Hofstra, 1994-2004  -  Harry Baya
16_Hofstra_1994_2004.doc, 16_Hofstra_1994_2004.html
Last updated Oct 18, 20230

Chapter 16:  Hofstra University

A recent dream caused me  to recall memories of Hofstra related to working with the students.   I recalled how much I loved that job, and how in some important way I cared for, and probably loved the students, some more than others.  The picnics in particular were a wonderful memory.

I was living in my co-op apartment in Hastings when my consulting/programming work for Fred Putney was cut to ½ time and eventually to just occasional work.   I had trouble finding a job.  Eventually a friend of mind in the Scarsdale Quaker meeting recommended me to the computer department at Hofstra University.  He, John Bryant, was a professor there.  I got the job and started in February  of 1994.  I remember that the ground was covered with snow that year from the day I started till, I think, some time in April.

I was in the Faculty Computing Support department.  There were about 7 of us and we were mostly good friends throughout the time I was there.  Three of us, me, David Klein, and Sherry Ross were there the entire ten years.  Others, including Barry Germond and Julie Sullivan were there for at least 8 of those years.  It was a wonderful group to work with.

My job for the first seven years was to run the campus computer labs.  This consisted of hiring, training, managing, scheduling, and paying between 100 and 140 students who staffed the computer labs from 8AM to midnight every day.  I loved it from the start.  I think it was the best job I ever had. I especially liked identifying and growing the most capable students so that they could help me run the operation.  I was essentially working alone to handle all the day to day paperwork, especially the accounting needed to pay each student correctly every two weeks, and to assure that every position in each of up to five different labs (two big ones with a student staff of 3 most of the time) was staffed during the hours the lab was open. 

To say that I had a lot of very interesting experiences would be a gross understatement.  I do hope to write up things like the annual picnic, the web page contest, and some of the unique interactions in the labs.  Also bowling, David Klein, the girl who was threatened (shawna Van Ness), Sherry Ross, Barry and others.  The incident with the head of the library, some individual students and memories 

Nov, 2023: I have written some additional memories about my experiences while working at Hofstra. Here a link a story I call "The Hofstra Water Assasins".

I started work in the spring of 1994. The web (World Wide Web, AKA The internet) was just emerging. Henry Wagner showed me the Mosaic browser one night in the back of the lab and it kind of blew my mind. I KNEW this was the start of something very big - but enven then I underestimated how big. Living through the emergence of the internet was a trip. My first web page was a trip. "Hail to the Web".

After seven years I left the labs and became a full time faculty support staff member and worked with individual members of the faculty to assist them in whatever way was needed. One of the major departments I supported was the Education department.  One time I spent some time bringing the dean of the school up to speed in Excel (or something) and mentioned to her that I sometimes thought I might have been happy as a teacher. She said something like "Harry, You are a teacher.”   I liked that a lot.

I “retired” from Hofstra in 2004 after completing the retirement requirement of 10 years of work.  I retired because Elaine wanted to retire and we could not afford to stay in the area we were in, Westchester County, New York, a pricey area.  We found a house we could afford in Abingdon, Virginia and moved there in July of 2004.  I would have continued working at Hofstra had I been able to do so.


Added Oct 18, 2023

One of my friends from Hofstra, Brian Ferris, recently sent me an email with some memories and thoughts about our time together at Hofstra. I don't think it's fair to put his email here. However, I am going to put in my response. I may eventually edit this so that it is more a part of the narrative of this section, but for now, I'm just going to stick it in.

Hi Brian,              (response to Brian, Oct 16, 2023)

I appreciate your sending your comments and memories. 
Some of my memories are pretty cloudy.  I do not remember Laurie being exiled to the BDC (I don’t even know what BDC stands for) after the “issues with Rosann Kelly”.  My memory is Rosann Kelly was exiled because her superiors (probably mostly Gene Ingola ?? Name) thought she was organizing a kind of revolution among our group.  My memory is that all of us (David Klein, me, Sherry, Barry, and probably Julie) felt that our new director did not know enough about what we did to make adequate decisions.   She had no experience related to our work.  Who was that?   Annalise?   We did not dislike her or intend to get her fired or transferred.  Rather we wanted to keep FCS (or whatever it was called then ) running appropriately until she learned the ropes.   To do this we felt we should all meet and agree on what work would be done and who would do it.  Roseann was our boss, and I and others had some issues with her, but we knew she knew what she was doing and she agreed to come to our meeting.  It turned out that her home was, for some reason, the most convenient place  to meet so we met there. 

My recall was that it was a good meeting and we felt what we were doing was in the best interest of Hofstra and FCS.    
Somehow the higher-ups found out about the meeting and assumed that Rosann had organized it and was making a power grab or something.   She left FCS under a cloud, but ended up doing well for a while in the School of Continuing Education at Hofstra. Though none of us was close to Roseann we felt that was unfair to her.  I think I may have been one of the prime instigators of our meeting.  I remember saying that it was as if we were a team experienced in combat and fully equipped to continue the battle and we had been given a commander with no combat experience.   We had to manage ourselves until the new head of our department got up to speed. 
“Taking Sherry’s Job”

I had no idea what I was getting into.  I had been pretty much unemployed for a year or so, with a little part time work, and was kind of desperate.   Hofstra was close to a one hour drive (in traffic) and I never cared much for that.   I came in and did what I was told and did everything I could to learn what I needed to know.  One of my top priorities was to get on good terms with the SAs, starting with the senior ones like you, Matt Macgibbon, Henry Wagner, Steve Henry,  and Barry.  The Rahway trip was part of that initiative.
I liked Sherry from the start and we became good friends over the years in spite of the raw deal she got when I came in.  She had been promised a good promotion and it fell through after they had hired me.  I got her job and she picked up various rsponsibilities and did them well.

She was invaluable to my getting through the first two semesters. 
We all knew that I played no part in the choice to take away Sherry’s job.  I was impressed with her organization and personal skills and felt she was doing important work after I got there.   It was a shock to me when, as I recall it, most of the “senior SAs” I had befriended chose not to continue as SAs the second semester.   I felt betrayed.  I also worried that the most talented SAs were gone and I did not know if I could find similar ones on my own.  Over the years I did, and that was one of the best parts of the job.  Mike McIssac and Jason Ilardo were especially important as examples of students I found to take significant responsibility and do good work on any part of my job. Other important SAs for me were Jennifer Caltabiano, Reina Bugby, and some people I remeber clearly, but without names.

Brad Rose was a very lucky find as a programmer… but that ended up a pretty big mess in spite of the quality of his code.  Shawna Van Ness nearly got me fired and I still think she was twisted.  Last I heard she has successful career in New York. 
I felt I got along well with Lanny, Laurie, and Fleur.  I had worked with Annalise is the school of education and we had even had something like one date to attend a seminar in the city months before she became our boss.  She told me that Gene offered to fire me when he hired her and she said she wanted to give me a chance.  That was shortly after the Shawna Van Ness fiasco.  We did clash a few times while she was there, but I survived.

The worse boss, by far, was that guy at the library ( Dan something I think)..  I barely survived that.  The new boss that came in my last semester in the spring of 2004 seemed more or less OK to me.  Wrong.  She drove Barry nuts (which takes some skill), and essentially fired everyone else eventually.  Everyone told me I was lucky and that I would have been the first one she fired.  I could not understand how anyone would fire someone like Sherry.  Though she was less computer savvy than the rest of us, she was a workhorse, thorough, smart, and very well organized.  I think she would have been a valuable employee in most organizations.

I very much appreciate your saying “I really do think you were made for that job”.  It was the favorite job of my career and I thrived, in spite of the paperwork involved in tracking, paying, and scheduling the SAs.  Though I felt good about what I was doing, I don’t recall anyone praising my work.

My memory was that I was forced out of managing the labs, more or less against my will.  I did not recall that I had an option.  However, I do vaguely remember asking you to join me in the labs, so there must have been some wiggle room.  My understanding was that Jim Shuart was sent in to clean up the messy organization that I had been running.  He did run a much tighter ship and  the labs continued to be adequately supported.   However, I like to think that we had great morale for most of the Sas while they worked for me and that it was not as good under Jim. I worked closely with a number of SAs and felt lucky to find them, get to know them, and have them help me. I was probably a bit too soft hearted, but we never had any serious problems other than Shawna's tirade.

Also, after I had moved to Virginia and my 2nd wife, Elaine, left me I met Sherry briefly and she was in the process of getting Charlie (I think that was his name) out of her life.  We discussed spending time together to see if we might become a couple.  Charlie went through some sort of medical emergency and then turned over a new leaf and they stayed together.   I found a new wife in Virginia…but I think there may been 6 months to a year when I did not know Charlie had died and Sherry did not contact me.   So it goes.

I would dearly love to write up my favorite memories from Hofstra, but I have so much I enjoy doing and I don’t think anyone would ever read them.   Here are two, as I remember them, faulty memory and all:

I started the Web Page contest.  You and Barry were so much stronger than me in that area that I did not have a chance until a year came when, for some reason, neither of you submitted a page.  I was taking a programming course in the Computer Science department and created a web based board game where players could play and move their pieces around from any where on the internet.  I was very proud of it.  The only problem was that I did not have the code cleaned up until a day or so before it had to be submitted for the contest and did not have a game for it, so I threw something together that used the features of the program but was not particularly fun to play.  At the picnic I was handing out the prizes, confident that I would get one.  You handed me the piece of paper with the winner’s name.   I thought it was a joke, but you said NO, that’s the judges choice.  A modified Looney Tunes cartoon with the superimposed text modified to be topical for our SA world beat me out.  That was a few hours work, cute, but not terribly clever,  and no real technical skill,  but it won. 
As soon as I could I went off by myself (sitting on top of a picnic table I think) and had some serious thoughts.  I thought of going home, I thought of resigning, I thought of getting mad…. And then I decided it was not that important.  I loved my job, and the picnic, and I knew the judges did not mean to be unfair.  They simply did understand what I had done.  I decided to get over the major upset on the spot, and I did, pretty well.   However I am still pissed 30 years later.

Even though the me-too era was way in the future, I was very aware that a man in his fifties had better be more innocent than Ceasar’s wife in dealing with the female SAs.  Though I admired some of them, like Dawn, and respected the ability of some of them that became my helpers, I never got close to crossing any lines.  Shawna Van Ness accused me of harassing her to get her to back off on her accusations (against Brad Rose I think – there might have been a second programmer), but even she did not call it sexual harassment.
So… at one of the picnics I was sitting on top of a picnic table with Daria Harrison (at least that’s the name I remember, might have been Daria Harris).  Daria was graduating that spring.  She was an attractive woman, but did not dress particularly attractively, and I knew her to be very bright and very level headed.   I was making small talk and said something like “Well I survived another semester in this job.”.   Daria said “Oh, you haven’t heard.”   I said “Heard what?”  She said “They decided to fire you today and they are waiting till after the picnic to tell you.”  I was pretty sure she was kidding, but I played along.  I said “What was I fired for?”.  She said “Sexual harassment.”  I was shocked.  I said “Daria, what have I ever said or done that could possibly be considered sexual harassment.”   Daria turned to me, gave me a soul searching look and said “Breathe”.   That cracked me up.  It was kind of true.  In my deepest nature I was very aware of how attractive all these young women were, including Daria, and I felt she had kind of called me out on it.   I laughed hard, and am still laughing.


Though I have consistently tried to avoid mentioning things I would like to add to other chapters, I choose to leave in the notes below.


I do hope to write up things like the annual picnic, the web page contest, and some of the unique interactions in the labs.  Also bowling, David Klein, the girl who was threatened, Sherry Ross, Barry and others.  The incident with the head of the library, some individual students and memories 


David Klein wrote:

In the first paragraph I made this edit: computer department [FCS or Computer Center].  It wasn't the computer department, I think we changed names while I was there, from Academic Computing (ACC), to Faculty Computing Support. (FCS)/

In the second paragraph I added a comment: "It was a wonderful group to work with." [Amen]


Taking Sherry’s job

Reaction of senior students – Brian Ferris and others

Star Trek

Blackmailed for a grade

Shawna Van Ness

Jennifer Caltibiano

Daria  Harris

Senior staff meeting – Gene Ingola

Laurie Harvey

Fleur Eshgi

Annalise (? Annaliese) Pain

Andrew Thorn

Monopoly party I found being played by the SAs on duty late one Friday night in the most distant lab

Picnics – kick the baby,  water guns,  web contest

Barry’s Halloween parties

Barry’s dog

David’s washing machine in his office - -history, He showed me his,  hammock in celling of his office.

Bryce experience (suggested by Mike Wagner I think)

Alla Sorokof and her son Gleb (Ukrainian?)


9/11 - I saw the World Trade sinner smoking as I drove to work on my late day - and could not get home that night.

Beauty Queen (Norway ?)

Lawyer accountant Mike Mcisaak (spelling)

Library boss (Dan ?)

Julie’s car

Web picture take down

Christmas parties

Brad  Rose   computer program – vax/c

The cart incident

Windows ?

Mosaic    Henry Wagner

Brian Ferris (Wedding to Sook, Web page with my face singing "Hail to the web")

Sookhan Wei -  pay roll problem

Getting the students paid

Start of semester, Sherry’s help

Incidents in lab -  postings, false arrests etc,

Bowling team and experiences

Janet Pisano

The freind/staff member who had a mental breakdown. I talked him down, but he was fired. Name? May have a Z in it.

Jullie Sullivan

Kat Broadshaw

Tall guy -  transferred to School of Continuing Education and did well. He had a degree in math.

Adam Scinto

Steven Henry

Indian and family. He was in FCS and we were good friends. Hiru? ?

Online teaching - I proposed starting an online course at Hofstra and was shot down

“I know where you are”  joke screen upset many people