Monday, December 8, 2008

In time for Christmas - A Centennial History

So, I got to thinking the other day that if you were getting presents for someone with Coker Connections, this new book by Dr. Malcolm C. Doubles, "IN QUEST OF EXCELLENCE, A History of Coker College on its Centennial" would be an excellent choice.
1 -- The book is high quality -- table-top in stature with a quality binding
2 -- Full of interesting things that cover the breath of the 100-year history
-- the role of Major Coker in founding the college and sustaining the mission
-- the Coker football team (page 204)
-- the Coker College uniform (page 27)

For an organization to continue its quest for excellence over the period of 100 years it has to have changed. Dr. Doubles writes about some of the changes that were required. His Coker history shows the college's path in this continuing quest for excellence has at times been rocky (Chapter 6). But, as W. Edward Demmings has observed, "You don't have to change, survival is not mandatory." Those who loved and love Coker want survival to be mandatory and they helped managed the change to get us to this vibrant 'Academy' we have today.

The book is published by the Coker College Press and the initial cost on signing day was $50. So, not only is the book a perfect Coker-type present but for its quality it is also very affordable. You can probably find out more about ordering by calling James Jolly at Coker, 843-383-8018.

I am going to try putting in this video from Dr. Doubles. He and his wife Jackie are leaving the Hartsville community this coming week. I asked him about his time at Coker and if there was a memory that stood out. Sound is not great but his general reply is how he found Coker a fun place to work.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

It's finals time again

Semesters seem to go by way too quickly. It is the first Saturday in December and those students who had the 8 oclock classes on Tuesday and Thursday had their finals scheduled for today.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Centennial Has Ended - Next 100

Coker College began its Centennial Celebration in January 2008, celebrating 100 years of higher eduction in South Carolina. Today, December 4, 2008, the Centennial Celebration cane to an end with the burying of a time capsule that will be opened in 50 years. The two student body presidents, Andrew Mitchum and Whitney Watts, in attendance for the burial said they are looking forward to the unearthing in 2058, when both will be 72-year-olds. Dr. Dawson, the President of Coker College, also can be heard on video to say he will be here too but he will be considerably older than 72 when 2058 rolls around.

The Centennial was a fun ending and it was especially meaningful because Dean Malcolm Doubles, who was the Dean and Provost at Coker for 21 years was signing his just-off-the-press 350-page history of Coker called IN QUEST OF EXCELLENCE, A HISTORY OF COKER COLLEGE ON ITS CENTENNIAL.

The Coker College web site will contain a lot of the stories of the various events that were held to commemorate the Centennial. Setting the tone for the Celebration was the opening Spring Convocation featuring Dr. Walter Edgar an historian from the University of South Carolina, who told what life was like in the Hartsville, SC, of 1908.

I have only been full-time teaching at Coker since 2000 though I did have several terms of adjunct experience on the way to getting the full time position. But through my wife's family the connection to Coker goes back to the 1950s as I think all five of the McLamb girls might have attended Coker.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thinking about assessment...

Assessment is a major element of a college campus. Today, I was thinking a good deal about assessment as we did the final presentations in my Mass Communication class. We only had five minutes per presentation and the ONLY is important here. Ricardo started off the presentations with his summary of a paper on the I-Phone. That started discussion that was moving a five-minute presentation to almost double and we had a lot of presentations left. Kimberly then used a video montage to begin a discussion of her paper, which covered product placement in music videos. The videos grabbed attention and then the product got attention and the discussion started again. Often during the semester I have wished to spark such discussion among the class and today, as it was focusing on key concepts, I had to do the unthinkable and say -- "Sorry" we have to get everyone in and there isn't time. Obviously, the next time I will have to plan better because the discussion was on target and on task and I hated to have it end. Often, I feel that way about the semester in lots of my classes.

Later today there was another type of 'assesment' as the Dance Department and Theater Department held an "Informal" demonstrating some of the concepts that students had been working on in various classes throughout the semester and some of the other groups and talents on campus. The Dance Informal is always a fun, entertaining event that provides some on-stage experience and a chance for both class and personal assessment. Maybe I need to start inviting people to the final speeches from Speech Class??

And, last evening the Coker Singers performed in their Christmas Program, which was a masterful delight. I have snippet of video from this "Celebrate the Season" performance event but the video sound quality is so BADDDD it would not be fair to the group to use it. The Singers were fantastic.

And, while on the topic of assessment, this is the final week of the semester with tomorrow the final day of classes with exams beginning Saturday morning. Always a paper due, always a test to take, always an impression to make -- college may not be that different from the real world.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Food on the left, Drink on the right

So, there is a Coker Winter Formal tonight. And, as I was going through papers on my much too papered desk, there was a handout on “Most admired and respected behaviors.” I have used this often in the Organizational Communication Class but it is also some information that many times we just forget. So, from way back in 2001 – Table Manners:
The Fork goes on the LEFT

The Spoon and knife go on the RIGHT
FOOD items go on the left (Your bread plate is to your left)
Drink items go on the right (Your glasses and coffee cup are on your right)
When to start eating? The answer here is when two people to your left and right have been served you may start eating. What if others have been served and they are waiting for you? Then, encourage them to begin eating.
I am always forgetting the above so I figured as the holiday season approaches it is a good timing reminder. HAPPY THANKSGIVING.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Kat Friedmann Subject of NCAA Soccer Story

This is going to be a long post because I am including a copy of a story in an NCAA publication about one of Coker's soccer players, who happens to be a top communication and English majors and who also happens to have diabetes. I think you will enjoy this story. It was reprinted from an email to fans of Coker athletics:

Diabetes doesn't stop Coker soccer student-athlete
Courtesy of Greg Johnson, NCAA New
When the calendar flips to July, Kathryn Friedmann knows there no place she'd rather be than in Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee.

The town, located 20 minutes from Chattanooga in the Smoky Mountains, is the site of the Tennessee Camp for Diabetic Children. This is where Friedmann, who just completed her senior season on the Coker soccer team, learned that she wasn't alone in dealing with a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes.

"My friends there are my role models," said Friedmann, who learned she had the disease about a month before her 11th birthday. "Some of my best friends go to this camp every year. I've grown up with them. It is a huge part how I've grown with this disease."

Her first year at the camp left her pondering, "Where did all these kids come from?" Seeing people her age handling their condition is always refreshing for Friedmann, who grew up 15 minutes from Nashville in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

"In my normal element, I have to take extra steps and think about taking my blood sugar and my insulin," she said. "But at camp, I look around and one of my friends is doing the same thing. It's a surreal world."

For as much inspiration she's gained from her camp buddies, Friedmann is impressive herself. During her collegiate career, she became Coker's fifth all-time leading goal scorer (29) and ranks sixth all-time in total points (66).

She produced at a high level despite having to leave the field at times during matches to check her blood-sugar level. During those times, the Cobras would play a player down until she was able to return.

"I pretty much managed it myself," said Friedmann, who will graduate in May with a double major in communications and English. "I just tried to keep a good tune on how my body felt and how I was playing. Some of the symptoms have changed over the years."

She knows the type of aggressiveness she normally plays with, and when she felt her body wasn't responding to what her mind was telling it to do, it was time to check her blood-sugar level.

Off the field, Friedmann wears an insulin pump, but the device wouldn't survive a soccer match.

"It doesn't feel too good when that thing gets ripped out of you," Friedmann said.

Since November is the national diabetes awareness month, Friedmann is an example of the type of life a person can lead while managing the disease.

"There are worse things you can have," she said. "I'm fully functional. I can do anything I want and succeed. My motivation is to steer away from stereotypes or assumptions."

Friedmann, who is applying to graduate schools to further her education in communications, is active on the Coker campus. Besides serving as one of the captains on her soccer team, she is president of the Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honors Society and president of the Coker women's golf club.

"I have the natural tendency to step up when I feel there is a need," said Friedmann, who also works part time as a writing tutor and in the Coker admissions office. "At some point during my career, whether it is academically or athletically, I've had to step up."

Since she began playing soccer at the age of 4, she knows it will take time to adjust to the fact that the sport will become more of a recreational endeavor now.

"It's a little bittersweet," said Friedmann, who led Coker with seven goals and 17 points this season. "I was working out the other day on a treadmill and started thinking, 'I wish I could run out and get a few touches on the ball.' That was a few days after we finished our season."

Running half marathons is one way she hopes to quench her competitive thirst.

Of course, she'll always look forward to July for those two weeks in Soddy-Daisy to meet with her friends and help other kids learn how to live an active lifestyle with diabetes.

**Story reprinted with permission of NCAA News**

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Exciting opening to Round-ball season

Both the Women's and Men's opened their home basketball seasons with wins on Tuesday night as they topped the Hornets of Morris College (Sumter). The Coker gym was packed and it was an exciting basketball evening.

One of the innovations this season is web broadcasting of the games, Adam Johnson and Joel were doing the web-broadcast play by play.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Coker College experience from student's perspective

Every once and awhile I am going to ask a Coker student to go on camera and say a little bit about what the Coker experience means to them. These will be short video clips and in their words. If you have suggestions for this approach, please include them in a comment to the post. Since Stacie Fields also works with me as an intern at the Byerly Foundation, I have asked her to be the first to join the experiment.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Enjoyed Friday nights Musical Theater Showcase

It is a dreary Friday night in Hartsville. That is, unless you opted for Friday night's Musical Theater Showcase at the Hannah Lide Coker Music Recital Hall. The students performing put joy, laughter and music into the air. Graham Wood started these showcases as an extra performing opportunity a few years ago and they have become a regular event on the campus, showcasing the talent and the work ethic of the students who are chosen to perform.

Tonight's Showcase cast consisted of second year vocal performance major Avery Bateman, first year musical theater major Lindsay Furrow, Tara Haynes, second year musical theater major, Dustin Moree, first year musical theater. Paige ManWaring, third year musical theater and Cody Smith, the lone senior in the show and a theater performance major. Kim Roberts accompanied the singers and Graham provided the musical direction as well as the production.

I just really enjoyed the performances. There was a wide range of music from the opening Ensemble performance of Comedy Tonight from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum by Stephen Sondheim to bit more serious rendition of "Make Them Hear You" from Ragtime that was performed by Cody. The material represented a wide range of musicals and did a nice job helping the students demonstrate their versatility. And, I also enjoyed the acting side of the performances.

The video is the last song, SEASONS OF LOVE by Jonathan Larson from Rent.

There are a couple of other Coker musical productions that are on the calender for this semester and you can see the Coker chamber Singers at the Music Auditorium on Sunday, November 23 at 7:30 p.m. and the larger group, the Coker Singers on December 2 at the First Presbyterian Church in Hartsville at 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Students are the Center of this College Experience

The Resident Assistants are asked by their Residence Life supervisors to hold some academic-oriented programs for the residents on their halls. Marshall Thomas gave me the opportunity to lead a discussion with some of his residents about what it takes to achieve academic success at Coker. This was quite a crew and there was not much I could tell there but there was a good deal for me to learn and have affirmed.
1 -- These students, two of whom were in the 3.8 to 3.9+ range understand that while grades are important things like relationships, campus involvement and getting to know people are also crucial to the success equation. That came from them, not me.
2 -- A couple of the first-year students around the discussion did admit that "College is not not like high school. There is no one who is making you do it," was a pretty close direct quote. Turns out, he was from a high school that has demonstrated some success meeting SC AYP type of goals and his teachers stayed on their students pretty close at that high school. College is not the easiest of transitions and that was reinforced a couple of times by juniors and seniors who are in the process of discovering who they are. And, they are enjoying this process.
3 -- I used a variation of a technique that I learned during a recent Ragan Communication Conference that I attended of getting several ideas out in just a few minutes (Ragan calls it '30 in 30'. We did ten in in five. The juniors and seniors shared tips with the first-year students on how to make the most of the Coker experience. It was good to hear "Go to Class!" right near the top of that list.

I appreciate Marshall asking me to be part of this discussion. As usual I learned a great deal more than I shared. Working with college students is one of the greatest learning experiences I have had -- it is the best part of this "Professorial" position.

Need to add this -- Katelyn was there in her USMC sweatshirt still celebrating the November 10, 2008 233rd birthday of the United States Marine Corps. She has some close connections to a Marine.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Watched the Volleyball game on Friday night

And the girls did not fare that well against Anderson. The Coker Volleyball team has struggled this past season. The thing most noticeable last evening was that even though they were down (Anderson had two really strong spikers) they did not qive up and they never quit. It is a fairly young team this season that will be returning some strong competitors in 2009.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Important ambassadors on campus today...

Got to meet a large number of a group called the Coker College Board of Visitors this morning at Coker. These are a group of College friends who play a crucial ambassadorial role for the college in Hartsville and in communities around the State. Their involvement in the college, while often low key, is one of those important details that is important to the growth and success of this small, liberal arts college. I got to talk about how the Selling Hartsville project on which we have been working in the city connects to the growth of the college. One of the real fun things about today's presentation was that Stacie Fields, who works as an intern with me at The Byerly Foundation, talked with the Board of Visitors about some of the many activities in which she has been involved with the Selling Hartsville effort. I am thinking the B of V got a pretty strong picture of how community building in Hartsville and the activities of Coker are closely tied together. It was an honor being asked to speak on the Selling Hartsville project and a real pleasure to watch Stacie do such a good job on her side of the presentation.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Social Media Marketing and Communications

Paul Gillin, author of THE NEW INFLUENCERS, has a new book called SECRETS OF SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING that is is just out. This semester I am in the middle of a class on Organizational Communication here at Coker. One of my goals is to ensure that the students understand the why of communication within organizations and another is for them to appreciate that there are tools and channels out there for communication that will help them be more effective when they join an organization.

As I finished up Gillin's book this evening I was struck that he closed with some thoughts there were very similar to ones I shared this morning with a Mass Communication class. Let me quote Gillin: "Online communities will fundamentally change the way in which organizations interact with their constituents." Gillin is coming at this from the Marketing perspective in this line on page 270 but I have been discussing it with students from the internal communication point of view. Gillin's ideas, along with some others I have been reading and listening too like Shel Holtz, are the thought leaders for this technology tsunami overtaking the organizational world. I hope I am conveying to my students that the books,articles and talks by thought leaders like these are not alarms of change but signposts, signals, and semaphores for how to connect the dots, or the wires or the waves between whatever medium you are using and the crucial message you are sharing. McLuhan would have been right at home in today's global village.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008



This is an interesting blog that is being written by Elsie Mufuka as she explores what it means to be Elsie while studying and working with a dance company in South Africa. There is not question she is having quite an interesting experience. I think it might have been Confucius who signaled the curse or blessing -- "May you live in interesting times." I think, looking back, Elsie is probably going to say these were some of the best times that she could never have imagined.
Posted by rapsc at 12:44 PM 0

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sordid Lives cast & crew provide great experience

Coker College staged "Sordid Lives" by Del Shores October 30 through November 2 at the Elizabeth Boatwright Coker Performing Arts Center in the Watson Theater. I found it a great theater experience.

Ken Stuart was doing his first directing at Coker and he engineered a masterful production helping students develop talent that I am not sure they knew they have. This was a very quick two-hour production and there were acting achievements at every turn as all of the student actors developed portrayals that helped the audience move right into the story. In many ways this seems to be an actor's play because while there are sort of starring roles, the support characters are so critical to the story that when the parts are carried off as they need to be, all the actors have to feel like stars. (Friday night those roles made all the characters stars.)

Over the past several weeks I have watched the students (both cast and crew) put in some long hours to achieve the production they performed this weekend. Their hard work pays off in a very successful translation of Del Shores "Sordid Lives."

A couple of times the "crew" has been mentioned and one reason the show works so well on the Watson stage is an excellent set that with minor modifications becomes four different locations, sound effects that provide credibility to the scenes and lighting that sets the focus.

It all came together for an great night of theater from my seat.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Quoted in Hot, Flat and Crowded

Professor Speth is soon going to be on stage at Coker discussing his take on the global changes our world is undergoing. Dr. Pat Lincoln sent out a note to faculty reminding them of this upcoming event, part of the Lois-Coker Walters lecture series and a major element of the Coker Centennial celebration. So, here is Dr. Lincoln's announcement:

The Centennial Celebration continues with the Lois Walters Coker Lecture Series address by Dr. James "Gus" Speth Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Sara Shallenberger Brown Professor in the Practice of Environmental Policy at Yale.

“The Environmental Crisis and the Coming Transformation”

Wednesday, October 29th at 8:00 p.m., Watson Theater

Don’t miss this remarkable opportunity to hear from one the nation’s leading environmentalists and co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Dr. Speth will talk about the major changes in our economic and political systems that must be made in order to avoid an environmental catastrophe. More about Dr. Speth and the topic of his address can be found at

AND—an even more remarkable opportunity for members of the Coker College community—Dr. Speth will lead a “guided discussion” the day after his lecture on Thursday, October 30th at 11:00 a.m. in the Drawing Room.

Dr. Speth will make opening remarks and then field questions from the audience. Imagine having this extraordinary chance to interact directly with someone who has played such a major role in shaping environmental policies! Seating in the Drawing Room is limited, so anyone present will be able to participate in the discussion, if they wish to do so.

Patricia G. Lincoln, Ph.D. Provost and Dean of the Faculty
Coker College Hartsville, SC 29550

Here is a youtube video that shows Dr. Speth in a recent discussion on some of his ideas.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ragan Seminar Loaded with information

Just got back from the Ragan Communications seminar on Corporate Communications in a Web 2.0 world. There was a great emphasis on the use of Social Media as a communication tool within organizations and as a way to reach customers and other stakeholders. This semester I am teaching the Organizational Communication class here at Coker and with this seminar up in Carey, NC, at the SAS World Headquarters it was just too good an opportunity to pass up. Will be blogging more about this but today I want to show a sample of this social media. First -- we have the blog, one of the most obvious tools of social media. And, you can embed photos and videos in blogs. This conference seemed like a great opportunity to ask some of the professionals in the field about advice for students who will soon be in the job market. Shel Holtz, who was getting ready to give the morning's keynote address on Trends that may take us to the 3.0 world shared a short thought for students in the video on today's blog. Shel, is one of the thought leaders in social media.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Senior has interesting take on "Green"

Kat Friedmann posted an feature story at I am guessing it stems from an assignment in her feature writing class this semester. Hope some of the other students feel good enough about their stories to post for a larger readership. Here is the link for Kat's story. Lots of interesting things come from these classes at Coker and Kat, who has worked several internships while a student, has developed a pretty lengthy resume.

"Link Love" newly added to my lexicon

At Coker I have the good fortune to be teaching a variety of courses that I put under the umbrella of professional communication studies. These are courses like public relations, organizational communications, media writing, crisis communication and others. This field, like many fields, is changing rapidly in today's information age. That is one reason I thought the Ragan "Corporate Communications in a Web 2.0 World" would be a good conference to attend. The fact that it is at the SAS World Headquarters in Carey, NC, (driving distance from Coker)helped it make even more sense.

One of the fields in which I have a strong interest is the whole question of Social Media as a corporate communication tool. Yesterday I got to sit in on a session by Shel Holtz, a Web 2.0 guru. He introduced me to the term "link love." Probably it is a term I should have known because I have been reading another guru on this subject, Paul Gillin and going to wejavascript:void(0)binars to see how blogging can be used for both internal and external communication, I guess hearing it made it sink in. Link Love is something those who blog strive for. Having other people link to your blog and linking your thoughts to others' blogs is one way of getting your messages more coverage. Link Love is the term that sticks in my mind but there is a great deal of other material that will be useful, even to the Organizational Communication class that I am currently teaching. I am also hoping it will be extremely useful for the messages about Selling Hartsville.

The main message in Holtz' first session was how to establish relationships with bloggers who might be writing about subjects that are important to an organization's goals. For example, if a blogger is writing about college decisions by seniors, a discussion of how Coker sets up campus visits might be useful for the blogger. That kind of notice in a blog with lots of "link love" would get Coker College some additional notice. The subtitle of Paul Gillin's newest book on "Secrets of Social Media Marketing" is "How to Use Online Conversations and Customer Communities to Turbo-Charge Your Business." Both the presentation by Shel Holtz and the Gillin book are emphasizing the concept of CONVERSATION as a communication tool. While the conversation concept is not new to corporate communicators, the technology is now in place to actually implement conversations for both internal and external audiences and your organization.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Poetry By Julia Klimek

is featured online. Dr. Klimek is an English professor at Coker. One of the great things about the Coker experience is being able to share some of this fantastic work.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Creating Media about the Coker Experience

One of the courses I teach is called INTRODUCTION TO MASS COMMUNICATION, CULTURE AND MEDIA LITERACY. In the material we cover, media literacy is one of the underlying themes; often a concept the students have not discussed in those terms in their previous talks about media. One assignment that continues to provide surprises is the assignment Coker College where I ask the students to create a piece of media about the Coker experience. This assignment has evolved from using Polaroid cameras to create posters to the developing of complex power points. And, today's class set the bar higher as one of the teams had a student with final cut pro on his personal computer and they skipped the story board idea and went right to video.

The objectives of this project and this section of the class are to help the students get some concrete understanding of Media Literacy Concepts like:

Media are constructions
Media representations construct reality
Media have commercial purposes
Audiences negotiate meaning
Each medium has is own codes and conventions
Media messages contain values and ideology and
Media many have social effects, outcomes and consequences.

This project provided the class with the concrete representation. The teams all had the same assignment. Tell an audience about Coker.
video could take awhile to upload. A group that included several athletes focused on athletics, showing Coker from the Athlete perspective. Another group focused on the learning experience of the round-table classroom while providing background on things at the college. A third group focused on the theme of Coker as your home while another group provided a story of the college from founding to today. And another team used the media player function of the computer to combine power point and video to highlight happenings in this centennial year. While a 50 minute class did not do justice to the explanations, it did provide the students with a good view of how each of the teams constructed a slightly different "reality" using different content for their message. The idea of codes and conventions really took hold when those who had done the power point as assigned felt they were out of the running when they saw the two videos. Each team did understand the commercial aspects because of focus either on prospective students or prospective donors.

From the instructor perspective, it was fun to see the media literacy principles come alive. David Considine of Appalachian State was the first to introduce them to me in one of his Media Literacy courses. One of his media literacy focused books is Visual Images

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Debates get some viewers

One of my recurring soap box presentations this semester has been the "interesting" times in which we are living in our country. So, how to make that connect with students. One idea, which I used four years ago, was to invite students to a debate viewing party. Sometimes, when you add food, you can get some interest. So on Tuesday night about 12 students came in to watch the town-hall style debate between Senator McCain and Senator Obama. A couple of students wandered in later after hearing about food but many stuck through the debate's nearly 90 minutes. We were much like the audience in the debate hall, polite, watchful, listening. We did not spend time analyzing the comments or even voting on a debate winner. My observation was that the students were listening closely and they understand the importance of this election. I think several of them were glad they invested the time -- and not just because of the pizza or tacos.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Homecoming 2008 -- 100 Years

It is really good to see all the former students back for Homecoming though you begin to feel old when it seems like this past May when a student graduated by he declares he is in his third year of law school. I think both Alex Kornfeld and I think that time is flying.

And, Jen Crocker Roberts spent two years in the business world and is now pursuing a Masters of Arts in Teaching at Converse. She is going into early childhood and here Dr. Joe Rubinstein is showing her a couple of math tricks to work with the young students.

And, Stryker, the mascot, was intriguing to Dr. Joe and Dr.Katie's young ones.

There was a great deal going on over the weekend with sports center stage as baseball, girls soccer and guys soccer all had games. The basketball teams played some alumni games and I probably missed somewhere else. We did hear again that the Landmark in Hartsville is not a place anyone wants to stay. And, The Spencers were really great at the Coker-Hartsville Concert Series on Friday night.

This was also the weekend that the Hartsville - The Art of Good Living marketing campaign was launched.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Faculty do some interesting things...

Dr. Rhonda Knight held what we laughingly call an "Academic Karaoke" presentation this past Friday. She had the opportunity to spend five weeks of her summer studying Shakespearean theater at the Blackfriars Theater in Staunton, Virginia. She described for us the learning experience, some of the techniques used with these professors to get them involved in some new material and the friendships that developed during what her group began to call the "Summer Camp" experience. After all, despite most of them being tenured faculty, they were staying in dorms with the bathroom at the end of the hall.

Her presentation sparked a couple of ideas that I may try with my students in some communication classes, even though they may have nothing to do with the Bard. It is really interesting to hear things on which my colleagues are working and it is another one of those happenings that adds to my own Coker experience. At the same time, the fact that Dr. Knight gave five weeks of her summer to become even more of an expert on the English language's most famous word smith so that she could further enrich the academic lives of her students is another proof of the fantastic experience students can have when they join the learning community that is Coker College.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

One of the best sopranos anywhere...

Was on stage at Coker this evening in a faculty recital. Serena Hill is such a strong professional. I can't even pretend to talk about her voice or any of the musicality because I don't know those things. But the performance on Thursday night was delightful to the ear and exciting to the eye. Serena has a stage presence that is amazing, conveying meaning with a raised eyebrow that quickly sets the mood for her audience.

One of the things really interesting about this faculty recital on Thursday night was the interesting blend of students, faculty and community people. The concert was held in the recital hall of the music building -- a venue barely capable of housing Serena's strong voice, but an intimate showcase for her remarkable talent.

And, what I really like as a non musical person is the ability to expand my horizons with some of the most professional talent from anywhere in the world. And, it is also so great to see students, whose primary focus is a soccer ball, or a race course being exposed to cultural experiences they never knew existed. That is a college experience and it is so very often the Coker experience.

And, the performance on Thursday evening was just like frosting on a cake because earlier in the day the campus heard from a climate scientist on the latest research on the question of global warming. If you are in Hartsville you and you don' take advantage of being in a college town, you might want to understand what a treasure is in the middle of town.

NCAA Speaker Enlivens Athletes

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Members of all of Coker's athletic teams received some pretty sobering information on Wednesday night, September 17, as Elaine Pasqua, a member of the NCAA Speaker's Series, shared some thoughts about Sex and Excess. In an informal poll during class this morning the students who attended the talk said they found her an effective speaker who got her message across in a very clear manner.

There was no question that her approach to the subject had the attention of the students and a couple of major audience participation elements helped to hammer that message home. The speaker told her audience that her reason for becoming a speaker on this particular subject was the experience of watching both her stepfather and her mother die of aids. Her stepfather contracted HIV/Aids from a contaminated blood supply and he passed it to her mother. Elaine has made one of her missions in life the goal of not letting anyone else get this disease because of not knowing how things happen. Her personal story helped her solidify the attention of the audience.

In the communication world, we like to think and to talk about tipping points. The speaker enabled a major demonstration of something like a tipping point as she showed how STDs can spread very quicklyacross a population. Starting out with 14 contaminated cups, the students began sharing their liquid with three other people. By the time they were done, more than 80 students had the pink liquid of "disease" in their hands. That is a lesson that should stick.

The NCAA speakers I have had the opportunity to listen to over the past few years have been good speakers with solid programs that get the attention of students and often include meaningful participation. The subtitle of this week's speaker was "Surviving the Party." The information she shared is going to make a difference for some who were in that audience.

The speaker series is,I believe, funded through an NCAA speaker grant and a Choices grant with some funds coming from Student Services and Coker Athletics. All students were invited.

Just another in the wide variety of events that make up this thing we call 'The Coker Experience.'

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Study Abroad experiences of strong interest

The Introduction to Mass Communication class at Coker demonstrated there is a strong interest in study abroad experiences with their attention to and questions of Jessica Klyn de Novelo of Central College this past week. Darlene Small of Coker's Center for International and Experiential Education provided the opportunities for this speaker. We have had students who have used the Central College program and the speaker did a thorough and quick job of introducing a many of the important elements. After she left several students asked additional questions about these programs and there was also a quick discussion of some of the programs being offered by Coker faculty. For example, one of the students went to the Yucatan with Dr. Hamby this past May and he talked a little about that experience. We also mentioned the trip to Italy that is upcoming, the trip to England that is upcoming and the Costa Rica trip. We probably missed one or two. The students are interested. That day at lunch I spent some time talking with one student about how she might plan a semester abroad experience. This was a case of a short presentation by an outside speaker sparking some interesting discussion. My reasoning for the outside speaker was that the course name is Mass Communication, Culture and Media Literacy and this seemed another good way to talk about how individuals often identify more with their dominant culture when they leave that culture. Thanks to both Darlene and Jessica.

Lots of things make Coker a great experience

One of the major fund raisers for the Coker College Division II Athletic Teams is the Taste of Coker, which received some great publicity in NCAA publications last year when it was selected as one of the model programs. Tim Griggs, athletic director, and several coaches, players and fans were drumming up support for the Taste of Coker during the Men's soccer match on Saturday, September 6. These are a couple of photos from that day.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Matt Ferguson is a recent Fulbright Scholar

I was perusing the Coker web site to check on the dates for Fall Break and saw this recent posting about Matt Ferguson's Fulbright year in Indonesia. Maggie Meyer, who graduated this past May, will be heading to Malaysia as a Fulbright Scholar in January. Coker may not be a large college but we do get to watch student achieve some extraordinary feats. Two Fulbrights in two years and we have at least one student getting ready to apply for this year -- all of these students from different disciplines. Matt was an English major; Maggie was communication and international studies and the next person is in Biology.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Competition is keen in the academic world

Coker is again able to tell the world that our small campus is ranked among the best institutions of its kind in the South and in the nation. We are 16 in the "U.S. News and World Report" review of colleges. As people look at the articles in the magazine and the articles reporting on that story, they will notice that competition is intense. While studies show that Coker does not lose too many students to Erskine in Due West, the article does show they are ranking second in institutions like Coker. Another private college in S.C., Claflin in Orangeburg is ranked at 13. There is a great deal of controversy about these ranking stories but the fact remains that when a college is ranked they generally let it be known. The competition is pretty intense and we are glad to be able to say Coker is there in the top 20.

Here is a link to the Greenwood Index Journal's web story on these rankings. Erskine again ranked second by US News & World Report
Greenwood Index Journal - Greenwood,SC,USA
Erskine is ranked ahead of all South Carolina schools -- Claflin is ranked 13th, Coker 16th, University of South Carolina-Aiken 23rd, Newberry 31st, ...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sparrow Scholar Program Adds Second Student

I ran into Becky Sparrow in the Charles W. and Joan .S. Coker Library and Information Center on Saturday afternoon. She had just been meeting with one of the girls who has a Sparrow Scholarship. Becky institute a Sparrow Scholarship as a way to demonstrate the importance of becoming involved in the community. Recipients don't just receive the scholarship funds, they are part of an evolving program that gets them involved in various aspects of the community.

There are now two Sparrow Scholars on the Coker Campus, Jessica Barnes, a junior; and Ashley Meador, a sophomore. Jessica received the first scholarship and last year worked at the Hartsville Soup Kitchen and did her summer work with the Coker Connection. This year Jessica is an RA at GSSM and she is going to be working to coordinate and participate in community-help programs with students from the Governor's School.

Ashley is the newest Sparrow Scholar and she is going to be doing her community learning with the Darlington County Free Clinic at the Hartsville site. This 'Service Learning' Scholarship program is in honor of Luke Sparrow, Becky's father, and is patterned after a program on the Wofford University campus.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


George Lellis, a Professor of Communication with the Language, Literature and Communication Department at Coker recently presented a paper at a conference panel in Colorado. This is just one way that faculty add to the scholarly pursuits of their fields. Dr. Lellis maintains a strong scholarly interest in a varity of film topics. This panel presentation is one example. He gave a paper recently at the annual conference of the University Film and Video Association's in Colorado Springs. It was on a panel called "Film Theory and the Avant-Garde." The paper was "When Does an Image Breathe?--Miroslaw Rogala's Transformed Landscape/Fruits and Vegetables." Other participants in the panel were from Virginia Wesleyan College, Penn State, and Point Park University.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Coker Convocation

Dr. Ed Ebert of the Coker College Education Department presented (whqat appeared to me) the best convocation talk I have heard since joining the Coker College faculty. He raised the bar for convocation presentations. His talk provoked! His talk involved! His talk connected! His talk made his audience move from their comfort zones to thinking zones where normal heuristics have to be replaced by what he noted in his talk, "critical thinking skills." In past conversations Dr. Ebert and I have discussed the idea of an American culture. In fact, it was one of these discussions that enhanced some of my own preparation for the Mass Communication, Culture and Media Literacy Class that I teach in the Communication major. Dr. Ebert's question to the audience was What is American Culture -- in one sentence. It was with this question, which he worded much better, that he sparked the creative thinking in his audience. Remember, this is a tough audience. The Elizabeth Watson Coker Auditorium was full, what a great sight by the way. Most of the audience were students. Listening to speakers is not something they enjoy doing for very long. This night, they listened. The fidgeting, the undertone, and other signs of a restless audience were pleasantly missing during his presentation. Another piece of evidence that he connected was one of my night students, leaving the auditorium on his way to the late class, who said -- "He was good, that was really interesting."

Convocation is a calling together of the Academy to start a new year. This Centennial Convocation speech ignited creative thinking and critical thinking providing a most appropriate opening to the beginning of a second hundred years of learning, teaching and living in the Coker College Community.

And, before the end, wasn't that a great song by Amesha Johnson...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

New Athletic Trainer is from Hartsville

Just had the pleasant experience of running into Josh Euten in the Coker Student Union building., "Have you heard," he asked with a big smile. "I am the head athletic trainer for Coker." Wow, what a great idea it was to bring Josh to Coker. I can't pretend to go over his credentials here but he has most recently been with McLeod but got a lot of his training at the University of South Carolina. he has his masters and in addition to being the athletic trainer he was also a professor at Chowan University. Josh is a Hartsville native and was introduced to the concept of athletic training with the Hartsville High sports program where he spent a lot of time as student trainer with the Running Foxes football program. Josh's brother, Matt, is a Coker Alum - a former catcher on the Cobra baseball team, and a biology major, who has his masters and is a fisheries biologist.

Monday, August 18, 2008

New Semester getting underway

A line in the Student Union Building as Student Services tries to get the bugs worked out of their new security system. High-fives and big smiles as friends who have not seen each other since the first week of May begin to reconnect. The upperclassmen are back and the first-year students appear to be acclimating. It is the first day of a new semester.

And, tonight is the first night of the new EESP 2008-2009 school year for the non-traditional college students who come to Coker to earn their degree at night. The night term has the first classes this evening from 5:30 to 7:50 and the second classes begin just after 8:00p.m. and go until 10:30 p.m. This is an intense schedule but it is one that allows a student to complete a four-year degree in four years, if they are starting from scratch and if they don't take any term off during the four years. I have the speech class in both terms one and two this semester.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Move-IN Day At Coker

One of the traditions of Coker College is that on Move-In Day Commissioners and the Honorary Commissioners they get to assist them unload the cars of the incoming new students and take the belongings to the rooms. Parents are a bit surprised at first but really like that they don't have to carry televisions, hundred-pound suit cases, and other belongings up to the dorm rooms. The volunteers enjoy being able to make the connection with the new students as they start their own Coker Experiences. Here are a couple of photos from Saturday, 8-16-08.

It was move-in day for the first-year students at Coker College on Saturday, August 16, 2008 and Daniel Meyer is taking in one of the hundreds of refrigerators that came out of cars, vans and trucks. Daniel is one of the Coker College Commissioners. He was joined in his efforts by a group of "honorary"Commissioners that included girls from the Coker Volleyball Team, players from the Men's and Women's Soccer Team, some faculty and staff and even Jim Dawson, president of the college. This move-in tradition takes a lot of the work from the parents and friends who are helping the first-year student move on to this new stage of their lives.
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Friday, August 15, 2008

Mentoring a way to connect --

One of the great things about the new semester, especially before classes begin, is the ability to reconnect with colleagues around the Coker College campus. This morning Dave McManus, who is a technical theater guru, asked the normal question, 'How was your summer.' That got us started on the Selling Hartsville project and as we talked, I found that last semester he had answered a call for mentors. Dave went to Thornwell Elementary School for the Arts here in Hartsville and met Jeremiah, an eight-year old that he began meeting with weekly. Not long after they began meeting, the youngster's teacher asked Dave -- what he had done or said, because apparently the change in the third grader was positive and noticeable almost immediately. "We play Monopoly," said Dave. And as he discussed the mentoring experience, you quickly find they also talk. Dave pays attention to Jeremiah, who seems to also connect with Dave. When we talk community building and making a difference, we often think in terms of the big programs, but then you hear the mentoring experience and understand that the most significant changes are made one-on-one by people willing to reach out and give each other the most precious of treasures -- their time. Dave says he'd be glad to answer any questions about mentoring if there are Coker people who might be interested.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dinner opens the Semester

We always start the first semester at Coker with a dinner to meet the new faculty. Tonight's was a fun and delicious dinner and everyone appeared excited for the new semester. One of the major differences in Coker and other institutions is that our size allows us to gather as an entire team, where at many other schools they have to do their socializing within departments or parts of departments to manage the numbers. It is always interesting getting to say hello after the summer and hear some of the amazing things these faculty members do to sharpen the edges so the students can their best efforts. Several had been to Europe despite the dollar/Euro ratio. Others had done some fellowship studying and a few were able to develop some additional research. A lot of fascinating things going on.

And, since this is one of those personal type blog postings THANKS to Marsha and Jennifer and Vicki for the planning and execution.

Getting Ready for the New Semester

Introduction to Mass Communication, Culture and Media Literacy is one of the classes I will be teaching this semester. It is the gateway class for the Communication major at Coker. One of the resources I will be steering my students to will be the media literacy web site run by Frank Baker. Frank has an amazing web site and he provides a crucial service to those of us who teach media by providing daily links and articles from an amazing variety of sources on media topics. Frank has a new book coming out on media literacy and presidential campaigns and I am hoping that I will be able to get him to Coker to speak to the Mass Communication class on this subject.

These days just before classes start are exciting as everyone gears up for this new academic year.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Thursday is big day at Coker

Thursday, tomorrow, August 7, is a big day at Coker because the cadre of students who will be working with the first-years are returning to campus. They will be the first of a gradual influx that will see student athletes hitting the dorms on Sunday and then first year students the following Saturday. The new semester is close. First day of faculty work is Wednesday. It is then the new Coker experience will again begin.

Some sad news at Coker this week as a long-time worker, James Cox, died unexpectedly on Monday morning. The crew who work the maintenance, housekeeping and other of those type support operations are feeling a major loss and we have lost a hard working, focused colleague at the Academy. James' funeral is Thursday through Norton Funeral Home.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Saints at the River by Ron Rash

is the common reading experience that is being encouraged for the first year Coker student, who are set to arrive on campus a week from Saturday. This is an exciting time in the lives of most families who have children heading off to college for the first time. We will see about 250 first timers and the campus is looking forward to its reawakening. In fact, I heard today that many of the men soccer players are heading into town this week, though they can't get into the dorms until Sunday. The new semester is upon us.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Working world is fun and eye opening

Kristin came by to see me on Friday. She is going to be her class representative along with her former roommate and she headed to Hartsville from Greenville on Friday afternoon. Her company is Fertis Communication and she is one of the media coordinators, buying lots of space for clients like Lowes. She will have been with Fertis a year in October. It was fun hearing from Kristin how some of those things covered in the classroom come back in the workplace. She told about being able to see things taking place in work place communication and being able to remember back to her theory class with Dr. Lellis and getting an explanation for why and how things were going. She had some amazing observations about the difficulty of communicating within a company from multiple locations and how important she is finding it to know how her role in the company fits into things other people are doing. One of the other things she discussed was how things you don't think would have any affect on your job all of a sudden keep you from accomplishing your mission. One major example were the California fires. She took a phone call from a trucker who was carrying advertising tabloids but because of the smoke and fire conditions he was not allowed to drive to the destination. I want to remember that example for the Organizational Communication class. She is enjoying Greenville, is enjoying being responsible and on her own. I really enjoyed hearing some of her observations about workplace communications -- reinforcing how important it is that we at least introduce students to how communication can support accomplishing the organization mission.

Monday, July 28, 2008

New Semester Coming Soon

Uncovering the wood on my desk I rediscovered the "Dear Colleagues" letter from Dr. Pat Lincoln, Provost at Coker College. This three-paragraph missive gently reminded the faculty that summer was quickly coming to a close and that school would soon be back in session.

We formally begin the new semester on August 13 with orientation of new faculty and a Faculty Social beginning at 6:30 p.m. that evening. In-service types of classes and meeting are set for August 14 and 15 and that weekend the students will be arriving on campus. One of the things I have learned to enjoy about working on the Coker College campus is the anticipation of every new beginning and relishing the clear conclusion of each semester. Those beginnings and endings are different from work in what might be called the 'corporate world.'

Like all semesters, this is going to be a busy time. During the day sessions I will have two classes of speech -- a 8 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 8 a.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. In addition I get to teach the Introduction to Mass Communication course, which I call Mass Communication, Culture and Media Literacy. I also get to teach one of my favorite classes, Organizational Communication, which focuses a lot on the internal communication theories and practices of organizations. In the night program I will be teaching a public speaking class in both Term One (early) and Term Two (late).

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Coker Students - Alums blogging

The Coker Experience blog began one day as a classroom experience in getting familiar with blogging. This summer, two of the students from that class, Stacie Fields and Elsie Mufuka, have begun their own blogs. This seemed like a good time to give them a nod or prop for taking that initiative and a good opportunity to link to their efforts.

Stacie's blog is called "The Adventures of a Dancing Fancypants" and Elsie's blog is lettersfromsouthafrica. Both of these girls are dancers and Elsie is starting her new career with a modern dance company with a base in South Africa and Stacie, who will be a senior, has been dancing this summer with Pro Danza in Italy.

In just a month or two Maggie Meyer, who blogged from Germany when she was studying abroad, will be blogging from Malaysia, where she is going to be on a Fulbright Fellowship.

Connection to the Real World

As we work on building a broad base of knowledge about the field(s) of communication from the idyllic surroundings of Coker College in Hartsville, S. C., it is important that we find ways to bring in the lessons of what is fondly referred to as the real world. This coming semester I have the good fortune to be teaching one of my favorite classes, Organizational Communication. This is a class taught with the vision of being able to combine lessons in theory with lessons of practicality with hands-on experiences with organizational communication. The vision is broad but there are times when you can see it take a firm hold.

That brings us to the subject of this blog, a quick summary of an article by Milt Weinstock, who is the CEO of Stone Soup Marketing, a consulting firm. Writing in the July 14 issue of ADVERTISING AGE (P20), he talks about the lessons taught him by Ed Meyer, who was CEO of Grey Advertising. (Aside -- just found out Stone Soup Marketing is in Statesville, NC.)

The lessons that Milt Weinstock features and highlights in his article are ideas I try, in a variety of ways, to get across to the Coker communication students. At some point in the class this coming semester, I plan to use this article as a reading for the students. Here are the ten lessons that Mr. Weinstock says he learned from Mr. Meyer over 35 years with Grey Worldwide:

  1. Perform with a sense of urgency
  2. Acknowledge the good
  3. There's no such thing as a small client
  4. Relationships are our most important asset
  5. Share the bad news early
  6. Loyalty is long remembered
  7. There is no substitute for knowledge
  8. Winning is a team effort
  9. Recognize that business is a marathon, not a 100-yard dash
  10. Being proactive makes you stand out
Important lessons that need to be learned and relearned by those working in many fields with special emphasis for those of us in communication.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Fun to Talk with Coker grads and work with coker grads

Just finished a meeting with a graphic designer named Kyle Saverance who graduated from Coker with a degree in graphic design and a minor in communication. Kyle is the graphic designer for Coker and has a side business that he does nights and weekends called fingerprint-design-studio.

We are working on a project in Hartsville that we call Hartsville - The Art of Good Living. This project is to sell Hartsville. Was talking with Kyle about a dynamic web site that we will use to provide information about Hartsville to the various audiences that we are trying reach. If is really enjoyable seeing a former student with such a great grasp of what it takes to get things working in what we call this "real world."

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Campus going to get pretty quiet

Summer day school ended this past week and the Term V night classes will be completely over this week. There are final classes, final exams, final papers and all the last-minute items of all terms or semesters with students most anxiously awaiting the grades that come following the work. So, with the holiday this Friday, will come nearly three weeks of no classes and no students. But, I saw a calendar the other day and new students will begin rolling in right after the first week of August as resident assistants begin their preparations, the men and women's soccer teams will begin their practices and we will be in the second semester of the college's centennial year.

As noted earlier, the Coker Connection, where about-to-be first-year students get to meet some of their classmates appeared to be quite a success. One of my colleague's daughter's was not sure she was going to enjoy it and called her mother at 1:30 in the morning telling her what a great time she was having. Team building, conversations, some pre registration and other activities filled in the times not spent by students getting to know one another.

Since this seems to be a potpourri of things, one of the student helps seems to have come up with the idea of extending the Coker late night breakfast to the summer program and we cooked some breakfast food for student dinners last Thursday and this also seemed to add some important Coker camaraderie to students stressed with pending finals.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"The Great Debaters" - A Discussion

This week I had the opportunity to lead a roundtable discussion with students attending the Coker College Connection. They were discussing the movie The Great Debaters. Since I teach a lot of public speaking, it is a movie that I really like. From a persuasive speaking perspective I love the scene the DVD calls 'The Hot Spot.'

The 13 students around the Davidson Hall table seemed to like the movie and from the discussion it appeared all were moved by some aspect. A key learning that one student surfaced and most seemed to agree with was that a major message in the movie was that "you are going to face really difficult situations in life but no matter what you face you have to take control and push on to achieve your goal." Wow! I was sitting there thinking there is not a more relevant message for the students to be taking away from an activity as they get ready to begin their undergraduate college careers.

It was also noteworthy to me the way the actors and directors succeeded in making people feel. While not everyone in the group spoke out there seemed strong agreement that the actors achieved their goal of being the characters. There also seemed strong agreement that the audience felt the raw emotions being portrayed in this story.

I am glad Student Services asked me to be a part of this exercise. There were several faculty members involved in leading these round table discussions.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Coker Connection

There will be more than 65 recently graduated high school seniors on the Coker campus today, Monday and Tuesday taking part in the Coker Connection. This is an event that Student Services holds to help make the transition to college smoother. The event is voluntary and is an opportunity for the new students to get to know their Coker classmates in a pretty relaxed atmosphere.

Term V is beginning last full week of classes --
And, as the pending new students are on campus, the summer school is entering into is last week as is Term V of the Night School. The Term V classes began back on May 8 and the this week are classes 13 and 14. Coker's night classes last from 5:30 to 7:50 and from 8:05 to 10:30. Most of the night students have full-time jobs and families but this is an opportunity to complete their college degree

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Prospects on campus

The first day of summer was also one of those Open House days for prospective students and often their parents to get a feel for the campus. It was fun for me to get the opportunity to talk with the group and discuss how exciting the campus is as a true "learning community." The goal of this talk last Friday was to make the students (and the parents) aware that though Coker is small the opportunities are limitless -- especially when it comes to interaction with faculty. My role was to reiterate the point that Coker is a teaching institution with faculty who focus on the students and the classroom. Several specific examples like the trip students take to Mexico or to Europe or to NYC or the research they do in the biology lab put some specifics on the concept of student/faculty interaction. The Admissions staff, as usual, had it all well organized and it was easy to tell during conversations at lunch that students and parents were impressed with Coker and were getting their questions answered.

It was sort of a busy day for admissions because they were also hosting a bus load of high school counselors who were visiting campuses across South Carolina to get a first-hand view for when they have the opportunity to talk colleges with their advisees.

And, the campus is a bit more alive with students this weekend as a cadre of student volunteers are here to put on the Coker Connection. This summer there are about 66 members of this year's incoming class taking part in Coker Connection on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

In the classroom, the Term V summer night class will be presenting the persuasive speeches on Monday. We used a short clip from THE GREAT DEBATERS to highlight some of the persuasive speaking impact and that is a film the Coker Connection students will be discussing this weekend.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Summer Night Class

Public speaking is the class -- one of the core courses required at Coker. It is a course that I really enjoy leading. Last night we were talking about persuasive speaking and one of the examples I used was to question how those in the class might encourage (persuade) someone to become a member of the Coker College Evening Program (

If you don't have a degree and find that you are being stymied in progress at your job, you immediately have one of the reasons they might have noted. If you enjoy a challenge and you like the feeling of accomplishment of meeting a challenge, you get that feeling every eight weeks as one term of two classes ends and another begins. That was another reason.

One thing that is often noted when you are trying to persuade people that a change is needed is that first, you have to persuade them of the NEED. We talked last night about Jeannie Robertson's observation (she is a professional public speaker) that "Change does not happen until the pain of change is less than the pain of staying the same." So, first you establish the need.
When it comes to a college degree that need is often driven from within (as it turns out most persuasion comes from within, a speaker only provides the thought triggers).

After you establish the need, you have to have a workable PLAN. The Coker College Evening program has a plan that if you attend each eight-week session you will generally be able to get your degree in four years. There are not many programs with that kind of accelerated time frame. While no credit is given for life experience, it is common for past college courses to transfer in to Coker.

And, finally, when you have established the need and developed the plan, you have to show the plan is PRACTICAL. Many people wanting a degree find when thinking about a degree is that it is tough to find the time required when you have this other life you are living. Coker night students understand. Most of them have one or two full-time jobs and many of them have families. The college has set up a schedule for the Hartsville campus of Monday and Thursday evenings with classes of two and a half hours each. The first class begins at 5:30 and is over about 7:50 and the second begins at 8:05 and ends about 10:30. Coker also has evening campuses at Lake City, South Carolina, Mullins, South Carolina and Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

But, if you are doing a persuasive speech you would use some personalization and discuss some personal stories of students who work, who have families and who are succeeding at Coker. This makes the need, plan and practicality real to the audience.

We try to use real-world situations as we discuss certain academic courses. Public speaking is a very real world skill and it is fun when people develop a higher degree of comfort during the eight week class.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Blogging and PR Writing

The term that is bandied about a great deal in public relations and organizational communication communities these days is "social media." Social media are another tool for the public relations writer to use in helping her/his organization get the right message to the right target audience.

The Coker College Public Relations Writing Class has been invited to this blog and each person has been asked to become an author on the blog. Since we know that each tactic or project we do in public relations begins with the answer to the question, what are we supposed to accomplish, that is where we will start this project.

The blog has been set up as an example of how an organization like Coker could use social media, in this case a blog, to demonstrate to perspective students a variety of elements of the Coker experience as lived through the lives of our authors, all Coker students. Oug goal is to help define by example what is meant when we talk about the "Coker Experience."

Your assignment for this project is to add some posts to the blog about your Coker experience. One thing that could start you off is an introduction of where you are in your Coker experience and who you are in the Coker experience. For example:

Prof Puff (me): I have been teaching full time at Coker College since 2000; after ending a nearly 20-year career in corporate communication at Sonoco, one of the world's largest packaging companies, which happens to be headquartered in Hartsville, South Carolina. There is not much doubt in anyone who knows me that I find college teaching one of the most personally rewarding callings I have had in life. At Coker, we have a liberal-arts based curriculum that fits perfectly with the concept we have of communication as a door-opening major to an array of job options. Our department blends theory, skills training, real-world experience, and an intense focus on other knowledge areas so that we can provide communication majors with the foundation for graduate school or for a variety of jobs helping organizations achieve their objectives.

Okay, that is a little bit of an example of what might be my style. Now you introduce yourself and your Coker Experience with about 100 to 150 words and then we will see what comes next in the world of PR blogging.