Department of Black Studies Spring Schedule of Events

A presentation, entitled “Unmasking Selective Memory [and/or Historical Amnesia]:  Images of African American History in the Hudson River Valley in Their Unaltered States,” kicks off an exciting spring roster of events from the Department of Black Studies.

The presentation, held from 7-9:30 p.m. in Lecture Center 102, features introductory remarks by Black Studies Professor A. J. Williams-Myers.  Susan Stessin-Cohn and Ashley Biagini from Historic Hugenot Street will speak on the topic, “Hidden Heritage.”

Anthropology faculty members Joseph Diamond and Ken Nystrom will also present topical research.  Diamond’s presentation is entitled, “Owned in Life, Owned in Death:  The Pine Street African and African-American Burial Ground in Kingston, New York.”  Nystrom’s presentation is entitled, “Dissection of African Americans and the embodiment of inequality in 19th Century United States.”

Other events include:

  • Wednesday, Feb. 12:   5-8 p.m., Lecture Center 100

African Diaspora Film Series Presentation of Better Mus’ Come by Director Storm Saulter

  • Wednesday, Feb. 19:  7-9 p.m., Lecture Center 108

“The New Plantation, New York City and State,” by Assistant Professor Zelbert Moore

  • Wednesday, March 26: 5-8 pm., Lecture Center 108

African Diaspora Film Series Presentation of 70: Remembering a Revolution by Director Alex DeVerteuil

  • Wednesday, April 30: 5-8 p.m., Lecture Center 108

African Diaspora Film Series Presentation of Life and Debt by Director Stephanie Black

Meet the James H. Ottaway Visiting Professor of Journalism

2014 James H. Ottaway Visiting Professor of Journalism Sonia Shah will be introduced to the campus community on Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 6 p.m. in the Honors Center in College Hall. President Christian will interview Shah about her life and journalism career. The event is free and open to the public.

Shah is an investigative journalist who covers science, human rights, and international politics. She is the author of several critically acclaimed and prize-winning books, including The Body Hunters: Testing New Drugs on the World’s Poorest Patients (New Press, 2006) and Crude: The Story of Oil (Seven Stories Press, 2004). Her latest book, The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years (Sarah Crichton Books/ Farrar, Straus & Giroux, July 2010), is based on five years of original reportage in Cameroon, Malawi, Panama, and elsewhere. Shah also served as the editor of the anthology Dragon Ladies: Asian American Feminists Breathe Fire (South End Press, 1997).

A former writing fellow of the Nation Institute and the Puffin Foundation, Shah is a frequent keynote speaker, and has lectured at universities and colleges across the country. Her writings on science, global health, and politics have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, The New York TimesScientific American, and Foreign Affairs among other publications. Her work has been supported by The Nation Investigative Fund and the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting.

Shah is teaching a journalism seminar this semester called “Science, Environment, and Disease: New Approaches to Science Journalism.”

If you have questions about Tuesday’s event, please email Lisa Phillips at

About the Professorship

The James H. Ottaway Sr. Visiting Professorship, SUNY New Paltz’s only endowed professorship, is named for the founder of Ottaway Newspapers Inc., now the Dow Jones Local Media Group, which operates print and online community media franchises in seven states. The flagship newspaper of the chain is the Times Herald-Record in Middletown, N.Y. For more information, visit .

Event Explores Use of Dogs in Helping Trauma Victims

The New Paltz Undergraduate Psychology Association and the Hudson Valley Psychological Association is hosting a free event featuring some of the top applied psychologists in the Hudson Valley who work on the topic of trauma and the role of dogs in helping trauma victims.

The event will be held Saturday, February 15, from 2-5 p.m. in the Coykendall Science Building Auditorium.

Topics include “Trauma sensitive courtrooms,” and the “Use of facility dogs in trauma-informed treatment and in the attachment-based group work with mothers and their babies.”  Presenters will discuss “Rosie Goes to Court,” the historic case of an 11-year-old Golden Retriever named Rosie.  Rosie accompanied an adolescent victim to court when she testified regarding sexual assault.  A professional dog trainer will also explain the training of facility dogs and give a demonstration with at least one dog that has finished the two-year training program.

Presenter Information:

David A. Crenshaw, Ph.D., ABPP, Clinical Director, Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie

Lori Stella, LCSW, Social Worker, Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie

Stephanie Carnes, LMSW, Social Worker for Young Mother’s Program, Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie

Sherry Burger, Professional Dog Trainer, Educated Canines Assisting Disabilities (ECAD)

Ace, 2-year-old trained Golden Retriever, Facility Dog at the Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie

This presentation is open for free to all HVPA members, non-HVPA members, lay people and of course all faculty, staff and students at SUNY New Paltz as well as students from other colleges

For more information, visit

Journalism Student Publishes Creative Nonfiction

Kelly Seiz

By Despina Williams Parker

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences junior Kelly Seiz has published a creative nonfiction piece in Sassafras Literary Magazine.

The story, entitled, “Pluck,” is a firsthand account of life as a trichotillomaniac, an obscure mental disorder similar to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in which those afflicted involuntary pull out their hair either unconsciously or deliberately under times of stress.  The following is an excerpt:

“The divorce is finalized and her mother wins primary custody. Kelly turns ten and they move off of her beloved mountain and down into the village. Soon after, the edges of Kelly’s eyelids grow bare. By now, she’s strategized that if she only plucks gradually, the main body of lashes will be enough to keep her secret hidden.

Middle school proves horrendous with her pudgy body and creepy eyes. The other children are starting to become opinionated, but remain unstructured enough to ask inappropriate questions and draw insensitive conclusions.

“Why do you only have some eyelashes?” Kelsey asks in the bathroom, her gaggle of mini-bitches eagerly waiting a response.

“I’ve always been like this,” Kelly responds flatly.

“But in elementary school you had eyelashes,” she asks undeterred. Their curiosity radiates like heat. Kelly’s cheeks grow hot.

The story published in Sassafras is a condensed version of Seiz’s much longer story.

Seiz, a Journalism major, was published three times last semester.  The other two pieces were published in the Legislative Gazette as collaborative pieces for James Gormley’s Public Affairs Reporting class.

“Fall 2013 was such a great semester for me.  I had so many amazing opportunities,” Seiz said.

To read more of “Pluck,” visit

Journalism Professor Explores Flash Fiction


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Professor Howard Good’s meditations on the literary genre known as flash fiction appeared in author Michael Alexander Chaney’s web blog,

Good described his own work in the genre as “prose poems,” that are unconstrained by conventional definitions of character or plot.

Good considers his work, “My Heart Draws a Rough Map,” published by Blue Hour Press in 2009, an example of an extended prose poem.  The book is told in a series of 19 related poems.

“I realized for perhaps the first time that I had found a form that was particularly congenial to my outlook and talents,” Good wrote.

While noting the difficulty of offering advice to young writers, Good urged writers to be willing to take risks.

“They shouldn’t be afraid to experiment — and fail. Trial and error can be a pretty good teacher. Refining my writing has proved to be a never-ending process. It’s searching in the dark for a black hat that isn’t there,” he wrote.

Good also urged young writers to submit their work for publication, the sooner the better. The submission process, Good noted, “toughens [writers] up for the inevitable bumps and bruises of a writing life.”

Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of 12 poetry chapbooks. He has been nominated four times for a Pushcart Prize and five times for the Best of the Net anthology. His first full-length book of poetry, Lovesick, was released in 2009 by Press Americana.

To read Good’s complete article, visit

10-Week Social Skills Clinic for Aspergers/Autistic Adolescents


The Department of Communication Disorders is offering a 10-week spring semester clinic for 7th – 11th graders with Aspergers or high-functioning autism to improve verbal and non-verbal communication skills in a variety of social interactions.

Therapy will be conducted in a group setting by undergraduate and graduate students in the Communication Disorders program, supervised by Wendy Bower, M.S. CCC-SLP—a New York State licensed and certified speech language pathologist and full-time faculty member. Large and small group interventions will be held with a maximum of 8-9 students in the large group.

When: Thursdays from 4:30-6:00pm beginning February 6, 2014. No clinic on March 20 or April 17.
Where: SUNY New Paltz Speech-Language and Hearing Center, in the Humanities Building on campus
Fee: $100 for the 10-week session; no charge for SUNY NP faculty/staff families

For more information or to sign up for the group, please contact Sandy DiStasi, the secretary in the Communication Disorders Department office at 257-3600, or e-mail Professor Bower at

ASL Shabbat Dinner

ASL Shabbat Flyer no info

ASL Shabbat Dinner (Partnering with New Paltz ASL Club)

Friday evening, December 13, 2013, I attended the American Sign Language (ASL) Shabbat dinner hosted by Rabbi Moshe Plotkin and his family at the Jewish Student Center on 10 South Oakwood here in New Paltz a block away from the college. They were partnering with the SUNY New Paltz ASL Club for this event. I had been asked by the ASL Club to assist with the sign interpreting. Although I was hesitant as I am not a certified interpreter and I do not know Hebrew, I agreed to help with facilitating the communication.

The special guest for the evening was Rabbi Soudakoff. Rabbi Soudakoff is one of four Deaf Rabbis in North America. He lives in Brooklyn and recently graduated from Rabbinical School. He is originally from Los Angeles CA and his parents and siblings are also Deaf. At the Shabbat he gave a presentation during the service about prayer and the need for a community to be together. During the dinner he told a story about a Deaf person from the Torah and shared words of wisdom about the need to know right from wrong. Also he talked about the experience of being Deaf and Jewish as being part of a double minority. He shared about his work with Deaf Jewish people in the United States, Russia and Israel. The use of ASL helped make his presentations visually meaningful.

There were over 40 students in attendance. Many of the students were from our ASL Club and Deaf Studies classes. It was great to be able to participate in this excellent event!

Check out Rabbi Soudakoff’s website:

–Dr. Elizabeth Hester, Communication Disorders Dept.