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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