Campus Update

Fri Feb 07, 2014
Technology teacher, student lead state champ robotics team

A first-year team of middle and high school students coached by a SUNY Oswego technology faculty member and student will participate in the 2014 VEX Robotics World Championship in April, thanks to their win at the state tournament on Jan. 25.

High school/middle school students working with robotDan Tryon co-founded the “Freezing Code” team last September, recruited senior robotics enthusiast Justin Montois to coach, helped organize SUNY Oswego’s “VEX Robotics Nor’Easter” competition in October, then led the team to a win at regionals in Syracuse in January. The team partnered with Granville High School last month to beat 34 other teams at the state championship at Onondaga Community College’s SRC Arena, qualifying for the world championship April 23-26 in Anaheim.

“When we first started, we were feeling we had some pretty lofty goals,” Tryon said. “We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we could somehow qualify for the New York state championships?’”

Now the team—six students from Oswego High School and one home-schooled—and the “Six Sigma” team from Granville plan to join up to 400 invited teams from 27 countries, among the 8,000 VEX Robotics squads in the world, to compete for the top prize.

Tryon and another parent, Mark Humphrey, used to take their children to Mexico’s Lego Robotics Club to participate in and learn what Tryon calls “a very powerful gateway technology.” They talked often about the lack of a team in Oswego.

“Sometimes you have to do it yourself and get it rolling downhill,” Tryon said.

“Participation in robot clubs and organized robot challenges appeals to almost as many girls as boys, and their involvement in robotics is crucial for STEM programs initiated all around the country,” he said.

‘A real spectacle’

Growing globally by leaps and bounds, the high school division of the VEX Robotics annual challenge—this year called “Toss Up”—attracts eighth- through 10th-graders interested in design, mechanics, electrical engineering, mathematics and programming.

“These crazy robot events are a real spectacle,” Tryon said. “The kids are so fired up about mechanics and robots and design. The best thing about it is working with kids in eighth-ninth-tenth (grades).”

Tryon’s daughter, Lydia, and son, Jordan, are on the team, along with Adam Humphrey, Michael Beckwith Jr., Jordan Runner, Jeremy Braiman and Evan James.

Competitions take place on a 12-by-12-foot platform where each team’s custom robot must maneuver large balls and smaller, 6-inch balls; on the final challenge, the robot must lift a large ball over a 40-inch-high bar and hang itself at least 18 inches off the floor. The robots must work autonomously for 15 seconds to accomplish as many tasks as possible then for nearly two minutes under remote control.

A unique feature of the competition is a blind draw for a partner team in the preliminary rounds, followed by the top teams’ choices of partner for the playoffs. It can take up to seven hours in all to declare the winners, Tryon said.

Another team already has formed at Oswego High School, under technology teacher Matt Bock. “I’d like to see every school in the county with a team,” Tryon said. “We’d help them get organized.”

Freezing Code has had considerable help: Mark Hardy, chair of the college’s technology department, supports the team and approved use of the new manufacturing systems lab for an average of seven hours a week in robot design, construction and practice; and Chuck Spector, professor in the School of Business, and Team Mini, designers and operators of the mini-Zamboni at ice hockey games, also have supported the team.

But Tryon acknowledges the team will need to do more promotion and solicit more donations. Among other opportunities, he said, the team will appear Saturday on host Laura Hand’s “Weekend Today in CNY,” which runs 7 to 9 a.m. on WSTM-TV3.

“I hope that this fairytale story continues for a few more months,” Tryon wrote in Freezing Code’s 2013 newsletter. “The seeds that we are planting now will bear important fruit.”

PHOTO CAPTION: Tinkering for the win—Members of the “Freezing Code” team adjust their custom robot between rounds Jan. 25 at the VEX Robotics State Championships at SRC Arena on the Onondaga Community College campus. Coached by Dan Tryon, a technology faculty member, and Justin Montois, a senior in technology education, the team partnered with “Six Sigma” of Granville High School to win and qualify for the world championship in April in Anaheim. From left are Jordan Runner, Evan James and Jordan Tryon, all ninth-graders; Lydia Tryon, 10th grade;  and Michael Beckwith Jr., ninth grade. (Photo by Steven Tryon)

Fri Feb 07, 2014
Black Student Union celebrates 'Sankofa Harambee' this month

From scholarly research to roller derby, African American students on campus plan a variety of activities to observe Black History Month.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Sankofa Harambee,” said Justin Brantley, president of the Black Student Union, Swahili for “reach back and get it”—as in honoring the past—and “unity,” respectively.

Brantley expressed excitement at a lineup of academic, cultural and entertainment activities to involve the campus, from the fourth annual Roll Bounce event featuring roller derby and music to a variety show, from a display of scholarly research to the annual dinner.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, the BSU will offer “Maarifa,” another Swahili word meaning knowledge. In the organization’s version of Quest day, students will present scholarly research throughout the Campus Center, explaining the philanthropic efforts of Alpha Phi Alpha and doing a short performance.

Also Saturday, the fourth annual Roll Bounce at 8 p.m. in Hewitt Union ballroom will feature roller derby and the “Battle of the Decades,” a different genre of music after each half hour.

The Black History Month Variety Show—“talent show meets fashion show,” Brantley said—will begin at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, in Hewitt Union ballroom. The theme this year is “315 to My City,” locally adjusting the area code of Grammy-winner Drake’s “305 to My City” of Miami. To make the connection, each scene in the show will evoke a different city in the world, from New York City to Athens.

BSU’s 44th annual dinner, with the theme “The Rebirth of the Renaissance,” will start at 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22, in Hewitt Union ballroom. The ticketed event—$10 for students, $14 for visitors—will encompass scenes from “The Great Gatsby” and “Harlem Nights.”

“Our keynote speakers for this evening will be two highly successful alumni and past BSU executives, Mr. Andre Fields and Miss Damaris Dunn,” Brantley said.

In addition to the marquee events, the “Sankofa Harambee” Black History Month calendar features nearly daily events hosted by the BSU and the African Student Organization. A list is available on the interactive corkboard at

Fri Feb 07, 2014
Curriculum Innovation Grant deadline approaches

The deadline for faculty to apply for Curriculum Innovation Grants is approaching. Applications are due Monday, March 3, this year.

The Committee on Learning and Teaching asks faculty members to consider applying for a grant if they are creating a new course that uses “pervasive changes in pedagogical approaches that require significantly greater faculty effort than would be considered a normal part of his/her responsibilities.”

Projects may include, for example, a course being designed for online delivery for the first time or a course newly incorporating service learning, field trips or other experiential learning.

The application, guidelines and routing sheet may be found on the Faculty Resources/Grants and Awards website.

Fri Feb 07, 2014
Special reception to mark Display to Archives' 25th anniversary

Penfield Library’s Display to Archives will celebrate 25 years of collecting and showcasing the scholarly and creative work of SUNY Oswego faculty and staff with a special reception at 4 p.m. Thursday, March 6, in Lake Effect Cafe.

Barbara Shaffer with archive items“We’re all very excited to honor all those who’ve contributed over the years,” Penfield Library Directory Barbara Shaffer said.

Twice yearly since 1998, the library has asked faculty and staff to submit their recently published books, chapters, peer-reviewed articles and CDs, DVDs and programs commemorating exhibitions or performances of arts, films and music. Works are on display near the main entrance of the library for six months before moving to the archive in special collections.

Speakers at the annual Display to Archives event are scheduled to include President Deborah F. Stanley, Provost Lorrie Clemo and Mary H. Loe, an emerita librarian who was for many years coordinator of special collections and the archive.

“This year is special because it marks the 25th anniversary observance, and we want to recognize everyone who has contributed over the years,” Shaffer said. “I would really encourage all faculty to attend.”

The Oswego Jazz Project will provide music and there will be an art faculty exhibit in the cafe, Shaffer said. To mark the anniversary and to draw more attention to the Display to Archives exhibit, the library plans to unveil a constantly running slideshow adjacent to the display, she said.

Display to Archives “has significantly enhanced our ability to go back and see our faculty’s contributions while they are here, and to learn in detail what kinds of projects they worked on,” Shaffer said.

Forty-five faculty members and emeriti contributed nearly 100 works in 2013, according to a preliminary bibliography provided by Associate Librarian Marilyn Ochoa. Among those, at least a dozen are books, with subjects ranging from Italians and Mexicans in politics to street gangs, from science fiction to a critical look at networks of digital information.

Elizabeth Young, coordinator of special collections, noted that in its inaugural year under then-President Stephen Weber, the “Exhibit to Archives Program” garnered 90 submissions on topics such as cannibalism, Lake Ontario salmon, radio station operations, sex-role messages in microcomputer use and stained glass.

For bibliographies listing the thousands of published works in the archives, visit

PHOTO CAPTION: Celebrating scholarship—Barbara Shaffer, director of Penfield Library, invites all faculty and staff to the 25th annual Display to Archives reception March 6, featuring a special look back to embrace all who have contributed published works over the years. The array of items, shown in the library’s lower-level Barbara Palmer Shineman Special Collections Research Room, represents thousands of faculty- and staff-published books, chapters, peer-reviewed articles and CDs, DVDs and programs commemorating exhibitions or performances of arts, films and music.

Thu Feb 06, 2014

An article by Thomas Bertonneau of the English department, “Poe and his Frenchman, Baudelaire and his Americans: La Théorie de la Décadence Bohème,” a consideration of the politics of Symbolism, appeared in December at The Brussels Journal. His articles on composers Eduard Tubin (1905 – 1982) and Ernest Bloch (1880 – 1959) have both appeared at The Orthosphere in January. The first considers Tubin’s program of revitalizing the symphony as a significant form for the 20th century composer. The second explores Bloch’s idea of music as spiritual pronouncement. Bertonneau’s article on the French composer Vincent d’Indy (1851 – 1931), “Tradition, le Wagnerisme, and Vincent d’Indy,” appeared at The People of Shambhala in January. Finally, his article “The ‘Smart Classroom’ Meets Wagner” appeared in January in the commentary section of the website of the Pope Center for Higher Education; it is based on Bertonneau’s experience harnessing the media resources of the high-tech classroom to integrate a segment on Wagnerian opera into a course on modern drama.

Mark Cole of the theatre faculty plays the Fool in the current Syracuse Shakespeare Festival production of “King Lear,” running Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays to Feb. 23 at the Empire Theater at the New York State Fairgrounds. Reviewer Neil Novelli gives a rave review to Gerard Moses as Lear but also singles Cole out for praise, writing in Sunday’s Post-Standard: “Cole finds the right chord. He gives a brilliant performance, playing the Fool as a savvy, over-the-top comic.”

Milton LoayzaMilton Loayza, pictured, of the modern languages and literatures department had a leading speaking role in the recent Syracuse Opera production of “Maria de Buenos Aires.” Post-Standard reviewer Linda Loomis of the English and creative writing department wrote of his opening-night performance: “The furtive observer/narrator El Duende, baritone Milton Loayza, shadows Maria through her innocence, street life, disgrace, death and rebirth. Loayza’s nuanced portrayal makes for a murky, elusive presence in keeping with the overarching sense of mystery.” Syracuse New Times reviewer James MacKillop wrote: “Bearded baritone Milton Loayza reads from Horacio Ferrer’s florid libretto . . . As the text is poetic and allusive, Loayza’s voice emphasizes the fantastic and emotive.” Loayza is teaching a quarter course on Buenos Aires and will take the class there during spring break. (Photo courtesy of Doug Wonders for Syracuse Opera)

Mary McCune, associate professor of history and director of women’s studies, recently received a grant from the Jewish Federation of Cleveland to conduct research on the history of organized women’s activism in the Cleveland Jewish community. The article will appear in an edited volume on the history of Cleveland Jews.

Tim Nekritz, associate director of public affairs and director of web communication, gave a lightning talk on “Content Analysis: When Data Doesn’t Mean Numbers” Feb. 5 as part of the online Higher Ed Analytics Conference. One of a dozen presenters from around the higher education landscape, Nekritz talked about how Oswego works with stakeholders to create and promote online content as well as learn what kinds of visual elements resonate with current and prospective students.

Lawrence Spizman, professor emeritus economics, is president elect of the National Association of Forensic Economics. In January he presented his paper “Mean vs. Median Statistical Earnings: ACS vs. CPS” at the Allied Social Science Association annual meetings in Philadelphia. His presentation expanded on his recently published research analyzing the use and misuse of basic income statistics provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Spizman is a forensic economist assisting the legal community throughout the United States in matters concerning economic issues in litigation.

In Memoriam

Luther Peterson, 74, professor emeritus of history, died Jan. 29 at Upstate University Hospital.

Thu Feb 06, 2014
SUNY Oswego connections abound in 'Rigoletto' adaptation

A SUNY Oswego instructor reworked 19th century Italian songs, the chorus director and a cast member are Oswego graduates, the college’s Waterman Theatre will provide the stage and key crew members ... and “Duke” pretends to be an Oswego college student in order to woo love interests on campus.

Rigoletto promotional logoAll those and more are clues that the Oswego Opera Theatre’s “Rigoletto”—The Oswego Story,” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23, in Tyler Hall’s main theatre, will be out of the ordinary.

“I was inspired by two things,” said Mack Richardson, adjunct instructor of music. “First, I was interested in how the Metropolitan Opera reset ‘Rigoletto’ in Las Vegas in the 1960s. I like how it worked—they updated it quite reasonably. Of course, it takes on timeless ideas.

“And I wanted to try an audience-building marketing idea. Apparently, it has worked because it’s gotten a lot of attention.”

Rather than the original Mantua, Italy, Richardson sets his adaptation of Giuseppe Verdi’s classic 1851 opera “Rigoletto” in 1920s Oswego, where workarounds to Prohibition are in full bloom and the womanizing Duke of Mantua becomes Duke, the womanizing and personally and politically connected owner of a speakeasy.

While Duke (Jonathan Howell) headlines at his own club, Verdi’s tragic court jester becomes, in the adaptation, Rigoletto the Don Rickles-like comic (Jimi James), hated by everyone for his vicious insult-jokes.

While sung in Italian, the opera will offer a projected image of Richardson’s translation of the lyrics to English. The orchestra features members of Syracuse’s Symphoria.

‘Great fun’

Richardson, artistic director and conductor of Oswego Opera Theatre since June 2008, said stage director Fred Willard and the cast have embraced the remake of “Rigoletto,” which began life in the mid-19th century as an initially censored and then wildly popular opera.

“Fred very willingly agreed to take on the idea and is having great fun with it,” said Richardson, who is teaching “Introduction to the Worlds of Music” and “The Business of Music” at the college this semester.

Richardson said he came up with the idea for the “Rigoletto” adaptation about a year ago, but has been familiar with the opera since high school. With bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and master’s in orchestral conducting and arts administration from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, he has led productions of Mozart’s “The Impresario,” Gilbert and Sullivan’s “HMS Pinafore,” Lerner and Loewe’s “My Fair Lady,” Bizet’s “Carmen,” and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music” and “Carousel,” among others.

Jonathan Powers, a recent SUNY Oswego graduate, will sing the part of Ceprano, one of the men loyal to Duke. Oswego graduate Dan Williams will serve as chorus director. Suzayn MacKenzie-Roy, an alumna who is facilities manager for Waterman Theatre, will deploy the crew for “Rigoletto—The Oswego Story,” according to Richardson.

Other key roles include Gilda (Tatiana Poletskaya) and Maddalena (Danan Tsan).

Tickets for “Rigoletto—The Oswego Story” are $25 ($20 for educators and for seniors over 60; $5 for students) and are available at all SUNY Oswego box offices, online at or by calling 315-312-2141. Parking for these performances is included in the ticket price, and is available in the lot in front of Culkin Hall, the rear half of the lot behind Hart and Funnelle halls or in the adjacent commuter lot.

Tue Jan 28, 2014
Gallery to open 'Recollection,' Juried Student exhibitions

Tyler Art Gallery will open an exhibition Friday that seeks to raise awareness of diseases causing memory loss. The display will run concurrently with the college’s 51st annual Juried Student Exhibition through March 1.

An opening reception for “Recollection: A Memory Loss Awareness Project” and the student exhibition will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday in the gallery.

The “Recollections” exhibition began with open workshops in December. In the first session, Elizabeth Boivin, director and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association of Northeastern New York, instructed participants in using discussions of artworks as an engagement activity for those with memory loss.

The association followed up with a “Memories in the Making” session on using watercolor painting to engage people with memory loss. Residents of St. Luke’s Health Services in Oswego will display their paintings.

Some of the works in the exhibition are by SUNY Oswego art faculty member Rebecca Mushtare’s students, who used the technology and raw materials of recordable greeting cards to make informational and inspirational cards for those with Alzheimer’s and related diseases.

Tyler Art Gallery is open free of charge to the public from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays when college is in session.

An altered version of the “Recollections” exhibition will take place March 7 to April 18 at the SUNY Oswego Metro Center’s gallery in downtown Syracuse’s Atrium on Clinton Square.

In addition to “Recollection” and the Juried Student Exhibition opening Friday, the “Guerrilla Gorilla Grad Art Exhibition” will display recent work of SUNY Oswego students in master’s-related art programs from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday in the Student Gallery, Room 21 of Tyler Hall.

Mon Jan 27, 2014
Ceremony, clothing drive to honor King's legacy

The campus community will celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.‘s legacy this week in thought, word and deed.

Alpha Phi Alpha’s 25th annual celebration of King will be at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Campus Center, either in the auditorium or in Room 114. Delivering thought-provoking words for the occasion will be John Kares Smith, professor of communication studies.

Smith said he plans to talk about how the late minister and human rights activist’s teachings are alive in the world today. The fraternity holds Martin Luther King observances each year at the start of the spring semester.

Alpha Phi Alpha’s celebration of King’s life and legacy also will include presentation of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award and remarks by SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley.

As Oswego’s Martin Luther King Day of Service on Jan. 31, the fraternity and the college’s Center for Service Learning and Community Service will conduct a clothing drive to assist the Salvation Army in Oswego and the Rural and Migrant Ministries of Oswego County.

Alyssa Amyotte, coordinator of service learning and community service, said donations of clothing may be dropped off from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at a table on the Campus Center concourse, or anytime before 4 p.m. from today through Friday at her office in the Compass.

Organizers of the clothing drive will particularly appreciate gifts of used or new winter coats, hats or gloves, but will be happy to receive donations of other clothing items, Amyotte said.

The effort is in coordination with the United Way of Central New York’s Day of Service Clothing and Food Drive. The State University system listed that and many other Day of Service volunteer opportunities throughout the state.

Mon Jan 27, 2014
Oswego's online MBAs only grad programs as Open SUNY debuts

The SUNY system has selected SUNY Oswego’s nationally ranked online master’s in business administration and MBA in health services administration to join only six other degree programs in the soft launch this spring of Open SUNY.

Mon Jan 27, 2014
Grants available to faculty for library collection

Penfield Library plans to award ten $400 Teaching and Research Collection Faculty Grants this spring. The deadline for faculty to request material that supports research interests or curriculum needs is March 26.

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