University Update

VOLUME 22, NUMBER 10 — February 24, 1999

Rehab of Chem Building Looks, Feels and Smells Sweet 
University Researchers Moving to the 'Fastlane'

University Served As Downlink Site for White House Talk
Construction Interrupts Phones, Cable, on Feb. 27 & 28
Olson Lecture from AT&T Exec
Mailroom Delivers Outstanding Campus Citizens
SEFA/United Way Campaign: Over the Top
Online UPD Site Aims at Fighting Harassment

Heart Surgery Decisions Influenced by Race, Public Health Researchers Find
Physics Department Well Represented at APS’s 100th
3 Faculty Made Adjuncts
Physical Plant Adds Staff
New Officers: University at Albany Police Department

Deborah Lines Andersen
Mark Anthony Neal

General Education Principles No Mystery
SUNY Core Curriculum Misguided

Roger E. Oesterreich
Leona Siple

Kresge Foundation
Ms. Miriam Snow Mathes
Marcia Gold Goldman Mayer
Barbara Bates

Women are NECC Track Champs
Loss Ends Division II for Men's BB
Women Need Win for .500
Football's Ford Honored Once More
CP Telethon Participation


Rehab of Chem Building Looks, Feels and Smells Sweet 

By Greta Petry

Chemistry Professor Eric Block remembers receiving occasional inquiries by phone during Vincent O’Leary’s University Presidency:

"The President wants to know who’s making the pizza?" was the question.

Block’s research was invariably the culprit. His nationally recognized work with the chemical compounds in onions and garlic was creating quite an aroma, one which was emitted into the air about a foot above the roof of the Chemistry Building. The smell wafted over the rooftops of the academic podium.

"These compounds – containing sulfur or selenium – they are similar to the butenethiol emitted by a skunk, and they produce just as strong an odor," Block said.

The chemistry labs have a sweeter smell today. Thanks to the vision of Frank Hauser, faculty member of the Department of Chemistry (and its chairman from 1991 to 1997), and to the team effort that went into acquiring $3.3 million in SUNY Construction Fund monies for renovations, a new ventilation system today sucks up fumes from experiments and forcefully ejects them high above the podium. They are released out of one of eight new stacks, safely out of sniffing distance.

The ventilation system was an important part of improvements that included the undergraduate organic chemistry labs and graduate research labs on the second and third floors. While the undergraduate instructional labs are in use now, work on the building is ongoing, and completion is expected by the end of the summer. Tougher Industries of Albany is the main contractor for the work.

"This is the first of many much-needed rehab projects," said Executive Vice President Carl Carlucci, who played a significant role in the project. He said improving the undergraduate organic chemistry labs was of a high priority in the planning process.

"The renovation was needed because the ventilation system was not adequate and the lab benches were in poor condition due to 30 years of intensive use," Hauser said. Hauser added that he is deeply appreciative of the efforts of the Physical Plant staff for its initial evaluation of the ventilation problems.

Block, who calls himself one of the many beneficiaries of Hauser’s efforts, said that when he came to the University in 1981, the chemistry labs were no different than they had been in the mid 1960s, when the Uptown Campus was built.

"During Frank’s chairmanship, he initiated discussion regarding the quality of the laboratory experience for undergraduate and graduate students," said Block.

The SUNY Construction Fund hired the consulting engineers Kallen & Lemelson of Manhattan, in coordination with the University, to evaluate the needs of the chemistry building.

"They said basically what you need is a new building," Hauser recalled. "That was the first surprise." That concept evolved into current plans to build a new, 160,000 square-foot Life Sciences Research Building that will house the interdepartmental programs of chemistry, biology, and biopsychology. That building is expected to be completed in about five years. It is geared for research and graduate work, however, and would not address the needs of undergraduates. So action was needed now.

There are two completely renovated labs for undergraduate organic chemistry students in CH 330/334, and improvements in the graduate labs and partial renovations in other labs in the building. One lab has a workstation that is handicapped accessible.

Hauser, and his wife Harriet (who retired from the chemistry department in August of last year), were deeply involved in designing the new labs. "It’s working out very well," he said. "Recruiting undergraduates is an important priority of the department, and we now have state-of-the-art labs to present prospective students and their parents."

Students in the new labs work in the "hood," an area that can be covered by a clear protective hood in the event of any unsafe or just odorous chemical reactions.

The work areas contain a state-of-the-art air-quality monitoring system, in which an alarm goes off if the airflow drops too much. At student benches, bright red "articulated snorkels" catch the fumes from gases, and propel them along a duct, and eventually out of the stacks on top of the building.

"It’s a fail-safe backup system that we never had before," Block said.

In the undergraduate labs, old asbestos tile was taken up and replaced with concrete flooring covered by a special chemical-resistant paint. New vented cabinets were installed. Due to the cost involved, other rooms in the building had partial renovations.

Block said the new undergraduate organic chemistry labs constitute "an attractive work-setting that facilitates teaching, encourages serious students, and creates a safe environment."

University Researchers Moving to the 'Fastlane'

By Suzanne M. Grudzinski

Approximately one-half of all researchers at Albany currently funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) now are on the "Fastlane." By October of 2000, the proportion using this form of electronic research administration will expand to encompass all NSF researchers with the arrival of the Foundation’s deadline for achieving a fully integrated electronic proposal and award system.

Garrett Sanders, assistant vice president for research, said that making the switch from paper to computer now is crucial because "in the next two to three years, every researcher funded by the federal government will need to change the way he or she does business." He stressed that the goal right now is to make researchers aware that these changes are occurring and that there are resources available to them.

"We want people to know that they are not by themselves and that we are here to help them use the new electronic systems," added Linda Crocker, assistant director of research development.

NSF, the leader in the development of electronic research administration systems, created Fastlane as part of the federal government’s effort to maximize efficiency and save time by eliminating the thousands of pounds of research proposals and papers waiting to be reviewed. The University has been submitting proposals via Fastlane since July 1996.

Crocker is helping to oversee and ease the transition to paperlessness. She has created current University links to Fastlane and provides one-on-one or group-training necessary to accommodate principal investigators who are making the switch to Fastlane. Crocker noted that it is important to make the users comfortable and enable them to move with ease through the system.

One of the advantages to NSF Fastlane is that it is accessible 21 hours a day, seven days a week. The Office for Research (OFR) website ( also provides links to funding agencies that allow for easy downloading of grant applications. This process saves valuable time by cutting a two to four-week mail delivery period to minutes. Special search mechanisms are also available, enabling researchers to match their specific qualifications to funding opportunities available in their field. The OFR website provides links to more than 300 funding agencies. "The key to getting funding is information, and that is what these computer links provide," said Crocker. "In a sense, this is a new library."

In addition, Fastlane makes the actual grant application process more convenient. The first grant completed serves as a template for future grants, making preparation easier. The system also allows researchers to access information on the status of their proposal. Notification and requests can also be made via Fastlane. All of these features save time and effort, allowing researchers to spend more time resear-ching instead of wading through massive amounts of paperwork.

NSF Fastlane is only one of a group of federal programs making a transition from a paper to an electronic forum. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) also have been experimenting with electronic programs. The University and other pilot institutions registered with NIH to implement electronic research administration in Nov-ember. If the program’s test mode is successful, it will be open to the University community as a whole by Fall 1999.

Crocker noted that this switch from paper to electronics "is the beginning of something that will encompass all aspects of research." The Office for Research is "working hand in hand with the faculty and administration within the University to ease the transition to electronic research," added Crocker.

The Office for Research is currently seeking volunteers to assist in testing new procedures. Those wanting more information on electronic research administration, may contact Linda Crocker at or at 442-4799.


University Served As Downlink Site for White House Talk

Economics students at the University viewed President Clinton’s national address on Social Security last Wednesday via a live satellite feed to the campus arranged in cooperation with the Social Security Administration. The University was one of 40 "downlink" sites in the nation and the only site selected in New York State.

Undergraduates in the economics classes of Professors Donald Reeb, Thad Mirer, Michael Sattinger and Jeremy Schrauf watched the President’s address on the future of Social Security in LC 19. Before the satellite transmission, Dana Mahoney, director of the Social Security Administration in Area III, which administers programs from 32 upstate New York offices, briefed the students on the current Social Security system and explained why changes are necessary to keep it funded for future generations. She emphasized that changes being contemplated now will have a major impact on college-age students later in their lives as they prepare to retire.

"The key issue is, what do you want it to be 20 or 30 years from now?" she asked the students. About 40 million Americans, including nearly 3 million New Yorkers, now receive Social Security benefits. The average benefit is $750 a month.

"It’s a pay-as-you-go social insurance system, with current workers’ contributions supporting payments to those now on Social Security," Mahoney said. "There is no crisis now, but by 2032 (with Baby Boomers retiring), the current financing system will not be able to support the number of users." It’s estimated, Mahoney said, that without changes the nation will have only about three-quarters of the funding needed to support the Social Security benefit system currently in place.

In his address Wednesday, Clinton renewed his call, first announced in the State of the Union address, to use 62 percent of federal budget surpluses expected over the next 15 years — estimated at $2.7 trillion — to shore up Social Security. The president told students he wants the government to invest a quarter of that $2.7 trillion in the stock market to try to increase the money’s value. Republican leaders have agreed to set the money aside for now, but they have objected to investing the money in Wall Street.

Reeb, Mirer, Sattinger, Schrauf and fellow economics professors Kajil Lahiri and Edward Renshaw all made brief remarks to the students before the transmission. Mirer described Social Security as a "tremendous redistribution system," saying that "how we think of modifying it will have far-reaching impact." Renshaw noted that Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has already come out against putting Social Security trust funds into the stock market, and expressed his own reservations about such a move.

Reeb, director of the Center for Economic Research at the University, said that, to his knowledge, the federal government has never been allowed to have holdings in stocks or corporate bonds. "I’m not sure if this should be changed," he said.

Christine Hanson McKnight


Construction Interrupts Phones, Cable, on Feb. 27 & 28

The replacement of two bridges that span Route 85 at the east end of the State Office Campus will cause service disruption on campus during the Feb. 27-28 weekend.

The fiber optic connection to the Downtown Campus and to Alumni Quad passes through the northern most bridge. It will be relocated to a newly constructed duct bank from 7 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 27 to no later than 5 p.m. on Sunday, Feb 28.

There will be no phone and no data communications and no 911 service between the Uptown and Downtown campuses or Alumni Quadrangle. UPD will be posting security associates in all those areas, as well as additional patrol cars.

Blue Lights telephones will be out of service during the weekend. Residential Life will have access to cellular phones for emergency service and will coordinate with students who stay over recess. Security arrangements have been made with the College of St. Rose.

Olson Lecture from AT&T Exec

Robin Hoppe, regional vice president for global services for AT&T, will give the Milton C. Olson Memorial Lecture at the University at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Feb 25. Hoppe will discuss the world of high-tech global information technology and its uses at AT&T and talk about managing a professional career in this dynamic environment while raising a family and maintaining an active social life.

The presentation will be held in Studio Theater in the basement of the PAC. A reception will follow in the Futterer Lounge on the second floor. The event is free and open to the public. For further information, call 442-4910.


Mailroom Delivers Outstanding Campus Citizens


Lianne Fenn, director of the Mailroom facility, is flanked by Clarence White, left, and Miguel Santiago after the three were given UPD’s "Outstanding Citizens Awards" for 1998. Santiago and White were instrumental in alerting UPD last year to possible criminal activity.

SEFA/United Way Campaign: Over the Top

The University has exceeded its 1998 SEFA/United Way goal with donations and pledges totaling $78,414.20. A total of 530 employees — up sharply from last year — participated in the United Way campaign to push the University past its target goal of $76,000.

Rockefeller College Associate Provost Helen Desfosses, who served as the United Way faculty coordinator, said it was the most successful campaign ever.

"As the University turns increasingly to the region for corporate, private and government funds, as well as for taxpayer support, it is heartening to see how strongly University faculty and staff responded to those who are in need," said Desfosses, who led the campaign for the third time. "It was a pleasure to work with all the college and departmental coordinators who did so much to make this a success."

Gail Cummings-Danson, interim assistant vice president for student affairs, oversaw the SEFA/United Way effort. She said that not only was participation broader, but the University met its goal quicker.

"I’m pleased to have reached our goal earlier than last year, but I’m especially delighted to see more University employees choosing to participate," Cummings-Danson said. "It reflects well on the University and demonstrates our commitment to the community."

Online UPD Site Aims at Fighting Harassment

By Lisa James

Online harassment is a sad and growing fact, but the University Police Department (UPD) has an online program to combat it. Started last year, "Online Harassment: How to recognize it and how to protect yourself" offers information and advice for the University community on how to recognize and protect yourself from online harassment.

Online harassment is a course of conduct directed at an individual that causes substantial emotional distress in that person and serves no legitimate purpose. It includes unwanted or unsolicited email, unwanted or unsolicited talk requests, private or public messages on IRC, disturbing messages on Usenet bulletin boards, and unsolicited communication about you to others. It is a crime in New York State that is punishable by up to a year in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.

"We understand that the problem of online harassment and safety has become more critical as more people access the Internet," said UPD Chief Frank Wiley. "We felt that we should be as progressive as possible to develop guidelines to deal with the problem."

Investigative Detective Paul Berger has developed a list of what to do if you have been harassed online and hopes to incorporate these messages into already existing safety/crime prevention program offerings:

  • Be sure that you’ve actually been harassed. Rude people, unpopular ideas, "spam" email or simple disagreements are not harassment.
  • REPORT IT! to the system administrator(s), to your ResNet RHC, or to the UPD.
  • Archive and log all communications by the harasser.
  • Tell the harasser to cease and desist, once. Be firm, professional, and formal. Tell them once, and then break off all further communication with them.
  • Protect your online space. Practice information control by limiting the amount of personal information you have available online or you give out. Keep your password a secret and change it frequently.

For further information see:

Anyone who wants to arrange a presentation regarding online harassment for an office/department, or would like more information, should contact Berger at 442-3130 or visit the Website at


Faculty Staff

Heart Surgery Decisions Influenced by Race, Public Health Researchers Find

By Greta Petry

The research of School of Public Health professors Michelle van Ryn and Edward Hannan into why physicians do not recommend more aggressive treatment, such as like angioplasty or coronary artery bypass surgery, for African-American heart disease patients recently attracted the attention of ABC-TV’s "Nightline."

"Nightline" reporter George Strait interviewed van Ryn, who is principal investigator on the cardiac access study, and Hannan, co-investigator, for a segment expected to air tonight. It may also be used on "Good Morning America" and ABC’s "World News Tonight." The "Nightline" crew spent much of Feb. 3 on the East Campus taping the segment.

The first part of the Cardiac Access Study was published in Medical Care. Both van Ryn and Hannan are professors in the Department of Health Policy, Management, and Behavior. Hannan is the department chair.

Strait questioned van Ryn at length about the study, which found that physicians tend to assume that their African-American coronary patients who have had an angiogram are less likely to participate in cardiac rehabilitation, less likely to be physically active, and less likely to have someone to care for them once they go home. Once a physician makes these determinations, he or she is less likely to refer the patient for angioplasty or bypass surgery, which offer a greater chance for a complete return to normal activities.

The study included 4,900 participants recruited from a weighted random sample of eight New York State hospitals. Medical record and angiography (a test to visualize the blood vessels) data for each patients was entered into a software program that applies something called the Rand criteria, which determine the appropriateness of treatment by angioplasty or bypass surgery. Of these, 950 patients were followed closely, and results were gathered from patient and physician questionnaire responses.

The results showed that while 57 percent of the white patients had bypass surgery, only 45 percent of the African-American patients and 46 percent of Hispanic patients underwent this surgery within three months of the angiography.

"These race/ethnicity differences in the percentage of patients deemed ‘appropriate’ for Coronary Artery Bypass Graft surgery were statistically significant, even controlling for payer insurance. Similarly, race/ethnicity differences were statistically significant for patients deemed ‘necessary’ for CABG surgery," the article in Medical Care stated. Hannan was lead author on this article.

Also, in 90 percent of the cases where a bypass was not done, the physician had not recommended it. In other words, the doctor had made the decision; it was not a case of the patient refusing the treatment. And this was after angiography and after the physician had looked at the film of the heart.

"This was most surprising to me. When we started out we had two big ideas: that the problem was due to patient refusal or that it was due to doctor recommendation. Most of the money was on patient refusal," van Ryn said.

One of the problems perceived in the study is the relatively short amount of time physicians have to talk with the coronary care patient. Clear communication between physician and patient is important to gathering enough information about the patient’s lifestyle to make an accurate referral.

Another part of the problem was what van Ryn described as an "overapplication" of epidemiological findings that show, for instance, that white males tend to be more physically active in their leisure time than black males. She noted that a cursory review of generalizations in the literature can reinforce stereotypes about minority groups that physicians may have acquired in their upbringings.

van Ryn believes there is no intended racism at play here. Rather, it is a sort of institutionalized racism that develops in many parts of society over the years.

"Whatever is behind it, needs to be changed," Hannan said. He said a compelling case can be made that there is not a recognition that these differences exist in treatment. He added that physicians basically feel there are legitimate reasons for not recommending the more aggressive treatments.

Like van Ryn, Hannan expressed the belief that this behavior on the part of doctors is not conscious. van Ryn indicated that physicians are one of best groups to work with in terms of changing behavior when they have new information. She sees the solution to this problem coming from respected cardiologists who will take this issue up as their cause and increase awareness among peers.

Hannan indicated the problem could be attacked on two fronts: in continued study of the interaction between patient and physician; and, dissemination of the results in ways that are heard and understood.

The study was conducted with grants totaling more than $1.3 million from the New York State Department of Health.

Physics Department Well Represented at APS’s 100th

A total of 12 research abstracts co-authored by University faculty, graduate students and alumni who are part of a Department of Physics research group are scheduled to be presented at the Centennial Meeting of the American Physical Society in Atlanta, Ga., on March 20-26.

According to the organizers, this meeting — denoting the 100th anniversary of the Society — is expected to be the largest of its kind in physics ever held in the U.S., with approximately 8,000 abstracts received for presentation. Among those who have been invited and are scheduled to address the conference are President Clinton and Vice President Gore.

The 12 abstracts from Albany are on electronic structures and the properties of atomic, solid state and biological systems, which represent the spectrum of efforts in the research group headed by Tara Prasad Das of the Department of Physics. "This event will provide very valuable and helpful exposure for our physics department and for the University in these areas of physics," said Das.

"The meeting is expected to open a unique window, not only on the currently important areas of basic and applied research in physics, but also of the expected future developments in fundamental research and technology," he added. "This event will therefore be very useful for the younger physicists including those working on their Ph.D. Degrees at the present time."

The co-authors of the 12 abstracts from the University are Das, postdoctoral student Hong Li of the faculty of Nanki University in China, current Ph.D. graduate students Alok Nandini Usha Roy, Dominick Cammarere, Minakhi Pujari, and Junho Jeong, alumna Nor Sabirin Mohamed, B.S. ’85 M.S. ’87, and Ph.D. alumni Narayan Sahoo ’86, Sudha Srinivas ’95, Krishnaswami Raghunathan ’80, Gowri Gopalakrishnan ’98, Stacie Swingle Nunes ’95, Ranjit Pati ’98, Tina Briere ’95, and Shukri Bin Sulaiman ’92.

The physics alumni all now have research positions at universities or science institutes in the U.S., Malaysia, Japan, and India.


3 Faculty Made Adjuncts

Three faculty member have been granted temporary appointments this semester as adjunct assistant professors in the Department of Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

Gilbert A. Valverde of the Department of Educational Administration and Policy Studies has an adjunct position as assistant professor with the department. Silvia Nagy-Zekmi of the Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies and Teresa Carranza of the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures have also been named adjuncts.


Physical Plant Adds Staff

The Office of Facilities and Physical Plant has announced the appointment of two staff members as part of an effort to improve support and services.

Scott Richards has been appointed to the position of assistant director of Physical Plant for services, it was announced by Don von Linden, director of the Physical Plant. Richards has been with Facilities Management for six years in the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. In his new position, Richards’ responsibilities include management of the Grounds Unit, residential hall maintenance services, residence hall custodial services, academic custodial services and the newly formed Academic Services Assistance Program (ASAP)

In addition, Timothy Reilly has been appointed to the position of manager of grounds operations. For nine years, Reilly has been with Facilities Management in the Grounds Unit. In his new position, Reilly’s responsibility will be to manage all Uptown Campus grounds operations — including both academic and residential — Freedom Quad, and Rockefeller College and Alumni Quadrangle on the Downtown Campus.

On Feb. 4, von Linden announced the formation of ASAP, which will be headed on an interim basis by Walter Gorski. Gorski has been with Facilities Management for 36 years and supervisor of the Paint Shop for 18 years. ASAP will work directly with academic building managers through periodic visits. "Through ASAP, we can assess needs and more promptly provide assistive measures for minor repairs and service needs than is presently available," said von Linden.

New Officers: University at Albany Police Department

Wilfred "Rob" Robinson Jr., left, and Charles Korherr, along with Charles Schopf are new officers among those sworn in as University at Albany Police Department officers during recent ceremonies in the Alumni House.


By Suzanne Grudzinski

Deborah Lines Andersen

Albany’s School of Information Science and Policy has recently welcomed Deborah Lines Andersen as a new member of the faculty.

Andersen’s affiliation with the University began in 1992 as a graduate assistant in the Information Science Ph.D. program where she performed data analysis, research team coordination, and report writing. That same year, she served as an adjunct professor for the School of Information Science and Policy. In 1993, Andersen was awarded an HEA-IIB Fellowship through the University and returned in 1996 to resume her position in the School of Information and Policy. Andersen completed her Ph.D. in 1996 and in 1997 taught in both the School of Information Science and Policy and in the Department of Public Administration and Policy. Last year, Anderson remained at the University as a visiting professor.

This semester, Andersen is teaching two core courses, "Research Methods," which she also taught as a visiting professor and "Information and Environment." Dean Philip Eppard, of the School of Information and Policy said that Anderson, "has completely redesigned the ‘Information and Environment’ course. She has broadened the focus, making sure it covers all aspects of the information profession."

Andersen’s varied professional affiliations include the American Society for Information Science, the Association for Library and Information Science, the International System Dynamics Society, and Beta Phi Mu, the International Library and Information Science Honor Society.

"She is an outstanding professor and has contributed significantly," added Eppard. "She is a very important part of our review and revision of the Master’s level curriculum and has also contributed a strong statistical component through which she has been very helpful in alleviating students’ fears of statistics."

Andersen has a diverse background, which eventually led her to pursue information science. Before she went on to earn her Ph.D., Andersen worked as a consultant for the New York State Forum for Information Research Management creating database designs for an information resource management library. Andersen also worked for five years as a reference librarian for the New York State Library and before that she taught English at the junior and senior high school levels.

Eppard said of Andersen, "We are very happy to have her. She brings a strong expertise in the use of information and research in information science."

Andersen not only keeps up with a career in a constantly changing field, but is also the mother of three teenage daughters and has been a 4-H leader in Albany County for the last 11 years. Also, since 1982, she has owned and operated New Fadum Farm, which produces sheep and wool products. In addition, she is a demonstrator of fiber production techniques at the Altamont Fair and serves as a fiber arts interpreter for the Hancock Shaker Museum in Massachusetts.

Mark Anthony Neal

Distinguished scholar Mark Anthony Neal has recently joined the faculty of the Department of Africana Studies. Kwadwo Sarfoh, chair of the department, said, "We are pleased to have Neal on board. He is a departmental authority on black popular culture, an area that has not received much attention in the past."

Neal’s new book, What the Music Said: Black Popular Music and Black Public Culture, published in Fall ’98, is receiving positive reviews and is a major contribution to the department. Sarfoh commented that Neal’s "area of expertise in popular black culture has caused considerable interest among students."

After receiving his Master’s degree from SUNY College at Fredonia, whence he completed his undergraduate work, Neal went on to the State University of New York at Buffalo, receiving his Ph.D. in 1996. While at Buffalo, Neal was awarded the Arthur Alonzo Schomburg Fellowship in 1995 and the New York State Underrepresented Minority Graduate Fellowship in 1993 and in 1994.

Since then, Neal has taught as an assistant professor at Xavier University of Louisiana and in 1997 came to Albany as a visiting assistant professor where he taught "Black Political and Social Thought," a course examining black intellectual tradition of the late 19th and 20th Centuries. He also taught "The Black Community: Continuity and Change," which focused on the history of the Black Public Spheres of the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Neal, an accomplished lecturer, has spoken at the National Association of African-American Studies, the Popular Culture Association in the South 25th Anniversary Conference, and the Second National Conference on Urban Issues, held in 1995 at SUNY College at Buffalo.

Locally, Neal has also spoken at City Hall as part of a presentation for Black History Month. He lectured earlier this week at Albany High School and was interviewed on WAMC-radio. Neal also recently gave a reading of his new book at the Barnes & Noble bookstore on Wolf Road and will give another on Saturday, Feb. 27, at Borders Book Store.

Throughout his career, Neal has won numerous awards, including SUNY’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1997. He serves as a national board member of the National Association of African American Studies. His past community involvement includes serving as chair for the Legal Redress Committee for the Dunkirk/Fredonia NAACP. He was also a member of the Affirmative Action Committee at SUNY College at Fredonia, the African American Studies Council at Xavier University of Louisiana, and the long range planning committee of the Dunkirk-Fredonia United Way.

Neal’s professional affiliations include membership in the Popular Culture Association in the South, the Center for Research in Black Music, and the Institute for Research in African American Studies. He is also a National Board Member for the National Association of African-American Studies.

At the University, Neal is a member of the Africana studies department’s graduate recruitment committee, as well as the undergraduate curriculum committee. He has also recently been named an adjunct faculty member of the Department of English.

"Neal motivates students and relates well with them. He generates interest among the students and is a positive influence. He is a great addition to the University," added Sarfoh.


Faculty Opinion

General Education Principles No Mystery

By Donald R. Wilken, Department of Mathematics and Statistics

The January 27 issue of University Update included a Faculty Opinion article by James Wessman, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies, entitled "The Dispute Over General Education: Some Talking Points." The article described the author’s efforts "to comprehend the local General Education situation."

In the article, the four principles of our University at Albany program are described, in the author’s words, in this way:

  1. Students should get a general introduction without necessarily intending to do advanced work in this field.
  2. Students should reflect about the character of disciplinary (and interdisciplinary) knowledge.
  3. Students should learn actively rather than passively.
  4. Students should show sensitivity to multiple perspectives.

Of course, if one reads the University at Albany Undergraduate Bulletin, the actual principles are described in detail. Unfortunately the author chose to ignore this and put his own interpretation on their meaning. For example the author adds parenthetically the words "and interdisciplinary" to principle 2 and interprets that principle as follows:

"The second component of our general education program, ‘disciplinary reflectiveness,’ reflects the notion that knowledge is organized in disciplines which are equally valid. Disciplines exist not only because they direct inquiry, but because knowledge is discontinuous across the landscape. This is an extreme statement of relativism which acknowledges the historical origins and evolution of disciplines, but which goes a significant step further and makes them all equal. There are scientific truths, literary truths, ethnographic truths, and so on, with no absolute to posit that some truths are more fundamental or ‘more true’ than others."

Yet the Undergraduate Bulletin, under "Approved Courses for the General Education requirements have these features," reads as follows:

"2. They encourage reflectiveness about disciplinary knowledge; they explain what it means to be a practitioner of a discipline; they convey explicit rather than tacit understanding of the nature and importance of a discipline."

How the author managed to take these words and interpret them as a statement about interdisciplinary knowledge and the notion of "equal" validity of disciplines is incomprehensible.

Similarly, the author "interprets" the third component as follows:

"The notion of ‘active learning,’ the third principle of our general education program, occasions similar problems. Active learning is neither Aristotelian nor Socratic: students as novices do not listen passively to teachers as experts, nor do they engage in verbal play, trying to guess the teacher’s correct answer. Students are expected to assume greater responsibility and fully participate in their course, to help shape them with their own experiences and insights."

The Undergraduate Bulletin reads as follows:

3. They [approved courses] encourage active rather than passive learning; they attend, as appropriate, to reasoning and/or aesthetic aptitudes, and to reading, writing, and computational abilities.

Again the author’s interpretation is incomprehensible — an egregious misinterpretation of clear, precise language which the formulators of the General Education requirements thought long and hard about before accepting in its current form.

This is not a question of nitpicking over insignificant details. The General Education requirements on this campus have, in fact, a solid foundation on concepts which any classroom teacher will acknowledge and any employer will espouse. Master disciplinary knowledge and basic principles of a discipline before attempting to correlate that knowledge across disciplines. Respect the understanding of a discipline and depth of knowledge of an instructor and use it as a basis for expanding your own knowledge.

As mentioned earlier, the author describes his article as an effort to comprehend the local situation and mentions also that much of the summer of 1998 was spent reading about general education in preparation for a report summarized in the article. I certainly find such an endeavor admirable and appreciate his sharing of this research with us. The crux of the matter is, however, what we finally determine "General Education" to mean. One can box in and attach labels to terms like "Liberal Education" and "General Education," but fundamentally the issue is how we interpret and actually execute any program we construct. The framers of our General Education program listed 4 principles and described with careful language what they meant. Despite the well-meaning effort to give a context to a discussion of such principles, it is unfortunate that the author so misinterpreted this description.



SUNY Core Curriculum Misguided

By Warren Roberts, Department of History

John Ryan, Chancellor of the State University of New York, has said of the core curriculum designed by the Trustees and intended for implementation across all SUNY campuses in the fall of 2000 that "this action will make tremendous strides in improving the quality of the State University. It will elevate the value of a State University degree, declaring that our graduates possess the skills and knowledge necessary for a lifetime of achievement and productive endeavor."

An examination of the core curriculum suggests that Chancellor Ryan has, to put it politely, overstated his case. If this curriculum goes into effect, students will take ten courses in the categories designated by the Trustees. Except for three history courses, each of which is a separate category, there is no cohesion within the core curriculum. For instance, students would take three history courses and one course in a category designated social science. As it happens, history is regarded as a social science discipline, along with economics, psychology, sociology, anthropology and geography. What value is there in taking just one course in one of these other disciplines? Or just one mathematics course? Or one natural science course? Or one humanities and arts course? And most absurdly, one course in a foreign language? Would students who take but one three-credit course in each of these categories learn something that would relate to something else? Perhaps students would, but as the result of chance rather than some organizing principle within the core curriculum.

One outcome of this program would be fragmentation of learning rather than learning based on objectives that have been thought through. There is, in fact, no intellectual coherence within the ten categories that constitute the core curriculum as designed by the Trustees. Had the Trustees consulted with administrators and faculty from the various campuses of the State University of New York, they would have been told that categories as disparate as American history and basic communication and reasoning make no sense. Communication and reasoning skills should come out of subject courses offered within the various disciplines.

If the Trustees want to do a service to higher education in the State of New York, they will not implement the deeply flawed and intellectually incoherent core curriculum program they have designed. Rather, they will enter into discussions with university administrators and faculty from the various SUNY campuses on how to improve undergraduate education. 


Roger E. Oesterreich

Roger E. Oesterreich, a psychology professor at the University for more than 30 years, died January 28 at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady.

Born in Chicago, Ill., and raised in Brookfield, Ill, Oesterreich earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri and a doctorate in psychology from the University of Chicago in 1960. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and a former member of Sigma Xi.

Oesterreich joined the University in 1964 as an associate professor of psychology and, after retiring in 1995, was an associate professor emeritus.

A founding member and former chairman of the board of the Charleston Historical Society, Oesterreich in his spare time produced, directed and performed in plays and musicals depicting the history of the Charleston area. He is survived by his wife, Claire Assetta Oesterreich, and two sisters, Carol Hurley of Darien, Ill., and Ruth Marggraf of Indian Head Park, Ill.

Leona Siple

Leona Siple, 80, a retired nurse who worked at the University Health Center for more than 20 years, died February 14 at her daughter’s home in Watervliet.

Born in Watervliet, Siple graduated from the Bellevue Hospital School of Nursing in New York City where she later became a registered nurse. Before retiring in 1982, Siple was a registered nurse and nurse practitioner at the University. Services were held February 17 at the Cummings Funeral Home.


Building a Brighter Future

Mrs. Miriam Snow Mathes ’26 has donated $25,000 to establish a scholarship endowment in the memory of Myskania. It was founded in 1917 as an informal student government and ended in 1979. Hundreds of student leaders made the Myskania an important voice for the students over the course of its active years. "In establishing the endowment, Mrs. Mathes noted the important role which this group played in the modern history of the institution," said Sorrell Chesin. The scholarship is to be awarded to those students who have made significant contributions to student life at the University.

Chesin also noted, with sadness, the passing of Marcia Gold Goldman Mayer ’33. An endowment has been established in her name, through a bequest of $15,000 in her will, to the University and will assist students with their college expenses in the years ahead. Mrs. Mayer was named to the Heritage Circle Society Honor Roll in recognition of her generosity.

Barbara Bates has included a bequest of $50,000 in her will to support the University’s outstanding German Exile Collection, which has taken shape over the years through the direction of recently retired John Spalek of the German Program.

Mrs. Bates’ donation will be used to support the cataloging and maintenance of the writings of her late husband, Roy C. Bates.


President Hitchcock, Meredith Butler, dean and director of Libraries, and Carol Bullard, director of corporate and foundation relations, celebrate in the new library on Feb. 4 at a reception for those whose donations secured the Library campaign a $500,000 Kresge Foundation challenge grant.

Sports Talk

Women Are NECC Track Champs

Xiomara Davila Diaz was a double-winner in the 55-meter dash and 55-meter hurdles to lead Albany to its second straight New England Collegiate Conference women’s indoor track & field championship on Saturday at Southern Connecticut State University’s Moore Fieldhouse.

Davila Diaz was named the NECC’s Athlete of the Year as she was timed in 7.16 seconds in the 55-dash and 8.11 in the hurdles. A senior from Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, Davila Diaz dominated the championship by anchoring the winning 1,600-relay, and placing second in the 200 and third in the triple jump.

Albany outpointed Massachusetts-Lowell, 184-165, to capture the team title, and had six individual winners.

Andrea Viger won the mile run in 5:15.77, and was second in the 3,000. Her twin sister Erica was first across the line in the 1,000 (3:12.48). Tamirah Haywood set a meet record in winning the 500 in 1:19.75, and Oneika Randall was the 400-meter winner.

Albany, the two-time defending champions, finished as the runner-up to Southern Connecticut State, 180-142, in the men’s competition. The Great Danes were victorious in four individual events.

Ben Wright garnered his third straight indoor title in the mile run with a time of 4:22.08, and also finished second in the 800. Other winners were Greg Miller (55 meters), Todd Weiss (3,000) and Andy Rickert (5,000). John Morris and Ronald Edmundson posted second-place showings in the high jump and triple jump, respectively.

Loss Ends Div. II for Men’s BB

The Great Danes completed the Division II era with a 14-13 record following last Saturday’s 59-48 loss at home to Stony Brook. Albany upgrades to Division I in 1999-2000.

Stony Brook’s Achilleas Klepkos, who scored 21 points, keyed a seven-point spurt to break a 30-30 deadlock early in the final period. Todd Cetnar canned a three-point field goal to close Albany within 49-46 with 3:06 remaining.

However, Klepkos helped pull his team away with a three-point play when he was fouled as he scored on the left baseline. Guard Steve Pratta hit 4-of-4 free throw attempts in the final minute to hold the lead.

"They outplayed us all the way around," said Albany senior guard Bob Markel, who was making his final appearance at the RACC. "Their defense prevented us from getting good looks at the basket."

DANE NOTES: Albany reached the 14-win mark for the 22nd time in the last 23 seasons ... Todd Cetnar’s 418 points were the most by an Albany guard in 11 seasons ... Will Brand scored 406 points, the highest total by a freshman since 1955-56, and reached double figures in 22 of 27 games.

Women Need Win for .500

Kelly Paolino scored 15 of her 23 points in the second half to lead Albany to a 67-60 NECC victory over Stony Brook on Saturday at the Recreation and Convocation Center.

Albany (12-13, NECC 9-9) needed a non-conference win over South-ern Vermont on Feb. 22 to finish .500 or above for the 15th time in the last 17 years.

"This was a huge game for us if we really want to continue on," said Paolino, whose team would be eligible for ECAC tournament consideration if they even their won-loss record at 13 apiece.

Stony Brook rallied from 12 points down in the second half to grab a 51-50 lead with 5:08 remaining, but the Danes regrouped with nine straight points. Paolino had four markers in that decisive run, and gave her club the lead for good with a 16-footer in the circle off the dribble.

DANE NOTES: Kelly Paolino needs 22 points to become the fourth player in school history to reach the coveted 1,000-career mark . . . Paolino set a UA record with her 107th career game played ... Melissa Schoonover has moved to second on the all-time blocked shots list with 107 ... ECAC tournament bids are released on March 1.

Football’s Ford Honored Once More

Bob Ford received the Gordon White-Herschel Nissenson Division II Coach of the Year by the Metropolitan New York Football Writers Association at the Eastern College Football Awards Banquet on Feb. 16 at the Meadowlands’ Pegasus Restaurant.

Ford, who guided the Great Danes to their second consecutive Eastern Football Conference championship and a 10-1 record in 1998, had previously won the Football Gazette national Division II non-scholarhship and EFC coach-of-the-year awards.

Virginia’s George Welsh (Division I-AA), Mark Whipple of Massachusetts (I-AA) and Tufts’ Bill Samko (III) were also honored as the top coaches in their respective NCAA divisions.



 WTEN-TV news anchor Jim Brennan interviews basketball captain Kelly Paolino at the 39th annual CP Telethon on January 27. Members of the University’s women’s basketball and men’s football teams helped organizers raise more than $1.4 million, a new record for the event.