FROM THE POUCH
Volume 2, Issue 8 – January 27, 2016
I hope everyone had a nice Winter Break, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. I know I did. We didn’t go anywhere outside the North Country, just stayed mostly at home and had a nice relaxing vacation. As everyone knows, the weather was abnormally warm, with no snow until a few days after Christmas (and that didn’t last long), and temperatures above 50° on both Christmas Day and New Year’s. The temperatures have dropped more into the normal range since then, but there’s still not much snow, and we really haven’t had any of the multiple days with a low of -20° that we “enjoyed” last year.
Martin Luther King Day
Last Monday was Martin Luther King Day, and I gave a short speech on the occasion, welcoming some 50 kids from the Ogdensburg Boys and Girls club who were on campus to celebrate with us. The program also included a benediction, songs, and poetry, followed by some service work and then fun at the Athletic Center.
It’s interesting how Dr. King had connections with several places I’ve lived. Georgia, where I lived from 2005 to 2014, is the place where Dr. King was born and grew up, and both the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change are located in Atlanta in a neighborhood called “Sweet Auburn”, which was the center of the Black community during the segregation period.
The very first mass movement in the modern civil rights period with a goal to desegregate an entire community took place in Albany, GA and was known as the Albany Movement. It began in November 1961, with the joining together of the major Black improvement organizations in the city. Protesters marched, and by December, more than 500 people had been jailed. To gain more national attention, leaders of the Movement called in Dr. King, who after speaking at a rally and marching in a protest, also was arrested. He accepted bail thinking that city leaders had agreed to some concessions, but this later turned out to be untrue. When he returned the following summer for sentencing, his fines were paid by a white attorney anonymously, he was released against his will. In further protests, he was stymied by Albany’s police chief, Laurie Prichett, who arrested protesters in a relatively non-violent way and dispersed them to the small town jails in the surrounding counties. This kept the protests from being covered by the national media. Dr. King left the area for more successful protests in Birmingham and considered his efforts in Albany to be a failure, but the Albany Movement succeeded in registering enough Black voters that year that they were able to force a runoff election for a city commissioner position. As a result of growing political power for the Black community, the following spring, all segregation laws were removed from the city’s statutes.
New Hampshire, where I lived from 1981 to 2005, has the dubious distinction of being the last state to ratify a separate holiday in honor of Dr. King. The first time people tried to establish a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday there was in 1979, but the bill was defeated because Dr. King was controversial—some legislators felt he was too left wing or was a communist. Others couldn’t forget that he was against the War in Vietnam. Also, the state legislature of New Hampshire is notoriously cheap and did not want to pay for an additional state holiday.
Finally, in 1991, New Hampshire converted an existing state holiday known as Fast Day (originally celebrated as a “day of humiliation” to ask God to “bless us with peace and prosperitie” and to “favor spring and seede time”), replacing it with Civil Rights Day. The idea of changing Civil Rights Day to specifically honor Martin Luther King Jr. was defeated in 1993, 1994, 1995, and 1997, before finally being passed in 1999. What is now known as Martin Luther King Jr. Civil Rights Day was celebrated for the first time in January 2000.
Our Library is $aving You Money
The Southworth Library and our librarians have spent a lot of time over the last few years trying to make textbooks as accessible and affordable to our students as possible. A large part of their budget is dedicated to getting textbooks for our reserve textbook collection each year. Since funds are limited, priority is given to buying the highest-priced textbooks and targeting courses with the highest enrollments, to serve the largest number of students while alleviating the most significant financial burdens. Students rely heavily on this service, and it is not unusual to learn that a student has made the choice whether or not to remain enrolled in a particular course, and sometimes whether or not to remain enrolled in college, based entirely on the cost of the textbooks. The library also encourages faculty to adopt open textbooks and other open educational resources.
This year something new has been added. Normally, electronic textbooks aren’t bought for circulation purposes by libraries, because the rules from the publishers as to who can use them are very restrictive. Cori Wilhelm, the Access Services Librarian, searched to find e-textbooks that could be used more broadly. After searching every ISBN number on the Spring 2016 textbook list, Cori found 30 course texts that could be bought as e-texts and made available 24/7 online. This number will grow as they investigate this further as an acquisitions priority in future semesters. In some cases, the e-text publisher allows unlimited simultaneous users. In other cases, use is limited to three users at a time, or only one at a time.
Offering textbook e-content is a great step forward in expanding access to curricular materials. During the first week of the semester, we were happy to learn that providing access to a single e-text cut one student’s $1,000 semester textbook costs by one-third! Our librarians will continue to encourage faculty to work with them to explore opportunities for using open content or to consider library e-book acquisition in developing new courses or updating existing courses.
One Hop Shop Saves You Time
At a lot of colleges, in order to pay your bills, get financial aid, and take care of the various requirements in order to register for classes, you have to visit lots of different offices which may be located in several different buildings. Not at SUNY Canton—all of this can be taken care of in a single location—the One Hop Shop.
You may think that since everything is located in one place together, the lines there will be very long. We just did a study on this at SUNY Canton, and here are the results. We measured how long it took for students taking a ticket on January 19, 2015, which was the Monday of the week that classes began—the day the most students came by. This was the first year that the One Hop Shop was in full operation. There were 626 tickets pulled, of which 538 people were served (85.9%). What happened to the other 88 tickets? Some students took two by accident (and thus didn’t need the second one) or decided not to wait. The average length of time that it took students to be served was 17 minutes 31 seconds. That’s not too bad, compared to how long it would take to go to multiple offices, but not good enough. The longest waits were for students needing to talk to someone in financial aid or student accounts, which took 39 minutes 48 seconds on average—a long time. On the day before (Sunday, January 18, 2015), the loads were much lighter. 121 tickets were pulled, with an average wait time of 9 minutes 24 seconds.
Now that the One Hop Shop has been operating for more than a year and the various areas have worked on optimizing how to function together more efficiently, we did another study on January 18, 2016, again the Monday of the week that classes began. There were 668 tickets pulled, of which 614 people were served (91.9%). This is a higher percentage than last year, indicating that fewer people walked away. The average time it took students to be served was 7 minutes and 38 seconds, less than half the time the previous year. The time it took for students needing to talk to someone in financial aid or student accounts fell to 12 minutes and 40 seconds, less than one third the time the previous year. On the day before (Sunday, January 17, 2016), 121 tickets were pulled, with an average wait time of 1 minute and 2 seconds.
How good is this? Compared with other campuses I’ve seen, it’s terrific! Ask your friends at other colleges how long it took there, and you’ll see how good these results are. Congratulations to our One Hop Shop staff, for working diligently to help students as quickly as possible, to solve whatever issue they have. You’re doing a great job.
SUNY Canton did very well in the SUNY grant competition. We had submitted eight proposals to the competition, all of which made it through round one into the money round. To date, only the results of grants submitted to the Investment Fund have been announced, and we got two funded there—one for establishing a new Jump Start program for conditionally accepted students this coming summer ($570,000) and one for improving college opportunities for veterans (jointly with SUNY-Jefferson, for $500,000). We were the only college in the North Country that had any successful proposal in this fund. Congratulations to Molly Mott, J.D. DeLong, and John Kennedy for writing these successful proposals. The EOP proposal results (we also submitted one to expand our EOP program) will be announced separately in a few months.
Stand with SUNY
On Monday, Lenore VanderZee (Executive Director for University Relations) and I went down to Albany for Chancellor Zimpher’s annual State of the University speech. The theme of this year’s speech was “Stand with SUNY”, to show that SUNY is preparing students for work and life, and to ask for increased state support for current and future efforts. Chancellor Zimpher highlighted achievements from the past year, including successes in seamless transfer, expanding diversity, and enhancing degree audit and financial planning for students. New initiatives included SUNY Path, a set of predictive analytics to identify at-risk students and to guide them to support and interventions; InternShop, a database that matches employers and prospective student interns, and Open SUNY 2.0, to take the system’s online teaching initiative to the next level, including incorporation of prior learning assessment, competency based education, and stackable micro-credentials.
Following the speech, we met with various members of the Assembly and the Senate on Monday and Tuesday, to discuss and gain support for SUNY Canton’s budget priorities, as well as to support the “Stand with SUNY” initiative. The various initiatives we discussed were well received, and will hopefully result in new resources coming our way over the next year.
Prince Valiant Comes to America
What did I do over the winter break? Glad you asked. I spent much of the time just relaxing and catching up on some of my hobbies that I’ve neglected over the course of the year. For one thing, I resolved to reread the entire run of Prince Valiant over the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. Prince Valiant is a Sunday newspaper comic strip by Harold Foster that started in the 1930’s, telling the story of the deposed king of Thule’s (Norway’s) son, who grows up to become a knight of King Arthur’s round table. He has adventures all around the ancient world, with the story set around the year 500. It is beautifully written and drawn, and considered by many to be the greatest comic strip of all time. The strip is still published today, by a different author and artist.
There’s an interesting local connection to Prince Valiant. About nine years into the strip, Valiant has to chase after a renegade navigator who has kidnaped Valiant’s wife Aleta. The sea chase extends through the Hebrides Islands, to (the then undiscovered) Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland, and ultimately, down the St. Lawrence River to Niagara Falls, where justice is finally done and Aleta rescued. Since winter is coming, Prince Valiant and his Viking allies set up camp along the river (perhaps near Canton!), befriending the local Indians. Queen Aleta has their first child there. I had read this sequence many years ago, but had forgotten it over time. I especially enjoyed reading it now that I’m living in the location where it took place! I mentioned the storyline in the office when I reread it, and was wonderfully surprised when Lenore VanderZee gave me a framed copy of an original Sunday page of the strip for a Christmas present—the one when they first sailed down the St. Lawrence. How cool is that?
DVD acquisitions included 3D versions of the recent superhero movies: The Avengers—Ultron Imperative and Ant-Man, both good and worth watching. On the other hand, the new Fantastic Four movie? The less said the better. We also watched Hotel Transylvania II in 3D, which was excellent in all ways.
Speaking of 3D, I also did some bidding on eBay to expand my collection of view-masters. While view-masters currently are mostly on children’s subjects, originally they were made for adults and sold at tourist attractions (Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, that sort of thing), featuring 3D views of the sights. They were made from the late 1930’s to the present, though the really collectable period runs from the beginning to the late 1970’s. In addition to tourist attractions, packets were also made on all sorts of other subjects, including classic TV shows (Batman, the Addams Family, the Munsters), scientific areas, and amusement parks (Disneyland, Sea World, etc.). While none are super-expensive (the rarest ones go for in the $500 range), there are plenty of scarce ones, especially those made in Europe at the view-master plant in Belgium. I won several rare ones on eBay, including packets for the 1962 Greek Royal Wedding, the Wieze Oktoberfest (held in Belgium), and of Oran and the Sahara in Algeria, all of which are pretty obscure and collectable. It’s absolutely true that everything is better in 3D!
Last Week’s Trivia Contest
There wasn’t one!
This Week’s Trivia Challenge
This week’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “w”. The first five winners win a $10 gift card that can be spent anywhere on campus. As usual, the first with the most takes the prize. No looking up the answers now! SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO firstname.lastname@example.org since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.
- Most of your body is made up of this, but you can still drown in it.
- Studio that produced all the Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoons.
- All around the mulberry bush, the monkey chased this.
- Napoleon was defeated there, but Abba made it into a hit song.