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Mandeville exhibits to explore history, science and more

Posted on Jun 29, 2006

From an American president to a British wartime poster designer, art shows planned for Union's Mandeville Gallery are bound to inspire, delight and help faculty and students put ideas into perspective.

“My goals are to continue to integrate the Mandeville Gallery and its exhibitions more fully into the life of the College community and to increase the use of these exhibitions as teaching tools,” said Rachel Seligman, director and curator of the gallery, in announcing the 2006-07 and 2007-08 schedules. 

Following is a look at what's on tap. To brainstorm ways in which the exhibitions can be incorporated into curricula or connected with a speaker, film or other special event, contact Seligman at seligmanr@union.edu

Portrait of Chester Alan Arthur

July 27 – Oct. 15:
Chester Alan Arthur: The Elegant President
Historical exhibition focuses on Arthur, Union Class of 1848, and his work redecorating the White House with renowned stained glass artist Louis Comfort Tiffany; a reception is set for Sept. 28.

Oct. 19 – Jan. 28, 2007: 
“Armed: Contemporary Art and Violence”
Contemporary art group show with sculpture, collage, photography, painting and drawings that explore the human obsession with weapons

Feb. 15 – April 29, 2007: 
Sandra Wimer – Prints
Annual faculty show

May 17 – June 10, 2007:
Union College Senior Art Exhibition
Annual student show

In addition, the follow shows are tentatively scheduled:

Summer/fall 2007: 
Alumni Invitational
Showcases a variety of media and range of years, both professional artists and non-professionals

Fall/winter 2007/2008: 
Into Focus II – Art on Science
Contemporary art group show presenting artists whose work engages with science through technique, subject matter and as critique

Winter/spring 2008: 
Fernando Orellana
Annual faculty show

Spring 2008: 
Union College Senior Art Exhibition
Annual student show

Summer/fall 2008: 
Abram Games: Maximum Meaning, Minimum Means
Features work by Games, a British graphic designer and official war poster designer for England during WWII; includes wartime posters as well as those for Guinness, BBC, Shell, British Airways and other clients

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The brain game: Former Union official writes book on boosting your brainpower

Posted on Jun 27, 2006

Ever feel the need to upgrade your brain power or re-tool your memory?

Former New York City cop, writing teacher and Union College administrator Edward Droge Jr. can help.

He's the mastermind behind a new book, “Your Intelligence Makeover” (Simon & Schuster, 2005), a three-week plan that's billed as “An Easy Way to Learn All You Need to Know.”

“The more active our minds are, the more we can stave off insidious diseases like Alzheimer's,” said Droge, who addressed more than 50 Union employees last week in the F.W. Olin Center auditorium.

Ed Droge with Debbie Cianfarani

Droge, assistant to President Roger Hull in 1990-91, underscored what most of us know, that “the deluge begins before you get to the office.”

It isn't uncommon these days to see what he noticed recently on his way to work: a driver in a nearby car, steering with his knees, shaving, balancing a cell phone on his shoulder, and, “from the likes of his constant movements, doing a set of isometric butt exercises.

“We're busier and we're multitasking quite a bit,” Droge said, noting that productivity has doubled in the last 10 years as Americans do more and do it faster.

A self-described mediocre high school student, Droge began his lifelong pursuit of improving his memory when he entered Yale as an undergraduate at 30. The first in his family to go to college, he taught himself how to read five books a week despite having no academic role models. He went on to graduate with honors and later earned his master's and doctoral degrees from Harvard.

Ed Droge signs book

Here are a few tips from Droge to help the overly stressed, constantly pressed multi-tasker in all of us sharpen our minds:

§         Read for speed: Train yourself to see two or three words at a time. Extract information from the first and last sentences of each paragraph. Preview a document before fully engaging in the reading process.

§         “CURE” your memory: If you have trouble remembering things like names, create Connections that are Unlikely, Ridiculous or Extraordinary. (When meeting someone named Joyce, for instance, picture her holding a glass of juice.)

§         Use acronyms and mnemonics. The classic “King Philip Came Over for Good Soup” is an easy way to remember the taxonomy of living things (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species). If you can recall this biology lesson from junior high, why not apply the concept to key points you want to bring up at an office meeting?According to Droge, these and other simple strategies will help you read faster, memorize better and comprehend more.

In addition to these memory-enhancing tools, Droge includes a helpful reference section at the end of “Your Intelligence Makeover” that prompts readers to test their “foundational” knowledge skills. He lists famous quotations, short biographies on notable figures and an index of Web sites that might help pave the way to Mensa, Jeopardy or graduate school while giving your brain a good workout.


“You've got the power. It's in your brain. Use it.”

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Preparation pays off for talk on salary

Posted on Jun 26, 2006

Q: When I go to a job interview, there's one question I never know how to handle. What should I say when the interviewer asks me what my salary expectations are? I don't want to mention a number that's too high and be eliminated, and I don't want to suggest a number that's too low and wind up short-changing myself if I'm hired.

Could I head off the problem by raising the issue first and asking what the employer intends to offer?

A: Don't raise the issue first. There's universal agreement on that point among our experts. If you ask first, you'll lose out one way or another, they say.

“If they've made an offer to hire you and they haven't mentioned salary, that is the only case when I might say a job-seeker should inquire what the salary is,” said Thomas J. McKenna of McKenna & Associates, an executive marketing and career counseling firm in Menands.

That's rare, however. It's far more common for an interviewer to pose the salary question before you're ready to answer it, and the options for fielding it gracefully don't always come easily to mind when you're working so hard to make a good impression.

Flatly refusing to address the issue won't go over well, of course, and McKenna and the other experts note that interviewers may use the question as a screening tool to quickly weed out candidates who will expect more than an employer is willing to offer.

“Rarely, if this is happening early in the process, does the candidate have sufficient information to provide an answer” that matches the scope and duties of the position, said Erik Larsen, director of the Stanley R. Becker Career Center at Union College in Schenectady.

There are, however, ways to skirt the question in the early stages of discussion and still make a good impression. One technique is to put the ball back in the interviewer's court by asking more about the job and the employer's expectations.

“My recommendation is that you tell them what your previous salary was and ask, 'What range did you identify for this position?' ” McKenna said. “You're giving them some information, which they're going to ask anyway, but you're throwing the question back to them.”

Added Larsen, “Some find it useful to communicate that they are seeking an amount that is consistent with the responsibilities and expectations of the position,” then follow up with a request for more specifics.

“Defer salary negotiation until the offer is made,” suggests Tom Denham, managing partner with Careers in Transition in Colonie. “Say, 'I would prefer to discuss salary after an offer is made.' If they press you, throw it back on them: 'Based on the requirements for this position, what is your typical salary range for this opportunity?' “

If the interviewer comes back with a reasonable range, based on your research, say something like: “That's something I can work with. We can iron out the details after we agree on an offer,” Denham said.

If and when it becomes absolutely necessary to put some amount on the table, the experts say you should offer a range, rather than a precise number.

“We recommend that candidates try to express a range from slightly below the expectation to slightly above,” said Mark Schmiedeshoff, director of The Center for Careers & Employment at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy.

And especially for newer job-seekers, the experts say, advance research can be critical for determining a reasonable range for the job and the region where it's located.

“Go to Web sites, look at ads, go to the career center. We have salary surveys that we can share with the students,” Schmiedeshoff said.

Larsen suggests citing a source for your estimate, aside from yourself. Mention that faculty members or fellow students who are being recruited for similar positions have indicated what would be a usual range.

“Instead of saying, 'This is what I demand,' or, 'This is what I expect,' say something more like, 'This is what I understand is the going rate,' ” Larsen said.

Q: I'm trying to land a new job and am asking that potential employers reach me at my home telephone number, which also is our family telephone. What sort of greeting can I record that will provide the necessary information for an employer, strike a professional tone, and also serve our household well?

A: At least for a while, it would be best to let the family greeting take a back seat and concentrate on recording something that will serve you well in your job search.

“The biggest problem that I have from my clients is their 10-year-old wants to record the message,” said Tom McKenna of McKenna & Associates. “It's cute, but if a person's looking for a job, it also comes across as unprofessional. It also gives away some personal information: The company doesn't need to know that the person has a child.”

Employers can make incorrect assumptions, based on what they hear on an answering machine — perhaps that the candidate won't be willing to travel for his job or will have family concerns that could be distractions, the experts say.

Don't given them the chance to jump to the wrong conclusions.

“Keep it professional but friendly,” advised Tom Denham of Careers in Transition, noting that most employers understand the greeting they hear when they call a home number will likely be less formal than at a business telephone.

Denham's suggestion: “Hello. You have reached the Smith household. At the tone, please leave your name, number, time you called and a brief message. We will get back to you as soon as possible.”

McKenna advises something as simple as possible, such as: “This is Robert Smith. I'm tied up right now. Please feel free to leave a message.”

Don't overlook tone, as well as content.

“Be enthusiastic and energetic with the tone of your voice,” Denham said. “Employers can often tell a lot about a potential candidate's character by the inflection in one's speech. Does it sound positive or mediocre?”

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Scholarship @ U: The indomitable spirit

Posted on Jun 23, 2006

'Generous scholarship support for students who need it is the key to our future.'

Scholarship is as much a tradition at Union as Homecoming or painting the Idol. On these pages, Accolades looks at some of the College's scholarships and how they have shaped students' lives. They also exemplify the many different ways in which donors choose to create scholarships.

One who so eloquently articulated the tradition and importance of scholarship at Union was the late Charles M. Tidmarch, professor of political science. Speaking at the beginning of the College's Bicentennial Campaign, launched in 1991, Tidmarch hailed scholarships as a way to bring to campus talented and underserved undergraduates who can thrive in the College's challenging atmosphere and add to its intellectually vigorous life. His remarks, more than a decade later, are as timely as ever:

“One of the things I appreciate about the founding of Union is the democratic impulses that made this college different from most other early American colleges. True to the spirit that had brought forth a new nation, the founders of Union were determined to avoid narrow sectarian interest. The children of farmers were as welcome as the children of ministers and patroons.

“Thankfully, the College is as committed today as it was in 1795 to bringing together a blend of competent, highly motivated, young persons from varying backgrounds. Looking toward the next century, I am convinced that generous scholarship support for students who need it is the key to our future. When we help a student in this fashion, we also help our community, our nation, and our world.”

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Henle Scholar – Regina Chiuminnato: The classics major

Posted on Jun 23, 2006

Coming to Union was a leap of faith for Regina Chiuminnato. The ballet dancer from Milwaukee, Wisc., had planned to go to a college closer to home. Her high school guidance counselor had other thoughts.

“She was always raving about Union,” Chiuminnato relates. “She said, ‘This school is perfect for you.' I said that was interesting, but I'd look later.”

When she did, “what struck me most was how beautiful the campus was. Union also had a broader curriculum, so at the last minute, I changed my mind.”

In high school, Chiuminatto wrote sonnets and was a member of the Milwaukee Ballet School, a rigorous classical training ground. Her arrival at Union, a pas de deux with fate, propelled her into a world of languages and Victorian literature. Already well-versed in French with knowledge of Latin, she jumped into Greek and German classes her first trimester. A Classics major, she hopes to learn Italian, Chinese and Russian, study comparative literature in graduate school and “definitely” pursue her Ph.D.

When she needs a break from “brain-frying,” Chiuminatto turns to poetry by Milton, Pope and Thomas Hardy. She's a member of Orange House Council and the Ballroom Dance Club. She thinks about a term abroad: “France, Greece, China, Italy… with so many options, it would be foolish not to go somewhere.”

In short, Union allows Chiuminnato to be who she is and who she might become. Clearly, she's poised for great things.

“I don't think any other school would have been as good a fit for me because of the stimulating social and intellectual atmosphere here,” she says. “For instance, Professor (Tarik) Wareh, my Greek teacher, is really great. Last week, we were discussing the various functions and forms of intensive and reflexive pronouns in English, French and Greek. I really enjoyed international politics with Byron Nichols, too. He's another one I can talk to about anything.”

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