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Winter 2003

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Contents

Features

Observations

Letters

On campus

Faculty focus

Sports

Arts on view

Alumni affairs
and development

Class notes

 

 
 

people & projects

Smoke signals
Nursing, major league
Organically grown
Deedop CD bop
Road writes
Sand blast
Matters of principal
Glass act
Mac man


Smoke signals

What’s the best way to convince kids to stay away from tobacco—strict messages from parents and teachers? advertising campaigns? Some suggest that young people themselves are in a prime position to spread the word. In Minnesota Nancy Selib Brown ’64 is coordinator of the state’s Youth Advocacy and Tobacco Prevention (YATP) Project, which helps middle- and high-school students educate their peers about the hazards of smoking.
     The program has adult guidance but is essentially run by young people. “The result,” says Brown, is “creative, effective progress in reducing tobacco use and changing attitudes so that [smoking] is no longer considered ‘normal.’” In Minnesota alone, more than thirty YATP chapters have formed since 1999, engaging over a thousand youths and influencing thousands more of their classmates, siblings, and other community members.
     Brown got involved in the project in 2000 for the simple reason that she wanted “to make the world a better place”; she also loves spending time with kids and watching them grow. “I believe YATP initiatives have made a difference,” Brown comments. “We know—from evaluations, perceptions of school staff, chapter members and their peers, and state-wide testing—that tobacco use by youths ages twelve to seventeen has been dramatically reduced in Minnesota.” At the same time, she adds, YATP participants—who are more ethnically diverse than the Minnesota school population and include both the typical student leaders and others who are less active in school—are enriched by their experiences with the project. Besides teaching young people to steer clear of tobacco, YATP enables them to “learn skills such as Web-site development, public speaking, event organizing, public relations, videography, acting, teaching, interviewing, and leadership,” Brown notes.
     YATP offers manuals, training, and workshops for all participants and their adult leaders. Brown herself provides personal support by visiting each chapter at least three times a year—to teach specific skills, involve the students in focus groups, or just “hang out” with them. “I am not familiar with any other youth-led tobacco prevention programs like ours,” she says, and “YATP would be happy to work with other school or state programs.” Interested? Contact Brown at NBrownMpls@aol.com or call 612-467-1881. —MTS

Nursing, major league

When Janet Allan ’64 first graduated from Skidmore, her only plan for the future was to “get a job, earn some money, and see the world.” But in the nearly forty years since then, one thing has become obvious: Allan took her Skidmore nursing degree and ran with it.
     She earned a master’s in community health nursing, certification as a nurse practitioner, and a Ph.D. in medical anthropology. She conducted one of the first studies in the nation on the comparison of different ethnic groups’ attitudes toward women’s weight and how to manage it. She has been honored for contributions to the care of people with AIDS and HIV infection, and has received awards from the Southern Nursing Regional Society and Nurseweek. She was previously the dean of the nursing school at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. And in September, Allan became dean of the nursing school at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. The school—which pioneered the world’s first nursing informatics program and the nation’s first nursing health policy program—is regarded as one of the top ten nursing schools in the country.
     It goes without saying that Allan will play a key role in establishing the school’s direction—no small task, given the nation’s current dearth of nurses. But she has a plan. One goal is to address the shortage in nursing faculty. While there are seventy-eight doctoral programs for nurses in the nation, only four hundred Ph.D.s graduate each year, Allan says. “Without the faculty, you can have all the students in the world and no one to teach them.” Additional goals include expanding the nursing school’s clinical program, creating an interdisciplinary research center, attracting more research funding, and increasing student financial aid.
     If a school is like a company, then Allan thinks of herself as the CEO. “People have to give you the ability to lead,” she told the Baltimore Daily Record. “You have to generate respect and trust” —in her case by empowering students, faculty, and the patients they treat.
     “Everything I’ve learned as a nurse, I apply to life,” Allan concludes. “You have to be a good communicator, a good listener. A lot of students think if they sit at a patient’s bedside and listen for five minutes, they’re not doing anything. But everyone has a different world view. You have to enter into that world view and understand it”—both in clinical work and leadership. —MTS

Organically grown

Tilling the land and harvesting crops weren’t particular interests for American studies major Emeline “Moie” Kimball Crawford ’69. But a few years after graduation, with little more than some experience tending family vegetable plots, she and her husband, Jim, started farming several acres of land in West Virginia—organically. Their goals were straightforward: they wanted a farm that was sustainable, profitable, and enjoyable. In 1975 they relocated to south-central Pennsylvania, where they own and operate the ninety-five-acre New Morning Farm.
     The Crawfords grow about forty different crops—all certified organic—including berries and herbs, heirloom tomatoes, and many standard garden vegetables. The farm has, on occasion, lost crops to diseases and pests that couldn’t be controlled with organically approved methods, but most often the crops do well. “Organic farming is riskier and more expensive than conventional farming,” Crawford acknowledges, but “any farming is risky and expensive in this country.      “We decided early on that direct marketing would be the best way for us to get the highest price for our crops,” Crawford states. They organized two farmers’ markets and helped found Tuscarora Organic Growers, a wholesale marketing cooperative. In the spirit of building community and helping to sustain family farms, the Crawfords have, right from the start, promoted a cooperative approach with their neighbors—hiring them to harvest crops and prepare produce for market, and encouraging them to turn out their own home-grown and homemade products to sell alongside whatever the Crawfords offer for sale.
     Besides the Crawford family (including two adult children), New Morning Farm employs a couple of year-round helpers and about fifteen seasonal workers and apprentices—many of whom have gone on to start their own farming ventures. The Crawfords were honored in 2002 with a leadership award from the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture.
     While New Morning Farm has thrived at a time when countless other family farms have gone under, Crawford says what she’s most proud of is “the way we have made this piece of ground economically productive and how we have involved our neighbors and others in the process. It is extremely satisfying to me to know that we have empowered people in our little corner of the world.” —MTS

Deedop CD bop

According to his Web site, guitarist Chris Teasdale ’76 played his first live gig at Vassar College in 1967. “The average age of the band members was 13, and Chris had the marketing smarts to call the five-piece band The Rolling Pebbles. The all-female audience ate it up.”
     As a Skidmore student, Teasdale and his musician buddies played occasionally at Lively Lucy’s on campus and at Sages, a small Italian restaurant in Saratoga Springs. The young musicians were constantly jamming in the Filene auditorium, Teasdale recalls.
     Then came graduation (he earned a degree in English, with a New York State teaching certificate) and the working life—which for Teasdale did not include playing music. For twenty-two years he worked in various positions for Bell Labs. He’s also been a single dad since 1984, when his son’s mother died. Teasdale devoted his time to fatherhood, spending any free time participating in his son’s activities.
     But the itch to return to music never left him. He recalls, “In a workshop I took while working as head of human resources for the wireless division of AT&T, we made a list of everything we’d like to accomplish before we died.” His list included “produce a CD of original music.” Back then, Teasdale notes, “I couldn’t play the guitar for more than fifteen minutes without my hands cramping up.” But he started practicing, and since taking early retirement in 2001, he’s released that CD of original music, on his own independent record label, Deedop Music.
     Co-produced by Teasdale’s longtime friend and bass player Michael Gold, the CD is aptly titled “Gold ’n Teasdale: A Little Deedop.” Aside from one Bill Evans tune, the compositions are all Teasdale originals—mostly traditional jazz and Brazilian-influenced tunes, including sambas and bossa novas. The personnel includes Doug Dreishpoon ’76 on percussion as well as world-class musicians like guitarist Larry Coryell, trombonist Art Baron, trumpeter Lew Soloff, and pianist Arturo O’Farrill. For Teasdale, hearing these guys interpret his music was a thrill.
     Does he have plans for another CD? “You bet!” he says. “I’m already working on it.” Stay tuned to www.deedop.com for details. —MTS

Road writes

Michael Quincy ’86 loves cars and writing. So it was fitting for him to take a job in 1993 with Consumer Reports, where his tasks included writing and editing the new- and used-car buying guides and sometimes scribing the monthly automotive stories for the magazine.
     Quincy is now automotive content specialist for CR’s Auto Test headquarters in central Connecticut, where he makes sure the automotive information database is accurate and up-to-date for CR Online. He also answers reader mail and is a buyer for test cars. And—one of the best parts—he gets to drive home a different vehicle every night.
     “Everyone here positively loves cars,” Quincy says. They all drive the test cars and record their comments in the vehicles’ logbooks—although the formal test drives (involving acceleration, braking, handling, etc.) are done by professional engineers. Quincy isn’t picky—he likes driving sports cars, luxury cars, and everything in between. “Plus, being a homeowner, nary a weekend goes by when I don’t need to haul stuff to the dump or pick up a load of topsoil or mulch—thankfully, we frequently test pickups.”
     Another aspect of Quincy’s job involves working with the outside media—including doing live TV and radio shows. This can be a little nerve-wracking, he says, because “I have to know my stuff cold and be amusing and energetic and forget that I had to get up at 4 a.m. to be on the morning news shows.” But for the most part, callers are polite and ask good questions, he says.
     Quincy’s ten-year stint at CR had one brief interruption, in 2000, when he was recruited to be a senior content editor for carOrder.com—in Austin, Texas—one of several Web sites selling cars over the Internet. By the fall of that year, carOrder was a “dot-gone.” But in 2001 Quincy got a call from the director of automotive testing at CR, asking if he’d come back, and with his wife and son, he gladly moved back east to work at the test track.
     “Since rejoining CR, I’ve never been happier,” Quincy says. “I consider myself lucky to be paid to study the automotive world full-time. I’m not making dot-com money anymore, but I’m producing information that helps consumers make good buying decisions. I think we do good work at Consumer Reports, and I’m proud to be a part of it.” —MTS

Sand blast

Not to be mistaken for the pixie who leaves crumbs in the corners of your eyes while you sleep, George Zaiser ’87 is a bona fide sandman.
     Zaiser figures there are only about 500 master sand sculptors in the world; and you can count him among them. What’s he find so attractive about this shifty, grainy art medium? Perhaps there’s a bit of kid in him (no surprise, considering he’s an art instructor at Worcester Preparatory School in Berlin, Md.). “Defying gravity is exciting, and there are no guarantees,” he says, conjuring up images of toppling beach creations and teary-eyed castle-builders. But for Zaiser, this is an adult pursuit. “I realized the seriousness of this art form when I started working on a forty-foot pile of sand,” he says.
     Sand and water are the obvious key ingredients when building a sculpture, but “every location has different material to contend with,” Zaiser notes. Bottom line: the sand must be compact enough to carve, no matter the sculpture’s size. “Ideally,” he says, “the grains of sand should be somewhat fine and angular. It’s also nice to have some silt, for a marbleizing effect.”
     Tools of Zaiser’s trade include shovels, masonry trowels, palette knives, buckets, PVC pipe, brushes, and just about any item that can create a texture. Depending on the size of the project, bulldozers, backhoes, and cranes might also be required.
     Unlike their smaller, seaside counterparts, sand sculptures of the type Zaiser builds can be maintained indefinitely—indoors. “Outside works,” he confesses, “are subject to the natural elements but can be maintained to a degree. I use a couple of different adhesives mixed into the sand, which allows me to create small semi-permanent works.”
     In the fifteen years he’s been at this venture, Zaiser has traveled and worked with some of the greatest sand artists in the world. Recently he was in China, working with sand sculptors from Holland and Belgium to recreate “The Eight Wonders of the World”—including thirty-foot-high versions of the Great Pyramids of Giza and Il Duomo cathedral. That experience, Zaiser says, “compares to no other.” Should anyone ever accuse Zaiser of building castles in the sky, he likely wouldn’t take offense. —MTS

Matters of principal

Lisa Collins Buon ’91 stepped to the head of the class last summer when she became principal of North Garnerville Elementary School— part of the North Rockland, N.Y., school district. She has over 300 students in her charge.
A sociology major, Buon completed a two-year stint with Teach for America after graduating from Skidmore. “The teaching bug bit me,” she told the Westchester County Journal News in August. “I’ve had excellent teachers in my life and wanted to give back to the children.”
     Buon received a master’s degree in developmental and remedial reading from the City University of New York and earned her administration and supervision credentials from Mercy College. She taught fifth grade in Lynwood, Calif., as part of Teach for America, spent seven years as an elementary teacher in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood, was a Project Read coordinator for ten elementary schools, and was assistant principal at PS #153 before accepting the job at North Garnerville.
The move from teaching to administrative work allows her to help more children, Buon points out. “I am extremely humbled by the warmth and openness shown to me by the entire North Rockland community,” she says. Particularly impressive is “the collaborative effort of all stakeholders’ in the students’ education. In everything that’s done, the children come first.”
     And the principal herself gets high marks from the school district that hired her. According to the assistant superintendent of schools, Buon has a “strong moral compass and unflappable manner. She listens well…and has a passion for what education can do to make for a better tomorrow.”
     Now that she’s settled at North Garnerville, Buon has her sights set on integrating a new literacy program as well as a districtwide math program. “Education presents opportunities,” she asserts, adding that “every child has a right to an excellent, nurturing, and calm school environment—and I think we provide that.” —MTS

Glass act

For Aaron Simon ’00, the road to success was an indirect route filled with inviting detours. As an undergraduate, he planned a career as a lawyer, but now he’s a thriving artist who teaches glassblowing.
     Simon transferred to Skidmore from the University of Vermont in his junior year. During the transition, he watched several TV documentaries on glassblowing, which intrigued him. In Saratoga Springs, he met Gary Zack—who owns a glass studio—and over two years earned twelve credits through internships and independent studies. After earning his Skidmore degree in government (with a minor in environmental studies), Simon worked full-time for Zack for two years.
     Glass artists can use two different techniques. The more familiar furnace method involves working with “soft” glass, Simon explains. “The furnace has a crucible of molten glass in it. You dip in a long hollow pipe and gather the glass. Blowing through the pipe creates a glass bubble, which is the start of your form.” The other technique—lampworking—requires the use of a torch (lamp) and a tube or solid rod of glass. The glass is fed into the flame, where it becomes liquid and easier to manipulate. The artist’s challenge is the same with either method, Simon notes: learning how to anticipate and utilize—rather than fight—the gravitational pull of the molten glass when designing an object.
     Last year Simon went to Italy, where he visited studios and artists in Murano, the Venetian capital of glassmaking. Now back in Saratoga Springs, he has a small studio of his own, where he creates jewelry pieces and small vessels, including perfume bottles, jars, and goblets. Simon (who, incidentally, is the son of Skidmore English professor Linda Simon) also teaches glassblowing classes at the National Bottle Museum in Ballston Spa, N.Y. He markets his work locally at the Saratoga Arts Center and internationally at www.absolutearts.com/portfolios/s/saratogaglass/.
     As for his slightly unorthodox career training, Simon says, “If I were to do it again, I wouldn’t change my route at all. I’ve been lucky to pursue what I really like as a career.” —AW

Mac man

No, those are not actors in the Apple Computer “switch campaign” ads you’ve seen on TV in recent months. And perhaps that’s why the spots—which feature passionate, articulate converts speaking directly about why they switched from Windows to the new Maintosh system—are so compelling.
     Gianni Jacklone ’00 is one person whose switch was dramatic and swift. Just a few years ago, the Skidmore computer science major “was a dyed-in-the-wool Windows fanatic,” according to John Danison of the college’s information technology services. Jacklone admits, “I used to crack jokes at all the artists who used Macs.”
     Not any more. He became such a believer in the Mac OS X—a user-friendly machine with a powerful UNIX-based operating system—that his brother submitted his story to Apple for a possible switch ad, and Apple signed him up.
     “The ad was not scripted,” says Jacklone. “I simply stood in front of a camera and told them my story,” as did the umbrella manufacturer and the veterinarian, the scratch DJ and the surfer. The ad pros have added some pace with snappy edits and quick-cutting frame shifts, but the story is all his: “I’ve been working on Windows for ten years. I’ve been working on UNIX for seven. And I’ve hated Macs my entire life. The new Mac OS X is the bomb, hands down. I love it. I never thought I’d say that… Everybody in my office is flabbergasted.”
     His office is Earth Pledge Foundation, a New York City–based nonprofit think tank and communications agency promoting sustainability as a lifestyle and a critical component in decision-making at all levels. As the agency’s info-tech director, Jacklone manages a multiplatform network and is the lead Web developer for Internet initiatives. He gets to work with snazzy equipment, and more important, he believes in the organization’s mission. “I’m all for trying to fix this broken mess of a world we live in,” he says.
     Though the switch campaign has generated a lot of buzz and Jacklone has been recognized on the streets of New York, for him it’s all about the Mac. Sure, he was paid the standard Screen Actors Guild rate for the commercial. But, he emphasizes, “I would have done it for free. I believe in OS X.” See for yourself, at www.apple.com/switch/stories/giannijacklone.html. —KG

 


© 2003 Skidmore College