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A Thought-Provoking Tradition at FM

Posted: June 16, 2011By Amy Radik

An important part of a student’s college education is exposure to analysis and commentary from experts in various fields.  Such exposure contributes to their comprehensive understanding of their own experiences as well as world events.  It also gives them opportunity to partake in controversial issues and voice their own opinions.  The Dr. William M. Barto Memorial Lecture Series is a tradition at FM allowing for such exposure.

Dr. William M. Barto was a popular FM history and psychology faculty member who was killed in a tragic automobile accident in August 2000 at the age of 37. It was Dr. Barto who initiated the practice of inviting significant guest lecturers to the campus and it is the campus’ William M. Barto Memorial Committee who keeps this tradition alive.

The mission of the William M. Barto Memorial Committee is to enhance Fulton-Montgomery Community College by hosting a speaker series that features significant guest lecturers at FM and by securing the funds necessary to promote the same.  The committee seeks to support the mission of FM which is to expand awareness of others, to challenge prejudice, to foster civic responsibility, to promote appreciation of the arts, to develop an understanding of science and the uses of technology, to improve earning capacity, to strengthen a sense of purpose in life, and to support lifelong learning and community development.

Lectures are provided as a free event in an effort to promote intellectual stimulation on a wide range of topics.  Attendance, which normally ranges between 150-200 individuals, is made up of students, faculty, staff, board members and the community-at-large.

Since its inception in 2001, the Barto Lecture Series has brought over 20 regional, national, and international speakers to the Fulton and Montgomery community.  Some past speakers include author and professor Roger Newman who shared his views on the federal government’s measures against terrorism and how these measures potentially threaten civil liberties; political commentator and activist Libby Post who gave her thoughts on gay marriages and civil unions; newspaper columnist Carl Strock who assessed how print journalism is adapting to our electronic era;  Dr. Petia Genova, a resident of Bulgaria specializing in virology, discussed pandemic viruses, two words which she says have become synonymous with stark danger; stem cell biologist Dr. Mark Noble spoke on stem cell biology forging a path to medicine’s next revolution; and financial expert Hugh A. Johnson, Jr. gave his views on the local impact of global factors such as interest rates, fuel prices, Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq War.

Most recently, the committee hosted Dr. Pier Forni, an award winning professor of Italian Literature and widely recognized scholar on the issue of civility.  He is co-founder and director of The Civility Initiative at Johns Hopkins and expressed to staff and students the rewards of fostering a culture of civility in today’s workplace.

“We see this lecture series as an integral component in fulfilling our mission to support lifelong learning and community development,” says FM President Dustin Swanger, Ed.D.  “We are grateful to have such generous donors support and contribute to the William M. Barto Memorial fund through the Foundation of FM.”

To learn more about the Barto Lecture Series, contact the Foundation Office at (518) 762-4651, ext. 7-3702 or email fund.dev@fmcc.suny.edu.

Amy Radik is Coordinator of Public Relations & Marketing at FM.

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