SU People


Schmitt Shoots!!


Robert Moreno |
Diversity in Child Development

Robert Moreno was led to his life’s work by noticing something wasn’t right. As a graduate student at Stanford University studying cognitive development in Mexican American families, he came across what was considered a very influential paper on the topic. But the information didn’t ring true for Moreno, now a child and family studies professor in the College of Human Services and Health Professions. “I remember thinking, ‘This is wrong,’” says Moreno, who grew up in Los Angeles in a Mexican American family. “But I didn’t know exactly why, so I’ve spent the rest of my academic career developing the skills to articulate why I believed that information was incorrect.”

Moreno discovered that most research was based on white, middle-class families. “The literature suggested that we should all be interacting with children in one certain way, which didn’t necessarily serve other ethnic groups,” he says. Much of his research explores the role of the family in the education of young children, especially in Hispanic and Latino families. His goal is two-fold: to provide a better theoretical understanding of the diversity of child development paths in the United States; and to understand the specific teaching strategies and resources of various cultures to provide a broader range of options to parents and educators. “As the demographics in the United States become more diverse, it becomes increasingly important to study cultural variations in parental teaching styles and their impact on children’s success in school,” he says. “Educators need a variety of strategies to teach a diverse population.”

His most recent study, funded by the National Academy of Education and the Spencer Fundation, observed the way Mexican American mothers teach their children the alphabet. With a grant from the American Educational Research Association/Institution of Educational Sciences, he is currently studying the role of Mexican American fathers in the early teaching of their children. “There is a push for parents to become more involved, but little direction is offered beyond that,” he says. “As early childhood educators, we’re trying to establish a bridge between school and the family. We’re preparing families, not just children, for school. This research will influence how we ask families to get more involved.”

Moreno describes himself as a “process teacher” who focuses on developing students’ critical reasoning skills. “My classes are very discussion-based—more of an interaction and a dialogue than a lecture,” he says. He often invites speakers from local child development agencies and schools to address his students. Moreno also encourages students to conduct their own research by observing and comparing community agencies. “It’s important for them to make connections between theory and practice,” he says. “It’s even more important for them to learn to think critically, because they will be making decisions that affect people’s lives.”

Child development plays as large a role in Moreno’s personal life as it does in his professional life. He and his wife, Ramona, who works in the early childhood program at the Westside Learning Center in Syracuse, have five children, ranging in age from 7 to 18 years old. “Having five children is a job in itself,” Moreno says. “My family is the focus of my free time, and my favorite hobby.”

Schmitt Shoots!!

Radha Ganesan |
Achievement with Purpose

Inspired by the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, Radha Ganesan G’00, G’04 believes in and strives to live by his words: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” As a sixth-grader in Hyderabad, India, she started an evening school for the slum children of her neighborhood and organized a variety of extracurricular activities for her peers. “Service has been a big component of my life,” she says. “You can’t just have an intellectual conversation about everything. You have to act.”

Ganesan, a doctoral student in the instructional design, development, and evaluation program (IDDE) of the School of Education, chose her field of study with the goal of serving others. “The reason I got into education was because I did not believe the educational system in India brought out the best in me,” she says. “I wanted to fix it.” She studied psychology at St. Francis College for Women in India before coming to the United States in 1994 to pursue a master’s degree in special education at the University of Cincinnati. She earned a master’s degree in IDDE at Syracuse and stayed for her doctoral work, an experience she describes as intense, but worth the effort. “Getting a Ph.D. gives you time for reflection and affects your outlook on life,” she says. “It has shaped who I am today.”

Professor J. Michael Spector, chair of the IDDE program, got to know Ganesan when she worked with him as a graduate assistant. “She’s a sincere person who takes her studies and life seriously,” he says. “Her goal is to make a positive change in the world through educational technology.” He notes her work with the International Board of Standards for Training, Performance, and Instruction and her dissertation, which examines the competencies required for online teachers. “She is already starting to make an impact,” he says.

Ganesan is active in the SU chapter of Asha for Education, an organization dedicated to reducing socioeconomic disparity in India by promoting education for underprivileged children. She received a 2003 Syracuse University Women of Influence Award for her work with the organization, and a 2003 Ganders Merit Award, honoring her leadership potential, academic performance, community service, and broad perspectives in the field of education.

In everything, Ganesan seeks to serve. Last summer, a “sofa for sale” ad launched a unique friendship with an elderly woman who lived in the apartment next door. “She said she was moving to a retirement home because she couldn’t cook for herself anymore,” Ganesan says. “My heart just melted. I started cooking for her that day, and she’s become my ‘grandma.’ I always joke about it and say, ‘Buy a couch, get a grandma for free.’” The woman has since moved into a retirement home in Utica, New York, where Ganesan visits her once a week. “It’s not about the amount of time you spend with someone,” she says. “It’s the quality of the relationship.”

After completing her doctorate, Ganesan wants to work on educational projects with developing countries. She believes problems in educational systems are linked to larger social issues and thinks the two must be solved together. Beyond her career, she intends to continue living by her service mantra. “I really believe in the idea of paying it forward,” she says. “There are so many people responsible for where I am today. In the same way, I want to be directly responsible for the betterment of other lives.”


Schmitt Shoots!!

Horace Campbell |
Freeing Young Minds

Emerging from the Rastafarian movement and the revolutionary messages of musician Bob Marley, Jamaican-born Horace Campbell seeks to transform society so it validates all people and charts a course for peace. “I am the product of the civil rights and worldwide independence struggles,” says Campbell, an African American studies and political science professor in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School. “At that revolutionary moment, our attempt was to create a new world. How can we incorporate the intellectual and knowledge systems of all human beings into a new system that doesn’t place one superior to another? This is what I want to do.”

While he hopes to develop a framework for all societies, Campbell focuses in his latest book on the conflicts in Zimbabwe. In Reclaiming Zimbabwe: The Exhaustion of the Patriarchal Model of Liberation (David Philip Publishers, 2003), he examines how Africans incorporated British colonial ideas of male domination into their government and daily interactions, resulting in a continued cycle of warfare and violence. Campbell suggests the country can reclaim its heritage by retreating from militarism and building a new society based on principles of peace and respect for others. “Peace is not just the absence of war,” he says. “You can’t stop the violence simply by having two warriors come to a table and sign a peace treaty, because the principles of warfare continue. You have to change the fundamental ideas of the society that lead to the enslavement of others. That takes time.” For example, early American history depicts how whites were considered superior to blacks, and men greater than women, he says. Generations later, the country still struggles to adapt the values of equality.

In his classes, Campbell hopes to expand students’ minds to challenge their paradigms and to recognize the lens through which they view the world. Campbell, for instance, points out to students that European colonialists believed Africans’ relationship with nature was backward or savage; yet they dominated nature and drained the natural resources from their own countries, while Africans preserved nature and wildlife. “Today, pharmaceutical companies have appropriated that African knowledge to turn it into medical products and revenue for themselves,” he says. “Africans’ knowledge of plants, animals, and genetic materials comes from thousands of years of preservation. We need to recognize the healing power of Africa.” He also shows students how African cultures for centuries have employed knowledge of mathematical fractals—a concept characterized by the repetition of similar patterns at ever diminishing scales. Campbell says African communities employ similar concepts in the way they braid hair, design bowls, tell stories, and even build round dwellings in circular formations. “Mathematicians are teaching fractals, but they neglect to mention its roots in African culture,” Campbell says. “And where did literature begin? Who invented writing and paper? Africans. That’s not incorporated into our educational system or into what we teach our children to look up to. Our challenge is to democratize the system and create a genuinely anti-racist curriculum that teaches the real history of humanity, not simply the history of Europe.”

As a scholar who hopes to create a knowledge system based on human values, Campbell continuously seeks opportunities to learn—through books, travel, and his interactions with others. The former director of the Division of International Programs Abroad’s (DIPA) center in Harare, Zimbabwe, he recently spent a semester teaching and learning at the DIPA center in Madrid; was a guest lecturer at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland; and gave the keynote address at the University of the West Indies. “One of my passions is gathering new knowledge, and I delight in expanding someone else’s perspective,” he says. “When students recognize another perspective, they come alive, and so do I.”

Schmitt Shoots!!

Mariana Lebrón |
Getting a Good Start

The first-year student experience at college can drastically affect academic success and future careers. Perhaps no one knows this better than Mariana Lebrón, director of the Office of Orientation and Transitions Services. “The success of new students is extremely important to the University,” Lebrón says. “Students bring with them new ideas, approaches, and ways of examining critical societal issues. Syracuse University needs to provide an environment in which they feel supported and challenged to take those ideas to new levels and make them happen.”

Since the office was established in May 2003, Lebrón has been busy facilitating discussions with students, faculty, and staff to determine what makes new students thrive at SU. “The office is at the beginning of an incredible endeavor to make a significant impact on the lives of students,” Lebrón says. “The chance to be a part of this and to develop a new office is an honor and a privilege.”

Her biggest accomplishment has been organizing Syracuse Welcome Weekend: A Slice of SU Life, a student orientation program now in its second year. The weekend involves hundreds of SU community members, who volunteer to help move in new students, provide campus directions and information, set up tents for events, and assist with such festivities as ice cream socials, comedy performances, and trips to the New York State Fair. The weekend also features academic advising sessions, the Chancellor’s Convocation, and the Shared Reading Program, which help set students on a successful academic path. “Everyone comes together and works so hard,” Lebrón says. “The weekend really reflects well on the SU community.”

The main focus for Lebrón is designing activities that help first-year students make the transition to SU, socially and academically. She has started chat programs for students to meet and talk with each other about issues that are important to them. She is also working on a newsletter for new students and establishing a listserv, so she can communicate with students about their concerns more quickly and efficiently. The office also collaborates with other campus offices to co-sponsor programs, speakers, and discussions geared toward new students. “I’ve found that students want to connect with others through clubs and organizations,” she says. “Students want to take on leadership roles, and they want to be engaged in critical issues when they arrive at SU.”

According to Lebrón, everyone on campus plays a role in new student success, whether it’s a faculty member who takes extra time to answer a student’s questions, a staff member who is a role model for a work-study student, or an upper-class student who serves as a peer advisor. Lebrón strives to do her part by meeting with new students several times a year to talk about SU’s offerings. “One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is when students call me to get involved,” she says.

Lebrón started working at SU in 2000 as the assistant director of residence life and leadership initiatives. She supervised full-time staff, oversaw four residence halls, and was at the helm of a leadership development program for students. Before coming to SU, Lebrón worked at Kansas State University as the assistant director of college advancement for student life. “I came to SU because I read that its vision at that time was to be a leading student-centered research university,” she says. “I believe that is everything higher education should aim to be.”

Lebrón’s positive experience at SU has encouraged her to create a first-year program that she hopes, in the future, will set standards of excellence for other institutions to follow. She is confident this goal will be achieved. “Helping facilitate the development and implementation of the first-year experience is a great opportunity,” she says. “Celebrating our students and helping them succeed is truly exciting.”

Schmitt Shoots!!

M. Bryan Legaspi |
Leading By Example 

M. Bryan Legaspi ’02, G’05 leads by example. Whether he stands before his platoon of Army ROTC cadets for their early morning workout, presents a Student Life Committee report before the University Senate, speaks on behalf of commuting students before the University Parking Committee, or volunteers to take on an assignment in his legal contracts class, he lives the life of a natural leader. A third-year student at the College of Law and master of public administration degree candidate at the Maxwell School, Legaspi, as friend and classmate Jeremy Moon G’04 says, “leads quietly through his actions.” “I like being of service,” Legaspi says. “I enjoy gathering opinions and concerns from a lot of people so I can figure out how to best represent them. I take it upon myself to help wherever I can.”

Since the Jamesville, New York, resident came to the University as a commuting freshman in 1998, he has been involved in many facets of campus life. Lena Rose Orlando, who retired in May as associate director for student affairs, remembers her first interactions with him at an Opening Weekend reception for commuting students. “His maturity, intelligence, and warm personality were quite evident,” she recalls, “and as I spent time with him, I found many other admirable qualities.” Legaspi helped form the group Commuters Are Registered Students (CARS), drafting its constitution and serving as its first president. He assisted in establishing annual picnics and evening get-togethers, creating an e-mail listserv, and pushing for the renovation of a commuter’s lounge in the Schine Student Center. “I always knew Bryan would be a ‘mover and shaker,’ but never expected he would accomplish all he has done in a short period of time,” Orlando says.

As an undergraduate, Legaspi had a triple major in economics, international relations, and Spanish language, literature, and culture. Not only did he meet the excessive demands of the three majors, he excelled. He graduated in 2002 with a long list of accolades, including appointment as a University Class Marshal and as a Remembrance Scholar, and being the recipient of the Army ROTC’s Military Order of the Purple Heart award for leadership. He served as an orientation leader for new students and as president of three campus organizations: Sigma Phi Epsilon, Sigma Iota Rho, and the Golden Key National Honour Society, which named him the 2002 International Outstanding Leader of the Year. “If someone needs something, he’s the first to volunteer,” Moon says. “But he’s not the kind to tell people how things are done. He’s very humble. Most people who know him probably don’t realize how much he does.”

Legaspi says strong relationships are crucial to leadership and personal balance. “It’s very easy in this world to focus solely on work and forget about family and friends,” he says. “If you don’t make time for them, you lose out. I’m most proud of the close friendships I’ve made with people here in Syracuse, and I will take that with me after I graduate.”

Looking to the future, Legaspi aspires to be a major player in improving national and international relations, either through a position in federal government or with a non-governmental organization. The desire to serve others and fulfill his duties as an American citizen guides his current career path. “If we help improve the lives of people abroad, we might not have groups like al-Qaeda,” says Legaspi, who interned at the U.S. Attorney’s office in Syracuse last year and worked at the Army’s Judge Advocate General Corps at West Point this summer. “If we actively participate in the international community and collaborate with other countries, we improve our relationships in the world.”

Legaspi subscribes to a similar philosophy in guiding his own interactions. “No one person can really know everything,” he says. “Having people around to give you feedback and share advice and their opinions really helps in making a better decision.”

Schmitt Shoots!!


Lisa Maffiore |
Culinary Creativity

When singer Phil Collins performed at the Carrier Dome, he asked for a bottle of sake, kept at a constant 98 degrees, to be placed in his dressing room. The task of procuring the Japanese wine and maintaining its temperature fell to Lisa Maffiore ’90, assistant director of catering services. “Some of the strangest menu requests I’ve had have come from performers,” says Maffiore, who oversees the operation of catering departments across campus as well as the Goldstein Alumni and Faculty Center restaurant and catering service. Whether fulfilling the whimsical wishes of performers, coordinating decor, or developing the delectable dishes that keep SU’s catering menu fresh and appealing, Maffiore is constantly on the move. “The variety of the work and the events keeps me on my toes,” she says. “Every day is new and different. It’s a real outlet for creativity.”

Maffiore began cultivating her knack for the culinary arts as a student in SU’s hospitality management program, then housed in the College for Human Development. Following graduation, she worked as a dining supervisor at the Goldstein Student Center on South Campus and as catering manager at the Dome, where she met her husband, Craig Maffiore ’85, Dome concessions manager. “We liked SU so much as students that we decided to stay here to work,” she says. In 2001, Maffiore was promoted to assistant director of catering services. Her experiences—which range from managing the everyday operations of the Goldstein Alumni and Faculty Center to such large-scale affairs as athletic events, the Chancellor’s Convocation, and the Commencement Eve Dinner Dance—have taught her the importance of proper planning.

Timing is especially crucial at Dome athletic events, when catering revolves around kickoff or the opening tip, Maffiore says. In addition to supplying food to 38 private suites, she coordinates catering for the teams’ locker rooms, media crews, and the Orange Pack room, where the Chancellor often holds pregame events. “It took me a full year to understand the idiosyncrasies of all the events at the Dome, because each season is different,” Maffiore says. “After large events, I’m always thinking about what went well, what didn’t, and how I can improve upon that for next year.”

Maffiore is constantly brainstorming new ideas—and with more than 3,900 catering events each year, she has plenty of opportunities to try them out. One of the largest events she coordinates is the “Lunch on the Turf” that follows the Chancellor’s Convocation in the Dome each August. “We provide between 7,000 and 8,000 box lunches for new students and their families,” Maffiore says. “We literally work around the clock to get ready for it.” Along with catering and event planning, Maffiore oversees the catering service’s budgets, administration and policy issues, and human resources while supervising 28 full-time employees and 140 students or part-time employees. “She has more energy than anyone I’ve ever met,” says Mark Tewksbury, assistant director for Dome operations and residential dining centers. “Her dedication to the University and to serving customers is amazing. It doesn’t matter if she has 25 events booked in a day—if a 26th calls, she’ll find a way to make it a success.”

One of Maffiore’s most memorable events occurred last spring, when the University hosted the National Association of College and University Food Services East Regional conference. For the conference theme, “Shake it up in the Salt City,” Maffiore and her staff catered a ’50s “shake, rattle, ’n’ roll” lunch, complete with diner-style menus, soda bars for ice cream floats, and waitstaff dressed as soda jerks. “We carried the theme through everything, from the table linens to the menu to the staff uniforms,” she says. Whatever the event, Maffiore enjoys and takes pride in her work. “It’s wonderful once you get to the event and everything starts to flow,” she says. “I thrive on that fast-paced environment. It’s exhausting, but so much fun.”

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