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Division of College Advancement Annual Report

Selected Outcomes 2018-19


The Division of College Advancement is proud of the support it has received from SUNY Oneonta alumni. Because of you, your college has been able to build a community where students grow intellectually, thrive socially, and live purposefully. Some highlights from the last fiscal year:

  • 5,450 individuals, foundations, corporations and businesses made charitable gifts and grants totaling $3,561,335 to our College Foundation.This is a 2% increase over our five year average, and the second highest total of the past five years. $17,564,618 has been raised and received in total in the past five years.
  • 19 new endowed and expendable funds were established in FY 18-19. These new funds bring our total number of funds in the College at Oneonta Foundation to 527.
  • The endowment and net assets of our College Foundation increased to $66 million from $62 million a year ago. This is a net increase after allocations of just over $3 million for scholarships and campus programs from endowment income and expendable gifts.
  • Stewarded year two of Student Emergency Fund pilot program; awarded over $52,000 to 58 students struggling with unexpected financial hardships.
  • The Fund for Oneonta met this year’s funding goal for the Alumni Association, raising $472,849 for the 2018-19 fiscal year, a 5% increase from the prior year.
  • Two named space dedication events took place in October 2018: the Perna Science Building and Weigand Gallery and Student Lounge in the Human Ecology Building.
  • A successful 24-hour Day of Giving fundraising was held on March 21, 2019. 920 donors contributed over $186,000. This year’s dollar total surpassed the previous Day of Giving in 2017 by $34,611, or 23%.
  • The Office of Alumni Engagement implemented the Alumni Engagement Score in our Raiser’s Edge data base as a tool that can help us to measure the activities of and interactions with our alumni, therefore, helping us to better understand how our alumni engage with us. A score was assigned to 67,359 constituent records (undergraduate alumni, graduate alumni, and alumni non-degree).
  • In 2018, we inducted 23 new Alumni of Distinction honorees. More than half of the honorees returned to SUNY Oneonta to accept their honor in person.
  • We documented several increases in participation over last year, with the most notable increases in participation being achieved by Distinguished Alumni Lectures (31%), Recent Alumni Dialogues (300%), and Red’s Party Pack requests (45%).
  • Our efforts to engage alumni virtually continue to see great gains with a 50% increase in Instagram Followers, and a 7% increase in the number of alumni who engage with us on Facebook.

Thank YOU!

Celebrating Our Alumni

Left to right, Alumni Association Board President, Daren Rylewicz '93, Alumni Award winner Mary Schrot '92, and SUNY Oneonta President Barbara Jean Morris, Ph. D.

Your alumni association wants to celebrate all of your achievements with you! This year, we're thrilled to announce that we have three different ways to do that.

For our younger alumni, we're hosting a 30 Under 30 celebration on Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. in the Foothills Performing Arts Center. The award winners will be announced at the event. We invite all of our alumni to celebrate with us.

For our more established alumni, we honor their life's work with an Alumni of Distinction award. Alumni who have made significant contributions to society, and whose accomplishments, affiliations, and careers have honored the legacy of the college are recognized.

For all of our Red Dragons, we've established awards that we give out annually during Reunion Weekend. These honor the outstanding personal and professional achievements of our alumni. Currently, we're looking for nominees.

Thank you for giving us so much to celebrate!

SUNY Oneonta announces 2019 Common Read

common read 2019
Ayad Akhtar. Photograph © Nina Subin

This year’s selection takes the program in a new direction

SUNY Oneonta’s Common Read, a program designed to advance diversity by encouraging students to examine and better understand topics such as equity, inclusion, and personal history, has chosen a different path in 2019. Rather than focus on a bound book like a novel or memoir, the program’s organizers have picked a play. While it is possible to read the script, plays are intended to be experienced live.

“We thought doing a play was a great way to vary what we have done in the past,” said John Bagby, theatre professor, and Theresa Russo, human ecology professor. “It was a way to engage the arts and humanities in ways we had not previously done. Students could see the performance as well as read the play.”

For this year’s Common Read, the College has chosen Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar. The story of a successful Pakistani-American lawyer whose dinner party spins out of control amid a heated discussion of identity and religion, Disgraced won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Jeff Equity Award for Best New Play in 2012.

Akhtar’s work confronts uncomfortable topics like post-9/11 Islamophobia, racial and religious discrimination, and discourse around religion and politics in an 80-minute play that continuously ratchets up the tension for the audience by subverting expectations. Disgraced is a tough production to take on for established theatre companies with professional performers. Staging it at a college with student actors has its own challenges.

“Staging and performing the violence of the abuse scene may be a challenge,” Bagby and Russo said. “Those kinds of moments can be hard for actors both physically and emotionally.”

The challenges this work brings to those who honestly engage with it are a feature of the Common Read program. The committee expressed hope that Disgraced will create conversations around issues of diversity for students, faculty, and staff. “We see it as a tool to help facilitate needed conversations, and this year having the performance as well as having students reading it will be a source of that dialogue,” they said.

The production will be directed by John McCaslin-Doyle and will run Nov. 6-9 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 10 at 2 p.m. in the Goodrich Theatre.

On Sept. 23, Akhtar will deliver the 2019 Mills Distinguished Lecture at 7 p.m. The event will take place in the Dewar Arena at the Alumni Field House. The Mills Distinguished Lectureship is named to honor the memory of Professor Albert Mills and his wife, Helena. Their bequest to the College at Oneonta Foundation led to the establishment in 1988 of a fund to bring prominent speakers to campus.

What would you tell your freshman self?

letters to freshmen 2018

Was your freshman room in Tobey, Golding, Littell, Wilber, Hulbert or Hays Hall? If so, we want you to write a letter to the new students moving into your old room! Students whose room corresponds with an alumni letter will be surprised with a warm message when they arrive on campus this fall.

Your letter should include:

1) The building name and room number in which you lived
2) A favorite memory of yours from your room
3) A piece of advice for the room's new residents

If you lived in one of the halls listed above but don’t remember your room number, no worries! We will randomly select a room number in the hall where you lived to receive your message. You can send your letter to:

Office of Alumni Engagement
118 Alumni Hall
SUNY Oneonta
Oneonta, NY 13820

You can also send letters via private message to the Oneonta Alumni Facebook page or email your letter to the Office of Alumni Engagement. Please respond by Monday, August 12!

Competitive Poetry - The Oneonta Poetry Slam builds writers and performers who can work a room

Poetry slam judges

The poets are nervous. Seven of them have dropped their names into the official (and literal) hat and will be competing. Three judges have been selected from the audience. A sacrifice has been chosen. The rest of the crowd waits for the poetry slam to begin.

Poetry slams and poetry readings exist on opposite ends of the continuum. A reading tends to be sedate; a slam tends to be rowdy. In a slam, the end goal is connecting with the audience with words, yes, but also performance. A slammer uses body language, facial expressions, and vocal tone to keep the crowd listening to the work. The crowd responds with snapping (if they like what’s been said) or hissing (if they don’t).

Also: A slam keeps score. Like at a diving competition, the judges score the poem after the poet has entered the water, so to speak. Performances are graded on a scale of 1 (not good) to 10 (so good). At the end of the night, the scores are tallied, and a winner is declared.

Nationally, Marc Smith seems to have started the slam in the 1980s in Chicago at the Green Mill Jazz Studio. On the East Coast, the Nuyorican Cafe in New York City is a hub. Poetry slams came to the SUNY Oneonta campus at the turn of the 21st century. George Castle ’03 was in his dorm room watching Slam, a 1998 movie about an aspiring rapper who is in jail and discovers poetry to communicate his thoughts.

“I can do that,” Castle said to himself. “I had already been interested in poetry, but I’d never really experienced poetry as a performance art form. Me and a couple of other students who also enjoyed poetry decided to start a team. Early on, we spoke to Robb Thibault, director of the Hunt College Union. He thought it was a great idea.”

Thibault had experience with poetry slams when he interviewed in 2001 for the job he now holds. He’d started a slam program at the University of Michigan. SUNY Oneonta students who were on the hiring committee saw that on his resume and wondered if he could do the same here. Castle helped get the ball rolling.

Terri Forde ’20
Terri Forde '20

The slams started small, maybe 50 people, Castle says. The crowd kept growing until there were enough participants to build a competitive team to send to College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI), the now-international slam competition that gained momentum at the same time. This year, the competition was April 10-13 in Houston and will be the 18th consecutive year SUNY Oneonta has sent a team.

The 2019 Houston-bound team was chosen during the fall semester and includes Gabriel Membreno ’19, Katie Hebert ’19, Malack Alharaizeh ’20, Phylesia Lewis ’20, Casey Williams ’20, and Reed Guy ’20. For them, tonight’s slam is an opportunity to hone their poems and performances. It’s also a chance for less polished slammers to gain some experience. For all attendees, however, it’s a room for sharing and listening.

“I think poetry slam is popular on campus because it is a very safe space for people to say what they need to say, and they don’t have many other places to do that — and to get affirmation of their experiences,” coach Justine Bishop ’15 says.

“It’s a place where certain things — like mental health and sexuality — are talked about that aren’t normally talked about quite so openly. Just listening to those conversations helps you think of yourself in a new light. Even if you decide, ‘Well, no, that’s not me.’ Even if you are not discovering things about yourself, you are still gaining perspective,” she says.

The poems in tonight’s slam touch on topics like body image, faith, abuse, race, and love. A couple of the poets mix-and-match some of the above. These poems are written about the roiling, emotional places in each poet who has created them. When they perform, the poets bring the words to life — and the best pull the audience into the mood the work encapsulates.

Which brings us back to the sacrifice.

In a slam, the first poet onstage is there only to warm up the crowd and calibrate the judges. The sacrifice’s score is used only as a benchmark for each poet who comes after. Our sacrifice is Williams, whose “The Best War Stories Come from New York City Corner Stores” engages the crowd, which snaps its approval.

Gabriel Membreno ’19
Gabriel Membreno '19

For some prospective SUNY Oneonta students, the poetry slam scene is a draw. Kristen Tomanocy ’11 went to high school in nearby Norwich, New York. Her poetry teacher would bring students up to the slam on campus.

“I just fell in love with the culture,” she says. “It felt like a community to me. I just knew that when I went to Oneonta, I just knew I was going to be a part of it. It wasn’t a question for me. That year I was the only freshman. All of the other team members were seniors. They kind of took me under their wing and kind of taught me about the legacy of all of the poets who came before me who had gone through Oneonta.”

That legacy informs what Tomanocy is doing now. Tomanocy is part of the Wombat Theater Company in New York City and was part of the team that transformed a book of Maryanne Rojas ’14’s poetry into a stage play. Tomanocy also teaches seventh-grade English at the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School in Queens, New York, where one of her biggest units is poetry slam.

“We basically use the book and lyrics from Hamilton,” she says. “We study those for poetic devices, and they write a Revolutionary War poem. We slam it — and it’s amazing.”

Former slam team poet Mary Taibi ’12 is also a middle school English teacher.

“I think poetry slam gave me more confidence in my speaking skills and taught me how to emote,” Taibi says. “I am always amazed by how positively poetry slam impacted my life. I couldn’t say enough to fully express the ways in which it altered my personality and beliefs. I made some of my best friends at the competitions and learned how to be a more well-rounded person.”

Castle, whose movie choice launched this campus community, is a New York University professor in the communicative sciences and disorders department. His slam experience doesn’t immediately inform his research, which looks at communication from the standpoint of how disorders affect a person’s ability to read or speak. It has, however, informed how he does his job.

“[Slam] helped me be comfortable with crowds because that’s what I do for a living now. I’m giving lectures to crowds of people. But poetry slams were my first experience where I had to face a lot of people, where they would sit and listen to every word that comes out of my mouth. That was my first time commanding the audience and getting a feel for what it’s like to have that kind of attention and pressure,” Castle says. “It gave me a confidence that it was something I could do.”

That kind of confidence is displayed by some of tonight’s nervous poets — and the rest are starting to develop by getting up on this stage and speaking their carefully chosen words. Once the numbers are calculated, one poet is declared the winner. But, really, the act of performing in front of this crowd becomes its own reward.

Ain't no party like a Red Dragon party!

Stan Hansen '75 and fellow Red Dragons

In early 2019, Stan Hansen ’75 and 19 other alumni took a cruise to the Dominican Republic. This was the first time that many of these Red Dragons had seen each other since graduation. Left to right:
Randy McGough 76, Valerie Hampton 80, Hazel Miller ’75, Rick Belt 74, Savander Parker 82, Hansen, JoAnne Butler 75, Kevin Burnett 81, Valerie Young 76, Jerome Young 78, Linda Randall Bryant 74, Michelle Randall Williams 78, Anthony Jones 75, Tira Randall 78, Sylvia Carey Butler 80,
Jackie Kane 74G, Olivia Nelson (who attended SUNY Oneonta in 1971), Fred Coleman 74, Gloria McCormick 74, and George Griggs 74.

The Alumni Engagement Office provided a Red’s Party Pack for the event. Click this link if you’d like some special goodies for your own alumni event.

Reunion Wrap Up

Alumni and friends gathered in Oneonta to celebrate Reunion Weekend 2019

Alumni and friends gathered in Oneonta to celebrate Reunion Weekend 2019, June 7-9.

More than 600 alumni, family, and friends came back to campus June 7-9 to celebrate the place where so many stories began. Red Dragons enjoyed many (many!) meals, tours of the campus, as well as golf and tennis tournaments. The Red Dragon 101 series offered lessons about the campus’ appearance, the newest generation of Red Dragons, and visions from the College’s past. Will Mason ’10 read from The Boy with the Rainbow Heart, his book for kids. Alumni went downtown to Roots, the B-Side Ballroom, the Black Oak Tavern, and the Red Jug Pub as well as SOURS at the Fox. Even with the abundance of fun things to do, the best part might have been the time spent hanging out with each other.

The campus looked a little bit different this year because of construction in the Hunt Union parking lot, so some of our favorite festivities had to be shifted from familiar locations. The Welcome Back Clambake and the Annual Alumni Award and Volunteer Recognition Celebration Breakfast took over Chase Gymnasium while the RAT Relocated popped up in Le Café in the Morris Conference Center. New events like Stars and Sundaes at the Perna Science Building and the Craft Brew Luncheon in the Martha Pratt Suite won over Red Dragons, too.

Without all of the volunteers – from class chairs to check-in helpers -- who helped make the weekend happen, we could not have had such a great time. We’d like to give special thanks to the following:

Reunion Weekend Committee: 

  • Terri Berzin '79
  • Remi Farnan ’15
  • Phyllis MacBeth ’66
  • Stephanie Peguillan ’15
  • Christine Warnquist ’71

Class Chairs: 

  • Fran Bliven ’54
  • Eleanor Filburn ’54
  • Jay Davidson ’69
  • Stan Nosek ’69
  • Loraine Tyler ’69
  • Carolyn Cacciato ’79
  • Mitch Borger ’79
  • Dean Davis ’84
  • Colby Thomas ’84
  • George Moussa ’89
  • Adam Levine ’94
  • Jonathan “Woody” Kaplan ’99 
  • Burton Relethford ’09
  • Cassie Sklarz ’04
  • Sigma Gamma Phi (Arethusa): Remi Farnan ’15
  • College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP): Karla Nava ’16 and Pathy Leiva '18
  • Mountain Biking: Ed Lorenz ’81

The Office of Alumni Engagement is currently seeking Class Chairs for the 5’s and 0’s years for Reunion 2020! Class chairs help promote reunion and work closely with Alumni Engagement staff to recruit people from your class to come to Reunion. If you’d like more information or are interested in becoming a Class Chair, email!

2019 Alumni Award Winners Honored

Alumni Award Winner Alice Maggiore ’10
Emerging Leader award winner Alice Maggiore '10

The Alumni Association Awards were celebrated on Saturday, June 8, at the Alumni Awards and Volunteer Recognition Celebration Breakfast during Reunion Weekend 2019. This year’s winners were:

  • Art Dauria  — Emeritus Faculty Outstanding Service 
  • Peter Dorn '71— Military Service
  • Grace Narins '19— Student Leadership
  • Nick Brown '19— Student Leadership
  • Kathy Hewlett — Current Staff Outstanding Service
  • Alice Maggiore '10 — Emerging Leader
  • Zubaida Qamar '10 — Emerging Leader
  • Mary Schrot '92 — Outstanding Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion
  • Roland Holstead '67 — Red Dragon Spirit-Individual
  • David Lynch '74 — Humanitarian

Congratulations to all of our award recipients! To learn more about our award as well as how to submit nomination visit

How Do I Become a Loyal Red Dragon?

Monica Grau '88

Loyal Red Dragon Monica Grau '88. Photo by Stephanie Peguillan.

Want to snag one of the awesome baseball hats we had at Reunion Weekend HQ for your very own? Complete four easy steps and you can by becoming a Loyal Red Dragon!

If you came to Reunion Weekend you've completed a step.

If you've created your profile on the alumni online community you've completed a step.

If you've made a donation to the college or volunteered for the Alumni Association, you've completed a step.

The final step is telling us you want to join the exclusive group of SUNY Oneonta Alumni: the Loyal Red Dragons!


As an official Loyal Red Dragon, you will

  • be recognized for your deeper involvement in the college community,
  • receive special perks like discounts, dragon swag, and other surprises,
  • stay connected to SUNY Oneonta and your peers.

If you haven’t already done so- register to be one of our Loyal Red Dragons here: Once you are registered, you’ll receive your first gift in your confirmation email! As a Loyal Red Dragon attend an event (check out our events calendar here), be sure to volunteer, and/or make a donation to the Fund for Oneonta before Reunion Weekend 2020. Finally, join us at Reunion Weekend 2020 and get your awesome baseball hat!

Let your dragon roar! Become a Loyal Red Dragon today!



Celebrating Our 130th Commencement

commencement 2019

In three ceremonies on May 11, the campus community celebrated our 130th graduating class. Along with celebrating the achievements of the Class of 2019, this year's Chancellor's Award winners were congratulated and honorary degrees were  presented to Crystal L. Williams ’77 and James C. Zachos ’81.

Crystal L. Williams has pursued justice for refugees and asylum seekers, litigated employment-based immigration law cases, and helped shape federal immigration policy. She reached the pinnacle of her career as the CEO and executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the premier national association for immigration law attorneys. Among her many accomplishments at AILA, she helped advance the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (or DACA) initiative, co-authoring a treatise on immigration law and starting a new pro bono program.

James C. Zachos is a respected paleoclimatologist, who is consistently at the forefront of research to reconstruct Earth's climate history. His expertise in climate change has resulted in countless invitations to speak at conferences around the world. In 2017, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the greatest honors an American scientist can receive. In addition, he has shared his knowledge with future generations as a professor of geology for nearly 30 years.

In addition, eight of our colleagues received Chancellor's Awards.

  • Lesley Bidwell ’86, director of IT Networking and Telecommunications, has received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service;
  • Keith Byam, maintenance assistant - locksmith, has received the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Classified Service;
  • Robert Compton, professor of Africana and Latino Studies (ALS) and political science and chair of the ALS Department, has received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service;
  • Amie Doughty, professor of English, has received the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching;
  • Michelle Hendley, librarian, has received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Librarianship;
  • Gina Keel, associate professor of political science, has received the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching;
  • Izabella Lokshina, chair of the Management, Marketing and Information Systems Department, has received the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities; and
  • Florian Reyda, professor of biology, has received the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Congratulations to our honorees and to the newest class of Red Dragons!

commencement 2019  commencement 2019
commencement 2019  commencement 2019

Loyal Red Dragons Volunteer

 Loyal Red Dragons

We love our volunteers! Their hard work and dedication helps the SUNY Oneonta Alumni Association carry out its mission to connect, engage, support, and celebrate the alumni of SUNY Oneonta. By returning to campus to speak to students, hosting events in their area for nearby alumni, or helping organize their class's Reunion Weekend celebrations, alumni volunteers make what we do possible every day.

Volunteering is also one of the steps to becoming a Loyal Red Dragon. Want to find out how you can become a volunteer? Stop by the Loyal Red Dragon/Volunteer table” at Reunion Weekend HQ to get more information and to pick up your gift for attending Reunion. If you’re already a Loyal Red Dragon and have completed ALL the steps (volunteering and attending an event) since you signed up- you will be eligible to receive a special giveaway!

Reconnect with the Spirit of Oneonta

Reunion Weekend

Our annual alumni party will take place on campus June 7-9  (Click this link to register). Every single alumnus and alumna will be welcomed back in Red Dragon style. We have extra special events planned for those whose class years end in 4 or 9, as well as members of the Mountain Biking Club and the College Assistant Migrant Program (CAMP). Plus, the sisters of Sigma Gamma Phi (Arethusa) will celebrate the 125th anniversary of their sorority’s presence on campus. The Epsilon chapter of Arethusa was founded on October 20, 1894 and held semi-monthly meetings for the “purpose and practice in parliamentary usage, debate, and literary culture.” According to Carey Brush’s In Honor and Good Faith, the members of the societies debated contemporary problems such as the elimination of capital punishment and well as performed readings, musical selections, and dramatic productions. While we won’t stop you from doing any of this during reunion weekend, we hope you return to Oneonta and have a great time.

Thanks to a Loyal Red Dragon

Photo: Evan Rakowski '05
Evan Rakowski '05 

This month we highlight Loyal Red Dragon Evan Rakowski ’05. Evan received the Alumni of Distinction honor in 2018. He is the principal and founder of Radical Spark, a management consulting organization. Evan joined our Loyal Red Dragon program and has completed all three steps: Registering in our online community, volunteering, and attending an event! Check out Evan’s keynote at the Political Science Conference on April 5. Evan shared his words of wisdom on how to communicate with individuals who may have differing viewpoints and how his experiences at SUNY Oneonta helped him to be a successful businessman.

Become a Loyal Red Dragon today. Sign up at

Thank You for Giving!

Day of Giving

SUNY Oneonta’s annual Day of Giving for 2019 was a success! More than 870 alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents, and friends participated with a gift. The day was made possible by generous challenge donors who pledged their support based on dollar thresholds reached during the day-long fundraising event.

The 24-hour challenge began at midnight on Thursday, March 21, with the first challenge from Phil Carpenter ’64, ’67. By mid-afternoon, more than $25,000 had been raised to qualify the college for his $25,000 challenge pledge.

Once this target was reached a new challenge was launched, with an additional $15,000 promised by Sally Tanzer and Grace Larkin ’67 if $15,000 more in donations was received. That target was achieved by early evening, prompting members of the College at Oneonta Foundation Board of Directors to come forward with one final challenge to secure additional gifts prior to midnight.

The event was widely publicized thanks to both email and social media outreach. The SUNY Oneonta Student Association pledged $5,000 if a goal of 321 social media posts of #ONEONTATHANKS was reached. More than 1,400 posts, shares, likes, and comments were noted on social media that day! Progress was tracked on

We achieved great things during our 2019 Day of Giving, with donations totaling more than $170,000! SUNY Oneonta students and faculty are the grateful beneficiaries of this support, so thank you to all the alumni, students, employees, and friends who helped us exceed our goal. We could not have done it without you!

Going Underground?


Every Red Dragon has heard of the tunnels that run under the campus. Some alumni experienced them first-hand; others only know the stories, like this one below from Reflections. We have a special opportunity for a lucky winner to put on a hard-hat and go underground on a Behind-the-Scenes tour with Lachlan Squair, Chief Facilities Planning and Safety Officer. The details: register for a Reunion Weekend event by midnight on May 8, 2019. One winner will be chosen. Your odds of winning are determined by how many entries we receive – and may the odds be in your favor.

Going Underground - The Campus Tunnels are a source of Mystery and Memory
From: Reflections Spring 2017

Current students whisper about tunnels under the campus, usually on an Oneonta winter day when the wind is extra sharp and the snow is extra deep. The story usually goes: “My [mom, dad, uncle, aunt, etc.] went here in the [1960s, ’70s, ’80s] and said there were tunnels that ran from building to building that students would walk through without ever having to deal with the weather.” Then, usually, the current students sigh, snuggle deeper into their winter coats, and trudge to Fitzelle, Hulbert, or Hunt Union.

To students from about 1993 onward, the tunnels are merely the stuff of legend. But, yes, recent graduates, there were tunnels back in the day. They ran between the Netzer Administration Building, the Hodgson Instructional Resource Center, and Schumacher Hall. Those buildings were all constructed during one of the first big periods of campus growth in the 1960s, which meant that the campus was already being dug up. Plus, the administration was in favor of underground passageways.

“[SUNY Oneonta President] Royal Netzer was the main force behind the tunnels being built,” reports facilities planner Phil Bidwell ’87. “He wanted to be able to go from IRC to his office without getting his feet wet.” Bidwell also remembers the tunnels being a huge part of student life. “I remember a student going down there and busking with his guitar,” he says. “We’d go down there and hang out. When it wasn’t full of traffic, students would clap their hands or yell and listen for the echo.”

Back in the 1970s, says Mark Delligatti ’75, “they were such a part of our daily life, especially during the winter months and the rainy season. I remember asking, ‘You going overground or underground?’”

“I never thought of them as tunnels,” writes Mitch Opperman ’81. “That was just how everyone went back and forth to class. It was very convenient.”

The tunnels were also a place to celebrate affiliations. Sororities and fraternities would paint their crests and symbols on the wall. Student clubs such as Mask and Hammer would advertise shows and activities. The tunnel walls were treated like the Hartwick wall is now, just subterranean. One of the benefits of the underground route was the snacks that waited at the end of the path to Schumacher. Students fueled up on coffee and treats at a shop in the building’s basement.

“They sold the equivalent of a Dunkin Donuts coffee roll called a Bismark,” says Terri Crandall Cafaro ’84. “I think my entire Freshman 15 (the rumored 15 pounds that first-year students gain) came from that bakery.”

Despite the fond memories alumni have of the tunnels, they did have a few downsides. The biggest (and the one that ultimately led to their closure) was that water would seep into them during hard rains and spring thaws. The carpets would get soaked, and the paint would peel off of the walls.

"From a facilities standpoint," Bidwell says, "they were hard to ventilate and light. Security was tough, too, because they are largely hidden spaces."

Currently, it would be cost-prohibitive to make the old tunnels ADA-compliant. While the tunnels are no longer in use as student walkways, they are still there. In the basement of Netzer, a nondescript locked door near the vending machines marks their entrance. They are different now, however. There are big steam pipes where the murals were. Conduits contain communications cable, including the big fiber-optic trunk lines between Milne Library and Netzer. These lines are the backbone of the campus’s high-density data network; interestingly, the individual cables are blown through the conduit with compressed air, rather than pulled by hand. There are miles and miles of these lines in the tunnels and out of sight. We’ve grown to depend on this “wireless” system, even though it’s only wireless for the last 50 to 100 feet to our computers and phones. The underground system of cables and wires has grown to connect all of the parts of the expanding campus. Tunnels — some only big enough to crawl through — are like the tree root system that feeds what is above. If you have a knowledgeable guide like Bidwell you can go from Netzer to Hulbert and only step out into the sunshine once.

Much to the students’ dismay, there are no plans to reopen the tunnels for general use. Nancy Lefko ’82 says that is a shame. “The tunnels were the best on those cold, snowy or rainy Oneonta days! I could grab a coffee right outside the bookstore and then shoot down the tunnel to class,” she says. “My most vivid memory? Painting a mini-mural with my Pi Delta Chi pledge class. I actually feel sorry for the students of today forced to maneuver campus without the tunnel.”

Takin’ Care of (Music) Business

Music Industry Students pose with Dave Matthews

What do the Berklee College of Music, the Los Angeles College of Music, and SUNY Oneonta have in common? All three made Billboard magazine’s 2019 list of top music business schools. Billboard’s editors understand that you can still learn about music outside of big cities and cited SUNY Oneonta for “the opportunities available to music business students at public colleges outside industry centers.” Plus, they had high praise for a new course in digital music and beat production, as well as the on-campus community the studies the roles music plays in everyday life. See who else made the list.

All-American Closes Out Career with a Third Place at Nationals

James Bethel ’19

All-American Closes Out Career with a Third Place at Nationals Wrestler James Bethel ’19 closed out the greatest career in the nearly 60-year history of the program on March 9 by winning three matches on the final day of the 2019 NCAA Division III championships to earn a third-place finish. He entered the championship as the top seed and left the championships as the only four-time All-American in program history.

“I came out here looking to take it all,” Bethel said. “I hit a bump in that path and was forced to aim for the next best thing. Not many people can say that they ended their career on a win, so I will take pride in that, and be happy that I was able to achieve the status of a four time All-American. Gold is nice, but bronze shines just as well.”

Off the mat, Bethel is an involved, successful student leader who is a dean’s list student, honor society vice president, and two-time Scholar All-American. His research on the prevalence of motion sickness among student athletes was accepted for presentation at a national conference this May. On top of his athletic and academic commitments, James has performed more than 250 volunteer hours in service projects for the college and community. Bethel’s resume extends even further with his service on the SUNY Oneonta College Foundation Board.

To learn more about Bethel’s journey to the championships, go to

Why I’m a Loyal Red Dragon

pictured: Carly Saltzman

Carly Salzman '17 tells us why she's a Loyal Red Dragon!

I am a Loyal Red Dragon because I wanted a way to stay connected to one of the most wonderful places! After graduating, I wanted to have just another reason to come back and visit and attend events with my fellow red dragons. I enjoyed volunteering at Alumni events as a student and I wanted to continue to do so as an Alum! I will be forever grateful to Oneonta for giving me the most amazing college experience and for introducing me to some of my best friends! I look forward to being a Loyal Red Dragon for many years to come. Once a Red Dragon always a Red Dragon!


Learn more about becoming a Loyal Red Dragon.


pictured: Carly Saltzman pictured: Carly Saltzman
Economics and Business Alum Wins International Award

Scott Salmirs '84
Scott Salmirs '84

From Dr. Morris:

I would like to extend my congratulations to [Alumni of Distinction honoree] Scott Salmirs ’84, who has been recognized with Beta Gamma Sigma’s 2019 Business Achievement Award. Scott is the president and CEO of ABM Industries, a leading provider of facility solutions. He was nominated by SUNY Oneonta’s Beta Gamma Sigma chapter for this prestigious award, which honors individuals for significant achievement in business. Salmirs will be officially announced as an award winner during Beta Gamma Sigma's Deans’ Luncheon held at the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International Conference and Annual Meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland, on April 14. AACSB is the association that accredits the college’s business programs.

ABM Industries appointed Scott president and chief executive officer in March 2015. ABM is a global Fortune 500 organization with over 130,000 employees, revenues of approximately $5.5 billion, and more than 350 offices in the United States and abroad. Under Scott’s leadership, ABM initiated a transformational strategy that has increased revenue by $600 million and market value of the organization by 40 percent, as reported in fiscal year 2017. The company has received numerous industry accolades, including being recognized as one of the best employers for new graduates by Forbes magazine, Silver Winner for Comeback Company of the year by Best in Biz, and one of America's best places to work by Modern Healthcare.

These recent accomplishments follow Scott's distinguished record as executive vice president at ABM and as a senior leader with other firms.


Join us for SUNY Oneonta’s Day of Giving 2019!

Red the Dragon on Day of Giving 2018

On March 21, SUNY Oneonta will celebrate its annual one-day giving challenge. Oneonta's Day of Giving is a fun and inspiring virtual coming-together of Red Dragons all over the world to unite around a common goal and make an enormous difference in a span of 24 hours. Oneonta alumnus Phil Carpenter ’64, ’67 has issued a very generous challenge to the SUNY Oneonta community. He will match the first $25,000 in gifts made by alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents and friends on our Day of Giving! Beginning at midnight (EST) on March 21, all gifts of any size to any designation will count toward the challenge.

We also have a special social media challenge from the SUNY Oneonta Student Association. If we reach 321 posts or shares of #ONEONTATHANKS on March 21, the SA will donate $5,000 to the Fund for Oneonta on the Day of Giving!

But remember, we only have 24 hours to reach both of these goals, so visit on March 21 to learn more about our challenge donors, track our progress, and make your gift.

Logo with hashtag

Freshman is Both a Student and a Statesman

Pictured: Benjamin Reynolds ’22 being sworn in.

SUNY Oneonta first year student Benjamin Reynolds ’22 chased his dream job right out of high school. Just a few months later, he got it.

On January 1, 2019, the 19-year old Reynolds was sworn in as a Johnson City Board of Trustees member. He is the youngest elected official in Broome County – and one of the youngest in the state.

During the summer and fall of 2018, he worked hard to communicate with voters, knocking on doors and making phone calls. On Election Night, the count had him up by five votes – but there were still 300 absentee ballots to be counted. In December, he found out that he had won.

“What I hope to prove to people now that I’m on the board is that young people have a voice and it’s worth listening to,” Reynold told WBNG News during his swearing in. Currently, Reynolds lives on campus in Oneonta but commutes back home to fulfill his board duties.

A Gift to the School of Economics and Business Lets Students Put Money in the Market

Pictured: Students from the School of Economics and Business
School of Economics and Business students

Thanks to a gift from Kent Newhart ’77 students in Dr. Kai Chen’s Portfolio Management class will apply what they have learned by managing a small account of SUNY Oneonta College Foundation assets.

Hands-on academic work is not new for economics and business students, who have engaged in a mutual funds project since fall 2006 in conjunction with finance courses. They have evaluated the performance of mutual funds held by the College Foundation and made recommendations about buying, selling, or holding mutual funds. But this was only a simulation exercise, culminating in a presentation to Foundation board members, College Advancement and Finance and Administration staff, and SEB faculty.

The shift to funds that will actually be managed by students is a new step in applied learning – and could not have been undertaken without the gift from Newhart. Newhart, who was a business economics major, is the President of the ATA Financial Group. This project will encourage student engagement in projects outside the classroom that foster project conceptualization, design, execution, and evaluation.

“The student-managed portfolio moves to a new level of engagement, motivation, and learning for the students by establishing a fund for them to manage,” Dr. Wade Thomas, Dean of the School of Economics and Business, said. “Likewise, our Bloomberg Terminals will see increased applied use by the students to collect data, analyze, and track investments. Investment research, decision making, data analysis, teamwork, and accountability will be more realistic and active.” This student-managed fund will follow the existing investment policies, approval process, and transaction processes of the College Foundation. The investment returns of the student-managed portfolio are proposed to be retained in the portfolio or expended for purposes that are consistent with the Newhart Fund.

“We are grateful to Kent Newhart for his generosity to SUNY Oneonta, and for creating another great opportunity for our students,” said Paul Adamo, Vice President for College Advancement. “These skills will make SUNY Oneonta graduates stand-out in a competitive field.”

Why I'm a Loyal Red Dragon

Pictured: Tyler Itzkowitz ’15 and a friend
Tyler Itzkowitz ’15 and a friend

I’m a Loyal Red Dragon because SUNY Oneonta has given me so much more than just a college experience. Oneonta helped me realize my leadership potential, and catapulted me into a career in Student Affairs; something I will always be grateful for. Oneonta gave me a home away from home and a family. The Ultimate Frisbee Team (SOFA and LoveSeat) just celebrated another Alumni Reunion weekend, and with current team members, we exceeded 140 attendees. I’ve met so many incredible and inspiring people during my time as a student at Oneonta, and I do my best every day to carry on the legacy they’ve instilled in me. I can’t help but smile at the mention of Oneonta. I will be forever grateful for the people and memories from my time as a Red Dragon.

What Would You Say?

Photo of students with Dave Matthews
A group of music industry students meet Dave Matthews

More than 20 SUNY Oneonta music industry students and two faculty members got a behind-the-scenes tour of a Dave Matthews Band concert on Dec. 5, 2018, at the Albany Times Union Center – and it included a surprise Q&A with Matthews himself.

The trip came about through a connection with Rit Venerus ’10, the band’s business manager. Venerus is founder and president of Cal Financial Group, a business management firm that serves entertainers in music, film, and television, as well as professional athletes.

Music Professor Janet Nepkie, who accompanied the students on the tour, remembers Venerus from her Legal Issues in the Music Industry class. Nancy Tarr ’87, music industry lecturer, works with Venerus on a music industry internship nonprofit partially funded by the Bonnaroo Works Fund.

The group spent four hours touring the venue and meeting with staff involved in various aspects of the production. Most of the employees had been with the band more than 20 years.

When Dave Matthews walked into the room, no one was more surprised and excited than Oneonta Future Alumni Network student Natalie Costanza ’20, a longtime fan who has seen the band five times. Before posing for a group picture, Matthews pulled up a chair and answered questions ranging from why he has always allowed “tapers” to record and share his live music, to how he maintains his creative spark.

The entire group got pit wristbands and watched the concert a few rows from the stage. The 2+-hour show included four songs from the band’s most recent album, which was released in June and made DMB the first group in history to have seven consecutive albums debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

More pictures of the groups’ visit:

Ford Hall Net-Zero Retrofit will be the SUNY System’s First

Photo of Ford Hall
Ford Hall

SUNY Oneonta continues to go green by partnering with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York to convert Ford Hall into a net-zero building. It will be the first of its kind in the SUNY system – but the goal is to replicate the retrofit in resident halls across the state.

A net-zero building produces as much energy onsite from non-fossil fuel sources as it consumes each year.

“I’m excited that we will advance Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson’s goal of bringing all SUNY campuses to net-zero carbon emissions and that we will also be contributing to New York State’s goal of reducing greenhouse gasses,” President Barbara Jean Morris said. “Most of all, I’m proud that what we will accomplish with this project will ultimately impact campuses and communities statewide in the years to come.”

Why am I a Loyal Red Dragon?

A photo of alumnus John Fusco '72
John Fusco '72

John Fusco ’72 is a Loyal Red Dragon because it keeps him connected to lifelong friends.

“A group of alumni — mostly Iota Tau Kappa and a smattering of Delta Kappa and Phi Delta brothers from the 60's — meet monthly at our favorite restaurant, DiBella's Subs, in Latham, N.Y.” Fusco says. “We started meeting about 6 years ago to honor our fallen brother John Hirsch '70, who attended up until he passed away in Dec. 2013. We always reminisce about professors, courses, working in the dining halls, and, mostly, about the intramural sporting events (and rivalries) between the fraternities. The nightlife in downtown Oneonta at the numerous 'gin mills' is always brought up in discussions (the drinking age during that era was 18). Fun stories, sophomoric ribbing, and the doctor-prescribed pharmaceuticals we are currently taking dominates the discussions. It is always a blast and a renewing experience!”

Wouldn’t you like to be a Loyal Red Dragon too and reconnect with your group? Find out more by visiting

New Majors for Fall 2019

Three New Majors

There will be three new options for SUNY Oneonta students when the next academic year rolls around: Exercise Science, Art and Design, and Women’s and Gender Studies.

The Exercise Science BS program will focus on nutrition and kinesiology and their applications to health, wellness, fitness, and sport. Graduates will be prepared for health fields like corporate, community, or hospital programs as well as exercise physiology and cardiac rehab. They will also be eligible to take certification exams, like those offered by the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Students with an interest in the visual arts will be able to earn a BFA in five Art and Design concentrations: Digital and Studio Art, Animation and Illustration, Graphic, Web, and UI/UX Design, Photography and Visual Culture. This program will prepare graduates for a career in the arts or a Master of Fine Arts program.

The new Women’s and Gender Studies major looks at gender and sexuality as defining categories of human experience. Course work includes core classes in feminist theories and research methodologies in addition to examining ideas about femininity and masculinity across diverse historical periods and cultural contexts. In addition, the curriculum highlights the lenses offered by gay, lesbian, queer, and transgender perspectives.

You can find out more information at the SUNY Oneonta College website.

Fifty Years Strong

Photo of anniversary cake cutting
Former EOP Directors Stanley Morris (left) and Lynda Bassette-Farone (right) cut the EOP 50th Anniversary cake with current EOP Director, Glenn Pichardo '02 (center).

The SUNY Oneonta Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) celebrated its 50th anniversary in November.

EOP is a SUNY-wide organization that serves thousands of students, all of whom may not meet the traditional standards for admission but possess the desire, potential, and talent to earn a college degree. On our campus, these students receive individual attention from professionals in the office.

Keynote speaker, Yvonne Cummings ’72
Yvonne Cummings ’72 gives her keynote
speech about being a part of the first EOP Class
in Oneonta’s history in 1968.

“Oneonta is a special place,” said keynote speaker Yvonne Cummings ’72, who was a member of the first EOP class in 1968. “I meet a lot of current students and alumni, both recent and ancient like me. What I find uncanny is – our experiences – our interactions with faculty and staff has been so similar in nature. Because the school is so student focused, they always seem to select folks who are a good fit – including directors of EOP. What I received here – the unofficial help and the structured support allowed me the advantage to obtain a great education; an opportunity to travel abroad; freedom to learn and grow in an unfamiliar environment.”

Current EOP students attending the 50th anniversary celebration
EOP Freshman Francheska Hernandez,
EOP Senior Sha-Niyah Ortiz and ACE Freshman
Tatiana Thervil enjoy the festivities.

During this celebration, which was largest EOP alumni event to date, Stanley Morris, Lynda Bassette-Farrone, Cheryl Peeters, Carole Rooney, Edward “Bo” Whaley ’75, Jacqueline Hesse ’78, and Yvonne Cummings ’72 were inducted into the group’s Hall of Fame.

Debra Kawaller ’77 pictured with Jill  Mirabito
Debra Kawaller ’77 (left) and Jill Sherwood
Mirabito (right), Senior Advancement Officer.
Debra is a proud graduate of EOP and made a
significant bequest to fund EOP Scholarships.

Why I’m a Loyal Red Dragon

Alumni Brett Wellman '01, '03G outside of Matteson Hall with friends

“I'm a Loyal Red Dragon because my time at SUNY Oneonta was so valuable to informing who I am today. Through my education and my involvement at Oneonta, I found my passion in higher education. My relationships with peers and colleagues from Oneonta continue today. Despite being away from campus and upstate New York, I've been able to connect with new and old Red Dragons here in Boston and always look forward to alumni events here in Beantown.” - Brett Wellman ’01 ’03G


Become a Loyal Red Dragon today!


Science One Building Renamed for Philanthropic Alumna

President Morris and Janet Perna '70 pose during the dedication of the Perna Science building.

On October 19, 2018, the SUNY Oneonta community celebrated the renaming of the Science One Building to the “Janet R. Perna Science Building,” recognizing the philanthropy of Janet Perna ’70. The building is home to the biology and Earth and atmospheric science departments, as well as classrooms, labs, and the planetarium.

During the past decade, Perna donated more than half a million dollars to the College, most of which went to supporting women in STEM disciplines. In spring 2018, she pledged $5 million, half of which will be allocated to unrestricted endowment, which funds many campus programs, including student-faculty research and creative activities, internship support, faculty development and board-designated scholarships. The other half will be restricted to the “Janet Perna ’70 Women in Technology Scholarship.”

Perna graduated from SUNY Oneonta with a bachelor’s degree in math, which she taught in Middletown, New York until 1974. She left teaching to work for IBM in San Jose, California, and was responsible for the company’s billion dollar Informational Management division. In 2001, she was inducted into the Women in Technology Hall of Fame. Currently, she serves on the Solace Systems Board of Directors and is technology advisor to BridgeGrowth Partners, Georgian Partners, and Centana Management.

“Perna’s gift is a powerful testament to her belief in the SUNY Oneonta Foundation’s sound fiscal policies and her trust that we will be thoughtful and prudent while advancing the mission of our great college,” SUNY Oneonta President Barbara Jean Morris said.

Tracy Allen, the interim dean of the school of sciences, agrees that this gift will have a lasting impact on SUNY Oneonta students.

“Janet R Perna is leaving an indelible mark on this building, but, more importantly, on the bright futures of students who will discover and explore the wonders of science within these walls,” Allen said.

“My belief in the importance of education was instilled in me by my parents who did not have the benefit of a college education,” Perna said. “They expected that I would go to college and saved and sacrificed for me to attend. That was the greatest gift they could have given me for it transformed my life and has made it possible for me to help others transform theirs.” One of Perna’s first scholarship recipients Michele Daly ’10 spoke about how receiving that support transformed her life. She has earned her doctorate and now works at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doing HIV research.

Celebrate Young Alumni

SUNY Oneonta 30 under 30

SUNY Oneonta turns 130 years old in fall 2019. In honor of this milestone birthday, the Alumni Association will recognize 30 of our most notable recent graduates who are under the age of 30. Award winners will show exceptional achievement and significant contributions to their profession, their community, or the College.

Nomination Guidelines:

  • Nominees must be a graduate of SUNY Oneonta.
  • Nominations must include the nominee’s full name, class year, address, phone number, and e-mail address. Please also include your contact information in case the committee has any questions.
  • Nominations should be no longer than 750 words.
  • Include a description of the nominee's leadership qualities, honors, accomplishments, and other supporting information which you believe show exceptional achievement and significant contributions to their profession, community, or the College.
  • Nominees must be under 30 years of age on March 15, 2019.

Please submit letters of nomination to the Office of Alumni Engagement at by March 15, 2019.

Honorees will be announced notified and announced in Summer 2019.

For more information, check out

Let Your Red Dragon Roar

Alumni Association Board Members and Loyal Red Dragons Remi Farnan '15 and Stephanie Peguillan '15

Alumni Association Board Members and Loyal Red Dragons Remi Farnan '15 and Stephanie Peguillan '15

You're already a loyal member of the Red Dragon family. Make it official and get special perks!

As a Loyal Red Dragon, you will be recognized for your deeper involvement in the college community. Plus, we will help you stay connected to your alma mater, informed of the latest college news and activities, and keep in touch with your fellow alumni.

Many are already receiving these benefits:

"Why am I a Loyal Red Dragon? Nothing beats giving back to the place I love! There’s no feeling in the world that’s better than spending time with others who feel the same, whether it’s volunteering or meeting fellow alumni, it’s great to spend time with fellow red dragons! — Remi Farnan '15

"I am a Loyal Red Dragon because it keeps me up to date on all things happening through the Alumni Association at SUNY Oneonta. From living in North Carolina and Florida, I always knew what events were happening and was able to provide support from afar. During graduate school, I volunteered on committees and it was a great way to stay connected and give back to the place that gave me so much! I have attended many events sponsored by the Alumni Association and connected with old and new Red Dragon friends! I would highly recommend signing up!" — Stephanie Peguillan '15

To learn more about bocoming a Loyal Red Dragon and to get started go to



Go Bills! (And save some $!)

Buffalo Bills Ticket Offer

Football-loving Red Dragons can see the Buffalo Bills in action in December at a discount. You can choose either December 16’s game against the Detroit Lions or the December 30 game against the Miami Dolphins. While we can’t promise that ticket-holders will see one of Kyle Williams’ pre-game speeches or that Josh Allen will be back on the field, we can promise a fun time in Orchard Park. Click the links below to find out more.






Detroit Lions*

Buy Tickets


Miami Dolphins*

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Alumni of Distinction Class of 2018 Honored

Alumni reunite at the Alumni of Distinction Presentation of Honors.
From left: Seth Crystall ’80 and his wife, Leigh, Erikka Misrahi ‘08 and her mom, JoLee 
Olszewski, Jay Winuk ’80 and his wife, Carolyn, Greg Floyd ’80, Victoria ’80 
and Roy Freiman ’81. 

The SUNY Oneonta Alumni Association hosted the 2018 Alumni of Distinction Presentation of Honors on September 28 in the Hunt College Union Ballroom.

Over 100 individuals, including former and current faculty and staff, fellow alumni, friends and family joined the celebration. The event featured music from Blues Maneuver, a popular local area band, Tim Newton, Associate Professor of Music and Choral Director, and the English Choral Experience singers who had just returned from a trip abroad, as well as a welcoming performance from Hooked on Tonics, the college’s acapella group. The spirit of the event was festive, glamorous, and filled with laughter and excitement. Alumni of Distinction honoree Greg Floyd ’80 was the evening’s host while several members of the SUNY Oneonta Alumni Association board of directors returned to campus to participate in the presentation.

It was an evening full of Red Dragon pride, as you can see from the pictures. (Click the link to view all photos.)

Stephanie Brenner '81 with Alumni of Distinction  honoree Susan Weiner '81
Stephanie Brenner '81 with Alumni of Distinction 
Susan Weiner '81

SUNY Oneonta President, Dr. Barbara Jean Morris  greets alumni at the reception.
SUNY Oneonta President, Dr. Barbara Jean Morris
greets alumni at the reception.

Acapella group Hooked on Tonics performed at the 2018 Alumni of Distinction presentation of Honors

Acapella group Hooked on Tonics performed at the 2018
Alumni of Distinction presentation of Honors.

Alumni of Distinction Honoree (AOD) Greg Floyd '80 played emcee for the event.
Alumni of Distinction Honoree (AOD) Greg Floyd '80
played emcee for the event.

Know a Red Dragon who Deserves Recognition

Nominate someone for a 2019 Alumni Association Award!
The Alumni Association awards committee is actively seeking nominations of alumni who deserve recognition through our annual awards. We encourage you to nominate outstanding individuals for the 2019 Alumni Association Awards in the following categories:

  • Excellence in Alumni Service
  • Current Faculty/Staff Outstanding Service
  • Emeritus Faculty/Staff Outstanding Service
  • Friend of the College
  • Honorary Alumna/Alumnus
  • Outstanding Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion Alumna/Alumnus
  • Emerging Leader
  • Red Dragon Spirit: Group and Individual 
  • Student Leadership
  • Humanitarian
  • International Alumni Achievement
  • Military Service

For complete descriptions of each award visit our website at Please submit letters of nomination to the Office of Alumni Engagement via email at no later than October 31, 2018.

Nominations should be no longer than 750 words and should include:

  • a description of the leadership qualities, honors, accomplishments, and other supporting information that qualify the nominee for the award.
  • The nominee’s full name, class year, address, phone number, and e-mail address.

The Annual Alumni Association Awardees will be honored during Reunion Weekend, June 7-9, 2019.

There is a separate nomination process for our Alumni of Distinction program. The Alumni of Distinction recipients are honored at a celebration held every fall. Please visit for more information about the criteria for the award and to nominate an individual for this honor.

From Dr. Morris: Family Weekend Captures the Red Dragon Spirit

President Morris
SUNY Oneonta President, Dr. Barbara Jean Morris

A sea of red covered the city of the hills during Family Weekend in September, when a record number of families participated in the celebration’s events.

A stand-out for me was the legacy breakfast on Saturday morning hosted by our Alumni Association. Generations of SUNY Oneonta graduates gathered together, shared stories new and old, and snapped pictures with their extended families. As I listened to the stories, I was struck by how thankful the alumni are to be a part of SUNY Oneonta. They discussed how their experiences here changed their lives. They shared a strong sense of pride for their alma mater. Everyone I spoke with related how happy they were that their children, nieces, and nephews were able to share in that experience.

That joy was captured by the long lines in the Red Dragon Outfitter as families bought matching SUNY Oneonta gear. Sharing that connectedness of being part of SUNY Oneonta by wearing red brings us together. Whether you are a newcomer like me or a member of a generational family, SUNY Oneonta is a source of pride and joy. We care about its past and future. That ethic of care is what binds us a family and makes us proud to wear Oneonta red.

Craft Brews and Beautiful Views

Matt Conroe ’13, state manager for Northway Brewing Company chats with alumni at Alumni on Tap
Matt Conroe ’13state manager for Northway Brewing Company chats with alumni at Alumni on Tap

SUNY Oneonta alumni celebrated their alma mater with specialty brews and snacks at the new Welcome Center on Friday, Sept. 7. Britney Liddell ’08, beer coordinator & brewery ambassador for Brewery Ommegang, Lauren Ward ’16, manager of Cooperstown Brewing Company, Matt Conroe ’13, state manager for Northway Brewing Company, and Patti Wilcox `12, co-founder Gravity Ciders, poured for the more than 65 alumni and friends.

“The view from the visitor’s center truly is stunning and the weather could not have been better,” Diana Moller ’12 said. “The tone of the event was convivial and became more relaxed as the evening -- and tastings -- continued.”

Kathy Meeker ’78 enjoyed learning about her fellow Red Dragons.

“One thing that I really liked was learning that there were alumni working in the craft beverage industry. It was great to know that our graduates are securing jobs in this burgeoning field,” she said. “The venue (and the weather) allowed us to be outdoors and indoors. Everybody was in a really good mood.”

View photos from our Alumni on Tap event.

Letters and Pillars and Dragons, Oh My

Students return to campusStudents gather in the quad to wish SUNY Oneonta a Happy Birthday

The new school year kicked off with our traditional Pass through the Pillars and Red Day, the college’s birthday celebration. This year, however, we added a little extra excitement to move-in day. Some first year students had a surprise waiting in their home-away-from-home: a letter from a past resident.

We put out the call for letters from alumni to new students back at the start of August. More than 70 letters hit our mailbox. The oldest was from an alumna who lived in Littell in 1965. Many letters contained advice on what to do during your four years on campus, like “Visit College Camp” and “Go to Class.” The local news ran a story on this new program.

For a complete overview of the start of the 2018-19 year, check out this story. Click here to check out all the photos from Pass Through the Pillars, and Red Day 2018.

A New Semester Begins

President Morris shares some birthday cake with Red the Dragon

I have spent my first couple of months here getting to know people, figuring out how to navigate campus, and just getting the lay of the land. My initial impressions of the college and community have been confirmed: this is a friendly and welcoming place. There truly is a dedication and a community of care. I am pleased to report that the college is fiscally sound. Enrollment is strong. Diversity, especially among students, continues to increase. Investment in sustainability is substantial. The campus’s relationship with the City of Oneonta remains healthy. The College at Oneonta Foundation’s endowment of $60 million stands as the largest among SUNY comprehensive colleges.

The campus community welcomed our newest class of first-year students. The Class of 2022 has an impressive academic profile. From an applicant pool of over 13,000, we have drawn a group that has an average overall high school grade of 90.6 and average SAT score of 1130. Nearly 30 percent of this year’s freshmen are students of color and almost 34 percent are first-generation students.

Additionally, the culture of philanthropy at our college has never been stronger. Last year, we raised a record $4.2 million in gifts and grants, and charitable giving funded scholarship awards totaling over $2 million for the first time. Additionally, we raised new funds for student research, internships, global experiences, and the Student Emergency Fund. I am grateful to have come to an institution that is both capable and stable. To me, this demonstrates that the entire campus community shares a genuine commitment to the college and its well-being.

Largely because of the timing of my arrival, my first year as president will be one of transition at SUNY Oneonta. The college’s current strategic plan was initiated in 2015 and envisioned as a three-year undertaking. Dr. Kleniewski, who had announced her retirement in April 2017, deferred further strategic planning to her successor. I have started a listening tour and to get acquainted with the culture, people, and community. This first year will provide context for a future strategic plan.

As a prelude, I have identified, with advice from my Cabinet, several priority activities for 2018-2019 to bring closure to the 2015 strategic plan. In addition, we will finalize an audit of the institutional results produced under the 2015 plan. The campus will reflect on the accomplishments of the last three years, build upon successes, and ensure that our efforts are consistent with the chancellor’s vision for SUNY.

As one strategic plan ends and we begin to think about another, our challenge continues to be finding the best way to future-proof the college. We are grateful to all of you for your past support. We look forward to having your future investments of time and financial resources as we continue to strengthen the SUNY Oneonta.


SUNY Oneonta President Barbara Jean Morris

Barbara Jean Morris, Ph.D.
SUNY Oneonta

Nominations for 2019 Alumni Awards Being Accepted

Nominate someone for a 2019 Alumni Association Award!

Are you, or do you know, an alumna/us who deserves recognition? The Alumni Association Board of Directors is actively seeking nominations of alumni for the 2019 Alumni Association Awards. We encourage you to nominate outstanding individuals for the 2019 Alumni Association Awards in the following categories:

  • Excellence in Alumni Service
  • Current Faculty/Staff Outstanding Service
  • Emeritus Faculty/Staff Outstanding Service
  • Friend of the College
  • Honorary Alumna/Alumnus
  • Outstanding Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion Alumna/Alumnus
  • Emerging Leader
  • Red Dragon Spirit
  • Student Leadership
  • Humanitarian
  • International Alumni Achievement
  • Military Service

For complete descriptions of each award as well as lists of past winners, visit our website at Please submit letters of nomination to the Office of Alumni Engagement via email at no later than October 21, 2018. Nominations should be no longer than 750 words and should include a description of the leadership qualities, honors, accomplishments, and other supporting information which qualify the nominee for the award. In addition, please include the nominee’s full name, class year, address, phone number, and e-mail address.

The Annual Alumni Association Awardees will be honored during Reunion Weekend, June 7-9, 2019.

There is a separate nomination process for our Alumni of Distinction program. The Alumni of Distinction recipients are honored at a celebration held annually in the fall. Please visit for more information about the criteria for the award and to nominate an individual for this honor.

Wanted: Alumni Letters to New Students

90's yearbook photo

Was your freshman room in Tobey, Golding, Littell, Wilber, Hulbert or Hays Hall? If so, we want you to write a letter to the new students moving into your old room! Students whose room corresponds with an alumni letter will be surprised with a warm message when they arrive on campus next week.

Your letter should include:

1) The building name and room number in which you lived
2) A favorite memory of yours from your room
3) A piece of advice for the room's new residents

If you lived in one of the halls listed above but don’t remember your room number, no worries! We will randomly select a room number in the hall where you lived to receive your message. You can send your letter via private message to the SUNY Oneonta or Oneonta Alumni Facebook page or email your letter to the Office of Alumni Engagement. Please respond by Monday, August 20!

President Morris Is Off to a Fantastic Start

President Morris

SUNY Oneonta’s eighth president has collected some of her thoughts about her first month in Netzer 301:

It is hard to believe that my first month in office is ending. My initial impressions of the college and community have been confirmed. This is a friendly and welcoming place. There truly is a dedication and a community of care.

My days have been filled with meeting many people on and off campus. I have really enjoyed visiting offices across campus and in the community. I look forward to continuing this in the weeks and months ahead as I continue my listening and learning tour.

One early highlight for me was greeting the EOP, ACE, and CAMP students and their families and meeting with the staff who support these important groups. Another highlight was SUNY Chancellor Johnson’s visit to campus. I appreciate the wonderful turnout and the warm welcome she received. We packed the Welcome Center and had a great dialogue about how our work on the chancellor’s four themes—Sustainability, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Individualized Education, and Partnerships—will help advance SUNY.

Alumni To Celebrate Local Food, Drink, and Music

Join us for Alumni on Tap!

Britney Liddell ’08 jokes that the best part of her job as the Beer Coordinator at Brewery Ommegang is the free beer. “We get so much beer,” she says, “it’s impossible to drink it all!”

What she really enjoys the most about her role is the problem solving. Liddell is the one who makes sure the beer gets from the brewery to wherever it needs to go, whether that is a bar down the street in Cooperstown or across the country for a special event. Her first job after graduation with a business economics degree was at NBT bank, where she got the customer service experience to land the job at Ommegang.

Right now, she’s working on the logistics of helping thirsty drinkers coming to a series of Phish shows near Watkins Glen this summer.

“The reward of solving any issues that come up in production and distribution is that I’ll go on social media in a few weeks and see happy people with our Nirvana beer in their hands,” she says.

Lauren Ward ’16 is working just down the road from Liddell. She’s running Cooperstown Brewing Company’s Milford Tap Room, which means her day includes everything from being a general bartender to ordering beer and merchandise to managing staff and schedules.

Her communications degree, she says, “allows me to work better with the public.”

Matt Conroe ’13, state manager for Lake George Brew House, and Patti Wilcox `12, co-founder Gravity Ciders, will also pour their ciders, ales, lagers, and porters at the Alumni on Tap event. Come and taste what these alumni have been brewing up.

Visit our webpage for more information..

Art Show Will Spotlight Scholarship Recipients

Poster for Student Scholarship Recipients Art Show

Starting on September 10, the work of Anna Vanderpool ’18, Danielle Thomas ’18, Tyler Burke ’17, Henry Feist ’18, Xiaoyi Zeng ’18, Sara Lapell ’18, Christian Liranzo ’18, and Teresa Memole ’18 will be featured on campus in the Project Space Gallery. While the art mediums vary from photography to drawing to computer art, all of the artists were recipients of the Jean Parish Scholarship, which is awarded by the art department via a competitive process. Parish, who was a professor emerita of art before her death in 2013, was also an artist herself. Her work, both visual and philanthropical, has enriched the SUNY Oneonta campus. For more information about the art show and the opening reception on September 13, visit

Welcome Class of 2018!

The Alumni of Distinction Program

Judges, dieticians, professors, meteorologists, museum directors, and more will be inducted into this year’s Alumni of Distinction class in September. Join us for the Presentation of Honors on September 28 in the Hunt Union Ballroom. Alumni of Distinction honoree and Emmy Award winner Greg Floyd '80, Co-anchor/News Broadcaster at CBS 6, Albany, NY will serve as Master of Ceremonies. For more information and a complete list of this year’s class, visit

Welcome to SUNY Oneonta’s New President!

President Morris
Dr. Barbara Jean Morris

Fellow Red Dragons! On July 1, 2018, Dr. Barbara Jean Morris officially became the president of SUNY Oneonta. Please join me in welcoming her to our alma mater.

I was one of the team who served on the search committee to find a replacement for the retiring Dr. Kleniewski. What impressed me most about Dr. Morris was her focus on nurturing a collaborative learning environment that supports faculty and student development, academic excellence, and community involvement. Her focus and SUNY Oneonta’s core values of excellence in teaching, learning, and scholarship are well aligned.

Like me, Dr. Morris was a political science major. Dr. Morris comes to us from Fort Lewis College in Colorado, where she was the provost. Before that, she was a dean at The University of Redlands, where she also served as Government Department Chair. Dr. Morris chose to drive from Colorado to Oneonta this summer and was able to retrace her roots on the Bell Route of the Trail of Tears.

Dr. Morris shared with me that she is looking forward to working with the Alumni Association. The feeling is mutual. I am happy we are off to an encouraging start. There will be opportunities for alumni to meet Dr. Morris at future events.

Celebrate Outstanding Alumni

Nominate someone for a 2019 Alumni Association Award!

Do you know a Red Dragon who excels in their field or always shows their Red Dragon pride? Tell us about them when you nominate them for an Alumni Association award.

The SUNY Oneonta Alumni Association has established awards in several categories to honor those alumni who bring distinction to themselves and to our alma mater through their outstanding personal and professional achievements. These awards are presented annually at a ceremony held during Reunion Weekend.

View a list of 2018 Alumni Association Annual Award Recipients.

View a listing of past winners .

Find out more information about how to nominate someone for an Alumni Association Annual Award.

Alumni Share Knowledge: Introducing the ASK blog

Alumni Sharing Knowledge-ASK Blog

Our alumni have a wealth of knowledge about a wide variety of topics, and we want to hear from you! We’ve started a blog so that your hard-earned insights can be shared. The latest post is from Kevin Sutton ’16, the coordinator of the Making Cent$ Financial Literacy and Wellness program on campus. Let Kevin walk you through how to make a budget in five easy steps. If you think you have some useful information to share, please fill out this form and our blog coordinator will reach out to you.

What a Weekend It Was!

Friends pose by the Hunt Union Pond during Reunion Weekend 2018
Alumni and friends gathered in Oneonta to celebrate Reunion Weekend 2018, June 8-10.

View Friday's Photos | View Saturday's Photos | View Sunday's Photos

More than 600 alumni, family, and friends came back to campus June 8-10, 2018, to celebrate Reunion Weekend in the place where so many stories began. Thank you for coming back!

Red Dragons spent the weekend enjoying many (many!) meals, tours of the campus, hikes from College Camp, and golf and tennis tournaments. They went Back to the Rat and had SOURS at the Fox. Even with all of the fun things to do, the best part might have been the time spent just hanging out with each other.

“Meeting up with long ago friends is more than enough, but the college provided the format and the events to make it even more relevant and special,” wrote Jerry D’Anneo ’74.

There were affinity reunions, too. The Class of 1968 celebrated their 50th reunion. According to Barbara Terry Charnews ’68, they had plenty to do.

“We enjoyed the meals, cocktail hour, planetarium, walking campus, the bar-b-que, brunch near the art gallery, talking with classmates. The campus looked terrific and we enjoyed the friendly workers,” she wrote. “We truly enjoyed the reunion!”

Our thanks go to Bill Bogatz ’74 who took on the tennis tournament and to Paul van der Sommen ’76 who has offered the Oneonta Tennis Center to us for a decade.

“We had 8 alumni take part and another 8 who played last year but could not make it this year. I have been able to "grow" this event from year to year,” he said. “The planning and number of events offered for Alumni Weekend is fantastic and unmatched by anybody else... I could see the work, effort, and planning that took place to put such a wonderful weekend together.”

Without all of the volunteers – from class chairs to check-in helpers -- who helped make the weekend happen, we could not have had such a great time. We’d like to give special thanks to the following:

Reunion Weekend Committee:

  • Christine Warnquist ’71
  • Fran Brennan ’85
  • Phyllis MacBeth ’66
  • Terri Berzin ‘79

Class Chairs:

  • Barbara Holzkamp '63
  • Barbara Martinage '63
  • Granville Thompson '68
  • Carl Carbonaro '68
  • David Bullock '68
  • Ken Packer '68
  • Linda Cobb '73
  • Donna Nidds '73
  • Kathy Meeker '78
  • Lorraine Yanosik '78
  • Mary Bonderoff '88
  • Karen Brown '88
  • Monica Grau '88
  • Elizabeth Shea-Baskin '88
  • Andrew Rosenberg '98
  • Kyle Beckley '08
  • James McAteer '08
  • Erikka L. Misrahi '08
  • Andrew Tejada '13
  • Alpha Sigma Beta '68; Gwen Latendorf Schuster '68, '73G
  • Delta Phi Kappa; Frank Anthony '70
  • Natural Disaster Service Trip Alumni: Linda Drake '91, Wendy Lascell '97
  • Oneonta Student Emergency Squad: Jon Derschowitz '11, Dominic DiNapoli '97
  • Orientation Leaders: Brad Menard '04, Tyler Itzkowitz '15
  • Phi Delta Rho: Ed Corcoran '68
  • Women's Glee Club (1957-1972): Gwen Latendorf Schuster '68, '73G

We’d also like to thank Donglei Li ’18, Roland Holstead ’67, Maureen Artale ’98, Ryan Harrington ’04, Deb Sperano ’95, Diane Williams ’84, Ed Lorenz ’81, Kevin Sutton ’15, Wayne ’91 and Rebecca ’90 Carrington, Robert Shelton ’71, Julie Beers ’98, George Moussa ’89, Tim Sheesley ’77, Doug Reilly, Dave Ring, Josh Nollenberg, and Heather Beach.

If you’d like to help us make Reunion Weekend 2019 (June 7-9, 2019) the biggest party of the year, get in touch. We’re looking for class chairs and volunteers. Be sure to save the date! 

Current and Future Alumni Present Their Research in Detroit

Several students and alumni presented research.

SUNY Oneonta was well represented at the annual meeting of the Society for Freshwater Science in Detroit. In this photo are (top row) Sarah Newtown ’15, Matthew Lundquist ’10, Heilveil, Jennifer Piacente ’15, Matthew Robinson ’16. (bottom row) Emily Berezowski ’15, Alyssa Rothfuss ’15, Nicole Pedisich ’15. Madeline Genco ’14, not pictured, was also present and now works at the environmental management bioassessment unit in Indianapolis. Shortly after this picture was taken, Rothfuss learned she’d be working for the New York State Forensics Lab in Albany. Missing from the picture, but present, is Madeline Genco, who just finished her MS in Entomology from Clemson and is starting a position with the department of environmental management bioassessment unit in Indianapolis on the 28th. At the conference, Lundquist, Berezowski, who received support from the D’Antonio Fund for travel, and Piacente presented posters. Rothfuss, Newtown, Genco, and Heilveil gave talks.

The 2018 Alumni Award Ceremony Was a Success

Group photo following 2018 Alumni Awards
The 2018 Alumni Association Award Winners and representatives

The Alumni Association Awards committee is pleased to announce the 2018 Alumni Awards Recipients. The awards were celebrated on Saturday, June 9, at the Alumni Awards and Volunteer Recognition Celebration Breakfast during Reunion Weekend 2018. The ceremony was a moving one, according to 2018 award winner Mark Delligatti ’75. “What great group to be included in,” he wrote. “There was well over half-a-century of SUNY Oneonta's history represented with winners from government and military service, the arts, the fields of education, psychology, sociology, aviation, and the law -- all of who are united in service to our wonderful school.” This year, in honor of her retirement, Dr. Nancy Kleniewski and her husband William H. Davis were made honorary alumni. We thank them again for their decade of service to our college. This year’s winners were:

  • Jane Grastorf  — Emeritus Faculty Outstanding Service 
  • Ted Herrmann ’70— Military Service
  • Leah Baratz ’18— Student Leadership
  • Timothy Distler ’18— Student Leadership
  • William Vining ’81— Current Faculty Outstanding Service
  • Paul Perlman ’76— Excellence in Alumni Service
  • Kyle Beckley ’08— Emerging Leader
  • Ilyssa Boseski ’11— Outstanding Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion
  • Mark Delligatti ’75— Red Dragon Spirit-Individual
  • Women’s Glee Club (1957-72)— Red Dragon Spirit-Group
  • Caroline D’Antonio ’67— Humanitarian
  • Dr. Nancy Kleniewski— Honorary Alumna
  • William H. Davis— Honorary Alumnus

We’re now accepting nominees for the 2019 class of Alumni Awards.

SUNY Oneonta Holds its 129th Commencement Ceremony

Charles Bogosta '80
Commencement Speaker and Alumni of Distinction Honoree, Charles Bogosta '80

Nearly 1,700 candidates for bachelor's and master's degrees graduated on Saturday, May 12, at the Alumni Field House. This year’s speaker was Charles E. Bogosta ’80, who is a leader in global healthcare management. Over the course of two decades of service to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, he has distinguished himself for exceptional work establishing hospitals, research centers, cancer institutes and laboratories. In his current role as the Medical Center’s executive vice president, Bogosta is responsible for the strategic, operational and financial activities of institutes and centers in 11 countries. An expert on global partnerships within the healthcare industry, he has served as a panelist for the World Hospital Congress.

Eleven members of the college community were recognized by the SUNY Chancellor for their work during the 2017-18 academic year. They are Susan Clemons, Rebecca Harrington, Sallie Han, April Harper, Keith Jones, Brian Lowe, Debra Schwartz, Kayla Belush ’18, Daniel Prince ’18, Jonelle Reyes ’18, and Anthony Vecere Jr. ’18.

Congratulations to all of our newest alumni! 

View photos of Commencement 2018.


Students Celebrated by the 13th Annual Academic Achievement Awards

Books containing Book Award Plaques

On May 2, graduating students were honored at the Academic Achievement Awards Reception at the Milne Library. Both graduate and undergraduate students were chosen based on their academic excellence and their demonstrated leadership in their department, campus or community activities as well as their intellectual acumen and originality. Seven graduate students and 51 undergraduate students received accolades. Individual honorees will have their name placed on an Alumni Association bookplate, which will be placed in a new book related to the student’s major. Currently, those books are on display on the first floor of the library, where they can be perused during Reunion Weekend.

Three Short Weeks!

The Mountain Biking Club at Reunion Weekend 2017

Reunion Weekend is just around the corner! The fun starts on June 8 in Oneonta. While the main draw is hanging out with your fellow Red Dragons, there are plenty of other interesting opportunities for those who come to the biggest party of the year.

Did you know we offer a Saturday night dinner option that comes with a sommelier who will guide you through a tasting and selecting the perfect wine? Did you know that our Red Dragon 101 series will offer seminars on financial planning, the college’s history, and volunteerism? Not only can you expand your mind and your palate, you can also get a little exercise at our golf or tennis tournaments or on guided walk through the woods. Now is the time to register! Visit our Reunion webpage for more information.

Day of Giving 2018

The Day of Giving: April 25, 2018

SUNY Oneonta’s Day of Giving 2018 was an overwhelming success. More than 940 alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents, and friends made a gift. The success of the day was enhanced by generous challenge donors who pledged their support based on the number of individuals who stepped up during the 24-hour fundraising event.

The challenge began at midnight on Wednesday, April 25, when four members of the College at Oneonta Foundation Board of Directors issued the first challenge. By mid-afternoon, more than 425 donors had come forward to earn the $30,000 challenge pledge from Jan Ashley ’62, Andrea Casper ’75, Pat McCann ’75, and an anonymous donor.

A new challenge launched when this target was reached. An additional $15,000 was promised by Marc Millian ’85 and Dorothy Lawson ’57 if 200 more donations were received. That target was achieved by early evening, prompting two more donors to come forward with another $10,000 challenge to secure 100 additional donors before midnight. That goal was also met with time to spare, securing gifts from Allen Marx ’78 and Jim Meyer ’83.

We achieved great things during our 2018 Day of Giving. Donations totaled more than $155,000! SUNY Oneonta students and faculty are the grateful beneficiaries of this support. Thank you to all the alumni, students, employees, and friends who helped us to exceed our goal. We could not have done it without you!

Outgoing President Nancy Kleniewski Says Farewell in New York City

Students, Alumni and Administrators celebrate Dr. Kleniewski
Cheyenne Pommelle '19, Janet Perna '70, SUNY Chancellor Dr. Kristina Johnson, Dr. Nancy Kleniewski, Taylor DeMarco '18

SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson praised outgoing SUNY Oneonta president Nancy Kleniewski’s generous spirit and her focus on the undergraduate experience during her remarks at the New York City presidential farewell event. Johnson singled out Kleniewski’s emphasis on faculty diversity as well, saying that she has helped put role models in the classroom who can inspire students. The event, which was held at the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan drew more than 70 alumni and friends who wanted to wish Dr. K a fond farewell. Including Neil Mazzella ’73, who cited Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman in his remarks. “Attention,” he quoted, “must be paid” to the work Kleniewski has done for the students, the quality of life on campus, and the growth in scholarships. View photos from the NYC event

The next presidential farewell tour event takes place May 17 in Long Island (register here). The final presidential farewell will take place during Reunion Weekend, June 8 -10.

Two Community Members Honored for Their Commitment to Inclusion and Diversity

photo of Emmanuel Woolard '18
Emmanuel Woolard ’18

The Tapestry of Diversity and Inclusion Award ceremony honored Emmanuel Woolard ’18 and Pathy Leiva, College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) advisor in Craven Lounge at the Morris Conference Center.

Leiva has been with the CAMP program at SUNY Oneonta since 2005 and has been a great support to students from marginalized populations on our campus. As noted by one of her nominators, “She is a successful professional today and a great contributor to the diversity of our campus because of her strong character and vision for social equity and inclusion. She has made the ‘American Dream’ possible for many immigrant families whose only purpose of immigrating to the United States was their children’s future.”

Woolard is the president of the Africana & Latino Studies Club, a resident advisor, and student coordinator of the college’s Gender & Sexuality Resource Center. As noted on one of his nominations, “Since his arrival at Oneonta, he has worked non-stop to provide a safe and equitable environment for students on the SUNY Oneonta campus.”

Join us for SUNY Oneonta’s Day of Giving 2018!

2018 Day of Giving Banner

On April 25, join the SUNY Oneonta community for our annual one-day giving challenge. This is an opportunity for Oneonta supporters to make an enormous difference in a short period of time, uniting around a common goal. If 425 alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents and friends make a gift within 24 hours, four members of our College at Oneonta Foundation Board of Directors will make a combined $30,000 gift to the college!

Jan Ashley ’62, Andrea Casper ’75, Pat McCann ’75, and an anonymous donor have pledged a combined $30,000 to the college if 425 alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents, and friends make a gift within 24 hours! 425 donors on 4/25 = $30,000!

Beginning at midnight, all gifts of any size will count toward the challenge. But remember, we only have 24 hours to make this happen, so visit to learn more about our challenge donors, track our progress, and make your gift anytime on April 25.


Dr. K’s Farewell Tour Stops in Albany, Oneonta

The Student Association with Dr. Nancy Kleniewski

The Student Association contributed $25,000 to the Dr. Nancy Kleniewski Scholarship at a farewell tour event in Oneonta.

SUNY Oneonta president Nancy Kleniewski visited the Capital-area and SUNY Oneonta in March as part of her farewell tour. Dr. K will retire in June 2018.

In Albany, Daren Rylewicz ’93, the incoming president of the Alumni Association, served as master of ceremonies and introduced Patrick Brown '78, Chair of the College Council, and Vicki Graffeo ’74, Alumni of Distinction honoree, who both spoke about their relationship with Dr. Kleniewski and the College.

The Oneonta event featured Coleen Lewis ’96 and students Taylor DeMarco ’18, Jesika Lento ’18, and Donglei Li ’18, each of whom spoke about the time they have spent working with Kleniewski. Bill Pietraface, the night’s master of ceremonies, presented the outgoing president with her own portable chair while Lewis presented commemorative tour t-shirts to Nancy and her husband Bill Davis. At the end of the formal proceedings, Li presented a check for $25,000 to the President Nancy Kleniewski Scholarship, which will support first generation college students who have financial need.

The last two events of Dr. K’s farewell tour will be in New York City on April 12 and on Long Island on May 17.

Credential Folders Make a Transition

Career Cev Center logo
One service that the Career Development Center (CDC) offers for all alumni is a credential folder, which is a secure, online home for material that supports your application for jobs and admission to graduate school, and includes letters of recommendation. The CDC will forward your folder to potential employers or graduate schools when you request it.

The service will move from Dragon Link to Interfolio’s Dossier Deliver Service on April 15. Interfolio is the premier online dossier management service and can store any materials you may need for your applications. All credential letters that you have on file in the CDC will be uploaded to this service on your behalf, free of charge. To create your Interfolio account, please visit

If you have questions about creating an Interfolio account, about credential folders, or about other services, please contact the Career Development Center at (607) 436-2534, or by email at If you want to learn more about Interfolio, visit or call their Help Desk at (877) 997-8807.

Three Alumni Honored by SUNY EOP

Pictured:EOP Alumni Honored

Stan Hansen '75, Yvonne Cummings '72, Reginald Knight '74

The SUNY-wide Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) combines access, academic support and supplemental financial assistance to make higher education possible for students who have the potential to succeed, despite poor preparation and limited financial resources.

In honor of fifty years of service, EOP is recognizing accomplished alumni from Across the SUNY system. Three SUNY Oneonta EOP grads, and Alumni of Distinction honorees, made the list. Yvonne Cummings ’72 and Reginald Knight ’74 will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award. Stan Hansen ’75 will receive the Gold Alumni Honoree Award.

The SUNY EOP graduates number more than 55,000 students. Most continue to live in New York, enriching its economic and social fabric. Among their numbers are physicians, teachers, scientists, engineers, attorneys, artists, entrepreneurs and public servants. And, many have returned to the State University as administrators and counselors who provide support to another generation of opportunity students.

Let Your Red Dragon Roar

Become a Loyal Red Dragon

Register now to join the exclusive group of SUNY Oneonta Alumni: the Loyal Red Dragons!

As an official Loyal Red Dragon, you will

  • be recognized for your deeper involvement in the college community,
  • receive special perks like discounts, dragon swag, and other surprises,
  • stay connected to SUNY Oneonta and your peers.

Want in? Click here:


Alumnus Encourages Young, Activist Voices

Karim Adeen-Hasan ’77 with student activists

On January 18, Alumni of Distinction honoree Karim Adeen-Hasan ’77, the Assistant Comptroller in the Division of Diversity Management at the Office of the State Comptroller, spoke to students during the College’s annual celebration of the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Adeen-Hasam discussed the power that students have to make change in his speech “Millennials: The Voice of Activism.” In front of an engaged crowd, he also reflected about the activism on campus when he was a student in the mid-1970s.

“What stood out was the way he connected with and praised students for their accomplishments,” Faith Tiemann, the Director of Multicultural Student Initiatives, said. “He motivated them to stay active in social justice and put in the work.”

Student discussing activism

Students listening intently

Karim Adeen-Hasan ’77

All are Officially Welcomed

President Nancy Kleniewski cuts the ribbon on the new Welcome Center

Almost 12 years ago, the idea for a Welcome Center was born. On the first day of classes in January 2018, the building was opened to the public. The 7,800 square-foot building sits just above the Fine Arts Building, which gives it a million-dollar view of the quad below and the mountains on the horizon. This space, whose tall glass windows take advantage of the campus’ beauty, houses the Admissions and Recruitment Office and will be the hub for prospective students and their parents. Additionally, the Welcome Center will be used for events. State Senator Jim Seward attended the ribbon cutting.

A view of the welcome center in the snow

The interior of the welcome center


Dr. Barbara Jean Morris Appointed SUNY Oneonta President

A photo of Dr. Barbara Jean Morris

The State University of New York Board of Trustees today appointed Dr. Barbara Jean Morris as president of SUNY Oneonta, effective on or about July 1, 2018. She will replace Dr. Nancy Kleniewski, who will be retiring in June 2018. Currently, Morris serves as the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Fort Lewis College, in Durango, Colo. Prior to joining Fort Lewis College, she worked for 16 years at the University of Redlands in southern California. She held many leadership roles, leaving as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Morris received her bachelor of arts in political science from San Diego State University and a master of arts and a doctorate in political science from the University of California, Santa Barbara. “Over her career, Dr. Morris has focused on nurturing a collaborative learning environment, one which supports faculty and student development, academic excellence and community involvement,” said SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson. “It is that focus that aligns with SUNY Oneonta’s core values of excellence in teaching, learning, and scholarship. My congratulations to the SUNY Oneonta family.”

Oneonta Alumni and Faculty Take the Trip of a Lifetime

A photo of Wayne Camp ’76, P. Jay Fleisher, and Mike Bradley ’75

From left to right: Wayne Camp ’76, P. Jay Fleisher, and Mike Bradley ’75.

In July 2017, P. Jay Fleisher, faculty emeritus, took alumni on a trip to the terminus of Gigjokull, a glacier on the southern coast of Iceland. Those in the group included Wayne Camp ’76, Mike Bradley ’75, Lynn Bradley ’75, and Flo Loomis ’69. While Fleisher had visited this part of the country several times before this trip, he wanted to share the experience with this group. They were able to see for themselves the site of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption, which caused trans-Atlantic flight interruptions in 2010. Elsewhere in Iceland, the group visited spreading plate boundaries, volcanoes, geothermal regions, rugged coastal terrain, and, as Fleisher said, “experienced a very cordial culture.”


Spreading Red Dragon Pride Across the Globe!

a photo of Mark Deligatti '75 with a Jillian Massey ’14.


a photo of Mark Deligatti '75 with Madeline Morrow '75     a photo of Mark Deligatti '75 with Dave Daly ’81


Mark Delligatti '75 mingled with Red Dragons during his trip to the U.K. this summer. He had dinner with Madeline Morrow '75 and her husband Bill '70 as well as with Dave Daly ’81. Delligatti also had lunch with Jillian Massey ’14. Massey says, “Mark and I met up today and had a really great chat about everything Oneonta related we could possibly think of. It's great to reminisce about times in SUNY Oneonta and I learned how awesome Oneonta was for Mark's class! Of course, it's still awesome now.”


Congratulations to our 2018 Alumni Association Award winners!

awards banner

The Alumni Association Awards committee is pleased to announce the 2018 Alumni Awards Recipients! The awards will be celebrated on Saturday, June 9, at the Alumni Awards and Volunteer Recognition Celebration Breakfast during Reunion Weekend 2018. Thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination and congratulations to this year’s honorees:

  • Jane Grastorf  — Outstanding Service Emeritus Faculty
  • Ted Herrmann ’70 — Military Service
  • Leah Baratz ’18 — Student Leadership
  • Timothy Distler ’18 — Student Leadership
  • William Vining ’81 — Outstanding Service Current Faculty
  • Paul Perlman ’76 — Excellence in Alumni Leadership
  • Kyle Beckley ’08 — Emerging Leader
  • Ilyssa Boseski ’11 — Outstanding Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion
  • Mark Delligatti ’75 — Red Dragon Spirit individual
  • Women’s Glee Club (1957-72) — Red Dragon Spirit Group
  • Caroline D’Antonio ’67 — Humanitarian
  • Dr. Nancy Kleniewski — Honorary Alumna
  • William H. Davis — Honorary Alumnus


Closing Out Her Last Year

Photo of Former President Kleniewski posing with a group of alumni.
Dr. Kleniewski poses with several Red Dragons during a farewell reception
in New England on September 19, 2017.

SUNY Oneonta President Nancy Kleniewski will retire at the end of the spring 2018 semester. She will hold seven farewell events in 2018, with stops in Florida, D.C., Albany, New York City, and Oneonta.

From SUNY Oneonta to The Shed

Pictured: Alumna Remi Farnan '15 on the job

Assistant Project Manager at Sciame Construction Remi Farnan ’15 credits her time at SUNY Oneonta for helping her develop “both amazing friendships and life lessons” that she’ll hold forever. 

“From working with so many different students and people I was able to develop a lot of problem solving and people skills that help me navigate my work team and interact with others efficiently and productively,” she says.

Those problem solving and relationship building skills are coming in handy on Farnan’s current project as she plays her part in developing New York City’s The Shed, a multi-function arts center not far from the High Line. This building is designed to commission, produce, and present all types of performing arts, visual arts, and popular culture. To see the building in action, visit


Furry Friends

Not only do human Red Dragons love to wear their love for SUNY Oneonta on their sleeves (and fronts and backs), they also want their four-legged friends to show their love for this place.

Do you have a picture of your furry, four-legged friend wearing Oneonta gear? Send it to us at

Pictured: Jill Mirabito's pup, Bitsy

Photo: Jill Mirabito,  Senior Advancement Officer

Pictured: Karyn '09 and Benjamin '08 Wendrow's Pup
Photo: Karyn ’09 & Ben Wendrow 08

Pictured: Leah Baratz '18's Pup

Photo: Leah Baratz 18

  James Guarnera 16

Photo: Dawn Guarnera, Pictured:
James Guarnera 16

Pictured: Laura Frink '12's Corgi wearing O-State gear

Photo: Laura Frink   12

Pictured: A pup spotted wearing an O-State sweater

Photo: Leah Baratz, owner unknown (spotted the dog on campus)

Congratulations to a Steadfast SUNY Oneonta Supporter!

Pictured: William Pietraface
Bill Pietraface

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District 2 has awarded Bill Pietraface, Professor Emeritus, Biology, College Foundation board member, committee chair, officer and past co-chair of one of our campaigns, member of two presidential search committees, and more for SUNY Oneonta, the Robert L. Payton Award for Voluntary Service. The award is given annually to an individual who demonstrates leadership in advancement programs, furtherance of the philanthropic tradition, and public articulation of needs, goals, and issues in education. 


We Heard You!

Photo: Red the Dragon


Thanks to your responses on our recent Alumni Attitudes survey, we are able to look more closely at what you need from your alumni association. Your voice has been heard!

The main things you most wanted us to know are:

  • You are interested in learning about how other alumni and your alumni association play an important role in improving the student experience.  

  • You are focused on how your degree helped you in your life and is an enhancement to your career.

  • You are encouraged that the value of your degree is greater today than when you graduated and that the college is constantly working to increase that value. 

  • You are invested in increasing your understanding of your alumnus/a benefits.

  • You are open to targeted communications that focus on successful event outcomes.

We’ve taken all of the results and are using them to formulate an active, strategic plan for the Alumni Association to make your alumni experience even stronger. Stay tuned!




A Funny Story....

Photo: Circus performers
Beth performing (Center)

When Beth Walters ’16 graduated from SUNY Oneonta, all she wanted was to be a clown. She landed her dream job but fate had other plans for her future.

When I graduated from SUNY Oneonta, I started at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus as a clown and it was absolutely amazing! My dream came true -- but after only three days of being there, after my first three-show Saturday, we got the announcement that the circus would close. It was extremely heartbreaking and difficult for me to deal with because I was so crushed. I was able to cope through the support of all of my friends and family and my clown alley. So many people in the SUNY Oneonta theater department reached out to me and made sure I was okay.

Photo: Backstage at the circus
Beth (in Pink) from the Detroit News

The theater department at SUNY Oneonta was my rock throughout college and even after I graduated. Everyone was so encouraging. Mask and Hammer even organized a field trip to come see me perform in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania! That has to be my favorite show I performed in.

My education from SUNY Oneonta 100 percent helped me get to where I am today, which is as the Operations Office Manager at the Big Apple Circus! I've been here for almost three months and it has made me grow so much. I was able to visit Oneonta recently and it was extremely refreshing to see all of the people who shaped me into who I am today.

Alumni Come Together for Recent Reunions

The Alumni Association and the Office of Alumni Engagement love to bring Red Dragons together. We also know we have alumni everywhere and you can't always make it back to campus. To that end we've hosted several regional alumni events to bring alumni from different areas together in local settings. Recently, SUNY Oneonta gathered in Nashville with hosts Duke ’75 and Kathy ’75 Gallagher for a regional event pictured below. We have also hosted regional alumni events in NYC as well as events to celebrate the retirement of Dr. Nancy Kleniewski in Atlanta and Syracuse.

Alumni celebrate together

Recently we've also helped several athlectics alumni host team reunions and alumni games. Over 30 swimming and diving alumni gathered to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Coach Chris Schuler. We were also honored to have alumni athletes from Women's Basketball, Softball, and Men’s Lacrosse return to campus for alumni games and reunions. Photos from those events are below:

Pic1 Swimming and diving reunion Pic2 Swimming and diving reunion
Swimming and Diving Reunion 2017

Pic1 Lacrosse reunion Pic2 Lacrosse reunion
Men's Lacrosse Reunion and Alumni Game 2017

Pic1 Softball reunion Pic2 Softball reunion
Softball Reunion and Alumni Game 2017

Pic1 women's basketball reunion Pic2 women's basketball reunion

Pic3 women's basketball reunion Women's Basketball Reunion and Alumni Game 2017


Recent Alumni Returns for Dialogue Series

Photo: Adam Moulter with music industry students.

Adam Moulter ’10 spoke to about 35 Music Industry students on campus in September as part of the Recent Alumni Dialogue Series. Moulter gave a short presentation tracing his path to SUNY Oneonta as well as his experience with working and graduate school after Oneonta. He encouraged students to take advantage of experiences that the Music Industry faculty put together, like the annual trip to the National Association of Music Merchants show, internship guidance, and more. Students had the chance to ask Adam questions about his experience working with music festivals, at concert venues and his opinion on trends in the music industry.

The Recent Alumni Dialogue Series allows alumni who have graduated within the past ten years the opportunity to give back to the college by sharing practical advice with current students. Lectures can be tailored to the speaker’s interests and availability, and can include speaking about their career, navigating a graduate school search, strategies for success after leaving home, job searching, and planning for the future. Opportunities include: addressing a class, club or organization, participating in a group panel, and interacting with faculty.

If anyone is interested in finding out more about participating in the Recent Alumni Dialogue Series, please email Karyn Wendrow, Coordinator of Recent Alumni and Student Programs.

Party in a Box!

photo: Red's Party Pack

Would you like to host a smaller event with a close group of your Oneonta friends? We can help with that! Red's Party Pack is a "party in a box" kit containing items to give your event a splash of SUNY Oneonta fun. Best of all -- it's all free! Consider it a thank you for showing pride in your alma mater and making the time to host an event that allows alumni to come together.

Red's Party Pack is full of items you'll need to host the perfect alumni social and will include small Oneonta giveaways for your guests, as well as a special gift for you! Types and quantities of giveaways will depend on our inventory and the size of your event.

All you need to do is tell us a little bit about your event by filling out this form and we will send a Party Pack right to your doorstep. Please have a date, time, location, and solid idea on the number of guests before filling out the form, and submit it a minimum of three weeks before your event. This will allow sufficient time for processing and shipment of your party pack.

After the party, all we ask is that you send us a list of alumni who attended and a picture or two of you and your guests with your swag so we can share the fun! If you have any questions please contact the Office of Alumni Engagement at or 607-436-2526.

Thirty Years of Weathering the Storms

Photo: Chris Burr

Alumni of Distinction honoree Christopher Burr ’83 has had a busy summer and fall. Given that he’s the executive officer at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, July through November is always busy – and have been since he started there in 1988. This year, however, his office was in the direct line of fire of one of the very storms that they track.

“I could see our operational models when Irma was way out in the Atlantic so I knew it was coming long before a lot of other people probabaly did. That was a whole week of anticipation hoping it was going to move north or west and not impact Florida,” Burr says.

Irma, however would not be moved. Once it became clear that Miami and the hurricane would intersect, Burr did the stuff everyone else was doing, he says. “I went to the supermarket, got water, supplies, gasoline, and cash.”

Burr stayed put in his condo, which is about 8 miles from the center itself. “During the storm, it was tough. It was 12-to-16 hours of non-stop wind,” he says. “It was a little scary and a little bit of a challenge.”

On Monday morning, after Irma’s Sunday landfall, Burr returned to the office. He started at the Center as a forecaster/meteorologist. In general, he doesn’t do any forecasting in his current role, unless another employee is out of the office and he needs to fill in to help provide basic weather forecasts for the tropics. Right now, his main concern is planning and budgeting. Soon, this part of his career will end when he retires at the end of the year.

“The best part is knowing that my work makes a difference for a very visible branch,” he says. “I think most people in the country are aware of the work that we do. We help people out so they can prepare for hurricanes and other tropical weather.”

We’re Searching For …

This month, we have two requests for our Red Dragons.

  1. If alumni from the 1950s-70s have any videos or photos of Old Main and the upper campus, SUNY Oneonta IT Specialist and Facilities Planner Phil Bidwell ’87 would like a copy of them for a history project he is working on.

  2. The alumni hockey game and reunion will April 7, 2018. Charles “Three” Bollinger is looking for any lost hockey players who’d like to lace up their skates again.

We thank everyone who was able to help with this.

Alumni Honors will be Awarded

Alumni of Distinction Banner pictured

Three years ago, the SUNY Oneonta Alumni Association established the Alumni of Distinction program to honor our graduates who have excelled in their careers, their service to their communities, and their commitment to our college. The 2017 induction class includes educators, attorneys, museum directors, and a pilot, among many others. View the list of this year's honorees. The honors will be presented on Friday, September 29, from 6-9 p.m. CBS 6 co-anchor and broadcaster Greg Floyd ’80 will be the master of ceremonies. The Rich Mollin Group, along with a selection of our talented students, will fill the Hunt Union Ballroom with music. 

Honoring Those We’ve Lost

Photo: The SUNY Oneonta 9-11 Memorial

Jeffrey Nussbaum ’86, Kevin Owen Reilly ’95, Michael J. Mullin ’96, Martin Lizzul ’91, Lynne Irene Morris ’00, Glenn J. Winuk ’83, and Brian J. Terrenzi ’95 lost their lives on September 11, 2001. Every September, the campus community pauses to remember them. The university police color guard led the procession to the memorial near Fitzelle Hall. Konstantina Salales ’19 presented a wreath. Zerin Bay ’18, Timothy Distler ’18, Danielle Grieco ’18, Abdourahman Jallow ’20, Anastasia Klingel ’19, Taylor Ross ’19, and Tara Ruhle ’19, who are the recipients of the SUNY Oneonta Alumni Association’s Annual 9/11 Memorial Scholarships, laid red roses at the base of the campus memorial. Robin Seletsky led the music.

Welcome to Our Newest Red Dragons

Fall 2017 Pass Through the Pillars

SUNY Oneonta's newest students kicked the academic year off with a traditional pass through the pillars of Old Main. First-year and transfer students gathered on the hillside by Fitzelle Hall to pose for a group picture with 2000 of their closest friends. Then they passed through the pillars accompanied by the sounds of the Drag’n Rolls Drumline and the cheers of the college community.

Their welcome to campus continued just a few days later when the entire college community gathered on the quad to celebrate Red Day, our annual birthday party for SUNY Oneonta. This year, we turned 128. We don’t feel a day over 126.

The Fastest Squirrel Retires

Photo:Eric Theiss ’09

Eric Theiss ’09, a sales and marketing executive for the Lake Elsinore Storm, a minor league affiliate of the San Diego Padres, has hung up his cleats as Ace, the Fastest Squirrel in the World. Theiss, a six-time SUNYAC champ during his years at SUNY Oneonta, would give his on-field opponents a significant head start when they raced around the warning track but Ace almost always broke the ribbon first. This ball park show brought Theiss big league coverage, from running at a Padres game to an appearance on ESPN. Theiss decided it was time to move on after six years as Ace because he turned 30 and his wife was pregnant with their first child.

For a glimpse of Ace in action, go to YouTube for his highlight reel. 

Dr. Kleniewski Announces Her Retirement Tour
SUNY Oneonta President, Nancy Kleniewski  

Earlier this summer, SUNY Oneonta president Nancy Kleniewski announced she would retire during the summer of 2018. Before she goes, she’ll be hosting receptions around the U.S. that will be the perfect time to share your thoughts with the president and to spend some time with your fellow Red Dragons. The tour will kick off on Red Day, September 1, on the SUNY Oneonta campus, and then travel to New England and Central New York before heading south to Atlanta.

More dates and places are on our farewell tour website. Join us as we wrap up Dr. K’s ten years leading SUNY Oneonta. If you can’t make it to a reception, please visit the website to share a personal memory or story that will be included in a commemorative gift or to give to the Alumni Association’s newly established Dr. Nancy Kleniewski Scholarship fund to support first generation students at SUNY Oneonta who have financial need.

Sometimes, the Red Dragon Family Shares More Than the College

Pictured: Ellen (Nicholson) Cucci '80 and her daughter, AnneMarie Cucci '12
Ellen (Nicholson) Cucci '80 beside her daughter, AnneMarie Cucci '12 as pictured in their respective yearbooks

AnneMarie Cucci ’12, who is hosting the Legacy Family Reception, on September 23 during Family Weekend, took a moment to talk about what having a Red Dragon parent felt like for her.

“I chose Oneonta because it was not too far from home but far enough that I felt I could gain some independence and meet new people. My mom, Ellen Cucci ’80, would talk about Oneonta when I was growing up, not too frequently, but enough that I wanted to check it out as an option for college.

“I lived in Grant Hall my sophomore year — and Mom also lived there in 1979-80. On move-in day, we walked into my room, looked around, and Mom said, 'well, not much has changed in 30 years!'"

“Our best shared story is from our sororities. Mom is an alumna of Alpha Kappa Phi and I am an alumna of Sigma Gamma Phi. Both are local chapters with pretty similar histories and strong ties to Oneonta. I had a large group of friends in the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity who lives at 56 Maple Street. It turned that out mom's sorority lived in that house when she was a member! Mom would tell stories of singing out the windows of the cupola on the third floor of the house with her pledge sisters. It was always funny to know 30 years later I was hanging out in that same place with my friends.

“Technically, Mom and I had the same major. In her day it was called Home Economics education. For me it was Family and Consumer Sciences. She actually gave me a binder from her 1979 textile science class that included her final project. It turned out to be the same project I had to complete in 2010! You were given [a piece of] 'mystery fabric' at the beginning of the semester and [had to] conduct tests on the fabric to determine what [type] is was by the end of the semester. Though so much has changed on campus and in the curriculum, it was really cool to see some projects had stayed the same,” she said.

AnneMarie and Ellen came back to campus during Reunion Weekend this year and enjoyed their time at their shared alma mater.

“Now that I live in Rochester and Mom in Rome, we don't get many opportunities to spend time together with just the two of us. It was really nice to take a little road trip down to Oneonta and spend the weekend reminiscing. I am thankful that Oneonta gives us something to bond over and is a connection we will always share,” she says. 

Join Our Online Book Club

photo: a selection of books from past Common Reads

The SUNY Oneonta Alumni Association in conjunction with the Office of Alumni Engagement is piloting an online book club hosted through Goodreads. We invite our alumni to read and discuss a book that is meaningful to the campus community. Book club members will have three weeks to read each book, followed by one week of online discussion. The online club for our first title will begin on August 28.

About the Book:

The book club's first title will be the College’s 2017 Common Read: Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly. The book tracks the careers of three African American female mathematicians who worked behind the scenes at NASA and its predecessor the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics doing complex mathematical calculations. As mechanical computers improved, these women became computer programmers and engineers as the space program moved forward toward human flight in the early 1960s.

Joining the Book Club:

  1. Please visit theGoodreads websiteand create an account.
  2. Once you have an account, request to join theSUNY Oneonta Alumni Book Club. You'll have access to the group once you are approved.
  3. All members are responsible for obtaining their own copy of the book.
  4. Participate in the online discussion. The first question will be posted on September 17, with additional questions to follow. Members will receive a notification from Goodreads when each discussion question has been posted.

Special Event:

Shetterly, a Sloan Foundation fellow, will give the 2017 Mills Distinguished Lecture on September 25, 2017, at 7 p.m. All book club members are invited to join us on campus for the lecture. Once you have registered for the book club, ticket information will follow.

The Mills Distinguished Lectureship is named to honor the memory of Professor Albert Mills and his wife Helena. Their bequest to the College at Oneonta Foundation led to the establishment in 1988 of a fund to bring prominent speakers to our campus.

Red Dragon Outfitters Re-Opens in New Space

Photo: The Red Dragon Outfitters new store

During the last 18 months, campus visitors may have noticed the construction zone next to Hunt Union. That new building is now open. Red Dragon Outfitters, where students, parents, and alumni can find SUNY Oneonta gear like hats, shirts, and dog coats, has an airy new space on the first floor. Next time you make the trip to Oneonta, come see what treats the Outfitter has for you!

News From the Alumni Association

Thanks to all of the alumni who took the time to respond to our recent survey. Your answers will help shape your alumni experience for years to come! We want to build an organization that meets the needs of all SUNY Oneonta graduates.

As part of that goal, a new website will be launched soon. Don’t worry! Most of the content will still be available. New features, however, will make the site more nimble and responsive.

Summer is a great time to launch our updated site – and a great time to find Class Chairs for Reunion Weekend 2018. If you are interested in rallying alumni from your class year for 2018’s biggest party, please email the Office of Alumni Engagement. 


2017 Reunion Weekend Recap


Photo: An ITK memorial service

This year’s Reunion Weekend was full of frivolity! Minds were expanded with cooking classes, history lessons, and campus tours. Golfers and tennis players got to get their games on during the weekend. Calories from the Brooks’ BBQ lunch and the Red Dragon Welcome Party were burned off in a hike to College Camp, a mountain bike ride, or a lounge on Golding Hall’s lawn. Above all else, we celebrated how great it is to be a Red Dragon!

The brothers of Iota Tau Kappa  (ITK) came back to campus ready to revel in their fraternity’s 50 years of existence in Oneonta. They held a memorial service for those brothers who have passed at Nehawa Park in Oneonta as well as an anniversary ceremony at the Hunt Union.

Pictured: ITK memorial events at Reunion Weekend 2017
ITK Brothers and families gather for a memorial and color guard at Nehawa Park

The oldest student organization on campus, Mask and Hammer, also celebrated with an all-alumni version of Midnight Madness, their annual comedy show. The next afternoon, the group gathered to offer a toast to Kyle “Cellophane” Burch ’08, who passed away this year after a battle with leukemia.

The Class of 1967, who marked their 50th reunion, had a chance to pass through the pillars, dine, and receive their 50th reunion medallion. And, as always, our volunteers and alumni award winners were thanked at a breakfast ceremony.

Photos of the weekend, including the ITK 50th Reunion celebrations, are available here.

Next year's Reunion Weekend will be held June 8-10, 2018 and will celebrate the milestone reunions of classes ending in 8 and 3. If you are a member of a milestone class or affinity group and want to help plan your reunion you can volunteer to be a reunion class chair or help organize a reunion for your group.

Commencement 2017

Pictured: 2017 Class President, Carly Salzman
2017 Class President, Carly Salzman

After their busy Senior Week, which included the traditional Pass through the Pillars and Champagne Toast, the Class of 2017 celebrated their commencement. More than 1,200 graduates received their hard-earned degrees in three separate ceremonies.

In addition to class president Carly Salzman ’17, Rosalind "Roz" M. Hewsenian ’75 spoke before receiving an honorary degree. Recognized as one of America’s top chief investment officers, she has used her deep knowledge and money management skills to help improve the human condition with organizations such as the More Than Shelter Fund and PLAN of California Special Needs. Since 2011, she has been chief investment officer at The Helmsley Trust, transitioning its high-net-worth capital into a grant-making charitable foundation supporting medical research, conservation and education initiatives.

Also recognized during the events were three faculty and two staff members who are SUNY Chancellor's Award winners for the 2016-2017 academic year. They were:

  • George Hovis, an associate professor in the Department of English
  • Sean Robinson, an assistant professor in the Department of Biology
  • Toke Knudsen, an associate professor in the Department of Math
  • Steven Eichler, electrician in the Maintenance Operations Center
  • Denise Straut, director of sponsored programs in the Office of Sponsored Programs 

Four student award winners were also recognized: Daniela Gutierrez ’17, Spriha Sanjay ’17, Rachel Shine ’17, and Jillian Young ’17.

Watch video of the full commencement speech as well as all 3 commencement ceremonies.

View the complete collection of photos.

See the college's Storify page with posts and photos here.

Pictured: Graduation speaker Rosalind
Rosalind "Roz" Hewsenian '75

Read the full text of Roz Hewsenian's commencement speech below or view the speech here:

SUNY Oneonta Commencement Address
May 13, 2017

President Kleniewski, Distinguished Guests, friends and family, including my own, and the members of the Graduating Class of 2017, I am humbled beyond words for this honor and offer my deepest gratitude.

No one was more surprised than I when I received a phone call telling me I had been nominated for this Doctorate. An obvious question to me was, “How did that happen?” How did I get from where you are sitting now, forty-three years later, to where I’m standing? After all, I never thought I was anyone special, and after thinking about it, it came down to some very “un-special” and simple things. But, clearly, they worked.

And it begins with the gown I’m wearing. You are all in black, and I’m in red. I graduated with the Class of 1975, which was, is and forever will be, the only class in Oneonta’s history to have worn red gowns. Why? Well, the four years we were in college were characterized by significant strife in the country: it was the height of the Vietnam war, the beginning of campus racial tensions across the country, the 1974 Arab Oil Embargo that exploded inflation, and with it, college tuition, and the ATT workers strike that affected one in four students on campus; finally, we were graduating into the worse recession since the Great Depression. And the Administration wanted us to wear BLACK! We didn't want that malaise to define us as we were leaving campus. Wearing red gowns was a way for all of us to change our mindsets and take strength from the strong color it is, while paying homage to the college that was launching us. By being a little different and setting ourselves apart, we believed, would help us secure our future. Did our red-gown gambit work? One need only to peruse the list of Oneonta Distinguished Alumni to see the Class of 1975 extremely well represented. Knowing when to be a little bit different, not so others notice you, but so that you take notice of yourself, could affect the rest of your life!

I came from a very small high school, Somers High in Somers NY. Competition in 1971, as it still is, to get into the less expensive NY State Schools was really tough. We were told after we got to Campus, by Dean Daley at the time, it was harder to get into Oneonta that year than it was Harvard! Fifteen percent of my senior class, 17 of us, applied to Oneonta, alone! While I was an excellent student and had great extracurricular activities, my grades were NOT the highest, so I was worried. I really, wanted to go to Oneonta after having been sold on the place, sight unseen, by a recent graduate. My guidance counselor in an effort to give me hope said to me, “Well, they have to take at least one of you!” And that gave me an idea. Back then it was unheard of to visit college campuses before you applied to school and even less common to have an interview. So, I wrote a letter to the Director of Admissions, Mr. Burr, giving him the reasons why I thought it would be in our mutual best interest to meet. A few weeks later the appointment had been granted. I convinced my mother to take a day off from work and off we went. It was October, the prettiest time of the year here, and I was so excited. It was the first time I had ever stepped on any campus! It was also my very first interview of any kind! I had no idea how to prepare, so I didn’t; After the interview was over, I went back home and waited for the results. And finally they came in, 16 rejections and only one acceptance! The moral of the story, never hesitate going the extra mile! It could affect the rest of your life!

After I arrived on campus as a Freshman I was standing on line waiting to get into dinner at Mills Hall when the manager of the dining hall came out and shouted, “Who wants to work?” Before the words were completely out of his mouth I was at his elbow. As a Freshman I was going to get assigned the worst job, and it came as advertised! I landed in the dish room, scraping other students’ uneaten food off plates! I was too poor to cop an attitude about it, I had to work. But I began to notice something. An esprit d’corps resonated in that dish room among the students. We all made up our minds to make the best of an unattractive situation, and it was important that we organize ourselves to fall into a rhythm so the dishes didn’t pile up on the conveyer belt, fall on the floor. Four years later when I was a senior, none the richer and still working at Mills, I could have any position I wanted, but often went back into the dish room because of that esprit d’ corps. All work is honorable, and even if you hate the job, stick with it for a while, you will learn important things about endurance, perseverance, team work and attitude. So don’t just cut and run, otherwise, it could affect the rest of your life.

I was never the most popular kid in my class, far from it. I always felt like the outsider to my peers, so the idea of running for class office usually never crossed my mind. But, that fear was limiting me. Finally, by my senior year at Oneonta, I decided to risk myself, if only just once! I ran for Student Senate to represent my dorm, McDuff Hall! I wanted to do this because my concern for what was going on, on campus exceeded my fear and I felt I had to do something. So I hand-wrote out flyers because laptop computers, powerpoint and email hadn’t been invented yet, and copied them for 5 cents a page at the Milne Library. How quaint. So, I went door to door doing something that was very hard for me, and still is, asking for something, of someone, for myself. I asked my fellow residents’ for their votes. Imagine my shock when I won! The year I served in the senate was a defining one for me on so many levels; I and the other senators together steered the student body toward a successful year. I might add, we didn’t always agree, but we could listen to each other and civilly discuss and debate our positions with mutual respect. If you are physically healthy and still have a brain in your head you have an obligation and responsibility to AMAZE YOURSELF. You do that by taking yourself out of your comfort zone and risking yourself! Doing so could affect the rest of your life!

We are often told to follow our passion, and you should follow yours provided it doesn’t lead you back to your parents’ sofa unemployed and unable to take care of yourself. Well, that happened to me. I really wanted to teach and majored in education. The problem was that there was a glut of teachers at the time and schools were being closed. It forced me to examine the real basis for my passion and to find another way to express it, because sitting on my parents’ sofa was not an option! I ended up spending the bulk of my career advising the Trustees of governmental pension funds, who themselves were not investment professionals, how to make multi-billion dollar investment decisions. It was teaching in a different form, and just as rewarding! Don’t be dogmatic about your passion, such that you back yourself into a corner. Seek to be creative if your first choice doesn’t work out. Lucky for you your Oneonta degree will be sufficiently flexible to allow you to do that. I’m living proof. Being flexible could affect the rest of your life.

I finally graduated in my red gown, got a job and began to work, paying off my student loans. The College found me as an alumnus, and did what colleges do, asked for money. In the early days I sent what I could, maybe $10, maybe $20, but I sent something because I was eternally grateful to the school, and it helped me financially back then to the extent it could. As a student, I pre-dated the Alumni foundation that funds most of the scholarships awarded to Oneonta students today. As I progressed in my career I gave more, and it wasn’t until a very successful alumnus, who I remembered, defaulted on a major, and I mean major, promised donation, that it became critical that I, along with many other alumni, got serious about giving. What I found was that I had the easy part, I wrote the check, but what I got back was so much more. I found that I was directly and tangibly able to touch lives and ease burdens so others could realize their college aspirations. The students’ thank you letters to me intimated their own struggles, and their relief for the help, in extending their appreciation. Those letters often lifted me on my own bad days. No other act has affected my life more significantly than giving back! However you do it, to whatever extent you can, give back. This REALLY will affect your life!

In closing, the seeds of your future success have been sown here, at Oneonta, while you’ve been a student. At some point, take the time to take stock of the simple life lessons you’ve learned here. But not this weekend. Enjoy this weekend, for soon the mantle of adult responsibility will be placed upon you and Monday will come soon enough! Congratulations, my fellow ALUMNI!!!