HVCC Reads “Ironweed”; UAlbany reads “Field Notes from a Catastrophe”

HVCC READS is a community reading program designed to encourage students, faculty and staff to read and discuss the same book — William Kennedy’s Ironweed. Meanwhile, at UAlbany, the campus will be reading Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert.

For the Spring 2007 term, HVCC READS has selected “Ironweed,” by William Kennedy. Paperback copies of the book will be on sale at the college’s Viking’s Cove Bookstore. Copies will also be on reserve in the Marvin Library. The program will culminate with Kennedy’s visit to campus in the spring. Details about Kennedy’s visit and discussion groups planned for students, faculty and staff will be announced.

“Ironweed” is Kennedy’s 1983 Pulitzer Prize winning novel about Francis Phelan, a derelict on the run from his own demons and past mistakes. Set in Albany – Kennedy’s hometown – in the 1930s, “Ironweed” follows Francis and his friend, Helen, as they try to make peace with the ghosts of the past and the present. The “New York Times Book Review” called the novel “a kind of fantasia on the strangeness of human destiny, on the mysterious ways in which a life can be transformed and sometimes redeemed.”

Kennedy is a professor in the English department at the State University of New York at Albany. He is the founding director of the New York State Writers Institute and, in 1993, was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has received numerous literary awards, including the Literary Lions Award from the New York Public Library, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Governor’s Arts Award. Kennedy was also named Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in France and a member of the board of directors of the New York State Council for the Humanities.

This program is sponsored by the Hudson Valley Community College Foundation, the Faculty Student Association and the Student Senate.



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Reading Project

I am pleased to announce that our 2006-2007 Campus Book is Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change.   Field Notes seeks to deepen our collective understanding of the environment, from political, cultural, economic and scientific perspectives.  Reading this book will enable us to ponder and discuss one of the most important issues of our time: how we together share responsibility for the future of this planet. 

As with last year’s text, Field Notes provides abundant opportunities for everyone on campus to read, reflect and debate.  We will again create a web-site and organize discussion groups, film viewings, and related activities, in preparation for a visit by the author during the spring semester.

To enhance campus conversation and debate, we will purchase and distribute several thousand free copies of the paperback edition before the winter intersession.  If you have suggestions regarding elements to incorporate into this program, please communicate them to Dr. William Hedberg, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, who will serve as the primary point of contact for this project.

In selecting and announcing the book now, we seek to encourage everyone to add Field Notes to your summer reading list.  Where it is appropriate, we encourage faculty members to incorporate the book into your spring semester courses.  The book is readily available in hardcover, and will be published as a paperback in December.  For a description of the book and author, please see our Writers Institute site: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/kolbert_elizabeth.html.

I thank the committee of faculty, staff and students who helped to make this selection.  We received an extraordinarily large number of excellent nominations in response to last spring’s invitation. 

And in advance, I thank all members of the University community for your imagination and support.  Field Notes will help us continue to build a campus characterized by thoughtfulness, debate, and citizenship.

I hope you are enjoying the summer, and I look forward to greeting you in the weeks and months ahead.


Susan Herbst
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs 

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