Saturday, August 28, 2010

It is a tough job market - Make this your Job-Blog!

Putting some gas in the wife's car last night and a recent Coker grad pulled into the adjacent pump. The discussion we had is becoming familiar -- though he had a positive spin. He'd seen a job that he would really like and had filled out the forms and is now awaiting an interview... Another student emailed the other day with the news that the advertising agency for whom she has been working the past three years has been losing some business. She has been working her job through computer the past couple of months and now -- she is actively looking for a job in Columbia because the Greenville job is gone. Another student has a job in selling advertising and he is doing pretty well but it is commission and a pending wedding makes him want some more stability. Another student recently completed his masters degree in sports management and has had some interviews but so far no job with a paycheck. THE JOB MARKET IS TOUGH!

There has been some good news. One grad had a job for the summer she really liked and just heard this past week she has been hired on full time by that organization. This past summer another former student graduated with his masters from NC State and is working in Marketing for a major packaging company in their European operation.

All this is to say that when talking with Coker grads (in fact anyone in the work force) the topic is jobs is first or second to arise. This past week a number of my current students had the assignment of turning in a resume that could be used NOW if they were to apply for a job. Getting people thinking about job before they need a job is one of the things we discuss in several of my communication classes. I tell students that finding a job was probably the hardest job I have ever had.

So, let's think about how we can all help one another in this era of few jobs. If you are a former Coker student and looking for a job, send me the link to your resume and may a few lines telling me what kind of job you would like. If you are with an organization that might have a job coming open, write me and I will supply you with some resumes of people who can help your organization solve problems. If you are looking for a job and have some job-seeking advice, use the comments here to share that or send me a public comment in facebook and let's get the discussion started. If you have found a job and can share some of your job-hunting tips, please add them to the blog discussion or to a Facebook discussion.

MY THINKING is that even if only one student gets an interview from this type of informal networking we will have succeeded.

Coker has a new director of Career Services with whom I will also share this information so that we can begin to get some wide distribution. If you know other Coker alumns, let them know of this effort. In a short time we can have a data base of links that can make filling those rare job openings even easier.

If this makes sense to you and you see the blog do what you can to forward to others in your Coker network and lets make this happen.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Historical speeches give some real world perpspective

Early in my Coker College public speaking semester we get involved in something called a 'manuscript' speech assignment for which I use the American Rhetoric 100 Greatest Speeches website. I find this a rich site as they provide both the copies of speeches and where it exists, visual and sound copies. The students are to select a two-minute excerpt of the speech to present from the text. The goal is primarily to get in front of the class with a prepared but not memorized presentation. A goal is preparation without have to be creative.

Beyond that this is a rich experience. The past couple of days we heard from Dwight Eisenhower, president of the United States, talking about the minds of men, the hearts of men and the souls of men. Who remembers that president as speech poet. Not many but his words will surprise and mesmerize. While on generals, I heard three different MacArthur talks with my favorite "Duty, Honor, Country." In today's world we forget that in the 1920s birth control was not just an awkward subject, it was an illegal subject that Margaret Sanger took on in public forums. The nation is in some serious discussions today but perspective comes as we listen to Stokley Carmichel, Lyndon Johnson or Malcolm X about the civil rights act.

Listening to the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, Shirley Chisholm and Hilary Clinton about women's rights being human rights shows there is a great deal of experience on which to build solutions to today's serious problems. I do enjoy this exercise.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Icebreaker Assignments keep me coming back

One of the assignments I have been using for a long time in Public Speaking is called the Icebreaker. In this assignment students are asked to share something in their lives that was a turning point. Last night in Mullins the students had Icebreakers and my head is still shaking at the amazing things that have gone on in some of these lives. The class is all female and what role models they must be in their communities.

One person, a U.S. Air Force veteran has a baby son with a rare disease. She presented the circumstances, she presented the trauma, she presented the joys, the heartaches and the challenges as if she had been on the speaker circuit for years.

Her's was wone of nine stories that kept me riveted throughout the class. Amazing stories and amazing ability to share and this sharing often causes a strong bonding in a class that is hard to match in other circumstances. And, while they are providing the Icebreakers I hope they are realizing that it is anecdotes and personal stories that give the speaker credibility with an audience to help expand horizons.

As I told this class in an email today there is a sign on my door that reads: "Tell me a fact and I will learn. Tell me a truth and I may believe. Tell me a story and it will live on in my heart for ages." The source is an Indian Proverb.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Staff Smashes Faculty 8-5 in Softball Clash

In a renewal of the once-a-year faculty/staff softball game the Staff used some clutch hitting in the early innings and gutsy pitching by Dee Pierce to hold off the faculty 8-5 on Sunday afternoon, August 21. Losing pitcher was this blogger. A fun event pulled together by Lisa Potoka, first basewoman for the staff and in charge of Student Leadership activities on campus. Photo in this post shows most of the staff and faculty players, who had enjoyed themselves though felt it was pretty darn hot to be enjoying softball.

Anyone who would like to see photos of the game taken by Haleigh Rogers, a Coker softball player and communication major, may go to this link:

Casino Night Fun at Coker College

The Student Union team did a great job of arranging a fun night for students this past Saturday. Using an outside vendor, they set up a casino night to give students a chance at winning some prizes with only the investment of their time in having fun. Several faculty members, including Dr. Wyatt, our college president, joined the fun by serving as dealers, croupiers, etc. One lesson that a good number of students learned was how quickly those chips can disappear.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Convocation opens Coker's 2010 Academic Year

Still sweating as I sit here posting about the 2010 opening convocation at Coker College. The faculty sat on the stage tonight in front of the students and showing support behind our Academic Leaders and the Convocation speaker. The lights were just like stage lights are -- HOT. But, I think even though the faculty were all gowned in the Academic Regalia, they (we) survived.

Dr. Joseph Flaherty, a recent winner of the South Carolina Independent Colleges Teaching Award and an assistant professor of biology as well as Chair of the Department of Science and Mathematics at Coker, was the speaker.

His message to our "Academy" was on target as we are in the midst of efforts to Redefine "Ready" for our students, our faculty and our college. Joe's message was primarily to the students as he stressed the value and importance of "learning as much you can learn about as many different things as you can." He underlined the key value of a Coker College education -- the liberal arts, which provide our academic community with the continuous challenge of 'learning how to learn' for our rapidly changing society.

I particularly liked his three major points -- he urged our students: To explore;
To Pursue; and To Care! While Dr. Joe is sometimes a bit soft spoken his message of taking risks came through loud and clear to my ears. I hope our students, first year through fifth year put that admonition into action.

It is an exciting time to be part of the Coker College academic community.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New Professor begins teaching at Coker

Dr. Mark Glantz, who recently received his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri, began his first day of teaching at Coker College with an Introduction to Mass Communication class on Wednesday, August 18. Mark is the third full-time professor in the department and his presence is going to allow us to strengthen the communication major as he adds expertize in rhetoric and political communication and several other key areas of mass communication. Dr. Lellis and I, and all our communication majors and minors, are excited to have Mark in the Department.

First day of classes was exciting and in the speech class early this morning, we finished the first talk of the semester. As we begin the speech class I make it a point to emphasize the crucial, lifetime importance that enhancing communication skills will have in a student's life.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rankings -- U.S. NEWS

Coker just released a news story about the rankings in the U.S. News and World Report on top colleges. While our SACS accreditation is more important, it is these type of rankings that begin to get people to be aware of Coker College in the higher education world of the several thousand choices that are out there for students. This is a copy of the release:

Coker College Office of Marketing and Communications
Christian Stryker- Director of Media Relations and Sports Information

For Immediate Release-August 16, 2010

Coker Ranked as One of America’s Best Colleges

HARTSVILLE, S.C. - U.S. News & World Report ranks Coker College as one of Best Baccalaureate Colleges for 2011.

This is the 15th consecutive year that the national magazine has named Coker one of America’s Best Colleges. Coker is ranked in the Top 20 of all the colleges and universities in the South region.

“It is an honor to once again be recognized as one of the 20 best Southern Colleges. We believe we are preparing young women and men for the next step in their lives in a manner that is truly different than that of many schools.” said Coker College President Dr. Robert L. Wyatt. “We are redefining our student’s entire collegiate experience and are encouraged to once again have the work of our talented faculty and staff recognized by our peer institutions.”

For its annual college guide, U.S. News & World Report ranks colleges using a number of criteria, including peer assessment, graduation rate and alumni giving. Coker College scores better than almost all of the 10 highest ranked colleges in the South for student-to-faculty ratio (10/1), percentage of classes under 20 students (71%) and percentage of full-time faculty (98%).

U.S. News & World Report defines a baccalaureate college as an institution that focuses on undergraduate education while offering a wide range of degree programs in the liberal arts as well as professional fields, such as business and education.


Founded in 1908, Coker College is an independent, comprehensive college with a liberal arts core required of all students. Coker provides quality educational experiences in and out of the classroom that prepare graduates for professional and personal success. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks Coker one of America’s Best Colleges. The Princeton Review rates Coker a “Best Southeastern College” based on academic reputation and student satisfaction.

Christian Stryker
Director of Media Relations and Sports Information
Coker College

Monday, August 16, 2010

What's happening at Coker College orientation?

So, if you went to college what did you do on your first full night after the parents left? Did you happen to visit at the home of the president of the college and share in ice cream, fat-free frozen yogurt or some fruit smoothies? That is what the various Coker College first-year families did on Sunday evening.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Orientation seems to be working at Coker College

Just finished an academic overview with two groups of first-year Coker College students and things seem to be right on track for this year's orientation activities. All the students I asked said they were enjoying the experience.

The first-year students moved in on Saturday morning and they had lots of help getting their stuff to the rooms. In fact, one of the surprising things for many parents is that when they stop by the dorms they are swarmed by people who gather the belongings from the car and get them to the room. The goal of the Coker move in team is that no parents or students have to move carry anything up the stairs. Parents and students probably wish this happened more than just the first move in. Most of Coker's sophomores, juniors and seniors return on Monday and Tuesday and they will be lugging their own stuff up the stairs to their rooms.

The excitement is building for the 2010 Academic year at Coker College.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Pre Season begins for Soccer

Pretty early this morning there were a lot of girls outside the gym. Turns out today was the first day or pre-season for the Coker College soccer teams. The girls were getting ready for their two-mile qualifying run, which they were supposed to accomplish in under 16 minutes.

The preseason was a bit later than in the past because of a change in rules for NCAA Division II teams shortening the length of pre-season. Players did come back on Wednesday to get all of the preliminary jobs of moving in accomplished and they began practice today. I am thinking that in addition to men's and women's soccer the volleyball team and cross-country team might also be starting today. The players have their work cut out for them. As I write this post, temperatures are at about 95 for real and I don't even want to look at the heat index. Paul Leese coaches the men's team and Bethany Grass coaches the women's team for the Cobras.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Back To Work at Coker College

Dr, George Lellis, Professor of Communication and Chair of the Faculty Senate, is shown conducting the first Faculty Senate meeting of the new year. This Wednesday morning began with a State of the College address by Dr. Robert Wyatt, president, and the consensus of his message is that whatever happens, it will not be business as usual. We are not talking about "change" we are talking about Redefinition. The Marketing/Communication office came up with a video to focus a bit more attention on this redefinition and if the link works you can see that video.

Confucius is quoted as having originated the famous blessing, "May you live in interesting times." It seems apparent these are interesting and exciting times on the Coker College campus.

In addition to faculty being back, the students working in resident life in in orientation are on campus and fall athletes and their parents are also back on campus today.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Alum visiting Coker

As I opened the door of the Midnight Rooster this Saturday morning I saw this long line waiting for some great Rooster coffee. Then, not exactly in line was a very familiar face Jen Crocker Roberts. Jen, a Coker College alum and former communication major, is in town for some alumni leadership events. It was great to be able to say hello!

Jen told me that she taught kindergarten last year and this year she is becoming a teacher of first graders. My response was that she was becoming a miracle worker. I have long believed that first-grade teachers who can teach five and six year old the magic of reading are the miracle readers of our society. She told me that even in kindergarten the kids were making great strides in learning to read. Jen's eyes lit up as she talked of teaching, though she did mention how much is being expected of teachers in the classroom. People don't really understand but being able to understand the symbols of the written word as actually meaningful is a miracle of cognition as well as a miracle of pedagogy. Classroom teachers, who don't get anywhere near the compensation their skills should demand, are real change agents in our society.

We didn't get to talk long because her Coker meeting was to start in a few minutes but it was great to reconnect with Jen and remember when she thought teaching would never be her future. For me it was great to talk with a teacher who was at the top of her class in academics, leadership and athletics and know that she is helping create miracles in kindergarten and first grade students -- students who need the best to guide them in their school experiences. Jen would have been a fantastic PR person, a fantastic marketer and a great media person but I am glad she decided on teaching -- because our children deserve the best leading their classrooms. Jen is not earning six figures but I would wager the difference she will make in the classroom will have a much greater impact than many whose salaries will total more.

It is also great from a faculty perspective that Jen and about 40 other alumns are supporting Coker with their time on a Saturday in August when there are so many others things they could be doing. This support is so important to our small, liberal arts college! BTW -- While in the Rooster she did say -- "I had to have my coffee from the Rooster."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Coker grad featured in Greenbrier Tourney Story

Tyson Thompson, a Coker graduate, is in the final week of a summer internship with the Greenbrier Classic, a PGA golf tour event. During the tournament week he was part of a story about the new tournament and the internship.

Tyson was my advisee during his four years at Coker, where he majored in communication and spent a great deal of time interning in the Sports Information Department. He also spent a good bit of time on the tennis courts as a member of the Coker College tennis team. Tyson had always wanted to get into sports for his career and he crafted his communication degree with a strong emphasis on sports communication. Following his time at Coker he put in a year at Wofford University as a Sports Information Intern. He followed that up with a place in the highly ranked and highly competitive Masters in Sports Management program at the University of West Virginia.

I remember one of his internships -- with a minor league baseball team in Hickory, NC, the Crawdads. He put in regular 70-hour weeks when the team was home and did everything from ticket sales to on-field promotions, to hosting youth groups and the list goes on. He was not sure that he wanted to work in minor league baseball after that stint but it certainly was good training for his golf internship. In his facebook posts he mentioned several weeks where a good night's sleep might have been four hours and then it was back to work.

Tyson now has some terrific academic background and real-world experience that is going to make him a valuable find for some organization.

Princeton Reivew Ranks Coker

this is a partial news release about Coker's inclusion in the best Southeast colleges. This kind of recognition is nice to receive and it also adds some more value to the Coker degree.

Coker is a 2011 “Best Southeastern College”

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 2011 Best Colleges feature at This is the seventh 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.

“It is an honor to once again be recognized as one of the best at preparing young women and men for the next step in their lives,” said Coker College President Dr. Robert L. Wyatt. “As Coker continues our efforts to redefine the collegiate experience, we are heartened by this external validation of the work of our talented faculty and staff.”

Getting closer to the new semester

It feels very quiet on campus this morning though that could be deceptive. There is a great deal of work going on in nearly every building as the major renovation projects are being completed and all the last minute touch-ups populate the to-do list of the building and grounds crew. Also, as I sit at this desk I look down at the pre-semester letter that came from Dean Lincoln and notice how quickly the days will fill up with meetings prior to the new student arrivals, which begin next week.

THIS I BELIEVE is the common reading for the incoming first-year students and right now what I believe is that I better complete some of my own last minute projects so I don't start this new semester behind.