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  Issue Number 8 • Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017  


Campus Champion

Alexandra Cicero was studying abroad in Romania last spring when she received the Newman Civic Fellowship, which supports students devoted to finding solutions to the challenges facing U.S. communities. Already involved in SUNY Cortland projects related to hunger, the environment, social justice and voting, the dual international studies and communication studies major returned to serve as student coordinator of the SUNY Cortland Cupboard, a food bank for food-insecure students. The Cupboard opened last month and Alexandra is grateful for the many volunteers who helped it come to fruition. Now this campus champion turns her focus to increasing awareness of this invaluable student resource. Read more about the SUNY Cortland Cupboard

Nominate a Campus Champion

Tuesday, Dec. 5

Dowd Gallery Virtual Reality: 360 Experience, “Incited / Blazo Kovacevic,” Dowd Gallery, 4-6 p.m.

Open Mic Night: Corey Union Exhibition Lounge, 7 to 9 p.m.

College/Community Orchestra Concert: Old Main Brown Auditorium, 8 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 6

COR 101 Teaching Assistant Poster Symposium: Memorial Library Second Floor, 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Multilingual Poetry Reading: Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge, 5 to 6 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 8

Fall Semester Classes End

Films at Four FilmFest: “Three Colors: Red,” (1994) Modern Languages lab, Old Main, Room 223. Refreshments will be served beginning at 3:50 p.m. 

Film Screening: “An Inconvenient Truth,” sponsored by New York Public Interest Research Group, Corey Union Fireplace Lounge, 4:30 p.m.

Opening Reception and Artist Talk: Allison Lewis, a senior art studio: bachelor of fine arts major, presents her senior BFA thesis exhibition, “14th,” focusing on reproductive rights. The opening reception begins at 5 p.m. and an artist talk will start at 5:30 p.m.

Performance: “Little Women,” a musical based on the beloved novel by Louisa May Alcott, Dowd Fine Arts Center Theatre, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 9

Study Day

Performance: “Little Women,” a musical based on the beloved novel by Louisa May Alcott, Dowd Fine Arts Center Theatre, 8 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 10

Study Day

Performance: “Little Women,” a musical based on the beloved novel by Louisa May Alcott, Dowd Fine Arts Center Theatre, 2 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 11 to Friday, Dec. 15

Final Examination Period

Monday, Dec. 11

Paws for Stress Relief: Corey Union Function Room, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Midnight Breakfast: Neubig Dining Hall, 10 p.m. to midnight. Volunteer by Thursday, Dec. 7.

Tuesday, Dec. 12

Paws for Stress Relief: Corey Union Function Room, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Student Holiday Pottery Sale: Including pottery from the Maya Exhibition of the San Antonio Women’s Cooperative, Old Main lobby in front of Brown Auditorium, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Choral Union Concert: Grace and Holy Spirit Church, 13 Court St., 8 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 13

Student Holiday Pottery Sale: Including pottery from the Maya Exhibition of the San Antonio Women’s Cooperative, Old Main lobby in front of Brown Auditorium, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 19

Winter Session I: Continues through Friday, Jan. 19

Wednesday, Jan. 3

Winter Session II: Continues through Wednesday, Jan. 17.

Monday, Jan. 22

Spring Semester Classes Begin

Freya’s Journey: From an Ethiopian Orphanage to SUNY Cortland’s Dean’s List


Freya Sergis, a SUNY Cortland senior human service studies major, had an all-American experience at Sandy Creek (N.Y.) High School in Oswego County.

She ran cross country and track and field, served as vice president and president of the student council and volunteered as a holiday bell ringer for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign.

Yet Sergis’ journey started more than 7,000 miles away from her snowy hometown on the shores of Lake Ontario.

Sergis was born in Ethiopia. Her mother died when she was five years old. Without any other family, Sergis was sent to an orphanage in Addis Ababa,the African nation’s capital, where she lived for the next four years.

A 2014 UNICEF report estimated Ethiopia had four-and-a-half million orphans out of a national population of 90 million people.

Adoption became Sergis’ sole prospect for changing her situation.

“It was my only hope when I was an orphan to have a family,” she said.

A single mother from Orwell, N.Y. adopted Sergis when she was nine years old. Sergis joined a household of eight other young female orphans who had been adopted from places around the world such as Guatemala, India and Russia.

Sergis, who had learned a bit of English in the orphanage, suddenly was immersed in the language with a multicultural group of adoptive sisters.

Her newfound family wouldn’t last long.

“I was 11 or 12 when she stopped taking care of us,” Sergis said of her adoptive mother. “She wouldn’t go grocery shopping and DSS (Department of Social Services) and everyone got involved for a year and then finally things weren’t getting better.”

Sergis and her sisters were split up and placed with foster care families. The first foster family Sergis lived with ultimately didn’t work out as the foster parents had relationship problems. Sergis moved on to a second foster family, where she was reunited with one of her adoptive sisters, Tatiana Sergis.

Sergis vertical small
Freya Sergis

Finally, after years of tumult, Sergis found a home life that allowed her the comfort to soar academically. She applied to the New Visions program through the Center for Instruction, Technology and Innovation (CiTi), which allowed her to take classes at SUNY Oswego during her senior year of high school. That experience led Sergis to enroll at Mohawk Valley Community College following her graduation.

“The fact that my school was in a small town, I knew everyone and I had a lot of influential teachers that helped me keep going,” Sergis said. “I wanted to go to a small school, so Mohawk Valley was one of my choices. I wanted to get away from home but not too far.”

After two years at MVCC, Sergis decided to transfer to SUNY Cortland to pursue a degree in human service studies. She was inspired in part by her adoptive sister, Tatiana, who is three years older. Tatiana went from Jefferson Community College to Le Moyne College and is currently working on a master’s degree in social work at Syracuse University.

Sergis was recognized on Nov. 9 by On Point for College, a non-profit institution with locations in Syracuse and Utica that works with students aged 17 to 29 to gain access to training, college and careers. She was a recipient of the Student Star award at the On Point for College-Utica celebration dinner.

On Point for College provides advising and help with college and financial aid applications as well as assistance with living supplies and transportation. The organization aims to serve those who believe college is unattainable for academic, financial or personal reasons.

When she turned 18, Sergis decided to apply for U.S. citizenship. A problem with her adoption paperwork turned an already complicated process into a nightmare. With the guidance of experts from On Point for College, Sergis was able to secure her citizenship while also balancing her studies.

“I had to go through immigration services and On Point helped connect me to who I had to talk to,” Sergis said. “That made it a lot easier, and because of them it worked out a lot smoother. I was at school (at SUNY Cortland) and working on my citizenship and going back and forth to Syracuse and meeting with the lawyers. I was surprised I made it on the dean’s list. I was so stressed.”

Sergis plans to get her master’s in social work and apply her combination of education and personal experience in the field. Her advice for students struggling to balance their academic work with personal issues related to adoption, foster care or immigration issues is simple: ask for help. Faculty, staff and fellow students are almost always willing to lend a hand.

“There are always support systems. It can be anyone,” Sergis said. “I’ve been lucky making friends. I’ve gone into an office and talked to a person and it would turn into ongoing visits. Keep going and don’t keep quiet. Ask for help. You can’t do it alone. Especially if you’re in foster care, when you’re in college you don’t have much help.”

From an orphanage in Ethiopia to adoption and foster care and now college, Sergis has come a long way. But her journey is far from over. She wants to inspire the next generation of students to follow their dreams, no matter how many obstacles are in their path.

“I feel like I know what it’s like with foster care and adoption and everything,” Sergis said. “I think that someday my main goal is to work with teens and young kids to continue their education. I want them to keep going, to finish school or anything they put their minds to.

“I honestly don’t even know how I got here. Sometimes I’m like, ‘How did it happen?”

Raquette Lake Provides Fashion Photo Setting


SUNY Cortland students studying at the College’s outdoor education center at Raquette Lake expect to see deer, loons, maybe even a fox.

But this May, some 50 physical education majors arrived at the remote, Adirondack wilderness site to find a pair of sophisticated models surrounded by a professional Vera Bradley photography crew.

The crew of approximately 31, led by international freelance fashion photographer Anne Menke, had selected SUNY Cortland’s William H. Parks Family Center for Environmental and Outdoor Education as the perfect location to shoot images promoting Vera Bradley’s 2017 fall collection of handbags and accessories.

Some of those images recently began appearing in holiday advertisements for Vera Bradley. This includes a YouTube video, and a sampling on Vera Bradley’s official Instagram site.

“They were looking for the rustic atmosphere, I would say, the outdoor feel,” said Rhonda Pitoniak ’01, M ’16, the College’s director of outdoor education. “Because this was their winter shoot, they wanted to capture the feel of very late fall, cold weather, which was why they wanted to shoot in May before leaves came out on trees and things became too lush.”

On May 15, 48 students accompanied by 11 Physical Education Department faculty and staff members stepped onto the dock at the Huntington Memorial Camp ready to begin a rustic, outdoor education experience, just as the Vera Bradley crew was wrapping up.

The photographers, who had begun at 6:30 a.m. that day, were snapping various scenes including shots of two models stepping on and off a seaplane at the camp’s main dock while loaded down with Vera Bradley handbags and luggage in a dazzling array of warm fall colors and patterns.

Photo credit above left thumbnail, Richard Fey, below, Anne Menke.

The unusual encounter occurred in the early afternoon as the future physical educators arrived to fulfill their outdoor physical education requirement. That gave the students a couple of hours to watch the camera crew before they left on the boat shuttle by about 4 p.m.

“It was really fun to watch that day, it was a great learning experience,” Pitoniak said. “I just couldn’t see how 29 people could be busy all day with two models …. The rest of the folks were responsible for doing a variety of different things. Some would run and get hot drinks if they wanted them, or bug spray. Some were in charge of props. Some were there for hair and makeup, some for staging. Everyone had their job. They would be standing around and suddenly run away and do their job and then come back. It was an amazing process to see unfold.”

At one point, members of the photography group looked on while the students were instructed to leap from the dock for an approximately 50-foot swim test in the cold, dark waters of Raquette Lake.

“A number of the people who were working the shoot told me it was cruel to make the students get in the water because it was so cold,” Pitoniak said. “But I shared with them that it was tradition and there were teaching and learning reasons behind it. It’s a really short swim.”

In 2004, the U.S. National Park Service officially designated the former Camp Pine Knot site, which the College has owned since 1948, as a National Historic Landmark. Located on Raquette Lake’s Long Point, Camp Huntington is the original Adirondack great camp designed by William West Durant during the Gilded Age. The camp is accessible only by boat in the summer and by ice road during the winter. Both students and Vera Bradley crew took boat shuttles to and from the dock of a second camp owned by SUNY Cortland that has road access, the W.H. Parks Family Outdoor Education Center, Antlers.

The photo crew originally had planned to take pictures only at nearby Great Camp Sagamore, another Adirondack Great Camp also designed by Durant.

But Menke, who had shot for Spanish Vogue at Camp Huntington in 2006, expanded the scope of the May 2017 Vera Bradley photography session.

“One of the things that brought them back to Camp Huntington was that they had really loved the Caretaker’s Cabin dock,” Pitoniak said. “When Anne was here previously it was flooded and was underwater, which was really unusual in July. They could make it look like the model was floating on top of the water. They had hoped for that again and, fortunately, it was flooded enough this time to be able to photograph that way again.

“As far as I know, that was the first time we had fashion photography here,” Pitoniak said.

The SUNY Cortland location had other advantages for what Menke had in mind.

“They had brought in a seaplane to take pictures at the main dock on Raquette Lake because Sagamore on Sagamore Lake is motorless so they couldn’t have the planes come in there,” Pitoniak said.

“They shot with the models in a few different places, mainly the Swiss Chalet, the porch of the Trapper’s Cabin, an outdoor area and at the lean-to,” Pitoniak said. “They also had the still photographers working on the end of Durant Cabin, hanging some of the bags off of the deer antlers and photographing them there as well as the Adirondack chairs around camp in various places.”

Among the more iconic images captured at Camp Huntington was one of a model in a top hat posed in front of the Swiss Chalet cabin door.

Pitoniak and Richard Fey, the camp caretaker, were allowed to take and share a few images of their own.

Pitoniak had been contacted on behalf of Vera Bradley by Angelika Saint-Aignan from Boutique Productions on May 3, about a week and a half before the day of the actual 10-hour-long shoot.

The only day possible for her to schedule was for May 15, a Monday, and it would be a very tight fit.

“We had the large group coming that takes up all of Camp Huntington, but they wouldn’t be there yet,” Pitoniak said. “I contacted (P.E. instructor) Kate Hovey to see if it would be too intrusive. She didn’t think it would really interfere a whole lot as long as they were out of particular buildings, mainly Metcalf Hall by then so we could start our lectures. Then I went back to Vera Bradley’s logistics manager and said ‘We have these considerations.’”

The terms were reached. Pitoniak was not sure what to expect on the day of the shoot.

“They were so kind and courteous, and really conscientious of where they were,” she said. “They asked permission to do things like put a tack in a wall or move a particular piece of furniture. I thought about it later and decided that they are used to working in other people’s spaces.”

So now along with the loons and foxes and deer and pristine quiet are some pretty interesting memories.

Capture the Moment


Adam Harvey towers above the Old Main gingerbread house he recently made that is now on display on the third floor of Corey Union. The scale model building is constructed from gingerbread dough and royal icing and the windows are poured sugar. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Harvey is assistant manager of food production for Auxiliary Services Corporation, where he has worked for six years. Time permitting, he hopes to decorate the house with lights, wreaths and maybe some snow in the coming weeks. Read more.

In Other News

UPD Chin Hairs Raise Money for Cancer Awareness

Dalton 360240.jpg 12/05/2017

How serious are the officers of SUNY Cortland’s University Police about raising money and awareness to fight cancer? Last month, you could see the commitment in their faces.

Well, on their faces.

Several members of the College’s (UPD) participated in No-Shave November, a month-long journey during which participants put down their razors to help grow cancer awareness. UPD officers who chose to participate in the 30-day campaign pledged at least $25 to grow out their facial hair and also collected donations from friends, family and College faculty and staff.

Those who chose not to grow facial hair were still able to participate in No-Shave November. Staff members and officers could make a donation or a pledge to support cancer awareness by wearing pink or blue items on their uniforms.

The organizations benefiting from donations include St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Prevent Cancer Foundation and Fight Colorectal Cancer.

Frank Dalton UPDThe UPD nearly doubled its goal of collecting $1,000. Eleven members of the UPD staff combined to raise $1,800.

“This was our first year participating in No-Shave November and we are happy with the results,” said UPD Chief Mark DePaull. “We wanted to show that we are part of the community and wanted to give back in more ways than what we do every day.”

Officer Frank Dalton raised the most money, $685 in total. As the fundraising winner, DePaull will allow Dalton to keep his impressive beard until January 1, making him stand out among the typical, clean-shaven police officer.

“When we do something like this, people notice and ask questions, which spreads awareness and helps the cause,” Dalton said.

This was the first year UPD has tried to extend its outreach, but it certainly won’t be its last.

“We far exceeded our goal and because of the positive reactions, we plan on doing something bigger and better for next year,” said DePaull.

Not all UPD charity initiatives involve whiskers. This holiday season, the UPD has teamed up with the U.S Marine Corps Reserve for its annual, “Toys for Tots” campaign. A collection box is located in the lobby area of Whitaker Hall for SUNY Cortland students, faculty and staff to donate new and unwrapped toys for underprivileged children in the area. The collection will end on Monday, Dec.11 at 3 p.m.

For more information, contact DePaull at 607-753-2112. For questions regarding Toys for Tots, please contact Lt. Mary Murphy.

Prepared by Communications Office writing intern McKenzie Henry

Michelle Congdon Honored for Outstanding Service

Erik_and_Congdon_WEB.jpg 12/01/2017

Office manager Michelle Congdon tells Human Resources colleagues at SUNY Cortland that “her job is to make them shine” and she has worked tirelessly since 1999 to make that goal a reality.

Co-workers across campus made Dec. 1 Congdon’s day to shine by nominating her for the prestigious 2017 President’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service.

“Michelle has a wonderful ability to put people at ease,” said SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum, who presented Congdon with the award. “In the Human Resources Office, this is a critical skill. Any employee, at any level, can approach Michelle and expect to receive a warm smile, comforting words and correct information.”

Sponsored by the College’s Human Resources Office, the 48th annual Service Awards Ceremony was held in the Corey Union Function Room.

The award was created in 2002 to annually recognize one SUNY Cortland full-time classified service employee “for extraordinary achievement and to encourage the continuation of excellence.” Nominees must have at least three years of continuous service. Supervisors, co-workers or other College community members nominate workers considered for this honor.

Congdon has played a key but largely behind-the-scenes role in the Service Awards Ceremony in which she herself was honored this year.

“She is always going above and beyond to support our constituents in the best way possible,” said Gary Evans, assistant vice president for human resources, one of many nominators for Congdon.

Congdon may be most widely recognized as chair of the SUNY Cortland Child Care Center board of directors for the past four years. She has led the other officers and board members in providing operational oversight and direction during a time period involving turnover in the center's director and numerous staff as well as budgetary concerns.

She also served as a volunteer campus coordinator of the State Employees Federated Appeal (SEFA) from 2006 to 2008, raising funds for numerous charitable organizations locally and nationally.

According to Evans, Congdon leads by example. She continually ensures that no constituent leaves the Human Resources Office without having the best possible knowledge of what his or her next step will be. Congdon then often follows up with the office where she has directed the employee to ensure that the person will get the service they requested.

“She will always go the extra mile to ensure that questions or concerns are fully addressed,” Evans said.

Hired in 1999 by Human Resources at an entry level position as a keyboard specialist, Congdon quickly demonstrated the ability to learn about her office as well as the College while displaying exemplary customer service. Promoted in 2003 to clerk II and in rapid succession to principal clerk in 2007, she achieved the rank of secretary II in 2016.

“This career progression in our office provides evidence of her ability to accept new responsibilities, excel at them, and position herself for the next step in the Civil Service Employee Association career ladder,” Evans said. “To be able to do this within one office is quite unique at our College and serves as one example of her exemplary service and abilities.”

Eager to grow professionally, Congdon applied for and was chosen to participate as a protégé in the year-and-a-half long Research Foundation of SUNY mentorship program, which involved professional development planning, a book review, public speaking course and instruction, diversity and inclusion workshop, servant leadership session, effective communications/listening workshop, and an emotional intelligence workshop. Since graduating in 2015, she has interviewed protégé candidates as a volunteer.

Recently, that leadership training prepared her to provide conference planning logistical and registration support to the SUNY Human Resources Association (SUHRA), which serves human resources professionals across the SUNY system.

Evans illustrated her “can-do” personality by relating that not long ago, a member of the College community was injured, requiring transport for medical services. Congdon quickly stepped outside her job description to contact the employee’s supervisor to gather more of the pertinent facts and provide instruction to the supervisor on steps they could take to ensure a smoother processing of benefit coordination for this employee.

“She exhausts all options and creative approaches to solve a problem and serve an employee,” Evans said. “More often than not, her diligence, flexibility, and creativity best serves our employees needs and wants.”

David Duryea, the College’s vice president for finance and management, praised Congdon for her dedicated professionalism as she recently helped the College implement a new Research Foundation Benefits program for employees.

“Whether it was evaluating our campus employment hiring strategy or developing new faculty/staff employment engagement ideas, she is always willing to come up with and look at new and innovative ways to improve the process,” Duryea said.

“Her customer service is second-to-none,” Duryea added. “She strives to quickly respond to requests and listen to all. She will aggressively work to find a solution to issues while keeping the customer at the forefront of her mind.”

Joanne Barry, assistant vice president for human resources emerita, observed, “She far exceeds expectations in the responsibilities of her position and she shares her incredible talents throughout campus by serving on committees/boards and stepping in wherever there is a need.”

 Born and raised in Cortland, Congdon graduated from Cortland High School. She completed an administrative skills certificate program through the New York State and CSEA Partnership for Training and Education. Congdon is a notary public.

Before joining SUNY Cortland, she had been employed since 1990 as administrative secretary with Practice Resources, since renamed Resource Associates.  Previously, Congdon was a receptionist for several years with Cortland Glass. She began her career in 1986 serving in clerical positions at the Cortland County Medical Department.

She and her husband, Randy Congdon, have a son, Caden, 13. Congdon has closely followed her son’s baseball and basketball career, traveling to watch his games and supporting the Cortland High Athletic Boosters. She was president of the Parent-Teacher Association at Randall Elementary School.

Employees Honored for Years of Service

Also during the ceremony, 44 classified employees were recognized for their years of service. They included:


Marianne Evangelista, School of Education

Teri Wood, Psychology Department


Marie Blanden, Division of Student Affairs

Deborah Dintino, Political Science Department

Darleen Lieber, Recreation, Parks and Leisure Studies Department

Susan Stout, Center for Gender and Intercultural Studies Department


Ronald Hulslander, Transportation Services

Wayne Leitch, Central Heating Plant

Daniel Narsasian, Grounds

Coni E. O’Shea, Admissions Office

Melony Warwick, Division of Institutional Advancement


JoAnn Bacon, Custodial Services

Karen Sue Brown, Parking Department

Penny Bushaw, Physical Education

Daphne Guy, Custodial Services

Suzanne Pettitt, Honor’s Program


Sila Argyle, Custodial Services

Thomas Hingher, Central Heating Plant

Paula Lundberg, Marketing Office

Jo-Ann MacLean, Admissions Office

Tamara Magee, Custodial Services

Rhonda Moulton, School of Arts and Sciences


Ryan Caughey, Custodial Services

Barbara Field, Custodial Services

Darlene Loope, Custodial Services

Joan Root, Custodial Services

Elizabeth Scott, Parking Department

Edwin Triana, Migrant Education Tutorial and Support Services (Research Foundation)

Meghan VanDeuson, College and Student Accounting Services


Linda Crompton, Purchasing

Francis Cullen, University Police

Anna Evangelista, Child Care Center (Research Foundation)

Francis Evangelista, Maintenance

William Farron, Grounds

Maryalice Griffin, Communication Studies Department

Douglas Hyde, University Police

Keith Kollar, Maintenance

Rhonda McLaughlin, Purchasing

Steven Mize, Maintenance

Debra Powers, Library

Lynda Shute, Facilities Planning, Design and Construction Office

Lynn Stevens, Maintenance

Susan Suben, Faculty Development Center

Kelley Wooldridge, Child Care Center (Research Foundation)


 This group of employees was honored for 40, 35 and 30 years of service.

Musical “Little Women” Continues This Weekend

Little Women 360240.jpg 11/21/2017

The emotional ties between the four March sisters in the classic Louisa May Alcott story “Little Women” is an essential part of the plot.

With that in mind, the musical theatre majors cast as the sisters in the upcoming SUNY Cortland musical production of “Little Women” know the importance of forming authentic relationships.

“Right after we were cast, we all went out for a group lunch at Subway,” said Marissa Fess, a junior from Penfield, N.Y., who plays the role of Beth. “It was our first bonding experience.”

SUNY Cortland’s Performing Arts Department musical production of “Little Women,” based on the beloved novel, opened Dec. 1 and continues at 8 p.m. this Friday, Dec. 8, and Saturday, Dec. 9, in the Dowd Fine Arts Center Theatre. A matinee will close the production at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 10. Written by Sean Hartley with music by Kim Oler and lyrics by Alison Hubbard, the musical version seeks to add a fun, new spin on the timeless tale.

Tickets are $19 for adults, $16 for faculty, staff and senior citizens and $9 for students. Purchase tickets at Box Office walk-up hours are Wednesdays from 2 to 4 p.m. and Thursdays from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Dowd Fine Arts Center.

“Little Women” follows the lives of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March and their passage and struggles from childhood to womanhood during the 19th century.

“This version showcases four very different sisters, but somehow they all come together as this great loving family,” said Liz Davis, a sophomore from Manassas, Va., who plays the character of Jo. “I think that’s really important because it shows you don’t have to be one cookie cutter type of girl or woman.”

Meg is the oldest sister and is played by Mia Donneruno, a sophomore from East Northport, N.Y. She describes her character as “soft spoken” and dreams of having her own “Cinderella moment at the ball where she meets Prince Charming.” The youngest sister, Amy, is played by Alyssa Lopez, a sophomore from Levittown, N.Y. Lopez describes Amy as “a little bratty, but very headstrong.” The two sisters, although years apart, both desire wealth and a lifestyle that only money can buy.

Beth is a “very shy girl who loves music,” said Fess. Compared to her tomboy sister Jo, who Davis defined as “the type of female character that wants to go out and do all the things that aren’t expected of her in her time,” Beth prefers to help others and perform household chores. Her calm and kind manner has a positive influence on Jo, in stark contrast to Jo’s brash behavior.

The musical continues the 2017-18 season’s focus on the strength of female characters and how they overcome obstacles. “Little Women” is a classic story of female empowerment.

“The show centers around these strong female characters and how you don’t need anyone’s permission to do what you want,” Donneruno said.

Although Little Women was first published in 1868, the coming-of-age tale is still relevant today. The story emphasizes the importance of family. The sisters like different things and have different goals, showing there isn’t a “right way” to be a woman.

The story of “Little Women” has been passed down for generations, giving a chance for the students to act out a part of their upbringing. 

Fess, who has three real-life sisters, read the book as a child and would play games with her siblings pretending to be the March sisters. Davis recalls reading the children’s version of Little Women in elementary school and then read the full novel to prepare for her role as Jo. Lopez remembers watching the movie with her mother and “laughing about how Amy was similar to me in some ways and now here I am.”

Donneruno was raised in a musical family and was familiar with the musical version of “Little Women” before being cast.

“The musical was really pushed in my family. I remember my sister and I from a young age skipping around the house, singing the songs, and pretending we were Jo and Beth,” she said.

Opening in time for the holiday season, “Little Women” is a relatable coming-of-age story that audiences of all ages will love. This version of “Little Women” is appropriate for children and is a family-friendly event.

“The show has great music and an array of characters. There are moments where you’ll laugh and cry,” Davis said.

“This show is a lot of fun and people will find themselves in at least one of the characters,” Lopez said.

The actors discussed the musical and also sang a song from "Little Women" on Newschannel 9's "Bridge Street" on Nov. 22. Additional video of the actors is available on the SUNY Cortland YouTube channel.

For more information, contact Jeffrey Whetstone, the Performing Arts Department’s production manager and publicity coordinator, at 607-753-2831.

Prepared by Communications Office writing intern McKenzie Henry

Cortland Among Nation's Top 10 "Best Small Cities for New Grads"

Cortland downtown 360240.jpg 12/05/2017

The location where college graduates decide to settle can make all the difference in how they live, work and play. According to a recent study, Cortland, N.Y., is a prime spot for young people to start their post-college lives. looked at 413 U.S. cities with a population of 150,000 or fewer people, examining median monthly rent, median earnings for those with a bachelor’s degree, percentage of residents aged 20-34 and the arts and entertainment venues in each location. Cortland ranked No. 8 on that list, the highest-ranking city in the Northeast.

Cortland was lauded for its affordable housing, good job prospects and relative proximity to New York City. The area has a commitment to research and development was cited as a factor that may provide career paths for SUNY Cortland graduates. A variety of cultural events for all four seasons also was named as part of the Cortland-area appeal, from festivals and fairs to golfing and skiing to arts and cultural events.

Elmira, N.Y., which ranked No. 12, was the only other Northeast city to make the top 15., which primarily provides information on online degree programs, also compiles information relevant to students and graduates, such as its best cities studies. The methodology for its “Best Small Cities for New Grads 2018” report used a 10-point scale that factored in housing data, demographics, growth and employment projections and the density of cultural and historical sites in each of the 413 cities it studied.

Earlier this year, Safewise, a home security research company, placed Cortland on its list of the 30 safest College Towns in America. Cortland, which placed at No. 20, was the only community in New York state to make Safewise’s rankings.

The College has committed to the Cortland community by offering eligible employees up to $4,000 to spend toward the down payment or closing costs of a home located in the city as part of its SUNY Cortland Neighborhood Homeownership Program.

Recently, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state of New York endorsed Cortland’s potential by awarding the city a $10 million grant to revitalize its downtown.

SUNY Cortland Supports 2017 CROP Hunger Walk

Cropwalk-group-124.jpg 12/04/2017

Almost all of this year’s participants in October’s successful Cortland-area CROP Hunger Walk were SUNY Cortland students, with 94 percent of the walkers coming from the College.

The Oct. 22 walk raised $8,900 to fight world hunger and support local food pantries. A total of $5,698 was provided by College clubs and student organizations. The other 36 percent of funds were raised through churches in Cortland and Homer.

“For the past 12 years the SUNY Cortland community has been a major factor in the success of the Cortland-area CROP Hunger Walk,” said Jim Miller, history lecturer and the local CROP Walk coordinator. “The vast majority of the walkers are SUNY Cortland students. This provides a very visible and tangible example of the positive energy students contribute to the community.”

Cortland-area food pantries and feeding programs will receive 25 percent of the funds raised by the event, with the remainder going to anti-hunger programs sponsored by around the world. Church World Service sponsored 1,000 similar walks across the U.S. and raised $10 million for food banks and other similar programs across the country in 2016.

The 23rd annual event is supported by a number of campus organizations, with donations coming from SUNY Cortland’s athletic teams, fraternities and sororities, clubs, and COR 101, the semester-long orientation class taken by all first-year students. For the first time, residence halls were included in the 2017 awards.

Several campus groups received plaques as recognition for their contributions. The softball team was the athletic leader for a third consecutive year, raising $1,300 and edging the women’s lacrosse team by just $143. Delta Phi Epsilon sorority raised $415 to lead all Greek organizations. Eta Sigma Gamma, the College’s chapter of the National Health Education Honorary, raised $320 to lead campus and club organizations. COR 101 teaching assistants raised $278 to top the COR 101 teams and Clark Hall raised $159 to place first in the inaugural residence hall competition.

Softball team athletic winners

Softball team - $1,300

CROP walk teaching assistant winners

COR 101 teaching assistants - $278

CROP walk Clark Hall winners

Clark Hall - $159

Prepared by Communications Office writing intern McKenzie Henry

Caterer Crafts Old Main as Gingerbread House

Gingerbread_feature.jpg 12/05/2017

When Adam Harvey thinks of the holidays, he thinks of gingerbread houses.

“I have always enjoyed gingerbread houses and thought all the buildings on campus were beautiful,” said Harvey, who is the Auxiliary Service Corporation (ASC) assistant manager of food production.

“I thought Old Main was so grand and I could see it as a gingerbread house. It is a nice recognizable building on campus.”

That’s why Harvey, who studied at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and has worked for ASC for six years, recently crafted a gingerbread house modeled after the iconic SUNY Cortland edifice.

Harvey was assisted by Tana Armitstead, ASC cook assistant at Neubig Dining Hall.

In addition to gingerbread, the house sports a type of icing named “royal icing” with windows made of poured sugar. On the inside, the 3-foot wide by 5-foot long replica building designed to scale is lined with holiday lights to capture viewers’ attention.

This project seemed time consuming before starting the building process. But Darrell Thomas, ASC catering manager, helped Harvey and Armitstead save a lot of time by directing them to obtain the actual blueprints from Old Main to help in the scaling process.

Harvey and Armitstead then worked roughly 40 hours in building and perfecting the house.

“Students have been taking pictures of it and are excited about the house,” said Armitstead.

The gingerbread house will be on display at different locations around campus until the end of January. Currently it is displayed in the third floor lobby of Corey Union across from the catering office.

Pictures and video of the gingerbread house construction are posted online.

Prepared by Communications Office writing intern Navita Ramprasad

BFA Thesis to Focus on Reproductive Rights

14th 360240.jpg 11/20/2017

Allison Lewis, a senior art studio: bachelor of fine arts major, presents her thesis exhibition, “14th,” beginning Dec. 4 in the Dowd Fine Arts Center.

The mixed-media installation runs through Dec. 14 in the Critique Space. The opening reception begins at 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8. Lewis will hold an artist talk starting at 5:30 p.m.

“14th” focuses on Lewis’ personal views on the state of women’s reproductive rights and the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The 14th Amendment codified citizenship rights following the Civil War and it served as the foundation of the majority opinion in the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade.  

Lewis’ work uses the personal stories of women who have had abortions to illustrate individual experience in a topic that is often generalized.

“Through my work I explore my personal fears in a terrifying future where reproductive rights are nonexistent,” Lewis said. “Many women want to have children on a schedule when they can nurture and afford them. Taking away support and education dealing with the topic of reproductive rights and motherhood may lead to individuals bringing children into a world with limited resources and financial support.

“The artwork on display shows a potential future of women who have been affected by lack of access to care they need as well as inadequate means to make an informed decision,” Lewis said.

She noted that anti-choice activists neglect these women, treating and speaking about them as if they are less than a human.

“These forgotten women haunt my mind and make the future more about survival and less about opportunities,” she said.

Lewis has had her work featured in the College’s Student Select exhibits since 2015. Her work was chosen for the “Best of SUNY Student Art Exhibition” at the State Museum in Albany in 2015.

The exhibition is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Lewis or the Dowd Gallery at 607-753-3216.

Library’s ‘Food for Fines’ Will Help College Food Pantry

Memorial Library is offering a unique way for students to pay their overdue library fines while helping people in need.

The Food for Fines program runs from Monday, Nov. 27 through Friday, Dec. 15. Students may pay their fines by donating non-perishable, unopened, unexpired food in cans, boxes and plastic jars. Those who do not have fines are welcome to donate food.

Students will receive $1 off their overdue fine balance for each item of food donated. Replacement costs for lost or damaged books are excluded from this program.

Donations will be accepted during business hours at The Help Center in Memorial Library. The food will be delivered to the SUNY Cortland Cupboard located at the Interfaith Center.

For more information or to donate, stop by The Help Center in Memorial Library, call them at 607-753-2500, or email

ASC Grant Applications Due Feb. 16

Auxiliary Services Corporation (ASC) is now accepting Program Grant applications online for the 2018-19 academic year.

Applications are submitted online and must be sent by midnight on Friday, Feb. 16. Applicants are asked to read the grant guidelines carefully before submitting an application.

Each year the ASC Board of Directors allocates funds to support grants for a wide range of purposes and projects that enhance the life of the SUNY Cortland community.

Although ASC is willing to consider a wide range of ideas, it seeks to avoid duplicating other funding sources or funding projects more properly supported by state funds. Therefore, applicants should first seek funding from primary funding sources.

ASC grant funds may not be used for salaries, honoraria, travel normally funded by the College's budget, or scholarships for SUNY Cortland faculty, staff or students. Funds may not be used to purchase computers, related hardware or software. All purchases will be processed in accordance to ASC’s financial and related GAAP policies. In general, Program Grant funds may not be used exclusively for food for SUNY Cortland students, faculty or staff. Funding for food may be considered if the food is deemed integral to the success of the program or event. All food shall be provided by ASC. Other grant guidelines are described in the application package and online.

For more information, email Judy Standish or contact her by phone at 607-753-4325.

Outstanding Non-Traditional Students Recognized

In honor of Non-Traditional Students Week celebration from Nov. 13 to Nov. 17, the campus community was asked to recognize students who balance college with family, jobs, and other commitments. 

Faculty, staff and students submitted 64 names. Some students were recognized by more than one person. A certificate of recognition was given to the following students:

Joseph Barbaro

Sandra Bella

Robert Bergman

Jose Blanca

Dominca Boston

Jade Case

Gerald Chukwuma

Brionna Cicak

Zachary Cole

Greg Conn

Corilynn Coye

Cody Doane

Brian Drake

Christine Drew-Fox

Chris Dutcher

Hilary Dwyer

Mitchell Ensman

Amanda Farkas

Jason Fasulo

Kimberly Ferreira

Melissa Garrett

Andrew Haaland

Emily Harris

Danielle Hodack

Marissa Hope

Kenneth Irving

Ashley Kress

Kyle Lamb

Chad Lawrence

Amanda Lockett

Cassia Maguire

Amanda McCaslin

Theresa Mendez

Britini Merrill

Anthony Miller

Lauren Minholz

Tytianna Noriega

Elayeshia Palmer

Mathew Raymond

Sara Sampson

Natalie Seigal

Emilee Senio

Emily Seyerle

Andrew Siciliano

Ashley Smith

Meagan Smith

Justin Sovocool

Stacie Stroup

Kaitlin VanDervort

Christian Williams

The “Celebrate a Non-Trad” campaign is sponsored by Advisement and Transition. For more information, contact Cheryl Hines, coordinator of student outreach and non-traditional student support, advisement and transition, at 607-753-4726.

CALS Lecture Grant Applications Available

Campus Artist and Lecture Series (CALS) Lecture Grant Applications are now being accepted for the Spring 2018 semester. Applications are eligible for a maximum of $500 and are open to any club, program or department. These lecture grants will not cover performances of any kind.

Applications must be received by Tuesday, Jan. 30, in order to be considered for February, March, April and May 2018 lecture programs.  Applications received after this date may not be eligible for any spring semester funds remaining.

For more information or to receive a hard copy of the lecture grant application, contact Sandra Wohlleber at 607-753-5769 or via email.

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Faculty/Staff Activities

Seth N. Asumah and Mechthild Nagel

Seth N. Asumah, Political Science and Africana Studies departments, and Mechthild Nagel, Philosophy and Africana Studies departments and the Center for Gender and Intercultural Studies, were invited as consultants to train close to 300 professionals on Nov. 7 at Arlington High School in LaGrangeville, N.Y. The workshop focused on difficult dialogues and implicit bias. 

Brian Barrett

Brian Barrett, Foundations and Social Advocacy Department, had his article titled “Towards a realist sociology of education: A polyphonic review essay” published in the Educational Theory, Volume 67, Issue 2. The article was co-authored with Michael Grenfell from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, Susan Hood from the University of Technology Sydney, Australia, and Dan Schubert from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania.

Tyler Bradway

Tyler Bradway, English Department, had his essay, “Literature in an Age of Plague: The AIDS Epidemic,” published in American Literature in Transition, 1980-1990. The volume was edited by D. Quentin Miller and published in November by Cambridge University Press.

John C. Hartsock

John C. Hartsock, Communication Studies Department, was recently invited to the United Arab Emirates to serve as an external dissertation examiner. The candidate successfully defended her dissertation “Negotiating the Intersection of Arabic and Anglo-American Lite­­­­­rary Journalism: Exploring Possibilities, Challenging Canons.” The dissertation is believed to be the first to examine Arab literary journalism.

Li Jin

Li Jin, Geology Department, gave a presentation at the 2017 Geological Society of America Meeting on Oct. 23 in Seattle, Wash. She presented “Groundwater recharge and water-rock interaction from unsaturated zone of Badain Jaran desert.”

Jordan Kobritz

Jordan Kobritz, Sports Management Department, attended and presented at AFIDE 2017, the 7th International Convention of Physical Activity and Sports, which was held from Nov. 20-24 in Havana, Cuba. The title of Jordan’s presentation was “Sport Management: The Business of Sports.” 

Kathleen A. Lawrence

Kathleen A. Lawrence, Communication Studies Department, recently was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for her poem “Just Rosie,” published in Eye to the Telescope magazine. The Pushcart Prize is the premiere literary prize for poems and stories published each year by U.S. small presses.

Lin Lin

Lin Lin, Childhood/Early Childhood Education Department, was a presenter at the annual National Council for the Social Studies Conference on Nov. 17 and 18 in San Francisco, Calif. She presented “Reading Globally: Promoting Pre-service Teachers’ Global and Cross-Cultural Understanding” and co-presented “Engaging Elementary Children in Community-based PBL - Project-Based Learning - in Chinese Elementary Schools” with Dr. Yali Zhao from Georgia State University. Also, Lin presented “Promoting Teacher Candidates’ Global Perspectives” on Nov. 8 at Cornell University as part of the “Global Voices in Education” series. She has been a Global Learning Fellow with the Southeast Asian Studies and South Asian Studies Centers at Cornell University.  

Barry Schecter

Barry Schecter, Health Department and coordinator of Human Service Studies, served on a panel at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference, held Oct. 11 to 14 in Atlanta, Ga.

Mary Schlarb

Mary Schlarb, International Programs, recently received the Clark Center for Global Engagement Internationalization Award. It honors SUNY Cortland faculty and staff who have performed outstanding work in global engagement. Schlarb has done outstanding work to promote global engagement by increasing the number of SUNY Cortland study abroad opportunities for students. This has led to a greater number of students studying abroad and an increase of faculty involved in faculty-led study abroad programs.

Tadayuki Suzuki

Tadayuki Suzuki, Literacy Department, presented “Being Born in the Wrong Gender: Thinking about the Availability of Current Transgender Children’s Books,” at the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) annual convention, held Nov. 18 in St. Louis, Mo.

Ryan Vooris

Ryan Vooris, Sport Management Department, had a research article about perceptions of media bias among viewers of ESPN published in Communication & Sport.

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