More than 100 students gathered in the Admissions Building on Tuesday evening for a discussion between two of Binghamton University’s most well-known figures, President Harvey Stenger and adjunct English professor Ryan Vaughan, about University issues, love and personal legacies.
The event was hosted by Creativity+, a student-run organization which attempts to unite students and faculty across campus with unique events and projects. Creativity+ collaborated with other organizations for the event, including the University itself, which provided cups and T-shirts for attendees, Enactus, an entrepreneurial club on campus that assisted with planning and BTV, which filmed the interview.
Neil Harris, the founder of Creativity+ and a senior majoring in business administration, said a goal in organizing the event was to allow a large section of the student body to build a personal connection with faculty.
“I hope people leave the event with a newfound appreciation for our president,” Harris said. “He’s the bomb. If people realize that Harvey [Stenger] is a cool guy, they will hopefully relate more to the University.”
Rebecca Ho, a member of Creativity+ and a junior majoring in business administration, hosted the discussion between Stenger and Vaughan. The evening’s topics, decided upon by Creavity+ members, ranged from University issues, like the possibility of a football team, to personal questions about Stenger and Vaughan’s past regrets, moments of panic, life mottos and even their first crushes.
“It was the fourth grade,” Vaughan said of his first crush. “I went to kiss her and I went right past her mouth … and I threw up right on her shoes. We didn’t last.”
Stenger discussed his biggest moment of panic: a minor car collision that resulted in him embarking on a county-wide chase to catch the culprit.
“So I’m sitting at the light on Vestal [Avenue] and Vestal Parkway and this lady rear-ends me at 30 miles an hour,” Stenger said. “And she takes off, she turns down the parkway and she’s driving down the parkway and I’m sitting there going, ‘I’m going to catch this lady.’”
Stenger followed the car through Binghamton, Vestal and Johnson City before three police cars and three ambulances arrived at the scene, soon discovering that the woman who hit Stenger had been intoxicated.
The discussion also touched on more serious matters when Ho asked both Stenger and Vaughan what they wanted their legacy to be.
“Laughter — I’d like that to be my legacy,” Vaughan said. “I talk a lot about this in class, but to me laughter and humor are more intimate than sex … this, right now, what’s happening in this room, is far more intimate. Humor and a connection with a person runs deeper than something sexual. For me, laughter is everything. If I can make you laugh … that will fulfill both of us.”
Stenger said his idea of his own legacy involved looking back at the people he had come in contact with throughout his career and the experiences he had with them.
“I think for me life is about how many people you help,” Stenger said. “And not that you’re counting them, but you want to make sure you have had a positive impact on a lot of people … that’s where you want your legacy to be, that whatever career you chose, that the people that were impacted by you are happy, successful and that they thank you for it.”
Caroline Bruckner, a junior majoring in integrative neuroscience, attended the talk and said she gained a new perspective of Stenger.
“I thought it was very funny,” Bruckner said. “I think it did what it said it was going to do, which is connect students and faculty, especially Harvey [Stenger] because we don’t really get to see him in a personal setting like that very often.”