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A Dunn deal: New director to enhance fraternity, sorority life at Union

Posted on Nov 30, 2007

It seems only appropriate that Timothy Dunn, Union’s new director of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, began his career with Greek groups as a result of talking with a fraternity brother.

“Fraternities and sororities are about having lifelong relationships, building real bonds among brothers and sisters,” he says.

Timothy Dunn, director of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs

Dunn earned a bachelor’s degree in speech communications at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma, where he “was exposed to my first real large dyed-in-the-wool Greek system.” He went on to get a law degree from the University of Oklahoma, where he was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi. He was working in social services in California when his KAPsi brother hired him as an assistant director of residential life at the University of Hartford. In that position, he began co-advising for Greek organizations.

“Greek advising gave me a great understanding of the challenges faced on the academic side when dealing with problems created by an unhealthy Greek system, which is why I worked so hard to make it healthy and an asset to the university,” said Dunn.

He also was an adjunct professor of ethics, teaching an applied ethics course, “a great way to evaluate the students’ moral behavior and codes.”

A native of Abilene, Texas, Dunn had a brief stint as an advisor to fraternities at the University of Georgia, responsible for 2,100 fraternity men, before settling into the close-knit Union community this fall, full of goals and confident about making a positive impact.

Indeed, Dunn’s training and experience seem perfectly suited to a job that is one part counselor, one part liaison, many parts champion for the 12 fraternities and five sororities at Union.

Speaking recently from his office on the fourth floor of Reamer Campus Center, Dunn reflected that he faces “a lot of the same challenges I’ve seen before. One is to broadcast the positive aspects of the Greek experience to the campus. The only thing people see is the quite visible social life, but there are lots of good things going on.”

Flm crew with new Greek director

Greek life at Union dates to 1825, with the founding of the nation’s first fraternity, Kappa Alpha. Over the next few years, two more fraternities were founded at Union, Sigma Phi, which is still active, and Delta Phi. They comprised the well-known Union triad.

Currently, about a third of all Union students belong to fraternities and sororities, which are governed by the Inter-Fraternity Council, Pan-Hellenic Council and Multicultural Greek Council. Forty-seven percent of eligible students (sophomore, juniors and seniors) are members.

“I want them to be one unified Greek community,” Dunn said. Recently, members of the three governing bodies volunteered together on the Habitat House on Barrett Street, and “to my knowledge, it was the first joint community council endeavor,” he said.

Another goal of Dunn’s is to formalize the Greek system. “For a system to be valid and healthy, certain elements have to be in place,” he said. These include formalization of accreditation process, annual awards and recognition ceremonies for chapter accomplishments, and academic success and rehabilitation programs.

He also would like to work on new member education and membership recruitment and retention.

“Lifelong relationships are among the core values that the organization builds,” Dunn says. “Society today isn’t founded on too much. A colleague and I were talking about how genuine relationships don’t happen much. People text, they IM, they seek friends on Facebook. At their core, the Greek organizations stand for the very principles that our country was founded on – brotherhood, service to the community and living lives of integrity. We call it a values congruence.”

While Greek numbers at Union have remained steady over the last decade, today fraternities and sororities exist as one choice among many for social, recreational and community service activities, along with Minerva houses and theme houses.

“It all works together,” said Dunn, noting that some of the most dynamic students on campus are leaders in all realms.

“Another piece of the puzzle is to make sure there’s something for everyone. The social life associated with fraternities and sororities is never going to go away; that’s college. But we’re making a move nationally to live the ritual, or the values congruence, so students will begin making better choices in their lives.

“The Greek system definitely provides a good social outlet, and it will go a long way toward building loyalty in their alma mater among our young alumni, which is important for the overall vitality of the College.”

Dunn was hired through a search committee chaired by Director of Residential Life Todd Clark and made up of faculty members and students. And as one indicator of how Greek life permeates the campus culture, Dunn said he will be working with a cross-section of campus staff and groups, including Clark; Officer Daniel Darling and other members of Campus Safety; Prof. Deirdre Hill Butler, Multicultural Greek Council advisor; members of the Student Affairs Committee; and Environmental Health and Safety Compliance Officer Michael Hilton.

He is gratified at the good will he’s experienced on campus and eager to build on existing relationships.

“I was very pleased when I found such willingness on parts of the community to really reach out and include my students in work and other experiences in ways that will benefit them.”

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Inter-Fraternity Newsletter

Posted on Nov 29, 2007

Dear Union College Faculty and Administration,

We believe that it is important to keep you updated on the actions of Greeks on campus and in the community. The main goal of these newsletters is to inform the college community of what Greeks are doing in an attempt to change the current mindset that Greek life is simply a weekend social structure. It is our intention to underscore the Greek commitment to both community service in Schenectady and promoting an intellectual environment here at Union. From this, we hope to build a stronger relationship with the college. I hope that you read this letter and take it seriously; it is our sincere desire to be an integral and helpful part of the Union community… more so than we may have been in the past. This is a real commitment on our part, and we appreciate your support. If you have any questions, comments or concerns for us, or would like to be involved in an event sponsored by a Greek organization, please contact me, William Fitzsimons, at fitzsimw@union.edu. Now, on to the Fraternities:

The brothers of Alpha Delta Phi this year sponsored a campus-wide clean up of Jackson’s Gardens to coincide with a presentation by brothers on the problems associated from consumerism and America’s “throwaway” culture. For John Calvin Toll’s Day, they focused on local parks and cemeteries, and a large number of brothers have worked on Union’s Habitat for Humanity house. On the intellectual side, AD has started the Union chess club, open to the whole school, to help people develop their playing strategies and to talk about the unique cultural importance of the game. Next term they will be recruiting, so watch out for that. Lastly, the brothers hosted Professor Zwicker from Mathematics to present on “Voting Theory,” which by all accounts was a very interesting night.

The brothers of Delta Kappa Epsilon had a good term for philanthropy. They hosted a discussion with Las Hermanas de Lambda Pi Chi, which was open to the campus as a forum to discuss myths vs. realities in Greek life. 24 brothers were up at 9 AM on a Saturday to clean up the GE triangle (off of 890) for John Calvin Toll’s Day. DKE brothers took it upon themselves to clean up Jackson’s Gardens and the local bike path. DKE and Sig Phi co-sponsored the fourth annual Monopoly tournament at College Park Hall to benefit Family and Child Services of Schenectady, which raised $11,000.

The brothers of Psi Upsilon participated in numerous philanthropy events this fall. For John Calvin Toll’s day, they helped to clean up and redecorate the traffic triangle near the GE plant. Psi U brothers are the campus representatives for the Gordie Foundation, which is a foundation that promotes anti-hazing and alcohol awareness to college students. These individuals worked closely with the Tri Delta Sorority to organize the fundraiser Mr. Union in which all proceeds were donated to the Gordie Foundation. Psi Upsilon has been involved with Habitat for Humanity for two years now and has taken a lead on renovating Union’s Habitat house. They volunteered on two Saturdays; taking down old rotting drywall, pipes, and other hazardous materials. The Psi Upsilon fraternity is proud that it is the first student group to be involved with Habitat and will remain an integral part to the renovation of the house donated by Union College.

The brothers of Phi Delta Theta focused on community service this term. They went to the Schenectady City Mission to clean up and help staff the soup kitchen, twice this term. For John Calvin Toll’s day, they cleaned up Vale Cemetery.

The brothers of Alpha Epsilon Pi had a huge term for philanthropy in their first term with on-campus housing. Every Tuesday through Thursday, 3-5 brothers would make their way to the Kenney Center to help tutor local elementary school students. Early in the fall, they partnered with the Schenectady Chamber of Commerce to clean up the Stockade district in anticipation of the “Stockade Walkabout” tour. Then, they spent a day on the farm to help out the Regional Food Bank of New York, which collects food from different local sources to provide it to needy families in the area. AEPi, Hillel and Wold House co-sponsored a talk by two Israeli soldiers who spoke about their time in the IDF, and the soldiers were put up in the AEPi house during their stay. Lastly, as they do every year, AEPi brothers made the area a little greener when they planted new trees in Schenectady through the “Re-Tree Schenectady” program.

The Sigma Phi Society organized several excellent philanthropy events. They hosted a wine and cheese discussion with Professor David Baum about national tragedies such as 9/11 and the future of our nation in the war on terror. Sigma Phi also organized and led a lock cleanup at Erie Canal Lock 23 in cooperation with “Friends of Lock 23” and Union Professor Andrew Morris. Along with Delta Kappa Epsilon, it sponsored the 4th annual Capital Region Monopoly Tournament, raising over $11,000 for Schenectady Family and Child Services. Sigma Phi also helped hospice organize and prepare their annual banquet in Saratoga Springs. This year the event raised over $100,000. Lastly, the brothers up help set up, run and clean up Oktoberfest, an event that aims to educate the campus community about the traditional Bavarian festival, and is, admittedly, a lot of fun for everyone.

The brothers of Theta Delta Chi spent 8 hours cleaning up Vale Cemetery twice during the term. They also continued to take advantage of the popular social events to raise food for local needy families by having can-drives during the weekend events that were open to the campus. All in all, this resulted in about 100 lbs worth of food, which was greatly appreciated by the local shelters.

The brothers of Sigma Chi coordinated with the American Red Cross for a campus-wide blood drive, and as always, the Red Cross was very impressed by Sig Chi’s organizational ability and by the giving spirit of the Union student body.

All in all, this was a term focused on improving the local community. Every house participated in John Calvin Toll’s day, and Greeks led the charge working on Union’s Habitat for Humanity house. Next term will have a focus on philanthropy activities for developing countries, and we have a BIG program planned to kick off the term. I will be stepping down from my IFC position midway through winter term, so I want to thank you for reading the newsletters I sent out and for all the helpful responses I’ve received. I feel like I’ve learned (and done) a lot through a Greek leadership position, and I know my successor will build upon the foundations we already have. The Greek system has potential to be a huge positive influence on campus, both academically and socially, and outside the campus through philanthropy activities. I think that the future is bright for ever-increasing Greek participation with faculty and the administration, and I thank everyone who works to make that happen. Again, please contact me with any questions, comments or concerns, or if you are interested in having a fraternity organize an event, provide a forum for discussion, or if there is anything else we can help you with.

Thanks for reading!

Will Fitzsimons, ’08
VP of Philanthropy, Inter-Fraternity Council

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The Balance Sheet of Your Life

Posted on Nov 29, 2007

Get Your Affairs in Order

MyInfoCenter, Planned Giving, Alumni

Union College is pleased to offer you a complimentary copy of MyInfoCenter, an easy to use program that guides you through the process of collecting, organizing, recording and safely storing all of your personal and financial information and documents in one place.

MyInfoCenter is invaluable –

  • If documents are lost or destroyed
  • To quickly locate account numbers
  • To take credit card, medical and other information on trips
  • To organize your estate
  • To provide peace of mind and alleviate stress

If you are interested in receiving MyInfoCenter in either the CD version or journal format, please contact us at: 518-388-6156; toll free at: 888-843-4365, ext. 6156 or by email at: GiftPlanning@union.edu. Quantities limited.

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‘Tis the Season of Giving

Posted on Nov 29, 2007

With the holidays approaching, the hustle and bustle of the season is in full swing. Don’t forget to include Union as you make your annual contributions to your favorite organizations. Make an immediate impact by visiting our secure website today at https://www.union.edu/give. Gifts made online or post marked by December 31, 2007 qualify for the 2007 tax year.

The Union Fund provides essential support to the College's ongoing activities and new initiatives. Your gift, pooled together with gifts from other generous donors, ensures Union can secure the best students and faculty while continuing to provide the highest quality education.

On behalf of everyone at Union College, thank you for your continued generosity. Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.


Michelle A. Spaziani '95
The Union Fund National Co-Chair
Mark G. Webster '88
The Union Fund National Co-Chair
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Pianist Jeremy Denk debuts in Capital Region

Posted on Nov 28, 2007

Jeremy Denk, piano, makes his Chamber Concert Series debut Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2007 with selections from Beethoven and Charles Ives.

Pianist Jeremy Denk makes his Concert Series debut Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Memorial Chapel by performing a pair of sonatas that are considered among the most musically challenging: Beethoven's "Hammerklavier" and Ives' "Concord."

"In both the Ives and the Beethoven, there are upward and downward surges, from the most tragic to the most hilarious," the 37-year-old Bard College faculty member told music critic Joseph Dalton recently.

Denk, who has received growing critical acclaim over the past decade, launched his career by winning the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant and the Young Concert Artists International Auditions. In April 1997, he played his New York City recital debut at Alice Tully Hall after garnering the Juilliard School’s Piano Debut Award.

His repertoire ranges from standard 18th and 19th century works to 20th century masters. The New York Times has described his playing as "bracing, effortlessly virtuosic and utterly joyous."

Denk has also attracted attention for the whimsical musings on his Webblog, “Think Denk” (http://www.jeremydenk.blogspot.com), which further reveal his musical virtuosity and have earned him a listing on the Top 10 Sources for Classical Music. Weaving intricate musical themes throughout a seeming stream-of-conscious blogging, Denk manipulates the written language with a dexterity that inspired New Yorker music critic Alex Ross to comment: “Who needs music critics when you have performers who can write like that?”

Denk has spent many summers at the Marlboro Music School and Festival in Vermont and has toured with the Musicians from Marlboro. He also attended the Ravinia Festival's prestigious Steans Institute and has collaborated with several leading string quartets.

This season, he delivers debut performances with the St. Louis, Houston and San Francisco symphonies in addition to making his Carnegie Hall concerto debut with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. .

An extensive Denk discography includes the September 2007 Sony Records release of “The Red Violin Concerto” with vioinist Joshua Bell, Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the forthcoming release of his first solo disc featuring Bach Partitas 3, 4 and 6 on Azica Records.

Jeremy Denk, piano, makes his Chamber Concert Series debut Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2007 with selections from Beethoven and Charles Ives.

Denk received bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and music performance from Oberlin College and Conservatory. He earned a master’s degree in music from Indiana University as a pupil of György Sebök and a doctorate in piano performance from the Juilliard School, where he worked with Herbert Stessin.

He teaches at Bard's Conservatory of Music in Annandale-on-Hudson and resides in New York City.

Tuesday's concert is free for the Union College community, $20 for general admission and $8 for area students. For tickets, call (518) 388-6080; for more information on the Series, call (518) 372-3651 or visit http://www.union.edu/ConcertSeries.

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