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Posted on Oct 29, 2009

Lara Atkins, director of International Programs, recently participated in the “Succeeding as Women in Higher Education” conference at SUNY Cortland. She was on panel titled “International Women’s Perspective on Leadership.” Experts and scholars discussed academic practices, values and institutional change through presentations, workshops and performances. Among the topics addressed were the dearth of women in leadership positions in higher education; best practices that support, enhance and cultivate gender equity in the academy; the advancement of women in STEM fields; and the attributes or credentials required for women in leadership positions.


Erin Delman ’12, who is majoring in environmental science and geology, helped organize a rally in Albany to address climate change. Last Saturday’s 350.org event, held outside the Capitol, was one of more than 5,000 rallies across the world designed to send a message about limiting carbon emissions to those who will gather for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December. The 350 advocates are asking for any treaty reached at the conference to include a cap they say scientists have identified as the "safe upper limit" for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – 350 parts per million. The 350.org group was founded by noted author and environmentalist Bill McKibben.


Chad Orzel

Chad Orzel, associate professor of physics, recently served on a panel on “Communicating Science in the 21st Century” as part of the Quantum to Cosmos Festival at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario. The 10-day international celebration of science brought together scientists, journalists, authors, and artists to discuss the importance of science communication and science journalism for the science field and society-at-large, and the effects of new technologies on the status and future of science communication. Joining Orzel on the panel were Kathryn O’Hara, CTV Chair in Science Broadcast Journalism at Carleton University, Ottawa, and Canadian Science Writers Association president; Ivan Semeniuk, journalist-in-residence, Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto; Nadia El-Awady, lecturer, online journalism at Al-Ahram Canadian University, Cairo, and president, World Federation of Science Journalists; and freelance science journalist Véronique Morin.


A paper delivered by Rudy Nydegger and his daughter, Liesl Nydegger, at the International Business and Economic Research Conference in Las Vegas, recently won the Best Paper Award in the Management Section. As a result, the paper, titled “The Challenges in Managing Virtual Teams,” will be published in the conference journal. Nydegger is professor of psychology and of management and psychology at Union Graduate College, and his daughter is a graduate student at Claremont Graduate University in California.

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For one alum, a ring returned

Posted on Oct 29, 2009

A phone call from a Florida woman to Union’s Office of Alumni Relations in mid-September set off a chain of events that recently reunited Al Miller '67 with his class ring 15 years after it was stolen. 

The Florida woman told Patti Solosky, of Alumni Relations, that she had recently rediscovered a Union ring that her children found years before. The Class of 1967 ring bore the initials, “A.K.M.,” according to the caller, named Joyce.

The class ring of Allen Miller '67. Fanning.

Solosky recorded the woman’s phone number, discovered that Miller was the only ’67 graduate with the matching initials and sent him an e-mail. In the message, Solosky recounted the phone conversation and contact information and asked Miller if the ring “would perhaps be yours?”

The answer was yes. In fact, the well-loved ring had been stolen from Miller’s house during a break-in 15 years before. 

“I called Joyce and it turns out she lives in Punta Gorda, Fla., about an hour north of my home in Naples. She said that her kids had apparently found the ring on the beach up in that area but she was not sure how many years ago,” Miller recalled in an e-mail.

Allen Miller '67 during his Union years. Fanning.

“I have thought about the ring at least once a month ever since it was stolen. I have no idea how the ring got up to Punta Gorda and I didn't press Joyce on the details, I was just extremely happy to have it back,” Miller wrote.

Miller, a retired high school physics teacher and member of the Sigma Phi fraternity, said the ring had no major scratches or chips and still had the garnet stone. He wondered if the ring’s re-emergence was somehow fated. 

“I got the message from Patti just as I had finished the beginning section of ‘Team of Rivals,’ which included a discussion of William H. Seward, Class of 1830, and how he had journeyed up the Hudson River in a steamboat to attend ‘New York’s prestigious Union College,’” Miller wrote.


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NSF supports research and curricular activities

Posted on Oct 29, 2009

Union faculty investigators are part of a select group nationwide supported by National Science Foundation (NSF) grant programs, with a total of more than $4 million in NSF funding supporting 17 active grant projects at the College. For the latest information, including a list of grant awardees and their project abstracts, please click here.


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Posted on Oct 29, 2009

Friday, Oct. 30, 4 p.m. / College Park Field / Women’s soccer vs. Elms

Friday, Oct. 30, 7 p.m. / Messa Rink at Achilles Center / Men's ice hockey vs. RPI

Friday, Oct. 30- Monday Nov. 2, 8 and 10 p.m. / Reamer Campus Center Auditorium / Film: "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"

Saturday, Oct. 31, 11 a.m. / Rugby Field / Women's rugby vs. Siena College

Saturday, Oct. 31, 1 p.m. / Frank Bailey Field / Football vs. RPI

Saturday, Oct. 31, 1 p.m. / Alumni Gym, pool / Swimming and diving Union relays

Saturday, Oct. 31, 1 p.m. / College Park Field / Men's soccer vs. Skidmore

Tuesday, Nov. 3, 6 p.m. / Viniar Center / Volleyball vs. SUNY Oneonta

Wednesday, Nov. 4, 6:30 p.m. / Nott Memorial / Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker presents “How to Change the World with Your Bare Hands”

Wednesday, Nov. 4, 8 p.m. / Memorial Chapel / Chamber Concert Series: Emmanuel Ax

Wednesday, Nov. 4 through Friday, Nov. 6, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. / Reamer Campus Center / Union chapter of FaceAIDS, the national student campaign to fight the epidemic in Africa, sponsors fundraiser to help AIDS sufferers and orphans in Rwanda and to contribute to the educational and medical programs of Partners in Health, a Boston-based global nonprofit organization

Thursday, Nov. 5, 4:30 p.m. / Schaffer Library, Phi Beta Kappa Room / Philosophy Speaker Series presents: Tulane University's David Shoemaker on "Responsibility without Identity"

Friday, Nov. 6, 1:50 p.m. / Taylor Music Center, Emerson Auditorium / Union College Department of Music and IEF present: "Modern Jazz," part of Friday Jazz with professor Tim Olsen & Friends

Friday, Nov. 6, 3 p.m. / Messa Rink at Achilles Center / Women's ice hockey vs. Cornell

Friday, Nov. 6, 7:30 p.m. / Messa Rink at Achilles Center / Men's ice hockey vs. Brown

Friday, Nov. 6 – Monday Nov. 9, 8 and 10 p.m. / Reamer Campus Center Auditorium / Film: "G.I. Joe"

Saturday, Nov. 7, 9:30 a.m. / Alumni Gym, pool / Men’s and women’s swimming vs. Intrasquad

Saturday, Nov. 7, 2:30 p.m. / Messa Rink at Achilles Center / Women's ice hockey vs. Colgate

Saturday, Nov. 7, 7 p.m. / Messa Rink at Achilles Center / Men’s ice hockey vs. Yale

Sunday, Nov. 8, 3 p.m. / Memorial Chapel / Union College & Community Orchestra; directed by Victor Klimash

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People, passions, projects: In pursuit of a Watson fellowship

Posted on Oct 29, 2009

Watssn nominees, Class of 2010, from left,Frederick Frank, Ewodaghe Harrell, Allison Cuozzo, James Morton

From Argentinean typography to tandoor cooking, ethnic exclusion to South Korean shipbuilding – the topics they plan to explore are as colorful and varied as the four individuals who are vying for a coveted Watson Fellowship.

Their proposals to pursue their passions in foreign lands will compete against others from around the country in the prestigious competition, designed to send exceptional students on a journey of self-discovery and personal challenge.

“The Watson Fellowship is unique because it is not an academic award,” said History Professor Joyce Madancy, chair of Union’s Watson Fellowship Committee. “The Foundation is looking for people first, and then projects, and so the projects really need to reflect a student’s unique passion.”

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program offers a one-year grant to graduating college seniors “of unusual promise” to study independently outside the United States. The stipend for individual award winners is $25,000.

Union’s Watson committee also includes Maggie Tongue, director of Postgraduate Fellowships, Professors Ann Anderson (Mechanical Engineering), Melinda Goldner (Sociology), David Ogawa (Visual Arts) and Chad Orzel (Physics), and William Wolff ’94, a former Watson Fellow.

Union students who have won a Watson include Andrew Krauss ’08, who explored “Evolution in Outrigger Canoeing”; Noah Eber-Schmid ’06, who investigated punk music and culture in Europe and Scandinavia; Adam Grode ’05, who studied long-necked lutes in Central Asia; and Nori Lupfer ’03, who photographed circuses in motion on several continents.

Here are the four members of the Class of 2010 who were nominated by the Union committee and their projects:  

Allison Cuozzo '10, Watson nominee


Love Letters: Unraveling Typographic Dynamics in Hispanic Culture

Hometown: Norfolk, Mass.

Major: Spanish; Minor: Art

Union activities: Varsity soccer, lacrosse, indoor track (two-time All-American); president, Student-Athlete Advisory Council 

Letters, woodcuts, signage, digital fonts and typefaces; these are the things that excite Allison Cuozzo. 

More specifically, she’s intrigued by typography in Spanish-speaking countries.

“I want to discover how the cultural differences in three countries – Spain, Mexico and Argentina – are relayed through typography, and to identify how typefaces are linguistically, geographically or culturally influenced,” Cuozzo said. 

For example, what does a popular street poster in Buenos Aires say about its local culture? Does it reflect a more globalized, mass media use of typography?

The art of type design is an ancient form, and the universe of text typography is, indeed, an entire world unto itself. But with the introduction of digital media and Mac computers that give non-designers the ability to create their own typefaces, there has been a new surge in font creation in many countries, Cuozzo noted.

She would like to immerse herself in the history and development of typography in her chosen cities. She won’t have to look far; books, movie posters, magazines, maps, postcards, wine bottle labels – even ads in taxi cabs – all offer a chance to examine the look and feel of different type styles.

While reviewing the Spanish typographic landscape, Cuozzo will make a montage of her daily observations in her sketchbook, much as she did when she traveled to Italy with the Union soccer team and to France on a mini-term. 

She also will get grounded in typographic dynamics by visiting several design museums, including Fundición Tipográfica Bauer in Barcelona and the National Museum of Print in Mexico City.

In addition, she wants to visit a type foundry and work alongside a typographer to create her own typeface, “an ambitious, detailed process that involves both hand-lettering and scanning, drawing directly on a Wacom tablet and learning the specific curve of a letter or purpose of the font.

“Typefaces tell stories,” she said, and they’re culturally driven. For example, she cited the novel “Rayuela” by Argentinean author Julio Cortázar as the inspiration for the dynamic typeface of the same name, created by Mexican type designer Alejandro Lo Celso,

Never having visited a Spanish-speaking country, Cuozzo said she’s looking forward to tackling the spoken and written language at once. But most importantly, if awarded a Watson, she’ll be able to pursue a passion she’s had since she was a child. 

“When I was little, I found a beautiful menu that my mom had designed in her freehand calligraphy. My eye caught the letters, their use, the strokes. I’ve never forgotten that.”                                           


Frederick Franke, Watson nominee


Out of the Kitchen and into the Fire: Exploring the World’s Open-fire Cooking Methods

Hometown: Annapolis, Md.

Major: Interdepartmental, History and Political Science

Union activities: Past chair of theme houses, Theme House Consortium, varsity lacrosse, Face AIDS philanthropic club, Student Alumni Association, philanthropy chair for Chi Psi Fraternity

Frederick Franke – Rahde to his friends – has a thing for food. He always has.

“Growing up, my sisters hated cooking. They still do,” he recalled, laughing. “I would cook because I wanted to eat – I was chubby – and I eventually found it to be a great creative outlet. I love cooking for my family, and whenever I go home, I usually find myself in charge of dinner.”

More than an enjoyable activity for Franke, food has become an abiding passion, one that inspired him to join a cooking club in high school, help found Culinary House at Union and now, compete for a Watson Fellowship.

“I can’t get enough of what I call the society of food,” Franke said. “Even here, my roommates and I have family-style nights two or three times a week. We all get together, make dinner and hang out.”

If he gets his Watson Fellowship, he’ll be making meals and enjoying the culinary company of people in five vastly different countries. This might sound like the ultimate vacation to dedicated foodies, but Franke won’t be spending his days kicked back on the beach eating exotic delicacies. He’ll be essentially apprenticing himself to open-fire cooks around the world, with the hope of exploring the intimate connection between food and culture.

He intends to study the hangi method of cooking in New Zealand, tandoor in India, braai in South Africa, doner kebap in Turkey and jerk in Jamaica.

“I’ve chosen to focus on open-fire styles because they vary so much between cultures,” he explained. “Open-fire cooking is also more frequently communal and even nationalistic, so I’ll be able to integrate myself into these societies more easily.”

Developing personal relationships is crucial to Franke’s overall goal.

“In each of these countries, like so many others, food has cultural significance,” he said. “In India, for example, food has long been a reflection of caste. In rural parts of the country, it’s still commonplace for Dalits, or the oppressed ones, to eat meat while the higher castes abstain from meat.

“I want to use these different open-fire methods to explore each country’s culture,” he continued. “This will mean immersion in everything related to food. I’ll be visiting marketplaces, butchers, fishmongers, farmers and even tandoor-builders. I want to find out what food means to everyday people by experiencing it and learning to cook in all of these styles myself.”  


Ewodaghe Harrell '10, Watson nominee


Caste Aways: An Exploration of Ethnic Tension from East to West

Hometown: Orlando, Fla.

Major: Interdepartmental, Political Science and Chinese 

Union activities: Black Student Union; Golub House Council Communications Chair; producer and treasurer, TVUC; senior intern, Admissions; study abroad, Shanghai, sophomore year; D.C. term, interning for an NGO, junior year; independent study abroad, Beijing, senior year (upcoming)

“I’ve always considered myself a citizen of the world,” said Ewodaghe Harrell.

The daughter of actor Don Harrell ’75 and Nigerian born folk-artist Ilenbilu Adetutu “Tutu” Harrell of the African folklore and drumming group OrisiRisi, “Ewo” Harrell spent most of her childhood in South Carolina.

Though proud of her Southern heritage, she also has vivid memories of marching, at age 10, with thousands of men, women and children of different religions and ethnicities to protest the Confederate flag, which hangs above the Statehouse.

“We held hands, I sang and I hoped that the flag that made so many people of generations past cry would come down,” she recounted recently. “That moment and many moments since have created a passion in me for protesting injustices.”

Harrell hopes to channel that passion toward a greater understanding of the plight of marginalized peoples in Australia, Brazil, France and South Africa.

“I’m very excited about the possibility of traveling to these four countries to look at racial and ethnic exclusion,” she said. “These people have gone through slavery, wars and protest, yet still they’re excluded from obtaining equal levels of success and development enjoyed by their counterparts.”

As part of her project, Harrell would like to explore how marginalized groups cope on an everyday basis. In Brazil, for example, she would study the Afro-rhythmic music of blacks, and in France, she would examine the strong culture of political action protests against the government by Africans, Muslims and other ethnic minorities.

Ultimately the question she wants to answer: “Have we as a society moved beyond race?”

Harrell feels well-prepared by her studies at Union, particularly from courses in African-American history (sociology), political thought (political science) and protest movements (sophomore research seminar). Over winter break, she’ll be going on the new civil rights public history mini-term, which tours the sites of major civil rights actions throughout the South, including in her native South Carolina.

The name Ewodaghe, Harrell noted, alludes to a Nigerian proverb that declares “a nurtured child is a precious gift that assures humanity may always have nourishment.” 

“I have always wanted to live up to the meaning of my name,” she said.  


James Morton, Watson nominee


“Modern Leviathans and Maritime Landscapes: Scenes of the Global Economy

Hometown: Orient Point, Long Island

Majors: History, Environmental Science

Union activities: Theta Delta Chi fraternity, club ice hockey, rugby

James Morton’s two passions – photography and the sea – come to him quite honestly.

His grandfather, a merchant mariner with a vivid recall and a penchant for storytelling, instilled in him a fascination with the sea and those who make their lives on it.

His mother, an art history major in college who brought him to museums and galleries at an early age, cultivated his creative side and set him on a course toward capturing images through a lens.

Little surprise, then, that Morton has proposed a project in which he uses a large format camera to capture the people and places of the shipping industry. His proposed itinerary would take him to Australia, home to some of the world’s busiest ports; to India, where old ships are disassembled; and to South Korea, where the Daehan Shipyard is the world’s largest shipbuilder.

Morton grew up in New York City almost within sight of one of the busiest seaports in the world.

Yet, like millions around him, he paid little attention to what went on at the Ports of Newark and New York City or the impact of global trade.

“The maritime shipping industry is perhaps the most essential industry in our modern world, yet it is one that operates on its own, with little regulation and out of sight and mind of most of the world,” he said. “We buy imported goods without a second thought to the process of how those goods came to be on our shelves, in our stomachs or in our gas tanks.”

At Union, Morton used a large format camera for a photography project, “On the Banks of the Erie Canal,” in which he documented the landscape, machinery and people of the canal corridor. His work highlighted the decline of industry along the waterway.

While the size of the camera, which produces highly detailed 4 x 5-inch negatives, could be seen as a liability, Morton has found it advantageous.

“It allows me time to think, compose and talk to those around me,” he said. “It starts conversations with strangers; people take interest and are curious about my work. Most importantly, perhaps, is that it is not seen as a threat. It is instantly recognizable as something that is not secretive or covert.”     

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