Scene summer2017

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Summer 2017

geneseo scene

A magazine for alumni, parents and friends of SUNY Geneseo

The World is our Classroom Antarctica:

Songs from the Ice Peace Corps Tradition New Zealand Epiphanies Kids-2013/30278405_2gDzmp#!i=2608098493&k=m8gQqSt

geneseo Summer 2017



Songs in the ice A Geneseo professor spent 40 days in Antarctica with researchers to give voice to the forces of nature that otherwise remain silent. At home, he’s integrating the data collected to teach young students and compose musical masterpieces from Mother Nature.


A tradition of global service Geneseo is nationally ranked for the number of alumni who are Peace Corps volunteers.


Land of the Long White Cloud Long ago, Maori named New Zealand for its diverse and unique natural features. Immersion learning in the country takes geology majors to new heights, and epiphanies not found in the classroom.

20 A lens to the world Geneseo has the highest participation rate in SUNY for study abroad programs. Student explorers share their award-winning photographs — and life-changing moments — from their journeys.

DEPARTMENTS 3 24 27 34

One College Circle: Campus News Athletics Alumni News Visual Class Notes


President’s Message Random Profile

Cover Photo: Castle Hill Basin, New Zealand by Keith Walters ’11 The Giant Oaks: Geography faculty and students study a white

oak in Geneseo as part of a federally-funded project that examines changes of white oak forests in the last 200 years. Students assist with lab and field work. Photo by Keith Walters ’11 Postmaster: Please address changes to the Office of Alumni Relations, Doty Hall, SUNY Geneseo, 1 College Circle, Geneseo, NY 14454-1484. Standard-class postage paid at Lebanon Junction, KY 40150


Watch a video story at

geneseo scene

Vol. 42, No. 1 Summer 2017

Geneseo Scene is published by SUNY Geneseo, Division of College Advancement, Office of College Communications. Denise A. Battles, President K. Johnson Bowles, Vice President for College Advancement Gail C. Glover, Chief Communications and Marketing Officer Kris Dreessen, Editor Carole Smith Volpe ’91, Creative Director Contributing writers: Kris Dreessen Jim Memmott Sherrie Negrea Tim Volkmann Contributing photographers: Annalee Bainsson ’19 Samuel Cardamone Elle DeJesus Celia Freida ’18 Ben Gajewski ’07 Theo Liu ’19 Bill Wadman Keith Walters ’11 Alumni Relations Office Ronna Gillam, Director of Alumni Relations Michelle Walton Worden ’92, Associate Director of Alumni Relations Amanda McCarthy, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations for Regional Events Tracy Young Gagnier ’93, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations Alumni Relations Office: Doty Hall SUNY Geneseo 1 College Circle Geneseo, NY 14454-1484 Phone: (585) 245-5506 Fax: (585) 245-5514 Contact the Scene at Visit the website at Phone: (585) 245-5516


Campus dialogues about community highlight Geneseo’s focus on inclusivity — and support


n February, the college began a series of campus dialogues through a new program we call “Cultivating Community.” The program is designed to affirm SUNY Geneseo’s value of inclusivity, which we define as “fostering a diverse campus community marked by mutual respect for the unique talents and contributions of each individual.” Campus participants use mindful dialogue and creative thinking to learn, understand, connect and grow as a community that values inclusivity in all its forms. These thematic dialogues allow each participant to share experiences as a member of the Geneseo family and learn from others. It is an environment meant to promote innovative ideas and possibilities for growing as an inclusive and supportive community composed of people from many walks of life. This emphasis on strengthening our sense of community is, of course, not just centered on the campus, the village, or the Geneseo region. The college’s reach extends beyond New York to the nation and across the world. One of the values our curriculum and programming are designed to instill in our students is recognition of their civic and ethical responsibilities on a local, national and to learn, understand, connect global scale. The stories in this issue of the Scene vividly illustrate how students, faculty, staff, and alum- and grow as a community that ni of Geneseo embrace this concept and are sharing values inclusivity in all its their talents and skills locally, across the country and forms.” the world. More than 40 percent of our students now study abroad at some point in their undergraduate experiences, and they return to campus with a greater sense of global citizenship and appreciation of other cultures and peoples. Many of our newest alumni participate in U.S. State Department international programs like Peace Corps and Fulbright Program, serving as cultural ambassadors and doing important work for the betterment of others, all the while obtaining language and career skills and experiences that will serve them throughout their lives. This is community writ large, a recognition of the local and international, as the college welcomes students and faculty from around the nation and world whose voices add to the vibrancy of the Geneseo experience. We are stronger and more effective as an academic institution when we listen to viewpoints that may differ from our own. College campuses are meant to promote dialogue and free exchange of ideas. The important conversations begun this semester in our Cultivating Community series will continue next fall and into the future; this work is never done. Nor is our education about the world around us, near and far, and our role as global citizens. Thus, we will keep talking and learning from each other as a community. Our faculty, staff, alumni, and students will keep travelling to the far reaches of the Earth to learn and help others. And Geneseo will be all the stronger for it.

“Campus participants use mindful dialogue and creative thinking

Denise A. Battles, president


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One College Circle More than 1,175 students received their degrees in two commencement ceremonies on May 13, including 17 international students from six countries (Nepal, China and Vietnam among them.) Molly Smith Metzler ’00, award-winning playwright and now writer and producer for hit shows like “Shameless” and “Orange is the New Black,” imparted some sage advice to them: Treat setbacks as “the stuff that will give you a wonderful and interesting life story, one that you get to write and star in.” She said they have earned the next chapter in their lives and they should feel brave and strong and ready for it. “It was amazing after all the hard work to receive my diploma. I cheered!” says Chloe Forsell ’17, who is now considering the next chapters — earning a master’s degree in social work or a master’s of fine arts in London.

View our commencement photo album Meet 12 of our newest graduates


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Buddies bridge the language gap Geneseo earns research accolade Find your yearbook! Award-winning students Global issues in Ghana News in photos Summer 2017




The college earned another accolade last spring. Geneseo has been named a top school for student opportunities to conduct self-directed research or creative work, according to U.S. News & World Report. Geneseo was ranked No. 14 in a sampling conducted by U.S. News & World Report, which asked college presidents, chief academic officers, deans of students and deans of admissions to nominate up to 10 institutions with stellar examples of undergraduate research and creative projects.


Geneseo excellence

Speech Buddies SoJin Lee ’17 and Emily Rogers ’17.

Speech Buddies bridge the language and culture gap e the Brows ks o yearbo ! online

Our yearbooks from the 1940s through 2000 are available online, so you can check out yesteryear and share your favorite images with friends. There are also alumni-submitted photos! http://geneseoyearbook.


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mily Rogers ’17 knows how it feels to be in a new country with limited language skills. Her time vacationing in Italy wasn’t always easy. “I felt isolated — I couldn’t fully express myself,” says Rogers. “I began to fully understand the impact of communication.” That’s why she joined the Speech Buddies program, in which she helped SoJin Lee ’17, of South Korea, bridge the gap. In the program, American-born student volunteers meet weekly with an assigned buddy to tutor them on English skills like grammar and pronunciation, as well as American culture, including slang and how to speak to professors. “I developed a great friendship with SoJin,” says Rogers, “and I learned so much also about South Korean culture.” That’s the point, says Irene BelyakovGoodman, lecturer of English and coordinator of English as a Second Language at Geneseo. “They are not just teachers, they are friends, who are also well-trained tutors. They teach each other about the world.” Belyakov-Goodman started the program in 2002 after students in her English as a Second Language classes told her they felt lonely and had a hard time making friends. She saw a natural connection between what students in her Communicative Disorders and Sciences class on articulation and phonological intervention were learning — and their ability to be casual, personal resources for those navigating the American lexicon and culture.


Speech Buddies was a course component, but soon became its own class: Methods of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. The class is always full. Some 55 students per semester for whom English is a second language, and as well as international students, sign up for a buddy. There are at least 25 buddy volunteers, who are taking or have completed the methods class. American-born buddies have just a few requirements. They must be interested in international connections, culturally curious and able to work independently. They also must have some foreign language experience, says Belyakov-Goodman, “so they know what it feels like to learn a language.” Buddies present twice a semester in class, and also at GREAT Day — Geneseo Recognizing Excellence, Achievement and Talent Day. Partners practice their new language skills by playing board games, eating pot luck dinners and doing other activities in the English Language Immersion Club that was initiated by Matt McClure ’16. The need will continue to grow, says Belyakov-Goodman: There were 130 international students at Geneseo in 2016-2017. Speech Buddies can enhance the experience, and make connections across cultures. “The program helped me to overcome being afraid about making friends,” says Lee. — By Kris Dreessen

Students earn prestigious global and national awards his summer, Annie Renaud ’19 and Alex McGrath ’17 are living with host families in Russia, immersed in the culture, history and language. They are recipients of Critical Language Scholarships given by the U.S. State Department, for undergraduates to study 14 languages deemed critical to national security and competitiveness. Geneseo students have earned a total of six CLS awards in recent years — including Russian (Mark Simeone ’10), Arabic (Maria Sigalas ’13) and Turkish (James Kuras ’09 and Bob Viglietta ’12). Also notable is that the students received the highly-competitive scholarships in Turkish, though Turkish isn’t taught on campus. “More than 40 percent of our students study abroad and a large percentage are interested in becoming more proficient in a second or even third language as they embrace Geneseo’s emphasis on promoting ethical, local, and global citizenship,” says Michael Mills, director of national fellowships and scholarships at Geneseo. “They recognize that in order to be competitive in an ever more internationalized job environment, knowledge of other cultures and languages will set them apart.


The college’s successes with CLS and other international scholarship and fellowship programs are testaments to the intelligence and talents of our students and the many dedicated faculty and staff members who support them.” One such faculty member is Cynthia Klima, associate professor of languages and literatures, who has been instrumental in recruiting students to apply for the CLS, and setting up independent study opportunities in languages offered on a limited basis at Geneseo or through other SUNY schools.

The CLS scholarships are among several high-profile awards and internships Geneseo students received this year: • Two Geneseo seniors, a graduate student and an alumna have been awarded U.S. Fulbright Scholarships for 2017-2018 to participate in the English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Program. They will teach in Germany, Vietnam, the Netherlands and Malaysia. Another student was selected as an alternate for Spain. It’s the largest Geneseo Fulbright class in history, surpassing the three winning in 2015. Other Geneseo awards include: • Robert Tumasian ’18 is attending Harvard University’s Summer Program in Epidemiology and Biostatistics. • Shayne O’Brien ’17 earned a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, to attend the Computer/ Machine Learning graduate program at MIT. — By Kris Dreessen

Courses explore global health and development in Ghana his summer, 26 students explored health, environment, education and economics for four weeks all across Ghana. Two courses worked together in the African country — Global Health Issues (biology) and for the first time, Global Development in Ghana (sociology) — drawing on a longtime Geneseo partnership with organizations and leaders. Each course examines themes of interdependence and interconnectedness, as Ghana undergoes rapid change with a fast-growing economy. Professor of Biology Susan BandoniMuench has led the global health course since 2010. It is the first year Lecturer of Sociology and Political Sciences Joanna Kirk led the sociology course. Each course is separate, but both groups visit most of the same locations and do similar activities. Some locations they visited included: a cacao farmer’s cooperative where they discussed effects of climate change on their livelihoods; microfinance professionals; a regional hospital at which staff



Isabella Robert ’18 and Kelsey VanEtten ’18 learn to make thread in Ghana.

are pioneering disease treatments, and UNESCO World Heritage sites related to the transatlantic slave trade. For global development, Kirk says students will consider the causes and impacts of economic and social change on the individuals and communities they meet. The class will also push students to ask hard questions about historical and current change. Such an interdisciplinary approach is a cornerstone of Geneseo academics, and why the global health and global develop-

ment courses work together. There’s also a week-long, hands-on research and service-learning aspect to the courses. Bandoni-Muench has studied schistosomiasis, a tropical disease transferred by snails, through water, for more than 20 years. Students visited an under-served community and collected snails, as well as fecal and urine samples of school children, to look for evidence of schistosomiasis infection. Geneseo students test samples in the lab. The students also conducted a survey of water-contact patterns and knowledge of the disease among families, and provided some education to the community. In context, says Bandoni-Muench, “Students get a much better understanding of the complexity of some of the challenges. From the other side of the world, some of these problems can look like they would be easy to fix. They also have a chance to meet some dynamic Ghanaians working to solve some of these problems, and that can be pretty inspiring.”

Summer 2017




Benjamin Laabs, middle, chair of the Department of Geological Sciences, works with Jenelle Wallace ’16, and recent graduate Eric Kolakowski ’15 during the department’s recent biennial field trip for juniors and seniors, which took place this year in Chile.

LOCAL FOOD DRIVE: Members of the Alpha Phi Omega co-ed community service fraternity unpack boxes of lettuce at the 6th Annual Mobile Food Pantry for needy families in the area to pick up in Kuhl Gymnasium. (LEFT) A WISH FOR PEACE: Members of Peace Action Geneseo paint the new peace pole that they erected next to the gazebo, to represent a desire for world peace.




A DAY OF SERVICE: A student and local senior citizen make hygiene kits for food pantries during the seventh annual Day of Leadership and Service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

GHANA NIGHT: Students perform at the 9th Annual Ghana Gala, which was hosted by the Ghana Project. The event benefited the Besease School and Agogo Hospital in Ghana. 6

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WELCOME HOME: Transfer students celebrate their new home at Geneseo and the spring semester with a gathering and ice hockey game at the annual Friday Knight Tailgate Party. (RIGHT) CREATING COMMUNITY: A student speaks at the first of three Cultivating Community events in which President Denise A. Battles invited campus members to share ideas about fostering diversity and inclusivity.

SMALL BUT MIGHTY: Geneseo students raised more than $160,000 for the American Cancer Society at the 12th annual Relay for Life. In 2016, Geneseo was ranked No. 11 among all collegiate relays for fundraising.




PROFESSIONAL NETWORKING: Graham Bailey ’88, director of US OTC Clearing and Futures Sales for Citigroup Global Markets, speaks with students at the 2nd Annual Student-Alumni Finance Conference. Students from left to right are Tiffany Loo ’17, Jonathan Drabek ’18 and Emily Hurlbutt ’17. Twelve alumni provided insight into the field and support. Watch a video on the event:

Summer 2017 7

SONGS from the



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By Jim Memmott t’s a typical spring morning at Sweet Arts Bakery on Main Street in Geneseo. Students, teachers and townspeople come and go: There’s laughter, there’s the clank of dishes, there’s conversation. And with the noises as a backdrop, Glenn McClure ’86/MS.S.Ed ’11 — composer, musician, humanities teacher, and adjunct lecturer in Geneseo’s English Department — talks of sounds and silence, thousands of miles away in Antarctica. “It’s a noisy place, a really noisy place,” he says of the icy continent where he conducted research at the end of 2016. The ice moving, the wind, the helicopters, people shifting their weight on the dry-as-dust snow, all made sounds that blotted out conversations. “It took a long time for those of us who hadn’t been there before to learn how to stand still,” says McClure. “That’s another one of the metaphors of the place. That it’s hard for us to hear each other here when we’re shouting at each other. It takes being quiet and still to listen better.” And so he stays still, and listens, and


talks in a quiet, steady and soothing voice — a voice that itself is a kind of triumph over a stutter he has that can strangle his words. He takes all that he hears, the data points of life, the silent secrets of science, and converts them into music. “I seek the hidden voices in the ice, in scientific data, in other things,” he says, “to try to give voice to those things that are otherwise silent.” The trip to Antarctica was a journey of a lifetime for McClure — and it aligned with his goals as a musician, composer, professor and advocate for integrating the arts and science. He worked closely with researchers, experts on sound, seals and snow. Antarctica is their laboratory. They welcomed McClure so he could tell their story, and make composition out of it, and inspire young students. McClure recently won the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching. “The scientists were really excited about having artists who were willing to come down and not only share their experience but also to be a voice for either their work

Summer 2017

Photos by Elaine Hood, U.S. Antarctic Program, National Science Foundation

A professor journeyed to Antarctica with researchers to combine math, music and the sounds of nature.


“My job as a composer is to take that raw material and transform it into something that is meaningful to a particular audience. I seek the hidden voices in the ice, in scientific data, in other things, to try to give voice to those things that are otherwise silent.” — Glenn McClure ’86/M.S.Ed ’11

specifically or Antarctica in general, to let folks know what’s going on down there,” he says. “It’s a hard thing to describe in a sound bite, and it takes the ability for someone to hold someone’s attention for a longer period of time, that’s what artists do. They hold people’s attention.” The Mission

McClure received a highly competitive travel grant from the Polar Division of the National Science Foundation for the project. It is one of a handful of stipends that go to artists, writers and musicians each year to do research on the frozen continent and observe scientists at work. McClure spent 40 days in Antarctica based at McMurdo Station on Ross Island with this mission: to harvest the sounds that he’ll use to create music through a process called sonification, a method that’s part mathematical and part inspiration. Essentially, sounds from nature — for example, the frequency and intensity of the movement of the Antarctic ice — are recorded and then converted into data points on graphs. Those points can then be translated into musical notes. McClure then uses these notes as the inspiration for melodies. “My job as a composer is to take that raw material and transform it into something that is meaningful to a particular audience,” McClure says. “I seek the hidden voices in the ice, in scientific data, in other things, to try to give voice to those things that are otherwise silent.” McClure used the same process when he was commissioned by the European Space Agency to produce a choral arrangement using data obtained by the agency’s Rosetta probe that flew past Mars. It then landed on a comet sending back information until its batteries died. McClure’s composition was first performed in Germany in 2015 by the space agency chorus to celebrate the probe’s landing. For the Antarctica project, McClure 10

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worked with Peter Bromirski and his associates from the University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The team employs seismic sensors on the Ross Ice Shelf to better understand the Antarctic melting process and the viability of the shelf. McClure often flew out from the McMurdo base, by plane or helicopter, to visit other parts of Antarctica. He also crossed the international dateline to spend 10 days at the spot on the Ross Ice Shelf known as Camp Yesterday. (Don’t think that McClure will ignore the poetic possibilities of that name.)

Glenn McClure ’86/M.S.Ed. ’11 listens to the sounds of ice movement and underwater world off of Cape Royds.

To gather data, McClure went beneath the ice in a diving bell to record the sonarlike sounds of the seals. He also helped the researchers as they retrieved recording devices that had spent two years buried in snow to capture, among other noises, the sound made by the shifting ice. It was hard, frigid and windy work, and it demanded a one-for-all, all-for-one ethic that broke down all barriers between the scientists and the artists. “The divisions between these bodies of knowledge and experience are easy to argue when we feel comfortable,” McClure says. “The cold makes many of those arguments sound empty.” Bringing Antarctica into the classroom

As McClure creates music and tells the Antarctica science story, he is also collaborating with regional educators and per-

formers to bring compositions to life — and integrating lessons in the classroom. This year, McClure worked with Randy French ’83, a science teacher at Geneseo Central School, and his seventh-grade students to convert some of the data from Antarctica into musical notes. Chris Minges, who teaches music at the school, took part in the project. Inspired by the notes the students had discovered in the science, McClure then created a composition called “Dive of the Seals” that students performed at Geneseo Central in April. “Glenn is creative in his ability to take something normally considered not musical like science data and to both turn the data into musical representation, and to make the process understandable to students,” says French, who also went to Antarctica last year on an expedition different from McClure’s (Read story As part of his continuing Antarctic project, McClure is adding lyrics to the melodies that have emerged from the data. In part, he plans to use fragments from the memoirs of Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922), who led three expeditions to the Antarctic. Shackleton’s writing was generally dry, but there were flashes of poetic prose, McClure says. At one point, the explorer writes, “We had seen God in his splendors, heard the text that Nature renders.” He and McClure seem to be on the same page. At the college, the Geneseo Chamber Singers will perform one of McClure’s Antarctic chorale pieces in October, under the direction of Professor of Music Gerard Floriano ’84. Floriano and McClure met when they were both undergraduates at Geneseo, and Floriano has directed performances of McClure’s earlier compositions. “Glenn is a talented and versatile composer,” Floriano says, noting that McClure’s translation of the Antarctic sounds should be

“interesting and fun.” Though he takes inspiration from science, McClure makes it clear that he’s not a scientist, and he is grateful for the technical help he’s had along the way, including a significant assist from Kirk M. Anne ’88 of the college’s Computing & Information Technology Department, who helped McClure process the Antarctic data. Finding his voice — through science

His work with, and on behalf of, scientists has special meaning for McClure. Scientists — including professors at Geneseo — have helped him find his own voice. They taught him to overcome a severe stutter that developed almost as soon as he began to speak as a child and has been with him since, with one important excep-

by the college for stutterers directed by Harold Starbuck, a professor of speech pathology and expert in stuttering. The clinic taught McClure ways to control his stuttering that he uses to this day. It also gave him a deep sense of gratitude toward Geneseo. “This is the place that allows me to be a public person,” he says. “This is a place that allows me to be an advocate for the integration of the arts and sciences.” Such collaboration stands out to his former professors, and now colleagues; such interdisciplinary projects and teaching is a core at Geneseo. “When he was a student at Geneseo, Glenn had an unusual ability to see connections and to synthesize,” says Ron Herzman, a Distinguished Teaching

Adele penguins are photographed and recorded during mating season.

tion. “The only time I could open my mouth without the physical distress and the emotional baggage and the social difficulties of the disability was when I sang,” McClure says. “There is something about what happens with music that circumnavigates the parts of the brain in which this disability lies. Music was the only thing that made me feel powerful and beautiful as a kid. Music was more than just something that sounds nice. Music was the mechanism for me to overcome the disability.” He grew up near Geneseo, and at 11, he attended the six-week summer clinic run

Professor of English, who was first McClure’s teacher and later his colleague when they co-taught humanities. “Thirty years later, after many experiences watching him perform and teach, and conduct, I marvel at how this interdisciplinary approach has become the cornerstone of a truly unique career. Performer, composer, conductor, lecturer, humanities teacher — all these roles and more are somehow connected and integrated as though it were absolutely natural. And for Glenn, it is.” In addition to his varied courses at Geneseo, McClure is an adjunct professor of composition at the Eastman School of

Music, a professor at Paul Smiths College, and he has worked extensively with students in public schools. His compositions have been performed widely, including by the space agency, and in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Italy and Mexico City. He’s busy. But McClure emphasizes that his time in Antarctica gave him a lesson in the need to slow down, the need to care for himself and for others. This kind of vigilance was necessary in Antarctica, in part because it’s one of the driest places on the planet. The dry conditions raise the risk of dehydration. Consequently, people are assigned on a rotating basis, to watch each other every half hour for any signs of dehydration. “On the first day when the check-in person would ask me this every half hour, I was a little put off,” McClure says. “But by the time I was out there for two or three days, and I realized how dangerous the place is, I looked forward to every check-in because here’s a person who’s caring for me, whose job is to make sure I stay alive. The dangers of the place remind us of the needs for us to care for each other and to care for the planet in a very direct and earnest way.” Thus, one of McClure’s many takeaways from Antarctica is to try and maintain what might be called an “Antarctic state of mind” — an attitude he hopes to impart to his students. “As teachers, what we try to do is to focus students on core questions that they need to ask for themselves,” he says. “And what I found is that the practice of being down in Antarctica, focusing on the core questions of science and the core questions even of my own mortality, does transfer into my teaching now.” And as the students and townspeople in the bakery talk of tests, and the winter that was, and the summer to come, McClure pulls out his laptop, shows pictures of Antarctica. There he is, bundled up, kneeling, his ear to the ice. He listens to the sounds. The ice shifting, the snow crunching ... the stuff of science, the stuff of music ... the stuff of Glenn McClure’s life.


View Glenn’s photo album

Summer 2017


A tradition of

SERVICE Geneseo is ranked 14th nationwide for alumni currently serving in the Peace Corps. Why so many make the leap and the difference they make. By Kris Dreessen


ay Rizzo ’15 is in a small mountain town in Nicaragua sharing the foundations of entrepreneurship with teachers and high-school students who will present their ideas for new businesses in a national competition. In time, they can build their ventures and pass core skills they’ve learned to the next generation. Rizzo is the latest Geneseo graduate who has volunteered for the Peace Corps since its 1961 founding by then president John F. Kennedy. One of the earliest Geneseo volunteers was Mary Robinson Slabey ’64. She helped teachers on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia to develop a nationwide mathematics curriculum in 1967. Between Slabey and Rizzo’s tenure with the Peace Corps, 270 more Geneseo alumni have helped train men and women in education, healthcare and other fields, from China and Senegal to the Comoros Islands. At least one faculty member, Jane Hogan, a retired professor of education, also served. It is a long and consistent history of global service for Geneseo — with a unique milestone. Geneseo is ranked 14th among medium-sized schools nationwide for the number of alumni who are active Peace Corps volunteers. The Peace Corps reports that in 2016, 18

Geneseo alumni were serving in 16 countries. This was the third year in a row that Geneseo has ranked in the top 20. It is even more impressive when you look at the competition for such a distinction: The medium-sized category includes higher-education institutions with 5,000 to 15,000 students. Geneseo, with 5,500 students, is one of the smallest colleges in its category, but it’s clearly a powerhouse. “There is a very clear mindset at Geneseo and a willingness to take the scholarship and community service that students acquired while studying to share with the world,” says Emily Webb ’13, a public affairs specialist at Peace Corps. “That certainly says a lot about the student body as a whole.” ••• What characteristics do alumni have or nurture to jump into life in a new culture and build programs from the ground up? A primary trait is “good, old-fashioned stubbornness,” says Mia Bonarski Deschamps ’03, who taught English in Namibia. Stubbornness to stick to your will, she says, and determination is what gets you there — and beyond. “Peace Corps is really hard. There are a lot of first-time experiences in a new culture,” Deschamps says. “You feel strange. You struggle. But, you have a desire, a goal and a mindset you are going to do this.” Jessica Kroenert ’15 in her Senegalese village.


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View our Peace Corps scrapbook Submit your story Summer 2017


Volunteers agree that fellow Peace Corps members are adventurous, resourceful, curious and open to new ideas. There is a certain eagerness for new experiences and going with the flow. “Peace Corps is an adventure every day,” says Jessica Kroenert ’15 an entrepreneurship expert in Senegal. “You can plan to do something and it may completely fall apart, but within an hour, a new plan rises from the ashes. You have to become flexible, roll with things, and be open to new ideas to be successful.” Sometimes alumni apply for the Peace Corps right after graduation; for others it’s years later, when they are established in their field. Several Geneseo alumni, such as Deshcamps and Slabey, signed up without any international experience. Others, like Rizzo, discovered their capabilities via Geneseo study abroad. As a junior, Rizzo helped farmers in rural Uganda launch an oyster mushroom farm while completing an internship program with a nonprofit organization. That farm is still successful. “We didn’t know anything about mushrooms,” says Rizzo, “but we did know about accounting and management, and we made it work. It gave me a taste of what it’s like to live and work in a developing country. I experienced both the challenges and the rewards.” Kroenert studied abroad three times while attending Geneseo. She studied humanities in Nicaragua, spent a semester in France, and assisted community health projects in Haiti. “The personal growth that comes with those experiences,” she says, “made me want to join Peace Corps. I knew that even if it was hard, it would be worth it.” Geneseo, they say, creates diverse opportunities for students and fosters environments in which students can bolster their confidence while instilling lifelong values of community service. That, in part, is something that generates a large pool of Peace Corps candidates, says Rob DiCarlo, associate director for internship opportunities. “Students here have a genuine interest in global service,” he says. Service-learning programs for hurricane relief in Biloxi and Sandy Hook, and study abroad programs with a service component, such as Haiti and Uganda, “inspire students to take it to the next level.” DiCarlo says that Geneseo continues to 14

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have a strong partnership with the Peace Corps, hosting information sessions each year and special panels for discussion. There’s also selflessness. Geneseo students desire to be a part of change in a collaborative way. In the Peace Corps, this often means the most comprehensive impact comes long after their two-year commitment is over. “We are starting the seeds for something that will grow bigger when we are gone,” Kroenert says. “When your effort becomes its full beautiful self, you won’t be around. You plant the seeds for trees whose shade you will never sit under.”

Mary Robinson Slabey ’64 with St. Lucian students.

Ray Rizzo ’15 with local Nicaraguan teachers.

••• The seeds that have been planted by Geneseo alumni and faculty in the Peace Corps have transformed communities and the lives of the volunteers. Slabey has actually seen the fulfillment of what she started in St. Lucia. “The books I have helped develop 50 years ago have been revised several times and are still used, which is incredible,” says Slabey. She knows because the teachers she made friends with in 1967 have told her. They correspond every month. “We are friends a half a century later,” she says. Such relationships born from such partnership make all the difference, volun-

teers say. “It shapes your life,” says Lynn Ellingwood ’83, who worked in Thailand to improve childcare centers. “When I went, I was willing to accept people who were different from me,” she says, “and I was willing to feel different and not feel uncomfortable because I was different. I became a teacher of English as a second language because of my experience in Thailand.” Ellingwood is not the only alumni who made outreach and advocacy a career. Dechamps works for the Ford Foundation in Colombia, advocating for indigenous rights and access to natural resources. Rahama Wright ’02 went on to start Shea Yeleen, working with women cooperatives in Ghana to make her skin care line. She served on President Obama’s Advisory Council on doing Business in Africa. Slabey became a math professor at Mansfield University, and took leaves to volunteer for curriculum development in Barbados and Guyana. She has also dedicated herself to paying it forward. “In St. Lucia I met many young, very bright students who were enthusiastic learners despite having limited opportunities to further their education,” she says. As a result, Slabey has provided scholarships for nearly a dozen international students to earn their own degrees at Geneseo. “By doing my part here, I can make a difference in students’ lives,” she says. Their successes demonstrate a vital outcome: Volunteers’ belief that they can make a difference is replaced with knowing that they do. “The most important thing I’ll take away from this is the belief in my own power,” says Cladia Pantin ’12, a literacy volunteer in St. Lucia. This year, Pantin ran a successful weeklong camp to empower young women. She also spearheaded the renovation of a school library stocked with 1,500 books. “I was reserved but broke out of that! I truly became a part of the community. Peace Corps has fortified my confidence that I can do anything, and make my own happiness, with less.”

Geneseo’s new alumni association:

Connecting alumni around the world The SGAA will make you feel at home and connected to your alma mater. By Ronna Bosko, director of alumni relations eneseo alumni live near and far including 48 countries and 59 U.S. states and territories. No matter where you go, Geneseo’s new alumni association will make you feel at home and connected to your alma mater. As one of more than 60,000 alumni, you will have opportunities to engage, learn and benefit from the services provided by the SUNY Geneseo Alumni Association (SGAA). In 2016, Geneseo created the SGAA as the unified alumni association, which honors the history and traditions of both the former Geneseo Alumni Association and the former Alumni Council. The SGAA’s Board of Directors’ interim leadership worked throughout the 2016-17 academic year to operationalize the association by finalizing its constitution and bylaws. Standing committees (Committee on




Affinity, Committee on Annual Giving, Committee on Innovation, Committee on Recognition, Committee on Regional Chapters and the Committee on Young Alumni & Students) were created and volunteers initiated the committees’ work. Elections for the board were held in May 2017. The first officers include: President Denise Reed Lamoreaux ’84, Vice President Heather Maldonado ’95 and Secretary John Etu ’12.

On July 1, the new SUNY Geneseo Alumni Association Board of Directors commenced work leading alumni engagement to new heights through innovative, thoughtful and contemporary programming for alumni of all eras. Over the course of the next year, look for new ways to get involved and learn how the alumni association is here to support you. Join a regional alumni chapter where you live, create an affinity chapter that expands what was important to you at Geneseo, participate in programs, reunions or events and let board members know what you need from the SGAA.


To learn more about the SGAA please visit

Summer 2017


: 16

Watch a video about the trip

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Geology in the Land of the Long White Cloud Field study in New Zealand brings independence and experience being comfortable in the world. By Jim Memmott and Photos by Keith Walters ’11

Corey Hensen ’17 and Anna Chinchilli ’19 hike the Tongariro National Park Alpine Crossing, a World Heritage Site, to learn about the Mount Ngauruhoe volcano and view volcanic landscapes.

Summer 2017


“But seeing in living color what they were reading about — there’s something magical about that.” — Professor Dori Farthing


or two weeks in December, the volcanoes, geothermal pools, glaciers and mountains of New Zealand were a living classroom for students to inspect and research rocks and their relationship to the ever-changing earth. Every two years, the Department of Geology hosts the exploration as a capstone experience for juniors and seniors, so they can be geologists in the field. Learning so far away helps them to be more independent and comfortable in the world around them, wherever it may be. “We want these trips to be to a place where we can see a good variety of rocks in the small space of time between the two semesters,” says Dori Farthing, associate professor of geological sciences, who led the trip. “New Zealand is one of those places.” Called Aotearoa by the Maori, the

islands’ original inhabitants, New Zealand is known for its diverse landscapes and geology. Three other geological sciences faculty members – Professor Jeff Over, Assistant Professor Nick Warner and Visiting Assistant Professor Lindsay MacKenzie – went along with the 37 students. The group spent the first part of the trip on New Zealand’s South Island and the second half on the North Island. Students pay tuition and travel costs, although those in need may be assisted by support from the Richard Hatheway Fund established in 2007 when Hatheway, mayor of Geneseo and a longtime professor of geology, retired. Past trips have included Trinidad and Tobago, Cyprus and Chile. The students came prepared for New Zealand, as they had all done the research

for a project during the fall semester. “But seeing in living color what they were reading about — there’s something magical about that,” Farthing says. Allan Engelbert ’17 agrees. “The actively building mountains on New Zealand's South Island were certainly an interest for me and the rest of our group,” he says, “because we discuss these massive features in our classes. But we rarely get to see them in person.” For Engelbert, who is now working as an environmental geologist in Rochester, spending time with his professors was another plus to the journey. “I had already established a close relationship with the faculty,” he says, “but the trip helped me to solidify these relationships and learn even more about the people who have taught me for the past

Visiting Professor Lindsay MacKenzie examines details of a rock specimen.

Associate Professor of Geology Dori Farthing points out geologic features at the Clay Cliffs.

Davitia James ’17, center, sketches an outcrop of rocks.

Professors and students hike the Hooker Valley Track at Mt. Cook.


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Students sketch a landscape at Clay Cliffs.

Paige Walsh ’18 celebrates making it through the Cave Stream Scenic Reserve during a spelunking activity on the South Island.

An example of a field sketch.

Left, Students hiking through boulders at Castle Hill Basin. The region was formed by the uplift of the southern Alps.

four years.” Farthing stresses that being in the field exploring, camping for a week and hiking can break down barriers. “It reminds the students that we are all humans together, that we are going to make it together,” she says. Amanda Brill Colosimo ’01, an associate professor of geology at Monroe Community College, went on the first

Geneseo field trip to New Zealand in 2001. It made its mark on her. “The trip inspired a lifetime love of travel and learning,” she says. “It solidified my interest in geology as a career and greatly increased my understanding of so many scientific concepts that I never had the opportunity to experience in real life previously. Davitia James ’17, a geology major who went on this year’s New Zealand trip, had a

similar experience. Such an opportunity has helped her decide her path. “It confirmed a lot of what I thought I wanted to do after graduating,” James says. “I knew that I wanted to be in the field, and I certainly wanted to study volcanoes, but after being at White Island — an active volcano — I knew for sure this is what I want to do.”

Summer 2017


o t s d n l e or l A ew h t

Student explorers share their award-winning photographs — and life-changing moments — from when they studied abroad.


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Samuel Aviles ’17 Major: International relations with a concentration in the developing world Program: Rhodes University semester program, Grahamstown, South Africa Scholarship: Rhodes Scholarship

“Students at Rhodes University were protesting what they felt was the university's lack of response to multiple sexual assault reports. Students shut down the school. On the third or fourth day the police began to make arrests. The four students in the picture were the first to get arrested. The picture shows the moment they came together after their release. Having gotten through apartheid only in the ’90s, I felt the revolutionary spirit has carried over into this generation of students. While we protest in America, it takes a lot to get the movement going. In South Africa, if there is an injustice, the people will not remain quiet.”

By Kris Dreessen hen Megan Metz ’18 spent a semester in Seoul, South Korea, she arrived with hardly any language skills. She slowly learned phrases, and reveled in the new life — including the major triumph of mastering a seemingly small everyday task. “We went to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, and for the first time I was able to order a meal confidently in Korean. It was a small victory,” she says, “but the lady taking our orders seemed amused and impressed by my basic vocabulary. It felt awesome to fit in for a moment while living somewhere as a foreigner.” Last year, Geneseo students like Megan journeyed to remote countryside and capital cities — for immersive field research and insight into history, journalism and more.


Summer 2017


Study Abroad experiences transform. Campus Auxiliary Services is providing a $500 scholarship for two students to do so for the first time.

2016 recipient’s : Read Justen Geddes’ essay at JustenBrazil





See all the photos abroadphoto Internationalization is a core value at Geneseo: Students can choose from 600 study abroad programs in 60 countries. Fifty-nine of those are Geneseo-led, in more than 35 countries. We also can boast that Geneseo is a leader in study abroad, with the highest participation rate of all SUNY schools. All of those diverse experiences, all have one thing in common — transformation. Immersion in a new culture challenges us to dive into the unknown with an open mind. Over time, or sometimes in aha moments, we change our perception of what we can do, and the world around us. The Scene and Study Abroad photo contest celebrates those moments of lifechanging journeys. In our “epiphany” category, students share those pivotal experiences in which their outlook transformed. Our grand-prize winner, Samuel Aviles ’17, found his calling in photography during his semester in South Africa, working on a student newspaper. His very first assignment was covering a student protest, in which students were arrested. He received a GoPro camera from Campus Auxiliary Services to continue his work. This summer? CAS has awarded two $500 scholarships to students to attend their first study abroad experience. Aspiring pharmacist Julian Atanga ’17 is exploring comparative sustainability in Nicaragua and Jamie McCormack ’18 is assisting with community development in rural Uganda. Look for them to share their experiences in upcoming issues! — Kris Dreessen, editor 22

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Megan Metz ’18 Major: Communications, with a concentration in journalism and media Program: Sogang University, Seoul, South Korea

“I traveled down to the southern tip of South Korea, to a city called Busan. We went to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant and for the first time I was able to order a meal confidently in Korean. It was a small victory, but the lady taking our orders seemed amused and impressed by my basic vocabulary. It felt awesome to fit in for a moment while living somewhere as a foreigner.”

Samantha Ebersold ’17 Major: Sociology Program: Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic, through SUNY New Paltz

“Old Town Square, Prague. This photo was taken in between classes — of a little girl popping giant bubbles.”

2nd Place:

2nd Place:

Noah Koven ’18 Major: Political science Program: Humanities I: Mediterranean Roots, Athens, Greece

Samuel Aviles ’17 Major: International relations with a concentration in the developing world Program: Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic, through SUNY New Paltz Scholarship: Rhodes Scholarship



Samantha Ebersold ’17 Major: Sociology Program: Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic, through SUNY New Paltz

“At The Dancing House where new and old Prague meet — the newest building and oldest tram.”





Jimmy Feng ’18 Major: Geography, with minors in Asian studies and urban studies Program: Geographic Field Studies in Western Canada, Banff National Park, Canada Scholarship: Student Association and Study Abroad Scholarship Jessica Beneway ’17 Major: Spanish with minors in biology and psychology Program: Academia Latinoamericana de Espanol, Cusco, Peru Scholarship: Study Abroad Scholarship

“Island Lake, British Columbia. The unparalleled natural beauty of western Canada and its mountains.”

2nd Place:

“A circle of Peruvians pray to their ancestors at the Moray Ruins in the Sacred Valley.”

2nd Place: 2nd Place:

Jimmy Feng ’18 Major: Geography, with minors in Asian studies and urban studies Program: Geographic Field Studies in Western Canada, Banff National Park, Canada Scholarship: Student Association and Study Abroad Scholarship

Emily Reiter ’17 Major: Pre-biology Program: Development field work in Uganda, Jinja, Uganda

Katherine McCormack ’17 Major: Spanish, Adolescent education, with a minor in French Program: Academia Latinoamericana de Espanol, Cusco, Peru Scholarship: Eric Briggs Memorial Scholarship to attend the Cuzco summer program. Summer 2017



Lessons from first base ... and way beyond Epiphanies Abby Dennett found on the diamond and while pushing herself in New Zealand have made her invincible.


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By Tim Volkmann



sk Abby Dennett ’17 about her studyabroad trip to New Zealand earlier this year, and the recent graduate with a degree in geology who also starred for the Knights on the softball diamond will be eager to talk about the mark that it left on her Geneseo experience – in more ways than one. “New Zealand is a place where you can really find yourself. You learn on a deeper level when you go out in the field and actually touch the things you’ve only read about in the classroom,” she says. “The experience affirmed my passion for what I want to do for the rest of my life, and I also got a stamp on my passport for the first time, which was really exciting.” Last December, Dennett and 50 classmates embarked on a three-week, winterbreak odyssey for geology field immersion, trekking from one end of New Zealand to the other through a geologic Disney Land, with everything from active volcanoes to moving glaciers. It was her first trip outside the country after growing up in a Rochester, N.Y., suburb. Dennett had previously spent the better part of her childhood exploring the backyard world of Irondequoit Creek, collecting the countless specimens that piqued her early interests in all things rock-related. Now she was literally standing on the other side of the planet, breathing in the unique wonders of a completely new and exciting world.” “New Zealand is known for its incredible and pristine glacial environments,” she says. “One of the things we got to do was take a helicopter trip to the top of a place called Fox Glacier,” she says. “We learned the glacier was retreating, so much that it probably wouldn’t be there in 10 years. It was such an awesome moment because it made you feel so small and really put into perspective how vast and beautiful the world we live in is, along with how fragile it can be.” Students also learned about Maori culture, and their traditional cooking, and how they make jewelry with jade, history and everyday life with Maori representatives. “They also allowed us to join them for an authentic feast the last night we were there,” she says. Such experiences, they change you. “It was moments like that when you realized the world is so much greater than you thought it was before you discovered it on your own,” says Dennett. “That is something I’ll always be humbled by.” While her softball teammates back in the States were preparing themselves for the

upcoming season by training with weights and doing cardio, Dennett got her workouts in during long days filled with hiking and climbing, with an occasional shot of adrenaline that got her heart pumping. At Cave Stream Scenic Reserve, the students made a long cave walk. To get out, they had to climb a 30-foot wall with a ladder and then use a rope to shimmy along the edge of a small ledge. That “shimmy” was not so easy. “I needed to take some time to get myself ready because I was absolutely terrified as I looked down into a big plunge pool below,” she says. “I just needed to take a leap of faith and trust myself

she was learning about in the classroom, the changes that occurred to her over time. “My first semester on campus was a big wakeup call in many ways, but everything I’ve been a part of helped me become who I am today. Once I was able to learn time management and take advantage of academic resources, and how to work well in a group and with my teammates. Putting that all together really propelled me,” she says. “I had to go through some bumps in the road to find a balance. From being scared and timid at the start, to graduating with confidence, I truly believe I would not have gotten the lessons I learned or the experiences I had

Abby Dennett ’17, center, celebrates with her teammates after a win.

and the people that were around me. I was really glad I had that experience and was better for it.” In the geology field, she found some of the same bonding opportunities as those she does on the softball field wearing a Knights’ uniform. “I’ll never forget the bonds that were formed from being able to get to the know the professors outside the classroom, as well as the students in my program I hadn’t met before,” says Dennett. “I also got to make memories with some good friends I knew already that will keep us connected for years to come.” While her studies in a different hemisphere taught her many lessons in broadening her horizons, playing softball for the Knights has also been a big piece of Dennett’s collegiate puzzle back on campus. The Knights’ standout first-baseman recalls her first months on campus. And, not unlike the geologic environments

anywhere else besides Geneseo. I’ll always support the softball program because it taught me a lot about myself and also allowed me to be part of a team of girls that are like family that I’ll take with me for my entire life.” This fall, Dennett begins a master’s degree in geology specializing in stratigraphy at Binghamton University. Inspired by her study abroad experience, she hopes to work for a field company one day. More passport stamps are definitely in the future. “Because of everything that I have accomplished and been exposed to at Geneseo, I am capable of so many things that I never really thought would have been possible,” she says. “I never would have imagined being a world traveler.”

Abby Dennett ’17 looks at an active fault line at Gaunt Creek, New Zealand.

Summer 2017 25


One Cup Wendy Murdock Fleming ’75 PHOTO PROVIDED

Used her love of numbers to help others obtain an education, and started a Geneseo family legacy.

By Sherri Negrea

ONE CUP Inspired by the idea that everyone has a story to share, we offer the “random profile.” Each issue, we don a blindfold and throw a dart at a map of the United States to choose our state, then take aim again to choose a lucky alum. We catch up, relive memories and share life insight, like we are talking over coffee.


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QUICK FACTS Home: Myrtle Beach, S.C. Graduation year: 1975 Degree: Bachelor of arts, mathematics and economics Family: Married to Daniel Fleming — including three children. She also has two step-daughters. The biggest risk I’ve taken: I enrolled in an MBA program in January 2005 — nearly 30 years after completing my bachelor’s degree. I graduated in 2008! How you describe Geneseo: The faculty “went the extra mile” for students. It was just as important a factor in student success in the early 1970s when I was enrolled, as it was 29 years later when my son, Dr. Matthew Fleming ’04, was a Geneseo student. Favorite campus hangout: Times spent with classmates and friends in my dorm, dinners that Professor Hoffman had at his home. Best Geneseo memory: I learned the value of hard work and perseverance to achieve goals. While a degree is extremely valuable in securing an employment position, it is the ability to diligently apply yourself that will aid you in succeeding.



endy Murdock Fleming arrived at SUNY Geneseo in 1971 with one goal in mind — to become a high school math teacher. She was fascinated by numbers, so she majored in math and minored in education. But during the summer after her sophomore year, she learned that teaching math wasn’t the only career option for someone with a computational mind. Working at the First State Bank in her hometown of Canisteo, N.Y., that summer, Fleming discovered that she had a passion for banking, and when she returned to campus, she took a double major in math and economics, with a minor in accounting. “I just liked the banking atmosphere,” she says. “And I was making $2.75 an hour, which was more than the minimum wage.” In her senior year, Fleming worked on a research project conducting a study of consumer attitudes toward credit cards for a bank in Rochester. The project helped her land a full-time position as a management trainee at the Monroe Savings Bank, just three weeks after graduation. Fleming eventually spent 12 years in banking, moving to Fleet Mortgage Company in Wellsville, N.Y., where she worked with customers on mortgage applications. In 1998, she finally found a way to combine her original interest in education and her love for numbers when she became a financial aid counselor at Alfred State College. A decade later, just after completing her MBA at Alfred University, she transferred to St. Bonaventure University as the associate director of financial aid. “It’s a job of numerical detail, and I really liked that since I’m a numbers person,” Fleming says. “And I loved the people that I worked with.” There were long hours but Fleming enjoyed creating financial aid packages for prospective students, administering scholarship programs for student athletes and veterans, and counseling parents and students about the application process. She was helping them have their opportunity for an education. After six years in the position, Fleming decided to retire, and she and her husband, Dan, a former computer programmer and analyst, moved to Myrtle Beach, S.C. She says they had first visited the city during their honeymoon in 1976. “We just fell in love with it,” she says. “It’s been a popular vacation spot for people from our area for years.” Fleming is grateful to Geneseo for helping her launch her career and providing an excellent education to her son, Mathew Fleming ’04. What Fleming says she learned from her alma mater is the value of hard work and perseverance. “One of the things that I taught all of our children is you need an education to get your foot in the door,” she says, “but your own hard work will allow you to succeed.”



Alumni News Reunited, again!


Hundreds of alumni from across eras celebrated longtime friends, good times and making new connections at the Geneseo Reunion in June. Activities included a block party with a DJ, photo booth and lots of reminiscing. Actor William Sadler ’72, who has starred in “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Die Hard 2” and “Iron Man 3,” returned to his roots for the weekend. While on campus, he received the SUNY Geneseo Alumni Association’s Professional Achievement Award for his acting accomplishments on TV, in films and in theater — and took a walk down memory lane, stopping at the Riviera theater to sign a movie poster for the the special screening of “The Shawshank Redemption” that night.

28 30 32 33 34 35

President’s Recognition and Gala Alumni event photos A storyteller through dance A front-line polio fighter Visual class notes Scene around the world Summer 2017


President’s Recognition and Gala Geneseo honors loyal supporters and volunteers


t the 36th President’s Recognition and Gala on April 28, Geneseo honored its most loyal donors, volunteers and members of the 1871 Leadership Society, as the college celebrated the achievement of outstanding students who benefit from their generosity and commitment in so many ways. During the program, The Geneseo Foundation recognized the outstanding contributions of alumni and friends with its highest awards. John ’87 and MaryGrace Jiran ’84 Gleason received The Philanthropic Leadership Award for the extraordinary impact on students they have had with their commitment and generosity,

including establishing the John A. and MaryGrace Gleason Endowed Ambassadorship. He is the incoming Foundation Board chairman. Two Emeritus Board Chair designations were announced — Kevin Gavagan ’75 and Jack Kramer ’76. They each had a room in Doty Hall named in their honor. Campus Auxiliary Services and the former Geneseo Alumni Association were recognized with a plaque on the Donors of Distinction Wall on Wadsworth Auditorium. Each group has provided unwavering support, with contributions each of more than $1 million.

Enrico Johnson, assistant provost and president of the Campus Auxiliary Services Board of Directors, accepts the Donor of Distinction Award for Campus Auxiliary Services from President Denise A. Battles for more than $1 million in philanthropy to the college.

Friends catch up during the President’s Gala. From left are Kelly Julian O’Brien ’00 and James O’Brien ’00, Kimberley Ednie ’00 and spouse Karim Afzal.

In a final act of generosity and good will, the former Geneseo Alumni Association (GAA) made a legacy gift to the college. Past GAA President Eddie Lee ’76 accepts appreciation from President Denise A. Battles at the Donors of Distinction tribute.


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John ’87 and MaryGrace Jiran ’84 Gleason receive The 2017 Philanthropic Leadership Award.

Above, Foundation Board member Daniel Ward ’87 shares the wording for the Gavagan Conference Room plaque with Kevin Gavagan ’75. The Doty conference room is named to honor Kevin’s service to the college as a member of the Geneseo Foundation Board from 1997-2017, including his role as chair from 2015-2017.

Above, Foundation Board members Bob Murray ’83, left, and Mollene Benison ’97, visit with Tim Ostrander ’00.

Left, Jack Kramer ’76 smiles as Foundation Board member Dan Ward ’87 announces the naming of the Kramer Call Center in tribute for his distinguished service as a member of the Geneseo Foundation Board of Directors from 2004-2017.

Summer 2017




Alumni Events The Office of Alumni Relations is always looking for event ideas. Contact the office at if you would like to work with us to plan an event.

Mudcat Baseball 25th Anniversary & 10th Annual Game & Gathering Sept. 9, 2017 Batavia/Geneseo

Homecoming & Family Weekend Sept. 23, 2017 Alumni Games & Gatherings, Men’s Lacrosse, Women’s Lacrosse, Women’s Softball, Friday Knight 5K, Geneseo Village Fall Festival and APOG Chicken Wing Fest

Crew Club Annual Fundraiser Dinner Oct. 7, 2017 Campus

San Francisco, Calif. — Geneseo Forum on alternative energy CEO of Sun Power Tom Werner, President Denise A. Battles, Dan DeZarn and Johnson Bowles

Volleyball Alumni Day Oct. 7, 2017 Campus

Alumni Swim Meet and Reception Oct. 14, 2017 Campus

AOP Reunion Oct. 14, 2017 Campus

Wall Street Association Oct. 19, 2017 New York City

Geneseo, N.Y. — Clio 145th reunion

Sports Hall of Fame April 27 and 28, 2018 Campus

Reunion 2018 June 1 and 2, 2018 Celebrating class years ending in 3 or 8 Class of 1968 — 50th Reunion Class of 1993 — 25th Reunion Class of 2008 — 10th Reunion Sigma Tau Psi Fraternity 55th Reunion Special decade celebration of the ’90s 50 Years of Service: A Retirement Celebration for Tom Matthews, associate dean of leadership and service Contact Tracy Young Gagnier ’93, assistant director of alumni relations (, if you are interested in planning a class or affinity reunion. Geneseo, N.Y. — Women’s Basketball reunion 30

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Rochester, N.Y. — Geneseo Alumni Achieve Series at Eastman Kodak Co. with Jeff Clarke ’83 Tracy Rollins ’05, Russell Loughry ’89, Kurt Jaeckel P’15, P’17, Kristin Calabrese Williams ’00, Jeff Clarke ’83, Dave Bullwinkle ’96 and Mark Gebhardt 92

N.Y.C. — School of Business

Rochester, N.Y. — GREAT Knight

Geneseo, N.Y. — Post concert reception in honor of Distinguished Service Professor James Walker

Buffalo, N.Y. — GREAT Knight

Richmond, Va. — GREAT Knight Summer 2017


Storytelling through tap, worldwide By Kris Dreessen


n stage, Alex MacDonald ’08 is a musician. His sliding, thumping and stepping feet are instruments. His free-flow tap is rooted in improvisation, complementing the notes, not choreographed for them. “It’s storytelling,” says MacDonald. “We are the percussion.” Improvising on stage, he says, “is an act of dialogue. Like with any language, there is an exchange of ideas using a common vocabulary and syntax. ... This is the space I feel most free.” This energy is what inspired MacDonald’s path to professional tap dancer — performing, researching and teaching all over the world. He has been dancing since he was 3. He was just 6 when he was hooked by tap master Gregory Hines’ fluid moves in a film. At Geneseo, MacDonald was an English major before he “stopped kidding” himself and switched to musical theater with a minor in dance. He studied all facets of the industry, from theory, history and composition to performing and directing. He was a member of the Chamber Singers, the Dance Ensemble, and improvised tap compositions with jazz musicians on campus. “I came to understand the etiquette of being a performer,” says MacDonald, “and the trust involved in working with other people, as well as how to take direction, how to take risks, and be willing to go to vulnerable places artistically.” 32

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class of ’08 Alex MacDonald Tap dancer Alex MacDonald ’08 has performed, taught and studied all over the world.

After graduation, MacDonald went to New York City to make his way as a performer. He attended a memorial for improvisation tap legend Jimmy Slyde. Slyde’s friends recounted Jimmy’s flair, and his teaching; he was a “nudger,” who inspired people to be better. “I didn’t realize what I was going to see was the inner-most circle of tap dancers — all of these people I admired, sharing memories,” remembers MacDonald. “There was this

energy in the room that hit me, more than anything that was being said. I knew this is what I wanted to pursue.” MacDonald won a spot in the renowned Cats Paying Dues, directed by Andrew Nemr, a protégé of Hines, his childhood idol. MacDonald has since performed throughout North America, Europe, Southeast Asia and the Pacific as a tap soloist and tap choreographer for Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox, a musical and dance




troupe that brings contemporary hits to life with a vintage flair. He’s also the hype man “Jumpsuit Alex” for Grammywinning children’s musicians Tim and the Space Cadets. In 2012, as a Fulbright scholar, he earned a master’s degree in ethnochoreology at the University of Limerick. He also gave a TEDx Fulbright Dublin talk about “Oral Tradition in the Age of Smart Phones.” “Tap is physically, intellectually and emotionally thrilling. I love being around other tap dancers because they are curious, open-minded, and relentless in their pursuit of rhythmic frontiers,” he says. “I’m grateful that I’m doing what I love.” MacDonald also now “nudges” his own students in the craft. He has taught at the Edge School of the Arts, the Irish World Academy of Music in Limerick, Ireland, and Steps on Broadway. This summer he’s teaching in New York City at AileyCamp, through the Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation, which introduces youth in underserved communities to dance. “It’s about giving them an outlet and a stronger sense of self,” says MacDonald. “I cantouch people’s lives.”

On the front lines of eradicating polio By Kris Dreessen

class of ’93 Colleen Bonadonna Colleen Bonadonna ’93 is a leader in the fight against polio for Rotary International and has distributed vaccines in India and Nigeria.

ize Rotary volunteers, who also work on other outreach projects there beyond polio. Bonadonna joined Rotary in

wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. “My sister and I lost our father when we were young. We had very hum-



n 1988, more than 350,000 people worldwide were diagnosed with polio. In 2016, the number of new cases dropped to an astounding 37. The near elimination of the crippling disease is due, in large part, to members of Rotary International, including Colleen Bonadonna ’93, who has served as the Rotary Polio Plus Chair for Districts 7600 and 7610 in Virginia for a decade. Rotary International helped spearhead the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988 along with the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Bonadonna has made it her personal mission, leading education and advocacy efforts for polio eradication for hundreds of members in Virginia. She has also traveled to Nigeria once and to India seven times to inoculate children. This coming spring, she’s off to Ethiopia. “It’s an amazing feeling to give a child the drops, knowing that you’re helping to prevent them from becoming crippled or even die,” says Bonadonna. “The first child I vaccinated was about 3 months old. Her mother put her in my arms, and as I gave her baby the vaccine, our eyes locked. We didn’t speak the same language, but I knew she was thanking me. It was a humbling experience; one I’ll never forget.” Bonadonna is an assistant leader on trips, meeting with representatives from UNICEF and WHO in Delhi to organ-

Bonadonna remembers helping with a Habitat for Humanity project at Geneseo. “Geneseo prepared me to succeed in my career path, but it also opened my eyes to the needs of people in our community and others,” she says. Bonadonna has been the Polio Plus Chair for a decade. One year, she visited 200 clubs in 200 days to boost support. With that support, Rotary members have raised more than $1.2 billion towards the eradication of polio. As a result, 2.5 billion kids have been vaccinated, and 16 million have been saved from paralysis. Polio is now endemic in only Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. “That’s the amazing thing,” says Bonadonna. “You can make a difference in one person’s life. Everyone has that opportunity. It’s why I joined the Rotary. You can do something yourself as a Rotarian, but then you bring in one person, then another and another, you can make a greater impact in your local community, and in the global community.”

“That’s the amazing thing, you can make a difference in one person’s life. Everyone has that opportunity.” 2009, after retiring from a successful career at CooperVision and then the former Solvay Pharmaceutical company, where she specialized in managed care markets. Since she was a child, she’s

ble beginnings,” says Bonadonna. “It was through the kindness of others that we had a Christmas one year. That motivated us to want to give back. Now, it has come full circle.” Summer 2017



Visual Class Notes WELCOME TO THE NEW VISUAL CLASS NOTES! This space has always been for connecting. Look for new features and photos that highlight our alumni family. Submit your ideas or high-resolution photos to Do you know an alum who is giving back? Did your Geneseo family reunite or attend your wedding? Got a story? Tell us! Share your news with us at

I DO ... SHOW YOUR WEDDING SPIRIT Celebrate your wedding day with all your Geneseo friends and send a photo, hopefully representing with a Geneseo banner or sign!

During freshman year, Genevieve Boreanaz ’10 and Alex Fadel ’10 lived in neighboring rooms in Niagara Hall. Six years later, they were married, with many alumni guests to celebrate! “Geneseo played a huge role in our relationship and successes together,” says Genevieve. ”Geneseo allowed us time and space to first form a friendship, and then a relationship.”


Lori Bauer ’90 and Tom “Monty” McAuliffe ’89 waited 20 years before

they reunited — and found true love. They were friends as students, he as Sig Ep, she a Phi Lamb. They both lived and met in Onondaga in 1985, and Tom was always smitten. “Foolish young man that I was, I never asked her out then. I thought I had lost my chance forever,” says Tom. Fast forward to 2009, when Tom was deployed as an Army Apache gun pilot in Iraq. He and Lori reconnected on Facebook. They learned they both lived Raleigh, N.C. When he returned they met for 34

geneseo scene

Rueben sandwiches and beer and reminisced about Geneseo: “It was the best times of our lives,” says Lori. They have been together since and wed in 2011. He has also adopted Lori’s two daughters. He leaves for Iraq again this year, as an Apache pilot instructor. Lori is an engineer at Merck. They spent their first anniversary at the Big Tree Inn and walked around campus, where they first became friends. “We have the great years at Geneseo to thank for introducing two hearts that were destined to be together,” says Tom.

Scene around the world he See t e let p com t llery a a g o t o u h p .ed / neseo e .g o g rld. gowo

Submit your images to with a subject line of “Scene Around the World.”

Leslie Hallstead Baker ’84 in Reykjavik, Iceland. Eileen Feirman Fraser ’74 and her husband, Bruce, visited Gyeongbokgung Palace while in Seoul, South Korea, for their daughter’s wedding.

Cassandra Barber Roberts ’06 and her husband, Eric, went on a Royal Caribbean cruise to Coco Cay, Bahamas.

Georgia Roberts Shurts ’75 visiting the Palouse area on the border of Idaho and Washington states, where she was welcoming a grandchild into the world.

Denise Klock Murphy ’84 at the 2016 Dublin Marathon.

Several Geneseo alumni celebrated the career of U.S. Navy Capt. Mary Ann Gworek ’75 at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy. She served 28 years and was most recently with the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, for which she received her third Meritorious Service Medal. From left to right are: Carleen Pierleoni Giles ’75, Capt. Mitchell Robinson ’74, Nathaniel Gworek ’10 and Mary Ann.

Zach Nelson ’11 in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.

Nicole Simons ’14 at Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, in Cambodia.

Summer 2017




Family sticks together … Alumni at work Geneseo grads have skills and excel in diverse careers. Here at the Scene, they want to share when they have the good fortune to work with a group of alumni.

09158:A638 ALUMNI Helen Rice ’35, died on Feb. 9,

2017 Julia Berle Ratigan ’36, died on

March 3, 2017 Irma Nehrboss Scura ’37, died

on Nov. 25, 2016 Jessie Smith ’39, died on Jan.

13, 2017 Barb Kane ’45, died on March

14, 2016 Beatrice Dobbins Hall ’47, died

on June 26, 2013 Monica Hill Lindner ’47, died on

Jan. 24, 2017 Vivian Brown Bouck ’47, died

on Feb. 14, 2017 Betsy Stalford Shepler ’51, died

on Feb. 25, 2017 Chuck Harrison ’51, died on Feb.

28, 2017 Sue Costich Rider ’56, died on

March 4, 2017 Dr. John Bell ’57, died on Feb.

10, 2017 Russell Brown ’57, died on

March 12, 2017 Antoinette Luccarelli Vattimo ’61, died on Feb. 2, 2016 Maryellen Pendergast Dale ’62,

died on June 15, 2016 Doris Bird Eldredge ’64, died on March 14, 2017 Jack Oblak ’64, died on March 23, 2017 Bruce Godsave ’65, died on April 10, 2017 Carol Simmons ’70, died on March 17, 2017 Janice Boyd Rinker ’71, died on Jan. 20, 2017 Biff Shanahan ’74, died on Jan. 16, 2017 Daniel Dolan ’76, died on Feb. 20, 2017 Janet Esposito Bonk ’78, died on Feb. 28, 2017 Mike McManus ’79, died on Feb. 28, 2017 Valerie Moran ’79, died on June 26, 2014 Laura Stillway O’Connor ’80, died on April 5, 2017 Pam Reed Waring ’82, died on Jan. 21, 2017 Mary Lynn Frei Ranger ’85, died on Jan. 25, 2017


geneseo scene

At Victor Senior High School, 17 staff members proudly showed off their Geneseo spirit. Principal Yvonne O’Shea ’85/M.S.Ed ’91 says: “Over the years, I have had the privilege to hire and work with many outstanding Geneseo graduates. I can tell you that they come to the educational setting very well prepared for the rigors of teaching at a high performing high school.” Front row, left to right are: Tim Caughlin ’13, Jackeline Orrego Boss ’88, Kristina Fanghanel Sykes ’01, Yvonne McGann O'Shea ’85, Anne Conheady Stekl ’86, Stephanie Belding Schleuter ’08 and Laura Eveleigh Sarra ’03. Middle row, left to right, are: LeeAnne Fisher Birkemeier ’92, Kimberly Przybysz ’08, Kyli Knickerbocker ’15, and Carrie Trimble Goodell ’02. Back Row, left to right, are: Ross Hunkovic ’07; Rod Engels ’06, Jason Dorofy ’08; Tim Lowe ’97, Mike Modleski ’05, and Christopher Stock ’05.

Capt. Tom McGinnis USAF ’85,

died on April 28, 2017 Gary Rohrer ’86, died on Dec. 22, 2016 Francine Olivadoti Cronin ’87,

died on April 11, 2017 Amy Dry White ’93, died on Feb.

1, 2017 Michele Mesler ’95, died on

of deaf education in the School of Education from 1976 to 2002, died on April 10, 2017. He served as assistant director of the School of Education in 2000. He restored the college’s carillon on the Sturges Hall Tower and received the Geneseo Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award.

March 11, 2017 Patrice Cummings ’13, died on

James B. Scholes, a member of

March 17, 2017

the Department of English who started at Geneseo in 1959 and taught for 25 years, died on Nov. 15, 2016. He earned the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1976, and also was chair of the department for some time.

Samual Nichols ’19, died on May

6, 2017 FACULTY/STAFF Professor Emeritus Norman Bauer, who was a member of the

School of Education faculty from 1967 to 1995, died on May 4, 2017. Professor Emeritus Bruce Godsave ’65, who was a teacher

Paula Henry, emerita librarian, who served Geneseo from 1975 to 2002, died on July 21, 2017.

She received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Librarianship as well as the Geneseo Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Award.


In the Winter 2017 issue of Geneseo Scene, the caption below The “Importance of Being Earnest” was incorrectly stated as “Students staged the Oscar Wilde classic last fall.” The caption should have read, “The Oscar Wilde classic last fall was produced by Geneseo’s Department of Theatre and Dance.”


Top Left: Christopher Arnold ’76 and Zachary Arnold ’05. Bottom left: Zachary and Caitlin Langelier Arnold ’05. Center: Autumn Arnold ’17 with Zachary and her father, Christopher.

Geneseo legacy — Generations of Pride

Four generations — and a roommate of President MacVittie By Kris Dreessen even members of the Arnold family have attended Geneseo, including Wesley F. Arnold ’44, who grew up in a house where Brodie Fine Arts Building now stands. Wesley also was a roommate with Robert W. MacVittie on Main Street, before MacVittie was the college’s president. Wesley is one of four generations to choose Geneseo. The first family member to choose Geneseo was Wesley’s dad — Wilbert J. Arnold. He started the tradition after he was honorably discharged from World War I due to an injury. Wesley graduated near the end of World War II, and was followed by his own sons Brian Arnold ’78 and Christopher Arnold ’76. Christopher’s kids — Zachary Arnold ’05 and Autumn Arnold ’17 — are the newest alumni. This Geneseo legacy also features a love





connection: Zachary met his wife, Caitlin Langelier Arnold ’05, on the steps of Welles after a British literature class. With every graduation, family members shared experiences of their time and education that inspired the younger members. “I always wanted to go to Geneseo because it was such a large part of our family’s history,” says Christopher. “The college is special because it values tradition while continuously innovating, creating and instilling a vision of faith in the future.”

Above all, they say, the outstanding education and deep-rooted sense of community is what resonates — for more than 75 years. What it takes to make community, and the importance of giving back, is the most important thing he took with him following graduation, says Christopher. “There is a tangible sense of community at Geneseo that is rooted in its past and its present,” says Zachary. It means so much, that in 2013, Zachary and Caitlin even moved back to Geneseo to remain a part of it. It “always felt like home,” he says. It is the same for the Arnolds’ newest alumna. “Geneseo is my home,” says Autumn, “not my home away from home ... Geneseo is a place full of inspiring people who you share adventures with, every day.”

Do you have a Geneseo legacy? Share your story with us at


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