As the presidential race between Barack Obama and John McCain heats up, the incoming Class of 2012 is spending the final weeks of summer brushing up on the life stories of both men.
Half of the 587 students are reading Obama’s 1995 memoir, "Dreams From My Father," while the others are reading McCain’s book,"Faith of My Fathers," published in 2000. The books, selected by a group of students, faculty and administrators, were randomly assigned to the class as part of the first-year reading program.
The reading assignment is one of several events tied to the presidential campaign that is designed to introduce the new class to each other as well as the rest of the campus community. There will be online discussions of the two books, as well as conversations within the first year preceptorials.
Also, during orientation weekend, the Class of 2012 will get a chance to discuss the campaign with Joshua Micah Marshall, founder of the popular liberal blog, Talking Points Memo. Earlier this year, Marshall became the first blogger to win a prestigious George Polk Award. Judges for one of journalism’s top prizes honored Marshall for his site’s legal reporting on the politically motivated dismissals of United States attorneys, which prompted a closer examination by the traditional news media and ultimately led to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
“It was clear to those selecting the summer reading that this particular year offered an unprecedented opportunity,” said Tom McEvoy, associate dean of students and director of Minerva Programs. “The presidential election is 'the story' of 2008. With all of our incoming class likely voting for the first time, and knowing this election would provide high drama, it seemed like a natural to select a reading that was relevant to the election.”
The books were recently mailed to students, accompanied by a letter from President Stephen C. Ainlay, who wrote that the campaign “will undoubtedly generate a great deal of conversation, dialogue and debate here on campus,” and that reading the books will “help you prepare for all this and the intellectual journey that is ahead.”
Ainlay also told students they could request a free copy of the book they weren’t assigned.
President Stephen C. Ainlay has announced the appointment of Stephen A. Dare of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as vice president for college relations.
Dare succeeds Thomas C. Gutenberger, who left after nine years to become vice president for advancement at the University of Richmond, his alma mater.
At Union, Dare will be responsible for managing alumni relations, development, communications and community relations, along with foundation, corporate and government relations.
“I am thrilled and delighted to be a part of the Union community,” Dare said. “To be able to work with President Ainlay and the board, continuing to raise support for this historic institution, is an honor.”
Dare will also direct the College's $250 million “You are Union” fund-raising campaign.
“Tom and his staff deserve much credit for the success of the campaign thus far, and their professionalism was a significant reason why Union was such a great opportunity,” he said.
Dare has more than 26 years of fund-raising experience in higher education. He joined MIT in 1998 as director of resource development, overseeing the daily operations of the development organization and serving as campaign manager for MIT's recently completed $2 billion campaign. He also served as interim vice president for resource development. Since March 2007, Dare has been senior managing director of development and campaign strategies and was overseeing a $500 million campaign for students.
Prior to joining MIT, Dare was director of development for endowment and capital programs at Boston College and director of development and alumni relations at Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering and its School of Continuing Studies.
“We had an excellent pool of candidates for this critical position, and we are very fortunate to have someone of Steve’s caliber join our Union family,” said Ainlay. “His leadership, vision and wealth of experience in college relations will be instrumental as we work to implement the key components of our strategic plan.”
A native of Washington Township, N.J., Dare has a bachelor’s in communications and a master’s in educational public relations, both from Rowan University.
He and his wife, Rosemary, have a son, Matthew, who will be a senior in high school this fall. The family resides in Franklin, Mass.
Dare begins his new job Sept. 2.
“Being able to advance philanthropy and the profile of Union on the national scene made this position especially attractive to me,” Dare said. “I look forward to getting around the country in the coming months to listen to alumni, parents and friends, and to share in their stories.”
What happens when you cross wires on your circuit board, insert an LED backwards or add an audio amplifier to a speech synthesizer?
Those are just some of the challening questions 21 young women faced while attending the seventh annual camp “Educating Girls for Engineering” (EDGE). The two-week residential program aims to inspire high school girls to consider careers in engineering.
The lack of women in the field is what motivates Alexis Petrosky, a senior from Patrona Heights, Pa.
“Being outnumbered just makes me strive harder to succeed,” said Petrsosky, a math enthusiast who has taken both honors and AP physics in addition to a college-level engineering course in conjunction with Robert Morris University. “We learned all about transistors and electrical stuff,” said Petrosky. “We even had to design a bridge on the computer, then build it out of copper and see if it was structurally sound.”
The EDGE program, supported by a grant from the Northrop Grumman Foundation, provides challenging opportunities to apply engineering principles to real-world applications.
This includes a communication module, taught by Academic Counselor Gale H. Keraga, which focuses on effective public speaking and presentation skills; an engineering module which involves adapting toys for children with special needs; and the robotics module, whiich includes building a speech-assistive device for patients with difficulty speaking.
On the camp's final day, the toys and speech devices were presented to the children at Northwoods at Hilltop in Niskayuna, part of the Northwoods Health System network.
“They’re essentially building diagnostic tools for the therapists to test their patients’ cognitive abilities,” said Linda G. Almstead, computer science lecturer who teaches the robotics and engineering modules along with James N. Hedrick, lecturer in electrical and computer engineering, and teachers from Burnt Hills and South Colonie High School. “The patient uses the device to associate the lit picture with the phrase to be spoken.”
“Many of these kids have never soldered before, but they jumped right in handling college-level work from the first day,” said Hedrick, whose students are building amplifiers for the devices.
Two seniors traveled from Kenya to learn skills not available at their school. They heard about the program through an American missionary teacher in their village.
“We have computers in our schools, but not at home,” said Kunhee Lee. “There are no technology programs in the schools. So, this was a great opportunity to learn how computers work and how to program them.”
“We don’t even have physics classes in Kijabe, so everything we’ve learned has been new,” said Jihee Hyung, who added that that this was her first trip to the United States. “Most of our friends are American,” she explained. “So, I’m planning to go to college in the Northeast.”
For more information, contact Jenny L. Moon ’03, design engineer at John M. McDonald Engineering at (518) 339-4835 or Cherrice A. Traver, dean of engineering, at (518) 388-6530 or visit http://engineering.union.edu/edge/.
The Times Union recently featured the research of Professor Ashraf Ghaly and Mechanical Engineering major Andrew Heiser ’09, who have collaborated on an eco-friendly mixture of concrete they hope will be the pave of the future.
Their mixture was recently used to complete a small section of a walkway behind Memorial Fieldhouse.
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