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Science Magazine reports on faculty-student research collaboration

January 11, 2017

“For most mammals,” writes Science Magazine’s Elizabeth Pennisi, “size matters: Large ones, such as elephants and whales, live far longer than small ones like rodents. But among dogs, that rule is reversed. Tiny Chihuahuas, for example, can live up to 15 years—8 years longer than their much larger cousins, Great Danes. Now, a team of undergraduates may be closer to figuring out why. The most likely culprit? More harmful oxygen free radicals in fast-growing, fuel-burning puppies.”

Keep reading Pennisi’s report on research conducted by Josh Winward ’18 and Alex Ionescu ’19 with Assistant Professor of Biology Ana Jimenez.

Summer internship blog series: little dogs living longer

Laura H. Jack appointed vice president for communications at Colgate

January 3, 2017
Portrait of Laura H. Jack

Laura H. Jack

Laura H. Jack, vice president of development and alumni relations at Howard University, will join Colgate University as vice president for communications, effective February 6, 2017.

Jack brings to her new position years of experience in higher education communications, in areas such as strategic planning, website and social media management, publications, public relations, and market research.

Jack has been leading Howard’s communications efforts since 2014, when she was hired as assistant vice president of marketing and branding. In 2015, she took on the additional responsibility of leading the university’s development and alumni relations operations. Working directly for the president of Howard, she has been responsible for developing and managing Howard’s communications efforts to increase enrollment as well as financial support for the university.

“I am excited to welcome Laura both to Colgate University and to the Hamilton community, and to work with her over many years as we seek to extend the reach and reputation of Colgate,” said President Brian W. Casey. “Laura is a leader in the field of higher education communication, and she will be a welcome addition to the senior administration.”

Prior to her work at Howard, Jack developed and executed communications and recruitment strategies for the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University. Previously, she served for seven years as director of marketing and communications at the City University of New York’s School of Professional Studies.

Before her move to higher education communications positions, Jack held communications, media, and sales positions in several corporate and for-profit settings.

Jack is a graduate of Pace University, where she concentrated in marketing, advertising, and promotions. She also holds an MBA in marketing management and an MSEd in higher education administration from Baruch College, and completed two years of coursework towards an EdD at Johns Hopkins University.

“It is an honor to join the Colgate family under the leadership of President Casey,” said Jack. “I look forward to telling the unique story of Colgate’s faculty and students.”

Rewind: Five favorite Colgate videos of 2016

December 30, 2016

A year at Colgate goes by quickly. Luckily, thanks to my work producing videos in the Office of Communications, I capture a lot of it on camera. I recently looked back at 2016 — here are my favorite pieces from the last 12 months.


We were told we had about three minutes to tell the story of a man who, in 27 years, lived the life of a true hero. The final project was just under seven minutes. Even though we only scratched the surface, I hope we were able to honor the legacy of this truly amazing person.


When the machine project came to campus, I was fortunate to have the chance to document a lot of interesting art projects. My favorite aspect of the whole event was how many of the artists took seemingly mundane parts of daily life in Hamilton and turned them into something special. For most of us, it’s pretty hard to get excited about raking leaves at this point, but artist Chris Kalmeyer brought a sense of wonder to a tedious chore.


For this project, I storyboarded pretty much every single shot. But, no matter how much you plan, a lot is left to chance at production time when you don’t have a large crew, actors, and a controlled set. To get the last shot, I set up in the bleachers directly across from the students and waited for Colgate to score. I marked points on my follow focus to allow me to quickly switch focus from the net to the students cheering. I have lots of takes with missed shots — and good shots ruined by an anxious fan in front of me who kept standing up at the wrong moment.


Professor Carrie Keating’s analysis offers a unique perspective on the 2016 presidential primaries. It remains all the more interesting in light of how things played out in the election. One of the best things about this job is working with the incredible faculty at Colgate.


I’ve been shooting with Sony’s a7s cameras for about a year and a half. The camera is mostly known for its incredible low light abilities, and I’d been waiting for a good opportunity to use it in a really challenging situation. Outdoor education’s moonlit canoe trip was the perfect opportunity, as the only real light source was a full moon and a few flashlights. The images toward the end, when it was totally dark, were shot at an ISO of 51,200.


Colgate on YouTube

Picturing 2016: Colgate photographer picks 13 favorites

December 28, 2016

1.) “A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.” –Dorothea Lange

As the old saying goes, timing is everything. When composing this photo, I wanted to achieve separation between the disc and the hand of the thrower to capture the disc mid-flight. This took a little planning, and I had to watch the thrower’s movements and activate the shutter at the moment of release. If I took the photo too soon, his arm would have been bent and the disc would have still been in his hand. If I took the photo too late, his arm would be outstretched but the disc would be too far away from his hand or out of the frame entirely.

When making this photograph, I also wanted to silhouette the disc thrower against the backdrop of a deep blue sky. This was achieved by using the combination of a low ISO, fast shutter speed, and a smaller aperture. The advantage of using a smaller aperture with a wide focal length lens, in this case, is that the foreground, middleground, and background are all in focus.

Camera: Nikon D4S
Lens: Nikkor 24-70mm 1:2.8 (zoomed to 24mm)
Exposure: 1/4000 sec.
Aperture: f/8
ISO: 200

Read more

Honor roll of access

December 26, 2016
Students outside academic building

Photo by Mark DiOrio

ScholarMatch, a San Francisco nonprofit organization that provides free college counseling to low-income youth, has named Colgate University to its 2016 College Honor Roll. The honor roll recognizes approximately 300 institutions that offer supportive environments for students whose families earn less than $50,000 per year.

According to ScholarMatch, 21 percent of high school seniors don’t have access to a school counselor. The organization’s honor roll is meant to help prevent low-income and first-generation students from ‘undermatching’ their choice of prospective colleges with those beneath their qualifications.

Working with the White House, ScholarMatch used public data to evaluate 1,400 schools in four main areas: financial aid, academic strength, student support services, and postgraduate success — with specific consideration given to low-income students’ needs. ScholarMatch’s analysis included metrics that are specifically relevant for students from households earning less than $50k, such as loan default rates and average debt load at graduation for this income bracket.

Colgate continues to make access and affordability a key priority, including meeting 100 percent of demonstrated need for all accepted students. The university has doubled spending on financial aid in the past 10 years, and the average debt load of Colgate graduates is considerably lower than the national average of more than $27,000; for example, the average debt load for the Class of 2016 was $16,000.

Environmentalism meets social justice in ENST 232

December 21, 2016

Illustration of a park set against a city skyline with blue skies and white clouds

After researching topics from farming to fracking, students in ENST 232: Environmental Justice presented their findings at a poster session in the Ho Atrium on December 8.

The class, taught by Professor April Baptiste, explores how social justice and environmental issues intersect. Athena Bender ’17 and Shana Shapiro ’19 analyzed the effects of urban agriculture by looking at four community gardens in low-income areas in Detroit, Mich.

“Urban agriculture is a racialized resistance movement,” said Bender. “When community gardens are run by black and brown citizens in poorer communities, participants specifically cite them as empowering.”

Some students researched how environmentalism and social justice clash over the issue of fracking. “Environmental Justice for All?” by Alison Lepard ’17 and Emily Ix ’19 explored how New Yorkers across the socio-economic spectrum have responded differently to the state’s fracking ban.

“Depressed communities along the New York-Pennsylvania border feel betrayed by the ban,” said Lepard. “It’s good for the environment, but damaging to communities that depend on the fracking industry for income.”

Others in the class focused their research on food deserts in urban areas, environmental racism, and how communities organize politically around environmental issues.

Baptiste was inspired to assign these research projects to her students after she traveled with seven other professors to several Midwestern cities to study food, community, and culture.

Exploring Food and Community: #colgatefoodtrip
Courses in environmental studies

Colgate signs open letter to incoming U.S. administration for climate action

December 20, 2016

Colgate has pledged to become carbon neutral in 2019, the university’s bicentennial. (Photo by Andrew Daddio)

An open letter on climate action from more than 170 higher education leaders this week includes the signature of Colgate President Brian W. Casey.

Presidents and chancellors from universities in 35 states signed the letter, organized by Boston-based nonprofit Second Nature, urging President-elect Donald J. Trump and the incoming congress to accelerate progress toward a clean energy future.

Casey’s support of the letter, which urges elected officials to support participation in the Paris Agreement, climate research, and investment in the low-carbon economy, is in alignment with the university’s pledge of carbon neutrality by 2019.

The letter encourages officials to stick to carbon reduction and clean energy targets pledged in the Paris Agreement; to encourage academic research to ensure that our national climate, energy, and security policies are based on scientific and technical knowledge; and to invest in clean-energy infrastructure to help the country adapt to changing climate hazards and to grow American jobs.

“We, the undersigned leaders of higher education institutions throughout the United States, recognize our academic and ethical responsibilities to current and future generations to take aggressive climate action; to reduce our sector’s carbon pollution, to support interdisciplinary climate education, and to continue research that expands our understanding of rapidly changing earth systems,” the letter reads. “We are committed to developing and deploying innovative climate solutions that provide a prosperous future for all Americans.”

Additional schools signing the pledge in the region include Union College and Hobart and William Smith Colleges. A full list of schools supporting the open letter can be found here.

Students flood mailboxes with notes of thanks

December 15, 2016
Students writing letters in Case library.

Students from across campus came together last week to write letters of thanks to Colgate faculty and staff. (Photo by Darian Nicholson ’19)

Associate Dean of Admission Drew Riley found a small personalized note in his staff mailbox this week that simply read, “Happy holidays and thank you for all you do to make Colgate the incredible place it is!”

It was signed by someone named Dana. Riley thought the nice gesture was perhaps from someone he met while recruiting, until he ran into another member of the Office of Admission staff who received a similar letter — and someone in accounting… and the registrar’s office… and…

In fact, hundreds of Colgate faculty and staff from around campus received the personal, handwritten notes, each signed with individual student names or with a broader “Colgate students” signature.

Jenny Lundt ’19, a Benton Scholar and chair of the Student Government Association’s (SGA) External Relations Committee, said she and six fellow committee members dreamed up the idea to spread a little extra cheer around campus this year.

“There are so many people in this community who do so much work to improve our lives here and receive very little recognition in return,” Lundt said. “We decided that we wanted to have an event where every staff member would get a handwritten letter from a student thanking them for all of the work that they do.”

Members of the SGA, RetroText (a letter-writing group), and DoRAK (Do Random Acts of Kindness) hosted a night of card-writing in the Batza Room of Case Library.

“We got some funding, got the event catered, and provided a ton of stationary for people to use,” said RetroText founder Ben Fetzner ’17. “It was extremely well attended, and a lot of letters were written. We had the names and departments of all the faculty and staff, and people could comb through the list and look for people they wanted to write to.”

In total, Lundt said, nearly 100 students from across campus came together just days before the start of finals to work on the personal notes to campus staff, and they wrote about 600 letters.

“Going to deliver them was one of the most fun things I’ve done in my time here. It took only like 3 minutes out of some student’s days for a lot of happiness spread throughout campus,” Lundt said.

New show begins at Colgate’s Clifford Gallery

December 8, 2016

Sculpture at the Clifford

A new show has arrived at the Clifford Gallery. It’s called Sessile, and it is curated by Josh Minkus. The exhibition includes works by five sculptors: Giulia Cenci (Amsterdam, Netherlands), Rand Hardy (New York, N.Y.), Eva Löfdahl (Stockholm, Sweden), K.r.m. Mooney (San Francisco, Calif.) and Nick Raffel (Chicago, Ill.). Despite their differences in style and approach, these artists all respond to technological innovation and the precariousness born of a rapidly changing environment.

Sessile brings artists into a conversation on a global scale, exploring what is shared and what remains specific to one’s sense of place and the social systems embedded there.

The works explore the formal impulse of modernism and networked infrastructures such as plumbing pipes and TV antennas. The objects in the exhibition also address the environment, science, and issues of taxonomy. The sculptures, Minkus notes, focus on “the use and misuse of materials as they relate to networks, in terms of their everyday social and practical functions.” The plumbing pipes that Nick Raffel repurposes reimagine networked systems, Giulia Cenci’s surfaces of epoxy (better living through chemistry) hold both promises of endurance and the realities of the fallible.

K.r.m. Mooney says, “I am interested in how difference is more present than ever within human and non-human bodies: intersex fish or flowers as interspecies cyborgs.” The work offers up biological models, perhaps posing more questions than our “networked” lives offer answers.

The exhibition is a meditation on biology, interconnectivity, and uncertain boundaries. Where does the stem end and the leaf start? Like many of the exhibitions in the Clifford, this show combines biology with art and even geography. Where does the specific space (the Clifford Gallery) give way to its locale in a university in Upstate New York – and what is the relationship between the sculpture and the orientation of the viewer experiencing it?

The show runs through February 15, 2017, in the Clifford Gallery.

Museums at Colgate
Clifford Gallery
Previous shows at the Clifford

Love, Africa

December 6, 2016
The third annual African Fashion Show in the Hall of Presidents.

The third annual African Fashion Show in the Hall of Presidents. Photos by Zoe Zhong ’17

With a backdrop of African flags and an Afrobeat soundtrack, students modeled colorful styles at the third annual African Student Union fashion show. Celebrating the continent and its nations’ cultures, this year’s event — called Love, Africa — filled the Hall of Presidents on November 12.

The third annual African Fashion Show in the Hall of Presidents.Designers Bamboo Stitches, Obioma, Missy Temeke, Queen W, and Queen Irie created the fashions on display; comedian Ebaby Kobby emceed the show.

Guests enjoyed a feast — meat pie, coconut rice, fish balls, roast beef kebabs, plantains, and banana bread — catered by Agape Glory Services, owned by the mother of Sharon Nicol ’17.

“This year’s show was the best we’ve had so far,” said founder and coordinator MariaDorin Shayo ’17. “I can’t describe the joy I felt when everyone was getting food, and looked so excited.”

The African Student Union and its partners Gamma Phi Beta, Brothers, Black Student Union, Caribbean Students Association, and Sisters of the Round Table, sponsored the 2016 show and raised money for Hope For Haiti.

“I love seeing people come together to see the Africa that I know — not the stereotypical one awash with war and hunger, but the diverse Africa and the resilience of the people who are thriving,” Shayo said. “It’s great to tell that other story.”

Letting the good be the enemy

December 6, 2016

portrait of Larissa MacFarquharSuppose, for a moment, that the Good Samaritan didn’t rescue just one person merely by chance. Let’s say that he spent his entire life walking up and down mountain passes, finding wounded travelers by the hundreds, spending his children’s lunch money on the medical bills. Would we still respect him?

When New Yorker staff writer Larissa MacFarquhar looks at the world, she sees heroes and do-gooders, who go to moral extremes. In her November 15 campus presentation — part of the Lampert Institute for Civic and Global Affairs speakers series on Crossing Borders: Peoples and Cultures, Goods and Information — she drew the distinction.

Heroes have greatness thrust upon them by circumstances. We like them, because we could see ourselves behaving in the same way if the tables were turned. Do-gooders, on the other hand, often make us feel uncomfortable, because their altruism stretches beyond the pale. They sacrifice their own comfort and often the comfort of loved ones. They don’t confine their good deeds to their own social spheres.

In her book, Strangers Drowning: Altruism at Home and Far Away, MacFarquhar profiles several of these do-gooders, including an Indian lawyer-turned-doctor who launched a leper colony and a husband-and-wife team who adopted 20 children — young people who were unlikely ever to have a family because of age, race, or ill health.

Freud might have called their behavior moral masochism. His daughter would have spoken of altruistic surrender, the affliction that requires someone to obtain gratification through a proxy. MacFarquhar doesn’t buy it. “These people have a sense of purpose,” she said.

In wartime, MacFarquhar asserts, individuals are often called upon to make ultimate sacrifices. But decades have passed since World War II — the last time that Americans were asked en masse to think beyond the bonds of blood when calculating the value of life and property. Perhaps that fact has altered our perceptions of normalcy when it comes to performing good deeds.

Decide for yourself. Join the Lampert Institute audience for MacFarquhar’s presentation, archived at colgate.edu/macfarquhar, and ask yourself the same questions that guided her research: “Is there a sense of too much morality? Can you push it too far? What would a life of moral extremity look like?”

Colgate earns top ranking for semester-long study-abroad participation

December 2, 2016
Colgate students take selfie in front of Beijing skyline

Photo by John Crespi

Colgate students are taking lessons in the liberal arts outside the picturesque Chenango Valley — and in impressive numbers.

The university has been ranked first among baccalaureate institutions for student participation in semester-long off-campus study opportunities. The rankings appeared in the annual Open Doors report, published by the Institute of International Education (IIE) with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

“Colgate supports an average of twenty semester-long, faculty-led programs that enrich student learning across the curriculum,” said Joanna Holvey Bowles, director of off-campus study. “These opportunities encourage foreign language exploration, and broaden student learning and global perspective.”

Colgate has held the top spot in the IIE ranking for two of the past three years, and has been a fixture in the top five for more than a decade. The IIE also listed Colgate ninth among baccalaureate institutions for overall participation in study abroad programs.

“With seventy-two percent of Colgate students studying abroad — and campus-wide support for faculty and students alike,” Holvey Bowles said, “this tradition of close to sixty years has a bright future.”

For more information on the variety of Colgate’s off-campus opportunities, visit the Center for International Programs online.

New agreement launches Singapore exchange program


2011 Senior thesis predicted MLB contract issue

December 1, 2016
Harry Raymond, founder of an on-line app to explore beers, wines and spirits, skateboards through the Colgate University Thought Into Action Incubator, located on Utica Street in downtown Hamilton, NY.

Harry Raymond ’11 worked for a summer in Hamilton, N.Y., developing a mobile app with assistance from the Colgate Entrepreneurs Fund.

Five years ago, on the cusp of a Major League Baseball (MLB) players’ strike, two Colgate students, Harry Raymond ’11 and Ethan Levitt ’11, along with Professor Ken Segall, explored what they determined to be a broken MLB free agency system. That work was published by the Baseball Hall of Fame and was presented at the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.

This week, as MLB and the Players Union narrowly avoided what could have been the first strike in 20 years, one of the main issues of contention was the free-agency issue that Raymond and Levitt brought to light in 2011.

“We wrote a paper on reducing draft pick compensation for signing another team’s free agent,” said Raymond. “Using regression analysis to compare the value of draft picks vs. free agents, we urged the commissioner to change the system, because owners would stop signing free agents because draft picks were more valuable.”

According to FoxSports.com, a verbal agreement was made between the two sides with less than four hours left in the contract Wednesday night. Part of that agreement reportedly includes penalties for signing certain free agents to influence a team’s draft order and a hard cap on annual bonus pools for drafted international players.

“It’s pretty cool to see your work hit the mainstream,” Raymond said.

Raymond, a Colgate Thought Into Action volunteer mentor and a past recipient of start-up capital from the Entrepreneurs Fund, has founded a number of businesses including SwigHQ and DrinkEasy. Levitt continues his study of baseball, working as an analyst for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Related Links:
Upwardly mobile Scene feature
TIA mentorship
Harry Raymond’s thesis
Ethan Levitt’s thesis

Orpheus: a dynamic democracy

December 1, 2016
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra plays onstage in the Colgate Memorial Chapel

Photo by Zoe Zhong ’17

Democracy — typically applied to politics — has found a place in music. The Grammy Award–winning Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, famed for its lack of a conductor and uniquely democratic approach to music making, visited Colgate this semester for a performance and discussion about the applications of a collaborative organizational structure.

The New York City–based orchestra was founded in 1972 and was among the first chamber orchestras to function without a conductor. Instead of a top-down structure, the musicians work collaboratively.

“You need many more rehearsals in order for all of the musicians to determine what the interpretation of a work is going to be,” said Marietta Cheng, professor of music and Colgate University Orchestra conductor. “But because there is so much personal input from each musician, you see a greater commitment and devotion. There’s a certain kind of joy and satisfaction the musicians have in dedicating themselves to this collaboration and giving it their all.”

For their Colgate performance, Orpheus’s 38 performers partnered with renowned German pianist Christian Zacharias for a dynamic two-hour concert, featuring Mozart’s Overture to La Clemenza di Tito, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Bizet’s Symphony in C Major, and the orchestra’s world premiere of Jessie Montgomery’s Records from a Vanishing City. There were two standing ovations, and the concert was repeated later that week at Carnegie Hall.

Prior to the concert, the musicians (who previously performed at the university in 2008) hosted an open rehearsal followed by a question and answer session with students from the Colgate University Orchestra.

Sponsored by the Christian A. Johnson Fund, the event gave Colgate students insight into teamwork and how collaboration produces better results.

“You can imagine that if you have that many people working together, they’d have little quibbles over different interpretations of tempo, style, phrasing, and dynamics,” Cheng said. “So they have to roll up their shirtsleeves and come to agreement for a successful end result. That’s a lesson that will help students in the long run.”

Rachel Kierstead ’19, a violinist in the Colgate University Orchestra, agreed. “The musicians’ ability to listen to each other and accept criticism before the entire group is a model that we can all learn from,” she said, “whether we’re in music, business, or any other pursuit that involves working with others.”

Professors Holm and Taye talk Zika

November 30, 2016
Zika 3D model

Zika virus, 3D illustration

When confronted with government warnings and media headlines about a new global health threat, it’s best to speak directly to those in the know. Before heading home for Thanksgiving break, students and faculty had the chance to discuss the Zika virus outbreak with biology professors Geoff Holm and Bineyam Taye.

During the November 14 conference, sponsored by the Shaw Wellness Center and Global Health Initiative, Holm drew on his experience as a virologist to describe Zika’s structure and behavior.

“Zika is a plus-strand RNA virus, which means it has one strand of RNA that functions as its genome.” Holm said.

In this way, the pathogen — which is often spread by animals and insects — resembles Yellow Fever virus, Dengue Fever, and West Nile. In behavior, Zika is similar to a Xerox, relying on its unwitting host to help it replicate and export itself to other cells.

“Understanding these replication mechanisms is the purview of basic virology,” said Holm. “We try to identify targets for therapeutic intervention so that we can potentially stop the virus from replicating within the host cell.”

Zika has garnered widespread attention in recent years due to a rare syndrome response called Microcephaly, which is a birth defect that Holm defined as decreased head volume and brain size with consequent central nervous system disabilities.

Symptoms of the virus are mild and may include conjunctivitis, joint pain, fever, and rash. These usually clear up within a few days.

Because 90 percent of Zika cases are asymptomatic, men and women may transmit the virus sexually without knowing they’re infected, posing a risk to pregnant women and women who may become pregnant.

Epidemiologist Taye noted that there have been more than 4,000 cases of Zika recorded nationwide as of November 2016, and more than 600 cases in New York City alone.

“To date, the only cases in New York State are in people who acquired the virus while traveling to Zika-affected areas, or through sexual transmission from someone who had traveled to those areas,” Taye said. “However, the possibility of local transmission through mosquitos remains the biggest public health concern.”

Professor Holm and CPN panelists on cancer immunotherapy

Something to say

November 30, 2016
Work from Picker Gallery exhibition depicting painted bookshelf with title "All the books I should have read (but I've been doing all the other things instead)

Photo by Gerard Gaskin

Estonian multimedia artist Marko Mäetamm tells stories, both personal and global, in I Want to Tell You Something, an exhibition on display at the Picker Art Gallery through January 8.

Reindeer central

November 27, 2016

Elizabeth Arnold ’82 recently made final edits to her video interview with Ivan, a retired Russian reindeer herder who grew up following the rangy animals’ migratory patterns and knows firsthand the effect that climate change is having on them.

Force of nature

November 25, 2016

With La Borinqueña, his new Afro-Latina superheroine, Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez ’93 is taking the world by storm.

3D printing the past

November 18, 2016

3D scan of a cuneiform tablet

Call it modern Mesopotamian claymation. With the help of the latest Artec3D equipment, archivists and instructional technologists have teamed up to produce 3D scans and models of the university’s collection of 4,000-year-old Sumerian cuneiform tablets.

Cuneiform, one of the earliest systems of writing, was developed by the ancient Sumerian people of Mesopotamia. Recognizable for its wedge-shaped marks on clay tablets, cuneiform was created using a blunt reed to press a design into the wet clay.

Colgate’s collection comprises 48 cuneiform tablets, which document the trade of goods like silver, fish, flour, and sheep. “Our cuneiform tablets and most of the tablets that you find are economic texts like receipts and accounting records,” said Sarah Keen, university archivist and head of special collections.

Original cuneiform from Colgate’s archives

The artifacts are often used in Colgate classrooms as teaching aids for courses in anthropology, sociology, and related subjects. “They allow students to study the primary goods that were traded and what fueled these economies. [A tablet] gives you an entrée into some aspect of that society,” Keen added.

Instructional technologist Doug Higgins partnered with Colgate’s conservation technologist Allison Grim and Keen on the project. The team was joined by Ian Roy from Brandeis University and Jordan Tynes from Wellesley College.

“Three-dimensional scanning, modeling, and printing will allow us to bring the archives out of the boxes and to the Colgate community both locally and globally,” Higgins said. “We have the ability to share the artifacts digitally, or to bring the [3D-printed] models up the hill and have a closer study of the items within the classroom without fear of them being damaged.”

Handheld 3D scanners work by gathering a steady stream of photographs as the object is rotated. The scanner then uses software to stitch those photographs together in order to generate a model that measures to a tenth of a millimeter for accuracy.

The digital cuneiform models have already proved useful as educational tools. Professor Tony Aveni has used the models to supplement his anthropology course, Comparative Cosmologies, by projecting the models onto the 32-foot wide screen of the Ho Tung Visualization Lab.

“My students had the opportunity first to handle the cuneiform, hold them in their hands, and see what they look like,” Aveni said. “Then we did a projection in the visualization lab of the 3D scans so that you could rotate them, spin them around, and look at the flip side. It gives students another perspective of the artifacts they’ve seen. These are marvelous teaching aids.”

The success of this cuneiform scanning project leaves Higgins hopeful for others like it in the future. One potential application of this technology is the 3D scanning of Colgate faculty research. Higgins envisions professors capturing 3D scans of archaeological sites abroad and bringing the images back to share with students.

He said, “I’m excited to see what we can do next.”

Check out the 3D models here, and give Colgate’s cuneiform tablets a spin.

College and university presidents send letter to president-elect Trump

November 18, 2016

Colgate University President Brian W. Casey joined more than 100 presidents of higher education institutions in signing a joint letter to President-elect Donald Trump urging him to “to condemn and work to prevent the harassment, hate, and acts of violence that are being perpetrated across our nation, sometimes in your name, which is now synonymous with our nation’s highest office.” The letter appears in the November 18, 2016, edition of Inside Higher Education.


Letter From Presidents to President-Elect Trump

Dear President-elect Trump,

As do you, we “seek common ground, not hostility; partnership, not conflict.” In order to maintain the trust required for such productive engagement, it is essential that we immediately reaffirm the core values of our democratic nation: human decency, equal rights, freedom of expression and freedom from discrimination. As college and university presidents, we commit ourselves to promoting these values on our campuses and in our communities, and we stand alongside the business, nonprofit, religious and civic leaders who are doing the same in organizations large and small.

In light of your pledge to be “President for all Americans,” we urge you to condemn and work to prevent the harassment, hate and acts of violence that are being perpetrated across our nation, sometimes in your name, which is now synonymous with our nation’s highest office. In our schools, on job sites and college campuses, on public streets and in coffee shops, members of our communities, our children, our families, our neighbors, our students and our employees are facing very real threats, and are frightened.

One of the roles of leaders is to protect and empower the most vulnerable. As president-elect, this responsibility rests heavily on you. Let this be a mark of your leadership.

Presidents and Chancellors Who Signed (alphabetical by institution)

  • Raymond E. Crossman, Adler University
  • Mauri Ditzler, Albion College
  • Mark Zupan, Alfred University
  • Jeff Abernathy, Alma College
  • Biddy Martin, Amherst College
  • William R. Groves, Antioch University
  • John M. Sullivan, Art Academy of Cincinnati
  • Paul C. Pribbenow, Augsburg College
  • Steven Bahls, Augustana College
  • Marjorie Hass, Austin College
  • Leon Botstein, Bard College
  • Mac Powell, Bastyr University
  • Scott Bierman, Beloit College
  • Mariko Silver, Bennington College
  • David C. Joyce, Brevard College
  • Kimberly Wright Cassidy, Bryn Mawr College
  • Nancy Blattner, Caldwell University
  • Donald J. Laackman, Champlain College
  • Frank G. Pogue, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania (interim president)
  • David McInally, Coe College
  • Brian W. Casey, Colgate University
  • Helen J. Streubert, College of Saint Elizabeth
  • Reverend Philip L. Boroughs, College of the Holy Cross
  • Jonathan Brand, Cornell College
  • Jann Weitzel, Cottey College
  • Carol Quillen, Davidson College
  • Mark McCoy, DePauw University
  • Walter M. Kimbrough, Dillard University
  • MaryAnn Baenninger, Drew University
  • Donald Eastman, Eckerd College
  • Carl J. Strikwerda, Elizabethtown College
  • Jake B. Schrum, Emory & Henry College
  • James A. Anderson, Fayetteville State University
  • J. Michael Pressimone, Fontbonne University
  • Daniel Porterfield, Franklin & Marshall College
  • Elizabeth Davis, Furman University
  • Janet Morgan Riggs, Gettysburg College
  • Robert Kenny, Goddard College
  • Mark Scheinberg, Goodwin College
  • Jose Antonio Bowen, Goucher College
  • Raynard S. Kington, Grinnell College
  • Jane K. Fernandes, Guilford College
  • Rebecca M. Bergman, Gustavus Adolphus College
  • John J. “Ski” Sygielski, HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College
  • Margaret L. Drugovich, Hartwick College
  • Kimberly Benston, Haverford College
  • Lori Varlotta, Hiram College
  • Mark D. Gearan, Hobart and William Smith Colleges
  • Andrea Chapdelaine, Hood College
  • Shirley A. Mullen, Houghton College
  • Lisa A. Rossbacher, Humboldt State University
  • Alison Byerly, Lafayette College
  • Dan McAlexander, LaGrange College
  • Michael B. Alexander, Lasell College
  • Mark Burstein, Lawrence University
  • Barry Glassner, Lewis & Clark College
  • Richard Green, Lincoln University of Pennsylvania
  • Reverend Brian F. Linnane, Loyola University Maryland
  • Kenneth R. Garren, Lynchburg College
  • Brian Rosenberg, Macalester College
  • Stuart Kestenbaum, Maine College of Art
  • James Gandre, Manhattan School of Music
  • Kevin F. F. Quigley, Marlboro College
  • Kerry Walk, Marymount Manhattan College
  • Laurie Patton, Middlebury College
  • Bryon Grigsby, Moravian College
  • John Silvanus Wilson Jr., Morehouse College
  • David Wilson, Morgan State University
  • Stanley J. Pritchett Sr., Morris Brown College
  • Sonya Stephens, Mount Holyoke College (acting president)
  • Timothy E. Trainor, Mount St. Mary’s University
  • John I. Williams Jr., Muhlenberg College
  • Kent Devereaux, New Hampshire Institute of Art
  • Richard Helldobler, Northeastern Illinois University (interim president)
  • Lawrence Schall, Oglethorpe University
  • David W. Oxtoby, Pomona College
  • Debbie Sydow, Richard Bland College
  • Allan Cahoon, Royal Roads University
  • Rachel Schreiber, San Francisco Art Institute (interim president)
  • Karen R. Lawrence, Sarah Lawrence College
  • Tracy Fitzsimmons, Shenandoah University
  • Susan E. Henking, Shimer College
  • Peg Albert, Siena Heights University
  • Joe Bertolino, Southern Connecticut State University
  • David Rees Evans, Southern Vermont College
  • Edward B. Burger, Southwestern University
  • John A. Pieper, St. Louis College of Pharmacy
  • Kevin J. Manning, Stevenson University
  • Valerie Smith, Swarthmore College
  • Susan C. Scrimshaw, the Sage Colleges
  • John M. McCardell Jr., the University of the South
  • Joanne Berger-Sweeney, Trinity College (Connecticut)
  • Stephen C. Ainlay, Union College (New York)
  • Thomas W. Keefe, University of Dallas
  • Quint Thurman, University of the Southwest
  • Jonathan Chenette, Vassar College (interim president)
  • Thomas Christopher Greene, Vermont College of Fine Arts
  • Scott D. Miller, Virginia Wesleyan College
  • Weymouth Spence, Washington Adventist University
  • Joseph Kline, Watkins College
  • Jonathan Gibralter, Wells College
  • Michael S. Roth, Wesleyan University
  • Dennis Hanno, Wheaton College (Massachusetts)
  • David J. Chard, Wheelock College
  • Sharon Herzberger, Whittier College
  • Stephen E. Thorsett, Willamette University
  • Elizabeth MacLeod Walls, William Jewell College
  • Adam Falk, Williams College
  • Barbara K. Mistick, Wilson College

Rubbish gets a redesign

November 14, 2016
Photo by Mark DiOrio

During a workshop with visiting artist Reet Aus, Haoqi Xia ’20 works on a project incorporating found objects. Photo by Mark DiOrio.

“Who knew that so many new things could be made from junk?” said Fiona Adjei Boateng ’19, a theater student who was making handbags out of denim pants during an upcycling workshop.

Reet Aus, an Estonian fashion designer and environmental pioneer, hosted the workshop in Clifford Gallery. She is known for upcycling, which is using discarded materials to make beautiful new products. Aus was in residence at Colgate for 10 days — a joint venture with the theater department, environmental studies, film and media studies, the sustainability office, and art and art history.

Photo by Mark DiOrio

Reet Aus (front) upcycles discarded materials into art. Photo by Mark DiOrio

During the workshop, students worked with Aus to transform materials sourced from the Madison County Solid Waste and Recycle facility as well as Syracuse Rescue Mission into usable objects or works of art. They created jewelry fashioned from used metal wire, wearable garments made from leftover cloth, and found art pieces.

In Aus’s lectures on campus and in the screening of her documentary, Out of Fashion, she explained that, to keep up with the fast pace of fashion trends, clothing companies use wasteful manufacturing practices to produce cheap garments. “On average, eighteen percent of the textiles processed in clothing factories are leftovers, and are thrown away,” she said in Golden Auditorium on November 2. These materials end up in landfills, which pollute the air, water, and soil.

“Working with Reet throughout the week was eye opening,” said Adjei Boateng, “I still can’t believe how much waste the clothing industry creates in the manufacturing process, and the impact that it has on the environment.”

To address the problem, Aus and her colleagues designed a software program and certification called Upmade that helps factories reduce waste by upcycling leftover fabric back into the production process. Two major factories in Estonia and Bangladesh have received the certification so far.

“Reet Aus is a true leader and planetary hero,” said John Pumilio, Colgate’s director of sustainability. “She demonstrates how it’s possible to pursue our passions with social consciousness and environmental stewardship as a cornerstone.”

Upcycling goes beyond environmental concerns. Aus also addresses the social and moral implications of fast fashion, noted studio art major Kris Pfister ’17. Pfister’s senior art project uses recycled materials because Pfister was inspired by Aus. Pfister said: “Her work is a tangible force of resistance to the materialism the Western world has become so accustomed to.”

Socrates returns to life in the Ho Tung Visualization Lab

November 10, 2016



Some say that the death of a great philosopher in Colgate’s Ho Tung Visualization Lab on October 27 was a miscarriage of justice and a stain on Athenian democracy. Socrates’ suicide, reenacted on the Vis Lab’s domed screen by actor H.C. Selkirk, didn’t require the response of law enforcement, but it did draw a crowd of spectators.

Students dressed in the garb of ancient Greece ushered faculty, staff, and friends into the intimate theater on the Robert H.N. Ho Science Center’s fourth floor. The lights went down, and the audience was transported through time into the agora in Athens, digitally reconstructed during the past two years by Colgate University and Hamilton Central School students under the guidance of Vis Lab director Joseph Eakin.

The film, Socrates on Death Row, used live action and a voiceover by Professor Alan Cooper to tell the tale of one of Athens’ most famous citizens, who was a font of notable quotes, a deep thinker who never published. We know of Socrates’ philosophy and his eponymous method of Q&A through the writings of Plato and Xenophon. Relying on those texts, Professor Robert Garland drafted the script for the show, which he considers a prequel of sorts to his Murder on the Ides.


Through Garland’s words, we hear of Socrates’ service in the Athenian army during the Peloponnesian War against the hated Spartans and their allies. We learn of his sympathy for nobles who would rather take government out of the hands of the hoi polloi. Socrates goes on trial for corrupting the youth and defends himself against his prosecutors, mostly by asking questions that make them look like fools. When the jury finds him guilty, he baits them into ordering his execution in an effort to prove the folly of their judicial system. We stand beside Socrates as he downs his dram of hemlock and sighs his last breath.

Thanks to Garland, Eakin, and their collaborators, the death of a classical hero demonstrates the life and vitality of Colgate’s interdisciplinary approach to liberal arts education.

“This is a new way of bringing the classics to a wider audience,” Garland said. “It’s not remote. In the Vis Lab, you see this great thing above you, and it really pulls you into it. I want to show that classics is exciting, gripping, and that it can engage you.”

Joe Eakin and his student staff are no strangers to the silver-blue screen. They have produced four full-length planetarium shows as well as flybys of the Grand Canyon, Rome, Mexico’s Teotihuacan, and other locales. They have supported courses in sociology and anthropology, Native American studies, geography, geology, biology, chemistry, art and art history, physics, and astronomy. Under a blanket of virtual stars, classes travel back in time and view the constellations as they would have appeared over now-ancient civilizations.

“It brings these cultures to life when you can show what it was really like to be there,” Eakin said. “It’s great to read the stories, but when we can combine the words with the visual elements, we bring the humanities into the digital world — we give students a completely new perspective and hopefully a better understanding of the content.”

The Ho Tung Visualization Lab, made possible by a gift from Robert Ho ’56, offers a variety of shows open to the public. Visit their website for details. 

Chapel House reopens after renovations

November 9, 2016
Vassar professor Nicholas Adams delivers lecture at podium in the Chapel House Sanctuary

Taking the long view of Chapel House history with Vassar’s Nicholas Adams (Photo by Nick Gilbert ’18)

Colgate’s Chapel House is at once an architectural novelty and a sanctuary. Beneath the flat roof, behind the 1950s abstracted formalism, you’ll see rare works of religious art and books on world religion; you’ll find a dining room, music room, and living quarters. In silence and meditation, you can lose yourself or find yourself at Chapel House, depending on your objective.

An anonymous gift, made by a woman nearly 60 years ago, created this unique retreat as a place where people of faith — or people of no faith — could seek out religious insights and spiritual nourishment. Colgate reaffirmed this mission last week, celebrating the completion of renovations that make the facility more sustainable and accessible.

In keeping with the space itself, the reopening ceremony was far from ordinary. It featured welcoming thanks from Chapel House Director Steven Kepnes and introductory remarks from President Brian Casey. Japanese Zen master Jeff Shore spoke passionately about Chapel House’s reach across oceans and generations.

Vassar College art professor Nicholas Adams guided students, faculty, alumni, and friends on an intellectual tour through the house’s physical, philanthropic, and religious heritage. He noted the various buildings that inspired architect Walter Severinghaus — like Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House and Marcel Breuer’s McComb House.

Adams also highlighted the deep-seated commitment to religious exploration that moved “the lady” to fund the project, as proposed by Ken Morgan, Colgate religion professor and first director of Chapel House. Citing Morgan’s own writings, Adams said:

“Spurred by [her] largesse, Morgan put together a proposal for ‘a small building where a seeker could study how the religious beliefs and practices in all traditions have been presented in books, in recordings of religious music, and in reproductions and originals of religious arts.’ It would be, ‘a place welcoming seekers … who wanted to know more about the religious paths followed by other seekers; about their personal devotional rituals, chanting, prayers, meditation, and what they have read.’ The lady offered Morgan $600,000 for his meditation center and had two requests: her name ‘was never to be mentioned, and she must approve the architectural plans.’”

Charles Hallisey ’75, now the Yehan Numata Senior Lecturer on Buddhist literatures at Harvard Divinity School, reminisced about life as a student working in Chapel House. Hallisey’s undergraduate experience was shaped by the building and the ethos of those who ran it — including legendary faculty members like Morgan and John Ross Carter, the second director of Chapel House. The lady reportedly believed that her project would be worth the money if even one person found meaning in Chapel House. “I am that one person,” Hallisey said.

“Our anonymous benefactor could have no idea that she was creating a rare oasis of peace in a continuously connected world,” Casey said. “Her original intent still resonates and serves as the primary focus of this beautifully designed, carefully restored home. But the impact of her generosity has expanded with the decline of silence and solitude in our society.”

For more details on Chapel House, including information on making overnight reservations, visit colgate.edu/chapelhouse.

Colgate @ Grace Hopper 2016

November 8, 2016


Six members of the Colgate University computer science department recently traveled to Houston, TX, to participate in the 2016 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. Students Lauren Henske ’20, Zoila Rodriguez ’18, Stephanie Tortora ’17, and Bria Vicenti ’17 and professors Aaron Gember-Jacobson and Madeline E. Smith were among nearly 15,000 attendees at the conference this year.

Engineering Club touches the sky (and sea) with weather balloon

November 8, 2016

The Engineering Club members prepare to launch their weather balloon.

Somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, a Styrofoam cooler filled with GPS equipment and GoPro cameras floats toward Nova Scotia. The cooler, with a popped balloon and parachute attached, is actually the body of a weather balloon that the Colgate Engineering Club designed and built.

The club launched the balloon on October 5, and they tracked its flight via satellite GPS. It passed within a quarter mile of the Ho Science Center and then drifted east until atmospheric pressure burst the balloon, parachuting the cooler into the ocean 70 miles off Cape Cod.

“The balloon reached a height of about 120,000 feet, which is three to four times the height that a commercial airliner flies at,” said physics major Brendan Corrodi ’18 (Medfield, Mass.), the president and co-founder of the club. “If we had the video, you could see the curvature of the Earth.”

The group continued to track the cooler as it floated in the ocean; physics majors Stephen Paolini ’18 (Amherst, N.Y.) and Austin Chawgo ’18 (Oswego, N.Y.) led the mission to recover it. They contacted the Cape Cod Coast Guard for help, and used public-access GPS data to reach out to nearby fishing boats.

“A lot of the boats in the area were commercial non-trap lobster boats,” said Paolini, who is the project manager of the club. “They could potentially sail past and scoop it right up in their nets, but none were near enough.”

The balloon’s GPS stopped transmitting on October 9 and the group abandoned the rescue mission, but they hope that the cooler will make it to the shores of Nova Scotia intact and be found. “My phone number is on the side, so if someone finds it, we might get a nice Christmas present,” Corrodi said.

If the weather balloon makes it back to Colgate, the club will be able to recover the GoPro video footage of its journey and reuse the equipment for another launch. In the meantime, they can use the GPS data to analyze wind patterns, air currents in the jet stream, and even ocean currents.