Wednesday, May 11, 2016

-- 30 --

Sitting in the college office awaiting the last videos being submitted for the final in Public Speaking. This semester the final was to do a simulated video job interview. More and more preliminary interviews are being held on google chat or skype and so I decided that this semester that would be the final project.  For nearly all of the time I have been teaching public speaking I have started the class by telling students improving the skill of public speaking would have a direct, positive impact on their personal bottom lines. That was my W-I-I-F-M (what's in it for me) statement to get them a reason for doing all of the speaking assignments that were part of the class. Closing with the video interview is something I should of thought of earlier but teaching here on the Coker College campus has been a constant learning experience and the idea just came this semester. The fact that it is my last semester as a college professor just underlines why there has been so much joy in this "job." Life-long learning is a concept we discuss all the time in this liberal arts academy and my experience as a professor has been my concrete example -- semester after semester.

 One of the major elements that I have focused on sharing with students throughout the 16 years I have been doing this job full time is the relevance of the classroom to the real world. One way of making that happen has been professionals in the field of communication who have shared their time in our classrooms.. There were many over the years who made instant positive impacts with their stories and they made a difference to our Coker students learning. I don't think anyone every said no. The photos here show only two examples.

For much of my life I  have had a penchant for sharing what I have been thinking, reading, studying and doing and the classroom has been a fertile ground for some of that kind of discussion. Dr. George Lellis gave me my first opportunity to teach and for years I was an adjunct in the Coker evening program teaching Public Speaking. Back in the days when I was working at Sonoco and also serving on the School Board, the classroom offered such a different experience that it was one I looked to for rejuvenation. Fortunately, that feeling continued once Dr. Lellis and the search committee gave me an opportunity to teach full time back in 2000.  It has been an enjoyable, fulfilling time of watching students grow while feeling my own growth at the same time. The colleagues with whom I have been fortunate to serve Coker and Coker students are among the smartest and most caring people with whom I have worked. They sure helped me grow year after year.

The Coker Community is such a vital part of my personal journey and my personal story that it is a bit difficult to be writing -30- in the headline instead of at the bottom of the story as is the old journalistic sign for THE END. But for college teaching it is -30-, which I really believe is just the transition to another headline of activity that will include all of the memories, experiences and relationships that were my identity as Professor Puff Daddy.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Women Golfers Get Academic All American Attention at Coker College

The following news release was distributed by Coker College on July 2:

Coker Athletics July 2, 2013

HARTSVILLE, S.C. – A trio of Coker College women's golfers – Mallory Thompkins, Sara Allen and Taylor Demby – were recently named to the Women's Golf Coaches Association All-American Scholars team for Division II. A total of 644 women's collegiate golfers were recognized across Division I, II and III.
"Mallory, Sara and Tayloe have worked very hard at being complete student-athletes," said head coach Tommy Baker. "They have learned the balance of being a committed student-athlete for Coker College, and most importantly for themselves. I am so proud of these three ladies for their commitment to excellent, on and off the golf course."
Thompkins is a junior education major with concentrations in early childhood education and elementary education. She participated in all nine events this past season, averaging 84.8 per round, which was tied for tops on the team. Thompkins' low round was a 78 at the Lander Bearcat Invitational.
Mallory is from Georgetown, S.C., and is the daughter of Mitch and Jamie Thompkins.
Allen, a junior, is a communications major at Coker. She played in six events this season and averaged 87.8. Her low round was a 79 at the Anderson University Invitational.
Sara is originally from Fort Mill, S.C., and is the daughter of Randy and Helen Allen.
Demby is a sophomore undeclared major. She played in all nine events and was third on the team with an 85 average. Demby's best round was a 75 at the Montreat Invitational. It was also the lowest individual round fo the team this season.
Taylor hails from Chesterfield, S.C. She is the daughter of Gregg and Angela Demby.

Criteria for WGCA All-American Scholar Teams
To be nominated, a student-athlete must meet have an overall GPA of 3.50 or higher (on a 4.00 scale) for the entirety of their collegiate career, be in attendance at the certifying institution for the entire academic year, be of high moral character and in good standing at the college making the nomination, have played in 66 percent of the college's regularly scheduled competitive rounds during the year nominated (Division II only), and the head coach of the school making nominations must be an active member of the WGCA.
About WGCA
The Women's Golf Coaches Association (WGCA), formerly known as the National Golf Coaches Association (NGCA), began in 1983 as an organization to promote participation in women's collegiate golf. The vision of the WGCA since its inception has been to encourage the playing of intercollegiate golf for women in correlation with a general objective of education and in accordance with the highest tradition of intercollegiate competition.
The WGCA instills within coaches of women's golf a deeper sense of responsibility for the promotion, development, maintenance and conduct of competitive golf for women.
Today, the WGCA represents the finest coaches in women's golf with a membership of over 550 coaches of Division I, II & III, NAIA and NJCAA collegiate programs.
The organization provides its membership with a numerous benefits including industry recognition through prestigious awards, opportunity to participate in educational and networking events, cost-savings through association sponsored programs and communication through its many features on
WGCA is governed by a 13 member Board of Directors including women's collegiate golf coaches at Division I, II & III institutions. The WGCA Headquarters is based in Coral Springs, Florida and is staffed by Executive Director Roger M. Yaffe.
For more information, contact Chris Dougherty, manager of athletics media relations and marketing, at 843-383-8018 or

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Cookie Connection at Coker College

Barbara Steadman, who is our medial relations expert at Coker College, is a long-time relationship builder. She has brought her tradition of Friday home-baked cookies to the Coker campus. Every Friday morning she introduces the cookies of the day in a cute email connected to something, somehow germane to the time. She invites people from around the campus to come for the Friday cookie fix and to share some of "shat's happening" in their worlds.

Barb has a great system here for building relationships and for getting the word and I often use it in class as a "how to" example for increasing the seendipity that comes in chance meetings that do not always have to be 'chance."

Barb, thanks for the cookies. For others, today's cookies were in honor of Flag Day (June 14) ans were the old American staple of chocolate chip -- I believe she had three kinds of chocolate chips.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Always enjoy visiting with former Coker College students

This was a fortuitous week and it is only Tuesday.

One of my former students, Tim Morton, who majored in both business and communication and also played tennis was in town. He works in Europe for Sonoco and is the states for business to be followed by vacation. He earned a masters in communication from N.C. State and we caught up with a quick coffee at the Midnight Rooster. Hope we can grab lunch when he comes back through.He has a number of interesting things with market studies and I hope to learn a little more from him about the way social media can be used b2b.

Then, again at the Midnight Rooster, Heather Watkins was in for morning coffee. She was a dance major while at Coker and has just returned to Hartsville after earning her Masters in Fine Arts in Dance at Sarah Lawrence in New York. She is currently in the job hunt but even more exciting is seeing her passion for finding ways to bring the power of dance to communities outside of major cities.

And in almost this same time period had another chance for a short conversation with Whitney Watts, who is on the Coker campus as the director of student housing. Whitney was also a communication major when here as an undergraduate and her masters is from the University of South Carolina. She has a vital role for our residential campus and works hard building a team to make our campus housing not just a place for sleeping but far more as an extension of the learning opportunity of college education. I get to learn new things all the time when we have opportunities to talk. In addition to her campus work, she is also active in Relay for Life and just came off the Darlington County Relay for Life event from last Saturday.

Talking with former students always demonstrates very concretely the concept of life-long learning because all of the conversations help me learn new things. It is just one of the great things I have found about being able to be part of an active college learning community.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Graduation Morning

The Coker College campus is coming alive before 8 a.m. -- a rare occurrence in the world of Academia!

Graduation begins at 8:30 for the class of 2013 and the excitement is great for those who have accomplished this major life goal and those family, friends and colleagues who supported them through it.

Yesterday I heard a news report about 2013 college graduates. They tend to fit a certain profile. Those looking at the Coker College Class of 2013 are not going to see that stereotype. We have a diverse class, helped in part by those adults students in the Coker ALPHA program who have attained their degree through the evening program.  We also have a high proportion of Pee Dee area/South Carolina residents in our class and they are going to be of several races, multi-gendered, and age diverse.  Women will dominate in numbers but we do have a high percentage of males graduating - against, we are a bit against what is now being considered the norm.

Forget about the stats. When it comes to graduation the most important matter is the CELEBRATION that all the graduates should be having for becoming one of the approximately one percent of the world's population holding a college degree.

Andrea Hunter, in photo below, was at the store getting some water and snacks to fortify herself for the Coker College graduation.

And there will be some graduates missing from today's ceremony as the seniors on the Coker College baseball team are competing in the NCAA Division 2 Regional Tournament. Dr. Wyatt says he will hold a special graduation ceremony for those guys at the tournament site on Sunday. Some of those guys in this bottom photo are graduating.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Coker College Women's Lacrosse announces first recruits

As a lacrosse fan and a faculty member happy that we have lacrosse on the Coker College campus, I wanted to share Chris Dougherty's news release about the first women's lacrosse recruits.  So far, no photos because the first team is enrolling in school this new term, Fall 13:

May 10, 2013

Coker Women’s Lacrosse Announces First Class

HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Coker College women's lacrosse coach Steve Efland announced the first-ever recruiting class for the program today. Ashlyn Burgett, Marabeth Durden, Hayley Ferone, Sarah Gulledge, Danielle Holcomb, Karah Huntsinger, Kaitlyn Kimball, Mandalyn Lopez, Kaiti Miller, Lindsay Ordemann and Stephanie Pratapas will join the Cobras beginning in the 2013-14 academic year.
"I am thrilled for Coker College's first-ever women's lacrosse recruiting class," Efland said. "These young ladies coming in are very athletic, enthusiastic and fit in well with what we are trying to build as a program. They're strong players on and off the field, and it's going to be so much fun to work with them."
Burgett, an attacker, comes from Seminole High School in Florida. She was a two-time varsity letterwinner and served as a captain for the Seminoles.
Burgett intends to major in political science at Coker. She is the daughter of Bobby and Kathy Burgett.
Durden, a defensive player, is from Timber Creek High School in Florida. She was a member of the two-time district champion Timber Creek team and played on Florida's team in the national tournament. Durden also played on the RC Elite and CFLC Hawks travel squads.
Durden intends to be an education major with a concentration in early childhood education. She is the daughter of Michael Durden, Mitzi Sheppard, Karl Sheppard and Lisa Durden.
Ferone is an attacker from Olympia High School in Florida, where she was an all-metro selection. She was recently named to the U.S. Lacrosse All-American team and also plays for the Lax Maniax club program.
Hayley is the daughter of Ed and Debbie Ferone.
Gulledge, an offensive player, hails from Surfside Beach, S.C. She attends St. James High School but participated in lacrosse for Socastee High School. As a senior she was first team all-state and finished the season with 56 goals and 10 assists.
Sarah is the daughter of Bill and Leigh Gulledge.
Holcomb, a midfielder, also comes from Seminole High School in Florida, where she was a two-sport athlete in lacrosse and wrestling. Holcomb was a four-year letterwinner in lacrosse and led the team in scoring as a junior.
Holcomb plans to major in communications. She is the daughter of Charles and Mary Holcomb.
Huntsinger plays both offense and defense, and she comes from Fort Mill High School in South Carolina. She was a two-sport athlete in lacrosse and softball for the Yellow Jackets.
Karah is the daughter of Dan and Kathy Huntsinger.
Kimball, a defensive player, comes from Winter Springs High School in Florida. She was a four-sport athlete in lacrosse, soccer, track and field, and weightlifting. Kimball played lacrosse under Efland for the Bears. She is also a member of the Hericanes Lacrosse Club.
Kaitlyn is the daughter of Ronald and Emily Kimball.
Lopez, a goalie, is also from Winter Springs High School and played under Efland. She was a two-sport athlete in lacrosse and basketball. As a senior she was a captain and first team all-conference. Lopez also played on the RC Elite and Hericanes club teams.
Mandalyn is the daughter of Ruben and Stacey Lopez.
Miller, an offensive player, comes from Dutch Fork High School in South Carolina. In addition to lacrosse, she was a member of the color guard, where she served as a co-captain.
Miller intends to major in education. She is the daughter of Kevin and Dawn Miller.
Ordemann is a defensive player from Toms River North High School in New Jersey. She was a two-sport athlete in lacrosse and soccer for the Mariners. Ordemann's team won back-to-back A South champions out of the Shore Conference.
Lindsay is the daughter of Charles and Susan Ordemann.
Pratapas is a midfielder transferring from Northern Virginia Community College. She is originally from Brentsville District High School in Virginia, where she was a three-sport athlete in lacrosse, basketball and soccer.
Pratapas is set to major in communications. She is the daughter of Anthony and Caroline Pratapas.
For more information, contact Chris Dougherty, manager of athletics media relations and marketing, at 843-383-8018 or

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Morning News Sports Editor Talks Coker College Athletics

Photo by Coker College of Athletic Awards on May 1, 2013

Years ago. I mean, years ago I was an adjunct instructor at Coker when I had an opportunity for a rare day class. (It was a great class for me.) But, what I also remember is the college had a major discussion happening about the question of bringing a baseball team to the school. The baseball team was a way to add men, to what was still a very female focused student body, and to add students in the continuing quest to grow. But, the idea of growing through sports had not yet taken a firm hold and the debate appeared robust.

Baseball was added and the idea of sports being a significant contributor to the growth of the college took root. Today, one of the major growth strategies for Coker's reaching our magic 1500 student number is through sports.  The column linked to this post talks of some of the college's orientation to the strategy and Mark (the writer) has a good handle on the issues from the macro perspective.

Student Athletes Participate in the Classroom
From the micro perspective - the student in the classroom - this instructor finds the growth strategy to be effective. While not true in every single case, there is a motivation to a student athlete that does often carry over to the classroom. Often, those of us leading the classroom have to work a little harder to make the connection, but most student athletes (like most student performers) have been multi-tasking for much of their lives and they know they CAN -- the key is making it happen.

Years ago when the S. C. Governors School was moving from the Coker campus to their own campus we needed to grow. I suggested lacrosse then -- my favorite sport. It did not happen then but we have it on campus now. This coming semester we will also have Women's lacrosse and we will have wrestling and we are gearing up for a new conference in all sports. The strategy is working but like all strategies, it has to be worked -- nothing just happens.

New Sport Announced for 2014 Academic Year
Coker College announced today that it will be fielding track and field in the 2014 academic year.

As an aside -- Congratulations to all the MVPs honored at last night's Athletic Award Ceremony!