Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Athletics Academic Award Banquet Celebrates Achievement

Lotta Aaltonen of Finland and a four-year member of the Coker Cobra Women's basketball team was awarded Academic Athlete of the Year at Coker College during an awards dinner on March 31.

Dr. Robert Wyatt, president of Coker College, congratulates the academic award winners of the various athletic teams at Coker. This was the largest number of athletes to win major academic honor in most people's memories. I think I was invited because I am a member of the Faculty Athletics Committee and I really enjoyed seeing the athletes honored for their academic achievements. I was amazed at the number of students who had 4.0 semesters.

Jessica Covington and Becky Dillon are communication majors honored for their academic achievement. Jessica is a member of the Coker cheerleading squad and Becky is a pitcher/outfielder for the Coker softball team.

Inauguration was a fun event at Coker College

Dr. Robert Wyatt was inaugurated as the 16th president of Coker College on Friday, March 26, 2001. The inauguration was the culmination of a full week of activities that were billed as "All Things Coker." It was truly an interesting week and the Inauguration itself was a great event for The Academy. Here are a couple of photos and maybe a short video. If the video gets here, there will be a short segment of Dr. Wyatt's daughter Laura singing. Her entire fourth grade class got to come to the event.

Dr, Wyatt's inaugural presentation was built around the theme he defined for the inauguration and for the first years of his presidency, "Redefining Ready At Coker College."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Graduate Students shares some ideas with Coker Communication Seminar

Tyson Thompson, a 2008 graduate of Coker College with a major in communication, visited the campus on March 29th and shared some information about Graduate School with members of the Coker Communication Senior Seminar. Tyson talked about his Sport Management Program at West Virginia University, one of the top ranked in the USA. He talked to the class about internships that were important to getting him into the program as well as some of the interesting things he has been able to work on as part of the WVU program. This was part of the "Morrie" section of this seminar. That is when people from outside come in and share ideas, experiences and often life insights with the students. Tyson is in the same age group as my students and I think his experience with graduate school did provide some insights for the class.

Seems that the Blogger program is not allowing photos today so I will post this without the photo. The students and I really appreciate the time that people give to this section of the class and Tyson's talk was right on target.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

KIVA cofounder tells her story to Coker College Community

Inauguration Week at Coker College has been highlight after highlight and the Lois Walters Coker Lecturer Jessica Jackley, co-founder of KIVA made a dynamic presentation that truly demonstrated the theme of this week. Dr. Robert Wyatt, who is being inaugurated as the 16th President of Coker College on March 26, adopted the theme of "redefining ready" for the Inauguration Week. This is the way the theme is described: "Preparing our students for the world as it was, or even as it is, does them a serious disservice. We have to help them to succeed regardless of what the future brings. We have to Redefine Ready. Instead of our graduates wondering, "Am I ready for the real world?" we want them asking, "Is the real world ready for me?"

Jessica Jackley is one of those people making a difference in the world today who could have asked that question. Her KIVA organization is "Changing Lives One Loan at a Time." We will link KIVA so you can learn more. But, Ms Jackley's presentation is educational, energetic and empowering. One person can make a difference!

Photo One -- Jessica Jackley, left, talking with Becky Sullivan, student body president, Steve and Paula Terry.
Photo Two -- View of the stage as Dr. Will Carswell welcomes the speaker on behalf of the Coker Faculty.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Coker Inauguration Week is Exciting

The planners of the Coker College 16th President Inauguration have to be smiling from ear to ear tonight as their nearly week-long planning is producing fantastic event after fantastic event. Minutes ago a full house at the Elizabeth Boatwright Performing Arts Center gave a standing ovation to faculty, students, alumni and friends who staged an exciting, funny, musical, innovative PERFORMING ARTS SHOWCASE. Earlier today faculty and students presented panels and research that were well attended by students and colleagues. On Monday and Tuesday students presented academic research in poster sessions and in presentations.

Several months ago Dr. Robert Wyatt, Coker's 16th president, told the Faculty Senate his wish and goal was for the inauguration to showcase all things Coker. As we go through this week day by day he is able to watch this goal being achieved over and over. His theme for this event is Coker - Redefining Ready. Along the way he may be redefining inaugurations.

It is hard not to want to congratulate all those who were involved in the planning of this event and all those who are bringing together such masterful events. So -- Congratulations to the organizers and participants!

First Photo -- Dr. George Lellis doing a faculty presentation on a German film maker
Second Photo -- Reception following the Performing Arts Showcase

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Student Research Presentations Highlighted Monday

Dr. Jen Borgo did an amazing job of bring the Student Research Symposium to life Monday afternoon on the first day of Coker College Inauguration Week. The presentations ran on time and the students I saw appeared ready, if a little nervous, for this academic endeavor. The subjects were impressive and the scope of the research broad. Dr. Wyatt, who is being inaugurated on Friday of this week, spent the afternoon listening and rating the projects. Dr. Lincoln, Coker provost, was also listening closely to the many presentations. At Coker, we talk about being a student-centered community of learning. You don't have to listen to the words, you can judge by the actions. This is one great, concrete example of what we mean by being a student-centered learning community.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Coker Communication Seminar Students hear from Television News Anchor

Rusty Ray, the morning news anchor from WBTW -- Myrtle Beach and Florence, was on the campus of Coker College Monday morning to share some thoughts about a communication career with members of the Communication Senior Seminar. One section of this seminar is something I call "Fridays with Morrie." Sometimes we do this segment on days other than Friday but it is an opportunity for students to get some life lessons from people with whom they don't normally interact. Rusty Ray, who has talked with my media writing classes on occasion, drove up from Myrtle Beach to join us for a Monday/Morrie segment. First -- thanks to Rusty for making this trip.
Next, the students got to hear from someone who has now been in the broadcasting business since 2002, soon after his graduation from the journalism program at the University of Maryland. Next, the students got to hear from someone who is rapidly approaching his 30th birthday and who find that he is viewing life differently than he did at 22 or 23. Rusty covered a bit about the world of journalism, a bit about the world of a television reporter and a bit of living and learning. I am never certain what the students learn but these are valuable class periods for the professor, reconfirming for me why it is important for students to get information from beyond the classroom walls.
What was Rusty's first idea? He told the students what it was like for him finding a job back in 2002. "I sent out 45 tapes of my work, I did not get one response." We discuss the idea that finding a job is often the most difficult job you will have and this was a first-hand view of that concept. He also mentioned how the economy had affected the news room and the numbers of jobs lost in 2009. But, the TV-13 morning news anchor also had some good news about things in the economy. He said it appears that things are turning a corner and that there may be more hiring in the coming months.

I really enjoy these "Morrie" class segments; and my hope is the students get as much from them as I do.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

It is Inauguration Week At Coker College

Dr. Robert Wyatt, the 16th president of Coker College, which was founded in 1908, will be officially inaugurated on Friday, March 26, 2010. The college has planned a week of activities to celebrate what we discuss as the community of learning that pervades the ethos of this college located in Hartsville, SC, in the northeast corner of the State.

When Dr. Wyatt began thinking about the inauguration he was focused on how the event could highlight all that is Coker. He hoped to make the inauguration just one of many highlights of a week that would draw attention to the achievements of students, staff and faculty. It appears that all is ready to achieve this vision.

It is a fact that some of the activities are getting in the way of regular classes. In my speech classes I am asking the students to take advantage of the week's activities to become more familiar with a variety of speaking goals that will be illustrated by a variety of speaking styles.

This week is, I think, a concrete example of epideictic discourse. We have a variety of ceremonies that will be part of the major ceremony, the Inauguration and the students should have no trouble analyzing some of the major elements that compose effective epideictic discourse.

Students in the public speaking courses have been given assignments and/or extra credit opportunities to pay particular attention to academic talks. These they will be able to do as students present results of their research projects (on Monday)or faculty members read papers, hold panels or demonstrations of some of their areas of expertise and interest (on Wednesday). The entire Coker College community has the opportunity on Thursday evening to hear Jessica Jackley,the co-founder of KIVA, a micro loan enterprise, discuss the real difference KIVA is making around the world. And, of course, there will be the inauguration speech by Dr. Wyatt that will be built around the theme of these inauguration events, "Redefining Ready."

We expect a great many visitors this week, and even the bosses of the college, The Coker Board of Trustees, who are having their regular meetings on Wednesday and Thursday. In addition, the Coker College Board of Visitors will also be on campus this week. There is a Performing Arts Showcase scheduled for Wednesday evening that will be packed with talented performers -- students and faculty.

For the students, this is a unique opportunity because when things are going smoothly and the Coker community is focused on its mission these presidential inauguration events are few and well spaced. Dr. Daniels was with Coker for 22 years, Dr. Dawson for seven years and we are hoping Dr. Wyatt is intent on a long-term Coker presidency.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Athletic Auction was a hit

This is an interesting article about the recent auction to help support Coker Athletics.

Coker's "Auction to Action" is a Hit with the Help of Houston Nutt
by Christian Stryker, SID Coker College
Read this article on the web at

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sonoco Sustainability Leader Talks with Coker Students

Derek McFarland, National Account Manger for Sonoco Sustainability Services provided a highly informative and thorough presentation at Coker College on March 15 as part of the college's Department of Business Administration Leadership Speaker Series.

There is no question that Sonoco, which is is headquartered in Hartsville, S.C., about a quarter mile from the Coker College campus, is a leader in sustainability solutions for its customers. Some of the numbers that Mr. McFarland, a 22-year Sonoco veteran, shared with his audience on the potential savings from keeping material out of landfills were truly surprising. He provided one case history of a company that was paying more $356,000 a year in costs to get rid of their manufacturing waste that ended up making nearly $120,000 a year when adopting the Sonoco sustainability solutions.

This presentation had to be eye opening for many students who often give little consideration to what it means for their waste of the community to be put into landfills. The photos that Mr. McFarland used as part of the presentation showed old corrugated containers from one factor in a landfill. On today's recovered paper market, those old corrugated containers could be generating $175 per ton instead of costing hundreds of dollars for hauling and landfill costs.

Among the startling statistics in this presentation the audience learned that in the United States we generate 250 million tons of trash a year. That number equates to 4.5 pounds of trash per day per person in the U.S. And, of that total, despite the surge in recycling, only 1.5 pounds of the 4.5 pounds is recycled.

Sonoco's S3 Solutions are paying off for Sonoco and for Sonoco's customers and the presentation by Derek McFarland opened up new ideas for Coker students on several fronts. The Business Department is providing Coker students with some amazing opportunities to hear dynamic presentations this academic year.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Blues For Mr. Charlie On Stage at Coker College

Blues for Mr. Charlie is on stage at Coker College directed by Professor Deborah Bloodworth. Deb's masterful direction brings some raw emotion to the Coker stage as the actors reached into themselves to bring this uneasy story of two communities finding a way to understand and live with each other and not really succeeding. James Baldwin is a powerful writer and the actors do a good job of bringing that power to the Elizabeth Boatwright Coker stage.

This is from Jana Longfellow, who works hard promoting the Hartsville area as the outreach person with the Hartsville Chamber of Commerce. Jana is also a Coker alum and there are at least two Coker alumns in the play -- Cody Smith and Jon Shannon. Here is a quick note about the play from Jana:

Our Hartsville Very powerful play- highly recommended. The performers do a masterful job with a very difficult period in our nation's history. The story is compelling and brings the audience along on a journey of raw emotions that is best seen in live theater vs. film. We rely on the arts to entertain us, but sometimes we choose view plays that make us think, make us remember, and make us feel. You will not forget this experience. Mature audiences only.

COKER COLLEGE March & April 2010 Cultural Events
$5 general admissions; $3 students and chldren under 18; free with Coker IDWatson Theater Elizabeth Boatwright Coker Performing Arts Center

This play will make for a couple of other blog posts as the work on it has been going on for several months and it is a strong production utilizing a great many of the talents available on the Coker College campus.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Debates can get a bit heated

Our advanced public speaking class is doing some sort of formal debates as a major exercise in the class. These debates are proving challenging on several levels.

This was the first day of debates with the first question:
Resolved: The second amendment to the United States constitution should be changed or modified. Turned out both sides were for gun ownership but one side thought the question needed some more provisions so that those who should not be toting guns could be identified and kept unarmed.

The second debate ignited some passion on both sides of the issues. The debate topic was: Resolved creation, not evolution, should be taught in public school biology classes. The teams had done some good homework and to the discomfort of many both sides made a case for what is really science and for what is really fact. This topic did inflame some passions, cause some tempers to flare and ignite some controversy.

I thought that the teams in both debates used some of the ideas that have been discussed relating to persuasion as personal examples highlighted the right to bear arms debate while logic and reasoning dominated the creation/evolution debate. It was interesting to hear the students develop their thinking on this topic and also interesting on how the topic still engulfs the emotions -- decades after the court case in Tennessee where Clarence Darrow captured some of his fame.

These debates are making for some interesting, if uncomfortable, encounters with the power of argument and the skill of critical thinking.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dean of Students has message for students

Dean of Students at Coker College, Jason Umfress, recently wrote to the students asking them how they are coming on their personal goals. It was an email so I had no idea how to link to his message so I thought, this would be a good place to share. Dean Umfress, who joined Coker recently, knows something about achieving goals. This past week he successfully defended his dissertation and on graduation in May he will have his PhD. That is goal accomplishing!

Here is the note that he sent to students with a copy to faculty:

Dear Coker,

I don’t know about you, but last night I was glued to my TV watching the 82nd Annual Academy Awards show. I watch every year, and I’m not exactly sure why. I’m not that big of a movie buff, and rarely have I seen even half of the movies up for the awards. The big awards (best actor/actress; best picture; best supporting actor/actress) are nice to see, but I especially like the more random ones (best sound editing, set design, film editing, etc.)…you know…the ones where the recipients have to come from all the way in the back to accept their award. These people always seem much more excited and less scripted than the “actors” who, I suppose, have to be cool when they win.

Last night, however, during Sandy Powell’s acceptance speech (she won for best costume design), it hit me as to why I’m such a fan of the show …because I like to see people reach their goals. I’ve never made a movie, but I assume it is hard work…especially for those people with the less-than-glamorous jobs (i.e. making costumes, editing hours & hours of film, mixing sound, etc.). According to their acceptance speeches, winning an Oscar was their ultimate goal, and as the viewing audience, we were able to witness it. Getting to share in that moment when all their hard work materializes into a little golden statue is awesome to watch.

As we pass midterm, now is a good time to evaluate how you are progressing toward the goals you have set for yourself for this semester. Maybe you decided you wanted to make a certain grade in a class…or prepare for a graduate school entrance exam…or get involved in a student organization…or become friends with someone who is completely different than you. How are you doing? What steps have you taken to reach those goals? How will you know if/when you get there? What do you need to change about what you are doing now to make sure you will reach the goal?

I can hear some of you now…”my goal is to get through the semester.” While that is a great goal to have, it’s not good enough! Just “getting through” isn’t what you should be striving for. You are better than that…stronger than that…smarter than that! Set your goals just a tad bit higher than what you think you will be able to reach. If you don’t push yourself, you may never know how far you can actually go.

If you haven’t set any personal goals for the semester, I challenge you to do so. They don’t have to be huge achievements, but they do need to be something that will make you a better person. Spend a little time thinking about things you would like to change…then get busy! The only person that can change your life is you.

If you have recently reached a personal goal, we’d like to hear about it and celebrate it with you. Leave us your thoughts on the Campus Life FaceBook page.

I hope things are going well for you, and you are working toward your goal of becoming the best you can be. Stop by Campus Life and let us know how we can help.

Stay Engaged,


Jason W. Umfress

Dean of Students

Coker College

300 East College Ave.

Hartsville, SC 29550

843-383-8036 (o)

Senior Seminar and lessons from Morrie

Last Friday the "Morrie" lesson was provided by Johnna Shirley, who is the director of marketing and communication for Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center in Hartsville, SC. The students got to hear some targeted words of wisdom from a person who built a strong career in various aspects of Communication. Johnna used the book EVERYTHING I NEEDED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN as the focus for sharing ideas with the students. It was fun looking around the room and the recognition among the students when she discussed the seed-planing exercise that is a staple of most Kindergarten classrooms. I think I saw a lot of memory processing as the students began to connect some dots.

A few years ago there was the famous book TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE,where the author got to visit with a former professor who was living his last days. That book gave me the idea that as part of the Coker College Senior Seminar I would like to get students in touch with some people they might not have met to get some of those special life lessons. Over the years this has been a popular part of the seminar. I really appreciate it when people like Johnna take their time to give the students the benefit of some key lessons that often sound different when they come from someone who is out of their world.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

COKER COLLEGE Named to President's Honor Roll for Community Service

One of the things we continue to work on at Coker College is integrating community service with the life-long learning skills that students get from the classroom. Some faculty have to feel really good today because their students have helped Coker be recognized as a leader in community service. The link to this story is included in this blog, coming from James Jolly, director of the Marketing and Communication department.

COKER COLLEGE Named to President's Honor Roll for Community Service

Baseball today in Florence if weather holds

Coker College baseball,10-7 so far in the 2010 season is set to play the Number 2 ranked Francis Marion team in Florence today, Tuesday, at 2 p.m. According to news sources this morning FMU, 11-2 on the season, just got its number two ranking. Threats of rain and snow could cause a change of plans.

Since this is a sporting blog post today here is some information on the Coker College golf team that is competiting in a tourney in North Carolina:
Cobra Golf Tied for Tenth after Round One of Richard Rendleman Invitational
by Christian Stryker, SID Coker College
Read this article on the web at

From baseball, to golf to basketball. The Cobras are hoping for a March miracle as they head to Mt. Olive in the Conference Carolinas tourney

From the Coker website:
No. 8 Seed Cobras Take on Top-Seeded Mount Olive Tonight in First Round of Conference Tournament
Live Video of the Game is Available
Read this article on the web at