March 25, 2013
March 25, 2013
Vol. 3, Issue 7
Little College, Big Plans -- An Interview with Dr. Gary Olson
By Emily Stoll
As Daemen welcomes its sixth president, Dr. Gary Olson, it seems that the new buzz words are transparency, openness, and visibility. Dr. Olson’s big plans could help catapult this currently little college into the public eye.
“I think Daemen is a real gem,” Olson said, “and I want to make sure everybody knows about it.”
One of Olson’s many plans is to raise the profile of Daemen, and his varying experiences will surely assist with this. “I’ve had in my experience a range of different sizes of colleges,” he said, “from the very, very large, like University of South Florida, which has about 50 thousand students; to middle-sized, like Idaho State and Illinois State; to small, like [formerly small] North Carolina-Wilmington… [and] Kings College.”
Olson plans to announce various initiatives over the next several weeks, and his current plans for Daemen include addition of a Presidential Page to the Daemen website, so he can communicate more efficiently with students, faculty, and outsiders. In addition to this, he has already sent two e-mails to faculty, keeping them up to date on everything. “It has always been my practice to send periodic letters to faculty and staff… informing people about developments as they’re happening.”
He has also created a President’s Leadership Advisory Council, with the purpose of “expanding openness and transparency” while diversifying the body of governing people at Daemen. This group will meet monthly to discuss important developments and is greatly expanded from the weekly cabinet, which consists of Daemen Vice Presidents. The President’s Leadership Advisory Council instead includes many other administrators, the Student Association President, the Faculty Senate President, the head of alumni, and various staff representatives. This group will provide “advice and recommendations so that all voices can be heard.”
The school newsletter, Daemen Connections, is also under construction. Olson wants to do a little revamping so the newsletter comes out weekly, has a more distinct news angle, and includes more profiles of students and faculty. He wants to boost the number of subscribers outside Daemen as well, so everybody can know about the great things happening on and off campus.
Improvements to the campus’s physical appearance may also be underway soon. “We’re probably going to have a campus beautification campaign,” he said, “where we’re looking to find ways to almost literally spruce up the campus with more trees and landscaping,” he says. As for the buildings themselves, there was not yet a final verdict on how to repurpose Daemen’s newly acquired YMCA building; however, Olson said that, given the facility, it seems appropriate to make it a center for athletics-oriented programs.
Though Daemen’s small staff makes certain initiatives more difficult to achieve, Olson feels that “there’s nothing like the quality of interaction with students that you get here at Daemen.” He also noted his appreciation for the personal attention given to students from application onwards, a type of attention and support that even institutions of similar size can fail to provide.
Daemen has been part of some big things despite its small size. “I’ve been going to every office and department on campus and meeting the faculty and staff and spending a little time getting to know them,” Olson said. “I’m just amazed at the wonderful stories, positive stories, that they have on the various projects faculty are doing and the awards that students and faculty members have won because of their excellent work. So it’s been a very positive experience.”
Olson has also been very impressed with Daemen students, describing them as mature, genuinely interested in their academic work, and quite smart. This is part of what originally drew him to Daemen, as he appreciated “the quality of faculty and students and the very progressive kind of general education program that has been worked out.”
In terms of technology, Olson feels that Daemen is doing fairly well; the campus is completely wi-fi enabled, unlike many across the United States, and the existing computer labs are in very good condition. There is also special technology which allows three dimensional modeling for anatomy classes at the RIC’s Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning. Olson said that technology is the way of the future and that he can only see Daemen moving forward from here.
President Olson holds a Ph.D. in literary criticism and rhetoric from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a master’s degree from the University of Connecticut, and a bachelor’s degree from Kings College. When asked why he chose this field of study, Olson said, “I liked the philosophical part. I was especially attracted to the sort of philosophical epistemological aspect of both rhetoric and literary theory.” (For those unfamiliar with the word, Olson said “epistemological” means how we know what we know.)
He has held several positions at universities, including provost at Idaho State, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Illinois State University, administrator and faculty member at the University of South Florida (USF), and chief academic officer at USF’s St. Petersburg campus.
In addition to his obvious appreciation for education, Olson recognizes the importance of extracurricular activities. “I think it adds to a richer experience as a student, and in a way I think it helps you be a better student because you’re more well-rounded.” Olson himself was involved in many extracurricular activities during his time in college, such as his involvement in chess club and as editor of his school paper at Kings College. He has a passion for cooking and developing recipes and hopes to someday publish a cookbook – to add to the 20 books and more than 100 essays to which he has contributed. In addition, Olson enjoys listening to foreign broadcasts in the English language via short- wave radio. He also used to play the flute and has a strong appreciation for music, specifically classical (which was playing during our interview) and jazz.
Olson said that “Daemen is a very forward-looking kind of institution, and in that way it’s very special.” Despite its small size, this college does some big things, and now it’s in for some equally big innovations. Amongst all of this, one thing is certain – you’ll want to keep an eye out for the coming changes.
Meet the Employers
By Corbin Shemory
Daemen held its second annual career fair on Thursday, March 21 in the Wick Center Social Room. Several employers were present, including Aspire of WNY, BlueCross BlueShield, Fetch Logistics, and Perry’s Ice Cream Co. Many students showed up for the event in their best attire and with resumes in hand, while others were not so formal.
It may surprise you, but those students who decided that blue jeans were good enough or appeared with shoddy resumes in hand only slighted themselves; many of the employers with whom I spoke said that the most important thing when interviewing a candidate is professionalism. In fact, that really seemed to be all they were worried about.
Rosemary Blando of Durham staffing, a medical staffing group, said that professionalism, presentation, and personal skills are a must-have in potential employees. This sentiment was shared by the representatives from Joe Basil Chevrolet, who said they’re looking for students who are ready to interview on the spot for a job. They also said it’s important to have an open mind about every employer; just because they’re a car dealership doesn’t mean they only want silver tongues to sell cars. Mechanics, accountants and many other people are also necessary, and this is a value that holds true to all of the companies.
Director of Career Services Maureen Millane explained that professionalism is a huge factor in getting a job. She suggested that before attending a career fair you should research the companies you’re interested in that will be present and go to career services to have them look over your resume. You should also dress professionally.
It was ironic how not a single employer mentioned a preference in degree, grades, IQ, or any other intellectual skills. They were mainly focused on the individual’s professionalism and personal skills and said these two things would be most helpful in landing the job. Dr. Millane said that attending the career fair is important for any student because it provides an opportunity to connect with powerful people, learn about corporations, and of course find an internship or job. She also said that the number one mistake students make about the job fair is to not go.
So the next time a job fair comes around, be sure to rev up your resume, throw on your business attire, and pack a firm handshake. You might just score a job.
Shaping Up in the Daemen Gym
By Annie Rose
With the closing of the YMCA across the street, Daemen students might be wondering where they can go to keep in shape. If you want a place to work out while waiting for the weather to clear up, look no further than the fitness rooms in the gym here at Daemen.
Our facilities have two rooms, a cardio room and a weight room, and both are open to students, teachers and staff. You need to sign in to use them and may be asked to show your Daemen I.D. You are allowed to bring in one non-Daemen guest to use the facilities with you.
Inside, you'll find showers, changing rooms for men and women, and lockers (bring your own locks to ensure the security of your belongings). The bathrooms are equipped with both public and private shower areas, electrical outlets, toilets, and benches. You need to bring your own toiletries and a towel.
The cardio room has a television centrally placed against a mirrored wall for your viewing pleasure, though many people bring an iPod or phone for private listening. Each machine faces the mirrored wall, but don’t let that distract you; most people are concentrated on their workout, not yours. Use your choice of five treadmills, three stationary bikes, seven elliptical machines, a stair climber, and mats for stretching and floor exercises.
In the weight room, you’ll find free weights, numerous benches, weight equipment and a television. They also have medicine balls and machines to strengthen every muscle.
The rooms can be busy first thing in the morning, due to athletes warming up or training. However, they are generally never closed unless needed for teams or shortened hours during breaks. It’s recommended you check the gym schedule posted outside each locker room for when it’s being reserved, just to be safe.
Remember to always be safe when working out. Don’t over exert yourself to the point of exhaustion, and if you feel faint or sick, stop working out and seek medical assistance. The faculty also requests you be courteous to others by wiping down the machines when you’re finished using them.
For the Love of Teaching: The Story Behind Ann, a 'Non-Traditional' Student
By Mark Poblocki
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with one of the precious gems of Daemen College’s student body: Ann Marie Rose.
Ann is one of many adults pursuing a college degree in times when job opportunities are hard to find. But unlike others, she is not studying due to hard times. She chose to come to Daemen so she can work in the job of her dreams: teaching. “Annie” has had a position in business and sales for a computer company over the past few years, but she felt she needed a change in life and now is making the trek of being a freshman at the age of 41.
Annie was born and raised in Binghamton, New York as an only child. In school, she was a top student who got straight A’s on her assignments and did numerous presentations and public speaking events. Furthermore, she claims that her teacher “would always call on her” to read passages in first grade, and her love of reading would persist throughout her time in school.
She graduated in 1989 and applied to SUNY Albany and Colgate for college. However, “life got in the way” for Annie, and she soon moved out of her home at the age of 16. In the following years, she received a job working at Ingram Micro and marketed to the computer industry. Her ability to sell sparkled quickly as in “one year, [she] would sell $48 million in software.” Overall her job would “grow [her] ability to communicate with other people,” as she had to communicate between merchandise sellers and buyers separately to make sales.
Meanwhile, during her job experiences, she had her first child at the age of 23, and went on to have three more after that. Annie dedicated herself to keeping her family happy, healthy and provided for while balancing her job. However as the years went by, she was growing tired of the job she was in; she wanted to teach high school students. This desire soon led her to quit her job and begin the journey of searching for a college.
For Annie, applying to college as an adult over the age of 40 was not an easy process. She was “nervous to start the process” of college and wanted to just balance school and family. Proximity to her residence of Williamsville was important and she didn’t want to attend a huge school – which made the University at Buffalo, in her words, “utterly impossible.”
Annie originally applied to ECC and Medaille. ECC’s website was confusing for her and, despite calling and asking for help with applying, she couldn’t navigate the process. When Medaille asked for a copy of her transcripts, she could only reply, “I’m a 40-year-old woman. I don’t have transcripts.” Even after that, the woman who Annie had contacted at Medaille never replied. However, the process became easy for her once she came into contact with Daemen.
Unlike other schools that asked for multiple letters and a barrage of tests, Daemen only made her write a paper and complete a couple tasks. When she sat down for a meeting with an Admissions Advisor named Luke, he gave her an application right there. Soon she was on her journey to beginning college as a freshman.
As Annie is on the verge of completing her first full year at Daemen, she is fitting in quite well and is feeling like a normal student. She came into her first semester thinking she would be ostracized as the mother-figure of the college and seem out of place. On the contrary, she has experienced a “huge surprise” in the fact that other students were “willing to incorporate” her into the class; she is even invited to study groups often. The only incident thus far where she has been singled out is when one girl got an earring catch in her ear and another student said to Annie, “You’re a mom; you can help her.”
One struggle that Annie faces is her battle of “trying to keep [her] mouth shut in class.” However, she attributes this to the fact that she’s lived longer and that she’s had “more exposure and more experience” than students who have been in school for pretty much their entire lifetime. Plus, Annie isn’t here by necessity. She wants to be here and doesn’t take as many things for granted as we young adults tend to.
Originally she feared this quality, thinking that she “was going to alienate the kids in class.” While some students do not mind -- as this means they won’t be called on in class -- other students feel that she is actually giving another view on certain articles and is a great addition to the discussions. For example, her thoughts in my learning community about topics such as abortion issues, global warming, and euthanasia have been insightful and enlightening and give a broader perspective on every argument. Overall, she has been accepted into the milieu of teenage freshmen and is slowly expanding on her college experience.
Besides studying and following her dream to be a teacher, Annie has become very involved around campus as well as in her community. She writes for The INSIGHT and the school literary magazine, The Writer’s Block, while also taking part in English Club. You will also get to see her playing the bagpipes in this year’s Festival Musicale, a part of the Academic Festival. On top of all this, Annie would like to be in a school production while at Daemen; aside from playing an Annieouncer with one line in Flowers for Algernon, she has never been in a production and someday wants to conquer her fear of being on stage. She is also conscious of getting exercise, working out and normally running 11 miles per day.
Aside from campus activities, Annie devotes a lot of her time to volunteer events. At her original job, she participated in dress-down days and organized Christmas parties. Since then, she has participated in blood drives and cancer runs, and she has volunteered with the American Heart Association, March of Dimes, the Salvation Army and even pet shelters. In addition to this, Annie is still looking for an opportunity to work at a soup kitchen.
Her hobbies and quirks make for quite an interesting person. She is double-jointed, lactose intolerant, and diabetic. She owns three cats and a bunny. If she could have her way, she’d eat candy endlessly. Annie is always wearing heels or shoes everywhere she goes, because she never likes to be barefoot…"ever." She also has a tough time memorizing things; at the time of our interview, she had been attempting for two weeks to memorize “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, but was still stuck on the first line.
Annie has a passion for learning, just as she did as a kid, and she always feels like she has to be a people pleaser. This avid Harry Potter fan has visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando numerous times with her family. She even spent her 40th birthday there. She recently was the highest bidder on the Harry Potter chair sold in Art Club’s chair auction – insert Harry Potter ringtone here! Annie apologized for the interruption, and we continued our discussion.
For the future, she's sure of her career path and has some goals set in mind. Her desire of becoming a teacher is based on her desire to make a change. To her, there is no way to make a greater difference than by teaching people. She explained that one of the moments she enjoys most with kids is the moment when they finally comprehend something and their eyes glimmer with confidence and understanding. She wants to see “that light in people’s eyes” turn on.
Aside from teaching, Annie plans to stay in New York for the time being and finish her master’s degree studies in Florida. However, she still loves everything about New York, except for the weather. When asked about her experiences living in Texas, there was only one response from Annie: “Worst decision I ever made.”
Annie wants to continue to support her family as she makes her way to her teaching career. However, she did mention that “if it wasn’t for the fact that [she sucks] at math and science, [she] would be excellent in the medical field.” Otherwise she is ready for the path ahead of her and is sure that teaching is her destiny.
Annie is not like many of the adults who are heading to college. She was successful in school and, despite life getting in the way, was able to secure a good job. She was able to increase sales at her company by $48 million in one year and effectively communicate between buyers and manufacturers. She persisted in applying for college when the going got tough and took opportunities to step up and make the best of her life. She's aware of her flaws but does the best she can to adjust to her environment and do her best. She plays an active role in college and also does a ton for the community.
Overall, I have had an amazing experience sitting down with this incredible woman, and I admire her perseverance and determination to get the job she wants. I wish her the best of luck and once she graduates and earns her Master’s degree. I believe her students will admire her for her efforts as well. Annie may be a non-traditional student, but she definitely will be the teacher of a lifetime.
Stairway of Books
By Kimberly J. Cox
I saw it first when I was driving home.
The lights were illuminating the Visual and Performing Arts Center (VPAC) against the dark night. There was something different about one particular staircase, but I could not figure it out. I looked again very carefully, wondering what I had missed. Then it hit me. All along that staircase’s wall there was some sort of collage of pieces of paper and images all along the wall of the staircase. I had to go see it when I returned to Daemen.
The next day I snuck along the dark hallways of the art building to a door tucked in the corner. I opened it and was greeted with the daylight shining through the large windows. Then I saw the staircase.
As I came closer I noticed a book dangling from the railing. Then I saw another, but this one was different. It was cut into and reshaped. Soon after that I noticed the wall. It was covered in pages and drawings, layer and layer of knowledge and imagination. I would have stayed to read it all if I could, but I had to get to a class. I was lost in the mural, and I was glad I found it.
The Art Department at Daemen College has undergone many new and exciting changes this past year, one of the most noticeable being the construction of and moving into the VPAC. Previously, the artistic courses for students at Daemen were located in Duns Scotus, along with many other courses. All but a few classes, which are better suited for their current rooms, have now been shifted to the new facility.
“With new space comes new things,” said Daemen’s Professor Koenig, a drawing and painting professor, as we talked about the exciting developments in the art department. The VPAC was made for Daemen artists and should therefore reflect that. The building was and still is empty and untouched in some ways, and that is why this exhibition found on the stairwell came to be.
A group of students in the Advanced Drawing course decided to explore one of the contemporary ideas they were studying. This study entailed the idea that a drawing is not limited by the boundaries of a piece of paper. After looking at artists like Sol LeWitt, who did a mural by the staircase of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Advanced Drawing class and Professor Koenig set out on their adventurous journey to “excite” the walls of Daemen, one at a time.
The inspiration for this piece came from the students’ love of literature. Students took old books they found and began to “deconstruct” them, transforming them from bound-up papers to a wall of pages. The collage ranges anywhere from books on medical sciences to images of animations. As the piece continued, the students decided to go beyond the limitations of the wall itself. They began to hang books from staircases and ceilings to engage the space around them even more.
The conditions the young artists worked in were not always ideal. “There were challenges with the new material, just like with any new medium,” Professor Koenig told me as we began to speak about the construction of the mural. “The students used large black paper to stick to the walls, but the tape would keep releasing from the wall. It was both funny and frustrating.” I was excited when I heard that many other students helped out with the creation of the mural as well.
“There were freshman and non-art majors helping to create the piece too,” Koenig said. “I believe they all benefited from the project…. [However,] working in a group in any situation is usually intense. There’s always someone who works the most out of everyone.” Despite conflicting ideas and varying levels of effort, the piece still came together in the end.
“It is a community process piece,” said Koenig. “It could be fun for everyone and include other peers in the department. Just like painting, it is subject to continued revising and is a work in progress. Art is not perfect and refined.”
Art is continually being entertained with new ideas and different techniques and methods, and there are many new places it can go. Koenig hopes that students will pick up on the movement to go beyond the limits of the page and continue to excite the walls of the VPAC. “Sometimes there may be more faculty involvement, and students will actually be submitting proposals for what they can do with all of the empty space.”
The VPAC itself, like most things, has its pros and cons. Sometimes the temperature in the classrooms is very cold due to the air conditioner blowing in winter, but the vents circulate the air very well. Other times the sunlight may shine into the studio spaces to distract students from their work, but the department is working on getting blinds to help control the lighting. Despite its drawbacks, the VPAC has one positive that both faculty and students enjoy: display and exhibition space.
As I spoke with Koenig, who headed up the last new installment, I recognized just how important VPAC space is. As a student in the art department, I very much love to see artwork done by fellow students, but it was always difficult to do so in Duns Scotus. Professor Koenig and I discussed how we used to display students’ artwork – by tacking images to a cork board outside of the classrooms in the long neglected hallway. Not only were art students unable to really enjoy the artwork on display, but other students missed out on viewing it as well. With this new space, Daemen has given students the space needed to display their work and break traditional artistic boundaries.
How exciting would it be to be a college that was not afraid to break the traditional rules of drawing and painting? We would stand out as a school not only for learning about art, but for acting upon it.
If you would like to help in any future project, contact Professor Koenig at email@example.com.
J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy
By Annie Rose
J.K. Rowling’s latest book, The Casual Vacancy, dabbles in more adult themes than her world renowned and award- winning Harry Potter series.
For fans anticipating either a continuation of the Harry Potter series or a similar style of writing, expect disappointment. However, this is where the disappointment ends. This story is ripe with character development, quirky with its local British slang, and thorough in describing its setting, plot, and character relationships.
Not for the prude or chaste reader, this book definitely has racier themes than Rowling’s Potter series. It’s certainly not as innocent as “snogging” (in Potter), but not as raunchy as Fifty Shades of Gray. Children under 16 years of age could read Potter, whereas The Casual Vacancy is completely inappropriate for that age group. Prevalent themes include offensive and dirty language, drug and alcohol use, references to murder and prostitution, abuse, descriptions of sex and sexual feelings (mostly from the perspective of teenagers), and suicide.
The story itself is written in the third-person and begins with a major event that is the catalyst for the events to come. Rather than building slowly and beginning with setting and character development, the main action starts the novel and we watch (or read) as this one event causes the lives of the other characters to completely fall apart.
The story takes place in a fictional village in England called Pagford. The adults in this town are busybodies and make a sport of sticking their noses into other people’s business. The story lines read almost like a Thursday night sitcom at times. The ultimate prize for the characters is learning everyone’s darkest secrets and exposing them for personal gain.
The main action is the death of Barry Fairbrother, which leaves a casual vacancy in not only the parish council but in the lives of the people he touched, and not always in the best way possible. Paranoia, backstabbing, and lying are common themes.
This book showcases human weakness at its finest. It is at times uncomfortable and yet still fosters a genuine emotional connection between the characters and the reader. The story has to come to grips with the consequences of the characters’ decisions and actions – some of which were unexpected – and forces the reader to decide which outcome was less awful than another. Once the background of the town and its characters is established, the consequences seem to happen rather quickly.
The book has a tendency to get caught up in political issues between opposing sides- a squabble between keeping a clinic open for addicts and forcing out the less desirable inhabitants- but once you get beyond that, it holds your interest right to the end. It also explores teenage struggles with love, family, and drug addiction, sometimes in cringe-worthy ways. We also learn about the interesting history of the village and its founders, though some may find these descriptions fall short compared to the seven volumes detailing the magical world of Harry Potter.
The characters range in description from “upstanding citizen” Howard and his family, to a slutty teenager from the projects named Krystal and her mother and brother. We also meet two boys, Fats and Andrew, bent on smoking and fighting the establishment; their less than ideal parents; and a family from India whose daughter deals with bullying from strict parents and schoolmates. You become invested in the fate of these characters, even if it’s only for one brief book – not seven.
I spoke with a few fellow Potter fans who also read The Casual Vacancy, and we shared the same criticism: there are many characters and it was sometimes difficult to keep them properly sorted. Many, this reviewer included, found it helpful to make a character chart just to keep them all straight. Rowling does endow her characters with a strong sense of self, though, making them likable even if they lack control and morals. Frankly I found the colloquialisms distracting, as more than a few times I had to look up exactly what some of them meant. But on the positive side, Rowling has an excellent vocabulary, and learning new words is always a bonus. Some of the slang included to “get off with” (which means to make out with) and “wog,” a non-white person.
Many readers will continue to hope for a new Harry Potter series in vain. In the meantime, this novel is worth reading just for slaking your thirst for Rowling’s beloved style of writing.
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