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Last updated: Mon, 23 Oct 2017 03:03:11 GMT

 Alumni Association takes awards ceremony to Broadway Tue, 04 Apr 2017 12:33:00 +0000
Fourteen Binghamton University graduates are saluted.

The lights dimmed at Manhattan’s historic Edison Ballroom and Neil Berg ’86 took center stage wearing a feathered hat. This brief reprisal of Colonial Woody – a role he played as a student – gave the 250 alumni and friends in attendance a hint that an unusual Binghamton University experience was about to begin.

Berg, an accomplished Broadway composer, lyricist and producer, and Pat McGuinness ’85 led a group of 25 alumni performers through a Binghamton version of “Tradition” from Fiddler on the Roof. The lively number, referencing traditions such as Stepping on the Coat and co-rec football, was fitting for an event that builds tradition and pride: the Alumni Association’s annual Special Recognition Awards Ceremony.

On March 30, the association honored 14 notable Binghamton graduates for their engagement with the University and stellar career accomplishments. The event, held in the heart of Manhattan’s Theater District, also included performances by Berg’s wife, noted soprano Rita Harvey, and Joanne Borts ’82, soprano and director.

The Alumni Association presented Gary Kunis ’73 with the Glenn G. Bartle Distinguished Alumni Award, recognizing his support of the University and his accomplishments in the technology industry.
Now a philanthropist and entrepreneur, Kunis retired as vice president and chief science officer at Cisco, which he joined at the company’s outset and helped build into the world’s largest technology company. He’s Binghamton’s first significant alumni donor, and his gifts have benefited the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science, for which he is an advisor.

“I view supporting Binghamton as an exercise in payback,” Kunis said. “Alumni should view giving back as an exercise of repaying a debt, engaging in personal altruism and understanding their own self-interest.”

Having turned Nickelodeon into a cable television powerhouse with household names such as “SpongeBob Squarepants,” Marjorie Cohn ’78 is leading a team that will create thousands of episodes of new animated programming. She was hired as the first head of DreamWorks and Universal’s combined television animation business. Cohn received the Alumni Achievement Award, recognizing her industry accomplishments as well as her engagement with Binghamton University students.

“When I was a young producer, responsible for the budget and production plan of an entire show, I felt like I had been handed the keys to the kingdom,” Cohn said. “I felt it again when I took over development for Nickelodeon and had my first successful slate. And, now, at DreamWorks, building something brand new and getting to reinvent once again makes me feel every bit as exhilarated.”

Barry Chaffkin ’86 received the Edward Weisband Distinguished Alumni Award for Public Service or Contribution to Public Affairs. He has spent nearly three decades in the child welfare system bringing families together. CEO and co-founder of Fostering Change for Children, he has supervised the reunification of more than 900 children with their families and the finalization of more than 900 adoptions from the New York City foster care system. The theme of family came through in his award presentation as Chaffkin took the stage with his son and recognized his Tau Alpha Upsilon brothers who attended the event.

“I get to help kids every day of my life,” Chaffkin said. “Young adults end up with families and opportunities instead of aging out of foster care and falling victim to all types of social ills. And I get to do it with the support of a core group of friends – including many from Binghamton.”

Laura Vollmer ’10 was visibly bursting with pride as she received the Lois B. DeFleur Distinguished Young Alumni Award, which recognizes alumni under the age of 35 who have demonstrated leadership as well as commitment to the University. Since graduating from Binghamton, she has remained engaged with the School of Management, serving on the Young Alumni Board, mentoring students, recruiting for PricewaterhouseCoopers – where she works in business development – and judging case competitions.

“I had such a great experience in the School of Management and I’m happy to give back,” Vollmer said. “Through [the PwC Scholars Program], I learned public speaking skills I still leverage, discovered my love of travel, gained Professor Elliot Kamlet as a lifelong mentor and friend, and met my fiancé Evan Roth ’10, MS ’11.”

The following alumni received Medals of Distinguished Service recognizing their volunteer engagement with specific areas of campus:
George B. Cummings II ’07 (Admissions)
Doris Diaz-Kelly ’94, MA ’97 (Educational Opportunity Program)
Penelope Harper, MA ’90, PhD ’97, MAT ’03 (Graduate School of Education)
Bruce David Klein ’85 (Fleishman Center)
Robert D. Kump ’83 (Watson School)
Nelson Mar ’94 (Harpur College)
Chelsea Reome ’13, MPA ’16 (College of Community and Public Affairs)
Patricia Saunders ’65 (Athletics)
Matthew Singer ’96 (School of Management)
Edwin A. Torres ’10, MS ’14 (Decker School of Nursing)

Visit the Alumni Association website for more information about the 2017 award recipients.


 
 2017 Graduate Excellence Award winners Thu, 30 Mar 2017 18:56:00 +0000
30 students receive honors for teaching, research, service and outreach.

Teaching
Hannah Cronk – Chemistry

Cronk

CRONK

Hannah Cronk’s passion for chemistry helps to encourage and inspire her students. She believes that teaching chemistry provides an opportunity to connect science to real life, instill wonder, and motivate future generations. Her students say her enthusiasm, dependability and initiative set the standard for all other teaching assistants and she is a great mentor who is able to make the learning process easier. She implements a variety of teaching approaches that are beneficial to all learning types, including lectures with slides, written explanations, diagrams/charts, and practice problems for major concepts. She has served as head teaching assistant for General Chemistry; assistant coordinator for Go Green, a two-week intensive summer program for rising sixth graders; and as instructor of record for General Chemistry. She received the Lois D. Mackey award for teaching in her first year in the Chemistry Department for her ability to challenge students in a no-nonsense, supportive way.

Chelsea Gibson – History

Gibson

GIBSON

Teaching is extremely important to Chelsea Gibson, who is known for teaching a variety of classes, developing her own pedagogical style, and mastering teaching in a number of fields. She has been a teaching assistant for Imperial Russian History and Foundations of America. She has worked as a language resource specialist for the Languages Across the Curriculum program for three courses: Borderlands of Eastern Europe, International Business, and History of Soviet Russia. She created and taught Russian Revolution through American Eyes and has been instructor of record for several other courses including Modern America Civilization. She believes the purpose of teaching is to forge connections and help students think more about themselves and the world they inhabit. Colleagues describe her as lively, warm, innovative, creative, effective, a superb communicator and she has the ability to create a perfect learning environment. Students say she is attentive, respectful and an inspiration to them.

Alexander Haruk – Chemistry

Haruk

HARUK

Alexander Haruk is a born teacher. His passion for learning shines through everything he does. Whether he is teaching a team of 50 teaching assistants or spending hours with freshmen students during office hours, he is patient and kind. Truly committed to being the best instructor he can be, believing in the premise that everyone is an adult, he treats all of his students that way. Haruk was instrumental in development of the Chemistry Department’s live-streamed online “office hours” through the Center for Learning and Teaching, he is dependable, conscientious, and demonstrates strong subject mastery. He has been a teaching assistant, head teaching assistant, instructional assistant, and instructor of record for General Chemistry, and has also been a teaching assistant for Instrumental Methods of Analysis and Experimental Physical Chemistry. His students note he is knowledgeable and compassionate, has a sense of humor and is always a willing guide for them when they need help. 

Marcus Heiligenthal – English

Heiligenthal

HEILIGENTHAL

Believing that the best learning environments are those where students learn from each other as much as from the instructor, Marcus Heiligenthal creates a classroom that is inclusive and dynamic. Students describe his teaching as “free-flowing, open and cool,” and note that they feel motivated, comfortable and free to speak their opinions. He has been a guest lecturer, a teaching assistant for two undergraduate courses and instructor of record for five different undergraduate courses, including Writing 111 for freshmen and Writing 101 in the summer Educational Opportunity Program. He is confident and well prepared in the classroom and asks questions that probe for answers. His enthusiasm for the material and his students is infectious, creating an environment that welcomes participation. Called a stern grader by students, he is also praised by them for his passion, his willingness to spend extra time with them, and his ability to relate dense material to relevant things in students’ lives.

Sina Khanmohammadi – Systems Science and Industrial Engineering
Sina Khanmohammadi is a dedicated educator who truly cares about students’ learning and success. He has been a teaching assistant for two undergraduate and four graduate courses, and developed and taught two courses – one for the Department of Systems Science and Industrial Engineering and one for the School of Management – as instructor of record.  He taught an additional course online during the 2016 Summer Session. He utilizes four elements in his teaching – experiential learning, Socratic questioning, a holistic perspective and positivity – striving always to understand every student’s individual goals, needs and interests to help them gain confidence in their skills and abilities. He puts students’ learning first, paying careful attention to detail and providing feedback, coming fully prepared with both a lecture and an in-class activity. Warm and friendly in demeanor, he is always available to meet with students after class to help them understand concepts and written assignments.

Yelena Khvatskaya –Psychology
Yelena Khvatskaya is deeply immersed in teaching at Binghamton, welcoming assignments as a teaching assistant and seeking out teaching assignments whenever possible. Though she is a clinical science PhD candidate, she has been instructor of record for three different courses – Cognitive Psychology, Research Methods and Introduction to Psychology – teaching material often considered beyond the interest domain of clinical students. She has also been a teaching assistant for five courses and sees the experience of teaching as core to her identity as a clinical psychologist. Her goals are to teach students to think critically, to be able to analyze and apply information they are given, to help them engage in discussion and present their ideas, and to teach them how to write effectively for a given audience. Her enthusiasm for the material is spreading to her students, allowing them to become comfortable asking questions and become engrossed in resulting discussions.

Jung Yeun Kim – Accounting

Kim

KIM

Jung Yeun Kim’s success in teaching is due in great part to her wealth of experience in auditing and finance. Her professional experience working for a public accounting firm and global financial institutions provides her a good foundation for reducing the gap between accounting theory and practice, enabling her to better connect with students. She has been instructor of record for Cost Accounting and Financial Accounting courses, including two preparations for new courses. She emphasizes the importance of communication to her students through use of humor and a variety of teaching techniques, making learning enjoyable and motivating students to excel. Students say she is able to present difficult concepts with ease and clarity, and always makes herself available to them when they have questions. They also commend her for providing opportunities to help them grow professionally, bringing in guest lecturers with industry knowledge, and teaching them the importance of networking.

Angela Runciman – Comparative Literature

Runciman

RUNCIMAN

Angela Runciman is a bright and committed scholar whose teaching is an extension of her impressive scholarship. She is in control of the material, energetic, accessible and capable of eliciting excellent responses from her students. She covers material in a creative fashion and guides students attentively in the history of literature as well as the difficult territory of literary critics and theory. She has been a teaching assistant and instructor for three courses at Binghamton: Literature and Society on the topic of Modern Women Writers; Benjamin/Woolf/George Eliot and Modern Women in Literature and Film. She has also served as an adjunct lecturer for the Department of English, teaching British Literature 2, Horror Fiction/Film and Literature and Medicine. Her student-centered teaching allows students to practice listening and appreciating others’ ideas as they share their writing. Students commend her for in-class discussions that play a pivotal role in their understanding of the literature.

Nicole Wagner – Art History
Nicole Wagner is a stellar teacher with the ability to understand the material and clearly convey its substance and significance to a diverse range of students. She works relentlessly to engage students in the course material and to equip them with the skills necessary to succeed. She builds her classroom philosophy on the premise that the most effective instrument a teacher has is passion for the material. She has been a teaching assistant and guest lecturer for Renaissance and Baroque, Drama of the Baroque, Introduction to Art History, and Early Modern London, and instructor of record for Sex and Gender in Renaissance Art. With a profound level of commitment to pedagogy, she has developed a loyal following of students because she takes an interest in them and their successes, employs different strategies in the classroom and is able to explain difficult concepts and themes to students with various learning styles.

Matthew Wahila – Physics

Wahila

WAHILA

Whether in the classroom or the laboratory, teaching introductory or advanced courses, Matthew Wahila excels at inspiring his students and instilling in them a passion for learning. He strives not only to teach science, but also use science to rigorously evaluate and improve his teaching methods. Additionally, he has also been integral to the development of the Freshman Research Immersion Smart Energy program. Using state-of-the-art research on active learning teaching methodologies, he has helped craft an engaging curriculum that uses hands-on, authentic research activities as a tool to better teach advanced physics concepts to undergraduate students. He has been a teaching assistant and a mentor for the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates. He exhibited exceptional skills as he taught materials fabrication, instrumental analytical techniques, and advised teams of freshman students working on projects. Students note that he was always able to simplify difficult concepts, so even non-physics majors were able to understand the material.

Research
Stephen Ambrozik – Chemistry

Ambrozik

AMBROZIK

Stephen Ambrozik is among the smartest and most deeply involved his nominator has ever worked with. His research focuses on fundamental and applied electrochemistry. He has six publications in high-impact factor journals, including three as first author, and has presented at numerous regional, national, and field-specific meetings. He was awarded a travel grant to attend the 225th Electrochemical Society meeting, due to the importance of his work. In 2014, he was selected to co-chair the Gordon Research Seminar in electrodeposition, a recognition by his peers that demonstrates his ability to plan and execute a two-day seminar for graduate students. He was also recently recognized by the National Science Foundation Chemistry Division as the recipient of an Agency Priority Goals Graduate Education Funding Supplement to allow him to complete an internship at the National Institute of Standards and Technology with one of the leaders in the field of electrodeposition and interfacial electrochemistry.

Minyoung Cheong – Organizational Studies/Leadership

Cheong

CHEONG

Minyoung Cheong is described as extremely bright and very goal directed. He studies leadership, empowerment, autonomy and paradoxical counter-theoretical mechanisms potentially embedded in various organizational phenomena. He has published five peer-reviewed journal articles in journals including Leadership Quarterly and Group & Organization Management, and has a sixth conditionally accepted to Leadership Quarterly with five more in progress. He has won travel awards to attend two major conferences and has presented 14 papers at top national and international conferences such as the Academy of Management, Society for Industrial & Organizational Psychology and Southern Management Association. His dissertation, titled “Empowering Leadership: A Comprehensive Perspective and Tests with Multiple Methods and Studies,” pursues a holistic view and methodological rigor for leadership within a multi-level perspective. His nominators note that his work has strong conceptual foundations and methodological rigor, even as it deals with complex paradoxical, interdisciplinary and/or multi-level issues in theory and in methods.

Jessica Derleth – History

Derleth

DERLETH

Jessica Derleth’s work places her among the top students in Binghamton University’s PhD program in women’s history. She has won numerous grants for travel, professional development and research from Binghamton University. In 2015, she was awarded a Mellon Research Fellowship to conduct research at the Virginia Historical Society, and a Helen L. Bing Fellowship to work at the Huntington Library. In 2016, she won the Carol Gold Graduate Student Conference Paper Prize from the Western Association of Women Historians. She has published several book reviews and encyclopedia entries, as well as 11 “teaching tools” essays for the Women and Social Movements website project. The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era has asked her to revise and resubmit an article, and the New York History journal has invited her to contribute an article. Another article will appear in the New York State Museum’s catalogue, Votes for Women: Celebrating New York State’s Suffrage Centennial.

Dmitry Evtyushkin – Computer Science

Evtyushkin

EVTYUSHKIN

Dmitry Evtyushkin’s research focuses on modifications to computer architecture to increase the security of computer systems and he has made significant contributions to this relevant field. He proposed and evaluated a new system for creating isolated execution environments that can protect user’s secrets even in the presence of potentially compromised operating systems and other system software layers. He also discovered several vulnerabilities in today’s processors and proposed solutions to mitigate them in future designs. His work has been reported on widely by technical news outlets. He has published six papers, all as first author, including three in the foremost conferences in the area of computer architecture and security, including the IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Microarchitecture and the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, and two in leading journals IEEE Transactions on Dependable and Secure Computing and ACM Transactions on Architecture and Code Optimization. He currently has another paper under review.

Joseph Hall – Psychology

Hall

HALL

Co-author on seven peer-reviewed publications, including two as first author, Joseph Hall studies the neurobiology of learning and memory, and specifically how it can be modulated by the environment and through pharmacological techniques to attain greater understanding of the biological underpinnings that may eventually lead to the treatment of memory disorders. His dissertation work is critical to the understanding of how exercise improves and rescues brain function that can lead to the recovery of cognitive performance in the elderly and those diagnosed with neurodegenerative disease. He has 14 conference posters and abstracts to his credit, as well as nine presentations, and was invited to the Universidade Federal De Minas Gerais (UFMG) of Brazil to team teach a course in animal models of neurological disorders during the 6th annual UFMG Neurosciences Symposium. He presents his research annually to the department and at the Society for Neuroscience meeting, and is a leader and mentor in the lab.

Tian He – Systems Science and Industrial Engineering

He

HE

Tian He’s research focuses on production and manufacturing systems optimization, such as surface mount technology placement machine optimization, semiconductor testing job dispatching and capacity planning. She works to find novel techniques for modeling, analysis, improvement and control of production and manufacturing systems. She has eight refereed publications in journals including Applied Soft Computing, Robotics and Computer-Integrated Manufacturing, and the International Journal of Advanced Mechatronics Systems, including five as first author. She has five conference publications as first author including at two International Conferences on Flexible Automation and Intelligent Manufacturing. She has also made seven technical presentations at conferences and industrial project meetings. Her research background is a global one. Her dissertation on printed circuit board optimization began with a research project funded by Samsung Techwin in South Korea. Currently, she is studying how to optimize planning and dispatching processes for Analog Devices Inc. at General Trias in the Philippines.

Victor Kariuki – Chemistry

Kariuki

KARIUKI

Victor Kariuki has a brilliant, inquisitive mind and a remarkable grasp of his research. He is the author or co-author of eight peer-reviewed scientific publications, including four as first author, and one book chapter. He has made seven conference presentations at national and international conferences, received three travel awards to attend conferences, and was awarded second best poster presentation at the 3rd Annual Conference of Sustainable Nanotechnology Organization. Kariuki is a mentor to students in the Bridges to the Baccalaureate program and others. He works to design, synthesize and characterize multifunctional poly(amic) acid-PAA polymeric membranes for novel environmental applications. Some of his current research involves the design of a paper-based sensor platform to enable farmers in developing countries to rapidly detect a fungus that infects yams, with a goal of enhancing food security. His work is at the forefront of modern polymer and analytical chemistry and employs the latest and most rigorous experimental and theoretical techniques.

Anastacia Kudinova – Psychology

Kudinova

KUDINOVA

Anastacia Kudinova’s research is broadly focused on the role of inflammatory processes in depression risk. Her cross-species investigation of the relation between inflammatory markers and depression received the Smader Lewin Award at the Society for Research and Psychopathology annual meeting and was published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology. She has received the Nancy B. Forest and L. Michael Honaker Master’s Grant for Research from the American Psychology Association for Graduate Students/American Psychology Association, the prestigious dissertation award from the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology and is a Binghamton University Clifford D. Clark Diversity Fellow. She has four first-authored papers and is co-author on five more, with four more currently under review. In 2016, she was selected to attend a 10-day boot camp, where she received intensive training in event-related potential research. She is a rare researcher who can seamlessly move between research with both human and animal models of depression.

Xue Liu – Biomedical Engineering

Liu

LIU

Xue Liu studies the mechanical properties and failure of the human skin barrier and the effect of cosmetic products on skin composition and function. She has published three peer-reviewed research articles as first author, two more as co-author, and has four more under review or in preparation. She provided preliminary data for four funded research proposals and has presented at numerous national and international conferences including the Biophysical Society Annual Meeting and the International Society for Biophysics and Imaging of the Skin, where in 2014 she received the Albert Kligman Young Investigator Scholarship. She currently chairs the forthcoming Gordon Research Seminar on barrier function of mammalian skin. In the lab, she is a mentor and helped to design and fabricate an automated environmental control system. She is skilled in particle image velocimetry, centroid tracking techniques and image processing, and her research was recently featured in Science Daily and Cosmetics Business.

Li Lu – Mechanical Engineering

Lu

LU

With important implications for membrane biology, biofilm physiology and drug delivery, Li Lu has created a novel method for building asymmetric synthetic vesicles with customizable internal contents at high-throughput. The ability to achieve membrane asymmetry is of particular importance, since it is a feature of nearly all natural membranes, and his technique for building vesicles to explore the mechanical behavior of biological membranes could revolutionize his field. He has three first-authored publications in leading journals including Soft Matter, Lab on a Chip and Microfluidics and Nanofluidics, and three first-authored presentations at international conferences organized by the American Physical Society and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He also holds one provisional patent application. A mentor and trainer to other students in the lab, he has developed a unique skill set at the intersection of engineering and biology and deserves credit for helping to sustain and advance collaboration with colleagues in the biological sciences. 

Anastasiya Lyubas – Comparative Literature

Lyubas

LYUBAS

Anastasiya Lyubas stands out among her peers with impressive multilingual skills in Russian, Polish, German, Yiddish and English, and compelling research that crosses linguistic, thematic and aesthetic borders. Combining classical knowledge of literary tradition, philosophy, literary theory and linguistics, she examines the oeuvre of Debora Vogel through the relationship of language, art, politics, translation and femininity in her dissertation, “Language and Plasticity in Debora Vogel’s Poetics.” Her dissertation contributes to the fields of urban studies, literary history, Jewish studies, women’s studies and aesthetics. Lyubas is an author of numerous publications and translations including poetry and prose collections, essays and journal articles. She has made eight conference presentations and served as a panel organizer for two national conferences. She is the recipient of the Fulbright Graduate Student Award, the IASH Research Fellowship and research fellowships from the Cornell Summer School of Criticism and Theory, the Harvard Institute for World Literature, and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.

Benjamin Marley – Sociology

Marley

MARLEY

Benjamin Marley’s research utilizes a world-ecological framework to understand how petty commodity producers survive and contribute to the world economy. His areas of interest span the fields of agrarian studies, environmental sociology, and political economy. He has published three journal articles — two as sole author — including one that in 2016 earned the Terence K. Hopkins Award for best paper by a graduate student from the Section on the Political Economy of the World-System of the American Sociological Association. The article, published originally in the Journal of Agrarian Change, was also reprinted in a virtual special issue of the journal. He has also published two book reviews and has two articles under review. Presenter at more than a dozen national conferences, including twice at national meetings of the American Sociological Association, he is focusing his dissertation on family farming in the Midwest Corn Belt from the 19th century to the present.

Mert Moral – Political Science

Moral

MORAL

Mert Moral is a thoughtful and gifted scholar who addresses questions related to the incentives of parties to engage in polarizing politics, as well as the way that attachment to social groupings shapes the behavior of voters. His research demonstrates that parties build their base through focusing on one or a limited set of issues, with the consequence that single-issue voters increasingly turn out to vote. His work, which engages with questions at the intersection of elections and democracy by focusing on the effect of party and party system-level factors, has resulted in four publications in journals including Political Research Quarterly, International Political Science Review, Electoral Studies and the International Journal of Electronic Governance. He also has two manuscripts under review. He has made more than a dozen presentations at national and international conferences and is a recipient of the Elizabeth H. Nelson Prize for best paper from the World Association of Public Opinion Research.

Justin Nevin – English

Nevin

NEVIN

Justin Nevin’s dissertation traces the development of the kindergarten movement in the United States, alongside the influence of the bildungsroman on American literature, and how the two forms shaped popular ideas about institutional and moral education for small children and adolescents in the 19th and 20th centuries. This interdisciplinary project mobilizes American education history, American cultural and literary studies and critical theory to bridge the under-theorized field of education history with American studies transnational rubrics. He has three publications including a peer-reviewed article in Interdisciplinary Literary Studies: A Journal of Criticism and Theory that analyzes the representation of debt and indebtedness in 19th- and 20th- century fiction, and a book titled Is it Easy Being Green?: Writing the New College Application Essay, with two articles under review. He has made four conference presentations and has been invited to present at the 2017 International Conference on Narrative. He is also a Provost’s Summer Fellow.

Linyue Tong – Materials Science and Engineering

Tong

TONG

Linyue Tong’s research involves developing materials for use in supercapacitors and has already resulted in nine peer-reviewed publications — including three as first author — with several more papers under review or in preparation. She has also presented her research at several national conferences and meetings, including for the Materials Research Society, the American Chemical Society, and the NY BEST conference. Her studies focus on using electrically conducting organic polymers to develop improved supercapacitor electrode materials for energy storage. Through her efforts, new approaches to using conducting polymers to maximize supercapacitor behavior and new graphene-based composites have been identified. She played a leadership role in development of the Freshman Research Immersion program and works with corporate partners through the Integrated Electronics and Engineering Center (IEEC), START-UP NY, and the New York State SPIR program, serving as an outstanding problem solver and helping companies find new science and engineering materials solutions to industrial problems. 

Linda Wangoh – Physics

Wangoh

WANGOH

Linda Wangoh’s research focuses on vanadium oxides for applications for energy harvesting and storage to ultimately determine device performance. She uses x-ray spectroscopic techniques to investigate the surface bulk and interfaces of the vanadium oxides. Her work has resulted in seven publications, including three as first author, in international journals including Nature Communications, Chemistry of Materials and Applied Physics Letters. She has another publication in preparation and four of her publications have been highlighted by the smart-energy community in Phys.org, Scientific Briefs by the Advanced Light Source, EFRC (Energy Frontier Research Centers) Newsletter and science highlights by the Department of Energy. She has presented five times at regional and national meetings, including the 58th Electronic Materials Conference and the American Chemical Society Northeast Regional Meeting. Her work on energy harvesting also contributed to securing a National Science Foundation grant to study vanadium oxides for clean hydrogen generation using solar water splitting.

Service and Outreach
Clara Barnhart – English

Clara Barnhart’s contributions to the needs of the community are awe-inspiring. In addition to having taught for the Writing Initiative, she currently directs the Binghamton Poetry Project and the Literati Reading Series, planning events, facilitating workshops for all age groups in Broome County and serving as a role model and mentor for local youth. She is the assistant director of the Binghamton Center for Writers, coordinating the Milton Kessler and John Gardner annual book awards, drafting its annual report, crafting all of its financial and promotional documents, and coordinating its events. An academic advisor for Harpur Academic Advising, she also works with at-risk youth beyond the campus, as a relief teacher’s aide at the Wyoming Conference Children’s Home where she provides special education services to its residents and other children in the community who struggle in public schools. She dedicates her whole self to engaging the Binghamton and surrounding communities with art and poetry.

Olga Blomgren – Comparative Literature

Blomgren

BLOMGREN

For Olga Blomgren, community building is a major goal. From her first day, she has built a significant record of supporting and mentoring fellow student in questions of literature and pedagogy and the development of academic professionalism. She engages in dialogue with students and faculty about writing and teaching, and in only her second semester at Binghamton organized a pedagogical workshop for graduate students. The following semester she organized a professional development working group for graduate students to discuss conference submissions, how to prepare articles for publication, how to build professional networks and how to prepare job applications. She is currently working with a group of students to launch a graduate student journal. She continuously offers support for new students and inspires others to join her in that role. Overall, her commitment to a holistic approach to academic work and her gift for dialogue are remarkably effective in building lively intellectual communities.

Steven Boyer – Chemistry

Boyer

BOYER

Steven Boyer has been a leader in bringing chemistry to the Binghamton campus, the local community and beyond. He has shown a passion and dedication to share chemistry by serving as a leader in the Physical Science Track of the Go Green Program, a summer program that engages rising sixth-graders. He has been vice president and president of the Graduate Chemistry Club, visiting local schools and participating in the University’s annual Day at the Oakdale Mall, demonstrating chemistry to local children. He served as undergraduate coordinator for Binghamton University’s National Science Foundation Smart Energy Research for 2014 and 2016, where he was responsible for career development activities for participants. He was also a key volunteer when the Chemistry Department hosted the Northeast Regional Meetings of the American Chemical Society. He has judged local science fairs and the Science Olympiad, and serves as an ambassador, recruiting graduate students to the department.

Jessica Femiani – English

Femiani

FEMIANI

Jessica Femiani is a poet who loves teaching and bringing poetry to a wide audience. As a creative writing instructor for the Binghamton Poetry Project, she has taught classes to both adults and children in Broome County. She has helped develop writing workshops for senior citizens in the community. In 2015, she was a volunteer editor for Binghamton Writes, a campus literary magazine, assisting with finalizing selections and helping first-generation students finesse their material. During the spring and summer of 2016, she instructed a children’s workshop exploring the Southern Tier’s celebrated carousel collection. In 2016, she chaired and hosted the Binghamton University International Poetry Festival, bringing poets to Binghamton from all over the world including graduate and undergraduate students as well as faculty. In less formal settings, she supports local readings and has started an informal poetry salon with other graduate students, expanding and enriching the local poetry community.


 
 TEDx 2017: Student speaker takes on implicit biases Mon, 27 Mar 2017 15:54:00 +0000
Senior Mollie Teitelbaum introduces audience to ‘peccadillos.’

According to Mollie Teitelbaum, the little things that annoy us about others can be more detrimental than we think.

“Learning we have unjust subconscious beliefs that don’t line up with our conscious ones is a little disturbing,” she said. “We’ve been socially conditioned to have all sorts of implicit biases. When they apply to social groups, like race and gender, we know they’re bad. But sometimes, we endorse our biases.”

Teitelbaum is a senior majoring in philosophy and comparative literature. She spoke about implicit biases in a talk called “So that’s why you annoy me! Combating peccadillic implicit bias” March 26, at TEDxBinghamtonUniversity at the Osterhout Concert Theater. The idea discussed in the talk was developed as part of Teitelbaum’s honors thesis in philosophy.

These subtle biases come into play when we are faced with “peccadillos,” Teitelbaum said. Peccadillos are harmless behaviors that could be considered offensive to others, such as having a big ego or chewing loudly.

“To describe biases like these that target peccadillos, I coined the term ‘peccadillic implicit bias,’” she said. “We tend to react to things that disgust us like they’re immoral, but really they just break social norms.”

Teitelbaum said these biases are broken up into three categories: personality-based biases toward traits we dislike; value-based biases toward values we disapprove of; and disgust-based biases toward habits that repulse us. Explicit biases are ones we are aware of, while implicit ones can be more dangerous.

“The traits and habits that bother us out of proportion don’t merit the treatment that inevitably follows,” she said. “Subconsciously, they ‘other’ you, treating you less kindly all of the time and withholding opportunities from you.”

As an example, Teitelbaum cited the implicit weight bias. Implicit biases link being overweight with incompetence and laziness. She also said doctors with this bias have been shown to demonstrate lower levels of care to overweight patients.

These biases can present in small ways, too: using an agitated tone with someone or avoiding eye contact can be a side affect of implicit biases.

“Micro-inequities are small acts that communicate disapproval, and often go unnoticed by the person who’s doing them,” Teitelbaum said.

According to Teitelbaum, we are more tolerant of our own peccadillos than of those we see in others.

“This inconsistency with how we perceive peccadillos in ourselves versus in others can be explained by a funny psychological phenomenon,” she said. “Actor-observer bias makes us forgiving of our own faults, and harsh on everyone else’s.”

But there’s good news: We don’t have to fall prey to our biases.

“We can overcome this intense double standard by applying the same compassionate rationale we afford ourselves to others,” Teitelbaum said. “That’s the first step in de-biasing: critical analysis of our peccadillic biases.”

Taking a look at the things that annoy you about other people is crucial to avoiding bias. Teitelbaum said once you notice this, thinking about why a person might be doing the behavior can help. She calls these “implementation interventions.”

“I’m sitting in class taking notes. Someone participates, and he speaks for five minutes,” she said.  “This triggers my implementation intervention about ego, but I have to remember that confidence is good and it could be his defense mechanism.”

Teitelbaum said these biases that affect us on a day-to-day basis can have larger social implications as well.

“There’s a risk of large-scale social injustice when peccadillos are associated with social groups,” she said. “Prejudiced action rooted in social group membership is a particularly dangerous breed of injustice. This only raises the stakes for combating peccadillic implicit biases.”

Teitelbaum ended her talk with one last piece of advice to be mindful of implicit biases.

“It won’t just make you kinder,” she said. “You’ll actually be less annoyed all of the time.”


 
 TEDx 2017: Alumna examines if ‘seeing is believing’ Mon, 27 Mar 2017 15:49:00 +0000
Acclaimed psychologist Ellyn Kaschak discusses latest research.

When Ellyn Kaschak first visited Costa Rica, her friends were adamant about showing her the ecological sites of the Central America country. One stop was a jungle famous for its thousands of monkeys.

“I couldn’t see the monkeys,” the 1965 Harpur College alumna told the crowd at TEDxBinghamtonUniversity. “I’m a New Yorker and I can see a mugger or taxi two blocks behind me. But I could not see the face of a monkey.”

The friends finally had to direct Kaschak to a flower and then to distinguish black dots near the flowers in order for her to see the monkeys.

“Once I saw the monkeys, I couldn’t unsee them,” Kaschak said. “They were everywhere! I had not been taught to see monkeys as a child. Vision is a language and you learn it before you ever see.”

The monkey sightings served as the backdrop of Kaschak’s TedXBinghamtonUniversity talk on March 26 at the Osterhout Concert Theater. The internationally acclaimed psychologist/author/professor’s discussion — “Is Seeing Believing or Is Believing Seeing?” — was based on her 2015 book “Sight Unseen: Gender and Race Through Blind Eyes.” She now teaches at the University for Peace, a United Nations campus in Costa Rica.

Kaschak was one of seven speakers at the seven annual campus event. The other speakers going “Beyond the Canvas” were:
• Eric Butorac, an 18-time Association of Tennis Professionals doubles winner and 2014 Australian Open finalist: “Don’t Dream Big.”
• Ranier Maningding, a Filipino-American advertising copywriter and writer for The Love Life of an Asian Guy (LLAG), a growing social media platform for race, politics and pop culture: “Social Activism is the New Civil Rights Movement.”
• Mollie Teitelbaum, a senior at Binghamton University majoring in philosophy and comparative literature: “So that’s why you annoy me! “Combating peccadillic implicit bias.
• Gunnar Garfors, one of the few people to have visited every country in the world: “World’s Least-Visited Countries Revisited.”
• Cevin Soling, a writer, scholar, music producer and award-winning filmmaker: “The Truthiness of School.”
• Chris Koch, who was born without arms and legs, helped on his family’s farm, and played sports such as baseball, soccer and snowboarding: “If I Can…”

Kaschak’s book developed from a study she conducted that was based on a simple question: How do we know what we know?

“It’s the question that has accompanied me through my studies of gender, race and ethnicity all these years,” she said.

Kaschak decided to examine how people who have been blind since birth conceptualize gender and race. A study she anticipated taking six months ended up lasting 10 years.

“Having been blind since birth, they haven’t seen any of the cues that those of us who are sighted use to think about gender and think about race,” she said. “I didn’t approach it as a disability. I approached it as a difference.”

It took about two years before research subjects invited Kaschak to their homes. She recalled how one apartment’s interior “looked like every apartment I had ever seen. What I saw was a world designed for sighted people.”

Kaschak asked her research participants: Why do you have pictures on the wall? Why are the colors coordinated?

“Each and every one of them said they did it so a sighted person would feel comfortable,” she said.

On the subject of gender, Kaschak found that more blind women (with the help of sighted friends) were wearing eye makeup. Many also wore matching clothes, with men sticking to brown colors.

“I was beginning to see how the people who are non-sighted wanted to cater to the people who are sighted rather than develop their own universe,” Kaschak said.

Kaschak also discovered that the blind were listening to voices to try to learn about race. Blind people even admitted that they had trouble telling the races of southerners because of similar accents.

“What they were doing was trying to develop the prejudices of the sighted,” she said. “They were passing the same way other groups had. … They were trying to fit in and trying to speak the sighted language. They weren’t ‘speaking’ it fluently, but they were speaking it.”

Kaschak said she learned a lesson from the research project: “We see what we already believe.”

“The blind taught me an enormous amount about the sighted and how unconscious we are about what is built into our vision,” she said. “The blindest people in the world are those who are sighted. I think our eyes are colonized and we are not aware of it.”

Kaschak offered some suggestions for those in the audience “interested in resisting that colonization.”

“Pay attention to how you are seeing (things) and why you are seeing (things),” she said. “I ask you to ‘stay woke’ and most of all – in my language – I ask that you keep looking for the monkeys.”


 
 Shriber Lecture discusses history of disability activism Thu, 23 Mar 2017 20:18:00 +0000
San Francisco State University professor examines 1977 protest.

The Section 504 Sit-in of 1977 is an often-overlooked story of peaceful protest that gave birth to a national disability rights movement.

“504 showed the nation that disability was a civil right rather than simply a medical-treatment issue,” said Catherine Kudlick, professor of history and director of the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability at San Francisco State University. “It put a different lens on everything.”

It’s a story that Kudlick shared at the Tenth Annual Shriber Lecture at the Center of Excellence’s Symposium Hall on March 20. Sponsored by the History Department, students and faculty members heard Kudlick discuss “Protest as Inspiration, Inspiration as Protest: What Can 150 Disabled People in 1977 Teach Activists Today?”

“This is completely absent from any history textbook at the high school and college level,” Kudlick said of the protest. “It’s all but absent from history survey lectures, too – despite the fact that according to the latest Census, nearly one in five Americans reported living with a significant disability.”

For 26 days in April 1977, a group of more than 150 people with disabilities – along with their allies – occupied the fourth floor of a federal building in San Francisco. The protest came after Congress approved the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to assist Vietnam War veterans. Section 504 of the act proposed that those with disabilities could not be subjected to discrimination under programs receiving federal financial assistance.

The law still needed to be signed by Joseph Califano, President Jimmy Carter’s secretary of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW). This delay angered many disabled people, Kudlick said.

“The disabled activists were (upset) because they had waited three to four years, lobbied and had written letters,” she said. “Carter had become president in January 1977 and said he would support it. Suddenly, his own Health, Education and Welfare official wasn’t so sure.”

Federal officials then ignored an April 4 deadline from the activists, who took to the streets across the nation. They occupied buildings in 10 U.S. cities that housed HEW regional offices. Many were quickly disbanded – but San Francisco was different.

“The Bay Area’s counterculture attracted people who did not fit the role model – student protesters, the LGBT movement,” Kudlick said. “A New York Times story even described Berkeley across the bay as being ‘a mecca for disabled people.’”

The strong outside support even included hot-food deliveries from the Black Panthers.

As activists from different races and classes formed a “mini-city” on the fourth floor, they began to think like activists, Kudlick said.

“Some were seasoned protesters while others had never slept away from home before,” she said. “They bonded over sing-alongs and games and wheelchair races. There was sex and dope. They had a great time, but they were also being political. They learned the skills of being interdependent. For example, a deaf person would hold the phone for an articulate quadriplegic talking to officials.

“There was a sense of purpose and political awakening as everyone waited for one signature from one government official.”

Section 504 was finally signed into law on April 28, 1977. The protesters left the building in triumph.

“Disabled people felt real pride,” Kudlick said. “Once you were in that setting, you were never the same.”

Neither was America, as the Rehabilitation Act and the 1990 passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act increased accessibility both inside and outside.

“Every single one of you was touched by these events today because any accessible space you have entered – any classroom – is a direct result of (the protest),” she said.

For Kudlick, who has a vision impairment, the story of the Section 504 sit-in “completely transformed my thinking as a scholar.”

“I was at college only 75 miles away from the events that were taking place at the time of the protest,” she said. “But I chose not to know about it because I was busy hiding from my own disability. So in some ways, you might see my efforts over the past five years as rushing to make up for lost time.”

First, Kudlick helped create an exhibition that placed the protest in the spotlight.
“Patient No More: People with Disabilities Securing Civil Rights” took activism “to the next level,” she said, by offering dozens of oral-history interviews and telling stories through themes instead of chronologically. The exhibit, which opened at San Francisco State University in 2015 and is navigable for those who are mobility-impaired, also features a 70-foot mural and “sound poems” and “braille rails” for the visually impaired.

“Patient No More” will be on display this summer at the San Francisco Public Main Library.

“From the beginning, we knew that telling the story needed to be interwoven with innovative forms of access so people with a variety of disabilities could visit and not feel excluded by the experience,” Kudlick said.

Kudlick is also working with her students to tell the Section 504 story online at Wikipedia. She considers the project another form of activism.

“Most students – like most adults – knew zero about disability history,” she said. “This mostly stems from a prevailing belief that disability is a biological condition that happens to a few people rather than something that affects many people. … I told my students: ‘Look, you are making history by writing this.’”

The story of the Section 504 Sit-in has also reached high school students in California who are using it in presentations. Kudlick said she hopes even more people can inspire others in the future.

“Maybe there is a young Catherine Kudlick out there in the next generation who will learn about the story sooner, do the activism sooner and create new forms of activism,” Kudlick said.


 
 TEDx speakers look ‘beyond the canvas’ Wed, 22 Mar 2017 19:49:00 +0000
Seventh annual event will take place March 26 at Osterhout Concert Theater.

For TEDxBinghamtonUniversity student organizers, there is an added weight to keep the annual campus event at a high-quality level.

“You want the event to grow and become well-established,” senior Elaine Lee said. “You want your talks picked up by TED. That’s how you know you are doing well. You want students to acknowledge that this event is a great networking opportunity because we are bringing in people who they may not otherwise be able to meet.”

On Sunday, March 26, Lee and fellow student organizers Kyrin Pollock, Jasmine Teu and Daniel Pressman will present seven speakers who are thinking outside the box and looking “beyond the canvas.” The seventh TEDxBinghamtonUniversity event will begin at 1 p.m. at the Osterhout Concert Theater. Tickets at on-campus tabling are $10, while tickets at the door are $15.

The speaker lineup, which again includes a Binghamton University alumna and a current student, features:

• Ranier Maningding, a Filipino-American advertising copywriter and writer for The Love Life of an Asian Guy (LLAG), a growing social media platform for race, politics and pop culture: “Social Activism is the New Civil Rights Movement.”
• Eric Butorac, an 18-time Association of Tennis Professionals doubles winner and 2014 Australian Open finalist: “Don’t Dream Big.”
• Mollie Teitelbaum, a senior at Binghamton University majoring in philosophy and comparative literature: “So that’s why you annoy me! “Combating peccadillic implicit bias.”
• Gunnar Garfors, one of the few people to have visited every country in the world: “World’s Least-Visited Countries Revisited.”
• Cevin Soling, a writer, scholar, music producer and award-winning filmmaker: “The Truthiness of School.”
• Ellyn Kaschak ’65, an internationally acclaimed and award-winning psychologist, author and professor emerita of psychology at San Jose State University in California: “Seeing is Believing or Is Believing Seeing?”
• Chris Koch, who was born without arms and legs, helped on his family’s farm, and played sports such as baseball, soccer and snowboarding: “If I Can…”

Binghamton University’s Black Dance Repertoire will perform at intermission.

“These are speakers who are inspirational in their lives,” Lee said. “Everyone has a unique aspect about them.”

The student organizers began working on this year’s lineup shortly after the conclusion of the 2016 event. The organizers gathered over the summer with a spreadsheet of potential speakers.

“We explained why we thought each speaker would be a good addition to the (2017) lineup,” Pollock said. “From there, the ones we were most excited about would be who we pursued.”

Pollock knows a lot about being on the TEDxBinghamtonUniversity stage. She and fellow student Matthew Gill delivered a talk on virtual reality at last year’s event.

“It’s a great organization and I wanted to do more with the event,” Pollock said. “It’s a great experience to see it from another angle.”

Pollock said she has attended the practice sessions of the next Binghamton student to take the TEDx stage: Mollie Teitelbaum. Pollock praised the role of the Public Speaking Lab in getting student speakers prepared.

“Our talk (last year) was very technical,” Pollock said. “We had to make sure we could explain the concepts clearly and get the message across to the audience.”

While an alumni speaker is not required at TEDxBinghamtonUniversity, the organizers said it is an essential part of the event.

“We realize how important it is to build the connection between Binghamton University and past graduates,” Lee said. “Being able to share that connection is worthwhile and beneficial.”

The event will not only include nearly two dozen student volunteers, but the “Beyond the Canvas” logo and other marketing materials were designed by a Binghamton University student: Troy Vasilakis.

The organizers said they would like audience members to leave the event with an open mind to new ideas and a greater appreciation of the speakers.

“I hope a spark goes off during the event and they say: ‘I never thought of that,’” Teu said. “Then they leave thinking about how much they learned and how inspired they are.”

For Lee, a three-year member of the TEDxBinghamtonUniversity team and the only senior organizer, the end of the event will produce a mix of emotions.

“I am appreciative of this opportunity,” Lee said. “I want other students to see this position and vie for it. I never knew this was possible when I entered Binghamton University. There is so much to learn outside of the classroom. It has been the most memorable part of my undergraduate career.”


 
 Stenger updates faculty on University initiatives Tue, 21 Mar 2017 23:38:00 +0000
Binghamton University president makes semi-annual address to full faculty.

Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger covered a lot of ground in his semi-annual presentation to the full faculty Tuesday.

Starting off with a thank you to essential employees who had put in hours of work during Winter Storm Stella, Stenger said the University’s groundskeepers deserved special recognition for relocating “tons of snow.” Stenger also noted that Sodexo continued to open dining halls and feed students, and reserved hotel rooms across the street for employees who couldn’t make it home between shifts.

“Life also gets more complicated for faculty during snow days,” Stenger said. “Thank you as well, and if you need help recording lectures that were missed, James Pitarresi and the Center for Learning and Teaching have offered to help.”

Stenger also addressed the accidental death of 18-year-old freshman Conor Donnelly over the weekend.

“We’re very concerned about 80 students right now who are in counseling because they were either present when Conor died or part of his community,” Stenger said. “I want to thank faculty again for working with these students when they say they can’t perform well, but ask that, if you’re approached by any students in distress over this death, have them go through the Dean of Students Office, which will help them with faculty connections. It will make it easier for the students and the faculty.”

Stenger also spoke of a rise in gifts and donations to the University. Giving in 2015-2016 was up 27 percent from the prior year to $11.5M, and 2016-2017 is running 20 percent ahead of 2015-2016. He highlighted several donations, including seven-figure gifts from Professor Emeritus Tsuming Wu and his wife, Grace Chin-Fa, to support graduate students; from an anonymous donor to endow the George Klir Professorship in Systems Science; and from retired Air Force Colonel Jim Warner ’60 for scholarships for students who commute. Additionally, EOP recently received its largest donation in its history when Mable Payne ’71, an EOP alumna, gave $100,000 to the program. 

Other topics Stenger addressed included:
• Student success: According to The New York Times, Binghamton University alumni earn on average $65,700 at age 34 – about $5,000 more than their peers.
• Faculty recognition: A number of faculty have published, received fellowships and been named distinguished fellows in national academies.
• Athletics: Four of Binghamton University’s head coaches were selected coach of the year in their sports last year (out of 10 possible) and Athletics Director Patrick Elliott was named Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year for NCAA Division I-AAA.
• Faculty hiring: This year, 61 searches were authorized, 25 positions have been confirmed and eight offers are outstanding, for approximately 30 net new hires, putting us a bit over the 150 NYSUNY 2020 hiring goal.
• Administrative changes: Elizabeth has been hired as Harpur College dean, the Graduate School of Education merger with the College of Community and Public Affairs is moving forward and the Graduate School dean search is ongoing with a pool identified.
• Budget: Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will be on campus March 23 to talk about Excelsior Scholarships for students from families making $125,000 or less. They could increase our pool of highly qualified students but there is pressure to increase enrollment without a plan for future state support or infrastructure investments. “We’ll see how it plays out and watch our enrollment numbers very carefully,” Stenger said.
    o UUP negotiations are underway. “I don’t anticipate a contract before the budget is completed this year, but it does impact how we look at our SUNY allocation and we hope there is room in the budget to help us pay the increases,” Stenger said.
    o Maintenance of effort is under discussion and we believe it’s going to be there.
    o Critical maintenance will increase, but we’re uncertain how much and anticipating about $11 million for next year.
    o Final budget is expected April 1
• Admissions: We received a record 33,156 freshman applications, up from 32,080 the year before. Nine percent were from out of state. We changed the way we communicated with prospective students this year. Graduate admissions are up 28 percent over the last five years, though this year applications are down slightly with a higher yield. The School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (SOPPS) is on track to have an inaugural class of 80-90 students this fall.
• Construction update: There will be a soft opening of the Southern Tier Incubator on April 18, with the name of a donor announced. The donor’s endowment will allow the incubator to operate at zero cost so rental income can be used to help develop companies.
    o Smart Energy Research and Development Facility: The building is almost complete and a grand opening will be held in the summer.
    o SOPPS and the Decker School of Nursing (DSON): Work is beginning on the interior of the SOPPS building and asbestos abatement is underway in the DSON, which received $21 million in Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) funding for renovating the building it will relocate to, probably sometime in late 2019.
    o The University received a $2 million refund from FEMA for damage done to the University Downtown Center during the 2011 flood. An additional $700,000 reimbursement is expected. The funds will be allocated to Nuthatch Hollow and a Welcome Center.
    o A dry room for NorthEast Center for Chemical Energy Storage battery research has been funded through the REDC.
    o Renovations are beginning on Science 4 psychology labs and office spaces.
• Road Map Renewal: In the past four years, 120 initiatives have moved forward, including the SOPPS, Freshman Research Immersion and the enhanced Center for Learning and Teaching.
    o The renewal will utilize the same strategic priorities and processes but focus on collaboration.
    o Teams are meeting and developing projects. “We’re looking for big projects,” said Stenger, “even conceptual projects.”
    o Final proposals will be submitted by May 1, then a review process will involve the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, Budget Review Committee, Professional Staff Senate and Graduate Student Organization to rank those proposals and make final decisions in June.

After Stenger’s presentation, the Faculty Senate conducted its business meeting, approving motions to revise the Budget Review Committee’s by-laws, to not mandate applied learning/high-impact learning experiences as a University-wide requirement for a bachelor’s degree and to revise the Student Academic Honesty Code.

A discussion was also held on the proposed TeachNY policy, with Fernando Guzman, Faculty Senate chair, urging all senators to provide comments to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee by week’s end, so the FSEC can join with others to provide comment on the policy before the comment period closes April 3. A motion was approved noting the Faculty Senate’s opposition to the proposed policy.

The meeting ended with an open conversation on restructuring SOOTS discussion. Senators were asked to send additional comments to the FSEC, which will revisit the topic in the near future.


 
 University network works to aid students of concern Fri, 17 Mar 2017 14:35:00 +0000
Support team includes offices from across campus.

Once a week during the academic year, at least 20 people – sometimes more – come together to discuss students of concern. These people, members of the Students of Concern Committee (SOC), represent offices all across campus that work together to support students who are experiencing some level of distress.

The committee’s work is critical, and makes a difference.

In fact, 95 percent of the students the SOC worked with in fall 2016 completed the semester successfully, with an average GPA of 2.98. Not bad when dealing with students who have issues with substance abuse, anxiety, depression, roommates or a myriad of other concerns. The most frequent referrals to the SOC were for students with depressive manifestations (25), substance abuse (19) and suicidal thoughts (22). Of those, 11 students exhibited symptoms of all three categories, requiring tremendous support from the campus.

Beth Riley, assistant dean of students and director of case management services, said it’s important to determine who has the best relationship with students who are referred to the SOC.

“One student, who was dealing with multiple problems and challenges, received support from 15 offices over two and a half year period – and was able to graduate as a result,” she said. “At one point in time, we had asked a particular professor to talk to the student and if we hadn’t had someone knowledgeable about academic affairs on the SOC, we wouldn’t have known the variety of options on the table to best advise the faculty member how to help the student.”

This particular student first came to the attention of the SOC for acting in a way that confused people. He had multiple problems, challenges. “Initially, the student’s family wasn’t part of the network, but eventually the student consented to have them involved,” Riley said. “That’s a big fear for students who say ‘You’re not going to call my parents, are you?’ They think their parents will be upset and not supportive and it’s the complete opposite. Eventually that’s the best option.”

Riley said that the student was in the room with her when she called the parents. “They were very open to what the SOC had to say,” she said. “They were aware of his challenges but wanted to know what was and wasn’t working at the University, then worked together as part of the support network. I don’t think the student would have managed without the network.”

In all, Riley said academic advisors, faculty, Binghamton University Dining Services, Res Life, the Dean of Students Office, the Personal Safety Advisory Committee, Student Conduct, Decker Student Health Services, Harpur’s Ferry, Services for Students with Disabilities, University Police, as well as a community member and physician from home joined with the SOC and the student’s parents formed the network. 

Qiana Watson is a member of the CARE Team (consultation, assessment, referral and education). As case management coordinator, she is often on the front lines of working with SOC-referred students.

Last semester, Watson worked with a student that a faculty member felt had the potential to become violent. “We did a lot of planning with faculty and staff about what we could reasonably do,” said Watson. For this student, case management worked with the department chair, dean, associate dean, dean of students, University Police, Services for Students with Disabilities and a rabbi, as well as the University Counseling Center.

“All of these people were trying to coordinate meetings and conversations to best help the student, who was suffering a very serious and complicated health condition,” Watson said.

Part of a case manager’s role in a case like this is to help everyone understand that you can’t mandate an assessment of someone who’s not presenting as a threat to self or others, Watson said. “It’s a big learning curve for the faculty, that the student is who he is. Through our interactions, they were able to see that and put new things in place to learn how to manage difficult students.

“We provide a fair amount of consultation for faculty and staff and, in this case, literally hours and hours and hours to help navigate the issues,” Watson added. “We had a case management meeting. April [Thompson, dean of students] sat down with them. The Threat Management Team met. We reached out to the student and provided a plethora of resources for both the student and faculty.”

Though the student’s behavior was outlandish at the time, this semester Watson received an email message stating the student was no longer disruptive in the classroom. Yet, she continues to follow the case and check in to see if she can help the student navigate any issues.

Watson once worked with a student who had a violent outburst in class, including meeting with the parents. The Threat Assessment Team was consulted and the student was barred from campus. Because it was toward the end of the student’s senior year, Watson arranged accommodations for the student to graduate without having to be in class any longer, including proctoring the student’s exams and following the student right through graduation.

“We continue to work with students even when they’re no longer allowed on campus due to a conduct case or other situation,” Watson said. “We work with them to get everything completed so they can complete their education and graduate.”

Working with students who need support can be taxing, said Watson, thinking about a particular student who was in the hospital. “For me, I need to know everything and everybody is taken care of. I almost feel like I’m holding my breath the entire time, then I can finally exhale and breathe. In the moment my whole focus is that I have to help these people and to give them everything I can. It’s like a switch. I can breathe after I know they’re okay.”

There are often many pieces of the puzzle, Riley said. “We’ll have lots of pieces. Someone will have one piece, another person will have another, but nobody has all of them, so it’s important that we gather all the pieces from as many people as possible to be able to provide a comprehensive assessment.”
Binghamton University’s SOC is unique in its size and that information is shared on a need-to-know basis, said Riley. “We have open communication, but only provide those pieces members need to know to support the student.”

The frequency of meetings is also different from most other campuses, Watson added. “Most campus committees typically meet only when a situation arises, but we have a standing meeting every week to stay on top of things and make sure we’re following up on cases previously mentioned and addressing “walks-ons” where there was no police report.”

“We want to catch them before it becomes a crisis,” said Riley.

There is a referral form on the web for those who have concerns about a student. Anyone can use the form to refer a student to the CARE Team, and it will come to the SOC if needed.

“We’re doing more outreach as well,” said Watson. “More people are referring students to us earlier. We’re getting more phone calls and emails saying, ‘Hey, this happened. What should I do? Is this something for the SOC or should I just document it? What should I do?’”

People are becoming more comfortable that we’re here for case management, Watson said. “When in doubt, give us a call for a consultation. We can provide information or if you want some follow up, we can do that, too.”

Members of the SOC are also available to meet with any department or group that wants more information. “We need more visibility and people need to know who we are,” said Watson. “It’s such a great mix of professionals who sit at that table from across the campus and that’s different from other campuses.”

For more information on the SOC or the CARE Team, visit the Case Management website.

 


 
 Cho to lead international linguistics project Mon, 13 Mar 2017 15:40:00 +0000
Researchers to collaborate on study of Korean language in Northeast Asia.

A Binghamton University faculty member will help lead an international collaborative project on Korean linguistics over the next four years.

Sungdai Cho, director of the Center for Korean Studies, developed the project with John Whitman, a linguistics professor at Cornell University. “Korean at the Nexus of the Northeast Asian Linguistic Area” received a five-year, $1.4 million grant last fall from the Academy of Korean Studies. The project, led by Cornell University, will examine the status of the Korean language in the region. Cornell and Binghamton will split the grant funding over the five years.

“In Asian countries, there are so many different languages, including Chinese, Japanese and Korean,” Cho said. “Nobody has said that Korea is the center of those linguistic areas. This proposal is distinctive from other people’s opinions.”

The project is the first to bring researchers of East Asian languages together and to direct a focus toward the Korean language.

According to the proposal, the project objective is to “provide a solid linguistic basis for our understanding of Korean as a major world language.” Korean shares features with languages to its north, south and east, mirroring the central cultural and political placement of Korea.

The project was one of five proposals to receive a laboratory grant from the Academy of Korean Studies. The other host schools are Georgetown University’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, with an emphasis on political science; the University of Pennsylvania, with an emphasis on sociology; Cambridge University, with a focus on political science; and the University of London, with a focus on Korean language.

Besides Cho and Whitman, the 10-member project team features two researchers from the United States (Queens College-CUNY and the University of Washington in Seattle) and two from Japan (International Christian University). Other countries represented include Korea (Seoul National University), Germany (Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz), Finland (University of Helsinki) and Canada (Simon Fraser University). The team will eventually grow to include graduate assistants and postdoctoral researchers.

“I’ve known most of the team members for 20 to 30 years,” Cho said. “They are leaders in the linguistics area and are faculty members in linguistics programs.”

The team members, who specialize in diachronic linguistics (the history of languages) and synchronic linguistics (contemporary language construction), will produce five books, 15 journal articles and two edited volumes at the end of the five-year grant in 2021. Cho himself will author two books (“Introduction to Korean Linguistics” and “A Comparative Linguistics of Korean and Japanese”), two journal articles and one edited volume by Cambridge University Press.

The project will also include two international conferences: one in Seoul in 2018 and another in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2020. The Seoul conference will focus on contemporary Korean linguistics, while the St. Petersburg conference will examine the history of Korean linguistics. The latter was picked for the 2020 conference, Cho said, because St. Petersburg University was the first institution outside of the Korean peninsula to offer a Korean language program.

The remaining years of the grant will see smaller workshops held in New York state. A workshop at Cornell took place last fall. Binghamton University and Queens College will host workshops in 2017 and 2019, respectively.

In 2011, Binghamton University received a $1 million Overseas Leading University Program for Korean Studies Grant from the Academy of Korean Studies. The grant supported research, education and international exchanges with Binghamton University as a center for Korean language education.

The current linguistics project will have two major benefits for Binghamton University, Cho said.

“There are (only) 20 to 30 universities offering Korean linguistics,” he said. “This project will give Binghamton University momentum to become an (international) center for Korean linguistics. We will also bring in teaching assistants. That will bring more people to Binghamton for research in Korean linguistics.”

The idea of Korean at the nexus of the Northeast Asian linguistic area is “revolutionary,” Cho said, and could eventually change preconceptions that have been in place about the region since the 19th century.

“Our basic assumption about Korean linguistics will be different to many, especially researchers of Japanese, Chinese and Korean,” Cho said. “Producing five books and 15 journal articles could change (minds). I don’t know how big the impact will be, but this is a new idea that isn’t being mentioned by many people.”


 
 Briloff speaker: Ethical decision-making is not always black and white Thu, 09 Mar 2017 15:17:00 +0000
Wall Street banker discusses accountability in investment banking.

“When do good people go bad?” asked Elizabeth “Liz” Nesvold ’90, co-founder and managing partner of Silver Lane Advisors, who was the keynote speaker for the 29th Abraham J. Briloff Lecture Series on Accountability and Society.

“This is the talk that almost wasn’t. I speak all over the country, but never on ethics. Then it dawned on me — who better to talk about ethical decision-making than a Wall Street investment banker?” joked Nesvold, who earned a bachelor’s in political science with a minor in economics from Harpur College, and an MBA from Fordham University.

Nesvold — who has overseen more than 150 strategic capital investments during her career — said in her March 1 talk that perfectionism pervades the financial industry. She said this kind of workplace culture influences people to hide their mistakes, which can lead to more widespread corporate corruption.

“Wall Street does not tolerate failure, but we have to make it OK for people to admit when they’ve made mistakes,” she said.

Nesvold said more damage is often done to the credibility and integrity of an organization from the actions taken after a misstep than from original mistake itself.

“It’s easy to hide things in financial services, especially when you’re dealing with large amounts of money. But if you have one of those awful moments and feel in your gut that something’s not right, trust that feeling,” she said. “I believe most employees who bend or break ethical rules do so because they’re afraid to trust their instincts and speak up about a mistake.”

Informing decisions based on past mistakes is also crucial to creating stronger organizations, she said.

“Sometimes good comes out of failure. Failure is not terminal — it’s an opportunity to pivot, take ownership and create better processes,” she said. “The serious issues arise when the gray areas continue to darken.”

Bad behavior exists on a spectrum, she added, noting that in her tenure as a leader, she’s seen questionable employee actions that have “ranged from gray to black.”

She also said good managers should put effort into improving ethicality among their employees, including through use of compliance technology to monitor online activity on corporate devices and track bad behavior.

“We hired an incredibly likeable analyst who was a great team player. Soon into the job we saw that she was not getting her work done and we couldn’t figure out why. Turns out, she had logged into Facebook more than 900 times during work hours over a two-month period,” she said.

Nesvold said there was a vice president at her firm who also wasn’t meeting performance goals, but she suspected it wasn’t because of social media.

“We were able to detect that he was logging into another company’s network to advise on outside investment deals. I told him this was inappropriate behavior and he couldn’t understand why. The ethical implications of his actions didn’t resonate until I explained that I should be getting compensated for his side deal since he was technically working on my time,” she said.

Nathan Oliver, a junior majoring in business administration, asked, “At what point does promoting a lesson-learned culture result in organizational carelessness?”

Managers should reward their employees for making quality decisions, Nesvold explained, and not just for the results of their behaviors.

“As leaders we have to acknowledge that everyone makes mistakes. It’s generally not the first detectable error that hurts a company, it’s the compounding errors and cover-ups that cause the biggest problems,” she said. 

“We are continually reminded of the importance of this topic as well as teaching ethics in business school through public issues of well-known individuals and iconic firms,” said School of Management Dean Upinder Dhillon on the significance of the Briloff Lecture series. 

Nesvold concluded that she is optimistic about shifting the Wall Street mindset when it comes to ethical failures.

“Some say the mistake of one person contributes to the failure of many,” Nesvold said. “I say the morality of one person contributes to the success of many.”