The Department of Africana and Latino Studies at SUNY Oneonta will host a series of performances, lectures and other community events marking Latina/o Heritage Month. The celebration will begin with an opening reception on Thursday, Oct. 2, from 6 to 7 p.m. in Le Café at the Morris Conference Center on the college’s campus, and conclude on Nov. 5 with an observance of the Dia de los Muertos at noon.

Some of the other events planned are:

• A screening of “Latino Americans,” the first major television documentary series to chronicle the history and experiences of Latinos, on Oct. 7 at 8 p.m. in Hunt Union’s Red Dragon Theater;

• Two Ralph Watkins Lecture Series presentations, one on Oct. 9, delivered by Kwame Fosu, Policy Director and Director of International Affairs at Rebecca Project in Washington, D.C., and the second delivered by Pedro DiPietro of the Women’s & Gender Studies Department at Syracuse University on Oct. 30;

• Alex Torres and His Latin Orchestra, award-winning salsa musicians, will perform from 8 to 11 p.m. Oct. 25 at the Hunt Union’s Waterfront Room; and

• A Gender Out of Bounds presentation titled “From La Llorona to Gay Vampires: Gender and the Supernatural in Mexican Literature and Folklore” by Jorge Estrada of the Women’s and Gender Studies Department on Oct. 29.

A complete calendar of events is available at All Latina/o Heritage Month programming is free and open to the public.

Rosemarie Avanzato

Rosemarie Avanzato of SUNY Oneonta’s School of Education and Human Ecology is the 2014 winner of the college’s Ashok Kumar Malhotra Seva Faculty Award. She will deliver the Seva Lecture, titled, ”How Easy It Is To Incorporate Service-Learning Into The Classroom,” on Thursday, Oct. 2, at 7 p.m. in the Craven Lounge of the Morris Conference Center. The presentation, and the dessert reception that precedes it, are free and open to the public.

A Family and Consumer Sciences and Human Ecology lecturer, Avanzato holds an associate’s degree in fashion merchandising from Nassau Community College, a bachelor’s degree in clothing and textiles from SUNY Oneonta, and a master’s in education (reading) from SUNY Oneonta.

Avanzato engages students in her Consumer Resource Management classes in service-learning projects ranging from collecting pet supply donations for a local animal shelter to coordinating the Cinderella Project on campus. This national program provides free, gently worn gowns and accessories to high school students dreaming of attending their high school prom. Each spring, Avanzato’s students collect donations of dresses, shoes, jewelry and other accessories and give them to area high school students at no cost. Avanzato is also the adviser for the college’s Association of Secondary Educators student organization.

The Ashok Kumar Malhotra Seva Faculty Award recognizes a SUNY Oneonta faculty member who exemplifies the ideals of compassionate service. SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor Ashok Kumar Malhotra established the Ashok Kumar Malhotra Seva Faculty Award in 2008 through an endowment to the College at Oneonta Foundation, which funds an award of $1,000 to each year’s recipient.

The college provost names award winners based on a faculty selection committee’s recommendations. Criteria for the award include performing community service locally, nationally or internationally; demonstrating the ability to motivate and inspire others to perform community service; and integrating community service into the teaching and learning process.

Fifteen SUNY Oneonta freshmen have been selected to participate in Critical MaSS: Math and Science Scholars, a scholarship program supporting students who plan to pursue careers or advanced degree programs in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

Each student received a scholarship award of up to $2,700 for the fall 2014 semester. If they continue to meet program criteria, they will receive a similar scholarship each semester, totaling up to eight, while they are STEM majors at SUNY Oneonta.

In addition to the scholarships (up to $21,600 per student), Critical MaSS scholars will have access to a variety of required and optional experiences to bolster their chances of academic success and increase their level of engagement. For example, during their junior year, each scholar will have access to up to $1,500 to fund a research project or professional development activity, such as attending a scientific meeting.

Now in its second year, the Critical MaSS program is funded by a five-year grant awarded through the National Science Foundation’s S-STEM Program. It will support a total of 24 SUNY Oneonta students in the fields of Biology, Chemistry & Biochemistry, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, Mathematics, Computer Science & Statistics, Physics & Astronomy or Environmental Science with scholarships of up to $5,400 per year. Nine students who began the program last fall are in their second year as Critical MaSS scholars.

“Although SUNY Oneonta is well-known for having low student debt costs at graduation, there are still many students whose families have difficulty paying for college,” said project coordinator Dr. John Schaumloffel, chair of the college’s Chemistry and Biochemistry Department.

Second-year Critical MaSS Scholar Courtney Cooper, a chemistry major from Norwich, NY, said the benefits of the program extend beyond financial support.

“Transitioning to a place where you don’t know anyone and don’t know what to expect can be scary and intimidating. For me, the STEM program made it easier in multiple ways. For example, not only did I get to meet other students with interests similar to mine but I also got to meet staff members in the courses I could possibly be taking. STEM helped by providing guidance throughout the first year of college, during both the class time and meetings with advisers outside of class.”

Working closely with Schaumloffel on the project are Dr. Jennifer Withington, assistant professor of Biology; Dr. Leigh Fall, assistant professor of geology within the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; and Dr. Nathan Gonyea, associate professor of Educational Psychology, Counseling and Special Education.

SUNY Oneonta received the 2014 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education, on Sept. 16. As a recipient of the annual HEED Award—a national honor recognizing U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion—SUNY Oneonta will be featured along with 82 other recipients in INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine’s November 2014 issue.

“It is an honor to receive recognition for our efforts to be inclusive and welcoming. We are fortunate that our college community attracts students, faculty and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds. This gives us unique opportunities to share, learn, and grow,” said SUNY Oneonta President Nancy Kleniewski. “The greatest reward for infusing diversity into the campus experience is the hope that our students will show one another greater empathy, know more of the struggles that shape us all, and go into the world prepared to meet challenges through strength of character.”

INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine selected SUNY Oneonta based on the college’s exemplary diversity and inclusion initiatives, and ability to embrace a broad definition of diversity on campus, including gender, race, ethnicity, veterans, people with disabilities and members of the LGBT community.

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SUNY Oneonta is among the top 100 colleges in the Northeast for the ninth consecutive year, according to the U.S. News and World Report’s 2015 ranking of “Best Colleges,” released Sept. 9. The college jumped 25 spots to No. 41 in the “Best Regional Universities—North” category, which includes institutions in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and all of New England that offer a full range of undergraduate and master’s degrees, but few if any doctoral programs. Among public institutions in the region, SUNY Oneonta ranks No. 9, climbing 10 spots from last year.

In addition, SUNY Oneonta was one of five regional universities in the North singled out on a list of institutions whose students graduated with the lightest debt load. Nearly a third of the SUNY Oneonta Class of 2013 graduated with no debt. For those who did take out loans to help pay for their education, the average amount of debt was $15,598.

“We are delighted to once again be recognized by U.S. News for our overall quality, our commitment to our students, and our passion for their learning,” said SUNY Oneonta President Nancy Kleniewski. “This ranking acknowledges SUNY Oneonta’s pursuit of excellence in and out of the classroom, and the progress we have made under our strategic plan.”

“Again this year, we are proud to see so many of our SUNY campuses recognized as being among the best nationally by U.S. News and World Report,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “In every community across New York state, SUNY colleges and universities like SUNY Oneonta offer students top-quality degree programs and applied learning opportunities that prepare them for success in today’s 21st-century global economy.”

Over the past several years, SUNY Oneonta frequently has been recognized for providing an excellent education at an affordable cost. In addition to its consistent inclusion in the U.S. News rankings, SUNY Oneonta has been named to the Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine list of “Top 100 Best Values in Public Colleges” list for eight consecutive years, was ranked No. 2 on the 2014 Kiplinger’s list of “10 Best Public Colleges With Lowest Debt at Graduation” and sits at No. 19 on Kiplinger’s 2014 national list of “25 Best College Values Under $30,000 a Year.” In July, SUNY Oneonta earned a spot on Forbes magazine’s 2014 list of “America’s Top Colleges” for the first time since the business journal began publishing the rankings in 2008.

U.S. News surveyed colleges and universities nationwide to compile the 2015 list. Rankings are based on several factors, including data from each school and secondary sources, such as the American Association of University Professors, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the Council for Aid to Education, and the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Peer reviews by officers of other colleges also are considered.

The Best Colleges 2015 guidebook is available online. A complete explanation of the U.S. News college ranking methodology is available at

On Sept. 4, 1889, Principal James M. Milne stood behind a podium in an assembly hall overflowing with supporters to formally dedicate the Oneonta Normal School.

One-hundred-twenty-five years later, SUNY Oneonta is overflowing with pride in the growth of the campus, its reputation as one of the finest public colleges in the Northeast, and the Possibilities Full of Promise in the years ahead.

To celebrate, this year’s annual Red Day on Friday, Sept. 5, will be bigger than ever!

Red Day events include:

  • a celebration on the quad from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., featuring an Athletics pep rally, Student Association activities and giveaways, and a birthday cake cutting with President Nancy Kleniewski at noon;
  • an alumni luncheon featuring a talk on the college’s history by Dr. David Brenner;
  • 35th annual Mayor’s Cup Tournament at Red Dragon Field— men’s soccer vs. RIT at 3 p.m.;
  • a reception beginning at 6 p.m. in the Hunt Union Waterfront in recognition of the college’s 125th anniversary, with a ceremony to bestow the honor or Alumni of Distinction upon some of our most accomplished graduates. (Cocktails and small plates will be served. Tickets are $50 per person.); and
  • fireworks at 9 p.m., followed by an outdoor screening of the Disney movie “Maleficent.”

More information is available at

SUNY Oneonta will begin the academic year with two new founding deans and a new chief diversity officer.

Jan Bowers

Last fall, the college established five schools as part of a restructuring of its division of Academic Affairs and welcomed founding deans for the School of Economics and Business, the School of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, and the School of Social Science. Interim deans were appointed for the remaining two schools while searches were conducted.

Dr. Jan Bowers joined the college June 2 as the founding dean of the School of Education and Human Ecology. Bowers came to SUNY Oneonta from Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Wash., where she was a professor within the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences. She earned a Ph.D. from Kansas State University, where her major field of study was adult and occupational education administration.

Joao Sedycias

Dr. Joao Sedycias joined the college Aug. 1 as the founding dean of the School of Arts and Humanities. Sedycias came to SUNY Oneonta from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where he was a professor of Spanish and chair of the Department of Foreign Languages & Literature at SIUE, overseeing a program offering instruction in 12 languages. He earned a Ph.D. in comparative literature at the University of Buffalo.

Terrence Mitchell

In addition to the new deans, Terrence Mitchell joined the college July 1 as chief diversity officer. Prior to his arrival at SUNY Oneonta, Mitchell was executive director of the CREED College Readiness Program in Meadville, Pa., a nonprofit organization he founded in 2010. CREED offers education consulting to students and their families in Pennsylvania, New York, Oklahoma and Texas. Before establishing CREED, Mitchell spent 13 years at Allegheny College in Meadville in various roles, including director of the Office of Diversity Affairs, associate dean of students and assistant to the president for institutional diversity. He holds a master’s from the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Okla., and is pursuing a doctoral degree at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

The ribbon cutting to officially reopen SUNY Oneonta’s completely renovated Fitzelle Hall will take place rain or shine at Fitzelle Hall on the first day of the fall semester, Monday, Aug. 25, at 11 a.m.

Fitzelle is SUNY Oneonta’s largest academic building and the first building on campus to meet the sustainability standards for LEED Silver certification. Home to the college’s Professional Education Unit and departments of Africana and Latino Studies; Mathematics, Computer Science and Statistics; Philosophy; and Psychology, the 100,000-square-foot building has 23 classrooms and specialty learning spaces, and 113 faculty and staff offices.

Dozens of informal learning areas designed for student group study and engagement are sprinkled throughout the three floors in comfortable, natural-light-filled spaces. A 40-foot pedestrian bridge and walkway connect the third floor of Fitzelle with parking at the Hunt College Union for improved accessibility.

The first-floor atrium features Seasons Café, the second Sodexo food service venue in the country serving locally grown and produced foods at every meal. Menu items will include Hale & Hearty Soups and Chobani Greek Yogurt from Norwich, Stagecoach Coffee roasted in Cooperstown, meats from Purdy and Sons in Sherburne, maple products from Shaver-Hill Maple in Harpersfield and honey from McCoy’s Honey in Franklin, as well as baked goods and breads baked fresh each day at the campus bakery. A “living wall” of plants will add to the atmosphere of green space and healthy living.

The renovated building is 30,000 square feet larger than the original, but uses 20 percent less energy. Ten percent of the steel, aluminum, glass and other building materials used in the project were recycled. Other sustainability features include:

Water Conservation— Low-flow water fixtures reduce the building’s water consumption by 30 percent.

Insulating Window Glass—Insulating glass saves on monthly heating and cooling costs and also helped to reduce the initial size and cost of the heating and cooling equipment required to serve the building.

Window Awnings—Window awnings can reduce solar heat gain in the summer by up to 65 percent on south-facing windows and 77 percent on west-facing windows, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Natural Light—Skylights, a window-filled atrium and clerestory windows conserve energy by letting in natural light and provide an atmosphere of open, green space.

High-Efficiency Lighting—The orbital lamps hanging from the atrium chandelier are lit with high-efficiency LEDs. Throughout the building, there are 879 fluorescent lighting fixtures and 347 high-efficiency low-glare fixtures, plus 83 occupancy-sensors in stairwells and other locations to help reduce electricity use.

Sustainable Landscaping—The landscaping around the building features native plants.

Central Printing—All departments in the building are networked to 10 multifunctional devices, cutting down on printing and supply costs.

Promoting a Culture of Sustainability—A bike rack outside and two bathrooms with showers make it easier for employees to bike, walk or run to work. Three hydration stations (among 14 throughout the campus) promote the use of reusable water bottles. The building has 12 large recycling stations in high-traffic areas, plus smaller units in all the office suites.

Mike Morales

While many college students are spending the summer waiting tables, working as interns or perfecting their tans, SUNY Oneonta junior Michael Morales has been marching to the beat of a different drum.

Morales, a music industry major from Warwick, N.Y., is touring the country as a musician with Drum Corps International (DCI), a competitive league of drum and bugle corps marching ensembles that presents high-energy, choreographed musical performances at venues ranging from high school football fields to NFL stadiums. As many as 20 ensembles perform at each show, and each drum corps is judged and scored.

After a successful audition last November, Morales traveled to monthly rehearsals and made it through three more auditions to land a contract with the Camden County, N.J.-based Jersey Surf Drum Corps. The 150-member ensemble, part of the World Class DCI division, includes a variety of percussion and brass instruments, but no woodwinds. Morales is a percussionist in the front ensemble, playing a rack full of percussion instruments, including cymbals, chimes, a bass drum, a gong, shakers and triangles.

“I’ve been playing drums since I could hold a pair of sticks, and this is the biggest accomplishment of my career,” said Morales, a third-generation drummer whose parents met in drum corps.

Following spring training, Morales began a six-week tour through the Midwest, South and Northeast. The tour culminates in the 2014 DCI World Championships in Indianapolis this weekend. Morales will compete on Friday in the preliminary round of the competition.

The Jersey Surf Drum Corps’ theme is “Pay it Forward,” and pieces on the set list this season have included “Lean on Me,” Aaron Copland’s “Simple Gifts” and the Norah Jones version of “I Think It’s Gonna Rain Today.”

A typical day starts at 7 a.m., with arrival at a new venue, set-up and rehearsals, and ends at midnight, when the show is over and the equipment has been broken down. Then it’s back on the bus and on the road to the next gig. The musicians are accompanied by a staff of about 50 technicians, drivers, cooks, administrators and medical professionals.

SUNY Oneonta Assistant Professor of Music Julie Licata traveled to Allentown, Pa., last weekend to catch one of Morales’ shows. “I’m very proud of Mike’s success this summer and it was really exciting to see him perform,” she said.

Over the course of the tour, Morales said he has made close friends, had the opportunity to network with other musicians, and grown as both a musician and a person. “I feel like it’s taught me a lot about life, traveling and learning to work with other people.”

At SUNY Oneonta, Morales is a member of the Percussion Ensemble and Drag ‘N Rolls Drum Line, and he serves as performing arts chair of the Student Association Activities Council.

Dr. Jacqueline Bennett

Dr. Jacqueline Bennett has invented a new chemical process that’s safer, greener and more efficient than traditional methods used to make imines, a class of chemical compounds that has household and industrial applications.

Chemical processes used to create essential materials often consume large quantities of relatively toxic compounds that are later disposed of as hazardous waste. Bennett’s research focuses on finding more environmentally friendly ways to make imines, which are found in a wide range of products, from automotive rust inhibitors to antibiotics.

Because traditional imine synthesis uses solvents that pose inhalation hazards, Bennett experimented with a benign alternative solvent called ethyl lactate, a naturally occurring, FDA-approved food additive that breaks down quickly and harmlessly in the environment. Unlike the established method, Dr. Bennett’s process does not require heat, agitation, recrystallization or purification. Yet it forms imines more quickly, producing higher yields. More details on Bennett’s process are available at

Bennett, who spoke about her discovery in a 2011 Academic Minute segment on the Albany NPR Affiliate, WAMC, received a United States Patent for it on July 1. “Green Synthesis of Aryl Aldimines Using Ethyl Lactate” is the result of years of research, including projects undertaken in collaboration with SUNY Oneonta undergraduate students in Bennett’s research group, the BLONDES: Building a Legacy of Outstanding New Developments and Excellence in Science.

An associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at SUNY Oneonta since 2006, Bennett received the American Chemical Society’s Committee on Environmental Improvement 2011 Award for Incorporating Sustainability into Chemistry Education in recognition of her work on imine synthesis. She holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, Riverside.

Bennett’s research interests include green chemistry, inquiry-based learning and the use of technology to enhance student learning. Her most important interest, however, is mentoring future scientists in her research group. One of her research students, Michelle Linder, won an international green chemistry award in 2011 for research she did under Bennett’s supervision. Linder was the first undergraduate ever to win the award. In addition to inspiring the next generation of chemists, Bennett’s discovery has the potential to validate the effectiveness of green chemistry as a strategy for protecting our health and planet, once imines can be mass-produced economically using her method.