Parents and Colleges, a new resource to help the parents and guardians of college-bound students navigate the college admissions process, recently cited the best schools with an engaging Greek life. The schools were selected for "vibrant Greek life that supports diversity and community service, provides a thriving and responsible social scene and is highly regarded on campus and off."
When Caitlyn Collins was deciding on where to attend college, her choice was a piece of cake.
“Union was the only school I applied to,” said Collins, who attended Mohonasen High School in the nearby town of Rotterdam. “People would ask me, ‘What if you don’t get in?’ I would tell them I don’t have a plan B.”
Collins did get accepted as a member of the Class of 2014 through the early decision process. So when her family was planning her high school graduation party, they wanted to make a sweet gesture to celebrate her joining the Union community.
The family contacted Villa Italia, a legendary bakery and pastry shop just blocks from campus in downtown Schenectady. They asked the shop to create a cake that resembles Union’s 16-sided centerpiece, the Nott Memorial.
“When you think of Union, you think of the Nott,” said Caitlyn’s mom, Annette, whose father, brother, uncle and two cousins all attended the College. “It’s such a gorgeous building.”
Villa Italia’s “Cake Boss,” owner Bobby Mallozzi, whose lineup of creative cake structures includes the new Yankee Stadium and the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine, accepted the challenge. Using a combination of pastillage, a type of sugar-based dough, and fondant, a creamy decorative coating, and other types of frosting, Mallozzi built a stacked tier cake nearly as impressive as the Nott itself.
“What’s challenging is that you only get one chance to make it right,” said Mallozzi, who estimated it took six hours to replicate the landmark, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. “It would help if I had an engineering background!”
On Friday morning, Union President Stephen Ainlay visited the bakery and marveled at the 20-pound creation, which consists of three 12-inch and two 10-inch cakes. It will rest on a full-size sheet cake and should feed at least 100 people.
As Ainlay prepared to leave, Caitlyn, her mother and her five-year-old sister, Jillian, unexpectedly walked into the shop for a sneak peek of the cake before Sunday’s party at their Rotterdam home. Meeting her college president and admiring the cake only whetted her appetite for Union.
“Wow,” said Caitlyn, who will major in biology. “Wow. I’m just counting down the days for when I can start.”
“Meditations on Empire,” an exhibit by artist and Capital Region native Dan Mills, opens July 15 in the Mandeville Gallery, Nott Memorial.
The exhibition, which features the “American Icons” and “Future States” paintings plus selected other works, will run through Sept. 26.
A closing reception and gallery talk with Mills is set for Thursday, Sept. 16, 5-7 p.m., in the Nott.
The exhibition is accompanied by a 46-page, four-color catalogue, “Dan Mills: Meditations on Empire,” which features an essay by noted art critic Eleanor Heartney.
Mills, director of the Samek Art Gallery at Bucknell University, has been exhibiting in galleries, museums and universities for more than 25 years. Since the early 1990s, his work has addressed themes and imagery related to imperialism, cartography, landscape and hybrid composite portraits of U.S. leaders and cartoon characters.
He has had recent solo shows in Los Angeles, Chicago and Tianjin, and participated in group exhibitions in New York, Beijing and Chicago. His exhibitions have been reviewed in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and New Art Examiner.
The series “US Future State Atlas” a satirical look at an imagined U.S. whose “expansionist imperialist ambitions came true,” was published in book form by Perceval Press in 2009.
Mills’ work is also featured in numerous collections including J.P. Morgan Chase and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
“Mills’ work is a delightful combination of playful, tongue-in-cheek political commentary, and elegant, sophisticated compositions,” said Rachel Seligman, director of the Mandeville.
“His work is ideal for a college gallery, where students and faculty can explore the complex, multi-layered ideas raised by these thought-provoking works.”
The exhibit marks Mills’ return to the area. His parents, Virginia Ward Mills and the late E. Andrew Mills of Schenectady, exhibited extensively in the region and on Cape Cod for decades, and Virginia remains active with the Oakroom Artists of Schenectady.
Mills is a 1974 graduate of Niskayuna High School.
Mathematics and imagination make robot artists. Just look at the 16 middle school students from around the region on campus this week. Each of them has designed a robot – capable of drawing on its own – using a combination of engineering principles and creative thinking.
And this happens annually at Union during the Robot Camp, a week-long course designed to provide hands-on engineering experience. Instructed by Electrical and Computer Science Lecturer James Hedrick, the campers are tasked with customizing their own robots to solve a designated problem. In this case, it’s not so much a problem as a product – a unique piece of modern art for the Schenectady Museum.
“They’re robot artists,” said Hedrick, who has taught the camp for three of its 10 years. “They learn that imagination and ingenuity are integral to understanding the way robots are built, and the way robots are programmed to solve problems.”
Some of Hedrick’s young students enter the camp never having thought about engineering, while others have dabbled in the field but want to know more.
“My parents are engineers,” said Joy Keat, 11, of Niskayuna, N.Y. “I wanted to see how it is.”
In satisfying curious minds like Keat’s, Robot Camp also challenges the children’s inquisitive natures, and allows them to test the waters of engineering in a tangible and rewarding way.
Miles Smachlo, 12, of Rexford, N.Y., for instance, has been to several summer camps. But this was the first one, he said, “where I could use my brain.”
The art created by the robots will be on display at the Schenectady Museum. The robots themselves will go home with their makers and, Hedrick hopes, remind the students of just how much they’ve accomplished.
“This camp is meant to be the start, not the end, of engineering for these students,” he said.