Monday, June 29, 2009

Trying out podcasting

This afternoon is my first Coker College podcast. My daughter Inga, a Middle School Language Arts teacher at Tanglewood Middle in Greenville, SC, who is also a bit of a technology guru, even though she hates to think so, helped me out with this technology.

This podcast covers a rather mundane subject -- June 29 on the Coker Campus. Let me know what you hear.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Incoming Students Making Connections

The Coker College Connection began on Sunday night and will run through Tuesday morning giving incoming students for the Class of 2012 an opportunity to make connections with each other and with the College. Dr. Robert Wyatt, the new and incoming president of Coker College greeted the students soon after their arrival on Sunday night. Though he does not start his Presidency officially until July 1, he was in town to work on a variety of Coker subjects.

The Coker Connection for 2009 is one of the largest that has been held with more than 70 students attending and several of them coming from out of South Carolina. The students participate in a wide variety of activities but probably getting to know one another remains the most important mission. The students played a variety of 'icebreaker' type of games as well as taking part in some of the events that are part of the Coker tradition of the Coker Olympics of Winter (COW Days events). The event, which is organized and conducted by the Students Services Department, seemed to be going well Sunday night as the "I Like My Neighbors" video should show:

Friday, June 19, 2009

Presidents' Transition At Open House

The Coker Admissions staff put together a strong open house on Friday, June 17 with a large number of prospective students and many parents. There was a significant number of faculty who interrupted their summer to be part of this information-packed event. And, as usual, one of the highlights for the prospective students was hearing from a student panel about what Coker is REALLY like. This weekend is training for students helping with Coker Connection (Sunday Through Tuesday) so there was a good representative group for students to hear from.

One of the unique aspects of this particular event was that Dr. James B. Dawson, the current president, welcomed the group -- as his last really official act as President of Coker. He retires at the end of this month. Dr. Robert Wyatt, who was in town this weekend, made his first sort of official representation of Coker as he welcomed the group and share with them a couple of his top ten reasons for choosing Coker for his new job.

Students are the lifeblood of small liberal arts colleges like Coker and it was fun to talk with so many at this event.

Hoping this link works

One of the things that we aim to do from a Coker faculty perspective is open minds to new ideas and experiences. One of the great ways for this to happen is through some type of study-abroad trip. Dr. Knight and Professor Fields were among the faculty taking students abroad this summer. They went to London. If the link works, it will go to a little video Dr. Knight made from some of the photos and other visuals they took on this trip.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer is slower but things still moving ahead

Summer is certainly slower on a college campus than the academic times but there is still a log going on.

There has been search committee busy at work to find a new person for the Music Department in Piano studies. The result of that committee work was that four very talented people were on campus to interview for the job. My guess is the committee had a tough decision but the top line is that each of the candidates was strong so their decision will be the right one, whatever the decision.

Yesterday morning got to meet the new student activities/student leadership person, Lisa Potoka. Her first day on the job and she was getting immersed in Coker Connection and several of the other plans that are forming for the return of students.

Most of the coaches are on their vacations but many of them are on campus. We were discussing Coach Stenman's volleyball team and he is pumped for the possibilities and wishes the season was closer. Over the past couple of days I got to talk with potential baseball recruits and parents about the academic side of Coker. I really enjoy those conversations.

One of the busiest groups on campus at this time is the Admissions Office, which is still working to bring in new first-year students for the Class of 2013.

And then, you have a few students around for the day summer classes and the larger contingent for Term V in the night classes. Still a lot happening...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Blog on How the Mighty Fall

Recently prepared a blog post listing five stages of decline that come from research done by the jim Collins group and that resulted in his new book about HOW THE MIGHTY FALL. I think some of these ideas are important to an organization like Coker College.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A couple of videos from end of academic year 2009

This year Jim Dawson, president of Coker for the past seven years, retired. He was recognized at a faculty-staff cookout along with his wife Karen in the waning days of the school year. Here, I hope, is a short video of that event.

Following that video will be a small portion of the Class of 2009 marching out into the real world after graduation.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Megan Stone, Coker Dance, in SUN NEWS story

Meagan Stone is a Coker student working in Myrtle Beach this summer. She is one of the college students asked by a SUN NEWS reporter if they have advice for recent high school grads. This is her response and there is a link to the full story in the blog.

Meagan Stone
After graduating, Stone went to Coker College in Hartsville to major in dance and choreography. She came back to the Grand Strand for the summer and is working at Freestyle Music Park dancing in the show "Flip 5 Live."

"Don't let people stop you from meeting your goals, and no matter what comes your way, be positive in life. Don't stay with a crowd you've known for a while, like high school friends. The college experience is to make new friends and to expand the horizons."

Friday, June 5, 2009

New Website showcases artwork

Jean Grosser, chair of the Art Department at Coker College, has just launched a new website that features examples of her unique work. Often a way to get to know a learning community is to get to know more about the people who live, work and learn in that community. This new site provides some great views of Professor Grosser's work. The site was designed by Kyle Saverance, a graduate of the Coker Art Program, who happens to be the chief graphic designer at the college.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thinking About Teaching Public Speaking and Current Events

There was a momentous speech today in Egypt. President Barack Obama of the United States of America spoke with/maybe to Muslims all over the world as he took a first step in changing the frame that binds so many of us to yesterday's ideas.

What might this have to do with Term V (night class) public speaking? After all, there is certainly no disagreement in the class that President Obama is a master of the speech platform. Going out on a limb, I would guess that there is not disagreement among class members that when President Obama speaks, the world listens. So what more is there to cover when thinking about the basic principles of public speaking for an introductory college class? And, indeed, if you emphasize this type of talk in class how do you divorce if from the politics of the situation?
Mental Discussion about this quandary
1) In answer to the last it would not make sense to discuss this speech outside its context, which is power politics. 2) The major idea in thinking about this speech as part of an introductory class on public speaking is using it as a clear example of the power of oratory to change the world. 3) A major lens through which public speaking is focused in this class and in the text that is used for this class, THE ART OF PUBLIC SPEAKING, is the importance of knowing and speaking with your audience. Could we find a better example of knowing and speaking with your audience than this Presidential speech, given today, June 4, 2009, in Egypt? My thinking is that maybe in class tonight we will see if this speech resonates with students as an example of Knowing your audience.
Hypothesis -- Students in the Coker Com 101 class will be able to deconstruct the Obama Egypt speech and discuss if the President showed the clear knowledge of his audience and if his words resonated with the audience; even if they did not agree with some of what he had to say.
Small Problem
One small problem with this approach tonight is that it is not on the agenda. We are supposed to be working primarily on effective Speech Introductions, visuals to support a speech and the major functions of an effective speech conclusion.

I think I am going to alter the agenda a bit to see if this can be one of those learning moments. Since I start every speech class with the saying: "I think you think you heard what I said, but I am not sure that you realize, that what you heard is not what I meant," the reaction to the Obama talk -- from all audiences -- should provide lots of 'fodder for discussion.'

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

When the job needs doing, the job needs doing

So a colleague is happening through one of the buildings on campus as she gets ready to join a Search Committee meeting. Ooooooh, she grimaces as she observes a classroom in the building. She was certain that classroom needed painting and after visiting with several people on campus -- in the know -- struck a deal and she spent quite a few hours helping paint the classroom that she thought needed painting. A few years ago the Mayor of Hartsville when talking at civic club meetings would say, 'You know, one thing that makes Hartsville different from a lot of cities -- we have a lot of people here who will tell you the trees need to be watered (that doesn't make us different.) What makes us different is they will tell you the trees need water and then they will find a way to get water to the trees. Coker has people like that -- people who recognize that things need doing and then jump in to do them. And, when you have a former chair of the faculty senate and the current chair of the faculty senate applying paint to the walls, you being to understand the concept of team. In a couple of days that classroom is going to look good and several people will have made that happen!

Maggie Meyer is a Fulbright Scholar teaching Malaysia

And Maggie is a former Coker student who was a top student as an undergraduate and is going to be among the people who are world changers in her generation. Just checked out her blog and came across her thoughts about her visit to the temples of Angkor. You will be interested in this posting.

This shows the value of the Fulbright program.
This shows how these programs help people develop world views that will help them make a difference some day.
This shows what it means to be awestruck

Summer Night Class is interesting

This summer I am teaching one of the smallest speech classes I have had in some time. There are seven people in the class. Early in the year I had some concern because of the small numbers and wondering if students would have the same experience speaking as they would in a class of 15 to 25. Turns out that my concern was unfounded. There is something about calling an experience "public speaking" that just turns on the 'o no' factor no matter how many people are in the audience.

There are some opportunities of experimentation with a smaller class that are not always available with a larger class. For example, last night we had the first 'test' of the term. The night classes are two and half hours or so but the test was designed for a much smaller piece of that time. There is a problem in conducting the second half or two thirds of a class after giving an exam. It is not easy for student to refocus on the learning chore after expending the energy, emotion and excitement of taking a test. So, last night I opted to deliver a lecture on the Aristotelian tradition of rhetoric through email. It will be a day or two before the feedback comes but it seemed to me there was going to be a better chance of students spending some time with deliberative, forensic and epideictic discourse on their own than if I tried to wow them with my web of words after that exam.

We did, however, spend some time watching some video-taped speeches that we were able to analyze for delivery and style and that seemed to work in this after-test time frame. BW -- the students performed well on the exam with scores ranging from 87 to 98. They are a smart and fairly experienced group who are enjoyable to learn with on Monday and Thursday evenings. Term V ends as July begins.