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  Issue Number 14 • Tuesday, April 6, 2021  


Campus Champion

Analicia Gonzalez loves big responsibilities, so chairing the annual Student Conference on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice is exciting to her. The junior community health major and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies minor has attended other diversity conferences and they are always amazing. It’ll be virtual, and it’ll be big, with two speakers, many sessions and students from other colleges participating. “It’s so important for our community to learn about and celebrate our differences.” Next, Analicia will focus on the new student club she started on mental health called Mind Over Everything – MOE. As a resident assistant, she saw a need for such a group, took responsibility, and formed one.  

Nominate a Campus Champion

Tuesday, April 6

Gallery Conversation: From Washington to Biden: How Presidents Use the Law to Impede Racial Justice, online via Webex, 4 to 5:30 p.m.

Charles N. Poskanzer Lecture: Global Public Health: Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Sub-Saharan Africa – Challenges and Opportunities, online via Webex, 5 p.m.  

Race in the Media: SUNY Cortland alumni talk about race in the media, register online, 6 to 8 p.m.

Wednesday, April 7

Sandwich Seminar: “21-Day Anti-Racism Challenge Reflection, Discussion & What Next?” Online via Webex, 12:30 p.m.

Peer Tutor Information Sessions: Online via Webex, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Wellness Wednesday: The Match Game, online via Webex, 7 to 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 8

Sandwich Seminar: Sustainability in the Times of COVID, panel presentation, online via Webex, noon to 1 p.m.

Discussion: Limited Access to Affordable and Healthy Foods in Underserved Communities, Register here, online via Webex, 5 p.m.

Saturday, April 10

Fashion Show: Pan African Student Association, virtual via Webex, meeting code: 132 783 5146, 7 p.m.

Monday, April 12

Speaker: Organizing in Dangerous Territory: Women organizing in Colombia, presented by Marylen Serna of the Colombia National Council for Peace, online via Zoom, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Presentation: Racial Inclusiveness Student Forum, learn the results of the campus climate survey on racial inclusiveness, a student Q & A session will follow, online via WebEx, 6 p.m.

Sustainability Event: Edible Forest Gardens for Dining, Diversity, and Drawdown, RSVP for login information by email to, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, April 13

Lecture: Promoting an Inclusive Scientific Workforce: Factors that affect diversity and equity in STEM,  register online, 7 p.m.

Alumni Speakers Series: From Pre-Major to Career, panel discussion sponsored by Alumni Engagement and Career Services, online via Handshake, 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, April 14

SUNY Cortland Wellness Day: Classes will be suspended to give students a break. Visit the web page to view the schedule; some events require advance registration

Teacher Recruitment Day: Online via Handshake, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sandwich Seminar: “Ancestry, Race and Forensic Anthropology,” online via Webex, 12:30 p.m.

Remote Study Abroad 101: 3 p.m.

Beloved Community Panel #3: Discussion with those involved in the Beloved Community Narratives Project, Registration link, online via Webex, 4 to 5 p.m. 

Murder Mystery: Hosted by Memorial Library, registration is full, 6 p.m.

Thursday, April 15

Dowd Gallery Artist's Conversation: "How the Word is Passed," online via Webex, 4:30 to 6 p.m.

Saturday, April 17

Student Conference on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice: Free and open to everyone, online, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.   

Monday, April 19

Money Talks Mondays - All About Credit: Online via Handshake, 4 to 5 p.m.

Tuesday, April 20

Trivia Tuesday: Join Cortland Nites for their weekly trivia contest, Webex link, 9 p.m.


SUNY Cortland offers vaccine clinic for students


Dear students,

Today, almost all New York college students become eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations. I want to let you know that a vaccine clinic for SUNY Cortland students will be held this Friday, April 9, at Park Center Alumni Arena.

A total of 660 doses of the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine will be administered by the Cortland County Health Department to the first SUNY Cortland students who make an appointment online. This is a one-shot vaccine, meaning you will not have to schedule a second appointment.

These first 660 does are part of a SUNY system effort to vaccinate as many students as possible before the spring semester ends. SUNY is working with New York state to make additional student-targeted doses available over the next few weeks. 

Friday’s clinic will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

The Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine is approved only for students 18 and older. Participating students must present their SUNY Cortland student ID and a state-issued form of age verification, such as a driver’s license, at the time of vaccination.

To register for a vaccine, please follow these important steps: 

  • Visit the Schedule a vaccination link on the COVID tab in myRedDragon and fill out the required forms.
  • Should all of the vaccination slots fill up, visit the Waitlist link, also in myRedDragon, and fill out the form. That way you will be contacted if there are cancelations or when additional doses become available. 

The widespread distribution of COVID-19 vaccines gives me great hope for a return to more normal conditions in the near future. However, we must remain vigilant, even after being vaccinated.

Although the vaccine is very effective at preventing the recipient from becoming sick, there remains a chance that a vaccinated person might still spread the virus. For now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that fully vaccinated people continue taking precautions, such as wearing face coverings, staying 6 feet from others and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. 

You have all done much to help minimize the impact of the pandemic. Vaccination offers yet another important action you can take. Thank you for your continued dedication to keeping SUNY Cortland safe. 

All the best, 

Erik J. Bitterbaum 


Promoting an inclusive scientific workforce


What are the factors that most affect diversity and equity in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math?

Marcus Lambert, assistant dean in the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences and an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, will speak to SUNY Cortland faculty and students on strategies for success in promoting a diverse scientific workforce.

Lambert will host a presentation, “Promoting an Inclusive Scientific Workforce: Factors that Affect Diversity and Equity in STEM,” at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 13 via Webex. Please register for the event, which is free and open to the public, online.

“The Biology DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) committee is excited to hear from Dr. Lambert how we each play a role in creating more equitable and inclusive STEM spaces,” said Theresa Curtis, professor in the Biological Sciences Department. “This change takes all of us.”

On April 1, Lambert will begin a new role as associate vice president for research strategy and operations for SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University. Lambert will also join the Downstate School of Public Health as a faculty member in the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Departments.

As co-director of the Office of Student Diversity at Weill Cornell Medicine, Lambert serves more than 400 medical and 1,200 graduate students. He also directs a grant initiative funded by the National Institute of Health that strives to maximize student development among underrepresented students in the biomedical field. It aims to increase the number of underrepresented doctoral students to ultimately address the critical need of reducing racial and ethnic health care disparities.

A graduate of Howard University, Lambert holds a master’s degree in clinical epidemiology and health services research from Weill Cornell Graduate School and a Ph.D. in biomedical science from NYU Grossman School of Medicine.

Lambert has been a guest lecturer at institutions including the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Columbia University, New York University and Tulane University School of Medicine.

He was honored by the U.S. State Department as a “Generation Changer” and earned a Generation NEXT Leadership Award from the Muslim Journal. Lambert has also received an Impact Award from the United Nations and the Health and Health Disparities Award of Excellence from Howard University. 

This event is co-sponsored by the Campus Artists and Lecture Series, the Biology Club and the Premedical Club.

For more information, contact the SUNY Cortland Biological Sciences Department Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee by email.

Capture the Moment


Twin sisters Colleen (left) and Sam Spizuoco, both first year communications majors from Stanfordville, N.Y., enjoyed the sunshine outside of Dragon Hall on Tuesday, April 6. Sisters in the Alpha Phi sorority, they were writing letters as part of a program that provides encouraging messages supporting those with mental health issues.

In Other News

Diversity Committee to share results

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Whether or not current or recent students think SUNY Cortland embraces diversity in all its forms is a question that will begin to be answered soon — on Monday, April 12 and on Tuesday, April 20, to be exact.

That’s when members of the SUNY Cortland Campus Climate on Diversity Committee will hold two virtual forums to share significant parts of their survey findings — two years in the making — on the areas of race; gender, gender expression or sexual orientation; disability; and religion and spirituality.

The April 12 forum on racial inclusiveness will be opened with a presentation by Eddie Fergus, an associate professor of urban education and policy at Temple University and a consultant on assessing diversity in school settings. The April 20 forum on disability inclusiveness will feature three panelists organized by Jeremy Zhe-Heimerman, assistant director of disability resources, Disability Resources Office.

“At the end of the day, creating a healthy, inclusive campus climate where there’s a sense of belonging and experience of mattering or feeling cared about, accepted, respected, and valued by the campus community is as important for faculty and staff as it is for students,” said Lorraine Lopez-Janove, chief diversity and inclusion officer. “That’s our goal for everyone in Cortland family.”

Racial inclusiveness discussion set

Before the discussion forum begins, Fergus will present his report summarizing Cortland’s racial diversity on Monday, April 12. Fergus created the report, called “SUNY Cortland Inclusion Survey 2019: Perspectives on Racial Diversity in University Climate.” His event, titled “Racial Inclusiveness Student Forum,” will begin at 6 p.m. in Webex meeting room 132 103 847 with the password s4pTc8KT.

Fergus will spend approximately 15-20 minutes sharing his assessment about the university’s survey results with supporting visual graphs. His presentation will include recommendations for action. The committee will discuss action steps taken as areas of need came to light while the survey proceeded. Following the presentation, the facilitator will break the group into small question-and-answer and discussion groups, each facilitated by a committee member.

Facilitators for the racial diversity forum will include committee members Kaitlin Flannery, assistant professor of psychology; Lopez-Janove; Christopher Ortega, assistant professor of communication and media studies and Africana studies; Jose Ortiz, assistant professor of foundations and social advocacy; Amy Russell, professional tutor at The Learning Center; Mary Schlarb, director of International Programs; and Jeremy Zhe-Heimerman, assistant director of disability resources, Disability Resources Office.

Forum on disability climate planned

The Disability Climate Panel will share survey data research analysis via Webex at 7 p.m. on April 20 on how the campus treats individuals with a disability that was developed by a SUNY Cortland faculty team. The meeting begins in Webex meeting room 132 538 4024 with the password dvB4jTgGm33.

Panelists will include Disability Climate Committee member and SUNY Cortland senior Jennifer Riekert; Maria Timberlake, associate professor of foundations and social advocacy; and Zhe-Heimerman.

“We look forward to hearing your thoughts on the survey results and how welcoming SUNY Cortland is for students with disabilities,” Zhe-Heimerman said.

The survey analysis on disability inclusiveness was prepared by committee members and other volunteers including Sarah Beshers, associate professor of health; Flannery; Cathy MacDonald, associate professor of physical education; Carrie Rood, associate professor of foundations and social advocacy; Schlarb; Timberlake; and Zhe-Heimerman.

SUNY Cortland students share a laugh together during a campus social event in 2019.

To ensure that all campus community members can fully participate in this program, contact Zhe-Heimerman for questions about accessibility and/or to request accommodations.

Survey's history recounted

How college students, faculty and staff feel they are being treated by the campus community is key to their success, whether in class, the workplace or in their personal lives.

Knowing that, the committee in early 2019 began asking members of the campus community to express their opinion on the quality of college life for them with respect to four major themes: race; gender, gender expression or sexual orientation; dis(ability); and religion and spirituality.

First convened by James Felton III, the committee was transitionally facilitated by AnnaMaria Cirrincione, director of Multicultural Life and Diversity, and is currently led by Lopez-Janove, Felton’s replacement.

The committee initially held focus groups that it used to develop the survey questionnaire, then conducted the survey in Fall 2019 through Spring 2020. President Erik J. Bitterbaum shared the committee’s initial results that focused primarily on racial diversity in late January to faculty and staff during his Opening Meeting for the spring semester. Fergus first presented his findings during that meeting.

Before this survey, the university administration last looked at how well the campus provides a setting for diversity and accommodation of underrepresented groups with a Campus Climate Survey in 2005.

“Many studies have concluded that learning and development outcomes are influenced by how students experience their campus environment,” Lopez-Janove said. “Research suggests that faculty and staff members who consider their campus climate healthy and inclusive are more likely to feel personally and professionally supported.”

Building on previously gathered data, historical documents and SUNY Cortland’s extensive efforts thus far, a comprehensive climate assessment will provide the university with research-based and comprehensive findings. These will guide the development of strategic initiatives and action planning to build on institutional successes and address institutional climate challenges.

For more information, contact Lopez-Janove or visit the Institutional Equity and Inclusion Office website at

Campus Climate on Diversity Committee members also include: Michael Baker, assistant director of residential life for technology and marketing; Stephen Cunningham, director of institutional research and assessment; Laura Davies, chief of staff, President’s Office; Jeffrey Jackson, lecturer in English; Yomee Lee, professor of kinesiology and Africana studies; Ronnie Silver ’67, SUNY Cortland Alumni Association liaison; Lima Stafford, assistant director, Multicultural Life and Diversity; Maggie Wetter, Title IX coordinator; Jennifer Wilson, associate director of communications; Melanie Woodward, associate director of human resources and affirmative action officer.

“Raise Your Voice” streaming online

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The COVID-19 pandemic has unfortunately kept audiences out of Dowd Fine Arts Center Theatre for the past year.

So SUNY Cortland’s performing arts students and faculty decided to bring the show to you.

“Raise Your Voice: A Call to Social Change,” a musical and prose revue conceived and created by associate professor Kevin Halpin and visiting assistant professor Jacob Carll, launched on YouTube on March 27.

One dozen student performers starting filming segments for the production on the Dowd Fine Arts Center Theatre stage in early March. “Raise Your Voice” is divided into sections that focus on topics such as love, women’s empowerment and racial justice.

The production was compliant with COVID-19 safety protocols, with performers wearing face coverings and choreography being done with physical distancing in mind.

For more information on the student performers and the works included, a playbill is available online.

Students JoDee Hall, Dominic Green and Annie Ross also appeared on “Bridge Street” on WSYR-TV to talk about “Raise Your Voice” on March 22.

Learn more about the Performing Arts department on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

University celebrates non-traditional students

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Approximately 300 non-traditional students are enrolled at SUNY Cortland. Although their backgrounds often are wildly different, they all have interesting stories to tell.

Allison McDaniel has experienced personal and family upheaval, all while being a parent and working towards earning a bachelor’s degree in inclusive education.

Although Nakeesta Langton is a parent of three, the involvement she has on campus while pursuing a career in early childhood and childhood education is astonishing. From being inducted into honor societies to serving as a Student Government Association representative for the Non-Traditional Student Organization, Langston strives for excellence.

They are SUNY Cortland’s non-traditional students. The university defines non-traditional students as those undergraduate students who are 24 years of age or older or, regardless of age, may have dependent children, working, military experience or a break in education after high school (at some point).

“Usually, this week is celebrated in the fall semester,” explained Cheryl Smith ’04, coordinator of student outreach and non-traditional student support. “But we decided to postpone the celebration until this spring semester in hopes of being able to have more in-person events.”

The university will acknowledge them during Non-Traditional Students Week beginning Monday, April 12. Each day, special activities will take place virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And each day through Friday, April 16, an inspiring non-traditional student will be introduced to the campus community.

Stories about  outstanding non-traditional students will be shared during the week.

The week features a host of activities both virtually and on campus. They include:

  • Monday, April 12: “Cookies for Non-Trads.” Stop by the Non-Traditional Students Lounge, Cornish Hall, Room 1221, between noon to 2 p.m. to pick up your free cookie-to-go.
  • Tuesday, April 13: “Non-Trads Treat: Wrap Sandwiches.’” Stop by the Non-Traditional Student Lounge, Cornish Hall, Room 1221, between 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for boxed, wrapped sandwiches lunch-to-go. Pre-orders were already taken for this event. There will be a few extra available.
  • Tuesday, April 13: Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Society Induction Ceremony at 7 p.m. via The prestige honor society is for non-traditional students and features inductees with GPAs from 3.6 to 4.0.
  • Wednesday, April 14: “Beloved Community Narratives Project Panel 3.” Nakeesta Langton, a non-traditional student, is a participant in the project and will be a part of this panel via Webex, from 4 to 5 p.m.; also that day,
  • Health Promotion’s Podcast, “How to Juggle School, Life, Work and Sanity,” will feature Health Promotion educator Lauren Scagnelli, Marissa Whitaker, substance abuse prevention/education associate, Nakeesta Langton, and Smith.
  • Thursday, April 15: “You Know You’re a Non-Trad When…”  Cortland’s non-traditional students as well as non-traditional student alumni and faculty/staff who were adult students themselves while earning their degrees are encouraged respond the discussion board.
  • Friday, April 16: “Cooking Video: Preparing a Fast and Easy Meal When Time is Limited.” Billy Hentenaar, senior exercise science major, will share the recipe and prepare a quick and easy meal for our adult students’ busy lives. A link to participate in the event will be announced later.

Also in celebration of SUNY Cortland’s non-traditional students, nominations were being accepted for the “Celebrate-a-Non-Trad” campaign. The campaign aims to recognize non-traditional students who often balance college with other commitments such as family, jobs, and long commutes. The goal is to meet the unique needs of students over 24, and those with dependent children. SUNY Cortland will present nominated non-traditional students with a certificate and campus recognition.

Nominations should include the student’s name, contact information, relationship to the student and comments about the non-traditional student. Comments will be listed on the certificate, unless otherwise noted. To nominate a fellow student, fill out the nomination form.

For more information about Non-Traditional Students Week events, contact Non-Traditional Student Support at 607-753-4726.

Prepared by Communications Office writing intern Jenna Donofrio

Conference on Diversity set for April 17

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Rachael Forester ’12, M ’14 learned the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion at SUNY Cortland.

As a Cortland student during a time when the percentage of students from underrepresented groups rose from 14% to 23%, Forester was a program coordinator for Orientation, then a residence hall director and ultimately the interim assistant director of Multicultural Life and Diversity.

It all prepared her for her current role as the associate director of the Identity, Equity and Engagement Office at University of North Carolina (UNC) at Charlotte.

Forester, who tries to live by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous quote, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” will deliver the keynote speech during the annual Student Conference on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice on Saturday, April 17. The title of her talk is “Critical Consciousness: Equity in the Mirror.” 

Last year’s in-person conference, which would have been the 11th  student-led conference, was cancelled as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened. This year’s Webex conference will feature Forester, last year’s planned keynote speaker.

The conference, expected to attract approximately 300 attendees from 15 educational institutions across the state, will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. It  will feature three educational sessions plus cultural performances.

Rachael Forester ’12, M ’14

In addition to Forester, the event will feature as the student speaker Shaneya Simmelkjaer, a senior from Bronx, N.Y., who is pursuing triple majors in criminology, political science and Africana studies, and currently serves as president of the Black Student Union. In early 2020, Simmelkjaer became SUNY Cortland’s 14th recipient of a prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, a national award that was established under the federal International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000. After graduation this spring, she plans to study in Ghana during 2021.

Participation in the keynote lecture as well as other conference activities is free to everyone to attend, but registration by Thursday, April 15 is required.

Conference organizers  reviewed proposals for presentations in a research session, panel discussion or creative arts/performance/poster presentation format and selected 14 people to give presentations, including five lectures during Session I and II and four talks in Session III.Forester, who joined UNC Charlotte in 2015, will speak at 2:10 p.m.

Sponsored by the Campus Artist and Lecture Series, her speech is free and open to the public. 

Forester founded Activate! Social Justice Institute and White Consciousness Conversations at UNC Charlotte.

Shaneya Simmelkjaer

As she pursues a doctorate in educational leadership in higher education, her research focuses on understanding whiteness in student affairs and the effect that white privilege and white racial socialization has on those individuals seeking to effectively promote racial equity.

“As a social justice educator, I believe social change occurs through a critical understanding of self as it relates to our dominant and minoritized identities and how those identities are connected to systems of power, privilege and oppression,” Forester said.

She is a passionate advocate for anti-bias education, social justice, student development and creating expansive environments.

“My personal philosophy includes being hard on systems and soft on people as I strive to expand participation on the journey towards collective liberation,” Forester said.

At SUNY Cortland, Forester earned a bachelor’s degree in early childhood and childhood education and a master’s degree in English as a second language. She also studied Spanish.

The Student Conference on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice was created to provide undergraduate and graduate students with an opportunity to share their academic research, build their resumes and network with other students across New York state around the core values of diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice. The student-led conference allows participants to discuss the problems and concepts of campus inclusion efforts and to research and present across a wide range of disciplines. The conference aligns itself with the strategic goals of the SUNY system as well as those of SUNY Cortland.

For more information, contact the Multicultural Life and Diversity Office at 607-753-2336.

Rethinking urban gardens

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Jonathan Bates, a farmer from Tompkins County, will explain how farmers and gardeners can redesign the way they produce food to ensure health, beauty, diversity and sustenance.

Bates’ talk, “Edible Forest Gardens for Dining, Diversity and Drawdown,” will begin at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 12. This event is free and open to everyone, but advance registration is required.

Bates and his family previously managed Paradise Lot, a one-tenth acre backyard garden with more than 40 species of fruit and 70 perennials with edible leaves in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

For more than a decade, Bates has studied, created and worked with rural and urban gardens in the Connecticut River Valley. He and his family are currently living in Brooktondale, N.Y. on a friend’s diversified farm specializing in silvopastured meat and eggs — a deliberate integration of trees and grazing livestock on the same land — and heirloom fruit and vegetable products. Bates also owns and operates the Food Forest Farm website, which provides information on regenerative agriculture and sells seedlings.

Bates co-authored a book, Paradise Lot: Two Plant Geeks, One-Tenth of an Acre, with Eric Toensmeier.

For additional information about this event and other SUNY Cortland sustainability efforts,  email the Sustainability Office or visit the office’s page on the university’s website.

This event is sponsored by the Sustainability Office, the New York State Master Teacher Program, the Garden Advisory Committee and the Campus Artist and Lecture Series.

Prepared by Communications Office writing intern Chelsea Grate

Globe-traveling photographer documents melting ice caps

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Photographer David Thoreson has sailed over the Arctic Circle six times and traveled over the Antarctic Circle twice. He was the first American to sail the length of the frigid Northwest passage in both directions. Needless to say, this camera-toting sailor from Iowa has photographed a lot of ice.

And, over the course of recent years, he has watched a lot of it melt.

The powerful images captured by Thoreson during his polar adventures tell the story of a warming climate and changing landscape that he will share with the SUNY Cortland campus community in a virtual presentation on Thursday, April 22, during Earth Week.

“Eyewitness to Climate Change: Melting Ice and Rising Seas,” will begin at 7 p.m. via a Zoom link. Use meeting ID No. 893 0533 5466 and passcode No. 470362 to enter the meeting. Presented by the Campus Artist and Lecture Series (CALS) and the SUNY Cortland Sustainability Committee, Thoreson’s discussion is free and open to the public.

During his talk, Thoreson will provide an eyewitness account of how climate change impacts our sensitive polar and ocean systems and affects our environment worldwide.

“I hope to raise the level of curiosity and awareness about the climate crisis we are facing now and in the future,” Thoreson said. “I also want to address how, as students, your careers can be focused on the new clean economy where there will be tremendous job opportunities in providing solutions.”

Thoreson has been on extreme adventures much of his life, photographing, documenting and studying the oceans and polar regions of the world. He is a member of both the Cruising Club of America and the Explorers Club.

Thoreson has sailed below the Antarctic Circle, across the Atlantic three times, and has made a 28,000-mile circumnavigation of the North and South American Continents. Ultimately, the professional photographer and sailor has traveled more than 65,000 nautical miles across the globe, taking award-winning photos that make the urgent case for people to undertake the task of environmental conservation.

Although he remains based in his land-locked home state of Iowa, he is a global advocate for ocean and wilderness protection and creating a more sustainable future for generations of explorers yet to come.

His striking photography has appeared in media produced by the National Park Service, PBS, the Smithsonian, the World Science Festival and TED Talks. Thoreson transformed his very personal account of his adventures into a book illustrated with his stunning photography, Over the Horizon.

In 2009-10, Thoreson released a documentary of his 28,000-mile travel of the North and South American continents. His film was nominated for an Emmy Award.

When home in Northwest Iowa, Thoreson operates a fine-art gallery featuring his photography and still loves to race dinghies across the blue waters of Okoboji Lake, where he learned to sail as a boy.

David Thoreson's presentation will introduce the Cortland community to adventure, natural beauty and a realization about the limits of nature pitted against man's encroachments.

“I love live audiences and bringing my stories of life on the ‘big screen’ as a professional photographer so I will do my best to share great visuals on your screens that can transport you to some of the most remote and beautiful places on the planet,” Thoreson said recently.

“Although it is a Zoom presentation, I always look forward to as much interaction with students as possible, especially answering questions,” Thoreson said.

April is Earth Month and SUNY Cortland will celebrate with additional events that will be publicized soon. The events are free, open to the public and virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information about any CALS virtual events, visit the CALS website or contact the Campus Activities and Corey Union Office at 607-753-5574.

Prepared by Communications Office writing intern Jenna Donofrio

Join the Cortland Challenge on April 21

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The mission of the annual Cortland Challenge has always been simple. It’s about alumni, faculty, staff and friends coming together to make a difference for SUNY Cortland and its students.

On Wednesday, April 21, donors can give to the campus cause of their choice at Those causes include academic departments, athletic teams and specific initiatives such as scholarships and The Cortland Fund for Equity and Inclusion.

When you make a gift to The Cortland Fund, your contribution is going directly to the university’s greatest areas of need and has an impact on the entire campus community.

The Cortland Fund supports campus life in a vast variety of ways, including:

  • Scholarships
  • Honors Convocation awards
  • Professional development for faculty and staff
  • Technology and software
  • Major events
  • Alumni Engagement program support
  • The Lynne Parks ’68 SUNY Cortland Alumni House

Several generous alumni have pledged matching gifts to support the Cortland Challenge, including Cheryl Ellsworth Barredo M ’81, Louise Conley, Michael Leeolou ’81 and Catherine Suarez Leeolou ’81, Anthony Moon ’86 and Susan Moon, Kim Stack-Myers ’79, Victor M. Rumore II ’84, and Constellation Advancement. Together, they have committed $52,000 toward this year’s challenge.

These matching gifts will be unlocked throughout Challenge day as certain donor thresholds are met. Those thresholds are:

  • 462 donors, representing the number of programs and events hosted by SUNY Cortland during the 2020-21 academic year.
  • 800 donors, representing the approximate number of donor-sponsored and The Cortland Fund scholarships awarded during 2020-21.
  • 1,345 donors, representing the number of faculty and staff employed at the university.

The Cortland College Foundation Board of Directors has collectively contributed more than $20,000 toward a dollar-to-dollar match to The Cortland Fund.

A general athletics challenge will be backed by a $10,000 matching gift from Cortland College Foundation board member Louise Conley.

SUNY Cortland’s 20 athletic teams will be divided into four categories based on the number of alumni: small, medium, large and extra-large. An award of $1,000 will be given to the team that receives the most donors in each category and $100 will be bestowed on each team that reaches its category’s donor mark.

The team that raises the most money will receive $2,000 and a trophy. Teams that meet their category’s donor mark will be eligible for a $1,000 prize that goes to the team with the highest average gift to The Cortland Fund.

If 746 donors give to any of the athletics program funds, including general athletics and the C-Club Endowment, $1,000 will be awarded to The Cortland Fund. SUNY Cortland had 746 student-athletes during the 2020-21 academic year.

Barredo is giving $1,000 toward a power hour challenge. Look out for details on social media during challenge day!

Constellation Advancement is donating $1,000 in a dollar-for-dollar match to the Cortland Fund for Equity and Inclusion.

The 2020 Cortland Challenge raised $252,272 from 1,897 donors. Thank you so much for your previous support and please consider joining the Cortland Challenge again in 2021.

To learn more, visit Use the hashtag #CortlandChallenge to follow along with other Red Dragons on challenge day through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Inaugural Rainbow Reception

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SUNY Cortland seniors and graduate students are encouraged to register for the first annual virtual Rainbow Reception.

The reception, which will celebrate the successes and contributions of LGBTQ+ students and allies, will be held via Zoom at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 7. Current students should register online by Friday, April 9.

Faculty, staff, alumni, friends and guests may register online at any time before the event.

The keynote speaker is Jamie Piperato ’12, president of the SUNY Cortland Alumni Association Board of Directors. Founder of JPHigherEd, an identity-conscious professional development company that provides training and online courses, Piperato is a graduate assistant for the Center for Women & Gender Equity at West Chester (Pa.) University.

Other speakers include Vicki Wilkins, professor emeritus in Recreation, Parks and Leisure Studies, who will talk about the history of the Rainbow Reception. PRIDE President Alex Rheume ’20 will have an address. University President Erik J. Bitterbaum, Vice President for Student Affairs Greg Sharer and Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) faculty and staff committee co-chairs Kate Coffey and Erin Morris will also speak. 

The Rainbow Reception aims to recognize each student as a whole person and acknowledge academic, professional and personal accomplishments.

Graduating students who register will receive rainbow-colored graduation honor cords.

This event is sponsored by the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) faculty and staff committee, the PRIDE Club, SUNY Cortland Alumni Association and the Multicultural Life and Diversity Office.

Lifeguarding as lifetime fitness

Nelson 360240.jpg 04/06/2021

Donna Gorman Nelson ’75 spends plenty of time at her local swimming pool in Emporia, Va., swimming laps and teaching a water aerobics course.

Recently retired from a long career of teaching Spanish and French and no longer substituting when she could because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nelson was looking for a new challenge.

What if she got recertified to be a lifeguard, 50 years after she first took the test?

“I just wanted to see if I could do it,” Nelson said. “It wasn’t that I was desperate to work as a lifeguard, I just wanted to prove that I could do it. And it was hard! It was really hard.”

Nelson hit the books, studied up and passed the two written tests before jumping in the pool. The swimming portion of the certification included swimming 12 laps, treading water for two minutes, doing three simulated rescues and swimming on her back for 20 yards with a 10-pound rubber brick on her chest.

Not only did she pass the test, Nelson also did it as a person with scleroderma, a group of autoimmune diseases that may result in changes to skin, including thickening around the wrists. Nelson in particular deals with inflexibility around her wrists that makes swimming a bit more challenging.

“I was so relieved. It was really hard,” Nelson said. “I told the guy running the test that 50 years ago we did not use resuscitation masks. When you did CPR, you put your own mask on their mouth. We didn’t use gloves. We didn’t have rescue tubes. You just went and saved a person, put your arm around them and did sidestroke.

“Now I am going to lifeguard at the pool some and still teach my water aerobics.”

A semester abroad in Salamanca, Spain during her junior year was part of the inspiration that led Nelson to become a languages teacher. Teaching has been a perennial passion for Nelson, whether it is languages or swimming.

A lifelong swimmer, Nelson swam competitively on school teams through high school. At SUNY Cortland, she joined the Dolphinotes Swim Club, a synchronized swimming team. She took summer jobs lifeguarding and teaching swimming.

Nelson’s son, Corey Povar, the director of Parks and Recreation for the Kinston/Lenoir (N.C.) Parks and Recreation Department, helped arrange a private lifeguard test for her. Although she’ll soon be working alongside the young lifeguards, Nelson didn’t want it to be a competition.

“I really didn’t want to take the course with a bunch of teenagers,” Nelson laughed. “They’re on swimming teams — and I used to be but that was a long time ago — I don’t want to try to compete with them. They’re going to be such faster swimmers.”

Nelson urges all Red Dragons, young and old, to find ways in which they can stay active, stay involved and find a lifetime fitness activity that’s right for them.

“I still swim laps a few times a week and I teach water aerobics a few evenings a week,” Nelson said. “I just thought the lifeguards at my pool are all young and they told me, ‘We know you can do it.’

“I’m glad they were that confident,” she laughed. “I’m pretty excited. I do think it’s important to keep doing some type of activity. My husband and I are both still pretty active. We’re in the pool, we’re riding our bikes.”

President shares vaccine information for students

Erik bw 360240.jpg 03/30/2021

Dear students,

Yesterday the New York State Department of Health announced that all New York residents age 16 and older will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine starting Tuesday, April 6.

Although the vaccines do not guarantee recipients will not catch or transmit the virus, they have proven to be an effective way of stopping its spread, and so I encourage all SUNY Cortland students to consider getting vaccinated. More information on how to register will be available to you online next week.

Please be aware:

  • Vaccinated people may still spread the virus. At this time, everyone on campus must continue following all safety protocols, which include wearing face coverings, physical distancing and avoiding large gatherings.

  • Although SUNY Cortland does host a vaccination site, it is being operated by the county health department and Guthrie Cortland Medical Center on behalf of all residents in the region. Interested SUNY Cortland students, faculty and staff must sign up for appointments through the State Department of Health website.

  • Consider the timeline for vaccine administration before deciding where and when to get one, especially if you will receive a two-dose vaccine, which are the only ones currently available in Cortland. During your first appointment, your second appointment will be automatically scheduled for three or four weeks in the future. Appointments are not transferable between locations so please consider waiting if you will be leaving Cortland before your second appointment.

Vaccine eligibility for students makes me hopeful for the future. However, for the rest of this semester we must remain committed to COVID-19 safety. 

Face coverings must be worn at all times, even if you are outside with roommates. Attending weekly testing at the Student Life Center and avoiding large gatherings remain crucial. Your travel also should be limited, as leaving the local community may introduce the virus to our campus.

I deeply appreciate your continued efforts this semester.   

All the best, 

Erik J. Bitterbaum 


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Faculty/Staff Activities

Sam Avery

Sam Avery, MFA, Communication and Media Studies Department, made a short film, “The Catch”, which won Best New York Short at the Adirondack Film Festival before airing on Mountain Lake PBS. The film features David Hollenback, Communication and Media Studies Department, and recent SUNY Cortland alumnus, Mitchell Ensman ’17. A PBS-produced interview with Avery, promoting the film, can be found here

Barbara A. Barton

Barbara A. Barton, Health Department, was awarded an exemplary rating from the BlackBoard Exemplary Course Program for her online graduate course, HLH 593, Methods and Practices in Community Health. The Exemplary Course Program recognizes instructors whose courses demonstrate best practices in four major areas: course design, interaction and collaboration, assessment, and learner support. Submitted courses are evaluated by peer reviewers, and to receive an exemplary award, all standards must be met or exceeded.

Jacey Brooks

Jacey Brooks, Athletics Department and women’s basketball coach, worked as a court manager at the championship practice center in the Alamodome during the NCAA women’s basketball tournament in San Antonio, Texas, from March 17 to 30. She was a zone manager at the practice facility for 17 days, managed three courts and monitored each team’s practice session to ensure the court was cleaned and sanitized properly after each segment.

Jen Drake

Jen Drake, The Learning Center, is co-founder and interim director of the Sharing Technology and Academic Resources-New York (STAR-NY) Consortium. She has been invited to present at the 2021 Association of Colleges for Tutoring and Learning Assistance virtual conference. Her session, Building an Online Tutoring Consortium from the Ground Up: Development of the STAR-NY Consortium, will take place at 9 a.m. on Friday, April 23.

Julie Ficarra

 Julie Ficarra, Ph.D., International Programs Office, facilitated a 2-hour workshop on the topic of comprehensive internationalization at the invitation of the Oficina Cooperación Internacional at Santa Paula Universidad in San Jose, Costa Rica. This bi-lingual workshop was the inaugural session of an on-going professional development series focused on capacity building in the area of internationalization at universities across Latin America.

Andrew Fitz-Gibbon

Andrew Fitz-Gibbon, Philosophy Department, posted a YouTube video, “For all teachers who Zoom” on March 2.

Kaitlin Flannery

Kaitlin Flannery, Psychology Department, had her article, “Breaking Up (With a Friend) Is Hard to Do: An Examination of Friendship Dissolution Among Early Adolescents,” published March 24 in The Journal of Early Adolescence.  

Denise D. Knight

Denise D. Knight, professor of English emerita, will have her monograph, “‘what our union once was’: Newly Recovered Letters from Charlotte Perkins Gilman to Martha Luther Lane,” published as a special issue of American Literary Realism in Fall 2021. 

Rhiannon Maton

Rhiannon Maton, Foundations and Social Advocacy Department, is a co-editor for a special series for Critical Education journal, titled Contemporary Educator Movements: Transforming Unions, Schools and Society in North America. Series co-editors have recently published the first issue in the series: Teacher Learning In/Through Social Movements.

Jo Schaffer and Gregg Weatherby

Jo Schaffer, professor of art and art history emerita, and Gregg Weatherby, professor emeritus of English, will act in Reader’s Theater’s virtual presentation of “84 Charing Cross Road” at 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 11. The script is based on the memoir of Helene Hanff, a freelance writer in New York City, who ordered rare books from the London bookseller Marks & Company, at 84 Charing Cross Road. Schaffer will play Hanff, a part she first performed in 1988. Weatherby performs the part of Frank Doel. Community member and actor Barbara Jo Williams directs the play.

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