Keuka College must be crazy for community service. After a record spring on behalf of the community, including nearly 1,000 service hours by almost 200 members of the campus body, primarily students, following May floods that devastated Penn Yan and Branchport, this year’s Angel Tree benefit set a new record.
Donations given in 2014 on behalf of 31 needy children and two additional families, each with four children, totaled $9,033 – that’s four times greater than last year’s contributions, according to Valerie Webster, who supervises students holding roles as community service advocates in the Center for Experiential Learning. The Community Service Advocates coordinate the Angel Tree program for Keuka College.
Similar to Angel Tree programs elsewhere, participants select an angel-shaped ornament from a Christmas tree with the name of a local child or family in need and their wish list of gift items. Donors then bring items to the sponsoring organization so each child can have a merry Christmas.
According to Webster, who delivered goodies Dec. 4 with community service student advocates, “some of the bags are so heavy, it will take two students to lift them to get out of here.”
The partner agency receiving donations for local families, Child and Family Resources, Inc. is a unique family-centered service organization with locations in Rushville, Penn Yan, Geneva, and Seneca Falls. For nearly 40 years, the agency has offered programs to support of the educational, emotional, and social needs of families and children of all ages. Alicia Avellanda, lead early childhood educator at the Penn Yan office said the agency is “incredibly grateful to partner with Keuka College for this very special program. Thanks to the wonderful students and college community we are able to share some holiday spirit with local families.”
Webster said she could not count the number of participants among students, faculty and staff – she only knew it exceeded all previous participation. According to her, not only were students, staff and faculty physically requesting “angels” from the tree, but even ASAP adjunct professors emailed in, sight unseen, to request information on a child they could support with Christmas gifts. Even local merchants, including Weaver’s Bicycle Shop on Route 14A, got involved. According to Webster, the shop owner sold students in the Rotoract club three bicycles at reduced cost with no shipping and handling, to give to a family who lost everything in the May floods. The Rotoract club sponsors an entire family for the Angel Tree project each year, she said.
“I just want to say thank you to the whole campus community for doing this, “she said. “I’m very grateful and I’m so proud of everyone right now.”
Keuka College has received $250,000 from New York State to fund a project aimed at boosting the economic profile of Yates County.
The Empire State Development (ESD) grant will help fund the Center for Business Analytics and Health Informatics, which will be housed in a new building. Construction of the facility is expected to start in spring 2015.
The funding was included in the $80.7 million awarded to the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council (FLREDC) at a ceremony yesterday (Dec. 11) in Albany. The awards culminated the fourth annual New York State Regional Economic Development Councils competition in which 10 regional councils across the state vied for a piece of $750 million in grants and tax breaks.
“I am pleased that the FLREDC and ESD saw the value of the Center for Business Analytics and Health Informatics (CBAHI), especially the impact it will have on Yates County,” said Dr. Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera, president of Keuka College. “The Center will create jobs and become the hub for entrepreneurial programs and research in Yates County.”
The Center for Business Analytics and Health Informatics will leverage Keuka College’s entrepreneurial business programs to boost the economy of Yates County—New York State’s most economically challenged region—by creating construction, high-tech, health sciences, and education jobs,” said Díaz-Herrera.
“The academic programs, workshops, symposia and development of analytical capabilities that the CBAHI will promote will be vital components of our student’s education,” said Dr. Dan Robeson, founding director of the Center for Business Analytics and Health Informatics, chair of the Division of Business and Management and associate professor of management. “The CBAHI places Keuka College among the first movers in higher education in this new and dynamic field.”
“The Center will also leverage the College’s expertise in healthcare—in particular nursing and occupational therapy—to address the nursing shortage faced by Yates County and other rural regions across the country,” said Díaz-Herrera.
In addition, the president said health care providers in Yates County will receive state-of-the-art training in informatics.
“This is important because achieving meaningful use of electronic health records depends on the capacity of providers to effectively exchange data through interoperable systems while safeguarding the integrity, privacy, and security of patient information,” he explained.“The training provided by the Center, to nurses and others pursuing careers in healthcare, will help Yates County retain these talented workers, thereby ensuring a high-level of healthcare in the future.”
Keuka College students will also reap benefits because the Center will provide hands-on, experiential learning opportunities, a staple of a Keuka College education and a key to finding success in the job market and graduate school.
The Center will anchor a new college-town development (Keuka Commons)—called for in the College’s Long Range Strategic Plan—that will serve myriad needs of students and community residents. Early planning calls for a fitness center, stores, and eateries.
The ESD grant comes six months after the College earned START-UP designation, an initiative designed to provide major incentives for businesses to relocate, start up, or expand in New York State through affiliations with colleges and universities.
More than 2,500 square feet of vacant space at Keuka Business Park in Penn Yan was declared eligible for the START-UP program and the College is working with the Finger Lakes Economic Development Center to secure businesses for that location. The College also hopes to designate space in the Keuka Commons building for the START-UP NY initiative.
A centerpiece of the Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s strategy to jump-start the Empire State economy, the regional councils were established in 2011. The first three rounds of the regional council process awarded more than $2 billion to more than 2,200 job creation and community projects, supporting the creation and retention of more than 130,000 jobs.
Keuka College President Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera, along with a select number of other invited college presidents and higher education leaders, will today (Dec. 4) join President Obama, the First Lady, and Vice President Biden to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.
The White House College Opportunity Day of Action helps to support President Obama’s commitment to partner with colleges and universities, business leaders, and nonprofits to support students across the country to help our nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment.
The summit—which will include remarks from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, President Obama, the First Lady, and Vice President Biden—begins at 9 a.m. and will be available for live streaming.
Participants invited to the White House will commit to new action in one of four areas: improving degree completion, creating partnerships that encourage college-going, training high school counselors as part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative, and increasing the number of college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
As a member of the Yes We Must Coalition, Keuka College has made its commitment to making the dream of achieving a higher education a reality for more students than ever before.
“Everyone, certainly society as a whole, benefits from greater access to higher education. To maintain America’s leadership role and continue our long history of technological innovation, a college education must be available to all who are willing to achieve one,” said Díaz-Herrera.
The Yes We Must Coalition is a three-year-old organization of small, non-profit, private colleges and universities where 50 percent or more of each campus’ undergraduate enrollment is eligible for federal Pell grants to assist with the cost of college. The coalition’s purpose is to share resources, information, and promising practices to improve the success of low-income and first generation students as well as to be a voice for students in the policy arena.
Expanding opportunity for more students to enroll and succeed in college is vital to building a strong economy and a strong middle class. According to the White House, today only 9 percent of those born in the lowest family income quartile attain a bachelor’s degree by age 25, compared to 54 percent in the top quartile.
“A liberal arts-based education is the most powerful tool one has when it comes to advancing socioeconomic status,” said Díaz-Herrera. “Twelve U.S. presidents, six U.S. Supreme Court chief justices, and more than 50 percent of today’s Fortune 500 CEOs have a liberal arts education. As a liberal arts institution, Keuka College is preparing the next generation of citizens and leaders to serve the nation and the world of the 21st century.”
Keuka College’s Digital Learning at Keuka College (DL@KC) initiative is a revolutionary combination of digital learning, the liberal arts, and hands-on experience in professional practice. This fall, the College introduced the new Digital Studies minor, designed to give students in any field practical, real-world, and useful experience with analytics, big data analysis, digital storytelling, and coding.
“Leading the world in college attainment is a lofty goal for the future, and Keuka College is doing its part by creating and implementing forward-thinking curricula that will ensure our graduates are poised for success in the 21st century’s global, technology-driven economy,” said Díaz-Herrera.
Keuka College will mark Veterans Day Tuesday, Nov. 11 with a 4:15 p.m. ceremony in Norton Chapel.
Local veterans, their families, and friends are invited to join the College community in the ceremony honoring veterans who have served our country.
College President Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera is expected to deliver remarks along with Chris Leahy, associate professor of history, who will speak on the meaning of Veterans Day; and Denise Duby, administrative assistant for the Office of Alumni and Family Relations. The founder of a support group for military families, Duby’s son is serving in the Marines. Duran Allen, a member of the Class of 2018 and a veteran, will also speak. Eric Detar, College chaplain, will offer a prayer of remembrance.
The program also includes Jeff Miller ’15 singing the Star-Spangled Banner, and Olivia O’Boyle ’15 singing Hero. Veterans’ names and pictures will be part of a special musical PowerPoint tribute, and each veteran will receive a flower.
The ceremony will conclude in front of the chapel with a 21-gun salute and the playing of Taps by members of the Penn Yan V.F.W. Color Guard.
After the service, local veterans are invited to have dinner in the Geiser Refectory, Dahlstrom Student Center. The first 50 veterans who show their military I.D. will receive their dinner compliments of AVI Fresh, the College’s food service provider. Meals can be purchased by other guests for $10.60 each.
Anyone from the community interested in honoring a veteran during the College’s ceremony can contact Laurie Adams, assistant director of alumni and family relations, at (315) 279-5653.The deadline for including a veteran’s name in the program is Friday, Nov. 7.
The Keuka College Chorale will perform with the University of Rochester Chamber Orchestra Wednesday, Oct. 29.
Free and open to the public, the concert begins at 7:30 p.m. in Norton Chapel. The program includes the Overture to The Barber of Seville by Rossini; Symphony No. 41, the Jupiter, by Mozart; and Habanera from Georges Bizet’s opera, Carmen.
According to Dr. David Harman, director of orchestral activities and conductor of the University of Rochester River Campus Orchestras, the music for the concert “is a collection of very accessible and popular classical pieces.”
Kelley Hamilton, assistant professor of music and director of music programs is “excited to collaborate with Dr. Harman. He is the consummate musician and an excellent conductor. This concert will give our Keuka College students a rare opportunity to sing with a live orchestra.”
The University of Rochester Chamber Orchestra’s 40 student musicians perform throughout the Rochester community and tours both in the United States and internationally, including Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Italy, Montreal, and Chile. Performing music from the baroque to the contemporary, the chamber orchestra showcases the versatility of the university’s students.
Harman says the concert at Keuka College will be “very uplifting, and filled with delightful melodies and positive energy. Our students and I are excited to return to Keuka College for another collaboration with Professor Hamilton and her singers. Kelley will be the vocal soloist on Habanera, and it will feature the Keuka College Chorale. The Jupiter is Mozart’s final—and perhaps most brilliant—symphonic work.”
Harman earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from California State University at Sacramento, and earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Eastman School of Music. He has also studied at the Aspen Music School, and in Paris as a French Government Scholar.
In addition to his position at the University of Rochester, Harman also serves as music director of the Penfield Symphony Orchestra and music director emeritus of the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.