Alfred State has been named to the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, one of the highest honors a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement. The distinction was announced March 4 at the American Council on Education’s 95th Annual Meeting Leading Change in Washington, DC.
“Congratulations to Alfred State, its faculty and students, for its commitment to service, both in and out of the classroom,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). “Through its work, institutions of higher education are helping improve their local communities and create a new generation of leaders by challenging students to go beyond the traditional college experience and solve local challenges.”
The CNCS has administered the honor to exemplary colleges and universities since 2006 and manages the program in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as the American Council on Education and Campus Compact. CNCS is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, the Social Innovation Fund, and other programs, and leads President Obama’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve.
Inspired by the thousands of college students who traveled across the country to support relief efforts along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll honors the nation’s leading higher education institutions and their students, faculty, and staff for their commitment to bettering their communities through service. These are institutions that reflect the values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities.
“We believe in preparing our graduates to be active leaders and participants in an ever changing world,” said Alfred State’s Jonathan Hilsher, director of civic engagement. “We’re honored to receive this prestigious award – and owe much of it to the students themselves. They’re the energy driving our commitment and they’re the ones who make it all happen.”
Alfred State’s commitment to civic engagement is deeply embedded in the college’s unique approach to education through project-based learning experiences. By coupling real-world learning situations with a focus on meaningful civic engagement opportunities, Alfred State students are able to make significant contributions to communities around the world and are frequently among the first to lend their skills and knowledge to those in need, including communities devastated by Super Storm Sandy and Haitian communities recovering from the 2010 earthquake. Last year, more than 2,000 Alfred State students contributed over 46,000 hours of service, civic leadership, and workforce-ready knowledge to communities in need.
A piece of American history was captured at Alfred State last week when court reporting instructor Danielle Green transcribed an oral account of World War II given by area veteran Paul Gerling, 87, of Wayland, NY.
Green transcribed Gerling’s oral account using the state-of-the art tools of court reporting professionals. The account was simultaneously transcribed and videotaped while Gerling was interviewed by his daughter, Professor Sandra Gerling-Yelle (Alfred State Business Department). The finished transcription will be donated to the Library of Congress where it will be preserved as part of American history.
“When something is important enough, it is transcribed,” said Green, noting “…video deteriorates over time, but when you really need a record of something important like this, transcription is the best way to preserve it.”
The transcription project took place during National Court Reporting Week (Feb. 18-23), an annual event coordinated by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) to bring awareness to the profession of court reporting professionals.
Gerling, a native of Dansville, enlisted in the Air Force at the age of 19 and was recruited to serve as a tail gunner for the 100th Bomb Group flying in a B-17 called E-Z Goin’. His plane carried a nine-member crew through flak and air battles 24 times until April 6, 1945 when it was hit by a German ME 109. Miraculously, the plane held together for five hours after the collision and made it back to its home base at Thorpe-Abbots, England, without radio communications.
Alfred State’s online court reporting and captioning programs are the only NCRA-approved programs in Western New York. The transcription will be posted to the Library of Congress website when it is ready and will be viewable at www.loc.gov. To learn more about this project or the court reporting program at Alfred State, contact Danielle Green at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WWII veteran Paul Gerling of Wayland with daughter, Professor Sandra Gerling-Yelle (far right) and court reporting instructor Danielle Green (middle), both of Alfred State.
Ten freshmen Building Trades students and instructor Jack Jones returned from a week of service in Long Island Feb. 8 where they spent five days helping home owners there prepare to rebuild homes destroyed by Super Storm Sandy last fall.
“This was a rich and rewarding learning experience on many levels,” said Jones. Students worked on four homes which were identified by the New York Annual Conference (NYAC), a mission and relief organization through the United Methodist Church that coordinates volunteers to assist with recovery efforts.
“We were thrilled to have Alfred State students here to help us rebuild,” said NYAC Disaster Response Coordinator Warren Ferry. “Having volunteers who are diligent, open to taking on tough challenges, and who have the skills to use the right safety procedures is a tremendous help. We hope they come back soon!”
The students worked on homes that were between the demolition and reconstruction phase of construction. “This phase of construction is a particularly stressful time for home owners under the best of circumstances,” said Jones, “but the people we were helping had just lost everything. They were very grateful for the work we provided.”
Jones said students were able to see real-world instances of exemplary building work and how certain construction techniques and workmanship helped some structures withstand damage while other methods may have contributed to making structures vulnerable to storm damage.
“Being able to see real examples like this while also experiencing how important safety and quality to the people who live in these buildings was a meaningful experience,” added Jones.
The project was part of the Building Trades lab component and was coordinated by through Alfred State’s Center for Civic Engagement.
Six architectural technology students from Alfred State presented at the annual Appalachian Teaching Project (ATP) conference last month in Washington, DC.
The six seniors presented on the work they did last semester as part of a course called Design Studio 5: Urban Design in which they worked closely with residents and community leaders in the nearby community of Bath. The students created architectural plans for the community which were well received and may be considered for future implementation.
Led by the Consortium of Appalachian Centers and Institutes, the ATP offers students a unique opportunity to conduct active community-based research on their campuses.
Caption – From left, ARC Federal Co-chair Earl F. Gohl; Alfred State architectural engineering professors William Dean (ATP Teaching Fellow) and Rex Simpson; students Matthew Sickles of Albany; Travis Monroe of Cattaraugus; Emily Connors of Spencerport; Thomas Button of Rushville; Anthony Vischansky of Elmira; Alfred State’s Craig Clark, executive director of the Wellsville campus and dean of the School of Applied Technology (ATP Teaching Fellow); James Marsh of Belmont; and architectural engineering assistant professor Jeffrey Johnston.
Dr. Earl Packard, chair of the Alfred State Mathematics & Physics Department, has been selected to participate in the annual reading and scoring of the College Board’s Advanced Placement Examinations in June. He will be reading the calculus exams for the 10th consecutive year.
The College Board’s Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) enables willing and academically prepared students to pursue college-level studies while in high school. Based on their exam performance, students can receive credit and/or advanced placement when they enter college.
In 2011 more than 11,000 AP Readers evaluated more than 3.4 million AP Exams in 34 subjects. Representing many of the finest academic institutions in the world, both high school and collegiate, AP Readers are comprised of professional educators from the United States, Canada, and abroad.
The AP Reading is a unique forum in which an academic dialogue between high school and college educators is both fostered and encouraged.
“The Reading draws upon the talents of some of the finest teachers and professors that the world has to offer,” said Trevor Packer, senior vice president, AP and College Readiness at the College Board. “It fosters professionalism, allows for the exchange of ideas, and strengthens the commitment to students and to teaching. We are very grateful for the contributions of talented educators like Dr. Packard.”
Packard, who joined the Alfred State faculty in 2003, holds a doctorate in mathematics from Tulane University, a Bachelor of Science of Education in mathematics from Mansfield University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in music education from Mansfield State College. Prior to coming to Alfred, Packard taught at Kutztown University (PA) and the University of Arkansas, Monticello.
Project-based learning is a cornerstone of the Alfred State culture. When students tackle real-world problems, they learn how to think, not what to think. They can also engage in meaningful civic engagement developing solutions to ongoing community challenges.
A recent example took place in Apalachin, NY, from March 11-16. Mark Payne, assistant professor, Heavy Equipment Operations, led a group of eight students during their spring break to engage in stream remediation. The team utilized heavy equipment such as bulldozers, excavators, wheel loaders, and an articulated truck to redirect the Apalachin Creek stream bed and create a berm that will better control any future flooding. The group invested long hours each day to ensure the work would be completed by the end of the week. Thankfully, all benefited by having Culinary Arts instructor, Brian Decker, prepare excellent meals on site to keep up the energy level and enthusiasm!
This trip was the fourth relief team Professor Payne has organized with the Heavy Equipment Club to assist this region of New York after the historic flooding from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in 2011. The first team served in the Schoharie area to clear debris. The second team worked with the Owego-Apalachin school district to rehabilitate a drainage system to mitigate future flooding. The third team began the work on the Apalachin Creek as well as rehabilitated a local cemetery at the request of Senator Tom Libous’ office. This fourth team sought to move beyond cleanup to provide a solution at Apalachin Creek that would mitigate and redirect future floods from having such a devastating impact in the future.
This project was made possible not only through the initiative, expertise, and service of this team, but also through the collaboration and support of corporate, non-profit, and local/state government agency partners. Right down the road, Binghamton University again was a valuable partner by providing housing and parking options to the group throughout the week. Monroe Tractor donated the trucking of a bulldozer, excavator, wheel loader and an articulated dump truck to this project. And, LeChase Construction LLC working with ZMK Construction donated another bulldozer to the cause. Exaktime also donated time tracking software to allow the students to log and manage their time on the project. Finally, the team worked very closely with Tioga Soil County and Water and the Upper Susquehanna River Coalition to identify the need for stream remediation and develop a clear plan to fix this ongoing community challenge.
Students have taken on leadership roles gaining valuable experience in logistical organization, project planning, collaboration, and real world experience on heavy equipment. Local residents have expressed their appreciation that their property and lives are now safer through the efforts of this team. And, all stakeholders appreciate the value of coming together to develop solutions to local challenges. The expectation is that future efforts will continue to leverage these strong partnerships to create solutions in communities that continue to recover from the flood damage.
Standing alone (green shirt):
Christopher Addison, Hamburg
Front, left to right:
Angel Cavanaugh, Whitesville; Cody Madigan, Bath; Kevin Nicoletti, Cochecton; Wayne Carroll, Jr., Bath; Michael Kashdin, Buffalo; and Mark Payne, associate professor, heavy equipment operations, Building Trades Department.
Dr. Choichiro Yatani, professor of Psychology in the Social & Behavioral Sciences Department at Alfred State, recently attended the Oxford Round Table, a five-day international conference at The University of Oxford, England. Entitled “The Enemy Manufactured: Nationalism, Religious Fundamentalism and Nuclear Weapons,” he presented his peace psychology research, an empirical and theoretical study of “the deadly cocktail” of the three variables, to the forum on public policy. His conference trip was funded by an Alfred State Faculty Scholarship Grant and SUNY’s United University Professions’ (UUP) Individual Development Award.
The reception and opening dinner began with remarks by Canon Brian Mountford, Vicar of the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford, for 25 years, and Dr. Charles Mould, the former secretary of the Bodleian Library (c. 1320) and Fellow, St. Cross College, Oxford. The facilitator of the forum, Dr. Mountford, has just published Christian Atheist – belonging without believing.
Seventeen experts and scholars selected by the forum organizers introduced themselves along with their specialties of religion, education, linguistics, law, political science, cultural anthropology, psychology, biology, and business administration. The topics ranged from “Arab Spring in North Africa,” “Iran and the World Order,” “Israel’s and Palestine’s Futures,” “Religion and Politics,” “Religion and Public Schools,” “Religious Fundamentalism and Nuclear Power,” and “Interfaith: Art and Belief.”
Yatani’s paper first reviewed Americans’ nuclear disarmament movement in the early 1980s. He briefly summarized four variables: nationalism, anti-Soviet/Russians, knowledge of nuclear weapons (the lack thereof), and powerlessness, as responsible for the discrepancy between high anti-nuclear sentiments and low anti-nuclear actions; and, he also indicated a turning point of American politics under the Reagan presidency in the 1980s which characterized the Americans’ strong nationalism coupled with anti-Sovietism/anti-Russians and the military buildups, conventional and nuclear weapons, as best symbolized by the height of the Cold War. Yatani argues, “Psychologically speaking, the nationalistic, anti-Soviet/anti-Russian sentiments were politically convenient and powerful not only to mobilize hostility abroad but also to undermine progressive social policies and suppress labor unions and peace movements at home as ‘liberals’ opposed to ‘conservatives,’ those against Reagan presidency inspiring the strong America. This Cold War mentality still permeates in our national politics even after the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
“The rise of religious fundamentalism was another characteristic during the Reagan presidency. Ronald Reagan’s presidential election campaigns were supported by fundamentalist preachers and their congregations (e.g., Moral Majority, The Christian Coalition, and The Christian Right). In return, it appears President Reagan used the religious terms for the “enemy” Soviet Union, “’evil’ empire,” in his speech to the National Association of Evangelicals on March 8, 1983. Twenty years before, the US Supreme Court had prohibited state-sanctioned prayer in public schools in 1962 and mandatory Bible reading in public schools in 1963 while the US was at Vietnam War abroad and faced anti-war and civil rights movements at home. It is of little doubt to affirm that the United States witnessed a strong association between religion and politics during the Reagan presidency despite its long-time Constitutional commitment to the separation of church and state since the founding of the Republic.”
Through his peace research and his teaching psychology for over 30 years, Professor Yatani suggests internationalism over nationalism, an emphasis on global studies and diversity in practice, and encourages pursuit of academic excellence in higher education, which he believes would be a formidable force against anti-intellectualism deeply associated religious fundamentalism. At the end of his presentation at the Oxford Round Table, he pointed out a salient phenomenon in the Republican presidential campaigns between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, a revival of the 1980s in which both candidates admire President Reagan and his economic policy—Reaganomics and their strong suggestions toward the US military intervention over Iran’s nuclear threats while the US is still haunted but has not solved what A Nation at Risk by the US Department of Education (1983) revealed during the Reagan presidency. The United States’ educational system is failing to meet the national need for a competitive workforce and the foundation of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people.
Dr. Yatani’s first forum appearance was at its 20th anniversary in 2008 on “Civilization at Risk: Seeds of Strife” and gave a talk entitled “American Images of the Enemy: With Us or Against Us.” His paper was published in 2009 in K. Alexander (Ed.), Terrorism and global insecurity: A multidisciplinary perspective (New York: Linton Atlantic Books, Inc.).
Find out more about the Oxford Round Table at http://www.oxfordroundtable.com/.
Five baccalaureate-level mechanical engineering seniors at Alfred State College, under the guidance of their project advisers, SUNY (State University of New York) Distinguished Service Professor Dr. Edward Tezak, and Ray Gleason, instructional support technician, competed in the 11th annual BUV (basic utility vehicle) competition recently in Indianapolis. A BUV is, according to the Institute for Affordable Transportation (IAT) which sponsors the competition, a vehicle to help meet peoples’ everyday needs in developing countries. Besides rural transportation, BUVs also represent a mobile power source for further development. Thanks to a thrown bolt on the shive, the part of the CVT that controls the drive belt, during the Enduro Run the last event, the team was forced to make repairs on the course. Without the correct length bolt to replace it, team member Kevin Sullivan was able to jury rig one with electrical tape that allowed the vehicle to finish the event. However, despite these difficulties, JAARS (formerly the Jungle Aviation and Radio Service), a group that provides technical support such as aviation, information technology, and media for missionary programs, awarded Alfred State the “Customer’s Choice Award” for the best-designed vehicle. It was presented by Mike Smith, the organization’s automotive supervisor/trainer.