Infused with vitality

The greater college community continually reinvigorates and expands opportunities for Oswego's students and the region. In 2011-12 evidence of this ingrained vitality included the largest planned gift ever, from one of the college's passionate alumni, to support scholarships; new lines of study; a new cadre of faculty; and — on page, stage and screen — tales spun from traditions near and far.

$5 million for scholarships aims at economic uplift, too

Mathematics and the disciplines it supports are a passion for a successful alumnus who stepped up to help the college's Possibility Scholars in their quest for degrees in these fields. Having used his math degree to prosper in real estate, he disclosed his intention to bequeath, anonymously, about $5 million to this scholarship fund.

By supporting math and science education for New York state students, it will potentially lift the whole area economically. The donor wants to keep America more competitive in the global economy, he said, by reversing a trend toward accepting poor math skills.

Oswego's Possibility Scholarships provide talented students who want to study in the science, technology, engineering and math fields with the financial help they need to complete their four-year degrees debt free.

Possibility Scholar Katrina Debaun
Possibility Scholar Katrina Debaun

Watch Possibility Scholars video

New academic opportunities meet work force, student demand

Faculty keep Oswego's academic offerings relevant to students and society by monitoring their needs and updating courses and programs accordingly. This ongoing process resulted in a number of new programs of study in 2011-12:

  • Combined BA/MBA degree program in broadcasting and mass communications
  • Six residency-based master's degree programs in teaching at the secondary level (math, biology, chemistry, earth science, physics and teaching English to speakers of other languages)
  • Undergraduate minor program in sustainability studies
  • Undergraduate minor program in photography
  • Graduate certificate in trauma studies

Student from WTOP-TV broadcasting hockey
Student from WTOP-TV broadcasting hockey
Some of these programs build on Oswego's traditional strengths. The college has well-regarded programs in broadcasting and business, and many alumni have built careers in the business of electronic media. Now the new combined degree gives students a fast track into such careers. Similarly, the residency-based teacher preparation degrees extend Oswego's distinguished history of innovation in teacher education by immersing apprentice teachers in the life of a school and its students.

The program in trauma studies, on the other hand, aims at a new niche to serve emerging needs. It seeks to enroll students in the college's established mental health counseling program as well as a range of health care workers who encounter people emotionally shocked by war, disaster, abuse or other stressors.

As new fields open, Oswego's faculty are eager to get a foot in the door. Fehmi Damkaci, assistant professor of chemistry, lobbied to acquire a new scanning electron microscope that will help prepare students for careers in nanotechnology, expected to become a booming job market in Upstate New York. "We are positioning ourselves right now just ahead of that phase," Damkaci said.

New faculty bring fresh ideas and energy to Oswego

Dr. Isabelle Bichindaritz, Early Starter, 2012

"Through artificial intelligence, I want people to be able to search by analogy across domains."
— Dr. Isabelle Bichindaritz
     Early Starter, 2012

Oswego hired 27 new faculty members in 2012 and selected 11 of them for the new Early Start Program. Each representing a different discipline, the "early starters" came to campus in July to get a jump on their research and apply for outside grant support.

Among their projects were using artificial intelligence to overcome barriers between disciplines, studying genetic determinants of sex, examining how building social capital affects companies' financial return and improving the diagnosing of learning disabilities. They planned to recruit student assistants to work with them on their funded projects.

The college also named a new provost, the chief academic officer of the college. Lorrie Clemo had served as interim provost for two years. "Dr. Clemo has energized our college's academic planning and programs, inspiring and supporting our faculty and staff as they provide new and distinctive learning experiences for our students," said President Stanley.

Tales, from tall to inspiring, spiced campus scene

Sesquicentennial stage production
Sesquicentennial stage production

In an unexpected congruence of celebrations, the college's sesquicentennial programming in 2011-12 evoked stories from Oswego's past and echoed the storytelling theme of the college's pervasive celebration of arts and culture for the year, "Telling Tales."

Appropriately, in fact, the hit episode of the eight-video series "The Story of Oswego" was "Laker Lore," featuring noted alumnus Al Roker as he probed the legends, both factual and fanciful, entrenched in campus tradition — an old car buried on the college grounds, ropes to keep pedestrians from blowing away, a bathtub belonging to a U.S. president and the origins of Romney Field House. On stage, "Speaking of Sheldon," a readers' theatre production, recounted the travails and triumphs of college founder Edward Austin Sheldon.

Possibility Scholar Katrina Debaun
Garth Fagan Dance performing for "Telling Tales"

"Telling Tales: The Arts and Discovery" was the thematic banner for the lineup of musicians, dancers, actors, filmmakers and other artists who performed on campus in 2011-12. "From 'Lion King' choreographer Garth Fagan to cutting-edge performance artist Cynthia Hopkins, we assembled master storytellers of our time," said Artswego coordinator Mary Avrakotos. "Each crafts vivid narratives from the shared elements of language, image, motion and sound."

In partnership with artists in residence, students and faculty explored and engaged in the elemental act of telling tales. Some professors developed special courses tying in with the theme — "The Fiction of Julio Cortázar," "Islamophobia" and "Psychology and Comedy," for example — and more than 100 students enrolled in them.

Tags: Vitality, Vibrant community, Distinction