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.

SUNY Oneonta is among “America’s Top Colleges” for 2014, according to Forbes magazine. In its annual rankings released  July 30, the business journal placed Oneonta at No. 167 in the Northeast, and No. 520, overall. This is the first time that SUNY Oneonta has earned a spot on the list since Forbes began publishing it in 2008.

“It’s always gratifying to be included in college rankings,” said SUNY Oneonta President Nancy Kleniewski. “Appearing on the Forbes list this year is further validation of the quality education our students receive.”

Forbes partnered with the Center for College Affordability and Productivity to administer the project and bills its rankings as being focused on outputs, rather than inputs.

“We’re not all that interested in what gets a student into college,” according to Caroline Howard of Forbes. “Our sights are set directly on ROI: What are students getting out of college?”

Factors Forbes considers include student satisfaction, post-graduate success, student debt, graduation rate, and academic success. A discussion of the methodology is available online.

SUNY Oneonta also fared well in another college ranking earlier this month. Great Value Colleges, an online resource whose mission is “to help students get the best possible education for their money,” ranked SUNY Oneonta No. 11 on its list of the top 25 public “Great Affordable Colleges in the Northeast.”

Among the factors Great Value Colleges considered in its analysis were: graduation rate, net price, student-to-faculty ratio, and the number of campus organizations.

Recognition from Forbes and Great Value Colleges follows similar accolades by other external sources. U.S. News and World Report ranked SUNY Oneonta No. 16 on its 2014 list of the best public institutions in the region. In March, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine ranked SUNY Oneonta No. 19 on its 2014 list of “25 Best College Values Under $30,000 a Year.” Kiplinger’s also has named SUNY Oneonta to its list of “100 Best Values in Public Colleges” for eight consecutive years, and ranked the college No. 2 on its list of “10 Best Public Colleges With Lowest Debt at Graduation” this year.


Victoria Panyu

Fashion research conducted by SUNY Oneonta senior Victoria Panyu has been accepted for presentation at the 2014 International Textiles & Apparel Association (ITAA) conference.

Panyu, a fashion and textiles major/business communication minor from Staten Island, conducted research on online-only fashion retailers in collaboration with Dr. Hyejune Park, assistant professor of Fashion & Textiles.

After spending the fall 2013 semester collecting and analyzing data, Panyu wrote a research paper synthesizing everything that she did over the course of the project, including literature review, data collection and analyses.

“What she brought as a final outcome was truly impressive,” said Park. “The research findings were insightful in that the new trends of current online-only fashion retailers’ e-tailing strategies were well-recognized in her analysis. The quality of her work was definitely higher than I expected from an undergraduate student and the overall outcome was so good that I decided to submit the refined version of her research abstract to the ITAA.”

Park and Panyu will present the research in November at the 2014 conference of the ITAA, the largest and most renowned international academic association in the fashion and textiles area, in Charlotte, N.C.

In March, Panyu presented the project at the college’s annual Student Research and Creative Activity Day and was one of five undergraduate students, selected from nearly 180 participants, to receive the 2014 College at Oneonta Foundation Award for Excellence in Student Research & Creative Activity. This accolade, made possible by philanthropic support, recognizes students for exemplary scholarship.

During her time at SUNY Oneonta, Panyu has sought out opportunities to apply what she has learned in the classroom. She worked with Dr. Park as a teaching assistant for two semesters, completed six credits in fashion styling and trend forecasting during a study abroad program in London, and was a member of the Student Fashion Society.

Panyu plans to graduate in December 2014 and will either apply to graduate school or look for employment in the fashion industry. “Whichever path she decides to pursue,” Park said, “she will definitely add a great deal with her passion for fashion!”

Dennis Banks

The New York State Education Department Board of Regents has selected Dennis Banks, professor and chair of SUNY Oneonta’s Department of Secondary Education, as the 2013 recipient of its Louis E. Yavner Citizen Award.

Banks received the award, given in recognition of his work in human rights education, during a Board of Regents meeting in Albany on Tuesday, June 24.

The Louis E. Yavner Citizen Award recognizes a citizen who has made an outstanding contribution to education about the Holocaust and other violations of human rights. The annual award was established by the Regents and funded by the late Regent Emeritus Louis E. Yavner to honor Holocaust survivors, scholars of the Holocaust and human rights issues from many professions, and self-taught experts who help to educate New York state students about these difficult topics.

Awards are presented on the basis of distinguished educational service to state institutions and organizations through classroom and public programs, school assemblies, workshops, exhibits, community service, scholarship, writings and other related activities.

“It was indeed an honor to receive this award for work that I have been doing for my entire life,” said Banks. “I was taught from an early age to respect all people. We all have certain rights bestowed upon us simply because we are human, including such things as respect, dignity and health. With rights, come responsibilities. As teachers, we have the great responsibility of molding the minds and consciences of our students as they grow into the citizens of the future. As teaching becomes a more and more complicated task, we cannot forget what is truly important: Test scores will pass, hearts and minds will endure.”