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Posted on Aug 20, 2007


Seven to be inducted Hall of Fame

Seven distinguished individuals will joined the Union College Athletics Hall of Fame in November. The Class of 2007 consists of Steve Baker ’84, Gretchen (Voegler) Belanger ’96, Harold Enstice ’48, John Keller ’91, Marco Lainez ’93, Bob Ridings and Kevin Scheuer ’79. In addition, a new Team of Distinction category has been added and the inaugural team to be inducted will be the 1971-72 Men’s Basketball team. These new inductees joined 31 members in the Hall of Fame, which was first instituted in 2002.

Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Nott Memorial.

4 p.m. reception at the Nott Memorial

5 p.m. dinner at the Nott Memorial

Also on Saturday, Nov. 3:

Noon – Union Football hosts Hobart College

7:30 p.m. – Union Hockey hosts Yale University

For more information, go to www.unionathletics.com or call (518) 388-6284.

1971-72 Union Men's Basketball team. First Hall of Fame team of distinction.

From 1956-91, Athletic Equipment Manager Bob Ridings dressed as the Dutchman to assist in cheerleading at home football and basketball games and to salute Union touchdowns by firing a small cannon. He is memorialized with a plaque at The Cage in Alumni Gym. On the plaque, the inscription reads, “A very special person and a valued member of the Union College Athletic Staff for 48 years. Bob enhanced the lives of Union students, faculty, staff and alumni with his wit, warm personality, and love for people of all ages. Bob will always be remembered in the hearts and minds of the ‘Union Family’ who had the privilege to know him.” He received Union’s Alumni Award for Meritorious Service in 1975.

Steve Baker was the first Union hockey player ever to play in the National Hockey League and played for the Canadian National Team during the 1981 Canada Cup when the team finished fourth. He played in Stanley Cup semifinals with New York Rangers and his mask is in the Hockey Hall of Fame as one of the first masks ever to be painted with a design. Baker lost only one of his first 10 NHL starts and was named NHL Player of the Week in March of 1981. He was 20-20-11 with three shutouts in 57 games with Rangers from 1979-83. He played on the champion American Hockey League New Haven Nighthawks. In his Union career, Steve was 27-5-1, with a 3.28 goals against average. He is currently vice president of sales for Fox Sports in Boston.

Union to back-to-back New York State Tournament bids for the first time. She led Union to second place finish in UCAA in 1995 and the team was fifth in the 1996 NYSWCAA tournament, Union’s best finish ever. Belanger is Union’s all-time career leader in blocks (973), blocks per game (2.88), hitting percentage (.289), fifth in aces (253), second in aces per game (.75). She is the first Dutchwoman to record 1,000 digs and 1,000 kills (only one other player has done that since), and is second all time for digs in a match (36), and first in total blocks in match (21).

Harold Enstice played baseball, basketball and football. He is considered one of Union’s Big Four in the football backfield and is remembered as one of the best players in Union football history. He was a star of the 1942 team. He earned a Bronze Star, five battle stars and a Purple Heart in World War II and returned to Union after the war. Enstice signed a contract with Detroit Lions in 1948 and was named to the UPI All-Upstate Football All-Star Team. He played basketball from 1942-43 and baseball from 1946-48. He batted .400 in 1946, receiving contract offers from the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs, but was forbidden from playing other sports after signing with the Lions.

John Keller played lacrosse from 1988-91 and was a three-time All-American. He was the most valuable player in the 1990 and 1991 seasons and captain of the 1991 squad Keller is Union’s all-time career leader with 238 points and ranks first in career assists with 89 and second in goals with 149. A William A. Pike Award winner, Keller was also named Junior Male Athlete of the Year. He was selected to play in the 1991 North-South All-Star Game and played professionally with the Boston Blazers in 1991-92. Keller also played on the USA select team for the National Championships in Australia in 1995. For three seasons from 1989-91 he was in the top five in the NCAA in scoring.

Marco Lainez is Union’s career tackles leader with 306 and has the third most tackles in a season (111 in 1992). He had 180 assisted tackles and 126 solo tackles in his career. Lainez, who was named an All-American in 1993, was the first Union football player to be a Gagliardi Award Finalist for what is known as the “Division III Heisman.” In Union’s history, only one other player has been so honored. During his career, the Dutchmen went to the playoffs in three of four seasons and the team was 9-1 in his senior year when he served as captain. Coach John Audino called him “the best linebacker I have seen in my coaching career at Union.”

A National Champion in the 1500 meters in 1979, Kevin Scheuer set a Union record in that event with a time of 3:46.8. He is still tied for the Union record in the 800 meters with a time of 1:50.7, set in 1979, and set the Union record in the mile at 4:13.3 that year. Scheuer placed third in the IC4A Championships, featuring top programs from all divisions in the eastern United States, including Villanova University, Seton Hall University, Manhattan College, University of Maryland and all Ivy League schools.

The inaugural Team of Distinction is the 1971-72 Men’s Basketball squad. The Dutchmen were 19-3 that year, setting a school record for victories and completing a 15-game winning streak. Union was coached by Gary Walters (later a Division I head coach who was the 2007 NCAA Selection Committee Chair) and the assistant coach was Bill Scanlon, who later became the winningest coach in the program’s history and is currently the associate director of athletics and facilities. Union defeated Hartwick College, the defending NCAA regional champion, but was not allowed to participate in NCAA due to NESCAC rules. The Dutchmen, who were ranked second in the New York State small college poll, featured star player (and later Hall of Fame inductee) Jim Tedisco. Also on the team was Bill Carmody, who later became the Princeton University and Northwestern University coach. This was the highest scoring team in Union history at that time. The last game of the season featured 4,000 fans at the Field House, and it was a game broadcast live locally while the New York Knicks broadcast was delayed.

Big Bang pioneer Ralph Alpher awarded National Medal of Science

Ralph Alpher, a former Union professor and one of the pioneering architects of the Big Bang model for the origin of the universe, was awarded the National Medal of Science in June. Alpher died in early August and will be honored in an obituary in the fall issue of the Union College magazine.

Ralph Alpher

The National Medal of Science honors individuals for pioneering scientific research in a range of fields, including physical, biological, mathematical, social, behavioral and engineering sciences. The National Science Foundation administers the award, which is the highest honor for science.

Alpher taught at Union from 1986 to 2004 and was administrator of the Dudley Observatory. He also spent more than 30 years at the General Electric Research and Development Center in Niskayuna.

In 1948, as a young doctoral student, he wrote the first mathematical model for the creation of the universe and predicted the discovery of cosmic background radiation that proves the Big Bang theory.

Hundreds of people showed up at George Washington University for his dissertation defense, but the work of Alpher and his colleagues went largely unrecognized. In 1965, two radio astronomers in New Jersey who were tuning their equipment stumbled on proof of Alpher’s background radiation and were awarded the Nobel Prize.

In 2004, when a student at Emory University doing research for Background, her one-act play about Alpher’s life, asked if he would have done anything differently, Alpher replied, “I would have worked harder to get the credit I deserved.”

Philip G. Kosky, a colleague of Alpher’s at both GE and Union, said he was thrilled his good friend was honored with the National Medal of Science, one of eight scientists honored this year.

“He has earned every bit of it,” said Kosky, the distinguished GE Research Professor of Mechanical Engineering. “This is yet more recognition after the miscarriage of scientific justice. His work is the window on the cosmos, and to not win the Nobel is truly one of the great black marks on the Nobel committee.”


The Idol turns 80

The Idol literary magazine has been published by Union students since 1928 and in June celebrated its 80th year of production. The Idol features poems, short fiction, photographs and drawings.

In a letter to readers in the new issue, Editors Samantha Seide ’07 and Zack A. Lazovik ’07 wrote: “In an attempt to capture campus culture, Professor William Thomas drew upon a question asked by the late visual arts Professor Arnold Bittleman: ‘How can we teach at a college where the only tradition is pouring paint on a Chinese object d’art?’ And here we are 80 years later still slinging paint on statues of who knows what and the heck if we know why.” 

Thomas is a professor of French and Bittleman taught at Union from 1966 to 1985. Bittleman’s Chinese art object is original Idol, a stone sculpture of lion that sits on campus near Bailey Field. The literary magazine is named after the sculpture. The sculpture dates back to 15th century Shanghai and was a gift from the Rev. John Farnham, Class of 1856. In an ongoing tradition, the statue has been painted and repainted by students thousands of times. 

As Seide and Lazovik note, the Idol and The Idol reflect Union tradition of self expression.

The current Idol features a poem by Union College magazine contributor Ross Marvin ’07. Marvin worked for four years as an intern at the Office of Communications. Marvin’s poem, “What Ever Happened to the Floridita?” references the opening lines of “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats, which was first published about eight years before the first Idol. Marvin’s poem deals with a familiar landscape in suburban America. 

What Ever Happened to the Floridita?

The only widening gyre I see is that new construction site

Over by the Wal-Mart where we will soon enjoy

A new Olive Garden and a freshly paved parking lot.


It will become part of this new landscape

Of Applebee’s, The Ground Round, and Ruby Tuesday,

Of nameless waiters and high school hostesses.


It’s becoming hard to talk in this town

Because you have to raise your voice

To be heard by your corpulent neighbor

Above the sound of endless machinery.


What ever happened to the Floridita,

Where I had a corner booth and a waitress

Who never had to write down my order

Always remembering to hold the mayo?

The bartender made daiquiris with real Cuban rum.


Now we have Buffet’s Margaritaville

And dime-a-dozen cover bands

Who play like the drinks taste,

Like this town feels – slushy and too sweet. 


Ainlay appointed to state higher education commission

Union College President Stephen C. Ainlay has been appointed to a new state commission charged with identifying ways of improving the quality of higher education in New York.

“I am both pleased and honored to have been appointed to the Governor’s Commission on Higher Education for New York,” said Ainlay, who in July completed his first year as president of Union. “It provides a vehicle for considering ways in which we can strengthen education in New York and, in the process, explore new initiatives, partnerships and opportunities. The governor has recognized the key role that education will play in the future of the state and I look forward to working with my fellow members on what promises to be an important commission.’’

Gov. Eliot Spitzer signed an executive order in May creating the commission, which is chaired by Hunter Rawlings, the former president of Cornell University.

“Excellence in higher education is a key to our state’s future,” Spitzer said in announcing the commission. “The state’s network of outstanding public and private colleges and universities is essential to producing the highly skilled work force that will be a major driver of New York’s upstate economy.”

The commission will study the current higher education system and make recommendations about issues like improving access to the state’s public higher education system and enhancing the capacity of the state’s university research centers to regain New York’s pre-eminent status in academic research while providing additional opportunities for high-value employment.

The commission also will make recommendations that address flexibility on the system’s individual campuses to attract the best and brightest students and faculty and enlist them in the service of the economic, humanitarian and civic needs of their communities.

The commission held its first meeting June 19 and is scheduled to present a preliminary report to Gov. Spitzer on Dec. 1.

Members of the Commission include Lee Bollinger, president of Columbia University; Nancy Cantor, chancellor of Syracuse University; Abraham Lackman, president of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities; Joel Seligman, president of the University of Rochester; and John Sexton, president of New York University.

Sorum portrait unveiled

Christina Elliott Sorum's portrait in Hale House in late May 2007. Above, Sorum’s husband, Paul talks at the unveiling.

The Faculty Executive Committee unveiled a portrait of Christina Elliott Sorum in Hale House in late May. Above, Sorum’s husband, Paul, talks to an overflow crowd at the unveiling. Sorum was dean of faculty and a strong champion for Union's distinctive broad education before her unexpected death due to a heart attack in May 2005. The portrait was painted by Walter Hatke, the May I. Baker Professor of Fine Arts at Union College.



A look at Union’s new students

Greater academic achievement. More diversity and engineering students. Perfect gender balance.

This is a brief snapshot of the Class of 2011. A class that was in part recruited by the ongoing efforts of alumni volunteers, who attended about 50 college fairs and interviewed about 540 prospective students during the last year. 

“We have emerged from a tumultuous market with a strong new class, with exceptional academic and extracurricular credentials,” said Stephen Ciesinski ’70, who in June stepped down as chairman of the Board of Trustees. “It’s gratifying to know that Union continues to attract such high caliber students as our reputation grows nationally.”

At a time when the competition to gain admission at top schools around the nation remains fierce, Union had its largest applicant pool ever this year. The College received 4,837 applications for the Class of 2011, 464 more than last year and up 20 percent over the 4,060 students who applied four years ago.

The College expects to have just over 570 students this fall. Seventy-eight percent said Union was their first choice and 12 percent said Union was their second choice.

For the first time in its 212-year history, the College also will have an equal number of men and women.

Noting that the academic quality of Union students continues to rise, the Admissions Department reported that 67 percent of the members of the Class of 2011 were in the top 10 percent of their high school class. SAT scores were higher – 1260, compared with 1240 last year. This was the first year Union’s SAT-optional policy was in effect, but most students opted to submit them anyway.

In addition, students of color comprise 17 percent of the class, up from 14 percent last year.

The Alumni Admission Program, led by Palmer Fargnoli ’93, recruits Union graduates to be admissions interviewers, college fair volunteers and hosts of prospective student receptions. For instance, Trey Wehrum ’92 and Marsha Hirsch ’75 managed Union’s information table at the last spring’s Jericho High School college fair, which brings in hundreds of prospective Long Island students.

“They are seeing a College rep who wants to share their enthusiasm and talk about what a great experience a Union education is,” Fargnoli said. 

To be an alumni admissions volunteer, call (518) 388-6084 or e-mail alumniadmissions@union.edu.  


College names new religious studies professor

Peter Ross Bedford, associate professor of Religious Studies and History at Australia’s Edith Cowan University, has been named Union’s first John and Jane Wold Professor of Religious Studies. He will direct an interdisciplinary program in Religious Studies, teaching a variety of courses.

Union has had a minor in religious studies for 15 years, and Bedford’s hiring is a key step toward eventually elevating the program to a major to enable students to understand and appreciate religious diversity in the modern world. Bedford officially joined Union Sept. 1.

A search committee chaired by mathematics Professor Julius B. Barbanel selected Bedford from among 115 applicants.

Bedford’s appointment "marks a very important step in the development of our Religious Studies program," said Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Therese McCarty. "He is a world-class scholar, an experienced administrator and a dedicated teacher."

Bedford, 49, received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Sydney and his master’s degree and doctoral degree from the University of Chicago’s Department of Near East Languages and Civilizations.

The new faculty position has been made possible by John Wold ’38, a geologist and former U.S. congressman from Casper, Wyo., and his wife, Jane, who pledged $20 million to Union in 2002.


Writer-in-residence featured in Vanity Fair

Binyavanga Wainaina, Union’s writer-in-residence, was featured in Vanity Fair’s special issue in July devoted to Africa.

Wainaina’s piece, “Generation Kenya,” is a deeply personal tale about growing up on the world’s second-largest continent and the media’s insistence on treating Africa’s 53 countries as a “vast, hopeless mass.”

Bono, of the music group U2, served as guest editor for the issue, which has 20 different covers featuring prominent people like Muhammad Ali, Desmond Tutu, Maya Angelou, George W. Bush and Madonna.

Vanity Fair has a circulation of 1.2 million. It is the second national magazine to feature Wainaina’s writing this spring; he also wrote an essay for the current issue of Harper’s.

In May, Wainaina was a finalist for a National Magazine Award, the magazine industry’s highest honor. Wainaina, 36, was nominated in the Fiction category, which honors the quality of a publication’s literary selections. Wainaina’s piece, “Ships in High Transit,” was selected as part of the entry for The Virginia Quarterly Review. His story had already won the literary journal’s top short fiction prize for 2006.

The Kenyan-born Wainaina is in the second year of a three-year term as visiting writer.

In 2002, he won the prestigious Caine Prize for African Writing for his short story, “Discovering Home,” and The Independent, a newspaper in the United Kingdom, recently named him one of the 50 best artists in Africa.

Last January, Wainaina’s satirical piece for Granta, “How to Write about Africa,” became one of the literary magazine’s most widely reprinted stories. It included advice on the collection of stereotypes and clichés authors could fall back on when writing about his homeland.

Wainaina is teaching three classes at Union this term, including Modern African Literature.


Puccini's La Bohème to be shown at Union

The campus community will be treated to a free simulcast of a live matinee performance of Puccini’s La Boheme by the renowned Washington National Opera in September.

La Boheme

Union is among at least 19 universities, colleges and high schools tapped to show the three-hour performance, which be performed on Sunday, Sept. 23 at the Kennedy Center Opera House.

The performance will be directed by Mariusz Trelinski and feature Adriana Damato as Mimi and Vittorio Grigolo as Rodolfo.

For the past two years, Washington National Opera has presented a free live outdoor simulcast at the Washington Monument that has attracted tens of thousands of viewers. In addition, a simulcast was made available to several movie theaters in the region.

The idea to expand the simulcasts to schools is part of an effort to reach young opera lovers. Organizers expect dozens of other schools to be added to the list in the coming months

“What a wonderful way to draw younger audiences to opera with this innovative new production,” said Placido Domingo, general director of the Washington National Opera. “We are so happy to present this simulcast free to our school partners across the country and anyone who wants a taste of top-quality opera.”

Union’s simulcast will be shown in the new Fred L. Emerson Auditorium in the Taylor Music Center, which holds about 170 people.

“This project is important because it gives an audience that might not have had much exposure to opera the chance to get up close and personal with one of the classics of the repertoire in a high-quality production,” said Tim Olsen, chair of the Music Department.

Olsen said several sites were considered for the simulcast, including larger venues like Memorial Chapel and the Reamer Campus Center auditorium. But he said the logistics of preparing those facilities for the simulcast made Emerson the best choice.

“We’re very excited about showing off the state-of-the-art technology built into our new Emerson Auditorium,” he said.

Hans Black ’74 was instrumental in having Union join the simulcast with other institutions such as Princeton University, Wellesley College and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Chairman of Interinvest Consulting Corp., a global money management firm based in Montreal, Black is a member of the opera company’s board of trustees, which is picking up the estimated $500,000 tab for the widespread simulcasts.


Works in Progress

Mechanical Engineering Professors Frank Wicks and Richard Wilk were awarded $10,000 from National Grid for research related to more efficient use of oil and the reduction of CO2 emissions that may be linked to global warming. The funding will support the ongoing development of Union’s 100 mpg Challenge Vehicle and for solar energy projects. Wilk also received a research grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, totaling $80,000, for his project, “Development of a High Performance, Optically Enhanced Solar Thermal Collector System to Power a Trochoidal Gear Engine/Generator.”

Quynh Chu-LaGraff, associate professor of Biology, recently presented an abstract at the annual Experimental Biology meeting in Washington, D.C. The abstract was titled “Drosophila Ppt1, a Batten Disease Homologue, is Required for Normal Embryonic Neural Development.” Co-authors were research students Erika Selli ’07 and Cassandra Denefrio ’08. Earlier in April, Chu-LaGraff also presented a paper at the National Drosophila Conference in Philadelphia.

The San Francisco Chronicle recently featured the research of Assistant Professor of Biology Jeffrey Corbin in a review of the invasion of California grasslands by non-native plant species, titled “Don’t blame the newbies for grasses gone brown: For coastal prairies, the real culprit may be disease, animal grazing.” Corbin’s research has demonstrated that established native grasses can successfully compete with the non-native grasses, suggesting that domination by exotic species requires disturbances such as grazing or drought.

Daniel Mosquera, associate professor of Spanish and Latin American studies, was invited to present his paper, “Excessive (Nahua) Passions: The 1768-1770 Inquisitorial Case of Chalco Amecameca” at the Institute for Mesoamerican Studies at the University at Albany in May. The presentation was about Native American adaptations of the Passion of Christ and the 18th century Inquisitorial persecution of the plays. In other news, Mosquera’s documentary film dealing with the Afro-Colombian feast honoring Saint Francis of Assisi, “Sanpachando: San Pacho is for the Revelers,” co-directed and co-produced with Sean Ferry, is now an official selection of the 2007 San Francisco Black Film Festival. It premiered on June 14 and is expected to debut at other film festivals this year. Mosquera also spoke and screened his documentary film work on the religious feast at the Department of Modern and Classical Languages at St. Louis University and in former Union Professor Derek Pardue’s Washington University anthropology class on genocide and violence in Latin America.

Parents perspective

Thank you to the 12 families who hosted our freshman send-off events this year. These events brought together members of the Class of 2011, their families, prospective students, current students and alumni to meet and celebrate their Union connections. These events are chances meet students and create reassuring links prior to the start of the school year.

Homecoming and Family Weekend is Oct. 12-14and I hope that you will be able to join us. It is typically a madcap time, full of activities for parents and alumni alike. You’ll have the opportunity to enjoy conversations with professors and administrators, sit in on classes, meals, student performances, athletic events, receptions, panels and more.

On Saturday, Oct. 13 from 8:30-10 a.m. we will meet on campus, as fellow parents, at the Parents Association meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to give parents the opportunity to meet administrators who work with your children on a daily basis. Many of them come out on this day to talk a little about their respective offices, as well as answer a few questions from you. Please be sure to save the date on your calendars. I am looking forward to meeting each of you at that time. Homecoming and Family Weekend, as a whole, is a terrific opportunity to get to know the campus and the campus community better.

On a philanthropic note, I want to thank all the parents who chose to support the Parents Fund last year. A total of more than $700,000 was given to the fund from current parents and parents of alumni, which represents approximately 30 percent of the parent constituency. The Parents Fund is a part of the Union Fund, also called the Annual Fund, and supports the day-to-day needs of the College. Most gifts are unrestricted and cover areas such as student life, faculty, facilities and many other needs, but many parents choose to designate their gifts to things like athletics or a certain academic department. No matter what label you decide to put on your gift, we do encourage you to take part in the Fund this year. Your gesture of participation is a vote of confidence for Union and it means so much to all of us.

As I said above, I look forward to seeing you all again. Should you ever have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email me at kmdumonet@hotmail.com or Parents_Association@union.edu or contact Lisa Mason in the Parents Program office, at Parents_Program@union.edu . There will be so much happening and you will hear from me regularly in the Parents Association e-mail newsletter. If you would like to receive our newsletters and other campus updates, please forward your email address to me.

Take care,

Karen Dumonet (Vanessa ’07 and Sebastian ’09)

Parents Association Chairperson

Athletics perspective

After our 2006-07 seasons, one cannot help but marvel at the accomplishments of our student-athletes both on and off the field. The numbers speak for themselves: Six teams represented Union at NCAA team or individual championships, three ECAC tournaments, two championships, seven All-Americans, four Liberty League Players of the Year, three League Coaches of the Year, three Liberty League Rookies of the Year and an ECAC Player of the Year.

Even more impressive to me is the academic achievements of our athletes: 167 All-League academic performers (up from 125 last year); three Academic All-District selections; a nominee for an NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship; a finalist for the Gagliardi Trophy, which signifies the National Player of the Year in football; the first female All-American in track and field in the history of Union College; and the inaugural ECAC Hockey League Men's Student-Athlete of the Year.

Success on the playing fields, in the classroom and in the community comprises the foundation for athletics at Union College. I take a great deal of pride in the commitment from all of our coaches and the accomplishments of our student-athletes and I know that you do as well. The continued support of our alumni, parents and friends plays an integral role in our overall success. I want to thank each and every one of you who supported our 550 student athletes during the past year.

I look forward to the fall and welcoming our students back to campus for what will prove to be another exciting year. The one thing that we can all be sure of is that, win or lose, the student-athletes will make us proud in the way that they represent the College.

Thank you,

Jim McLaughlin ‘93

Director of Athletics


College welcomes notable speakers

The College hosted several notable speakers during the last school year. The speakers included: environmentalist, author and activist Bill McKibben; former U.S. Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark; and Acclaimed American novelist Walter Mosley.

McKibben spoke on “Global Warming as a Moral Issue” in early February in the Nott Memorial. The talk was part of a three-part seminar series, “Abrupt Climate Change,” sponsored by the Environmental Studies Program. Others in the series included: Bryan G. Mark, Department of Geography, The Ohio State, and Lonnie G. Thompson, Distinguished University Professor, School of Earth Sciences Senior Research Scientist, Byrd Polar Research Center, The Ohio State University.

Clark spoke in early May and discussed strategic leadership in the Middle East in the Information Age.

Mosley spoke to students in mid May about how to become a novelist. His advice was simple: spend 90 minutes a day writing.

Summer camp gives high school girls a taste of engineering

With women comprising less than 20 percent of the engineering enrollment at colleges across the nation, experts are trying different approaches to boost participation.

Each year since 2002, Union has hosted a two-week residential summer camp called Educating Girls for Engineering (EDGE) as one way to inspire high school girls to consider careers in engineering.

This year's program wrapped up at the end of July.

“The low percentages of women entering the engineering field causes a problem for the profession and the nation,” said Cherrice A. Traver, dean of engineering. “The EDGE program was developed to introduce young women to the exciting opportunities and career options that engineering offers, and to plant seeds at a time when students are considering paths for their future.”

During the two weeks, 20 students from Schenectady area high schools designed, built and adapted toys for children with disabilities from the Northwoods Health System in Niskayuna. The re-engineered toys were presented to the children at Northwoods on the camp's final day.

“Northwoods Health System’s medical professionals will share their expertise to help young women understand and value the ways in which the field of engineering can enhance the lives of children with various medical complexities,” said Michelle Durling, a registered nurse and pediatric unit nurse manager.

Linda G. Almstead, computer science lecturer, and James N. Hedrick, lecturer in electrical and computer engineering, taught a robotics course, while Gale H. Keraga, academic counselor and dean for undergraduate education, instructed students on communication and public speaking.

Participants also took field trips to nearby Extreme Molding LLC and Plug Power, and attended a networking dinner featuring local women engineers.

“EDGE does more than introduce young women to the variety of disciplines engineering offers,” said Jenny L. Moon ’03, design engineer at John M. McDonald Engineering and coordinator of EDGE. “The activities and networking opportunities demonstrate the impact students can have on society and in people’s daily lives.”

EDGE is supported by a grant from the Northrop Grumman Foundation.

Seward House

President Stephen C. Ainlay stands in the Seward House in Auburn, N.Y. during a spring visit.

President Stephen C. Ainlay stands in the Seward House in Auburn, N.Y. during a spring visit. The Seward House is the historic home of William Henry Seward, Class of 1820, located in Auburn, N.Y. Ainlay is standing with an employee at the museum and is holding a copy of Seward’s Union College diploma. Visit the Seward House on the Web at www.sewardhouse.org.  

Trustees news

Three new term trustees were elected to the Board of Trustees in June as several longtime board members stepped down.

The three new term trustees are: John J. Castellani ’72, president of the Business Roundtable, an organization based in Washington, D.C. that works to enrich government with business-world solutions; Robert D. Bertagna ’85, a managing director at Lehman Brothers, an international financial management firm; Adrian MacLean Jay ’98, director of television and video for Doublejay Creative, an award-winning and Emmy-nominated visual media production company based in Knoxville, Tenn.

In addition, Shanique Kerr '09 will be joining the board as the junior student trustee, and John Vero '97, an attorney in Albany, joins the board as the new president of the Alumni Council. Jason Oshins '87, an attorney and legal commentator, transitions to term trustee after serving as alumni trustee by virtue of his role as president of the Alumni Council.

The people stepping down from the board include:

Mary Ann MacLean, a trustee since 1995, has served many roles. Among those roles are chairing the Facilities and Environment Committee and being a member of two other board committees: Student Affairs and Admissions Committee and the Executive Committee. Mary Ann MacLean is the mother of Adrian MacLean Jay '98 and has been an active and generous supporter of Union.

Robert E. Cummings Jr. '71, a trustee since 1993, has brought top-notch financial management and business acumen to the board. He is a partner and managing director at Goldman Sachs and holds a master's degree in business administration from the University of Chicago.

Colin P. Farrill '07, has served with distinction as a student member of the board since 2005. On Prize Day, Farrill was a recipient of a Delphic Honor Society Award, given to juniors and seniors who have made an exemplary contribution to the Union College community. As an active student and Student Forum member, he has provided the board with valuable insight.

Fred Pressley '75, a trustee since 1992, has been a consummate Union champion, serving on several trustee committees: Facilities and Environment, Student Affairs and Admissions, and Nominations. He has been a strong and consistent advocate for promoting diversity on campus, at one point leading the establishment of a scholarship to honor the legacy of Professor Twitty J. Styles, himself a strong promoter of diversity.

Norton H. Reamer '58, a trustee since 1973 and former chairman of the board, was named trustee emeritus. A true "son of Union," his dedication and generosity to his alma mater are exemplarily. In 1980, Reamer founded United Asset Management Corp., serving as chairman, president and CEO for 20 years. He dedicated the Murray and Ruth Reamer Campus Center in honor of his parents. He was a major contributor to the renovation and expansion of Schaffer Library. When speaking about his years as a trustee and College volunteer, he said, "It is an opportunity to do something for a wonderful institution that is small enough so that even one person can make a real difference

Jennifer Smith Turner '74, on the board since 2002, is a business executive, author and Union pioneer who has long maintained her support for the College. In 1970, she was one of seven African-American women on campus and part the first coeducational class. She brought to Union her experience from her management consulting firm, her tenure as Deputy Commissioner of Connecticut's Department of Economic and Community Development, and six years as a trustee of the University of Connecticut.

Women writers return

From Homecoming to ReUnion the inaugural Writers Return: The Alumni Writers Series was a big success during the last academic year.

During Homecoming & Family Weekend in 2006 National Book Award-winning fiction writer Andrea Barrett ’74 read from her work, answered questions, signed books and chatted with readers. Barrett was the first in the English Department’s exciting year-long program. Others in the Writers Return series included Nikki Beland ’96, Diane Mehta ’88 and Kerrie Ticknor Droban ’87.

Barrett graduated from Union with a degree in biology and pursued zoology and medieval history before writing fiction in earnest. Her work has been hailed as beautiful, exhilarating, evocative, devastating, dazzling and wonderfully original. In 1996, she received a National Book Award for Ship Fever, a collection of short stories.

Beland is a freelance journalist and deputy editor of Women’s Health magazine and spoke on campus Jan. 24, 2007. Beland, who lives in New York, also is contributing editor of Men’s Health, where she writes the column, "Ask the Girl Next Door." She is the author of four books, including Girl Seeks Bliss, an introduction to Buddhism for young women, and Sex: The Whole Picture.

Mehta, a New York-based poet, spoke on campus in early February. Mehta is a critic and has published poems in several journals and anthologies. She is a travel writer for the Fodor’s series and recently wrote about hang gliding on the sand dunes of North Carolina. Mehta’s book, How to Write Poetry, was published last year.

Droban is a true-crime writer and joined students, alumni and friends at two events during ReUnion Weekend. On Friday she read from her new book, Running with the Devil: The True Story of the ATF's Infiltration of the Arizona Hell's Angels. On Saturday she lead an informal discussion about her work in Wold House.

Droban’s collection of poems, The Language of Butchers, has received numerous awards, including the Academy of American Poets Award. Her suspense novels have earned the Daphne Du Maurier and Clara awards for excellence in mystery writing. Droban, an attorney, also heads her own criminal defense firm in Phoenix.

Student stuff left behind handed over to charities

When students pack up for the summer, they often leave behind mountains of stuff, much of it worthy of a giant garage sale.

Last June, the College grabbed the best goods for charity.

The program was a collaboration between Facilities Services, Residential Life, Ozone House and the Kenney Community Center.

“The demand for such a program has always been there,” said Director of Residential Life Todd Clark. “We need to clean every building thoroughly within a two-week period to prepare for summer programs, but our volunteers couldn’t haul heavy items. When Facilities Services stepped up, it made this all possible.”

More than 60 staff and administrators from Facilities Services collected items over the two-day drive initiated by Loren T. Rucinski, the department's director. The program was similar to one done in 2003.

Students donated furniture, appliances, cookware, CDs, DVDs, lamps and computers that are operable and in good condition. Resident assistants provided stickers for students to identify items they wished to donate.

The best stuff will be donated to Habitat for Humanity of Schenectady and Weed and Seed of Hamilton Hill.

“It’s a win-win for everyone,” said Rucinski. “Union can provide some much needed help to the community while reducing the amount of tonnage that goes into a landfill somewhere.”

Gretchel Hathaway Tyson, director of Affirmative Action, Community Outreach and Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP) at Union’s Kenney Community Center feels that teaching students about the value of donating to benefit others is the best form of recycling.

"These items are not rubbish,” said Tyson. “This project allows Union to assist economically disadvantaged families—a family victimized by a fire that needs furniture, a parent who wants their child to have access to a computer or a child who has his first portable radio.”


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Ralph Alpher, 86, Expert in Big Bang Theory, Dies

Posted on Aug 20, 2007

The New York Times did a news obituary on Ralph A. Alpher, a distinguished professor of physics and astronomy who was one of the pioneering architects of the Big Bang model for the origin of the universe.

Alpher taught at Union from 1986 to 2004 and was the director of the Dudley Observatory.

To read the complete obituary,  click here (registration may be required).

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Genius propelled Big Bang’s forgotten father

Posted on Aug 17, 2007

The  Times Union wrote an appreciation of Ralph A. Alpher, a distinguished professor of physics and astronomy who was one of the pioneering architects of the Big Bang model for the origin of the universe.

Alpher taught at Union from 1986 to 2004 and was the director of the Dudley Observatory.

To read the complete story, click here (registration may be required).

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Convocation celebrates 213th year

Posted on Aug 15, 2007


Ainlay – Inauguration

The campus community ushers in the 2007-08 academic year with the opening convocation Tuesday, Sept. 4 at 4:30 p.m. in Memorial Chapel.

College Marshal William A. Finlay, associate professor and director of the Yulman Theater, will lead an academic procession from Everest Lounge to Memorial Chapel. Members of the Schenectady Pipe Band will also perform.

President Stephen C. Ainlay will discuss the upcoming year and recognize the 2006-07 Dean’s List students, including the presentation of a plaque bearing their names that will be displayed at the Reamer Campus Center.

The Stillman Prize for excellence in teaching and the Hollander Musician Prize, established by Lawrence J. Hollander, dean of engineering emeritus at Union, will also be awarded.

Following the ceremony, there will be a reception for the campus community in Hale House dining room and Old Chapel.

Classes begin Wednesday, Sept. 5. 

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