November 18, 2016


Volume 3, Issue 7–November 18, 2016


 A Message from the Governor and from Me

I just received a message from New York Governor Cuomo that I thought I’d share with everyone, and then make a few comments of my own.  Here’s what Governor Cuomo had to say:

New York and this nation were founded on the premise that we are all created equal. In the weeks that have followed the election, that promise has rung hollow for too many New Yorkers and Americans.

Hate crimes have spiked across the country and this state has not been spared. This week, fliers glorifying the KKK were found distributed on cars in Suffolk County. Last week in Allegany County, a softball field dugout was defaced with the words “Make America White Again,” accompanied by a spray-painted swastika. These are just a few examples. My administration has launched a number of investigations into hate crimes targeting minorities and immigrants.

I call on all public officials, of all parties, and indeed, all people everywhere, to denounce and repudiate these expressions, and to pledge to punish to the full extent of the law anyone engaged in such acts. To remain silent is to engage in a dangerous new permissiveness that threatens our American way.

Residents who have experienced bias-motivated threats, harassment or discrimination are encouraged to call our toll-free hotline at (888) 392-3644 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday – Friday. If you want to report a crime or fear for your safety, call 911 immediately.

Let me be very clear: These acts of hate and intolerance go against everything New York stands for. We have welcomed generations of immigrants with open arms. This state will continue that proud legacy – we will not turn our backs and we will not let this heated rhetoric divide us.

We will stand strong united in the face of intolerance and show the world that we are one people, one family, and one New York.

These sentiments also apply to SUNY in general and SUNY Canton in particular.

Many people don’t know this, but a big part of the reason for the founding of the SUNY system was to combat discrimination.  Until the 1940’s (and in some cases, even beyond), many of New York’s private colleges were discriminatory and restricted the admission of students who were Black, Hispanic, or Jewish.  In response to this discrimination, the Temporary Commission on the Need for a State University was created in 1946.  The Commission carried out a study, and recommended the creation of a public state university system that would be open to all New Yorkers without regard to race, creed, or religion.  Legislation was passed in 1948 that created SUNY, and many colleges that had been created for special purposes (such as SUNY Canton, a specialty college of Agriculture and Technology which was founded in 1906) joined the system that year.  Standing united against intolerance has therefore been in SUNY’s mission from the very beginning.

At SUNY Canton, we are absolutely committed to the credo that Everyone is Welcome Here.  We have recently appointed two co-Chief Diversity Officers (Lashawanda Ingram and William Jones), and are about to open our Center for Diversities and Inclusion.  We offer a regular series of programs, workshops, activities, and events that celebrate and promote diversity, and are working hard to do even more.   In the words of the song People Have the Power by Patti Smith:

                                   I believe everything we dream,

                                    Can come to pass through our union.

                                    We can turn the world around,

                                    We can turn the Earth’s revolution,

                                    We have the power—the people have the power.

We encourage everyone to join us and come together to show the world that through our union, we are one family, one student body, and one campus community that’s going to turn our dreams into reality together.  



This past Tuesday (November 15), SUNY Canton’s Environmental Change Organization (ECO) held their “First Dump” activity, starting this year’s composting initiative.  ECO President Jessica Fischer explained what composting was and why it is important to helping the environment and reducing waste, and Pat Hanss and Kelly Carter talked about how students, staff, and faculty worked together as a team to promote the positive academic and environmental impacts of the project.


Everyone then walked to the compost pile to watch the facilities crew add 325 lbs. of pre-consumer food waste (which is the amount generated every few days on campus) to a truckload of autumn leaves and mix them up, starting this year’s composting process.


The composting project has recently been awarded with some funding from the College Foundation’s Campus Enhancement Awards to expand the compost pile and perfect the process.

ECO initiated composting in Fall of 2015. Since then ECO and its advisor Rajiv Narula, the College’s Dining Services (including Sue Law, Brad Winters, and the kitchen staff), Physical Plant (including Pat Hanss, Stan Wilson, and the facilities crew) and campus Sustainability Coordinator Kelly Carter began a trial compost pile from October 2015 to April 2016. The food waste was weighed, dumped and mixed with leaf litter two to three times a week. The mature compost was used this summer and fall in the flower beds and boxes in Roselle Plaza, and also as an addition to the soil for the new Bee and Butterfly Habitat near French Hall. Last year SUNY Canton diverted 5,000 pounds of pre-consumer food waste from the landfill and into our compost pile. The project has been presented at several conferences through posters and talks.

You can read more about this project in the Watertown Times article here.



Tutoring Center Named

As many of you know, SUNY Canton’s Tutoring Center was voted #1 in SUNY.  This past week, on November 14, it got a new name—it is now the Betty J. Evans Tutoring Center.  Betty Evans is a retired teacher who taught students with disabilities at the Canton Central School District for 18 years.  She was well known for always finding a way to help students reach their potential and achieve success.  Betty Evans was inducted into the SUNY Canton Hall of Fame in 2014, and recognized for her recent contribution to the SUNY Canton Foundation at the naming ceremony.


“I have spent most of my life helping people decide what they will do with the opportunities they have,” she said. “My hopes are that the students will make good use of what is available here, and it is very apparent that they have already started. This is a beautiful and practical place.”  The Betty Evans Tutoring Center offers help from both peer and professional tutors in math, science, business and accounting, and writing.

You can read more about the Center in the Daily Courier Observer here.



So Many Thanks

Words can’t describe how much I appreciate how everyone rallied around my family last week after my mother passed away.

The funeral was held in Syracuse on Sunday, October 30, at the Sisskind Funeral Home.  My father had flown in on October 27 from Las Vegas, and stayed in Syracuse with some family friends.  My sister Drorit had handled most of the arrangements from her home in Houston, and flew in with her partner Susanne on the 28th.  By 1:00 PM, the funeral home’s hall was packed—all the seats were taken and there were many people standing.  Several family members from Israel and Las Vegas weren’t able to come in person and skyped in through an arrangement my cousin Assaf (who flew in from Seattle) had set up.  Family flew and drove in from around the country, some making it to the funeral and others during the week where we sat Shiva. So many people came from Syracuse, where I grew up and my parents lived for so many years.  They included their oldest friends, many of the teachers and students (past and present) from the Syracuse Hebrew Day School where my mother had taught for so many years, and many other friends and neighbors.  Several people drove down from Canton representing the synagogue and the College.  Our deepest thanks to everyone who was able to come.

The service was officiated by Rabbi Yaakov Rapoport (from Syracuse University Hillel, who also did the benediction at my inauguration at SUNY Canton) and Rabbi Evan Shore (from synagogue Young Israel-Shaarei Torah).  Syracuse Hebrew Day School principal Barbara Davis spoke about what a fine teacher my mother had been for so many years, and how she never gave up on any student—she was determined that each one would be able to succeed.  I gave the eulogy, and my sister Drorit shared some remembrances and read a poem called “Letter from Heaven”.

My father Daniel then spoke, about how he and my mother had first met and dated, and how they were married after only three months.  He spoke about their early life together, how we moved to the United States, and how he surprised her by signing her up to take her first college classes, ultimately resulting in her getting her associates degree from OCC, and her bachelors and masters degrees from SUNY Cortland.  She originally agreed to teach at the Hebrew Day School for one year, which then turned into 26 years.  He talked about how close she was to my son Mark, and how proud she was at his bar-mitzvah.  He ended by saying even near the end, she would hold his hand in the hospice, and clap along to music.

After the burial, we drove back to Canton for the Shiva—the traditional seven-day mourning period—that was held in the College’s Alumni House.  So many people from the College and the community came by to pay their respects that I couldn’t possibly list them all, many bringing food for the mourners.  So many others sent sympathy cards and posted their condolences on Facebook.  Our deepest thanks to everyone for lending us support in this trying time.

Some things we’ll never forget include Prof. David Penepent and all the Funeral Services Administration students who came by to give their condolences; our Student Government and all the students who drew and signed the beautiful angel poster—we’ll always treasure it; and the many kindnesses extended by Michaela Young, Peggy Levato, Sue Law, and Sean Conklin in going so far out of their way to meet the needs of my family during the mourning period.

My family and I feel extremely blessed to have such wonderful family members, friends, colleagues, and students to lend us support.  We’ll always remember how you were there when we needed you.



Southern Swing

Congratulations to Dr. Margaret Venable, a good friend, a fellow chemist, and one of the best people I know on her inauguration as president of Dalton State College in Georgia.  I flew into Chattanooga on October 20 and then drove the 30 miles or so from the airport to Dalton. The inauguration ceremony was preceded by a luncheon where I ran into lots of Georgia friends.

The inauguration itself was quite nice.  It had rained the previous day (good, because Dalton was experiencing a severe drought) and there was some concern it might rain again, but instead it was quite windy, which kept the temperature down—especially good since I was wearing my regalia.  There were the usual greetings and best wishes from various campus constituencies, and Margaret gave a very good speech.  And just like that, it was over and she was Dalton State’s first female president.  Congratulations Margaret!


The next day, I drove from Dalton to Cary, NC (a city near Raleigh) for some alumni visits.  It’s a long ride, but the weather was good and the traffic was relatively light.   I was joined there by Amanda Stopa and later by Anne Sibley from SUNY Canton’s Advancement Office.  While there, we had a very nice gathering of alumni who now live in North Carolina, followed by several visits with individual alumni, all of which went very well.

I left on the morning of October 25th, driving to Columbia, SC, where I was speaking at the Southeast Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).  When I got to Columbia, I was surprised to find that I hardly recognized the city at all.  I had been there for graduate school between 1976 and 1981, and had visited a few times since, but relatively recently, they had totally redeveloped the area and it was now an area composed of upscale restaurants and clubs, several new hotels, and a new Alumni Center and Convention Center for the University of South Carolina.  The ACS meeting featured a symposium in honor of Dr. Jerome D. Odom, my research professor when I got my Ph.D., and I was delighted to have been invited to speak there. The symposium was a lot of fun, with lots of interesting chemistry and funny stories about when things had gone less than well in the lab.  After the symposium, we all went out to lunch where we joined Jerry’s wife Toni, who in a long convoluted way, I was responsible for his having met many years ago!



New York Frame of Mind

I left the lunch at about 2:00 PM, because I had to drive out to the airport, drop off the car, and catch the 4:15 PM flight to New York City, where I was attending SUNYCON, an annual SUNY conference that focuses on issues affecting higher education.  The flight actually got there a little early, but I quickly lost the time waiting in line for a taxi to take me into Manhattan.

The next morning (October 27th), I took the subway up to Times Square where SUNYCON was held and joined up with Provost Doug Scheidt, Executive Director for University Relations Lenore VanderZee, Senior Media Relations Manager and Photographer Greg Kie, Public Relations Manager Lorrette Murray, and Director of Public Relations and Web Designer Travis Smith who were also there for the meeting.  The sessions were interesting with some good speakers (you can see the agenda here), and of course we ran into lots of people we know from around SUNY, including former SUNY Canton Acting President Joseph Hoffman.

After the sessions ended for the day, I walked crosstown in some miserable weather (fortunately, I had an umbrella) to join up with an Advancement Officer from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) for dinner.  WPI was my undergraduate college, and on the 40th anniversary of my graduation back in 1976, gave me their Goddard Professional Achievement Award.  Unfortunately, the WPI award ceremony had been back in June at their Alumni Reunion, which fell on the exact same day as SUNY Canton’s Alumni Reunion!  Needless to say I couldn’t attend theirs since I was at ours, and this was the first time we were able to meet up so they could give me the actual award—a very nice framed citation, and a very heavy obelisk made of green marble that has my name carved on one side and the award name on the other.


The SUNYCON conference ended on the 28th, and I took a taxi crosstown to meet two representatives of the Korean Consulate for lunch.  As many of you will recall, Korean Consul Yunju Ko had visited our campus last year as part of our Excellence in Leadership series.  The talk he gave then was excellent and well-attended.  He contacted me a few weeks ago, asking if we could arrange for Consul-General Gheewhan Kim to speak on campus this year.  I told him we’d be delighted, but there was one small problem—I’d be in NYC at the time they’d be at Canton!  It turned out that was fine—Consul-General Kim gave a very good talk on campus, they drove back to NYC that evening, and we met at the Consulate the next afternoon.  The meetings went very well, and we’ll be signing some articulation agreements with several Korean universities in the near future, which will create some new opportunities for our faculty and students.




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



Last Time’s Trivia Contest

There wasn’t one in the last issue.



This Time’s Trivia Challenge

Continuing our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “O”. The first 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. President of the United States.
  2. The capital of Canada.
  3. Name of the place where Dorothy, the tin man, the scarecrow, and the cowardly lion defeated the wicked witch of the west.
  4. English-Irish pop group that has albums Up All Night, Take Me Home, Midnight Memories, Four, and Made in the A.M.




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