Colgate University News Items of interest about the Colgate community Sat, 21 Nov 2015 18:13:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Interim Provost Constance Harsh invited to White House roundtable Sat, 21 Nov 2015 18:13:02 +0000 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.

]]> 0
Pondering life “without the game” Wed, 18 Nov 2015 16:04:42 +0000 Lexi Panepinto ’16 kicking the soccer ball in a game vs. West Point

Lexi Panepinto ’16, women’s soccer co-captain and environmental studies major from Buffalo, N.Y. (Photo by Bob Cornell)

Silence is usually described as a feeling of stillness; a state of peace, a split-second of quiet, a season of serenity. It’s harmonious and soothing and usually portrayed by unruffled waters or someone sitting in tranquility. This is what silence looks and feels like to a lot of us most of the time. We long for a moment of silence in this loud and crazy world. We crave it and when it finally comes, we close our eyes and hang on tight to it, for it is ever-fleeting.

But, what if this isn’t what silence always looks like? What if there was a silence that hung around for a little while? A silence that is deafening, unwanted, and conflicted. A silence that looks more like someone struggling to stay afloat in rough waters rather than someone sitting peacefully near unruffled ones. What if silence looked like this instead? What if silence felt like this instead? What if I told you that this type of silence actually exists? Would you believe me?

Almost all elite-level athletes — college, semi-pro, or pro — experience this kind of silence. There comes a time, whether due to injury, retirement, or ineligibility, where the silence sets in. No more cheers of the crowd chanting. No more recognition for record-breaking performances.

No more noise, clamor, or commotion. Just silence — echoes of what used to be.

Some might say that this is too drastic and dramatic; that sports are just a silly game we athletes play and that we need to get over it. But what those people might not understand is that losing the game is like losing a part of ourselves. We’ve spent most of our lives dedicated to our sport — years preparing, conditioning, competing. We’ve not only invested ourselves physically, but mentally and emotionally as well — becoming consumed with the wins and losses, the highs and lows. It defines us in a way. Gives us purpose. Gives us an identity. It becomes our world, and we become wrapped up in it. So that is why, when it’s all said and done, when the final buzzer buzzes and the last whistle blows, it’s a big loss — probably the biggest loss in all of our athletic careers.

At this moment, we’re left to undergo some serious life re-evaluation; left asking who are we? What do we do now?

As the collegiate fall season nears an end, the first wave of senior student-athletes begins to face these questions. Less than 2 percent of collegiate athletes will go on to play pro, leaving 98 percent subject to the silence. Sure, there are adult leagues and beer leagues we can go on to join, but it won’t be anything like the game we played in high school or college. We’re competitors; we love the thrill of a rivalry, the pressure of a playoff game, the grind of going to practice every day, the feeling of being victorious, the locker room celebrations, the long bus rides. We live for that. And while recreational sport may still have all of that, it won’t ever have quite the same feel as it once did.

This transition is something that we rarely talk about. But, I say, if every athlete is bound to go through it at some point, why not bring it to the forefront and acknowledge it? Through sports, we have been lucky enough to create more friendships and memories than most people dream of. We have grown as people and learned more lessons from athletics than school could ever teach us. So, when that moment comes, when the clock strikes 0:00, and it’s all said and done, while inevitable sadness will strike, I’d like to offer a little bit of advice.

Take it all in. Take a look into the stands to see your family and friends who have been there to support you every step of the way – remember to be thankful. Take a look at your teammates to the left and to the right of you, and think about how these people, who have become your family, have shaped your life – remember to never let these relationships go. Take a look at the playing stage, whatever it may be, one last time and replay all of the great victories and celebrations — remember to cherish those feelings of triumph. Take time to reflect on all the years you’ve played — remember to never take those years and opportunities for granted.

Finally, no matter how deafening it may be, take the time to listen to the silence, because while our sport has certainly molded us and inarguably impacted our lives, it is in no way definitive of who we are. Remember that, and more importantly, believe that. Believe that you are just as important and just as valuable to the world as you were when you played your sport. Because, if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that being a good person is what truly matters in this life. Who you are without the game is what matters and how good of a person you are doesn’t change just because your playing days are over.

The silence will only begin to fade, once you believe that.

This commentary originally appeared in The Odyssey Online and is republished with the author’s consent.

]]> 2
Gregory Casagrande ’85 shares experience with students as Executive in Residence Wed, 18 Nov 2015 13:43:53 +0000 Casagrande accepts the Day of Impact Award from the Presidents' Club.

Greg Casagrande ’85 (left) received the first-ever Colgate Impact Award at the Presidents’ Club breakfast during Reunion Weekend. (Photo by Gerard Gaskin)

Social entrepreneur Gregory Casagrande ’85 spent three days this month on campus as the Robert A. Fox ’59 Executive in Residence at the Center for Career Services, sharing his extensive business knowledge with the campus community.

Having provided more than $65 million in micro-enterprise financing and small business training to about 60,000 women through his social enterprise in Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands, Casagrande was awarded the inaugural Colgate Impact Award in 2015.

Casagrande has also been recognized as person of the year in Samoa in 2008, and appointed to the United Nations’ Board of Patrons Global Advisors Group. He has served as director of several microfinance boards, including his current role as chairman of three New Zealand software firms, and is an active angel investor. His past professional experience includes positions within the Ford Motor Company, Mazda Motor Company, and Coopers and Lybrand.

While on campus, Casagrande met with professors, administrators, and students in the Benton Scholars and Thought Into Action programs, and he made time for individual student appointments and guest lectures in three classes — Economics 238: Economic Development; Geography 315: Sustainable Livelihoods in Asia; and Geography 186: The Geography of Happiness.

Read more about Casagrande in the latest issue of the Colgate Scene.


]]> 0
A walk in the woods with Rick Marsi ’69 Tue, 17 Nov 2015 19:59:16 +0000 Rick Marsi ’69

Rick Marsi ’69 gives Scene readers a peek into Brier Hill in the fall. As he invites in his book Wheel of Seasons: “Take a walk, a little walk.” Especially in autumn, he adds, “As well as offering the universal lessons inherent in all seasons, it may reveal special ones of its own.” (Photo by Andrew Daddio)

Pausing next to a tamarack tree, Rick Marsi ’69 purses his lips and exhales, “pshhht, pshhht, pshhht, pshhht” in staccato breaths. A male common yellowthroat, wearing a black mask, answers the call and alights on a nearby branch. Marsi — economics major, ornithologist, naturalist, writer, and photographer — is seemingly satisfied.

Crunching through fallen leaves at Brier Hill, his 30-acre property in Vestal, N.Y., on this balmy, mellow Monday, Marsi points out landmarks: a towering white oak that he refers to as “the matriarch,” a grove of red pines that grew from seedlings he and his mother planted in the mid-’60s, and mini-waterfalls created by stones that he and his wife piled in the creek. All the while, his feathered friends warble overhead, and the birdman is always listening.

Keep reading in the Colgate Scene

]]> 1
Colgate crowned Patriot League Champions Mon, 16 Nov 2015 13:22:37 +0000 A group picture of Colgate's 2015 Patriot League Championship team (Photo by Bob Cornell)

Colgate’s 2015 Patriot League Championship team (Photo by Bob Cornell)

Talk about following in some footsteps.

Colgate’s Dan Hunt matched his mentor Dick Biddle here Saturday when the Raiders outlasted Lehigh 49–42 to clinch the Patriot League championship. Hunt and Biddle both captured Patriot League titles for Colgate in just their second seasons as head coach.

Demetrius Russell and Jake Melville turned in career-high rushing performances as Colgate chalked up a season-high 316 yards on the ground. Melville carried for 124 yards in the first half on his way to 132 and two touchdowns, while Russell compiled 95 of his 141 after intermission and also scored twice.

Colgate finished the game 3-of-3 on fourth-down conversions, with touchdowns on all three plays.

Melville scored the game’s first TD on a fourth-and-9 scamper that went 28 yards to pay dirt. The junior quarterback struck again in the second quarter, converting a fourth-and-1 into a 13-yard touchdown that made it 21–14. And then Russell turned the trick in the third period as he took a fourth-and-1 handoff and bolted 9 yards for the score that made it 35–28.

Colgate scored first, and Colgate scored last. In between, the Raiders never trailed but also never led by more than seven points — 7–0, 7–7, 14–7, 14–14 … all the way to 49–42.

As fate would have it amid the offensive fireworks, a pair of Colgate defensive goal-line stands proved to be the difference.

Colgate kept Lehigh out of the end zone on the opening drive of the second half. A 16-play march that lasted 7:32 and came up empty when Alex Campbell tackled Mountain Hawks quarterback Nick Shafnisky for a 2-yard loss on fourth-and-4 from the Colgate 6.

That kept the score knotted at 28–28.

Then, with the game on the line and Colgate leading 49–42, the Raiders stood tall on first-and-goal from their own 5. Three Shafnisky pass attempts fell incomplete, and then, on fourth down, a furious rush forced a dump-off pass to fullback Mackenzie Crawford.

Pat Afriyie was on the spot for the immediate take down back at the 11-yard line, and Colgate had Title No. 8 in its back pocket.

The first of Biddle’s seven conference championships came in 1997, and now Hunt has placed himself firmly on that same path of excellence.


]]> 1
First residential commons named for Diane Ciccone ’74, P’10 Thu, 12 Nov 2015 18:57:40 +0000 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.”

Portrait of Diane Ciccone, ’74, P’10

Diane Ciccone, ’74, P’10 (Photo by Andrew Daddio)

Ciccone is a member of the first class of women to graduate from Colgate. After earning her JD from Hofstra University in 1977, she went on to a career in law and journalism. She also became a passionate advocate for the Colgate community, both current students and her fellow alumni.

A founding member of Colgate’s Alumni of Color organization, Ciccone served on both the alumni council and the university’s Board of Trustees, chairing its legal affairs and insurance committee. She has mentored generations of undergraduates via the Sister2Sister program and career services, and she has supported the ALANA Cultural Center, establishing a library of books by authors of color. In 2014, she received the Wm. Brian Little ’64 Award for Distinguished Service. Read more about Ciccone in her award citation.

The Ciccone Commons is the first of four residential commons that will open during the course of the next several years. The commons system represents a new approach to “living the liberal arts” at Colgate.

Led by faculty directors, residential commons students not only live and enjoy free time together, they take classes and study side by side, integrating academic exploration into their daily experiences.

“Residential commons allow classroom conversations to continue into the living room, while increasing the opportunity for faculty leaders to mentor students,” said Interim President Jill Harsin. “Embracing our liberal arts roots, we are expanding access to life-changing connections that have been crucial to the success of so many undergraduates through the years.”

Sophomore, junior, and senior members will play a crucial role in commons activities, and they will have the opportunity to live in commons annexes, located on Broad Street.

“A liberal arts education was never intended to be confined to the classroom — learning happens everywhere,” said Dean of the College Suzy Nelson. “Students are looking for a home away from home and an enriching co-curricular experience. We’re providing the tools they need to build that community the day they step on campus.”

The selection of Ciccone will serve as a prototype for future name selections. Each new residential commons will hold an election to choose a moniker based on important characters in Colgate’s story — individuals who, like Diane Ciccone, have demonstrated courage in the face of adversity and made an impact on the community.

“All of us involved in this first residential commons are excited to bear our new name — the Ciccone Commons,” said faculty co-director Rebecca Shiner, professor of psychology. “Diane’s name conveys exactly what we hope for in our commons: a sense of inclusion, warmth, and deep engagement among students, staff, and faculty.”

Related Links
Colgate Residential Commons
Dean Suzy Nelson on living the liberal arts
Expressions of hope launch first residential commons
Campus welcomes the Class of 2019

]]> 3
Be the Change symposium connects students and alumni for common good Thu, 12 Nov 2015 14:34:22 +0000 Students and alumni stand together at networking event

Students network with alumni from the Common Good Professional Network during the Be the Change Symposium (Photo by Nicholas Friedman ’16)

More than a dozen Colgate alumni made the trip to Hamilton this October for the first-ever Be the Change: Careers for the Common Good Symposium, sponsored by the Max A. Shacknai Center for Outreach, Volunteerism, and Education (COVE) and the Common Good Professional Network. The symposium focused on building alumni-student relationships and advancing careers in the common good sector, which includes nonprofits, education, government, and other enterprises for social good.

“Having the chance to have dinner and great discussions with students was wonderful,” said Susan Retik-Ger ’90, co-founder of Beyond the 11th. “I was delighted with how engaged and thoughtful the students were.”

More than 60 students were joined by 14 alumni for the symposium’s Friday-night kickoff, which opened with student poster presentations on topics such as SAT prep for local high school students, area SOMAC ambulance service, and Upstate Institute Summer Fellow research. Then, Jonah Shacknai ’78 spoke about the importance of giving back, encouraging people to volunteer their time or money to nonprofits.

“Jonah emphasized the random paths our lives can take and the importance of continuing to give back as we are able, whether through time or money, because the impact of giving is widespread,” said Krista Saleet, co-organizer and COVE director.

Following dinner and Shacknai’s remarks, an alumni panel — featuring Steve Bosak ’90, Janet Daisley ’80, P’17, Bob Dorf ’80, Molly Emmett ’12, Susan Hughes-Smith ’93, Amy James ’83, Betsy Levine Brown ’01, Thomas Levine ’71, P’01, Amelia Massoud-Tastor ’13, Jordan Press ’00, Elizabeth Stein ’12, Retik-Ger, and Shacknai — shared experiences from careers within the common good, and answered students’ questions about positive and challenging aspects of their careers.

“They highlighted the fact that all organizations, whether private or public sector, need similar skill sets. No matter what your skill focus becomes, those skills can be applied to the common good,” said co-organizer Jillian Arnault ’10, assistant director of professional networks.

Saturday morning, students were split up into smaller breakout groups and asked alumni about how their current studies and activities at Colgate could be used to pursue a career in the future, and about how they could prepare for their careers.

For Jared Goldsmith ’16, the breakout discussions were the best part of the weekend. “I got to speak one-on-one with a couple of recent alumni who work at schools and education nonprofits in Boston, which really interests me,” he said. “It was awesome to talk to people who are passionate and have been successful in the education field even though they only graduated a year or two before I came to Colgate.”

Arnault and Saleet said they hope the event showed students the range of opportunities within the common good — and that it becomes an annual event. “This is a broad sector with limitless possibilities,” said Arnault.

“The symposium definitely showed me that the alumni network at Colgate is broader and covers a wider variety of fields than I realized during my first couple years here,” Goldsmith said.

“I hope the students who attended the panel are inspired to work in the nonprofit world and that they recognize that there are so many different ways to go about doing so,” Retik said.

Related Links
Common Good Professional Network
Max A. Shacknai Center for Outreach, Volunteerism, and Education
Colgate launches professional network for alumni working toward the common good
Professional Networks

]]> 0
“Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin to perform at Colgate Tue, 10 Nov 2015 22:49:19 +0000 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 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

]]> 0
Students to launch online course for kids Fri, 06 Nov 2015 19:53:18 +0000 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.

Fourteen Benton Scholars in Professor Karen Harpp’s first-semester seminar are developing the course, from concept to production and implementation. Logo

“One of the most important and compelling things to realize about this online course is that it is perhaps the first ever designed by students, for students (or at least one of the first). This is really a new approach to online education, in that it is a community experiment in global online course design,” said Harpp. “The design team is asking that everyone who participates become an active collaborator in the process by giving feedback about the course. They want to know how they might improve the educational activities and how they can make the experience more dynamic and effective. So if you join in, please send them your ideas for how to push the frontiers of education in new, exciting, and collaborative directions.”

The course will provide 10 days of content broken up into five subgroups. One subgroup will be released every other day until all five sections have been made available online.

“Bread can teach us about culture, science, society, and how we can conquer the challenges that face the world today,” said Jennifer Lundt ’19, of Santa Barbara, Calif.

Content includes:

From the Ground: Where do the ingredients for bread originate?

Bread Production: What is the science of making bread?

Food Distribution: How does bread get to your table: The ecological and socioeconomic impacts of food distribution

Cultural Perspectives: What is bread’s place in different cultures around the world, and what can it tell us about global health care and nutrition?

The Global Picture: How do problems that affect us as a planet originate at the local level, and how can everyone make a difference?

“The course will include materials to engage young audiences, with short supplemental readings, fun videos, and lots of discussion,” said Oneida Shushe ’19, of Albany, N.Y.  “One of our goals is to create this caring online community, and one of the ways to do that is to foster a discussion. No matter where you are taking this, bread is probably a big part of your life.”

The content will begin to go live on November 15 via the EdX Edge platform for participants to access whenever it works best for their schedules. Anyone interested in participating or sharing this opportunity with middle schoolers (and anyone equally young at heart!), can register here for more information about BreadX and the students behind the course.

Related Links
Advent of the atomic bomb
Innovation and disruption
ColgateX begins with Greeks at War
Colgate joins consortium for online pedagogy

]]> 0
Raiders rank third for NCAA Division I graduation success Thu, 05 Nov 2015 19:11:22 +0000 GoGate

Colgate student-athletes improved by one position to third nationally in the latest NCAA Division I Graduation Success Rate release.

The Raiders for the fourth straight year are at 98 percent, placing Colgate alongside peer schools Columbia, Davidson, Duke, Harvard, Holy Cross, Loyola-Chicago, Notre Dame, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the great work done by our student-athletes and first-class faculty to achieve this incredible ranking,” said Colgate Vice President and Director of Athletics Victoria M. Chun ’91, MA’94. “We strive to obtain excellence in all that we do, and this is a clear example of that.  Our student-athletes are proof that you can compete at the highest level of athletics while excelling in the classroom at a world-class institution.”

Colgate recorded perfect 100-percent graduation success rates from 23 of its 24 NCAA-sponsored teams, or three more than a year ago.

The NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate includes transfer students and student-athletes who leave in good academic standing. The GSR measures graduation over six years from first-time college enrollment.

Related Links

Full NCAA data for all schools, conferences, sports, and years
The Class of ’65 Arena
25 Division I teams
Athletics facilities

]]> 1
Student helps county earn federal funding for clean wells Wed, 04 Nov 2015 16:26:10 +0000 A GIS map of karst topography in Madison County, N.Y.

One of several GIS maps created by Kayleigh Bhangdia ’16 during her summer internship with the Madison County Department of Health.

Thanks in part to research conducted by a Colgate geography and environmental studies student, Madison County will receive more than a half-million dollars in federal funding for well-water testing and remediation to take place during the next five years.

Kayleigh Bhangdia ’16, of Poughquag, N.Y., worked with the Madison County Department of Health this summer, via Colgate’s Upstate Institute, to examine where private drinking wells may be threatened by known contaminated sites, spills, agricultural runoff, and bulk storage locations.

Bhangdia used her knowledge of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), learned in a Colgate course, to examine U.S. Department of Environmental Conservation statistics about spill sites and dangerous ground-water issues. She then overlayed that information onto a map of Madison County’s private well locations, which nearly half of the local population relies on for drinking water.

Kayleigh Bhangdia '16

Kayleigh Bhangdia ’16

“There could be huge distributions of contaminants and no one would know, given the lack of regulation,” Bhangdia said.

Geoffrey Snyder, Madison County environmental health director, said Bhangdia’s analysis also helped to point out locations of potential well and aquifer contamination related to geological conditions like karst (see definition above).

Madison County was one of just 20 recipients of grant funding nationwide from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Snyder said the grant will pay for a full-time water resource position and for more than $28,000 per year in water quality tests of residential wells, and the creation a project committee to improve the county’s capacity to respond to water contamination incidents.

Bhangdia is not the first Colgate student to work with the county through the Upstate Institute. Olivia Gamble ’15 of Westfield, Mass., studied data related to expectant mothers, breastfeeding rates, and lead in the home.

“The professional qualities exhibited by these Colgate students, and the high level of GIS skills they bring to our health department, will continue to make these collaborative opportunities of great value to this office, and the students a pleasure to work with,” Snyder said.

“Kayleigh and Olivia have developed strong skills at Colgate that will serve them well as they pursue careers in public health after they graduate,” said Julie Dudrick, Upstate Institute project director. “They benefit from having the opportunity to further develop those skills in a community-based setting, and their work benefits our community at the same time.”

Bhangdia said the work was right in line with her future career goals.

“Before taking my first geography class at Colgate, I always assumed I wanted to pursue medical school after graduation. But after exploring various geography and environmental studies classes I realized my passions aligned more with public health and environmentalism,” Bhangdia said. “Working at the health department was an extremely rewarding experience. I really felt like part of this community.”

Related Links
The Upstate Institute Field School
Permafrost research in Siberia
GIS leads to better walking tour
Alumni careers in full circle

]]> 0
A perspective on the importance of Community Reads Mon, 26 Oct 2015 19:47:07 +0000 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






]]> 1
Debating the Common Core Mon, 26 Oct 2015 14:57:37 +0000 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.

Hosted by Colgate’s Center for Freedom and Western Civilization and the educational studies department, the event was a debate about the Common Core State Standards Initiative, which is a new set of educational standards that most of the U.S. states have adopted for kindergarten through 12th grade. Some view the Common Core as the cure for a perceived educational decline in the United States, while others claim that it is a governmental intrusion in the classroom and a reduction of teaching to scripted lessons.

The goal of the debate was to unpack what the Common Core is as well as encourage informed discussion about whether or not it is working.

“It is a bit unclear what exactly the Common Core is,” said moderator Robert Kraynak, political science professor and director of the Center for Freedom and Western Civilization. “But I think we know that a lot is at stake, because it’s really about our children, their future, and by extension, country — America — and where we stand in the world.”

The event began with a series of short presentations by six panelists. The first to speak was John Palmer, an educational studies professor at Colgate. Both he and Mary Grabar, a fellow at the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization, gave passionate arguments against the Common Core.

Palmer contested that the Common Core, and the financial incentives that are often tied to it, encourage schools to recognize and reward only one kind of student — the type who does well on standardized tests — and that this limits learning.

“Do we want a school that traumatizes our students, that drills and kills them, and that says that if you don’t pass this exam, you are worthless to us? Or do we want to educate the whole body, the whole mind, the whole spirit, the whole soul?” he asked.

Grabar, meanwhile, took issue with other aspects of the initiative. She suggested that it was undemocratic and that it was a method through which educational and test-making companies were profiting while many students remained unprepared for college-level work.

High school teachers Jennifer McDowall MA’14 and Sue Lehmann grounded their arguments in their personal experiences. McDowall, who teaches English in Norwich, discussed sample lessons, called modules, that are given to teachers to help ensure that the standards are met. She argued that they are impractical for use in a real classroom and so unrealistic in their expectations that they discourage students from reading.

Lehmann, on the other hand, is a mathematics teacher in Hamilton, and although she points to several problems with the system, such as the emphasis on testing and its relation to teacher evaluations, she is “in favor of the new standards. I use them as a guideline, not an end-all,” Lehmann said. “How can you argue with more rigor? More skills? For a math teacher, it’s everything I want.”

Gary Weeks, a retired teacher from the Sherburne-Earlville School District, agreed about the importance of setting high standards, but he believes that the changes implemented as part of the Common Core happened at an unreasonably fast pace. He suggested that this is what generated a lot of controversy, because it created stress among both teachers and students.

As a member of the curriculum development team at the Madison-Oneida Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), Jonathan Cornue was the strongest voice in favor of the Common Core. He argued that the complaints most people have are based on misconception and then stated that the standards are perfectly reasonable, the modules are mere examples, and tests are an important diagnostic tool meant to pinpoint where students need help.

Following the panel presentations, members of the audience commented and posed questions to the panelists. Many attendees discussed whether or not the Common Core works to meet the needs of students who learn differently or come from varied backgrounds.

There was no clear resolution, but the event helped shed light on the many complexities and nuances of the Common Core. It is an issue that political candidates will have to face as the public becomes more concerned about its impact, and this debate provided different viewpoints on the problems and prospects.

]]> 4
YouTube battles of David Jordan ’17 powered by art and technology Sat, 24 Oct 2015 13:13:39 +0000 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.

Calling Jordan’s animations painstaking labors of love would be an understatement. His 18-minute and 28-second stop-motion opus, Super Saiyans vs. Super Hedgehogs 2, is comprised of 16,620 individual frames (15 per second) in which action figures from the animated series Dragon Ball Z and Sonic the Hedgehog square off in battle.

When the frames are played quickly in succession, much like a flip book, the illusion of movement is created. The special effects in that video were the result of a collaboration with Zylladys Live FX, a YouTuber from Brazil named Guilherme Fernandes, whom Jordan met online as a result of posting his videos.

“It’s really a learn as you go kind of thing,” said Jordan, who has steadily improved his technique with each production, using ever-more sophisticated camera equipment, digital effects, and specialized software called DragonFrame. “It’s all geeky stuff, but I’m very unashamed about it.”

Jordan first started experimenting with stop-motion photography as a Prep for Prep high-school student in his dorm room at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass.

“Now there’s a lot more polish that goes into the animation. It’s not just knowing how figures work, but how motion works with momentum and the things you don’t see with the naked eye,” Jordan said, adding that his classroom experience with Wenhua Shi, assistant professor of art and art history, has helped improve the quality of his work.

After new 3D printers were installed in Case Library last year, Jordan immediately took advantage of the campus resource, designing and printing out individual action figure parts to assemble into a fully-articulated model of Samus Aran, heroine of the Metroid video game series, that he promptly used in a screen test battle with a 3D-printed Link from Zelda.

Stop motion isn’t new. The original 1933 King Kong was animated in large part thanks to the technique, and Ray Harryhausen’s creations in Jason and the Argonauts (1963), and Clash of the Titans (1983) made the effect world famous. Today, films like Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), and the claymation of Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep continue the stop-motion tradition.

With two influential internships now under his belt, one at the New York City architecture firm Diller Scofidio and Renfro, and another with The Foundation Center, a nonprofit organization where he helped develop computer animations, Jordan says he clearly sees how he may apply his skills to a career after college either working in animation or architecture.

“I found a similar level of creativity and control with architecture,” Jordan said. “It’s a concept-to-form idea that I also see in animation. Maybe that will be a more feasible extension of the things I like to do.”

Related Links
Department of Art and Art History
The arts on campus
Giving to the arts
Mark Dion’s Phantom Museum Wonder Workshop

]]> 0
Work co-produced by professor Joel Sommers featured in Technology Review Thu, 22 Oct 2015 21:05:31 +0000 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’



]]> 0