This summer’s short term, for-credit trip to Italy made an enormous impact on the students who participated. Following up on the original post by Dr. Jeffrey Collins, we now hear from three of those students, in their own words. [Part III] [Part IV]
When people ask me “how was Italy?” I simply respond with “amazing”. The fact is, though, it was more than that. It was life-changing. I learned so much, saw so much, and had such a fantastic time that telling it all to someone like a story is simply impossible—there’s too much to fit in.
The schedule included monuments, museums, gardens and segway tours, but the best times of the trip were unexpected. We’d be tired after a day of walking, or hungry for lunch, or too full of information to handle another bite and then suddenly, out of nowhere, there’d be magic.
From the Medici-offices-turned-art-museum Uffizi, to the towering bronze-doored Duomo, Florence is magical. Walking the cobblestone streets overlooking the Arno, where Leonardo DaVinci walked, staring through glass at Galileo’s right hand, strolling through the market where old, weathered men hand-sew buttery leather pouches like their families have done for centuries, everything about Florence is interesting, beautiful and amazing.
There are, of course, some standout moments. At Reginella’s, a family-owned restaurant Dr. Collins found that became “our favorite” the first night, my pizza was delivered in the shape of a heart! (I think red hair is a novelty in Italy, haha.) It doesn’t matter what age, what major, or what you’re expecting, seeing Michelangelo’s David in person will stop your heart. When I saw it, I understood. He’s alive in the marble, and as you walk around him his brow seems to furrow, his chest heaves, his eyes flicker. He looks so alive that I half-expected his fingers to twitch around his sling. In Art and Culture, I learned that when the David was first shown to the public, people were scared because they thought he was alive. Now that I’ve seen it in person, I finally understand. It’s the kind of lesson you can’t learn from a textbook.
I’ve never had a formal art class, but having Professor Loehle on the trip was better. He took the time to explain the beauty in art and how it relates to what I’m studying. He showed us the elegance of Caravaggio, helped me realize my love for Giambologna, and inspired me to find beauty everywhere—from the most heavily-guarded painting in the Uffizi, to the faces of the people in the Piazza Navona. He became part of the trip family, always helpful, always upbeat, always “just here to help.”
My favorite part of Florence was the church of Santa Croce. I thought, when I walked in, that it was going to be another church in the line of churches we saw, all amazing and beautiful. But it was so much more. There are marble tombs in the floors with bas reliefs of the people in them. There are winding hallways that go to rooms with floor to ceiling cabinets full of centuries-old books with illuminated lettering. I went through a little door that was slightly ajar and found a tiny room with stone water fountains in the shape of lion heads lining one wall and a door in the floor beside a porch that led into a tiny garden. I took pictures and snuck around until I realized that it was an employee-only area. Restricted sections make the best adventures, and Florence was a beautiful adventure.
But it’s Rome that has my heart. When we walked around Rome with Collins and Loehle, it was a constant surprise. Dr. Collins is a walking encyclopedia, and many times I’d look around to find people from guided tours had ditched their neon-shirted tour guide in favor of listening to him speak. He had a way of making every topic we covered interesting, funny, and memorable, even if it was something I would never have cared about before. Once, he stopped us in front of side street and said “I’ve got a surprise for you!” We walked into an unassuming church and then one by one fell silent as we looked up at the most amazing ceiling I have ever seen, with frescos that seem to jump off the ceilings at Sant’Ignazio.
At the Vatican, we were again struck mute by the towering, frescoed ceilings, the light filtering through the windows onto Michelangelo’s Pieta, and the sheer number of people, all silent, all staring upwards.
Then there were the random days. A small group of us took a side trip to the Catacombs of San Sebastiano, miles and miles of tunnels where people have been buried for centuries. Being underneath Rome, walking by tombs with frescoed ceilings and still-intact ancient pots of oil is like being inside of history. There’s graffiti on the walls dating back to the 3rd century (Peter was here, 1989. Peter was here, 1771. Pietr was here 900. Petri was here 256.) The church above the catacombs has floors made of some of the oldest marble in Rome. I stepped on snail fossils bigger than my hand that date back to the Cretaceous period (65 million years ago! WHAT???)
(On our last day in Rome, Professor Loehle, Adrienne Findley, and I worked out my plan to move to Italia. I’ve already picked my apartment. By—ahem— COMPLETELY unplanned, TOTALLY accidental coincidence, it’s on the same street as the best gelato in Rome. Yes, you can visit.)
In a word, it was amazing. I used that word a lot on the trip, but astonishing, fantastic, extraordinary, unbelievable, no word can really capture the feeling of being so utterly swept off your feet by beauty, by history, by culture, by Italy. In Florence, we lived like Italians. When we returned to Rome, we walked like natives. When I go back, it will feel like I’m home. This experience was more than I could have ever hoped for, and I can’t wait to study abroad again.
A group of Oglethorpe University students and professors recently returned from a short term, for credit academic study abroad trip to Florence and Rome, Italy. Here, Dr. Jeffrey Collins shares some of their life changing experiences, accompanied by photos courtesy of student Robert Findley.
I could not begin to describe this extraordinary trip, Oglethorpe’s tenth to Italy. Perfect May-like weather throughout, and we spent six hours a day in examining art, architecture, and sites, lecturing, and giving fabulous reports.
Think of our students standing in front of the Pantheon, walking Piazza Navona, walking through and discussing the art in the Vatican, analyzing the sculptures of Michelangelo, Bernini, many Baroque churches, paintings from Leonardo to Caravaggio, examining the ruins of the Roman forum. It was the best kind of education—they all agreed, and were passionately engaged—well, it is Italy, and art is everywhere.
In Florence, we explored and spoke and questioned the art in the Uffizi, the Piazza Signoria, studied the architecuture of Santa Maria Novella, the Santa Maria della Fiore, and a host of churches—Santa Croce of course—discovering how the Renaissance emerged here, how perspective was rediscovered, how Medici money and genius and artistic perfection and rediscovery of ancient works all fused and formed an era unmatched in western history.
Each day was a day of unparalleled discoveries for most of the students who, by the way, never stepped on a plane before. They learned some Italian, more than just ciao or bona serra, tasted some fine Italian brunellos and montepulcianos, ate prosciutto in the Tuscan noon up at Fiesole. I brought them to the best leather factory in all of Florence, where several bought the best leather purses designed for Grace Kelly. Days spent laughing, studying, dodging vespas, eating marvelous pastries—la dolce vita—walking for miles, building a remarkable community of scholars. As we talked in museums, onlookers from elsewhere would gather and listen and comment upon the student presentations. Two people from boring tour groups told us they wish they were with us.
Professor Alan Loehle and I tag teamed [this trip], and his commentaries and his artistic insights were sheer genius. We are indeed fortunate to have a Guggenheim artist at our university, and the students loved his perceptions and revelations about every painting. I cannot think of a better colleague to work with on these trips, as he rose to the occasion and served with me as teacher, scholar, father, counselor, friend, and a few times, positive disciplarian.
Our hotels were splendid, the food more so. Students cried during our final meal, and many of them, having learned Rome and Florence, went in small groups and explored on their own—they became confident, capable, and independent, exactly what we want, telling us in excited breath their views of Pozzo’s ceiling in Il Gesu or what they found in the hidden symbols of Botticelli’s Primavera. Their most memorable night, no doubt, was the opera at St. Mark’s—La Boheme. Our ladies all cried, the men tried to hold back the tears.
Adrienne Findley, the wife of Oglethorpe’s Board Chair Norm Findley, was absolutely remarkable—she was THE great model of energy, excitement, and joy for our our younger women on the trip, and she too served as a “Mom” and asked great questions that stirred and inspired our students. Everyone was sad the day she had to leave us. She will hold a reunion party for us all at her home soon. The students loved her.
It took some all-in-fun effort to get them focused on broken pediments and balustrades as we passed shop after designer shop—shoes, belts, crosses, icons, leather books, more shoes. Not one complaint though, and the transports were all perfectly timed. Soon, through some blogs, and pics and Facebooking, you will hear and see what they discovered.
I never saw so much community and friendship and cameras and support among students: they acted like an army when we needed them to be so, delivered reports like first-rate scholars when asked to do so, and brought each other home to the hotels each night, the guys guarding the ladies like knights, walking back with gelato in hand, the ladies with scarves and purses—they realized they too could be quite sophisticated, and were.
They all want to go to Greece now, and will; they all told us Oglethorpe was the best, they all will graduate and remember nights in the Palazzo Vecchio and the Tuscan dawns, the touch of refined marble, the rich expresso, and the light pouring upon their faces for eternal moments under the vast dome of the Vatican.
One student, Robert Findley, said it perfectly: “I cannot go back to what I was now, I see the world so differently. I have been blessed by beauty.”
To see more of Robert’s photos from the Italy study abroad trip, visit Oglethorpe’s Flickr photo page.
Cleo “Fifi” Sloan, a 2011 graduate of Oglethorpe, has been awarded a prestigious scholarship to attend Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London to study in the Masters of Arts in Art Business program, commencing in September 2013. The school is the educational wing of Sotheby’s, one of the world’s largest auctioneers of art and jewelry.
Sloan joined Oglethorpe’s Evening Degree Program (EDP) in 2008 as a communications major and planned to pursue a career in the field of integrative medicine. However, once she took her first art history course, she says, “I realized that a passion for art steadily pumped through my veins, and there was nothing that I could do to suppress it.” With some encouragement from her mentor, Dr. Jeffrey Collins, she developed an Individually Planned Major (IPM) in Art Business. She says that she soon found herself “being molded into a prime candidate” for the Master in Arts Program at Sotheby’s.
While at OU Sloan served as the David Willis Presidential Fellow and received Oglethorpe’s coveted “Art History Achievement Award” for two consecutive years. She also participated in several study abroad programs in Oxford, Paris and Italy. She graduated in 2011 as the first EDP student in Oglethorpe’s history to graduate Magna Cum Laude with an IPM in Art Business.
Sloan’s advice for other adults considering continuing their education is this: “Dream, and dream big! And when you open your eyes, know that there are others at Oglethorpe who are dreaming big for you.”
On May 22, 1932, then New York Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt received a Doctor of Laws honorary degree from Oglethorpe University at the commencement ceremony held at the Fox Theatre. He gave a rousing speech about the state of the nation—and that speech went on to become historically significant as the beginning of the future President’s New Deal plan.
“The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.
We need enthusiasm, imagination and the ability to face facts, even unpleasant ones, bravely. We need the courage of the young. Yours is not the task of making your way in the world, but the task of remaking the world which you will find before you. May every one of us be granted the courage, the faith and the vision to give the best that is in us to that remaking!”
Thornwell Jacobs, the President of Oglethorpe at the time, chose to award Roosevelt with the honorary degree “in recognition of his high achievements in statesmanship, economics, and philanthropy.” (New York Times, March 28, 1931.)
FDR had deep connections to Georgia. He often visited the state for treatment of his paralytic illness. His personal retreat, Little White House, was built on his 1,750-acre farm at the top of Pine Mountain. The farm is now part of Georgia’s biggest state park that was named after him.
Our own President Schall also reflected on this speech in his personal blog.
President Roosevelt’s words withstand the test of time—and his entire Oglethorpe commencement speech is well worth the read!
OU seniors would like to invite YOU to Oglethorpe University’s Senior Art Show. The four-day exhibition is curated by Professor Alan Loehle and comprised of works by graduating art majors and minors from Oglethorpe University.
Students Nicole Kang, Lauren Visconti, Lara Jacques, Sarah Duff, Kara Samples, Sean Lovett, Michaela Mayfield, Samantha Korotskin, Bianca Hernould, Hannah Goldman, Jessica Sundstrom, Leeane Eldredge, Katie Odell, and Ian Franklin will showcase some of their best works created during their time as undergraduates. A wide range of works in mediums, styles, and subjects will be part of the exhibit.
The show will run May 11 – 14, 2012 in the Talmage Room of the Emerson Student Center. An opening reception will be held on May 11, 2012, 7-9 p.m. Need more information? E-mail Nicole Kang at email@example.com.
The Oglethorpe University 2012 Commencement ceremony was held on Saturday, May 12, 2012 at 9:00 a.m., on the academic quadrangle of the OU campus. For a full recap of this special day, see our 2012 Commencement Scrapbook.
President Larry Schall presided over the ceremony honoring more than 250 graduating seniors. During the ceremony, Oglethorpe presented three honorary degrees to:
– Zhanna Arshanskaya Dawson, an accomplished pianist, Holocaust survivor, and former faculty at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, who will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters.
– Sue Adcock Frueauff, a foundation and community leader, will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
– Ted Turner, a renowned leader in business and philanthropy, will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
Each honorary degree recipient addressed the Class of 2012. Past recipients of honorary degrees include President Franklin D. Roosevelt, President Woodrow Wilson, and Amelia Earhart.
Zhanna Arshanskaya Dawson is a Ukrainian-American pianist and former faculty member of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University (Bloomington). Dawson came to national prominence in 2009 after her son, journalist Greg Dawson, published the book Hiding in the Spotlight chronicling his mother’s escape from the Holocaust. A young prodigy, Dawson began piano lessons at age five and made her performance debut at age 6 on the radio. She later received scholarships to attend the Moscow State Conservatory. In 1941, she was forced to flee the persecution of Jews in her hometown. She escaped only to find herself forced to survive by playing her music for Nazi soldiers from the army that had killed their parents. Dawson was eventually adopted and brought to the United States, where she studied music at the Juilliard School of Music.
Sue Adcock Frueauff has served as a trustee at the Charles A. Frueauff Foundation in Little Rock, Ark. for 22 years. From 1996-2001 she also worked as a program officer at the foundation, and since 2001 has served as chief administration officer. Prior to the foundation, Frueauff worked for 16 years as an elementary school principal in Russellville, Arkansas, and 13 years as a classroom teacher in the Arkansas Public Schools. Frueauff has served on numerous boards and in leadership positions at the Arkansas Tech University Foundation, University of the Ozarks, American Association of University Women (Branch and State President), Arkansas Curriculum Development Association, Suspected Child Abuse & Neglect, Centers for Youth & Families, and many more. She is an active volunteer and leader in her community, having given her time and talents to Arkansas Rice Depot, Stewpot, Interfaith Hospitality Network, Single Parent Scholarship Fund, Arkansas Literacy Council, Child Protection Team, and numerous others. Frueauff earned her Master of Science in Education at the University of Central Arkansas and her bachelor’s at Arkansas Technical University.
Throughout his career, Ted Turner has received recognition for his entrepreneurial acumen, sharp business skills, leadership qualities, and his unprecedented philanthropy. Whether in billboard advertisement, cable television, sports team ownership, sailing, environmental initiatives or philanthropy, Turner’s vision, determination, generosity and forthrightness have consistently given the world reason to take notice. Turner is chairman of the United Nations Foundation, which promotes a more peaceful, prosperous and just world; co-chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a charitable organization working to reduce the global threats from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons; chairman of the Turner Foundation, which supports efforts for improving air and water quality, developing a sustainable energy future to protect the earth’s climate, safeguarding environmental health, maintaining wildlife habitat protection, and developing practices and policies to curb population growth rates; and co-founder of Ted’s Montana Grill restaurant chain, which operates 44 locations nationwide. Turner is also chairman of Turner Enterprises, Inc., which manages his business interests, land holdings and investments, including the oversight of two million acres in 12 states and in Argentina, and more than 55,000 bison.
The annual Georgia Undergraduate Research in Psychology Conference was recently hosted by nearby Kennesaw State University. More than 110 students from nearly 20 universities presented either research posters or talks. Many were honor students from their respective universities—which this year included universities from surrounding states as well.
The Oglethorpe Psychology Department was represented by seven students who had their work accepted for the conference: Jahnavi Delmonico, Julia Fukuda, Cassie Hendrix, Allison Moore, Justin Sabree, Brittany Weiner and Janet Wood. They presented a mixture of research posters and talks based on the original data they had collected in their respective studies from the past year. In addition, all of them participated in a juried competition sponsored by the Georgia Psychological Association (GPA) for best research at the conference. Judges consisted of executive members of the GPA and professors of research methodology.
For the fourth year in a row, an Oglethorpe student earned first place! Specifically, Cassie Hendrix submitted a study she completed during her “Theories of Personality” course on the effects of anxiety on people’s ability to correctly interpret the emotions expressed in facial expressions. She presented her research in a 250-seat auditorium, where she led the audience through a Powerpoint presentation of her study, followed by a question and answer session. Cassie and I (as her faculty sponsor) received certificates of recognition and Cassie received a cash award. She joins previous GPA-sponsored conference winners Ilana Olin and Mary Beth Bidgood (2009), Alyx Buonanotte (2010), and Balbir Khalsa and Brittany Weiner (2011).
Participants had the opportunity to attend all the talks and poster sessions, as well as listen to a keynote address and attend a career/graduate school panel discussion. It was an excellent opportunity to meet students and professors from other schools and to learn from fellow excellent researchers.
All of the students gained valuable experience, practiced publicly presenting and defending their work, and had a good time spending the day with each other and the department faculty. Congratulations to all of you!
Editor’s Note: The Oglethorpe University Psychology Department routinely encourages its students to submit original research they have designed and conducted to professional research conferences. Our students typically attend several conferences during their undergraduate education. Submitting one’s work for peer review by experts in the field and then defending that work in a professional setting is wonderful training for graduate school, professional schools (e.g., medical and law) and many careers.
Oglethorpe seniors Andrew Davenport and Sandy Vuong recently let me tag along to watch their springtime, end-of-semester urban ecology project take off… literally.
The two students were assigned special projects for their Urban Ecology class, taught by Dr. Roarke Donnelly, OU associate professor of biology and director of the Urban Ecology Program. Davenport and Vuong, both biology majors, decided to team up and investigate the behavior of Eastern bluebirds.
“Bluebirds prefer to find pre-existing cavities and build their nests in them,” said Davenport. “They pick already available accommodations and make them their own. Our research aims at explaining why they choose certain locations to nest and not others.”
The project quickly became a campus-wide effort. OU’s Sigma Zeta National Science and Mathematics Society stepped in to help create the habitats, in hopes that the birds would choose them. Chassidy Teal, Sigma Zeta president, and the other Sigma Zeta members built the birds’ boxes as a service project. Dr. John Cramer, OU professor of physics, helped with the building effort and installed them around campus.
There are now 10 boxes all over the OU campus and half of them are occupied by bluebird families. Some are home to adult birds only, some have eggs in them and some little hatchlings. Davenport and Vuong take turns checking the boxes and recording data several times every week.
“Eastern bluebirds don’t have as many cavities available for nesting as they did before extensive logging and land development,” said Dr. Donnelly. “Boxes serve as suitable substitutes.”
Thanks to the joint effort of the honor society and Dr. Cramer, the two OU seniors are able to use their classroom knowledge and apply it to this hands-on project. But, the experiment has benefitted the bluebirds as well as the students studying them.
“We did not have many bluebirds on campus,” said Dr. Cramer. “The experiment has attracted them to our outdoor classroom.”
Join the Urban Ecology Program and other OU science students during Science-Palooza on Wednesday, April 25, from 12:30 to 1:30 in the Academic Success Center, when they will present their projects and findings from their end-of-semester projects.
View more photos of OUr bluebird families!
On Tuesday, the OU community gathered for the 2012 Liberal Arts and Sciences Symposium to celebrate the academic achievements of our students. The annual event provides OU students with a platform to present their own work—and fellow students, faculty, parents, and staff take the opportunity to learn more about the various topics, support the presenters, and engage in passionate discussions. Nearly 200 students presented during more than 30 sessions about topics drawn from a wide variety of disciplines.
We asked students Joscelyn Stein, Dayana Diaz, and Weston Manders to give us their thoughts about the Symposium:
This year’s topics ranged from “The Homeric Hero: What Winston Churchill and Odysseus have in common…or not” to “Mosquito in the Room: America’s Cuban Obsession and the Need for a New Era of Cuban-American Relations,” to “The Evolution of Fairies in Literature: From Oral Folk Tales to Peter Pan” and “The Benefits of Cooperative Interspecies Evolution: Why Would you have a Dog?”
A new addition to the day-long event was StoryCore, where students from the OU radio station video recorded students and faculty sharing “OUr Core moments,” reflections on the Core Curriculum. Oglethorpe’s Core Program helps shape our academic community and is regularly the focus of shared stories. Many of us have our “Core moments”—when something we encounter reminds us of something we learned in a Core course, when ideas are suddenly are connected. The collection of 90-second videos will be posted on the StoryCore page over the next few weeks. Here’s the first StoryCore video in the series, by Chelsea Reed ’13, a Communications and Rhetoric major.
Also new to the Symposium this year was an “Homage To OUr CORE in Poetry and Creative Verse.” The poetry slam/creative word jam took place in the Lupton Auditorium and gave a stage to students and faculty to share their poetry, spoken word and freestyle compositions, penned in honor of our Core Curriculum. The friendly competition chose winners in a few categories:
Judges’ Choice: Kaci Palmore
Most Creative: Chou Thao
Connection to Core: Will Carter
The day-long celebration of student achievements ended in the Conant Performing Arts Center with the annual Honors and Awards Convocation, which recognized individuals who had excelled during the academic year. Congratulations to all of the honorees!