The panelists were as varied as the liberal arts they represented. There was a Hollywood director, a research scientist, a venture capitalist, an international relations lawyer and a Tony Award-winning actor.
They were five of the 10 Binghamton University alumni celebrating "Bold Ideas. Brilliant Careers. 60 Years of Harpur College" on stage Nov. 14 at Lincoln Center's Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse overlooking a sunny Manhattan skyline.
See a full video from this event.
Moderated by Owen Pell '80, the panel explored "how we create, how we relate and how we remember" by sharing how Harpur experiences and a liberal arts education formed the basis for their exceptional careers.
"Harpur has shown ability year after year to do what a great liberal arts education is supposed to do," Pell told the crowd of nearly 100, "which is prepare all of us to go out into the world and take the damn place by storm."
That's exactly what Andrew Bergman '65 did, writing Blazing Saddles, The In-Laws, Honeymoon in Vegas and Striptease. (He also directed the last two.)
At Harpur, "we had to read every major book from the Odyssey through A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," he said. "It was a total immersion in that kind of literature. Many years later, they are still a frame of reference."
By connecting him to the classics, Bergman's professors added richness to his already cutting humor. It was just 20 years after World War II, in which many professors served. The country was emerging from the constricted '50s as the cultural whirlwinds of the late '60s were beginning to stir. Meanwhile, two countries with a nuclear arsenal capable of annihilating the planet were facing off. Bergman remembered watching President Kennedy's Cuban Missile Crisis speech on television with a couple of hard-drinking, chain-smoking professors.
"After it’s over, [Professor] Fred Loch turns off the set and says, 'If there's a nuclear war, I'm canceling my classes tomorrow,'" Bergman said to a laughing audience. "And that was Harpur in the '60s. That was the essence of it."
One by one, the panelists told stories of professors who changed their lives.
Ruben Santiago-Hudson '78 is the Tony- and Obie-winning actor who wrote, directed and performed Lackawanna Blues. (He now plays Capt. Roy Montgomery in ABC's Castle.) He told of arriving at Don Boros's acting class one day and, instead of doing the assigned monologue, he performed a piece about his life growing up in an upstate boarding house, abandoned by a drug-addicted mother.
After some back and forth about the deviation from the assignment, Boros acquiesced, and "I spilled all this out about my life in this one 10-minute or 5-minute rant," Santiago-Hudson told the audience. "A stream of consciousness just came out of me, and people looked at me completely different. That was the beginning of Lackawanna Blues."
Boros was in the audience, supporting his former student. It was that kind of teacher passion, the panelists agreed, that had the biggest impact on their educations.
Venture capitalist Joel Kellman remembers skipping an 8 a.m. political behavior class when his professor showed up in the cafeteria and said, "Joel, it's time for class. You must come with me."
Pell noted that the time and effort to "herd the cats back into the classroom really says something powerful about the school."
Read more about the panelists.
16th Botnick Entrepreneurship Competition
By Steve Seepersaud
A group of students in the School of Management earned $2,500 to start their new business venture. WiseResume.com - the brainchild of Jason Brandt, Mihir Desu, Jonathan Guerrera, Elliot Nasser and Hyunwoo Yoo - won the 16th Botnick Entrepreneurship Competition. During the final round, which took place at SOM Dec. 7, the WiseResume.com team as well as three other finalists presented their business plans before a panel of judges who themselves have experience in running their own businesses. Competitors were students in Angelo Mastrangelo's Entrepreneurship 460 and 560 combined class group.
WiseResume.com would fill the gap between on-campus career development centers and high-priced career coaches. If someone was looking for a job in finance, for example, Wise Resume.com would connect him or her with a professional who has experience critiquing resumes from other people working in finance.
"A lot of us can speak from experience that trying to reach out to people in our industry is a very time-consuming process, and [WiseResume.com] makes it a little easier," Guerrera said during the presentation. "We offer subject-matter expertise at a low cost."
WiseResume.com will earn another $2,500 if the company successfully operates in the Binghamton area for one year.
* Midnight Baker - the creation of Melissa Gomes, Anne Gole, Andrew Kneller, Carolyn Kost and Himalaya Rao-Potlapally - is a business that would offer organic and gluten-free baked goods in order to serve the growing consumer segment suffering with food allergies.
* Adventurcise - a concept by Michele Gordon, Shirley Hu, Danielle Tanamy and Alan Yip - is a health and wellness program that would train instructors to go into schools and gyms to lead children in imaginative exercise sessions.
* Practical Medical Management - with team members Arkadiy "David" Aloyts, Zachary Buckter, Andrew Lin and Andrea Smith - offered physicians a new concept for running their medical offices. The company would supply professional office managers to enable doctors to spend more time treating patients and less time completing paperwork.
Judges were: Ferris Akel '59, president of Giant Markets in Binghamton; Kevin Blake, owner of Integrated Computer Solutions in Endicott; Howard Eisen '87, managing director and co-founder of Fletcher Bennett, a New York-based hedge fund business development and consulting firm; and Jon Layish '91, owner and founder of Red Barn Computers in Binghamton.
Alumnus accepts key role within the school
By Ashley Smith
Michael Elmore, PhD '04 majored in engineering his first semester at the University of Vermont. Uncertainty though – faced by many engineering undergrads – led him to change his major.
Now as director of the Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science Engineering Design Division, Elmore's freshman experience has made him appreciate the unique balance of technical knowledge and communications skills offered by Binghamton's freshman engineering program.
During that one semester as an engineering major, Elmore took many of the same core courses as Binghamton freshmen, but the correlation to engineering was missing.
"Students in EDD are writing and giving presentations, but their topics are engineering related," he said.
Elmore graduated from the University of Vermont with a bachelor's degree in philosophy and continued on for his master of education degree. After teaching high school math for five years, though, the pull of engineering resurfaced.
More than 15 years after switching away from engineering, Elmore returned to the University of Vermont and in 1985 graduated with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering.
He was hired by General Electric in Johnson City that June and stayed in the area for the next 25 years working at Celestica Corporation, BAE Systems and finally, Lockheed Martin. During that time, he received his master's in electrical engineering from Syracuse University and his PhD in electrical and computer engineering from Binghamton.
When he saw the EDD director position advertised, he knew almost immediately that it was a perfect match. He had the technical engineering background as well as a familiarity with high school seniors. And his philosophical background gave him an appropriate viewpoint for the ever-increasing interdisciplinary and complex nature of the engineering field.
The isolated engineer who's focused solely on the technical aspects of a problem is far from the truth today, Elmore explains. "EDD provides a complete view of what an engineer does by bringing all of the elements – science, technology, math, communications – together." The program also continues to make team-based projects a cornerstone of the learning experience.
During their first semester, 82 freshman teams built interactive objects using Arduino, an open-source prototyping platform. Groups chose from eight projects including turn signal clothing, self lacing shoes, secret-knock door lock, a computer mouse glove and a fortune teller game. Teams then showcased their projects for faculty, staff and local middle and high school students at an Arduino Exposition in October. See a gallery featuring several teams and their projects.
Elmore spent his first semester back at Binghamton meeting with faculty and department chairs, coordinating lectures, instructing freshman courses, meeting prospective students’ and their parents, and helping out as a teaching assistant in a Discovering Engineering lab. And he looks forward to working with the Watson School faculty and staff to continue to grow and evolve the EDD program. "The road led me here, and I feel this is where I belong."
Memory Clinic opens on campus
By Eric Coker
Binghamton University is helping to reach out to elder community members and their families, thanks to the opening of the Memory Clinic on campus.
The clinic, coordinated through the Decker School of Nursing's Elder Services Center, offers geriatric assessments, consultations and case management services for local residents. The clinic is located in Room 337 of the Academic B building and operates every other Thursday evening.
The main Memory Clinic is located at the Johnson City Family Care Center. It operates every other Thursday afternoon.
"The clinic is an expansion of services," said Rene Conklin, director of the Elder Services Center, who works with older residents who fear they may be developing Alzheimer’s or dementia. "The expansion of services is because the number of clients I'm getting calls from has increased. We have the site available and we found a doctor who is willing to help."
Patient visits, which are confidential and by appointment only, are conducted in two parts, Conklin said. The first consists of a home visit in which Conklin and Elder Services staff members examine the history and background of the patient and do initial memory testing. A second visit takes place at the Memory Clinic with Dr. Jerome Mikloucich of Lourdes Hospital, who volunteers his time and works with Elder Services staff, Decker faculty and nurse practitioner students to develop a diagnosis and recommendation report for the primary care physician. Medicare covers consultation fees if the physician has referred the patient to the clinic.
"We will review a consolidated medical history because elderly people often have different doctors," Conklin said. "When we put everything together, it gives us the chance to look at all of the medications and treatment patterns to see what could be interfering with each other."
Conklin and the clinic also work with the families of elderly patients in areas ranging from stress management techniques to assistance in finding the proper services.
"There are a lot of services available in Broome County, but they're not always easy to find," she said. "When you are under that kind of stress, having to look through a phone book to find something can be an overwhelming task. I can usually point them in the direction where to go."
Conklin emphasized that many patients come to the clinic afraid that they are developing Alzheimer's or dementia, but other factors could be involved, such as an undiagnosed illness, side effects from medication, hormone problems or even the natural aging process.
"As we age, the more likely we are to develop some type of cognitive impairment," she said. "Some memory loss in the elderly is common and not necessarily a problem. We have a lot of people who come in terrified…and they do have some cognitive impairment. But it's not enough to interfere with their lives. They are highly functional."
About 40 family nurse practitioner and geriatric nurse practitioner students are involved in the clinic and receiving geriatric clinic experience, Conklin said. The Thursday evening hours were established to help those patients who are employed.
"It's convenient for people who work during the day and have a hard time getting off work," Conklin said. "They don't have to take an afternoon off to do a clinic visit."
As the population continues to age, Conklin believes there is potential for further expansion of services for the Memory Clinic.
"The hope is there," she said. "It would be great (to offer services) a few days a week. If the demand increases, I'm sure everything will be done to expand it.
"This shows the Decker School of Nursing and Binghamton University's commitment to the community," she added. "It shows a huge commitment to have this clinic open and available to our community."
Binghamton and Beyond
By Dawn Bartolomeo, Program Analyst, U.S. Department of Agriculture
I have many fond memories of my time as an MPA student at Binghamton University. Community-based projects, office hour visits to professors and numerous written assignments come to mind as examples of my Binghamton experience. These experiences have helped me to attain personal career goals and continue to further my commitment to public service.
Community-based projects helped to ensure I became aware of the vast impact an assignment had on the surrounding community. For example, I remember working with my peers and faculty to write a grant for a cohort of local school districts. During this project we read research findings and discussed the importance of the grant to the overall community. I will never forget how wonderful it was to learn the community received federal funding to improve community-based programs for children in schools. To know that as a result of these programs the children gained more access to nutritious foods and health services had a large impact on me.
Visits to professors’ office hours were important as well; they were imperative to the learning process. At these meetings I could discuss a current project or learn about the topics my professors were researching, thus furthering my growth as a student. The faculty members’ welcoming demeanor and information sharing always put me at ease and made me feel comfortable sharing my concerns or questions.
Written assignments also played a pivotal role in my success in the program, providing me with an opportunity to hone my writing skills and master written formats such as memos, policy briefs, research papers and policy analysis reports. I did not realize this at the time, but these skills would become crucial to my success in the program and my position today.
Considering the experiences mentioned above, it is no wonder I feel comfortable in my position as a program analyst for the United States Department of Agriculture. In this role, I am given tasks that include the creation of regulations, policy memos, policy briefs, grant requests for proposals and other assignments. Through these assignments policies are clarified, implementation guidance is provided and funding is derived. The experiences at Binghamton, whether through written assignments, community-based projects or meetings, have helped me to succeed in my current position.
My previous involvement with community-based projects has increased my understanding of the role of not-for-profit organizations and local government in the social service realm, and has enabled me to understand the importance of creating regulations that can be effectively implemented at these levels. The MPA program has provided me with the basic skill sets to perform my job effectively and for this reason I will be forever grateful to Binghamton University and its faculty.
Teacher Education Program receives reaccreditation
From Inside BU
The Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC) has awarded national reaccreditation to Binghamton University's Teacher Education Program. TEAC, one of two national accrediting agencies for teacher preparation programs, is recognized as a national accreditor by the U.S. Department of Education and by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
Binghamton's program, originally the first in SUNY to receive TEAC accreditation in 2005, is one of more than 118 programs in 21 states with TEAC-accredited educator preparation programs. The reaccreditation period is for 10 years.
According to Frank B. Murray, president of TEAC, "only a bare majority of the nation's college and university teacher education programs and programs for professional educators in the United States are nationally accredited."
To be accredited by TEAC, a teacher education program must have solid, independently verifiable evidence of its graduates' competence. In particular, the program must show that its graduates understand the subject matter they are certified to teach, understand the process of learning and teaching, and possess teaching skills that lead students to appropriate levels of achievement. The program must also have an ongoing process for reviewing and improving itself, and must demonstrate that it has the capacity to offer quality education.
Graduate School of Education Dean S. G. Grant said that earning reaccreditation through TEAC is confirmation of the strong program of studies offered. "I am pleased that the quality of our teacher education program has been recognized in this fashion. It is a testament to the outstanding students, faculty, and staff in the school."