Emeritus Faculty Association news November 2013
Friday November 1st, 10.30am Javits Room, 2nd floor library. Alumni Charlie Backfish and Mel Morris from the early days of Stony Brook will speak of those times. Since they welcome a Q&A session we might also use the opportunity to learn their take on the current political debate about US schools and the efforts to improve them.
Charles Backfish was a member of the first USB graduating class where he received the B.A. in History in 1966. He went on to further study at NYU, and then to teach social studies at Smithtown High School, teaching A.P. US history and creating an interdisciplinary American Civilization course. Following his retirement from Smithtown in 1999, he joined USB as a lecturer in history where he has served as Director of Student Teaching in the Department's Social Studies Education Program. In June of this year he received the first Provost's Outstanding Lecturer Award. He also edits the on-line Long Island History Journal, serves as Vice President of the Long Island Council for The Social Studies, and is the host (since 1978) of an acoustic music program on WUSB-FM. He served on the alumni association board from 1991-1998 and was president from 1997-1998.
Melvyn Morris was also a founding class member of USB where he received his BS in Biology. He has advanced degrees in Marine Science and Education from CW Post and Univ. of Florida. He was the first science faculty hired to start Shoreham-Wading River high school and retired after 24 years during which time he helped to shape the science program, developed the community education program, was a class advisor, and was active in the teacher union. After spending 2 years at Southampton College he then joined Brookhaven National Laboratory as an administrator in the Office of Educational Programs. He is responsible for student internship programs, started the successful Open Space Stewardship Program, and organizes teacher workshops. He was president of the USB alumni association for 7 years, is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of the national and state teaching associations.
Those members wishing to further indulge their nostalgia can click on pictures of the early campus on our website. Other images from the early campus can be viewed at the library second floor, on the walls of the lobby and the rooms of the Special Collections and University Archives. Historical photos of this area are in the lobby of the Stony Brook post office and town hall second floor.
Our apologies for the late cancellation of our last meeting which was to be held on October 4th. We did not learn until the last minute that the speaker would be out of town due to the hospitalization of his father. We hope that the elder Mr Chase returns to good health soon and our thanks go out to Alison Gibbons in the office of the provost for her prompt work on the cancellation notices.
The Incarceration State:
Given that our last speaker was indisposed, we cannot have in this spot our usual speaker approved talk summary. In its place your correspondent has gathered some material from recent news reports on the intended subject. It therefore goes without saying that your correspondent is solely responsible for the following content and our not our intended speaker.
By now the US has become the clear and undisputed leader of the some 220 nations of the world in terms of the proportion of its residents who are incarcerated. For the full list see:
About two-thirds of the incarcerated are black or hispanic. The eightfold increase in US incarceration since 1980 has been driven in part by draconian sentencing guidelines put in place since that time for drug offences, even minor possession charges.
Another matter for concern in the US prison system is the overuse of solitary confinement, more than any other democratic nation in the world. This practice is well known to cause mental and physical harm. As of 2005 there were over 80,000 so held according to the US Bureau of Justice statistics (more recent figures are not available due to sequestration and government shut-down). This was again in the news this month with the court ordered release and subsequent death of Herman Wallace after 41 years in solitary. See:
Last month the National Religious Campaign Against Torture called for a ban on the US solitary confinement of juveniles, some as young as 13. Nationally, nearly 40% of detained juveniles are in jails run by private corporations. This month two such companies in Pennsylvania settled a civil case that they bribed judges to improperly sentence juveniles to their jails. Coincidentally, the settlement amount of $2.5M was about the same size as the bribe total.
This March the NY Times reported that any given day, about 300 immigrants are held in solitary confinement at the 50 largest detention facilities that make up the sprawling patchwork of holding centers nationwide overseen by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. See:
Third biennial conference on SUNY retirees
Will be held on Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) in Albany. CNSE and the University at Albany Emeritus Center are joining the SUNY Retirees Service Corps as co-sponsors of this event, which will explore RSC and campus efforts to reach SUNY retirees online. Anyone who would like to attend as our representative is welcome, just inform our chair. Conference fee is $20 and the hotel $95/night.
NB: For information on this and the SUNY and national retiree organizations, click on other retiree organizations on our main website.