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Barto lecture program brings scholars to FM

∫ James Howard Kunstler, author of “The Geography of Nowhere,” which critiques the suburbanization of America. Amazon ranks it as its No. 2 book in the Engineering and Transportation category of Pollution, No. 3 in the Criticism subsection of Arts & Photography, and No. 7 in Ecology textbooks.

∫ Libby Post, political consultant, regular commentator on WAMC’s Roundtable, and founder of the Empire State Pride Agenda.

∫ Richard Russo, native of Gloversville and author whose works include “Mohawk,” “Nobody’s Fool” and the 2002 Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction, “Empire Falls.”

∫ Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge, better known as The Fabulous Beekman Boys, New York City entrepreneurs who bought a farm in Sharon Springs, opened a shop (Beekman 1802) and helped revitalize their part of upstate New York.

What do these people have in common? They’re all past guests of the William M. Barto Speaker Series Committee who came to speak at Fulton-Montgomery Community College. Not bad for a small community college built on an old cow field in upstate New York.

The William M. Barto Memorial Speaker Series began in 2000, but it began earlier. Dr. William M. Barto, a respected and popular professor of history and psychology, believed in bringing renowned speakers and scholars to FM to share their expertise with the college and the community. Dr. Barto believed that more information, knowledge and exposure to different perspectives allowed people to be better informed and, thus, able to make more informed decisions. Dr. Barto did not believe in offering only one point of view, however. He wanted dialogue, not monologue; conversation, not lecturing.

Sadly, Dr. Barto was killed in a car accident in August 2000. He was 37 years old, and had been at FM for only two years. In that short time, he had left an indelible mark on FM. That is why, for the past 17 years, the William M. Barto Memorial Speaker Series has made his practice a tradition. Since then, with funding from the Foundation, the Barto Committee has brought 31 speakers and musicians.

“This lecture series,” FM President Dr. Dustin Swanger said in a 2011 interview, “is an integral component in fulfilling our mission to support lifelong learning and community development.” The committee further supports the mission of FM by expanding awareness of others, challenging prejudice, fostering civic responsibility and diversity, promoting appreciation of the arts, developing an understanding of science and the uses of technology, and strengthening a sense of purpose in life. This is the mission of any college, and Dr. Barto paved the way. 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 and 200 individuals, is made up of students, faculty, staff, board members and the community-at-large.

The Barto Committee is always looking for recommendations for speakers. If you have one in mind or a topic you would like to hear about, please contact Lena Andersson (lena.andersson@fmcc.suny.edu)

or Susan Mac Leod (Susan.MacLeod@fmcc.suny.edu).

Lena Andersson is assistant professor of English and Susan Mac Leod is assistant professor of biology; both are members of FM’s Barto Committee.

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