OU student Paige Williams recently had the chance to meet 91-year-old WWII veteran Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk, the navigator of the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima that helped to turn the course of the war. Paige, who is the vice president of the Oglethorpe Veterans’ Club (OVC), met the American hero at a gathering of the Atlanta Vietnam Veterans Business Association, where he was a guest speaker.
Paige was able to meet Mr. Van Kirk as a result of an invitation from an OU faculty member Dr. Chris Benton, who is the director of accounting studies at OU, the faculty advisor for the OVC, and a Vietnam veteran. Dr. Benton is a proud member of Atlanta Vietnam Veterans Business Association, an organization that brings together metro Atlanta professionals who share the bond of serving their country in Vietnam. The association meets monthly and celebrates a special guest speaker during each meeting.
According to Dr. Benton, some speakers are Medal of Honor winners—and they all represent the face of American history. Each provides their own personal account of events and sometimes even unveil a humorous side of history.
“It’s a great opportunity for students to meet the people who lived and wrote the history that we all study in classrooms.”
The Oglethorpe Veterans’ Club is always looking for ways to honor and remember American veterans. In just a few weeks, on Saturday, April 7, they’re planning a day trip to the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Ga., billed as “the greatest museum in the U.S. designed first and foremost with the Army Infantryman in mind.” The trip is open to everyone. To sign up for trip or to learn more about OVC, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Attention all OU alumni, parents, students and friends—the latest issue of Oglethorpe’s award-winning Carillon magazine is here!
This issue delves into the role of liberal arts and sciences in the 21st century and features articles written by senior Foss Baker and Dr. Brian Patterson, assistant professor of computer science & mathematics, President Schall, and our new provost, Dr. Denise von Herrmann.
Read stories about Oglethorpe alumni using their liberal arts education—sometimes in unusual ways! Did you know an OU alum wrote the 2010 CMA Song of the Year? Or, that an OU alum’s thriving business was featured on HGTV, and that another alum is the editor of a top magazine?!
Get a sneak peek into the plans for a new student center. Learn about the freshman class’s new What the Dog Saw common reading program, and hear from the newest additions to the Office of Campus Life—Danny Glassmann, Kendra Hunter and Bre Berris—about the plans they have for student life at Oglethorpe.
Alumna Chloey Mayo’s “Oglethorpe in Lights” offers a glamorous twist on some campus events of Hollywood proportion with a review the TV shows, movies and commercials that have used OU as their backdrop.
It’s exciting when the Core curriculum and what Atlanta has to offer come together.
Last semester I took my Narratives of Self class to an exhibit sponsored by the Consulate of Japan. The exhibit was called Stand Strong Japan and was held at the Wimbish House in Midtown. It showcased the culture of Tohoku, the region that was hardest hit by the earthquake and tsunami. I was looking for a way for my students to connect with Japanese culture because they were writing an essay on Ran, an adaptation of King Lear by the director Akira Kurosawa. This exhibit provided the perfect opportunity for students to connect with the culture and it also allowed us to show our support for the people of Tohoku.
“I like studying Japanese culture,” said OU student Cayla Austin ’15. “I got to touch and feel authentic Samurai Gear and practice the bit of Japanese I learned in class.”
The highlight of the event was the introduction of the Soma Noma Oi (Soma Wild Horse Chase), one of Japan’s foremost festivals. Held every July in Soma and Haramachi on Fukushima Prefecture’s east coast, the festival features horseraces in full samurai regalia, a Bon Dance, a parade, a contest of sacred banners, and a horse chase where riders catch wild horses and then ride them bareback. In 2011, the festival, which has a history of more than 1,000 years, became a symbol of Tohoku’s resolve and recovery when the people of Soma and the surrounding area joined forces to hold the festival despite the devastation sustained by their town just four months prior.
Mr. Satoshi Tachibana of Soma City, one of only five people remaining in Japan with the skills and knowledge to create and restore the Heian Period (794 to 1185) yoroi armor used in the festival, came to Atlanta all the way from Soma to demonstrate his artform at the Tohoku exhibition. Two suits of authentic samurai armor, video, and photographs of several famous Tohoku festivals, including the Soma Noma Oi were also on display.
“This exhibit truly showed the nature of a culture that survived one of the worst storms in our lifetime,” said Heather Burgess ’15. “The ability for so many people to stand together and keep a cultural existence is inspiring.”
Dr. Robert Steen is Associate Professor of Japanese. He received his BA at Oberlin College and his MA and PhD at Cornell University.
Dr. Mario Chandler and Dr. Viviana Plotnik, together with President Schall, led a group of OU students on an educational trip to Cuba over winter break as part of a course focusing on Cuban history, politics and culture. This is the first Oglethorpe University educational trip to this country.
The course, taken for academic credit, included extensive lectures, readings, films, homework, and other requirements. The trip focused on hands-on exploration of Havana’s extensive Asian heritage, the historical and contemporary importance of Cuba’s tobacco industry as well as the island’s economic importance. After the trip, each student had to turn in a journal and each are required to write a reserach paper due later in the semester.
The trip coincided with Delta Airlines’ adding direct flights from Atlanta to Cuba in December 2011. The decision allows for flights for passengers with close relatives in Cuba, for those who are involved in the medical or agricultural business sectors, or for education or religious activities. OU’s group was on one of the first flights to Cuba, just a few days after Christmas. Dr. Chandler shared his thoughts on the trip with the OU Blog.
OU Blog: How did the trip to Cuba come to fruition?
Dr. Chandler: The idea for the OU trip to Cuba was inspired, in fact, by President Schall, who has great interest in the Spanish language and Latin American issues. The President approached me and my colleague in Spanish, Dr. Viviana Plotnik, and shared with us his desire to see such an opportunity come to fruition for our students. Dr. Plotnik and I designed the itinerary and course, which received an enthusiastic and immediate response from the campus community. We were able to put all of the organization pieces together during the Fall 2011 semester.
OU Blog: Why was this trip important?
Dr. Chandler: For me the trip to Cuba symbolized one important, but all-encompassing notion: opportunity. This trip constituted an opportunity for Oglethorpe students to engage Cuban culture, history, and society on that country’s terms rather than through a five-decade long filter of misunderstanding and distrust between Cuba and our country. Unfortunately, the average American students’ views about Cuba are often imbued with misunderstanding, so an opportunity to challenge popular opinion by allowing students to meet Cubans and engage issues from an internal perspective is a powerful and potentially transformative educational experience. As Spanish professors, Dr. Plotnik and I couldn’t be more proud than to have had the chance to shepherd our students in their navigation of this wonderful opportunity, an exercise that takes place, ideally, in the people’s language…Spanish.
OU Blog: How was the Oglethorpe group received by the local people?
Dr. Chandler: Our OU group members were consummate ambassadors throughout our Cuban journey. We were proud to see our students using the Spanish language for engaging in daily contact with Cubans, for holding conversations and maintaining discussions, and for cultivating acquaintances that extended beyond the typical tourist demarcations. Frequently, throughout our Cuban travels, we used public transportation alongside Cubans going about their daily tasks or ate peanuts while strolling the country’s prados and malecons, in small but significant ways bringing us closer to our Cuban hosts and erasing barriers on both sides whether real or invented.
If you would like to learn more about this trip, Dr. Chandler, Dr. Plotnik, and Oglethorpe students will give a presentation about their experiences as part of tomorrow’s OU Day celebrations. Join the conversation, “OU Student Reflections on Cuban Culture–What Happens in Cuba Doesn’t Stay in Cuba,” on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 12:10 p.m. in the Conant Performing Arts Center. For more photos from the Cuba trip, check out Flickr. For more information about Oglethorpe’s study abroad program, check out OUSA’s page.
My dad often used the phrase “college teaches you how to learn.” I don’t know where he got it from, or if it was his own invention. All I know is that it made no sense in high school. I would question it because it essentially made college useless. Every high school kid knows how to learn, right? No, absolutely not. All of them think they do; I was no different.
I came to Oglethorpe thinking I had it all figured out: career, dreams, and how to reach both of them. I was going to be a hugely successful sports/entertainment attorney. I was going to make tons and tons of money. I was going to have it all. From Oglethorpe, I learned none of that was what I wanted. I don’t care about money that much, I don’t care about having a hugely successful name that strikes fear in the hearts of sports franchises and movie producers. I just want to learn.
Oglethorpe has been designed in such a way that questioning your self is unavoidable. Just look at the first year of Core. “Narratives of Self”? What else could that be other than an examination of your being and values? Just when you think you figured out the problems from that course, you have “Human Nature and the Social Order”. Another puzzle for yourself that you must answer: what values do you hold, where do you stand in society, and what do you want from society? After this, you’re thrown another curveball, being forced to reexamine these practices and decisions in “Historical Perspectives.”
All of this, hopefully, allows you to look at yourself and question the pit of your beliefs. Maybe you have to find new ones, maybe the ones you held before Oglethorpe are reinforced; either way, you’re a better person for it. You have gained a system of beliefs that you hold concretely, and there are very few things more comforting than knowing you stand for beliefs that have been stripped down to their very core, and you found them agreeable.
Perhaps this type of examination of Oglethorpe only exists in the mind of a philosophy major. Perhaps I examined this the way I did because of the professors that I have. Dr. Belcher showed me that your beliefs are basically worthless if you don’t know why you stand for them. Dr. Carton taught me that nobody is the same, and there are so many different internal processes that make up a person that understanding them all is impossible. From Dr. Smith I learned everybody does things their own way. We don’t know why some things are done the way they are, but the fact that they are done in such a way might tell us more about that person or those people than if they had done it the “normal” way. Numerous other professors here taught me other things, but these are the ones I hold in the highest regard.
The most important thing to notice about the things I learned is that none of them are classes. I didn’t take a “reasons why your beliefs might be wrong class” or a class on “things that people did in history that we don’t understand” because they don’t exist. Sometimes, the most important thing to learn from a class isn’t the subject of the class at all. This takes some work, but the work and payoff will be well worth it. Your experience will undoubtedly be different. You will have different classes, different professors, and different friends. This difference will make you examine things in your own way, and that leads to a different experience for everybody. This means Oglethorpe has done its job.
In hindsight, I want to leave the readers of this with a few suggestions. First, don’t live your life thinking you know what you want because that is what your parents want for you, or because you saw it on TV. If you really want to be this idea you have in your head, no amount of reexamining will change your mind. If you end up changing your mind, it means you’re growing, learning. Have an open mind, it will do wonders for you. Second, take Oglethorpe for what it is. The classes can be frustrating and, believe me, I hate Petrel Points* as much as the next guy, but I love Oglethorpe. The community, professors, faculty, and students will always hold a special place in my heart. If you come here expecting perks of a large university, don’t expect to be satisfied. Take the small school atmosphere and embrace it. Develop relationships with your professors; and gain close friends; you won’t regret it. The third suggestion is to just listen to people. You can’t learn if you don’t. Listen to professors; they are wildly intelligent and are here only because of the students. They honestly have your best interests at heart. If they suggest you think about something or reexamine something, do it. They care and know best.
And above all else, just learn.
*All first-year students are required to accrue a total of 12 Petrel Points during their first academic year by participating in three areas of campus life: arts, education and ideas; civic engagement; and campus leadership and citizenship.
For years, academics and world leaders have strived to understand the origins of war, the causes of peace, and the sources of future conflict. In his “War, Peace, and Security” class, Dr. John Orme invites students to explore just this, by examining the motives and calculations of past statesmen involved in warfare. He says that investigating historical conflict and resolution is beneficial to helping a student understand how the world works, no matter what career lies ahead of him.
“This is really a theoretical course,” explained Dr. Orme. “It is important to know the answers to questions like, ‘Why do states go to war? Why peace?’ [War stems from] a desire for security, which breeds a competition for power. In this class, we are trying to understand those in power.”
The concept of warring nations is certainly nothing new in the 21st century, but the ways in which we war certainly are. Last summer, in an effort to better understand terrorist ideologies and how democratic states combat them, Dr. Orme travelled to Israel as an Academic Fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. The 10-day fellowship program, taught in conjunction with Tel Aviv University, exposed university professors to the latest trends in terrorists’ operations. While in Israel, Orme and his colleagues engaged in discussions with top diplomats, military, and intelligence officials from around the world, including Ambassador Dore Gold, Israel’s former Ambassador to the UN. They also visited military bases, border zones, and imprisoned terrorists for an up-front view of Israel’s counterterrorism methods.
“The main purpose [of the field excursions] was for Westerners to have some appreciation for what Israel is going through,” remarked Dr. Orme. “I was most impressed by Israel as a people, and especially those who were being recruited into service…Ispecifically recall [at a security fence east of Jerusalem] the face of an Israeli commander. We did not speak to him, but his nonverbal communication spoke to how great a responsibility he has.”
He says that having participated in the seminar has certainly benefited classroom discussion, recently sparking conversation about nuclear proliferation, why states want nuclear weapons, and the differing conclusions about Qaddafi’s fall that those in the Middle East might make versus Americans and Europeans.
“Most of [my students] are not going to end up being practitioners,” said Dr. Orme. “But it prepares them as citizens in the world…if they do end up in a position of power, they’d use it responsibly.”
I was very excited to join Oglethorpe and have a chance to reintroduce computer science courses to our curriculum. My main goal is to help develop and implement a computer science minor (with a major being a longer-term goal). Such a minor program existed in the past but ceased. Computer science courses were offered again to current students beginning in spring 2011. Other faculty and I have the opportunity to shape a computer science minor that is unique to Oglethorpe.
In pursuing this goal, one relevant question is: how does computer science fit into the liberal arts at Oglethorpe? After all, the word “computer” is in the name of my discipline so it seems reasonable to think of the class being about learning the keystrokes to perform an operation in Excel or how to fix a specific piece of computing hardware.
However, addressing computer science in that way is like addressing astronomy as “telescope science,” or molecular biology as “microscope science.” All three disciplines use tools in an essential way, but all three also include the use of multiple paradigms to solve problems, drawing upon reasoning, logic, analysis, hypothesis testing, and formal problem-solving methodologies. As a combination of mathematical theory, experimentation similar to what is used in the sciences, and design methods from engineering, computer science carves out its own niche. It is much less about the tools used than most people realize. In fact, holding some computer science classes in a computer lab is sometimes counterproductive—the students may be tempted to surf the Internet for noncurricular reasons more than we use the computers to write programs!
One definition of a liberal arts environment is an environment that focuses on developing a whole person, to prepare them for a life—not just a job—after college. It’s very difficult to live and work in a world like ours without using or at least encountering computerized devices. Thus, knowing the principles behind them is useful. Much like how the sciences joined the liberal arts when they became more relevant in a scientific society, it’s time to include computer science in our view of a liberal arts experience.
Computer science is fortunate relative to other disciplines in that, after taking a single course in introductory programming, the student is already more valuable to a potential employer. It is not usually because the student learned the exact programming language we teach at OU (Java) or that the employer needs somebody to do what we learned in the class. It is because the student has been introduced to how to work with a computer and utilize techniques of computer science in a variety of new situations.
Most managers realize that a professional computer programmer spends less than half of his or her day actually writing programs on a computer—the rest is spent thinking and discussing ideas with others. A class in computer science and a liberal arts education to back that up is invaluable for this planning and discussion.
On this topic, I highly recommend “Computer Science and the Liberal Arts: A Philosophical Examination,” by Walker and Keleman (at Grinnell and Swarthmore, respectively). I look forward to integrating computer science into the existing exciting areas of study available at OU as I help develop a computer science minor.
Dr. Brian Patterson, assistant professor of computer science & mathematics, joined the OU faculty in fall 2011. He received his BA from Carleton College and his MS and PhD from iowa State University. His teaching and research interests include artificial intelligence, computation and complexity, graph theory, machine learning, probability, and statistics.
Earlier this fall, five Oglethorpe University psychology majors submitted research projects for presentation at the 58th annual meeting of the Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) in New Orleans in spring 2012.
All submissions to this professional conference are peer-reviewed by faculty experts in their respective fields. As is always the case with Oglethorpe psychology majors, they did not self-identify as “students” and submit to an undergraduate student conference. Instead, they submitted their work alongside that of professors and graduate students to a professional research conference.
All five students recently were informed that their projects were accepted for presentation. Their accomplishments continue the strong record of performance by OU psychology majors on state, regional, and national levels.
The five students and their respective projects are listed below.
Cassie Hendrix ’12 – “The Effects of Media Exposure on Infants’ Ability to Learn”
Balbir Khalsa ’12 -“Detecting Subtle-microexpressions: Can we see them?”
Marie King ’12 – “How People Perceive Profanity Users”
Justin Sabree ’12 - “Versatility of psychophysiological paradigms for assessing post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms”
Brittany Weiner ’12 - “Whose Fault is it Anyway? Perfectionists’ Experience of Test Anxiety”
Congratulations and have fun in New Orleans this spring!
To commemorate Veterans Day today, the newly-formed Oglethorpe Veterans Club distributed yellow lapel ribbons to raise awareness, held a campus-wide moment of silence at 11 a.m. to remember those who have fallen, and hosted a “Lest We Forget” brunch event to honor those who’ve served and their families.
The Oglethorpe Veterans Club members include veterans, family members, students, faculty, staff and alumni who have come together to recognize the contributions of soldiers.
“Veterans are really everywhere,” said Jef Palframan ’13, founding president of the OU Veterans Club—and a veteran himself. “The club is for everyone, not just veterans, and our mission is the aid those who have served and their families.”
The event opened and closed with prayers for those who have fallen in battle, for those who are missing, and those who are fighting right now. There also were toasts made to those who have served and their families, as well as remarks from Dean of Students Michelle Hall, OU Trustee Fred Agel ’52, and Trustee Emeritus O.K. Sheffield ’53. Veterans who attended were encouraged to wear their uniforms and medals.
OU shares a long history with alumni veterans and veterans-turned-students. Oglethorpe’s first international students in the 1940s were four Norwegian veterans of WWII. (Read the full article: Summer 2011 Carillon, pages 10-11.) Currently there are 13 veterans enrolled as students at Oglethorpe.
Are you ready for a virtual trip to ancient Greece? Next week Oglethorpe University will present two art history lectures that will sweep you away to these ancient worlds.
Oglethorpe will welcome Dr. Jasper Gaunt, the curator of Greek and Roman art at Emory University’s Michael C. Carlos Museum, who will lecture about Greek artifacts as they relate to the study of the texts of Herodotus, Homer and Thucydides. The lecture will take place on Monday, September 12 at 6:30 p.m. in Lupton Auditorium, and a reception will follow in the Great Hall of Hearst.
“The Minoan Mystery”
The next evening, Dr. Jeffrey Collins, assistant professor of art history at Oglethorpe, will lecture about Minoan archaeology. The Minoan culture, pre-dating the ancient Greeks, was one of the most intriguing and mysterious cultures in the ancient world.
“Archaeology informs us, mythology inspires us,” said Dr. Collins. “Both archaeology and mythology help reveal a mysterious people who built palaces, painted extraordinary frescoes, and traded as seafarers in the ancient world. Who were they?” He will help answer this question and lead the audience on a visual journey through the history and the mystery. Dr. Collins will present the most recent findings and ideas about the Minoan culture on Tuesday, September 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the OU Museum of Art.
Dr. Collins also is the director of the Study Abroad program at Oglethorpe University (OUSA). For more information about OUSA and the study abroad opportunities for OU students to visit this ancient art up close and personally, contact Jessica Sundstrom.
Photos: Dr. Jasper Gaunt; The Bull-Leaping Fresco from the Great Palace at Knossos, Crete.