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.