Union College News Archives

News story archive

Navigation Menu

Junior Jump Start set for Monday

Posted on May 20, 2009

Nott with flowering tree, spring 2008

Junior Jump Start, the spring open house sponsored by Admissions, will be held Monday, May 25 (Memorial Day). More than 500 visitors are expected on campus as students for the Class of 2014 begin their college search and application process. 

They’ll be treated to an array of information, including remarks about the admissions process, financial aid tips and an overview of various academic departments and facilities. Also in the mix are tours and a session on writing memorable college essays and making an impact during the college interview.  

Just for parents, there are tips on surviving the college search.

To volunteer, contact Lilia Tiemann at tiemannl@union.edu.

Read More

With a little help from his friends: Student building library in Ghana

Posted on May 20, 2009

Mike Clarke '11 hands off a box of donated books. Last Friday, his friends helped him pack a U-Haul truck with books bound for Ghana.

Sometimes an inspired idea is all you need to make a difference – just ask Mike Clarke ’11. He wanted to build a library in Ghana, and with help from his friends at Union, that’s exactly what he’s doing.

“It went from this little idea to a project everyone here wanted to help with,” Clarke said. “The response has been amazing.”

Last Friday, outside the Sigma Delta Tau sorority house, Clarke and a dozen other students filled a 10-foot-long U-Haul truck with 5,000 donated books. These books will stock the shelves of the library Clarke plans to construct, partly with donated funds, at the Redemption Hour Christian School outside Accra, Ghana.

“On top of the $1,600 we raised, deans Stephen Leavitt and Trish Williams contributed $1,500 to ship the books,” Clarke said. “I’m very grateful for this.”

School children in Accra, Ghana

The books will arrive in Ghana in July at about the same time Clarke and friends Patrick Petty ’11 and Kameron Simpson ’09 do. Together they will renovate the future library, where students will be able to use several computers Clarke intends to buy with a portion of the donated money.

“There’s been so much interest on campus that I’m working with faculty and administrators to turn this trip into a mini-term next year,” Clarke said. “I met with President Stephen Ainlay and he was a huge help. I’m really excited about what the future holds for this project.”

For more on Clarke’s efforts, click here.


Read More

Coming to campus near you: ReUnion 2009

Posted on May 19, 2009

Among annual highlights like the Alumni Parade and fireworks show, ReUnion ’09 will feature back-to-back presentaions from a Family Guy tv show writer and producer and two veteran entertainment industry executives.

Fireworks at Reunion

More than 1,000 visitors are expected on campus for the annual celebration of Union’s graduates. The Saturday series of speakers begins at 1 p.m. and will feature: Chris Sheridan ’89, a writer and character voice for Family Guy; Scott Siegler ’69, the creative executive behind shows like Growing Pains and Night Court who has today branched into other media; and Alan Horn ’64, the president and chief operating officer of Warner Bros. Entertainment, which last year released the latest Batman movie installment, The Dark Knight.

And that's just three events from a varied weekend of activities. To read a complete schedule, click here.

Below are few of the highlighted events, including a Saturday groundbreaking ceremony to honor a substantial gift from Jim Lippman ’79 that will help renovate the Social Sciences Building. 


Friday, May 29
The Greening of Black America – A Rural Development Opportunity

Joseph James, Class of 1969, was in 2008 given a $100,000 Purpose Prize for his work in South Carolina.

4-5 p.m.
Green House, located in South College
Sponsored by UNITAS

Joseph James ’69, recent recipient of the 2008 Purpose Prize Award. Joseph will speak about one of his latest initiatives, “The Greening of Black America – A Rural Development Opportunity.” The project, like much of his other work, creates economic practices that maintain equity for disadvantaged people and communities. This project sprung from James’s realization that participating in the South’s growing “green” economy was a way to stabilize the declining number of black farmers and reduce rural poverty. Reception to follow.


Minerva Fellows Program

Robert Flick ’08, serving in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. A member of the inaugural Minerva Fellows class. Fanning.

7:30-9:30 p.m.
Nott Memorial

A multimedia journey through South Africa, Uganda, India and Cambodia including photos, video clips and interviews from this year's Minerva Fellows Program. Since last summer, eight members of the class of 2008 have been volunteering their time, energy and skills in these corners of the world. If you have an interest in what some of the best of Union's newest alumni are doing, or if you enjoy travel, photography, film, regional food from Asia and Africa, or are interested in finding out more about one of our newest programs, this is a presentation you should not miss. More information on the Minerva Fellows can be found here.


Saturday, May 30
Lippman Hall Groundbreaking Ceremony

Jim Lippman

Noon-1 p.m.
Social Sciences, Southside Library Plaza

A substantial gift from Jim Lippman ’79 and his wife, Linda, will support a major renovation of the Social Sciences Building that will transform the teaching and learning environment of one of the most heavily used academic buildings on campus. This celebratory groundbreaking of Lippman Hall is named to honor Jim Lippman’s father, Robert G. Lippman ’50.

Union's very own Family Guy

Chris Sheridan ’89 family guy

1-2 p.m.
Reamer Campus Center Auditorium

A special presentation by Chris Sheridan ’89 of Family Guy. Born in the Philippines and raised in Connecticut and New Hampshire, Sheridan has been working as a writer and producer for television since 1994. He is currently a writer and executive producer of Fox's hit TV show Family Guy, where he has also provided the voices for various characters.




Living in Television

Scott Siegler, Class of 1969. Speaker at the 2009 ReUnion.

2:15-3:15 p.m.
Taylor Music Center

Join us as Scott Siegler ’69 discusses how television entertainment continually evolves to reflect the demands of the consumer and society. Network television was born simultaneous with the Class of 1969, and it has made extraordinary changes as we have grown up. Curious about what's going to happen next…in storytelling, in audience expectations, and in media investments? Come listen to Scott's drive to understand it all.


Perspectives on the Movie Business

Alan Horn, Class of 1964, President & Chief Operating Officer of Warner Brothers Entertainment. ReUnion 2009 speaker.

3:30-4:30 p.m.
Taylor Music Center

Join us as we welcome Alan Horn ’64, president and chief operating officer of Warner Bros. Entertainment, a global leader in the creation, production, distribution, licensing and marketing of all forms of entertainment and their related businesses.



Read More


Posted on May 19, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 6:30 p.m. / Nott Memorial steps / “Take Back the Night” rally and march against acts of rape, abuse or oppression on campus and in the community; followed by a speak-out at Old Chapel, 7 p.m.

Thursday, May 21, 7-9 p.m. / Outside, Beuth House / Film: “Being John Malkovich”; presented by Philosophy Club

Thursday, May 21, 7:30 p.m. / Taylor Music Center, Emerson Auditorium / Tim Olsen Trio + 1, final program in the Department of Music’s “A Trio of Trios.” Features Professor Olsen on piano, Eric Walentowicz on sax, John Menegon on bass and Dave Ratajczak on drums performing originals and jazz standards; free and open to the public

Monday, May 25, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. / Campus wide / Junior Jump Start; tours, panels, information sessions and more to help prospective members of the Class of 2014 learn more about Union; sponsored by Office of Admissions & Financial Aid

Friday, May 22, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. / Hale House / Faculty forum on “Improving Student Outcomes in Gateway Introductory Courses," addressing why talented students of color struggle with introductory courses, especially in the sciences and engineering. Features speakers from Barnard, Carleton, Grinnell, Hamilton, Mt. Holyoke, Olin and Wellesley colleges and Columbia University, and Union Dean of Engineering Cherrice Traver. Sponsored by Consortium on High Achievement and Success (CHAS); free for Union faculty and staff

Friday, May 22, 3:30-5:30 p.m. / Blue House / AUM Hindu Association and the Kenney Community Center’s annual Holi event, a traditional celebration with colored powder. There will be discussions on its significance and Indian snacks, and Holi will be played on the field outside Blue House.

Friday, May 22 – Monday, May 25, 8 and 10 p.m. / Reamer Campus Center Auditorium / Film: “Coraline”

Tuesday, May 26 – Saturday, May 30, 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 27, 2 p.m. / Yulman Theater / “House of Blue Leaves,” presented by the Department of Theater and Dance and directed by Patricia Culbert; black comedy about a Queens zookeeper who dreams of making it big as a Hollywood songwriter. General admission, $10; with Union ID, $7.

Wednesday, May 27, 6-9 p.m. / Beuth House / Ugandan dinner and discussion with Minerva Fellow Becky Broadwin 

Alumni newsletter. April 2009. Fireworks near the Nott from 2008 ReUnion. Fanning.

Thursday, May 28 – Sunday, May 31 / Campus wide / ReUnion and Family Weekend 2009, featuring an array of events and activities, including dinners, discussions, lectures, theater, music, exhibitions, luncheons, tours, races, fireworks and more

Thursday, May 28, 4:30–6:30 p.m. / Schaffer Library, Phi Beta Kappa Room / Philosophy Speaker Series presents NYU Professor Ted Sider on Meta-Metaphysics.

Thursday, May 28, 6:30-8 p.m. / Memorial Chapel / Black Student Union presents 2nd Annual Union Idol. Admission free, but donations will benefit the Building Up Ghana Project. To compete, e-mail alexisn@union.edu or pacea@union.edu

Friday, May 29, 4 p.m. / Reamer Campus Center Auditorium / Becker Career Center Alumni panel on advertising, event planning and public relations

Friday, May 29, 8 p.m. / Memorial Chapel / Union College and Community Orchestra and Chorale Concert, conducted by Victor Klimash

Friday, May 29 – Monday, June 1, 8 and 10 p.m. / Reamer Campus Center Auditorium / Film: “Friday the 13th

Saturday, May 30, 1-2 p.m. / Reamer Campus Auditorium / Alumni presentation by Chris Sheridan ’89, writer and executive producer of Fox’s hit TV show “Family Guy”

Monday, June 1, 5 p.m. / Taylor Music Center, Emerson Auditorium / Student recital

Thursday, June 4, 7:30, 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. / Reamer Campus Center Auditorium / “Coping with Change” workshop addressing issues of change in the workplace or in personal lives; coordinated by Human Resources

Saturday, May 30, 2:15-3:15 p.m. / Taylor Music Center / Alumni presentation by Scott Siegler ’69 on storytelling, audience expectation and media investments

Saturday, May 30, 3:30-4:30 p.m. / Taylor Music Center / Alumni presentation by Alan Horn ’64, president and COO of Warner Bros. Entertainment

Monday, June 1, 5 p.m. / Taylor Music Center, Emerson Auditorium / Student recital

Read More

Archives that inspire

Posted on May 19, 2009


In 1890, Union alumnus William E. Benjamin was in a Paris bookstore and discovered a drawing of Joseph Ramée’s campus plan. He noticed that “College de l’Union a Schenectady” was written on the sketch, bought it and later transferred it to the College, according to Ramée scholar Paul Turner ’62.

“He bought it and brought it back. It is now in the Union College archives,” said Turner of the drawing, which was printed in a rare book of Ramée’s park and garden designs. “It’s the only known example of one of Ramée’s drawings that was published in this book.”

Consider any exhibit, term paper, commemoration or book pertaining to Union history. Nearly every one, at some point, was aided by a visit to Special Collections, a treasure trove of history on the third floor of Schaffer Library. Special Collections preserves materials ranging from Ramée’s sketches to hand-colored engravings by John James Audubon to the College’s first book purchase. 

Turner, a renowned architectural historian, relied on prints and documents stored in the archives for his comprehensive book, Joseph Ramée, International Architect of the Revolutionary Era. The book, published in 1996, is partially devoted to Ramée’s plan for Union’s campus, which was drafted largely in 1813 in consultation with President Eliphalet Nott and became a blueprint for American college campuses.  

“It is important for an archivist to see the material used in ways that brings Union’s history to succeeding generations,” said Ellen Fladger, associate librarian and head of Special Collections.

Turner is just one in a line of historians, students and professors to find inspiration in the records kept in the archives. Take Jeremy Dibbell ’04, who as a student found in Special Collections a passion for Union history and a path to a career as a librarian and historian.

Or take Paul LeClerc, president of the New York Public Library, who as a Union professor researched the collection of John Bigelow. Bigelow was member of the Class of 1835 and a founder of the public library.

More recently, Jared Gourier ’10 discovered materials connected with Moses Viney, the emancipated slave who became a companion to President Eliphalet Nott.

What’s more, there are ongoing exhibits such as Union Notables, which draw heavily from materials in Special Collections.

This is no dusty assemblage of rarely seen, even obscure, works and artifacts kept in a dim space. For many, it is a doorway to history and source of inspiration for new works.

“It’s essential, given Union’s long history, to have this record,” said Andrea Foroughi, associate professor of history, who has used Special Collections resources in a number of her courses. Equally important, she adds, is that original source material reveals a great deal more than just facts.

“This is different than going into a database,” she said. “It gives a student a different sense of the reality to read the handwriting or something in pencil someone wrote on the pages.”

Yet, there have been times in the College’s history when the archival collection was a neglected collection of hardly seen items in out-of-the-way spaces. What passed for an archive at various points in Union history has included attics, closets, basements, offices, even common areas like the library stacks. Few were climate controlled. Many were not secure.

Today, Fladger and her colleagues, including Archival Specialist Marlaine DesChamps, carry out their work in a space that, by past standards, is welcoming, comfortable and even spacious. Since the 1998 renovation of Schaffer Library, Special Collections has moved from a cramped labyrinth of half-story rooms atop the library’s main building to a secure third-floor facility that includes storage, offices and research areas.

It is here that the archivists carry on the tasks aimed at keeping the College’s 214 years of history intact: collecting, restoring, preserving, researching, indexing … and teaching. Fladger and Tom McFadden offered a sophomore research seminar in the spring term titled, “Union College and Higher Education in the Nineteenth Century” for 13 students.

And Fladger is also at work preserving the seemingly common items of today that will be of importance years from now. That includes items such as campus fliers for popular events or digital photos of student excursions such as the recent trips to help rebuild New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. And, it includes e-mail messages such as those shared among Union faculty that, in the 1800s, would have been written communication.    

“What we are left with is a situation in which we have become less selective in what we save. At the same time, the things we are collecting are endangered,” Fladger said. “We are thinking about ways of collecting items like important e-mail messages for future generations.”

Even as Fladger eyes ways to bolster future archives, Special Collections remains a haven for researchers seeking material of topics not connected with Union: faculty looking for a quote by William Blake, a student writing a paper for a class on feminism, or a scholar doing research on an early graduate.

Special Collections houses items like Audubon’s Birds of America, a collection of colorful plates that Nott purchased directly from the artist. There is also the Bailey Collection of North American wit and humor, donated by Frank Bailey, Class of 1885 and longtime treasurer of the College. Some of the papers of Prof. Charles P. Steinmetz, the “Electrical Wizard of Schenectady” and other GE luminaries are in Special Collections.


Jeremy Dibbell got his first taste of Union history halfway through his first year at Union in 2000.

He’d heard that alumnus William Henry Seward, Lincoln’s secretary of state, had organized a model Congress in which students debated the issues of the day including the Fugitive Slave Act and the transcontinental railroad.

So Dibbell turned to Special Collections to transcribe some student notebooks. So began an odyssey that he continues today.

“I went hog wild after that,” he said.

In his sophomore year, he researched a series of letters between Nott and Seward. Then, he set about researching Nott’s speeches, most notably the powerful anti-dueling eulogy that Nott delivered following the death of Alexander Hamilton.

His Special Collections research formed the foundation for a regular series of articles known as “State of the Union,” that ran between 2002 and 2004 in Concordiensis, for which he served as editor in his senior year.

In a history research seminar, Dibbell, then a senior, picked a topic that would draw heavily on materials in Special Collections: Phi Beta Kappa and secrecy rules.

Dibbell stayed at Union the year after he graduated, doing various projects in Schaffer Library and Special Collections. One was a book of Nott’s speeches. Another was a seminar course he taught with Professor James Underwood, “Nott and His Political Progeny.”

“Nott had an influence on generations of Union College students and on the political, literary, scientific and judicial life of the country,” Dibbell said. “That was not missed by the students in the class. They really got into it and did a great job on Union history.”

After graduation, Dibbell earned master’s degrees in library science and history from Simmons College. For his thesis, he chose a topic he began to study at Union: the College’s first purchases of books in the 1790s.

“The Union College library was one of the first to be designed rather than haphazardly thrown together with big donations of out-of-date books,” he said. “Union started from scratch and had to decide what to buy.”

Luckily, the College’s founders were careful to keep letters, invoices and packing slips. “Union has the kinds of information about the formation of our library that few, if any, other early American college libraries have,” Dibbell said. “And Union’s are in a good environment, stored well, and mostly all there. That’s a big help.”

For Dibbell, Union’s history is pervasive. “I think Union has a way of making its history known to people, whether they want to get it or not,” he said. To wit, a recent question on the game show Jeopardy!: A: The last president to serve without a vice president. Q: Who was Chester Arthur?

Read More