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.