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Summer internship blog series: (NBC)Universal skills

July 14, 2016
Beni Geisler '18 at NBC News Group headquarters in New York City.

Benji Geisler ’18 at NBC News Group headquarters in New York City.

Colgate students have fanned out across the globe to apply their liberal arts know-how in a variety of real-world settings. They are writing back to campus to keep our community posted on their progress. This article was written by Benjamin Geisler ’18, an art and art history major from Groton, N.Y., interning at the NBC News network.

This summer, I am working at NBCUniversal in New York City as a creative marketing intern for the NBC News Group. (Even though technically I am an intern for NBC News network, I often work on projects for MSNBC as well.)

As a creative marketing intern, I get to work under the creative directors, producers, and editors in the NBC News and MSNBC marketing departments to help produce promotional spots for television. These are the videos – aired on NBC News and MSNBC – used to advertise upcoming programs, network specials, and more.

The two programs I primarily work with are the TODAY show and Nightly News with Lester Holt. It is my job to pull specific archival footage at the request of the marketing producers for upcoming spots. I also log the programs and create written transcripts that can be used to recall specific segments or moments of the show, and their respective time codes, when looking for future promotional material.

One of the best parts of my job is getting to see the finished spot on television once it has been delivered. Working under so many different producers and editors for various programs means it can be hard to keep track of every project, but it is really rewarding to see an NBC News or MSNBC spot on television knowing I helped produce it.

It is an incredibly exciting time to work at NBCUniversal, especially with the News Group, this summer. Between the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio (to which NBCUniversal has exclusive rights), MSNBC’s twentieth anniversary, the political conventions, and the presidential election, there is a lot of material to cover, market, and produce.

Even working in 30 Rockefeller Plaza, surrounded by some of the most talented professionals in media and entertainment, has been a great opportunity. Just this Monday, I had the chance to hear Colgate graduate and president and CEO of NBCUniversal Steve Burke ’80 speak and give professional advice.

My work as a creative marketing intern at NBCUniversal has provided me with a great insight into the creative production processes behind television marketing. This is only my first summer at NBCUniversal, but I would love to return sometime in the future, possibly as a page.

Related links:

Summer internship blog series: a relentless pursuit of justice

Summer internship blog series: 4th down and 24 hours to go

Colgate University Center for Career Services


Flaherty Film Seminar shapes Colgate classroom experience

July 14, 2016
Flaherty Film Seminar participants sit outside and engage in conversation

Conversations that begin at the Flaherty Seminar will continue in Colgate classrooms (Photo by Amy Jenkins, courtesy of The Flaherty)

They came. They saw. They confabbed — on culture and identity politics, the ethical responsibilities of a documentarian, and the proper balance of race and ethnicity in a program lineup. Then, the 170 attendees of this year’s Flaherty Film Seminar, held at Colgate from June 18 to 24, disbanded.

For the university — Flaherty’s home base during the past nine summers — that’s just the trailer. The full story plays out during the fall and spring semesters, because six to eight Colgate professors have also had the opportunity to attended the seminar each year, meeting filmmakers and broadening their understanding of the international documentary film landscape.

Read more


Summer internship blog series: a relentless pursuit of justice

July 11, 2016
Madison Bailey '18 is pictured infron of the offices of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project headquarters

Madison Bailey ’18 at the Pennsylvania Innocence Project headquarters

Colgate students have fanned out across the globe to apply their liberal arts know-how in a variety of real-world settings. They are writing back to campus to keep our community posted on their progress. This article was written by Madison Bailey ’18, a peace and conflict studies major from Wayne, Pa.

This summer, I am the development intern for the Pennsylvania Innocence Project (PIP) in Philadelphia. The PIP is a legal nonprofit that works to exonerate those convicted of crimes that they did not commit and to prevent wrongful convictions of innocent people.

I had heard about the Innocence Project before, most notably from its work with Steven Avery and the Netflix series Making a Murderer. The Innocence Project has revolutionized the criminal justice system in using DNA testing to exonerate the wrongfully convicted. In Pennsylvania alone there have been 57 exonerations since 1989 — four through PIP since its office was established in 2009 — with a total of 576.6 years lost by clients.

As the sole development intern at the PIP, I help to manage all marketing, communications, and advertising projects that arise. My responsibilities, therefore, vary greatly from day to day. In the few short weeks that I have been here, I have crafted graphics and marketing materials for fundraisers; managed social media accounts; built part of the website; created a Wikipedia page for our branch; written e-mails that were sent to 10,000+ supporters; and drafted press releases. On June 27, I was given the honor of drafting the official press release announcing the release of exonerated PIP client Crystal Weimer.

One of the most moving jobs that I have been involved with is helping a former client, Kenneth Granger, with his personal campaign for reintegration after he was wrongly imprisoned for 28 years. I work with Granger on a day-to-day basis, and I have found our interactions transformative, as they show me the current faults that exist in our criminal justice system. My interactions with Granger have also taught me that people who have been wrongly imprisoned in Pennsylvania receive no compensation from the state, a fact that I found startling.

I feel that I am making a difference in the world with the work that I have been a part of this summer, and it has helped me to narrow down what exactly I would like to do after graduating from Colgate. As I enter my junior year at Colgate, I know that I will take advantage of available resources to enable myself to potentially pursue a career in humanitarian law.

Related:
Internships from Career Services
The Center for Outreach and Volunteerism at Colgate
Summer internship blog series: 4th down and 24 hours to go

 


Reflections on Elie Wiesel at Colgate

July 8, 2016
Elie Wiesel stands with professors and administrators in front of staircase in Merrill House

Elie Wiesel visits Colgate in 1998. (Left to right) Dean and Provost Jane Pinchin, Balakian, Wiesel, Miriam Grabois and President Neil Grabois, Director of Jewish Studies Steven Kepnes

Peter Balakian is the Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Chair in the humanities in the Department of English. He was the first director of the Center for Ethics and World Societies. His book Ozone Journal won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for poetry.

I first met Elie Wiesel when my friend and English department colleague Terrence Des Pres hosted him for a lecture at Colgate in 1982. Terrence, who had written a trailblazing and best selling book The Survivor: An Anatomy of Life in the Death Camps was a leading scholar in Holocaust studies and had worked with Elie in the planning phases of the U. S. Holocaust Memorial and Museum in Washington.

At a reception on the great green slope of Terrence’s yard at Olmstead House, where he lived on the lower knoll of Preston Hill Road, I spent an hour talking with Elie about survivor experience, Armenian and Jewish experiences of diaspora, Turkish government denialism of the Armenian genocide, and so forth. It was the beginning of a collegial friendship of more than 30 years.

Read more


Summer internship blog series: 4th down and 24 hours to go

July 7, 2016
Jacob King '18 in the lab.

Jacob King ’18 in the lab at Colgate

Colgate students have fanned out across the globe to apply their liberal arts know-how in a variety of real-world settings. They are writing back to keep our community posted on their progress. This article was written by Jacob King ’18, a molecular biology major from Burlington, Conn.

This summer, I’m on campus completing research with biology professor Krista Ingram. Professor Ingram is a leading researcher on circadian rhythms — physical, psychological, and behavioral patterns that roughly follow a 24-hour cycle in humans.

These rhythms influence important aspects of life, like sleep-wake cycles and hormone release. Researchers have also found a correlation between abnormal circadian rhythms and health issues like obesity, cancer, and psychological disorders.

When Chloe Weiss ’18, Celine Marlin Andrews ’18, and I walked into the lab on our first day, we had no idea what to expect. Unlike some research interns, we began at square one, learning about the current findings in the field in order to form a hypothesis that had not already been addressed. We decided that we want to see how student-athletes’ circadian rhythms could influence their performance, both physically and academically.

Our schedule consists of two types of days. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we do sampling on human participants: the football players who are on campus for the summer. We have the players complete a physical and cognitive task for us, then collect biological markers, which are physical measurements of effort. In our study, we look at heart rate and a stress hormone found in saliva.

The second type of day occurs on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and consists of mostly processing the saliva we collected, taking the raw data from participants’ task scores, and correlating their performance with their circadian rhythm by looking at the expression levels of certain clock genes.

Clock genes are a set of genes that influence the body’s ability to cycle within 24 hours. Measuring their expression involves looking at the subject’s RNA; the more RNA a subject has at a certain time of day, the more the gene is being expressed.

Then, we have the participants complete a survey that asks about certain daily routines and sleeping habits and allows us to predict what type of rhythm they have.

We have been able work through every aspect of a researcher’s life and get to see the results within the same summer, which is incredible. We hope to have our research published in the months ahead.

Going into my junior year at Colgate, I can easily say that I will be looking into research after I graduate.

Related:

Summer internship blog series: recipe for business at Chicory

Summer internship blog series: fighting frontotemporal degeneration


Growing hope

July 5, 2016

Sunrise Camp residents wave from the window of their new treehouse

Caroline Danehy ’19 never expected to appear on national television. But a stroke of inspiration at a special summer camp offered her the chance to make an appearance on the Animal Planet series Treehouse Masters.

Two years ago, Danehy, then a junior in high school, decided to spend a summer day volunteering at Sunrise Day Camp in Pearl River, N.Y. The camp, one of six Sunrise camps located worldwide, cares for children with cancer, providing a refuge in nature for them and their families, and offering fun and healing away from lonely hospitals and painful treatments.

“It’s such a good thing for the kids,” Danehy said. “They’re in a place now where they don’t have to be worried about doctors or medicine, and they can just be kids and have fun. It’s taking them out of the hospital and into nature, which is such a healing environment.”

It was this unencumbered view of nature that first struck Danehy upon her arrival at the Pearl River camp. Specifically, she remembers the multitude of trees, which brought to her a sudden inspiration.

“I was reminded of earlier that morning when I had been watching the show Treehouse Masters, and I just thought of what an amazing place this would be for a treehouse,” Danehy said.

treehouse3

A room with a view, brought to Sunrise by Caroline Danehy (center) with Arnie Preminger (right) and Pete Nelson (left)

After approaching camp management for the green light on the project, Danehy took action, first reaching out to a local construction company to ask for a donation of one of their treehouses. When they were unable to provide one, she turned to the very people who inspired the project, the team at Treehouse Masters. Danehy sent an e-mail to the show’s casting director, never expecting to receive a response.

“But sure enough,” she said, “I got an e-mail back saying they loved this idea, and they wanted to set up a meeting with me and Arnie Preminger [the director of the Sunrise Foundation].”

From then on, Danehy acted as a liaison between the camp and the show’s production team, and after a casting call, she was chosen to appear in the episode for an interview with Preminger and Pete Nelson, the show’s host.

But Danehy’s involvement with the project didn’t end on screen. She also organized a fundraiser with her school’s lacrosse team to raise approximately $2,000 toward the nearly $200,000 in funds needed to build the wheelchair-accessible structure complete with a peek-a-boo roof and plenty of room for games and activities.

On June 21, 2015, Danehy’s dream came to fruition when camera crews filmed the reveal of the treehouse to the eager campers waiting below. Nearly a year later, on June 2, 2016, she received the Sunrise Champion Award at the Sunrise Association’s Third Annual Dare to Dream Benefit recognizing all of her hard work in bringing the treehouse to life.

Danehy’s commitment to activism has only grown since attending Colgate. In 2015, she and her brother, Jake Danehy ’16, pitched their idea for Fair Harbor Clothing at Colgate’s Entrepreneur Weekend, gaining $5,000 in funding. Their business sells environmentally sustainable beachwear, including board shorts crafted from recycled plastic bottles.

Related:
Max A. Shacknai Center for Outreach, Volunteerism, and Education (COVE)
Fair Harbor


Picture this: science at Colgate

July 1, 2016

First place winner by Claire Kittock ’17 and Noor Anvery ’17

Veins of neon green trace a path across a stark black background in a photo taken by Claire Kittock ’17 and Noor Anvery ’17, displaying a web of microscopic neurons within the brain of a genetically altered fruit fly.

Kittock and Anvery captured the photo through a microscope while researching the cellular architecture of different animals with Mala Misra, assistant professor of biology. The photo later earned first place in the Cooley Science Library’s first ever photo contest.

Kristi Mangine, Colgate’s science library coordinator, thought of the idea for the contest because she wanted to decorate the library’s bare walls and was inspired by several student workers whom she knew were passionate about photography.

“The student photographers have great perspectives on what’s going on around campus,” Mangine noted. “So I thought a photo contest would be great to highlight how [the students] see science at Colgate.”

Second place by Geology professor William Peck

In early February, Mangine and Peter Tagtmeyer, associate science librarian, e-mailed students, faculty, and members of the Colgate community asking for photos that represented their vision of “science at Colgate.”

After receiving 30 photo submissions, Mangine turned again to the community, this time for a vote to determine the six winners whose photos would be placed on permanent display in the library.

The winning photographs varied widely in subjects, techniques, and fields of study.

Geology professor William Peck’s jewel-toned photomicrograph of a moon rock took second place in the contest. The rock was collected by the Apollo 12 mission to Oceanus Procellarum in 1969. Peck receives a set of lunar samples from NASA every spring for use in his Geology 202 class, and this year’s sample, Lunar Basalt 12005, contained minerals that settled out of the moon’s lava lake approximately 3 billion years ago.

Third place by Leda Rosenthal ’18

In third place was a portrait of an inquisitive dairy cow snapped by Leda Rosenthal ’18. Rosenthal’s photo came from her time spent at the Durfee dairy farm in Chittenango, N.Y., where she worked as an agricultural economic fellow for Colgate’s Upstate Institute last summer.

Mangine noted that the contest had the added benefit of exposing little-known research projects on campus. “That’s the thing about Colgate,” she said. “There’s such amazing research going on behind closed doors. This contest lets you see it.”


Summer internship blog series: recipe for business at Chicory

June 30, 2016
2Web

Erica Pais ’17 at Chicory headquarters in New York City with founder Joey Petracca ’13

Colgate students have fanned out across the globe to apply their liberal arts know-how in a variety of real-world settings. They are writing back to campus to keep our community posted on their progress. This article was written by Erica Pais ’17, a sociology and educational studies double major from Sharon, Mass., interning at Chicory — a startup launched by Yuni Sameshima ’13 and Joey Petracca ’13. 

This May, I moved to New York City to work as a marketing intern at Chicory. Chicory makes recipes shoppable by connecting recipe websites with online grocers, allowing consumers to have their ingredients delivered. At Colgate, I’m a member of Thought Into Action, which inspired me to intern at a startup and also put me in touch with Chicory’s founders, who mentor through TIA and are Colgate alumni. I’m an avid baker and cook, so I was thrilled to find a company that has food at the forefront of its mission.

As part of the Marketing Team, I help manage all social media outlets, including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. We use social media to promote our food bloggers and our own written content, as well as to create a community among our recipe partners. I also contribute to the company blog and create weekly e-mail newsletter content.

Now that I’ve been here for four weeks, I’ve learned that marketing is about a lot more than just posting on social media. Our team actively pursues potential recipe partners while maintaining relationships with current partners. Chicory pays attention to detail and ensures that our partners feel a personal connection to the company.

With only seven full-time employees in our office, Chicory is a small company, and I’m able to interact with everyone on a daily basis. The company culture is fun and friendly, but professional at the same time. Chicory has struck a nice balance on that front. I love that the whole team eats lunch together every day to catch up and check in with one another. We even have a Ping-Pong table in the office. All of the employees are amazing players, so they are collectively training me!

Being a small startup, Chicory is the perfect place to learn about many aspects of a company. I have been offered opportunities to participate in sales calls and even to learn about how our technology works. Working at Chicory has been a fantastic experience, reaffirming my passion for working in a food-related field.

Although I don’t know exactly what career I hope to pursue, being here has shed light on multiple possibilities. Going into senior year, I’m still figuring it out, but am sure I will find my way. I look forward to learning more throughout the rest of my internship!

Related:

Erica Pais ’17 on making connections through baking

Summer internship blog series: fighting frontotemporal degeneration


Jess Blank ’11 and Adam Weisbarth ’10 to the rescue

June 29, 2016

Portrait of Jessica Blank, Adam Weisbarth, and their rescue dogUpworthy.com producer/editor Jess Blank ’11 and her boyfriend, Adam Weisbarth ’10, volunteer as foster “parents” for Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue, a four-year-old group that rescues dogs from high-kill shelters in the South. Without its own facility, the rescue relies on foster care until dogs are adopted, which can take anywhere from one week to several months. So far, the couple has fostered four dogs: Ezra Klein, Ellen Page, Tara Chambler, and Sally Finkelstein (Badass dogs are named after celebrities and characters). Blank tells us what they’ve learned along the way.


New agreement launches Singapore exchange program

June 24, 2016
A new agreement between Colgate University and the Naitonal University of Singapore will create new off-campus study options in 2017.

Representatives from Colgate University and the National University of Singapore sign a memorandum of understanding creating a new student exchange program in 2017. (photo by Alice Verdin-Speer)

Students looking for a dynamic off-campus experience that also allows them to engage in scientific research will have more options in 2017, thanks to a new agreement between Colgate University and the National University of Singapore (NUS).

After more than a year of exploration and development, representatives of Colgate and the NUS signed a memorandum of understanding June 7, creating a new exchange program to benefit students from both institutions, and to act as a catalyst for future faculty collaboration.

The agreement affords new research options for students in the departments of mathematics, computer science, biology, chemistry, and physics & astronomy. Jason Meyers, associate professor of biology, will lead the first group of Colgate students to Singapore in the fall of 2017, but unlike other full-semester study groups, Meyers will accompany students for just a few weeks before returning to campus in Hamilton, N.Y., to teach.

In the spring, NUS students, already acquainted  with students from Colgate, will then come to Hamilton, N.Y., to take courses, conduct research, and experience the liberal arts.

“We really wanted to build on the successful National Institutes of Health program in Washington, D.C., in which students take two courses and independent research for credit,” said Nicole Simpson, professor of economics and associate dean of the faculty for international initiatives. “Undergraduate research isn’t common at large institutions internationally, so there was a short list of places that are rigorous and strong in the sciences, but that also applaud undergraduate research.”

Simpson said that, because NUS has existing relationships with Yale and Cornell universities, their faculty and administrators are already familiar with the liberal arts, and their curriculum has rigorous standards akin to Colgate’s.

The new partnership was developed, in part, thanks to Ed ’62, P’10 and Robin Lampert P’10, whose generosity supported the founding of the Lampert Institute for Civic and Global Affairs at Colgate. The Lamperts have made a $2.5 million commitment to internationalization, and they also offered to match additional gifts of $500,000 up to $2.5 million for international initiatives.

NUS Professor Roger Tan, vice dean and faculty of science, education and special duties, said he hopes this new endeavor will create more opportunities for cooperation in the future between the two institutions of learning.

“[NUS] students will certainly benefit from your broad-based liberal arts education,” Tan said during a visit to Colgate earlier this month. “I hope we give them an unforgettable experience.”

Professor Damhnait McHugh, Colgate natural sciences and mathematics division director, said that when she visited NUS with Meyers, Simpson and four other faculty in the natural sciences on their fact-finding mission this past January, it became abundantly clear that the university had extensive support systems and a strong commitment to welcoming international students.

“We want our students to really make the most of their social and cultural experience as well, and we hope for international faculty collaborations to develop in the coming years,” McHugh said. “We are very excited about the possibilities.”

Related:
Off-campus study
Lampert Institute for Civic and Global Affairs
Colgate Study Groups


Summer internship blog series: fighting frontotemporal degeneration

June 23, 2016
Laynie Dratch ’17 (left) and Meghan Healey ’11

Laynie Dratch ’17 (left) and Meghan Healey ’11

Colgate students have fanned out across the globe to apply their liberal arts know-how in a variety of real-world settings. They are writing back to campus to keep our community posted on their progress. This article was written by Laynie Dratch ’17, a neuroscience major from Ambler, Pa., conducting research at the Penn Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTD) Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

This is my second summer at the Penn FTD Center, which brings together an interdisciplinary team of clinicians and researchers with common goals of studying frontotemporal degeneration spectrum disorders as well as providing care and support to patients and their caregivers.

Frontotemporal degeneration is a term used to describe a continuum of disorders marked by progressive brain cell loss in the frontal and temporal regions of the brain — the most recognizable disorder is Alzheimer’s disease. Few realize that similar dementias exist. Disorders such as primary progressive aphasia and corticobasal syndrome often present as changes in personality, gait, or language, rather than memory loss, and are challenging to diagnose. These atypical dementias, which can be confusing and frustrating for patients and their families, often appear in people in their 50s and 60s.

Places like the Penn FTD Center are rare, and I am proud to be part of a team that is leading the research and patient care for this struggling population that is still looking for a cure. A bonus: I have the pleasure of working with Meghan Healey ’11, a graduate student in the center.

This summer, I am involved in a project that compares typical Alzheimer’s to its atypical variants by studying differences in imaging biomarkers throughout disease duration. Working at the Penn FTD Center has provided me with countless other educational opportunities: I have participated in lab meetings, presented papers, served as a control in experiments, learned computer skills, observed a brain autopsy, and attended the center’s annual FTD Caregiver Conference, bringing together patients, caregivers, researchers, clinicians, and advocates for a day focused on practical information and the state of the science.

There are few, if any, centers that can match the resources, ability, and compassion that allow the Penn FTD Center to both care for and learn from its patients. The underlying themes of Penn’s success are collaboration and compassion. Every member of the team is important, and everyone contributes. Working at the center among the field’s brightest doctors, researchers, and nurses has taught me so much, both professionally and personally. I entered the center with absolutely no biomedical research experience, and now understand all of the different contributors to what is a much bigger and more complicated process than I ever imagined. I learned that my strengths include collaboration and analysis, while coding and statistics are my next areas to focus on improving. Most importantly, my time at the center has shown me that I work best in a collaborative environment, and has provided me with a network of support comprised of some of the field’s top academics and medical professionals. This experience has also shown me that I want to work in a sector of the field that has contact with, or direct impact on, the lives of patients and their families.

Related:
Career Services
Jobs and Internships


Summer internship blog series: Greening Glimmerglass

June 16, 2016
Grace Thomas ’17 stands with Bob Sutherland outside of a barn at Mohican Farms

Grace Thomas ’17 with Bob Sutherland of Mohican Farms (Photo by Karli Cadel)

Colgate students have fanned out across the globe to apply their liberal arts know-how in a variety of real-world settings. They are writing back to campus to keep our community posted on their progress. This article was written by Grace Thomas ’17, interning at the Glimmerglass Festival, where Francesca Zambello ’78, H’12 serves as artistic and general director.

I am fortunate to be working this summer as a member of the Summer Field School within the Upstate Institute, pursuing my interests in environmental sustainability.

This opportunity blends academic research with a more traditional working setting. My goals for the summer are to assess and advise the staff at the internationally famous Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, N.Y., on a variety of sustainable initiatives, from water use to energy efficiency, with a host of projects in between.

Read more


The linguistic lawyer

June 15, 2016
Portrait of Clarissa (Polk) Shah ’10 standing in front of conference room doors

Clarissa (Polk) Shah ’10 (Photo by Gerard Gaskin)

It all started on a St. Louis, Mo., elementary school library shelf. Clarissa (Polk) Shah ’10 discovered her love of Chinese culture at age 10 with a book of short stories. That fascination blossomed into a career, as well as advocacy work.

Although she studied Spanish throughout middle and high school, those short stories — written by Chinese authors and translated into English — had a hold on Shah. When her Spanish teacher told her, “So much is lost in translation,” she wanted more than ever to read them in Chinese. “I wondered, what am I missing?” she said.

At Colgate, Shah finally had the opportunity to learn Chinese. “Professor [Gloria] Bien made the language fun and accessible,” she said. Shah added that “the entire department was great,” and because it is small, each of the three professors (including John Crespi and Jing Wang) “helped with my development.”

Read more


Message to community regarding vigil for Orlando shooting victims

June 13, 2016
Pride Flag

Photo by Andrew Daddio

To the Colgate community:

I write to express sorrow and sympathy on behalf of Colgate University following Sunday morning’s tragic mass shooting in Orlando, Fla. Our thoughts and prayers go to all those affected and to everyone who feels the pain of this tragedy in a deeply personal way.

We grieve this senseless loss of life and injury, with echoes of, and links to, other acts of historical violence as well as contemporary terrorism. It is a tragic instance of the violence that LGBTQ people continue to suffer despite many recent legal gains for the community.

I write, as well, to affirm the values of this institution in creating and maintaining an inclusive, welcoming, and safe place for all — a place where we recognize injustice, challenge intolerance, and combat hate. As Omid Safi, former Colgate philosophy and religion professor, told our graduating Class of 2016 in his baccalaureate address, “Continue expanding your circle of compassion until every sentient being and every human being is included.”

In that spirit, the Colgate community is invited to join a vigil of contemplation, reflection, or sharing this evening outside Memorial Chapel on the Academic Quad at 8:30 pm. In case of inclement weather, the gathering will take place at the ALANA Cultural Center. Staff from the LGBTQ Initiatives Office will be present to assist, counsel and refer.

Members of the counseling center (315-228-7385) staff are available to talk with any students on campus for the summer who are feeling distressed or troubled about this tragedy or any other concern.

Sincerely,

Jill Harsin

Interim President


Summer internship blog series: Tips from career services director Teresa Olsen

June 10, 2016
Kevin Costello ’16 hands a file across a desk in the office of Congressman Richard Hanna

Last summer, Kevin Costello ’16 worked as an intern for Congressman Richard Hanna on Capitol Hill after participating in Colgate’s Washington, D.C., study group. (Photo by Kanji Takeno)

As we get ready to kick off Colgate’s annual summer internship blog series, which will highlight students at work in a variety of fields around the globe, we’re featuring internship advice from a WalletHub interview with Teresa Olsen, assistant vice president of institutional advancement and director of career services. Read more


An immersion in public arts and humanities

June 8, 2016
group portrait of students, faculty, and alumni standing on the Highline in New York City

(L to R) FRONT: Bonnie Zhou ’18, Chelsea Mohr ’17, Jane Trask ’16, Kate Dugdale ’16, Monica Hoh ’16 MIDDLE: Elizabeth Johnson ’16, Woohee Kim ’18, Miranda Gilgore ’18, Emily Wong 18, Professor Claire Baldwin, Jason Alexander ’17, Bennie Guzman ’17 BACK: Julia Wolf ’17, Jim Smith ’70, Robert Dorf ’80, Professor Georgia Frank (photo by: a kind stranger on the Highline)

Editor’s note: Last spring, Miranda Gilgore ’18 took part in Colgate’s public arts and humanities immersion trip to New York City. As she prepares for her summer months as a camp counselor in the Adirondacks, Gilgore reflected on the experience and how it has changed her outlook on her majors, her hobbies, and her long-term career planning.

A marble-tiled museum, a pretty show with nice music and gorgeous costumes, an old house that used to belong to a wealthy family. That’s what a lot of people would probably think of when they heard a definition of ‘public humanities,’ the work of individuals and organizations to provide community access to the arts, history, philosophy, and more.

I did, too, before going on the public arts and humanities immersion trip to New York City, sponsored by Jim Smith ’70 and Robert Dorf ’80, during Spring Break 2016. From March 13 to 16, I traveled with 11 other Colgate students and two professors to NYC in order to bridge the gap between our academic experiences in the humanities and the “real world.” Prior to departure, we had a seminar class to discuss articles and case studies regarding nonprofits related to the arts and humanities, and we also met to discuss trip logistics.

Thinking deeply about dance performances, museum exhibitions, archive center holdings, theater performances — all of which we did in fact deeply engage in during the trip — opened up the doors to some amazing discoveries.

Read more


Colgate faithful celebrate Reunion 2016

June 7, 2016
A cappella singers serenading two women seated in lawn chairs

Singing and lounging by the tents at Reunion 2016 (Photo by Gerard Gaskin)

As summer weather arrived in the Chenango Valley last weekend, so, too, did more than 2,100 visitors to Colgate’s 2016 Reunion. This year’s event drew members of the Colgate community from class years ending in ones and sixes and featured several notable anniversaries: the 20th of Delta Delta Delta sorority, the 30th of the Alumni of Color organization, and the 50th of the Class of 1966. It also attracted alumni back to Hamilton from the more recent classes of 2014 and 2015, and from locations as far as France and Israel.

Jeanette Lyons Gridley ’91 traveled more than 700 miles from Chicago to reconnect with her roommate of all four years, Elissa Liebman Lunder ’91 of Boston, and her sorority sister M.J. Hetzler Gagan ’91 of Albany. Gridley called her trip to reunion, “so worth it.” She added, “It’s just a nice, easy weekend. People get caught up in errands and everything else, but it’s important to make time for yourself and your friends.”

Read more


Leading by example

June 3, 2016
Duncan Niederauer ’81, former CEO of the New York Stock Exchange sits on a desk and talks to students in a classroom

Duncan Niederauer ’81, former CEO of the New York Stock Exchange, speaks with students during the course titled Leadership Through Change, Innovation, and Disruption (Photo by Brian Ness)

A Chenango Valley sunset shone through classroom windows as students opened their notebooks and laptops, eagerly awaiting a conversation with Chase Carey ’76, executive vice chairman of 21st Century Fox, kicking off Leadership Through Change, Innovation, and Disruption.

Part of the Robert A. Fox ’59 Management and Leadership Skills Program, this new career development course brought alumni to campus during spring 2016 to offer career advice and shed light on the ways in which the digital era has impacted their industries.

“The topic is particularly relevant when you talk with 20-year-olds who are essentially the ones turning business upside down,” said Carey.

A dedicated group of sophomores, juniors, and seniors attended the intimate weekly gatherings, facilitated by Murray Decock ’80, adjunct instructor and senior vice president for external relations, advancement, and initiatives. Decock began each session with an introduction, followed by a dialogue with the presenter and an opportunity for students to ask questions.

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Steve Fabiani named Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Colgate

May 31, 2016
Steve-Fabiani

Steve Fabiani, newly appointed vice president and chief information officer at Colgate

Steve Fabiani, associate chief information officer at Haverford College, will join the Colgate senior staff as vice president and chief information officer, effective August 15, 2016.

Fabiani comes to Colgate with more than 16 years of experience in higher education technology leadership. At Haverford, he built partnerships with and among colleagues and senior leaders in working on major campus initiatives, including a capital IT infrastructure plan that improved essential services such as wireless networking and classroom technology. He led the evaluation of new software for finance, human resources, and event scheduling functions; and implemented innovative systems, including a new virtual lab for students and faculty.

His approach to community input and transparent governance helped Haverford to steward institutional resources, align the IT department’s priorities with the institutional mission, and improve both baseline services and opportunities for creative use of technology.

“I am thrilled to be joining Colgate,” said Fabiani. “Everyone I have met has been generous of spirit and excited about the work they are doing. I am looking forward to working with the ITS staff to take Colgate IT to the next level, and I am confident that we are going to make great partners.”

Prior to Haverford, Fabiani served as executive director of academic computing at LaSalle University and director of classroom technology and technology training services at the University of Pennsylvania. At Penn, he held a variety of leadership roles, including oversight of instructional technology in more than 220 classrooms, and served on the team that developed the first information commons at the university’s Van Pelt Library.

Fabiani’s early career was in broadcast communication at Metro Networks, a division of Westwood One Radio in Philadelphia, and in education, as a teacher and information technology manager at St. Francis Xavier and Gesu schools, Philadelphia. He holds an MS in educational technology from St. Joseph’s University and a BA in communication from Temple University. A 2012 fellow of the Frye Leadership Institute, he has also completed human resource management certificate courses as well as postgraduate coursework in human development, both at Penn.

“Steve brings a strong record of expertise and leadership at a variety of higher education institutions, and he expressed a sincere desire to apply that experience to the liberal arts environment, Colgate in particular,” said Interim President Jill Harsin. “We look forward to welcoming Steve into the Colgate community.”


Scott Brown named vice president for student affairs and dean of students at the College of Wooster

May 31, 2016
Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Scott Brown speaking at podium

Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Scott Brown (Photo by Andrew Daddio)

Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Scott Brown will take over as vice president for student affairs and dean of students at the College of Wooster August 1.

“Scott’s dedication to the well-being of each student during the last eight years has been a benefit to our entire community,” said Interim President Jill Harsin.

Since his arrival at Colgate in 2008, Brown has supervised the ALANA Cultural Center; the Max A. Shacknai Center for Outreach, Volunteerism, and Education; Center for Leadership and Student Involvement (CLSI); the Office of the Chaplains; the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs; the Office of LGBTQ Initiatives; the Shaw Wellness Institute; campus safety department; student conduct; International Student Services; and the sophomore-year experience program. He also served as interim vice president and dean of the college (2011–2012).

“Scott is an exceptional colleague who has contributed much during his time at Colgate,” said Vice President and Dean of the College Suzy Nelson. “He has been integral to creating partnerships with faculty and staff that have ultimately helped us better support students.”

During his tenure, Brown established and chaired presidentially appointed committees to coordinate campus responses to sexual violence as well as drug and alcohol abuse. He built campuswide coalitions as co-chair of the university’s National Coalition Building Institute team, and he fostered proactive crisis management by co-chairing Colgate’s Emergency Management Team. As interim dean of the college, he initiated the reframing of transgender student support, and he reengaged faculty in the strategic planning process to integrate living and the liberal arts.

“My time at Colgate has been extraordinary — I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with such remarkable people,” Brown said. “I am excited about this next chapter, though our whole family will miss being a part of Colgate and the greater Hamilton community. Colgate is a special place. I know the talented and committed dean of the college division will continue its excellent support of the total student experience.”

Brown received his PhD in college student personnel administration from the University of Maryland in 1999. He has served in various capacities with Semester at Sea (University of Pittsburgh) and Dartmouth College, and came to Colgate from Mount Holyoke College, where he was director of the Daniel L. Jones Career Development Center.

An award-winning researcher as well as an administrator, Brown has conducted extensive work on student learning, including Learning Across the Campus: How College Facilitates the Development of Wisdom.


Colgate celebrates Commencement Weekend 2016

May 16, 2016
Picture of graduation cap reading "The best is yet to come."

Photo by Gerard Gaskin

The Class of 2016 became Colgate University’s newest group of alumni last weekend. A series of special events and honored guests hailed the students’ accomplishments and the impact they’ve had on the university’s history.

“Colgate has changed over the years, and so will you — sometimes change will be forced upon you, sometimes you may reach out for it,” said Interim President Jill Harsin in her address during commencement on Sunday. “We are confident that you have the solid foundation to meet and embrace every change; and we wish for the very best for all of you as you set out on this wonderful journey.”

Quoting baseball greats Lou Brock, Joe Torre, and Jackie Robinson, commencement speaker and Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred P’16 encouraged graduates to take risks, learn from adversity, and treat others with respect. (Manfred came with more than words of advice. He also brought presents: Major League Baseball hats for the entire graduating class.)

Read a full transcript of the commencement address on the news blog. Watch the speech — and the awarding of six honorary doctorates — below or visit Colgate’s Livestream archive.

“Be patient with yourself, and kind to your own journey,” said baccalaureate speaker Omid Safi, professor of Middle Eastern studies and director of the Islamic Studies Center at Duke University.

On Saturday afternoon, Safi reminded students that Jesus was 30 years old before he became the Christ, Siddhartha was 35 before he became the Buddha, and Muhammad was 40 before he became the Prophet. “Success is not a linear climb up a mountain. Life is really messy, and every single one of us stumbles and falls flat on our face multiple times.”

Watch Safi’s full speech below or via our Livestream archive.

In the Class of 2016:
– 677 undergraduates received the Bachelor of Arts degree
– More than 150 students earned departmental honors or high honors
– Forty-eight students were elected to Phi Beta Kappa

The class valedictorian is neuroscience major Rachel Louise Goldberg of Westlake Village, Calif., and the salutatorian is physics major Sean Benjamin Foster of Boxborough, Mass.

You can see photos of our graduating seniors below or on our Flickr site.


Commencement address by 2016 Jill Harsin, Interim President

May 16, 2016
Interim President Jill Harsin stands at the podium in Sanford Field House during Commencement 2016 (Photo by Gerard Gaskin)

Interim President Jill Harsin at Commencement 2016 (Photo by Gerard Gaskin)

Welcome, and congratulations to all of you for your accomplishments. You are about to join a lively community of over 30,000 people who have the special distinction of being alumni of Colgate University. I have learned that among the grandparents here today, there are 13 (of course!) who are themselves Colgate alumni. So let us take a moment to thank the grandparents, and parents, and family, and friends who helped to make this day possible.

This is the 195th commencement at Colgate. The first took place in 1822, and it was very different from what we will see today. For one thing, graduation in 1822 began with a public final examination, as members of the class were questioned in Latin, geography, astronomy, rhetoric, moral philosophy, and other subjects in front of their families and the local townspeople.

On the second day of graduation (because it lasted for two days), seniors and juniors gave speeches — some 14 speeches during that first graduation, and they could last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour each. The students were showing off their knowledge, but also displaying their ability as ministers in training, because Colgate began as a Baptist missionary training school but with an emphasis also on general education. One of the speeches of 1822, by one of our most distinguished early graduates, Eugenio Kincaid, was titled “The Utility of Science to a Gospel Minister,” anticipating some of the major intellectual debates of the later 19th century.

As you have heard many times, Colgate was founded by 13 men with 13 dollars and 13 prayers. The 13 were all reasonably prosperous men, but driven largely by their sense of religious purpose; they founded the Baptist Education Society that became the Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution, and then Madison University, and then, in 1890, Colgate University.

The 13 founders risked some disapproval from their fellow Baptists, many of whom believed that all one needed to be a minister was Bible knowledge and divine inspiration, not the broad theological and general learning that the 13 were proposing. But they embraced a very typically Enlightenment idea, a faith in the power of education to transform individuals and strengthen them in their work – a bold and ambitious determination.

Colgate has changed and grown over the years; it ceased to be a seminary and became a university devoted to the ideal of a liberal arts education. We have learned more about those changes as we have researched our history for the bicentennial in 2019, and we have found evidence of a college that evolved beyond the small numbers of central New York men who formed the core. In 1848, Samuel J. Smith, both Indian and British, was the first known graduate from Asia, not only at Colgate but perhaps in the United States as a whole; he returned to Asia, and became a well-known book publisher in Thailand. Our first known African-American graduate, in 1855, was Henry Simpson, who became famous as a minister and abolitionist; his graduation speech topic was “Wilberforce,” about the leading British anti-slavery activist.

In 1970, the entering class included, for the first time, a sizable contingent of first-year women. The new presence of women called for some adjustment; and 1974 became known informally as the “Year of the Woman,” not just because of the first women graduates but because of the hiring, for the first time, of a substantial number of women faculty members.

But history is not just about the distant past. Those of you here before me have made history — Colgate history — by your actions, your passions, your sense of what it means to be a citizen of this region or the world. Whether you exhibited your research project in the summer poster session, or authored a thesis in the social sciences or humanities; whether you were a student of dance or an actor on the stage of Brehmer Theater; whether you were an activist on behalf of racial justice, or against sexual violence, or a CL or Link, you have contributed. And many of you have kept alive Colgate’s traditions: as part of one of our athletic teams, as a singer in one of our a cappella groups, or as a member of our student government. I can only name a few of the ways in which you have affected this place, but you have all been a part of Colgate’s identity, in one way or another, for the past four years, and have helped to write the latest chapter of its history. Those of us who have been here for many years, as faculty members or as administrators, know that Colgate takes its identity and its life from present, past, and future students; and we can only applaud the creativity and excitement that you have brought here during the past four years.

So Colgate has grown and changed over the course of its lifetime, even as we remember our past. We still use West Hall, built in 1827, our oldest building — but where once it housed the entire college, including the chapel, it is now a residence hall. And we don’t force every graduating senior to make a speech anymore — and since there are nearly 700 of you, that is a very good thing — but we still think of graduation as a moment of thoughtful reflection. On this important day, you are looking ahead — to a job, to further study, to a fellowship, to a year spent in exploring your options, to starting a career.

I want to leave you with two thoughts. First, a sense of place and tradition. The area that encompasses Colgate, especially the hill, has been home to an institution of higher learning for nearly 200 years. That is a firm grounding; it is one to which you can return, and we hope you will, and often. The second thought is that Colgate has changed over the years, and so will you. Sometimes change will be forced upon you, sometimes you may reach out for it. We are confident that you have the solid foundation to meet and embrace every change; and we wish for the very best for all of you as you set out on this wonderful journey.


Class of 2016 commencement address

May 15, 2016

(Editor’s note: Robert D. Manfred Jr. P’16, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, delivered the following address to the Colgate University Class of 2016 on May 15, 2016.)

Good morning everyone. It is an honor and a pleasure for me to be here today.  I grew up just down the road in Rome, N.Y.. And, from a very early age, I can remember being impressed by the quality and prestige of this great university.  I am grateful to acting President Harsin and the trustees of the university for bestowing on me an honorary degree and for inviting me to speak here today.

Robert D. Manfred Jr. P’16

Robert D. Manfred Jr. P’16

As honored as I am, we all know that the real stars of today’s activities are the members of the Class of 2016. So, let me say early and often, congratulations to each and every one of you. As some of you may know, my wife, Colleen, and I have a very special bond with and affection for one member of this great class, our youngest daughter, Mary Clare. Mary Clare has had a wonderful experience here at Colgate. Colleen and I — and indeed our whole family — have had the pleasure of getting to know MC’s whole “posse”: Katie, Molly, Hannah, Sarah, and Jess as well as their families. During their time here at Colgate, we’ve had dinners and parties together here in Hamilton and have even taken vacations together. Our whole family has been enriched by these experiences.

Personally, my favorite enrichment experience was the lacrosse party that we attended last fall. I enjoyed my introduction to Keystone Light, the worst beer ever brewed. And, it’s very amusing to watch what can safely be characterized as “oldies” (people like me) trying to relive their youth by playing beer pong.

Sometimes graduates feel a sense of sadness on a day like today because the college experience is so great, and there is a lurking fear that they will be moving on from their college friends. I will let the Class of 2016 in on a little secret that may ease your concerns in this regard. You never really move on from your college friends. You may be separated by circumstances and distance, but the bonds that you formed in this great environment, during a unique period of maturation, will hold you together. Even if you see your college friends infrequently, you will find that the fondness and familiarity will return quickly. And, when you need friends the most, the first ones to show up will be your Colgate friends.

Friends and family are often mentioned in the same breath. So let me also say a word about family. A college experience at an institution like Colgate is a privilege. Very few of you could have enjoyed that privilege without the support of your families, and often that support involved sacrifice by your parents.  Please take a minute today and let your parents — or whoever supported you during your time at Colgate — know how much you appreciate their support. It will mean the world to them.

Commencement addresses are about looking forward. So, enough about college and how great it has been. It is time now to look forward to what is next. In looking ahead I am going to take advantage of my position just a bit. While I certainly have some thoughts of my own, I am also going to draw on the wisdom of some great baseball philosophers in the hope that I can offer the graduates some advice that will be useful in the transition to independence.

A major portion of the rest of your life will be devoted to work. But that does not have to be bad news. Work can be enjoyable and fulfilling if you can find a career about which you are passionate. Most jobs require a genuine effort. Most jobs require a sacrifice. And, most jobs, at least occasionally, produce stress and frustration. The effort, the sacrifice, the stress, and the frustration are much easier if your work involves something about which you are passionate. Even more important, if you are passionate about your work, your successes will be all that much more valuable to you.

A second crucial ingredient to job satisfaction is collegiality. A little collegiality produces a better work environment, better results, and more satisfaction.

Collegiality is a group effort. Leaders should make an effort to create an atmosphere of collegiality, but that effort will only be successful if the others in the workplace, no matter their position, participate as well. Everyone should make an effort to be inclusive and encourage a free exchange of ideas at work. Interact positively with your co-workers, recognize their accomplishments, and be generous with praise for praise-worthy efforts. Over time, you will find that your co-workers will become supporters and allies in your effort to move ahead professionally.

I would be remiss if I did not mention a concept with which I have struggled throughout my career: work-life balance. I have been in the workforce for 33 years. I have been lucky. Today, I have what I regard to be the best job in the world. But even before I became commissioner, I had great jobs that allowed me to interact with very successful and interesting people: a federal judge, partners in a great law firm, and dynamic leaders in the sports industry.

In my 33 years, I have unfortunately seen the careers of some talented people come to unhappy endings. Almost without exception those unhappy endings occurred with people who became completely wrapped up in their careers to the point that they seemed to lose their identities independent of their jobs. It would be as if I thought of myself as the commissioner of baseball rather than as Rob Manfred, whose job (I might add temporarily) happens to be as the commissioner of baseball.

This loss of identity is symptomatic, in my view, of an improper work-life balance. People become so engrossed in their careers that family, friends, and outside interests, the things that really matter, fall by the wayside. And, the myopic focus on work can rob people of objectivity and judgment. These people who lose their sense of self — independent of their title — become so obsessed with keeping their jobs that they lose their ability to do their jobs effectively. Ironically, this obsession with work all too often leads to failure at work.

Obviously, you have to pay attention to your career and strive to be successful. It is equally important, however, to focus on family, non-work interests, and the community in which you live. This broader focus will make you better and more effective in the workplace and happier in your life as a whole.

So, now let’s turn to one of my favorite topics, baseball, for a few short minutes. What do some baseball greats have to offer by way of advice to you as graduates?

Lou Brock is a Hall of Famer who played his best years with the St. Louis Cardinals. He was known for his speed and daring on the base paths, which disrupted opponents with amazing regularity. Lou Brock once said, “Show me a guy who’s afraid to look bad, and I’ll show you a guy I can beat every day.”

As Lou correctly points out, life is a risk reward business. If you are not willing to take the occasional — and well thought out — risk, you will never reach your full potential. Be smart. Be analytical. Use good judgment. But, don’t forget to be bold. Think big thoughts, and set high goals. If you follow this advice, you will have far fewer regrets when you reach my age than if you don’t.

Joe Torre is, of course, the Hall of Fame manager of the New York Yankees. I am also proud to say he is a colleague and a friend. Joe once said, “Hitting home runs and all that other good stuff is not enough; it is how you handle yourself in all the good times, and the bad times, that matters.”

There are two great messages in that one short sentence. First, it is a skill to handle success with grace. You all have received the gift of a great education and will enjoy many successes in your lives. With each success, take a moment, draw a breath, and think about humility. If you take quiet pride in your accomplishments and project a sense of humility, others will welcome the opportunity to celebrate your success, making that success all the sweeter.

The second lesson relates to the bad times. People often say that one of the great virtues of baseball is that it teaches young people important lessons, the most important of which is the ability to overcome failure. Think about it; even the best Major League player fails two out of three times when he comes to the plate. Yet, those players, over and over again, regroup, learn from their failures, and figure out a way to be more successful in the next at bat. When you fail, and all of us do, embrace the failure, figure out why it happened, learn from your mistakes, and recommit yourself to finding success.

Finally, the most important baseball player that ever lived was Jackie Robinson. He may not have been the best player, but he certainly had the greatest and most lasting effect on American society. Jackie broke the color barrier in baseball and helped fuel a revolution in America that changed our collective view of race relations. He began a process that led to a national debate over race relations that continues to this day. And, in the course of it, he endured indignities, hardship, and hatred always with dignity.

As you might expect, Jackie Robinson once uttered words that I believe teach the most important lesson of all. Jackie said, “A life is not important except in the impact that it has on other lives.” In a society that focuses on immediate self-gratification, these words may seem anachronistic. But in actuality they are timeless. They are reflective of a fundamental tenet of every major religion, namely the need to help others and treat them with respect.

I must confess, I do not remember a single thing about the commencement address at my college graduation 36 years ago. I spent a bunch of time on Google, and I can’t even find who gave the address. I hope from this address you will remember at least one thing. Jackie Robinson was right. You will all have busy and successful lives. Please find room and time in those busy lives to positively impact the lives of others. Engage in your community, and provide service to others. Be generous with your wealth, and try to help those that are less fortunate. At the end of the day, what you do for others is what really matters.

Congratulations to the Class of 2016.

Related links:
In photos: commencement weekend
LGBTQ advocate wins 1819 Award
In video: campus from above


Senior Reflection: Kalani Byrd ’16

May 12, 2016

Name: Kalani Byrd

Hometown: Los Angeles, Calif.

Major/Minor: Peace & Conflict Studies/Psychology

Campus activities:

Research assistant for Professor Jennifer Tomlinson in the psychology department
Student caller for the Office of the Annual Fund
Student employee in the merchandising department of the Colgate Bookstore
Member of Kappa Kappa Gamma with service on its philanthropy committee
Vice president of Colgate’s Panhellenic Council

Portrait of Kalani Byrd ’16

Kalani Byrd ’16

I want people to see … that a first-generation woman of color can be successful at Colgate. It was a blessing for me to have the opportunity to attend this university, and I did everything I could to reap the benefits, enjoy my time here, and set myself up for future success. Colgate is such a generous place, and you definitely can find the right people here to help you do well and support you along the way. I also want to leave people understanding that, despite some flaws in the system, there can be a place for women of color in Greek Life at Colgate, seeing as I have had such a positive experience and have found some of my best friends through it.

I hope I leave people with … an understanding that you do not have to study something “mainstream” or “expected” to be successful. You should absolutely only do what you want to do. I started out on the pre-med track and changed to peace and conflict studies, because it’s what I truly loved studying — and I still have a great job lined up after I graduate!

OUS has … tremendously impacted my time here at Colgate. Although I was annoyed back then to be spending my last summer before college taking classes here, I’ve come to realize that it was all totally worth it. The experience of those two classes really prepared me for Colgate’s academic challenges. Having a family of faculty and professors whom I can go to when I need literally anything at all has been invaluable. Some of my very best friends — friends I know I will be with for life — I also found from that summer and OUS. These are memories and people that are going to be with me for a lifetime, and for that, I am forever grateful.


Spotlight shines on great teaching at Colgate

May 9, 2016
Professor Rhonda Levine and interim dean of the faculty Constance Harsh stand together at a podium holding the Jerome Balmuth Award

Rhonda Levine (left), professor of sociology, receives the Balmuth Award from Constance Harsh, interim dean of the faculty and provost. (Photo by Alice Virden-Speer)

Colgate students spend four years of their lives engaging daily with some of the world’s brightest, most enthusiastic scholars. Faculty are at the heart of the academic experience, and in a world where undergraduates live the liberal arts, those bonds often extend beyond the boundaries of a classroom or the margins of a syllabus.

This week, the Colgate Scene paid tribute to the university’s dedicated teachers by publishing letters that former students have written home to Hamilton, thanking their professors for having profoundly touched their lives.

Via e-mail and hand-written notes, they, “revealed that their professors oftentimes helped to make the seemingly impossible possible: think in new ways, finish a thesis, determine a career path,” wrote Scene managing editor Aleta Mayne.

One of those letters was addressed to Rhonda Levine, professor of sociology and recipient of the 2016 Jerome Balmuth Award for Distinguished Teaching. The Balmuth Award was established by Mark Siegel ’73 in tribute to a pivotal professor who shaped his own Colgate experience and in recognition of the importance of teaching to the intellectual and personal development of undergraduates.

During her 34 years on the faculty, Levine has helped thousands of students realize the importance of what they do, say, think, and feel. And because of her expertise in the critical role of social class in stratification, labor politics, and race relations, she has found her office to be one of the most diverse meeting places on campus.

Portrait of professors Levine and Balmuth

Sociology professor Rhonda Levine with Balmuth Award namesake Jerome Balmuth, Harry Emerson Fosdick Professor of philosophy and religion, emeritus. (Photo by Alice Virden-Speer)

“Professor Levine is an extraordinary teacher, concerned not merely with the knowledge, thoughts, and attitudes of her students but with their very souls, their values, and qualities of character,” said award namesake Jerome Balmuth, Harry Emerson Fosdick Professor of philosophy and religion emeritus.

Levine always wanted to be a professor, she told the colleagues, alumni, and students who gathered for the celebration. It was even listed as her most likely occupation in her high school yearbook. She earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Michigan State University, her MA from McGill University, and her PhD from SUNY Binghamton. Before arriving at Colgate in 1982, she held teaching posts at Bowdoin College and Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

“Teaching at Colgate has been more rewarding than I ever could have imagined. Every semester has been an adventure,” Levine said. “I never know who’s going to show up in my office to talk about something we’ve been reading in class and how it might relate to something happening in their own lives.”

Deborah Fox Rush ’86 was one of those who benefited from Levine’s mentorship. On a special tumblr site established to honor Levine’s career, Rush wrote, “My entire legal career has dealt with the issues of poverty and class inequality and its impact on defendants in the criminal justice system. The lessons I learned in [Professor Levine’s] courses clearly started me on a path to my lifelong career.”

Noting the outpouring of gratitude by Levine’s students, Interim President Jill Harsin said, “What they are all saying is ‘she made a difference in my life; she made me feel as if what I did matters.’”

Looking ahead to the ongoing role of great teachers in Colgate’s third century, Levine said, “As we seek to be an even more diverse Colgate, I hope that we do not lose sight of the equally diverse methods of reaching our students and challenging them to be productive citizens of this increasingly complicated world in which we live.”

Related links:
Colgate Scene online
Celebrating Rhonda Levine
Why we should read Plato — Jerry Balmuth