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Interim Provost Constance Harsh invited to White House roundtable

November 21, 2015
Sustainability at Colgate University

Colgate’s sustainability efforts recognized by White House

On November 19, Interim Dean of the Faculty and Provost Constance Harsh participated in a roundtable discussion at the White House to take part in launching the American Campuses Act on Climate day of action.

“It was very good to witness the serious purpose that animated the participants,” Harsh said after the event. “Students have a real sense of urgency about this. Higher education has an important role to play here.”

Harsh joined a select group of higher education presidents, other campus and business leaders, as well as high-ranking government officials, including EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Karen Florini of the State Department, at the White House event.

Colgate has a nationally renowned commitment to sustainability. On Wednesday, Interim President Jill Harsin reiterated our commitment to sustainability in a letter to the White House. Specifically, Colgate’s commitments include:

  • Achieving carbon neutrality by 2019, our bicentennial
  • Making carbon neutrality and sustainability a part of the curriculum and other educational experiences for all students
  • Incorporating sustainable practices in all campus planning and building design from inception to implementation
  • Achieving a minimum of LEED Silver standards for all new construction and major renovations
  • Enhancing teaching and learning, creating long-term economic resiliency, building and restoring robust ecological systems, and supporting a healthier and more just society

“I am proud that Colgate is one of the higher education leaders in confronting climate change, particularly in our pledge to achieve carbon neutrality by 2019,” said Harsh.

Colgate also participated in the #ActOnCampus hashtag on Twitter, showing some of our sustainability successes.

A perspective on the importance of Community Reads

October 26, 2015
Photo by Andrew Daddio

Professor Jeff Bary – photo by Andrew Daddio

(Editor’s note: the following commentary is from Professor Jeff Bary on Colgate Community Reads. Kiese Laymon, whose book was an integral part of the program, will be on campus on October 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the Memorial Chapel.)

In September 2014, Colgate students occupied the university’s administration building for 100 hours. They demanded a Colgate for All and offered a list of 21 points that they wanted the university to address in an attempt to improve the situation for students who felt marginalized because of race, gender identity, or socio-economic status.

In the spring of 2015, as the administration continued to address those 21 points, faculty and staff debated about whether or not we should scrap Colgate’s summer book program. Some feared that students didn’t read the book and that we only talked about it in some pseudo-meaningful way for 60 minutes during orientation. We were either missing a golden opportunity or doing something we shouldn’t be doing.

I am a believer in the golden opportunity. Discontinuing the program was especially disconcerting to me in the light of the Colgate for All movement. I remembered going down to the administration building and hearing first-year students speak — students who arrived on campus having just read Freedom Summer, which details the sacrifices that students were willing to make 50 years ago in the name of civil rights.

It was almost direct evidence of the impact that summer books can have on our students and on the Colgate culture. It argued for new ways to strengthen the program, increase student participation, extend the intellectual life of the book, and potentially reach a larger portion of our community.

As interim director of the First Year Seminar Program, I convened an ad hoc committee of like-minded — and maybe not so like-minded — faculty and staff who would be interested in considering what we could do to make the program more meaningful.

Based upon the committee’s work and open forums with faculty, staff, and students, we decided to invite all students to read the book. Instead of discussing it for an hour during orientation, we would develop an interdisciplinary series of events, providing formal opportunities to build a shared experience around the text.

We also significantly redesigned the process for selecting a book, including all faculty, staff, and students in the decision. The community voted on the final selection, which turned out to be Kiese Laymon’s book of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in AmericaHow to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America book cover

This book is not easy. It’s not easy for the majority of our students, who are white, to read a book that was not written for them. They are normally the target audience. Would they take it as a challenge or dismiss it?

During a series of Colgate Conversations for first-year students during orientation, we covered many topics — presentations on Colgate history, issues of inclusion, and our summer reading. I led one of those conversations, and a student said, “You know, I chose to come to Colgate because I was going to fit in and everybody there was going to be a lot like me.” But he said it with a dawning realization that he should try to get out of his own little world and meet people that he’d never met before from places that he’d never visited. He needed to understand how life may be for others and how their experiences could enrich his own.

What will that realization mean to him and to his classmates 10 or 20 years from now? I came away from that conversation thinking, boy, these students were serious, and they did really hard work.

They will continue that work through a schedule of 17 book-related events, from poetry readings to dance performances to film screenings to scientific lectures — all dealing with issues of intergroup dialogue, the black experience in America, and how people who are not from a marginalized group contribute to this culture in which we find ourselves. We’re all part of this. We’re all in this together.

Jeff Bary, associate professor of physics and astronomy.

Related links
Colgate community reads
Physics and Astronomy department page
Colgate professor Jeff Bary examines chemical spill affecting thousands in West Virginia
Professor Jeff Bary among group of international astronomers published in Nature magazine
Get to know Jeff Bary






Debating the Common Core

October 26, 2015
John Palmer, educational studies professor, discusses the Common Core at a public debate hosted by Colgate's Center for Freedom and Western Civilization.

John Palmer, educational studies professor, discusses the Common Core at a public debate hosted by Colgate’s Center for Freedom and Western Civilization. Photo by Nick Friedman ’16

On October 15, a mix of teachers, administrators, parents, students, and citizens from across central New York gathered in a town hall–style meeting to discuss the Common Core. Read more

Work co-produced by professor Joel Sommers featured in Technology Review

October 22, 2015
This is a map of the US with red dots representing hubs of the internet

A map of the U.S. Long-haul Fiber-optic Infrastructure

Even though the Internet is a critical tool for the U.S. economy, no one had ever mapped the cables that help the data flow. One problem is that the cables that power the Internet are owned by many different companies including AT&T and Level 3. Because the information is in many places, the system powering the Internet hasn’t been mapped – until now.

Working with a team of researchers, Joel Sommers, associate professor of computer science, changed that paradigm by creating a map of the cables. The work was featured in Technology Review Magazine, and the paper is available to read as a PDF file.

“Other researchers have tried to map the Internet,” says Sommers. “However, all of those attempts have tried to do it by taking traffic measurements or using other measurement tools to try to build a picture of the Internet from the top down.”

The problem with previous attempts is that they see a virtualized topology — not the real physical infrastructure.

Through painstaking work of putting together ISP maps then cross referencing against a massive set of public records, uncovered through lots and lots of manual work, the team was able to create one of the first maps of the Internet’s long-haul fiber-optic infrastructure in the United States.

Sommers explained that understanding the topology of the Internet can help protect it. There was a well-publicized case a few years back when a tunnel fire in Baltimore melted fiber-optic cables causing Internet outages. Having a picture of the Internet’s topology can help engineers understand the potential impact of such events on other portions of the network.

Related links:
Computer Science at Colgate
Q and A with Vijay Ramachandran, associate professor of computer science
Lauren Yeary ‘15, Farah Fouladi ‘15 organize trip to NYC with other female computer science majors
Joel Sommers looks to identify Internet ‘attack traffic’



Colgate takes next step on international journey

October 20, 2015

It was a Colgate Hello that could be heard around the world.

On October 15, Colgate ushered in a new era of internationalism and officially celebrated the opening of the Center for International Programs (CIP). The center will serve as a hub for the university’s numerous global initiatives, conducted by faculty and students.

Read more

Helping refugees to new beginnings

September 30, 2015
Students pitched in to help Utica residents

Students pitched in to help Utica residents as part of a first-year pre-orientation program.

The news has been inundated with stories about refugees — in the United States and abroad. With a burgeoning refugee community in Utica (approximately one-fourth of the population is made up of refugee families), which is located less than 30 miles from the Colgate campus, students and professors are finding ways to help.

Read more

Fostering community through reading

September 23, 2015

How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America book coverAn interdisciplinary series of events kicks off this week, addressing themes raised in this year’s Colgate Community Reads book, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America by Kiese Laymon.

Colgate Community Reads 2015 is intended to transform the traditional first-year summer reading assignment into a community-wide discussion, according to Jeff Bary, associate professor of physics and astronomy, and director of the first-year seminar program for the 2014–15 academic year.

Read more

Expressions of hope launch first residential commons

September 3, 2015

Last week, with the arrival of the Class of 2019, Colgate launched its first residential commons. Students, faculty, and staff gathered in Memorial Chapel on August 27 to commemorate the moment. Then, they joined in an open-house celebration at their newly renovated upper-campus residence: Curtis and Drake halls.

Faculty Co-director Rebecca Shiner, professor of psychology, greeted students with these words.

I am so happy to be here with you tonight to celebrate the opening of our commons together. I have been looking forward to being with you here in this place for nearly a year.

I want to say something about why I agreed to serve as the faculty co-director for the first residential commons. I have worked as a professor of psychology at Colgate since 1999. I chose to teach at a place like Colgate, rather than a large research university, because I value community deeply; I went to a small liberal arts college myself, and I knew that these kinds of places are special because of their potential for creating strong and happy communities.

There are better and worse ways for communities and individuals to be happy, and I want only the best kinds of happiness for my students. So, I offered to serve as the faculty co-director with the hope that, together with a team of people, I could help create a community at Colgate that would enable students to be happy.

Read more

Faculty answer questions on science behind Iran nuclear deal

September 2, 2015
President Barack Obama works on his Iran nuclear deal speech in the Oval Office, Aug. 5, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama works on his Iran nuclear deal speech in the Oval Office, Aug. 5, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Lawmakers continue to deliberate the finer points of the Iran nuclear deal, and media outlets are publishing stories on a daily basis, using words like “isotope,” “centrifuge,” and “uranium enrichment.”

Colgate turned to a team of faculty to explain some of those words — and a bit of the science that is so critical to a serious debate of the issues surrounding the agreement.

Read more

Studying the effects of immigration on U.S. workforce

August 28, 2015
Colgate University economics professor Chad Sparber

Photo by Andrew Daddio

The immigration debate has caused concern that foreign workers could out-compete U.S.-born applicants, reduce wages, and even discourage Americans from seeking science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers. Using a $128,640 grant from the National Science Foundation, Associate Professor of Economics Chad Sparber and faculty from four colleges will study the impact that foreign-born workers with advanced degrees have on wages and employment at U.S. firms.

For years, firms have used the federal H-1B program to hire highly educated immigrants, who usually have backgrounds in STEM fields. The U.S. government grants a temporary work permit, allowing firms to tap a labor force that for years has helped to foster innovation, which generates positive effects on wage and employment growth, according to Sparber.

“These are the types of workers responsible for creating new growth-promoting technologies that create positive spillovers into other sectors of the economy,” he said. “Think about all the technologies that help us do our jobs more effectively that didn’t exist ten years ago — many of those advancements would not have been possible without H-1B workers.”

But others worry over the potential drawbacks of using foreign workers. The project will examine these issues. Research has begun by examining data that are free and open to the public. But information on wages, profits, employment, and expenses at firms is confidential and available only through the U.S. Census Bureau. Access requires visiting any of the 19 Research Data Centers across the nation.

“This grant allows us to do more ambitious work — helping to support travel required for accessing restricted-use data, for example,” Sparber said. “We would not be able to do this project without NSF support.”

Through the years, experts who studied migration focused on illegal immigration or workers with high school degrees or lesser education. Personnel with advanced degrees were largely ignored.

“Many people were missing the fact that foreign-born workers also make up a sizable portion of the U.S. labor force with a bachelor’s degree or more education,” Sparber said.

“The foreign-born share of workers with a graduate degree has grown from about eight percent in 1970 to twenty percent today,” he said. “Immigrants were responsible for seventy-seven percent of the STEM employment growth between 1990 and 2000 and more than half of the total growth from 2000 to 2010. It is really interesting — and important — to ask how those trends and figures are affecting the broader economy.”

The grant will fund their work for two years. But, said Sparber, a project isn’t finished until the papers are published: “In economics, the time between the inception of an idea and the publication of a paper can last several years. It is hard to say how long this project will take, but it is the top research priority for everyone on the team.”

New ColgateX online course: Medicating for Mental Health

August 25, 2015
A portrait of Scott Kraly

Scott Kraly, Charles A. Dana Professor of psychology (Photo by Andrew Daddio)

“It is highly likely that you, a member of your family, or a close friend will face the decision of whether to use a medication to treat a diagnosed psychiatric disorder. Do you have the skills and knowledge to participate in the decision to use a drug as therapy?”

That is the opening paragraph for Medicating for Mental Health: Judicious Use of Psychiatric Drugs, a new online course on ColgateX, launching on August 26.  The instructor is Scott Kraly, Charles A Dana Professor of Psychology.

Read more

Summer school for Shiner

August 3, 2015
Psychology professor Rebecca Shiner standing with members of her summer course

Psychology professor Rebecca Shiner (far right) with members of her summer course

Editor’s note: This post was written by Rebecca Shiner, professor of psychology

To what extent do we maintain the same personality traits from childhood to adulthood? Are our most extraverted college classmates likely to be the most extraverted middle-aged adults at our 25th college reunion? How do our motivations and goals shape the course of our lives? Do the ways that we narrate our experiences shape our well-being and satisfaction with our lives?

I have spent the last two weeks in Boston exploring questions like these with a group of 15 graduate students from PhD programs in social and personality psychology from the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands.

Normally, Colgate professors do not teach during the summer and use that time to focus on their scholarship instead. But, I was offered the opportunity to co-teach a two-week course on personality development as part of the Summer Institute for Social and Personality Psychology, held at Northeastern University this July. Read more

Colgate Faculty in the News

July 31, 2015
A student works with laser experiments in Prof. Kiko Galvez's physics lab in Colgate's Robert H.N. Ho Science Center. (photo 2008)

A student works with laser experiments in Prof. Kiko Galvez’s physics lab in Colgate’s Robert H.N. Ho Science Center.

Even as summer temperatures neared the 90’s in Hamilton this week, Colgate’s faculty continued to achieve. Here are this week’s highlights.

The New York Times has called Graham Hodges, George Dorland Langdon Jr. professor of history and Africana and Latin American studies, “a taxi historian.” He recently weighed in on the debate making headlines in the NYC area: is taking a taxi or a car hailed with the smart-phone application Uber better, in terms of the exploitation of workers?

The argument has led to protests, lobbying, and harsh criticism from both sides. In an argument where there’s no clear choice, Hodges shared some insight into the difficult position drivers are in today, bearing the entire operating costs.

Read more about taxi drivers in Hodges’ book and see the full debate on Mashable.

Enrique (Kiko) Galvez, Charles A. Dana professor of physics and astronomy, will be honored as one of the chairs of the Third International Conference on Optical Angular Momentum in New York City August 4-7.

Galvez is recognized as a leading name within the field of optical angular momentum, which has received an increase in attention in recent years. His specialties include physical optics, quantum optics, and experimental atomic physics. While at the conference he will be presenting a paper he co-authored with Kory Beach ’15 and Jonathan Zeosky ’16. Learn more about the project.

Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, with the advent of life insurance, there has been a surge in personal data collection. Dan Bouk, assistant professor of history, combined his interests in modern U.S. history and the history of capitalism to write about the need to quantify our lives in How our days became numbered: Risk and the rise of the statistical individual.

Read the Financial Times’ review: (subscription required.)


Xintao Ding ’17: Looking at the genetic makeup of poodles

July 27, 2015

Xintao Ding is a molecular biology major from Zhenzhou, China

Editor’s note: In this series, Colgate students share stories about their summer experiences in offices, labs, and open spaces across the world.

This summer, I am on campus working with Professor Barbara Hoopes in the biology department. Our lab is conducting research on genes that determine size variation in poodles. Read more

Colgate University faculty in the news

July 23, 2015
Buffalo Lockjaw is in an ad with Dockers

Buffalo Lockjaw by Greg Ames featured in Dockers ad

Even though it’s summertime, Colgate faculty continue to make news. Here is a brief roundup.

Buffalo Lockjaw, the award-winning first novel by Greg Ames, assistant professor of English, was featured in a recent ad for Dockers men’s clothing (pictured above.)

Using the hashtag #BookAndALook, the ad copy read “Here’s a soon-to-be-classic look to pair with a soon-to-be-classic novel,” reminding people that they know a new classic the moment they see it. As people learn each year with the Living Writers series at Colgate, a powerful novel can elicit deep feelings and emotions in a reader through a bond of intimacy with the writer. The Dockers ad seeks to evoke the sensibility and attitude of contemporary literature and borrow a bit of it.

Carolyn Hsu, associate professor of sociology, wrote an editorial titled “Draft law may test resilience of Chinese civil society” for East Asia Forum. Her current research examines the rise of NGOs in the People’s Republic of China. NGOs are a new phenomenon in China — they barely existed at all 20 years ago, but now there are millions.

Nina Moore, associate political science professor, was interviewed by Sputnik on Tuesday about the Iran Nuclear Deal. Moore argued that this deal “already is an election issue and will continue to be one in the months ahead, perhaps necessarily so.” Read the full interview.

And finally, a few weeks ago, the Alumni Club of Boston organized a live viewing of the radio show You’re the Expert. Along with all the alumni in the audience, professor Krista Ingram was the guest on the show. You can hear it below:

New grant supports the science of mind reading

July 15, 2015
Professor Bruce Hansen works with students to prepare a test subject for a brain scan.

Professor Bruce Hansen works with students to prepare a test subject as they try to determine whether electroencephalography captures the brain interpreting everyday experiences. (Photo by Andy Daddio)

Colgate Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience Bruce Hansen probably should have predicted his recent $600,000 James S. McDonnell Foundation award to fund the next six to eight years’ worth of lab work with dozens of students.

After all, his research could easily be considered mind reading.

Read more

Flaherty Film Seminar examines the Scent of Places

July 1, 2015
Laura U. Marks with several participants of this year's Flaherty Film Seminar hosted by Colgate.

Laura U. Marks with several participants of this year’s Flaherty Film Seminar

The “scent” of a locality is an invisible, unquantifiable aura that can be difficult to capture on film. Yet, it was the course of study for the 61st Robert Flaherty Film Seminar, hosted by Colgate for the eighth year. Read more

Zhou Tian’s new violin concerto “The Infinite Dance” delights

June 24, 2015
Composer and Colgate music professor Zhou Tian

Composer and Colgate music professor Zhou Tian

What do J.S. Bach’s Partitas and traditional Chinese erhu (violin) music have in common? For one thing, a new concerto, “The Infinite Dance,” called by one reviewer “quite original” with “soaring melodic loveliness” and “magical” effect — a “minor masterpiece.”

But for Colgate music professor and composer Zhou Tian, a deeper commonality served as his inspiration: both are musical forms inspired by dance.

“I am fascinated by the frequently similar energy … even though their musical roots cannot be more different: partitas were composed based on matured Western music theory, while erhu music is often freely improvised,” Zhou explained.

Read more

Overheard at this week’s Colgate Writers’ Conference

June 19, 2015
Participants from this week's Colgate Writers' Conference gathered for a reception at Merrill House.

Participants from this week’s Colgate Writers’ Conference gathered for a reception at Merrill House.

Now in its 20th year, the Colgate Writers’ Conference has blossomed into a cooperative literary haven for writers of all ages and literary interests. This past week, more than 40 writers enjoyed workshops, craft talks, and readings. For many, it was the opportunity to return to a collegiate environment (several even experienced an early morning fire alarm in a first-year residence hall) ripe with intellectual sharing and inspiration. They came, they wrote, they collaborated. Here are some reflections: Read more

April Bailey ’14 and Professor Spencer Kelly publish in the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior

May 28, 2015

April Bailey ’14 began studying gender and power dynamics at Colgate, in classrooms and in the lab with Spencer Kelly, professor of psychology and neuroscience. Now a PhD student in the social psychology program at Yale, Bailey has already published the first paper of her career.

Titled “Picture power: Gender versus body language in perceived dominance,” the paper is based on Bailey’s senior thesis at Colgate. It appeared in the April 2015 issue of the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, and was subsequently covered by Psychology Today.

“The upshot of the study is clear,” wrote Susan Krauss Whitbourne, a professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. “For women, if you want to appear powerful, you have not only to walk, but to stand and sit, like a man. It doesn’t take designer clothes, expensive suits, killer heels or even short hair to show that you’re in charge. Your body’s pose will tell it all.”

April Bailey '14

April Bailey ’14, PhD student at Yale

Bailey, first author on the paper, conducted her research at Colgate. Participants were presented with images of men and women in dominant and submissive poses, and then given a word and asked to quickly classify the word as dominant or submissive. The research also measured how quickly participants could make this decision and how many errors were made.

The results showed that participants associated dominant words with dominant poses for both men and women, but when it came to submissive poses, things weren’t as clear. While participants did link submissive words to submissive poses for women, men in submissive poses caused confusion. Participants didn’t always link submissive words to submissive poses for men.

Bailey also presented her research at the Nonverbal Preconference to the 16th Annual Meeting of the Society of Personality and Social Psychology in Long Beach, California, in February 2015. (PDF of poster)

Colgate University’s Task Force on Performing Arts Facilities submits final report

May 11, 2015
Theater students on stage in "Wald, a wondertale"

Colgate’s Task Force on Performing Arts Facilities has submitted its final report regarding space for theater, dance, and music on campus (Photo by Duy Trinh ’14 of the Children’s Theater Workshop presentation “Wald, a wondertale”)

Colgate’s Task Force on Performing Arts Facilities, chaired by Professor of Art and Art History Padma Kaimal, has submitted its final report to the university community. The document offers recommendations to revitalize the creative landscape on campus.

President Jeffrey Herbst formed the task force in spring 2014, responding to a call made in the university’s new strategic plan for a comprehensive review of Colgate’s dance, music, and theater performance spaces. While the group is not an official building committee, its findings will inform future decisions and financial models developed by the administration and approved by the Board of Trustees.

“Colgate has long recognized the contributions that the performing arts can make to a liberal arts education,” said President Herbst. “The task force has produced an important document that can serve as a roadmap for the future.”

Read more

Colgate joins new consortium for online pedagogy

May 11, 2015
Administrators collaborate at a shared table

Left to right: David Smallen, vice president for libraries and information technology, Hamilton College; Wendy Raymond, vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty, Davidson College; Douglas Hicks, provost and dean of the faculty, Colgate University; Andrew Shennan, provost and dean of the college, Wellesley College (credit: Wellesley College)

Colgate University and three peer liberal arts institutions joined together today in a new consortium focused on online teaching and learning.

The agreement between Colgate, Davidson College, Hamilton College, and Wellesley College is aimed at strengthening collaboration around online technologies, including the edX platform, where Colgate is now hosting its first fully open online learning experience: Greeks at War.

Read more

Japanese Speech Contest fosters cultural connections

May 8, 2015
Photo by Zoe Zhong '17

The Japanese Speech Contest, now in its 13th year, was open to students of Japanese and all other disciplines. Photo by Zoe Zhong ’17

The Japanese Speech contest celebrated its 13th year this April with a lineup of 13 competing speakers and a variety of Japanese food and performances. Read more

Leader of campus reform earns 1819 Award, Colgate’s highest honor

April 28, 2015
Kori Strother '15 receives the 1819 Award

Kori Strother ’15 accepts the 1819 Award from President Herbst at the awards ceremony. (Photo by Andy Daddio)

Kori Strother ’15, an Africana & Latin American studies major from Saint Louis, Mo., is the 2015 recipient of Colgate’s 1819 Award, the highest student honor granted by the university.

The 1819 Award is given annually to one student representing character, sportsmanship, scholarship, and service above and beyond their peers. While this year’s winner represents all of those qualities, she also had the courage to look Colgate in the eye to say, “you can do better.”

Read more

Transition in the Office of the Provost and Dean of the Faculty

April 27, 2015
Provost Douglas Hicks

Douglas A. Hicks has served as Colgate’s provost and dean of the faculty since 2012.

Today, Douglas A. Hicks announced he will be concluding his term as Colgate’s provost and dean of the faculty at the end of this academic year. Next year, he will be taking a sabbatical leave and plans to focus on his scholarly work, including writing on leadership in higher education.

Since joining Colgate in 2012, Hicks has been instrumental in many strategic initiatives across the university. He played a leading role in developing the university’s 2014–2019 strategic plan and led the successful implementation of the plan’s four academic priorities: internationalization, technological innovation, civic engagement, and pedagogical development.

Read more