Category Archives: SUNY Oswego

25 years later, campus remembers 2 SUNY Oswego lives lost in Pan Am 103 bombing

By Debra J. Groom

It began like any other winter’s night in Oswego.

Brisk air, snow, shoppers rushing around trying to finish their Christmas preparations. Most students had left the SUNY Oswego campus for their vacations at home.

Some locals may have been heading to Syracuse as the S.U. Orangemen were playing Western Michigan in a home basketball game that night in the Carrier Dome. Others may have been attending holiday parties.

Then came the horrifying news. A terrorist bomb had blown up a plane over Lockerbie, Scotland. All 259 on Pan Am Flight 103 were lost.

It was Dec. 21, 1988 – 25 years ago today.

As bits and pieces of information trickled in that night, the news became more and more grim for Central New York’s collegiate community.

On that plane were two SUNY Oswego students returning home from their semester studying in London. Lynne Hartunian, from Niskayuna, who was set to graduate in 1989, and Colleen Brunner, of Hamburg, on course to graduate in 1990, were both communications majors. Reports state the friends had stayed in England after classes ended to visit some other countries. They were sitting together — Lynne in seat 44D and Colleen in seat 44C – as they ventured home on Pan Am 103.

The Boeing jet, called the Clipper Maid of the Seas, also carried a Colgate University student and 35 Syracuse University students returning home from their semesters abroad.

Like the Kennedy assassination and 9/11 terrorist attacks, most everyone who was in Central New York Dec. 21, 1988 remembers where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news about Pan Am 103.

One is Fritz Messere, who was chair of the communications studies department at SUNY Oswego.

“When I first heard the news, I called the International Studies office,” he remembered this week. “I talked to Jose Perez, the director of International Studies. I said we know there were Central New York students on that plane. Were any of them ours?”

“I was hoping to hear the answer ‘no,’” he said.

Then the SUNY Oswego community found out the bad news.

“They were both liked very well. I remember one professor, Professor David Glick, called me in great distress. We were all terribly saddened.”

“I wrote notes to the families immediately,” Messere said. “And then we all wondered ‘what do we tell the students when they return to campus?’”

Betsy Oberst today is associate vice president for alumni relations and stewardship at SUNY Oswego. Twenty-five years ago, she also was working in the alumni office. She said at first, it was difficult to tell if any SUNY Oswego students were on Pan Am 103.

“We had 12 to 13 students studying in London that semester and they all came home on different flights,” she said. “It was devastating to learn we had lost two students.”

With few students still left on campus, the immediate impact with students was slight. She said unlike today with email, text messaging and Twitter, news did not travel as quickly from person to person.

And while Central New York was immersed in the tragedy because of the deaths of the SU, Colgate and SUNY Oswego students and a married couple from Clay, Oberst said it was possible for students who lived farther away to not even realize SUNY Oswego students were killed in the attack.

“Some may not have found out until they returned to campus in January,” she said. A memorial service for Brunner and Hartunian was held in Hall Newman Center after the new semester began.

“I remember so many people showed up that kids were standing in the parking lot unable to get in,” Oberst said. “The campus TV station videotaped it so they could watch.”

Both Oberst and Messere said Brunner and Hartunian were well liked on campus and involved in many activities. According to written reports, they both were members of Alpha Sigma Chi sorority on campus, a sorority devoted to helping others.

Brunner and Hartunian are remembered with a memorial in Penfield Library, complete with photos and a recounting of their time at SUNY Oswego, Messere said. Oberst said they also are remembered through the Alumni Association. In fact in 2014, the Class of 1989 – Hartunian’s class – will have a special ceremony remembering her during their 25th year reunion.

The Alumni Association also is still is touch with their families, Oberst said.

“It is definitely an event that had a tremendous impact on Central New York,” Messere said. “It was a terrible day.”

 

 

 

SUNY Oswego anti-poverty group wins national recognition

Students belonging to the SUNY Oswego chapter of the anti-poverty group ONE recently won a national challenge for awareness-raising and lobbying efforts.

Members have now written more than 570 letters to congressional representatives on issues related to poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, such as the need for electricity, said Sara Cooper, president of the Oswego chapter she helped found starting this summer.

“It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been exciting to see us grow,” said Cooper, a senior communication and social interaction major with minors in both political science and peace and conflict studies. “We are still No. 1 (in the Campus Challenge) in overall actions and recruitment since Aug. 30.”

She said among the group’s actions, ONE members also held a “Study Under the Stars” event to call attention to the plight of African students who need to use light from public sources such as airports to read and study at night.

ONE, which in October officially joined nearly 200 registered student organizations at SUNY Oswego, is an advocacy organization co-founded by U2 frontman Bono with more than 3.5 million members worldwide engaged in the fight against extreme poverty in Africa. ONE said it sponsors the national Campus Challenge to propel college students — “a powerful political force” — to action.

 Mandela film

Cooper said ONE’s mobilization efforts at SUNY Oswego have relied on word of mouth, a Facebook page, presentations in classes and residence halls, and publicity from the ONE challenge — including Oswego’s inclusion in a USA Today College story.

Among other colleges and universities, the competition has attracted ONE chapters at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, University of Virginia and University of Iowa.

SUNY Oswego’s ONE chapter earned a pre-release screening of “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” after winning the challenge. The screening, which by coincidence took place at Oswego Cinema 7 on the evening former South African president Nelson Mandela died, was one of 10 hosted by movie distributor The Weinstein Company at colleges and universities around the United States.

The tie-in with the biographical film about Mandela, who as president led South Africa out of apartheid, is “designed to encourage discussions on college campuses about Mandela’s life and legacy,” The Weinstein Company said.

“Through a series of action-oriented challenges, from living without power to calling members of Congress, Oswego students won ONE’s Campus Challenge and the private screening event by urging political leaders to support programs that are today saving lives and creating sustainable futures in the developing world every day,” the company said in a news release

The current ONE challenge calls on students to submit paintings depicting an AIDS-free world, as HIV/AIDS is another problem plaguing Africa.

“I want us to get as involved as possible,” Cooper said. “Oswego (as a college) is interested in global awareness, and that’s what we are promoting.”

SUNY Oswego December graduation set for today

Submitted by SUNY Oswego

SUNY Oswego’s December Commencement (today) Saturday, Dec. 14, will feature as speaker an alumnus of the college who used his business administration degree to advance to leadership positions at Fortune 100 companies.

Now chairman and chief executive officer of W.R. Grace & Co., Alfred “Fred” Festa gained experience and acumen as he ascended the management ranks over two decades with General Electric, Allied Signal, ICG Commerce and Morgenthaler Private Equity Partners.

He joined Grace, a global specialty chemicals and materials company, as president and chief operating officer in 2003. He assumed the CEO responsibilities in 2005 and was named chairman of the board in 2008. He served as president from 2003 to 2011.

Festa championed the transformation of Grace into a fully integrated operating company.

Under his leadership, the company’s revenue grew 60 percent, from $2 billion in 2003 to $3.2 billion in 2011. He spearheaded intensified productivity efforts at Grace that delivered cost savings and revenue enhancements of $155 million in 2011.

He created the Grace Research Council to oversee greater R&D collaboration, generating an active innovation pipeline. Products introduced in the past five years delivered around one-third of Grace’s annual revenues in 2011.

Loyal alumnus

Festa will receive the SUNY Oswego Presidential Medal at the ceremony in recognition of his support of his alma mater.

He and his wife MaryLynn Barbero Festa, a 1982 graduate of Oswego, established

State program helps SUNY Oswego with education, economic development

Submitted by SUNY Oswego

SUNY Oswego is taking advantage of the economic development and educational opportunities presented by the governor’s recently launched START-UP NY program.

It has selected three campus properties to showcase to businesses, meeting with prospects and faculty, and beginning to assemble an advisory council.

The work this fall also has included aligning the college’s core academic competencies with potential business interests.

“Linkages with Oswego’s academic strengths will be critical to building our START-UP NY partnerships,” college President Deborah F. Stanley said. “In a successful partnership, SUNY Oswego and the company will work together in a key area of the college’s competency for mutual, complementary benefit.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in October formally launched START-UP NY, providing major incentives for qualifying businesses to relocate, start up or expand in this state through affiliations with colleges and universities.

Businesses that qualify will have the opportunity to operate free of state and local taxes on or near academic campuses, and their employees will pay no state or local personal income taxes for 10 years.

The key qualification: The company must add new jobs, providing an economic lift to the surrounding community that does not endanger nearby competitors.

‘Open for business’

Stanley has selected three sites for tax-free zones to attract new and expanding businesses to the college campus: the Romney parking lot overlooking State Route 104; Mackin Hall, the east-campus connector building between two residence halls on Sheldon Avenue; and the lake-view tennis courts and adjacent parking lot on Rudolph Road at its west-campus intersection with Iroquois Trail, the campus ring road.

There is also potential to add properties to those selections within a mile of the Oswego campus, SUNY Oswego Phoenix Center and SUNY Oswego Metro Center in Syracuse.

“We’re open for business,” said Pamela Caraccioli, deputy to the president for external partnerships and economic development. She noted that the college has met with seven business prospects to date.

One prospect, said Pamela Caraccioli, deputy to the president for external partnerships and economic development, is a global company with a cutting-edge technology focus. Representatives recently toured campus facilities, meeting with faculty in software engineering, electrical and computer engineering and human-computer interaction.

“Everyone involved came away impressed with the commercial as well as the educational possibilities,” Caraccioli said. “It was exciting to see the potential of a campus-business relationship.”

Caraccioli plans to travel to additional colleges and universities in and out of state to see and learn about campus-business partnership programs similar to START-UP NY.

“We also want to focus on how these campuses have lured international interest,” Caraccioli said. “We are proud to nurture a global focus at SUNY Oswego.”

A key pillar of SUNY Oswego’s strategic plan is global engagement, exemplified by such programs as the Global Laboratory for undergraduate research internationally, scores of opportunities for study abroad, on-campus experiences such as Collaborative Online International Learning courses and School of Business and Office of Business and Community Relations advisory roles with area companies aiming to do business internationally.

Collaborative relationships

SUNY Oswego has identified a 25-member Economic Development Advisory Council, with an eye toward cross-campus as well as cross-sector community representation.

SUNY Oswego for years has worked with businesses in the region to build partnerships in a variety of ways, such as cooperative education, internships, research support, and advisory boards for programs.

“Empire State Development is the clearinghouse for all qualifications for the tax-free zones,” Caraccioli said. “We are the clearinghouse in terms of fit. A business proposal must be the right fit for our campus in order to move forward.”

The college has provided business prospects with a list of core academic strengths in the following categories: computational sciences and technological innovation; accounting, finance and marketing in undergraduate and MBA programs; communications and culture; international education experiences and global issues; aging and health; the natural and built environments; innovative education and assessment; and creative capital.

SUNY Oswego alum returns to campus to perform all roles in ‘A Christmas Carol’

Submitted by SUNY Oswego

Actor and SUNY Oswego alumnus Carl Whidden will present “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens — performing all of the characters himself — at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, in Hewitt Union ballroom at SUNY Oswego.

While versions of the holiday classic fill many stages this season, Whidden’s evening in Oswego offers a fresh approach to the story.

The veteran artist and 1975 Oswego graduate brings Dickens’ characters to life, from nocturnal spirits to the boy who fetches a turkey on Christmas morning.

For Whidden, his challenging one-actor presentation is also a theatrical homecoming.

Forty years ago this month, he was tapped as a college junior to play Scrooge in the memorable staging conceived, scripted and directed by the late Rosemary S. Nesbitt, then a member of the theatre faculty.

“Having seen Carl’s portrayal of Scrooge in that production, I look forward to experiencing the complete story through his gifts for storytelling,” said Mark Cole, professor of theatre specializing in acting and directing.

“He brings a perfect combination of empathy and humor to comic vignettes like the party given by Mr. Fezziwig and the touching moments with the Cratchit family,” Cole said. “Dickens’ wit and generosity of spirit will come alive in Carl’s performance.”

For the notable 1973 production, Nesbitt re-fashioned the stage to resemble a 19th century Oswego theatre known as Doolittle Hall — complete with a painted Victorian act curtain.

That setting allowed her to add dramatic embellishments to the production like a cameo appearance by Dickens himself. Her research showed the British author could well have visited Oswego during his American tour of 1867.

“Dickens himself often went on the road performing excerpts from his novels, so Carl follows in a time honored tradition,” adds Cole.

Memories of ‘73

More than 150 participants, both college students and children of the community were recruited for six performances in December 1973.

Nesbitt added engaging elements like snowball fights and audience sing-alongs to Dickens’ basic storyline.

Carl Whidden hopes many who remember that ambitious production will attend his performance as a 40th anniversary celebration. His characterizations will be based on Nesbitt’s original script.

Artwork from the 1973 production, loaned by Ellen Stengel Wahl, will be on view following the program. Wahl, who served as a student scene designer that year, now directs the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Oswego County in the college’s Office of Business and Community Relations. Her husband, Mark Wahl, designed the original lighting.

When John Shaffer, Artswego coordinator for the college, called Ellen Wahl this spring, she knew right where to find the renderings she’d done for the Nesbitt production.

“I had made Christmas presents of them to my parents,” Wahl said. She retrieved, from her mother’s former home on Long Island, the 15- by 30-inch sketches that had been enlarged to 15 by 30 feet, loaning them to Artswego’s present-day performance by that long-ago “Scrooge.”

“What a great idea” of Whidden’s, Wahl said. “Forty years — I think it’s so cool. “

Tickets for “A Christmas Carol” with Carl Whidden cost $18 ($5 for students and children).

For more information, an artist video and a link for ticket purchases, visit oswego.edu/arts. Tickets also may be purchased at any SUNY Oswego box office location, online at tickets.oswego.edu or by calling 312-2141.

Patrons with disabilities needing assistance should call 312-2141 prior to the performance. Parking is included in the cost of the ticket, and is available in the employee and commuter lots in front of and to the east of Culkin Hall. Hewitt Union may be entered from the east or west sides.

Severe weather expert, SUNY Oswego grad, speaks on campus Dec. 6

Submitted by SUNY Oswego

James Ladue, a SUNY Oswego alumnus and national weather scientist, will speak from 3 to 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, in Room 175 of the college’s Richard S. Shineman Center for Science, Engineering and Innovation.

Ladue will talk about extreme natural disasters, as well as how to improve communications with the public and the resiliency of our communities to severe weather.

Last May, two tornadoes ripped across Oklahoma, including the Oklahoma City metro area, killing 25 people and wounding 390 more. Less than two weeks later, a third tornado ripped through Oklahoma, injuring and killing scores more, including professional and amateur storm chasers.

Ladue will discuss these tragic events and what meteorologists are doing to improve forecasting.

With more than 20 years of experience as a meteorologist, Ladue works as a meteorologist instructor at the National Weather Service Warning Decision Training Branch in Norman, Okla., a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The office is responsible for training National Weather Service personnel on warning methodology and situation awareness to better serve the public in hazardous weather warning situations.

Ladue earned a bachelor’s degree in meteorology from SUNY Oswego in 1986. His previous work experience includes creating new satellite-based techniques to assist in improved forecasting of short-term hazardous weather.

The event is free and open to the public.

Ladue’s presentation is part of the Science Today Lecture Series, which brings together top names and developments from throughout the sciences, while also showing how the different avenues of science intersect. The content is geared toward a general audience.

Parking on campus for those without a current SUNY Oswego parking sticker is $1. Visit oswego.edu/administration/parking for information on obtaining a day-use permit.

For more information, contact Stephanie Lamb at stephanie.lamb@oswego.edu or 312-2258.

SUNY Oswego visiting professor tells stories of minorities in politics

Submitted by SUNY Oswego

Miriam Jiménez of the SUNY Oswego political science faculty published her first book last month, using a database she built from scratch and years of research to construct a micro-political model for the rise of ethnic minorities in Congress.

The book is full of their stories and creative electoral strategies.

Published by Routledge of New York and London, “Inventive Politicians and Ethnic Ascent in American Politics: The Uphill Elections of Italians and Mexicans to the U.S. Congress” began as Jiménez’ quest for her dissertation in political science at City University of New York’s Graduate Center.

The author reconstructs the tales of ethnic minority politicians in Congress, from Italian-American Fiorello La Guardia’s breaking through the Tammany Hall machine in 1916 to such pioneering Mexican-American politicians of the 1960s as Edward Roybal and on to the rise of Latinos as pan-ethnic identifiers, including Loretta Sanchez in the 1990s.

Jiménez, a visiting assistant professor at Oswego through 2013-14, scoured archives and primary sources, periodicals and scattered studies of ethnic experiences for the kind of intimate detail she knew could move her away from traditional models.

She detailed a process of different and uneven stages of ethnic ascent to Congress, starting from marginalization, grudging acceptance, isolated victories and, ultimately, origin-blind acceptance.

Data on the history of ethnic minorities in Congress did not exist, so she built the dataset herself, painstakingly assembling the names — some of them Anglicized — of more than 150 ethnic House and Senate members from 1880 to 2012.

She used a wide variety of sources to reconstruct the tales, resourceful strategies, successes and failures of Italian-Americans and Mexican-Americans in congressional politics.

“I wanted to re-conceptualize how ethnic politicians gain access to the process,” Jiménez said.

“I took an interdisciplinary approach.,” she said. “My sister, a historian, talked to me about micro-history, changing the lens to look at individuals in their historical context rather than starting with the idea of ethnic minorities as homogeneous or with simplistic analyses of registration and voting patterns of an ethnic group.”

‘New insights’

Peer reviewers of the work praised her for breaking new ground.

“Miriam Jiménez’ innovative micro-political approach in this book yields new insights that turn some of the axioms of common wisdom on their head,” wrote Richard Alba, sociology professor and expert in ethnicity and ethnic identity at the CUNY Graduate Center. “As a result, the book breathes freshness into a comparison of Italians and Mexicans that has become a bit stale in the hands of others.”

Louis DeSipio, a political science professor with expertise in Latino politics and immigration at University of California-Irvine, wrote, in part, “Jiménez’ study carefully assesses not just the ethnic candidates who sought election to Congress and how they positioned themselves among co-ethnics, but also the critical role of changing political environments and institutional relationships to ensure their election to office. This book adds to our understanding of the likely future electoral influence of today’s immigrant-ethnic populations.”

Jiménez, understanding that the primary audiences for her book likely will include political scientists, politicians and students of ethnic political incorporation, said she also consciously tried to invite interested readers from the general public with her writing style and storytelling.

 Compelling stories

“The book is full of stories and against-all-odds case studies,” she said.

For example, Jiménez said, the story of how Fiorello La Guardia, a former congressman from and three-term mayor of New York City, ascended politically is dramatic and compelling.

“You really have to understand the context of the times in which he lived — Tammany Hall, kingmakers, party-centered politics — to realize what political marvels he achieved,” Jiménez said. “He campaigned like crazy, he understood the electorate and spoke their language — he was, in fact, multilingual and he used those languages. Inventiveness, energy, mercurial character — La Guardia always exceeded expectations.”

Edward Roybal beat an incumbent in 1962 to become the first Mexican-American elected to Congress in California in nearly 100 years. To accomplish it, he put together a multiracial coalition, spoke for the powerless and actively supported President John F. Kennedy through Viva Kennedy clubs. He stayed in Congress for 30 years and is credited with inspiring many Latinos to become politically involved.