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Table of Contents

Teaching Resources

Talking Shop

Technically Speaking

I Remember Professor...

Good Teachers on Good Teaching

Mutual Benefits

A Win-Win-Win-Win Situation

Viggo Mortensen '80 Remembers

Laurentian Reviews

Alumni Accomplishments

Table of Contents

I Remember Professor….

“Turn to the person on your right and recollect a favorite professor and why that person was so special to you.”

A simple “ice-breaker” exercise for the Alumni Executive Council at its January 30 dinner with Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs Kim Mooney, who hosted the Council at the Center for Teach-ing and Learning, became the inspiration for this magazine’s theme. The stories shared around the room that winter evening were so compelling that we decided to extend the invitation to trustees as well, and at least one friend of the Council asked to jump in. What follows proves that good teaching, in any generation, gives evidence of outstanding scholarship and passionate interest in student welfare.

Who was your favorite teacher? —LMC

Robert Carlisle, History

I came to the history department late in my college experience when I took a course in European history with Prof. Carlisle. The first time he showed up in class, I thought he might have been the janitor for Cook (now Piskor) Hall. He had a cigarette in his mouth, looked disheveled, and was carrying a book with a few pieces of paper hanging out. I wasn’t sure he was the professor until he started to talk. I remember at first thinking I didn’t need to take this guy seriously; he seemed unprepared and uninterested in students. Boy, was I wrong about that!!

What I still most remember was how his lectures were parallel stories woven together suddenly at the end. Usually, there was a biography of someone from the era who was prominent but not well-known (so we could have been in a sociology or psychology class), then he’d leave that to discuss the politics of the period (at which point I thought I was in a government class), and he’d leave that unfinished to talk about the underlying economy or trade in the area (economics....) and finally he would pull all those threads together in the final five minutes of class. All of us listened in rapt silence to these stories, careful not to miss anything so that the finale would reveal the mystery of the connections among them. I never listened to a teacher more closely.

I’ve never seen anyone since who can tell such an enriching and intertwined set of stories. I loved it...and might have become a history major if only I had started with Prof. Carlisle sooner.

—Trustee Dekkers Davidson ’78

 Lauren Clute, Economics

One of my most favorite professors was Lauren Clute, who headed the economics department at the time. I took accounting from him and loved it. He was a great teacher. But he was also a great counselor. He was the one to suggest I take the Business Boards and get an MBA. When I wanted to change my major to economics, he convinced me not to and just allowed me to take upper-level courses in the department without taking the lower-level prerequisites. Last year, I funded an award on Moving-Up Day in his honor.

Trustee Janet Langlois ’70

As an economics major at St. Lawrence University, I developed a special relationship with Lauren Clute. Through Larry’s mentorship I learned lifelong lessons such as the importance of having diversified hobbies and interests, being inquisitive, enjoying my work and developing a good work ethic. Larry took keen interest in my academic development and taught me how to grow sumptuous and large tomatoes. He was known in the Canton community for being an excellent gardener. I miss him dearly and thank him for suggesting a career in corporate banking.

Alumni Council President Joe Richardson ’63

Harry Reiff, Government

Knowingly submitting oneself to the rigors and disciplines of Harry Reiff was not a commitment casually made. A personal transformation happened because a great teacher took an interest in a below-average student and inspired higher achievement. He did it through the rigor of his classes, the compassion of his mentoring and the model of his personal life, which seemed totally dedicated to teaching and intellectual excellence.

I have never forgotten those harrowing suppers with Harry Reiff and his wife in their home (she cooked the dinner and we sat around the dinner table talking and discussing and listening). These were the senior tutorials, and they did not carry credit hours—they were a reward for majoring in Harry Reiff’s department. So there I was, sitting at the Reiff dinner table with at most one or two other majors, brought together to discuss Plato’s Republic (I remember to this day a question: “Does Plato mistakenly equate knowledge with virtue?”; to a 21-year-old still struggling to understand what knowledge was, putting virtue somehow in the balance was a challenging exercise) or Plutarch’s Lives or Gibbons or Heroditus, always with a sidebar discussion and analysis of principal current news events. “Mr. Wilson, what did you think of the Supreme Court decision announced yesterday?” typifies the questions that one was confronted with, and for which one had best have ready some reasoned answer.

Harry Reiff connected me to the world. He got me beyond my marginal self and on a path to loftier accomplishment. My only regret is that I never had the opportunity to tell him all of this. He knew he was good. But did he really know just how critical his presence was in so many lives, mine in particular? The short version of what happened here is that I learned how to learn and I found intense interest in becoming an informed citizen. What higher expectation could one hope for from an educational experience?

Chairman Emeritus of the Board E. B. Wilson ’53

 Jack Culpepper, History

I immediately think of Prof. Jack Culpepper, from freshman Western Civ. We were in the basement of Cook (now Piskor) Hall, with all the supporting pillars around us. I remember him coming into class, leaning back against a pillar with his eyes closed, and beginning to talk without notes. He was mesmerizing. As a first-semester freshman, I found everything challenging and fresh. I don't remember many details of the varied books we read, but I remember the exhilaration of discussion and analysis.

When we did our final paper, every single resource I checked out had been checked out by him first—I would have to prove my arguments beyond any possibility of doubt. What a start to learning, honing critical analysis, argument, and writing.

Alumni Council member Patricia Romeo-Gilbert ’74

Robert Lufburrow, Physics

My most memorable class was taught by Robert Lufburrow. It was introductory physics, which led to my major. Prof. Lufburrow simplified the concepts in physics and taught me the technique of making quantitative estimates (how many ping-pong balls can fit in a room? how many nanometers in a one-mile race? how heavy is the water in an Olympic swimming pool?) These types of “order of magnitude” questions come up repeatedly in my business life, so I’m grateful to St. Lawrence for having Prof. Lufburrow there in my freshman physics class to show me the simple way through these global issues.

Trustee John Finley ’70

Tom Greene, Psychology

Prof. Greene combined great attitude and great aptitude. He drew me into “psych” without my noticing I was having fun studying it.
He was interactive and helpful as a mentor. He was the best I had at St. Lawrence.

Alumni Council member Ed Keller ’86

Robert Wells, Government

Prof. Wells had the ability to engage and challenge students constantly to think beyond their normal parameters. He instilled in me a sense of passion about our government and how it works. Finally, he was ALWAYS accessible and approachable by any student with a question.

Alumni Council Vice President Jeff Honeywell ’80

Alan Searleman, Psychology

After one class with Alan Searleman, I knew I wanted to be a psychology major. He was so dynamic in class that I really looked forward to his lectures. I remember walking around campus and going through the library with 3D glasses on, for a class on Perception. Other students laughed at us. But leading the way was Prof. Searleman, clearly explaining how our brains were perceiving the colors, shapes and sizes all around us. Prof. Searleman was my advisor and I became his teaching assistant because he was such a great guy to be around.

Alumni Council member Ken Polk ’90

 Ronald Flores, Sociology

Ron Flores was my favorite professor by far. He allowed me to challenge myself in my writing, especially in how I convey my message. He made me realize that a regular guy from New York City can achieve greatness, even if the road to greatness seems bumpy and impossible. I believe that much of what I learned in his sociology classes, and in the First-Year Program course [where he was a member of the teaching team], helped shape me into a more fearless and socially conscious person. I am grateful to have had his mentoring and his presence during my college career.

—Alumni Council member E-Ben Grisby ’99

Liz Kahn, Fine Arts

Liz and St. Lawrence are practically the same thing to me. I remember sitting in her survey class and being so relieved to be able write a paper instead of memorize works of art! A friendship blossomed in that class that has continued since graduation. Liz directed an amazing arts festival, Art and the Vietnam Era, in 1989; a group of students published a book on the experience, and I was afforded a chance to read sections on North Country Public Radio. To this day, I am amazed at how moving and educational that experience was for me. We spent many January nights at “the bunker” or in Liz and William’s living room, sharing and teaching. I also had the pleasure of being her son’s first baby-sitter and watching him grow. I passed the tradition on to many Tri-Delta sisters! I feel honored to be able to call her my friend, to pick up the phone and talk to her and continue a close relationship with St. Lawrence that is very meaningful to me.

Katie Coombs ’89

Rick Guarasci, Government, and Glen Mazis, Philosophy

For our senior year, a group of us wanted to design a class that would cap off our experience at St. Law-rence (this was before most majors had a “capstone” option). Each senior brought a different topic and interest to teach the rest of us: Corinne “Rina” Carroll Jackson and Maria DiCaprio brought fine arts, Rob Flanagan English, Bill “Gibb” Lundy economics, Karyn Edwards Niles education, and Ann Ulrich religious studies. I focused on government and Carrie Waters brought philosophy.

We approached Professors Guarasci and Mazis and asked them to be fellow “learners,” and then asked the dean to grant us credit for an independent study where the students were the teachers. What ensued was the creation of our class, Voice, Identity, and Belief. I don’t want to speak for the rest of our group (but I think they would agree)—this was truly one
of the best college experiences. Thank you to Rick and Glen for just letting us run with it - for letting us create something meaningful and unique.

Trustee Jennifer Curley ’90

Joan Donovan, Speech and Theatre

I took several speech classes from Mrs. Donovan. One of her teaching tools was a rating sheet that she used whenever we made an oral presentation. Her ratings and their associated comments were always fair. How did she know when one wasn’t really prepared? She never judged on length of presentation, but rather on effort and quality. She was simply never unkind or thoughtless, regardless of what we brought or didn’t bring to her class.

She was the person who taught me always to meet the gaze of the other person in a conversation or interview. It was her class on persuasive techniques that helped me gain a second interview with Macy’s for their executive training program. There is no doubt in my mind that, without the skills she passed on to us about verbal communication, I would not have left college with a job.

Alumni Council member Anne Ferris Cassidy ’74

George McFarland, English

George McFarland was an English major’s image of the perfect professor, with his tweed jackets and suede elbow patches. He lectured without notes and sat on the edge of a table, swinging his legs and exuding confidence. In Modern American Novel (Faulkner, Steinbeck, Hemingway, Dreiser, O’Hara and others), although his level of expectation scared me, I soon noticed that even when one gave the “wrong answer,” he took the time to examine carefully the evolution of one’s thought process. Critical thinking and writing took on a whole new meaning under his tutelage. I still have my notebook from his course, and some years ago, went back and reread a number of those novels.

Trustee Karen Diesl Bruett ’66

And From Today’s Students…

We asked several students what comes to mind when they’re asked to define good teaching. Here’s what they had to say:


 A good professor to me is someone who not only cares about his or her
students and academic career, but also is able to make students think about themselves and become engaged in topics that they aren’t necessarily interested in. Two professors changed my life by doing all this.

One had very different political views from me, but rather than getting upset at his statements, I made sure that I knew what I was saying so that I could refute his remarks. I think this was part of his plan, because it got a lot of people in the class more involved than ever before—he made his students care about issues rather than just being aware of them.

In another course, the professor, Traci Fordham-Hernandez, pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me to question my role in our society. She helped me understand privilege and prejudice: how I have benefited from privilege with regards to race, yet been forced to face prejudice head-on because of my sexuality. A professor who can make you re-evaluate your entire life experience is one of the most important parts of a college education, because you are made to see yourself through the eyes of others.

These same two professors always meet me with a “hello, how are you?” every time I see them. It is important to students to know that their professors care about them, and thankfully, we have a lot of professors at St. Lawrence who really do. The two I’ve mentioned are simply the best of the best.

Travis Babcock ’04

Travis Babcock, of Lowville, N.Y., is president of the Thelomathesian Society and of PRIDES (People Recognizing Individuality, Diversity and Equality of Sexualities).

Opening New Worlds

Throughout my college career, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, I have been fortunate enough to learn from teachers who have sparked my interest in various topics and then allowed me to comprehend, test and discover further. The teachers were challenging, yet made learning fun.

Physics Associate Professor Aileen O’Donoghue (left above) opened my eyes to the stars above. In astronomy class, we received a general overview of our universe, galaxy and solar system by participating in experiments, research, and of course observation. She made learning fun, even when leading us up to the roof of Bewkes Science Hall at 4 a.m. to look at the sky.

Prof. O’Donoghue expected a great deal out of us and pushed us to stretch our capabilities. For me, she truly opened up a whole “new world.” Astronomy has become my passion.
During graduate classes, Sue Burwell has proven to personify good teaching. In her Social Studies Methods class for student teachers, she taught teaching methods and techniques that not only would be useful for the future, but also could be tried and tested. During my student teaching semester, I was able to apply these various techniques. She made the ambiance conducive to learning and at the same time made us feel comfortable enough to ask questions and express ideas.

I believe good teachers care about students and learning. They develop an encouraging atmosphere where students are comfortable asking questions and making suggestions. Good teachers are challenging and set high standards for their students, yet at the same time are fair, energetic, passionate, friendly and knowledgeable. I will use their models to become a teacher who brings science to life and creates a sense of curiosity and wonder in my students as well as encouraging them to succeed and excel in whatever their goals may be.

Beth Lomanto ’02/master’s program

By August, Beth Lomanto will have her master’s degree and be certified in the areas of social studies, physics and general science. She hopes to teach astronomy and coach field hockey at the high school level, or to be an educator in the planetarium/ museum field. She is the daughter of Ann Warner Lomanto ’72.

Hard Workers

It isn’t often that you walk into a classroom and hear, “I’ll do whatever you guys want, as long as we all learn.”

Linda Dunning started her Education 540: Language Acquisition and Literacy Development class just this way. As other professors told her she was crazy, Dunning took on an enlarged class of over 60 eager students because she cannot say no to any student who wants to learn. In order to cope, Dunning simply relied on her ability to look beyond the problem, find a solution and put all of her heart into the classroom.

Dunning taught us how to work in a cooperative learning environment. Her ability to give individual attention when needed, clarify what is expected, bring her intelligence and knowledge to an understandable level while keeping the topic interesting, appeal to different learning styles, assess what has been taught and what should be known, teach for learning and not memorization, and finally leave the student with a feeling of accomplishment after class define her teaching.

What brings Dunning’s teaching to life, however, is her ability to bring so much energy and emotion into the classroom. “When you see a teacher who spends her days in a classroom of ninth-graders who are struggling to read, you understand the teacher’s dedication to coming to St. Lawrence and teaching us what she does. That itself is motivation to hear and learn every word she says,” says one of those Language Acquisition students, Lindsay Charlebois ’04.

Dunning teaches reading-impaired students at Clifton-Fine Central School, about 45 minutes south of Canton. After seven hours of that, she drives to St. Lawrence to take graduate courses herself, and then ends her day teaching Education 540. Taking time out of her busy schedule says all that needs to be said to a student: “I want to be here.” From teacher to student and back to teacher, her actions speak aloud her greatest quality as a teacher: hard-working.

Jessica Knapp ’03

Hailing from Boulder, Col., Jessica Knapp was an intern in the University communications office in spring 2003, and was a member of the women’s ice hockey team.

Feedback—A Two-Way Street

It can be intimidating during your first year at college when you realize that your professor knows your writing well – sometimes even better than you do. After a while, though, most students learn to appreciate the feedback from their professors and apply the suggestions to better their writing.

One of the most beneficial habits I practice is al-ways reading the feedback from my professors on my assignments and papers. As an English major, I realize that I am in college to improve my writing, and to do so means discovering where I consistently make errors, so that I can eliminate them.

One of my professors went beyond the usual scribbling in the margins that characterize most feedback. In my screenwriting class, taught by English Professor Sid Sondergard, I would submit weekly, five-page screenplays and receive back in response a full-page, single-spaced critique of each piece. I couldn’t ignore the fact that Sid had worked so hard to help me im-prove. Having a professor like Sid, who is so committed to his students, in turn makes me want to work harder and achieve the level of writing that he feels, and I know, I can obtain.

Feedback can work both ways. I took Survey of English Literature 1700-Present with professor Caroline Breashears during her first semester at St. Lawrence. She asked us to evaluate her teaching and the course structure halfway through the semester. I’m sure that no one expected her to bring a completely revised syllabus into our next class, based on the suggestions we had made. She did exactly that. She took our comments to heart and changed the structure of the course, which ended up as one of my favorites. For the same reason that it is important to listen to feedback from a professor, it was refreshing to see a professor embrace the feedback from her students.

—Jackie Roy ’04

Jackie Roy, from Massena, N.Y., was an intern in University communications and editor-at-large of The Hill News in spring 2003. She has studied on St. Lawrence’s program in London.

Seeking Potential

Although most of the faculty at SLU won’t make us do extra laps around the track if our grades aren’t good, they will help every student to reach their potential. Over my four years, my professors have taught me what it means to have limitless potential.

A true mentor-learner relationship develops when students are encouraged to reach their potential in all areas of life. Through strong one-on-one discussion, a faculty member can lead me to focus a research paper, search for a career, or just find the time to get my work done.

As mentors, my teachers have always kept an open-door policy. Last-second questions on a test can be answered from home if necessary. They always teach, even when I run into them shopping at the P&C. Some of my favorite college moments have been sitting and talking with Jon Parmenter, of history and Native American studies, about my research, current events, or how to better my writing.

In front of the classroom, my teachers have encouraged me to reach my potential through interaction and stimulating projects. It is easy for a professor who knows so much about a subject to just ramble on in class with no regard for the class itself. My teachers have not done this. They have kept us active by relating to us and our daily lives.

Ray Marcero ’03

Ray Marcero, of Weatherly, Pa., double-majored in history and government and doubled-minored in Native American studies and European studies.

Sojourn with Yesterday

With the right knowledge, training and presentation, a teacher can make a classroom discussion come alive, but actually traveling to a location that has been discussed makes the words three-dimensional.

My undergraduate majors, Canadian studies and history, allowed me many opportunities to journey to places where history happened. Professor of Canadian Studies Robert Thacker and others offered trips through all the pages of our textbooks.

As first-year students we visited Ottawa’s Parliament Hill and saw the vividly active “Q&A” period in the House of Commons. Questions and answers were shouted back and forth, in both English and French. Our guide pointed out that regardless of how boorish the comments were, not to worry, the party in power and the official opposition sit on opposite sides of the House, two-and-a-half sword lengths apart.

Twice I was able to experience the Canadian wilderness as a guest of the Trent University Canadian studies program. The highlights of these weekends, aside from bunking in rustic cabins heated by wood-burning stoves, brilliant electrical storms and unblemished views of the aurora borealis, were the season’s first snowflakes—in mid-September.

But the ultimate Canadian studies experience was a January 2002 transcontinental train trip. The two-and-a-half-week journey provided culture, arts, history, sports and plenty of hearty cold at layovers across the nation. On what VIA Rail aptly calls “a more civilized way to travel” we met travelers from near and far, chilled our bones at the coldest intersection in Canada (Portage and Main in Winnipeg) and managed to reserve ice time and an instructor at the Winnipeg Curling Club (curling is not as easy as it looks).

In Saskatchewan we trekked across the vast empty landscape to visit the site where Métis leader Louis Riel battled the Canadian government in 1885. We felt the serenity and loneliness enveloping the historic church pierced with bullet holes, while the quiet cemetery overlooking the snowy prairies encouraged self-refection. The names on the headstones gave meaning to our textbooks back in Canton.

On the Pacific Coast we studied totem poles, visited the home of famous Canadian author and artist Emily Carr, and took an ecological hike on a beach (clothing legally optional,but bear in mind it was January).

Going to places where history happened enlivens education. Each location’s unique significance is up to us to determine. Read mailbox names, gravestone markers, plaques to extract deeper meanings. Let your next outing be a sojourn with yesterday.

Jarrod Caprow ’02/Educational Administration graduate

Hailing from the Buffalo, N.Y., area, Jarrod Caprow thought he knew what cold was until he stood at Portage and Main in Winnipeg. He is enrolled in St. Lawrence’s master’s program, with hopes of becoming a school district administrator, and also works in the University’s admissions and security and safety departments.