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2011 Senior thesis predicted MLB contract issue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Reindeer central

November 27, 2016

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


Force of nature

November 25, 2016

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


Chapel House reopens after renovations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Dani Solomon ’13 explores the connection between theater and science

October 26, 2016
Dani Solomon '13. Photo by

Dani Solomon ’13 in One Way Red. Photo by Nick Gilbert ’18

Real science fused with science fiction when Dani Solomon ’13 performed One Way Red, a solo show that followed a young woman’s one-way journey to Mars. The 90-minute performance on October 6 unfolded as Sam, played by Solomon, stumbled upon an online video about the Mars One project — an actual nonprofit that intends to colonize Mars by 2026.

The performance jumped back and forth between Sam’s bedroom, where she applied for the Mars One project, and the surface of the red planet. There were moments of both humor and profound loneliness as Sam left Earth to experience interplanetary adventures on Mars.

“We didn’t start with a script,” Solomon said. She and her collaborator, Mason Rosenthal, use an unconventional approach to theater in their work with Philadelphia-based Medium Theatre Company. “We start with a question or curiosity. We often start from a known, familiar place, and through the process of following a curiosity, we follow the known into the unknown.”

Space travel has long captivated American’s imaginations; One Way Red questions why we look spaceward and what we hope to find there. The possibility of interplanetary travel serves as the backdrop for this existential fever-dream populated by alien mirrors, talking lamps, and a sassy computer-assistant named Morgan.

“I think a lot of people in our generation want to do something exceptional to be remembered,” Solomon said. “This character has a lot of that drive, that ambition to do something great and historical.”

Solomon, who was a physics and theater major at Colgate, is interested in the process of discovery found in both the sciences and the theater. The play was performed in the Ho Atrium to mingle the arts and sciences and to allow the audience to enter an otherworldly space between reality and fiction.

In addition to performing the play, Solomon gave a talk about alternative career paths for physics majors. She and Rosenthal also hosted a workshop that encouraged students to explore unconventional approaches to theater.

Solomon hopes that there will be more intermingling of the arts and the sciences in the future, especially at Colgate. “Getting people from different disciplines to ask hard questions together is the next step toward interdisciplinary dialogue,” she said.


Geography alumni: on the map

October 7, 2016
Sal Curasi ’15 (left), pictured here doing research in the field, recently published his senior thesis in Environmental Research Letters. Photo by Chris Linder

Sal Curasi ’15 (left), pictured here doing research in the field, recently published his senior thesis in Environmental Research Letters. Photo by Chris Linder

It’s relatively uncommon for alumni to publish their student theses in a professional journal, but even more so when it happens within the same department and in the same issue.

Geography majors Sal Curasi ’15 and Wil Lieberman-Cribbin ’14 did research under the tutelage of Professor Mike Loranty and then wrote their honors theses. Environmental Research Letters recently published the papers, co-authored by Loranty, in a special issue focusing on arctic and boreal vegetation dynamics.

Curasi traveled to Siberia, Russia, with Loranty in the summer of 2014 to research water flow, vegetation growth, and carbon cycling. Supported by the National Science Foundation, Loranty was part of a project designed to take students to the region for fieldwork.

“We picked a research site and turned them loose,” Loranty said. “Sal was the driving force on this project.”

Curasi found that areas of subsurface water flow, called water tracks, can help scientists make predictions about carbon cycling in arctic ecosystems — a process that influences climate change.

Now in his second year of a biological sciences PhD program at Notre Dame University, Curasi is still researching the topic. “The research I did as an undergrad led me to the position I’m currently in,” Curasi said. “I actually met my graduate advisor at a conference while presenting the research I did with Mike.”

Lieberman-Cribbin ’14, meanwhile, began working with Loranty as a researcher the summer before his senior year. The pair coauthored a paper that focuses on vegetation change and soil in arctic-boreal permafrost ecosystems.

Lieberman-Cribbin is now pursuing a master’s in public health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. His current work — using geographic information systems to study lung cancer and racial disparities across New York State — involves similar tools and problem-solving approaches that he used in his research with Loranty.

“These two papers are a really nice illustration of what geography is,” said Loranty. “Sal and I were looking at a pretty small area in northeastern Siberia, but Wil’s research was looking at the entire arctic and subarctic.”

Read more about Loranty’s research — specifically, his expedition across the Alaskan tundra — in the winter 2016 issue of the Colgate Scene.


Colgate media panel explores future of journalism

October 6, 2016
The Colgate Media and Communications in the 21st Century was one of several inauguration-week events.

Members of the Media in the 21st Century panel talk to a crowd in Olin Hall, September 30. (Photo by Gerard Gaskin)

When asked to talk a bit about the thought process that goes on behind closed doors at some of the nation’s most elite media organizations, CBS 60 Minutes Executive Producer Jeff Fager ’77 summed it all up in a single sentence: “We try to shed light in dark places.”

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Raiders dedicate Class of 1965 Arena

October 3, 2016
Exterior of Riggs ’65 Rink

(Photo by Mark DiOrio)

The Colgate community came together Saturday morning at the Class of 1965 Arena dedication to celebrate the culmination of a $37.8 million dollar project that has been years in the making.

The state-of-the-art facility is the new home of the Colgate men’s and women’s ice hockey teams. The Raider men’s and women’s lacrosse and soccer teams also have brand new locker rooms inside the Class of 1965 Arena.

The ice surface in Colgate’s Class of 1965 Arena will be known as Steven J. Riggs ’65 Rink in honor of the former men’s ice hockey team captain. Riggs was killed in combat in Vietnam in 1968 and was inducted posthumously into the Colgate Athletics Hall of Honor.

Saturday’s dedication and celebration of the 2,222 capacity arena featured words of appreciation and gratitude from newly-inaugurated Colgate President Brian Casey, Colgate Vice President and Director of Athletics Vicky Chun, Board of Trustees member Bill Johnston ’73, Head Men’s Hockey Coach Don Vaughan and women’s hockey junior Annika Zalewski. An official ribbon-cutting capped off the celebration.


Cultivating Community Leaders: From the Local to the Global

September 29, 2016

In an ecosystem of leadership, one seeks justice, mercy, dignity, empathy, and beauty. One listens and shares, partners and serves, and immerses oneself in the community. These were the themes — and the tangible advice — discussed by a slate of people who have dedicated their careers to doing good works at Cultivating Community Leaders: From the Local to the Global.

Moderator Ellen Percy Kraly, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Geography and former director of Colgate’s Upstate Institute, asked the panelists to share their personal experiences and inspirations in building community locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. This was the second Colgate In Discussion event in honor of Brian W. Casey’s inauguration as the university’s 17th president.

Kraly also asked the panelists to share their perspectives on how to best cultivate and promote leadership on Colgate’s campus in the future.

“Push students to think deeply, to talk about their experiences and share it with someone else,” said Ayanna K. Williams ’08, a healthcare policy professional at The Lewin Group who noted that the foundation for her passion for public service was created at Colgate. “Why was it meaningful? How did it shape you?” Williams helped to write the selection criteria and charter for the National Abolition Hall of Fame in nearby Peterboro, N.Y., as an Upstate Institute Summer Fellow. She also traveled the world through study abroad, where she could engage with communities.

The other panelists included Roger Ferlo ’73, president of the Bexley Seabury Episcopal Center for Learning & Discipleship; Mark Golden H’14, CEO of Golden Artist Colors in nearby New Berlin, N.Y.; Peter A. Dunn, president of the Central New York Community Foundation; Katie Redford ’90, co-founder and director of EarthRights International; and Jo Kroes Randell ’91, director of development, Sustain for Life.

inauguration_blog

For complete coverage of Inauguration Week visit colgate.edu/inauguration.


Looking ahead to inauguration day and back at Colgate University’s history

September 28, 2016

inauguration_blog

This Friday, Colgate inaugurates Brian W. Casey as its 17th president. A full slate of special inauguration-week events kicked off yesterday with a panel discussion focused on Colgate’s historical roots. Participants then turned to the question of how the university’s long journey from Baptist seminary to modern liberal arts institution may inform its path forward.

“We have certain markings that make us distinct, and I would argue that we embrace those things,” said Casey, whose scholarship has focused on the history of American higher education. Referencing Colgate’s dynamic Liberal Arts Core Curriculum, Division I athletics, and relatively large student body, Casey said, “That’s what makes us unique.”

The panel conversation, titled Colgate’s History: Reflections on the Past and Future, featured Casey as well as Roy D. and Margaret B. Wooster Professor of the Classics Robert Garland; NEH Professor of the Humanities Mel Watkins ’62; Assistant Professor of History and Bicentennial Fellow Jennifer Hull; and James Allen Smith ’70, director of research, Rockefeller Archive Center and author of the forthcoming book on the history of Colgate University. The panel was moderated by Jill Harsin, professor of history and chair of Colgate’s Bicentennial Committee.

Visit colgate.edu/inauguration for a full schedule of events leading up to inauguration day. Friday’s ceremony will be held at 4:30 p.m. in Memorial Chapel. Those unable to attend are invited to watch the celebration live at colgate.edu.


Living Writers – an experience for the community

August 30, 2016

A photo of four book covers from Living Writers course

Living Writers — one of Colgate’s most popular courses, both on campus and in the wider Colgate community — will return with a new focus next week. Led by English professor Jennifer Brice, the class will feature conversations with authors from a wide range of genres, including journalism and poetry, cartoons and novels, as well as memoirs and short stories.

Online, the course will offer interactive materials for all 10 visiting writers on the ColgateX platform. Videos, podcasts, and Livestream events with the writers, as well as discussion boards with students on campus will also be accessible on the site. As in past years, participants can tailor the course to their own schedules and interests, engaging with as much (or as little) of the material as they see fit. (Enroll here.)

The class format will match each visiting writer with a member of the Colgate faculty. Professor Meg Worley (writing and rhetoric) will discuss the multifaceted approach of cartoons with Lynda Barry, the artist and author behind What It Is. Tim Byrnes (political science) will explore an industry’s exploitation of intellectually disabled men with reporter Dan Barry. The course will also feature Professor Peter Balakian and his Pulitzer Prize–winning Ozone Journal, a book of poems on the Armenian genocide and related topics. Jane Pinchin, who retired from the English department in 2015, will return to dialogue with author James Wood (The Nearest Thing to Life). And English professor Nimanthi Rajasingham will introduce Michael Ondaatje (Running in the Family).

Lessons begin on September 8 with Sundance Film Festival award winner Penny Lane, a documentarian and an assistant professor of art and art history at Colgate, introduced by Brice herself. Clips from Lane’s yet-to-be-released Nuts! documentary will be available to view and discuss online.


Class of 2015 reports strong one-year outcomes

August 1, 2016
Tenth-grade student Radha and Amanda Brown '15 pose for a photo at Life Vision Academy in Nepal.

Tenth-grade student Radha and Amanda Brown ’15 pose for a photo at Life Vision Academy, which is supported by the non-profit Children and Youth First, in Nepal.

A non-profit in Nepal is the recipient of a $10,000 KIND Cause award, thanks to the efforts of a Colgate alumna and a little help from the Colgate community.

Children and Youth First USA Executive Director Amanda Brown ’15 said that the funds won in the KIND contest will help her organization launch a new science, technology, engineering, and math program for women and girls in Nepal.

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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.


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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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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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


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


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


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.

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.
Read more


Alumnus supported by the AMA for his resolution on improved clinical trial transparency

April 1, 2016
Colgate alumnus speaks on prescription drug clinical trial transparency

Brian Chernak ’14 wrote a resolution calling for improved clinical trial transparency, which was recently supported by the American Medical Association.

When researching drugs to prescribe, medical professionals may be unknowingly influenced by selective publishing of clinical trial data — which makes some drugs appear more effective than they actually are. It’s a problem medical student Brian Chernak ’14 wanted to take on, so he began exploring how he could support better reporting of clinical trials. Now, thanks to a resolution Chernak authored, the American Medical Association (AMA) — the largest association of physicians and medical students in the country — is bringing more attention to the issue. Read more