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Board of Trustees

Posted on Nov 18, 2008

On the Web:  

Board Report

The Board of Trustees meets three times a year at Union College. Following each meeting, Chairman Frank L. Messa ’73 issues a Board Report, which can be found here.

New Trustees

Paul LeClerc is president of the New York Public Library and in February 2008 received Union’s inaugural John Bigelow Medal. The medal recognizes friends of the College who have contributed to the advancement of humanity. LeClerc was chair of Union’s Department of Modern Languages and Literatures from 1971 through 1977. He has authored five scholarly volumes on writers of the French Enlightenment. He is a trustee of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a director of the National Book Foundation and served as president of Hunter College in New York City from 1988 to 1993. He joined the Board of Trustees in October 2008.

Dr. Kathy E. Magliato ’85 is the director of Women’s Cardiac Services at Saint John’s Medical Center in Santa Monica, Calif. and is at the forefront of a national campaign to promote awareness of heart disease in women. Magliato is one of the few female cardiothoracic surgeons in the world and is the former head of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center artificial heart program. At Union, Magliato earned a bachelor’s degree cum laude in chemistry and biology. In the last five years, she has twice presented at Homecoming and Family Weekend. Among her family are father, Nicholas Magliato, Sr. ’58, late uncle Frank J. Magliato ’56 and sister Nancy (Magliato) Jensen ’81. She joined the Board of Trustees in October 2008.

Kelly M. Williams ’86 is the managing director of Credit Suisse First Boston’s Asset Management Division, which includes part the Union endowment and more than $8 billion of U.S. investments in roughly 450 private equity funds. Williams earned a law degree from New York University in 1989 and spent her early career in global finance law at Prudential. She was inducted into the New York City YWCA’s Academy of Women Leaders in 2007. At Union, she earned a bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in political science and mathematics. She joined the Board of Trustees in October 2008.



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Robots rock in Old Chapel

Posted on Nov 17, 2008

Preston Thompson ‘12 and Ian Mason ’12 huddled over a large table in Old Chapel Monday afternoon, getting last-minute bugs out of the little (but impressive) robot they built. Their robot, like those of their classmates, was about to perform in the final design challenge of their introduction to engineering class.

Preston Thompson '12 and Ian Mason '12 watch their robot complete a trial performance before the final design challenge for their engineering class.

The challenge, dubbed “Meteorites from Mars in the Antarctic,” was to build a robot capable of picking up a “meteorite” in one spot and depositing it in another.

The table in Old Chapel on which the robots built by 30 teams carried out this task was made to resemble an Antarctic landscape. 

For their part, Thompson and Mason enjoyed the challenge.

“It’s nice to have something you put a lot of time and effort into come out right,” Mason said. “It was really satisfying to finish it.”

“I also liked how the professors approached it,” he added. “They didn’t tell us how to do it; they just told us how to use the pieces.”

His teammate was equally happy with the experience and was also impressed with the robots his peers constructed.

“Everyone gets the same stuff to make a robot, but it’s surprising and cool to see how many variations we all come up with,” Thompson said.

Witnessing the different ways students successfully tackled the challenge is something Professor James Hedrick values.

“It’s amazing,” said Hedrick, who teaches electrical and computer engineering and coordinates the annual challenge. “It’s why I’m here.”

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Martin Jay ’65: An abiding model

Posted on Nov 17, 2008


On the Web:

Martin Jay, Class of 1965. Around the time of the June 1965 Commencement. For the Union College magazine Web site.

To read the original typewritten text of Martin Jay’s 1965 Commencement speech in PDF form, click here.







An abiding model

Before Martin Jay departed for a junior year abroad at the London School of Economics in 1963, he was planning to become a lawyer. But the intellectual ferment Jay found among students and professors in London pulled him off that career path.

“I enjoyed the academic give and take. London was an enormously cosmopolitan place at that time. Political life among the students was vigorous, and the faculty dauntingly accomplished, yet far more remote than at Union. It was a step into the larger world. I felt its lure and never turned back,” Jay said.

During Jay’s senior year at Union, he began pursuing a career as a professor, historian and writer. That probably came as no surprise to then-Professor Joseph Finkelstein ’47, who had acted as a mentor and advisor to Jay since his freshman year. Jay would become valedictorian and deliver a Commencement speech in June 1965 that eloquently urged the College to expand its academic offerings. (To read an obituary of Professor Joseph Finkelstein ’47, here.)

After graduation, Jay followed in Finkelstein’s footsteps, earning his doctorate at Harvard University. Jay became a professor at the University of California at Berkeley in 1971 and has taught there ever since, while authoring ten books. A new volume about the unanticipated benefits of lying on the political stage is set to be published in 2009. His most recent book, Songs of Experience, explores the history of European and American ideas about the linguistic, cultural and theoretical meanings of experience.

Earlier this year, Jay penned an essay for The New York Times Magazine about his lifelong relationship with Finkelstein. The essay appeared in the magazine’s annual College Issue and can be found here.

A native of Troy, N.Y., Finkelstein majored in social studies at Union, and began teaching history classes a year before graduating. Finkelstein went on to earn post-graduate degrees from Harvard University and returned to Union in 1953. Finkelstein specialized in economic history, in particular the interaction of technology and society. He was instrumental in developing the Graduate Management Institute, now Union Graduate College before retiring in 1996.

Over the years, Jay and Finkelstein met periodically in Schenectady or the Bay Area, visits that reinforced Jay’s appreciation of Finkelstein’s deep sense of pride in Union.

Today Jay himself seems to have become in turn an “abiding model” for a new crop of professors, teaching at universities such as Brown, Columbia, Harvard, Penn and Michigan. In December several of Jay’s former graduate students will publish, through Berghahn Books, a collection of essays honoring Jay’s career called The Modernist Imagination: Intellectual History and Critical Theory.

“I have always tried to pass on some of Joe Finkelstein’s DNA to them,” Jay said.  





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‘Tis the season of giving

Posted on Nov 17, 2008

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 www.union.edu/give. While you're there, consider making a recurring gift. With recurring gifts you decide how much, how often, and how long you want to contribute. It only takes a moment to set up and allows you to make a gift of any size but payable in smaller increments over time.

Contributions to The Union Fund provide essential support to the College's ongoing activities and 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                                               Mark G. Webster ‘88

The Union Fund National Co-Chair                              The Union Fund National Co-Chair

P.S. Gifts made online or postmarked by December 31, 2008 qualify for the 2008 tax year.

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Garnet and green

Posted on Nov 17, 2008

From grassroots campus efforts to new presidential grants, Union is pursuing a range of projects that incorporate sustainable and environmentally conscious practices 

Four years ago a group of students established a campus program called U Recycle. Today that initiative is managed by Facilities Services and takes in more than 150,000 containers and several tons of aluminum, plastic and glass each year.

Garnet and green. Union College magazine. Fall 2008. Feature page.

U Recycle is one of many recently developed campus-based sustainability initiatives that reflect a growing environmental consciousness at Union. Such sustainability projects have been spurred on by sources ranging from grass- roots student campaigns to a pledge in the Strategic Plan to limit the College’s use of consumable resources. These projects are monitored by the U Sustain Committee, a group of about 70 students, faculty and staff that meets periodically to discuss various projects. The shared goal of these campus “green” initiatives is simple: Promote ways to live, work and enjoy Union in the most environmentally friendly and sustainable way possible.

“One of the best things we can do at Union is to teach the 500 or so students who graduate each year how to live ‘greener’ lives. We are educating the next generation of leaders about the importance of sustainability in any professional field and in their personal lives,” said Jeffrey Corbin, an assistant professor of biology and leader of U Sustain.

The College’s sustainability efforts can be grouped within six categories: Waste and Recycling, Presidential Initiatives, Dining Services, Energy and Facilities, Curriculum, and Campus Action. And within each category are collaborative projects between faculty, students and staff.

“Colleges like Union must play a leadership role in implementing wide-ranging institutional sustainability efforts. Part of our educational mission is to instill a sense of global citizenship in our young people and harness their passion for eco-friendly projects. As we expand our sustainability initiatives, the whole campus must take on a piece of the responsibility,” said President Stephen C. Ainlay.

Waste and Recycling

Shortly after Stephen Po-Chedley ’08 arrived on campus in 2004, he and a small group of students began advocating for a campus-wide recycling effort.

“When I came to Union, I was told that recycling would never work. With U Recycle, I helped change that view,” Po-Chedley said. “I’m proud of the impact U Recycle is having. I helped change the campus culture.”

The College now recycles more than 60 tons of material per year and recycling rates are constantly improving. In 2007, Facilities assumed responsibility of the former student-run recycling program, U Recycle. Since that time, recycling of aluminum, plastic, glass, and paper has spread to every campus building and major walkway.

The sustainability efforts of the College’s cleaning staff were last year recognized with a runner-up finish for the Green Cleaning Award, sponsored by the trade journal American School and University, the Green Cleaning Network and the Healthy Schools Campaign.

Within the recycling program, progress was made with the extension of glass, metal and plastic recycling in residential buildings. In September 2007, nearly 24,000 containers were collected from dorms for recycling, said Terry Miltner, assistant manager of Cleaning Services.

“This is a satisfying validation of our program,” Miltner said. “But more importantly, it recognizes the dedication of the staff and students who are meeting our goal of sustainability.”

The campus cleaning staff, made up of 50 full-time cleaners that cover the College’s 1.9 million square feet of building space, uses “green certified” cleaning products in nearly 90 percent of campus buildings. They monitor building air quality and energy efficiency through regular preventive maintenance checks.

Union recently worked with vendors to reduce the price of recycled paper containing 30 percent post consumer fibers. Recycled paper is priced close to non-recycled paper and is available for purchase by all departments.

The Union College magazine has improved its recycled content and forest stewardship efforts. The magazine requires 60,000 pounds of paper per year. That paper is made from 10 percent post-consumer waste, which helps reduce the number of trees, amount of wastewater and energy used in paper fabrication. Beginning with the Summer 2008 issue, the magazine is being printed on paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which assures that the paper is made from wood from a certified well-managed forest.

The campus phone directory has gone one step further. It has been shifted almost entirely to a Web-only service. The move saved 64,000 sheets of paper, 2,000 sheets of cardboard cover stock and 1,000 plastic bindings. Presidential initiatives In October, the President’s Office took in the first batch of applications for the president’s Green Grant Stephen Po-Chedley ’08 President Ainlay with students. Eight grants of up to $2,000 per year will be awarded to students, faculty or staff for projects that advance sustainability at a regional or national level in areas such as energy use, recycling, transportation or dining.

The Green Grant Program comes about a year after Ainlay signed a pact with hundreds of other leaders in higher education to formally work on reducing campus global warming emissions. As a charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, Union also promises to provide critical research and education that will help diminish global warming. As part of the agreement with about 300 other institutions, Union also pledged to develop a comprehensive long-term plan to cut emissions. 

"I am convinced that our response to issues related to the environment will be among those by which our era will be judged. I would ask each of you to commit to our efforts. We all bear responsibility for reducing our environmental impact and educating future generations," during his September Opening Convocation speech.

Dining Services

Dan Detora, who has been director of Union’s Dining Services for five years, has seen student projects spark long-term changes. Many of the recent sustainability-related food services projects can be traced back to the formation of the Ozone Café in 2006. The café is staged each Friday from noon to 2 p.m. at the Old Chapel. Student volunteers work with dining services to provide, fresh, local and organic entrees to the campus community. Many volunteers are members of Ozone House, a theme house on Lenox Avenue that promotes environmental awareness and sustainability.

“The students from Ozone House really started the ball rolling. The dining program has come a long way. The café was really the instigator of it. Once we started doing the café, we started looking at all of our operations,” Detora said.

One major new student-inspired piece of Dining Services is the “Earth Tub,” a large composting tub which takes in food products and napkins from West College dining hall. The tub includes scales so students can see how much food is being composted. Last school year, the College composted one ton of food waste that would have been put in a landfill. The tub is churned daily, heats up to 140 degrees during decomposition and, after about 60 days of churning, produces fertilizing compost for campus landscaping.

Other initiatives within Dining Services include: Fair trade coffee sold at all outlets, which assures that the coffee farmers get a fair price in exchange for international coffee. The waste oil, commonly called “fryolator” grease, produced in food production is sold to a company that uses it to produce bio-fuels. In Reamer Campus Center, the O3 Marketplace offers salads, sandwiches, and soups made from local farm products and organic ingredients.

Energy and Facilities

At a recent U Sustain Committee meeting, Facilities Director Loren Rucinski reviewed a pie chart showing the breakdown of Union’s carbon footprint. The footprint, estimated last April by environmental studies students, shows that the College produces between 19,500 and 28,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. That’s equivalent to the emissions produced by 7,100 cars in a year of typical driving.

“I see we are the biggest part of the pie,” Rucinski said jokingly.

It was a simple observation that shed light on a major piece of the College’s sustainability effort: managing the energy consumption of a 105-acre campus with 110 mostly older buildings. The plan of attack is simple: seek renewable or efficient energy initiatives for all new buildings and renovations. This includes everything from LEEDs (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold-certified status on new construction to using energy- efficient light blubs. The hope is to reduce energy consumption and thereby reduce the College’s carbon footprint.

During the 2007-2008 academic year, the College purchased 15 percent of its electricity from wind power sources to help reduce carbon emissions from some forms of power production. That move originated as a Student Forum project that was later endorsed by the College’s administration.

Although sustainability efforts are ramping up within Facilities, many projects date back to the mid-1990s. The College has been using energy-efficient light blubs since the early 1990s, when it joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Lights program. In 1996, one of the College’s heat-producing boilers was replaced with a state-of-the-art multifuel burner and stronger emissions controls. The College has also purchased two zero-emissions electric trucks, two Segway personal transports, and an electric golf cart.

“The LEED gold status is something that the College has now instituted as a policy. It requires more up-front investment but will, over the life of the building, produce financial and environmental benefits,” Rucinski said.

College Park Hall, a former hotel made into a residence hall in 2004, is under consideration for LEED certified status and the planned Peter Irving Wold Science Center will be certified. The Wold family, led by John S. Wold ’38, has directed more than $13 million of their original $20 million commitment to the teaching and research center. The College plans to solicit corporations, state and government agencies, alumni, parents and friends to complete the funding for the building.

In 2007, Facilities worked to renovate one of the Seward and Roger Hull Place apartments as an eco-friendly house. The Eco-House has sustainable bamboo flooring, faucets with built-in generators and low-flow output, energy-efficient outdoor lights, and a solar panel array to help gener- ate electricity for the house.


The U Sustain Committee hopes to integrate lessons into the curriculum across disciplines so that graduates are equipped with a general knowledge of sustainability and “green” concepts. The committee is considering a model similar to Union’s Ethics Across the Curriculum, which incorporates lessons about real-life ethical dilemmas into courses from physics to photography.

The College’s Environmental Science and Policy Program is a thriving interdisciplinary program that offers both a major and a minor in environmental studies, with tracks in environmental science, engineering and policy.

The number of students taking courses related to the environment has more than doubled in the last five years. The course, “Introduction to Environmental Studies,” is now being offered every term to meet demand. Some of the activities in these classes in recent years have included calculating the College’s carbon footprint and advocating for Union’s participation in the University Presidents Climate Commitment.

The environmental studies program sponsors an annual seminar series that bring in world-renowned experts. In 2006-2007, the series focused on abrupt global climate change and included author and activist Bill McKibben.

In terms of student research, from 2000 to 2006, the Schaffer Library recorded 43 honors theses published on topics related to sustainability and the environment. The honors theses were distributed among 16 departments and the Environmental Studies Program, indicating the presence of faculty in many departments whose research interests include sustainability and environmental issues.

Campus Action

The student-run Ozone Café, which dishes up an all-organic selection of locally grown and health-conscious food on Fridays, provides an alternative dining atmosphere, promoting sustainability and local agriculture. Student volunteers act as hosts, waiters and servers and work with Dining Services, which prepares the food. The program’s popularity has spiked since its inception in 2007.

“Dining Services purchases and prepares the food and the students serve it and clean it up. We’re really working together. It’s a great process and it’s successful,” Detora said. “Since spring 2006, we’ve grown from 30 to 50 customers per week to more than 200.”

Last spring a campus garden, named Octopus’s Garden by Beatles fan Jake Schaffern ‘09, was planted on a three-quarter acre lot between McKean House and Wells House near the tennis courts off Union Avenue.

“Our goal is to promote and encourage sustainability and a sense of community on campus,” said Nathali Neal ’07, who helped plant the garden as a post-graduate Bioengineering Fellow. “Dining Services donated a start-up grant, and Facilities brought in soil and compost and provided gardening tools. It will be a student, faculty and staff collaboration.”

Neal was right. Several staff, faculty and students worked together to create a garden that was roughly 36-by-52 feet with about 10 planting beds and small walkways. A variety of vegetables including tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, butternut squash, onions, potatoes, carrots, beets, asparagus and melons were used by Dining Services or donated to local food pantries. Another planting is set for spring 2009.


Learn more: For more about Union’s sustainability efforts, visit the U Sustain Web site at www.union.edu/usustain or write to Professor Jeffrey Corbin at corbinj@union.edu

Support: To give in support of Union’s sustainability initiatives, contact Mike O’Hara at oharam@union.edu or (518) 388-6166

Tell us: Do you have a “green” story to tell? Let us know at magazine@union.edu or (518) 388-6748, 


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