Hull transformed Union College, boosted neighborhood
Regarding George Shaw’s Oct. 13 letter concerning Roger Hull; George is a man for whom I have great respect, a man whom in my capacity as Union’s Dean of Faculty I hired to chair the Geology Department and a man who did an outstanding job as chairand a man who agrees with me on almost every matter, except an assessment of Roger Hull’s presidency of Union College.
When Roger left Union’s presidency in 2005, (not 2006), Union was very much stronger than when he arrived, regardless of what the much maligned U.S. News rankings might suggest. In fact, I can say with confidence that when Roger arrived, Union was at the lowest point in my long career with Union — I came in 1963.
Roger brought to Union exactly what we needed — imagination, energy, an unwillingness to be discouraged by difficult problems, an openness to new ideas, a willingness to take risks, and an aggressiveness in fundraising that allowed him to truly transform the face of the campus, most notably perhaps by restoring the College’s decaying symbol, the Nott Memorial, a National Historic Landmark, and by updating and expanding Schaffer Library, the heart of the academic life of the College.
Among several other important projects were the Yulman Theatre and the Taylor Music Center; both greatly enhanced the college’s cultural life and enriched students’ educational experience.
Roger Hull understood that the college could not prosper if the surrounding city was dying. So he literally saved a neighborhood that bordered the college, the area west of Seward Place. Gone are the drug houses and the dilapidated housing that spawned crime and produced little in the way of tax revenue. Nearby, the college also bought the bankrupt Ramada Inn and thus transformed a blighted corner.
One cannot accurately assess the relative success of a college president without the perspective of time. It has been a good 10 years since Roger Hull left the job; enough time has passed for at least a preliminary assessment.
As someone who served Union for over 40 years in various capacities as faculty member, administrator (four years under Roger Hull), as interim president, and as someone who has read more Union history than all but two or three people, I feel comfortable saying that the quality of Roger Hull’s performance as president is exceeded by very, very few of his predecessors.
James E. Underwood
The writer is a Chauncey Winters Professor of Political Science and Dean of the Faculty Emeritus.
Auffredou would make best Supreme Court justice
Election Day, Nov. 3, is fast approaching and I urge your readers to vote for Martin Auffredou for Supreme Court justice for the 4th Judicial District.
Martin has proven himself in both the private and public sectors of law, beginning in the late 1980s with his clerkship to Hon. D. Brock Hornby, justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine, his years with a private law firm in Glens Falls, and his current appointment as Warren County attorney.
I have known Martin for almost 30 years and consistently find him to be a solid citizen who is honest and fair, both personally and professionally. He is deeply respected by his colleagues and will be an asset to the New York State Supreme Court.
To learn more about Martin, please visit auffredou2015.com.
Drastic steps needed to curb gun violence
Gun violence in the Unites States has become epidemic with no end in sight. The main reasons for this are the Second Amendment giving people the right to bear arms and the virtual absence of gun regulations in many states. Those who do not want gun regulations are partially right when they say that guns don’t kill people, people do. Yes, people do, but it is people with guns who do the killing, the guns don’t do it by themselves.
If the United States is serious about reducing the abnormally high rate of gun violence to bring it in line with that of other “civilized” nations, the following need to be done: the Constitution should be amended allowing for the repeal of the Second Amendment; this should be accompanied by a billion dollar-plus buy back program, with a time limit set for turning in guns; and harsh penalties should be enacted for those possessing illegal firearms in violent crimes.
Gun ownership should be a privilege, not a right, as is presently the case. Guns are deadly weapons, and some guns, as we unfortunately have recently seen, can quickly kill many innocent people. It is axiomatic that the more guns that are available, the more likely that they will be used in acts of violence. So reducing their numbers and regulating their distribution is absolutely necessary.
This does not mean that people cannot own guns. Many in Canada, Australia, Japan and elsewhere where guns laws are strict possess guns for hunting and target shooting. But in these countries, acquiring a gun license means a careful background check and a test demonstrating proof of competency.
The Second Amendment made sense 200 years ago when a fledgling nation was being threatened by other, when there was a need to be able to assemble quickly an armed militia in an emergency, and when the standard household weapon was a muzzle loader that took time to reload. That era ended in the 1850s with the introduction of repeating rifles and pistols using cartridges. No repeal, however, was enacted. And the initially lawless Wild West was the result. Ironically, by the 1880s, stricter gun laws were enacted in the West to reduce gun violence than exist in the United States today.
In modern times, gun laws have been relaxed with a corresponding increase in gun mortalities. In marked contrast, in Canada where there was no second amendment and where guns sales and use have always been regulated the murder rate has continued low.
If Americans are truly serious about reducing gun violence, and saving lives, repeal of the Second Amendment is essential. There is simply no other way. The notion that arming more people will solve the problem is like throwing gasoline on a fire to extinguish it. It only makes it worse. A massive and costly buy back program is also necessary along with stiff mandatory penalties for anyone carrying out a violent crime using a gun. How likely is this to happen? Not very, given the power of gun lobbyists and the National Rifle Association. But it should. Otherwise we can expect the unabated continuation of gun murders and the death of many more innocent people.
Given the Second Amendment and lax gun laws, gun killings are now regular occurrences. This is a very sad situation that should no longer be ignored.
Charles A. Bishop