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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


Colgate hosts 73rd professional network event

April 29, 2016
Panelists on stage discussing the changing media landscape with Jeff Fager '77, executive producer of 60 Minutes.

Panelists discuss the changing media landscape with Jeff Fager ’77, executive producer of 60 Minutes. (Photo by Lorenzo Ciniglio)

Colgate University launched its professional networks to promote alumni engagement, cultivate new professional opportunities for members, and support undergraduate career development. Since then, thousands of alumni, parents, and students have engaged with professional networks by attending online, regional, and on-campus events.

Colgate launched the new Marketing, Media, and Communications Network and brought alumni, parents, and students together to discuss the state of journalism in the digital world — the professional network program’s 73rd event.

Jeff Fager ’77, executive producer of 60 Minutes, moderated a panel of alumni and parents that featured Joey Bartolomeo ’95, executive editor, SeventeenDina Dunn ’88, P’19 founder and general manager, Blink, LLC (and Thought Into Action mentor); Andrew Heyward P’00, faculty associate at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and principal at Heyward Advisory LLC; Todd Larsen ’88, chief executive officer, Blurb, Inc.; and John Martin ’84, managing director, NASCAR Digital Media.

Students who attended the event were able to hear from seasoned communications professionals and network with an even broader range of people.

Alumni talking

Alumni make connections at the Colgate Professional Networks’ 73rd event. (Photo by Lorenzo Ciniglio)

“I really enjoyed attending the marketing, media, and communications launch because of the emphasis the panelists placed on creating and building your own personal brand,” said Kerry Houston ’16. “I found their experiences and insight on this constantly changing and evolving industry to be very helpful in learning how to successfully market myself and my skills.”

The 10 different professional networks offer students (and parents) a chance to glimpse a roadmap to a desired career and learn from smart alumni about topics specific to their industry. They also allow alumni to network together.

“Every Colgate grad knows the power of our network, but to see it in action is palpable,” said Sian-Pierre Regis ’06. “Some of the biggest names in media showed up to the MMC event, dropping serious knowledge on the shifting state of the industry — to be able to get intel and then dive deeper in follow-up conversations is invaluable.”

While this event was a panel discussion, many professional networking events are not. Online events like the one on Colgate Day, are an opportunity for alumni to connect with each other wherever they live and work. On-campus events like SophoMORE Connections connect alumni, faculty, and students. For a list of upcoming events, visit colgate.edu/networks.

Related links:
Watch the entire Marketing, Media & Communications panel discussion
Attend the Colgate Day online networking event
See all of Colgate’s Professional Networks
Watch the Law and Finance summit


Zombie movie by Rod Blackhurst ’02 wins top Tribeca honor

April 27, 2016
The feature film Here Alone won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at Tribeca

The feature film Here Alone won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at Tribeca.

Here Alone, an independent film by Rod Blackhurst ’02, won the Tribeca Film Festival’s Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature last week.

Entertainment magazine described the production as “a taut, lean, unfussy film about a lone woman surviving in the wild woods of upstate New York.” Meanwhile, Maxim magazine wrote that the “Tribeca film festival proves the zombie formula isn’t dead.

In the movie, a young woman struggles to survive on her own in the wake of a mysterious, zombie-spawning epidemic that has decimated society and forced her deep into the unforgiving wilderness. The film was entirely self-financed (in part through a successful kickstarter campaign) and even self-cast — the lead actress, Lucy Walters, was approached via Twitter messages from Blackhurst.

Blackhurst, a French literature graduate, says:

“We thought Here Alone would appeal to fans of well-crafted psychological dramatic thrillers and elevated genre films — again showing our understanding of what it requires to tell a simple and powerful story.”

Tribeca audiences clearly agreed, giving Blackhurst and his crew the coveted top prize.

Watch the trailer.

Co-founded by Craig Hatkoff ’76, the Tribeca Film Festival saw controversy this year when the film Vaxxed was removed from the screening schedule. Colgate Professor Penny Lane wrote a post about the festival’s decision to screen the documentary, and numerous national and international media outlets quoted her words.

Variety wrote, “The reaction on Twitter, Facebook, and social media platforms was intense. The decision [to include the film] also was criticized in the creative community, with documentary filmmaker Penny Lane (Our Nixon) writing an open letter to the the festival saying that including Vaxxed threatened its credibility.”

CBS News included Lane’s words in its recap of the controversy as did the New York TimesRolling Stone, the Guardian, and USA Today.

In a fourth Tribeca-Colgate connection, The Return, which won the audience award in the documentary category, will soon air on the PBS series POV, produced by Chris White ’91.

Related links:
Rob Blackhurst ’02 in the Colgate Scene


LGBTQ advocate wins 1819 Award

April 26, 2016
Portrait of Providence Ryan ’16, winner of the 1819 Award

Providence Ryan ’16, winner of the 1819 Award. (Photo by Brian Ness)

An exemplary student and a fierce advocate for LGBTQ awareness and promoting positive sexuality, Providence A. Ryan ’16, a biology and philosophy double major from Schenectady, N.Y., is the 2016 recipient of Colgate’s highest student honor, the 1819 Award.

The 1819 Award is given annually to one student representing character, sportsmanship, scholarship, and service above and beyond their peers.

Read more


Syllabus: “Horror” and the American Horror Film

April 25, 2016
Campus at night

Photo by Andrew Daddio

Editor’s note: Wondering what’s happening in the classroom at Colgate? Here’s a real-time glimpse into academic life on campus — a syllabus from a course underway this semester.

FMST 352 “Horror” and the American Horror Film
Kevin Wynter, visiting assistant professor of Film & Media Studies
TR 2:45–4:00, 105 Little Hall

Course description:

This course examines some the key factors that have contributed to the horror genre’s capacity to maintain its continued viability in popular culture across a wide range of media including graphic novels, video art, and interactive gaming.

Beginning with the modern period of the American horror film and then expanding beyond its physical and ideological borders, this course is designed to encourage students to challenge the ideas that have become associated with the term “horror,” and to consider whether some other term or terms may be better suited to describe the types of feelings horror films and related forms of media actually inspire.

The following questions will be considered: What is horror? Do horror-genre films truly inspire horror or are we, as participants, moved by some other affect or response? Is it possible to locate cinematic representations of horror and its experience outside of the horror genre?

Readings:

Course readings include Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen, Mark Seltzer’s Serial Killers: Death and Life in America’s Wound Culture, and various articles.

Key assignments/activities:

Coursework includes keeping a nightmare journal, in which students are asked to describe an “especially potent nightmare” that they have had and to consider it in relation to horror films screened in class. The class also requires students to present on class readings and write a short essay about Watchmen. The final paper, meant to take into account all that was explored over the course of semester, has the option of taking the shape of a video essay.

Class format:

In addition to weekly meetings, there is a film screening on Thursday nights, 7–10 p.m. Students are expected to complete all reading assignments and come to class prepared to raise points of interest or difficulty. Attendance and class participation are crucial and will be taken into consideration when calculating the final grade.

The professor says:

After taking this course, you will never look at horror movies the same way. One of the learning goals I propose is to try to distinguish feelings of terror from feelings of horror, and to interrogate how horror movies really make us feel. What students soon come to learn is that the feeling of horror is not confined to the genre conventions they have become familiar with, but can be found with more intensity in films outside of the horror genre.

Related links:
Zombie film Here Alone by Rod Blackhurst ’02 takes home Tribeca’s Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature


Syllabus: Silent Warfare

April 21, 2016
Persson Hall

Photo by Andrew Daddio

Editor’s note: Wondering what’s happening in the classroom at Colgate? Here’s a real-time glimpse into academic life on campus — a syllabus from a course underway this semester.

POSC 390 Silent Warfare: Intelligence Analysis and Statecraft
Danielle Lupton, Assistant Professor of Political Science
MW 1:20-2:35, Persson 133

Course Description:
This course introduces students to the complex and crucial process of obtaining, analyzing, and producing intelligence in the making of American foreign policy. We cover subjects including problems with the structure of the intelligence community, covert action, psychological and bureaucratic constraints on analysts and policy makers, and how the intelligence community has responded to key threats. This course also explores the ethical issues raised by intelligence gathering, such as the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, the role of whistleblowers, and accountability of the intelligence community.

Key assignments/activities:
There are three central written assignments. The first is an analysis of an intelligence agency, where students identify challenges facing an agency and provide solutions. The second is an active learning assignment in which students conduct research on themselves based on publicly available data and write a report regarding the ethics of open-source intelligence based on their findings. The final paper for this course is an in-depth investigation into a major intelligence failure, its causes, and ways to prevent such failures in the future.

Readings:
The main text will be Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy (6th Edition) by Mark Lowenthal.

The professor says:
“Students will gain a deeper understanding of the inter-workings of foreign policy by analyzing the value of information and how it supports the policy process. We engage with critical issues that affect not only policy makers, but also each of us as individuals, such as the use of drones to combat terrorism, the rise of increased domestic surveillance, and the ethics of enhanced interrogation techniques.

“In class, we focus our discussion on dissecting problems facing the intelligence community as well as providing solutions to those problems. Using this problem-based approach, students can apply the skills developed through course discussions and written work to any area of analysis in the future.”


From the Colgate Scene: Poetry and memory with Pulitzer Prize winner Peter Balakian

April 19, 2016
Illustration by Joe Ciardiello

Illustration by Joe Ciardiello

With a pair of new books out in 2015 — one a collection of his essays; the other, new poems — poet and English professor Peter Balakian unpacks, among other things, how language can, in his words, “ingest” the violence of history. The author of the New York Times–bestselling The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response and the prizewinning memoir Black Dog of Fate, Balakian has been called “the American conscience of the Armenian Genocide.” Last spring, he was invited to read and lecture at more than a dozen universities and made various media appearances including CNN and NPR’s All Things Considered in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the 1915 slaughter of Armenians by the Turkish government. He received the 2012 Alice and Clifford Spendlove Prize in Social Justice, Diplomacy and Tolerance.

Excerpts from Vise and Shadow: Essays on the Lyric Imagination, Poetry, Art, and Culture trace his writerly sensibilities — first, their roots, and second, on the notion of poetry itself. Two poems from Ozone Journal, winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize, embody that expression.


Balakian wins Pulitzer Prize

April 18, 2016
Professor Peter Balakian teaches a class

Peter Balakian, the Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor in humanities, professor of English, and director of creative writing at Colgate. (Photo by Andrew Daddio)

Peter Balakian, the Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor in humanities, professor of English, and director of creative writing at Colgate, has won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for Ozone Journal, his collection of poems published last year by University of Chicago Press.

In making the announcement, the Pulitzer committee cited the collection’s title poem, which takes readers back to 2009 when Balakian worked to exhume the bodies of Armenian genocide victims, buried for generations in the desert of Syria. “In the dynamic, sensual language of these poems, we are reminded that the history of atrocity, trauma, and forgetting is both global and ancient,” the committee wrote, “but we are reminded, too, of the beauty and richness of culture and the resilience of love.”

“All of Peter’s work is marked by a profound ethical concern and an appreciation for how the past indelibly marks the present,” said English professor Constance Harsh, interim dean of the faculty and provost.

The Pulitzer Prize is the latest — and highest — praise for Balakian’s extensive writings. The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response, a New York Times Notable Book and Best Seller, earned the 2005 Raphael Lemkin Prize. Black Dog of Fate, voted best book of the year by the New York Times, the LA Times, and Publisher’s Weekly, won the PEN/Martha Albrand Prize for the Art of the Memoir. His translation of Grigoris Balakian’s Armenian Golgotha: A Memoir of the Armenian Genocide 1915–1918 was a Washington Post book of the year.

“As a historian myself, I’ve always admired Peter’s ability to capture the past and make it immediate to our present concerns,” said Interim President Jill Harsin.

For more from Balakian on poetry and memory, read his feature article in the autumn 2015 Colgate Scene.


Colgate senior wins Rangel Fellowship

April 18, 2016
Ranissa Adityavarman ’16, has been named a a 2016 Rangel Fellow.

Ranissa Adityavarman ’16 has been named a 2016 Rangel Fellow.

Ranissa Adityavarman ’16, an international relations major from Manlius, N.Y., is one of just 30 students nationwide to be named a 2016 Rangel Fellow, which provides financial and professional development support for graduate studies and to help facilitate entry into a career with the U.S. Foreign Service.

The Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program, formed in 2002, is a unique partnership between Howard University and the U.S. Department of State; its goals are to promote greater diversity and excellence within the U.S. Foreign Service.

“I decided to take this path because working for the Foreign Service can be, in my mind, one of the most important ways to influence foreign policy in our country,” Adityavarman said. “We are always going to have foreign policy decisions to make, and I want to be one of the people on the ground, lobbying for what is best not only for our national interests but also the interests of the countries with which we’re working.”

At Colgate, Adityavarman studied abroad as a junior with the Geneva study group, is an economics minor, and a member of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority. Adityavarman also spent time volunteering at the Bumi Sehat Foundation in Bali, Indonesia, thanks to a COVE Levine-Weinberg Fellowship.

“This is a wonderful accomplishment, and I’m really proud of Ranissa,” said Kim Germain, Colgate’s Assistant Dean for Fellowship Advising. “She is poised to begin a great career in the Foreign Service, and winning the Rangel means that she will have strong support and mentorship throughout her journey there.”

Rangel Fellowships provide funding for two-year graduate programs in international affairs (up to $47,500 annually), arrange a mentor within the State Department for each fellow, provide paid internships and other professional development, and facilitate entry into the U.S. Foreign Service.

“I’ve been interested in foreign relations and politics for longer than I can remember, and working for the Department of State is a surefire way to get involved in both,” Adityavarman said. “Colgate’s Geneva Study Group was extremely influential… Working for a large humanitarian organization like CARE International, as well as meeting U.S. diplomats — who are foreign service officers — in their respective organizations was both humbling and inspiring.”


Konosioni charity auction raises record amount

April 15, 2016
Colgate's Konosioni Charity Auction

Alumni, parents, and students bid on items ranging from a private party with President-Elect Brian Casey to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon tickets. Photo by Alice Virden-Speer

This year’s Konosioni Senior Honor Society charity auction raised a record-breaking amount — more than $32,000 — for local organizations. The 19th annual event, which coincided with Entrepreneurship Weekend on April 8, drew parents, alumni, and students. Read more


Monument Quilt on display in support of sexual assault survivors

April 15, 2016
Monument Quilt at Colgate

When finished, the Monument Quilt will comprise 6,000 squares, representing the number of sexual assaults that will take place during one week. Photo by Susan Kahn

The room was quiet as community members walked around viewing the Monument Quilt laid on the Hall of Presidents floor on March 29. The quilt, which has been traveling the country collecting squares for the last three years, was brought to campus and displayed for the afternoon. Read more


Women in law panelists share their stories

April 15, 2016
Colgate's women in law panel

L to R: Natalia Delgado ’03, Avery Blank ’08, Karen Peters, Christine Amalfe. Photo by Nicholas Gilbert ’18

Four women working in law came to Colgate in March to share their stories as participants in roundtable and panel discussions. Christine Amalfe, Avery Blank ’08, Natalia Delgado ’03, and the Honorable Karen Peters talked about how they got into law as well as the triumphs and challenges of their careers. Here are some highlights.

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Colgate hosts fifth annual Entrepreneur Weekend

April 14, 2016
Thought Into Action students gather on stage at Colgate's fifth Entrepreneur Weekend celebration

Thought Into Action students gather on stage at Colgate’s fifth Entrepreneur Weekend celebration. (Photo by Gerard Gaskin)

True grit is more than a classic western. It’s the stuff of great start-ups.

Colgate and Thought Into Action hosted the fifth annual Entrepreneur Weekend, April 8–9, celebrating the relentless determination that goes into successful ventures and connecting students with veteran business builders.

The festivities included a keynote conversation on Friday night. Moderated by Forbes magazine tech editor Steven Bertoni ’02, the panel included Tyler Haney, CEO of Outdoor Voices; Payal Kadakia, CEO and co-founder of ClassPass; Jon McNeill, president of global sales and service at Tesla Motors; Clare MacGoey, CFO of Giphy; and David Fialkow ’81, managing director at General Catalyst Partners.

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Two seniors awarded Fulbrights to Germany

April 12, 2016

Two Colgate students will teach English in Germany for a year thanks to being awarded Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships.

William Andrews ’16, a German and international relations major from of Richmond, Va., and Carolyn “Cara” Skelly ’16, a German and Middle Eastern and Islamic studies double major from Wellesley, Mass., will be helping students to learn the English language while also serving as ambassadors of American culture.

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National Geographic Society awards grant to Professor Mike Loranty

April 11, 2016
Professor Mike Loranty (left) conducts research in Alaska with a student. Photo by Sarah Hewitt

Professor Mike Loranty (left) conducts research in Alaska with a student. Photo by Sarah Hewitt

The National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration has awarded Assistant Professor of Geography Mike Loranty a grant for his project “Disentangling Tree and Shrub Phenology in Siberian Taiga Ecosystems.”

The funding will cover Loranty’s travel to the Northeast Scientific Station in Chersky, Russia, where he will monitor the timing — or phenology — of leaf emergence in the spring and senescence in the fall for trees and shrubs.

Loranty will look specifically for recent effects of global warming on the timing of leaf emergence and the duration of the growing season in forests with varying amounts of tree cover.

Growing season length has a substantial impact on vegetation’s influence on the global climate. The growing season time period can significantly alter atmospheric carbon, water, and energy dynamics.

While satellites are frequently used to monitor the canopy phenology of dense forests with constant tree cover, lower tree density makes it difficult to determine any differences in phenology between trees and shrubs in open forests remotely.

These disparities are important for understanding the responses of ecosystems to continued climate change. So Loranty will attempt to quantify the differences in canopy phenology for trees and shrubs — “disentangling” them — using near surface optical measurements, vegetation inventories, and satellite images.

The results of this study will improve understanding of the ways in which Siberian larch forests will respond to global climate in the future.

Read more about Loranty’s research and his recent expedition across the Alaskan tundra with Team Viper in the winter issue of the Colgate Scene.


Investigative journalist Sacha Pfeiffer shares her experience

April 8, 2016
Boston Globe reporter featured in Spotlight movie visits.

Journalist Sacha Pfeiffer (middle) with Maroon-News editors-in-chief Julia Queller ’16 (left) and Spencer Serling ’16 (right), who moderated the Q&A.

You may know her as Rachel McAdams’s character in the Academy Award–winning movie Spotlight. Sacha Pfeiffer, Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative journalist, spoke to students Wednesday about her role on the Boston Globe Spotlight Team that published a story on the sex-abuse scandal within the Catholic Church. Read more


University community dedicates Ciccone Commons

April 8, 2016
Diane Ciccone ’79, family members, and Colgate staff cut a ribbon in the Ciccone Commons
Diane Ciccone ’79, family members, and Colgate staff cut a ribbon in the Ciccone Commons

On Saturday, April 2, members of the Colgate community officially celebrated the naming of the university’s first residential commons for Diane Ciccone ’74.

Hailing from Skaneateles and Bridgewater, N.Y., Ciccone was one of 13 women of color to enter Colgate University in 1970 — the university’s first year of coeducation. She began her 40-year legal career as a law clerk to the first African-American female judge in the country, Jane M. Bolin.

Ciccone has worked as an appellate attorney for the New York attorney general and a trial attorney for both the New York City Transit Authority and the multinational law firm Wilson, Elser. Owner of her own law firm since 1989, Ciccone also serves as an administrative law judge for the New York State Office of Children and Family Services.

As a Colgate alumna, Ciccone has fostered connections between alumni and students as a career adviser, intern host, and a founding member of the Alumni of Color organization. A former member of the Alumni Council, Ciccone served two terms on the Board of Trustees, chairing its legal affairs and insurance committee. She has served on the women’s advisory and reunion planning committees and is a member of the bicentennial advisory committee. A fundraising volunteer, she also created a fund to support the ALANA Cultural Center.
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Professors showcase work in on-campus exhibition

April 6, 2016
Corden steel sculpture by Colgate Professor DeWitt Godfrey

Luttel, a steel cylinder sculpture by Professor DeWitt Godfrey. Photo by Mark Williams

With varying styles, materials, and scales, the work of Colgate’s studio art professors has filled Clifford Gallery — giving visitors a glimpse at what they do outside of the classroom. Read more


Debating drone usage

April 5, 2016
MQ-9 Reaper drone flying over Afghanistan

The MQ-9 Reaper (U.S. Air Force Photo / Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt)

On March 21, more than 200 students, faculty, and community members gathered at the Palace Theater to discuss Drone Warfare: The Implications for Upstate New York. Valerie Morkevicius, assistant professor of political science, and Jacob Mundy, assistant professor of peace and conflict studies, organized the event. Presenters represented a breadth of ideologies on the topic.

The event specifically focused on drone warfare within the context of Syracuse’s Air National Guard base. Syracuse’s Hancock Field is home to the 174th Attack Wing. Pilots at this base remotely operate MQ-9 Reaper drones that fly over Afghanistan for the purpose of surveillance and intelligence. Officials state that fewer than 10 percent of missions involve combat.

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Hannah Bercovici ’17 reports from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge

April 4, 2016
Research vessel Atlantis sits beside a dock

Research vessel Atlantis ready to cruise atop the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (photo by Maris Wicks)

Editor’s note: Hannah Bercovici ’17, a geology major from Woodbridge, Conn., is the only undergraduate member of the science party aboard the research vessel Atlantis, currently cruising over the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, somewhere around the 14th parallel north. Bercovici and her colleagues from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution are hunting for seafloor basalt — “popping rocks” that could give insights into the volatile (gaseous) composition of Earth’s mantle. We asked Hannah to give us a snapshot of her life on Atlantis, and she obliged with this note to the Colgate community.

On board, the day starts at every hour.

One person will be eating breakfast as another is settling in for bed, and you get that mid-afternoon feeling at 2 a.m. because you’ve only been awake since 8 p.m. As a member of the science party, I’ve gotten pretty lucky with my sleep schedule. While in transit from Bridgetown, Barbados, to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, I was on the 8–12 watch. I would wake up at 8 a.m. and work until 12 p.m., and then have eight hours off.

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Konosioni to hold 19th annual auction on April 8

April 4, 2016
From travel aficionados to baseball fans to supporters of the local food movement, bidders showed their spirit at the 16th-annual Konosioni Charity Auction. The senior honor society’s largest annual public event — whose theme this year was “’Tis the Spirit that is Colgate” —raised $20,000 that will be used to give funding to local nonprofit organizations in Madison County. Items for the auction, which was held on Friday, April 12 at the Palace Theater, were donated by local businesses and Colgate students, parents, professors, and alumni. The wide variety of offerings ranged from gift baskets, handmade crafts, and jewelry to yard work and other services, dates with Konosioni members, and a Common Thread Community Farm Share. Among the big-ticket items were a weeklong stay at a Paris apartment and seats at several New York Mets, Yankees, and Boston Red Sox games. In the hours before the auction, Konosioni held a Spirit Festival that showcased student and local talent, with performances at various locations across campus and in downtown Hamilton. The festival was meant to demonstrate not only the Colgate spirit but also that of the surrounding community, said Konosioni member David Esber ’13, through the participation of residents, and local business owners. The Konosioni Charity Auction raises funds to be distributed to nonprofit organizations in Madison County.

The Konosioni Charity Auction raises funds to be distributed to nonprofit organizations in Madison County.

The Konosioni Senior Honor Society will host its 19th annual charity auction on April 8 at 8 p.m. in the Hall of Presidents. Proceeds from the auction will benefit nonprofit organizations in upstate New York via Madison County Gives.

Konosioni is excited to welcome alumni, Colgate community members, and residents from the area to this event. Items of all kinds, from vacation escapes in Jackson Hole, Wyo., to baseball tickets and home-cooked meals, are available for bidding. The $25,000 raised during last year’s auction benefited a diverse group of seven charitable organizations, reaching a wide group of needs and populations throughout Madison County.

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