Building a Future at SUNY Oswego

Rich BushMy first class at SUNY Oswego began on a Monday at 8 a.m.: Woods with Don Feck. I did not know it then, but this was the
beginning of a lifelong friendship with an amazing mentor. Because of my previous experiences and a real love for woodworking, Mr. Feck singled me out for special projects, and I worked as his lab assistant until graduation.

My four years at Oswego were an amazing, transformative period of my life. I’d met my (future) wife, Diane Kruse ’92, by the third week of our freshman year; we both lived on the eighth floor of Funnelle Hall. Twenty-five years and three kids later, we are still happily married and have made Oswego our home.

Through my willingness to serve, different opportunities arose. One of the stranger things I did, not once, but twice, was sleep on a table in Swetman Gym as the sole overnight security staff of the annual Fall Technology Conference. That’s a long way from where I am now, having served eight times as chair of the conference, now in its 79th year.

For two years I ran a Recycling Regatta on Glimmerglass Lagoon. Recycling was just kicking in and former student, Brian LaBarr ’89 M’97, thought it would be neat to design and build “boats” and then race them. By the way, it takes 10, 64-ounce Tide bottles to hold up 100 pounds of weight. The experience was a blast.

blueprintDuring my junior year, I built a never-been-built before lounge chair designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Design faculty member John Belt acquired plans from former student Tom Knoble. The chair was intended for the Usonian Pope-Leighey House, in Falls Church, Va. Mr. Belt seized a moment and took me and some others on a road trip to the house, where I got to meet Mr. Pope, for whom the house was built. I brought up the plans and he said that he was supposed to build it, but it was beyond his wood-working skills. Over my senior year I took on the challenge; the plans included all sorts of strange angles, but I did it.

It was fitting to finish my undergrad career at Oswego with my last exam in the last exam slot: Manufacturing with Don Feck. I went off and taught in public schools around Central New York for the next six years and finished my graduate degree, also at Oswego. When I learned about an opening in the department—the first in 15 years—I jumped on it. Lo and behold, I was offered to come back and teach at my alma mater. I returned in fall 1998 and, once again, Mr. Feck was there to be my faculty mentor.

My journey from assistant professor to associate professor has included the transformation and update of the physical structure of the department. It’s an amazing environment to work in, with a nice mix of the traditional and the modern.

As a faculty member in the department it is my duty—and primary drive—to continue the quality of education and service to the students. I mean, if you’re willing, as a faculty member, to drive about 13 hours in a van full of students to Virginia Beach to The Education Cooperative Connections Academy (TECCA) East competition, and not do it just once, but continue doing it after 10 years, you understand the importance of carrying on the tradition that was handed down to me. The students come in and we give them the opportunity to design and create. We show them the process for discovery, and it is really exciting to nurture them along. It’s the accomplishments of the students, that’s the fun part of being the teacher.

Rich Bush ’92 M’97

Rich Bush ’92 M’97 is an associate professor of technology in the School of Education, and chairs the annual Fall Technology Conference at SUNY Oswego. He is pictured in the Frank Lloyd Wright chair he built during his junior year at SUNY Oswego.

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