Each edition of the Scene features profile conversations with students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
In this edition:

Bill Northey

Steven Kepnes

Stephen Jungbluth
Edward "Biff" Jones '64

Kelly McKay '09
Rev. Roger Ferlo '73

Bill Northey

(Photo by Andrew Daddio)

Groundskeeper, athletics

After plugging in the Zamboni to recharge following a clean glaze of Starr Rink, Bill Northey sat down to talk about working at Colgate for 20 years. The past 13 of those years have involved maintaining the athletics grounds, including the ice, to make sure the Raiders hockey teams are fast on their feet.

• Most memorable hockey moment: In 1990 when the men’s team defeated Lake Superior State University in the quarterfinals of the NCAA playoffs at Starr Rink. “It was pretty wild,” Northey recalled. “There was stuff being thrown on the ice, people were going in the locker room, everybody was going nuts — it was neat.”

• On the challenges of driving a Zamboni: “The only way to drive a Zamboni is just to drive it repeatedly. The rink’s oval and it’s a square machine that won’t turn very far. The only good way to do it is [in a specific] pattern.”

• The first time driving the Zamboni at a game: “If anyone tells you they’re not nervous, they’re lying, because you look up, the place is packed, and they’re all watching you,” he said, laughing. “I thought, with my luck, if anything was going to go wrong, it was going to go wrong that night. And, to make it worse, they always announce when it’s your first time driving in the rink!”

• Before the ice age: Northey was assistant equipment manager for his first seven years at Colgate. He “met a lot of nice people” — every varsity male athlete had to go through him for their equipment and uniforms. He also traveled with the teams so much that they started calling him “uncle.”
        “To this day, when they come back to visit, they come looking for me,” Northey said. He specifically remembers teasing men’s soccer coach Erik Ronning ’97 as well as assistant men’s hockey coaches Jason Lefevre ’02 and Brad Dexter ’96 when they were student-athletes.

• Outside the rink: Northey is married and has two children. In his free time, he cheers on his son at his Utica College football games, hunts, and runs a hay business with a friend.

Steven Kepnes

(Photo by Andrew Daddio)
Chair of the religion department, Murray W. and Mildred K. Finard
Professor in Jewish studies, and university professor for Core 151: Western Traditions

Spring semester courses
Core 151: Western Traditions; and The Land of Israel — Extended Study

What does your current research involve?
I’ve been working in the area of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic dialogue. I co-founded a group called Scriptural Reasoning that meets to practice the art of reading and interpreting the scriptures of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We’ve been doing this for a decade all over the world. Part of my newest research project is to present our accomplishments, with illustrations of how Jews, Christians, and Muslims can get together to peacefully talk about similarities and differences. The book will review insights that participants come to in reading scriptures from another tradition and in reading their own scriptures with people from other traditions.

When was the last time a student surprised you?
Students constantly surprise me. I think if you’re not surprised by Colgate students, then teaching could become boring. And for me, teaching is never boring.

Please talk about your work with the Upstate Scholars.
The idea came out of the Sio Reading Group, a faculty seminar on race and education that I did with five other faculty members. We talked a lot about the underfunding and under-resourcing of inner-city schools in America, and it occurred to me that we as faculty, and Colgate students, could do a lot more for our local high schools.
    This program, called the Upstate Scholars, is administered by the Upstate Institute and seeks to put some resources into Proctor High School in Utica so that those students who are high risk — mainly minority, poor, often from one-parent families — can reach an academic level where they could apply to Colgate. One of the main initiatives is to help them with their SAT prep, so they’re more likely to do well on such tests, which will help them get into competitive schools like Colgate.

What do you do in your free time?
I get caught up in sports — the Boston Red Sox, the Celtics, and the Patriots — anything that’s connected to Boston. When I was 8 years old, my father entered the contest to name the Patriots and won — they chose his name for the team. He took me to all the old AFL games. I’m still a passionate ex-New Englander.
    I also love to be with my family. I have two kids. My daughter graduated from Brown, and I have a son who is at Sarah Lawrence College. My wife teaches law at Syracuse University College of Law, and we love to travel.

What’s next?
I’m taking a group of students on a three-week extended study trip to Israel this summer. We’ll study on campus this spring and then go see the sites in Israel that we’ve studied. It will be focused on the history, culture, and religion of the state of Israel. We’ll focus on not only Judaism, but also on Christianity and Islam, and we’ll also explore the many sides of the contemporary Palestinian-Israeli peace process. 

Stephen Jungbluth

Mark S. Randall Head Coach of Swimming and Diving

– Hometown: Westford, Mass.
– College swimming experience: 400 IM, 1650 free, and 200 fly at University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in exercise science
– Previous swimming and diving coaching experience: assistant coach and interim head coach at Amherst College; assistant head coach at Navy
– Honors: 1994 Minuteman Award, which he earned after his senior season at UMass-Amherst, where he was co-captain; Patriot League Coach of the Year, 2006

What has been your proudest moment as a coach?
When we signed the Class of 2009, including one swimmer who competed in the 2004 Olympic trials and two swimmers who competed at U.S. Nationals; all three had state records. It was a class nobody thought we could get.

What was it like to overcome Navy and lead the women’s team to the Patriot League Championship last season?
It was great. A month prior to the meet, I ran some calculations that predicted that we could win the team title. No one really gave us a chance at the time of the meet. The team scores were really close. With just the final relay left to race, I calculated the scores 12 times over, and realized that we had finally clinched the team title.

What are some key things that are important to you as a coach?
Team building — to forge a chemistry that will bring us both individual and team success. It’s something we’ve done a great job with. It’s the X-factor that allowed us to win a Patriot League title.
    The second is leadership. I’ve been fortunate to find a few strong leaders in every class that I’ve recruited and to find people who move the team in the right direction.

What are the team’s goals for the end of this season?
One of the goals for the men and the women is to score more combined points than we did at the championship last year. I look at that as a big goal because if we hit that, we hit a bunch of smaller goals along the way: lifetime bests, setting records, and winning titles. Another goal is to win 13 events at the Patriot League Championship (beating Colgate’s record of 12 at the 2006 meet). And most significantly, I’m determined to send a swimmer to nationals.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
When I get letters from swimmers and former swimmers, explaining what they’ve learned from the program. These are the most cherished gifts that I can get — a note or an e-mail at the end of the year thanking me for whatever I’ve been able to pass on. I received a note last year from a swimmer saying that she didn’t like swimming in high school because of the team and the team’s attitude, but that I helped change that. That’s the most satisfying thing, when you’re able to make a positive impact on somebody.

Edward "Biff" Jones '64

– Alumni Council member since 2002; treasurer
– Class president since 1964; class agent; four-time reunion chairman; Presidents’ Club; Maroon Citation
– Orthopedic surgeon, Institutional Review Board Chair, Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), New York City; Professor, Weill Medical College of Cornell University

What’s the most satisfying part of your work?
I am fortunate to be able to focus on research and teaching at HSS. We review and approve clinical research in terms of scientific merit, methodology, and ethical issues. Prospective studies looking at health-related quality-of-life benefits after joint replacement or sports-related surgery are a particular interest. I love teaching, especially a course for Cornell medical students, Ethics in Clinical Medicine and Research.

We’ve heard you were once a NYC cab driver.
In my second year at Columbia Med School, I had a patient who owned a cab company. I got a license, and drove weekends. I clearly remember conversations on the days Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were shot, all these momentous events. I learned about the people and the city and fell in love with New York.

What volunteer role with Colgate has been your favorite?
The Alumni Council. It is great to be on campus, and to appreciate the quality and dedication of the administration, faculty, and students. We are fortunate to have the leadership of President Chopp, and I think the university is in great shape. We’ve had some challenging issues during my tenure. To see the Broad Street initiative played out and to have been part of those discussions has been very gratifying. We needed a different paradigm. The fact that the university decided to preserve Greek life at the school was farsighted and courageous. I think it is the right balance now.

What are your outside interests?
My wife Mary and I have two young boys, 6 and 8, who keep us busy and counting our blessings. Along with my grown sons and four grandsons, we have a close and interesting extended family.  We enjoy golf, skiing, and boating together. Most nights I take refuge in a good book. I’m enjoying a series of historical novels by Alan Furst.

Do you have any special talents?
I was a member of the Colgate Thirteen, and fortunately some hard-core Thirteeners from the ’60s have formed a “vintage” group. We meet and sing on a regular basis. I treasure these Colgate friends and really enjoy singing and carrying on the tradition.

Kelly McKay '09

(Photo by Andrew Daddio)
Concentration: double major in theater and Spanish

Hometown: Albany, N.Y.

University Theater, volunteer-teaches Spanish to second graders at Hamilton Central School, campus tour guide, flutist in the Student Wind Ensemble, drummer, classical and jazz pianist

About her research as an Alumni Memorial Scholar:
“I’m interested in the way indigenous cultures use theater as a cultural preservation mechanism, so I wanted to study Mayan theater on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.” Unfortunately, Tropical Storm Arthur had other plans when she traveled there last spring. “A lot of the grassroots indigenous theater companies that I wanted to check out perform outside, so I changed my focus to performance rather than theater specifically and looked at the performative aspects of tourism. When you’re at Chichan Itza and you’re being guided by a Mayan person who is being paid to teach about his culture, it’s interesting to consider the implications of how this changes the relationship of the colonizers versus the colonized.
    “I want to continue to look at the history of Mayan theater from pre-Columbian times to modern times.”

On being a campus tour guide:
“It’s the best job ever. I get to walk up and down the hill all day, telling people how much I love Colgate.”

Dreams of:
Starting an all-female rock band

On looking unique:
“A lot of people — especially when I’m tourguiding — say, ‘You’re not what I had in mind at all when I was picturing Colgate students.’ People have these different ideas of what Colgate is. I would like to attract a more diverse population if I can.”

Family tree:
Father is a professional drummer in the George Boone Blues Band and an English teacher; mother works for a nonprofit advocacy group for people with developmental disabilities; grandfather is a longtime volunteer at the Hamilton Food Cupboard; and her grandmother Beverly McKay MA’79, aunt Karen McKay Burns ’79, and aunt Anne Whiteneck McKay ’85 started the family tradition of Colgate women.

Life after Colgate:
“I’m looking at graduate schools for performance studies, which is a discipline that I didn’t really know existed until recently, and when I found it, I felt like it had been made for me because it’s the anthropology of theater — looking at performance in a cultural space, combining theater with the social sciences, and making it more globalized.”

Rev. Roger Ferlo '73, Colgate Trustee

– Associate dean and director, Institute for Christian Formation and Leadership; professor of religion and culture, Virginia Theological Seminary
– Former rector at several Episcopal churches, most recently Church of St. Luke in the Fields in Greenwich Village, N.Y.
– Joined the Board of Trustees in 2003; chair, academic affairs committee

What do you find most satisfying about your work?
Mentoring young men and women who are contemplating a life of Episcopal ministry. Also, in the evening school at the institute, where I teach courses such as Shakespeare and the Religious Imagination, the students are curious about intellectual religious life. That’s a wonderful group to teach. In American life, we tend to separate religion from intellectual life, and there’s a lot of mutual mistrust. I see myself as a kind of bridge between the two worlds.

How did you come to shift from being an English professor at Yale to a minister?
I grew up Roman Catholic in Rome, N.Y. When you grow up in a small town and you’re kind of smart, they figure, he’s going to be a priest. When I was a teenager, I decided, I’m going to college first. I double majored in English and history, and really admired people like Jonathan Kistler, Douglas Reading, and Huntington Terrell. I wanted to teach the way my teachers taught. I went to Yale on a Danforth Scholarship, which is given to people who demonstrate an ethical commitment to teaching.
    Music brought me back to church. My senior year at Colgate, I was organist and choir director at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, and at Yale, I was a baritone in a church choir. When it came time to qualify for tenure, I realized I was not drawn to the academic life, and rediscovered the call to ministry. We moved to New York, where I went to seminary.

How do you view the board’s role regarding the academic experience at Colgate?
Academic life is squarely the purview of the faculty, with the president and provost determining its course. It works well when there is good communication, and Rebecca Chopp has increased contact between the board and faculty in constructive and pleasant ways. We broke bread with faculty members at their homes. Board members were also assigned to visit an academic department. I went to the religion department, where I met some splendid people, and sat in on a William James seminar that Steve Kepnes was teaching. We sort of co-taught it for the evening. It was fun. There’s been a tremendous increase of trust that together, we have the best interests of Colgate in mind.

Tell us about your family
My wife, Anne Harlan, is a children’s librarian, writer, and book artist. Our daughter Liz is a chaplain and religion teacher, and writes poetry.

You play several instruments, but do you have a primary one?
Cello. Right now I’m working on the wonderful Debussy Sonata. It’s a great piece. I take a weekly lesson, and I’m in a string orchestra and a couple of ensembles.