Archive for August, 2011
Tamara Nash, director of OU’s Center for Civic Engagement, shares a personal, historic moment.
I had the pleasure and privilege of traveling to Washington, D.C. this past weekend for the opening of the MLK Memorial.
I spent Saturday morning at the memorial, where despite periods of rain due to Hurricane Irene, and the postponement of the official dedication scheduled for August 28, hundreds gathered all day until closing at 10:00 pm. (As you can see, I rocked the OU colors and “OUr” umbrella.)
Facing the Tidal Basin opposite the Jefferson Memorial and with the Washington Monument at its left, it is a wonderful tribute to the iconic civil rights leader who fought and died working on behalf of all of us.
A few weekends ago the campus was buzzing with activity. Perhaps you saw the lines of cars on Peachtree Road packed to the brim with enough furniture, clothes and school supplies to fill all the dorm rooms on campus multiple times over. Buried under it all, were our newest Petrels, ready to start the next chapter of their life.
A few more Petrels—not quite as new—were in the midst of this traffic as well, gathering for the Oglethorpe Alumni Board’s annual retreat held on campus that same day. Despite having to weave through the crowd of parents and freshmen, all members agreed that this year’s meeting was perfectly timed for such an exciting day on campus.
Should you hear the words, “annual retreat” and assume that our meeting was just a social gathering, I am here to report that new Alumni Board President Cleve Hill ’01 not only gave us homework before we arrived but sent us off with additional assignments once we adjourned! Nonetheless, there were no complaints to be heard as all members, ranging from the Class of 1958 to 2008 were excited to be back on campus and continue the exciting and rewarding work ahead of us.
Our meeting kicked off with reports from the Vice Presidents on the Board who each gave an update about their committee’s recent work and upcoming plans. We discussed Oglethorpe’s record breaking year for alumni giving, plans for alumni gatherings across the country, recent and upcoming contributions to the Carillon magazine, efforts surrounding admissions and how alums are continuing to attract the best and brightest students, and plans for various career networking events coming to campus. It was so exciting to hear all the new ideas, recent success stories, and plans for the future coming out of each committee.
During lunch, we were joined by another group of hard working alums—our class agents responsible for generating continued growth in alumni giving—and OU President Dr. Larry Schall, who discussed some new and exciting efforts and priorities for the future of the campus.
In addition to the full Board meetings, we were able to participate in various roundtable discussions. As a member of the Communications Committee, I joined in on a discussion related to how we could make the Carillon an even greater publication for all Oglethorpe alums. We came up with some GREAT ideas so be on the lookout for several new features!
Finally, the Alumni Weekend 2012 theme was revealed by the Events Committee. Mark your calendars for April 26-29, 2012—you won’t want to miss this!!!
Being back on campus always makes me nostalgic and it is such a pleasure serving on the Alumni Board with so many committed and excited people who are all “making a life, making a living, making a difference.” I always come away from our gathering energized and so proud of my alma mater.
Photo above: Jodie Sexton Goff ’02 with Alumni Board President Cleve Hill ’01.
The Chi Kappa “cast” is set to produce Of Dice & Men, a coming-of-age play about six young people, all Dungeons and Dragons players, who must suddenly face the fact that one of their own will soon be deployed to Iraq—a conflict that will force them to realize why they game, what it means to grow up, and what true friendship looks like. Dice is one of this year’s breakout stage productions, and the thespians from OU’s Alpha Psi chapter are bringing it to the Lupton Hall stage later this fall.
The whole play, from top to bottom, is entirely student produced. To help defray the cost of building the set, costumes, and outfitting the Lupton stage for a production of this quality, Alpha Psi has set up an online fundraiser, powered by Kickstarter.com. They’ve already raised over $1300, and are looking to raise a total of $2000 by the beginning of next month. Danielle Hitchcock ’12, the play’s director, says that bringing an up-and-coming stageplay like Of Dice & Men to the Atlanta theatre scene is a wonderful challenge for the cast and a real treat for audiences.
“This show really spoke to me, and I am going to do my very best to bring to the stage all of the realism and truth of the relationships and emotion that Cameron McNary composed in the work,” said Danielle. “This show is extremely touching, and I think it will resonate with anyone who sees it, regardless of whether or not they’ve ever even heard of Dungeons and Dragons.”
“The game is really more of a device to show how close the characters are and to explore what it means to grow up. I know that our tightly-knit ‘Ogle-community’ will be universally affected by the conflict of the play as everyone has had to deal with changes in their family of friends—whether it is just someone graduating or something more serious, the emotions in this play are ones that everyone must deal with at some point.”
Alpha Psi Omega’s Kickstarter fundraiser ends on Sunday, August 28, but the group will continue to collect donations through September 1. To donate, please e-mail Danielle Hitchcock.
Photo: (from left) Ryan Boland ’14 and seniors Jacque McFadden ’12, Alfred Rudzki ’12, and Danielle Hitchcock ’12 read through Of Dice and Men.
Here at the OU Blog, we’ve heard plenty of stories of students traveling all over the world to enhance their OU education. Most explore places like England, Spain, and plenty of places in Asia—but a student studying archaeology in Turkey? That’s a new one for us!
Meet Katherine Harkleroad ’12. She is an art history major at Oglethorpe, and decided to spend her summer in Turkey, where she attended an international archaeology seminar at Crisler Library. Crisler is an American archaeological research and teaching facility which hosts some of the world’s brightest researchers and historians. The program is open to undergraduates, graduates, and PhD candidates, and it’s based in Selçuk, near the ancient Roman city of Ephesus.
But when we say archaeology, don’t think of Katherine with a shovel and brush in hand. As much as she’d probably love to dig, Katherine was taking the seminar from the standpoint of an art historian, and was a respectful observer of those “on the ground.”
“We are not actually digging in the dirt,” explained Katherine, while still in Turkey. “We are visiting Ephesus and the surrounding sites—such as Priene, Miletus, Didyma, and Aphrodisias—with archaeologists and professors from around the world…Turkey is very strict about who is involved in excavations. Although the archaeologists here are from all over, the excavation crews are from Turkey…[While] walking behind the scenes at many of the sites, our group has been able to view and hear about finds that are not yet published.”
Even without digging, Katherine kept a busy schedule. Each morning, she and her colleagues traveled to a new site, exploring topics such as Roman private life, cult and politics, pagan sanctuaries, and how the Romans supplied themselves with water. The seminar is taught by esteemed archaeologists known the world over for their research, including Germany’s Hilke Thür, the main lecturer in the course and a thirty-year veteran in the field.
“It is such a great opportunity to visit Ephesus and the surrounding sites with such a well known and renowned archaeologist,” said Katherine. “[This] has helped me better understand archaeological practices, excavation, and restoration techniques and strategies. Such things are very useful for historians as well as art historians. [In the past,] I have taken a basic archaeology course, but this seminar has given me first-hand experience with the field of archaeology.”
So, after spending her summer up close and personal with professional archaeologists, can this Petrel see some digs in her future?
“I am very interested in the work of archaeologists, but I don’t think that I am cut out for the life of an archaeologist,” comments Katherine. “The work season for most [is in] the summer, [when the] heat and sun are brutal. The living conditions in an excavation house are…interesting! …like being at camp,” she says laughingly. “The program was a great—a once in a lifetime opportunity. It was amazing.”
Photo: Katherine atop a fortress at the Basilica of St. Johns in Selçuk, near Ephesus.
Orientation Day at Oglethorpe is unlike orientation at any other school. While new Petrels do rush to meet their professors and participate in the essential get-to-know-your-campus activities, they also add another stop to their list of things to do: community service throughout the Atlanta area.
On Monday morning, Oglethorpe University’s incoming class volunteered at seven Atlanta-area nonprofits as part of the annual Orientation Day of Service. In past years students have volunteered during their first week of college, but this is the first time an entering class has reached seven locations within the same day!
For most, it was a way to become acclimated with the city around them, and experience hands-on learning about an an Atlanta nonprofit, its mission, and how it serves the community need. For others, like 17-year old Parth Patel, the biggest personal impact of the project was having the opportunity to create relationships with classmates from around the world.
“[The day of service] was a great way for me to start making friends,” explained Parth, who spent his morning clearing shrubs and picking up litter at nearby Silver Lake. “I am originally from Zambia, and it is neat to meet other international students from all over… because we’ve been working together all morning, we’ve had plenty of time to talk and learn about each other’s cultures and backgrounds.”
Parth and 19 fellow freshmen volunteered at Silver Lake in preparation for the community’s 100-year anniversary celebration. But hundreds of other Petrels spread out around the metro area with plenty of other tasks in mind. About 80 volunteers packed and sorted books for Africa’s youth at Books for Africa in Smyrna while 40 others worked at Medshare, sorting and preparing medical supplies for those in need the world over. Another 50 offered their hands at Decatur’s Delano Line Park, helping to remove invasive species on its grounds, through a program called Park Pride. At Grant Park, more than 100 volunteers worked to prepare and beautify Atlanta’s oldest public park—just in time for next weekend’s Grant Park Summer Shade Festival. More students visited Open Hand, packaging meals for medically-fragile patients, and more still spent time at Push Push Theatre, cleaning, organizing and painting areas of the theatre in preparation for a television show that is to be filmed there in the fall.
In recognition of their efforts, the Class of 2015 received the Phoenix Award from the office of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed for “exemplary commitment to community service” and “for its hard work and dedication toward improving our quality of life and making our city a better place to live, work and play.” The Phoenix Award is given to organizations and individuals who have made significant contributions to the residents of Georgia.
“Oglethorpe University has expanded its Orientation Day of Service for incoming students to reach multiple nonprofit sites in the Atlanta area,” said Tamara Nash, director of the Oglethorpe’s Center for Civic Engagement. “Our goal is to make the service experience more impactful for both the nonprofits and for the students.”
Last week Michelle Hall, OU’s Vice President for Campus Life, was preparing for students’ arrival for the new semester and noticed a few areas around campus that could use a little sprucing up before the incoming class was the first to arrive on Saturday. She challenged Oglethorpe RAs and orientation leaders who were already on campus, to beautify their home-away-from-home in just over 24 hours. The students then challenged each other to see which group could collect the most trash.
With that, they got to work. The crews completely filled 40 heavy duty trash bags with their finds, and discovered a number of (rather peculiar) items in the process, including tiki torches, old furniture, traffic cones, and even a car tire.
“I honestly did not think we’d need as many trash bags as we did,” said Dona Kiosef ’14, a rising sophomore at OU. “We found some weird stuff, too. The coolest thing I found was the face of a CPR dummy. I was proud of it [and] showed it off during the pick up…Who doesn’t like sprucing up the place where we all live? It was tons of fun in the end and even served as a bonding experience between us all.”
Even after sorting through piles of trash and proudly sporting numerous mosquito bites, it’s safe to say that these Petrels clean up well.
“[They] really went above and beyond the call of duty to ready our campus for the newest Petrels,” said Dean Hall. “Their teamwork and willingness to help truly reflects the spirit of Oglethorpe.”
Photos: (1) Two teams of OU Residence Assistants and Orientation Leaders take a break from beautifying their campus. (2) Part of the campus clean up included bamboo removal near the Emerson Student Center—now the Conant Performing Arts Center and a small creek are visible from Emerson.
With the new academic year, starting in less than a week, comes the announcement of the name of Oglethorpe’s new athletic conference that will launch in 2012-13: the Southern Athletic Association (SAA).
The new conference is truly southern, in that all eight member schools represent six southern states, its territory reaching from Georgia and Alabama over to colleges in Kentucky and Arkansas. The geographic focus will result in reduced travel time and fewer missed classes, while still allowing for a strong conference of like-minded institutions, all of which integrate competitive athletics into the whole of the student’s educational experience.
In a statement released today, the SAA announced its commitment to “fostering athletic competition and cooperation among academically selective, residential liberal arts colleges located in the southeastern region of the United States.”
The SAA member schools are Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama, Centre College in Kentucky, Hendrix College in Arkansas, Millsaps College in Mississippi, Oglethorpe University and Berry College in Georgia, and Rhodes College and Sewanee: The University of the South in Tennessee.
Jay Gardiner, athletics director at Oglethorpe, will serve as the Southern Athletic Association interim commissioner. Oglethorpe president Lawrence Schall will serve as convener of the conference’s Presidential Council during the 2011-12 academic year while Brian Chafin, athletics director at Centre, will serve as convener of the Athletics Director Council in 2011-12.
Former Oglethorpe golfing great Olafur Loftsson, who guided the Stormy Petrels to their first ever NCAA Championship in May 2009, earned an invitation to compete in the PGA Tour Wyndham Championship held this weekend at the Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C.
Loftsson, who now plays under scholarship as a senior for UNC-Charlotte, will compete at the PGA Tour event as an amateur after earning the invite by winning the prestigious Cardinal Amateur in Greensboro this past weekend. He fired a final round 65 to win the event by four strokes and clinch his chance to compete against the sport’s best this weekend.
In May of 2009, Loftsson, then a sophomore transfer from Gardabaer, Iceland, won medalist honors and the Arnold Palmer Player-of-the-Year distinction by leading Oglethorpe to the Division III National Championship.
Loftsson came to Oglethorpe on a foreign student exchange program as a sophomore in the fall of 2008 and was scheduled to return to Iceland following the academic year. His performance on the golf course, however, caught the eye several Division I schools with available golf scholarships. OU Golf head coach Jim Owen made phone calls on Olafur’s behalf and it wasn’t long before the “Iceman”, as he was affectionately known to teammates, had landed a full ride to compete for the 49ers of UNC-Charlotte.
The Wyndham Championship begins on Thursday and will be broadcast from on the Golf Channel from 3:00-6:00 p.m. both Thursday and Friday. If he is fortunate enough to survive the cut, Loftsson could be viewed on CBS this Saturday and Sunday from 3:00-6:00 p.m. To view the Championship website with links to a live updating leaderboard, go here.
Photo: Loftsson shown holding up his medalist trophy after guiding the Stormy Petrels to the 2009 NCAA Championship.
Each year 10,000 abused and neglected dogs are brought to Atlanta’s Fulton County Animal Control. Though half of those animals are adopted out to loving families, nearly 5,000 dogs become casualties in the most populated animal shelter in Georgia. That’s where people like Michael Rowe ’95 come in. Michael works for the Barking Hound Village Foundation Rescue, a non-profit that rehabilitates and find homes for dogs that end up on the shelter’s death row. Their mission is to save the lives of lost, abandoned and unwanted pets in Fulton County. And that mission, according to Michael, falls right in line with his life course.
Back in June of last year, three pit bull puppies found Rowe as he walked his pit-pointer mix, and through his search for a good home for those pups, he stumbled on Barking Hound. This wasn’t the first time Matt had found himself seeking help for a misplaced canine in his community. After spending some time with the organization, Michael seized an opportunity to carry out this work full-time.
“[People] have always said, ‘Do [for a living] what you like to do anyway,” says Michael. “Well, I’ve always taken the dogs in…I’ve done that all my life. This is something I really love doing…and I think I’ve found my niche.”
There are only a handful of full-time associates at BHVFR, so Michael shares a number of different responsibilities—but his main job is preparing 60 dogs each month for a new home. Unlike most other animal shelters, Barking Hound guarantees a home to the 60 dogs they take in each month, relocating them through other rescues in the northeastern U.S.—where strays are fewer and sterilization laws are stringent. Each month, Michael selects the dogs he is confident the foundation can place, and spends the entire month rehabilitiating, socializing, and nursing sick dogs back to health. After placing the dogs on their website for other reputable rescue organizations to see, the dogs are then transported to the partner rescue, where a loving family meets the dog. In less than two years, Barking Hound has saved the lives of over 1,500 animals.
This year Oglethorpe University will participate in President Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, which challenges more than 300 colleges and universities around the country to promote intentional interfaith dialogue and community service. Oglethorpe will focus specifically on the issues of health and hunger.
To work toward meeting the challenge, OU students and staff created COEXIST Oglethorpe, an effort open to all Oglethorpe students, faculty, staff, and alumni who are interested in this interfaith initiative. Staff from the offices of Admission, Campus Life, and Center for Civic Engagement have met with students Clair Carter ’12, Jimmy Comerford ’13, Emily Sharfstein ’14, Awet Woldegebriel ’14, Zach Robinson ’15 and Ruwa Romman ’15 throughout the summer to pave the road for the next two semesters.
“COEXIST helps us create a culture of understanding and in doing so, allows us to reach out to the community and work towards progress in health and hunger,” said incoming freshman and committee member Zach Robinson ’15.
Heather Staniszewski ’02, assistant director of the Center for Civic Engagement, recalls that when she first started working at Oglethorpe, she was impressed with “the Interfaith Council and collaboration between faith groups to keep the dialogue open and ongoing.” She joined COEXIST Oglethorpe because it “gives [her] a chance to work with students and fellow OU staff members of different faiths to not only educate the community, but educate [each other].”
The fall semester’s inaugural event, to be held September 11, 2011 in Emerson Student Center, will combine service projects with an educational interfaith dialogue. The day will consist of three different service projects including a healthy nonperishable food drive, a blood drive from 1:00-6:00 p.m. hosted by the American Red Cross, and an opportunity to write letters to soldiers and veterans. From 2:00-4:00 p.m. a panel of various community faith leaders will answer questions and lead discussions with participants.
Please direct any questions or interest in volunteering for these events to the Center for Civic Engagement staff via email at email@example.com or call 404-504-1978. We hope to see you in Emerson on Sunday, September 11.