Colgate University News http://news.colgate.edu Items of interest about the Colgate community Fri, 24 Jun 2016 15:13:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 New agreement launches Singapore exchange program http://news.colgate.edu/2016/06/new-agreement-launches-singapore-exchange-program.html/ http://news.colgate.edu/2016/06/new-agreement-launches-singapore-exchange-program.html/#respond Fri, 24 Jun 2016 15:13:43 +0000 http://news.colgate.edu/?p=20853 A new agreement between Colgate University and the Naitonal University of Singapore will create new off-campus study options in 2017.

Representatives from Colgate University and the National University of Singapore sign a memorandum of understanding creating a new student exchange program in 2017. (photo by Alice Verdin-Speer)

Students looking for a dynamic off-campus experience that also allows them to engage in scientific research will have more options in 2017, thanks to a new agreement between Colgate University and the National University of Singapore (NUS).

After more than a year of exploration and development, representatives of Colgate and the NUS signed a memorandum of understanding June 7, creating a new exchange program to benefit students from both institutions, and to act as a catalyst for future faculty collaboration.

The agreement affords new research options for students in the departments of mathematics, computer science, biology, chemistry, and physics & astronomy. Jason Meyers, associate professor of biology, will lead the first group of Colgate students to Singapore in the fall of 2017, but unlike other full-semester study groups, Meyers will accompany students for just a few weeks before returning to campus in Hamilton, N.Y., to teach.

In the spring, NUS students, already acquainted  with students from Colgate, will then come to Hamilton, N.Y., to take courses, conduct research, and experience the liberal arts.

“We really wanted to build on the successful National Institutes of Health program in Washington, D.C., in which students take two courses and independent research for credit,” said Nicole Simpson, professor of economics and associate dean of the faculty for international initiatives. “Undergraduate research isn’t common at large institutions internationally, so there was a short list of places that are rigorous and strong in the sciences, but that also applaud undergraduate research.”

Simpson said that, because NUS has existing relationships with Yale and Cornell universities, their faculty and administrators are already familiar with the liberal arts, and their curriculum has rigorous standards akin to Colgate’s.

The new partnership was developed, in part, thanks to Ed ’62, P’10 and Robin Lampert P’10, whose generosity supported the founding of the Lampert Institute for Civic and Global Affairs at Colgate. The Lampert’s have made a $2.5 million commitment to internationalization, and they also offered to match additional gifts of $500,000 up to $2.5 million for international initiatives.

NUS Professor Roger Tan, vice dean and faculty of science, education and special duties, said he hopes this new endeavor will create more opportunities for cooperation in the future between the two institutions of learning.

“[NUS] students will certainly benefit from your broad-based liberal arts education,” Tan said during a visit to Colgate earlier this month. “I hope we give them an unforgettable experience.”

Professor Damhnait McHugh, Colgate natural sciences and mathematics division director, said that when she visited NUS with Meyers, Simpson and four other faculty in the natural sciences on their fact-finding mission this past January, it became abundantly clear that the university had extensive support systems and a strong commitment to welcoming international students.

“We want our students to really make the most of their social and cultural experience as well, and we hope for international faculty collaborations to develop in the coming years,” McHugh said. “We are very excited about the possibilities.”

Related:
Off-campus study
Lampert Institute for Civic and Global Affairs
Colgate Study Groups

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Summer internship blog series: fighting frontotemporal degeneration http://news.colgate.edu/2016/06/summer-internship-blog-series-fighting-frontotemporal-degeneration.html/ http://news.colgate.edu/2016/06/summer-internship-blog-series-fighting-frontotemporal-degeneration.html/#respond Thu, 23 Jun 2016 19:13:49 +0000 http://news.colgate.edu/?p=20838 Laynie Dratch ’17 (left) and Meghan Healey ’11

Laynie Dratch ’17 (left) and Meghan Healey ’11

Colgate students have fanned out across the globe to apply their liberal arts know-how in a variety of real-world settings. They are writing back to campus to keep our community posted on their progress. This article was written by Laynie Dratch ’17, a neuroscience major from Ambler, Pa., conducting research at the Penn Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTD) Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

This is my second summer at the Penn FTD Center, which brings together an interdisciplinary team of clinicians and researchers with common goals of studying frontotemporal degeneration spectrum disorders as well as providing care and support to patients and their caregivers.

Frontotemporal degeneration is a term used to describe a continuum of disorders marked by progressive brain cell loss in the frontal and temporal regions of the brain — the most recognizable disorder is Alzheimer’s disease. Few realize that similar dementias exist. Disorders such as primary progressive aphasia and corticobasal syndrome often present as changes in personality, gait, or language, rather than memory loss, and are challenging to diagnose. These atypical dementias, which can be confusing and frustrating for patients and their families, often appear in people in their 50s and 60s.

Places like the Penn FTD Center are rare, and I am proud to be part of a team that is leading the research and patient care for this struggling population that is still looking for a cure. A bonus: I have the pleasure of working with Meghan Healey ’11, a graduate student in the center.

This summer, I am involved in a project that compares typical Alzheimer’s to its atypical variants by studying differences in imaging biomarkers throughout disease duration. Working at the Penn FTD Center has provided me with countless other educational opportunities: I have participated in lab meetings, presented papers, served as a control in experiments, learned computer skills, observed a brain autopsy, and attended the center’s annual FTD Caregiver Conference, bringing together patients, caregivers, researchers, clinicians, and advocates for a day focused on practical information and the state of the science.

There are few, if any, centers that can match the resources, ability, and compassion that allow the Penn FTD Center to both care for and learn from its patients. The underlying themes of Penn’s success are collaboration and compassion. Every member of the team is important, and everyone contributes. Working at the center among the field’s brightest doctors, researchers, and nurses has taught me so much, both professionally and personally. I entered the center with absolutely no biomedical research experience, and now understand all of the different contributors to what is a much bigger and more complicated process than I ever imagined. I learned that my strengths include collaboration and analysis, while coding and statistics are my next areas to focus on improving. Most importantly, my time at the center has shown me that I work best in a collaborative environment, and has provided me with a network of support comprised of some of the field’s top academics and medical professionals. This experience has also shown me that I want to work in a sector of the field that has contact with, or direct impact on, the lives of patients and their families.

Related:
Career Services
Jobs and Internships

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Summer internship blog series: Greening Glimmerglass http://news.colgate.edu/2016/06/summer-internship-blog-series-greening-glimmerglass.html/ http://news.colgate.edu/2016/06/summer-internship-blog-series-greening-glimmerglass.html/#respond Thu, 16 Jun 2016 20:06:21 +0000 http://news.colgate.edu/?p=20821 Grace Thomas ’17 stands with Bob Sutherland outside of a barn at Mohican Farms

Grace Thomas ’17 with Bob Sutherland of Mohican Farms (Photo by Karli Cadel)

Colgate students have fanned out across the globe to apply their liberal arts know-how in a variety of real-world settings. They are writing back to campus to keep our community posted on their progress. This article was written by Grace Thomas ’17, interning at the Glimmerglass Festival, where Francesca Zambello ’78, H’12 serves as artistic and general director.

I am fortunate to be working this summer as a member of the Summer Field School within the Upstate Institute, pursuing my interests in environmental sustainability.

This opportunity blends academic research with a more traditional working setting. My goals for the summer are to assess and advise the staff at the internationally famous Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, N.Y., on a variety of sustainable initiatives, from water use to energy efficiency, with a host of projects in between.

Picturesque and rural, the nonprofit Glimmerglass campus is miraculously able to support an increase of 30 full-time staff this year — to more than 300 summer participants for the festival. They produce four main operas and a number of side performances, drawing impressive audience members like Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Sondheim. Glimmerglass staff are creative, passionate, and above all, proud of the work they are doing in the opera world and for the community in which they live.

To initiate sustainability efforts, I will collect and access preliminary data on the resource usage of the Glimmerglass campus and assist staff in achieving short-term sustainability focused projects. The data I am collecting is focused on energy, water, and waste and will result in baseline information that will allow the staff to begin making choices regarding efficiency initiatives (low flush toilets, updated lighting) and renewable energies. I also hope to research implementation of a garden, more straightforward recycling systems, and greening concessions for the opera house.

In the meanwhile, I have made some great connections within the company and local community. I recently spent an afternoon with Mohican Farm’s Bob Sutherland learning about advanced local composting operations.

I hope my work this summer will help staff and visitors to the Glimmerglass Festival engage with the beautiful natural environment more mindfully and responsibly and that I can help aid the staff in making cost-effective, meaningful choices about greening their operation.

Related
Summer internship blog series: Tips from career services director Teresa Olsen

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The linguistic lawyer http://news.colgate.edu/2016/06/the-linguistic-lawyer.html/ http://news.colgate.edu/2016/06/the-linguistic-lawyer.html/#respond Wed, 15 Jun 2016 14:37:17 +0000 http://news.colgate.edu/?p=20815 Portrait of Clarissa (Polk) Shah ’10 standing in front of conference room doors

Clarissa (Polk) Shah ’10 (Photo by Gerard Gaskin)

It all started on a St. Louis, Mo., elementary school library shelf. Clarissa (Polk) Shah ’10 discovered her love of Chinese culture at age 10 with a book of short stories. That fascination blossomed into a career, as well as advocacy work.

Although she studied Spanish throughout middle and high school, those short stories — written by Chinese authors and translated into English — had a hold on Shah. When her Spanish teacher told her, “So much is lost in translation,” she wanted more than ever to read them in Chinese. “I wondered, what am I missing?” she said.

At Colgate, Shah finally had the opportunity to learn Chinese. “Professor [Gloria] Bien made the language fun and accessible,” she said. Shah added that “the entire department was great,” and because it is small, each of the three professors (including John Crespi and Jing Wang) “helped with my development.”

Coincidentally, Bien assigned some of the short stories that Shah had first picked up a decade earlier, including her favorite: “The Kite” by Lu Xun. “Things had come full circle,” Shah said. “The language skills I developed made the story more tangible.”

As a sophomore, she was put on the spot to use her Chinese in real life while interning for the office of (then Senator) Barack Obama. Arranged through the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Shah’s internship involved handling constituent mail and answering phones. When a Chinese constituent called one day, a colleague asked Shah to speak with him. “I froze because I only had one year of Chinese. I was thinking, ‘Why didn’t our textbook have a scenario about working in a congressional office?!’” Shah said she stumbled through the call, but it ended well.

A year into law school at Washington University in St. Louis, Shah missed her Chinese studies. “I just didn’t feel like myself,” she said. So, Shah began to earn her master’s in Chinese, “and I felt like I was back home.” Shah earned her law degree as well as a master’s in East Asian Studies.

Today, Shah is supply chain counsel for Emerson, a manufacturing company in the Fortune 150. She gave an example of what her role entails: “If we want to buy plastic parts for a closet organizer [ClosetMaid is one of Emerson’s brands], I make sure that we do the purchasing via terms that are in the best interests of Emerson. So, that means having a contract that requires that suppliers don’t use slave labor, that suppliers are compliant with data privacy and security regulations, and the suppliers are equal opportunity employers, among many other things.” Shah travels to China often because many of their suppliers are there.

In addition to using her speaking skills regularly, Shah writes for China Daily. Her first article was about her experiences on Colgate’s China Study Group in 2009. She also wrote a piece when President Xi Jinping visited Obama, and she’s been asked to write a third article.

Shah also finds time to advocate for the importance of language learning. Last spring, she spoke at the National Chinese Language Conference. Afterward, a Chinese immersion school in New York City asked her to be on its advisory board.

For the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Shah recently taught a three-part crash course on Chinese language, history, and culture. She’s also trying to coordinate a program in which university students in St. Louis would tutor middle school students who don’t have access to language study. “You give back in the way you know how,” Shah said, “and for me, that’s through language.”

She gives back to Colgate, too. The Scene spoke to Shah when she participated in the SophoMORE Connections career program in January. “I love Colgate,” Shah said. “I made three of the most amazing life decisions here: I fell in love with my husband [Tushin Shah ’10], I fell in love with Chinese, and I persuaded my brothers [Caden ’12 and Charles ’16] to come here. I couldn’t ask for more.”

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Message to community regarding vigil for Orlando shooting victims http://news.colgate.edu/2016/06/message-to-community-regarding-vigil-for-orlando-shooting-victims.html/ http://news.colgate.edu/2016/06/message-to-community-regarding-vigil-for-orlando-shooting-victims.html/#respond Mon, 13 Jun 2016 20:49:25 +0000 http://news.colgate.edu/?p=20807 Pride Flag

Photo by Andrew Daddio

To the Colgate community:

I write to express sorrow and sympathy on behalf of Colgate University following Sunday morning’s tragic mass shooting in Orlando, Fla. Our thoughts and prayers go to all those affected and to everyone who feels the pain of this tragedy in a deeply personal way.

We grieve this senseless loss of life and injury, with echoes of, and links to, other acts of historical violence as well as contemporary terrorism. It is a tragic instance of the violence that LGBTQ people continue to suffer despite many recent legal gains for the community.

I write, as well, to affirm the values of this institution in creating and maintaining an inclusive, welcoming, and safe place for all — a place where we recognize injustice, challenge intolerance, and combat hate. As Omid Safi, former Colgate philosophy and religion professor, told our graduating Class of 2016 in his baccalaureate address, “Continue expanding your circle of compassion until every sentient being and every human being is included.”

In that spirit, the Colgate community is invited to join a vigil of contemplation, reflection, or sharing this evening outside Memorial Chapel on the Academic Quad at 8:30 pm. In case of inclement weather, the gathering will take place at the ALANA Cultural Center. Staff from the LGBTQ Initiatives Office will be present to assist, counsel and refer.

Members of the counseling center (315-228-7385) staff are available to talk with any students on campus for the summer who are feeling distressed or troubled about this tragedy or any other concern.

Sincerely,

Jill Harsin

Interim President

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An immersion in public arts and humanities http://news.colgate.edu/2016/06/an-immersion-in-public-arts-and-humanities.html/ http://news.colgate.edu/2016/06/an-immersion-in-public-arts-and-humanities.html/#respond Wed, 08 Jun 2016 14:40:57 +0000 http://news.colgate.edu/?p=20788 group portrait of students, faculty, and alumni standing on the Highline in New York City

(L to R) FRONT: Bonnie Zhou ’18, Chelsea Mohr ’17, Jane Trask ’16, Kate Dugdale ’16, Monica Hoh ’16 MIDDLE: Elizabeth Johnson ’16, Woohee Kim ’18, Miranda Gilgore ’18, Emily Wong 18, Professor Claire Baldwin, Jason Alexander ’17, Bennie Guzman ’17 BACK: Julia Wolf ’17, Jim Smith ’70, Robert Dorf ’80, Professor Georgia Frank (photo by: a kind stranger on the Highline)

Editor’s note: Last spring, Miranda Gilgore ’18 took part in Colgate’s public arts and humanities immersion trip to New York City. As she prepares for her summer months as a camp counselor in the Adirondacks, Gilgore reflected on the experience and how it has changed her outlook on her majors, her hobbies, and her long-term career planning.

A marble-tiled museum, a pretty show with nice music and gorgeous costumes, an old house that used to belong to a wealthy family. That’s what a lot of people would probably think of when they heard a definition of ‘public humanities,’ the work of individuals and organizations to provide community access to the arts, history, philosophy, and more.

I did, too, before going on the public arts and humanities immersion trip to New York City, sponsored by Jim Smith ’70 and Robert Dorf ’80, during Spring Break 2016. From March 13 to 16, I traveled with 11 other Colgate students and two professors to NYC in order to bridge the gap between our academic experiences in the humanities and the “real world.” Prior to departure, we had a seminar class to discuss articles and case studies regarding nonprofits related to the arts and humanities, and we also met to discuss trip logistics.

Thinking deeply about dance performances, museum exhibitions, archive center holdings, theater performances — all of which we did in fact deeply engage in during the trip — opened up the doors to some amazing discoveries.

During the pre-trip workshop and on the trip itself, I was able to think through many steps involved in the process of building a new performing arts center or installing a museum exhibition. I engaged with diverse questions of humanities funding, storytelling, copyright law in the digital age, and proper storage of archival material.

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I discovered that museum exhibits are an aggregation of work done by historians, artists, engineers, and accountants, among many others. By visiting the Highline, an above-ground park that uses old train tracks as its structure, I discovered a way in which recycling or repurposing can be done on a large scale and the several positive effects that a project like the Highline can have on a city. By synthesizing my own interesting discoveries and the conversations we had as a group, I discovered that I am drawn to narratives and how the arts and humanities tell stories in diverse ways.

The discoveries didn’t stop at the things that were brand new to me. For example, having been a dancer for 14 years, I knew that music choice was important in the creation of show, but seeing the Stephen Petronio Company dance performance and talking to Petronio himself after the show pushed me to think about the role of music in dance even more critically — of the three pieces we saw performed, one had no music, one had a combination of quiet music and talking, and one had very intense music. I realized that sometimes music is meant to complement already existing choreography, instead of the other way around, and also that music doesn’t have to be a part of every dance performance.

As a German major at Colgate, I have clear ties with the humanities world. Yet, my interests lie largely in creating an environmentally sustainable world, as evidenced by my intended second major in environmental geography. Happily, I observed that there are so many different kinds of job opportunities in the public humanities — not just for the artist, actor, and dancer, but also for the marketer who tells the world about an event; the scientist who knows exactly what climatic conditions are appropriate for a museum exhibition; and the engineer who builds the stage, the set, or the display. Of course (and maybe this is my bias), there’s room for a director of sustainability in there, too.

One of the things that the trip helped me appreciate most about the public arts and humanities is that they incorporate many different types of non-humanities career paths into the work of bringing the humanities to the public. One can pursue the humanities while also pursuing a seemingly unrelated career.

So what are the takeaways I have from this trip? Things are a lot more involved (and cooler) than they look on the surface. The humanities are really valuable for how we tell our story. And, as I start to think about careers, I will be more attuned to the discoveries that piqued my interest during the trip.

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Colgate faithful celebrate Reunion 2016 http://news.colgate.edu/2016/06/colgate-faithful-celebrate-reunion-2016.html/ http://news.colgate.edu/2016/06/colgate-faithful-celebrate-reunion-2016.html/#respond Tue, 07 Jun 2016 20:11:52 +0000 http://news.colgate.edu/?p=20764 A cappella singers serenading two women seated in lawn chairs

Singing and lounging by the tents at Reunion 2016 (Photo by Gerard Gaskin)

As summer weather arrived in the Chenango Valley last weekend, so, too, did more than 2,100 visitors to Colgate’s 2016 Reunion. This year’s event drew members of the Colgate community from class years ending in ones and sixes and featured several notable anniversaries: the 20th of Delta Delta Delta sorority, the 30th of the Alumni of Color organization, and the 50th of the Class of 1966. It also attracted alumni back to Hamilton from the more recent classes of 2014 and 2015, and from locations as far as France and Israel.

Jeanette Lyons Gridley ’91 traveled more than 700 miles from Chicago to reconnect with her roommate of all four years, Elissa Liebman Lunder ’91 of Boston, and her sorority sister M.J. Hetzler Gagan ’91 of Albany. Gridley called her trip to reunion, “so worth it.” She added, “It’s just a nice, easy weekend. People get caught up in errands and everything else, but it’s important to make time for yourself and your friends.”

Alumni from across the decades were represented, starting with the Class of 1938’s Everett Hanke. Interim President Jill Harsin remarked on these impressive statistics to the crowd at the annual awards ceremony, saying, “The essence of Colgate is attachment to the place, as you show by returning here all these years.”

The Class of ’66 welcomed 39 percent of the class back to campus. Peter McHugh ’66 hadn’t been to reunion in a decade,“but we have a lot of friends coming back,” he said. “Some of them I haven’t seen in 50 years.”

In addition to providing a place where alumni can reconnect, “we also wanted to offer a wide range of activities,” said Jenna Webb ’02, director of alumni relations. “Reunion is a special moment for the Colgate community.”

Those activities included familiar events like the Torchlight Parade and catered lunches with friends, as well as the more unique, including an Amazing Race–style scavenger hunt and an alumni podcast recording on “love, loss, and life after Colgate.”

Reunion College 2016 offered more than 50 lectures and discussions given by professors, administrators, and alumni. Topics included Cybersecurity for the Boardroom and the Living Room: Keeping Safe in the Digital Age, with Gus Coldebella ’91 (one of several events sponsored by the Colgate Professional Networks); Swoosh Life: A Young Professional’s Path with Nike, by Michael Dineen ’11; and Tales from the Colgate Trustees, with a panel of trustees both past and present.

Throughout the weekend, alumni could be found in all corners of the village, revisiting old haunts on Broad Street, strolling through the Saturday-morning farmers’ market, and lounging beneath the alumni tents on Whitnall Field.

The Colgate Bookstore offered several special events, including a children’s meet and greet with Curious George, a reading of the children’s book Up the Hill: A Tale of Colgate University by author Lindsay Fleece Rentschler ’05 and illustrator Rachel Adam Rogers ’05, and the 31st annual alumni authors book signing.

Although reunion centered around the return of alumni, some students also participated. More than 50 undergraduates helped to work the event in various capacities, providing transportation, entertainment, and information regarding sustainability on campus.

When Kim Muth ’19 discovered that her parents, Chris ’86 and Lorraine ’87, were attending reunion, she decided to accompany them on their trip and find a job for the weekend. Kim drove alumni across campus on a golf cart — a job that she said afforded her a new perspective on the university.

“A lot of the alumni ended up giving me tours,” she said. “They’d say, ‘This looked different when I was here’ or ‘This building wasn’t here.’ So it was fun to hear the history of the university firsthand.”

Another student, Ben Fetzner ’17, attended reunion alongside his a cappella group, the Colgate Resolutions. The Resos, along with the Swinging ’Gates and the Colgate Thirteen, performed at the alumni luncheon Friday afternoon and at the awards ceremony later that night.

Fetzner enjoyed the enthusiasm that the alumni audience showed for the university. “I’m always surprised, when we sing at the 50th Reunion banquet, how every single person seems to know the words to the alma mater,” he said. “It really shows how much they love this institution.”

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Leading by example http://news.colgate.edu/2016/06/leading-by-example.html/ http://news.colgate.edu/2016/06/leading-by-example.html/#respond Fri, 03 Jun 2016 13:34:27 +0000 http://news.colgate.edu/?p=20742 Duncan Niederauer ’81, former CEO of the New York Stock Exchange sits on a desk and talks to students in a classroom

Duncan Niederauer ’81, former CEO of the New York Stock Exchange, speaks with students during the course titled Leadership Through Change, Innovation, and Disruption (Photo by Brian Ness)

A Chenango Valley sunset shone through classroom windows as students opened their notebooks and laptops, eagerly awaiting a conversation with Chase Carey ’76, executive vice chairman of 21st Century Fox, kicking off Leadership Through Change, Innovation, and Disruption.

Part of the Robert A. Fox ’59 Management and Leadership Skills Program, this new career development course brought alumni to campus during spring 2016 to offer career advice and shed light on the ways in which the digital era has impacted their industries.

“The topic is particularly relevant when you talk with 20-year-olds who are essentially the ones turning business upside down,” said Carey.

A dedicated group of sophomores, juniors, and seniors attended the intimate weekly gatherings, facilitated by Murray Decock ’80, adjunct instructor and senior vice president for external relations, advancement, and initiatives. Decock began each session with an introduction, followed by a dialogue with the presenter and an opportunity for students to ask questions.

“It was extremely motivating to get a chance to speak to these amazing alumni who were once sitting in our seats — quite literally, in Alumni Hall,” said Danielle Dillon ’18, an English and political science double major from Hingham, Mass.

Portrait of Robert Fox ’51

“Robert Fox ’51 (pictured above) knows the power of the Colgate liberal arts education and, through his gift, has allowed us to bring amazing leaders to campus to share their knowledge about managing change in an era of disruption and innovation,” said Michael Sciola, associate vice president of Institutional Advancement and Career Initiatives. “After all, in today’s world, it’s no longer enough to get the answer right; to be successful, Colgate graduates will need to know how to get the question right.”

As director of product innovation and original content at Netflix, Angela Morgenstern ’97 spoke to the disruption of the TV and entertainment industry. Maggie Dunne ’13, founder of Lakota Children’s Enrichment, discussed the importance of risk-taking and the influence of digital communications on her nonprofit organization.

Duncan Niederauer ’81, former CEO of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), traced the challenge of converting the NYSE to a digital system and assessing who was proactively dedicated to enacting this change.

He was one of several speakers who noted that leaders with emotional intelligence and empathic awareness are most effective at adapting to industry advances and fostering positive work environments. “You’re obliged to leave every situation better than you found it — it’s that simple … you are in a position to make other people’s lives better,” he said.

“A point that [Niederauer] made particularly struck me,” Dillon said. “Everyone you meet is a role model — good, bad or otherwise. So often, we get discouraged by bad experiences; it was good to hear that there is a silver lining.”

The final presenter, Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Craig Hatkoff ’76, spoke about the transformative power of storytelling in a digital age. He co-founded the film festival with his wife, Jane, and actor Robert DeNiro after the 9/11 terrorist attacks as a way of rebuilding the economy and the spirit in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood. “Having a set of skills that allows you to inspire people is, to me, the most interesting aspect of leadership,” Hatkoff said.

Michela Hendell ’18, a political science major from Scarsdale, N.Y., identified an underlying theme within the alumni presentations. “Liberal arts students are actually more qualified to succeed after graduation,” Hendell said. “We are trained to think critically and analyze an array of information, and our comprehensive curriculum empowers us to adjust to new challenges. These abilities are increasingly important as industries are being disrupted.”

As the series progressed through the spring semester, the days lengthened, and the light streaming through the classroom windows illuminated students’ new knowledge and skills.

“I learned that it is important to take advice, but also important to understand that it is up to you to create your own path for success,” said Raffi Khatchadourian ’17, a mathematical economics major from Manhasset, N.Y. “And as Liz Wessel [the CEO of WayUp who was a guest lecturer] taught me, learning and having fun are necessary parts of success.”

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Steve Fabiani named Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Colgate http://news.colgate.edu/2016/05/steve-fabiani-named-vice-president-and-chief-information-officer-at-colgate.html/ http://news.colgate.edu/2016/05/steve-fabiani-named-vice-president-and-chief-information-officer-at-colgate.html/#comments Tue, 31 May 2016 20:50:29 +0000 http://news.colgate.edu/?p=20737 Steve-Fabiani

Steve Fabiani, newly appointed vice president and chief information officer at Colgate

Steve Fabiani, associate chief information officer at Haverford College, will join the Colgate senior staff as vice president and chief information officer, effective August 15, 2016.

Fabiani comes to Colgate with more than 16 years of experience in higher education technology leadership. At Haverford, he built partnerships with and among colleagues and senior leaders in working on major campus initiatives, including a capital IT infrastructure plan that improved essential services such as wireless networking and classroom technology. He led the evaluation of new software for finance, human resources, and event scheduling functions; and implemented innovative systems, including a new virtual lab for students and faculty.

His approach to community input and transparent governance helped Haverford to steward institutional resources, align the IT department’s priorities with the institutional mission, and improve both baseline services and opportunities for creative use of technology.

“I am thrilled to be joining Colgate,” said Fabiani. “Everyone I have met has been generous of spirit and excited about the work they are doing. I am looking forward to working with the ITS staff to take Colgate IT to the next level, and I am confident that we are going to make great partners.”

Prior to Haverford, Fabiani served as executive director of academic computing at LaSalle University and director of classroom technology and technology training services at the University of Pennsylvania. At Penn, he held a variety of leadership roles, including oversight of instructional technology in more than 220 classrooms, and served on the team that developed the first information commons at the university’s Van Pelt Library.

Fabiani’s early career was in broadcast communication at Metro Networks, a division of Westwood One Radio in Philadelphia, and in education, as a teacher and information technology manager at St. Francis Xavier and Gesu schools, Philadelphia. He holds an MS in educational technology from St. Joseph’s University and a BA in communication from Temple University. A 2012 fellow of the Frye Leadership Institute, he has also completed human resource management certificate courses as well as postgraduate coursework in human development, both at Penn.

“Steve brings a strong record of expertise and leadership at a variety of higher education institutions, and he expressed a sincere desire to apply that experience to the liberal arts environment, Colgate in particular,” said Interim President Jill Harsin. “We look forward to welcoming Steve into the Colgate community.”

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Scott Brown named vice president for student affairs and dean of students at the College of Wooster http://news.colgate.edu/2016/05/scott-brown-named-vice-president-for-student-affairs-and-dean-of-students-at-the-college-of-wooster.html/ http://news.colgate.edu/2016/05/scott-brown-named-vice-president-for-student-affairs-and-dean-of-students-at-the-college-of-wooster.html/#respond Tue, 31 May 2016 18:47:00 +0000 http://news.colgate.edu/?p=20728 Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Scott Brown speaking at podium

Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Scott Brown (Photo by Andrew Daddio)

Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Scott Brown will take over as vice president for student affairs and dean of students at the College of Wooster August 1.

“Scott’s dedication to the well-being of each student during the last eight years has been a benefit to our entire community,” said Interim President Jill Harsin.

Since his arrival at Colgate in 2008, Brown has supervised the ALANA Cultural Center; the Max A. Shacknai Center for Outreach, Volunteerism, and Education; Center for Leadership and Student Involvement (CLSI); the Office of the Chaplains; the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs; the Office of LGBTQ Initiatives; the Shaw Wellness Institute; campus safety department; student conduct; International Student Services; and the sophomore-year experience program. He also served as interim vice president and dean of the college (2011–2012).

“Scott is an exceptional colleague who has contributed much during his time at Colgate,” said Vice President and Dean of the College Suzy Nelson. “He has been integral to creating partnerships with faculty and staff that have ultimately helped us better support students.”

During his tenure, Brown established and chaired presidentially appointed committees to coordinate campus responses to sexual violence as well as drug and alcohol abuse. He built campuswide coalitions as co-chair of the university’s National Coalition Building Institute team, and he fostered proactive crisis management by co-chairing Colgate’s Emergency Management Team. As interim dean of the college, he initiated the reframing of transgender student support, and he reengaged faculty in the strategic planning process to integrate living and the liberal arts.

“My time at Colgate has been extraordinary — I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with such remarkable people,” Brown said. “I am excited about this next chapter, though our whole family will miss being a part of Colgate and the greater Hamilton community. Colgate is a special place. I know the talented and committed dean of the college division will continue its excellent support of the total student experience.”

Brown received his PhD in college student personnel administration from the University of Maryland in 1999. He has served in various capacities with Semester at Sea (University of Pittsburgh) and Dartmouth College, and came to Colgate from Mount Holyoke College, where he was director of the Daniel L. Jones Career Development Center.

An award-winning researcher as well as an administrator, Brown has conducted extensive work on student learning, including Learning Across the Campus: How College Facilitates the Development of Wisdom.

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Colgate celebrates Commencement Weekend 2016 http://news.colgate.edu/2016/05/colgate-celebrates-commencement-weekend-2016.html/ http://news.colgate.edu/2016/05/colgate-celebrates-commencement-weekend-2016.html/#respond Tue, 17 May 2016 02:17:49 +0000 http://news.colgate.edu/?p=20709 Picture of graduation cap reading "The best is yet to come."

Photo by Gerard Gaskin

The Class of 2016 became Colgate University’s newest group of alumni last weekend. A series of special events and honored guests hailed the students’ accomplishments and the impact they’ve had on the university’s history.

“Colgate has changed over the years, and so will you — sometimes change will be forced upon you, sometimes you may reach out for it,” said Interim President Jill Harsin in her address during commencement on Sunday. “We are confident that you have the solid foundation to meet and embrace every change; and we wish for the very best for all of you as you set out on this wonderful journey.”

Quoting baseball greats Lou Brock, Joe Torre, and Jackie Robinson, commencement speaker and Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred P’16 encouraged graduates to take risks, learn from adversity, and treat others with respect. (Manfred came with more than words of advice. He also brought presents: Major League Baseball hats for the entire graduating class.)

Read a full transcript of the commencement address on the news blog. Watch the speech — and the awarding of six honorary doctorates — below or visit Colgate’s Livestream archive.

“Be patient with yourself, and kind to your own journey,” said baccalaureate speaker Omid Safi, professor of Middle Eastern studies and director of the Islamic Studies Center at Duke University.

On Saturday afternoon, Safi reminded students that Jesus was 30 years old before he became the Christ, Siddhartha was 35 before he became the Buddha, and Muhammad was 40 before he became the Prophet. “Success is not a linear climb up a mountain. Life is really messy, and every single one of us stumbles and falls flat on our face multiple times.”

Watch Safi’s full speech below or via our Livestream archive.

In the Class of 2016:
– 677 undergraduates received the Bachelor of Arts degree
– More than 150 students earned departmental honors or high honors
– Forty-eight students were elected to Phi Beta Kappa

The class valedictorian is neuroscience major Rachel Louise Goldberg of Westlake Village, Calif., and the salutatorian is physics major Sean Benjamin Foster of Boxborough, Mass.

You can see photos of our graduating seniors below or on our Flickr site.

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Commencement address by 2016 Jill Harsin, Interim President http://news.colgate.edu/2016/05/commencement-address-by-2016-jill-harsin-interim-president.html/ http://news.colgate.edu/2016/05/commencement-address-by-2016-jill-harsin-interim-president.html/#comments Mon, 16 May 2016 19:09:15 +0000 http://news.colgate.edu/?p=20698 Interim President Jill Harsin stands at the podium in Sanford Field House during Commencement 2016 (Photo by Gerard Gaskin)

Interim President Jill Harsin at Commencement 2016 (Photo by Gerard Gaskin)

Welcome, and congratulations to all of you for your accomplishments. You are about to join a lively community of over 30,000 people who have the special distinction of being alumni of Colgate University. I have learned that among the grandparents here today, there are 13 (of course!) who are themselves Colgate alumni. So let us take a moment to thank the grandparents, and parents, and family, and friends who helped to make this day possible.

This is the 195th commencement at Colgate. The first took place in 1822, and it was very different from what we will see today. For one thing, graduation in 1822 began with a public final examination, as members of the class were questioned in Latin, geography, astronomy, rhetoric, moral philosophy, and other subjects in front of their families and the local townspeople.

On the second day of graduation (because it lasted for two days), seniors and juniors gave speeches — some 14 speeches during that first graduation, and they could last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour each. The students were showing off their knowledge, but also displaying their ability as ministers in training, because Colgate began as a Baptist missionary training school but with an emphasis also on general education. One of the speeches of 1822, by one of our most distinguished early graduates, Eugenio Kincaid, was titled “The Utility of Science to a Gospel Minister,” anticipating some of the major intellectual debates of the later 19th century.

As you have heard many times, Colgate was founded by 13 men with 13 dollars and 13 prayers. The 13 were all reasonably prosperous men, but driven largely by their sense of religious purpose; they founded the Baptist Education Society that became the Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution, and then Madison University, and then, in 1890, Colgate University.

The 13 founders risked some disapproval from their fellow Baptists, many of whom believed that all one needed to be a minister was Bible knowledge and divine inspiration, not the broad theological and general learning that the 13 were proposing. But they embraced a very typically Enlightenment idea, a faith in the power of education to transform individuals and strengthen them in their work – a bold and ambitious determination.

Colgate has changed and grown over the years; it ceased to be a seminary and became a university devoted to the ideal of a liberal arts education. We have learned more about those changes as we have researched our history for the bicentennial in 2019, and we have found evidence of a college that evolved beyond the small numbers of central New York men who formed the core. In 1848, Samuel J. Smith, both Indian and British, was the first known graduate from Asia, not only at Colgate but perhaps in the United States as a whole; he returned to Asia, and became a well-known book publisher in Thailand. Our first known African-American graduate, in 1855, was Henry Simpson, who became famous as a minister and abolitionist; his graduation speech topic was “Wilberforce,” about the leading British anti-slavery activist.

In 1970, the entering class included, for the first time, a sizable contingent of first-year women. The new presence of women called for some adjustment; and 1974 became known informally as the “Year of the Woman,” not just because of the first women graduates but because of the hiring, for the first time, of a substantial number of women faculty members.

But history is not just about the distant past. Those of you here before me have made history — Colgate history — by your actions, your passions, your sense of what it means to be a citizen of this region or the world. Whether you exhibited your research project in the summer poster session, or authored a thesis in the social sciences or humanities; whether you were a student of dance or an actor on the stage of Brehmer Theater; whether you were an activist on behalf of racial justice, or against sexual violence, or a CL or Link, you have contributed. And many of you have kept alive Colgate’s traditions: as part of one of our athletic teams, as a singer in one of our a cappella groups, or as a member of our student government. I can only name a few of the ways in which you have affected this place, but you have all been a part of Colgate’s identity, in one way or another, for the past four years, and have helped to write the latest chapter of its history. Those of us who have been here for many years, as faculty members or as administrators, know that Colgate takes its identity and its life from present, past, and future students; and we can only applaud the creativity and excitement that you have brought here during the past four years.

So Colgate has grown and changed over the course of its lifetime, even as we remember our past. We still use West Hall, built in 1827, our oldest building — but where once it housed the entire college, including the chapel, it is now a residence hall. And we don’t force every graduating senior to make a speech anymore — and since there are nearly 700 of you, that is a very good thing — but we still think of graduation as a moment of thoughtful reflection. On this important day, you are looking ahead — to a job, to further study, to a fellowship, to a year spent in exploring your options, to starting a career.

I want to leave you with two thoughts. First, a sense of place and tradition. The area that encompasses Colgate, especially the hill, has been home to an institution of higher learning for nearly 200 years. That is a firm grounding; it is one to which you can return, and we hope you will, and often. The second thought is that Colgate has changed over the years, and so will you. Sometimes change will be forced upon you, sometimes you may reach out for it. We are confident that you have the solid foundation to meet and embrace every change; and we wish for the very best for all of you as you set out on this wonderful journey.

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Class of 2016 commencement address http://news.colgate.edu/2016/05/class-of-2016-commencement-address.html/ http://news.colgate.edu/2016/05/class-of-2016-commencement-address.html/#respond Sun, 15 May 2016 17:06:43 +0000 http://news.colgate.edu/?p=20693

(Editor’s note: Robert D. Manfred Jr. P’16, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, delivered the following address to the Colgate University Class of 2016 on May 15, 2016.)

Good morning everyone. It is an honor and a pleasure for me to be here today.  I grew up just down the road in Rome, N.Y.. And, from a very early age, I can remember being impressed by the quality and prestige of this great university.  I am grateful to acting President Harsin and the trustees of the university for bestowing on me an honorary degree and for inviting me to speak here today.

Robert D. Manfred Jr. P’16

Robert D. Manfred Jr. P’16

As honored as I am, we all know that the real stars of today’s activities are the members of the Class of 2016. So, let me say early and often, congratulations to each and every one of you. As some of you may know, my wife, Colleen, and I have a very special bond with and affection for one member of this great class, our youngest daughter, Mary Clare. Mary Clare has had a wonderful experience here at Colgate. Colleen and I — and indeed our whole family — have had the pleasure of getting to know MC’s whole “posse”: Katie, Molly, Hannah, Sarah, and Jess as well as their families. During their time here at Colgate, we’ve had dinners and parties together here in Hamilton and have even taken vacations together. Our whole family has been enriched by these experiences.

Personally, my favorite enrichment experience was the lacrosse party that we attended last fall. I enjoyed my introduction to Keystone Light, the worst beer ever brewed. And, it’s very amusing to watch what can safely be characterized as “oldies” (people like me) trying to relive their youth by playing beer pong.

Sometimes graduates feel a sense of sadness on a day like today because the college experience is so great, and there is a lurking fear that they will be moving on from their college friends. I will let the Class of 2016 in on a little secret that may ease your concerns in this regard. You never really move on from your college friends. You may be separated by circumstances and distance, but the bonds that you formed in this great environment, during a unique period of maturation, will hold you together. Even if you see your college friends infrequently, you will find that the fondness and familiarity will return quickly. And, when you need friends the most, the first ones to show up will be your Colgate friends.

Friends and family are often mentioned in the same breath. So let me also say a word about family. A college experience at an institution like Colgate is a privilege. Very few of you could have enjoyed that privilege without the support of your families, and often that support involved sacrifice by your parents.  Please take a minute today and let your parents — or whoever supported you during your time at Colgate — know how much you appreciate their support. It will mean the world to them.

Commencement addresses are about looking forward. So, enough about college and how great it has been. It is time now to look forward to what is next. In looking ahead I am going to take advantage of my position just a bit. While I certainly have some thoughts of my own, I am also going to draw on the wisdom of some great baseball philosophers in the hope that I can offer the graduates some advice that will be useful in the transition to independence.

A major portion of the rest of your life will be devoted to work. But that does not have to be bad news. Work can be enjoyable and fulfilling if you can find a career about which you are passionate. Most jobs require a genuine effort. Most jobs require a sacrifice. And, most jobs, at least occasionally, produce stress and frustration. The effort, the sacrifice, the stress, and the frustration are much easier if your work involves something about which you are passionate. Even more important, if you are passionate about your work, your successes will be all that much more valuable to you.

A second crucial ingredient to job satisfaction is collegiality. A little collegiality produces a better work environment, better results, and more satisfaction.

Collegiality is a group effort. Leaders should make an effort to create an atmosphere of collegiality, but that effort will only be successful if the others in the workplace, no matter their position, participate as well. Everyone should make an effort to be inclusive and encourage a free exchange of ideas at work. Interact positively with your co-workers, recognize their accomplishments, and be generous with praise for praise-worthy efforts. Over time, you will find that your co-workers will become supporters and allies in your effort to move ahead professionally.

I would be remiss if I did not mention a concept with which I have struggled throughout my career: work-life balance. I have been in the workforce for 33 years. I have been lucky. Today, I have what I regard to be the best job in the world. But even before I became commissioner, I had great jobs that allowed me to interact with very successful and interesting people: a federal judge, partners in a great law firm, and dynamic leaders in the sports industry.

In my 33 years, I have unfortunately seen the careers of some talented people come to unhappy endings. Almost without exception those unhappy endings occurred with people who became completely wrapped up in their careers to the point that they seemed to lose their identities independent of their jobs. It would be as if I thought of myself as the commissioner of baseball rather than as Rob Manfred, whose job (I might add temporarily) happens to be as the commissioner of baseball.

This loss of identity is symptomatic, in my view, of an improper work-life balance. People become so engrossed in their careers that family, friends, and outside interests, the things that really matter, fall by the wayside. And, the myopic focus on work can rob people of objectivity and judgment. These people who lose their sense of self — independent of their title — become so obsessed with keeping their jobs that they lose their ability to do their jobs effectively. Ironically, this obsession with work all too often leads to failure at work.

Obviously, you have to pay attention to your career and strive to be successful. It is equally important, however, to focus on family, non-work interests, and the community in which you live. This broader focus will make you better and more effective in the workplace and happier in your life as a whole.

So, now let’s turn to one of my favorite topics, baseball, for a few short minutes. What do some baseball greats have to offer by way of advice to you as graduates?

Lou Brock is a Hall of Famer who played his best years with the St. Louis Cardinals. He was known for his speed and daring on the base paths, which disrupted opponents with amazing regularity. Lou Brock once said, “Show me a guy who’s afraid to look bad, and I’ll show you a guy I can beat every day.”

As Lou correctly points out, life is a risk reward business. If you are not willing to take the occasional — and well thought out — risk, you will never reach your full potential. Be smart. Be analytical. Use good judgment. But, don’t forget to be bold. Think big thoughts, and set high goals. If you follow this advice, you will have far fewer regrets when you reach my age than if you don’t.

Joe Torre is, of course, the Hall of Fame manager of the New York Yankees. I am also proud to say he is a colleague and a friend. Joe once said, “Hitting home runs and all that other good stuff is not enough; it is how you handle yourself in all the good times, and the bad times, that matters.”

There are two great messages in that one short sentence. First, it is a skill to handle success with grace. You all have received the gift of a great education and will enjoy many successes in your lives. With each success, take a moment, draw a breath, and think about humility. If you take quiet pride in your accomplishments and project a sense of humility, others will welcome the opportunity to celebrate your success, making that success all the sweeter.

The second lesson relates to the bad times. People often say that one of the great virtues of baseball is that it teaches young people important lessons, the most important of which is the ability to overcome failure. Think about it; even the best Major League player fails two out of three times when he comes to the plate. Yet, those players, over and over again, regroup, learn from their failures, and figure out a way to be more successful in the next at bat. When you fail, and all of us do, embrace the failure, figure out why it happened, learn from your mistakes, and recommit yourself to finding success.

Finally, the most important baseball player that ever lived was Jackie Robinson. He may not have been the best player, but he certainly had the greatest and most lasting effect on American society. Jackie broke the color barrier in baseball and helped fuel a revolution in America that changed our collective view of race relations. He began a process that led to a national debate over race relations that continues to this day. And, in the course of it, he endured indignities, hardship, and hatred always with dignity.

As you might expect, Jackie Robinson once uttered words that I believe teach the most important lesson of all. Jackie said, “A life is not important except in the impact that it has on other lives.” In a society that focuses on immediate self-gratification, these words may seem anachronistic. But in actuality they are timeless. They are reflective of a fundamental tenet of every major religion, namely the need to help others and treat them with respect.

I must confess, I do not remember a single thing about the commencement address at my college graduation 36 years ago. I spent a bunch of time on Google, and I can’t even find who gave the address. I hope from this address you will remember at least one thing. Jackie Robinson was right. You will all have busy and successful lives. Please find room and time in those busy lives to positively impact the lives of others. Engage in your community, and provide service to others. Be generous with your wealth, and try to help those that are less fortunate. At the end of the day, what you do for others is what really matters.

Congratulations to the Class of 2016.

Related links:
In photos: commencement weekend
LGBTQ advocate wins 1819 Award
In video: campus from above

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Senior Reflection: Kalani Byrd ’16 http://news.colgate.edu/2016/05/senior-reflection-kalani-byrd-16.html/ http://news.colgate.edu/2016/05/senior-reflection-kalani-byrd-16.html/#respond Thu, 12 May 2016 19:34:27 +0000 http://news.colgate.edu/?p=20673 Name: Kalani Byrd

Hometown: Los Angeles, Calif.

Major/Minor: Peace & Conflict Studies/Psychology

Campus activities:

Research assistant for Professor Jennifer Tomlinson in the psychology department
Student caller for the Office of the Annual Fund
Student employee in the merchandising department of the Colgate Bookstore
Member of Kappa Kappa Gamma with service on its philanthropy committee
Vice president of Colgate’s Panhellenic Council

Portrait of Kalani Byrd ’16

Kalani Byrd ’16

I want people to see … that a first-generation woman of color can be successful at Colgate. It was a blessing for me to have the opportunity to attend this university, and I did everything I could to reap the benefits, enjoy my time here, and set myself up for future success. Colgate is such a generous place, and you definitely can find the right people here to help you do well and support you along the way. I also want to leave people understanding that, despite some flaws in the system, there can be a place for women of color in Greek Life at Colgate, seeing as I have had such a positive experience and have found some of my best friends through it.

I hope I leave people with … an understanding that you do not have to study something “mainstream” or “expected” to be successful. You should absolutely only do what you want to do. I started out on the pre-med track and changed to peace and conflict studies, because it’s what I truly loved studying — and I still have a great job lined up after I graduate!

OUS has … tremendously impacted my time here at Colgate. Although I was annoyed back then to be spending my last summer before college taking classes here, I’ve come to realize that it was all totally worth it. The experience of those two classes really prepared me for Colgate’s academic challenges. Having a family of faculty and professors whom I can go to when I need literally anything at all has been invaluable. Some of my very best friends — friends I know I will be with for life — I also found from that summer and OUS. These are memories and people that are going to be with me for a lifetime, and for that, I am forever grateful.

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Spotlight shines on great teaching at Colgate http://news.colgate.edu/2016/05/spotlight-shines-on-great-teaching-at-colgate.html/ http://news.colgate.edu/2016/05/spotlight-shines-on-great-teaching-at-colgate.html/#respond Mon, 09 May 2016 19:58:06 +0000 http://news.colgate.edu/?p=20655 Professor Rhonda Levine and interim dean of the faculty Constance Harsh stand together at a podium holding the Jerome Balmuth Award

Rhonda Levine (left), professor of sociology, receives the Balmuth Award from Constance Harsh, interim dean of the faculty and provost. (Photo by Alice Virden-Speer)

Colgate students spend four years of their lives engaging daily with some of the world’s brightest, most enthusiastic scholars. Faculty are at the heart of the academic experience, and in a world where undergraduates live the liberal arts, those bonds often extend beyond the boundaries of a classroom or the margins of a syllabus.

This week, the Colgate Scene paid tribute to the university’s dedicated teachers by publishing letters that former students have written home to Hamilton, thanking their professors for having profoundly touched their lives.

Via e-mail and hand-written notes, they, “revealed that their professors oftentimes helped to make the seemingly impossible possible: think in new ways, finish a thesis, determine a career path,” wrote Scene managing editor Aleta Mayne.

One of those letters was addressed to Rhonda Levine, professor of sociology and recipient of the 2016 Jerome Balmuth Award for Distinguished Teaching. The Balmuth Award was established by Mark Siegel ’73 in tribute to a pivotal professor who shaped his own Colgate experience and in recognition of the importance of teaching to the intellectual and personal development of undergraduates.

During her 34 years on the faculty, Levine has helped thousands of students realize the importance of what they do, say, think, and feel. And because of her expertise in the critical role of social class in stratification, labor politics, and race relations, she has found her office to be one of the most diverse meeting places on campus.

Portrait of professors Levine and Balmuth

Sociology professor Rhonda Levine with Balmuth Award namesake Jerome Balmuth, Harry Emerson Fosdick Professor of philosophy and religion, emeritus. (Photo by Alice Virden-Speer)

“Professor Levine is an extraordinary teacher, concerned not merely with the knowledge, thoughts, and attitudes of her students but with their very souls, their values, and qualities of character,” said award namesake Jerome Balmuth, Harry Emerson Fosdick Professor of philosophy and religion emeritus.

Levine always wanted to be a professor, she told the colleagues, alumni, and students who gathered for the celebration. It was even listed as her most likely occupation in her high school yearbook. She earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Michigan State University, her MA from McGill University, and her PhD from SUNY Binghamton. Before arriving at Colgate in 1982, she held teaching posts at Bowdoin College and Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

“Teaching at Colgate has been more rewarding than I ever could have imagined. Every semester has been an adventure,” Levine said. “I never know who’s going to show up in my office to talk about something we’ve been reading in class and how it might relate to something happening in their own lives.”

Deborah Fox Rush ’86 was one of those who benefited from Levine’s mentorship. On a special tumblr site established to honor Levine’s career, Rush wrote, “My entire legal career has dealt with the issues of poverty and class inequality and its impact on defendants in the criminal justice system. The lessons I learned in [Professor Levine’s] courses clearly started me on a path to my lifelong career.”

Noting the outpouring of gratitude by Levine’s students, Interim President Jill Harsin said, “What they are all saying is ‘she made a difference in my life; she made me feel as if what I did matters.’”

Looking ahead to the ongoing role of great teachers in Colgate’s third century, Levine said, “As we seek to be an even more diverse Colgate, I hope that we do not lose sight of the equally diverse methods of reaching our students and challenging them to be productive citizens of this increasingly complicated world in which we live.”

Related links:
Colgate Scene online
Celebrating Rhonda Levine
Why we should read Plato — Jerry Balmuth

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