Sunday, May 31, 2009

Travel does expand horizons

Truism in the headline does not take away the fundamental truth that getting somewhere you have never been or seeing somewhere you are through a different lens is a mind expanding experience. It has been fun the past few days viewing the photos from the
Coker College students, and even a professor or two, who have been on May Interim tours outside the U.S. One group of education students went to Greece. Another group of student went with Dr. Kenyon and Professor Bruce Douglas to Italy while a third group led by Don Mac Williams recently returned from Costa Rica. And, just today another group left the ground for England led by Dr. Knight and Professor Fields. A study abroad experience can be about a year of education for every week you are gone -- it can be that intense and that expanding. One of the conversations I really enjoy is sitting down with a student who has just returned and listening to their impressions. According to Facebook images, these groups had a good time along with their expanded learning experience.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Rolling Registration fun way to talk with new students

Students entering Coker for the first time have the opportunity to do what our Admissions Department calls Rolling Registration. That means that as they put in their deposit for the next semester Admissions will work to get them a faculty member, usually from their proposed major, who help them set up a schedule for their Fall classes. This morning I just had the opportunity to meet Dominique, who is going to be a Communication major. She is getting ready to graduate from North Central High tomorrow and is looking forward to beginning her college career. It would be my impression that she is more excited now as she is looking forward to a specific schedule of course work and she knows what the courses are going to be and when they are coming in the day. It turns out that she has a sort of unique schedule for a first-years student because her first classes are not until nine or later. Usually, I am seeing a lot of first-year students in the 8 a.m. classes. During this Rolling Registration time I have had the opportunity to talk with a number of students getting their first college schedule and it is enjoyable seeing their anticipation of those first classes grow as they take home that calendar for the week that tells them when they are in the classroom and when they might have time for some lunch, or for some library time or when they will have classes over for the day so they can get to practice, rehearsal or even their part-time jobs.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Knowing your audience is crucial

It would be surprising if you were to ask anyone who has taken a Coker College Puffer course in public speaking what the most important principle of public speaking is and they did not answer immediately -- Knowing your audience. I am not always sure that I am as clear as I need to be about why you need to know your audience but I think it is repeated so often the basic principle gets across. One of the sayings outside my office is by Red Auerbach, former coach of the Boston Celtics, and I heard him say this on the radio the other day, "It doesn't matter what you say, what matters is what they hear."

Just recently I completed THE 21 IMMUTABLE LAWS OF LEADERSHIP by John C. Maxwell and when he discusses the "Law of Connection" he does a good job of highlighting a leader's need to know the audience. One of the outtakes in the chapter on The Law of Connection is a quote that is on target for this subject of knowing your audience: "It's one thing to communicate to people because you believe you have something of value to say. It's another to communicate with people because you believe they have value." (page 119) For me that resonates as the major reason to know your audience. That audience is composed of individuals who have value and your job as a communicator is to add to that value.

Maxwell discusses the guidelines for connecting and I am going to use his thoughts because they reflect my own and because he has written lots of books and spoken to millions of people and his words have value with people wanting to be leaders. You might have to pick up his book to get the details of these eight guidelines but here they are from pp 117 and 118:
1 -- Connect with yourself
2 -- Communicate with openness and sincerity
3 -- Know your audience ("You want to speak to what they care about not just what you care about.")
4 -- Live Your message
5 -- Go to where they are
6 -- Focus on them, not yourself
7 -- Believe in them
8 -- Offer direction and hope -- ("When you give people hope, you give them a future.)

At Coker, the Communication 101 course on public speaking is about getting better at public speaking but the context of becoming a better oral communicator in a liberal arts tradition as that you use this skill in taking leadership within your personal communities. And, this morning, just before writing this blog posting I was listening to President Obama announce his choice for the opening on the Supreme Court. You will find that his announcement followed many of Maxwell's guidelines for effective communication and the Law of Connection.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Mars Hoax and Media Literacy

Media Literacy is a major component of the Mass Communication, Culture and Media Literacy class that I teach as an entry into the Coker College Communication major. Today, Frank Baker, a South Carolinian and Media Literacy maven distributed a Yahoo news story about the Mars Hoax that is now circulating around the internet - AGAIN. Here is a short piece of that article:

Mars Hoax Circulates: 'Big as the Moon!'
Wed May 20, 3:51 pm ET

Once again it appears that a Mars hoax that has widely circulated through the Internet since its first appearance during the summer of 2004 has begun to circulate yet again. It comes in the form of an e-mail message titled "Mars Spectacular," which originated from an unknown source.

In turn, this message has gotten passed on to others who couldn't resist forwarding it to their entire address book.

The e-mail declares that on the night of Aug. 27, the planet Mars will come closer to Earth than it has in the past 60,000 years, thereby offering spectacular views of the Red Planet. The commentary even proclaims, with liberal use of exclamation marks, that Mars will appear as bright as (or as large as) the full moon.

The problem is that "Aug. 27" is actually Aug. 27, 2003. Mars made a historically close pass by Earth that night (34.6 million miles, or 55.7 million km). The Hubble Space Telescope used the opportunity to make a great photo of Mars. But even then, to the naked eye Mars appeared as nothing more than an extremely bright yellowis

This year, Mars is actually much dimmer and far-less conspicuous than in 2003. (end of snippet)

You can see why we need to demonstrate the idea of media literacy because when so much misinformation circulates it takes time we should be using for some more real information. Anyway, this is one concept we talk quite a bit about Mass Communication, which is being offered in the Fall Semester 2009 at Coker.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Coker Grad Headlining Iris Festival in Sumter, SC

Becki McLeod entertained Coker College audiences in several performances while a student on campus. My Google Alert just came up with an article showing that she is headling the Iris Festival in her hometown of Sumter, SC.

This is an excerpt from that article that talks about Becki McLeod, who now lives in Nashville, Tn. While I am not positive, I believe she was a Musical Theater major:

He said this year there are also many local bands or bands with local ties, like Becki McLeod, who grew up in Sumter and is headlining on Saturday.

McLeod said she is glad to have the chance to come and play for her hometown crowd.

"I'm just thrilled to come home and share what I've been doing with all these people," she said.

McLeod moved to Nashville, Tenn., about five years ago after graduating from Coker College in Hartsville, and though she said she comes home fairly often she doesn't get to really show her music off because she doesn't have her band with her.

"We don't get an opportunity to showcase what I've been doing for the last five years," McLeod said.

McLeod said she and the band play a wide variety of music, from country to classic rock to some of her original songs, which she hopes to play a bit of at the festival.

"People know my face and they know my name but (this is) actually getting them familiar with what my music is," she said.

McLeod and her band are the final act on Saturday, May 23, at 7:30 p.m. at the Garden Street Stage.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Leadership is so basic to success

Thinking a good deal about Leadership this week as I worked my way through THE 21 IRREFUTABLE LAWS OF LEADERSHIP, by John C. Maxwell. This book was a gift from the Coker College Communication Senior Seminar class and it much appreciated and I will get a great deal of use from this book. Maybe the first use is this posting.

In the Communication Senior Seminar I borrowed some of the thinking of Steven Covey as conveyed in THE EIGHT HABIT and talked with the students about thinking now of the legacy they want to leave with the world. Covey's Eighth Habit, "find your voice and help other people find their voice." is a great way of thinking about your impact on the world. As the senior communication majors got ready to graduate, I thought that was of the important pieces of information to try conveying in the closing weeks of their final semester. It turns out the 21st Law of Leadership is "The Law of Legacy." Just now, in a Facebook posting, I thanked the seniors for the book and passed along Maxwell's last piece of leadership advice from the book, "Learn to lead -- not just for yourself but for the people who follow you." (Maxwell, page 268)

Leadership has been a part of my life for just about as long as I can remember. I continue working on learning leadership. One of my not well formed philosophies is that as a professor in the classroom my role is very much leadership -- at least as much as it is professorship.

And, leadership is a topic on my mind because Dr. Dawson, our president for the past seven years, is retiring and Dr. Robert Wyatt will be coming to Coker for his first college presidency. He has been leading a vibrant business department at Drury University and he has been preparing for a college presidency for the past couple of years. During his on-campus visit prior to getting the offer, he exemplified some leadership qualities by tackling some tough questions head on. I think is forthright approach to the discussion is one of the things that made some of my faculty colleagues react positively to his candidacy.

In another blog -- about community building and community thinking -- I also approached the concept of leadership because one non-profit _ New Vision Community Development Corporation just had the sneak grand opening of new cafe they will be using to help generate funds for their many programs. The leaders of that organization showed strong patience and persistence in finally getting their kitchen ready. Patience is not one of my leadership skills.

In teaching communication at Coker my consistent mantra is that communication is leadership and leadership is communication. Maxwell, in his first paragraph of the concluding chapter of his 21 laws book, says, "Everything rises and falls on leadership." (Maxwell, p 267)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Saturday and all was not quiet on campus

Even during the school year Saturday mornings are dead on campus. You can often look in all directions and not see anyone at 8 in the morning. So, I was out on the bike and decided to go over by the office. Two people walking on the Coker campus checking to see where the Performing Arts Building was. One was auditioning for TheWandaProject. Found out later she and her mother drive from Birmingham, Alabama for the audition. It was long after that that several of the TWP dancers were on campus and getting ready for a full day of rehearsals. The company is touring in North and South Carolina this week.

I wasn't planning on staying long this first trip and as I slowly pedaled toward the front of the building ran into a mother, father and son who had an appointment at Admissions. Admission counselors working hard on Saturday. It was about two hours later and Ray, admissions, stopped by my office with a guy who is thinking of finishing his degree at Coker after getting his AA in Florida. The potential student is a potential baseball player, an outfielder who swings a good bat.

Not long after that Deb from the Theater Department was heading to the Music Department joining the search committee of Graham and Will looking for a new member of the music faculty.

Quite surprising to see so much going on during a beautiful Saturday May morning.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Coker Golf finishes season

This is certainly a short cut for a blog posting but the Coker Golf team just ended its season this week at the Regional NCAA Division II tourney. They had a strong season. They had a bad opening day at this tourney and though they moved up, they could not make up enough strokes to break the Top 10.

Coker Golf Finishes 11th at Regionals, Season Comes to an End
by Christian Stryker, SID Coker College
Florence, Ala. - The Coker College Golf Team's season came to an end Wednesday, as the Cobras placed in a tie for 11th place at the 2009 Southeast/South Super Regional Tournament at the Robert Trent Jones at the Shoals Course. Coker shot a team score of 291 (+3) in the third and final round giving them a three round total of 891 (+27), tying them with the University of West Florida.
The University of West Alabama was the overall winner, with a three day total of 868 (+4), followed by Lynn University at 869 (+5) and Barry University at 874 (+10). Joining those three schools at the 2009 NCAA Division II National Championship will be Columbus State University and Georgia College and State University, while Barton College's Jonathan Burke and Florida Southern University's Brian Richey will advance as individuals.
Coker was led by freshman Jared Crane (Greenville, SC) as he fired a five under par 67 in the final round to finish in a tie for sixth place overall, while Chris Marsh (Georgetown, SC) shot a 74 (+2). Diego Polo (Guatemala City, Guatemala) and Jimmy Gillam (Tyrone, PA) each shot 75 (+3) in the final round, with John LaDow (Pottstown, PA) rounding out the Coker five with a 80 (+8).
Coach Tommy Baker and the Cobras had an outstanding year, placing in the top five in 9 of 11 tournaments, including taking championship honors at three tournaments (Coker Intercollegiate, Tusculum Invitational and Carolina Sands Intercollegiate). With his entire team returning next season, Coach Baker has a lot to look forward to in the future for the Coker Golf program.
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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Coker Graduated More than 180 Saturday

The campus is pretty quiet right this minute. Okay, so most people don't normally get to work until 8:30 or 9:00 but the real reason is the students are gone. We will pick up a little tomorrow afternoon when Term V of the Night School starts -- today it is quiet. Coker does an outdoor graduation in one of the most picturesque settings that I can imagine. Davidson Hall, one of the oldest buildings on campus and our primary Liberal Arts classroom building is the backdrop for the impressive ceremony. (A photo will show that setting.) This 101st Coker graduation had a bit of a twist as the President of the College, B. James Dawson, served as the graduation speaker. This was sort of his valedictory address as he is retiring from Coker. Lots of smiles and some tears as the graduating seniors marked this crucial milestone in their learning lives or in their lives of learning. One conversational element that seemed even more prominent than ever at this year's graduation was the concept of how fast the year went. I know the years disappear for me but I was really surprised at how those graduating felt very much the same -- as did many of their parents.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Graduation on Saturday Morning

Coker College is holding is 101st graduation this morning and last minute preparations are in full swing. I can hear Cody rehearsing the STAR SPANGLED BANNER down in the practice room. Some people have already grabbed front-row seats and there is still almost two hours before graduation. The grounds crew, as usual, has the campus looking great. This is an outdoor graduation and it appears that we will have cloud cover that should make it very pleasant this morning.

This is Dr. Dawson's last graduation as he is retiring and Dr. Lois Gibson, an English professor, is also leaving after 31 years service to Coker. As all graduations, happy/sad time and another example of the the saying tempus fugit; it does not just fly, it disappears.