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Union supports new scholarship program for veterans

Posted on Jun 25, 2009

Union is strengthening its commitment to providing financial assistance to students with its recent decision to participate in the GI Bill’s Yellow Ribbon Program. In conjunction with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the College will fund up to two full-tuition scholarships for eligible individuals each year.

Union students walking to class

This program is new to colleges and universities. Union will allow transfer students to apply for admission until August 1 if they’re interested in attending during the 2009-2010 academic year. Admission to Union is highly competitive, so students need to gain admittance in order to qualify for the benefit at the College.

The Yellow Ribbon Program encourages colleges to partner with the Department of Veteran Affairs, which will help provide funding up to the highest public, in-state, undergraduate tuition. Union will be providing approximately $30,000 of institutional funding per student to help with this initiative.

This program is a provision of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008. Veterans who are eligible were on active duty for at least 36 months since Sept. 10, 2001 or served 30 continuous days before being honorably discharged.

An estimated 71 independent colleges and universities in New York have joined this effort to support veterans pursuing higher education opportunities. The participation of private, not-for-profit schools here exceeds that of any other state.

For more information on the Yellow Ribbon Program or transfer admission to Union College, please contact Senior Associate Dean of Admission Vernon Castillo at castillv@union.edu or (518) 388-8719.

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Giving lasting recognition: Union to unveil tombstone for Moses Viney

Posted on Jun 17, 2009

One of Union’s most important figures is about to be afforded recognition long overdue. Friday afternoon at 6 p.m. in Vale Cemetery, a tombstone commemorating the burial place and life of Moses Viney will be unveiled.

Moses Viney

Viney, a runaway slave from Maryland who escaped to Schenectady on the Underground Railroad, was a coachman and messenger at Union. During his time here he became the constant companion of longtime College President Eliphalet Nott, who eventually secured his freedom.

“The Vale Cemetery staff recently brought to our attention that Moses Viney was buried in the Ancestral Plot, but there was no tombstone for him,” said Gretchel Hathaway Tyson, senior director of Campus Diversity and Affirmative Action.

Union raised funds to erect a tombstone for Viney, whose unmarked grave was identified using the cemetery’s Ancestral Plot map. The stone will also honor and recognize Viney’s wife, Anna.

“It is always necessary to document where a person is buried in order to maintain history,” Tyson said. “In addition, in this instance, we must also correct a wrong – segregating individuals and not ensuring their ancestors could indentify them.”

The Ancestral Plot was formerly known as the Colored Plot. Like Viney, many of the people buried there lack proper monuments, though there are good records denoting who rests where.

“Vale Cemetery administrators have applied for grants to build a memorial with the names of each individual, but with no success,” Tyson said. “Union’s Multicultural Greek Council has decided to raise funds for a grand memorial, which will be presented in the 2010 winter term.”

The Council is being aided in its efforts by Vale Cemetery, the College’s Campus Operations Office, Hamilton Hill volunteers and Mary J. Nosal Memorials of Schenectady.

Tyson, for her part, is happy to see so many different parties working together on this project.

“Union is part of Schenectady’s history and Schenectady is part of Union’s history,” Tyson said. “Through endeavors like this, we must continue to explore, identify and acknowledge the rich history that both these entities bring to our local community.”

The newly added gravestone of Moses Viney and Anna Viney at Vale Cemetery in June 2009, when it was unveiled at a Huneteenth celebration.


Viney’s tombstone unveiling is part of Schenectady County’s Juneteenth celebration. From its origination in 1865 in Galveston, Texas, Juneteenth is the oldest national celebration of the end of slavery in the United States. It is traditionally observed on June 19.

Those wishing to attend Friday’s ceremony may drive to the cemetery themselves, or take a trolley from Old Chapel Circle at 5:30 p.m. An old fashioned ice cream social will be held immediately following the event.

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Fraternity lauds president’s diversity efforts

Posted on Jun 16, 2009

James Hidalgo ’10 entered Union at about the same time Stephen C. Ainlay became College president in 2006. Hidalgo, of New York City, was one of several members of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity who recently gave Ainlay the prestigious Sphinx Award for his efforts to improve campus diversity.

Holding the Alpha Phi Alpha Sphinx award in front of Feigenbaum Hall are, from left, James Hildago '10, Kenneth Williams '10, President Stephen C. Ainlay, Cristian Ramos '10 and Muhammad Djata '09.

“We, as a chapter, feel that President Ainlay deserved it. From the time that he has come to campus, he has made diversity initiatives a priority and has shown multicultural clubs on campus great support,” said Hidalgo, who serves as the fraternity’s secretary. “He has also been receptive to the issues and concerns of multicultural clubs on campus. He is very accessible as president of the College.”

Alpha Phi Alpha, a historically black fraternity with a 26-year history at Union, also cited Ainlay’s support of the Posse Scholars program, as well as his creation of a senior-staff position that deals solely with campus diversity and affirmative action. The Union fraternity chapter, called Pi Pi, gives two Sphinx awards each year, one to a faculty member and one to a student.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to receive this award,” Ainlay said. “I know the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha and hold them in high regard. They themselves have made so many contributions to Union. Their judgment that I have contributed to building community and advancing diversity at Union means so much to me.”

The Sphinx Award is given to individuals whom the fraternity believes have rendered the greatest service to the College community. Cybil Tribie ’11, an active volunteer and student leader, was given the student award at a ceremony in late May.

The Posse Scholars program is, under Ainlay’s leadership, entering its fourth year at Union. Posse students earn merit-based tuition scholarships through a process run by The Posse Foundation in Boston, which recruits groups of deserving students from ethnically diverse backgrounds to attend selective schools like Union, Hamilton College and Bryn Mawr College.

In February 2008, Ainlay created the senior director for Campus Diversity and Affirmative Action role and named Gretchel Hathaway Tyson to the position. In September 2008, the College named Karen Ferrer-Muñiz as the new director of Multicultural Affairs. Both roles are aimed at improving diversity on campus and supporting community outreach programs.

“We really value community service and the people who are trying to help the community, especially those who are not in a position to help themselves,” Hidalgo said. 

Alpha Phi Alpha focuses on public service, leadership and scholarship. The fraternity claims civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and nearly all presidents of black colleges as members. There is a network of chapters at U.S. schools stemming from the seminal chapter founded at Cornell University in 1906, which was then the first African-American fraternity in the United States.

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Old Union: History’s lessons

Posted on Jun 15, 2009

By Milton Schwebel ’34

The Class of 1934, which will celebrate its 75th ReUnion in late May, lived through the same type of nationally daunting and politically exciting times that Union students are now experiencing. We came on campus in the economically depressing months of the fall of 1930, saw President Franklin D. Roosevelt inaugurated in March 1933, experienced the exhilarating first hundred days, and witnessed, mostly with pleasure, the creation of programs like the Civilian Conservation Corps, the National Youth Administration, the Works Progress Administration, and many others intended to salvage the economy, create jobs and, in general, reverse the sense of hopelessness in the nation.

The campus was abuzz with excitement. Scheduled lectures, talks in chapel, the topics of our debating society, the choices of our Mountebank plays, articles in The Idol and conversations at fraternity dinner tables all reflected a nationwide struggle, under FDR’s leadership, that sought to free itself from the mire of poverty and despair. There were some dissenting voices, as there always are in a democratic society, but the prevailing mood on campus was supportive of the massive changes. The political views of my professors in philosophy, economics, political science and English were decidedly in keeping with the times; they were unapologetically liberal and supportive of Roosevelt’s leadership. Some of us, individually or jointly in clubs, societies or fraternities tried to make our support public and useful to the national effort, perhaps by campaigning for FDR and other New Deal supporters.

Let me be clear. We of ’34 were not a bunch of nerds. We participated on team sports, played touch football during free periods, debated, acted, wrote for (The Concordiensis), played a musical instrument, and – in our all-male environment – spent much time discussing “girls”, as young women were then called, and planning dates. We went to fraternity and other dances, the junior prom, and, after Prohibition was abolished, even enjoyed a beer at a bar. Our behavior, you may be sure, was different from that of current Union students: We attended Union thirty years before the women’s liberation movement, the pill and Woodstock. Many of us, I say with some regret, were “good boys,” still victimized by Victorian standards of virtuous behavior.

Count how many ways Union has changed since our day. Examining Union Collegemagazine, I am reminded of its many profound advances. We had no women among our classmates, no African-Americans, and Jewish students (perhaps some ethnic groups as well) were admitted on a quota basis. These painful facts should be considered against a background of the national scene: New York state, and later, during World War II, the U.S. Employment Service, filled some employers’ orders for workers based on codes like “WMP” (white, male, Protestants). And the U.S. Army, in which many of us of ’34 served, and other defense forces, ironically fighting for “the free world” were segregated so far as African-Americans were concerned.

There are too few of us of ’34 left to celebrate the changes in our nation and our College. They would, I like to believe, see the election of President Barack Obama as part of the trajectory of progress initiated in our times. They would see his efforts at reconciliation and reaching out even to unfriendly nations as an extension of the New Deal; and they would also see Union’s extensive programs abroad, described in issues of this magazine and lauded by President Stephen C. Ainlay, as an historic effort to include evermore diverse peoples and cultures in our knowledge base and personal experience.

As I sit at my computer and write this piece, I hear whispers of approval traveling over the decades from classmates and professors (with names like Larrabee, Stanley, Herrick, Cummins and Godshall), now long dead, who helped me transform myself.

Milton Schwebel holds a doctorate in counseling psychology and is an emeritus dean and professor at the Rutgers University Graduate School of Education. He is also an emeritus professor at the university’s Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology. He lives in Tucson, Ariz.

Editor’s note: Harold A. Larrabee was a professor of philosophy; Philip Stanley was a professor of philosophy; Raymond M. Herrick was a professor of English; Earl E. Cummins was a professor of economics; and Wilson L. Godshall was professor of political science.

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In Memoriam

Posted on Jun 15, 2009

Rear Adm. Albert H. Stevenson ’36 

Rear Adm. Albert H. Stevenson ’36, of Baltimore, a Bailey Prize winner who became a distinguished environmental and sanitation engineer with the U.S. government and who enjoyed rugged travel adventures, Dec. 28, 2008. He was 94.

Stevenson, born in Brooklyn in 1914, served as an environmental and sanitation engineer for native Alaskan and American Indian communities, as well as, on several international assignments. In addition to his public sector efforts, he worked in private sector engineering and, later, as an engineering consultant. His volunteer efforts in professional societies and local civic agencies spanned 70 years.

Stevenson earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Union and a master’s degree in sanitary engineering from Harvard University in 1937. At Union, he was a catcher and co-captain for the baseball team and two-year member of the football team. He was sports editor at the Concordiensis and a member of the Psi Upsilon fraternity. In 2006, the College gave him a Gold Alumni Engineering Award.     

Stevenson began his career as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps in 1941 and served there for 30 years, retiring as a rear admiral.

Also in 1941, he married Alexandra Korsmeyer. The couple went on to have three children, Albert Frederick, Merril and Alexandra.

In 1954, he was promoted to the rank of captain and transferred to the headquarters of President Harry S. Truman’s Federal Civil Defense Administration in Battle Creek, Mich. There, he served as the agency’s chief sanitary engineer and was involved in the Yucca Flats study to determine the effects on utilities from detonation of atomic weapons.

In 1956, Stevenson began his assignment with the Indian Health Service in what would be the period of growth of engineering and environmental health programs for the Native American and Alaskan native people. Among his accomplishments in his service during a 10-year period, was his work in facilitating the implementation of the Indian Water Supply and Sanitation Facilities Act of 1959. The resulting “self-help” program was largely responsible for the rapid reduction of the infant death rate and enteric disease burden among both groups.

In 1963, as chief of the environmental sanitation branch of the Division of Indian Health for the U.S. Public Health Service, he won the Meritorious Service Medal for leading an environmental sanitation program.

Stevenson was promoted to assistant surgeon general, with the rank of Rear Admiral, in 1966 and served as the chief engineer of the Public Health Service Corps., a post he held until 1971. As chief engineer, he carried out a variety leadership tasks including global assignments in Vietnam, India, Mexico, France and Japan.

In the early 1970s, Stevenson joined Malcolm Pirnie Engineers as vice president for international operations, which involved him in major environmental engineering projects in Egypt, Iran, Jordan and Kuwait. He retired once more in 1984 to work as an independent consulting engineer.

In 1992, he spent two weeks in Antarctica to visiting atmospheric research stations. In the late 1980s, he made a three-week trip to Nepal and Kashmir, which included hiking, rafting and a safari. He avidly pursued interests in current domestic and foreign affairs, duplicate bridge, competitive croquet and dancing.


Edwin “Ted” W. Scantlebury ’41

Edwin W. Scantlebury ’41, of Pompano Beach, Fla., a Delta Phi fraternity member and World War II and Korean War veteran who flew 640 aircraft carrier missions as a U.S. Navy pilot, Dec. 5, 2008. He was 89.

Scantlebury was born April 23, 1919, in Utica N.Y. He was the son of Paul and Dorothy Scantlebury and lived in Albany and Schenectady. His father died in 1937 after a car he was riding in fell through ice at Fish Creek in nearby Saratoga Springs. The father and a friend were ice fishing prior to accident.

Scantlebury graduated from Union in May 1941. He joined the Navy V-5 Aviation Cadet Program in June 1941. He soon got his wings and was part of many carrier battles in the Pacific, making 640 flights off their decks. In one battle, he was shot down and endured four days in a one-man life raft before being rescued by an American submarine.

He retired as a Navy commander in 1962 after serving as a fighter pilot for 20 years on several aircraft carriers.

Scantlebury was a member of the Navy flight demonstration team that became the Blue Angels. In a September 1996 Schenectady Gazette story about a Blue Angels air show, Scantlebury discussed his time flying prop-engine F8F Bearcat airplanes with the group that became the Blue Angels.

In the story, he said: “We didn’t even have a name then [1945]. We were just flying exhibition when they added the name Blue Angles. It was because one of the guys went to the Blue Angel nightclub in New York, came back and said he had a great name.”

The Navy sent Scantlebury to graduate school in Monterey, Calif. in 1948 and to George Washington University in 1956 and 1957 for an MBA.

He then served as comptroller at Jacksonville Naval Air Station in Florida. After retirement, he joined Southland Corporation, owner of 7-11 stores, as real estate manager, selecting hundreds of sites for new stores in four states. He retired in 1980.

Scantlebury was active in boating and served as commodore of The Quansett Point Yacht Club in Rhode Island, Jacksonville Sailing Club and several others.

He established a scholarship fund at Union and Bethune-Cookman University, in Daytona Beach, Fla. He received an Alumni Gold Medal for exceptional service to the College in 1991.

 In a ReUnion questionnaire completed in the early 1960s, he wrote: “I believe the four years at Union were responsible for maturing me at an earlier age and were greatly responsible for an orderly transition into the responsibilities of mature life. Union’s well-rounded curriculum has a lasting effect on its student body.”

Scantlebury is survived by his wife, Phyllis Beekman Scantlebury and his two sons, Edwin “Ted” Scantlebury, of Santa Cruz, Calif., and Edwin “Ned” Scantlebury, of, Cape Coral, Fla. and two daughters, Judy Schultz, of Longwood, Fla. and Heather Harris, of Merritt Island, Fla.


Alfred A. “Pat” Knopf Jr. ’42

A brash yet skilled Bailey Prize winner who, as a student, became editor of The Idol magazine and who, after service in World War II, followed in his father’s footsteps by forming Atheneum Publishers. He died Feb. 14, 2009. He was 90.

As editor of the Idol, Knopf was not content to preside over a provincial undergraduate magazine, according to the Encyclopedia of Union College History. During his two-year tenure he streamlined the layout, used connections with his father, Alfred A. Knopf Sr., to get subscriptions from literary luminaries like Willa Cather, H.L. Mencken and Bennett Cerf, and tried to produce a magazine that would not embarrass him in their eyes. That included analysis of national politics analysis and some campus reporting, which was largely critical of then-President Dixon Ryan Fox.

He left Union for the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942. There, he trained pilots before taking up lead pilot duties on a B-24 bomber unit based in England. He earned a Distinguished Flying Cross for his work in the 446th Bomb Group in the Eighth Air Force and rose to the rank of captain before returning from the war in 1945.

As the only child of the publishing giants, he joined the family’s publishing firm and worked there until 1958, when he formed Atheneum. He formed the publishing house with editors Simon Michael Bessie and Hiram Haydn and $250,000 from investors.  

According to a New York Times obituary, the newly formed publishing house enjoyed early success with three bestselling books. The Last of the Just (1960), a novel about the Holocaust by André Schwarz-Bart; The Making of the President, 1960 (1961), the first in Theodore H. White’s series on presidential campaigns; and The Rothschilds: A Family Portrait (1962) by Frederic Morton.

After several years of success, Atheneum merged with Scribner in 1978 and was by 1984 acquired by Macmillan Inc. Knopf led the adult books divisions of Scribner’s houses as a senior vice president before retiring in 1988.

He is survived by his wife, Alice Laine, and their three children, Alison Insinger and Susan Knopf, of New York City, and David A. Knopf, of San Francisco.


Dr. William A. Knight III ’68

Dr. William A. Knight III ’68, of St. Louis, world-renowned breast cancer scholar and educator, March 16, 2009. He was 62.

Knight earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Union and received his medical degree from St. Louis University School of Medicine in 1973 and completed a three-year internal medicine residency with St. Louis University Hospitals in 1975.

He dedicated his medical career to understanding the causes of and caring for those afflicted with breast cancer, starting with medical oncology fellowship training at, respectively, M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute in Houston and, later, the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.

During his years on faculty in the Oncology Division at the University of Texas, he became a world-renowned breast cancer scholar and educator, conducting and publishing landmark research on, among other topics, the estrogen receptor as an independent prognostic factor for early recurrence of breast cancer.

 Among many significant professional accomplishments, he is an emeritus member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and holds a patent for oncology treatment methods. In 1989, Good Housekeeping magazine honored him as one of the best breast cancer physicians in the United States, according to an obituary published in the Suburban Journals newspaper near St. Louis.  

After 11 years at Texas University, he returned to St. Louis University in 1986 as the director of the Division of Medical Oncology and professor of medicine.

Four years later he joined his father, Dr. William Knight Jr., in private practice in St. Louis. He returned again to San Antonio in 2000, where he practiced until his retirement in 2005.

Throughout his life, he loved music and was skilled in playing piano and guitar. His family considered him an expert chef and considered his prowess on the grill unmatched.

He will be missed by his wife, Dr. Gerlyn Friesenhahn and his children, Dr. William A. Knight IV, Dr. Ryan M. Knight, Andrew P. Knight, Andrea Megan Knight, Nathan R. Reisdorph and Jeremy C. Reisdorph.  


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