Skip header content and main navigation Binghamton University, State University of New York - News
Binghamton University Newsroom
Binghamton University Newsroom


Community Connections

Faculty, staff make a difference in Greater Binghamton
University faculty and staff members contribute to a variety of Greater Binghamton organizations. Some use talents also on display in their day jobs; others say their off-campus activities are a chance to exercise a completely different side of themselves.

The following profiles illustrate just a couple of the ways in which the University community is a tremendous resource for our community at large.

Future installments of this feature will highlight other employees’ contributions.

Do you know of another faculty or staff member making a difference in the Southern Tier?

E-mail or call 777-6626.

Don Rauschmeier
Don Rauschmeier simply loves riding motorcycles.

“I have a T-shirt,” he said, “that says, ‘If I have to explain you wouldn’t understand.’”

Rauschmeier, senior associate director of Telecommunications, is director of the Binghamton Harley Owners Group, or HOG.

“It’s not like the traditional motorcycle gang from the ’60s,” he said.

Riders in the family-oriented group include women and people in their 70s. About 50 of the 225-250 members are very active.

Don Rauschmeier, director of the Binghamton Harley Owners Group, sits on his 2004 Harley Davidson Softail, which is in storage at Southern Tier Harley-Davidson for the winter.

The local HOG chapter has raised tens of thousands of dollars in the past few years for causes ranging from Toys for Tots and Catholic Charities to the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse. The group, which meets on the last Monday of each month, raises money through raffles and by charging admission to some of its functions. Members ride together regularly and participate in local parades.

Like many of his friends in HOG, Rauschmeier took a break from riding motorcycles when he had children. Now 57, the Kattelville resident again has the time and money for bikes. A Harley can cost from $6,000 to $35,000 to start with, he said. Many riders then customize their bikes with chrome pieces and various upgrades.

Rauschmeier, who owns a 2004 Harley-Davidson Softail, rides every weekend and a couple of weekdays during the summer. Last year, he put about 13,000 miles on the bike.

He and some friends went to a motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D., last summer. Afterward, as they rode through the high plains, they came over a hill and could see a huge reservoir spread out in front of them.

“It was absolutely one of the most breathtaking scenes I’d ever seen,” Rauschmeier said. “I felt like I was part of it, instead of looking at it.”

Day job: Senior associate director of telecommunications
Off-campus group: Binghamton Harley Owners Group
Get involved:

Julian Shepherd and Cheryl Spiese

English country dancing, popular since the 1600s, thrives in Binghamton thanks in part to the efforts of two faculty members.

Julian Shepherd, cellist and associate professor of biological sciences, and librarian Cheryl Spiese, who plays flute and percussion, make up half of the foursome known as Fine Companions. They’re joined by Shepherd’s wife, Lee, on violin and by Charlene Thomson on piano, accordion and harpsichord.

Julian Shepherd, associate professor of biological sciences, plays cello with the musical group Fine Companions.

Fine Companions gives concerts and plays for weekly classes offered by Binghamton English Country Dance, part of an umbrella organization called Binghamton Community Dance. The group will perform at the annual Binghamton English Country Dance Ball later this month.

Songs for English country dancing generally have a short melody line that’s repeated with a variety of harmonies and variations. “We take turns on the melody,” Spiese said. “There’s a lot of improvisation that goes on.”

Both she and Julian Shepherd have played instruments since childhood and also enjoy the grace and complexity of English country dancing. “We were what biologists call pre-adapted to it,” Shepherd said. “It fit right in with our classical music background.”

Librarian Cheryl Spiese plays flute and percussion with the musical group Fine Companions.

He noted that the dances were originally developed to be enjoyed not only by dancers, but by nobles watching them from balconies. He finds the aesthetics of a full room of dancers going through the steps pleasing.

English country dancing can be slower and less physically demanding than contradancing, another popular form of dance that relies on live music and events led by a caller. Still, some dances are quite lively and modern English country dancing occasionally takes on a jazz tempo.

“It’s never boring,” Spiese said. “The idea is not to be kinetic but to be graceful, whether the music is fast or slow.”

Day job: Cheryl Spiese is a librarian;
Julian Shepherd is an associate professor of biological sciences
Off-campus groups: Fine Companions
and Binghamton English Country Dance
Get involved: Visit
or call 722-9327 for more details.

Connect with Binghamton:
Twitter icon links to Binghamton University's Twitter page YouTube icon links to Binghamton University's YouTube page Facebook icon links to Binghamton University's Facebook page Instagram

Last Updated: 10/14/08