|March 15, 2007
The 17th Annual Polar Bear Walk and Run Series hit the finish line March 4 at the Olean YMCA, ending a five-race series that included 17 participants from the St. Bonaventure community.
The series consisted of two 5k runs, a 5-mile run, a 10k run, and a half marathon, held March 4. The races began and ended at the Olean YMCA, with the exception of the first 5k, run Jan. 1 on the St. Bonaventure campus.
Heather Jackson, co-director of the half marathon and SBU’s Registrar, said, “The race on Jan. 1 is a great way to start the new year, and the following races encourage me to keep up with my training.” Participants, who spend months prior to the series training and conditioning, are grouped according to their age and gender. Points are awarded to participants by comparison to others in the same grouping.
Kris Later, co-director of the half marathon and SBU Higher Education Opportunity Program employee, said, “It is a great opportunity for members of the local running community to meet up and compete against each other.”
There are also timed walks held at the same time as the Polar Bear runs.
A police escort was provided for race leaders as they passed through industrial areas, and corner marshals did their best to slow down oncoming cars when there were runners around, Later said.
“For next year we hope to come up with some different routes that do not cross railroad tracks. Passing trains delayed some runners this year and also two years ago,” said Dr. Darryl Mayeaux, assistant professor of psychology at St. Bonaventure.
Awards were given to participants who completed all five races and walkers who completed four of five. Awards were given for first and second place in each age group for both the half marathon and the overall series. To be eligible for the overall series award, a runner must have participated in three of the five races.
A number of members of the St. Bonaventure community received awards for their participation. Dr. Craig Zuckerman, chair of the department of counselor education, and Justin Isaman, a sophomore math major, finished first in the half marathon in their respective groups. Jackson placed second for her group in the half marathon.
For the entire race series, Zuckerman, Isaman, Heather Jackson and Mayeaux finished first in their age groups, while Later took second place.
The following SBU people participated in all five races: David Carpenter, retired psychology professor; Zuckerman; Later; Dr. David Levine, professor of computer science; Mayeaux; Jim Miller, professor of biology; Heather Jackson; and Dr. M.W. Jackson, professor of English.
Other participants from the St. Bonaventure community included: Alan Silliker, associate professor of counselor education; Jim DiRisio, director of admissions; Tom Hagen, cross-country coach; Mary Piccioli, dean of enrollment; Andy Shulha, senior finance major; and Cindy Johnson, graduate student in childhood literacy.
“We have an outstanding group of volunteers that help with the set up, registration and oversight of the races,” said Justin Gould, YMCA Polar Bear Series director and senior physical education major. Dr. Charles Walker, professor of psychology, volunteered his time to help, and Carpenter helped recruit volunteers. Mayeaux, Miller, Later, Carpenter and the Jacksons also volunteered as co-directors and organizers.
“The Polar Bear Series is a terrific and unique event that the Olean YMCA hosts each year,” Heather Jackson said. “The race has been around for many years and almost didn’t take place this year due to staffing issues, but the community pulled together and the series finished out yet another successful year. I’m proud to have participated in all of the events.”
St. Bonaventure University accounting students have given Southern Tier workers nearly a million reasons to smile the past four years.
The students have participated in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program since 2004 and are approaching $1 million in cumulative tax refunds, surpassing original expectations.
The VITA program brings federal and state income tax benefits to people with low and moderate incomes by providing free income tax preparation and e-filing.
St. Bonaventure students participate in a program that is geared toward workers who are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, a refundable income tax credit available to low-income workers with earned income.
The students work in pairs to support and supervise each other. They meet and interview the client, prepare his or her tax return, review the tax return and explain it to the client.
“These are real taxpayers and real tax returns, so this is real-life work experience,” said Dr. Susan Anders, associate professor of accounting. “To do a complete job, they supervise each other and they check each other’s work. So in addition to real professional work, they also obtain supervisory experience.”
Since New York state has a large state earned income credit, the largest of the 16 states with the credit, state officials thought VITA would be beneficial for low-income taxpayers to receive 100 percent of their refund without having to pay a tax preparer.
Anders said that since each county in New York does not have an IRS facility, the state made those counties’ Departments of Social Services responsible for the program. St. Bonaventure became involved at the invitation of the Cattaraugus County Department of Social Services and the United Way. The closest IRS offices are in Buffalo and Erie, Pa.
“We are doing this because the students wanted to do it,” Anders said. “We have averaged about 40 student volunteers per year, which is a pretty good size program, especially for such a small school. Let’s face it, as accountants we like money so we get just as excited about the tax refunds as the clients do. The students are very enthusiastic about preparing the tax returns and generating tax refunds.”
Anders said the first three years of the program were focused on expansion, and the current (fourth) year is focused on taxpayer education. The VITA program runs weekdays from Feb. 1 through April 13 in Olean. Last year, mobile Saturdays in other parts of the county were added to the rotation. “This year we are continuing with the Saturday sessions, for which we’ve had a good response,” Anders said. “We’ve added taxpayer education to make sure the taxpayers understand their tax returns. I also run a financial literacy program, which some of the VITA volunteers participate in. This year we’re going to set up our own financial literacy seminar for VITA clients.”
During the recent spring break, Anders and five students traveled to Houston to work in the Houston VITA program. Tony Annunziato, a 1971 graduate of St. Bonaventure, covered the students’ travel and hotel costs for the service trip as a reward for their prior VITA service.
The Houston group included Jesica Hendrick, Brian McCabe, Kaylin Ripley, Jennifer Sorokes and Justin Wild, all senior accounting majors and experienced VITA volunteers.
Anders said the main difference the Houston volunteers encountered is that Texas doesn’t have a personal state income tax. The Houston VITA program also offered the students an opportunity to prepare more difficult tax returns than they do in Cattaraugus County.
Jessica Hendrick enjoys working with the VITA program because the clients are so thankful for what the students do.
“I love seeing people so happy when they get a few hundred dollars back to support their family,” she said. “It is definitely an eye-opening experience meeting people that are less fortunate than what you are used to. We take so many things for granted in this world. You definitely realize that when you interact with the VITA clients.”
St. Bonaventure University
will host the second annual Business Research Consortium of Western New
York on April 20-21.
In addition to St.
Bonaventure, the annual conference will rotate among Niagara University,
St. John Fisher College, SUNY Geneseo and Canisius College. The first
conference was held at Canisius College last year.
Fr. Michael F. Cusato, O.F.M., director of the Franciscan Institute and dean of the School of Franciscan Studies at St. Bonaventure University, is featured in the March issue of the St. Anthony Messenger magazine (p.6) in their monthly column “Followers of St. Francis.”
The article is titled “Promoting the Justice to which the Poor have a Right.” It explains Fr. Michael’s approach to the Franciscan charism, based upon his reading of the early Franciscan movement.
Fr. Michael is a medieval historian by training, having received his Ph.D. from the University of Paris IV (Sorbonne) in 1991 and a master’s degree in Franciscan Studies from the Franciscan Institute in 1984.
The featured article goes on to elaborate how Fr. Michael’s understanding of the charism of the early Franciscan friars led him into activities promoting justice for the most disadvantaged of society and the peaceful resolution of human conflict. In the latter capacity, the article notes in particular his yearly participation in the efforts to close the “School of the Americas” which operates out of the American military base in Fort Benning, Ga.
The column also gives exposure to a number of current activities under way at the Franciscan Institute at SBU, including the international conference on John Duns Scotus to take place this fall on Oct. 18-21.
Nominate an outstanding faculty or staff member, student or organization for one of the Fr. Joe Doino, O.F.M., awards.
Give this person the recognition they
deserve. Nominations are due FRIDAY!
Rodney Paul, associate professor of economics in the Department of Finance, had the paper "The Role of Productivity Growth and Farmers' Income Protection Policies in the Decline of Relative Farm Prices in the United States" accepted for publication in the Journal of Policy Models.
All SBU faculty, staff and administrators
are welcome to all the Friday Forums.
The entire University community is invited to a brief ceremony beginning at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27, in the Rigas Family Theater. Individuals with 10 years of service and up will be recognized, with those reaching 25 years of service and our retirees receiving special recognition.
Our 25-year honorees include Mary Jane Baxter, Isabel Hamed, Mary Jane Telford and Ann Tenglund; retirees include Dr. Harold Gelfand, Dr. Michael Lavin, Mr. Patrick Premo, Dr. Samuel Sheldon, and Dr. Joseph Zampogna.
All are asked to come celebrate all of the special individuals who have been an important part of the University community for many years. Please mark your calendar and plan to attend!
- Sr. Margaret Carney, O.S.F., and the President's Cabinet