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Event gives Union College students glimpse of downtown

Posted on Sep 29, 2008

Union College freshman Stephen Dusel, a native of northern Massachusetts, visited Proctors Theatre for the first time Saturday and said he liked what he saw.

"It’s cool. I was walking down the hall looking at [things in display cases]. I didn't know what it all was, but it was pretty cool. I definitely think I want to come back here," Dusel said.

Dusel was one of about 200 students who participated in Welcome Back Students Day sponsored by the Union-Schenectady Alliance and the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp. The event featured a "Scrabble-ectady" game, in which students obtained Scrabble words based on downtown businesses they visited and then used the words to compete for prizes at the end of the day's activities, which ran from 1 to 6 p.m.

DSIC Executive Director Jim Salengo said the event is the second such effort this year between the DSIC and the Union-Schenectady Alliance to connect undergraduate students at Union College with downtown Schenectady. But it was the first to include students from Schenectady County Community College as well. He said the event attracted a lot of incoming freshmen like Dusel.

"Doing it again in the fall allowed us to show those kids that are coming here now that downtown has a lot more to offer than perhaps [it offered to] the seniors who came here three years ago. The idea is to introduce them early on," Salengo said.

Union-Schenectady Alliance Cochairwoman Ariel Sincoff-Yadid, a senior political science and religious studies major at Union College and a native of San Diego, said her organization has been working to improve the connection between undergrads and the city where they live for four years.

"This event not only will introduce freshmen to downtown Schenectady, but it will also reintroduce our upperclassmen," Sincoff-Yadid said. "Schenectady was really different when I came here three years ago; I didn’t come down[town] into the city very much my first couple of years. When things started changing and I got a little older, I got to know the city better."

Some of the attractions for students at the Welcome Back event included a raffle with prizes like restaurant specials and paid hotel stays as well as bands performing music live. Sincoff-Yadid said downtown Schenectady itself has become an attraction.

"There are a variety of restaurants now, and I think the addition of [Bow-Tie Cinemas' Movieland] has been really big for Union students because Schenectady has a lot to offer. This is a great place to leave campus and get away for a couple of hours," she said. "A few of my friends and I have agreed that every other week we’re going to come and grab dinner at a different place downtown and take in a movie. Good things are coming to Bow-Tie."

In recent years, The Princeton Review of America's best colleges has listed Union College as having particularly poor "town-gown" relations, reflecting a disconnect between Union students and the city of Schenectady.

Dave Brown, a junior and co-chairman of the Union-Schenectady Alliance, said the alliance has been helping to improve the relations, which he believes will be reflected in later rankings. Sincoff-Yadid said the alliance has connected Union College students with all of the major downtown players, including Metroplex, the Schenectady County Chamber of Commerce and Proctors.

"All of those organizations have either agreed to allow Union College students to either become non-voting members or at least attend their organizational meetings so they'd have an idea of what was going on and relay that back to our group," she said. "Then back on campus we have liaisons to all of the Greek life umbrella organizations, the Minerva residential house system, the newspaper, the student forum, athletics and engineering [students]. We all meet every week, and basically we plan events both on and off campus."

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College mourns Prof. William Murphy

Posted on Sep 26, 2008

Prof. William M. Murphy

William M. Murphy, the Thomas Lamont Research Professor of Ancient and Modern Literature, died Friday, Sept. 26, 2008 at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady. He was 92.

Hours before he died, Murphy was welcoming visitors, discussing politics and other news of the day with his characteristic intellect and sharp wit.

Plans were under way on Friday for a memorial service in the spring, according to his wife Harriet “Tottie” Murphy.

A teacher who considered Gulliver’s Travels the greatest book ever written and a scholar who won prominence as biographer of the family of Irish poet William Butler Yeats, Murphy taught in Union’s English department from 1946 until his retirement in 1983.

In 1978 he published Prodigal Father: The Life of John Butler Yeats, which the next year was one of five finalists for the National Book Award for a biography. He later published a companion book, Family Secrets: William Butler Yeats and His Relatives, which The New York Times described as one of the finest biographies of the Yeats family.

He had a lifelong passion for politics, and as a close friend of U.S. Rep. Samuel S. Stratton, himself a former Union philosophy professor, Murphy shared his colleague's passion for politics, intellectual discourse and adventure. When the two weren’t discussing Jonathon Swift or Baruch Spinoza, they were surveying opportunities for one or the other’s political ambitions.

Murphy recently recalled the time in 1956 when Stratton, then the mayor of Schenectady, took Murphy along as a partner in a stakeout to bust a gambling ring. Murphy later related that his wife, well aware of the danger of the operation, was relieved to discover that the thump she heard on the porch early the following morning was the Sunday paper being dropped off, not Prof. Murphy.

The Murphy and Stratton families have remained close over the years. Schenectady Mayor Brian Stratton, whose father died in 1990, said Friday that Murphy was “the father I haven’t had for the last 18 years.” Last year, the mayor presented the Murphys with Patroon Awards, the highest honor bestowed by the city.

The Spring 2008 issue of Union College featured a story about the close friendship between Murphy and Stratton. It is on the Web at: http://www.union.edu/N/DS/edition_display.php?e=1486&s=7910

Murphy made unsuccessful runs for Congress in 1948, state Senate in 1956, and state Assembly in 1959. He was appointed by Stratton in 1956 to fill an unexpired term on the Schenectady County Board of Supervisors. He was a member and chairman of the Schenectady Municipal Housing Authority, which, with Stratton, had instituted a policy of desegregation in the city’s public housing. Murphy served on the New York State Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He was part of the mayor’s “kitchen cabinet,” and later, a part-time staffer in the Congressman’s Schenectady and Washington offices.

Murphy was born Aug. 6, 1916 in Astoria, Queens, and raised in Flushing. He would go on to study at Harvard University, earning bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees there. He taught for three years at Harvard, then served another three years as secretary of Harvard’s Committee on Educational Relations. He served in the U.S. Navy for three years, specializing in anti-submarine warfare, before he joined Union College.

He began at Union as an assistant professor of English. He was named associate professor in 1948, full professor in 1960, and became the Thomas Lamont Professor in 1978. In 1983 he received the Faculty Meritorious Service Award from the Alumni Council. He and his wife kept homes in Schenectady, Nova Scotia and Florida.  

He married the former Harriet Doane on Sept. 2, 1939. For more than 60 years, they spent their summers at their home in Bear Point, Shag Harbour, Nova Scotia. Survivors also include a son, Christopher; and daughters, Deborah Chase Murphy and Susan Doane Murphy Thompson.

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Film series focuses on Mexican culture

Posted on Sep 25, 2008

The Mandeville Gallery, Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program, Department of History, and Department of Modern Languages and Literatures are sponsoring a film series in connection with the upcoming “Parabolas Mexicanas,” an exhibition of works by Mexican artists Bernardo González and Francisco Verástegui. The exhibit will run from Oct. 9 through Feb. 8. (The Chronicle will feature more on the exhibit and related events in future issues).

The film series kicks off Wednesday, Oct. 1, with all films shown in Reamer Campus Center at 7 p.m., except where noted. Here’s the fall term schedule:

The Other Conquest, Meixcan film

Oct. 1: “The Other Conquest (La Otra Conquista)” (1998); directed by Salvador Carrasco. An historical drama set during the Spanish expedition to conquer the Aztec Empire, this film reflects the continuation of Aztec spirit through the adaptation of Catholicism in Mexico.

Oct. 15: “María Candelaria” (1944); directed by Emilio Fernández. In this Mexican classic, a young girl (Delores del Rio) is mercilessly persecuted by her townspeople because of her mother’s immoral behavior.

Oct. 29: “La Ley de Herodes” (2000); directed by Luis Estrada. A harsh critique of Mexico’s long-ruling PRI party, this dark comedy follows the education of a small-town politician as he is shown how to rule through violence and corruption by a visiting PRI official.

Nov. 12:Canoa” (1976); directed by Filipe Cazals. This is a true story of a group of students who accidentally fall victim to a town controlled by a paranoid and fanatical priest. Also, at 9 p.m., Nazarín” (1958); directed by Luis Bunuel. This is the story of a simple priest trying to live by Christian precepts, with horrifying consequences.

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Posted on Sep 25, 2008

Friday, Sept. 26, 12:55 p.m. / Reamer Campus Center Room 302 / Pizza and Politics presents Doug Henwood, editor of Left Business Observer, on "Neo-Liberalism in Crisis"

Friday, Sept. 26 – Monday, Sept. 29, 8 and 10 p.m. / Reamer Campus Center Auditorium / Film: "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull"

Friday, Sept. 26, 1 p.m. / College Park / Field hockey vs. St. Lawrence

Friday, Sept. 26, 4 p.m. / College Park / Men's soccer vs. Vassar (Liberty League contest)

Saturday, Sept. 27, 1-6 p.m. / Downtown Schenectady / Welcome Back Students Day, featuring Union and Schenectady County Community College student activities, specials and promotions

Saturday, Sept. 27, noon / Messa Rink at Achilles Center / Women's ice hockey vs. Toronto Junior Aeros

Saturday, Sept. 27, 1 p.m. / Frank Bailey Field / Football vs. Rochester

Saturday, Sept. 27, 2 p.m. / College Park / Men's soccer vs. RPI (Liberty League contest)

Saturday, Sept. 27, 2 p.m. / Tennis courts / Women's tennis vs. SUNY Plattsburgh

Saturday, Sept. 27, 10 p.m. / Old Chapel / UProgram presents Psychic Madman Jim Karol

Monday, Sept. 29, 3:05-4:45 p.m. / F.W. Olin Room 115 / Election 2008 course with Prof. Tomas Dvorak on the economy, taxes; open to the campus community and the public

Tuesday, Sept. 30, 4 p.m. / Tennis Courts / Men's tennis vs. Lemoyne

Tuesday, Sept. 30, 5:30-7:30 pm. / Wold House / Death in Film Series presents: The Bucket List," Rob Reiner comedy about two men who embark on an adventurous road trip together after being diagnosed with terminal cancer

Tuesday, Sept. 30, 6 p.m. / Frank Bailey Field / Women's field hockey vs. Castleton

Tuesday, Sept. 30, 7 p.m. / Nott Memorial / Alan Wolfe, political science professor and director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College, will discuss "Who's Afraid of American Religion? Politics and Religion in the 2008 Elections"; sponsored by the Minerva Programs Office in conjunction with the Office of the Campus Chaplain Dessert will follow the lecture.

Wednesday, Oct. 1, 3:05-4:45 p.m. / F.W. Olin Room 115 /Election 2008 course with Prof. Tomas Dvorak on the economy, international trade; open to the campus community and the public

Wednesday, Oct. 1, 7 p.m. / Reamer Campus Center Auditorium / Latin American and Caribbean Studies Film Series presents: "The Other Conquest" by Salvator Carrasco, historical drama about the continuity of the Aztec spirit in Mexican culture.

Thursday, Oct. 2, 4:30 p.m. / Schaffer Library, Phi Beta Kappa Room / Philosophy Speakers Series: Richard Sorabji of the University of London/NYU presents: "Gandhi as a Model for an Ancient Western View of the Ideal Life"; co-sponsored with the Dept. of Classics

Thursday, Oct. 2, 6 p.m. / Reamer Campus Center Auditorium / Classic Film: “Annie Hall” by Woody Allen

Thursday, Oct. 2, 8 p.m. / Memorial Chapel / Chamber Concert Series presents: "Jupiter String Quartet"

Friday, Oct. 3, 7 p.m. / Messa Rink at Achilles Center / Women's ice hockey vs. Boston University

Friday, Oct. 3 – Monday, Oct. 6, 8 and 10 p.m. / Reamer Campus Center Auditorium / Film: "Wall-E"

Friday, Oct. 3, 10 p.m. / Memorial Chapel/ UProgram presents Hypnotist Steve Taubman

Saturday, Oct. 4, 10 a.m. / Tennis courts / Women's tennis vs. Skidmore (Liberty League contest)

Saturday, Oct. 4, 3 p.m. / Reamer Campus Center Auditorium / Classic Film: “Annie Hall” by Woody Allen

Saturday, Oct. 4, 4 p.m. / Messa Rink at Achilles Center / Women's ice hockey vs. Northeastern

Saturday, Oct. 4, 6 p.m. / College Park Field / Men's soccer vs. Babson

Monday, Oct. 6, 12:55 p.m. / Reamer Campus Center Room 302 / Women and Gender Studies presents Pizza and Politics speaker Fatemeh Keshavarz of the University of Maryland on "Shaping Perceptions: The Popular Political Discourse on Iran"

Monday, Oct. 6, 3:05-4:45 p.m. / F.W. Olin Room 115 / Election 2008 course, with Paul Sorum on Health Reform; open to the campus community and the public

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See you in Schenectady: ‘Welcome Back Day’ devoted to downtown

Posted on Sep 25, 2008

Local restaurants, shops and cultural attractions hope to attract hundreds of students downtown for the second “Welcome Back Students Day,” Saturday, Sept. 27.

Students enjoy Jay Street during orientation in 2003

The event, scheduled from 1 to 6 p.m., is a follow-up to last year’s “Show Me Schenectady,” sponsored by the Union-Schenectady Alliance (USA). The group was created by recent Union graduates Steve Walker and Josh DeBartolo to enhance relationships between the College and the city. More than 400 students turned out last year to sample city life.

The Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp. (DSIC), Chamber of Schenectady County and Proctors Theatre are key sponsors of the event, which now includes Schenectady County Community College (SCCC) students.

“By familiarizing students early on with downtown’s many shopping, dining and entertainment options, we hope to encourage them to return regularly,” said DSIC Executive Director Jim Salengo.

Schenectady clock

“I’ve become passionate about working with the city. My motivation to organize these downtown days comes from seeing how many students come to Schenectady and take advantage of the city’s offerings after these big events,” said Ariel Sincoff-Yedid ’09, USA co-chair.

Students can pick up a program at Robb Alley at Proctors. Businesses will offer discounts or merchandise throughout the afternoon for those presenting special tickets, available for purchase at Proctors from noon to 5 p.m. Local musicians and college groups will perform throughout the day, and an after-party will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. in Robb Alley, featuring Union a cappella groups.

Two highlights of the day are “Scrabble-ectady,” featuring a special game board, and the “Cultural Crawl,” a trivia contest.

Bringing Union, SCCC and the city together “is the best way to create the sort of lively downtown that will make us an enviable college town,” said Philip Morris, CEO of Proctors.

Dave Brown ’10, USA co-chair, said he is looking forward to showing students “just how alive and close their backyard is.”  

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