SUNY Canton Honors Convocation Named for Varick A. Chittenden

Event honoring students’ academic success heralds Emeritus Professor

Varick Chittenden

TRADITIONALLY MOTIVATED – Professor Emeritus Varick A. Chittenden stands in the Traditional Arts in Upstate New York Folklore Store. The 2008 SUNY Canton Honors Convocation was named in honor of Chittenden’s his contributions to education and to his continuing celebration of the North Country way of life.

The 2008 SUNY Canton Honors Convocation has been named in honor of Professor Emeritus Varick A. Chittenden, announced SUNY Canton President Joseph L. Kennedy.

“Varick is extremely dedicated to the culture of the North Country,” said Kennedy. “During his time at the College, he created courses specifically designed to inform students about the traditions specific to this area.”

Chittenden was awarded emeritus status in 2001 after 32 years at SUNY Canton. He developed popular courses in American folklore and Images of Rural American Life, established the folk life festival on campus, served as Humanities department chair, and on the Canton College Foundation Board. He received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1974 and the SUNY Canton Distinguished Faculty Award in 1991.

“Varick symbolizes the meaning of education and has never stopped teaching.” Kennedy said. “He has continued his dedication and his instruction through his involvement with Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY) and is ensuring that a wide audience embraces the heritage and artistic merit of the North Country.”

In 1986, Chittenden organized TAUNY, a not-for-profit membership folk arts organization dedicated to identifying, recording, conserving and presenting examples of traditions, customs, and artistic expressions of the local culture. In 2000, TAUNY received the prestigious New York State Governor’s Arts Award during a gala awards ceremony at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art for their commitment to preserving the traditions of the communities of northern New York. As the founder and until recently Executive Director of TAUNY, he continues to celebrate folk artists and folk traditions through his North Country Heritage Awards which are presented annually to deserving individuals or community groups that carry on local traditions such as music, storytelling, crafts and community events. TAUNY recently purchased a former retail store in Canton’s historic district for its future home and Varick has been appointed Heritage Center Project Director to lead the organization in creating a regional interpretive center of folklife and local culture.

Chittenden was a longtime member and president of the board of trustees for the St. Lawrence County Historical Association, a founding member and past chairman of the board of Grasse River Heritage, and is the current president of the Canton Rotary Club.

The Honors Convocation celebration includes:

  • Folklore in the North Country: A Reading Celebration, featuring readings from Varick Chittenden’s New York Folklore Society Column and from humanities faculty members at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 29 in the Richard W. Miller Campus Center Kingston Theater. This event is free and open to the public.
  • The Varick A. Chittenden Honors Convocation Ceremony honoring the outstanding academic achievement of SUNY Canton students at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, April 30, in the Richard W. Miller Campus Center Intramural Gym. This event is free and open to the public, with a special invitation presented to the families and friends of award recipients.
  • An invitation only reception will conclude the ceremonies on Friday, May 2. Graduating award recipients are asked to bring a faculty member who has influenced their academic success. For more information contact the SUNY Canton Provost’s Office at 386-7202 or email livernoi@

SUNY Canton offers a wide variety of career-driven bachelor’s, associate, and certificate programs, as well as three master’s degrees in conjunction with SUNYIT, Utica. Most of SUNY Canton’s new four-year programs are designed so students can take them on-campus, online, or both. SUNY Canton OnLine features more than 65 courses online each semester. The college’s athletic teams have joined the NAIA’s Sunrise Conference, enabling students to compete in their respective sports for four years.

Media inquiries should be directed to Gregory Kie, Media Relations Coordinator, or call 315/386-7528.

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