Emeritus Faculty Association news April 2013
Friday April 5th, 10.30am Javits Room, 2nd floor library. Steven Schwartz of BNL will talk on Energy, Carbon Dioxide, and Climate Change. "We get much of our energy by burning fossil fuels, stored solar energy. Carbon fuels are great, but as we now all know, they increase carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. What are the implications for climate and for our grandchildren? What can we do about this individually and collectively?"
Bio: Stephen Schwartz is a senior scientist at BNL. He graduated Magna cum laude from Harvard in 1963, earned his Ph.D. from the U. Cal., Berkeley in 1968, and was a Fulbright Post-Doctoral Fellow at Cambridge during 1968/69. From 1994-97 he was Assistant Professor of Chemistry at SBU. He served as the Chief Scientist of the Atmospheric Science Program of the U.S. Department of Energy from 2004 through 2009. He has been elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Fellow of International Union for Pure and Applied Chemistry. Schwartz is author or coauthor of over 130 papers published in peer-reviewed journals. He was editor of Trace Atmospheric Constituents (Wiley 1983), and was co-editor of a three volume series Precipitation Scavenging and Atmosphere -Surface Exchange (Taylor & Francis 1992). He is coauthor of Sea Salt Aerosol Production: Mechanisms, Methods, Measurements, and Models - A Critical Review, (American Geophysical Union 2004). For much of his career his research focused on the chemistry of atmospheric energy-related pollutants, for which the principal substances of concern were sulfur and nitrogen oxides emitted into the troposphere as byproducts of fossil fuel combustion; also their oxidation products, i.e., sulfuric acid and nitric acid and the salts of these. More recently his research interest has turned to understanding the response of Earth's climate system to the increase of carbon dioxide and other so-called forcing agents, substances which change the radiation budget of the planet, specifically including also the influences of atmospheric aerosols (submicroscopic particles suspended in air). Stephen Schwartz lives in Center Moriches, where he has a solar photovoltaic system on the roof and a hybrid gasoline-electric car in the garage.
Jonathan F. Levy, died at his home January 22, after a long battle with congestive heart failure. Deeply committed to theatre and education, his plays for adults and children were produced around the country and at Lincoln Center, Eugene O'Neill Playwrights Conference, and The Manhattan Theatre Club, where he was playwright-in-residence. He consulted on Arts in Education for the New York Board of Education and the National Endowment for the Arts, and chaired the development of the Theatre Arts curriculum for the International Baccalaureate, now used in over one hundred countries. Besides distinguished teaching professor in Theatre Arts at USB, where he was named Outstanding Teacher of Theatre in American Higher Education (1996), he was visiting professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education. A memorial service was held at Faculty House, Columbia University on January 31. Contributions may be made to Doctors Without Borders.
Health News: (Judy Wishnia)
For prescriptions we are now in medicare part D and there will be new rates for the IRMAA (Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount). Based on your 2010 income, if it is over $85,000 for individuals and $170,000 for couples, you will have to pay more. By that income, the new monthly payment amounts are as follows: $85,000/$107,000: $11.60, $107,000/$160,000: $29.50, $160,000/$214,000: $48.10, over $214.000/$428,000: $66.40. Since many of our members are members of TIAA/CREF, and have to take out a percentage of their retirement funds each year, many of will find that their income is now at a level where they will pay more. NYSUT is trying to get a reimbursement as they did for Part B IRMAA, but a real danger is the institution of a means test. This year it is $85,000 but given our current congress, who is to say that in the future it won't be lowered to $60,000 or even less, making it a "welfare" entitlement rather than an insurance policy for all, rich and poor.
A new tentative contract has been negotiated which has no implications for current retirees. The only change will be for people beginning retirement. Since people are living longer, the state has changed the actuarial tables. This means that the sick days which cover the cost of the Empire plan will run out faster than for current retirees, whose life expectancy (actuarial tables) were calculated at the time of retirement. The UUP does have a suit still pending in federal court which is arguing the 2% across the board increase in the cost of retiree health coverage for all retirees that occurred in October 2011.
Our members might also be interested in the news that NYSUT has initiated a suit against the tax cap. The loss of that income has meant the loss of 30,000 k-12 teachers in NY State. Many schools have dropped music and art, but especially at the smaller schools, other more basic courses are suffering: no foreign language, cuts in math programs, etc. Remaining teachers are overwhelmed by increased teaching loads and paper work needed for evaluations. Even though many people are happy that their taxes will not rise, there is a growing awareness that education is being eroded and that is bad for NY.
Kristen Nyitray, Head, Special Collections and University Archives/University Archivist, spoke about her department which was founded in 1969 primarily in order to acquire, organize, preserve, and provide access to the historical materials of the university, but which by now includes much historical material of importance for the surrounding geographical area as well as the nation. These include of course the George Washington letters of 1779/1780 (with descriptions of how to conceal intelligence). The historical map collection includes the first map (circa 1635) showing Long Island, then called Matouwac. Other special collections are the papers of Senator Jacob K. Javits, as well as the largest collection on W. B. Yeats outside of Ireland, and the world's largest collection of English language Chinese cookbooks(!) Go to the departmental website (click on libraries, then special collections from the USB main site) to see many more; for example, an expansive collection on Agent Orange and its effects from the time of the Vietnam War, and the official repository of the environmental organization EDF (co-founded by member Charles Wurster).
The University Archives section of the department is the repository of all university dissertations and theses, as well as works by Stony Brook authors and editors, and photographs and accounts of the university history. This includes the book From the ground up: a history of the State University of New York at Stony Brook by our chair. Our members are encouraged to offer historical material from their possession that document university history (faculty papers are limited to those who have been instrumental in the development of their fields). The collections include 25,000 books, 750 maps, 33,000 digital images, among other documents, some of which require humidity and temperature control and other special preservation measures.
Much of the material can be accessed through STARS, the university on-line library catalog. For those materials not on-line, access is only by appointment on the premises (non-circulating, no pens, only pencils!). Materials can also be fetched from other archives, as for example at Yale and Harvard, for examination on site.
Finally the department gives public talks. Two coming up are March 28, on Italian literature, and April 10 on Chinese food and health (followed by tasting).
It should be noted that Kristen does all this with a staff of one and a minimal budget. Much of the materials have come from gifts and grants.
The talk was followed by a tour of the department second floor facilities where we saw some of the historic documents and maps, and a selection of photos from the beginnings of the university, including two of the very early troublemakers, Robert deZafra and Walter Watson.
About half way around the acorn trail of the Avalon preserve your correspondent has often passed by a small hole in a tree trunk at ground level, used on and off over the years as a home by some small animal. Earlier this year, a local artisan decorated it by attaching two tiny swinging doors, and just in front, a table and chairs set for a picnic with an "icing cake" fashioned from a tiny barnacle shell. Even after vandalism and epic snow it survives still* (photo on the website version of this newsletter). Truly a charming scene right out of Lewis Carroll.
Of course the creatures of Carroll's wonderland reflected the righteousness and pomposity of Victorian society. But today, are things much different? No less than in Carroll's court of the Queen of Hearts, in the U.S. House of Cards they have to run twice as hard just to stop sliding backwards. And on the world croquet grounds, it is still sentence before verdict.
"The idea of having the sentence first!" scoffed Alice. "Off with her head!" cried the Queen. "Stuff and nonsense!" exclaimed Alice, "The creatures here do order everyone about so". Indeed, right in front of the swinging doors of his home, they were all trying to bully the poor Dormouse into letting them take over his picnic table for some kind of tea party. "The Dormouse is asleep again" said the Mad Hatter, and poured the tea over it's head. But somehow, as he was doing so, he seemed to be morphing into a professor pouring coffee into a cup, - who then strode to a microphone and announced: "To start off our proceedings today, Alice will recite a short poem". Now Alice could see that the whole scene had changed into the annual Provost's Emeritus Luncheon! "Well, I do remember one" said Alice brightly, "It is called Father William I think."
You are old Mr. Merrytasse, and in student thoughts,
your legs are as frail as your eyes.
Yet you biked here cross campus in shorts.
Do you think, at your age, it is wise?
- I do very well with these creaky old bones,
except for continually mowing
down students all texting iphones,
and not looking where they are going.
You are old, said the youth, with no teeth to crunch
on anything tougher than suet.
Yet you wolfed down three helpings of provostial lunch.
Pray, how did you manage to do it?
- In my prime, my young friend, on lecture hall floor,
I could argue the wax from your ears.
And the muscular strength which it gave to my jaw,
has lasted the rest of my years.
"That's not said right", grumbled the Gryphon, who promptly got up and stalked out. "Not quite right, I'm afraid" said Alice timidly, "The words seemed to get altered as they came out of my mouth". But she could say no more, because right then an imposing fellow with a mustache to match, stood up to make a speech:
The time has come, the Walrus said, to speak of many things . . .
"Oh dear!" Alice whispered, "After all the strange things that have happened, I'm afraid I might fall asleep just like the Dormouse". But a kindly emeritus professor sitting next to her said: "Not to worry -
We are but older children, dear,
who fret to find their bedtime near."
Footnote: Note that the luncheon is a week later than usual this year (May 17 - add to your diary). Since President Stanley will be on hand to answer questions, there will be no danger of anyone sleeping.
* Scene now sadly vandalized once more (3-26).