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  Issue Number 14 • Tuesday, April 4, 2017  


Campus Champion

Business economics major Michael Baiardi will graduate in May well-prepared for a career in New York’s financial district. Mike creates his own financial models on one of four campus Bloomberg Terminals, the computer set-up that receives real-time market information from the New York City-based financial data provider. As a TA for an Excel-based management course, he’s learned the valuable distinction between telling someone how to do something and teaching. In this final semester, he is applying skills learned in the tax preparer class as an IRS-certified tax preparer with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA).

Nominate a Campus Champion

Wednesday, April 5

Brooks Museum Lecture Series: “The Future of the Past: Revitalizing Ancient Maya Cultural Traditions in Modern Maya Communities,” by Jeremiah Donovan, Art and Art History Department, Moffett Center, Room 2125, 4:30 p.m. A reception begins at 4 p.m. in the Brooks Museum, Moffett Center, Room 2126.

Dowd Gallery Artists’ Talks: Faculty Biennial 2017,
featuring Art and Art History Department members Lori Ellis, Charles Heasley, Kevin Mayer, Jenn McNamara, Brian Murphy and Jaroslava Prihodova, Dowd Gallery, 5 p.m.

Wellness Wednesday: “Spirituality, Religion and You,” Campus Minister Rachel Ditch and a panel of students host a discussion of the intersection between religion and spirituality, Corey Union Exhibition Lounge, 6 p.m.

Community Teach-In: No, It's Not Okay: Addressing Hurtful Language and Bias in School Settings, Sperry Center, Room 105, 7-9 p.m.

Take Back the Night March: Corey Union steps, 8 p.m.

Thursday, April 6

Community Roundtable: “Cortland, City and SUNY; Stronger When Working Together,” presented by Mayor Brain Tobin, City of Cortland and head coach of SUNY Cortland’s Swimming and Diving. Refreshments will precede the presentation at 7:45 a.m.

Sandwich Seminar: Exercise and Early Onset Parkinson’s Disease, by Jeff Bauer, Kinesiology Department, and Irena Vincent, Communication Disorders and Sciences Department, Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge, noon-1 p.m.

Reading: Essayist Amy Monticello, as part of the English Department’s Distinguished Voices in Literature series, Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge, 5 p.m.

Panel Discussion: “SPEAK UP: Sexual Assault in Underrepresented Groups,” Corey Union Exhibition Lounge, 7 p.m.

Friday, April 7

Make-A-Wish Dodgeball Tournament: Moffett Center Gymnasium, 6 p.m.-midnight

Saturday, April 8

Conference: 8th Annual Student Conference on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice: “Inspiration, Compassion and Our Shared Humanity,” sponsored by Multicultural Life and Diversity Office, Corey Union, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

SUNY Cortland Health and Wellness Symposium: Sperry Center, Room 105, 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m.

Monday, April 10

Escalation Workshop: Learn about the warning signs of abusive relationships, Corey Union Function Room, 7-8:30 p.m. RSVP requested by April 5, 607-753-4550.

Presentation: “Researching the Hydrology System at the Bottom of the Antartic Ice Sheet,” Sperry Center, Room 0106, 7-9 p.m.

Tuesday, April 11

The Louis Larson Lecture and Performance Series: “Trans*+ing Classrooms and Schools,” by SJ Miller, deputy director of Educational Equity Supports and Services at the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools, Sperry Center, Room 105, 7 p.m.

EdFlix Series Film: “The Class,” sponsored by the School of Education; Ed Club members earn participation points, Van Hoesen Hall, Room B-136, 7-9 p.m.

Wednesday, April 12

Lecture: “The ESF Gateway Center: Use of Native Plants on an Intensive Green Roof,” Sperry Center, Room 0105, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

The Louis Larson Lecture and Performance Series: “Putting Gender Revolution into Practice,” by SJ Miller, deputy director of Educational Equity Supports and Services at the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools, Sperry Center, Room 105, 7 p.m.

It’s On Us Panel Presentation: Supporting Survivors of Sexual Assault, Corey Union Exhibition Lounge, 7 p.m.

Film: “Far from Kleinwanzleben,” Afro-Europe Series, Sperry Center, Room 0106, 7-8 p.m.

Thursday, April 13

Recognizing Campus Book Authors: Recent authors (2016), 12th annual event, Memorial Library, 3-4 p.m.

Panel: “Talking to Terrorists, Non-Violence and Counter-Terrorism,” Corey Union Fireplace Lounge, noon-1 p.m.

Monday, April 17

Film: “Fresh!” A film about sustainable food, Sperry Center, Room 0105, 7-9 p.m.

Film: “Sorceress of the New Piano,” Sperry Center, Room 0106, 7-9 p.m.

Tuesday, April 18

It’s On Us Speaker: Jessica Luther, investigative sports reporter, Corey Union Function Room, 7 p.m.

Students with Disabilities Share Experiences at College Forum


SUNY Cortland sophomore Skye Malik knows firsthand that dyslexia doesn’t have to stop people from reaching their goals.

As a high school student, Malik founded The Paco Project, named for her grandfather, Leo “Paco” Corey, who is dyslexic. Corey didn’t finish high school and never attended college but joined the Navy and went on to become a superintendent for the New England Power Company. The Paco Project raises money for Learning Ally, a non-profit organization that serves those who cannot read due to blindness, dyslexia or other disabilities.

An early childhood/childhood education major from New York City, Malik, like her grandfather, is dyslexic. She is a passionate advocate for empowering those who may struggle to read. She and junior criminology and Spanish dual major Jose Benitez of Bronx, N.Y., visited Grant Middle School in Syracuse on March 24 to speak with eighth graders who have disabilities, encouraging those students to pursue a college education.

Benitez and Malik were guest speakers at Grant Middle School’s fifth annual college forum. They shared their academic experiences and discussed how they’ve coped with disabilities while succeeding in school.

“The best thing about going to the college forum at Grant Middle School was definitely having the opportunity to help young children realize that they can and should go to college,” Malik said. “I never had anything like that when I was younger. I had to discover all of it on my own.”

Heather Young is a special education teacher at Grant Middle School. She started the college forum in 2013 to prepare students for their transition to high school while also getting them to think about the possibilities beyond. As high schools and colleges increasingly do more to make education accessible for students with disabilities, Young has invited local college students to share their stories with their younger counterparts. 

“As a middle school teacher for the last 15 years, I have seen kids go to high school and lose hope,” Young said. “My purpose was for the kids to see what services are available so they can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have been so happy to see my relationships with the local colleges grow. This year Cortland students returned and as always left a lasting impression on my students.”

Students from Le Moyne College, Onondaga Community College, SUNY Polytechnic Institute and Syracuse University also have participated at the college forum in previous years.

Malik has used audio recordings of textbooks to keep up with her schoolwork. Learning Ally provided Malik with recordings that helped her in her middle and high school studies and SUNY Cortland’s Student Disability Services has provided similar support. That academic assistance has helped Malik thrive in a brand-new environment.

That’s what she told the eighth grade students at the college forum. Malik thanks the staff and faculty who have helped her learn in alternate ways and encourages the next generation of college students to seek out similar opportunities. 

“I think my mom was more nervous about me going to college, but I was nervous too,” Malik said. “(In high school) I did have all the tools and strategies of how to get my work done, but if I really needed help, my mom was still always right there. But at college, I knew she wasn't going to be anymore. Luckily, Cortland has been incredibly helpful. The biggest thing they do for me is providing me with my books in a format that is accessible to me. If I didn't have that, I would not be able to succeed.”

Benitez has received similar academic support in college and was glad to tell middle school students that places like SUNY Cortland will be able to help them with their schoolwork as well.

“Cortland has provided me with a large variety of methods to succeed like providing me with laptops and text to speech programs,” he said. “Cortland has also provided me with a great team that includes Mrs. Ute Gomez, the coordinator of Student Disability Services, and Jeremy Zhe-Heimerman, the coordinator of test administration services. I appreciate them very much and highly recommended them to students that are looking for colleges with great disability services.”

Zhe-Heimerman, SUNY Cortland’s coordinator of assistive technology and test administration services, helps provide text-to-speech services and training to students on campus. Zhe-Heimerman also attended the college forum at Grant Middle School. He is proud to see students like Malik and Benitez shine in the college classroom and also in a middle school setting in front of newly-empowered students. 

“They’re excellent speakers and they engage with students,” Zhe-Heimerman said. “They’re excellent models for the students. I always enjoy going to the forum because it’s great to see the eighth graders get so much out of seeing someone like them who is succeeding in college. It’s also great to see our students get an opportunity to be role models for those students and be leaders.”

For more information, visit SUNY Cortland’s Student Disabilities Services online.

College Launches Awareness Campaign Against Sexual Violence


April is national Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and SUNY Cortland will host a full schedule of educational events and opportunities to raise awareness and show support for the many survivors of sexual and domestic violence.

The events started Monday with a Week of Action that includes “It’s On Us” T-shirt giveaways, the annual Take Back the Night March and a Green Dot campus egg hunt. It is followed by a workshop on relationship violence, a Wellness Wednesday panel on supporting survivors of sexual assault, and a presentation by an investigative sports journalist who has written extensively about rape and sexual assault in athletics. On April 30, the College will participate in Yards for Yeardley, a fundraising challenge named after a University of Virginia athlete who was violently killed by an ex-boyfriend.

Also, during the first three weeks of April, SUNY Cortland President Erik Bitterbaum is urging all members of the SUNY Cortland community to participate in a confidential sexual violence prevention survey aimed at helping the College improve its efforts against all forms of sexual assault.

Nationally, researchers estimate 1 in 5 college women experience some form of sexual assault before graduation. The same is true for 1 in every 16 college men.

“Having a variety of events throughout Sexual Assault Awareness Month is important to encourage many of us on campus to work toward positive culture change,” said Nan Pasquarello, SUNY Cortland’s Title IX coordinator. “The statistics around sexual and interpersonal violence for college students continue to be alarming. We are making progress, but continue to have work to do to prevent and respond to incidents of violence.” 

In recent years, the College has been an active participant in It’s On Us, a nationwide effort to shift responsibility for prevention of nonconsensual sex from the victims to the perpetrators and bystanders. That effort was strengthened this year by the College’s adoption of the Green Dot bystander intervention program, which encourages all campus community members to accumulate “green dots” - positive steps against sexual assault. The program’s motto is, “No one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something.”

“One way faculty and staff can help us raise awareness and promote culture changes is by printing out email attachments that advertise upcoming programs and initiatives and posting those in their offices or on their classroom Elmo screens to promote upcoming events,” Pasquarello said. “We also hope people will follow the SUNY Cortland It’s On Us Action Team on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and share important messages in their social media circles.”

SUNY Cortland’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month events include:

Monday-Thursday, April 3-6

Green Dot Egg Hunt: Search for Green Dot eggs everywhere on campus

Tuesday, April 4

Take Back the Night March: Begins at Corey Union steps, 8 p.m.

Wednesday, April 5

Take the It’s On Us Pledge: Student Life Center, 4-6 p.m.

Thursday, April 6

Panel Discussion: SPEAK UP: Sexual Assault in Underrepresented Groups, Corey Union Exhibition Lounge, 7 p.m.

Green Dot Egg Hunt finale: Redeem your eggs, Residence Life and Housing Office, Van Hoesen B-33, noon-3 p.m.

 Friday, April 7

SAFER Tie-Dye T-shirt Event: Corey Union Exhibition Lounge, 5 p.m.

Monday, April 10

Escalation Workshop: Learn about the warning signs of abusive relationships, Corey Union Function Room, 7-8:30 p.m. (R.S.V.P. by April 5)

Wednesday, April 12

It’s On Us Panel Presentation: Supporting Survivors of Sexual Assault, Corey Union Exhibition Lounge, 7 p.m. 

Tuesday, April 18

It’s On Us Speaker: Jessica Luther, investigative sports reporter, Corey Union Function Room, 7 p.m.

Sunday, April 30

Yards for Yeardley: Help SUNY Cortland and other SUNYAC schools run or walk a million yards to raise awareness of relationship violence.

Capture the Moment


SUNY Cortland President Erik Bitterbaum stopped by Bowers Hall on March 24 when the College’s Chemistry Club was entertaining about 50 kindergarten children from Barry Elementary School. Club member Ray Kim is demonstrating hopping Boo Bubbles using soap, water and dry ice. “We strive to spark an interest in science,” said Tariq Hussain, the club’s founder, about the annual chemical demonstration show. Mission accomplished: Some of the kids were yelling, “I want to be a scientist” as they were leaving. 

In Other News

SUNY Chancellor Honors Four Students

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Four SUNY Cortland seniors were honored with the 2017 State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence on Wednesday, April 5, in Albany, N.Y.

The award recipients are:

  • Michael Braun, a political science/public administration and public policy dual major from Elmont, N.Y.
  • Taylor Lynch, a communication studies major from Saint Johnsville, N.Y.
  • Allison Schumann, an exercise science major from North Salem, N.Y.
  • Tara Sweeney, a biomedical sciences major from Staten Island, N.Y.

The award is presented to students within the SUNY system’s 64 schools who have been recognized for their academic success and have excelled in other aspects of their college lives as well. This can include leadership roles, campus involvement, athletics, career-related pursuits, community service or achievement in the arts.

“It is my honor to celebrate the achievements of students who have surpassed SUNY’s highest standards of academic excellence and leadership both on and off campus,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher. “Every student we recognize today has demonstrated a strong commitment to their degree program, home campus, greater community, and much more.”

Each year, SUNY campus presidents establish a committee to review and select outstanding graduating seniors. The nominees are forwarded to the Chancellor’s Office for a second round of review and the selection of a group of finalists. Each honoree receives a framed certificate and medallion to wear at Commencement in May.

Along with this year’s honorees, 84 SUNY Cortland students have earned the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence since the program began in 1997.

Here’s a closer look at each of the honorees:

Michael Braun

Michael Braun
Michael Braun

Braun came to SUNY Cortland to pursue a kinesiology degree and had a passion for playing baseball. He ended up in political science with an excitement for public policy and administration.

“Things work out best to those who make the best out of the way things work out,” he said.

Recently Braun was one of 18 students selected to represent all 600,000 SUNY students at the State University’s annual conference discussing critical issues in higher education. He represented SUNY Cortland in the annual Model European Union Simulation in New York City and Brussels, Belgium as a delegate and was one of the top competitors in the Eastern Region.

Last summer, Braun interned with North America’s Building Trades Union in Washington, D.C. There, he attended the Carnegie Mellon-Heinz College Public Service Weekend to engage in public policy workshops and develop policy recommendations to send to the two major party candidates in the 2016 presidential campaign.

“If you develop the capability to verbalize your own thoughts in a passionate and intellectual way, then the sky is the limit,” Braun said.

Braun began his journey into leadership as recruitment chair for Delta Chi fraternity and then ran for president in his sophomore year. This role allowed him to travel around the country with the fraternity, fueling his desire to lead.

Braun has been active in SUNY Cortland’s Student Government Association (SGA). He started as parliamentarian, overseeing meeting proceedings. Braun then ran for student government president and won.

A member of the national political science honor society, Pi Sigma Alpha, Braun has earned several College awards in his discipline.

Taylor Lynch

Taylor Lynch
Taylor Lynch

As a transfer student, Lynch embraces the chance to take advantage of the multitude of opportunities SUNY Cortland brings her way while excelling in the classroom.

Lynch served as student coordinator of American Red Cross blood drives on campus, helping to coordinate workers and more than 100 donors to reach goals while distributing posters and promoting the blood drive on social media.

Inducted into the Tau Sigma National Honor Society for academic excellence and involvement for transfer students, she was selected to present at the society’s 2016 Leadership Conference in Orlando, Fla.

Lynch was chosen as one of 13 Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority sisters from different chapters nationwide to attend the 2016 Alpha Sigma Alpha Service Immersion Experience in Oahu, Hawaii. She also was inducted into the sorority’s Hermes Society of academic excellence.

Lynch has made the President’s List every semester since transferring in Fall 2014, having maintained a cumulative GPA of 4.09, and earned many College scholarships.

Outside the classroom, she served as an orientation assistant, tour guide, transfer buddy, sister of Alpha Sigma Alpha, as well as attaining internships across campus.

“Working in, and experiencing, several different offices from my internships around campus has inspired me to pursue a master’s degree in the higher education field,” Lynch said.

As a communication studies major, Lynch gained experience in multiple internships working with Admissions, Alumni Engagement, Transfer Services and Special Events.

“Before coming to Cortland, I didn’t have the social skills that I have now,” Lynch said. “I have grown as a communicator, a leader, and as a person. Every opportunity I’ve taken has directly prepared me for my future.”

Allison Schumann

Allison Schumann
Allison Schumann

As a four-year multi-sport athlete, Schumann is the embodiment of hard work and dedication.

She presented a research project at the 2016 American College of Sports Medicine Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference where she was selected as a top five finalist for the Matthew Kerner Undergraduate Research Award out of nearly 100 entered abstracts.

Schumann was awarded the SUNY Cortland Undergraduate Research Council summer research fellowship, a scholarship to complete a summer research program in the exercise physiology laboratory.

“By creating good connections with professors, you not only have guidance when making tough decisions about education, or life in general, but you will also have great relationships that you can keep after college,” said Schumann.

A member of the Phi Kappa Phi interdisciplinary honor society, Schumann made the President’s List three semesters. She is a teaching assistant for Anatomy and Physiology I and II and Exercise Physiology and a supplemental instruction leader for biology.

Schumann earned U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-Academic Cross Country honors in the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The award is given to athletes placing in the top 25 percent at an NCAA Division III regional with a GPA of at least 3.3 on a 4.0 scale.

As a volunteer at the College’s cross country and track and field community clinic, she demonstrated team values and the responsibilities required of a collegiate athlete to local high school runners.

“It is important to explore every option or major that interests you,” Schumann said. “But if you do not know what you want to do, there is plenty of time to figure it out.”

Schumann will start the Doctorate of Physical Therapy program at SUNY Upstate Medical University in June. She plans to become a pediatric physical therapist.

Tara Sweeney

Tara Sweeney
Tara Sweeney

As a senior captain of the SUNY Cortland women’s gymnastics team, Sweeney is no stranger to hard work.

Not only does the Staten Island native set the perfect example of balancing time between academics, athletics and extracurricular activities, she excels at all three.

Sweeney takes pride in her captain position of the gymnastics team where she specializes in balance beam and floor exercises. She also gives her time to volunteer as a gymnastics coach for the children of the Cortland community.

As a science student, Sweeney researched the respiratory system with histology specialist and SUNY Cortland Professor of Biological Sciences Louis Gatto. Along with a research team from SUNY Upstate Medical University, her abstract based on work done in the lab at SUNY Cortland was published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology journal. Her findings were presented October 2016 at the American Association for Respiratory Care research conference in San Antonio, Texas.

Inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi national interdisciplinary honor society, she has made SUNY Cortland’s President’s List numerous times.

Sweeney is vice-president of the Pre-Med Club, a member of the Sexual Health and Awareness Club and a tutor for the Educational Opportunity Program.

Her proudest achievement at SUNY Cortland is seeing her hard work pay off, as she plans to pursue a medical degree next fall and become a physician.

“I am grateful to receive this award as it reflects the diverse opportunities SUNY Cortland has given me, as well as the inspiring mentors that guided me through my educational journey at SUNY Cortland,” Sweeney said.

Prepared by Communications Office writing interns Jamie Winsper, Charlie Beeler, Jessica Haverlin and Alexandra Savini

Spring Fling is in the Air!

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Young Thug, one of the most unconventional and innovative voices in rap, will headline SUNY Cortland’s annual Spring Fling concert on Saturday, April 29.

The Spring Fling picnic and carnival will be held from noon-3 p.m. on the lawn of Moffett and Old Main. Activities include a zip line, a KAPOW obstacle course, a bungee run and photo booth. Popcorn, cotton candy and sno cones will be available, as will a picnic menu of burgers and veggie burgers, hot dogs, chicken, potatoes, pasta salad, watermelon and lemonade. T-shirts, tank tops, sunglasses, water bottles and cell phone wallets are among the giveaway items.

In case of rain, the picnic and carnival will be held inside at the Corey Union Function Room.

Rapper and record producer A Boogie wit da Hoodie will open the evening concert in the Park Center Alumni Area.

Tickets are on sale to SUNY Cortland students for $25, cash only, from April 10 to 12 between 4-8 p.m. at the Corey Union information desk. Ticket sales will open to the general public and students for $30, cash only, from April 13 to 14 between 4-8 p.m. at the Corey Union information desk. Students may purchase only one ticket and must have their SUNY Cortland ID at the time of purchase.

Doors open at 6 p.m. The show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets will be sold at the door. Day-of-show tickets will cost $35 for students and $40 for the general public.

Concert-goers must be at least 18 years old to attend.

Atlanta-based Young Thug burst onto the scene when he began releasing independent mixtapes in 2011. He has since collaborated with rappers such as Waka Flocka Flame, T.I. and Kanye West. Young Thug’s avant-garde vocal style has drawn critical acclaim. Rolling Stone gave Young Thug’s latest effort, Jeffery, four out of five stars and said, “But as usual it's Thug's own sound that predominates: the heroic howls, rasps, mumbles and wheezes of a man who is as captivating a vocalist as any in pop.” Featured in Calvin Klein’s 2016 fall campaign, Young Thug is also a pioneer in the fashion world.

A Boogie wit da Hoodie released his debut mixtape, Artist, in 2016. He opened for Drake and Future on the Summer Sixteen Tour this past summer.

For more information, contact SUNY Cortland’s Student Activities Board via Facebook.

Blackbird Film Festival Returns

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One hundred and forty films.

Three days.

Unlimited free popcorn.

The Blackbird Film Festival returns to SUNY Cortland for the second consecutive year April 21-23, featuring more than 140 films by creators ranging from accomplished professionals to first-time filmmakers.

The 2017 edition of the festival features more films, more off-campus events and remains free and open to all. Scott Williams ’82, the executive producer and lead writer for the hit television show “NCIS” will host an industry workshop, as will a panel of New York State film and television development officials.

And free popcorn will be available all weekend long at the Blackbird snack bar.

Sam Avery, assistant professor of communication studies at SUNY Cortland, is the festival’s founder and director of programming. The festival began four years ago as a forum for student films, became an online film festival in 2015 and found a physical home at SUNY Cortland in 2016.

“It was a great first start but there were many areas for improvement,” Avery said. “Almost as soon as the 2016 festival ended, I started making plans for 2017. Blackbird has a team of 17 event coordinators working tirelessly to make this the best year yet. We are screening over 140 short films this year and have received R.S.V.P.s from over 100 filmmakers. We are expecting a much larger turnout this year and we have made sure everyone will have a seat.”

The festival opens with an information session and roundtable on film production in New York State with a team of experts from the Governor’s Office of Motion Picture and Television Development. The forum will provide information for first-time filmmakers to veteran producers looking to find crew and locations and how to take advantage of tax credits to finance a production.

Following a welcome ceremony and the opening block of films in Sperry Center from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, the festival shifts to Bru64 on Main St. in downtown Cortland for a kickoff party. Ithaca-based band Kitestring will perform.

On Saturday, there will be six blocks of films in a variety of genres from family to shorts to documentary to horror.  Films will be shown in Sperry Center and run from 10 a.m. to 10:15 p.m.

Also on Saturday, Williams, a former Red Dragon football player, will host his workshop from 4:45 to 6 p.m. He will discuss his work both as a screenwriter and producer on television shows such as “NCIS,” NYPD Blue,” “Third Watch,” “Crossing Jordan,” “Bones,” “Without a Trace,” “The District” and “Castle.”

Sunday’s schedule includes five more blocks of films in Sperry Center, including animation and comedy, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. An awards ceremony dinner will be held at the Cortland Repertory Theatre in downtown Cortland at 6 p.m.

Blackbird includes a variety of wonderful films made by local filmmakers from the central and upstate New York area,” Avery said. “Attending the festival this year will be directors from Buffalo, Albany, Rochester, Syracuse, Auburn, Locke, as well as Cortland. Make sure to come out and support our local filmmakers as well as experience what film in central New York is all about.”

For a full list of films and directors, visit Blackbird Film Festival’s website.

The Blackbird Film Festival strives to be an inclusive environment, featuring experienced professionals, first-time filmmakers and students. Topics to be tackled in the 120 films range from “race and politics, life and death, space and time, and everything in between,” according to the festival’s mission statement.

A pre-festival series of films, “Race and Politics in America,” will be shown on campus on April 19-20. These films will be shown in conjunction with SUNY Cortland’s Africana Studies Department which had originally planned to show them in February, during Black History Month. They were pushed back from February to coincide with the Blackbird Film Festival.

On Thursday, April 20, poet Nkosi Nkululeko will perform before the screening of “How it Sounded to Squish a Cockroach,” a film that features his work.

For more information, contact Avery and follow the Blackbird Film Festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Investigative Journalist Discuss Campus Sexual Violence

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Jessica Luther, an investigative journalist and author, will discuss campus sexual violence and prevention solutions on Tuesday, April 18 at SUNY Cortland.

Her talk, which will focus on her research, is free and open to the public. The presentation begins at 7 p.m. in the Corey Union Function Room. A panel discussion will follow.

Luther’s presentation supports the national “It’s On Us” campaign, an awareness program aimed at ending sexual assaults on college campuses.

The campaign, launched by the White House in the fall of 2014, asks men and women across the United States to make a personal commitment to step off the sidelines and be part of the solution to sexual assault on college campuses.

She is the author of a book, Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape. Her work has been featured in ESPN Magazine, New York Times Magazine, Sports Illustrated, BuzzFeed and Vice Sports.

Luther has explored the intersection of sports and violence off the field for several years. Her reporting exposed Baylor University’s 2015 decision to allow star defensive player Sam Ukwuachu to join its football team after he was kicked off the Boise State team for a previous incident of violence involving a female student.

Ukwuachu was on trial facing two counts of felony sexual assault against a female Baylor student-athlete at the time. He was eventually convicted on those charges.

During her visit to Cortland, Luther will discuss her findings, specifically looking at the issue of campus sexual violence and its intersection with college athletics.

“I’ll set up the context of this discussion: the extent of the issue, how we normally respond to it, why we need to be better about response,” Luther said. “But then I will get into what we can do to prevent this.” That will mean a short discussion on what Title IX is, how individuals can report, what consent is, how bystander intervention works, the necessity to hold people in powerful positions accountable, and examples of students

Luther graduated from Florida State University in 2002 with a double major in classical civilizations and Greek/Latin and earned her master’s degree in Latin literature at the University of Texas in 2004.

Several years after transferring to the history department at University of Texas, and before she could earn a Ph.D., Luther decided to leave academia and pursue writing full time. She is now a fellow in the Texas Program in Sports and Media at the University of Texas and a member of the Association for Women in Sports Media.

“I am a huge college football fan,” Luther said. “I was born into Florida State football fandom. My parents both went there, it was the only college I applied to. And then it happened that in the 2013 season, one of the biggest college sexual assault cases in a long while broke open and it was the then-quarterback of my alma mater who was accused.”

Unsatisfied with how the news media covered campus sexual assault allegations, Luther began to write about it.

“I did the easiest thing first: media criticism,” Luther said. “That morphed over time into reporting on this and eventually investigative reporting. And I haven't stopped.”

Luther’s talk will be followed by a panel discussion on campus sexual violence. The panel will include SUNY Cortland head football coach Dan MacNeill; students Taylor O’Halloran, Carson Lassiter and Kaley Clavell; and SUNY Associate Counsel Joseph Storch. It will be moderated by College Title IX Coordinator Nan Pasquarello

The event is one of many campus activities on similar topics scheduled during national Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Many focus on bystander intervention, which Luther believes is important.

“It’s On Us,” with its name alone and then with the bystander intervention training it does, puts a direct spotlight on members of the community to take an active role in preventing violence,” Luther said. “I like that.”

Prepared by Communications Office writing intern Jamie Winsper

One BIG Difference. One BIG Event

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More than 500 volunteers rolled up their sleeves for last year’s Big Event, SUNY Cortland’s annual day of community-wide service.

The third-annual event takes place on Sunday, April 23. Director Fiona Hayden hopes to sign up 700 willing helpers among students, faculty and staff.

“It is more than just raking leaves or painting faces,” said Hayden, a senior inclusive special education major from Guilderland, N.Y. “Through service, we are able to connect and foster relationships between the community and the College.”

raking out the bushes
Student volunteers at a past Big Event helped a local homeowner with spring yard work.

Last year, Hayden worked alongside previous director Allison Garver as engagement executive for the event.

Sponsored by the Student Government Association (SGA) and its club Actively Involved in the Community (AIC), the Big Event seeks to give back to the community and help local organizations on the one-day volunteer project. Volunteers are asked to give four hours of their time.

Hayden is excited to take on this role and build on last year’s success.

“The Big Event is the perfect opportunity to connect with the residents of the City of Cortland,” Hayden said. “SUNY Cortland would not be the place it is without the yearlong residents. Many of us as college students feel gratitude and this event is just one way that we can thank the City of Cortland.”

Volunteer pledges may be submitted up until the day of the event, but only those registered by April 7 will be guaranteed a free t-shirt.

Job site request forms submitted by residents and community organizations received by April 1 will receive first priority. Requests beyond this date will be considered if there are enough volunteers and resources to complete the project.

Light breakfast and t-shirts will be provided to volunteers, who are asked to provide their own transportation. Helpers without transportation access will be assigned projects within walking distance.

On the big day, check-in and job service assignments begin at 8 a.m. in the Park Center Alumni Arena. A short kick-off ceremony will follow at 9 a.m.

Organizers do not consider the socioeconomic need of individuals or groups who request the service. Examples might include a local non-profit agency, a group home for people with disabilities or an elderly couple in need of extra hands for a few hours.

The SGA funding that supports the Big Event will be used to purchase supplies and equipment. Hayden encourages donations from outside sources to this year’s project.

Recruiters for this year’s activities signed up volunteer students, faculty and community members at tables located in the Student Life Center lobby throughout March and April. Students and faculty can register by email or Facebook.

Texas A&M University developed a one-day, student-run service project in 1982 and dubbed it the Big Event. Although there’s no national organization or governing body for the Big Event, dozens of colleges and universities across the nation have followed through with similar days of service.

Monetary gifts, supplies and food for the event are greatly appreciated. For more information or to make a donation, contact Hayden or Stay current with the Big Event on Facebook and on Twitter @TBE_Cortland.

Prepared by Communications Office writing intern Jessica Haverlin

Comedian’s Act Addresses Overcoming Disability

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Comedian Drew Lynch lives his life by the motto: “Do something every day that scares you.”

In 2015, Lynch won the hearts of so many on season 10 of America’s Got Talent where he made audiences laugh and cry through sharing his story of overcoming adversity.

Lynch will perform at SUNY Cortland at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19 in the Corey Union Function Room.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is part of the spring 2017 “Wellness Wednesday Series,” intended to motivate campus and community members to learn more about health and wellness.

Primarily sponsored by the Health Promotion Office and the Student Development Center, the series takes place on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. in Corey Union Exhibition Lounge, unless otherwise noted. The events are free and open to the public.

Lynch, 25, tours the country headlining comedy clubs, speaking about life with his speech impediment and making crowds laugh along the way.

Never picturing himself as a comedian, Lynch moved to Los Angeles at 19 with aspirations to become an actor. While playing softball just a year into his acting career, a freak accident left him with a serious stutter, an injury that put his acting dreams on halt.

Lynch’s subsequent comedy act, “A Comedian's Story,” tells his tale of overcoming odds and how his stutter has changed his outlook on life in so many ways.

“The person I was before would probably never hang out with who I am today,” he stated while auditioning on America’s Got Talent.

An entertainer at heart, Lynch often addresses his disability, makes light of it in his act and attributes softball to changing his life and getting him into comedy. Through determination, talent and perseverance he is not giving up on his initial dream of acting. Lynch has appeared on the Marc Maron Show, “Dr. Oz,” and as a celebrity guest on the game show “Idiotest.”

He has gained more than 500,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel where he uploads video blogs every Monday and Thursday. The comedic videos star Lynch and his service dog, Stella, as he talks about everything from his stutter to his adventures at the dog park.

For more information on the event or the Wellness Wednesday series, contact Lauren Herman, the College’s health educator, in Van Hoesen Hall, Room B-1, or at 607-753-2066.

Prepared by Communications Office writing intern Charlie Beeler

Concert to Feature Alumna Gospel Soloist

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International gospel recording artist and SUNY Cortland alumna J. Christine Johnson Sinclair ’89 will return to campus on Sunday, April 23, for the SUNY Cortland Gospel Choir spring concert.

The performance begins at 3 p.m. in Old Main Brown Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. An offering to support the Student Scholarship Fund will be collected during intermission.

A former music voice major at SUNY Cortland, Sinclair is noted for her unique vocal versatility, ranging from conservative classical to spirit-filled gospel.

“With gospel, one has the freedom to express in song what they are feeling from the heart by extending and bending notes as the Spirit leads,” she said. “It was during my years as a student at Cortland that I developed this classical-gospel unique blend into what is now referred to as my signature sound. You will hear both styles as I sing, especially in my rendition of ‘Amazing Grace,’ an audience favorite.”

Sinclair has performed across the United States, Europe, South Africa, Africa (Malawi), the Caribbean and Canada. She has appeared on numerous radio and television shows including BBC, 3ABN, the Hope Channel and The Bobby Jones Gospel show on The Word Network.

In January 2010, she sang for the My9 TV “Hope for Haiti Now” telethon broadcast live from the Fox 5 Studios in New York City. In August 2010, her one-hour episode of the 3ABN Today show debuted worldwide on the Three Angels Broadcasting Network. The program was an in-depth look into the life and music of Sinclair. In 2008, a similar program titled “My Story, My Song” was broadcast worldwide on The Hope Channel and has been re-broadcast several times.

Sinclair won the 2009 McDonald's Gospelfest as a soloist in the Contemporary Christian Music category. The event was held at the Prudential Center arena in Newark, N.J., and featured Patti LaBelle, CeCe Winans and many other well-known gospel artists.

Sinclair has appeared at the Apollo Theater, Madison Square Garden and the Manhattan Center Studios in New York City. In 2006, the Caribbean Gospel Music Awards USA presented Sinclair with the Spiritual Award for her dedication to ministry in music. She has appeared on radio and TV programs in the United States, Europe Africa and the Caribbean.

She is a soloist for "Pathways of Hope" Tele-Evangelistic series and has sung for many "It Is Written" Television Prophecy Seminars. Additionally, Sinclair is a soloist for many North American Division Ministries. She is an affiliate of Morningsong Music.

Sinclair was one of the original members of the SUNY Cortland Gospel Choir.

“I was already a member of the College Singers and Choral Union when Dr. Samuel Kelley asked if I would join the newly formed Gospel Choir,” she recalled. “We were a very small group starting out.”

Growing up in a local Cortland music household where many jazz and gospel artists were a part of her music listening and training experience has influenced Sinclair’s style. Her father and childhood music mentor, the late Ellis Johnson, was a highly regarded retired SUNY Cortland history professor and an acclaimed jazz musician in his own right. Her mother, Joan Johnson ’59, M ’62, also is a SUNY Cortland alumna.

“Being raised in a classical and jazz music environment made it exciting for me to have the opportunity to sing with the Gospel Choir and be able to combine my classical training with the soulful improvisational flow of gospel music,” Sinclair recalled.

She graduated in 1989 from SUNY Cortland with a B.A. in music (vocal performance) and a minor in German. She completed her music/German studies in Heidelberg, Germany, as part of the SUNY Cortland Study Abroad Program. She also studied at Kings College in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.

She has visited her alma mater numerous times to perform with the choir.

“Each time I sing with them now, it’s a surreal experience that brings me right back to my roots at Cortland,” Sinclair said. “I not only enjoy singing with the current Gospel Choir members, but look forward to seeing in the audience former professors and members of the local community that I was so very much a part of during my years at Cortland.”

She noted the auditorium where the concert will be held is very special to her as it is named after the late Ralph Adams Brown, who not only chaired the History Department when her father was on the faculty but served as best man at her parents’ wedding.

“I am truly looking forward singing for the SUNY Cortland gospel spring concert and the opportunity to once again return ‘home’ to SUNY Cortland,” Sinclair said.

She has four CD recordings, “Yes God is Real,” “Holy Ground,” “Praise From The Soul,” and "Hymns and Inspirational Songs of Reflection.” For more information, visit her website at

Sinclair resides in Lake Mary, Fla., with her husband, Robin Sinclair, daughter, Jaslyn, and son, Noah.

For more information, contact Sam Kelley, Distinguished Service Professor, Africana Studies and Communication Studies, at 607-753-4104.

Economics Majors Volunteer Tax Help

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Six SUNY Cortland economics majors are using their skills this tax season to help community members save thousands of dollars.

The federal Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provides free tax help to individuals who have a combined household income of $54,000 or less. Qualifying clients are asked to call 607-745-2114 or email for an appointment.

Since 2010, the VITA program consists of IRS-certified student volunteers offering their free services to Cortland and Tompkins county.

Students will be at the Cortland Free Library on Tuesday, April 4 and April 18, from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, April 8 and 15, at Access to Independence, located at 26 N. Main. St., from noon until 5 p.m. The IRS filling date is Tuesday, April 18. A full calendar that includes locations and hours can be found at

Since the Cortland County program started, VITA volunteers have completed 4,563 tax returns for individuals under the income threshold.

“VITA has taught me a great deal about communicating with clients in a professional manner, the importance of accuracy and how humbling of an experience it is to help members of the community,” said Michael Baiardi, a senior economics major from Smithtown, N.Y.

The program was designed to promote and support free tax preparation services for the under-served, disabled, elderly and limited English-speaking tax payers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns.

Students are able to receive one academic credit per 40 hours served.

“Initially, I intended on participating in the program to help enhance my resume,” said two-year volunteer, senior Tim McIntyre, a business economics major from Putnam Valley, N.Y. “But after helping out several community members, I began to realize there was much more to it. The overwhelming majority of those that we serve are extremely grateful for the services that we provide.”

Kathleen Burke, professor and chair of the Economics Department, seeks out students in her class who may be a good fit for the program. According to her, this applied learning opportunity for students give them valuable experience in the financial field.

Individuals who are interested in participating in the VITA program should contact Burke.

Prepared by Communications Office writing intern Jessica Haverlin

Brooks Lecture Series Concludes with Maya Culture Talk

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The story of how a small group of women set about preserving traditional and long lost Maya practices in pottery will be shared April 5 by Jeremiah Donovan, a professor of ceramics in SUNY Cortland’s Department of Art and Art History.

Donovan will discuss how the San Antonio Women’s Cooperative was initiated in 2008 and has focused on pottery making as its highest-potential business opportunity in his talk, titled “The Future of the Past: Revitalizing Ancient Maya Cultural Traditions in Modern Maya Communities.” The cooperative’s goal is to create traditional, authentic Maya polychrome pottery, inspired by the ceramics discovered in archeological sites surrounding San Ignacio Belize. Compositional analysis of the pottery from these sites has provided guidance in developing clay mixtures and painting pigments from locally sourced oxides.

This presentation highlights the work of Donovan and his students in a project to assist this community in revitalizing an ancient cultural tradition.

This year’s Brooks lecture series theme reflects the changing nature of the world around us, especially the destruction of cities, societies, and environment, that we are faced with on a daily basis, according to Sharon R. Steadman, a SUNY Cortland professor of sociology/anthropology who is the lecture series organizer and Rozanne M. Brooks Museum director.

Donovan's talk will begin at 4:30 p.m. in Moffett Center, Room 2125. Before his lecture a reception to welcome the speaker starts at 4 p.m. in the Rozanne M. Brooks Museum, Moffett Center, Room 2126. The talk and the reception are free and open to the public. 

The 2016-17 Brooks Lecture Series is sponsored by a grant from Auxiliary Services Corporation (ASC) and the Cortland College Foundation. For more information, contact Steadman at or 607-753-2308.

Folk Guitarist Pamela Means to Perform April 27

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Acclaimed guitarist, singer and songwriter Pamela Means, whom the New York Times Magazine has described as producing “stark, defiant songs,” will attempt to set the status quo and the stage afire on Thursday, April 27, at SUNY Cortland.

Means, a bi-racial, feminist “indie” folk artist from Boston who offers an original and dynamic guitar style and punchy, provocative songs, will perform in concert at 7:30 p.m. in the Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge.

She also will present a workshop titled “The Role of the Artist in Social Change” earlier that day at 4:15 p.m. in Old Main, Room G-12.

The performances, which are free and open to the public, comprise a Women’s History Month event originally scheduled for March 30.

Means’ performances have been credited with bringing the struggle for social justice and human dignity to the forefront of a new generation.

“She is an amazing jazz-influenced guitarist whose songs speak to the intersectionalities of gender, race and class,” said Colleen Kattau, a SUNY Cortland associate professor of Spanish, herself a singer-songwriter and performer. “She is a powerful and authentic performer.”

“Turns pain into perfect art,” wrote a reviewer for No Depression, the journal of roots music, about her new solo acoustic album, “Plainfield.”

Consistently honing her craft, Means garnered acclaim with her seminal jazz recording, the “insanely brilliant” (Press Herald, Portland, Maine), “Pamela Means Jazz Project, Vol. 1,” in which, "Means takes her rightful place among contemporary superstar jazz vocalists such as Cassandra Wilson and Norah Jones” (Curve Magazine).

She was honored as the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival’s “Most Wanted New Artist” and Wisconsin’s “Folk Artist of the Year” and “Female Vocalist of the Year.” Means was also a Boston Music Award Nominee in the category of “Outstanding Contemporary Folk Artist.”

She has shared the stage with artists including Ani DiFranco, Joan Baez, Neil Young and Pete Seeger.

Means performs at clubs, coffeehouses, colleges and festivals across the country, including the Newport Folk Festival, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival and the South by Southwest Conference. She is a favorite at regional gay pride events. Her work is inspired by the words of the poet Audre Lorde, who wrote, “I am myself a Black woman warrior poet doing my work, come to ask you, are you doing yours?”

Co-sponsors of the event include the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, Center for Gender and Intercultural Studies, President’s Fund, Campus Artist and Lecture Series, Auxiliary Services Corporation and the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression Committee. 

Means has a website about her work: For more information, contact Kattau at 607-753-2025. 

Mosher Inducted into New York State Basketball Hall of Fame

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Cortland women's basketball head coach Jeannette Mosher was inducted into the Basketball Coaches Association of New York (BCANY) New York State Basketball Hall of Fame during the organization's annual induction ceremony Sunday, March 26, in Glens Falls, N.Y.

Mosher was one of 12 members of the 2017 Hall of Fame class. The NYS Basketball Hall of Fame was started in 1991. Players and coaches were inducted from 1991-98. After a reorganization period, inductions started again in 2002, and from that point only coaches and contributors have been inducted.

Mosher's accomplishments in her 23 years as a collegiate head coach, including the last 19 seasons at Cortland, include:

* Record of 392-135 (.744) at Cortland

* Overall record of 425-200 (.680) (includes four seasons at Alfred University from 1994-98)

* Six-time SUNYAC Coach of the Year (2000, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010)

* 2010 WBCA East Region Coach of the Year

* Six-time BCANY Coach of the Year (2000, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2010)

* Five-time SUNYAC champions (1999, 2000, 2004, 2007, 2010)

* 2008 ECAC Upstate New York champion

* Eight NCAA Division III tournament appearances (1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010)

* 2001 NCAA Division III "Sweet 16”

Mosher (formerly Jeannette Yeoman) was a standout player at St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Ind., where she graduated in 1990 as the school's career scoring leader with 2,280 points (she still ranks second).

Mayor to Present Community Roundtable

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The best educational opportunities for SUNY Cortland students happen through community outreach.

Brian Tobin, a 1994 SUNY Cortland graduate, should know.

Mayor of the City of Cortland since 2011, Tobin is also head coach SUNY Cortland’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams. Balancing duties both up and down College Hill, Tobin has tried to bring town and gown together for mutually beneficial projects.

On Thursday, April 6, Tobin will discuss several opportunities for engagement at a Community Roundtable. His talk, “Cortland, City and SUNY; Stronger When Working Together,” will be held 8-9 a.m. in the Park Center Hall of Fame Room.

The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will precede the presentation at 7:45 a.m.

Tobin previously coached at North Carolina State University, SUNY Potsdam and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse before accepting his current role at Cortland in 2002. He maintains strong ties to both the College and the Cortland community.

In Tobin’s opinion, local residents should view the nearby presence of college students as a resource.

“Regardless of how long students choose to live in Cortland, they are a part of the community,” Tobin said. “We should all find ways to improve life for those around us.”

Tobin was elected to City Council in 2008 with hopes of improving housing issues in the community that were raised by local residents. He served two terms on the City Council before running for mayor. With Tobin’s help, the city has since established an ad-hoc housing committee that recommended all rental housing in the city be registered and periodically inspected for fire and zoning code compliance.

With SUNY Cortland’s many alternatives for education and recreation, students never need to leave the campus, according to Tobin. Yet engaging with the community can be an enriching experience for everyone involved.

“Even people who have been residents of the community for many years may not realize the opportunities that exist,” Tobin said of the upcoming presentation. “I’d like to see people learn more about areas of interest that may be engaged in the community.”

Indeed, for its remarkable level of student, faculty and staff volunteer activity, the College in 2016 was named to The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll With Distinction. The award recognizes higher education institutions that reflect the values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities. The Honor Roll is part of the Corporation for National and Community Service’s strategic commitment to engage millions of college students in service and celebrate the critical role of higher education in strengthening communities.

For more information, contact Samantha Howell, special events coordinator for the President’s Office, at 607-753-5453.

Prepared by Communications Office intern Jamie Winsper

‘Urinetown: The Musical’ To Reflect on Current Events

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When arranging the productions for this school year, associate professor Deena Conley wanted a change of pace after February's “Crazy For You,” a lighthearted romantic musical comedy.

Conley, chair of SUNY Cortland’s Performing Arts Department, chose “Urinetown: The Musical,” a contemporary satire that pokes fun at musical theatre and examines environmental and economic issues.

On one hand, as director, she wanted to give her students a chance to perform in a modern musical that poses artistic risks and challenges for the actors. On the other, she realized that the current political environment offered an opportunity to put a brand-new spin on a show that premiered in 2001.

“Urinetown: The Musical” continues for a second weekend in the Lab Theatre at Dowd Fine Arts Center. The show, which opened on March 31, will be performed at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 7 and Saturday, April 8, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 9. Tickets are available at and are $19 for the general public; $16 for faculty, staff and senior citizens; and $9 for students. The shows are expected to sell out and it is recommended to purchase tickets in advance. Seating is limited and unassigned. Theatregoers are encouraged to arrive early for the best choice of seats.

The character of Caldwell B. Cladwell is the musical’s villain. Cladwell, who will be played by senior musical theatre major Sean Noonan, is the CEO of Urine Good Company. An extreme water shortage leads Cladwell’s company to install for-pay public toilets, which generates the drama between the wealthy and poor factions in the musical.

Conley has worked with choreographer Cynthia Halpin and costume designer Mark Reynolds to subtly — and not-so-subtly — make connections to current events. For example, Cladwell will sport a President Trump-inspired wig in SUNY Cortland’s production. 

“I didn’t know last year when I chose the play that Donald Trump was going to be president,” said Conley. “I think most of us probably thought that wasn’t going to happen. Good or bad, we didn’t know that was a real possibility on either side. Once that happened, it was like kismet. I saw a connection there that I thought we could explore. I’m not changing any of the dialogue. I’m not changing any of the music. I am highlighting in certain numbers the way I think a leader of our country may interpret those numbers.”

For Noonan, the parallels between the plot of the musical and current events make his portrayal of Cladwell an exciting challenge. He might look a bit like Alec Baldwin as President Trump on “Saturday Night Live” with the wig and a broad, red tie, but the similarities, at least visually, stop there. The object of playing Cladwell as Trump is to allow the audience to similarly think of the rest of the characters in real-world terms, highlighting the themes and conflict at the heart of the musical.

“How could you do it without (Trump)?” Noonan said. “I think it’s really funny how the sociopolitical climate can really impact a show and what we’re doing with it.”

The musical’s protagonist is Bobby Strong, who leads a pee-for-free rebellion against Cladwell and ultimately falls in love with Cladwell’s daughter, Hope Cladwell. Sophomore musical theatre major Matt Henningsen, who plays Bobby Strong, is energized by “Urinetown’s” ability to strike a chord with its audience.  

“The whole point of live theatre is to connect with the audience on a more personal, human level,” Henningsen said.

Elizabeth Earle, a sophomore musical theatre major, plays Little Sally, a street urchin who serves as the musical’s co-narrator. Her character explains the nervous perspective of the have-nots, which Earle feels might resonate with a college-age audience.

“I think as part of the poor community in the show, one of my big things is I’m counting my pennies and I’m seeing how much I need and how much I have,” Earle said. I think it’s actually really relatable to just being in college and how to ration your money and how much you need and how much you have.”

“Urinetown” also parodies musical theatre conventions and works to break down the fourth wall, a conceptual barrier between the performers and the audience.

Junior Emily Woods (left) and senior Sean Noonan (right) at rehearsal.

“It’s almost the opposite of everything I teach in acting classes,” Conley said. “I teach acting and directing, so I wanted something that really challenged the students to play with this genre of talking to the audience. It’s very large and huge while staying absolutely rooted to creating a character.”

For junior musical theatre major Emily Woods, who plays Hope Cladwell, satire has been a major shift from her background, but she is enjoying the challenge. 

“I think “Urinetown” as a show is very different from anything else I’ve ever done,” Woods said. “I’ve been in plenty of shows here and I’ve worked regionally. There are bits and pieces that are making fun of other musicals, so it’s a really new experience for me but I’m really enjoying it.”

“Urinetown” is a musical with plenty of thematic issues to unpack. Its ending — no spoilers here — is certainly unpredictable. The final note makes the musical ripe for interpretation and discussion on either side of the political and economic aisle.

“The end of the musical is really important to keep in mind,” Conley said. “The ending isn’t as cut-and-dried as the play leads you along.”

Senior musical theatre major Kayla Arias plays Penelope Pennywise, who runs the poorest public urinal. Sure, it’s a thought-provoking musical with serious political and economic undertones but Arias has thrived on the humor of it all during early rehearsals.

“Urinetown’s” appeal is broad. Those in search of meaningful commentary on current events, musical buffs looking for self-referential satire and others who just want a laugh will all find something to like in “Urinetown.”

“I personally can’t stop laughing — I probably should stop laughing — while we’re trying to act,” Arias said. “It’s so funny and it will be good for the audience to escape the real world and all the stuff that’s happening and just come laugh for an hour and a half.”

For more information, contact production manager/publicity coordinator Jeffrey Whetstone or the box office at 607-753-2831.

Students Organize Eighth Diversity Conference

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On his journey from the Onondaga Nation to higher education and back again, Hugh Burnam feels he has gone through significant personal development.

“I have come to understand the need to transform and grow as a person — and as a community member,” said Burnam, who also uses his Onondaga name, ‘Hode’hnyahä:dye’.

Hugh Burnam
Hugh Burnam

Burnam, a member of Mohawk Nation, Wolf Clan and a Ph. D. candidate at Syracuse University’s Cultural Foundations of Education program, will share his ideas on Saturday, April 8, at SUNY Cortland.

He will deliver the keynote speech during the eighth annual Conference on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice. His talk, which is supported by a Campus Artist and Lecture Series (CALS) grant, begins at 12:30 p.m. in the Corey Union Function. The presentation is free and open to the public.

This year’s student run conference theme focuses on inspiration, compassion, shared humanity and ways in which SUNY Cortland students can gain the experience they need to be inspired to make a difference in our world. The conference is geared to have participants recognize their shared humanity, and foster connections across cultural divides to promote a more inclusive campus community.

Burnam works closely with the Onondaga Nation, specifically with Native youth. He focuses on decolonization efforts including language revitalization, planting, traditional Haudenosaunee games and sports, and environmental advocacy.

He describes his own complicated journey toward a greater self-knowledge.

“I found myself dealing explicitly with my own internalized colonization, racial micro-aggressions that I've experienced, discovering fatherhood, and examining masculinities as related to my native identity,” he said.

"I found a great deal of strength and perseverance in working with my own Haudenosaunee communities, that helped me to push through my Ph.D. program," he said."I will discuss whiteness and how to have difficult cross-racial conversations to move towards peace."  

The conference runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Corey Union and features presentations on diversity during four educational sessions.

“It’s important that the student body realizes we all come from different paths of life, and it is those differences that help us grow and learn from one another,” said Mike Guity, a mathematics major from Brooklyn, N.Y., who as diversity committee chair has helped plan the day of events.

“This conference is important because it allows people from the campus and other campuses to come and have those conversations about the things we may not understand,” said Bailey Ward, a senior communication studies major from Mayfield, N.Y., who is among those scheduled to give opening remarks.

“It also allows students to have a voice and to share their knowledge which is such a great thing because we can all learn something from each other," she said.

This student-led conference allows students and faculty to problem-solve, conceptualize, research and present across a wide range of disciplines.

“It is important to not just scratch the surface when it comes to diversity, but really dig deep and explore all aspects,” said Guity.

Registration and check-in will take place from 8-8:45 a.m. in the Corey Union lobby.

A welcome with Erik J. Bitterbaum, SUNY Cortland president, Greg Sharer, vice president for student affairs, Lima Safford, interim assistant director for multicultural life and diversity, and Ward will take place from 8:45- 9:35 a.m. in the Corey Union Function Room.

The four educational sessions will be held between 9:45-11:35 a.m. and 1:25-3:15 p.m. Lunch and cultural performances will take place in the Corey Union Function Room from 11:45-12:30 p.m. followed by the keynote speech from 12:30-1:15 p.m.

Students and faculty may register for the Diversity Conference through the Multicultural Life and Diversity webpage individually or by group. The individual fee is $30 for students, $35 for faculty, staff and alumni. The group fee for five or more participants is $27 for students and $32 for faculty, staff and alumni.

For more information, contact the Multicultural Life and Diversity Office.

Prepared by Communications Office writing intern Jessica Haverlin

Faculty and staff participated in Tech Savvy

Several SUNY Cortland faculty and staff participated in Tech Savvy, a daylong event for girls to learn more about how science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields of study can lead to exciting careers. More than 150 area girls in grades 6-9 and accompanying adults attended the event on April 1 at Tompkins Cortland Community College in Dryden, N.Y.

The following faculty and staff were involved in Tech Savvy:

Janet Ochs, library, served on the organizing committee and was curriculum chair for the conference. She and her students presented a workshop for students titled “3-D Software and Printers and Pens! Oh My!”

Michelle Cryan, Marketing Office, presented a workshop titled “Spinning a Web Page.”

Jolie Roat and Mary Gfellar, Mathematics Department, presented a workshop called “The Mathematics of Illusion.” Roat served on the curriculum and organizing committees.

Caroline Kaltefleiter, Communication Studies Department, and her students, led a Savvy Skills workshop titled “Girls Make Media.”

Kristina Maricle, The Help Center, served on the organizing committee and volunteered at the event. 

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Faculty/Staff Activities

Seth N. Asumah

Seth N. Asumah, Africana Studies and Political Science departments, was invited by the Ghana Society of Central New York (GSCNY) to be the 2017 keynote speaker for the 60th Ghana Independence Day Anniversary Celebration Banquet on March 25 at LeMoyne College in Syracuse, N.Y. The theme of Asumah’s keynote address was “Consolidating Democracy and Development in Africa.” The event was attended by many faculty, staff, administrators and students of Syracuse University, Bryant and Stratton College, LeMoyne College, Onondaga Community College, SUNY Cortland, and the public. Proceeds of the funds raised by the organizers of the event were earmarked for student scholarships in Central New York area. 

Bonni C. Hodges

Bonni C. Hodges, Health Department, recently served as a grant reviewer for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She participated in two review panels for RWJF’s new funding initiative for Advancing Systemic Changes to Promote Healthy School Environments.

Li Jin

Li Jin, Geology Department, recently gave a presentation at the 2017 Northeast/North-Central Geological Society of America Joint Section Meeting in Pittsburgh. She presented, “Modeling Nitrogen Dynamics in the Tioughnioga River, New York.”

Ibipo Johnston-Anumonwo

Ibipo Johnston-Anumonwo, Geography Department, was named a Zonta Woman of Achievement for her achievements in scholarship and teaching, as well as her dedication to the YWCA and Zonta. She served as a U.S. delegate at a 2007 YWCA international conference in Nairobi, Kenya, which led to her being recognized by the organization. The award will be presented at a lunch reception on May 7 in Solon, N.Y.

Kathleen Lawrence

Kathleen Lawrence, Communication Studies Department, had two abecedarians, “Lab Test” and “Adding Machines,” accepted for publication in Lemon Quarterly in the April 2017 issue. She also was notified her poem “Trump vs. Big Bird,” written to the tune of Sesame Street’s “Sunny Day,” was accepted for publication in Parody Poetry Journal, April Issue. Lawrence’s abecedarian originally titled “Resisting Trump” was the featured “Your Line” on April 3, 2017 to the epic poem being built on-line by OVS Magazine. In the last year, 53 poems by Lawrence have been published or are forthcoming.

Melissa Morris

Melissa Morris, Physics Department, presented a talk on chondrule formation in impacts at the 48th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference held March 20-24 at The Woodlands, Texas.

Robert Spitzer

Robert Spitzer, Political Science Department, is the author of the new paperback edition of his book, Guns across America: Reconciling Gun Rules and Rights, published by Oxford University Press. This edition is a revised version of the original edition published in 2015. The book has been favorably reviewed in the “New York Review of Books” and “The American Interest,” among other publications. 

Nance S. Wilson

Nance S. Wilson, Literacy Department, recently had her blog post published. Titled “Interactive, Asynchronous On-line Discussions,” it describes how teachers can engage students in interactive, asynchronous online discussions that not only play an important role in online and hybrid classes, but are critical to assuring active participation by students.

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