FROM THE POUCH
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
- The Big Apple. New York City.
- The state capital. Albany.
- Largest city in western New York. Buffalo.
- 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!