Paul Quirini from NYSID, Ms. Daphne Pickert from St. Lawrence NYSARC, Assemblywoman Addie Russell, and Mr. Jim Reagen from Senator Patty Ritchie’s office.  You can see a video talking about the event here.

NYSID Ceremony-SUNY Canton27

Afterwards, the college held its annual tree-planting ceremony alongside Mohawk Hall.  A tree was planted to honor Prof. Emeritus Will Fassinger (2nd from left, below), who has been a strong supporter of veterans for many years at SUNY Canton.

Tree Planting2

 Big thanks to Mr. Patrick Massaro (our Military and Veteran Student Service Coordinator) for planning the events, and to Ms. Lenore VanderZee (our Executive Director for University Relations) for stepping in to emcee.


Special Olympics

Last Saturday, for the fourth year running, SUNY Canton was the host for the North Country Region’s New York State Special Olympics Summer Games.  The event began with an opening parade of athletes from Canton, Massena, Potsdam, Malone, Waddington, Ogdensburg, Lisbon, DeKalb, Hannawa Falls, Norwood, and Norfolk.  After several awards were given, I had the pleasure of declaring the games officially open.  The athletes and volunteers looked so good, I just had to take their picture, and our Sports Information Director Nathaniel Hart took a picture of me taking it!


Here’s my shot:

Special Olympics

Events included 25, 50, 100, and 200 meter walks and runs, softball, javelin throws, soccer kicks, and basketball skill events.  There were about 175 athlete participants, along with an equal number of student-athlete volunteers from SUNY Canton to serve as buddies for the day to make sure that everyone got to the right venues, felt supported, and had a good time.  It was a wonderful event!


Big thanks to everyone who helped plan and who volunteered to support the Special Olympics.



Trip to Albany

On Sunday the 17th, it was a beautiful day—sunny and hot, and almost everyone was out sunning themselves and having a fine time.  I began the day by attending the baseball game against St. John Fisher College.  Fisher is one of the top rated teams in the country, and unfortunately, they lived up to that reputation, winning by a score of 24-6.  I was going back and forth between that game and the women’s lacrosse game against Elmira College, where we won 15-7.  Our women have now set a team record with 11 wins this season, with one game remaining.

A cookout was held after the game, so I grabbed a hot dog and some water.  I had to run soon thereafter, because I had to catch the 4:30 PM flight from Ogdensburg into Albany to get there on time for SUNY Presidents meetings on Monday morning.  The trip went off without a hitch, and I got my rental car and went to the hotel.  After going to sleep that evening, at about 1:30 AM, my cell phone rang.  I had to take off my sleep apnea mask to answer it, and it turned out to be a recorded message from the airline that my flight that evening to Washington DC to attend SUNY Days would be delayed by an hour.  It’s not obvious to me why they needed to tell me about a flight delay at 5:30 PM at 1:30 AM, but there you go.  I put on the mask again and tried to get back to sleep, and two minutes later the phone rang again to repeat the message.


Presidents Meeting

Monday morning, the presidents of the Colleges of Technology within SUNY met at 9:00, and discussed some local campus issues.  At 10:00, we went to a meeting of all SUNY presidents that was called to discuss the budget.  When I said “hello” to the Chancellor, I found out that she had been called at 1:30 AM too, and was taking the same flight out that evening as I was.

The budget this year was a bit disappointing.  It contains no funds to cover salary increases (these are negotiated in Albany), no additional funds to cover the gap in the State’s Tuition Assistance Plan (TAP—campuses have to cover the gap between the awards the State gives and the smaller amount of money the State provides to fund them), no tuition increase, and no increase in funding for SUNY.  We’re happy that students’ tuition won’t be going up, but the lack of additional funds means that next year will be tight. We also discussed several ways we can work more efficiently together, and combine our individual efforts to support the whole SUNY system.

After the meeting ended, I drove back to the airport, returned the rental car, and waited for my flight, which was now supposed to leave at 6:30 PM.  As the time approached, there were a whole bunch of people from SUNY also waiting for it.  We got on the plane, began to taxi out, and then got an announcement that a warning light had come on regarding the plane’s hydraulic system.  We taxied back, got off the plane, and waited for them to check out the problem.  The maintenance crews had all gone home for the night, so they had to call them back to the airport.  They tried to fix it, but when they fired up the engines again, the warning light was still on.  Ultimately, they cancelled the flight.  Fortunately, we had anticipated this and put a hold on some seats on the 9:30 AM flight.  The airline switched our reservations, comped me for a hotel room for the night, gave me a food voucher, and put me in first class the next morning.  Not so bad.



In DC For SUNY Days

The next morning, we took off on time with me in first class, which basically meant a somewhat wider seat, coffee served in a mug, and a complimentary bag of snacks.  I got to Washington DC at almost exactly the same time as the College’s Executive Director for University Relations, who was attending SUNY Days as well.  The weather was just beautiful, with lots of sunshine and warm temperatures.We shared a cab to the hotel, checked into our rooms, and dashed off to the first SUNY Days meeting.


SUNY Days is a chance to meet with our legislators down in Washington DC to tell them about what we’re doing on our campuses, and to speak with them about major projects we would like to do that they might want to support.  After some meetings, we went to meet with Senator Chuck Schumer to discuss some of our plans at the college.  His assistant, Ms. Veronica Duran, was kind enough to take us around to catch up with the Senator, including for a ride on the subway underneath the capitol, which was very cool.  When we met, Senator Schumer was very supportive.  A bit later, we met with Senator Schumer’s and Senator Gillibrand’s staff members to discuss our needs and how they might be able to help us.

That evening, SUNY threw a party for alumni in the DC area and for our New York congressional delegation.  Each of the dozen campuses present had a table set up providing information about the college and usually providing some small giveaways.  Schenectady Community College had a leg up on the rest of us, because they had folks from their culinary program there serving petit-fours and other deserts, but we did well too, with a lot of people stopping by our table to get more information about the College.  One of the people who stopped by was our own Representative Elise Stefanik, who had helped secure the venue for the party and was giving a short speech supporting SUNY.


L-R: Ms. VanderZee, Me, Representative Stefanik

The next day, there were more meetings in the morning which included some presentations about what the upcoming election might mean for higher education.  In the afternoon, we had a very positive meeting with Representative Stefanik, who was very supportive of our main initiatives.  We invited her to speak on our campus as part of the Leadership series next fall, and I’m hopeful that her schedule will allow her to do so.

On Thursday, I took a taxi to the airport to catch my flight to Albany.  I put my bags in the overhead bin and took my seat, and after a few minutes, the main attendant for the plane came over and asked where my bags were.  I pointed to the bin overhead, and he said “please get them and follow me”.  I turned to the stewardess to see what that was about and she whispered “he’s putting you in first class”.  So, I would up being bumped up to first class in both directions of the trip.  Not bad at all.  After a somewhat long connection in Albany, I caught the flight to Ogdensburg, and was home at 4:00 PM.



And the Rest of the Week…

As you can imagine, since the only day I was on campus last week was Friday, there were lots of catch-up meetings and paperwork to sign.  One of the nicer meetings was with our student government officers.  Two of them are graduating this year—president Khaina Solomon and treasurer Fatizjah Burnett.  Both have done an exemplary job as student leaders, and are exceptionally nice individuals as well.  I’m sure they’re both going to do very big things in the future.  The students summed up the year from their perspective, and were all either sad to be leaving SUNY Canton or looking forward to next year.  They also introduced our new SGA vice-president, Fitzroy Saunders.

Friday night featured a Passover seder (ritual meal) at a friend’s house.  On Saturday, wife Jill, son Mark and I went to the baseball game against Utica College, which was also designated as a military appreciation game.  There was a color guard from the Golden Knights Batallion present, and three SUNY Canton alumni who had served in the military were honored and all got to simultaneously throw out the first pitch.  It was a very nice event, and we split the double header 4-5, 9-4.  I was also able to watch some of the men’s lacrosse game against SUNY Delhi, which we won 19-14.  The win means we also won the USCAA tournament against SUNY Delhi, Alfred State College, and the University of Dallas.

A Passover model seder was held on our campus last Wednesday evening.  A model seder is meant for a general audience who can be of any religion, or no religion at all.  The purpose is to tell what Passover is all about, including the various rituals.  It is also to show how Passover is a universal holiday, celebrating liberation.


About 40 people from the faculty, staff, students, and community participated, and the College Association catering staff really outdid themselves for this one—every single person commented on how nicely the tables were decorated and laid out, and how excellent the food was.  Tremendous thanks go to Mr. Steve Maiocco, Mr. Sean Conklin, and Ms. Sue Law and all the staff who helped plan, prepare and serve the wonderful meal.  We’re going to do it again next year in a bigger location so that more people can come, so look for the announcement next spring.



Last Week’s Trivia Contest 

Last week’s contest dealt with cities in New York.  Our winner was Darby Warf, who wins a $10 gift card good anywhere on campus.  Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prize.  Others getting all questions right were Nicole O’Brien, Joe Bishop, and Brianna Perham.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. The Big Apple. New York City.
  2. The state capital.  Albany.
  3. Largest city in western New York.  Buffalo.
  4. Both the men’s and women’s basketball team from there made the final four this year.  Syracuse.




This Week’s Trivia Challenge

There isn’t one.  From the Pouch is going on summer vacation, so we’ll see you again in the fall!


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April 15, 2016


Volume 2, Issue 14 – April 15, 2016


Two Crazy Weeks, One More Coming

As the end of the term approaches, things get crazy busier for almost everyone and my job is no exception.  Last week included a drive to Rome for the Dental Hygiene Advisory Board meeting on Wednesday, then to an Economic Development meeting in Syracuse and an Alumni gathering in Ogdensburg on Thursday, and a quick flight and drive to Cobleskill for an inauguration on Friday.  More on these events can be found below.  Whenever you’re out of the office a lot, things pile up, so not surprisingly, this week has been pretty much non-stop meetings.   

Next week the same cycle begins again.  On Saturday, I’ll be attending an Air Force ROTC Change of Command event.  I leave for Albany on Sunday afternoon for Monday’s meetings of both the College of Technology presidents at 9:00 AM, followed by a meeting of all SUNY presidents with the Chancellor at 10:00.  I then fly to DC on Monday evening for SUNY Days, which includes a number of meetings with our representatives, senators, and their staffs.  I fly back on Thursday evening. Friday should be a lot of fun, dealing with everything that has accumulated over the week.  And of course there’s Admitted Student Day on Saturday.

Speaking of crazy, hasn’t weather has been crazy too?  We had settled into a recent pattern of light snow overnight followed by melting during the day with some rain in between.  On Tuesday, things got really weird with a nice sunny beginning to the day, followed by snow flurries in the afternoon, followed by sleet in the early evening.  It was all gone by morning on Wednesday, and the temperature should be rising to the 60’s this weekend.  No doubt followed by some snow.

I knew we’d be paying for the very mild winter we’ve had sometime.


Students Win Chancellor’s Award 

Congratulations to Codi McKee and Rebecca Burns, SUNY Canton’s two winners of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence.

Cody is a Civil and Environmental Technology major, the Engineering Club president, helped design the ASCE chapter’s steel bridge and has been a resident assistant. He received the SUNY Canton Academic award for the highest grade-point average in his discipline three times. He also received the Richard W. Miller Excellence Award, Canino Prize for Academic Excellence, and is a National Science Foundation S-STEM Scholar. He has been on the President’s List for his entire SUNY Canton career and has received multiple scholarships. He is a member of the Tau Alpha Phi National Honor Society and the Golden Key International Honor Society.

Rebecca is a Veterinary Technology major, a member of the SUNY Canton honors program and has presented research twice during the college’s Scholarly Activities Celebration. She is a member of Tau Phi Zeta honor society and the SUNY Canton Veterinary Technician Association.  She received President’s List honors for two consecutive years, as well as the Community Foundation Scholarship, Lawrence German Endowed Scholarship, Betsy B. Kaplan Memorial Endowed Scholarship, and Marie Simmons Scholarship. She is a student leader and student assistant in SUNY Canton Math and Science Tutoring Center, and works as a peer tutor through the Office of Accommodative Services. She volunteers at Cornell Cooperative Extension Farm, Pray Road Stables and the Potsdam Humane Society.

The Chancellor’s Award Ceremony took place on April 5 in Albany.  Cody and Rebecca were accompanied by Vice President for Student Life Courtney Bish at the ceremony.


L-R:  Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, Rebecca, Cody, Vice President Courtney Bish



Dental Hygiene Visit

Last Wednesday, several of us drove down to Rome to visit our Dental Hygiene program and meet with their advisory board.  I’ve heard a lot of good things about the program since I came to SUNY Canton, but this was my first change to see the program close up.

The visit began with a tour of their facilities, which are quite impressive.  Their space includes a large number of individual spaces for working with patients, fully equipped like any number of dentist offices I’ve been to.  Students in the program obviously get a lot of practical experience—several were working on patients while we visited.  There are various support spaces as well, including an autoclave room, storage room for supplies, changing room, meeting room, offices, and a patient waiting room.


In addition to the practical experience, students also (of course) take Dental Hygiene related courses and core courses, and these take place at the Rome campus of Mohawk Valley Community College.  MVCC is expanding their main building in Rome, so the program will soon enjoy new classrooms as well.  We met with the president and provost from MVCC, and then had a tour of the new construction.

The advisory board meeting was very positive, with our faculty talking about the various successes the program has enjoyed over the past year.  Something really impressive is that Dental Hygiene students enjoy an essentially 100% placement rate upon graduation.  The Dental Hygiene student association has won a national award for their community service from the ADHA for the fourth (or is it fifth?) time.  The members of the advisory board also agreed to help fundraise for the program, and our Advancement Office is looking forward to working with them.

If you’re in the Rome, NY area, it’s well worth a look to see our program, arguably the best in the state and perhaps well beyond.



A Little More on GMMD

Graduating seniors in the GMMD program are exhibiting their artwork in the Roos House starting on April 14. The work comes from Prof. Christopher Sweeney’s Multimedia Product Design 2 course, along with a faculty exhibition.

Jill, Mark and I went to see the exhibit yesterday evening, and just like last year, it was quite impressive.  I saw student-developed video games, animation (in a style reminiscent of “The Nightmare Before Christmas”) projected on a painted background, a comic book about depression (as well as t-shirts and hats with the main character), an advertising campaign for a winery, an animated short, and some very nice artwork by both students and faculty.  It was a very impressive exhibit, taking advantage of the Roos House space in an imaginative way.  If you haven’t seen the exhibits yet, get down there right away before they’re taken down—it’s well worth your time!



Consul General from Germany Visit

This past Tuesday featured the last of our Leadership Series speakers for the academic year, the Honorable Consul General Brita Wagener.  I really appreciate her visit, especially considering the long distance she had to travel—she came by car, all the way from Manhattan, with rain from NYC to Albany, but decent weather through the Adirondacks.  Of course, while she was on campus she got to see our little snow squall and then some sleet.  We did assure her that the weather isn’t always like that up here!


Consul General Wagener’s talk initially centered on Germany’s large volume of trade with the US—we’re now Germany’s largest trading partner (France used to be first).  The most interesting segment of the talk was about how Germany is dealing with the large influx of refugees—it took in more than 1.1 million last year.  If one adjusts for the relative sizes of our populations, it would be equivalent to the US taking in 4-5 million refugees in one year.  While there are some political parties in Germany that are against this, others in Germany see it as a good thing given the decline in the German birthrate—companies are having a very hard time finding new workers, and believe it will boost the economy and ultimately allow the country to maintain its social services.  She also mentioned that given Germany’s history, most citizens see the country as repaying a moral obligation by taking in the refugees.

At dinner afterwards, we discussed a lot of different things, including ways that Germans and Americans are similar and different.  Something I had never heard before is that lots of people in Germany watch a short comedy bit called “Dinner for One” on TV every New Year’s Eve, even though the bit is in English and utterly unknown in Britain.  This got me curious, so I looked it up on Wikipedia.  They say that this is actually happening in lots of European countries, and that “Dinner for One” is thereby the most rerun television program ever!  The clip is available on Youtube, so I gave it a look.  It’s pretty funny, but I have no idea what it has to do with New Year’s Eve or why it has such long-term popularity.  I’ve put the link below, and you can judge for yourself.


Gender and Sexuality Studies

Back on April 1-2, SUNY Canton hosted the Gender and Sexuality Studies Conference, sponsored by the Associated Colleges of the St. Lawrence Valley.  I had the pleasure of introducing the keynote speaker, Holly Hughes.


I knew I had seen that name before, and after a little research, found out that she had been one of four artists that had been recommended for funding by the National Endowment for the Arts, only to have the funding quashed by the NEA administrator.  This became a lawsuit that went all the way to the Supreme Court.  The artists won, and were paid an amount equal to the proposed funding, but the NEA subsequently changed its rules so that individual artists could no longer be funded.  Holly Hughes became well known as a result, and has become a well-known activist for artistic freedom.

In her speech, she talked in a very humorous way about her personal history, and some of the audiences and issues she has had to deal with.  She was articulate and witty, and I enjoyed the speech/performance immensely.  I’m told that the panel discussions and other sessions were excellent as well.  Thanks to everyone involved in organizing the conference!


Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest dealt with cities in New York.  Our winner was Nicole O’Brien, who wins a $10 gift card good anywhere on campus.  Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prize, Nicole.  Others getting all questions right were Joe Bishop and Brianna Perham.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. The Big Apple.  New York City.
  2. The state capital.  Albany.
  3. Largest city in western New York.  Buffalo.
  4. Both the men’s and women’s basketball team from there made the final four this year.  Syracuse.


This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s challenge is about words starting with the letter “G”.  The first response with all five correct wins a $10 gift card, good anywhere on campus. 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. They sell cookies every year to raise money, and have the motto “Be prepared”.
  2. Singer Stefani Germanotta, known for her songs Poker Face, Paparazzi, and Born This Way.
  3. Big Japanese dinosaur-type monster.
  4. Evil creature in “The Hobbit” that loved “his precious”.


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March 30, 2016


Volume 2, Issue 13 – March 30, 2016


Happy Easter!


I hope everyone had a nice Easter.  The weather last Sunday was very nice, with the temperature going above 60°.  My family and I took a ride out to Waddington and then to Wilson Hill and Massena.  Something odd that I noticed was that at various bridges along the route, the rivers were totally frozen on one side, and totally melted on the other.  This was true on the causeway to Wilson Hill as well, and on the frozen side, there were some people who were brave (or foolish) enough to have walked out onto the ice to do some fishing!  Fortunately, at least while I was there, they didn’t fall through the ice.

Anyway, as many people are aware, there are actually two Easters—the one celebrated by most western Christian denominations, and Orthodox Easter—the one celebrated by Eastern Orthodox Christian denominations, which comes later.  I was aware of one reason for the difference—the Eastern Orthodox use the Julian calendar to determine the date of Easter, which is 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar that the western denominations use.  Thus, in most years, Orthodox Easter comes 13 days later than “western” Easter.

A friend of mine back in Georgia who is Greek Orthodox (Hi Nikki Palamiotis!) posted an article on Facebook that explained how it’s more complicated than that.  The rule is actually that Orthodox Easter is to be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox, and it must come after the Jewish holiday of Passover.  Their rationale is to keep things in the right historical order: the Last Supper (which was a Passover meal) came before the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, and consequently, Passover must come before Easter. 

Because of this, if Passover (whose date is set by the lunar calendar) comes after the first full moon following the vernal equinox, Orthodox Easter has to wait until the Sunday after Passover.  As a result, Orthodox Easter can come as much as five weeks after “western” Easter, and this year is one of those years.  Passover comes late this year—it starts at sundown on April 22, and ends at sundown on April 30, which is a Saturday.  The Sunday after Passover is May 1, which is therefore the date for Orthodox Easter, while “western” Easter was way back on March 27.  In short, calculating the dates for Easter requires three different calendars drawn from two different religions.  All clear now?



Roody Eliminated in Final Four

Roody got farther than ever in SUNY’s Mascot Madness, making the final four, before being eliminated by Stony Brook’s Wolfie.  By a funny coincidence, a few weeks earlier when all the mascots were in Albany to meet the legislature, Roody and Wolfie met each other and became fast friends.  So, at least we lost to a friend.  The ultimate vote was 52%-48%, so we were very close, losing to a college six times our size.

All in all, Roody did great, and I appreciate all the students, faculty, staff, and friends who voted to support him.  I had a lot of fun with the “get out the vote” effort, and solicited the assistance of friends in New Hampshire, Georgia, Florida, not to mention my sister in Texas who solicited all of her friends to vote for Roody.  We even had other College of Technology presidents and folks down at SUNY Central voting for him.

Special thanks go to all the folks in our Public Relations Office.  Morgan Elliot and Greg Kie did great work in sending out messages on Facebook and Twitter, and in generating several very funny videos starring Roody.  These are listed below:

To see Roody’s campaign video (done during Round 2), just look below.


To see Roody’s pep talk video (done during Round 4), click below:




Royal Registration at the Ready Center!

It’s time to register for your courses next fall.  Since we’re always trying to improve our students’ experiences on campus, this year, we’ve decided to treat you all like royalty.  What do we mean by that?  If you go to the Ready Center to get advised as to your schedule, you may be helped by either Queen Marie Antoinette or Empress Genevieve!  How cool is that?


Both queens were on campus on Tuesday to remind students that it is time to make plans for fall semester.  The schedule for Fall 2016 is available on UCanWeb and students are encouraged to seek out their faculty advisors to create their class schedule.  Registration for fall semester begins on April 11, with priority by class standing (Seniors and Juniors get first choice, followed by Sophomores and then Freshmen).  Students were sent registration instructions by the Registrar’s office that includes the specific dates (attached).  All current students should register for classes at their first opportunity to ensure the best possible schedule.  Empress Genevieve promises not to shout “off with their head!” if you register on time, and I’ve heard rumors that Queen Marie Antoinette may even give you a piece of cake.

By the way, speaking of the Ready Center and cake, I hope everyone had a chance to come by on Monday for the ribbon-cutting ceremony officially inaugurating the Center.  It was a cool event, with good punch and excellent cake.  Roody was even there to cut the ribbon!

Ready Center Ribbon

Me, Roody and international students Poornima Balasubramaniam Nanayakkara, Mohammed Tasdikul Hoque and Lakeesha Watuthanthrige Perera

I hope everyone takes advantage of the many services the Ready Center offers—advising, career counseling, information on international programs, and much much more–and their wonderful staff.  And get out there and register for your classes already!

 Ready Center Staff

Career Services Counselor Kathryn Kennedy; Marianne P. DiMarco-Temkin and Sharon Tavernier from the Advising Center;  Shelly L. Thompson and Kathleen Ba from the International Initiatives Office, and Teresa L. Clemmo and Julie Parkman from the Career Services Office.  




Spring may be here, but the rivers are still mighty cold.  This didn’t stop several of our students, however.  Members of the SUNY Canton Adventurers Club decided to take a dip into the St. Lawrence River on September 20 as part of the 10th Annual Polar Bear Plunge.  The Ogdensburg volunteer rescue squad was there to put a harness on each diver for safety purposes.  Tanner Chaubin, a member of the Adventurers Club, said “I think it’s a lot safer just because you’re running out there and you have to run back in…They have you as a safety net.”  The Plunge raised more than $4,000 for the Greater Ogdensburg Chamber of Commerce.

To see the video, click here.


Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest dealt with Disney movies.  Our winner was DiOrio Dillon, who wins a $10 gift card good anywhere on campus.  Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prize.  Others getting all questions right were Emily Wilson, Nicole O’Brien, Peyton Robinson, Kiley Null and Kendra Wright.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. She eats a poisoned apple and falls into a coma, until she is kissed by Prince Charming. Snow White
  2. He fights Captain Hook in Neverland. Peter Pan
  3. Lots of dogs with spots in this movie. 101 Dalmations
  4. Movie where Anna joins forces with Kristoff and his reindeer to find her sister, Elsa (Idina and break her spell. Frozen



This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s challenge is about cities in New York.  The first response with all five correct wins a $10 gift card, good anywhere on campus. 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. The Big Apple.
  2. The state capital.
  3. Largest city in western New York.
  4. Both the men’s and women’s basketball team from there made the final four this year.


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March 21, 2016


Volume 2, Issue 12 – March 21, 2016



 How was Spring Break?

I hope everyone had a wonderful Spring Break.  What did I do?  Glad you asked.  I went on two trips—the first to Albany for Mascot Madness on Monday and Tuesday, and the second to San Francisco to visit with alumni and to attend the ACE conference from Friday to this Tuesday.  You can read about both below.  In between, there were a lot of meetings, because a lot of administration and staff (and some faculty) were still on campus working.



Roody Wins Round Two!

SUNY is having a competition to choose the best SUNY mascot, and as we all know, the only possible choice is our own Roody.  Thus far, Roody has done very well, winning Round 1 and Round 2.  We need you to vote for him in Round 3, where as of this writing, he’s losing 51% to 49% to SUNY Farmingdale’s Ram-bo.  Needless to say, we can’t have that.  Vote for Roody—you can do it from each of your email addresses, and you can vote every 12 hours.  Get out there already, and put Roody over the top so he can continue his quest to be president of the United States.  To vote for Roody, click here:

To see Roody’s campaign video (done during Round 2), just look below.


Congratulations to Morgan Elliot and Greg Kie for their great work on the video and to Travis Smith, Matt Mulkin and Lorette Murray and everyone else at SUNY Canton for working on social media to put Roody over the top.





News of the first round of Chancellor’s Awards has just come in.  The first award given is for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching, and our own Mr. Fred Saburro was one of the winners!  Mr. Saburro has taught math at SUNY Canton for nearly 12 years, as well as tutoring in the Math and Science Lab.  Recently, he secured a Campus Enhancement Award from the SUNY Canton Foundation to help fund more peer tutors, and has won two awards from our Phi Theta Kappa academic honor society.  Please join me in congratulating Mr. Saburro on his wonderful achievement!




Baseball in Puerto Rico!

SUNY Canton’s baseball team recently participated in the Clemente Cup, way down in Puerto Rico.    The competition started off well, beating the University of Pittsburgh—Greensburg 9-6, and Penn State Abington 8-6.  The ‘Roos were leading in Game 3 by 4-3 in the 7th inning, but Greensburg got its revenge in the 8th and 9th, beating the ‘Roos 13-5.  We then beat SUNY Oneonta 3-2, on a three-run triple by Wilson Matos.  It was downhill from there, losing to Arcadia University 7-3, and losing a heart-breaker to Arcadia by 6-5 in the championship game.


After the championship game, two double-headers rounded out the trip vs. Arcadia, New Jersey City University, Misericordia University, and Susquehanna University.

Khalil Bratton, Travis Bigelow, and Tom Brusca were the winning pitchers for the ‘Roos, with Wilson Matos dominating at the plate, batting .452 with 19 hits, 14 RBI’s, 2 homers, 5 triples, and 3 doubles.  The baseball team’s home opener is on May 4, against Southern Vermont College.



Trip to Albany—Mascot Madness!

On Monday, Lenore Vanderzee (our Executive Director for University Relations) and I flew down to Albany for some meetings with folks at SUNY, to meet some of our legislators, and for Mascot Madness.  We flew down from Massena on Cape Air, which flies little planes that seat nine.  Normally we fly out of Ogdensburg, but the mid-day flight was sold out so we had to travel a few miles further to go from Massena.  When we landed in Albany we found out why—Professor Phil LaMarche (Dept. of Humanities), his wife Carol (coach of our Women’s Volleyball team) and their two children had just flown down from Ogdensburg, on their way to Boston!  We picked up the rental car (a Toyota Sienna—very nice) and drove down to SUNY central to see Carlos Medina (Chief Diversity Officer and Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion—now that’s a long title!).  We had a very positive discussion about the college’s diversity efforts and some new initiatives we hope to do in the future.  I’ll be reporting to you on these as they develop.  After the meeting, we all went to dinner at one of my favorite Pakistani-Indian restaurants in Albany—Lazeez, on Central Avenue.  The food was excellent as always, and I was well stuffed afterwards.

Tuesday, it was Mascot Madness day at the Legislative Office Building (LOB).  Mascots from some 16 SUNY campuses were there, visiting various legislators, posing for pictures with everyone walking by, and generally having a good time.  Roody, of course, was the hit of the show.


Ably assisted by his “wrangler” Michael Barrios, Roody was everywhere, meeting people and making friends.  If you’ve never been to the LOB, the elevators are rather slow and there’s always a crowd of people on them.  Roody would lean against one side outside the elevator door, and when the elevator arrived and the doors opened, the crowd inside were greeted by the sight of a giant kangaroo.  The reactions were priceless—most people laughed, lots took pictures, and a few kept a straight face and pretended not to even notice!

The one bad thing on the trip is that early in the afternoon, while going down one of the big formal staircases at the LOB, I must have mis-stepped and over I went.  Fortunately, I was only two steps from the bottom, though I still hit the ground hard, landing on my hands and knees.  Several people rushed over to help me up, afraid that I had broken some bones, but I only had a few bruises—nothing too serious.  I did limp around for the next few days, and went to see the chiropractor to make sure everything was OK.

Anyway, while there, we took pictures of Roody with our local assemblywoman Addie Russell and our senator Patty Richie as well as many others, many of whom tweeted the pictures or put them on Facebook.


Roody with Assemblywoman Addie Russell


Roody with Senator Patty Ritchie

It was a lot of fun and everyone enjoyed themselves.  Then it was time to drop Roody and Michael off at the hotel (they were leaving the next day), return the car to the airport, and fly home.  We took the 6:15 PM flight back to Massena and were back in Canton by 8:00.



And Then, Off to California

The week ended with a trip to California to attend the American Council on Education (ACE) conference in San Francisco, as well as to see some of our alumni and friends of the college in the area.  I left Canton at 4:15 AM (!), driving down to Watertown to get my flight.  The first flight was from Watertown to Philadelphia, then a two-hour layover, and then from Philadelphia to Charlotte, NC, where I was scheduled to have a three-hour layover.  Due to high winds and heavy rain in San Francisco, the flight out of Charlotte was further delayed, and I wound up leaving three hours late.  The plane finally took off after 7:00 PM eastern time, and arrived in San Francisco at about 10:00 PM pacific time, thereby making the overall trip a breathtaking 21 hours!  I think I’ve flown to Tokyo from Boston in less time than that!

I was met at the airport by our own Geoffrey VanderWoude (from the Advancement Office), who was late getting in on his flight to San Francisco from Denver.  At least he didn’t have to wait too long at the airport for me, given our similar flight delays.  By the time I got to the hotel, I was exhausted and went right to sleep.

Saturday was set aside for alumni and friend of the college visits.  We had a lunch meeting with Mr. Edward Suden (’60) who is a retired patent attorney who worked for IBM for many years in Napa California; a dinner meeting with Mr. Geoffrey Co (’89) who is a photography specialist at Keebles & Shuchat Photography in Palo Alto, and then drove a few miles to meet Mr. Mark Dzwonczyk and his wife Meri-Beth for desert.  We met Mr. Dzwonczyk at a local church where a choral concert was being given by both the Air Force Academy Glee Club (which was great) and also a local high school glee club that the Dzwonczyk’s son was singing in (also great).


The ACE conference began on Sunday, with sessions for presidents on “Presidential Leadership and the Return of the Scholar Athlete” and how to convert the college’s mission into real learning for students.  Afternoon sessions covered what some colleges have had to do when state appropriations were cut, and a presentation about what ACE thinks is going to happen regarding some important pieces of federal legislation affecting higher education.  Geoffrey and I then drove to Vacaville to meet Mr. and Mrs. Richard Sweda (’76), a Senior I/T Architect and Engagement Solution Architect for IBM for dinner.

Monday was spent entirely at the ACE conference, attending several of the concurrent sessions.  One of the nice things about attending national conferences is that you get to see a lot of old friends.  I saw several presidents and provosts I knew back in Georgia, including my own previous president (at Southern Polytechnic), Dr. Lisa Rossbacher, who is now president of Humboldt State University in California.  It was great to see her again and discuss old and future times for a few minutes.  Several of the other SUNY presidents were there too, and it was nice to see them way out west instead of in Albany like I usually do.  The biggest surprise was running into Dr. Patricia Sendall, a business professor from the first college I taught at (Merrimack College), someone I haven’t seen for many years except on Facebook.

On Tuesday, I had to take a taxi at 4:30 AM to get to the airport in time for my 7:00 AM flight to Chicago.  After a two-hour layover (good, so I had enough time to get breakfast), I took a flight to Philadelphia.  Another two-hour layover gave me enough time to get an early dinner, which was followed by the flight to Watertown, arriving at about 10 PM.  It was raining lightly on my drive back to Canton, but the traffic was very light, and I finally got home at 11:45 PM.



Last Week’s Trivia Contest 

Last week’s contest dealt with comic strips.  Our winner was Margaret T. Daniel, who wins a $10 gift card good anywhere on campus.  Your prize can be picked up in my office, on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall.  Others getting all the answers right were Kiley Null, Aylaia Banks, Molly Incitti, Kendra Wright, Miriah Mono, John Drews, Nicole O’Brien, and Beatriz Ortiz de Megna.   Here are the correct answers:

  1. Sarcastic cat who’s always fighting with Odie.  Garfield.
  2. He always longed for the little red-haired girl, but never could talk to her.  Charlie Brown (Peanuts).
  3. Hard-boiled police detective, Warren Beatty played in in the movie.  Dick Tracy.
  4. He’s 5 1/2 years old, and drives Mr. Wilson crazy.  Dennis the Menace.



This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s challenge is about Disney movies.  The first winners with all the right answers wins a $10 gift card, good anywhere on campus.  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.  She eats a poisoned apple and falls into a coma, until she is kissed by Prince Charming.
  2. He fights Captain Hook in Neverland.
  3. Lots of dogs with spots in this movie.
  4. Movie where Anna joins forces with Kristoff and his reindeer to find her sister, Elsa (Idina and break her spell.


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March 9, 2016


Volume 2, Issue 11 – March 9, 2015




Have a Happy Spring Break!

I hope everyone is having great spring break and comes back nice and refreshed, and ready to do a great job to end the semester.  If anyone is really doing something fabulous for the break, let me know about them, or send some pictures of what you did!  I’ll put the best ones in a future From the Pouch.



Winning the Challenge

By now, many first and second year students will have received an email about having won a challenge coin, and to come to my office to get it.

For those who don’t know, we began issuing challenge coins last year to congratulate new students who have gotten off to a good start in their classes.  The idea comes from the military, where when they want to celebrate a particular accomplishment, they will sometimes issue a challenge coin. Whenever a new student successfully completes the fall semester with a 2.0 GPA or higher and is in good social standing, they earn a challenge coin, as pictured below.

coin-2  coin

This year, we’re adding a 2nd year challenge coin for those students who started last year and have continued to excel, having earned at least 36 credits at SUNY Canton and having at least a 2.33 GPA.  Next year, we’ll issue a 3rd year challenge coin for 3rd year students (with at least 60 credits and a 2.67 GPA), and finally, the year after, we’ll issue a 4th year challenge coin for fourth year students (with at least 84 credits and a 3.00 GPA).  What if you earn a complete set?  There will be a nice surprise, so be sure to win them all!



Women’s Hockey

Congratulations to our Women’s Hockey team for making the CHC Quarter-finals.  Jill and I attended the big game against Becker College (which is the first college Jill attended–small world!).  We got there a little early, but so did everyone else, and I was actually the last person to get a commemorative t-shirt.

It was one heck of a game, with the Roos making shot after shot, and the Becker goalie playing a tremendous defensive game, stopping 43 shots.  The score was still 0-0 with eight minutes to go in the third period, when the Roos were hit with a 5-minute penalty that essentially gave Becker the game–they scored on the power play just before the penalty period ended.  The final score was 1-0 against us.




Arabian Nights Dance

On Sunday, February 21, my wife Jill and I attended the Arabian Nights dance down at the Best Western.  It was “officially” supposed to start at 7:00 PM, so we decided to be fashionably late by showing up at 7:30.  This only proves I was totally unaware of the current party zeitgeist, because when we arrived, we were the only ones there!  Still, the ballroom was clearly set up for an event, the staff were setting up the food, and the photographer was beginning to set up.  We decided to wait, and a little past 8:00, some of the student activities staff arrived, as did a few students helping run the dance.

By 8:30, about 35 students had come, and the band, Cover Drive, began to play.  Cover Drive is a reggae-pop band from Barbados, and we enjoyed their music thoroughly—so much so that I ordered their debut album, Bajan Style, which includes several singles that reached the top 10 in England.  The lead singer, Amanda Reifer, was really excellent, and the other three band members, Barry Hill, Jamar Harding, and T-Ray Armstrong, supported her very well.  It’s not surprising that singer Rihanna chose them as her opening act during her recent Loud tour.


We left at about 9:30, since my son Mark was getting impatient for having his ice cream order delivered, but I decided to return, hoping that Cover Drive would play a second set.  They didn’t, because DJ JP had set up and was playing some contemporary vibes.  More students were continuing to come in, and by 10:30 when I called it a night, quite a crowd was there, all elegantly dressed for the occasion.  I’m told that a good time was had by all after that, and that the party began to break up around midnight, since there were classes Monday morning after all.  Jill and I had a very nice time, but we’ll arrive somewhat later next time!



 Canton Idol

Speaking of good music, Jill and I also attended the Canton Idol competition last Thursday.  We had gone to last year’s event and enjoyed it a lot, so naturally we were looking forward to it again this year.  There was a decent crowd of about 125 in the Student Center Theatre, and this time we had gotten there at just the right time—the competition began about 10 minutes later.  There were five competing acts, each of which delivered two songs.

Truth be told, I’ve been to similar events on several campuses, and they can be hit-or-miss affairs.  Not Canton Idol, though—every competitor was really good, and I’m glad I wasn’t a judge since it would have been very hard for me to put the five in any kind of order.  Everyone I talked to did agree with the judges’ choice for top prize.  The winner, Rebecca, was unbelievably good.  Her final number was a nicely retro song by Solange Knowles (Beyonce’s younger sister) called Sandcastle Disco.  I had never heard this song before, but I was blown away by Rebecca’s version of it—I may be biased here, but I think it was better than the original.  Here’s a link to Solange’s version:

Other fine entrants included Imani Smith, who did a knockout version of the great Etta James song “At Last”, Mahera Josaphat (3rd place—also a fine singer), Michael Horth (2nd place—and how all the ladies in the audience were cheering for him!), and a very enthusiastic guitar and drum duo, Daniel and Nathan (I don’t have their last names).


L-R:  Nathan, Daniel, Imani Smith, me, Michael Horth, Rebecca Jean Baptiste, Mahera Josaphat. 

(Sorry, but I’m not sure of the names of the two students on the right–let me know and I’ll add them to the caption.)

Canton Idol was tremendous fun, and everyone should make every effort to see it when it comes around next year.



Excellence in Leadership Lecture, Mark Dzwonczyk

The latest in SUNY Canton’s Excellence in Leadership Lecture Series featured entrepreneur Mark Dzwonczyk, the President and CEO of Nicholville Telephone Company, who titled his talk From Silicon Valley to St. Lawrence County.   Similar to the classic start-up story of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the creators of Apple, Dzwonczyk started his company in his garage. He expanded the company into a leading VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) product design business with operations in both the U.S. and China.


In 2011, he moved to the North County to join the Board of Nicholville Telephone Company and became its CEO later that year.  His leadership led to a cultural change in the traditional rural phone company, enabling an increase in subscriptions and repositioning the company to also be a leading regional provider of broadband, through its subsidiary Slic Network Solutions. The company has been heralded for providing high-speed Internet access to rural communities where it previously was not available.

Dzwonczyk described his path from his garage to becoming CEO in an entertaining way to an appreciative audience of almost 100 students, faculty, and shareholder employees of the company.  His main advice was for students to “Follow Their Bliss”, a line from Joseph Campbell on how to achieve success.  When you do that, he said, you’ll be amazed at what doors open up for you.



Engineering Week

Last week was also the 2nd annual celebration of Engineering Week by our Canino School of Engineering Technology.  Lots of events were scheduled including speakers and an employment fair.  Perhaps the highlight was the open house event, bringing in more than 200 children from around the North Country, to see a variety of engineering exhibits including an industrial lumber processor, 3-D technology experiments, water testing, and many others.

Some 60 students participated in the bridge-building contest, where the object was to build a span out of pipe cleaners, straws, and plastic lacing to span a plastic bin, and see how much it would deflect under a 2 kg weight.  Younger winners included Naomi Crowell (Canton) and Grace Sawyko (Pierrepont), winning matching Lego Mindstorms kits used to build and program a robot.

In the senior division, Aaron Clark and Jacy Thompson (Saranac Lake) won a $1300 scholarship to SUNY Canton.


Congratulations to the many faculty and students who participated in Engineering Week—it was a great event.



Dining Out

On February 20, the students in ROTC had their annual Dining Out ceremony.  Last year, I attended the Air Force ROTC event, so to show no favoritism, this year I went to the Army’s event.  It’s interesting how the two events were the same, and how they were different.  In both cases, the students were dressed to the teeth—the ROTC students in their dress uniforms and their dates in formal dresses or nice suits.  Unlike last year at the Air Force dinner, the parents could come to the Army event and many were present.  The program began with the Presenting of the Colors and an Invocation, which led to the Grog Ceremony.

At the Air Force dinner, the grog was made from ingredients that weren’t all disclosed, mixed in a “ceremonial” toilet.  Only the new inductees had to drink it.  At the Army event, the grog’s ingredients were given in the program, it was mixed in a glass punchbowl, and everyone had a sample to toast with.  Since the ROTC has members from all four North Country colleges, the grog has in it apple juice for the gold of the Clarkson Golden Knights, cranberry juice for the scarlet of the St. Lawrence Saints, grape juice for the maroon of the Potsdam Bears and blueberry juice for the blue of the Canton Kangaroos.  Other ingredients include ice, coffee grounds, MRE juice mix, rock candy, chocolate pudding, and butter.  Yum!

The dinner was a nice buffet with lots of choices, and the speaker was Stephen Sauer, an associate professor at Clarkson’s School of Business.  I met several of our SUNY Canton students who are part of ROTC, and they looked plenty snazzy in the dress uniforms.


Participating in ROTC is one of SUNY Canton’s ways of supporting our military.  Some recent successes in this area include:

  • We were awarded $500,000 by SUNY to begin an initiative called Transitioning Veterans from Boots and Book and Beyond with Jefferson Community College, to provide support services for former military members transitioning to a college environment.
  • The first graduating class from SUNY Canton’s Solar Ready Vets program graduated at Fort Drum. This program prepares transitioning soldiers for jobs in the burgeoning solar industry.
  • We’ve received various awards recognizing our support of veterans and their families, the latest from Military Times (naming us as on of the best technical colleges in the nation) and from G.I. Jobs (selecting us for their list of military-friendly schools).
  • We’ve recently been awarded a grant from Battle Buddies that will be used to enhance our veteran’s lounge.

All in all, SUNY Canton is a great place for our soldiers in uniform, our veterans, and their families.




Adirondack Winter Challenge

On Sunday, I attended the Governor’s Adirondack Winter Challenge, held in Lake Placid.  Each year Governor Cuomo hosts an Adirondack Challenge event in both the summer and the winter, highlighting activities taking advantage of the North Country’s resources and facilities, in order to draw more attention to them, thereby promoting tourism and business.


Participants had the choice of trying out downhill and cross-country skiing, ice hockey, hiking, tubing, bobsledding, ice-fishing, fat tire biking, and curling.  I opted for curling, having never tried that sport before.  I arrived at Lake Placid just before noon, signed in, and promptly ran into Barat Wolfe (a new faculty member in Psychology) who was on one of the local hockey teams playing, and President Esterberg from Potsdam, who had signed up for hiking.  After some lunch, a guide led the folks interested in curling to an ice rink set up for that—there were the stones and brooms used in the game, as well as devices to push off from as you release the stone.  The floor was marked off for the field, and the ice was ready—a less slippery form, different from than used for skating or hockey.  There are three “jobs” in curling—to call as to where you want the stone to go (called the skip), to release the stone, and to sweep in front of the stone to help the stone wind up in the target locations that are worth points.  I suspect that when you are playing against another team, part of the strategy is to put your stones in positions where they interfere with the other team’s shots, but we didn’t get into that.  It was a lot of fun to play, though it takes more effort than it looks and after about an hour of it, I was doing a lot of sweating, especially under the helmet.


A little later, our own Assembly member Addie Russell came with her husband and two children to try her hand at curling.  Though she had never done it before either, she was a natural and after a little training and a few practice releases, she had the stone going in to the money areas pretty much every time.  She even got one of the event awards for her prowess.  The two kids were having a ball on the ice as well.

After the curling, I went over to the hockey match between members of the Governor’s office and members of the legislature.  The game was quite good, with a number of the players obviously still very much active in the sport.  The final score was 7-0 with the Governor’s Office winning.


This was followed by a reception and then dinner, where several awards (some semi-humorous, some serious) were given.   The ride home was very pleasant—quiet roads through pretty country.



Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest dealt with state capitals.  There were no entries, so no one wins the prize.   Here are the correct answers:

  1. New York  Albany.
  2. Massachusetts  Boston.
  3. Texas   Austin.
  4. California  Sacramento.



This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s challenge is about newspaper comic strips. The first with the right answer wins a $10 gift card, good anywhere on campus.  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. Sarcastic cat who’s always fighting with Odie.
  2. He always longed for the little red-haired girl, but never could talk to her.
  3. Hard-boiled police detective, Warren Beatty played in in the movie.
  4. He’s 5 1/2 years old, and drives Mr. Wilson crazy.


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February 17, 2016


Volume 2, Issue 10 – February 17, 2016



Ice ‘n’ Snow

We don’t do it often, but last Tuesday, classes were cancelled due to inclement weather.  There was some fairly heavy snow, followed by sleet, followed by a mixture of snow and ice, followed by ice, which was finally followed by more snow.  The result was some pretty treacherous driving and lots of warnings from the National Weather Center, so we decided it would be best to cancel classes.  I hope everyone knows that such cancellations are always displayed on the SUNY Canton website’s front page, on our Facebook page, and are distributed to local radio and TV stations.  I know most of you got the message, because when I came onto campus, things were pretty empty.

I received some concerns that it was difficult walking on campus due to the ice, and wondering why we didn’t do more to try to melt it down.  It’s a simple matter of chemistry—when you add salt to ice, you lower the freezing point of the mixture, and so long as you’ve lowered the freezing point below the air temperature, the ice will melt.  Unfortunately, it was so cold that it would be impossible to lower the freezing point that far without using literally tons of salt, and that would be harmful to the environment in lots of different ways.  So, our grounds crew did what they could to clear paths, sand, and salt, but sometimes you just have to wait for things to warm up a bit before you can make much headway.

While it’s no fun to walk on, the ice sure can be pretty, especially in the trees.  In the picture below, no—the tree isn’t budding.  Those are ice crystals on a beautiful sunny day on campus.



Get Ready!

The College’s Ready Center is now open for business.  The Center is located in the former College Association space in the Miller Student Center, and looks just great.  It houses the college’s professional advisors, first year programs, the Career Center, and International programs, all in one convenient location.



While the Ready Center is open now, there will be a formal opening ceremony with refreshments and fun in the near future, so be sure to check the Daily Update in your campus email for details.



Canton Meets the Motor City

Last Wednesday, SUNY Canton hosted “Sounds of the Motor City”, a musical revue that focused on music ranging from Louis Jordan to Motown to Earth, Wind, and Fire.  A small but enthusiastic audience enjoyed the group’s performance in the Student Center Theatre.  The three main singers, if I’m remembering right, were Derrick Baker, Valencia Emanuel, and Darren Lorenzo.


The group started up with Louis Jordan’s well known song, “Let the Good Times Roll”.  Louis Jordan is one of my all time favorite musicians, one of the main influences on Rock & Roll, and was a major recording star (second in popularity only to Bing Crosby on the Decca label) who also appeared in a small number of movies.  His songs had more weeks at #1 on the R&B charts than any other musician, even up to today.  “Let the Good Times Roll” was the B-side of a 78 on which “Ain’t Nobody Here but Us Chickens” was the A-side.  Together, the two songs were #2 and #1 respectively on the 1947 Billboard R&B Chart, staying on the chart for six months.  Two of the members of the revue (Baker and Emanuel) were in the cast of Five Guys Named Moe, a West End (London) and Broadway show devoted to Jordan’s music.  I had a chance to see the show in the West End on my first sabbatical, and have been a fan of Jordan’s music ever since.


Other major hits sung by the group included “Johnny B. Goode” (Chuck Berry), “My Girl” and “Just My Imagination” (Temptations), “Soul Man” (Sam & Dave), “Stop in the Name of Love” (Supremes), “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” (Otis Redding), “Boogie Oogie Oogie” (A Taste of Honey) and “September” (Earth, Wind, and Fire), among many others.  At various points, one or another of the singers would come out into the audience and serenade a particular individual, much to their embarrassment.  That happened to me at one point too, but it was really a lot of fun.  Many thanks to our student life office for putting this one on.



Solar Ready Vets

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of going down to Watertown to Fort Drum, to see the graduation of the first cohort of SUNY Canton’s Solar Ready Vets program.  There were 19 soldiers who had completed the program graduating, and when I spoke to them, they were all very happy to have participated and thought that the teaching and hands on learning were great.  This is another example of how SUNY Canton works in the community to help economic development.


The Fort Drum program was created through collaboration with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and is the first of its kind in the state.

“Soldiers and veterans have the experience and know-how to get the job done,” Governor Cuomo said when the program was launched. “The dramatic growth of solar in New York is creating a demand for highly skilled workers. Offering these heroes valuable training and the technical skills needed to work in this rapidly growing industry, not only helps veterans succeed post service, but helps all of us create a more sustainable future.”

The program was offered through SUNY Canton’s Career Ready Education and Success Training (CREST) Center for Workforce Development.  Among dignitaries present at the graduation center were our Assembly member Addie Russell, a representative from our Senate member Patty Ritchie’s office, Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Hochul, and Fort Drum Commander Brig. General Paul Bontrager.


Last Week’s Trivia Contest


Last week’s challenge was about capitols–I name the capitol, you name the country. Our winner was Concetta Smythe.  Your prize, a $10 gift card good anywhere on campus, can be picked up from my office in MacArthur 616.  Here are the correct answers:

  1. Paris.  France
  2. Havana. Cuba
  3. New Delhi. India
  4. Cairo. Egypt


This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s challenge is about state capitols–I name the state you name the capital.  The first with the right answer wins a $10 gift card, good anywhere on campus.  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. New York
  2. Massachusetts
  3. Texas
  4. California


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