Oglethorpe’s 2013 Commencement Ceremony will be held this Saturday, May 18 at 9:00 a.m. on the academic quadrangle. President Larry Schall and Board of Trustees Chair Norman P. Findley will preside over the commencement ceremony for approximately 225 graduates. During the ceremony, Oglethorpe also will present honorary degrees (Doctor of Humane Letters) to two accomplished alumni: John Frederick (“Fred”) Agel, Sr. ’52 and Donald J. Rubin ’56.
“Oglethorpe is pleased to honor two alumni who have remained committed to this university for the past five decades,” said President Schall. “Both have generously given back in their communities and invested in the ongoing success of today’s students, embodying the Oglethorpe ideal to ‘make a life, make a living and make a difference.’”
Both honorary degree recipients will address the Class of 2013. Other speakers will include Senior Class President Carl Anthony Golden II ’13, Oglethorpe University National Alumni Association President John Cleveland Hill ’01 and Debra A. Bryant ’13, the 2011-2012 David Wills Presidential Fellow. Additional commencement details are available online.
Honorary degree recipient Fred Agel '52
Fred Agel, a World War II veteran and an Oglethorpe alumnus of the class of 1952, is a retired sales agent for Bowman Distribution and a champion of leadership in public health. Mr. Agel has remained an active volunteer with the university for many years, including serving on the Oglethorpe University Board of Trustees since 2008. Mr. Agel formerly served as President of the Oglethorpe National Alumni Association Board and has volunteered in the University Archives, the Office of Admission and the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art. He is a 1985 inductee into the Oglethorpe Athletic Hall of Fame and is the 1987 recipient of the Talmage Award, which recognizes alumni who contribute time, talent or financial resources to one or more programs of the university and/or is distinguished in the business or professional world. Mr. Agel has been a generous donor to the university over the years, and established The J. Frederick Agel, Sr. ’52 Endowed Scholarship, awarded annually to two rising seniors who contribute significantly to student life and who have a grade point average of 3.5 or higher. Mr. Agel has been an active leader in his community, supporting and volunteering with numerous organizations, including the DeKalb County Board of Health, DeKalb County United Way Council, DeKalb County Council on Literacy, DeKalb County Community Service Board, Episcopal Charities Foundation, Jerusalem House, Brookwood Atlanta Rotary Club, and with his church, St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal. He is a founder of Senior Connections and founding member and organizer of the National Association of Local Boards of Health and the Georgia Association of Community Service Boards, Inc. In recognition of his ongoing and heartfelt commitment to his community, Mr. Agel has earned numerous honors, including the national Kentucky Fried Chicken Senior Citizen Award for Outstanding Community Service. Most recently, he was named the 2013 Distinguished Older Georgian by The Georgia Council on Aging. He and his wife, Cathy, reside in Atlanta.
Honorary degree recipient Donald Rubin '56 pictured with his wife, Shelley.
Donald Rubin, an Oglethorpe alumnus of the class of 1956, is the founder of MultiPlan, Inc., a major general service PPO health provider. Now retired, Mr. Rubin is a generous philanthropist and avid arts advocate. He and his wife, Shelley, founded The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, a family foundation based in New York City that began operation in 1995 and focuses on giving to arts and culture, health and human services, and civil liberty and social justice primarily in the Himalayan region and the New York City metropolitan area. The Rubins also established the Rubin Museum of Art (New York), where Mr. Rubin currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Board of Trustees. The Rubins started collecting Himalayan art in the early 1980s and amassed a significant collection that became the core of the museum’s holdings. Mr. Rubin also developed the Himalayan Art Resources website to catalog Himalayan and Tibetan art online from collections around the world. He initiated the Labor Arts Project to gather, identify and display examples of the cultural and artistic history of American working people and to celebrate the trade union movement’s contributions to that history. A member of the Global Philanthropists Circle, Mr. Rubin has demonstrated a commitment to philanthropy throughout his life. Mr. and Mrs. Rubin have given generously to support the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, including a recent record donation to the endowment and numerous direct gifts to its permanent collection throughout the years. The Rubins have loaned artwork from their extensive personal collection for OUMA exhibitions, including: Goddess, Lion Peasant, Priest: Modern Indian Art from the Collection of Shelley & Donald Rubin (2011); What is Cuban Art? Contemporary Cuban Art from the Collection of Shelley & Donald Rubin (2009); Tibetan Contemporary Art: From the Collection of Shelley & Donald Rubin (2009); A Shower of Jewels: Wealth Deities from the Rubin Museum of Art (2008); and, Lord of Compassion: Images of Avalokiteshvara from the Rubin Museum of Art (2008). The South Gallery of the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art will be renamed as The Shelley & Donald Rubin Gallery in May 2013 in their honor.
With a less than two weeks left until graduation, reality has started to set in. Soon, Oglethorpe will not only be my university: it will be my alma mater.
As a senior, everything from conversations with nostalgic friends to commencement updates constantly remind me that this formal departure from my second home is imminent. That being said, I find myself reflecting on not only my Oglethorpe experience, but the parts of OU that I have not yet experienced.
During a discussion in my senior psychology class the idea came up to create an Oglethorpe bucket list—a list of things that every Petrel must do before the long-awaited graduation day. I’ve asked OU students and alumni to submit items to the bucket list, and compiled them below. So Petrels, next time you’re looking for a good Ogle-adventure, why not scratch a few things off “OUr” bucket list?
Walk around campus at night and discover how breathtaking Oglethorpe looks after dark
Pull an all-nighter in the 24 Hour Room
Have a picnic, play Frisbee, or just enjoy the weather on the quad with some friends
Enjoy telescope night on the roof of the library
Sunbathe with some friends at the baseball stadium when no one else is there
Run through the sprinklers on the quad
Go to lunch at that one restaurant you’ve been meaning to try ever since you got to Oglethorpe
Watch a meteor shower from the Traer courtyard or soccer field
Take MARTA downtown and explore the city—no plan, no destination, just a free afternoon and sense of adventure
Drive to Buford Highway and try a new food that you’ve never heard of and cannot pronounce
Have a mini photo shoot in Little 5 Points
Be adventurous. Go white water rafting on the Chattahoochee River, skydive, rock climb at Atlanta Rocks, etc.
Be in a campus publication
Climb a tree on campus
Take a road trip with a friend and spend the night in a new city
Count how many Oglethorpe T-shirts you have…I promise it will be more than you thought
And don’t forget, there’s always Alumni Weekend to finish checking off the list! So, what would YOU add to the list?
Thank you to the contributors of this list: Katie Goddard, Tori Lloyd, Justin Sabree, Betsy Rosillo, Rieddhi Shah, Christian Hartnett, Joshua Steltzer, Morgan Coffey, Marisa Manuel, Dr. Zinner’s History and Systems class.
Do you know about the new Oglethorpe Debate Council? After being approved in February by SGA, the Council prepared for and competed in its first tournament at Piedmont College’s Mayflower Classic in early April. The experience was as educational as it was enjoyable, and the team members left with enhanced skills and a deeper desire to continue and improve their team.
“The purpose of the Debate Council,” explained Council President Don Warden ’16, “is to embrace the art of persuasion and the sport of debate through regular meetings and practices, in addition to state and regional competition… and to encourage a love of political and philosophical rhetoric in its members and the greater community.”
Don, along with council members Luise Hessing ’16, Shanice Lover ’16, Barry Rowan ’14, Tony Adamson ’16, John Kontoghiorghes ’16, Maddie McIntosh ’16 and Ty Murphy ’16, met many times before the competition to learn theory and hold practice rounds. The type of debate they studied is called Parliamentary or “parli” debate, and it involves two sides: the Opposition (con) and Government (pro), each of which have 15-30 minutes to prepare their arguments after a topic is randomly chosen.
“My favorite part about being a member is the community (that) debate creates,” said Don. “The debate community extends beyond just the Oglethorpe Team. Everyone at this tournament was nice and friendly, and once you debate against the same schools enough you learn to be vicious to a team in the round, but best friends with them out of the round. It is also a wonderful way to connect to high school students who either currently debate or want to do collegiate debate.”
Don stressed that anyone can benefit by joining debate, and the council has many things to offer in the upcoming semesters.
“We plan to meet regularly every week,” said Don, “and we plan on competing 2-3 times a semester. Moreover, we will judge local high school tournaments in an effort to improve debate quality and recruit for OU… We are also looking to work with other new collegiate debate teams, and perhaps have mock/skirmish debates on campus about pertinent issues. Oglethorpe Debate will be a member of the Georgia Parliamentary Debate Association (GPDA) whenever we compete at their annual tournament next year, and we hope to join the National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA) next year. Our long term goals are to sustain the program and eventually host a collegiate tournament.”
The Debate Council is well on its way to becoming an Oglethorpe staple, and you can become a part of it! If interested in joining or learning more, you can contact Don Warden via facebook or email.
If you looked at the list of colleges I considered going to, Oglethorpe was number eight…out of a list of eight that included St. John’s University, Gonzaga University, Wabash College, Guilford College and Earlham College. I chose to come to Oglethorpe because of its proximity to Atlanta and its small classes. And, living up to its motto, Oglethorpe has helped me figure out how to make a life, make a living, and make a difference in society.
When I came to Oglethorpe my freshman year, all I wanted to do was “fast-forward” through the next four years. I wasn’t expecting to begin the process of starting a nonprofit called Oglethorpe’s Tiny Homes, and to work at Pegasus Creative, an on-campus student communications agency.
Two friends and I were sitting around a table during lunch, and after telling them that I wanted to build prototype tiny house that was sustainable, their response shocked me: “Yeah,” they said, “Let’s do it. We can help!” We went to the university administration about our idea and they asked us how they could help us. Oglethorpe shocked me with its spirit of encouragement.
Mon, Cartrez Wilson '15 and Jacob Tadych '14 discuss the Oglethorpe Tiny Homes project.
Although I knew that I wanted to build a house, and had an idea of how it would look, I was lost on what purpose the house would serve. Some of my classes in my major (politics) and minor (nonprofit management) actually helped me realize the purpose of Oglethorpe’s Tiny Homes.
It’s not about building houses, but rather, reinventing the philosophy and people’s perception of what a house should be. One of my politics classes, “New American City,” was focused on the political history of the city of Atlanta. Without this class, I would not have understood the dire need for affordable housing in Atlanta. Many of my politics classes have helped me understand who gets what, when and how in society. Oglethorpe’s Tiny Homes is all about creating affordable homes that increase people’s self worth without jeopardizing their net worth.
Mon with fellow Pegasus Creative member Caitlyn Mitchell '13
One of the most important things I have learned at Oglethorpe is that if you want to make a difference you must take risks and not be afraid of failure. Working at Pegasus Creative, Oglethorpe’s student communications agency, has helped me get better at taking risks and learning from my mistakes. At Pegasus, you are given responsibilities and tasks that the whole Oglethorpe community (and everyone else) can see and be affected by it. For example, I have helped build websites for Oglethorpe that potential students and current students will use. My responsibilities and the risks I’ve taken at Pegasus have helped me not be as afraid of failure.
Coming to Oglethorpe has helped me figure out how I want to live and what I want to do. Looks like my lucky number is eight.
Editor’s note: Both Mon Baroi ’15 and Jacob Tadych ’14 were recently selected to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University conference in recognition of the Oglethorpe Tiny Homes project. Read about it here.
Since 2008, Oglethorpe University has been awarded an annual grant from the The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. The grant promotes and raises awareness for highway safety issues, and thanks to Leanne Henry-Miller, director of counseling services, Oglethorpe has continued to benefit from this grant in some amazing ways.
Four Oglethorpe students participate in a banner competition about bullying at the Bacchus conference. Their participation was made possible by the grant from The Governor's Office for Highway Safety.
In 2008, the grant was fundamental in establishing the OU Alcohol and Drug Task Force. Members Gaby Pierce ’16, Zena Stephens ’13, Lukas Strasser ’14 and Katie Galli ’15 have been integral in tightening the alcohol and drug policy on campus and making sure students are more informed about sanctions. For example, this task force helped to establish the Good Samaritan Policy, which protects a student from being punished if he seeks help in an alcohol or drug-related emergency. In general, the Task Force stresses a need for uniform, clearly defined policies in regards to alcohol and drug sanctions.
Similarly, the grant is a primary sponsor of Peer Educationtraining, which is a program targeted toward leaders on campus. This spring, nine students completed the training, and learned how to respond to dangerous campus situations and how to lead through positive examples.
“Anyone who’s interested in being a leader on campus should (consider) this training,” said Leanne. “RAs, RHs, group leaders… it’s important for all gate keepers.”
Additionally, the grant provided funds to take students to the Bacchus Network Area 9 Conference. These students (Everett Jackson ’15, Gaby Pierce ’16, Brian Cornelius ’15 and Precious Goto ’16) participated in a banner competition about bullying, as well as a contest to see who could make the best Iron Chef “mocktail” (a cocktail without alcohol).
The grant also covers the cost for Alcohol e-CheckUpToGo, an online test for students who are concerned about their alcohol intake or who have been sanctioned.
Finally, the grant covers portions of speakers’ visits, such as Elaine Pasqua’s Orientation Presentation: “Sex and Excess: Surviving the Party,” which discussed how alcohol is usually a factor in sexual assault.
“The speakers are targeted towards freshmen because we know those first six weeks have high-risk behavior,” explained Leanne. “(We also) bring in speakers who target Greek life and athletes.”
Thanks to this grant, our campus has become better educated about drug risks and sanctions. Our student leaders have learned how to help their peers during moments of distress, and online tests have become available for those who are concerned about their alcohol consumption. Thanks in part to the Highway Safety Grant, Oglethorpe is becoming a safer, more informed campus, with students who are better prepared for emergencies and ready to lead their peers by example.
The Counseling Services at Oglethorpe is always ready to listen. If you have any alcohol or drug-related concerns, contact Leanne Henry-Miller at 404-364-3415.
Last year, Awet Woldegebriel ’14 was selected to be a presenter at the prestigious Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU), founded by President Clinton to bring together students, youth organizations, topic experts, and celebrities to discuss and develop innovative solutions to pressing global challenges. Awet, an international studies major, was invited to attend CGIU again this year to discuss his nonprofit Knowledge Aid—this time accompanied by three more Oglethorpe students: Mon Baroi ’15, Jacob Tadych ’14, and Carolina Duque ’13, selected to attend based on their own impressive projects.
Mon, a politics major and nonprofit management minor, and Jacob, a business major, have been working on Oglethorpe’s Tiny Homes Project since September 2011, with the help of other members of the Oglethorpe community. “The mission of Oglethorpe’s Tiny Homes Project is to build a $400 home that is sustainable and environmentally-conscious on the campus of Oglethorpe in 2013,” explained Mon. “After we build the prototype, our first home, our plan is to raise $5,000 so that we can build five homes that are endorsed by the city of Atlanta for homeless or low-income individuals.”
Mon Baroi '15 and Jacob Tadych '14 happily at work on their project
The team plans to share their plans and research online, so that it may be improved upon and replicated around the world.
“I’m excited (to attend CGIU),” Jacob said. “I’m hoping we can get networks, get more people involved… plus we get to hear all the ideas from other people.”
One of those ideas is Carolina’s nonprofit, Mas Luz, which provides services and aid to help women in Colombia who have been physically and mentally abused.
“I’m looking forward to show everybody what we are doing in Colombia to help,” said Carolina, who is from Colombia and is studying business at Oglethorpe. “I wasn’t expecting (CGIU) to choose me. I am stunned.”
Carolina also hopes to network and to hear about other people’s projects. As Awet experienced last year, CGIU gives students the chance to grow their ideas and to make them a reality.
“The thing about (Tiny Homes) is that a lot of people think that it’s just about a house,” said Mon, “and the thing is, it’s not just about a house, it’s about a state of mind and a lifestyle. We’re advocates of a certain type of lifestyle, a lifestyle of lifelong learning.”
Since freshman year, I’d wanted to be a senator in SGA (Student Government Association), but there always seemed to be an obstacle preventing me from joining, whether it was self-doubt or an overload of clubs and schoolwork. At the end of my junior year, I finally took the plunge, crossed my fingers, and was elected to student government. And I never looked back. Serving on SGA offers numerous opportunities and responsibilities—and each member has a different reason for joining.
2012-2013 members of SGA
“My sophomore year was a really hard year for me,” said Senator Maya Hayes ’14, “and I really wanted to dive into something that was a good cause and would take my skills to the next level (in order) to take my mind off of things… It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
Current SGA President Joscelyn Stein '13
Senator Brian Cornelius ’15 joined “because it gave (him) a sense of being involved in the OU community, and because (he) love(s) seeing the politics of how our SGA works.” Fellow senator Jordan Hopps ’16 ran for office because he wanted to be a part of the community that influences OU, and because it’s his life aspiration to be a part of public service.
“Anyone who is creative, comfortable speaking their mind, and wants to make a difference in (their) community should join,” said SGA President Joscelyn Stein ’13. “Any student who cares about the school and (his) peers, and who wants to put all those qualities to work will fit in well with us… Most people assume that our main focus is allotting money, but what we’re (really) doing is trying to meet all student needs.”
Along with voting on changes such as coin-free laundry and issues such as the Good Samaritan Policy, SGA is responsible for planning many of the events on campus. Programming Board Vice-President Heather Smith ’13 says that her most memorable SGA experience was helping to plan the 2012 Boar’s Head after-party.
“I had never been a part of something so much ingrained in OU life,” said Heather. “It was a huge honor to be a part of it.”
Joscelyn also finds her involvement gratifying, especially “seeing initiatives that I’ve worked really hard on come into fruition,” and “seeing other students come and take leadership roles… watching them grow and being part of that process.”
Indeed, Senator Emmanuel Brantley ’15 says that his favorite SGA memory is “when Joscelyn Stein looked me in the eyes and told me that she saw a leader.” He encourages applicants to remember that “the mission of this university is to serve the students and that the only way they can complete that mission is to hear us… We need to be (the students’) voice.”
Want to be a voice for the student body? Consider joining SGA! Elections for Secretary, Parliamentarian, Treasurer, and Class Presidents run from April 8–11, and Senator elections take place April 15-18. Declaration forms for each week’s elections are due at 5 p.m. on the Wednesday of the week prior to elections (April 3 and 10, respectively). Even if you aren’t interested in running, be sure to vote for your representatives on Petrelnet! Elections are currently underway for Programming Board, Executive President, Executive Vice-President, and Vice-President For Programming. Let your voice be heard!
Dr. Ray also leads the effort for Oglethorpe’s music programming, finding outside professional groups to perform on campus. He brings these musicians to campus in part to inspire his students and give them the opportunity to hear a variety of music, courtesy of bands, orchestras, opera companies and more.
“We try to look for programs with connections to majors, preferably Core,” said Dr. Ray. “I make sure they all meet the highest standard of quality… Many classes build their lectures around the performances.”
One such performer was alumnus John Burke ’11, whom Dr. Ray describes as “amazing.” Thanks to Dr. Ray’s efforts to find these performers, 70% of music students, such as John, continue to embrace music in their post-grad lives.
This month, Dr. Ray has invited two stellar acts to the Oglethorpe campus: the Atlanta Concert Band and the Capitol City Opera. He describes the Atlanta Concert Band as being “for band music what the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is to orchestral music,” and adds that “the Capitol City Opera is a (local and inexpensive) showcase for good people in Atlanta… it has a great reputation.”
In order to encourage these musicians to perform, Dr. Ray has adopted a process of co-sponsorship. This means that performers are given a discount to use the Conant Center for Performing Arts in exchange for allowing the Oglethorpe community to listen for free (with a Petrel Pass!). On May 4, 2013, Georgia Philharmonic will also be on campus as part of a co-sponsorship, and Dr. Ray has more plans in the works, including an international music presentation.
“These performances help (advance) education,” said Dr. Ray, “and build a really great experience and public image… I believe that a university should offer a wakening of not only learning but lifelong passions.”
Be sure to come out to the Atlanta Concert Band’s performance on March 9 in Conant at 8 pm, and attend the Capitol City Opera performances on March 15 and 16 at 8 pm, and March 17 at 3 pm, also in the Conant Performing Arts Center!
Oglethorpe Day is an annual celebration of Oglethorpe University’s namesake and is a chance for the entire community to show its school spirit. Check out the photos, videos and comments below to relive it — or to feel like you were right here on campus!
See scenes from throughout the day in this photo album:
Our very own President Schall delivered this year’s Oglethorpe Day speech, titled, “Non nobis solum (not for ourselves alone): What is the Role of a University President in Liberal Society?” Watch it here:
President Larry Schall’s 2013 Oglethorpe Day Speech