Thursday, April 28, 2011

Quck overview of Kenya's collision with Modernization and Social Change with Mal Hyman's Coker Class

(caption -- Thatched roofs and mud walls are common sights in the villages of Kenya while cities look like cities everywhere.)

Mal Hyman is in the waning days of the 2011 Modernization and Social Change class at Coker College. These are key moments in a class and I really appreciated his invitation to do a quick overview of some of the issues of social change that are facing Kenya. The truth is, my 11 days in the country just began to open my eyes to the situation of our modern world and the third world. I think the students also appreciate that fact. I also believe these Coker students will enjoy a bit of discussion about my quick observations fro Kenya and the wealth of opportunities that country presents for added discussion of the social-change topic.

I am working on contrasts for this short discussion -- the capital city of Nairobi with the small, spread-out village of Muhuru Bay. The contrast of the mud hut with the multi-story Nairobi Baptist Church complex and the contrast between the classroom in which we will be working and the classes I talked with while in Kenya. The physical contrast can be stark but the social side is more the same than different -- especially when it comes to hopes, dreams and desires. Our quick class will focus on some images and then issues built arount "T" -- TIME, TECHNOLOGY, TURMOIL AND TRIBALISM.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Academic Performances Showcased

Wednesday, April 19, was a special day on the Coker College campus.

Wednesday was a showcase of Academic performance in about every venue that can be imagined. This week students, faculty and even a few alums have been showcasing their talents from science research, to communication analysis to stage performance.

The Theater was packed last night for the Performing Arts part of this showcase and that got me to reflecting again about the rich 'life' environment that characterizes this Coker campus and by extension, the Hartsville community. This academic showcase week was a real reminder that Hartsville is a college town!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Coach Hanna closing in on 700 victories

The following is from Christian Stryker, Coker College Sports Information Director.

Coker's David Hanna Nears Coaching Milestone Mil
by Christian Stryker, Director of Athletics Media Relations, Coker College
Read this article on the web at
HARTSVILLE, S.C. - With just four games remaining in the regular season C's Head Softball Coach David Hanna is just three games away from a record setting milestone. Hanna needs only three more wins to reach 700 career victories, all of which have come at Coker.
Hanna already holds the title for most wins in Coker history at 697 to date, with the next closest coach being current Cobra Baseball Head Coach Dave Schmotzer at 525 wins at Coker.
When Hanna reaches the 700 win mark he will be the third coach at Coker to reach a coaching milestone during the 2010-11 year. The first was Head Men's Basketball Coach Dan Schmotzer who reached 300 wins on Jan. 3 with an 88-73 victory over St. Andrews. The second was when Dave Schmotzer earned his 600th career victory on Feb. 19 with a 3-2 win over Bluefield College.
Be sure to follow the countdown to Coach Hanna's 700th win by visiting
Visit for the latest news and info on Cobras Athletics.

Photos are from a Conference Tournament a couple of years ago. Decided on using past photos because of the milestone coming over a number of years. And, Coker will be hosting the Conference Softball Tournament this weekend at the Byerly Park Softball fields in Columbia.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Students are the lifeblood of a college like Coker

Our first and our ultimate mission at Coker College is to provide a quality education for our students that will prepare them for a lifetime of learning and earning.

As part of the Sabbatical that I have had the privilege of having this s, I was able to undertake a research project that has involved trying to determine the impact of the Coker College communication education on the lives of the students who have graduated during the ten years I have been serving on faculty. If I can develop an effective report, our department is hoping to be able to use this research as part of our evaluation or assessment of the effect of our programs. The graduates were gracious with their time. Out of 86 people on the list I think I was able to get the survey to 81 and had 64 individual responses. Of those responses, more than 60% said they would choose communication as their major if they were to redo the college experience. At the same time, nearly 70% of those responding said the field of work they are no in was not what they had thought they would be in while in college.
That note is a preface to the idea of college admissions, which is the idea that sparked this post. Earlier in the day Dr. Robert Wyatt, Cokers' president, noted a separate blog that was about students not getting into the colleges to which they had applied. Coker was mentioned in that blog as a college that has a rolling admissions policy and one that takes applications into May.

A bit later in the day I had the good fortune to be introduced to a high school soccer player who has begun to look at college options in the Southeast. She was with Coach Dan, our women's soccer coach as he hosted her visit. Coker is pretty much the type of college that if you do visit you will have an excellent idea if this is the fit for your four-year college experience. Our Admissions people and our student ambassadors do a good job of presenting Coker as it is, giving prospective students (and parents) an authentic view of the campus.
We are a small liberal arts college that puts our students first. All of our classes are taught by faculty members whose primary evaluation is how they do with students in the classrooms, labs, studios and other educational venues. Those faculty who choose Coker and are chosen by Coker have teaching as their first job. That is a major reason I say students are the lifeblood of our Coker Community. While research, writing and other academic pursuits are important, it is the classroom that counts.

There is an ongoing country-wide discussion of the value of a college education, the work ethic of those who provide that education and other issues that a providing justifications for such ideas as decimating the Pell Grant program, that provides students with a financial need some funding for their college.

We are seeing the demise of the Middle Class in this country and actions like eliminating funds that help middle class students and even lower middle class students attend college is just going to exacerbate the divide between the rich and the rest. Good, solid college educations for students who are not from the rich is what is going to keep this country strong. That is the kind of student who is the lifeblood of Coker and we think that is the kind of student who is the lifeblood our country.

Coker College has new Provost

There have been a lot of personnel searches going on across the Coker College campus this year and perhaps the most important is that of the new provost or Dean of the Faculty (the boss). Dr. Tracy Parkinson is the new Provost and he is coming to Coker from King College in Bristol, TN. He will begin with the new academic year in July.

Dr. Pat Lincoln, professor of Biology, has been serving for the past few years as the Dean of the Faculty and Provost and she is retiring this year. She has served the Provost role well and has positioned Coker, along with Dr. Wyatt, for dynamic growth in the next few years. She will be talking to the Coker community and others as she presents the final of the Last Lectures in our new Last Lecture Series on Monday night, April 18 at 7:30.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Coker College Prof's Sabbatical Trip - Kenya

(caption)Cha-Cha is a motor bike driver in Muhuru Bay, Kenya. Motorbikes are the major form of transportation and I am believing that Motorbike drivers are the major source of communication in that area.

"You never know a place until you have been to that place." Now, I know for certain that is true but I am a bit more convinced that when you know a little you discover how little you know. As I continue on my sabbatical journey in this Spring Term of 2011, I am beginning to believe that this idea may end up as the overall t As I have a little bit more time to reflect on things like community thinking and building; classroom teaching and living life in this second half, I am becoming increasingly aware of how much I don't know but would still love to learn.

As I was flying from Charlotte to New York to Amsterdam to Kenya I finished listening to the new book by David Brooks, THE SOCIAL ANIMAL: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement. (It is a solid read but not really the subject of this post.) David Brooks used the line in the book that was something like, "You can never know a place until you have been to that place." As I landed in Nairobi, Kenya and then headed out to Muhuru Bay, Kenya that short passage began to take on real meaning. And, as I rode the motorbike from the WISER compound to the center of Muhuru Bay that they call Customs or took the turn to the church in sight of the Tanzania/Kenya border or went in the other direction toward the Winjo area of Muhuru Bay it became apparent that there was so much to learn.

In future posts, I hope to expand on this idea. It is becoming apparent to me in this time of research and reflection that such different events as teaching Inga's middle school students about speech introductions and watching Eve's enumerators interview under trees in Kenya, and participating in public affairs training with the Red Cross, and working on community innovation in Hartsville all begin to demonstrate for me that the more you begin to know, the more you really need to learn.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

"Old Man, my father" other endearments from the market

One thing that cannot be escaped on this sabbatical trip is age. In almost every situation someone will remind me that I am no longer a youngster as they address me as "Old man." Turns out that no matter what my gut says to me about that epitaph, it is generally a term of respect. When I was 22 and my Marines called me the "Old Man" that was a proud feeling but it is not the feeling that I am getting at my current age as Kenyans wanting my attention call out "Old man." It is sort of the same idea as when guys in the Hartsville YMCA tell me they hope they are still working when they become MY AGE. Now, I have my own story like that: This morning though there was a woman in the breakfast room who has some years on me. She (80 and proud of it) is visiting Kenya with her son, a doctor, and they are heading out to Eldoret where he practiced medicine for a year more than ten years ago. I hope when I get her age I still have the desire to quench a thirst for adventure -- maybe then I will not mind being called "Old Man." This Coker professor is learning a lot of lessons on this sabbatical trip.

Sabbatical Trip (2011 - April 3)