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Across Campus: Follow That Trolley

Posted on Sep 29, 2000

Folks who signed up for the Union College trolley tours of local Erie Canal
sites could be in for a full day, and not just because the tour is chock full
interesting stops.

The vehicle itself, said by some to be only slightly faster than a canal
boat, will give ample time for tour guide Prof. Cliff Brown to give a complete
history of the waterway.

The tours have been hugely popular: all 70 seats were filled almost
immediately, and dozens of others have been encouraged to follow in cars.
“They should have no problem with that,” quips Brown. “Not only
is the trolley a distinctive vehicle and hard to lose, but since it only goes 20
(actually much faster), people should have no problem keeping up. It may take us
three days just to get to Schoharie Crossing.”

Stops also include Lock 23 in Rotterdam, the Schenectady Museum, and Vischer
Ferry. Tours start and finish at the Nott Memorial with the Erie Canal exhibit.
Besides community tours on Sept. 30, Oct. 7 and Oct. 21, alumni will get a look
at Lock 23 during Homecoming on Oct. 14. Prof. Andy Wolfe, director of the Lock
23 restoration, is serving as tour guide.

A bit of advice for those who missed the signups: follow that trolley …

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Freshman Precept Gets a ‘Rethinking’

Posted on Sep 29, 2000

Should there be a common curriculum for all sections of the Freshman
Preceptorial? What is the right balance between writing and critical reading and
discussion? How can faculty be induced to teach the course?

Those and other questions will be on the table Friday and Saturday for
“Rethinking the Freshman Seminar,” a workshop to include
representatives from a number of peer institutions that have courses similar to
Union's preceptorial. They include: Colgate, Hamilton, Wheaton, St. Lawrence,
Skidmore, Hobart and William Smith, Hampshire, Middlebury, Mount Holyoke and

All Union faculty are invited to a luncheon Saturday, Sept. 30, at noon in
the Hale House Dining Room, followed by summary presentations from 1 to 3 p.m.

Many faculty say they have found shortcomings with FP 10, most commonly known
as Freshman Preceptorial, said David Hayes, chair of the committee. Among those
that surfaced during last year's Middle States self study, was a common belief
that FP10 “tries to do so many things at once that it does none of them
well, especially the teaching of writing,” according to the study.

The Middle States report also criticized the course for a lack of uniformity
of experience for faculty and students with “no simultaneity of
intellectual engagement by many students across campus.” The course is
arranged in five cognitive/cultural units that “may have made sense to the
re-designers in 1994 but register for too many today as a hodgepodge of …
artificially conceived thematic unities.” Since faculty are permitted, even
encouraged, to substitute a unit of their own interest for one of the five, each
section of the course is different and they have widely divergent reading lists,
the report said.

The review is to take place over four terms with an emphasis on content and
goals, structure, instructional methods and institutional support, Hayes said.
The goal is to create a new course during winter term, a syllabus and reading
list during spring term, and to have five faculty teach the new course on a
trial basis next fall, he added.

“Although there is much that is right about the Freshman Preceptorial,
there are also significant faculty concerns, especially about lack of
flexibility in what faculty can teach and the appropriate balance between
writing, critical reading and discussion,” Hayes said.

Besides Hayes as chair, other members of the Freshman Preceptorial Review
Group are Hugh Jenkins, English; Joyce Madancy, history; Louisa Matthew, visual
arts; Kimmo Rosenthal, associate dean for undergraduate education; and Christina
Sorum, dean of the faculty.

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Posted on Sep 29, 2000

Complete Campus Events

Friday, Sept. 29, through Monday, Oct. 2, 8 and 10 p.m.
Reamer Auditorium.
Film: Shaft.

Saturday, Sept. 30, noon.
Hale House Dining Room.
Luncheon for workshop on “Rethinking the Freshman Seminar.”

Wednesday, Oct. 4, 12:25 p.m.
Humanities 019
Committee on Teaching presents “Setting Expectations for First-Year
Students,” a discussion with faculty and deans.

Thursday, Oct. 5, 7:30 p.m.
Nott Memorial.
“The Erie Canal Revolution and Its Meaning Today,” a symposium with
authors of recent books on the Erie Canal. Part of “Monument of Progress:
The 175th Anniversary of the Erie Canal” through Oct. 29 in the Nott

Friday, Oct. 6, through Monday, Oct. , 9, 8 and 10 p.m.
Reamer Auditorium.
Film: Mission Impossible 2.

Through Oct. 21.
Arts Atrium.
“Ben Frank Moss: Paintings and Drawings,” an exhibition by the George
Frederick Jewett Professor of Studio Art at Dartmouth College.

Through Oct. 29.
Nott Memorial.
Exhibit: “Monument of Progress: The 175th Anniversary of the Erie
Canal” with related events throughout.

(A full schedule of events appears in “Union's Calendar,”
distributed weekly on campus.)

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New AD Val Belmonte Returns to ‘True Passion’

Posted on Sep 29, 2000

In his coaching days, Val
Belmonte would leave his office every afternoon at 3 to shower, shave, comb his
hair and put on sweats for hockey practice.

“My wife thought I was insane,” recalls Belmonte, now in his third
month as Union's director of athletics. “But I was just getting ready for
the most important part of my day. I wanted to look and feel my best for my

So it shouldn't be surprising that Belmonte's career path— with stops
along the way at USA Hockey and the U.S. Olympic Committee — would eventually
bring him back to collegiate athletics. “I came to realize that my true
passion lies working within the collegiate athletic community, influencing
student-athletes' lives in and beyond the spectrum of sports,” he said.

The words of Belmonte's mantra crawl across his computer's screensaver:
“Achieving Sustained Competitive Excellence.” But he is quick to point
out that his philosophy is not one of winning at all costs. “Union
athletics' pursuit of success should not come at the expense of the College's
values,” he said. “The College must be … a place where
student-athletes come to compete, improve themselves, and prepare for life's
greater challenges.

“Our immediate concern is to reorganize the department, creating an
environment for our student-athletes and coaches to reach their optimal level of
performance on and off the field,” Belmonte said. “We also need to
make plans to improve our athletic facilities.

“We want an athletics program that is competitively successful, while
operating ethically, and that is academically superior,” he said.

“It will take hard work, continually educating our coaches, and strong
financial support.” Noting that a number of Div. III athletics programs are
relying on major fundraising, he said, “We must now become financially
competitive with the rest of our competition.”

Most recently, Belmonte was director of USA Hockey's coaching program, a
position he held since 1991. Previously, he served as assistant athletic
director and head hockey coach at the University of Illinois-Chicago and
assistant hockey coach at Harvard University. He received his B.S. from the
University of Illinois-Chicago and an M.Ed. from the University of North Dakota.
He is a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee's coaching committee, working
with U.S. coaches in a variety of Olympic sports. He is the author or editor of
publications including Coaches Ethics Code and a number of hockey
coaching manuals.

He and his wife, Rita, have two grown sons, Tony and Michael.

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