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Posted on Apr 23, 2009

President Stephen C. Ainlay will deliver the commencement address at his alma mater, Goshen College, Sunday, April 26. The title of his talk is “A Pilgrim’s Mind.”

Zoe M. Oxley, associate professor and chair Political Science, recently was a Scholar-in-Residence at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, one of three scholars invited for the 2008-09 academic year. Oxley guest lectured in political science courses and gave two public lectures, “Women, Gender Stereotyping and Elections in the United States” and “Media Coverage of War: Presidential Power, News Profits and Democracy.” Last week, Oxley also gave a talk to the Department of Political Science at the University of Kansas, entitled “Women, News Media and State Executive Office Elections.”

Stephen Berk, the Henry and Sally Schaffer Professor of Holocaust and Jewish Studies, recently spoke at the Helen and Leon Sperling Holocaust Memorial Lecture in Utica. To read a story about his talk in the Utica Observer-Dispatch, click here (registration may be required). 

Valerie Barr, chair of Computer Science Department, spoke at the “Food for Thought” discussion and luncheon held this week at the University at Albany’s College of Computing & Information. Barr spoke on significant changes in Union’s Computer Science program, including new introductory courses and minors, increased student outreach, joint programs with other departments and support for efforts by 14 faculty members from nine departments to incorporate computation into their course offerings.

Kristin Bidoshi, associate professor of Russian and Interim Dean of Studies, has been appointed Dean of Studies, effective July 1. Bidoshi holds a Ph.D. from the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Literatures at The Ohio State University. The author of several studies of Albanian and Russian folk lore as well as papers on language learning, she has served as the Russian Program Section Leader since coming to Union in 2001. 

Several students read papers at the fourth annual Parilia, an undergraduate research conference in classics. Andrew J. Kehl presented "Romanization in the Greek East: Religious, Historical, and Literary Identity." Jessica Latino presented "Fathers and Daughters in Ovid's Metamorphoses Mirrored in Augustan Society." Peter MacDonald’s paper was titled, "Preserving our Ancestors' Vision: American Neoclassical Architecture – its Influential Role in the Institutional Establishment of our Federalist Order as Exemplified in the Ramée Plan of Union College." Hans-Friedrich Mueller, Professor of Classics, and Tarik Wareh, Assistant Professor of Classics, served as moderators. The event was held at Colgate University last week.

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Posted on Apr 23, 2009

Through May 4
Burns Arts Atrium
Visual Arts Building
Steinmetz Student Exhibition

Features 114 works in a variety of media by 55 studio arts students. Reception set for Tuesday, April 28, 4-6 p.m. at the Atrium gallery.


Through June 14
Burns Arts Atrium
Visual Arts Building
Senior Shows

May 4-10: Jessie Korner, Tobias Leeger
May 11-17: Justin Blau, Russell Goldenberg
May 18-24: Sarah Mueller, Brace Thompson
May 25-31: Brandon McArdle, Ellie Hazelett
June 1-7: Alexandra Lindsey, Patrick Wilson
June 8-14: Megan Sesil, Katherine Cissel


Through May 10
Mandeville Gallery
Nott Memorial
Dynamic Equilibrium

Show explores the intersection of art and science and features artists who explore science and scientists who explore art.


Through May 10
Wikoff Student Gallery
Nott Memorial
LGBTQ: A Union Perspective

Show broadly explores issues that surround the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community at Union and beyond. 


Through September 2009
Schaffer Library Atrium
Union Notables

A rotating show of extraordinary people from the College; features U.S. President Chester Alan Arthur, Class of 1848; hospice leader and advocate Philip DiSorbo, Class of 1971; and Robert Holland Jr., Class of 1962, who has made valuable contributions to sustainability in businesses.

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Novelist and physicist Lightman sparks discussion among students

Posted on Apr 23, 2009

Alan Lightman, April 22, 2009

They seemed hesitant to talk at first, the English and physics students who gathered together for a shared class Wednesday morning. But it didn’t take long for guest lecturer Alan Lightman to kindle a conversation in the nervous silence.

“Books enlighten us about human nature, just like Einstein’s theory of relativity enlightens us about the universe,” he said.

Lightman is the author of the international best-seller “Einstein’s Dreams” and “The Diagnosis,” a National Book Award finalist. He also is a noted physicist.

Both Lightman and the students acknowledged that science and art, in this case literature, take two different approaches to studying the world. Physics is quantitative in its search for answers, while literature is more qualitative.

Still, they seemed to agree that each method has value.

“Both ways you can look at the world around you,” said Alex Handin ’10. “You can learn something about the world through physics, but you can also learn something about the world through literature.”

"When you've written a good novel, it's like you've created a natural resource that continues to feed a lot of people," Lightman said.

Hillary Bauer 11 Lightman class

Citing some of his favorite authors (Primo Levy, Rachel Carson, Italo Calvino), he touched on the craft of writing fiction, including techniques on creatively embedding scientific or technical information in a narrative.

The students, from Bernhard Kuhn’s class on autobiography and Gary Reich’s course in modern physics, also heard Lightman’s thoughts on the role of neuroscience in understanding human nature.

"I am strongly in favor of the sciences exploring everything in the world that can be explored,” he said. “The more we learn, the better. There is no danger of the neurosciences supplanting literature, sociology or psychology.

“In the end, if the artist and scientist have done something that is deep and true, it will blossom and touch other people, even if their interpretations are different.”

Peter Bonventre, physics major 11 in Alan Lightman's class lecture

On Tuesday evening, Lightman gave a public lecture on “The Novelist as Physicist” to a full crowd in the Nott Memorial. There, he exhorted the students in the audience to seek their passion.

Lightman teaches creative writing at MIT, where he has worked as a physicist. In 1989, he was the first professor there to receive a joint appointment in science and the humanities.  

A noted humanitarian, he founded the nonprofit Harpswell Foundation a decade ago to empower disadvantaged young people, particularly women, in developing countries through housing, education and leadership training. Next year, Ned Lincoln ’09 will work with the foundation in Cambodia as a Minerva Fellow.

Lightman is the father of Kara Lightman ’09, an interdepartmental major in anthropology and political science. On Wednesday, May 6, from 5 to 7 p.m., Lightman will detail her own humanitarian work in Cambodia in the Multicultural Lounge in Reamer Campus Center. 

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President Ainlay to speak at Goshen College commencement Sunday

Posted on Apr 23, 2009

Union President Stephen C. Ainlay will deliver the commencement address at his alma mater, Goshen College, Sunday, April 26, 2009. The title of his talk is “A Pilgrim’s Mind.”

Ainlay earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the Indiana school in 1973.

Stephen C. Ainlay, president of Union College, suit, 2-09

This will be the second commencement address for Ainlay. In June 2007, he spoke to 30 sixth-graders of Yates Magnet Elementary School in Schenectady. He was invited to give the graduation address after exchanging letters with the Yates students as part of a project called “Colleges We Could Attend.”

Ainlay has been president of Union since July 2006. In addition to his role as president, he also serves as a professor of sociology at the College and chancellor of Union University, a united entity composed of Union College, Union Graduate College, Albany Medical College, Albany Law School, Albany College of Pharmacy, and the Dudley Observatory of the City of Albany.

A native of Goshen, Ainlay earned both his master’s and Ph.D. from Rutgers University. Before joining Union, Ainlay was vice president for Academic Affairs at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.

His research projects have focused on investigations of blindness, aging, spirituality and various aspects of Mennonite life, all aimed at better understanding the ways in which people find meaning in their lives.

His books include “Day Brought Back My Night: Aging and Vision Loss”; “Mennonite Entrepreneurs” (co-authored with Calvin Redekop and Robert Siemans); “The Dilemma of Difference: A Multidisciplinary View of Stigma” (co-edited with Gaylene Becker and Lerita Coleman); and “Making Sense of Modern Times: Peter L. Berger and the Vision of Interpretive Sociology” (co-edited with James Davison Hunter). He has also published a number of articles and book reviews related to his research areas in such journals as the Journal of Social Issues, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion and the Journal of Gerontology.

Among his fellowships, Ainlay was a visiting scholar at St. Edmund’s College in Cambridge University and summer fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences in Palo Alto, Calif. He held a post-doctoral fellowship at Princeton University’s Mental Health Training Program.

Ainlay is married to Judith Gardner Ainlay, also a graduate of Goshen College. They have two sons: Jesse, a 2005 graduate of Holy Cross, and Jonathan, a student at the University of Arizona.

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Fischer, Chernyavska to perform Wednesday in Memorial Chapel

Posted on Apr 23, 2009

Julia Fischer,violin to perform Thursday, April 5, 2007.

Munich-born violinist Julia Fischer, recognized worldwide for possessing a musical talent of uncommon ability, will be accompanied by Ukrainian pianist Milana Chernyavska in her third Chamber Concert Series performance Wednesday, April 29 at 8 p.m. in Memorial Chapel.

The pair will present portions of Violin Sonatas by Mozart, Prokofiev, Beethoven and Martinu.

The 26-year-old Fischer, a Maazel protege, is often praised for her imaginative and illuminating interpretations of the classical repertoire. She was named “Artist of the Year” at the 2007 Classic FM Gramophone Awards, among other prestigious honors. At 11, she won the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition.

Since then, she has performed with premier orchestras and symphonies around the world, and recorded albums that have proved overwhelmingly popular.

Milana Chernyavska,piano,to perform Thursday, April 5, 2007

Chernyavska gave her first performance in the Great Philharmonic Hall in Kiev when she was seven. A graduate of Tchaikovsky Conservatoire, she has won many prizes, including a Gold Medal at the 1994 Vladimir and Regina Horowitz Competition. She has also held the title, “Outstanding Artist in the Ukraine.”

Wednesday’s show is free to members of the Union community. General admission tickets are $25; area students may attend for $10.


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Steinmetz Memorial Lecture set for Monday

Posted on Apr 23, 2009

Lawrence Kazmerski

Lawrence L. Kazmerski, executive director of Science and Technology Partnerships at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colo., will give the 70th Steinmetz Memorial Lecture Monday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the Nott Memorial.

His talk, titled “Solar Photovoltaics Technology: The Beginning of the Revolution,” is free and open to the public.

Kazmerski was the first staff member in photovoltaics at NREL, a premier U.S. Department of Energy laboratory dedicated to renewable energy research, development and deployment. Hired specifically to establish efforts in the characterization of photovoltaic materials and devices, he led efforts in measurements and characterization for two decades. From 1999 to 2008, he headed the lab’s National Center for Photovoltaics.

NREL’s photovoltaic research focuses on decreasing the nation’s reliance on fossil-fuel generated electricity by lowering the cost of delivered electricity and improving the efficiency of photovoltaic modules and systems.

Before his NREL affiliation, Kazmerski served on the electrical engineering faculty at the University of Maine. His research included NSF- and ERDA-funded work in thin-film photovoltaics and the report of the first thin-film copper-indium-diselenide (CIS) solar cell.

He holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Notre Dame.

The Steinmetz Memorial Lecture commemorates world-renowned engineer Charles Proteus Steinmetz (1865-1923), professor of Electrical Engineering at Union from 1902 to 1913. Created in 1925, it has brought dozens of eminent scientists, engineers and innovators to campus.

Monday’s event is presented in conjunction with the Schenectady Section of IEEE. There will be a social hour at 5:15 p.m. and reservation-only dinner at 6 in Hale House.

For more information, click here.

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