Campus Update

Mon Dec 02, 2013
Oswego student to present research at prestigious biology conference

Spencer Saraf, a senior majoring in chemistry who graduates this month, has received a travel award from the National Science Foundation to present the surprising results of her summer research on eyesight to an international audience of scientists at the annual meeting of the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology next month in Austin, Texas.

Mon Dec 02, 2013
Lake-effect researchers to hold event today

Mon Dec 02, 2013
Renovated Park Hall offers wealth of teaching, learning possibilities

As Park Hall begins to fill back up nearing the end of a two-year, $17.5 million modernization, the School of Education looks forward to new opportunities for collaborative teaching and learning, from a more visible Center for Urban Schools to innovative partnerships with the sciences.

Students in new Park Hall auditorium“The changes are absolutely amazing when I think about all the possibilities,” said Pam Michel, interim dean of education.

The college’s second-oldest building, Park Hall will throw open its doors to high-tech flexible classrooms, a webinar room, fully renovated transportation lab and much more on Jan. 27, the start of the spring semester. The school’s new main entrance—an atrium with three levels of walkways connecting Wilber Hall—will open too.

The dean’s office and the departments of technology, vocational teacher preparation and educational administration have moved in, and the Office of Facilities Design and Construction will stage in other faculty and staff through winter break, even as Wilber Hall empties for its own yearlong renovation, according to Joe Messmer, the college’s liaison with general contractor PAC & Associates of Oswego on the project.

Michel said the project’s faculty shepherd, Dan Tryon of technology, and all the faculty and staff have worked with FDC to help tie in the Bergmann Associates design with the School of Education’s mission, vision and conceptual framework.

For example, the school puts a high premium on social justice and improving educational opportunities in the state’s high-need schools.

“We have moved the Center for Urban Schools to the third floor of Park Hall, the same floor as the dean’s suite, and I’m really excited about that,” Michel said. “It’s going to be much more visible to faculty, students and staff, and will assist our recruiting and supporting a diverse faculty and student body and our seeking funds to support partnerships across the state.”

Sciences linked

With a corridor connecting the School of Education to the new Richard S. Shineman Center for Science, Engineering and Innovation, Michel said she has already seen new synergies as a result of the highly visible new 13,700-square-foot Wilber addition with its state-of-the-art technology labs and the school’s field placement office.

The STEM for Kids program, Youth Technology Days and the recent Nor’easter VEX Robotics Competition are all examples, she said.

“Alumni and the public school teachers are very excited to see the significant improvements, not only in the labs but in the curriculum,” Michel said.

Messmer said the list of what’s new in Park Hall is extensive, from the lower level’s all-new mechanicals and a modernized transportation lab to a fully renovated auditorium for Faculty Assembly meetings and other events.

In a project that sometimes resembled an archeological dig, contractors have transformed the 1932 building to a brighter, more open, more flexible and high-tech home for the next generations of teachers and those who teach them.

“We found a fireplace inside a wall on the second floor that still had wood stacked in it,” Messmer said during a tour in August.

Now Park Hall—renovated to LEED Gold standards—features new foam insulation, heating, air-handling, electrical, sprinklers and alarms, he said. New metered steam lines feed the heating system. Much of the building’s brickwork remains, but new brick matches it, and there are new fit-and-finish touches throughout, such as the atrium’s terrazzo floors and recycled redwood feature wall.

As Michel looked out over the atrium from the third-floor walkway, it brought to mind another set of collaborations she would like to see, with the arts.

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful in this atrium if there were a string quartet or a small performance to bring to the School of Education?” she said.

PHOTO CAPTION: Makeover magic—Among the many new features of the $17.5 million Park Hall renovation project, the auditorium dons new seating, lights, carpeting, high-tech audiovisual equipment and window units, among other upgrades. Technology education students Erica Querns, left, a graduate student, and Omar Santiago, a senior, give the room’s theatre-style seats a try. While faculty and staff move into the building in stages through winter break, workers are wrapping up and preparing for the building’s reopening for classes when spring semester begins.

Mon Dec 02, 2013
Agreement initiates exchanges with college in India

A new, long-in-the-works agreement with highly regarded St. Xavier’s College in Kolkata, India, will open paths for student, faculty and staff exchanges for semester-abroad and visiting-scholar programs, collaborative research, cross-cultural art opportunities and professional development.

Scene from Mela fair at St. Xavier's College“St. Xavier’s is a top-notch institution,” said Lorrie Clemo, provost and vice president of academic affairs. “I am delighted that through the partnership we will widen Oswego’s educational commitment and involvement in India. We aim to keep a constant flux of students and faculty between our colleges that will foster a greater appreciation of India’s people, culture, economy and politics.”

Four years ago, Distinguished Teaching Professor Geraldine Forbes of the history faculty began talking with the president there, and wrote a report recommending St. Xavier’s as a strong candidate for academic ties with SUNY Oswego.

“St. Xavier’s is one of the best-run, best-organized and most efficient colleges in India,” said Forbes, who travels to the subcontinent once or twice a year for research, teaching and conferences. “I couldn’t think of a better place for our students to go.”

The Jesuit-run, English-speaking college traces its roots to 1860, the year before Edward Austin Sheldon founded SUNY Oswego’s forerunner, the Oswego Primary Teachers’ Training School. Long affiliated with Calcutta University in the country’s British-style educational system, St. Xavier’s became autonomous in 2006.

The college, in the state of West Bengal in eastern India, has undergraduate programs in business, arts and sciences, mass communication and in multimedia and animation. Graduate programs include computer science, biotechnology, microbiology, physics, business and education.

Rich collaboration

Joshua McKeown, director of international education and programs, said the St. Xavier’s agreement is a strong step in a long-term development process for SUNY Oswego relationships in India.

Over a course of 14 years, Forbes has taken dozens of students to India for study and research. In recent years, the college’s Global Laboratory has sent students there for summer research opportunities. Yet the State University system generally has few semester-length study-abroad options there, McKeown said.

“India is a very complex country in which to run a study-abroad program,” McKeown said. He cited issues such as academic calendar alignment, curriculum, housing, local transportation and security.

The new agreement with St. Xavier’s came after McKeown and Clemo made visits to St. Xavier’s, met with its president, Father Felix Raj, and came away impressed and satisfied with the viability of an exchange relationship. In October, Ashis Mitra, chair of the Indian college’s academic council, visited Oswego and signed the accord with President Deborah F. Stanley.

Two Indian students from St. Xavier’s studied at SUNY Oswego this summer, Forbes said, and both “loved the experience.”

Forbes said Oswego students should love the St. Xavier’s experience as well. For one thing, the college in Kolkata shares Oswego’s concern with social justice and service learning.

“Every student every semester does service learning,” she said.

Twice a year, St. Xavier’s buses in children from among the poorest villages in the region for a fair on campus, Forbes said.

“The college students donate money to make sure every child wins a prize,” she said.

PHOTO CAPTION: Reaching new heights—An inflatable tower draws climbers during a Mela fair at St. Xavier’s College in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), India. A partner of SUNY Oswego’s in a new multifaceted exchange agreement, St. Xavier’s puts a premium on service learning, inviting children twice a year from some of the region’s poorest villages to a fair at the private Jesuit-owned college.

Mon Dec 02, 2013
For motivated, active student Luis Escoboza there's 'no reason to fail'

In this issue’s Spotlight, meet Luis Escoboza, a resident mentor, active member of the Young Democrats Club and junior dual major in political science and public justice who aims to attend law school.

Q. Where are you from?
I was born in New York City—the Bronx, to be exact. A few months after I was born, my Mom sent me to the Dominican Republic to live with my Dad until I was 5. I came back then and went through school in New York.

Luis EscobozaQ. Why did you choose SUNY Oswego for college?
I was looking at a lot of schools in the SUNY system, and the two I visited were Potsdam and Oswego. When I came here with my family, I had a good feeling about it. I fell in love with the campus. I saw Hart Hall and the Campus Center, and it all seemed very bright—it was a lovely sunny day.

Q. Why did you choose your two majors?
The political science aspect of it helps prepare me for law school. I took a survey course in public justice last semester and I saw a lot of the problems in our corrections system and how it incarcerates so many colored people, disproportionate to Caucasian people. I wanted to learn about it and understand the policies and politics behind it and how the corrections system works.

Q. What are your affiliations on campus?
I’m a resident mentor in Johnson Hall. It’s like a resident assistant, except I teach a GST (general studies) component for the building. The residents are all freshmen, and I am expected to guide them and provide them support, academically and emotionally. More often than not, they ask me for help with Math 102 or philosophy, which I had ages ago. I also show them the appropriate resources on campus, such as the tutoring center. I joined the Young Democrats on campus this semester—we have some lively discussions. I’m an EOP student and I also take part in the EOP Advisory Committee.

Q. That sounds like a lot. How do you balance life academically?
I do try to limit how many activities I take part in, because even though they are so rewarding, they are also draining. My academics have to be top-notch, so I always prioritize them over and above anything else I do. I met with the prelaw adviser a few weeks ago and we set up a preliminary plan where I would shadow a lawyer this winter to immerse myself in that culture and see if this is really what I want to do.

Q. Where does your drive come from?
From my father. He was a teacher in the Dominican Republic. When I was over there, I was often with him in the classroom. Later on, he came back to the States, and now he’s a citizen. He instilled in me the value of education. It is a great tool for upward social mobility. He described his situation (as a youth) in the Dominican: He had no shoes, no books, no book bag. I have textbooks for free, I have the ability to go to school, I have tutoring services, I have a library to study in. There is no reason why I should fail. I’m sure there are obstacles, but I can overcome all of those if I put my mind to it.

Q. Do you speak Spanish?
I learned Spanish first. When I came here, I was in bilingual schools all the way up to sixth grade, then I went to monolingual (in English). My parents talk to me in Spanish.

Q. What do you think of SUNY Oswego and its students?
I think we have an amazing campus. It’s pretty diverse and there’s a bit of everything here. The individuals I’ve had the pleasure to interact with are extremely involved, they are hardworking students, they care a lot about their community and they show it through their involvement.

Q. What do you think of your professors?
Pretty awesome. Each one has a distinct teaching style, but they all have a method that is conducive to the learning process and they are willing to work with you. I’ve been to office hours here more times than I can count. I’m taking 18 credit hours this semester. I might do it again next semester.

Q. What has been your favorite class at SUNY Oswego?
One of my favorites by far is called “Law and Society.” It’s taught by Jennie Han. It’s unlike any other course I’ve taken here. It’s not so much about getting hit with facts, it’s more about learning to think for yourself, which is the whole point of life.

Q. What do you do in your free time?
I read a lot of I spend time with my girlfriend. Then I read some more CNN and BBC. I’m a tech geek, so I am into the latest tech trends. I have a MacBook and an iPhone, and they’ve got me hooked. I love playing sports—having fun with the guys in basketball or baseball.

Q. What is one thing only close friends or family may know about you?
When I was 4, my Dad took me to the school where he taught. One time I thought one of his students was flirting with him, and I bit her. I told her he was taken! (Laughs.) They never let me live it down—when I go back to the Dominican, I see her because we’re still good friends and she really rubs it in.

Tue Nov 26, 2013
Newly named fellows get assessment training

Jennie Han of the political science faculty and Trevor Jorgensen of the music faculty attended the Assessment Institute, one of the largest assessment conferences in the country, along with K. Brad Wray, SUNY Oswego’s assessment coordinator. The institute was held in October in Indianapolis.

Han and Jorgensen are participating in the college’s Assessment Fellows Program, a new program sponsored by the Provost’s Office.

“The program was created as an important part of our strategy to make our expectations about high standards for learning explicit and shared across the academic community,” said Provost Lorrie Clemo. “Faculty are in the best position of understanding and improving student learning. Therefore, the more faculty expertise in assessment we develop, the more successful we will be improving student performance.”

Assessment Fellows take on a leadership role in assessment in their departments, seek assessment-related training and will ultimately share their expertise and experience in assessment with others on campus, Wray said.

Tue Nov 26, 2013

In early November, 17 students working with Eric Hellquist of the biological sciences faculty gave poster presentations on their student research at the fall meeting of the Rochester Academy of Science, held at Nazareth College. Paul Canaski, Tom Carone II, Kirsten Mahalick, Sarah Torpie and Julia Yurco presented two posters on the legacy of road salts in runoff and soils. Jocelyn Coleman, Lauren Jonaitis, Gina Racculia and Adrianna Rozell summarized their study of frog mortality on roads related to wetland proximity. Zuzi Salais and Carolanne Smith (co-advised with Tim Braun of the biological sciences faculty) discussed their work on the abundance of black-legged ticks and the Lyme disease bacterium (Borrelia burgdorferi) in Central New York. In a related project, Jennifer Buckley, Kathleen Clifford, Dan Haller and Stephenie Przepiora gave a poster discussing their study of black-legged tick abundance inside and outside of deer exclosures at the Rice Creek Field Station. Amber Snyder (advised by Cynthia Tant of the biological sciences faculty) presented her survey of cyanobacterial and algal communities in Rice Creek Field Station vernal pools. Hayley Stanbro presented her research quantifying grazer impacts on grassland plant communities of Yellowstone National Park.

Fed Challenge student team and adviser Ranjit Dighe in NYCSUNY Oswego’s College Fed Challenge team competed in the Fed Challenge for the New York Federal Reserve District on Nov. 5 in New York City. Pictured at the competition from left are student presenters Brian Moore, Kelsey Magraw, Gabrielle Weil, Dianora De Marco and Kristina Galuppo and coach Ranjit Dighe, professor and chair of economics at Oswego. “The team had worked hard for the previous two months preparing their 15-minute presentation and for the 15-minute question-and-answer period afterward,” Dighe said. “The team did well, earning a score of 17 out of 20 points. All agreed that it was an excellent learning experience.” Oswego’s team earned an honorable mention, winning their six-team bracket but not advancing to the finals. Serving as questioning judges were “very well educated people who work for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York,” Magraw said, noting that the team worked together to respond adeptly. Those judges called it an “excellent, well-rounded” and “fun, enjoyable presentation” featuring “excellent interplay” and “strong contributions from all team members.” Of the preparation, presentation and whole experience, De Marco said, “Overall, the trip was an incredible opportunity.”

Lawrence Spizman, professor emeritus of economics, is the author of the paper “Bulletin 2254 Worklife Expectancy Tables and Tort Gender Inequality,” which was recently published in the The Earnings Analyst. Spizman found that federal or state statutes that require using older federal work life expectancy tables discriminate against females. Outdated federal tables (known as Bulletin 2254) do not take into consideration changing labor force participation rates and increased educational attainment of females that has occurred over the last several decades. As a result, females involved in litigation that requires estimating earning losses often are awarded lower damages than they would have received if the more current tables were used. Spizman is a nationally known forensic economist and leading authority on economic issues in litigation in New York state.

K. Brad Wray, professor of philosophy, is the author of a recently published article. “The Pessimistic Induction and the Exponential Growth of Science Reassessed” appears in the December issue of the journal Synthese: An International Journal for Epistemology, Methodology and Philosophy of Science. In addition, his review of John Wright’s “Explaining Science’s Success” is published in the Australasian Journal of Philosophy.

In Memoriam

Jeanette Fitzsimmons, 87, a secretary at SUNY Oswego for 25 years, died Nov. 29 at her home in Oswego.

Tue Nov 26, 2013
University in Beijing signs degree-completion accord with Oswego

The college and a well-known communications university in Beijing last month signed an agreement that could send as many as 20 Chinese students a year to Oswego to complete their undergraduate degrees in broadcasting and mass communications, journalism and public relations.

Two institutions celebrate signing agreementWhile students from Communication University of China will apply to come here for degree completion, the door also is open for SUNY Oswego students to study at the university known as “a cradle of China’s radio and television talents.”

Lorrie Clemo, provost and vice president for academic affairs; Fritz Messere, dean of the School of Communication, Media and the Arts; and Joshua McKeown, director of international education and programs, signed the memorandum of understanding during a November visit to China.

“The CUC agreement is an important part of our overall strategy to become more internationally connected and to develop partnerships that offer reciprocal benefits for students and faculty across institutions,” Clemo said. “We are purposefully seeking university partners like CUC that are inviting to international students and are able to offer more international research opportunities to our faculty.”

Messere and McKeown said the college hopes to expand the agreement with CUC to include more opportunities for each other’s students.

“This (articulation) agreement will facilitate the transfer of high-quality students—the best communications students China has to offer—to come to SUNY Oswego to complete their degrees,” McKeown said. “This agreement has the potential to open up a wealth of opportunities for their students and ours.”

Messere agreed, noting that CUC also has programs in graphic design and music. “I’m hopeful this is the beginning of a number of relationships,” Messere said. “I would like to see relationships such as this one extended throughout the School of Communication, Media and the Arts.”

McKeown said an attractive option in the future for Oswego students could be completing a master’s degree in international communications at CUC. It is a one-year program whose courses are taught in English.

Agreements in Asia

The five-year renewable pact with CUC represents the latest in a growing number of links with universities in Asia, particularly in Korea and China, as well as a new exchange agreement in India. Chemistry has a degree-completion agreement with Zhejiang Gongshang University in Hangzhou. Another pact offers students of Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, also in Hangzhou, and Oswego the opportunity to complete degrees at each others’ institutions in business administration, human resource management and marketing; a similar agreement with Nanjing University of Science and Technology also exists.

“Through CUC and our other Asian university partners, Oswego students and faculty will have deeper engagement with issues in a part of the world that is currently the most populated and dynamic in shaping the global environment that we all share,” Clemo said.

As many as 50 Chinese a year attend SUNY Oswego among the more than 200 international students, McKeown said, and their focus largely has been in business and the sciences.

“We have so many academic strengths in other areas, we consciously have sought out other types of programs for articulations,” he said.

This spring, two exchange students from CUC will enroll here for a semester in communications disciplines, preceding the first round of degree-completion candidates later in 2014.

Messere is excited about the possibilities of the new relationship. For example, the school is exploring a two-week course in New York City to enable Chinese students to meet and talk with business executives in communications industries headquartered there. Top students also will have a chance to participate in the Hollywood P.O.V. program that visits the entertainment capital, he said.

“We would invite qualified Chinese students to join the Hollywood program, just as we invite qualified American students who have the necessary interests in large-budget entertainment and film,” Messere said.

PHOTO CAPTION: New accord—Lorrie Clemo, left, provost and vice president of academic affairs at SUNY Oswego, and Hu Zhengrong, professor and vice president of Communication University of China, display a newly signed degree-completion agreement last month in Beijing. Completing the SUNY Oswego delegation at the ceremony were Fritz Messere, dean of the School of Communication, Media and the Arts; Joshua McKeown, director of international education and programs; Nola Heidlebaugh, emeritus professor of communication studies; Robert Auler, associate professor of music; and Peace Li, Oswego’s East Asia recruitment and partnerships manager.

Tue Nov 19, 2013
Professor's book tracks paths to Congress for ethnic politicians

Miriam Jiménez of the political science faculty published her first book last month, using a database she built from scratch and years of research to construct a micro-political model for the rise of ethnic minorities in Congress, full of their stories and creative electoral strategies.

Miriam JimenezPublished by Routledge of New York and London, “Inventive Politicians and Ethnic Ascent in American Politics: The Uphill Elections of Italians and Mexicans to the U.S. Congress” began as her quest for her dissertation in political science at City University of New York’s Graduate Center.

The author reconstructs the tales of ethnic minority politicians in Congress, from Italian-American politician Fiorello La Guardia’s breaking through the Tammany Hall machine in 1916 to such pioneering Mexican-American politicians of the 1960s as Edward Roybal and on to the rise of Latinos as pan-ethnic identifiers, including Loretta Sanchez in the 1990s.

Jiménez, a visiting assistant professor at Oswego through 2013-14, scoured archives and primary sources, periodicals and scattered studies of ethnic experiences for the kind of intimate detail she knew could move her away from traditional models. She detailed a process of different and uneven stages of ethnic ascent to Congress, starting from marginalization, grudging acceptance, isolated victories and, ultimately, origin-blind acceptance.

Data on the history of ethnic minorities in Congress did not exist, so she built the dataset herself, painstakingly assembling the names—some of them Anglicized—of more than 150 ethnic House and Senate members from 1880 to 2012. She used a wide variety of sources to reconstruct the tales, resourceful strategies, successes and failures of Italian-Americans and Mexican-Americans in congressional politics.

“I wanted to re-conceptualize how ethnic politicians gain access to the process,” Jiménez said. “I took an interdisciplinary approach. My sister, a historian, talked to me about micro-history, changing the lens to look at individuals in their historical context rather than starting with the idea of ethnic minorities as homogeneous or with simplistic analyses of registration and voting patterns of an ethnic group.”

‘New insights’

Peer reviewers of the work praised her for breaking new ground.

“Miriam Jiménez’ innovative micro-political approach in this book yields new insights that turn some of the axioms of common wisdom on their head,” wrote Richard Alba, sociology professor and expert in ethnicity and ethnic identity at the CUNY Graduate Center. “As a result, the book breathes freshness into a comparison of Italians and Mexicans that has become a bit stale in the hands of others.”

Louis DeSipio, a political science professor with expertise in Latino politics and immigration at University of California-Irvine, wrote, in part, “Jiménez’ study carefully assesses not just the ethnic candidates who sought election to Congress and how they positioned themselves among co-ethnics, but also the critical role of changing political environments and institutional relationships to ensure their election to office. This book adds to our understanding of the likely future electoral influence of today’s immigrant-ethnic populations.”

Jiménez, understanding that the primary audiences for her book likely will include political scientists, politicians and students of ethnic political incorporation, nevertheless said she consciously tried to invite interested readers from the general public with her writing style and storytelling.

Compelling stories

“The book is full of stories and against-all-odds case studies,” she said.

For example, Jiménez said, the story of how Fiorello La Guardia, former congressman from and three-term mayor of New York City, ascended politically is dramatic and compelling.

“You really have to understand the context of the times in which he lived—Tammany Hall, kingmakers, party-centered politics—to realize what political marvels he achieved,” Jiménez said. “He campaigned like crazy, he understood the electorate and spoke their language—he was, in fact, multilingual and he used those languages. Inventiveness, energy, mercurial character—La Guardia always exceeded expectations.”

Edward Roybal beat an incumbent in 1962 to become the first Mexican-American elected to Congress in California in nearly 100 years. To accomplish it, he put together a multiracial coalition, spoke for the powerless and actively supported President John F. Kennedy through Viva Kennedy clubs. He stayed in Congress for 30 years and is credited with inspiring many Latinos to become politically involved.

Ethnic minorities’ ascent to Congress, Jiménez said, does not happen only as a process of enculturation of a group. “Political institutions, parties and electoral contexts create different layers of power that affect lives and decisions of individuals who run for office,” she said.

PHOTO CAPTION: Ethnic breakthroughs—The first book by political science faculty member Miriam Jiménez, “Inventive Politicians and Ethnic Ascent in American Politics: The Uphill Elections of Italians and Mexicans to the U.S. Congress,” uses a multidisciplinary approach to trace the paths to the nation’s legislature for ethnic politicians over a 130-year span.

Tue Nov 19, 2013
Campuswide emergency alert test Thursday

SUNY Oswego will conduct a simultaneous test of all of the college’s emergency messaging systems Thursday, Nov. 21.

At 11 a.m., the college will send messages via NY-Alert, the college home page, voice mail on campus phones, the campus information line at 312-3333, emergency broadcast system outdoor speakers, and digital signage. The test will not involve radio, television and other mass media, as a real emergency likely would.

The timing between classes is intended to minimize disruption while still testing during a fully active period on campus. Because thousands of e-mail, text and voice messages are sent, the transmission process takes more than a few minutes. Faculty teaching 11:10 a.m. classes may wish to ask students to silence their cell phones.

The college home page, outdoor speakers and digital signage will reach anyone within their range, whereas the voice mail will go only to campus phones with that service and the NY-Alert messages will go only to those who have signed up for its phone, text and/or e-mail messages.

To learn how to subscribe to or unsubscribe from the NY-Alert emergency messaging service, see

SUNY Oswego tests its emergency messaging systems each semester.

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