SUNY Oswego selected to be part of online degree project

The SUNY system has selected SUNY Oswego’s online master’s in business administration (MBA) and MBA in health services administration to join only six other degree programs in the soft launch this spring of Open SUNY.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher introduced the new Open SUNY+ degree programs during her annual State of the University address Jan. 14 in Albany.

“Open SUNY will provide our students with the nation’s leading online learning experience, drawing on the power of SUNY to expand access, improve completion and prepare more students for success,” Zimpher said.

She noted the online degrees “will completely redefine access to a college degree in our state” and reach people “on their terms — in their homes and communities, and on their time, adapting to their schedules.”

The first Open SUNY degrees were chosen based on factors including student interest, accreditation and capacity to meet current and future workforce demand throughout New York state.

“We are proud to have our online MBA and our MBA/HSA as the only graduate programs in the first wave of Open SUNY,” said SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley. “All the qualities that make our programs great will be available throughout SUNY and beyond as premier online offerings.”

Just this month, U.S. News ranked Oswego’s online MBA programs No. 14 in the nation, praising the level of student engagement and faculty expertise.

Princeton Review lists Oswego’s School of Business — which is accredited by AACSB International, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business — among the best in the Northeast.

Other campuses with degree programs in the initial rollout of Open SUNY are Stony Brook University, Empire State College, SUNY Delhi and Broome and Finger Lakes community colleges.

Students will enroll in each program through the campus that hosts it.

“Each home campus enrolls the students, confers the degrees and provides student services,” said Greg Ketcham, director of academic programs for Oswego’s Division of Extended Learning, who has long been instrumental in the instructional design and delivery of online courses at SUNY Oswego.

“We are looking at Open SUNY as the next-generation effort for what online courses should be in order to be the best possible experience for students,” Ketcham said.

Rigorous model

SUNY Oswego was an early adopter of modern alternatives to traditional classroom teaching and learning.

“Oswego has a long record of leadership in online education,” Ketcham said. The college started offering online classes in the mid-to-late ‘90s, he said, and was among the early members of the SUNY Learning Network, a partnership of more than 30 SUNY campuses that has provided support in the areas of best practices in teaching, technology, student and faculty support and marketing services.

Oswego and SUNY recognized that moving a course or an entire degree program — or an entire system’s worth of courses — online is not just “a flip of a switch,” Ketcham said.

His staff works closely with faculty in a mentored process to transform course content for the online world.

Stephen Aschkenes, a senior marketing major at Oswego, was chosen to attend a brainstorming session on Open SUNY last fall. He said the three online courses he has taken proved to be rigorous and collaborative experiences that included required online discussion of texts, videos and other students’ posts.

“You need to participate — you can’t just sit in the back of the class,” Aschkenes said. “From that aspect, I liked it.”

Open SUNY will eventually encompass every online course offered at every SUNY campus, the chancellor said, “and make them easy to find and accessible for every SUNY student.”

SUNY’s signature initiative will offer online courses and programs with a comprehensive suite of supports and services to aid in degree completion.

Built-in supports will include 24/7 assistance for students, whether they need technical help, tutoring, financial planning or academic advisement services, as well as a Center for Online Teaching Excellence where faculty can opt-in to training programs and online forums to broaden their knowledge about developing effective online courses or share best practices and learn directly from colleagues across SUNY.

SUNY Oswego receives largest single gift in its history — $7.5 million

SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley announced today (Jan. 17) that the college has received the largest single gift in its 153-year history: a $7.5 million gift from the estate of Oswego County resident Lorraine E. Marano, an education enthusiast.

The gift establishes the Nunzio “Nick” C. and Lorraine E. Marano Endowment, which will be used primarily to fund scholarships for students with financial need, especially those who are first-generation college students.

“Lorraine Marano’s profound understanding of the transformative powers of public higher education is affirmed by this extraordinarily generous gift,” said Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley. “Her gift will help put a college education within reach for many students, fulfilling their hopes and dreams and investing in a better future for all of us, as our graduates forge productive lives in their communities. We are deeply honored by her confidence in establishing the Marano family legacy at SUNY Oswego. It will live on for generations.”

 Lorraine Marano openly discussed her admiration for SUNY Oswego and believed the college was worthy of a gift of such magnitude because of the benefits it accords to students through academic programming, committed faculty and staff, and strong, imaginative leadership.

“A highly educated woman, Lorraine believed in the value of education and considered this a gift to the entire community,” noted Theresa A. Sugar Scanlon, a close friend of Lorraine. “Her confidence in President Stanley’s leadership and the extraordinary opportunities that the college provided to its students were instrumental to her decision. She hoped to help keep a college education affordable for all students, especially those who are the first in their families to attend college.”

 

One Oswego County school district on state comptroller’s fiscal distress list

The Oswego City School District is the only one in Oswego County on the list of fiscally distressed districts issued today by the state Comptroller’s office.

According to a news release from the Comptroller’s office, the fiscal stress scores are based on financial information submitted as part of each district’s ST-3 report filed with the state Education Department as of Dec. 13, 2013.

Today’s announcement does not include scores for the dependent school districts in the “Big Four”cities of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers. Information for these districts will be incorporated into the scoring for their respective cities and reported later this year.

DiNapoli said 587 districts have been classified as “no designation.”One school district continues to have its information vetted and is classified as “data inconclusive,”and one school district has yet to submit necessary financial information to the Comptroller’s office and is designated as “have not filed.”

Ranked as “no designation” districts are Altmar-Parish-Williamstown, Central Square, Fulton, Hannibal, Mexico, Phoenix, Pulaski and andy Creek. Oswego was listed as “Susceptible to Fiscal Stress.”

According to a report issued today with the fiscal stress scores, school districts found to be in fiscal stress share a number of common characteristics. Most are operating with low fund balance, operating deficits and limited cash on hand. These districts were also found to have a much higher likelihood of using short-term borrowing to bridge cash flow gaps.

Fiscally stressed school districts also share a number of environmental themes, according to DiNapoli’s report. Although many factors are outside a district’s control, they can drive additional costs or hurt the district’s ability to raise revenues. For example, fiscally stressed school districts were more likely to experience declining property values, high poverty rates and low school budget support.

The report also found:

  • High-need urban/suburban school districts were three times more likely to be considered in fiscal stress compared to low-need districts;
  • The percentage of school districts in fiscal stress exceeded 30 percent in six counties –Chemung, Clinton, Madison, Montgomery, Niagara and Tioga;
  • Upstate school districts were more likely to be in some level of stress compared to downstate districts; and
  • Regions with the highest percentage of stressed school districts were Central New York (22.9 percent of districts); North Country (16.9 percent) and Western New York (13.9 percent).

Oswego County Health Department warns Sandy Pond residents about flooding

Sandy Creek – Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang advises residents and property owners near North and South Sandy Ponds to be aware of signs of flood damage to septic systems, wells, and homes.

General information on what to do during and following a severe weather event or power outage, and how to prepare for severe weather events and power outages, is contained in the NYS Department of Health’s publication “Don’t Be Left in the Dark.” The booklet is available at the Sandy Creek Town Hall, and online at http://www.health.ny.gov/publications/7064.pdf  and www.oswegocounty.com.Additional emergency response information is posted online at http://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2708.pdfhttp://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2752.pdf  and on the Oswego County web site at www.oswegocounty.com.

Huang said wells which have been covered with floodwater should be disinfected. Residents who need information about having their well water tested should contact the Oswego County Health Department, 70 Bunner St., Oswego, at 315-349-3557 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3557, weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. The health department offers a walk-in sampling program where homeowners can bring a sample of water in and have it tested for coliform. There is a $10 fee.

“If the area around your well gets flooded or if you suspect that your well is contaminated, you need to disinfect the water in the well before using it for drinking, cooking, hand washing or brushing your teeth,” said Huang.

Huang and Oswego County Emergency Management Director Dale Currier offer these flood safety tips:

During a flood:

–          Monitor NOAA Weather Radio and Emergency Alert System stations.

-          Disconnect electric appliances that can’t be moved. Do not touch them if you are wet or standing in water.

Travel with care:

-          Watch for washed out roads, broken water or sewer mains, loose or downed electrical wires, and fallen or falling objects.

-          Watch out for areas where rivers or streams may suddenly flood.

-          Do not attempt to drive over a flooded road or through standing water.

After a flood:

–          Before entering a building, check for structural damage. Turn off any outside gas lines at meter or tank. Let the building air out to remove foul odors or escaping gas.

-          Upon entering the building, use a battery powered flashlight. Do not use an open flame as a source of light. Gas may be trapped inside.

-          Watch for electrical shorts and live wires before making certain the main power switch is off. Do not turn on electrical appliances until an electrician has checked the system.

-          Throw out any medicine or food that has had contact with flood waters.

-          Test drinking water for potability. Wells that have been covered with floodwaters should be pumped out and water tested for drinking.

-          If the water system is declared unsafe by health officials, water for drinking and cooking should be boiled vigorously for one minute. In an emergency, water may be obtained from the hot water tank or by melting ice cubes.

-          Shovel out mud with special attention to cleaning heating and plumbing systems.

-          Flooded basements should be drained and cleaned as soon as possible. Structural damage can occur if drained too quickly. When surrounding waters have subsided, begin draining the basement in stages, about 1/3 of the water volume each day.

-          Do not handle electrical equipment in wet areas. It should be dried and checked before use.

-          Report broken utility lines to police, fire, or other appropriate authorities.

-          If floodwaters cause an oil spill or any type of petroleum release in or near your home, contact the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation spill hotline immediately at 1-800-457-7362 to report the spill.  If oil is mixed with water that has flooded your home, do not pump the oil water out into your yard. Contact the DEC spill hotline to request assistance.

Town and county officials continue to monitor the situation closely. Highway Superintendent Michael Kastler said roads in the area, especially ones that have had water over them, are being watched carefully.

Town residents with questions or needing assistance other than life-threatening situations may email the town supervisor atscsupervisor@frontiernet.net, or call the town hall at 315/387-5456, ext. 5 during business hours. For updates, people can go to the town’s web page atwww.sandycreekny.us.

In an emergency, call 9-1-1.

Flood waters recede in Sandy Creek area

Flood waters in the Town of Sandy Creek west of Route 3 along the shoreline of Lake Ontario are beginning to recede today, town officials reported, but people in the area should continue to use caution and follow flood safety tips.

The water has receded about 8 inches overnight following flooding that occurred along North Pond in the Town of Sandy Creek. While the water is continuing to recede, town officials stressed, the levels are still not back below normal and changes in weather conditions could cause them to rise again.

Town Supervisor Nancy Ridgeway, Town Highway Superintendent Mike Kastler, and County Legislator Margaret Kastler (1st District), along with Oswego County Emergency Management Office Director Dale A. Currier continue to monitor the situation closely. Highway Superintendent Kastler said roads in the area, especially ones that have had water over them, are being watched carefully.

“People should continue be very aware of their surroundings,” Town Supervisor Ridgeway said. Residents and property owners west of Route 3 in the town should continue to check their residences and ensure their propane and other gas tanks are secured. If necessary, they should turn off electrical power.

People who have a life-threatening situation should call 911.

“We also have a concern for ice fishermen on Sandy Pond,” Highway Superintendent Kastler said. “We urge them to use extreme caution and to check the New York State Department of Conservation web site (http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7733.html)  for recommended guidelines on ice thickness.”

Highway Superintendent Kastler reminded travelers not to drive over flooded roadways.

Town officials have lined up a source of bottled water in the event it’s necessary, Town Supervisor Ridgeway said.  “We’re fortunate to have the assistance of the Salvation Army in our town,” she said.

Town residents with questions or needing assistance other than life-threatening situations may email the town supervisor at scsupervisor@frontiernet.net, or call the town hall at 315/387-5456 during business hours. For updates, people can go to the town’s web page at www.sandycreekny.us.

The governor’s declaration of a State of Emergency for heavy lake effect snow on the Tug Hill last week includes Oswego County and is still in effect, Currier said. County Emergency Management and town officials are working to secure state resources to aid the flooding situation in the town.

 

 

Light In The Darkness

“It is God Who works in me both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”   (Phil. 2:13).

Nothing is more important in the life of the children of God than becoming fully persuaded that God does indeed lead his children on their journey from earth to heaven.

Besides building your confidence in God, I hope that this brief message helps you to face the great decisions of life. I hope it helps you this very week as you come to those moments when you must decide, when you come to those crossroads that everybody comes to, and you must make a decision.

It is my prayer that you will have confidence that God is leading you in exactly the direction he wants you to go.

Since God is in control of the minute details of life, you can relax, knowing that he will reveal his plan for your life step by step. God’s will is more like a sunrise than a sunburst.

Early in the morning the sun begins to peek above the eastern horizon. At first the sky lightens, then the first rays streak across the sky, then the rim of the sun begins to rise slowly from the earth.

Eventually the whole sun is revealed, rising until it dominates the sky, giving light to the earth, driving the darkness away.

God’s will is like that. At first we see his plan dimly, then the outline begins to emerge. Slowly over time, the clouds vanish, the darkness disappears, and the brightness of his presence fills our lives.

Do you get anxious at sunrise because all you can see is the tiny rim of the sun? No, because you know that you only have to wait to see the sun in all its brilliance.

The same is true of God’s plan for your life. We never see the whole thing in advance, but if we wait long enough, God reveals his will.

So relax! God is in charge. Soon enough the darkness will vanish and all that is vague will be made perfectly clear. God is in charge and he knows exactly what he is doing in your life.

Our response might be expressed in a prayer like this, “Loving Father, teach us to trust you. We want clear direction, and you say, ‘Give Me your heart.’ When we want precise answers, you say, “Trust me to do right.”

When we want to know about tomorrow, you say, “Follow me today.” So, Lord, help us today to give You our hearts individually and personally. Make us willing to be made willing to do your will in everything. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Then, as you walk through the day, express confidence that these words are true; “I am led by the Spirit of God for I am a son (or daughter) of God.”   (Romans 8:14)

(Adapted with permission from author Dr. Ray Pritchard)

Pastor David M. Grey

Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church

Sign up for young boater safety course

The US Coast Guard Auxiliary and New York Sea Grant will offer the Young Boater Safety Certificate Training at the Central New York Boat Show Feb. 12-16, at the state Fairgrounds in
Geddes.

The course is for age 10 to 17. Successful completion of the 8-hour course and  exam is required for youth to legally operate a motorized boat or watercraft alone on New York state waters.

Registration for limited space is now open for the two-part course that will be taught at the Central New York Boat Show from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13 and 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15 in the Horticulture Building Seminar Room.

Both sessions must be completed. Pre-registration is required with New York Sea Grant by phone at 312-3042.

Each youth registering for the course will receive three free admission passes into the 2014 show that is New York’s largest and oldest boat show.

The Central New York Boat Show fills three buildings with more than 500 boats, including the 2014 New York Sea Grant Discover Clean & Safe Boating vessels, plus water recreation equipment; marine accessories; boating, fishing and Adirondack guides; charter captains, water recreation industry leaders and waterfront destinations with exhibits, information and mini-seminar exhibits.

The show’s Boating Information Center is expanding in 2014 to include the New York Sea Grant Launch Steward voluntary watercraft inspection program along with boating, tourism, safety, invasive species and law enforcement exhibits by local, state and federal organizations.

Boat show hours are 1 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $10/person, children 13 and younger enter free, with free parking and shuttles.

Fulton woman warns of scam

By Ashley M. Casey

Although it hasn’t deterred her from entering any more contests, Fulton resident Fanny Knapp wants to let community members know about a Publishers Clearing House-style scam she discovered last week.

Knapp, 85, has entered several of the real Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes a few times a year for the last two or three years, and has purchased a few of their magazines and other items, but she has never won anything.

Last Thursday evening, however, she received a call informing her that she had won a cash prize.

The caller, who claimed to be an employee for Publishers Clearing House, told Knapp to call (702) 516-5521 and ask for “Michael Best.” Knapp called twice, but the line was busy both times.

Finally, “Michael Best” called back and asked Knapp to send in a $50 gift card to claim her prize. She became suspicious.

“He asked me how far I live from Walmart, and I thought, ‘That’s a strange question,’ because Publishers Clearing House already knows where I live,” said Knapp.

She said she receives six to eight letters a month from Publishers Clearing House. In addition to sales offers, the letters include “sweepstakes facts” that outline the rules of the sweepstakes and how winners will be contacted.

“It says in the letter … the winners will be contacted by mail,” Knapp said.

She realized it was a scam and took note of the phone number. Knapp called The Post-Standard in Syracuse to share her story and was also interviewed by WSYR. She said she alerted the media so that “somebody else might not fall for it.”

Publishers Clearing House’s website has a page called “Fraud Protection” that explains how to spot a possible scam. It says winners of major prizes — that is, $1,000 or more — are only notified in person.

Winners of smaller prizes are contacted by mail. Publishers Clearing House does not call winners beforehand. The site also warns people not to send money to claim a prize, as Knapp was asked to do.

Despite her encounter with a scammer, Knapp said she still plans on entering for Publishers Clearing House’s sweepstakes prizes, though she won’t be spending money on the company any time soon.

“Earlier this month, you got a prize if you ordered something, so I ordered some shears,” she said. “I won’t order anything else this year.”

For more information on how to avoid a sweepstakes scam, visit info.pch.com/consumer-information/fraud-protection.

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