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Eight Years and Counting

photo by Stephanie Lockhart '15

For the eighth straight year, Keuka College has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement.

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which has administered the Honor Roll since 2006, admitted 690 colleges and universities for the role they play in solving community problems and placing more students on a lifelong path of civic engagement.

Keuka College was one of 15 schools in New York state to earn Honor Roll with Distinction recognition. It’s the fourth time in five years the College has earned that status.

Honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors including the scope and innovation of service projects, the extent to which service-learning is embedded in the curriculum, the school’s commitment to long-term campus-community partnerships, and measurable community outcomes as a result of the service.

In the past year, Keuka College students dedicated nearly ­­­­143,000 hours of service to the community. Some of the many local organizations and programs that benefit from the time and talents of Keuka students include: Yates County Humane Society; Clinton Crest Manor, an adult care facility in Penn Yan; Child and Family Resources Inc; Head Start in Penn Yan; Relay for Life; Celebrate Service… Celebrate Yates, an annual day of community service organized by students, faculty, and staff  and the Yates County Chamber of Commerce; and the DRIVE (diversity, responsibility, inclusion, vision, experiential learning) program, a partnership between the Yates ARC, Penn Yan Central School, and the College that provides on-campus learning and life training skills to area students with special needs, ages 18-21.

CNCS oversees the Honor Roll in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact, and the American Council on Education. It is a federal agency that engages more than 5 million Americans in service through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs, and leads President Obama’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve.

The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll recognizes institutions of higher education that support exemplary community service programs and raise the visibility of effective practices in campus community partnerships.

To learn more about the Honor Roll, visit:

Angel Tree Giving Sets New Record in 2014

All smiles for the Angel Tree project (Photo by Stephanie Lockhart '15)

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.

Santa with some of the children receiving gifts at Dec. 4 Angel Tree project distribution. (Photo by Stepanie Lockhart '15)

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.

One of the youngest recipients at the Angel Tree Project distribution (Photo by Abdul Abdullah '16)

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.”

A young boy beams at his new bike. (Photo by Stephanie Lockhart '15)

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.”

College Receives $250,000 from New York State to Help Fund Center for Business Analytics and Health Informatics

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.

Prof. Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera, Ph.D.

“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.

Curriculum vs. Syllabus

Mary Saracino speaking at the seminar on program design and curriculum writing

Through a partnership with the International School at Vietnam National University (VNU) in Hanoi, Vietnam, more than 30 lecturers at the school recently participated in a seminar on program design and curriculum writing.

The keynote speakers of the seminar were Mary Saracino, lecturer for Keuka College at VNU, and Dr. Nguyen Hai Thanh, vice rector and associate professor of the International School.

The seminar was held to implement curriculum completion in accordance with standard outcomes of graduate programs with degrees granted by VNU. During the seminar, Saracino and Dr. Thanh discussed the appropriate method to write the standard outcomes for curricula of different majors in line with Bloom’s Taxonomy of Cognitive Domain; rationales for selecting required cognitive levels in the standard outcomes of the programs; and various subjects to generate the connection and consistency in the programs of International School.

Bloom’s taxonomy is a way of distinguishing the fundamental questions within the education system. It refers to a classification of the different learning objectives that educators set for students. It divides educational objectives into three domains: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor—sometimes described as “knowing/head,” “feeling/heart,” and “doing/hands,” respectively.

Within the domains, learning at the higher levels is dependent on having attained prerequisite knowledge and skills at lower levels. A goal of Bloom’s taxonomy is to motivate educators to focus on all three domains, creating a more holistic form of education.

Throughout November and December, lecturers at the International School will organize other seminars to guide students carrying out and reporting research and scientific studies conducted by International School teaching and training staff.

Gerber Completes Transformation to Potent Goal Scorer

From the moment he walked onto the Keuka College campus, the soccer talents of Austin Gerber (Churchville, N.Y./Churchville-Chili) were immediately apparent to head coach Matt Tantalo.

Gerber, who played sweeper in high school, scored only two goals during his time as a Churchville-Chili Saint. He wasn’t heavily recruited by area colleges, as only Keuka College and Medaille College expressed any interest in the tall, athletic, speedy Gerber.

Gerber eventually opted to play soccer for the Wolfpack and to study business/accounting at Keuka, and four years later, Gerber has turned himself into the most lethal goal scorer in the country.

Gerber is the leading goal (26) and point (58) scorer among all student-athletes who compete in Divisions I, II and III, and he has led the Wolfpack (11-4-1, 7-2-1 NEAC) into the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) semifinals as the tournament’s No. 3 seed.

Maybe that is why Gerber was tapped as one of six athletes from across the country who will be featured in the Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd section, which can be found online beginning today, Monday, Nov. 10 at The print edition of the magazine will go out starting Wednesday and is typically delivered to subscribers in New York state Thursday, so look for it soon.

“Leading the country in goals scored is a tremendous honor, and its that much sweeter that I can have this successful season while my team is winning a lot of games, too,” said the humble Gerber, who was named the NEAC’s Player of the Year after his record-breaking campaign.

“It’s a dream come true for me to win games and also have my success scoring goals. With the team I have around me, they’ve been behind me the whole season, feeding me the ball anytime they get the chance and I couldn’t thank them enough for this year. My teammates are the reason why I’ve been able to accomplish what I’ve been able to accomplish.”

While Tantalo recognized Gerber’s vast potential early on, there was no way that the longtime head coach could have predicted Gerber’s record-breaking  senior season that has sparked Keuka to its winningest regular season since 2008 (12-4-2).

Gerber, a four-time All-NEAC forward, has rewritten the men’s soccer record book during the 2014 season. Gerber broke Keuka’s single-season goals and points records, and during a 6-1 triumph over Penn State-Berks (Oct. 24), Gerber broke the single-game scoring record, recording five goals (including four tallies in a span of 18:55 in the second half) in the win.

Gerber is one of five Division III student-athletes to score five goals in a game, and one of just seven at any level of NCAA competition to reach that milestone.

The scoring outburst was Gerber’s second time scoring four or more goals in a game this year — he also scored four goals with an assist during a win over D’Youville College on Aug. 30 — and the fourth game with four or more goals in his illustrious career.

For Tantalo, seeing Gerber shatter school records while leading his team into the postseason is validation that his soft-spoken senior leader has completed his transformation from holding midfielder (primarily a defensive position) to the most prolific scoring threat in the country.

“When Austin first got here, he definitely wasn’t a goal scorer. While we knew he had to potential to be very good, he was a pass-first guy,” said Tantalo, who has guided the Wolfpack to a 92-58-13 record in his 10 seasons as head coach.

“He’s a very unselfish player, and early on, there were moments in matches where Austin would be isolated, and with his quickness and pace, he could either get around a defender or could create enough space to get a shot off. But that was never Austin’s first thought. We had to teach him to look out for his own scoring chances. Austin started to become a goal scorer last year, but the step from last year to this year is all about his improved confidence. Great goal scorers think every time they shoot the ball, they’re going to score, and now Austin has that belief, and the goal appears much bigger for him now that he’s finishing with tremendous confidence.”

From an early age, Gerber had proven himself tough off the pitch. He had dealt with Crohn’s disease —a type of inflammatory bowel disease — his whole life before undergoing surgery during his junior year at Churchville-Chili. As a result of the surgery, part of his small intestine was removed.

He arrived in Keuka Park with a chip on his shoulder. Gerber wanted to make his Churchville-Chili teammates proud of his soccer skills, and he also wanted to prove to the colleges that passed on him that he was a talented playmaker capable of making a difference on the pitch.

Gerber claimed the NEAC’s Inaugural Rookie of the Year honor during his freshman season after scoring three goals with two assists while starting all 16 games.

During his sophomore season, he scored 13 points on 6 goals with one assist, and followed up by earning first-team All-NEAC with 23 points on 10 goals scored with three assists during his junior season.

But despite the accolades, there were games early in his career where Gerber would make a nice run down the sidelines, receive the ball in space, take aim at the goal…and his shot would miss the mark.

Often, these early missed scoring opportunities would linger with Gerber for much of the game, preventing him from shaking off the misses and hindering his ability to score goals.

Gerber and Tantalo started working on Gerber’s mental makeup, hoping to help Gerber move past those missed opportunities and instead focus on netting the next big goal.

Eventually, Gerber was able to keep those missed shots where they belonged: in the past.

“I credit my maturity and my growth as a person and as a soccer player,” said Gerber, who lists potent goal scorers Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar as his favorite professional soccer players.

“I learned to realize that nothing is ever going to be perfect. If you mess up one scoring opportunity, you have to just put it behind you. And when you get another chance later in the game, that’s your chance to move on by finishing that goal. There are still times I get down on myself, just not as much as I used to in the past. That’s all because of maturity.”

Gerber is also making his way up the career record books as well. He currently has 102 career points on 45 goals with 12 assists, and ranks third all-time in both career goals and career points.

But his senior season, Gerber has elevated his game with eye-popping numbers. Gerber leads the nation in goals per game (1.62) and points per game (3.62). He has four game-winning goals, has scored at least one goal in 13 of 16 games, and had at least one point in all but two games this year.

Gerber has scored a goal in Keuka’s final nine games, and was named the NEAC’s Offensive Player of the Week four times.

But none of the individual accolades will matter to Gerber if the Wolfpack fall short of the team’s goal: claiming the NEAC postseason title, and a berth in the NCAA Division III tournament.

“I’m glad we’re having this turnaround, especially during my senior season,” Gerber said. We’re trying to win NEAC’s and we plan on going all-out and leaving everything on the field. For us to win, we have to keep working hard during practice, and never be satisfied with what we have accomplished. Winning NEAC’s would be amazing, a dream come true and the perfect way to end my Keuka career.”

The Wolfpack face No. 2 seed Lancaster Bible College (11-5-1) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in the semifinals at Morrisville State. The NEAC championship is 1 p.m. Sunday at Morrisville State.

“Austin’s play has earned him a lot of respect from this conference,” Tantalo said. “While the other coaches have always respected his ability as a soccer player, last year Austin opened eyes with what he was doing, and this year, everyone knows how dangerous he is. Coaches now have to game plan specifically for Austin, and that makes our whole team that much more dangerous. But as proud as we are of Austin as a soccer player, he’s an even better person and teammate. What he has done for this program will last for quite some time.”

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