Genesee Community College Students to Join Tale of Three Counties Reading Project

Genesee Community College students and faculty members will join 'A Tale of Three Counties' - a region-wide reading project - this year, Susan Chiddy, a member of Genesee's adjunct faculty, reported to the Board of Trustees last evening (Jan. 10, 2005).

Through 'A Tale of Three Counties,' community residents read the same book-Julia Spencer Fleming's thriller In the Bleak Midwinter, over the next two months. Residents can then gather together for discussions about the book at area libraries and other locations. At Genesee, at least six classes have committed to reading the book and participating in discussion forums, and many more classes will probably participate, Ms. Chiddy said. Four discussion forums will be held at the Batavia Campus and one at the Lakeville Campus Center.

'A Tale of Three Counties' culminates with a March 10 visit to the area by Ms. Spencer-Fleming. She will appear at several area public libraries, and at Genesee Community College, where students who participated in the project will have the opportunity to hear a presentation about her writing and meet her.

Julia Spencer-Fleming was born at the Plattsburgh Air Force Base in Upstate New York, and lived in many different places as a child in a military family. She is an attorney by profession, having received her J.D. at the University of Maine School of Law. She lives near Portland, Maine.Although In the Bleak Midwinter is a relatively recent book (2002), it has received high critical acclaim and numerous awards, including the Anthony Award, Agatha Award, Macavity Award, Barry Award, and was nominated for Mystery Ink's Gumshoe Award for Best First Mystery. The book is a crime thriller, but has been highly acclaimed for the richness of its characters and the inner conflicts posed by the characters.

The book takes place in the mythical town of Miller's Kill in the Adirondack Mountain region. The Rev. Clare Fergusson, an Episcopal priest, has just arrived at the conservative St. Alban's, the town's church. When a newborn baby is found at the church, Rev. Fergusson-a tough, ex-army chopper pilot-joins forces with the town's police chief to learn the baby's identity and mother. What they uncover, however, is a tangle of deep, dark secrets in this close-knit community.

'A Tale of Three Counties' is an outstanding educational and community awareness experience for students, Ms. Chiddy told the Board. "Most of our students have never met an author or participated in literary discussions," she said. "Through this project, students will read a very captivating book, explore its significance to our community, and share insights with community residents. The capstone, of course, will be Ms. Spencer-Fleming's visit to the campus."Ms. Chiddy said that Genesee plans to launch an online bulletin board where students and community residents can post comments about the book, and engage in online discussion.

Genesee's participation in 'A Tale of Three Counties' is being funded by a President's Innovation Award of the Genesee Community College Foundation.

In other business this evening, the Board of Trustees:

•Heard Vice President for Finance and Operations Patrick E. Richey report that planning for the new student union is continuing. The College has released bid specifications for the building and anticipates receiving bids by January 26.

•Heard President Stuart Steiner report that another spring enrollment record appears likely. Enrollment for the semester beginning January 18 currently stands at 3,451, up 6.3% from the 3,247 students enrolled a year ago today. Full-time enrollment currently stands at 2,475, up 6.5% from the 2,324 students enrolled a year ago, while part-time enrollment stands at 976, up 5.7% from the 923 students enrolled a year ago. All five of the College's campus centers show enrollment increases, and the number of students participating in Genesee's 68 distance learning courses is also on the increase.