The Colgate Scene
May 2006

Around the college

Widely regarded as the preeminent scholar of mysticism in the Western Christian tradition, Bernard McGinn, Naomi Shenstone Donnelley Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago Divinity School, spent two days at Colgate in February participating in classes, addressing Newman Community members, meeting with faculty, and presenting talks including "Why Monasticism Matters" and "Women in Christian Mysticism." McGinn's current long-range project is a five-volume history of Christian mysticism in the West under the general title The Presence of God. [Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko]

An alumnus who prefers to remain anonymous has given $10 million in unrestricted funds to Colgate. The gift is one of the largest in the university's history, and equals the largest unrestricted amount ever provided.

Approximately $8.5 million of the commitment will be used to create an endowment fund that will support the ongoing maintenance and operating expenditures of the Ho Science Center, Case Library, and other major campus facilities. The remaining $1.5 million will be used to support the strategic plan.

An appreciation for Colgate's "vastly superior" education was a main reason for the gift, the donor said. "This gift is about more than appreciation, though. It is about the opportunity to have a transformative impact on Colgate, and to benefit many people beyond the immediate community by supporting the talented people who make this university great."

President Rebecca S. Chopp said that a gift of this magnitude focused in this way has the power to transform the university. "The endowment is our only means of long-term support for our students, faculty, and staff. This wonderful gift continues to solidify our endowment and will go a long way toward ensuring the success of our university in the years to come."

New York State Supreme Court Judge Dennis K. McDermott has dismissed two lawsuits filed against Colgate. In October 2005, James Sanford '88 and approximately 60 other alumni members of Beta Theta Pi filed the lawsuit that sought to reverse the sale of the chapter house to Colgate. The suit was nearly identical to one filed by Charles "Tim" Sanford '58 and a small group of Phi Delta Theta alumni. That case was dismissed by Judge William F. O'Brien in December of 2005.

The DKE suit sought to overturn Colgate's withdrawal of the fraternity's recognition. In his decision and judgment, McDermott emphasized that Colgate's Board of Trustees "has the authority to adopt resolutions and implement policies as it deems necessary to supervise and control its institution...Thus, allowing fraternities and sororities to retain their recognized status on campus on the condition that title to their houses be transferred to Colgate was a lawful exercise of the Board of Trustees' authority."

Colgate withdrew recognition from DKE's undergraduate chapter in the summer of 2005 following the fraternity alumni corporation's decision to not transfer ownership of its house to Colgate.

DKE has a lawsuit currently pending judgment in federal court. A ruling on Colgate's motion for summary judgment in this case is expected within a few months.

Eliot Spitzer, New York state attorney general, will deliver the keynote address at Colgate's 185th commencement exercises Sunday, May 21. Colgate's commencement speaker is chosen by a Board of Trustees committee, which is advised by members of the faculty and the senior class president.

Spitzer became New York's 63rd attorney general on Jan. 1, 1999. Since then, he has spearheaded a broad array of initiatives that have focused on consumer protection, environmental stewardship, labor rights, personal privacy, public safety, and criminal law enforcement. Nicknamed "Crusader of the Year" by Time magazine in 2002, Spitzer began his career in public service as a clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Robert W. Sweet and later served as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan under Robert Morgenthau. He rose to chief of the labor racketeering unit, where he prosecuted organized crime and political corruption cases.

Spitzer has contributed significant time and energy to community service throughout his life, and, with his wife, Silda Wall, formed the Children for Children Foundation.

Alumni, faculty, and undergraduates involved in archaeology attended the Colgate University Meeting of American Archaeologists. [Photo by Aubrey Graham '06]

Ever since his days as a Colgate undergraduate, Ethan Cole '03, a master's student in anthropology at the University of Florida, has known of his alma mater's success at producing archaeologists. But a chance meeting with Polly Peterson '95, a doctoral candidate in archaeology at Boston University, only made him want to better spotlight Colgate's pipeline to the field.

He decided to invite alumni, faculty, and current undergraduates involved in the discipline to campus to talk about their experiences and research, and the Colgate University Meeting of American Archaeologists was born. Held in February, the meeting was open to students, faculty, and staff members. Cole modeled the event after a scientific symposium, featuring presentations and discussions on a wide variety of topics including Moche culture, ethnoastronomy, and hieroglyphs. It also provided the university's aspiring archaeologists plenty of opportunities to network.

"I want them to see that there are other career paths, that there are different roads to take," said Cole.

Colgate English professor William Henry Lewis's collection of short stories, I Got Somebody in Staunton, was one of four finalists for the 2006 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the largest peer-juried prize for fiction in the United States.

The PEN/Faulkner Foundation announced in February that this year's winner was E.L. Doctorow's novel The March. The three other finalists were Karen Fisher, for A Sudden Country, James Salter for Last Night, and Bruce Wagner for The Chrysanthemum Palace.

The judges considered more than 359 novels and short story collections by American authors published in the United States during the 2005 calendar year.

I Got Somebody in Staunton (Amistad/Harper Collins) is a collection of 10 stories set in Bedford-Stuyvesant; Denver; and Staunton, Va., all deeply concerned with the pride and pain of African American heritage. In Lewis's title story, a black college professor, haunted by his dying uncle Izell's memories of lynchings and the ways of the old South, flirts with danger by giving a ride to a flirtatious young white woman.

I Got Somebody in Staunton was named one of Kirkus Reviews' top 25 books of 2005 and it received a Black Caucus of the American Library Association Literary award. Lewis is also the author of In The Arms of Our Elders.

Lewis previously taught at the University of Virginia, Denison University, Mary Washington College, Trinity College, and most recently, the College of the Bahamas and Centre College. He also taught elementary, junior, and senior high school students. His nonfiction has appeared in Black Issues in Higher Education, Washington Post Book World, and O magazine. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in America's top literary journals, including Ploughshares, New Letters, Colorado Review, Callaloo, African American Review, and Kenyon Review, and several anthologies.

Pauline Yu, president of the American Council of Learned Societies, speaks to faculty at a lecture on academic governance and academic freedom presented by the Colgate Chapter of American Association of University Professors, along with the Office of the President and the Office of the Dean of the Faculty.

Yu is a former professor of East Asian languages and cultures and dean of humanities in the College of Letters and Science at UCLA. She is the author or editor of five books and dozens of articles on classical Chinese poetry, literary theory, comparative poetics, and issues in the humanities and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, ACLS, and NEH. [Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko]

Students performing in The Decameron take part in a dress rehearsal. The set for the production rose some 10 feet from the Brehmer Theater floor. For his adaptation of Giovanni Boccaccio's masterpiece, University Theater Director Adrian Giurgea wanted an intimate setting that let audience members become active listeners as the student actors told the tales that are at the book's heart. Seating was provided only in the balcony; the orchestra seats were lost in a web of scaffolding that supported the temporary stage, which was parallel with the balcony. [Photo by Aubrey Graham '06]

In a public symposium in March, speakers including alumnus Frank Pommersheim '65 addressed the impact American Indian sovereignty has had locally and nationally. The all-day, on-campus conference, "American Indian Sovereignty, in Theory and Practice," was also featured as an event in Madison County's bicentennial.

Conference organizer Christopher Vecsey, director of Native American studies at Colgate, said the symposium's speakers offered firsthand insight about this emotional topic.

"American Indian law is unique, confusing, ambiguous, even contradictory," Vecsey said. "That is why it is worthy of careful, concerted study."

Presenters included Mark Mitchell, governor of the Pueblo of Tesuque; L. Gordon McLester III, the former tribal secretary of the Oneida Indians of Wisconsin; Pommersheim, who teaches at the University of South Dakota Law School and authored a book on Native American law in 1997; Robert Odawi Porter, the founding director of the Center for Indigenous Law, Governance, & Citizenship at Syracuse University and the attorney general of the Seneca Nation of Indians; and Chief Irving Powless Jr., one of the leading chiefs of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

One of the many Food for Thought sessions sponsored by Colgate's Center for Career Services gave Susan Tahsler '06 a lot to chew on -- two opportunities to work at NBC-TV, including a job with the Today Show in Turin, Italy.

"As a runner, I helped with the Today Show's coverage of the Winter Olympics," Tahsler said. "My day-to-day activities were varied. Before the show started, I spent most of my time researching Olympic venues, athletes, and transportation so that I could provide the production staff with any information that they needed. Once the show started, I managed guest transportation in Torino and to Olympic venues to ensure that guests made their deadlines."

An English major and theater minor, Tahsler went to Italy Jan. 12 and returned Feb. 23. She jumped right back into campus life on her return, working on two independent study courses she needs to complete for graduation.

At a Food for Thought career exploration session in fall 2004, Tahsler met Jonathan Dienst '90, an investigative reporter for WNBC/NewsChannel 4 in New York City. Dienst spoke about the competitive world of broadcast journalism and gave his business card to Tahsler and other students who gave him a tour of CUTV. Tahsler has been on the executive board of CUTV since her first year and is now assistant general manager. She also has co-hosted the call-in talk show Chick Chat with Stephanie Sambeat '06 for four years. Tahsler followed up with Dienst, who helped her land an internship during summer 2005 at NBC's Dateline.

Internships are incredibly helpful, said Dienst, who credited the Center for Career Services for helping him land an internship at a New York City TV station while he was an undergraduate.

"From learning how to cover a story to seeing firsthand how a newsroom works to meeting key managers of a news division, an internship can provide a valuable edge to any student hoping to land that first job in this competitive business," said Dienst. He added that career services also helped him as he applied to Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, where he earned a master's degree.

Tahsler logged and dubbed tapes while at Dateline and also worked for a separate production company that was developing a pilot program for HGTV. She interviewed homeowners, spoke with home experts, and selected production music.

The connections she made while interning at Dateline led to the opportunity to go to the Olympics.

"Working for the Today Show in Torino was an incredible experience," she said. "I got to work for my dream company, go to an Olympics, and live in Italy for six weeks."

Moshe Ma'oz, scholar in residence for the U.S. Institute of Peace, chats with attendees after his lecture as part of the International Relations and Foreign Policy Speakers Series. He delivered his talk, "The U.S. and the Israeli-Syrian Conflict," in February. The series brought prestigious speakers to campus throughout the spring semester, addressing topics including "The Spread of Domestic Peace" and "Politics, Identity, and Peacemaking." [Photo by Aubrey Graham '06]

Margaret Maurer, William Henry Crawshaw Professor of literature, has been named associate dean of the faculty beginning July 1. Maurer joined the faculty in 1974, and has served as department chair, director of the Division of University Studies, and acting director of the Division of the Humanities; she is currently acting chair of the department.

In addition, Maurer co-chaired the Middle States Steering Committee for the institution's last comprehensive review and has served on the Board of Trustees Committee on Planning and the Task Force on Campus Culture. She has directed Colgate's London English Study Group five times and currently chairs the Promotion and Tenure Committee. Maurer will continue her active scholarly career and teaching in the English department while serving as associate dean on a half-time basis. In July, for the fifth time, she will be a resident scholar in the Teaching Shakespeare Institute at the Folger Shakespeare Library, and will begin her duties as associate dean in August. She replaces Jill Tiefenthaler, who is completing a three-year term as associate dean.

Ross Ferguson '09 has been to Ecuador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica (twice), and Bolivia. Can you spot the travel trend?

The Fayetteville, Ark., native has a passion for Latin America and keeps close tabs on the region's political situation. When he read in December that Evo Morales, an Aymaran Indian, was elected president of Bolivia, he knew that he had to witness the inauguration of the nation's first indigenous president.

"It was too big of a deal. Nothing like this had ever happened before, so I had to go," said Ferguson. He traveled to Tiwanaku, where Morales underwent a purification ritual and other ancient rites during an elaborate ceremony that spurred immense pride in the 30,000 indigenous people who came from throughout Latin America.

Hundreds of journalists reported on the Jan. 21 ceremony, held the day before Morales's formal inauguration in La Paz. Ferguson, without going into details, noted how he was able to work his way close to Morales during the ceremony; closer even, than some foreign journalists.

Because his trip was spur-of-the-moment, Ferguson had nowhere to stay for the two nights he was in Tiwanaku. He ended up staying in a spare room of a simple home owned by an artisan and his family. The man didn't ask for payment, but Ferguson ended up buying several of his pieces. Ferguson, who is interested in journalism and can converse in Spanish, took dozens of photos and met with professors and others during his trip, talking to them about Morales.

"The emotion that was most prevalent was just how incredibly proud the indigenous people were that Morales had won," said Ferguson. "It's seen as a revolution in democracy."

At the same time, many wealthy people and businessmen are scared, Ferguson said, unsure how the policies of Morales, a left-leaning coca leaf grower who wants to nationalize the oil and natural gas industry, will affect them.

Before the trip, Ferguson checked in with Beverly Low, dean of the first-year experience, and his professors because although most of the trip occurred during winter break, he was going to miss a few days of classes.

"He is so intent on exploring the culture and the politics of Latin America that it will be interesting to see how he might work that into his scholarly work at Colgate. His sense of adventure and genuine curiosity and openness to the experience are inspiring," said Low.

Ferguson's interest in Latin America was sparked by a 2003 trip to Costa Rica with a group called Earthwatch Institute. He spent about 20 days working to protect leatherback sea turtles and their nesting sites. Last summer he spent two months backpacking across Ecuador with a friend.

Ferguson has been able to foster his interest in the region through two courses -- Core Mexico and Making of Modern Latin America -- he's taken with Steven Bachelor, visiting assistant professor of history.

"Ross brings to class an engaging and growing knowledge of the region," said Bachelor. "It's been a real joy having him in the two courses."

Edward Baugh, emeritus professor of English at the University of the West Indies, speaks at a poetry reading in February. Baugh read poems from his works, which include A Tale from the Rainforest and It Was the Singing. [Photo by Aubrey Graham '06]

Nearly 100 students and alumni participated in the latest career services' Conversations on Careers Blackboard discussion focusing on law careers.

"There were 92 participants with 114 messages shared and more than 8,000 hits," said Ann Landstrom, associate director for fellowship, scholarship, and graduate school advising.

From February 21 to March 6, students were connected online with more than 10 alumni volunteers who either currently work in the field of law or who are attending law school. Using Blackboard technology, students posted questions to an online discussion group and received responses and advice back from alumni.

"The time and expertise shared through these discussions are always of great benefit to our student participants," Landstrom said.

Students posed questions such as what types of courses they should take to prepare for a career in law, what fields they should pursue in the profession, what the job market is like, and whether they should seek out internships. Alumni shared personal experiences and tips, giving students an insider's look at a career in law. The Blackboard discussion board, which is similar to a virtual chat, is designed for asynchronous use, meaning participants did not have to be available at the same time to have a dialogue. Conversations were logged, organized, and grouped into threads that contained a main posting and all related replies for easy comprehension. Past industry-focused Blackboard Conversations have included arts, environment, communications, computer science, finance, nonprofit, graduate school, and Real World topics. Career services, in conjunction with the Alumni Corporation Board of Directors, has developed and continued this program for the last four years.

Do you want to relive your days on campus, without having to walk up the Hill? Find out what today's first-years and student-athletes are talking about? Learn about President Rebecca Chopp's recent trip to China? If you do, visit, which has links to several interactive online journals that provide fun and interesting ways to keep connected to campus. You can meet Colgate's first-year bloggers -- Brien Puff, Marguerite Burkham, Michael Rodriguez, and Helen Lee. They talk about coping with finals, taking a walk along the Willow Path in newly fallen snow, and being "insanely busy" with classes and club events.

Men's hockey captain Jon Smyth '06, with an assist from goalie Mark Dekanich '08, just wrapped up a blog that gave Raiders fans an inside look at the team as it battled its way to a third consecutive 20-win season.

Heidi Ross and Kelly Winning, senior co-captains of the women's lacrosse team, are now keeping readers posted about their team and their job searches. The blogs are overseen by the Office of Public Relations and Communications, in partnership with the admission office and athletic communications office. The blogs are an important tool in reaching prospective students and establishing new relationships. The Chicago Tribune, in a special education section published in January, highlighted the first-years' blog, called 'gatelife, in a major article about college marketing tools.

Indeed, 'gatelife has reached a wide range of prospective students. A student from India contacted Burkham after reading one of her entries. An e-mail exchange followed, and the international student ended up applying to Colgate. President Chopp joined the blogosphere in March. She provided regular updates during her stops in Beijing, Xian, and Hong Kong, where she spoke about the liberal arts model of higher education, discussed new partnerships, and explored Chinese culture (see Liberal Arts in a global context).

Local children learn the basic skills of figure skating from the Colgate figure skating club's coaching staff. [Photo by Aubrey Graham '06]

When New York Times graphics editor and writer Bill Marsh set out to write a "Week in Review" piece (March 19) about spring break, his research led him to Colgate, where according to Internet lore, the tradition was born.

Thanks to Carl Haefele '37 and Charles J. "Jack" Hughes Jr. '40, now both deceased, who responded to a May 1975 query in the Scene, we were able to provide Marsh with the confirmation he needed, resulting in the Times story titled "The Innocent Birth of the Spring Bacchanal," which featured Colgate.

Rumor confirmed: In 1935, swimming coach Sam Ingram was concerned about the team getting out of shape during the Christmas vacation. The father of swimmer Art Pulis '36 lived in Fort Lauderdale at the time, and he arranged for seven swimmers and the coach to become the first Northerners to train in the town's new Olympic-size municipal pool. Word quickly spread among college students, and visiting Fort Lauderdale caught on -- in the winter, and, within a few years, spring.

At Colgate, spring break has come full circle. This year, instead of beach vacations, some students chose "alternative" trips: to Washington, D.C., to explore careers with non-governmental, nonprofit organizations; to Louisiana for Hurricane Katrina relief work; and to Tennessee for a Habitat for Humanity homebuilding project. No matter the destination, the Student Health Center offered "Safe Break Bags" to all students. The free zip-lock baggie contained sunscreen, Band-Aids, ibuprofen, antacid tablets, antiseptic ointment, a condom, and a card offering advice in the case of emergency.

A student performs during the ALST Day talent show. [Photo by Aubrey Graham '06]

A daylong celebration in February featuring food, music, and art highlighted the diverse cultures studied in Colgate's Africana and Latin American studies (ALST) program.

The first-ever ALST Day began with breakfast at the Women's Studies Center and ended with a talent show co-sponsored by the We Funk student group at the Palace Theater.

The ALST program encompasses two major concentrations -- Africana studies and Latin American studies -- and four topical minor concentrations: African studies, African American studies, Latin American studies, and Caribbean studies. The courses are taught by faculty members from across campus. As part of ALST Day, two professors served up cultural cooking lessons at the ALANA Cultural Center. Steven Bachelor, a visiting professor teaching Latin American studies courses, prepared some of his favorite Mexican dishes alongside sociology professor Louis Prisock, who focused on his specialty: soul food. Participants watched the faculty chefs and sampled their creations.

Interesting foods from the ALST regions of study, such as East African curried chicken, plantains with meat, chicken with saffron, sweet potato chips, and coconut rice also were available during lunch at Merrill House and dinner at Frank Dining Hall, and a sampling of Liberian food was offered during a student panel discussion on urban music.

"When we began conceptualizing what we wanted ALST Day to be, we started thinking about things that would be inclusive," explained Reagan Jackson, ALST program assistant. "We came to the conclusion that food and music are universal; everyone can enjoy them and everyone can take part."

A special art exhibition called "Kickin' Brass" featuring African art in copper alloys was prepared by Carol Ann Lorenz, curator of the Longyear Museum. A Palace Theater talent show featured individuals and groups such as the Latin American Student Organization. The Colgate Bookstore and local businesses provided prizes.

"Our goal was to bring people together, which is an underlying theme of the ALST program. It's not just Africana studies, like it is at other universities, it's also Latin American studies, which helps us bridge the gap between cultures and focus on our commonalities," said Jackson.

A mainstay of the ALST program, the W.E.B. and Shirley Graham DuBois Lecture Series, presented speaker Hilary Beckles, a professor and administrator at the University of the West Indies. An expert on slavery in the Americas, Beckles discussed "Slavery and the Politics of Reparations."

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