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Memorial fund created to help family of Daniel Richardson

Posted on Mar 24, 2009

A memorial fund has been established at Union in honor of Daniel P. Richardson, a campus safety officer who died earlier this month.

Daniel Richardson

The fund will benefit Richardson’s wife, Laura, and their daughters, Hannah, 5, and Emma, 3.

Richardson, 31, joined Union in October 2006 and is remembered fondly by family, friends and co-workers.

"Daniel became a great friend to many of us in the Campus Safety department," said Chris Hayen, the acting director of the department. "Daniel understood mutual respect and team effort. He was one of those people who made coming to work a pleasure. He was a special person and is missed."

Said Records Coordinator Pamela Rew , “I met Daniel at a previous job, where we worked together as a team in loss prevention. It didn’t take long before him and his wife and me and my husband were doing things together outside of work.

“He was a dear friend to me – the best, a mold broken. I am blessed to have known him and his wife all these years.”

Those wishing to make a donation should contact Sue Murtlow in Campus Safety at 388-6358.

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Meet Stella, one tortoise unafraid to come out of his shell

Posted on Mar 23, 2009

Unlike most 30-somethings, Stella didn’t cringe when the camera came out. He (yes, he) actually pushed his face closer, investigating the lens hopefully. The Canon didn’t turn out to be tasty, though, so Stella ignored it for the rest of the photographer’s visit.

Stella is an African spur thigh tortoise, scientifically known as Geochelone sulcata.

His attention wasn’t wandering for long, though, as there’s always something happening in Amy Kelley’s biology lab in the Science and Engineering building. It’s here that Stella, a charismatic African spur thigh tortoise, spends his days poking around precociously and basking in the glow of human affection.

“He’s very popular, and he’s a big hit on campus tours,” said Kelley, who cares for Stella with fellow life science specialist Peg Angie. “Union employees bring their families to see Stella.”

While the turtle’s moniker causes a bit of he-she confusion for visitors, it makes a good story.

“In 2005, we got a call from a man who asked if we wanted a tortoise,” Kelley said. “So when he came to us, he was a pet and had already been named Stella.”

“No one knew he was actually male,” she added, chuckling. “We do now, but the name just kind of stuck.”

Stella, who weighs in at about 32 pounds, wears a golden brown and light mahogany shell that’s 13 inches wide and 18 inches long. While that probably makes him one of the biggest turtles most people have ever seen, Stella’s small by African spur thigh standards.

“He’s not even close to full-grown,” Kelley said, picking Stella up gently. “African spur thighs are the third largest tortoise species in the world – they can weigh up to 150 pounds.”

While Stella has plenty of room to grow and thrive here at Union, Kelley admits he can be a challenge sometimes.

“In most situations, these tortoises do not make good pets. They’re not litter-box trained and they get huge,” she said. “Zoos are over-run with them because people don’t realize this.

“These turtles really belong in the wild.”

But since Stella can’t easily be re-introduced to his native habitat in the Southern Sahara desert, Kelley and Angie do their best to make him feel at home.

Stella the African spur thigh tortoise

“Every day he’s here wandering around the lab for exercise, and at night, he hangs out in a kiddie pool of hay that’s equipped with special lights and a heating pad,” Kelley said. “His diet consists primarily of organic hay since his digestive system is designed for nutrient-poor desert grasses, but Stella also gets fresh greens like romaine lettuce and kale everyday.”

Stella’s comfortable life here at Union isn’t just good for him; it’s also good for students.

“The biology department feels it’s important to have living things,” Kelley said. “Living things are what inspire people to learn about biology.”

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Parents Association Newsletter

Posted on Mar 16, 2009


Greetings from Union, where we are approaching the end of winter term and looking forward to spring, one of the most beautiful times of year on campus.

Residence halls close Friday, March 20, and after a well-deserved break, students will be welcomed back to their dorms Sunday, March 29, with classes beginning Monday, March 30.

In the spring, many things will be blooming. Please mark your calendar now for Steinmetz Symposium and Prize Day Weekend, May 1-2. This wonderful weekend begins on Friday with the Charles Proteus Steinmetz Symposium on student creative, scholarly and research achievement. We encourage family members and friends to take part in this Union tradition, which highlights the work of our talented students. For more information, visit http://www.union.edu/steinmetz. Saturday’s festivities also include Prize Day, our recognition of student achievements during the academic year. A reception will follow.

It’s an honor

Community service extolled:

Union recently was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for exemplary service to the local community. The award was announced in Washington, D.C. by the Corporation for National and Community Service during the annual conference of the American Council on Education. The honor roll is the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for its commitment to service learning and civic engagement.

Garnet and green: The College’s U Sustain initiative won an Environmental Excellence Award from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The annual awards recognize organizations across the state that promote environmentally sustainable practices.

Innovation at work: Two Union College librarians, Bruce Connolly and Gail Golderman, recently received the College Libraries Section ProQuest Innovation in College Librarianship Award for 2009 from the Association of College and Research Libraries. They were commended for their creative and innovative use of iTunes and other student-centric software applications in teaching, marketing the library’s collections, and supporting multiculturalism and diversity on campus.

A Union milestone

The College will celebrate its 215th anniversary in 2010, and the offices of Multicultural Affairs and Campus Diversity are planning a special project to include the entire campus community. Everyone is invited to donate a piece of fabric (a square patch) that will represent your family background – your culture, beliefs, history and values. For more information or help in creating a patch, or to be a project volunteer, contact Karen Ferrer-Muñiz, director of Multicultural Affairs, at (518) 388-6030 (ferrerk@union.edu) or Judi Gordon (gordonj@union.edu). They are collecting fabric and patches through March 30.


The Parent Fund

Help us “March Forward” into spring. The Union Board of Trustees has challenged the Union College community to a six-week participation challenge to secure 2,500 new donors. This is a successive challenge in three parts. If all donor goals are met between March 1 and April 15, the Board will donate $300,000 dollars to the Annual Fund.

As manager of the Parent Fund, I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity. Participation is vital to the success of the challenge, so gifts at any level count. Learn more at www.union.edu/marchforward. Please be one of the donors to help us reach our goal. Questions? E-mail Carol Shotzbarger ’08, Parent Fund manager, at shotzbac@union.edu. To donate online, visit https://www.union.edu/Parents/.

Volunteer opportunities

Union offers many ways for parents and families to stay active in their children’s education, and two special opportunities will soon open. My role as chair of the Parents Association will come to an end in June, as will Vivian Falco’s role as chair of the Parents Fund. We – our children and the entire campus community – are richer for your involvement.

Please consider volunteering your time for these important positions. I can assure you that the rewards are plentiful. Contact Lisa Mason at masonl@union.edu or Carol Shotzbarger at shotzbac@union.edu for details.

As always, please feel free to contact me at Parents_Association@union.edu with any concerns. 

And for complete coverage of Union activities throughout the year, please visit www.union.edu/News

Best regards,

Karen Dumonet, Vanessa ’07 and Sebastian ‘09

Chair, Parents Association

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New “Notables” exhibit on display

Posted on Mar 16, 2009

In continuing celebration of the College’s rich history – and the extraordinary people who are part of that history – a new “Union Notables” exhibit is on display in Schaffer Library.

The exhibit, which runs through September, features a past United States president, a humanitarian and a businessman. 

Chester A. Arthur

Chester Alan Arthur, Class of 1848, grew up in Union Village, N.Y. (Greenwich, N.Y.). In 1845, he enrolled in the College and became a member of Psi Upsilon and the Delphian Institute debating society. After graduation, Arthur held several positions in New York state government. On Sept. 20, 1881, a day after James Garfield died from a gunshot wound, Arthur was sworn in as the country’s 21st president.

Philip Di Sorbo

Philip G. Di Sorbo ’71 studied psychology at Union, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude. He is the co-founder of the Foundation for Hospices in Sub-Saharan Africa, which encourages U.S. and international organizations to work together to provide palliative care in the far reaches of a land where AIDS claims thousands of lives daily. In 2006, Di Sorbo received the Eliphalet Nott Medal for alumni who have achieved success in their professional lives. 

Robert Holland Jr. ’62 studied mechanical engineering at Union. He has since gained an international reputation for turning around troubled companies. Holland began his career with an international management consulting firm and went on to lead a variety of companies, from an automotive parts manufacturer to Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. In 1997, he delivered the College’s main Commencement address and received an honorary doctor of laws degree.

Robert Holland Jr.

“Union Notables” is an ongoing, rotating exhibit that features three outstanding individuals every six months. Each person selected either studied or worked at Union sometime between its founding in 1795 and the present day. 

When a new group “notables” is installed, the preceding “notables” are each given a permanent home elsewhere on campus.

For more information on “Union Notables,” click here. 

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The “status quote”: Was Obama listening?

Posted on Mar 12, 2009

When President Barack Obama pledged to overhaul the nation’s health care system last Thursday, he declared “the status quo is the one option that is not on the table.”

Last October, Union College hosted an alumni symposium on health care reform featuring physicians, health administrators, college faculty, lawyers, insurance executives and nurses. The keynote speaker was Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, now serving as a health care expert for the White House. His brother, Rahm, is President Obama’s chief of staff.

The major points of a white paper developed out of the symposium and sent to Washington began with “the status quo is not an option.”

Perhaps the president heard our message? 

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