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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.

First residential commons named for Diane Ciccone ’74, P’10

November 12, 2015
Students hold up a sign reading "Welcome to the Ciccone Commons"

Students celebrate the naming of Ciccone Commons (Photo by Nick Gilbert ’18)

Colgate’s inaugural residential commons, which opened its doors on Arrival Day 2015, will be named for Diane Ciccone ’74, P’10. Commons residents made the choice by popular vote after reviewing a slate of important names in Colgate’s history.

“I am humbled and honored with the naming of Ciccone Commons,” Ciccone said. “It not only recognizes my lifetime commitment to Colgate but more importantly it acknowledges the many voices of women and people of color in Colgate’s story — a story that will be woven into the historical fabric of the institution’s commitment to coeducation and inclusion.” Read more

“Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin to perform at Colgate

November 10, 2015
Portrait of Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin

Legendary vocalist Aretha Franklin will perform on campus as part of the Kerschner Family Series Global Leaders at Colgate at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 5, 2016, in Sanford Field House. Tickets for the Colgate community and the general public will be released in mid-January — watch colgate.edu/globalleaders for details as they become available.

Known around the world by her first name, and as the reigning “Queen of Soul,” Franklin’s repertoire spans pop, soul, jazz, rock, blues, and gospel.

Franklin was named the #1 Vocalist of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2009. The first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, she is the recipient of numerous awards, including 18 Grammys, five American Music Awards, and four NAACP Image awards. To date, she has received 12 honorary doctorate degrees.

The Global Leaders series, sponsored by Colgate’s Parents’ and Grandparents’ Fund, allows the university to invite inspirational leaders like Franklin to campus. Other guests have included former prime minister of Israel, Shimon Peres; Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group founder; Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state; President Bill Clinton; Russian political activist Gary Kasparov; Tony Blair, former prime minister of Great Britain; Felipe Calderón, former president of Mexico; and the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism.

Related Links
Global Leaders at Colgate
Hillary Clinton defends America’s role as world leader during Global Leaders address
Richard Branson to Colgate University: ‘The world needs entrepreneurs’
Aretha Franklin on Twitter

Students to launch online course for kids

November 6, 2015
BreadX video shoot

Four classmates work to record a video for the BreadX online course.

A lot of science, engineering, artistry, and culture have gone into that piece of crusty, buttered bread devoured at the dinner table. It’s those elements that are the basis for a new open online course, BreadX, soon to be launched by Colgate first-year undergraduates for use by school-age students, grades six and up, worldwide.

Starting November 15, BreadX: From Ground to Global, on the EdX Edge platform, will guide participants in scholarly exploration of one of the world’s most ubiquitous foods and its global connections.

Read more

YouTube battles of David Jordan ’17 powered by art and technology

October 24, 2015
David Jordan

David (D.J.) Jordan takes a photo of a 3D model he created to test for use in his stop-motion animation projects. (Photo by Andrew Daddio)

A studio art major, member of the Colgate Thirteen, and president of the Brothers student organization, David (D.J.) Jordan ’17, of Brooklyn, N.Y. is not only an impressive student, he’s also a bit of a YouTube star.

With more than 9.2 million views and 17,000 subscribers to his PilotTails YouTube page, Jordan has created a cult following of his hand-made, stop-motion homages to all things anime and gaming.

Read more

Dean Suzy Nelson on living the liberal arts

October 21, 2015
Members of Colgate's first Residential Commons gather for a presentation on arrival day.

Members of Colgate’s first residential commons gather for a presentation on arrival day. Photo by Nicholas Friedman ’16

Editor’s note: The following op-ed was first published in the Huffington Post.

Last year, students at my college staged a 100-hour sit-in to call for a more inclusive campus community. After sitting for hours in the lobby of the main administration building, listening to stories of students feeling isolated and marginalized, I knew we had to do things differently.

Where to begin? We could draw on our own extensive research about what are known in higher education as “campus climate” challenges. For example, we had conducted a campus-wide survey and found great encouragement for changing the student residential experience. We learned of the desire to break down barriers where first-year and sophomore students lived “up the hill,” and most juniors and seniors lived “down the hill.”

A group of professors, staff members, students, and alumni later met to connect these recommendations to a residential program that might begin to make a positive difference for all students. A plan we call “Living the Liberal Arts” emerged as the framework that would put students at the heart of these changes. The goal is to help all students feel they belong, and experience stronger academic and co-curricular connections, from the very first day they arrive on campus.

The biggest change to date: Beginning with 200 members of the Class of 2019 who moved in in August, we are rolling out a Residential Commons Program. These students have a ready-made group of staff, student-leader, and faculty affiliates who will participate in naming the space, developing traditions, selecting a mascot, and choosing unifying colors and symbols. They’ll establish intramural teams, plan social outings, and arrange for gatherings throughout the year. And while this group of first-year students will live “up the hill” in two connected residence halls, they will also be affiliated with a house “down the hill,” as part of the same commons with sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

To reinforce the effort to build community and a sense of belonging, events will take place in both campus locations, and we are also connecting academic and co-curricular life in more meaningful ways. Each commons residence has a classroom, where first-year seminars will be taught. Also, each commons will have a sophomore residential seminar embedded into the community. Every Friday afternoon, the faculty directors of the first commons are hosting a tea for members of the community, and weekly dinners featuring scholarly topics are hosted in the common’s house on Broad Street for students, faculty, and alumni guests.

We’ve also renovated living spaces. We wanted to create welcoming gathering areas for student-led activities, so there are new kitchens for communal cooking, new televisions, fresh carpet, and, of course, paint. Additional renovations and new construction are planned for each year of the five-year residential commons rollout.

The residential commons concept isn’t new, and many students find their place in a club or group that becomes part of their social foundation. What is new is the inclusivity of the program, with faculty, students, and staff participating.

In a traditional residential system, that effort is seldom deliberate. It’s very transitory. Maybe somebody knows your name, maybe they don’t. Students move in and move out. We learned that we needed to do more. We want each student to be part of a community with an immediate sense of place, and a home to return to as graduates.

By 2020, all of our first-year students will have started their college experience in one of four residential commons.

Professor Rebecca Shiner, co-leader of our first commons, told me about students’ responses to the question, “Why are you excited to be part of the commons?” The responses included: “Intellectual community,” “Aspire to help out younger class years,” “Direct connection to the Class of 2019,” “Community and friendship,” “Free shirts and food,” and my favorite, “Leaving a legacy.”

I am looking forward to the traditions that they will add to the history of this almost 200-year-old college. The reality is that higher education — especially on a residential campus — was never intended to be confined to the classroom.

Learning happens everywhere: in the residence hall, on an athletic team, in student organizations, and especially in the relationships that students develop with professors, staff members, and other peers. Students are looking for a home away from home and an enriching experience. What better way to help than to provide the best tools they need to build that community, beginning with where they live?

Related links:

Residential Commons
Commons FAQ
Commons 2019 launch
Class of 2019 Arrival Day

Welcome to the Machine

September 8, 2015
The Machine Project

Machine Project is a Los Angeles-based organization dedicated to helping artists do fun experiments together with the public. Project artists will be coming to Colgate’s campus and the Village of Hamilton throughout the semester to create an innovative series of community art projects.

Ten artists, performers, and innovators will visit Colgate and the Village of Hamilton throughout the fall semester to usher in a new experience in community-driven performance and display.

And they need your help.

Perfect Strangers: Machine Project and the Hamiltonians will unfold from the week of September 8 to November 13 on campus and at various sites throughout the village. Artists and performers from the Machine Project, a Los Angeles-based group, will visit Colgate as part of the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation Visiting Artist-in-Residence.

Visiting artists will collaborate with university faculty and village residents to create and display immersive art installations.

Read more

Students present summer research

July 24, 2015


From photochemical pathways to early animation devices to homosexuality in the Arab world — undergraduate research topics explored this summer by students and faculty were presented at yesterday’s poster session.  Read more

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

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

Exploring the intersection of MoMA’s print and digital marketing

June 8, 2015
Lauren Casella '15 at MoMA, where she is interning for the summer

Lauren Casella ’16 at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, where she is interning for the summer

Editor’s note: This blog post is the first in a series written by students about their summer experiences.

Last week, I started my internship in New York City, working for the marketing department at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Housing collections of architecture, design, drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, and film, MoMA is regarded as one of the most influential modern art museums in the world. 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 honors first-generation graduates

May 27, 2015
First Generation Lunch photo

Students, faculty, family, and friends gathered at the inaugural First Generation Luncheon last week. (Photo by Daniel DeVries)

It started with one student standing to thank her family for their support at the inaugural First-Generation Luncheon during commencement weekend.

“I think I’m here to thank you, not just for your sacrifices in the past four years, but for everything you’ve done in my life,” said the political science major from the Bronx, N.Y.

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

Alexandria Dyer ’14 awarded a Fulbright to conduct research in Ghana

May 6, 2015

Alexandria Dyer ’14, of Portland, Ore., has been awarded a Fulbright research grant to travel to Ghana to study public health.

Dyer will conduct research on the empowering social space of women’s hair salons and will then develop a pilot women’s health workshop for these informal settings.

Read more

Members of Colgate Class of 2015 award their Torch Medals

May 1, 2015
Ben Cook '15 gave his torchmedal to Roxanne Benson

Ben Cook ’15 gave his Torch Medal to Roxanne Benson, the administrative assistant for Outdoor Education.

From professors to deans, food service employees to athletic coaches, and many more, countless individuals contribute to students’ academic and personal growth while at Colgate. This spring, members of the Class of 2015 are recognizing those who have influenced their time over the last four years by honoring them with Torch Medals. Read more

Colgate ranks #2 in the nation in new survey of college outcomes and value

April 29, 2015
Colgate alumni give students an important leg up in the business world.

Colgate alumni give students an important leg up in the business world.

Behind only California Institute of Technology and ahead of MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, Yale and many others, Colgate today was ranked second-highest among four-year schools for “value-added” with respect to mid-career earnings.

A new report from the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, titled Beyond College Rankings, a Value-Added Approach to Assessing Two- and Four-Year Schools, is the first to study a broad array of colleges on economic outcomes for graduates, using a blend of government and private data sources, including Linkedin and PayScale.

It also factors in seven quality metrics: Curriculum value, percent graduating in a STEM field, alumni skills, graduation rate, retention rate, aid per student, and instructional staff.

Read here for a summary of the report and the list of  the “10 universities that will increase your career earnings the most.”

According to Inside Higher Education, “Brookings characterizes the unobservable reasons why an institution might provide a large value-added boost to its graduates as ‘x factors,’ and attributes 59 percent of Colgate’s value added to such unobserved factors.”

Jonathan Rothwell, lead author and a fellow at Brookings, said, “It’s not the majors that are driving their student success, and it’s not the skills they list on résumés. It may be they have access to great teachers; it may be that their alumni networks are strong.”

According to Brookings, the survey improves on conventional rankings in several ways. The survey includes a much larger number of schools; it focuses on factors that best predict measurable economic outcomes; and it attempts to isolate the effect colleges themselves have on those outcomes, above and beyond what students’ backgrounds would predict.

“This report is serious and comprehensive,” said President Jeffrey Herbst. “The focus on outcomes makes it superior to other rankings. It measures salaries, which is important but not, of course, the whole story. The report articulates the power of our Colgate University professional networks .”

The timing of the new survey from Brookings is attracting widespread media attention, as it comes as many families are in the final throes of weighing college admission and aid offers.

So far, Colgate has been mentioned by Inside Higher EducationNational JournalCNN Money, cbs.com, National Journal, Fusion, and Huffington Post.

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

Balinese Gamelan Ensemble to perform concert tonight

April 27, 2015
Professor Peter Steele leads a class on Balinese Gamelan music. Photo by Zoe Zhong '17

Professor Peter Steele leads a class on Balinese Gamelan music. Photo by Zoe Zhong ’17

If you’ve walked into James C. Colgate Hall on a Monday afternoon, you might have heard unfamiliar yet intriguing musical sounds flowing out of classroom 209. That’s Colgate’s brand-new Balinese Gamelan Ensemble rehearsing; their concert is tonight. Read more

First ColgateX open online course begins

April 26, 2015

Greeks at War: Homer at TroyOne of Colgate’s best-known professors will reach more than 3,000 people from more than 100 countries in the university’s first public, open, online course, Greeks at War: Homer at Troy, beginning Monday.

Robert Garland, Roy D. and Margaret B. Wooster Professor of the classics will teach the university-quality course on the ColgateX platform. Read more

Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide

April 24, 2015
Students in class with Colgate professor Peter Balakian

Colgate professor Peter Balakian is a world-renowned Armenian genocide expert.

As the world commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide today, Colgate professor Peter Balakian continues to press the U.S. government to join a growing number of nations and dignitaries, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Pope Francis, to publicly denounce and formally brand the killings as genocide.

Balakian, a descendant of survivors of the atrocity that killed about 1.5 million people, is a commentator, poet, author of seven books, and the Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor in Humanities, professor of English, and director of creative writing at Colgate. He has provided expert commentary on the legacy and trauma of the Armenian genocide, and what he calls “the continued denial of the Turkish government to come to terms with its past.”

“I think what’s shocking in the Turkish case is the refusal, in the face of large world-wide pressure, not just from Armenians, but from 22 countries that have passed Armenian genocide resolutions, for Turkey to deal with the aftermath of the genocide in an ethical way,” said Balakian. “Turkey’s refusal has been shocking to the world.”

Additional commentary can be found in the news links below.

All Things Considered
Los Angeles Times
The Guardian
60 Minutes Overtime
The Economist
Chicago Tribune
International Business Times
The Daily Beast
The Take Away
Tablet Magazine
Portland Press Herald


Sara Reese ’16 named a 2015 Udall Scholar

April 20, 2015

Sara Reese ’16, of Midlothian, Va., is one of just 50 students nationwide to be awarded a Udall Scholarship in 2015.

The Udall Scholarship is awarded to college sophomores and juniors for leadership, public service, and commitment to issues related to the environment or to American Indian nations. The scholarship honors the legacies of Morris Udall and Stewart Udall, whose careers had a significant impact on American Indian self-governance, health care, and the stewardship of public lands and natural resources.

Read more

This week on campus: juggling, sustainability, and SPW

April 20, 2015
Photo by Andy Daddio

The juggling club will be turning up their act on Tuesday, adding knives and torches to their repertoire. Photo by Andy Daddio

As the semester winds down, plenty of activity still keeps campus buzzing. Here are the events you won’t want to miss this week

On Tuesday from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., enjoy the juggling club’s Light ’em Up show with knives and torches on the Academic Quad.

The Oak Awards (or Oakies) will be presented on Wednesday at the Atrium Cuniff Commons in the Ho Science Center. Formerly known as The Green Awards, The Oak Awards (or Oakies) are presented to students, faculty, and staff have made an impact on campus sustainability. The night of fun and awards is a wrap-up of #13DaysOfGreen.

Also on Wednesday, Daniel Wilkinson will give a talk titled “Against All Odds: The Struggle for Human Rights in Latin America” in Persson Auditorium at 4:30 p.m. The managing director of the Americas Division of the Human Rights Watch, Wilkinson is an expert on Latin America. He has conducted fieldwork and advocacy throughout the region, and authored reports on human rights issues in Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, the United States, and Venezuela. His book Silence on the Mountain: Stories of Terror, Betrayal, and Forgetting in Guatemala won the PEN/Albrand Award for nonfiction.

3LAU and Skizzy Mars will headline Spring Party Weekend, starting at Sanford Field House at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday. 3LAU (pronounced “blau”) is an American progressive house and electro house producer, and Skizzy Mars is a New York City-based MC who specializes in melodic, slightly left-of-center rap.

To see more events on campus and in the community, check out the Colgate calendar.

Colgate to open first of four residential learning communities in Fall 2015

April 16, 2015
Curtis and Drake Halls

Curtis and Drake Halls will be home to the university’s first residential learning community.

Faculty directors are actively planning, student community leaders are assigned, the housing lottery is underway for current students, and the Class of 2019 is taking shape. That means things are falling into place for this fall, when Colgate will launch the first of four residential learning communities.

The pilot community — accommodating 200 sophomores and 200 first-year students in Curtis and Drake Halls — will be co-led by Rebecca Shiner, professor of psychology, and Mark Shiner, university chaplain.

Read more