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  Main >  Member Communications > PAnorama > September 2002

PAnorama: September 2002

From the President's Desk
by Ellis Gage Searles

In academic life, September represents the start of a new cycle. For most of us, it's a time to put plans into action in our professional lives. Since the last semester drew to a close we've reflected on what worked and what didn't, and we have some new ideas. Many will naturally focus on our students and our classrooms. But our professional lives extend beyond our teaching and service to students and are affected by everything that happens or doesn't happen on campus. And they are certainly also affected by events in the community at large.

Take the recently approved MVCC budget as an example. Each of us received an e-mail last week from President Schafer announcing that the College's budget had been given final approval by the Oneida County Board of Legislators. He pointed out that the County's contribution had risen by more than 9% in spite of this being an "incredibly difficult" fiscal year for our region and our state.

This was very good news, of course. In order for us to do our jobs, to continue to provide the excellent education that our students and our community deserve, we need resources. We must be able to attract and retain the highly qualified professionals who can develop and implement the innovative programs that will educate a new generation of workers and leaders to ensure the economic rebirth of Oneida County.

What President Schafer did not--to my surprise--mention in his e-mail, he had acknowledged earlier in his report to the College's Board of Trustees: namely, the Professional Association's key role in relaying this important message to our County legislators and to the County Executive. PA members had been, in fact, present at Oneida County Board of Legislators meetings throughout the year, and four of us attended the meeting at which this unprecedented budget was approved unanimously, with the full support of both legislative committees and without objection. Even the requisite public hearing passed without a single voice of dissent.

This happened for several reasons, of course, not the least of which is the broadly-based ongoing effort to make regional and state policy makers aware of the urgency of the many financial needs facing us, and the potentially negative con-sequences of inaction. The Professional Association has been in the forefront of that effort.

Through increased communication of various kinds--conversations, letters, meetings, our Educators Meet Legislators project--and visible involvement in both regional and state political events, the PA has worked hard for the last few years, as our union's mission statement says, "to address issues and forces affecting the professional lives of the employees it represents." And we are in this for the duration. It does not end with one budget cycle or election year; its true effectiveness can only be measured over the long term. We cannot expect those outside the campus to fully appreciate our needs if we do not communicate them.

It is up to us to increase both our understanding of our role in the political process and our visibility within it. That is the only way our desire for change will ultimately reach beyond our classrooms and offices. And when it does, everybody gains; everybody wins.

And there is more good news. Until now, PA initiatives in this area-and every other area for that matter-have been limited to those we could fund through our own budget. But beginning this year we have a new source of revenue for our ideas and projects, thanks to our Local Action Project (LAP) grant. In the next few weeks, the PA will receive the first installment towards a $13,500. grant from NYSUT. These funds will support our membership development, outreach activities, and political action. Watch for the date of our LAP kickoff. And see where your individual interests and energies may be best applied. The LAP team will need us all.

So, change is underway both on campus and off, for each of us individually and for all of us collectively. Opportunities to sustain this momentum abound. If we seize even a few of them, this could be a very good year.

PA becomes first NYSUT community college to receive Local Action Project grant
by Cynthia Villanti

The PA is the very first NYSUT community college to receive a Local Action Project (LAP) grant. That we are the first of our kind was well noted during the LAP Conference held from July 22 to 25 in Lake George. At the LAP Conference, your LAP team leaders were busy learning all the ways in which we can make this support from NYSUT work for the PA.

The conference program began with a welcome speech by NYSUT President Tom Hobart, in which he reviewed the challenges facing NYSUT locals across the state and previewed suggestions for meeting these challenges. Identifying challenges and finding solutions for meeting them: that set the tone for our week's work.

The rest of our time was spent developing goals for our three-year grant, specific ways to achieve these goals, and a detailed budget to make sure that it all happens. In doing so, we attended workshop sessions on working with local media, creating a community ambassador program, re-energizing community outreach, conducting membership and community surveys, refining political action strategies, and making the most of NYSUT programs and services.

Also, we learned a great deal from the presentations of six graduating locals, including the Westmoreland TA and the Utica TA. Your LAP Team Leaders returned from Lake George with a solid vision in mind and plans in place to achieve it. Now what we need is you. Stay tuned!

NYSUT endorses candidates for 2002 election

NYSUT's biannual Presidents' Conference on Endorsements was held from August 12th to August 14th in Albany. Local presidents, Political Action Committee members, and NYSUT officers and directors attended. Ellis Gage Searles represented the MVCC PA.

Each election year, NYSUT sponsors this meeting in order to solicit the input of union leaders from around the state. It is one part of the process by which NYSUT candidate endorsements are made. Prior to the conference, NYSUT's Legislative Department examines the voting records of each New York State candidate for state and federal office. This non-partisan assessment focuses on the candidate's support for a number of education and/or labor-related bills. Endorsement recommendations are made and then forwarded to the conference attendees for discussion and debate. Following NYSUT's Endorsement Conference, the Board of Directors acts on these final recommendations.

A NYSUT endorsement is an important one for any candidate for office in New York State. First, with a membership of 480,000, NYSUT has consider-able political power. Moreover, once an endorsement has been made, NYSUT commits its energy to assisting candidates in their campaigns. As VP Alan Lubin has pointed out, it is after the Endorsements Conference that the real work begins.

This year, NYSUT has endorsed the candidacy of each of the legislators from our region, including Sherwood Boehlert, Ray Meier, Nancy Larraine Hoffmann, Bill Magee, Dave Townsend, RoAnn Destito, and Marc Butler. In addition, Elliot Spitzer was endorsed for Attorney General. Endorsements for Governor, Lt. Governor, and Comptroller were postponed pending the results of the primaries. Complete listings are available from Ellis or Mike Sewall, PA Political Action Chair.

Educators Meet Legislators meets success
by Mike Sewall

For 31 years, I have taught at MVCC. For 31 years, I have seen many changes in the PA. And yet, in 31 years, I never before have witnessed such a significant, positive, and proactive change in the PA as I have seen in the Educators Meet Legislators project.

Attending Oneida County Board of Legislator (OCBOL) meetings regularly as Chair of our Political Action Committee, I knew that the PA needed to establish a greater presence with our local legislators. Although the idea had been germinating for some time, it really took hold at Higher Ed Lobby Days back in February. There, we brainstormed a list of PA members who best represented the wide variety of skills and talents of the people who make MVCC work. We drafted a letter and invited these individuals to speak during the public open-mic sessions at OCBOL meetings.

Dubbed "Educators Meet Legislators" by Ellis, the focus of each presentation was to be informational-to educate our county legislators about the individuals and the innovative projects of their community college. The response was overwhelming, with many PA members stepping up to the plate. Starting May 15, we have had PA members present at most of the OCBOL meetings throughout the summer. So far, these include a great mix of our faculty and professional staff:

  • Jessica Basi, Program Coordinator, Ready, Set, College!
  • Phil Benson, Admissions Counselor
  • Henry Bryant, Academic Technical Assistant, Hospitality Programs
  • Tom Capraro, Professor, Life Science
  • Marie Czarnecki, Professor, Humanities
  • Colleen Kehoe-Robinson, Instructor, Information Services Specialist, Library
  • Lorie Phillips, Associate Professor, Coordinator, Health Services
  • Beverly Quist, Professor, Social Science & Criminal Justice
  • Ellis Gage Searles, Associate Professor, Humanities
  • Mike Sewall, Professor, Psychology, Human Services, & Education
  • Cynthia Villanti, Assistant Professor, Humanities
  • Jackie Womack, Financial Aid Assistant

By all accounts, the response from the legislators has been extremely encouraging. Surely, this project helped in getting the MVCC budget passed unanimously just last week. Surely, this project must continue throughout the fall and subsequent semesters. For a more promising outlook over the next 31 years, let's keep our-selves poised as a proactive political force at the county level. Contact me if you would like to present at an upcoming OCBOL meeting as part of Educators Meet Legislators.

(Editor's Note: See below for information on this project's 1st place AFT award.)

Central New York Labor Council Candidate Screening
by Bill Perrotti

The 2002 political primary and election season is upon us. The Central New York Labor Council has for some time conducted candidate screenings prior to primaries and elections for local, statewide, and U.S. elections. This year the screenings were held on August 7 and 8, at the Labor Agency office on Genesee Street in Utica. There were eight different locals participating in these sessions, and for the first time the PA participated, represented by yours truly. The PA was the only area NYSUT local participating.

Candidates for Oneida County Clerk (Sandra DePerno and Richard Allen), NYS Assembly (Marc Butler, RoAnn Destito, Bill Magee, Ryan Nobles, David Townsend, and Daniel Yerdon), NYS Senate (Nancy Larraine Hoffmann), and the US House of Representatives (Sherwood Boehlert) appeared before the screening committee.

Two candidates, NYS Senators Raymond Meier and James Seward, were unable to attend but submitted letters requesting endorsements to the committee.

Following these sessions, the CNY Labor Council endorsed the following candidates:

  • County Clerk: no endorsement
  • NYS Assembly: Marc Butler, RoAnn Destito,Bill Magee, David Townsend
  • NYS Senate: Nancy Larraine Hoffmann, Ray Meier, James Seward
  • US House of Representatives: Sherwood Boehlert

A word about the rules by which the Screening Committee operates: In order to endorse a candidate, the vote must be unanimous. There can be abstentions but no negative votes. This is relevant to two of the decisions made by the committee. In the case of County Clerk, because there was one negative vote cast, no endorsement was made.

However, if I may offer my personal impression, I strongly favored the Republican candidate and incumbent, Richard Allen. My reasons: First, he is an ex-NYSUT local president from Holland Patent. More importantly, he exhibited a real command of the range of issues faced by the County Clerk, had a plan to deal in a favorable way with unsatisfactory salary issues in his department, and seemed to be thinking of creative ways to improve the operation and increase revenue. Of course my opinion is neither an official PA opinion nor an endorsement. I simply offer it for your consideration.

The second interesting case involved the candidacy of Sherwood Boehlert and the upcoming Republican primary. While Mr. Boehlert is generally seen as a moderate, effective, and senior member of the House and a longtime friend of labor, several important votes during this term were not consistent with the positions of organized labor. He voted in favor of NAFTA, favored nation trade status for China, and the Homeland Security bill which included provisions which eliminated some existing job protection for union workers. Despite this concern, Mr. Boehlert did again receive the Council's endorsement.

The PA has never before participated in these screenings but it is good that we are doing so now. Our participation fits perfectly with our evolving strategy to become more visible locally and regionally and more involved in the politics that impact the state, Central New York, and the greater Utica-Rome area.

In addition, the PA is becoming more and more viewed as an active local that is interested in more than just educational issues but also in broader issues that have an impact on working men and women everywhere. With the PA more aligned with area labor unions (both public and private sector) outside the education sphere, we are seen as part of a bigger family... and the support travels in two directions.

New Members Feature: Steve Getchell
by Cynthia Villanti

New Members! Win a Palm Pilot! Register at by 9/27 to receive monthly email tips from veteran NYSUT members & become eligible to win.

No, he's not "new" to MVCC or to the PA. But as a perpetual term appointee, our long-time PA friend is, technically, a new member--year after year.

An Instructor in the Life Science Department, Steve specializes in teaching Environmental Science. A truly hands-on kind of guy, Steve teaches his students practical applications for his course material by taking them on field trips to the Mohawk River, Utica Marsh, Starch Factory Creek, Rome Sand Plains (bog), and the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority recycling facility, to name a few BI105 hot-spot destinations.

Steve has a long history here at MVCC. After receiving a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies at SUNY ESF in 1974 and a Bachelor's degree in Landscape Architecture soon thereafter, a 1976 motorcycle accident crashed into Steve's professional plans. In 1979, Steve attended MVCC in the Respiratory Therapy curriculum, taking courses from such MVCC luminaries as Sam Drogo, Bill Perrotti, Lorie Phillips, and Dick Thomas.

From 1980 to 1999, Steve worked at Faxton Hospital, worked here at MVCC as an adjunct teaching clinicals in Respiratory Therapy, and worked towards his Master's degree in Environmental Studies at SUNY ESF, which he completed in 1995. From 1999 to the present, Steve has been renewed annually on a term-appointment basis.

In the PA, as an enthusiastic member of the Community Outreach Committee, Steve has been very active in organizing and participating in events such as the annual Fall Picnics, the Thea Bowman Bowl-a-Thon charity fundraiser, the Boilermaker, and most recently the rallies in support of the Rome School for the Deaf and the Divine Brothers strike. Steve says that he rejoins the PA each year because he believes that solidarity, working together internally as well as reaching out to the community, is the way to improve education.

While we are most happy that Steve keeps coming back to MVCC and rejoining the PA each year, we hope that a more permanent and stable position comes his way--and soon.

Steve resides on seven acres of beautiful land in Munnsville. When not teaching his students to appreciate the natural resources of the world around them, Steve enjoys the great outdoors, gardening, and making (and perhaps sampling) beer. Steve is proud to be the official tree hugger of the Getchell family.

PA members "Powered by NYSUT" for the Boilermaker
by Cynthia Villanti

The fire.
The friction.
The feet of flames.

So fast, we fear no one saw the "Powered by NYSUT" logo on Jim (aka "The Fire") Fiore's shirt.

The Boilermaker, the largest 15K road race in the nation, is run right here on the streets of Utica. During this year's event, the 25th annual Boilermaker, new records were set for participation, as nearly 12,000 runners laced up their running shoes and pounded 9.3 miles of pavement on their way to the finish line and the famed post-race party.

In the May 2002 edition of PAnorama, Jim Fiore contributed a column offering Practical Advice to a typical mid-pack runner on how to improve his or her Boilermaker finish time. Given the chip times of all the PA runners, it's clear that Jim's advice was well taken. Jim, for his part, didn't miss the opportunity to set another record on this special 25th anniversary. The fastest PA member improved his official Boilermaker chip time from a personal record of 58:33 to--are you ready for this?--an unbelievably fast 58:14.

In addition to Jim's tips, of course, our fleet-footed PA runners also were fueled by their new blue PA running tees. With our PA logo proudly leading the way, the shirt backs declare that we are, in fact, "Powered by NYSUT." The shirts garnered great attention during the race, as we knew they would. Every single PA racer and volunteer received comments from others who recognized the NYSUT logo and identified themselves as fellow NYSUT members or as fellow educators. Of course, for most of us these friendly comments came from others who were passing us as we raced along. They jogged up behind us, commented on our NYSUT logos, chatted amiably, then passed by.

Bad for a runner's ego, but good for the unionist in all of us.

Well, all of us except Jim Fiore.

Annual Fall Picnic and Retiree Recognition Day

Sunday, September 15, 2002, 1 to 5 pm
Whitestown Vets Club, Yorkville

RSVP to Gene Militello

Join us to meet new members, greet good friends, celebrate a new academic year, and recognize the years of service of PA retirees Jerry Goodman, Ron Janowsky, and John Reese. Whitestown Vets Club is at 174 Whitesboro Street in Yorkville (near Voss's). See map in the Events Calendar.

Grievance Report
by Dennis Rahn

Here is the latest update from your Grievance Committee.

  • As a result of grievance activity members have received a letter from Blue Cross/Blue Shield informing them that there was an error in a previous BC/BS mailing and that they would not be impacted by changes in the drug plan.
  • A grievance was resolved at Step 1 involving the wording of a reappointment letter, the member's right to respond, and Association representation in what appears to us to be discipline not reappointment language.
  • At the informal stage a complaint was investigated and hopefully resolved concerning faculty members being required to be in their offices, supposedly for the purpose of advisement, for almost a 35-hour week at the end of Spring term.
  • A grievance is at Step 1 involving the College assigning three sections to a faculty member during the Summer term and only paying the individual for one assignment. The College claims this was due to small class sizes. The Association maintains that an assignment is an assignment and that the language in the contract is clear.
  • The College designated unit members on the Rome Campus to attend CPR and First Aid training. Questions have been raised with the College concerning liability, voluntary versus mandated training, risk, job descriptions, etc. NYSUT Legal Services Department has been asked for assistance in navigating this issue, and the mandated training has been postponed at this time.
  • Several questions were raised involving the creation of a contract for a twelve-month person doing additional duties. The Association seeks to insure that the individual is compensated fairly and knows on which duties evaluation and promotion will be based.
  • The College has yet to respond for information on the amount of pro-rated sick leave that a faculty member will be charged. The individual is recovering from surgery and has less than a full load.

Labor community provides positive feedback on Divine Brothers Rally
by Paul Halko

In May, about one dozen PA members participated in a picket line alongside local labor activists in support of the striking workers at Divine Brothers.

A couple weeks ago at the St. Mary's Church festival, I ran into Paul Krukar, President of Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) Local 653T at the Divine Brothers facility. A former ETT student here at MVCC, Paul told me that, while progress has been slow in coming to their local, he very much appreciated seeing the MVCC PA at the rally and that he greatly appreciates our continued support.

The PA celebrates member achievements and promotions

Excellence in Service Awards

SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching

  • George Strong
  • Bob Dell

SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities

  • Ron Labuz

Excellence in Teaching

  • Cynthia Villanti

Excellence in Professional Service

  • Barb Seaton


to Assistant Professor

  • Jeffery Birt
  • Carolyn D'Argenio
  • Julie Dewan
  • Andrew Glidden
  • Bruce Kurtz
  • Nelissa Rutishauser

to Associate Professor

  • Richard Stempien

to Professor

  • Civita Allard
  • Marie Czarnecki

to Level II

  • Thomas Jeff
  • AJ Stephanick
  • Sharon Zohne

to Level III

  • Mike Donaruma
  • Thomas Maneen

Continuing & Career Appointments

Continuing Appointment

  • Robert Decker
  • Krista Hartman
  • Patricia Hirsch
  • Carmelita Lomeo
  • Nelissa Rutishauser
  • D. Joseph Stadtmiller

Career Appointment

  • Janet Visalli

The PA celebrates PAnorama's eight AFTCA awards

In this year's AFT Communications Association (AFTCA) Journalism Competition, PAnorama garnered eight nods of recognition. Judged in various categories against locals of comparable size across the nation, the PA received the following awards:

1st Place Awards

  1. Public Relations Program: Educators Meet Legislators (May 2002)
  2. Best News Story: "Community Outreach Committee Update: We Have Curled" (December 2001)
  3. Unique Performance: Announcement of Annual Spring Luncheon 2002 (December 2001)

2nd Place Awards

  1. General Excellence: three consecutive issues (October 2001, November 2001, December 2001)
  2. Best Art or Photo: "Giddy Up to Bill Perrotti" (May 2001)
  3. Best Layout/Graphics: "Practical Advice: Effective Problem Reporting 101" (December 2001)

3rd Place Awards

  1. Best Column: From the President's Desk (November 2001)
  2. Best Feature Story: "Another Set of Bleachers: Lessons from the Leadership Institute" (October 2001)

AFTCA provides the judges' comments to locals. In the notes on General Excellence, one judge wrote, "Your newsletter reflects a vibrant, professional union." Judges also complimented the Educators Meet Legislators project. Declared one, "Sounds like a great idea!" Another stated, "Great effort to connect with local elected officials and tell your story, particularly in giving your members a voice in the process." This last praise pleases us most, as we see PAnorama itself as a means by which all PA members can communicate their good ideas, thoughts, and opinions. Direct yours to editor Cynthia Villanti.

Register for Oneida County BOCES TA "Back to School Classic" golf tournie

Sunday, Sept. 22 at Golf Club of Newport

The Oneida County BOCES Teachers Association will hold their "Back to School Classic" golf tournament on September 22nd, with proceeds to benefit the BTA Scholarship Fund. Last June, the BTA awarded two area graduating seniors with scholarships for the very first time and is proud to be able to recognize the students' efforts. The BTA appreciates our support so that they may continue this worthy scholarship program. Obtain details and registration forms from Cynthia.

News to Note

  • In one more example of how the PA and the College cooperate to benefit the institution about which we all care so deeply, on July 15th, the PA sent a formidable foursome to help support the MVCC Foundation during its annual golf fundraiser. The tournament fees supplied by the PA team--Mike Sewall, Ron Labuz, Paul Halko, and Mike Donaruma--helped propel the fundraiser's proceeds 15% beyond last year's totals. In addition to the official PA team, other PA participants included Gene Militello and Dave Warren.
  • United States Senator Hillary Clinton was the featured speaker at the MVCC Commencement ceremony in May 2002. As part of the platform party, President Searles had the honor of meeting Senator Clinton.

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