Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Leaving 2009 for 2010

This is sort of a milestone year. I have been teaching full-time at Coker for 10 years now, even though most of the time it feels like I started yesterday. As I begin to write this end-of-year post, I wonder if there is a list of Top-Ten memories? It is not an easy question because this is a job that provides a host of great experiences semester by semester. Let's give it a try:

Top 10 Memories

1 -- (Getting the job)When Dr. Lellis told me I had the job. They had interviewed a professor with a Ph.D. the weekend before and even though I knew I had done a good job, I was (am) lacking that degree.

2 -- Hearing the president announce Master Professor on graduation day May 2004.

3 -- Mission trip to East St. Louis, Mississippi with Coker students to help in the rebuilding after Katrina. Those students are AWESOME!

4 -- The following summer with other students helping in the rebuild outside of New Orleans. We finally found the ice cream.

5 -- Having a discussion with Derek at Homecoming the year after he graduated. He was one of my first advisees.

6 -- Having a discussion with Alex about his experiences at law school and his passing the bar this past Fall when he was back from Homecoming.

7 -- The first senior seminar when we went to Lunch at Grigg's Grocery.

8 -- Watching four students from the class of 2004 come back to share their ideas with the Marcom class this past Fall.

9 -- Tiffany coming up after Mass Comm and asking what I knew about that plane that had flown into the building in NYC back in the Fall of 2001.

10 -- The joy on Maggie's face and in her voice when she told me she she had won the Fulbright.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Coker Strategic Planning is an interesting experience

The Coker College Strategic Planning Committee has divided into a series of issues committees and submitted papers that cover a great deal of the thinking that was involved in closing in on issues that should be the foundation of the new strategic plan. Dr. Wyatt, Coker's president, believes strongly in a solid strategic planning process and has Dr. Pat Lincoln, the College's provost, and Dr. Cathy Cuppett, directing the strategic planning effort. The goal is that a new strategic plan for the college will be in front of the college's Board of Trustees at their March meeting.
One goal of the process is to ensure that it is collaborative and early in the process meetings were held with representatives of most of the stakeholder groups for the college.

One of the goals of a strategic plan is to give specific direction for growth to the institution. The importance of planning became even more clear for me as I finished a short book called TRANSFORMING A COLLEGE by George Keller. Keller describes how Elon University transformed itself through planning from a rather non-descript small college into a dynamic institution that is growing in stature in nearly every area of that college.

While the book is a fairly short case study, all the key elements would make the blog post far too long. So, it seems like it might be a constructive idea to list Keller's analysis of the six features that helped stimulate Elon's growth. As the six are listed, it would be well to remember that strong leadership was fundamental to the entire process.

Those six features of Elon University's growth include:

1 -- Quality Everywhere
2 -- Addiction to Planning
3 -- People -- attention to selection, training and rewards at every level
4 -- Distinctive niche (student growth and student centered)
5 -- Financing growth with leverage
6 -- Marketing Skill (all of the Marketing Ps, not just promotion)

This was a quick read that gave me an enhanced perspective on how crucial it is to have a dynamic strategic plan.

Coker Grad writes about Coach Schmotzer

The following story is by Howard Garland, who went to Coker and who is now the assistant city manager in Darlington. This story appeared in the NEWS AND PRESS of Darlington. Thought that since basketball season is upon us and the Coker basketball team is heading to Wingate today for the last game before taking the Christmas break this would be a good subject to post.


In his 22 years at Coker College Coach Dan Schmotzer has brought stability to the men’s basketball program. After a win over Erskine Monday November 23 Schmotzer’s Cobra’s are 4-1 and 1-0 in Conference Carolina’s play. The only loss was a tough 72-68 overtime loss against rival Francis Marion University on a neutral court. During his tenure Coach Schmotzer has won 328 games and loss 327 which includes three 20-win seasons (the only three in Coker’s history). Schmotzer, after a recent win over Morris College, reflected on his time at Coker College. “What a great ride we have had here. There have been a lot of games and plenty of players passing through here. The payback is the bond you develop with the players over the years. I am grateful to the people that gave me the opportunity to coach at this great school.” He said.

Schmotzer arrived in Hartsville fresh from being an assistant men’s basketball at Texas Christian University (Horned Frogs) for 10 years. In his early years at Coker College Schmotzer was known for his fiery coaching style that frequently got him in trouble with referees. “I still believe in the basics you need to have some player movement and ball movement and you want your players to take good shots. On defense I don’t believe in gambling.” Coach Schmotzer’s teams at Coker College have been known for their tough defensive play and specifically the match-up-zone defense. “We still use the match-up-zone but it depends on the team we play.” He said.

This season the Cobras have some talented inside players returning but the guards are young. “We lost our all conference player Josh Poston, guard Lukas Varga and guard Stevie Evans who probably hit three game-winning shots last season that put us over the five-hundred mark for the year. We have some guys at the guard position that have been hurt by the swine flu. It is too early to tell where we will finish in the conference, but I love these kids. They have great character and are great to be around. They respect each other and know the importance of a good education.” He said.

For the 2009/2010 season Coach Schmotzer has brought in an assistant coach with NBA (National Basketball Association) connections. “We have hired Dennis Nutt as an Assistant Coach and for fundraising for Coker College.” Schmotzer said. “I really feel like we have come full circle with Dennis. He played four years at TCU and now to see his face in locker room as an assistant coach it just gives me a good feeling. The only reason that happened is due to our President (Coker College) Dr. (Robert) Wyatt. He (Dr. Wyatt) is an Arkansas diehard and if you know the Nutt family (Dennis’ brother is former University of Arkansas football coach and current University of Mississippi football coach Houston Nutt) you understand. The last 2 ½ years he has been a scout with the Charlotte Bobcats and they downsized about six or seven weeks ago. Dennis was on campus visiting and I introduced him to our Dr. Wyatt and it somehow worked out.” Schmotzer said.

Coach Nutt has been brought in to help raise funding for a new basketball digs for Coker College. The Cobras and Lady Cobras play all their home games at Timberlake-Lawton Gymnasium (capacity around 650) which is commonly known as the “Snake Pit” and a new facility is a few years away. “We have plans on the table for a whole new complex and we feel it would be a real asset to Hartsville and Darlington County. Not only would we play our home games there but the facility could be used for high school tournaments and other activities.” Coach Schmotzer said.

Coach Schmotzer has two Darlington players currently on the Cobra squad in Ricardo Smith and David Short. Both (Ricardo and David) have been out sick and they should both figure into our rotation when healthy. I thought Ricardo did a good job in our game against Morris. Coach Ken Howle (Darlington High basketball Coach) does a great job in Darlington and he has always been a friend of mine.” He said.

The Cobras opened the season with an exhibition against NCAA Division 1 foe University of Pittsburgh a top ten opponent. “That was really special to play the Pitt Panthers. Their head coach (Jamie Dixon) played for me at TCU and he has done an outstanding job at Pittsburgh.” Schmotzer said. This year the NCAA Division 2 Cobras play another NCAA Division 1 team in the East Carolina Pirates. “I think you always have a chance going into any game. We appreciate East Carolina allowing us to play them and give us a nice guarantee to supplement our budget.” He said. Last season Coker College upset Coastal Carolina in Conway.

Coach Schmotzer has changed his coaching style some in over 20 years. “The game has changes so much in the last 20 years. There is no way I could coach with the same intensity that I did 20 years ago. If I did I would probably be dead. I probably have one of my top three players on this year’s team and that is Mason Ambler. He is an extension of our basketball staff and he makes my job easier everyday. He provides leadership on and off the court and he a two-time All Conference Carloina’s selection.” Coker College’s next game is Saturday night (December 5) At Greenville, North Carolina to take on East Carolina.

Coach Schmotzer is originally from Cleveland Ohio and his twin brother (Dave) is head baseball coach at Coker. Coach Schmotzer played college baseball at St. Edward’s University and earned NAIA All-America honors.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Finals --

Saturday morning and I was waiting for the first students to show up for the Speech Communication final wondering if maybe I had the wrong day. But, about five minutes before they began to arrive. A couple of hours later we began a different final for the Introduction to Mass Communication class. The students had a research paper so we decided to do the test final on the last day of class and use the final exam for a short presentation of what they discovered in their research. There were a variety of topics covered and I think the students found the topic selection interesting. About half way through the presentations, Tyler says, "what are the chances of us being done for lunch?" The answer was quit slim to none as we had more than ten presentation ahead of us. So, to stem the loss of learning from hunger pangs, we sent out for pizza. The pizza settled the hunger and focused the students on the presentations by their colleagues. It was a full exam time but it was interesting. The basketball players had to leave early because of an away game, which is why we began 30 minutes early. I wanted them to hear presentations beyond their own. Next week, more exams -- two on Monday.

The photo is a shot of a few of the students beginning to enjoy their pizza.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Late Night Breakfast a Coker Tradition

The Coker College Late Night Breakfast broke all kinds of records on Thrusday, December 4. There were faculty and staff there in double-digit numbers to help with the cooking, cleaning and serving and this groups served a record number of students between 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. This event is held the night of the last day of classes for the day students and seems to be a hit with students; who often complain about dining hall food but showed up at least 30 minutes before the doors opened for the late night pancakes, bacon, sausage, eggs, biscuits, tater tots and probably several other breakfast favorites. Took some photos of the event that are on the Picasa web.

This was the first Late Night Breakfast for President Robert Wyatt, who, before the night was over found himself tutoring one of the Coker seniors in some business material.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Coker Christmas

Twenty four days until Christmas but the feeling of this special holiday doesn't get much stronger than it did this evening at St. Batholomew's in Hartsville, S.C. Will Carswell conducted the Coker Chamber Singers in "A Coker Christmas," powerful music of the season that made you think as well as feel - an awesome combination that demonstrates the power wielded by those who write and make music.

This is no review. I don't know music. I do know feeling. I have a pretty fair handle on competence when displayed by others. I have more than a little appreciation for the hard work that goes into a superior performance. Those in the sanctuary this evening will likely echo the sentiments that we witnessed a great performance by the 16 members of the Coker Chamber Singers, their conductor and the accompanists.

There were several excellent pieces but as Amesha Johnson stood silhouetted in front of the reflected cross singing "...we didn't know 'twas you," it would have been difficult to find dry eyes in the house.

The program, which is also being performed in Darlington on Tuesday, December 2 at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, consisted of:
** I Saw a New Heaven and a New Earth -- PeterR. Hallock (Tiffany Ross - alto solo
** Never weather-beaten sail -- Charles Wood
** And the Glory of the Lord from Messiah -- George Frideric Handel
** Magnificat -- Arvo Part -- Avery Bateman - soprano solo
** A Christmas Carol -- Charles Ives
** Glory to God in the Highest -- Randall Thompson
** Before the Marvel of This Night -- Carl Schalk -- Allyson Osborne on flute
** Dona Nobis Pacem (mvt. 6 finale) -- Ralph Vaughan-Williams
Amesha Johnson, soprano, Tyler Edwards, baritone
** Offertory -- Noel -- Claude-Benigne Balbastre
** How Far is it to Bethelem? -- Geoffrey Shaw
** Here is the Little Door -- Herbert Howells
** My Dancing Day -- arr. Gerald Near
** Sweet Little Jesus Boy -- Robert Macgimsey -- Amesha Johnson soprano
** Carol of the Bells -- arr Peter Wilhousky
** Silent Night -- arr. Paul Sjolund -- Ashley West - alto soprano, Allyson Osborne flute
** I Believe This is Jesus, -- Undine Smith Moore -- Kyle Berry, tenor

Dr. William Carsell is the Conductor
Ronda Wilkes McElveen is the accompanist

The Coker Chamber Singers include:
Avery Bateman - Columbia
Amesha Johnson -- Florence
Breonna Payne -- Sumter
Alto --
Taylor Adams -- Union
Rachel Buchanan -- Sumter
Tiffany Ross -- Sumter
Ashley West -- Charleston
Kyle Berry -- Conway
Martin Ketter -- Hartsville
Dustin Moree -- Hartsville
Julio Ruiz -- Greenville
Tim Dupre -- Greenville
Tyler Edwqrds -- Clemson
Adam Johnson -- Loris
Josh McKenny -- Sumter
Robert O'Hara -- North Augusta

Coach Leese sets a high bar for his coaching career

Coach Paul Leese guided the Coker College Men's soccer team to their best season in college history and broke a lot of other records along the way. A story by the Sports Information Director, Christian Stryker, discusses some of these accomplishments.

Coach Leese really made it happen on the soccer pitch and he is making things happen in other venues on the college campus. For example, Coach is a member of the Coker Strategic Planning Committee. This committee is working hard to develop a Strategic Plan that the Board of Trustees will be able to approve at their March meeting. He will also be teaching a course in the Business Department on Leadership this next semester. He has his undergraduate degree from Furman University and his MBA from Elon University.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Alum tells class about social media

Charles Ellison, a 2004 graduate of Coker, visited with the Marketing Communication class I am teaching and presented them with an overview of Social Media Marketing. His presentation was from the field and the students really enjoyed hearing about how a couple of businesses are using both Twitter and Facebook. As an instructor, I always appreciate it when a former student is able to come by class and share some of their real-world experience.

Holiday quiet on the Coker campus

A few minutes ago I was sitting on the bench outside the Performing Arts Center watching the steady stream of leaves falling; it was so quiet you could almost hear them hit the ground. Even the squirrels seem to have taken today off. While it is sort of strange to have a three-day weekend so close to the end of the semester, it does seem like it came at the right time. Students are certainly feeling the pressure of semester end as there are only two class days left before finals. Faculty have also been feeling the pressure of papers, a rapidly ending semester and committee work that has fast approaching deadlines. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is a day, I believe, for which all of us at Coker, students-faculty-staff-administration, are thankful. Everyone will probably be hard after it all beginning again on Sunday afternoon.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Coker College Speech Contest Had 10 Winners

The 2009 Speech Contest had ten contestants and in my mind that means it had ten winners. The ten students who took part "stepped out of their boxes" and stepped up to a significant challenge. This contest is going to make each of them better when it comes to public speaking.

For three of the contestants, the winning also meant some prize money. The Coker College Speech Contest is a co-curricular event with the Department of Literature, Language and Communication and Students Services & Leadership. The prize money for the event was provided by Student Services.

Matthew Blewitt, presenting a motivation speech on escaping your personal and societal box, was the first palce winner and takes home $150. In second place was Caleb Dunlop, who was speaking on the need to send more troops to Afghanistan. Third place went to Derek Bailey, who spoke on the normal abnormal events at family reunions.

There were some interesting speeches from all of the contestants. Jill Giguere talked about the myths we associate with some mental illnesses. Becky Dillon had a persuasive speech about allowing women into combat roles in the military. Hannah Jackson told the audience the importance and rewards of volunteering. Margaret McCoy entertained with the battle between the Snap/Crackle/Pop gnomes and the Kibler Elves. Elizabeth Carawan, who happens to have red hair, told us about the reputation of those with the gene who are said to have stolen the fire from hell. Rachel Minus described the magic of knowing American Sign Language and Elizabeth Gainey told of the challenge of reaching two childhood dreams, that of being a social worker and a teacher.

The judges for the contest were two members and officers of the Hartsville Toastmasters -- Ray Schnell and Bruce Eide (both TM contest winners themselves); Veronica Gallo, a Coker alum and winner of the 2006 Coker Speech Contest and Lisa Potoka, direction of student activities and leadership. Dr. George Lellis of the Coker Communication Department was the timer. The major rule of the contest was that speeches had to be between four minutes and thirty seconds and seven minutes.

It was a highly competitive contest and I appreciate those students who took on the challenge of competition. We also appreciate those who joined us for this contest and gave the speakers an appreciative audience.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Coker people talking about Coker

James Jolly of the Coker Marketing and Communications area is working with ClickTV to post some short videos of Coker people talking about Coker. They are fun to watch and I thought it would be interesting to post the link in this blog about the Coker experience. A few weeks ago DB, a communication student and basketball player, was in my office and we did a little video of his thoughts about Coker in the few months he has been here. Going to try posting that video here because I think those who sell Coker the best are those who experience Coker. So, I hope you get to meet Derek Bailey here and then click to the other site for more Coker voices.

Coker College Speech Contest is November 18

The following students will be competing on Wednesday night beginning at 6:30 in the Music Building Auditorium in annual Coker College Speech Contest.

Rachel Minus Matthew Blewitt Elizabeth Carawan Caleb Dunlop
Margaret McCoy Elizabeth Gainey Becky Dillon Hannah Jackson Jill Giguere and Derek Bailey

We hope that you will try to program the speech contest into your already busy schedules. These students are putting themselves under the pressure of a contest to get even better with their public speaking skills. And, they are competing for $150 as first prize and cash for second and third places. The contest will be judged based on public speaking as listeners like it. There will be four judges and a timer. All of the speeches must be between four minutes and thirty seconds and seven minutes. This event is cosponsored by the Department of Student Services at Coker and the Language, Literature and Communication Department. The Speech Contest will last approximately 90 minutes from 6:30 to about 8:00 p.m.

The Coker College Speech Contest is open to Day and Evening Students and the major qualification is that you are an active Coker student and that you are not a previous winner of the contest. In fact, one of the judges is a previous winner who is now a graduate of Coker College.

We instituted the Speech Contest as another way of showing students the variety of situations they might find themselves when it comes to speaking. Very few students will accept the challenge of a contest and I THANK those who have for going that extra few miles for this experience.

Basketball season now in full swing

The Coker College Women opened their season against UNC - Pembroke on Sunday and had difficult time finding their rhythmn. On Monday night, the Coker Men's basketball team held off the very determined Morris team from Sumter for the opening home victory. The women head to Rock Hill for a game against Winthrop University on Tuesday night.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Prospective Students

Really enjoy talking to prospective students about the opportunity of joining the learning community at Coker College. Coach Dave had a recruit and his parents in from Miami on Sunday and I got to talk with them about academics, classes, etc. Coker is a subject, like Hartsville, that I enjoy talking about. Our small campus, like our small city, can be one of THE right places for people. As we leaving the discussion my major advice to the student was to go with his gut as he looks at colleges. If the school feels right then you will have motivation to make it right. If it does not feel right there really is no reason to pressure yourself into a situation that does not feel like you. In higher education there are a lot of choices. For many, Coker could be THE right choice and I enjoy sharing information with students that can help them see the possibilities.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Getting into the important short rows

A quick look at the calendar shows that the Coker College Fall 2009 semester is quickly coming to an end. You can feel the end approaching as you read FACEBOOK lamentations about all the work that is suddenly coming due in classes all over the campus. You can see it in the posters announcing book buy backs (hope the students don't sell until after they use them for final study).

Complicating the work load is the fact that there continues to be a great deal going on outside the classroom. The basketball teams will be opening their regular seasons. This weekend A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM has a performance on Saturday evening and the closing performance on Sunday afternoon. Next week on November 18 there is a Speech Contest. The night before is a Faculty piano and voice recital. On Sunday, November 22, there is a performance by the Coker Singers of Requiem and the night before that the students have their Winter Formal at the Hartsville Country Club.

After today there are six Monday, Wednesday, Friday classes left in the semester. There are four Tuesday/Thursday classes left in the semester. Time does disappear and that is why many are feeling the end-of-semester pressure, including faculty.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nothing to do -- often heard but not always the case

Recently, Jon Driggers, former dean of students at Coker, sent an email out to students, staff and faculty that listed some of the places students could find things going on at Coker and maybe even in Hartsville. We are in a small city. There is often the feeling there is nothing to do but we have a slogan in Hartsville that calls for residents and visitors to "Expect Pleasant Surprises." This is the email that Dean Driggers sent:
Have you had the feeling there is nothing for you to do in your free time? You will find some of the resources that list student events on campus:

The Campus Life Calendar: Have you had the feeling there is nothing for you to do in your free time? You will find some of the resources that list student events on campus:

The Campus Life Calendar:
The Campus Life Facebook page:
Athletics Website:
Cultural Events Calendar:

From August - October over 167 programs were held in the Campus Life area alone(SGA, Campus Life, Residence Life, RSOs), 54 of these programs were held between Friday-Sunday.

Please check the calendars for upcoming events!

And, if there are not enough events, I usually tell my students they can always use their free time to prepare for classes.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Coker Soccer Wins Conference Championship and Coker Basketball Plays Division 1 Pitt

The Coker College men's soccer team had an amazing week as they won three games capping the success with the Conference Carolinas Championship on Sunday afternoon before one of the largest crowds ever to watch Coker soccer. Coker and Belmont Abbey were tied a 0-0 after regulation and after the first overtime and after the second overtime. The penalty kicks decided the game with Abbey missing after Coker converted and the 0-0 goes down as a 6-5 win for Coker in a hard-played match by both schools. Jubilation would be a good word to describe the feelings of the players and the fans as Coker has had quite possibly the best season in men's soccer history. It was really good to see former Coker players in the fan section.

The Coker Men's basketball team opened their 2009-2010 season with a game in Pittsburgh, PA against Division I Pitt. The game generated a great deal of enthusiasm among both players and fans and while Coker came out on the short end of the score, Facebook comments from students said this was a great trip. The game generated some good publicity in the Pittsburgh papers as the reuniting of Coach Dan Schmotzer with some of his TCU friends from the old days made good feature material for the reporters.

On the women's side, the Coker Volleyball Team ended their season over the weekend with a victory over Queens of Charlotte.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Coker Inducts 14 New Omicron Delta Kappa Members

The Coker College ODK Circle inducted 14 new members on November 4th in a ceremony held at the Drengalen House on the college campus. ODK is a leadership honor society and Coker has had a chapter since 2003.

A group of family and friends attended the initiation event along with members of the Coker ODK circle. Melinda Norris, a business professor at Coker is also the ODK Faculty Advisor and she offered important words on the importance of personal leadership in developing a personal legacy of service.

Among the new members are: Taylor Adams, Hannah Beard, Shannon Smith Flowers, Sarah Folsom, Amy Hall, Jordan Heydt, Kyria Hoffman, Anna Lippard, Askley Meador, Brandi Nichols, Robert O'Hara, Lisa Potoka, Amanda Warner, Robert Wyatt.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Coker Men playing in Conference Soccer tourney

I know that a post should be original in nature but with lots going on and with the Coker Sports Information Department working hard on getting the news out, I thought it would be okay to share their release about the conference tournament opening game. This game will be November 3 in Anderson:

Cobra Men Ready for Conference Carolinas Tournament
by Christian Stryker, SID Coker College

Read this article on the web at
Hartsville, S.C. - All season long the Coker men's soccer team has made history and as the Conference Carolinas Soccer Tournament begins on Tuesday, they are hoping to continue to make history. The Cobras are seeded fifth in the tournament , their highest seeding in school history, and will have play nationally ranked #13 and fourth seed Anderson University.
Kick-off is set for 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3 at Anderson University.
The Cobras lost their only contest against the Trojans back on Oct. 24, 2-0. Even with the loss, Coker had several good scoring opportunities, but were unable to capitalize.
Leading the Cobras offense is junior forward Daniel Shrizad (Orlando, Fla.) with seven goals, while freshman Eric Stiefield (Eustis, Fla.) has scored six goals on the year with an assist. Holding down the defense is freshman goalkeeper James Sweeney (Huntingtown, Md.). Sweeney has allowed just 15 goals in almost 1500 minutes of play, while making 42 saves with a 10-4-2 record including seven shutouts.
To stay up-to-date on all the latest news, scores and bracket busters for the Conference Carolinas Tournament, visit the Conference Carolinas Tournament website.
Visit for the latest news and info on Cobras Athletics.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Enjoyed tonight's dinner

The entire time I was at the President's home this evening I was thinking that instead of hello I should be saying thank you to the people who were there. Tonight was a thank you event for some of the large donors to Coker College from the Hartsville area. In addition, there were a large number of Coker Board of Trustees at the event. In addition to their time, they also contribute to the college. I got to go as a faculty trustee. It was really encouraging talking with so many people who have a strong belief in Coker and the difference it can make in the lives of students.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Basketball season now officially opened

The Coker College basketball teams jumped off their seasons officially on Tuesday evening with a Midnight Madness event that began at 8:30 and ended about 9:30 p.m. In small cities, we have a different idea about midnight. Had it been the real midnight I would have had to decline the invitation to judge the dunking competition among the guy basketball players. Derek Bailey won that competition.

The Coker Midnight Madness was set up to be just a fun event introducing the Men and Women's team. It was an enjoyable evening.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Coker is in Fall Break

Coker College is in Fall break. There were no classes on Thursday or Friday and this came as a major RELIEF to nearly all parts of the Coker community, even those who would not have time off during this Break.

This year the Fall Break coincided with an Executive Round Table put on by the South Carolina Association of Non Profit Organizations (SCANPO) so I took advantage of not having classes to attend that meeting, "Tomorrow's Philanthropy Today." I thought it would have good information for The Byerly Foundation and there is no question it was a useful conference.

And, most of the athletes were on campus despite the Fall Break. The Coker Volleyball Team snapped their losing streak and beat Converse College on Friday. The Men and Women's soccer teams were heading to Wilson, NC, to play Barton College on Saturday evening. The Coker softball team had a three-game tournament scheduled for Saturday and I think both the basketball teams might have been having individual work outs as they get ready for the season opening practice on October 20.

For many, Fall Break is a time to catch up on grading or catch up on papers or just continue studying because until the semester is over, the work part of the college experience never seems to end.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Coker College Soccer on WBTW

WBTW Channel 13 out of Florence and Myrtle Beach was in Hartsville recently to stage a "Matchup" challenge between sports reporter Matt Lincoln and some of the Coker strikers. The report is fun and interesting and great coverage for a team that has gotten off to a very strong start this season. This past Saturday they came through with a last minute win over Belmont Abbey in conference play.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Saturday at Coker College

There is volleyball that starts about noon.

There is women's soccer that begins at 2 p.m.

There is men's soccer that begins about 4 p.m.

There are going to be a good number of visitors on campus this morning as the Admissions Department hosts the October Open House.

The Coker College Dance Department had a great performance on Friday night to a large and receptive crowd. The creativity, hard work, range of movement and talent the dancers display is awesome.

The Dance Showcase has its last performance at 8 p.m. Saturday night.

The campus is busy early this morning (about 7 a.m.) as the cross country team was out running, in fact, crossing paths with a Hartsville Saturday morning running group. May have been a couple other teams out early -- could not tell. I believe there is some Fall baseball this weekend. Several people on the Housekeeping staff are busy putting last minute touches on the Performing Arts area, after the reception last night for the Open House this morning.

And, all of that activity says nothing about the grading of papers, speeches and the studying the students have to be doing as the last of mid-term exams are given prior to the two-day Fall break coming up next Thursday and Friday.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Faculty-Staff Softball Match Up at Coker College

There is a tradition that is starting (now in its fourth year, I believe) of a faculty/staff softball game in the early fall of the year. It is fun even though it can be sort of dangerous. The 2009 game is set to start in about two hours and while I have committed to play I am thinking maybe I should be committed for committing. Playing a game like softball one time a year is not all that bright when you are at an age when going up stairs you are accompanied by the timpani-sound of cracking knees. It is not all that smart when about the only throwing you do on a regular basis is paper into the trash can. It really isn't all that brilliant a choice when the only acceleration that is really left is what you can manage from your right foot on the gas pedal. That said, I am playing unless we are blessed with enough other faculty to catch, throw, hit and run the bases and letting me coach third or first in the one position that maybe a kid of my age can safely play. There are a couple of home run hitters on our faculty, hope they show for today's game or we may be invoking the ten-run rule.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Coker College Dancers in Dress Rehearsal tonight

Sometimes people who have not been to a college dance program will look at me a little strange when I urge them to attend because of what they can learn about communication. Since joining Coker back in 2000, I have come to appreciate dance not only as an art form but also as a communication medium. I will never know anything about choreography but after every dance performance or showcase I come away amazed at the depth of communication that results from an intricately choreographed piece. This week the dance showcase involves two senior thesis presentations that are certain to be striving for that communication depth. Being able to experience new forms of communication, different forms of art and discussion forums are some of the reasons being part of this Coker learning community is so important a part of my life.

"Change in Motion" is the theme of the Coker College Fall Dance recital that will be performed on campus in the Watson Theater on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. Here is the announcement shared with faculty by Angela Gallo, assistant professor of dance:

This Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm the Dance Program is proud to present Change in Motion- The Fall Student Choreography Showcase in the Watson Theater.

The show will feature the senior thesis projects of Jessica Welch and Corrine Sutton, as well as six other works by choreographers Hannah Beard, Kayla Webb, Jasmine Stevenson, Tara Haynes, Paige ManWaring and Alicia Nelson.

It is an exciting show that will feature many styles of dance. Please come out and support the dancers and choreographers who have worked so hard to put this great show together.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Homecoming over, Coker activity is classroom focused

I am heading out to my 8 a.m. class in a couple of minutes ready to listen with the rest of the class to eight informative speeches. The informative speeches have begun in all three of my speech classes and they will take us to the Fall Break that is Thursday and Friday of next week.

Noticed from comments that students are making in class that they are feeling the intensity and pressure of the classroom as the exams are piling up on one another. One speech student told me he also has an Organic Chem test the day of his speech and he knows one of those two is going to suffer. Went by the library last night and must have been the end of one of the team's study halls, because there were a lot of guys coming out but at the same time there were many individuals heading in. Earlier in the day I stopped in the library and nearly every computer was taken and few of those students appeared to be on Facebook.

For the Coker dance students, the classroom is often the stage and there is an intensity around the Dance Department and dancers this week as they began their technical work on stage Monday night and they will open the Fall Dance concert on Thursday, with performances also on Friday and Saturday beginning at 8 p.m. The theme of this Fall's concert is "Change in Motion" and it includes two Senior dance thesis projects.

With mid-term grades due this week, you can feel and see some of the extra classroom pressure.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Coker College Homecoming Festivities

Here are a couple of shots from the Coker College Homecoming and Parents Weekend happenings. The conversations with returning grads were a lot of fun. It is great to see and hear what they are doing. Some of them are saying things like, "I can't wait until..." and as I listened to what they were doing I could not help but think they should revel in the moment because they are living lives that are getting them where they want to go.

First photo shows Coker Homecoming Queen Henna and Homecoming King Rober

Second photo shows a selection of the Homecoming Court at Coker

Photo Three shows Beeze Chastain talking to members of the Coker Parents Council about being a student at Coker.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Coker Feud asks -- Name a Character on Saved by the Bell

This is Homecoming Week at Coker College and I got the opportunity to play Family Feud as a member of the Senior Class team. My performance led to their very ugly defeat by just about the same 100 points that I did not score. What do you mean Horseshack is not a character on Saved by the Bell -- he was certainly a comic relief on WELCOME BACK KOTTER. Name a Denzel Washington movie. Okay, I know Denzel but I have no clue as to the movies. Some kind of hospital flick. (They me that one for John McQ of whatever.) My guess is that it is not likely I will be chosen any time soon for another game involving popular culture from now back to 1980. Truth is, Mason called because others were not able to make it. The Seniors presented the Family Feud and I would bet that anyone asked would tell you it was a fun time.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Strategic Planning to set stage for growth

This Saturday will be a busy day in the library at Coker, unusual for a Saturday. It is busy because the college's strategic planning committee, appointed by President Wyatt, is having its first meeting. It is an all-day meeting that will set the tone for the planning process, which is to be completed by March. Earlier this week Dr. Wyatt was the speaker at the All-Member Lunch of the Hartsville Chamber of Commerce. He discussed some of the vision he has for the role the college will play over the next decade. The strategic plan will begin to articulate the strategies and tactics to implement a vision and continue the growth and success of the college.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Coker Grad, Sonoco Designer Talks with Class

Marcos Sola talked with the Marketing Communication class at Coker on Thursday and his message hit the bulls eye from the instructor's (me) perspective. One of the instructional objectives I have for this class is that students be able to articulate an least an awareness of the workplace for marketing communication. Marcos furthered this goal. Two key messages from the instructor perspective -- 1) Make sure you take advantage of the learning opportunities in internships; 2) When you are an intern, be punctual and do work that helps solve problems. Students hear me say this but it really begins to mean something when someone only four years out of school gives them some real-world examples that this kind of thing is important.

Marcos was a Spanish major and a graphic design major at Coker, graduating in 2005. He was not in any of my classes, which is another reason I am really appreciative he took some of his time to discuss the importance of graphic design in the marketing communication process. At Sonoco, he works with Carolyn Johnson, who graduated from Coker as a graphic design major in the 80s.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Coker ties FMU after double overtime

The game between Coker and Francis Marion was exciting and was well played by both teams. It was such an even match that two overtime periods could not help make a decision. This Saturday the Cobras have another major encounter as they take on Lees McRae, assigned the top spot in the Conference Carolinas.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Coker at 23 int he nation, 3rd in Southeast in Soccer

Christian Stryker, sports information director for Coker, just announced that Coker has been ranked 23 in the nation in Soccer. The team is undefeated so far this year and tonight they will take on nearby Francis Marion University at the Coker College Soccer Field beginning at 7 p.m. Following is the story released by Coker Athletics:

Cobra Men’s Soccer Nationally Ranked #23
by Christian Stryker, SID Coker College
Hartsville, S.C. – The Coker men’s soccer team continues to make history in 2009 as the 7-0 Cobra men received a #23 national ranking on Tuesday in the latest National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll. The #23 ranking marks the first time the Cobra men have received a national ranking in program history.

In addition to their #23 national ranking, the Cobras jumped up a spot in the Southeast region ranking to #3. Coker is joined in the rankings by fellow Conference Carolinas schools Lees-McRae (#4 national, #1 region), Anderson (#11 national, #2 region), and Mount Olive (#10 region).

Coker will have to defend their national ranking right away, as the Cobras face regionally ranked #8 Francis Marion in a non-conference match tonight at 7:00 p.m. at the Coker College Soccer Field.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Open House today at Coker

It is always fun to be part of the Open House events for prospective students. These students and their parents are facing the important decision of choosing a college. When you are in those shoes it feels like a daunting decision; it is a daunting decision. That is one reason I really enjoy being part of these events because there is good feeling when prospective students and their parents come to campus and put Coker in their decision mix. For some of them choosing Coker will be the best decision. For some, the visit will mean they will choose to take Coker out of the mix. Either way, the visit to the campus is a great way to help make a more informed decision. And that leads me to another reason I like being part of the open house when the opportunity arises.

Our Admissions Staff at Coker works very hard to provide students and their parents with an authentic visit. What the visitors see when they come for the half day event is pretty much what they will experience when they come on campus for their college years.

Finally, I really enjoy these events because I get to spend some time with colleagues who I don't get to see in the press of daily classroom activities. Listening to colleagues talking about their Coker experiences, which always focus around students, is energizing.

The Coker Open House made this cloudy, drizzly day sunny,

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Volleyball opened at home on the Coker Campus

The Coker College Volleyball team had its first home match of the season on Tuesday, September 15. The other team won.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Quiet Holiday

Like Christmas on campus this morning -- seems not a creature is stirring.

Thinking this morning about last week and a two days there was a sign outside the Joan S. and Charles W. Coker Library and Information Center about ETV Technology training. Never did any real investigation of that but as I went into the library I noticed the computer room was full and it looked like a good bit of activity. I am thinking that ETV was doing some training for those who run media centers and technology services in K-12 schools.

And, I was thinking about the role a college plays in fostering learning and action in a community. On a very surface level that was called 'town/gown' relations. There is more to this concept, however, and I think we begin to see it when groups from the community are able to use some of the campus resources for professional development. We also see it when the College and the Community combine some resources to expand the cultural offerings -- as is being done with the David Osborne piano concert on September 16 at the Performing Arts Center and even as is being done tomorrow with Jack Riggs, a Georgia author reading from his new novel, THE FIREMAN'S WIFE. That event is led by Hartsville's independent bookstore, Burry Bookstore. I had the opportunity to introduce another author at a similar event and that writer took a lot of time talking to students and others about both the process of writing and the process of getting published. Those are rich experiences and when you combine efforts their impact is much greater across the community.

Yet, there are other levels to this concept of college-community relationship and it appears they are going to be one of the subjects for more intense discussion as the campus works toward a new strategic plan. Dr. Wyatt, Coker's new president, has observed several times that he believes a college has a commitment to community that goes beyond sharing cultural events into the questions of how the "Academy" can be part of making the "Community" (the reason for the quotes is that we are not alway talking geography when talking community)better for ALL. Several times Dr. Wyatt has referred to a call of service to the Academy from the community and he is seems to be eworking to find ways of exploring this calling.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Alumn tells class about Marcom Job

Leah graduated from Coker College in 2004 and made her first return trip to the campus today (9-3-09) as a guest lecturer in the Coker College Marketing Communication class. Leah Wright Burkett resides with her husband in Charleston and made the early morning drive to talk with Coker students about her job, the agency she works for and the process of finding and adding value to organizations for which you work. As always, I am hoping members of the class got as much from this visit as I did. Leah provided some "real-world information" that directly tied to some of the concepts we have discussed in class about what marketing communication needs to provide for clients. In addition, her tips about the job hunt, about finding a way to make a difference for your client and your boss, and about how to find satisfaction from your work day were really invaluable. As an instructor it is tough for me to overemphasize the appreciation I have for those who are willing to take their time to share the real world with students.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Marcom Class got to talk with first client

We are trying to take a sort of "real world" approach to the Coker Marketing Communication class. Today, the class got to experience an agency-client visit. Dr. Robert Wyatt stopped by to explain the challenge of providing Coker with an enhanced presence in the higher education marketplace. He opened the meeting with the information that Coker is currently enjoying it largest ever first-year class and its largest day population. "So, why do we need to do a better job of marketing?" was the question he asked. At that point he discussed a little about what the experts are saying concerning growth of the traditional college; a situation that is predicted to be, at best, static in the coming years.

One of the interesting aspects of a college like Coker is that a regular academic class can get more than an hour of the President of the college's time to enhance the experience of students. The students did their part in this experience by providing a steady line of questions to help them focus on the marketing mission that Dr. Wyatt is formulating.

Sometime next week several teams of students will deliver a S-W-O-T analysis that would be the first step in providing a marketing communication plan for this client. Now, the teams are trying to decide where to find particular groups of stakeholders, where to find current information the state of higher education and where to looking for those opportunities that will distinguish the growing institutions from other institutions over the next several years in higher education. As a matter of fact, that is just one of the things the strategic planning committees of the college will be attempting to accomplish over the next few months.

It is an exciting time to be part of Coker and it felt like the students in class got a taste of the excitement as they talked with the new President.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Dance Instructor Achieves Grant

There is a news release on the Coker website announcing a grant received by Professor Angela Gallo. Had heard from her about this toward the end of the summer and in this economic climate getting this grant is a great accomplishment. The Coker Dance Department is active throughout the day as students are taking regular classes, practicing for senior thesis performances, or other pieces. The music is often pounding in the large studio long past nine as the dancers stay busy until all hours.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Opening Night of Soccer at Coker

Pembroke has a 35 yard penalty kick with less than 25 seconds on the clock, the kick is centered a head smashes the ball above the Coker goalie's outstretched hands into the crossbar. Coker grabs the rebound and opens the men's 2009 soccer season with a two to one VICTORY; Coach Paul Leese begins his head coaching career with a "W".

The Coker women played Newberry in the opener and after a rough first half that had them down four to nil they played tough in the second half losing their opener 4-1.

Good crowd at the games.

On a side note seems Coker Baseball Coach Dave Schmotzer got to challenging Coker's new president over some athletic feats and the two decided on a face to face bowling challenge with the winners -- the Coker Baseball team who will not have to run this Saturday morning as Wyatt topped Schomotzer in their first bowling match up. All night long ball players were coming up thanking Dr. Wyatt for his victory and their prize.

that was time for some fun but those 8 a.m. classes start at eight in the morning.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Coker Holds Opening Convocation 2009-2010

Dr. Robert Wyatt, Coker's 16th president, was the keynote speaker at the opening convocation of Coker College on August 20. Using a theme of ensure you make a difference, Dr. Wyatt cautioned his audience of students, faculty, staff, and community that in the words of psychologist William James, "A difference that makes no difference is not different." His message was one of urging students to take hold of their Coker experience so they can craft a person who will go on to make lasting impressions in the world.

There is a two-minute video that captures a little of this speech. You may have turn your speaker volume to high, but the message is so much stronger coming from Dr. Wyatt than from these cyber words.

The Convocation was highlighted by recognizing top students in each of the classes. This formal calling together of the Academic Community is one of those experiences that makes working at a liberal arts college a truly distinctive experience.

The organizers also kept this event to less than 35 minutes and that appeared to be great timing. Just a note about Dr. Will Carswell's, chair of the faculty senate, admonition to students -- he called on students from each of the college levels, first year to seniors to stand and to understand that this privilege of a college education was their responsibility to grasp and make happen. I think the students heard the message loud and clear and from their enthusiasm as they left the building, they understood this calling together was about their education.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Volleyball Puts on Clinic in Georgetown

The SCNOW web site has a great story about the Coker College Volleyball team putting on a clinic for the Georgetown, SC, volleyball team. Engaged learning and experiential learning are two key ideas for Coker and it is fun seeing those ideas include sports as well as class activities.

The Coker Girls Volleyball Team joined the men's and women's soccer teams helping the new students move in last week and the included photo shows some of the members of the Coker Volleyball team.

First Day of Classes for 2009-2010

25 students in Speech ready to go at 8 a.m.

Enjoyed the class and found a lot of reasons that Public Speaking might be the most important class you will take in your college career.

Basically, the skills from public speaking translate directly to your personal bottom line on the job, in school, in your personal life. That is one reason I get excited to serve as a coach for public speaking skills. The basic goal for this particular class is that by December 4, 2009 all of the 70 or students taking the three PS classes I am teaching will find they have improved their ability. Then, their job will be to find ways to enhance the skills because public speaking needs constant attention or rustiness sets in.

Introduction to Mass Communication is next and then Speech at noon. Another speech class and Marketing Communication are on the agenda for Thursday.

The first major assignment for all the speech students is to review the Coker College Convocation, which begins at 7:30 on Thursday evening.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Biology Professor gets Large National Science Foundation Grant

Dr. Joe Flaherty, a biology professor at Coker College, has been developing undergraduate research programs since coming to Coker. He has just received official notification that he has received a $500,000 career research grant from the National Science Foundation. What follows is the note that Coker Provost -- Dr. Pat Lincoln, just sent to faculty and staff:

Dear Friends—

It is my overwhelming pleasure to let you know that Dr. Joe Flaherty has just received official notification from the National Science Foundation that he has been awarded a CAREER grant in the amount of $502, 416.

A CAREER Grant is the National Science Foundation's most prestigious award given to junior faculty. Awardees must exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research. Because the research to be supported by such grants must be of such high quality, it is very unusual for CAREER grants to be awarded to faculty at institutions other than large research universities.

Dr. Flaherty’s remarkable success can be celebrated by us all. It provides a model for the impact that student-faculty collaborative scholarship can have on the careers of students and on the professional development of the faculty.

Way to go, Joe!!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Candle Lighting Ceremony at Coker

Leaving the office just before 8:30 on Sunday evening I saw a a large circle of students forming in front of Davidson Hall in the middle of the Coker College campus. I had heard of the Commissioner Candle Lighting ceremony but this was the first time I had seen it. This is an impressive orientation tradition. The ceremony concluded with the singing of "Friends and Friends Forever" -- quite appropriate for the relationships that begin with the first weekend at college. I was glad I had gone into get some last minute things done so that I had a chance to see this impressive event.

Move In Went Quickly at Coker College


College is welcoming its largest-ever first-year class and a total of about 250 new students for the 2009/2010 academic year when you include transfers. One of the Coker traditions is to have what are called Commissioner Families. All the new first-year students are assigned a family as the first-step of getting to know Coker. An additional tradition is for the Commissioners, and Honorary Commissioners (those who are willing to help) to unload the cars for the news students and their families. This year, several of the fall athletic teams joined in the tradition and the move in flowed well, though for some it seemed like every incoming student was either on third floor Belk or third-floor Memorial -- especially those with the refrigerators and microwaves. Orientation continued over the weekend and Monday will be some more getting to know Coker and getting ready for classes, which begin on Wednesday.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Students present Biology research in Oregon

Dr. Joe Flaherty is building what I think of as an amazing student research program at the Coker biology labs in Hartsville. He just shared with our Faculty Senate Chair, Will Carswell, that two students were able to present research at a major conferenc of the American Phytopathology Society. So, I am including the email that Dr. Carswell shared with the Coker Community. This is impressive work for the students and Dr. Flaherty:

Coker students Ms. Elisabeth Stamey (senior, Biology Education) and Ms. Rebecca Armentrout (sophomore, Biology) presented a research paper at the 101st Annual Meeting of the American Phytopathology Society (APS) held in Portland, Oregon (from Aug. 1st to 4th). The title of the presentation was “Molecular Characterization of Insertional Mutant 8B5 of Fusarium graminearum”. This work was conducted at Coker College under the direction of Dr. Joseph Flaherty, who accompanied the students and has been an active member of APS for 15 years. This conference hosted over 1,900 registrants who represent scientists from over 60 countries.

The American Phytopathological Society (APS) is the premier society dedicated to high-quality, innovative plant pathology research. For more than a century, members of APS have been making and sharing significant breakthroughs, both for the science and society. APS is driven by a distinctive community of scientists, whose energy and commitment ensure the global advancement of this critical science.

APS members represent a broad range of specialties, from pushing frontiers in the accuracy and speed of field diagnosis, to increasing our understanding of plant pathology through laboratory research. Members come from academia, government, industry, and private practice. The diversity of the members and science makes the society pertinent to a multitude of research areas, while the international involvement ensures that the latest innovations from around the world are available to all.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Getting Ready for the New Semester - 2

This morning working a little bit on the syllabus. One of the tools for the Coker College Mass Communication course is a series of papers the students are to write that help them think about specific topics and that also help provide the class with the variety of thought processes that arise on issues of media.

Sometimes, first-year students are a bit stymied by what the professor wants. Sometimes. So this year there is now a template for these one-page papers that students can use to format their thinking. It is going to be interesting to see if this format improves the overall quality of the papers in the course. About a quarter of the way through the semester we will do a review of how the class is going and feedback from the class should give some indication on the usefulness of this template.

Introduction to Mass Communication, Culture and Media Literacy (Com 150) is the door opening class of the communication major and is usually an enjoyable semester. And, with all the changes in the entire concept of "Mass Communication," this class includes different material each Fall. A long time ago at the University of South Carolina Dr. Lee Dudek had a favorite saying for mass communication -- "The more mass the communication, the less the communication." He would really be interested to discuss the way technology has revolutionized (is revolutionizing) the idea of mass communication.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Coker in the news this Sunday morning

The MORNING NEWS of Florence had a front-page story by Sherisse Bell about Dr. Wyatt's vision for Coker following his first month and a half on the job. Front page on Sunday is good coverage, which should be making James Jolly head of the Coker Communication and Marketing Department pretty happy -- nice coup for the day the student athletes and student leaders begin to gather on campus for the new academic year.

And, there was a surprise for Coker on the sports page of this Sunday edition with the headline "Former Cobra Sheftic ready to tee it up in season's final major." Coach Dan Schmotzer, who used to coach golf as well as basketball, had mentioned Mark Sheftic's success in conversation earlier this week. Sheftic, a Club pro, is going to be playing in the PGA Championship in Chaska, Minn., beginning on Thursday. Coker's golf program is strong and this extra publicity from this "Former Coker College sttandout..." should be another major plus for Coach Tommy Baker's program building efforts. Lou Bezjak, sports writer for the MORNING NEWS wrote this story, which is accompanied by some good photos from the Golf Association of Phildelphia.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Quiet Today - Active Tomorrow

Noticed a couple of guys on the soccer field this afternoon. It is Saturday, the day before the fall athletes arrive back at Coker. Did not investigate closely but am guessing there will be some activity on that field before too many more days,

The door to the Student Building was open this afternoon, unusual for a Saturday. Jon Driggers, Dean of Students, and Amanda, chair or Orientation, were working on details. the Residence Life and orientation staff came in last Thursday and tomorrow the Commissioners and the fall athletes arrive on campus.

Some empty offices began feeling the weight of books and other supplies as some new faculty began moving in a few days early. Faculty Week officially begins on Tuesday.

And, word has it that this will be one of the largest and perhaps the largest first year class in Coker history. In this economy that is quite an accomplishment.

Now, if I could just get motivated to do the syllabi. I have Speech completed but still have to work on Introduction to Mass Communication and Marketing Communication.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Coker Basketball to open against Pitt

Was talking with Coker College basketball Coach Dan Schmotzer the other day and he was excited because he had just confirmed that the basketball team would be opening against the University of Pittsburgh for the 2009/2010 season. In addition to this being a major payday for the small Coker program, this is an opportunity for Coach Dan to coach against one of his former players. This will also be an exciting trip for the team and the school because Pitt was vying for the NCAA crown last season. This morning Christian Stryker was able to put out a news release on this matchup.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Athletes make the Conference Presidential Honor Roll

The following post is from the Coker College Sports Information Department and you can read it by going to the Coker Cobra website but just in case you don't follow links here is the story:

72 Coker Student-Athletes Named to Conference Carolinas Presidential Honor Roll
Courtesy of Conference Carolinas Office
High Point, N.C.- Conference Carolinas is proud to announce the Spring 2009 Presidential Honor Roll. Each institution within the conference has emphasized their commitment to academic importance as they have continued to have student-athletes achieve a grade point average of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale) at their institutions. As our conference continues to emphasize "Academics and Athletics Working Together" we strive to increase our Presidential Honor Roll each year in order to become a frontrunner within NCAA Division II.
Coker College

Matthew Ammons
Karl Ankersen
Michael Chad Austin
Justin Collier
Richard Deleandro
Nathaniel Donovan
Cody Ellison
Jonathan Gainey
Matthew Kearnes
Thomas Long
Thomas Oschip
Trevin Taber
Christopher Thomas
Adam Windham
Men's Basketball
Mason Ambler
Joselle Bracy
Michael Gore
Joshua Poston
Lukas Varga
Phillip Woo

Men's Cross Country
Justin Gragg
Austin McJunkins
Men's Golf
Christopher Marsh
Diego Polo

Men's Soccer
Benjamin Chastain
Matthew Jarrett
Men's Tennis
Andrew Chinnes
Evan Schreiner
Carlos Esteban Teran
Juan Vallejo

NeQuita Bracey
Jessica Covington

Women's Basketball
Lotta Aaltonen
Maija Castren
Jessica Hayes
Henna Koponen
Heidi Rienstra
Agne Stanciauskaite
Megan Thomas
Joanna Tyndall
Women's Cross Country
Caitlyn Driscoll
Aliese Gregory
Adriana Ochoa
Shannon Townley
Women's Soccer
Chelsea Beetch
Bridget Clark
Kristen Evans
Kathryn Friedmann
Mackenzie Hallahan
Carrie Hudnell
Stephanie Leitgeb
Jamie McCoy
Margaret McCoy
Amanda McPhail
Ashley Meador
Amanda Warner
Norah Wofford

Shelly Catlett
Rebecca Dillon
Sydney Greenwalt
Miranda Klees
Julia Nelson-Abbott
Anna Oswald
Brittany Owens
Haleigh Rogers
Whitney Wallett
Women's Tennis
Lindsay Crighton
Rachel Lemar
Kendal Sigmon
Cassidy Spencer
Women's Volleyball
Kelsey Carlson
Courtney Nelson

Signs of a new Academic Year

The first clue was a couple of weeks ago when the Dean's letter arrived welcoming the faculty to begin thinking about being back on campus. Faculty week begins August 11.

Coaches Return Today
This morning Coach Baker (golf) was in the Midnight Rooster picking up some coffee and he told me this was his first official day back. Of course, like many of the other coaches, he has been on and off campus all summer. He is excited about this coming year because he did not lose any seniors and his team is ranked with strong possibilities of winning some big tournaments this Fall and Spring.

Discussion of one of largest first-year classes
The Coker Admissions staff has been working a lot of hours and there is talk that Coker may be welcoming one of the largest, if not the largest, first-year classes ever. That is good news for a campus that is tuition dependent.

New President has interesting week
And, last week Dr. Robert Wyatt, Coker's new president, completed his first month on campus with a meeting of many members of the Coker Board of Trustees, who engaged in the first step of the strategic planning process. There were interesting small-group idea-development exercises based on some key strategic questions Dr. Wyatt is asking. On Saturday, the Alumni office had a leadership session with several alumni, who also heard from the President about his thoughts on Coker. There appeared to be a good bit excitement generated from both of these events.

Students begin coming next week with August 15 set as Arrival Day
The Fall sport athletes will begin arriving on campus this coming Sunday and then their practices will begin pretty soon after that. International students are due in a couple of days later and then all first-year students are due on campus Saturday, August 15. Time does fly!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Update on Maggie Meyer's Literacy Project

Got a facebook message from Maggie the other day and her literacy project has sparked some interest in several quarters. Dr. Lemke's wife Harriet worked with Hartsville's Burry Bookstore to establish a box for books and others have done similar things. The literacy project was discussed in a previous post so I will just share with you Maggie's last note. She is a Fulbright Scholar teaching English in Malaysia:
the Note
I have been talking with Mrs. Lemke about that and I simply can't believe the outreach of support I have received for this project! People have set up five book boxes in four different states. I have a feeling that this project may end up doubling the school's library. (Currently their library is two bookcases of books/mostly manuscripts that are stapled together).
Plus, all of this comes at a time when Malaysia is really struggling with the issue of English literacy. There are strong forces in this country advocating for abolishing English totally from public schools (Even though a 1/3 of the population speaks it as their primary business language). However, there is an equal push against this movement, trying to ensure that English stays and is integrated more fully into the curriculum.
Also, the project and its results thus far, have inspired three other ETAs to take up the cause and expand the libraries in their schools with similar literacy projects. It truly feels like a worthwhile and 'fruitful' project.
Speaking of real fruit, I think I am about to explode. Fruit season is in full swing here, and everyday I am brought plastic bags full of strawberries, rambutans, lychees, bananas, mangosteens and durian. I can't bear to tell them to keep it, so I usually take a few pieces and share the rest with boarding students. It is only 9:30 a.m. and I already have a box of strawberries, a tree branch with 12 rambutans on it, and a bag of mangosteens.

Best, Maggie

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Princeton Review again picks Coker College as one of Southeast's best

The Coker College community received a copy of a news release today citing that the college has been named among the top 141 colleges in the southeast. And, as you read the story you will see this puts Coker among the top 25% of the nation. Here is a copy of that release as it came through the Coker College email system from James Jolly, our director of marketing and communications:

Coker College Named a 2010 “Best in the Southeast” by The Princeton Review

Hartsville, S.C. — Coker College is one of the best colleges in the Southeast according to The Princeton Review. The education services company recommends Coker as one of the top institutions in the Southeast in the 2010 Best Colleges feature at This is the sixth consecutive year Coker has received the “Best in the Southeast” distinction.
The Princeton Review selects its best colleges based on excellence of academic programs and the opinions of independent and high school college advisors. The firm also surveys students at each institution about their campus experiences and the quality of the living and learning environment.
“We’re happy to be listed among the best once again by The Princeton Review,” said Coker College President Dr. Robert L. Wyatt. “Such recognition reaffirms our commitment to providing the finest educational experiences for our current students and it helps future students know more about the college.”
The 141 colleges The Princeton Review chose for its 2010 "Best in the Southeast" designations are in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. The Princeton Review also chose 218 colleges in the Northeast, 123 in the West, and 158 in the Midwest as best in their regions. These best regional colleges represent only about 25% of the nation's four-year colleges.
Coker is an independent, comprehensive liberal arts college founded in 1908. The living and learning environment at Coker fosters participation in the community of scholarship and the development of ethical character, leadership skills and social responsibility. Coker’s unique round table teaching style is nationally recognized for developing leadership and communication skills.
The Princeton Review is known for tutoring and classroom test preparation courses, books, and college and graduate school admission services. Its corporate headquarters is in Framingham, MA.


That is good news as we get ready to start the new academic year and will add to the optimistic attitude that is pervading a lot of the conversations about Coker as people look toward the new year, and the leadership of a new president.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Coker Student in the news

One of Coker's education students, Sue Rogers of McColl, is on the front page of the MORNING NEWS of Florence for achieving a perfect score on the Praxis II exam, taken by candidates for teachers in South Carolina. Shireese Bell, education reporter for the MORNING NEWS, used a news release from Coker as the impetus for this story, which includes two photos in the July 22 edition of the paper. Coker's teacher education program is one of the more popular majors and it serves many prospective teachers from the Pee Dee area of South Carolina with both the day and evening degree programs.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Coker Fulbright Scholar Asks Help with Book Project

Maggie Meyer, who is teaching, living and learning in Malaysia as a Fulbright Scholar has initiated a literacy project for her school that she would love to get some assistance with. I am going to post her email to me in this blog and hope that others will think about providing some books:

From Maggie
Hi Professor Puffer!

I have finally figured out a way to give a little more back to this community. I have organized a new/used book drive for my students and school. If you are interested in participating, let me know! I have attached a flyer that you can print out and distribute, or give it to friends you think might like to participate as well. (I have copied and pasted the text part for forwarding via email) I am trying to get as many books as I can.

I hope your summer is going well! Give my best to your family.


Welcome to the Chalok Literacy Project

Hello! My name is Maggie Meyer. For those of you who do not know me, I am currently living in Chalok Terengganu, Malaysia and completing a Fulbright grant as an English Teaching Assistant here.

Students in Terengganu are keenly interested in America and English. They watch movies from Hollywood, listen to American music artists, and hear about America daily on their television sets. Yet, rarely do these students get the opportunity to experience America and English through books. Books are not only more expensive here but they are hard to obtain. English language bookstores are relatively non-existent in this part of Malaysia. I myself have to travel 7 hours to the capitol, Kuala Lumpur, to buy English language books. Students often cling to every English book they can find, reading them again and again because of the lack of variety. In addition, printed books are expensive in Malaysia. Because they are imported, their price is somewhat higher than if they were purchased in the United States. A one month subscription to the local cable provider is cheaper than one averagely priced English book. DVDs are a fraction of the cost of one book (about 1/3). Because of this, students test poorly on Malaysia’s state exams in reading comprehension. This sad truth sparked the Chalok Literacy Project. It is my goal to provide every student at my school in Malaysia with one English language book by the time I complete my grant in October. As part of the Fulbright mission, I am here to help students understand that English is an engaging and fun language to learn. What better way to raise scores and teach this valuable lesson than to provide these students with English language books?

Here’s How You Can Help

Donate A Gently Used/New Book. (OR SEVERAL books!)
It can be any size you want. It can be about anything you think students would like to read. Ideally, books would be fiction and appropriate for intermediate English speakers. The age range of the students is anywhere between 10-19 years old, so topics can range from fictional animals and adventures to how to gain admission to American colleges. (See end of message for more information)

Don’t have an extensive library? Head online to From there, locate and click on the Wish List button in the top right hand corner. A wish list search bar will appear. Type in Chalok Literacy Project. You can choose from a hearty selection of books, purchase them through their secure server and select to deliver them to the CLP gift registry address.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Caution should be exercised when sending books that include opinions on religious and political matters. These subjects are extremely sensitive in Malaysia as the large majority of the population is conservatively Muslim.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

If you are sending a used/new book, send an email confirming you or your organizations participation to:

More information on how to send your books to Malaysia will be relayed via email.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sprinklers and rain - part of the greening of Coker

There are all kinds of running jokes about the sprinklers at Coker and this video is a demonstration of the raining/sprinkling that often happens in the heat of a summer afternoon in Hartsville, SC.

We have a beautiful campus and the timed sprinklers help keep it that way -- they can't help when the storms come.

Jolt of Awareness -- Tempus fugit

The envelope was thick and the return address was Coker. The letter inside from Dr. Pat Lincoln -- Dear Colleagues...Time to think about being back to work. First day of the new semester for faculty is August 11. Time does fly!

In addition to the schedule for faculty week and the invitation of an opening potluck dinner (everyone likes to start with food, Dr. Lincoln's letter included some questions about the college that Dr. Wyatt is asking in preparation for the development of a new strategic plan.

1 -- What institutional values must we preserve at all costs?

2 -- What changes do you see happening in higher education that will require us to respond in order to continue to be successful? What suggestions do you have for how Coker should respond?

3 -- Here is an interesting one -- What one thing must we change to succeed in the next one to three years?

4 -- How might we go about better disginguishing Coker from other institutions with a similar mission, target audience, etc.?

5 -- Is it best for Coker College to devote more resources to those areas in which we can excel, rather than to distribute resources equally among all areas? is so, what would be the best way to determine the areas upon which the college should focus?

Those questions will be certain to generate discussion, if not agreement.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Coker Grad has dance performance in London

Jackie O'Toole, who was a dance and communication major at Coker, has one of her choreographed dances on a program for London later this week. Currently, Jackie is at Florida State University in the MFA Dance program.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Already plans taking shape for Fall - Taste of Coker

One of the double edged swords of small colleges is the need for solid athletic programs and the continuing challenge of funding solid athletic programs. One of the many hats that coaches wear is that of fund raiser; one of the things that makes them good prospects for good development jobs in higher education. About four years Tim Griggs, Athletic Director for Coker, came up with the idea of the Taste of Coker as one of the fund raisers/community involvement activities. It has turned into an event recognized by the NCAA for its novelty and by the Hartsville community for its fun and food. The following article was prepared by the Sports Information Director at Coker and does a good job of getting into the details. If you are interested, they would love for your participation as a cook, sponsor or just a ticketed visitor to the Taste.

4th Annual Taste of Coker Set for September 24
by Christian Stryker, SID Coker College

Hartsville, S.C. - The 4th Annual Taste of Coker date has been set! The Coker College Athletic Department will once again open their doors and their grills on Thursday, September 24, 2009. In just its fourth year in existence, the Taste of Coker has become a local favorite of the Hartsville and surrounding communities.

Last year more than 700 people turned out to sample the goodies of more than 35 local chefs, while participating in activities with Coker athletes, listening to music and watching some live entertainment from the Coker dance and cheerleading teams.

The fourth installment of the Taste of Coker promises to be just as exciting as the previous three, with more food, more fun and even more interactive entertainment planned for the whole family to enjoy.

Tickets to the 4th Annual Taste of Coker go on sale August 1, 2009, at the Coker Athletics Office. Business or individuals interested in sponsorship opportunities should contact Christian Stryker at 843-383-8068 or For all other information on the 4th Annual Taste of Coker contact the Coker Athletics Office at 843-383-8073.

Visit for the latest news and info on Coker College Athletics.