Democracy Without Politics
Work & Play
Passion for the Climb
Life of the Mind
Arts & Culture
New, Noted & Quoted
Get to Know
Alumni Bulletin Board
Marriages & More
Update Member Profile
Each edition of the
features profile conversations with students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
In this edition:
Johanna Hunter '82
Conor Tucker '10
Marianne Crosley '80
Laboratory technician, biology department
Photo by Andrew Daddio
“I directly support laboratory courses that the faculty teach, by ordering and setting up supplies. I consistently support BIOL 211: Evolution, Ecology, and Diversity, and I work on additional courses that lie in my area of expertise — usually, anything to do with ecology or animals.”
Taming of the shrew:
“One of the coolest things that has come from me taking care of the animals for the department is that I have helped fine-tune the husbandry for Professor Tim McCay’s colony of shrews. We take care of the Least Shrew, and our colony is around 80. They have little water bottles, and they get fresh food every morning. Their cages get cleaned twice a week, so we scrape all the shrew poo out of the bottom. When I’m cleaning them, I think I should invite Mike Rowe from [Discovery Channel’s]
Other critter care:
“This past fall, Professor Nancy Pruitt wanted to do a study on snakes in one of her courses. With the help of others, I field collected garter snakes and had to house them. [We fed them] goldfish that had magnets in their bellies, and by moving a compass along the snake’s body, the students could track the food bolus. By keeping the snakes in different temperatures, they tested whether warm snakes digest more quickly than cold snakes. They do, and it was interesting for the students to see.”
Circle of life:
“I went to school in the Morrisville-Eaton School District, attended Cornell, and came back here. I was planning my wedding to my high school sweetheart and finishing up at Cornell. [When I saw the ad for the job at Colgate] I thought, what are the chances that a job where I can use my biology education would open up in Madison County? My family and my husband’s family are around here, so this is where I wanted to live.”
Itching for biology:
“I grew up on a dairy farm in Eaton. I wanted to be a large-animal veterinarian, but I developed allergies to hay and horses, so I switched to biology. Now I’ve become allergic to the rats and mice here, so when I’m working, I look like I’m fighting off Ebola. I have to be completely garbed up, or I’ll get hives.”
The science of chaos:
“My favorite part of the job can also drive me crazy — everything’s always new and in flux. The technicians are always busy, making sure things are ready in time for the lab period. When classes aren’t in session, we ensure that the equipment is operational, organize, clean, and restock — all of the things that help when you’re in the middle of handling the mini-emergencies that come up.”
Helping with the Ho Science Center:
“The technicians’ opinions were solicited because we think in logistical terms about the layout and design of a lab. It was neat to meet with the architects and go over the plans, making red x’s where we didn’t think things should be and drawing arrows where things should be moved.”
Most unique thing in her office:
“My plaster snake. This office used to belong to Professor John Novak, who retired recently, and he left that snake behind.”
“My husband and I have two daughters, a son, a dog, and a cat. I’m a proud mom!”
Charles A. Dana Professor of history
Photo by Andrew Daddio
Spring semester courses
History Workshop; U.S. in Vietnam, 1945–1975; and U.S. Foreign Policy, 1776–1917
What brought you to Colgate?
We were hired in 1988 as a couple — I in history and Padma [Kaimal] in art history. We’d just had our first child and thought it would be a nice place to raise our family. And, professionally, Colgate strikes a good balance between teaching and research.
What are your current research projects?
One project is a response to the book
Protestant, Catholic, and Jew: An Essay in American Religious Sociology
by Will Herberg. It’s about the assimilation of religious and ethnic groups in American life during the twentieth century. I had this idea that several of us at Colgate who grew up in the mid-1950s should respond autobiographically to the book. I’m working with Tim Byrnes [political science professor], who grew up Catholic. I grew up as an assimilationist Jew in Wisconsin. And Lynn Staley [English professor] has written a piece about growing up a southern Baptist. Rebecca Chopp will be writing the introduction to the three essays.
The long-term project I’m working on has to do with the five senses and empire. I’m interested in comparing the American imperial experience in the Philippines with the British imperial experience in India, and I want to do it across the spectrum of the senses. We privilege what we see, but empire was transacted in many ways, only some of them having to do with the sight. It was also about hearing, about smelling; it was about how other people and other substances felt, and it was also about taste.
Discuss why you love history.
I like studying the past to understand why things are as they are now, which is why I teach recent U.S. history and the history of U.S.-foreign relations. And, frankly, I like history as a story. It is a narrative of human experience. So, when I teach history here, I tell a lot of stories. Collectively, they teach lessons about why humans did what they did and why we are what we are today.
Did going to school during the Vietnam War influence your career path?
Enormously. I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, which was a hotbed of antiwar activities. I was in demonstrations in high school and college at Cornell University. But I was in a demonstration one day and it got angry [and violent]. That soured the activism part of the anti-war movement for me. But I was still very interested in exploring it from an intellectual or academic sense. So, I wrote a long paper on the origins of the Vietnam War in my senior year of college, and I carried that interest to graduate school. It was very influential in getting me interested in U.S.-foreign relations.
If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be?
Jawaharlal Nehru, the great Indian nationalist, the first prime minister, and foreign minister of India until his death in 1964. I’d like to talk to him about his philosophy of life. And I’d talk to him about issues of the post-war world, like the end of colonialism, nationalism, and the establishment of a new state. I’d also talk to him about teaching, because I think at bottom he was a teacher. He taught his people by leading them.
Vice President and Dean for Diversity
What are the biggest misconceptions about what you do?
That it’s civil rights work. No, this is business work. I’m not championing a cause; I’m championing the mission of an institution. We need to make sure everyone’s rights are protected through our structure, and foster a culture where everyone feels they are part of the community. And it’s not only dealing with inclusiveness, but also interpersonal relations; we are in a new global environment, so we need to do things a little differently. Also, as a provost at another school once said to me about diversity, an institution is like a large luxury liner cruising the Caribbean. You can’t just abruptly change its direction. At the time, I was offended by that; it sounded like a cop-out, like that person wasn’t as enthusiastic about seeing change happen as I was. But seeing how it unfolds realistically on a campus, it does take time.
Tell us about your family.
My wife, Donna, and I have been married for 27 years. Our younger son, Saveon, is in college in Florida. Keenan Jr. is living with us and getting ready to go back to school, and our daughter, Nicolette, is a budget analyst for the Maryland state government.
Name something people might be surprised to learn about you.
I think a lot of people see me as a very straightforward person, always concerned about business, but I like to let my hair down. At a recent all-staff meeting, I quoted Dr. Seuss to make a point!
How do you approach your work?
My credo comes from Aristotle: “Excellence is an art form won by training and habituation. We are what we repeatedly do.” Think of excellent organizations. What have they been doing to maintain their excellence? They have a set of habits. It’s about repeating those habits.
Mentoring is a huge piece of it. I think what makes me unique in my position is that I spent time as a faculty member, so I know how to develop relationships with students as well as colleagues. Former students still ask me, “How should I handle this?” And I got a call yesterday from a former colleague I mentored when he was an assistant professor, who now has three different major offers on the table. That’s very gratifying.
What have you observed in your first months here?
I came in asking to meet people, have a lot of conversations, and build relationships. It takes a good year to do that, and I thought I was going to have somewhat of a honeymoon period, but, as you know, the racial incidents back in November spun things off. But I think they also caused a groundswell of interest in diversity; not just people talking, but also organizing.
The faculty and administration have begun to tackle communication blockages, and that’s been great. Students are being held accountable for their behavior. It’s not just the job of the president or the chief diversity officer to change climate. It’s everyone’s job, including the people who the climate ultimately and directly impacts. I’m very proud of the students who pushed for changes. I’ve seen them get a sense that they also have to be stewards of what takes place here. Now I challenge them to not leave here angry, but to stay connected as alumni.
The outreach the staff is making toward alumni of color is purposeful, sophisticated, and sincere. That part will tell a new tale: people who have disassociated will begin to reconnect. You’ll see it in terms of support, who shows up for reunions, what they are doing in their communities on behalf of Colgate, and who comes to Colgate out of those communities.
What keeps you up at night?
The scope and magnitude of the work. In addition to chief diversity officer, I’m also the affirmative action officer. If we don’t make diversity a habit like eating, drinking, and breathing, we won’t be able to compete. It’s going to impact this institution in ways we’ve never even dreamed of. But also, I want things to work so perfectly. I really believe in helping people. I often ask the question, have I done all that I can do?
How do we acknowledge intolerance that happens and move forward?
We still have individuals in society who have not been able to embrace the idea of diversity, equity, and inclusivity. But we can’t be held hostage by people who are going to do evil deeds. Everybody has involvement — a concerted diversity program is not controlled by me. We are creating a layer of accountability for ourselves, establishing new expectations, and putting things into place to be able to answer the problem.
Johanna Hunter ’82
– Alumni Council member since 2007; class
president since 1982; career adviser, admission volunteer; reunion chair; class agent
– Chief, Watersheds and Nonpoint Source Branch, New England Region, Environmental Protection Agency
– Community work: Concord, Mass., Natural
Resource Committee; coach and president,
Concord Carlisle Youth Soccer League
Tell us about your job.
I manage a staff that addresses what’s called watershed or nonpoint source pollution — pollutants from the road or ground, such as fertilizers, that flush into streams and lakes. We partner with states and local communities to come up with balanced, smart approaches, so that if a mall or a residential development is built, they put in things like rain gardens and porous pavement to lessen the impact of runoff. I’m also active in working to restore Long Island Sound.
What do you like most about your work?
About five years ago, we put in fish passageways in two urban river settings. If you had asked anybody in downtown Providence, would they ever see fish return to the river system, they would have said, ‘Not in your lifetime.’ Being there with communities to celebrate that we are bringing the environment back, to watch them start to believe that there’s value again in their river — that’s success.
Is there an item in your office that you treasure?
I went to St. John’s a few years ago (I just love being in the water) and found a wonderful little stone sea turtle that I keep near my computer. It reminds me of a great vacation.
Tell us about your family.
I’m very lucky. I have two daughters: Marissa, who is eighteen, and Jamie, who is fifteen. They are smart, funny, independent, really good athletes, real fun to have around. My husband, Dave Potter, works in systems engineering for Mitre Corp.
Would you go on a bungee jump?
Absolutely. I would love to do it with my family because they’d figure it would be very cool. It would be neat to do it in an exotic setting, like with a mystical rainforest nearby.
What is important to you in serving on the Alumni Council?
I wanted to provide real feedback on the things we can do to move Colgate forward. I think about how we make sure Colgate can remain affordable in a tough economic climate, and I’d like Colgate to become more proactive on the green front. I also wanted to serve as a sounding board for other alumni. If anyone wants to reach out, I hope they will e-mail me (
Conor Tucker ’10
Photo by Andrew Daddio
At the age of 21, Conor Tucker has already lived in 13 different cities, from Twentynine Palms, Calif., to London, England. You guessed it: his father is in the military. “I didn’t know that everyone in the world didn’t move every two years until I was in fifth grade,” he joked.
“I just thought that was life.”
Moving around so much taught Tucker to make friends quickly and adjust to new schools. He credits his mother for his education, saying it’s “one of the best gifts you can give someone.” A teacher, his mother researched where the best schools were in the area they were moving to and then decided where they would live. Tucker said his patchwork education is why he loves learning — which is obvious when you meet the Charles A. Dana Scholar, member of Phi Eta Sigma, director of the Student Lecture Forum (SLF), and treasurer of Masque and Triangle.
A firm believer that learning is not confined to walls, Tucker has been most active in the SLF, a group that “connects classroom and campus,” he explained.
As a sophomore, he started the Colgate Policy Institute, an “undergraduate think tank” that uses interdisciplinary studies to examine policy questions. The following semester, he was invited to Slovenia to deliver a presentation about the group at the International Conference on Argumentation, Rhetoric, Debate and the Pedagogy of Empowerment.
Tucker’s most recent quest for knowledge took him to London, first with the university’s history study group and then through a Stickles grant from the history department to continue research for his honors thesis about the British and American diplomatic reactions to the 1866 Fenian invasion of Canada. During the study group, he saw as much of England as his limited budget would allow. “Every Sunday, I’d get on a train and see how far twenty pounds would take me in whatever direction I was going.”
A history major and Middle Eastern Studies minor, Tucker’s interest in military diplomatic history stems from his father’s work. His father, a commander, was wounded in Iraq when Tucker was in high school, and the two became very close over e-mail. “I’d get stories from him about the differences in culture, and it started to fascinate me,” Tucker said. This led to his desire to learn Arabic, which he is studying through Colgate’s foreign languages program.
This summer, Tucker hopes to interview his father and his father’s officers in order to piece together a history of the 2004 Fallujah conflict. He’d then like to travel to Iraq to interview insurgents — all part of a second thesis for Colgate.
Although Tucker “tries not to have free time,” he admitted that he does enjoy chess — perhaps because, as he said, “it’s all about how you move where you’re moving.”
— Aleta Mayne
Marianne Crosley ’80
– Member, Colgate’s Board of Trustees, eight years; instrumental in revising the board bylaws, streamlining them and ensuring that they meet best practices
– Class president since graduation; “retired” after 12 years on the Alumni Council
– JD, Ohio State University
Photo by Andrew Daddio
Colgate is one of many organizations to which you give your time. Why is this type of service important?
I feel strongly that there is a responsibility to give back where it will make a difference in the lives of others. Colgate is my highest priority, because serving here offers the opportunity to impact the lives of young people. From the classroom to the extracurricular experiences, Colgate was instrumental in giving me the knowledge, passion, and skills that have served me well through my adult life. I honestly cannot imagine how different my life would be had I not spent four years at Colgate.
What are your strengths as a volunteer leader?
I strive to be a good leader by staying informed and involved with the stakeholders of the organization. I try to stay engaged not only with alumni, but also with students, faculty, administrators, and even prospective students — to understand their needs and use this knowledge as a guide to act in the best interests of Colgate.
Class of ’80 Reunions are legendary. What makes them stand out?
The Class of ’80 is a standout in a multitude of ways! While our amazing band “151” draws everyone to the Class of ’80 tent until the sun rises, it is really another more somber time at Reunion that we all treasure. We have always gathered at our class memorial near Alumni Hall late Saturday afternoon to take time to remember our classmates who have gone before us. Someone speaks on behalf of every classmate, and it is a powerful moment that cements us as a class. Almost everyone participates and all are moved by the experience.
Who were your most influential professors?
Margaret Maurer and Martha Olcott. Professor Maurer brought (and still brings) an unparalleled enthusiasm and passion to her teaching and a tremendous energy to student life activities. She constantly reached out to students to push them to exceed their limits and instilled her love of learning in every student she could. Professor Olcott was my adviser, and she shared her love of politics and international relations with her students and was always available to them. Our senior seminar met at her home for wine and cheese every Tuesday evening and involved several intense hours of teaching and debate that might not have occurred in the same way in a classroom setting.
How has the campus changed since your time here as a student?
The facilities have grown and improved, but the presence of spirit, intellectual discourse, and the close ties with faculty have not changed. I constantly hear about how unique Colgate students are in their ability to relate to others, network, and successfully execute a project. The student spirit remains the same.
How did being a multi-sport athlete impact your Colgate experience?
By today’s standards I would not be an athlete at all, but with so few women at Colgate then, and sports for women really just evolving, anything was possible. There is nothing quite like the community one builds spending hours practicing, traveling, and competing with teammates. The discipline of sports and the challenge of constantly striving to improve and succeed were valuable life lessons.