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Keuka College to Commemorate V-E Day May 8

Headline in England's Daily Mail in May 1945

Keuka College will commemorate the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day) Friday, May 8.

The ceremony, free and open to the public, begins at 4 p.m. at the College’s World War II Monument, located near Lightner Library.

College President Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera will deliver remarks along with New York State Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, and Dr. Mike McKenzie, associate professor of philosophy and religion. Rev. Eric Detar, College chaplain, will offer a prayer of remembrance, and Rabbi Ann Landown of Temple Beth-El will recite the Jewish Prayer for the Dead, the Kaddish. Members of the Penn Yan VFW Honor Guard will also take part.

After the ceremony, refreshments will be served in Lightner Library.

V-E Day is celebrated each May 9. It was on this day when the Allies accepted Germany’s Unconditional Surrender in a destroyed Berlin, the German capital. It had been decided at the Casablanca Conference in 1943 that nothing less than the Unconditional Surrender of our foes would be accepted. On May 7, 1945, the Germans surrendered unconditionally at Rheims at the headquarters of the Supreme Allied High Commander, General Dwight Eisenhower.

And Keuka College has a strong connection to the events in Europe nearly 4,000 miles from its idyllic lakeside campus.

When the United States entered the First World War in 1917 two years after the sinking of the Lusitania, some of the young men at Keuka College left school and signed up. Some served stateside while others served on the Western Front or in the Navy. Germany was defeated and signed the Armistice on November 11, 1918. In the 1950s, Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day and every year since the erection of the College’s World War II Monument in May 2005, the College has gathered around our monument to salute all who served in past and current wars.

Dr. Sander Diamond

“On the 50th anniversary of V-E Day in 1995, the students of the Political Science and History Club decided to commemorate this day,” said Dr. Sander A. Diamond, professor of history. “A brass plaque and an oak tree recall that stellar day which included a fly-over by the U.S. Air Force out of Syracuse.”

“Ten years later, the Club erected the World War II Monument on the 60th anniversary of V-E Day,” Dr. Diamond added. “It is well used each Veterans Day, Holocaust Remembrance Day, and Memorial Day. On one side of the Monument, the names of all of the theaters of war are listed; on the other, a salute to our Nursing Cadet Program, setting in stone the connective link between the war and our institutional history. As we did in 1995 and 2005, we honor ‘The Greatest Generation.’”

Twenty-four years after the First World War ended, America was again at war. While Keuka College began its 125-year-old journey as a coeducational institution, it emerged from the First World War as a women’s college. Early in the war, Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of the President, visited our campus and suggested to our president ways the College could contribute to the massive war effort. With so many of the young men from this rural area in uniform, it was suggested that the students could help with the harvests.

New York City's Times Square on V-E Day, May 8, 1945

It was also suggested that the College start a Nursing Cadet Corps Program. Within two years, many of our nursing graduates found themselves in the various theaters of war and some served in the Occupations of Germany and Japan after the war.

“Both the Field Period™ and the nursing program are rooted in the war years, and today are among the central constellations of this fine institution,” said Dr. Diamond.

And according to Dr. Diamond, Keuka College will not be alone in our commemoration.

“World leaders have gathered to commemorate V-E Day and there will be celebrations in Washington, Paris, Brussels, Ottawa, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen,” he said, “We can pride ourselves as an institution that we too have taken time to remember, making another intergenerational transfer of values, which cement the connective links between nations.”

Keuka College Employees Honored at Community Day


President Díaz-Herrera presents the Presidential Award for Sustained Outstanding Achievement to Sandra Devaux

Twenty-two faculty and staff members were recognized for their service and dedication to Keuka College at Community Day Aug. 19.

Five-year service awards were presented to: Dianne Trickey-Rokenbrod, assistant professor of occupational therapy; Lynne Heath, academic records specialist; Troy Cusson, instructional design manager, Wertman Office of Distance Education; Michele “Mikki” Sheldon, administrative assistant for the Office of Academic Affairs; Jessica Dunkelberger, director of program administration and student services; Christen Accardi, assistant director of marketing; Teresa Ripley, administrative assistant for the Division of Humanities and Fine Art; Eric Detar, College chaplain; Timothy White; resident director and assistant director of  housing and residence life; Alex Perryman, assistant professor of finance; Melissa Newcomb, assistant professor of art; and Jennie Joiner, chair, Division of Humanities and Fine Art and assistant professor of English.


President Díaz-Herrera presents the Presidential Award for Sustained Outstanding Achievement to Ann Tuttle

Ten-year service awards were presented to: Kristen Harter, assistant director of admissions, traditional; Janet Lanphear, data entry coordinator; and Carmela Battaglia, professor of occupational therapy.

Fifteen-year service awards were presented to: Mike McKenzie, assistant professor of philosophy and religion; Jason Paige, head men’s lacrosse coach; and Deb Jensen, accounting assistant, payroll.

A 20-year service award was presented to Gary Smith, professor of management.


President Díaz-Herrera presents the Presidential Award for Sustained Outstanding Achievement to Eric Detar

Merit awards were presented to Rebecca Capek, resident director and success advocate; and Dunkelberger.

Presidential Awards for Sustained Outstanding Achievement were presented to: Ann Tuttle, professor of management; Detar; and Sandra Devaux, graphic designer.

More photos from Community Day.

The Dust Bowl is Educational and Personal for McKenzie

Mike McKenzie's grandfather took this photo of a dust storm bearing down on Manter, Kan.

Mike McKenzie couldn’t figure out why his mother never returned to her childhood home in western Kansas.

“My brother and I tried numerous times to get her to go back,” said McKenzie, associate professor of philosophy and religion. “We thought it would be fun for to see the place and some of her friends. I just didn’t get it.”

He got it after making the trek to Johnson, Kan., himself.

“It’s an utterly exposed place,” recalled McKenzie. “You’re exposed to winds and weather on all four sides.”

And that made life tough for Maxine Carter, her mother; father, who was a wheat farmer; and sister—especially in the 1930s  when the Dust Bowl, a period of severe dust storms, caused major ecological and agricultural damage on the Southern plains.

The Dust Bowl lasted 10 years and made activities typically taken for granted—breathing and eating—a challenge. Children wore dust masks and women hung wet sheets over windows to keep the dust out of their homes. Crops were blown away.

So powerful were these rolling waves of dust they would “obliterate the sun,” recalled McKenzie’s mother.

And it wasn’t just dust storms that the young Maxine Carter was forced to survive. Tornadoes, ice storms, and blizzards would “force kids into storm cellars and they wouldn’t know if their farm or home was still standing until they came out,” said McKenzie.

Maxine Carter was born in 1922 and moved to Oregon in 1936. She will never return to Johnson or Manter, Kan., where her family lived before heading to the Pacific Northwest.  And her son now understands why.

Maxine Carter and her family lived in this house in Johnson, Kan., before moving to Oregon. The photo was taken from an upper floor at the old Stone School, the only point of elevation in the town.

“My mother had a good home life growing up but a scary place,” he said. “I understand why she doesn’t have fond memories of her early life in Kansas.”

While acknowledging the highly personal nature of this story, McKenzie saw it has a perfect fit for his Environmental Ethics class that he his teaching this semester.

“The Dust Bowl is the greatest environmental disaster in this country’s history, and I decided to do a large segment on it in my class,” he said.  “I couldn’t bring my students to Kansas so I am bringing Kansas to them.”

McKenzie teamed with Troy Cusson, instructional design manager in the Wertman Office of Distance Education (WODE), to create a video that features an interview McKenzie did with his mother in January as well as photos his grandfather took in western Kansas in the 1930s.

The Dust Bowl exhibit in Lightner Library brings 1930s Kansas to life.

And, he partnered with John Locke, director of instructional design and multidisciplinary studies in WODE, to construct a Dust Bowl exhibit in a Lightner Library display case.

“Students and others will see artifacts from the Dust Bowl and the display case itself looks like a farmer’s cabin from the 1930s,” said McKenzie. “There is even some actual Kansas dust.”

One of Locke’s biggest challenges was to find a way for people to view the video (it runs on a loop and headphones are available for listening) without impinging on the “rustic” quality of the display. So, he built cabinet and gave it a “rough finish to create an aged look.”

He also created a “window into a dust storm” by backlighting an image of a 1930s dust storm.

“John did a terrific job of bringing 1930s Kansas to life,” said McKenzie.

To further enhance his students’ knowledge of the Dust Bowl, McKenzie is planning a field trip to nearby Hunt Country Vineyards “to see how a modern farmer (Art Hunt) employs sustainability in his day- to-day operations. The class will engage in some hands-on activities and get to see good farming practices put into use, as contrasted with those on the high plains of the 1930s that helped spawn the Dust Bowl.”

Finally, McKenzie recently screened Ken Burns’ The Dust Bowl.

“Everyone loves stories,” said McKenzie. “Ken Burns tells a story and that is what we did. It’s a story about my mom. It’s personal, but at the same time it’s educational.”

Beyond 9 – 5

Carol Sackett and two of her paintings, "Still Waters," left and "Sunrise," right.

By day, Penn Yan resident Carol Sackett manages the circulation desk at Lightner Library, a post she has held for 32 years. But through March 7, visitors to Keuka College can glimpse a different side of her, as seen in three oil paintings gracing the walls of Lightner Gallery.

Sackett’s paintings are on display alongside numerous other works from members of Keuka’s faculty and staff, whose job titles may not necessarily disclose the individuals as creative “artists-in-residence.”

Beyond 9 to 5: The Hidden Talents of Keuka’s Faculty and Staff runs through March 7 in Lightner Gallery,located in Lightner Library. It features  a range of artistic mediums, including painting, photography, ceramics, glass work, digital art, and film.  More than 20 faculty and staff members submitted work for the show, including President Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera.

During a special artists’ reception – open to the public – Thursday, Feb. 21 from 4:30 – 6 p.m., the exhibit will also feature select culinary art from four members of the faculty and staff. The exhibit remains open daily during library hours, available online at:

Hand-painted glass by Doreen Hovey


The Burned Over District Focus of Community Luncheon Series Presentation Dec. 6

Starkey Methodist Church

During much of the 1800s, wave after wave of new religious movements spread across Central and Western New York, earning it the title The Burned Over District.

The Burned Over District will be the focus of Keuka College’s next Community Luncheon Series presentation Thursday, Dec. 6.

Led by Michael McKenzie, associate professor of philosophy and religion, and Troy Cusson, instructional design manager in the Wertman Office of Distance Education (WODE), the presentation begins at noon in the Gannett Room of Lightner Library.

McKenzie combined his writing and research skills with the videography and editing talents of Cusson to create a 60-minute DVD that takes viewers on a tour of many of the exact spots where these religions either got their start or caught fire.

The DVD, three years in the making, doesn’t cover the entire Burned Over District—McKenzie and Cusson traveled throughout Yates County and into Wayne and Seneca counties—but uncovered plenty of material nonetheless.

McKenzie and Cusson traveled to such places as the house of Jemima Wilkinson, the Sacred Grove where Joseph Smith claimed to have had his visions that launched the Mormon Church, and many of the actual sites of the vibrant and explosive Methodist denomination.

Mike McKenzie, associate professor of philosophy and religion.

“It’s hard to believe, because Yates County seems so quiet these days, but once it was a hotbed of religious and spiritual activity,” said McKenzie. “It was fertile ground, and not just for potatoes and carrots. And that’s the reason for the DVD. We want students and others to understand that what it is isn’t what it used to be. This county had its day, and it had a story to tell.”

Tickets for the luncheon are $12.75, $2.50 of which goes to the Penn Yan Keuka Club Scholarship Fund. The fund provides an annual scholarship to a local student attending Keuka College. Seating is limited, so reservations are advised.

Make checks payable to Keuka College and mail to: Office of Alumni and Family Relations, Keuka College, Keuka Park, N.Y. 14478. Reservations may also be made online at reservation deadline is Monday, Dec. 3.

For more information, call (315) 279-5238 or e-mail