Skip to content

Posts Tagged ‘chris leahy’

Keuka College Marks Veterans Day with Ceremony

Daniel Esworthy '18

Keuka College honored veterans and active duty personnel with a Nov. 11 ceremony held in Norton Chapel. Stationed outside the chapel during the event was a World War II Jeep.

In front of an overflow crowd of students, faculty, and staff, the ceremony featured remarks by Chris Leahy, professor of history; New York State Assemblyman Phil Palmesano; New York State Senator Tom O’Mara; as well as Alison Hunt, deputy district director for U.S. Representative Tom Reed. Robert Heselton, a former machinist mate second class, and a Navy veteran of the first Gulf War, offered his perspective as a veteran.

Rev. Eric Detar, College chaplain, offered a prayer of remembrance and played “America the Beautiful,” while Army veteran Daniel Esworthy ’18 and members of the Penn Yan VFW Honor Guard also took part. They sounded a rifle salute and played Taps at the end of the service.

Several other students were involved in the ceremony, including Siobhan Costain ’17, past president of the Keuka College Veterans Club, who presented the College’s donation to the Honor Flight Rochester. Its mission is to fly our heroes to Washington, DC to visit and reflect together at their memorials. Honor Flight is free to all World War II and Korean veterans and to veterans from any era who suffer a terminal illness.

Members of the College Chorale and QKAppella performed the National Anthem, “America, Of Thee I Sing,” and “God Bless America.”

The service included recognition of all veterans in attendance, as well as a presentation dedicated to those who could not attend.

The women’s field hockey, basketball, and lacrosse teams served as ushers and escorted veterans from their pews after the service, while the men’s basketball and lacrosse teams helped serve dinner to the veterans and their families. The dinner was compliments of AVI Fresh, the College’s food service provider.

Before the ceremony, 375 students, faculty, and staff members of the College community signed holiday cards. Part of the American Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program, the College campaign was sponsored by the Staff Advisory Council’s (SAC) Events Committee. Those who took part were asked to write a short message and sign their name on a card. The cards will be distributed to veterans and active service men and women in the VA hospitals in Canandaigua and Bath.

More photos of the ceremony can be found here.

Hillary, The Donald, and Joe

To say the race for the White House has been wild and wacky is an understatement.

It wasn’t that long ago that pundits were predicting a Clinton-Bush rematch—this time Hillary and Jeb. Yes, Hillary is leading the Democratic polls but it’s been a rollercoaster ride for the former U.S. senator and secretary of state. And who knows what will happen after the Benghazi hearing? Who would have guessed her primary challenger would Bernie Sanders, the senator from Vermont. And Bernie is big, as his portrayal by Larry David on Saturday Light Live attests.

On the other side, Jeb has tumbled in the polls thanks to two insurgents—billionaire Donald Trump, whose bombastic style and views on immigration have drawn admiration and disgust, and Dr. Ben Carson, the soft-spoken surgeon who spoke at Keuka College in 2010.

What better person to make sense of all this than Dr. Chris Leahy, professor of history and political analyst. Leahy analyzed all the political maneuverings on the October edition of Keuka College Today, which airs on WFLR (1570 AM, 96. 9/101.9 FM, Finger Lakes Radio Network).

Adding intrigue to the show, hosted by Executive Director of Grants, Government Relations, and Compliance Doug Lippincott, was that it aired live a day after Joe Biden announced he would not run for president.

Leahy, a regular guest on the show, will offer his analysis during the primary season, after the conventions, and right before Americans go to the polls next November.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Keuka College Celebrates Constitution Day

It was September 17, 1787. Presided over by George Washington, 39 of 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention gathered for the last time in Philadelphia to sign the document they had created.

Now, 228 years later, the United States Constitution (with its seven articles and 27 amendments) is still the supreme law governing our country. A federal observance commemorates the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution, and is celebrated each year on September 17.

Keuka College will mark Constitution Day, Thursday, Sept. 17 with a panel discussion. Free and open to the public, it runs from 4:30-6 p.m. in Hegeman Hall room 109.

Dr. Chris Leahy, professor of history, and Linda Park, director of Lightner Library, along with students taking Constitutional Law with Dr. Angela Narasimhan, assistant professor of political science, will make up the panel.

“The purpose of our panel is to educate the audience on how the Constitution has changed, and the tension between having an enduring original document vs. one that reflects the political issues of the present day,” said Dr. Narasimhan.

According to Dr. Narasimhan, the panel will also discuss the Constitution and amendments that address current political issues.

“Some possible amendments include term limits for Congress and Supreme Court justices, so that they can’t stay in office forever and there is greater representation; limits on campaign spending; allowing foreign-born naturalized presidents; and eliminating the Electoral College,” added Dr. Narasimhan.

Created in 2004, Constitution Day, later named Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, is typically observed each September 17, the day in 1787 that delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the document in Philadelphia.

America’s first constitution, the Articles of Confederation, was ratified in 1781, a time when the nation was a loose confederation of states, each operating like independent countries. The national government was comprised of a single legislature, the Congress of the Confederation; there was no president or judicial branch.

At the 1787 convention, delegates devised a plan for a stronger federal government with three branches—executive, legislative and judicial—along with a system of checks and balances to ensure no single branch would have too much power. The Bill of Rights—10 amendments guaranteeing basic individual protections such as freedom of speech and religion—became part of the Constitution in 1791.

To read the entire United States Constitution, or learn more about Constitution Day, click here.

Rethinking First Impressions

American history is full of examples of people whose appearance, background, religion, sex, or race caused other people to discount them at the beginning, but who overcame that underestimation to make important contributions.

So said Dr. Christopher Leahy, professor of history and the 2014-15 Professor of the Year at Keuka College, in his keynote address Tuesday at academic convocation, which marks the official opening of the 2015-16 academic year. The ceremony includes a colorful processional with upperclassman bearing flags from around the world and faculty in regalia lining the sidewalk to Norton Chapel and applauding new students as they enter. This year, a record-setting number of new students experienced this symbolic rite of passage.

In Dr. Leahy’s address, the eight-year faculty veteran challenged students to resist the temptation to discount what someone else might teach them because of “superficial attributes.” He gave two examples from American history of individuals initially underestimated who defied expectations to make an undeniable mark: Al Smith, a NY State Assemblyman and four-term governor, and Fannie Lou Hamer, a civil rights activist and one-time Congressional candidate from Mississippi.

New members of the Keuka College Class of 2019.

“People underestimated both Al Smith and Fannie Lou Hamer,” Dr. Leahy contended. “In Smith’s case, his colleagues in the NY State Assembly believed they had nothing to learn from a Bowery Irishman whose accent and (Catholic) religion were suspect. In Hamer’s case, her impoverished background, her race—and her sex—led white Mississippians to doubt her resolve and ability to effect change… Enough people doubted them, or told them they could not succeed, that they might have started to believe it themselves. Yet they did not.”

According to Dr. Leahy, Smith’s lack of formal education and Catholic background garnered condescension from Ivy League-educated legislators from elsewhere in the state, when he first won his Assembly seat in 1903. Yet Smith fought to prove himself, committing legislative bills to memory, sponsoring bills of his own, and leading the commission investigating the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911. Ultimately, Smith was elected governor of New York in 1917, served four terms and became the first Catholic to earn the Democratic nomination for U.S. President in 1928.

The granddaughter of slaves and child to sharecropper parents, Hamer became a vocal activist in the civil rights movement, literally singing hymns to scores of African-Americans riding buses to voter registration stations throughout the state. Famous for the line “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired,” Hamer endured an arrest, jail beating and other persecutions to rally African-Americans and white students in the North to support civil rights. Her work helped bring national attention to the Civil Rights Bill championed by Pres. Lyndon Johnson in 1964. In addition to a run for Congress, Hamer also fought to win seats for African-American delegates of the Mississippi Freedom Party at the Democratic National Convention; stymied in 1964, she succeeded by 1968.

Dr. Leahy even shared a personal instance of underestimation: as a high school sophomore in Baltimore, Leahy complained to a friend after just one class that his new European history teacher, Dr. Dan Allen, was a boring government bureaucrat with a funny accent. But Leahy learned quite a lesson as Dr. Allen—who’d overheard the complaints —dismantled every presumption Leahy made, in the next class and over the course of the year.

Professor of the Year Dr. Christopher Leahy, right, with President Díaz-Herrera.

An embarrassed Leahy was surprised to learn that Dr. Allen had a background in military intelligence with the U.S. Air Force, and spent four years working as the American embassy’s military expert in Czechoslovakia. Further, Dr. Allen was a friend of Dr. Jeane Kirkpatrick, the Georgetown University professor who helped shape American policy during the Cold War as Pres. Ronald Reagan’s Ambassador to the United Nations. Dr. Allen eventually became one of Leahy’s favorite teachers and inspired him to pursue a doctorate of his own.

Dr. Leahy closed with a 1910 quote from President Theodore Roosevelt that advocates credit be given to the individual who “strives valiantly,” in spite of coming short, “spends himself in a worthy cause;” and who ultimately experiences either the enthusiasms and devotions of high achievement or who “at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.’”

Brief remarks to welcome new students were also shared Tuesday by College President Dr. Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera and Alan Ziegler, vice-chair of the Board of Trustees. The president encouraged students that the College will prepare them for the journey of their professional life, particularly through developing individuals who know how to apply digital technology within the context of their respective professions. The College’s Digital Learning@Keuka College (DL@KC) initiative includes a digital studies minor and incorporates digital literacy throughout the curriculum.

“My advice to you, Class of 2019, is to learn as much about this as you can. Learn to read and write code, the new literacy,” Dr. Díaz-Herrera challenged, posing questions aspects of DL@KC could answer within a number of academic majors. “You will learn that you have the power to do amazing things. When you graduate from Keuka College you will have that thread of digital literacy woven through all aspects of your education.”

Click here for more photos from Academic Convocation

“Go for It!”

Buoyed by high spirits and sunny skies, the 488 members of the Keuka College Class of 2015 and marched forward into the future, inspired by words of advice and encouragement from two high achievers. Saturday marked the 107th Commencement Exercises for Keuka College.

Both U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D- N.Y.), and Dr. T. Alan Hurwitz, president of Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. relayed personal stories of overcoming adversity, offering advice to the graduates how to turn challenges into stepping stones.

While pursuing his first degree in electrical engineering, Dr. Hurwitz had no tutors, interpreters or note-takers, and had to rely entirely upon lip-reading. In one especially challenging electronics course, he had the option to take an F as his grade and repeat the course, or take a D and move on. After careful consideration, Hurwitz chose the F “because failing meant that I had another chance,” he told graduates.

Dr. T. Alan Hurwitz

“After the second time around, I got an A,” he said. “As you embark on your careers or post-graduate studies, remember that failure is not the end. Failing at something does not mean that you are a failure. It simply offers you an opportunity to learn and grow and do better the next time.”

Indeed, Dr. Hurwitz’s own story showcases his drive to overcome the many challenges and barriers he faced growing up as a deaf child in Sioux City, Iowa, before eventually rising through the ranks at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) at the Rochester Institute of Technology to become its president. After a 40-year career at NTID, Dr. Hurwitz went on to become president of Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., which, similar to NTID, serves students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Sen. Chuck Schumer

In a similar way, Sen. Schumer also made the most of a challenge faced after earning his bachelor’s degree. After missing an opportunity to travel the world for one year on an all-expense paid scholarship, Schumer stopped moping, dusted himself off, graduated law school and went on to earn his first seat as a NYS Assemblyman at the age of 23.

“The fact that you’ve gotten this great education at Keuka College and the fact that you are the first generation to grow up amidst this new technology so it’s almost instinct to you means one thing: If there was ever a time to figure out what your dream is and reach high for it, even if it seems hard to get to, now is that time,” Schumer told graduates in a surprise visit to the stage. “Reach deep down inside yourself. See what you’re made of.  See if you can achieve that dream. My advice to the Class of 2015 is very simple: Go for it!”

“It’s not only my hope, not only my prayer, but indeed it is my confidence that you will succeed with flying colors and achieve your dreams,” Schumer said.

In additional activity at Commencement:

Lauren Esposito poses for a group selfie with the Class of 2015.

For more photos from Commencement, click here.