FROM THE POUCH
Volume 1, Issue 10 – November 19, 2014
Speaking About Snow…
We’ve now officially had some snow in Canton. I’m told it snowed last Thursday, but by the time I returned to Canton on Friday (see below for where I was), it was gone. It snowed again overnight going into Sunday, leaving maybe half an inch on the roof and on the cars, but by 9AM it was all gone again. Yesterday, it snowed again and the southern part of the county got socked pretty badly.
I also got my first complaint asking “Why didn’t you cancel classes today? Don’t you know how bad the weather was further south in the county?”
It’s probably worth a few words on how we handle weather emergencies. We’re always monitoring the weather conditions. If things look bad, I get a call from the Campus Police (even if it’s the middle of the night), letting me know if other schools are closing, what the highway conditions are, what the forecast is, and that sort of thing. We then make the decision whether to cancel classes, delay opening, or whatever.
While the weather was fine in Canton, the weather was bad in the southern part of the county and there are some commuter students who live there. Since St. Lawrence County is very large, we can’t close down anytime the weather is bad somewhere in the county. Commuter students need to use their own best judgment—if the weather is too dangerous where you are [for example, if your local school district has cancelled school, or if the state highways have been shut down in your area] but the college hasn’t cancelled classes, don’t come in. Your safety is more important. Let your faculty know immediately (by email or a message on Angel) why you aren’t coming in. In almost every case, they’ll understand. That’s also why most faculty give you several unexcused absences, and you should save at least one for this purpose. If you’re ever penalized for not attending due to dangerous weather, let your department chair, dean, the provost, or me know about it.
On the Road to North Carolina
The reason that there wasn’t an issue of From the Pouch last week was that I was on the road visiting with alumni in North Carolina. You might not think that a small college in the North Country has many alumni in North Carolina, but you’d be wrong—we have quite a few. Having previously lived in South Carolina (during graduate school) and in Georgia (for the past nine years), I’m quite familiar with North Carolina and have been there previously many times. I have good friends in several locations in the state, but my time was pretty solidly booked up and I didn’t have a chance to see any of them this trip.
The trip began on Sunday morning, when David Gerlach, Canton’s VP for Advancement, picked me up at the house to go to the Watertown airport. The airport is quite small, with one gate and three flights out daily on USAir, all going to Philadelphia. The planes are DASH-8 propeller planes, which seat about 50 and are pretty comfortable. Some advantages of a small airport are that you don’t have to get there too early and the parking is free. We got to the airport at about 11:30 and checked in.
The flight to Philadelphia was smooth until the very end, where we had a bit of turbulence just before landing, though nothing serious. I got my bag and we changed terminals for the Raleigh flight. We were both a bit hungry, so we stopped at a restaurant and asked if they’d be able to get us our food within 15 minutes. They said yes, but ultimately we only got the salad within the first 30 minutes and had to quickly switch to a “to go” order to make our connection. As soon as the flight took off and the seat belt sign was extinguished, we got out the food—still warm! The flight to Raleigh was uneventful and we got the rental car and drove to Southern Pines.
All during the week, we met with alumni. Many were donors to the college, and several had set up (or were in the process of setting up) endowments for scholarships. The way an endowment works is that if someone donates $10,000 over a period of up to five years, the money, when invested, yields about $500 per year, every year, forever. That money is used for student scholarships. It’s a great way of “paying it forward” and gaining a little bit of immortality.
It was really great to hear how important SUNY Canton had been to so many of our alumni’s success. In those days, we were a two-year college, and many of our alumni went on to get bachelors degrees, masters, and doctorates at other universities. In every case, they all said that their success began at SUNY Canton, and that the college had made all the difference in their careers.
Tuesday of last week was Veterans Day and appropriately enough, we met up with Gary Goulden (Class of 1978) at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum at Fort Bragg, a very cool place with a really interesting main exhibit about the history of the airborne and special operations units of the army. A special smaller exhibit about the Battle of Mogadishu was also interesting, as was our ride on a simulator that gave us the feeling of being in a Humvee, in a helicopter, and of skydiving.
Gary Goulden and me at the Mogadishu exhibit
After lunch, Gary (who works in military logistics) gave us a tour of Fort Bragg, one of the largest military bases in the US. Even though we only saw a small part of the base, it was still gigantic—parts of the base looked like a very large university, parts were storage depots for military equipment, and we saw two different airports.
We then returned to Raleigh for a big alumni gathering at the Tribeca Tavern in Cary. About 30 alumni came, representing the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. After a bit of mingling, I gave a short talk about my history and the future plans we are developing. The alumni were quite engaged, asking lots of questions. VP Gerlach then asked a representative from each decade to get up and say a few words about their experiences at the college. Despite the wide span of time encompassed by our alumni, their stories were strikingly similar. Each, in turn, told about how SUNY Canton was the starting point for their success, due to the applied nature of the college and the strong support they had received from the faculty and staff. I was quite touched when one person after another handed Dave a check or a pledge, all seeing the importance of “paying it forward” so that future students can get the same kind of support that made such a difference. It was a pleasure chatting with our alumni and hearing their individual stories, as well as about their strong support for the college.
Friday, it was up before the crack of dawn to return the car, get to the airport, go through security and make a 7:00 AM flight. Everything went fine and we arrived in Philadelphia a little past 8:00 AM. We had some time to kill, so Mr. Gerlach introduced me to a game called Civilization which is pretty slick. I had some fun learning how to play it and the time passed quickly until our connecting flight back to Watertown. That flight was fine as well, though when we landed in Watertown, I was surprised to see a couple of inches of snow there. When we drove back to Canton, we found there was no snow whatsoever.
On Saturday, the day after coming back from North Carolina, SUNY Canton had its third Open House of the season. This was the biggest one yet, with more than 500 people scheduled to be there. I got there a little before 8:00 AM, to be with the band as we set up. Our band grew to four people this time: Lenore VanderZee (Executive Director for University Relations), Dan Gagliardi (Mathematics), and me from before, joined by new member Rosemary Phillips (Legal Studies). We played for about 45 minutes while visitors came in and talked to our deans and staff from admissions and financial aid.
l-r: Rosemary Phillips, Lenore VanderZee, Dan Gagliardi, and me
The bleachers were packed with parents and students, and it was then time to begin the presentations. After Melissa Evans (Director of Admissions) gave her intro, it was my turn to give my pitch as to why SUNY Canton is the perfect place for all students. I always end these presentations with a story about a graduate who dies and goes to heaven, but is sent to hell instead. It’s a funny story with a punchline that people don’t see coming—about 10% of the audience gets it immediately, with the laughs spreading to the other 90% about 15 seconds later. This time, after about a minute when all the audience had finished laughing, one of the admission recruiters broke into loud laughter saying: “I just got it!” That started a second round of laughs.
After a few other brief presentations by our Dean of Academic Support Services and from Financial Aid, the audience was then dismissed by major for the academic part of the day. A little later, I went down by the covered bridges (where we were serving hot chocolate and letting people take pictures with Rudy ‘Roo, our mascot) to meet parents and students. In all, it was a great event with a wonderful turnout.
Town Hall Meetings
On Monday night, I attended two town hall meetings at our residence halls to hear what our students had to say. Each session was divided into segments on issues dealing with academics, student life issues, housing, food service, and so on. The sessions were well attended and there were lots of comments.
Perhaps not surprisingly since the sessions were held in the residence halls, a lot of comments had to do with the residence halls themselves. Some students mentioned that their bathrooms and showers need to be cleaned more often, or that the cleaning isn’t done well enough. Some wanted new shower curtains. A few issues of having submitted a request to fix something in the room that had broken, but it not being addressed were brought up as well. John Kennedy, the head of Residence Life, promised to look into all of these issues and try to address them.
The next most common set of issues related to the food service. Some people in Grasse River Suites wanted more choices as to their meal plans. There were some students who couldn’t get to Chaney before it closed because of conflicts with classes or athletic team practice. Students were told that the College Association Board will consider offering additional meal plan choices, but everyone thought it was really important that the plans include at least one meal each day on campus, to make sure students are eating properly. Anyone with a course or athletic conflict should go to the Chaney office and let them know, and they will arrange so that the student can eat at KFC or Taco Bell later in the evening.
A few students asked about the ‘Roo Shuttle—why doesn’t it go beyond Wal-Mart, and why doesn’t it go more often? I’ve been talking to the other college presidents about possibly extending the shuttle so that it goes by all four colleges. There seems to be some interest in this, so I’ll pursue the discussion. Stay tuned.
There weren’t too many comments about courses and academics. There were some about wanting more student activities on campus, such as was anything being done to bring back campus dances. We’re working on increasing the number of dances, and making them a little more formal (as opposed to club-style), since these seem to work out better for everyone. There will be a Valentines Day dance in February (off campus, but transportation will be provided), and then an on-campus dance later in the spring.
Last Week’s Trivia Contest
Last week’s trivia contest had to do with superheroes. The first person getting all four correct was Concetta Smythe. Others getting all four right included Daron Ellis, Brock Carter, Maxwell Adair, Abigail Ofori, Jordan Edwards, Charles Romano, Joseph Mulva, Amanda Akey, and Shayna Hotrum.
Just come by my office (6th floor of FOB) to get your prize, a $10 gift card, usable anywhere on campus, Concetta. Here are the correct answers:
- He fights evildoers in Gotham City. Batman.
- His secret identity is Peter Parker. Spider-man.
- Team of mutants headed up by Professor Xavier. The X-Men.
- His power ring can make anything, only limited by his willpower. Green Lantern.
This Week’s Trivia Challenge
Since we’ve had our first snow, this week’s trivia challenge has answers that include the word snow. The first reply with the most answers right takes the prize. No looking up the answers now! SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO email@example.com since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!
- She fell into a coma after eating a poisoned apple, but was awakened by a kiss.
- What you make when you lie down in the snow, and move your arms up and down.
- Don’t forget to put them on your car before the weather gets bad.
- Snow song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.