The Colgate Scene
Around the college
The 2005 Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching, bestowed upon members of the faculty who are considered to be outstanding teachers, was given to Marietta N. Cheng (left), professor of music and conductor of the Colgate University Orchestra, and Scott P. Kraly, Charles A. Dana Professor of psychology and coordinator of the neuroscience program. The professors received their awards at Reunion in June. [Photos by Timothy D. Sofranko]
Decock said Colgate parents continued to show their support for the college. The Parents' Fund surpassed its $1.5 million goal back in February and finished just shy of $2.5 million, the highest amount ever recorded by the fund. Planned gifts to Colgate surpassed $9.8 million, the second highest annual total in history.
The corporate, foundation, and government relations office, which is part of the institutional advancement office, assisted faculty in the submission of research grant proposals resulting in awards totaling more than $2.4 million. That figure includes Colgate's largest-ever research grant -- $975,807 -- for a four-year study of acid deposition in the Adirondacks.
In all, 12,608 alumni, the third-highest donor count ever and 50 percent of all alumni, contributed to Colgate during the year, said Decock. "The continued support of our alumni enables Colgate to build on its strengths -- providing connections between high-caliber faculty and students, residential education and international programs, Division I athletics, and a focus on the arts and public service, just to name a few," said Decock. "The generosity of our alumni will ensure that these opportunities are available for future generations at Colgate."
Claudia Melniciuc, who graduated from Colgate this year with a 4.03 GPA, has received a major scholarship that will help pay for her graduate studies at the Yale School of Architecture.
The Class of 2005 valedictorian is the first Colgate student to receive a Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship. She was one of 76 recipients chosen after a nationwide process that drew 1,290 nominees from more than 600 colleges and universities across the country. Colgate's Center for Career Services recommended and helped Melniciuc with the scholarship application.
The scholarships go to students showing academic excellence and financial need. Each is worth up to $300,000, which is among the largest scholarships offered in the United States, according to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.
After gaining admission to the top seven architecture programs in the country, including Harvard, Columbia, and MIT, Melniciuc eventually chose Yale. "It's a lot like Colgate. It's a very friendly environment; it's very challenging, but at the same time it's nurturing," she said. "That was very important to me. It's the kind of place where, like Colgate, people know your name and focus on you, and you are really able to customize your experience."
Melniciuc, of Arad, Romania, said Colgate encouraged and inspired her, allowing her hands-on practice and support in the architecture field. Last summer, an alumnus secured Melniciuc an internship at his firm in the New York City area. By building on the Colgate connection, Melniciuc said she was more than a no-name intern.
The Center for Career Services granted Melniciuc the Arthur Watson Career Planning Fellowship to fund her living expenses, allowing Melniciuc to dedicate all her energy to architecture.
Melniciuc, who majored in art and art history and mathematics, said her liberal arts education -- both inside the classroom and beyond -- made her re-evaluate the science-centric view of architecture that is common in Romania and consider the discipline more comprehensively. "One of the things that Colgate really drove home for me was the responsibility of the architect as a social shaper, as someone who through influencing the building environment can really have a great impact on the way people see things, the way people see themselves."
Melniciuc hopes eventually to be able to utilize her skills in her home country. Born in Romania during the communist period, Melniciuc spent much of her early childhood with her grandparents in the Carpathian Mountains where "firewood was abundant and agriculture provided a bountiful supply of food." After the 1989 revolution, she was reunited with her parents and was among the first generation of schoolchildren to study English. She also speaks French, Italian, and her native Romanian.
Lupini Construction Inc. worker Don Kovac repairs concrete in the spillway at Colgate's Taylor Lake. Over the years, water erosion along with ice damage and annual freeze/thaw cycles caused severe deterioration to the Taylor Lake Dam. To repair the dam, the water level in the lake was reduced for several weeks over the summer. [Enlarge]
Making scientific discoveries in the lab and particularly in Antarctica is always exciting for Colgate geology professor Amy Leventer -- no matter how many of them she racks up.
In May of 2004, Leventer and undergraduate Jimmy Maritz '05 were part of an international research team that made headlines when they came across an active and previously unknown underwater volcano off the coast of the frozen continent.
This past spring, Leventer, Aron Buffen '05, many of the same scientists, and a group of students from Hamilton College and other universities made another accidental -- though significant -- scientific discovery there: they found a vast ecosystem on the floor of the ocean beneath what used to be the Larsen B Ice Shelf, which collapsed and splintered in 2002. "We were all really excited once we realized what it was," said Leventer, who has been on more than a dozen expeditions to Antarctica over 20 years. "The whole trip was fun for a lot of other reasons -- we made a map of the sea floor where no one had ever been and sailed to a bunch of places that no one had ever been."
The team, led by Hamilton geosciences professor Eugene Domack, made the discovery after watching video footage of the bottom of the ocean taken by an underwater camera tethered to their boat.
It was routine for the group to get film of the sea floor, and then analyze it as part of their three-year National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded study of the history and causes of the demise of the Larsen B Ice Shelf.
But the footage was unlike anything they had ever seen. No one in the world has ever studied this particular area of Antarctica before -- until 2002, it was hidden underneath millions of tons of ice -- and the team members had difficulty grasping exactly what they were viewing. "We just really didn't process it at first," said Leventer. "We kept looking at the tape and saying, what is that? Is that silt? Eventually we figured out that we were looking at bacterial mats."
The tape, in fact, revealed more than just bacterial mats or lawns (colonies of bacteria that merge to form one large "mat"). It also showed clams 20 to 30 centimeters in diameter.
The discovery of an ecosystem that supports such organisms could give researchers a better understanding of the dynamics of the inhospitable sub-ice setting, which covers more than 1.5 million square kilometers (nearly 580,000 square miles) of seafloor, or an area of the same magnitude as the Amazon basin in Brazil or the Sahara Desert.
The team's report on the expedition -- which ran in the July 19 issue of Eos, the publication for the American Geophysical Union -- presents the first finding of the type in the Antarctic. Another paper on the group's other research was published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature on Aug. 4. Leventer and the team will return to the area next March to finish their study and pick up instruments they left in the water to monitor it over the coming year. The research is supported by NSF grants to Hamilton, Colgate, Southern Illinois University, and Montclair State University.
Charles Hallisey '75, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, speaks on "Shinran's Moral Subject" at a workshop on Shin Buddhism at Colgate in August. This symposium was phase II of a project begun last year in Japan at Chikushi Jogakuen University to help promote greater understanding of the Shin Buddhist tradition in the global context, and of people living in a religiously plural world.
Two members of the capital and planned giving team received promotions this summer. Karl Clauss '90, former director of major gifts, was named director of institutional advancement-capital giving. Don Martin, former director of capital and planned gift development, was named director of institutional advancement-capital and planned giving.
Timothy O'Keefe, previously web writer/editor for the university, has been promoted to director of web content, media relations.
Adrian Giurgea joined Colgate as director of the university theater program. He holds an MFA from the Academy of Theatre and Film and a PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles.
A. Theodore Persson '42, and Helen K. Persson, an honorary degree recipient in 1984, recently gave more than $1 million to support Colgate. The contribution will establish an endowment fund to support the operations and maintenance of Persson Hall, an academic building named for the couple that is home to the university's departments of economics, political science, and geography.
"Through their philanthropy, Ted and Helen have supported some of the most important resources in our communities -- education, health care, and the arts," said President Rebecca S. Chopp. "We are very happy that they have chosen to continue to support Colgate students by ensuring that they have long-term access to the best facilities."
The Perssons made the lead gift to fund the academic building that bears their name. The $1 million endowment fund will provide important assistance for a facility that is one of the most prominent on Colgate's campus. The building has won multiple design awards from the American Institute of Architects.
"Helen and I have been impressed with Colgate's leadership and the university's special commitment to providing students with the education they need to be successful in their personal and professional lives," said Ted Persson. "We are pleased to do our small part to help a great university become even better."
Ted Persson graduated from Colgate in 1942 and was an executive with Toplis and Harding, world-wide insurance adjuster. He served as a member of the university's Board of Trustees from 1982 to 1990 and is now a trustee emeritus. He is a charter member of the James B. Colgate Society, which recognizes those whose lifetime contributions to the university total $1 million or more, and has earned a Maroon Citation and the Alumni Award for Distinguished Service, the two highest alumni awards from Colgate.
Helen Persson is a noted philanthropist and volunteer. She has been active and supportive of a wide variety of civic, cultural, and health care facilities including Good Samaritan Hospital, PALM Healthcare Inc., Florida Atlantic University, the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, and Palm Beach Atlantic University. Recognized for her contributions to society, she is also a member of the James B. Colgate Society.
"Ted and I share an interest in supporting a variety of charities whose programs provide meaningful service and enrich our community," said Helen Persson. "Colgate has always been a very special place for us and we know that the gifts we provide will make a real difference in both the quality of the experiences provided by faculty, the outstanding education the students receive."
"Hey, macarena!" shout Dave Turner of Information Technology Services, Rachel Pancoe of the summer custodial staff, center, and Cindy Sherwood of the natural sciences division. Dancing, a scavenger hunt, barbecue, and more were part of the annual Spirit Day for Colgate employees and families held on Whitnall Field in August.
The experiences of a Colgate person working in a war-torn nation presented an opportunity to turn waste in one country into treasure for another.
Antonia Young, sociology and anthropology research associate, has visited and worked in the Balkan region since 1958. For the decade following the fall of Communism, civil war ravaged Yugoslavia, destroying millions of homes and lives. In Kosovo alone there were 800,000 refugees, out of a population of two million. In February of 2000, Young encountered the resulting destruction firsthand at the University of Pristina.
"Electricity only functioned irregularly . . . there was no heat, no light, and there were no books on the library shelves," she recounted. "The only people in the library were six women librarians, huddled in their overcoats around one small portable pot of warm coals."
That scene provided a stark contrast to what she had found back in Hamilton during the Colgate Bookstore's textbook buyback period. At the end of each semester, students were discarding around 30 boxes of used books that they did not wish to keep and for which neither the bookstore nor its wholesale partners could offer any money.
And thus the idea of donating the destined-to-be-destroyed books to two destitute libraries was born.
"From the moment of my return from Kosovo, I started collecting these books from the bookstore in my garage," Young explained, in hopes that she would be able to somehow ship them to Eastern Europe. After five years of searching for agencies that would help her in this process, she finally found the International Book Project (IBP) located in Lexington, Kentucky.
Founded in 1966, the IBP helps to promote literacy worldwide by matching requests from schools, libraries, and universities with books from donors. Its greatest need has always been funding to cover shipping costs to transport the books -- first to their headquarters, and then to their final destinations.
This is where the involvement of two motivated students, Emily Renda '06 and Lindsay Mackenzie '05, came in. By fall of 2004, Young needed a student liaison between herself and the Center for Outreach, Volunteerism, and Education (COVE) to arrange for the shipping of the books to Kentucky, and Renda, who was already involved with COVE programs, seemed the logical choice.
"I immediately met with Marnie Terhune at the COVE and explained the situation," Renda recounted. But like many international projects, things progressed slowly, and Renda left campus for study abroad, leaving the project in the good hands of Mackenzie and the COVE staff. This February, the partnership helped Young pack the books in her garage for shipment to Kentucky. Once they arrived at IBP, the 3,000 items were loaded with other donated books, 15,000 strong, into a 20-foot container. The shipment arrived safely at the University Library of Kosovo in Pristina this May. Although the books are all in English, they will still prove useful, Young explained, since it is "the global language . . . and all young people want to learn English in order to get good jobs."
Although Renda insisted that her role in the project was minimal, it was all that was needed to get the ball rolling and for others to step in. "This process made me realize how just putting in a little effort can make a big difference," she said. And to this day she remains in awe of the COVE's determination and dedication to the project: "I feel like once the COVE has a project, they will not quit until it is seen to its completion."
Young received gracious messages of thanks from both Dr. Sali Bashota, director of the National and University Library of Kosovo, and from Robert Chambury, who was working with USAID in Western Kosovo on behalf of the Local Government Initiative and noted that "it is one of those sorts of gifts the real worth of which is impossible to value." - Dahlia Rizk '08
Colgate Trustee Mark D. Nozette '71 is president of Attorney's Liability Assurance Society Inc. (ALAS Inc.). He was misidentified as executive vice president in the July Scene.
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