C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n magaz in e
In Full Flight S U MME R 2 0 15
In the world of competitive ultrarunning, Ashley Arnold â€™08 has found her stride.
You know our storied past. S UMMER 2 0 1 5 Volume XIX, Issue 3 Editor
Mark Berry Art Director
Alfred Hall Managing Editor
But it’s Today that makes all the difference.
Alicia Lutz ’98 Associate Editors
Ron Menchaca ’98 Jason Ryan Photography
Leslie McKellar Contributors
Hannah Ashe ’12 Kip Bulwinkle ’04 Dan Dickison Stephen G. Hoffius Alice Keeney ’04 Jennifer Lorenz Jennifer Romano Holly Thorpe Online Design
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ATTN: College of Charleston Magazine College of Charleston Division of Marketing and Communications Charleston, SC 29424-0001 College of Charleston Magazine is published three times a year by the Division of Marketing and Communications. With each printing, approximately 60,000 copies are mailed to keep alumni, families of currently enrolled students, legislators and friends informed about and connected to the College. Diverse views appear in these pages and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editor or the official policies of the College.
[ table of contents ]
70 all in a day’s work
It’s not just the faculty, students and alumni that make this institution special. There is an army of staff members working behind the scenes to make the College safe, functional and beautiful.
in enemy hands by jason ryan
It is a strange thing, to be imprisoned and kept by the enemy that you were previously trying to kill. Since the Revolutionary War, American prisoners of war have figured prominently in the College’s history.
Departments Around the Cistern
Life Academic 6 Making the Grade 12 Teamwork 16 Point of View
by alicia lutz ’98
Sarah Jones ’09 had a bright future in the film industry when her life came to a tragic end on a movie set last year. Her legacy, however, lives on – bringing people together for change in set safety everywhere.
fear of flying by Ron menchaca ’98
Ashley Arnold ’08, a record-breaking student-athlete for the Cougars cross country and track and field teams and now a celebrated ultramarathon competitor, has found that her intense relationship with running has been a series of unexpected starts and stops.
on the cover: Ashley Arnold ’08 photo by Kevin Hoth
| Photos by Kip Bulwinkle ’04 |
AROUND the CISTERN
Cougars in the House A Crowd gathered in the lobby of the S.C. State House. The large doors opened and the sergeant-at-arms, brandishing the S.C. Sword of the Senate, led dignitaries from one end of the lobby to the other for a rare joint session. There in the shadow of a full-size statue of John C. Calhoun, a sense of grand formality hung in the air. Some of the state’s top powerbrokers – 46 senators in all – smiled, waved and pointed in recognition to the crowd of onlookers, a group of lobbyists, lawyers, schoolchildren and tourists. It was a dignified moment, the stuff of history books. And then following the last senator and the security detail, Clyde the Cougar – a shot of color in a parade of government gray – danced his way across the carpeted path, like a court jester following a king’s procession to the throne.
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Smart phones and digital cameras were whipped out as Clyde shimmied and jiggled to music heard only by him. But one thing was for sure, the Cougars were in the house. As President Glenn McConnell ’69 knows, the General Assembly plays a critical role in the business of the College. And the former longtime senator and lieutenant governor does not want his alma mater to fall prey to the “out-ofsight, out-of-mind” mentality that can hinder state lawmakers when looking at the higher-education landscape. This year marked the first “College of Charleston Day” at the S.C. State House, with academic deans, top professors, trustees, alumni and College staff setting up information tables and booths to highlight some of the College’s programs as well as the College’s impact on the
state. It also provided an opportunity for legislators in both the House and the Senate to recognize the many accomplishments of the institution, with the College community seated in the gallery. “This was an important day for us,” notes Shirley Hinson ’92, director of government relations. “We are a small university in the grand scheme of things. And in higher education, competition is fierce. We’re all fighting for the same dollars. And being here allows us to have that conversation and talk about the issues legislators want to know about – like our degree programs, our student experience and the jobs awaiting our graduates. “But for me,” Hinson laughs, “the true highlight was Clyde the Cougar. Somehow, Clyde just tied it all together.”
AROUND the CISTERN
Wins in a row
| Photo by Adam Bruce |
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Luke Rein ’15 won the men’s single sculls at this year’s American Collegiate Rowing Association National Championship. His coaches knew he could do it. “He is one of the best athletes in the country and has Olympic potential,” says Travis Landrith ’98, the crew team’s coach, noting that Rein placed third at last year’s regatta and, at the Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships, he has won the Men’s 4+ the past two years and has made the medal podium the past four. “Luke has been the most decorated rower in our crew’s history. “The College’s success attracts students from all over the country,” continues Landrith. “We are a small program compared to most; however, everyone knows we produce solid athletes and competitive boats. We used to be able to sneak under the radar. Not anymore. Schools plan for us now.”
crossing the cistern Commencement is always a beautiful weekend at the College: the flowers in full bloom, the graduating seniors in their traditional white attire and, most important, the pride and hope in all those smiles. Simply breathtaking. This year was no exception. Degrees granted: 2,559 Honors College graduates: 115 Top five degrees awarded: business administration (289), communication (199), psychology (184), biology (174) and political science (112)
Bishop Robert Smith Award recipients: Andrew Spector (psychology), Isabel Williams (political science) and Marino Mugayar-Baldocchi (psychology) Graduation commencement speaker: Steve Swanson ’89 Honorary degree recipients: S.C. Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (Orangeburg), Tony Meyer ’49, Samuel and Regina Shapiro, Steve ’89 and Emily Molony Swanson ’89 Master’s degrees and graduate certificates awarded: 216
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| Photos by Kip Bulwinkle ’04 |
New degrees awarded: African American studies and professional studies
Making the AROUND the Grade CISTERN
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LIFE ACADEMIC Custodians of the Holocaust
Most first-year students arrive on campus knowing little about the Holocaust. Six million Jewish men, women and children were killed; that’s about it, explains Ted Rosengarten, who has had the task – he might say the honor – of teaching the Holocaust at the College for 18 years. The Second World War ended 70 years ago, so the conflict can seem as distant to young people as the Civil War or the American Revolution. How does one get beyond the numbers and the gross images of the crime to fathom the period and the responses of people who lived then?
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Rosengarten, chair of Holocaust studies for the College’s Zucker/Goldberg Center for Holocaust Education, uses all the tools he can. Catherine Mueller ’15, a recent College graduate from Dallas, describes his classes as “predominantly lecture. But in his case,” she says, “it’s really effective. He has a very powerful speaking presence. And there’s always – always! – room for questions.” He shares with his students books he has been collecting for more than 50 years: historical narratives, memoirs, fiction and poetry, and also still photos and film. He introduces wrenching letters and other texts, and he helps students know the writers as people who have been thrust by history into the role of documentarians. “My work is oriented to the victims’ experiences,” Rosengarten emphasizes. He welcomes to his classes survivors who live in the area, increasingly difficult to do as their numbers decrease every year. Once he encouraged the daughter of a survivor to come listen to her father describe his years evading death in a series of concentration camps, stories she had never before heard; she spent the entire class circling the building in her car, unable to enter the classroom and take on that burden. Rosengarten’s students are engaged. He strides the classroom, peering over his glasses, tossing out questions. The students don’t hesitate to offer their thoughts, even when they seem unsure of what he’s looking for. No shyness here. Early each semester, they realize that they’re being asked to consider one of the most defining events in human history. They learn that versions of the Holocaust have happened many times before, in widely scattered countries, and are
happening still, often with people around the world paying scant attention. But Rosengarten tries to keep the focus on the genocide of the Jews. That’s a large enough topic, though he suggests analogous situations in recent history. There was no name in the 1940s for the murder of millions of Jews and other people in Europe by the Nazis. The word holocaust came into our language in the early 1960s. “We are nearer to the beginning,” says Rosengarten, “of grasping the enormity of the annihilation, its causes and consequences, than we are to the end.” As in all wars, he points out, the aggressor is not satisfied with a single target. So gypsies, gays, Slavs and the Christian populations of places like Belarus were burned up to feed the Nazi beast. In Rosengarten’s freshman seminar, Children and the Holocaust, students probe the experiences of all children in Nazi-occupied Europe – Jews and Christians, young people in Ukraine, Germany and France – and the different ways in which they responded to the killing around them. This isn’t a class to sleep through. Or to skip. Students simply don’t feel like it. This is important. And these students know that their participation in this discussion matters, too. “It’s not a struggle,” explains Mueller. “It’s riveting.” Three-quarters of the students in Rosengarten’s classes are not Jewish. Some of their rapt attention may be generated by the knowledge that Rosengarten himself is a bit of an academic celebrity. He has won a National Book Award and a National Book Critics Circle Award. He received a MacArthur Fellowship, a “genius grant.” But he is
also as approachable as any professor on campus: casual, with darting, eager eyes and a ready smile beneath his bushy mustache. Students circle him after class. He stays and chats. He laughs. “I want to teach young people,” Rosengarten explains, “but also to train them in how and where to get knowledge, how to apply their analytical powers.” His care for his subject matter is intense. “His level of passion as a teacher is what drew me in,” says Mueller. Every other year, Rosengarten and his wife, Dale, who oversees the Jewish Heritage Collection in the Addlestone Library’s Special Collections, take a group of 20 students, half from the College of Charleston and half from the Honors College at the University of South Carolina, to Eastern Europe, where they tour Holocaust and Jewish cultural sites, including former concentration camps, museums, restored and derelict synagogues and cemeteries. “I lecture on the fly,” he explains, “with help from Polish and German friends, in Krakow, Łódz, Warsaw, Białystok, at the sites of former Nazi death camps and in the streets of Berlin, where memorials to the murdered Jews of Europe are part of the fiber of the city, storing memories that would otherwise be a burden to conscience and make ordinary life impossible.” This summer, two of his students, Mueller and Deirdre Douglas-Hubbard ’15, are interning at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, coveted positions to which hundreds apply every year. “It gives me chills,” Rosengarten says, “to think that Anne Frank and I were alive at the same time. That’s how old I am.” Part of Rosengarten’s concern for the future of his program is the simple question he phrases as, “Who will be the custodians of the story?” He explains that the first generation of teachers about the Holocaust were the survivors themselves, but the youngest of them now are in their upper 70s. The second generation of custodians are teachers like Rosengarten and his predecessor at the College, Beatrice Stiglitz, who didn’t directly experience the Holocaust, but had close ties to those who did. “My mother’s father,” he explains, “was born in Tarnow, a city of small garment factories in southeastern Poland. The
Jews who made up half the population were deported to Auschwitz and Belzec. About one in 30 was alive in 1945. My grandfather had immigrated to America before World War I, so he was unharmed. His cousins who stayed behind were ‘burned’ – he never used the word gassed – in the camps.” Rosengarten fears that the third generation will be people of the growing ranks of scholars who are more focused on the historiography of the Holocaust than the actual experiences of individuals. Under their guidance, the events of the period often seem distant, impersonal. But maybe the future of Holocaust teaching will be shaped by people such as Mueller or Douglas-Hubbard or some of the others who have experienced Rosengarten’s classes and those of similar teachers, or who have traveled in Eastern Europe through the College’s study-abroad programs. Mueller, an English major, thinks she may enter the field of human rights studies. When she first contacted the directors of the Anne Frank House, she wrote, “This is what I feel called to do.” Though she started reading about the Holocaust when she was young, she acknowledges that part of her passion grew from her classes with Rosengarten.
A Double Best-Seller: 1974 and 2014 In 1974 Ted Rosengarten published his first book, All God’s Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw, an oral history of an Alabama tenant farmer who was born when Lincoln was president. It was praised on the front page of The New York Times Book Review, won a National Book Award, sold well, had its film rights scooped up by James Earl Jones (he eventually gave them up) and was transformed into a one-man offBroadway play starring Cleavon Little. Rosengarten wasn’t yet 30 years old. Forty years after publication, the book inexplicably became a hit again. In April 2014, critic Dwight Garner of
“Holocaust education is a kind of intervention in normal life,” he explains. “It’s disturbing because it’s all about living and dying in the extreme. You never know how the learning about it will show up in later years.” And through his teaching, his students – no matter what careers they go on to pursue, whether teachers, lawyers, salespeople – they, too, in their ways, are now custodians of the Holocaust. – Stephen G. Hoffius
The New York Times asked the owner of Square Books, the bookstore in Oxford, Miss., to identify the one book that best describes the South. He named All God’s Dangers. Garner praised it on the front page of the Times’ arts and culture section: “It is superb – both serious history and a serious pleasure, a story that reads as if Huddie Ledbetter spoke it while W.E.B. Du Bois took dictation.” The next day, the book soared to No. 1 on Amazon’s list of bestsellers. Several companies have since asked about the film rights. An audio book has been released.
SUMMER 2015 |
| Photo by Kip Bulwinkle ’04 |
You are surrounded. There’s no hiding. No escaping. No fighting or defending. You can try to ignore them, but they’re always lurking – and not just underneath the bed. From the zombies of The Walking Dead to the vampires of Twilight: Monsters are everywhere you look. And – as Kathleen Béres Rogers will tell you – they’re not going away. “Monsters are part of what makes us human – they’ve been a part of culture and society from the beginning. What changes is what is considered monstrous,” says the English professor, whose course, Monsters and |
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Monstrosities, explores everything from Beowulf and The Elephant Man to The Walking Dead and I Am Legend, analyzing how monsters manifest in various expressions of human culture throughout history. “Monsters are reactions to societal and cultural fears. It all comes down to the other, those non-normative things that we are afraid of in society and in ourselves,” says Rogers, who – as a first-generation American growing up in upstate New York – has herself been “othered”: “Not only can I joke with my students about my ‘fangs,’” she laughs, referring to her mother’s roots in
Transylvania, “but I know what it was like for my parents to be labeled as ethnic others.” That is, after all, only natural: Every community has its outsiders. “You have sororities, you have the gaming culture, the BMX biker community, independent farmers: Every discourse community has its cultural norms and creates social others,” says Rogers, whose students each choose a discourse community to analyze, paying special attention to the social “monsters” they create. “Whether it’s special needs children or disabled people, people of different sexualities – throughout history, we have tried to keep our ‘monsters’ hidden away, to separate them from ourselves.” That’s why, she says, the monsters that can walk among us, that aren’t always recognizable, are particularly terrifying. “Werewolves represent that hybridity, for example. What is it? It’s hard to distinguish between the animal and the person, because they are neither one or the other,” she says. “It also raises fears of what’s inside us, because all of us have the elements of monstrosity within us – and we can’t constrain the binary of normal and not normal.” This blend of “normal” and “not normal” plays into cultural fears of transgendered and bisexual people – topics that interested several of her students. “My final paper addressed the erasure and invalidation of bisexuality in LGBTplus spaces,” says Jessie Covington, a senior mathematics major. “I looked at a couple of popular LGBT-specific TV shows and their portrayal (or lack thereof) of bisexuality and how these shows furthered stereotypes while alienating part of their audience demographic in a space that is supposed to be inclusive.” Ultimately, Rogers says, society will continue to try to alienate the other – whatever that may be at that place and time – proving itself just as monstrous as the monster it creates, if not more so. And so, no: Monsters aren’t going anywhere any time soon. You can try to run, try to hide, but they’ll always be lurking nearby. The good news is, they make for great entertainment.
| Photo by Kip Bulwinkle ’04 |
Head Above water At first, the stories sounded like typical fish tales. Sailors spoke of being out to sea and surviving waves as tall as buildings. For ages these claims were dismissed, thought to be nothing but exaggerated descriptions of rough seas. In 1995, however, observations from an oil platform in the North Sea verified a wave that measured an astounding 84 feet tall. Subsequent satellite imagery confirmed the semi-regular appearance of these abnormally large waves, which came to be popularly known as rogue waves. The frightened sailors, it turned out, were not lying. Formed from the meeting of divergent ocean currents and wind patterns, rogue waves are technically defined as waves that are twice as tall as the average height of the largest one third of waves in a given area of ocean, explains mathematics professor Annalisa Calini. Rogue waves often occur in isolated instances, are very steep and feature deep troughs that make them loom even larger. Each year, rogue waves are suspected of causing the
disappearance of a number of large ships that vanish suddenly from the ocean’s surface. Given the terror and destruction caused by rogue waves, it would be nice to have a better idea of when and where they might occur. Helping make such predictions is Calini, who is investigating the effects of chaotic elements on nonlinear systems in order to develop models that can better forecast rogue waves. If we have more information, she believes, ship crews can better avoid the massive waves that threaten to obliterate their vessels. Calini looks at lots of factors in her research, studying the speed and direction of wind and currents, as well as tracking differences in water density and changes on the sea floor. In the end, she’d like to discover a reliable recipe for predicting rogue waves. One thing she does not plan to do, however, is experience any of a rogue wave’s qualities firsthand. That she will leave to the sailors: “I think I’m happy to see it from the satellite.”
Inside the Academic Mind: Larry Krasnoff A lot has changed on campus since 1998, when Larry Krasnoff started teaching philosophy at the College. However, one thing has remained the same during his tenure: a passion for teaching and introducing students to logic and philosophy. We caught up with Professor Krasnoff between classes to learn more about his hometown, the value of a philosophy degree and his love of softball. You grew up in Philadelphia, which has a distinct character. How did Philly shape your approach to philosophy? A distinct character? You mean dirty, corrupt … that sort of thing? That doesn’t sound like a good approach to philosophy. But you probably know something about being a sports fan in Philadelphia. We lose way too much, we care way too much and so we boo – even our own team. Especially our own team. So you learn: Life is mostly about losing, but you should never accept it. That sounds like a piece of philosophy to me. Do you get tired of defending why a philosophy degree matters? I am not tired, because most people have already made up their minds against a philosophy degree. I don’t need to argue much if no one is listening anyway. But the argument is really simple, looked at either intrinsically or extrinsically. Intrinsically, philosophy matters if reflecting on what matters in life matters, because that is what philosophy really is. Extrinsically, philosophy is just a serious liberal arts undergraduate degree, and the main path to being very well-off in our economy is to get a serious liberal arts undergraduate degree and then an advanced, professional degree. A pre-professional undergraduate major will get you a better job right away, but a philosophy major can be better combined with nearly any advanced degree, and then the economic outcomes are going to be reversed. In fact, it’s not even close. You’ve done a lot of research on hegel. What should the average person know about German idealism? The average person, especially in America, hears a lot of political talk about freedom. The average person should know that if our talk about freedom is going to make any sense, it is only because the German idealists thought really hard about what freedom means. We should try to think at least a little harder, too. What one philosopher should every person know? Socrates, of course, because none of us would know any philosophy if it weren’t for him. He wanted the people he met to ask themselves whether they had any real justification for the things they said and did. Philosophy is still thinking about how to respond to that kind of challenge. How has your approach to teaching changed over the years? I used to worry a lot more about what to ask to get students talking. Now I just come in and say what I think
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is important to the author of the text we are reading, and the students just talk a lot more in response. Teachers who are thinking primarily about what students will find interesting aren’t really teaching, and aren’t really interesting either. I am really old-school about education in the humanities. The books are the teachers, and my job is to get them to talk. Then everyone will be interested. What school of philosophy claims you? My work is about the foundations of liberalism. I’m a liberal in politics, and I want to understand how that can be justified. If you could debate one philosopher, who would it be? If the philosopher’s work annoyed me that much, I wouldn’t want to debate that person. If you could give an incoming student one piece of advice on being successful at the College, what would it be? Show up, pay attention, read. It doesn’t actually have to be that hard. You’re an avid softball player. What do you prefer: offense or defense? Everyone loves to hit. So of course the answer is defense: It’s more fun when you can take a hit away from the other team. Besides, your bat is just a weapon, a tool. Your glove is your friend. What is your favorite object in your office? Before we moved to Charleston, we lived in Portland, Ore., and I keep our old license plate in my office. Students often notice it. Oregon has one of the most distinctive and best plates, with a pine tree against a backdrop of snowy mountains. It reminds me of living in Portland, where they do so well thinking about quality of life. Charleston is quite good in that respect, too, but we are still slacking off on the bike paths. What is your guilty-pleasure TV show? There are so many high-quality TV shows on these days that you don’t even have to feel all that guilty. My wife and I have been watching The Americans, which just ended its third season. I think it’s the best show out there, but there are still plenty of guilty pleasures in the cultural references. Outlandish wigs! Ronald Reagan! General Zhukov! Strat-O-Matic football! What is your favorite philosophy joke? Attributed to Groucho Marx: “These are my principles! Of course, if you don’t like them, I have others …”! What book is currently on your nightstand? A cookbook by the Israeli-British chef Yotam Ottolenghi. I haven’t made nearly enough from it yet. If you could see any musician right now in concert, who would it be? I would go to see Elvis Costello doing anything he ever decided to do, because he has probably done more than anyone else out there.
• Six professors were honored this spring with faculty awards of distinction – Distinguished Service Award: Vince Benigni (communication); Distinguished Research Award: George Chartras (physics and astronomy); Distinguished Advising Award: John Creed (political science); | Margaret Carmody Distinguished Teaching Hagood ’92 | Award: Margaret Carmody Hagood ’92 (teacher education); Distinguished Adjunct Teaching Award: Miranda McManus (biology); and the William V. Moore Distinguished Teacher-Scholar Award: Wendy Cory (chemistry and biochemistry). • Steve Litvin (hospitality and tourism management) was named a Fulbright Ambassador this spring and will help with outreach efforts for the Fulbright Scholars Program to the higher education community. • Several longtime faculty members retired this spring. The College is greatly indebted to these amazing teacher-scholars (with a combined 374 years of service): Katherine Bielsky, library (1984); Marion Doig ’65, chemistry and biochemistry (1974); Edmund Drago, history (1975); Raisa Gomer, German and Slavic studies (1991); Brad Huber, anthropology and sociology (1989); Helen Ivy, Marine Resources Library (1982); Mary Blake Jones, teacher education (1982); Robert Nusbaum, geology and environmental geosciences (1984); Marty Perlmutter, Jewish studies and philosophy (1979); Phillip Powell, library (1984); David Owens, biology (1999); and Godwin Uwah, French and Francophone studies (1983). • The School of the Arts, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, was a 2015 recipient of the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts. • David Heywood (music) was a co-winner of the 2015 Jazz Flute Soloist Competition, hosted by the National Flute Association.
Describe yourself in one word. Intellectual (sigh).
SUMMER 2015 |
MAKING the GRADE Start-up Engine Evan Spiegel is just 24 years old. Don’t recognize him? Not to worry. His isn’t a household name. But you’ll probably recognize the billiondollar business he co-founded and chairs: Snapchat. Now only four years old, this enterprise is the result of a class project that Speigel undertook at Stanford University. The company’s meteoric success and that of other college-spawned products has prompted universities across the country – including the College – to follow suit, establishing innovation labs, tech accelerators and entrepreneurship programs. But few of
incentives to support and further product development. Chris Starr ’83 from the Department of Supply Chain and Information Management is the co-founder and first director of this program. He describes it as unique among tech accelerators at U.S. institutions: “The first semester of ICAT included 25 students, of which eight were business majors, eight computer science majors and nine others who ran the gamut from English to political science to biology and music. What’s truly unique is that our ICAT cohort included not just seniors, but five freshmen, eight sophomores and six juniors as well. So
of failing fast. If a given team’s product isn’t viable, those students have learned to move on quickly. In that sense, our program teaches these students to persevere in the face of a setback. And that means that resilience becomes the new norm.” It’s not surprising to learn that each of the eight teams participating in ICAT produced actual software that was beta tested by potential customers. “That’s quite a feat in just 10 short weeks,” says Starr, “but that’s very much the business strategy that we teach in ICAT. It’s about execution and obtaining traction in the market.”
“We’re convinced that ICAT alumni will be ready to step
into tech companies after graduating no matter what their major.” – Chris Starr ’83
those initiatives can match the unique approach that the College’s ICAT program takes to offer students a hands-on experience in product development and entrepreneurship. The ICAT program (short for Interdisciplinary Center for Applied Technology) – a collaboration between the School of Business (where it is housed) and the Office of Economic Development – brings together undergraduates from diverse academic disciplines and groups them into threeperson teams (one student from business, one from computer science and one from the liberal arts). The students work together to develop globally scalable technology companies. At the same time, they earn academic credit: Two courses comprise ICAT – one in computer science and one in business administration. Mentors from the Charleston business community guide the students’ work, and the program includes built-in financial
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it’s unlike most programs elsewhere, which are usually just for business or tech majors, and almost strictly for seniors or graduate students.” Two other characteristics distinguish ICAT, says Starr: “The projects that our students work on must be globally scalable, so the teams have to consider foreign markets in the process of developing their products. That international element is missing in many other programs. In addition, our students work with two mentors, one from the tech sector and one from the business sector. That’s quite rare among university accelerators.” Starr is keen to point out that the College does not take an equity position in any of the ICAT startups. “The students retain all of their intellectual property,” he says. “In addition, they learn to follow the Lean Startup model popularized by Stanford University. It emphasizes the concept
All of this is prelude to the scene that played out on Charleston’s Footlight Players stage in April. The ICAT teams were invited to pitch their fledgling products to a panel of judges assembled from the Charleston business community (as well as to an audience of 150). A grand prize of $10,000 was on the line – along with the potential of angel investment from individuals in the audience. So, one by one, each team gave a three-minute pitch, followed by four minutes of questions from the judges. “That was surreal,” says English major Ben Hintz ’15 afterward. He and his teammates – computer science major Adam Sugarman and business administration major Andrew Gordon – developed a GPS-enabled app that informs its users in real time about what’s happening regarding the nightlife around a specific location. “Sleeping was not really an option for us over the past 10 days. I was on the street several
Making the Grade
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hours a day pitching our app to anyone who would listen. We wanted to win so badly, and we knew we’d have to prove our product’s value by way of the number of downloads that we’d generated (more than 700) in order to convince the judges. That required us to be the first team to get into the app store, which meant we had to outwork a class filled with extremely smart, hardworking and talented individuals.” Yawper, as Hintz and company call their product, was selected as one of two top winners by the judges. “I was shaking when they announced the winners,” says Sugarman, “but it’s such a relief to know that all of our hard work paid off.” When the tie for first place was announced, the moderator initially explained that the top prize would be split between Team Yawper and Team SpotIt (an app developed by Anna Baginski, Liza Hendriks and Joye Nettles ’15 that enables drivers to reserve a parking spot convenient to their destination). Then one of the judges, Tommy Baker of Baker Motor Company (and a member of the School of Business’ Board of Governors), conferred with the moderator, and a revised plan was announced. Baker contributed $10,000 on the spot so that both teams could walk away with the top prize. Nettles, a computer science major, was thrilled: “I’m so glad that I did this program because I discovered that I’m an entrepreneur at heart. I got such a rush from being up there on that stage, and it convinced me that developing products like this is what I want to do the rest of my life.” Even before the semester was over, several ICAT teams had secured venture capital to support their endeavors. “That’s not surprising,” says Starr. “These are all potentially viable products and these students have gotten great grounding. We’re convinced that ICAT alumni will be ready to step into tech companies after graduating no matter what their major. Even more exciting is the strong possibility that many of them won’t need to apply for jobs because they will have created their own companies.” And given that, don’t be surprised if Yawper, SpotIt or any of the other studentdeveloped apps from ICAT actually become household words.
SUMMER 2015 |
| Photo by Alice Keeney ’04 |
Gossip Girl Alexis Armour has a gift for comedic timing. With her bubbly personality and spirited hand gestures, the sophomore’s deadpan delivery catches her audience by surprise. And, as host of CisternYard Radio’s The Salon with Gossip Goddess, Armour has a pretty diverse audience. Fortunately, her storytelling speaks to all kinds of students across campus. For instance, the story of how she and her mother got turned around on their way to visit the College from nearby Columbia: “We got lost for six hours,” she says, then pausing: “Six hours.” When she and her mother did ultimately find their way to the College, Armour fell in love with the campus, despite missing part of the tour. Months later, toward the end of her freshman year, Armour’s suitemate encouraged her to pursue a video blog or radio show. “You should be doing something so everyone can see you and
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laugh at your stuff,” she told Armour. At first, Armour ignored the suggestion. “I’m only funny in small groups, when I can be joking around and talking with people,” she explains. But as time went by and she worked part time in CisternYard Media’s ad sales department, Armour learned more about the organization’s radio component. “I started speaking with the general manager, and he told me I could basically do anything I want, that I could have complete creative control over a show,” Armour recalls. That conversation was the first of many between Armour and general manager Thomas “Kon” Robinson. He worked with her on a focus for the show (gossip), a title (The Salon, a place where gossip flows) and a host name (Gossip Goddess). “I suggested Gossip Guru at first, but Kon said, ‘No, it has to be the best. You have to be bigger than anyone else out there.’”
When Armour is the Gossip Goddess, she’s immersed in her character, often bantering with herself briefly at the start of each episode: “I’ll say, ‘How is your day going, Gossip Goddess?’ and then I’ll answer, ‘Well, thank you for asking, Alexis!’ Then I’ll talk about my day and make a joke because my life is hilarious.” The show progresses from there – Armour talks about the latest celebrity news, she plays music (“whatever I’m getting a good vibe from that week”), she interviews a guest and features a segment called “Gossip with the Guys.” Occasionally she’ll dole out advice to first-year students: namely, what to wear or not wear and how to avoid common mistakes. But for Armour, her involvement with the show doesn’t end at the close of her one-hour time slot. In fact, that’s precisely when the communication major switches gears from thinking in terms of broadcast to social media and marketing. She films and edits promotional videos for the show and shares links to each episode on her personal social media channels. Yet, in spite of all of her promotional efforts, she was still shocked when people began recognizing her as the Gossip Goddess. “People I don’t know started tweeting at me, saying, ‘This girl is hilarious!’ It was crazy,” she laughs. “It’s the coolest thing in the world. I get to be funny and play music that I love and people actually respond to it.” While Armour is quick to mention she has a backup plan – graduate school – in case radio doesn’t pan out, if the success of The Salon is any indication, she won’t have anything to worry about. “I definitely want to go into radio after I graduate. The more I do it, the more I realize how many people got their start in radio: Wendy Williams, Queen Latifah, Oprah,” she lists. And, as Armour grows more comfortable in her role on The Salon, she gains more in common with her heroes in the club of radio-hosts-turnedinternational-celebrities. “I may want to take on a co-host next year,” she muses. “I’m still deciding who it will be.” Thus she may become a hero herself, providing a platform and valuable guidance to another student with a voice as unique as her own.
Making the Grade
on their trail
| Photo by Kip Bulwinkle ’04 |
When biology major Olivia LaRussa ’15 began a senior research project about ants in the Francis Marion National Forest, one of her biggest concerns was – naturally – bugs. In preparation for her hikes in the national forest north of Charleston, she would douse her entire being with potent mosquito spray. However, bugs still found a way to feast on her. Skin irritations aside, LaRussa’s ant research was a big success. Through the collection of random samples of insects from the forest floor, LaRussa and her adviser – biology professor Brian Scholtens – determined that when foresters purposely burn portions of the park to manage flora and fauna, the resulting, scorched landscape is more attractive to certain types of ants than others. LaRussa made this conclusion after analyzing samples of “leaf litter” collected from the forest floor and identifying which species of ants lived among the detritus. She counted 10 different species of ants from the samples, and also sorted through many other insects as well, including spiders, beetles, centipedes and, of course, mosquitoes. Back in the laboratory, looking at ants through a highpowered microscope, she was amazed at the complexity of the ants and how pronounced the differences between each species could be. And having the chance to experience a unique, natural environment and delve into the world of ants was its own reward, she says, independent of the findings of the study. “It was really hot and I had mosquito bites all over me all semester,” says LaRussa, “but it was totally worth it.”
| Photos by Mike Ledford |
Stealing the Spotlight
Nationally, Bre Bolden is known as the Colonial Athletic Association’s Women’s Basketball Defensive Player of the Year, but on campus she’s best known for her laugh. “Off the court, she’s very quiet and humble,” says first-year women’s basketball head coach Candice Jackson. “But with a very distinctive laugh!” Bolden, a public health major and rising junior, plays the three-spot position. “It’s like a small forward guard,” she explains. But that doesn’t
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come close to describing the impact she has on the court. This past season, Bolden was ranked in the top 15 nationally for steals per game (3.3), and she also led the Cougars in several categories: scoring (13.7), rebounds per game (6.8) and average minutes played (33.5). “The most challenging part of coaching Bre was getting her to trust me,” Jackson admits. “With any new coach, it is hard for a team to buy into a new philosophy. Building that trust was important and we
are still working on it; it doesn’t happen overnight. But the most rewarding thing was seeing her work hard and earn the CAA honor this year.” While individual players acclimated to Jackson’s new coaching style, each was able to rely on the team’s inherent trust of each other. Bolden credits the team dynamic as a large part of the reason she chose to attend the College in the first place. “The team was always really welcoming,” she says. And, when the time came, the team was really supportive, too. “We were on a bus together leaving a practice in Maryland when the CAA announced I was Defensive Player of the Year. It was so exciting,” says Bolden. “I was surprised, and my teammates were really excited for me.” Now with her second CAA honor (she was selected to the conference’s allrookie team as a freshman), Bolden’s goals are focused on strengthening the team: “I want to set an example for the younger players joining the team.” She also hopes to take on a bigger leadership role as she enters her junior year, and Jackson has no doubt that Bolden can confidently mentor incoming first-year student-athletes, and that she is ready to be a team leader. “I’ve seen a tremendous difference in her playing ability already. She’s become much more comfortable as a scorer and a defensive player,” says Jackson. “We talked a lot this year about how she is our spark plug, and the team needs her to bring it all, every day. “Beyond that,” Jackson continues, “she always finds the positive in any situation. That much is clear from her constant giggling!”
Both golf teams repeated as CA A champions – with Laura Fuenfstueck (women’s golf) earning her second CA A Golfer of the Year and Jamie Futrell (women’s golf) receiving his second CA A Coach of the Year honors. + Angelo Anastopoulo (women’s tennis) earned CAA Coach of the Year. + Thrower Tiffany Sisk ’15 (track and field) – the school’s all-time record holder in shot put – won her second CAA title this spring. |
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The Ace Following Taylor Clarke’s shutout, eightinning pitching performance during the conference tournament, CAA Coach of the Year Monte Lee ’00 was effusive: “He’s the best pitcher I’ve ever had. To be 13-1 and doing what he’s doing is pretty amazing.” Indeed, it is amazing that Clarke finished his junior year with 143 strikeouts (a school record) and a 1.73 ERA. But what’s more amazing is that Clarke, who was named the CAA’s 2015 Pitcher of the Year and a first team All American, has performed so dominantly following his recovery from Tommy John surgery in 2013. Clarke’s pitching prowess is a big reason the Cougars earned an at-large bid this year to the NCAA Regional Tournament. And Lee isn’t afraid to say so. “Clarke’s a guy who could be a No. 1 for anybody in the country,” says Lee. “He goes out every Friday night and you know he’s going to give you plus stuff.” And Clarke’s teammates apparently feel the same way. “Clarke, out of 35 guys, was voted unanimously as team captain and as the hardest working, most competitive player,” Lee says. “And he has the highest GPA on our team. When a guy with a 3.9 GPA is voted most competitive and he’s your Friday guy, you don’t have to say much. He’s so in tune with what it takes to win.”
| Photo by Mike Ledford |
NOTE: In June, the Arizona Diamondbacks selected Clarke, making him the highestever Cougar draftee (76th pick overall).
S PRI N G 2 0 1 5 |
| Photos by Mike Ledford |
Hay Rides What’s in a name? For Eliza Hay ’15, it turns out, a lot. “‘Hay is for horses’: I’ve heard it a million times,” says the equestrian star, who this year won the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association’s highest honor, the Cacchione Cup (pictured above). “For Eliza to win this is incredible. She is the best intercollegiate rider in the country,” beams head coach Bob Story. “Her name is on that trophy forever. She is on there with Olympic riders and some of the best riders to ever live. That’s how big of a deal this is.” This is the third time Hay has competed for the cup, and her prior experience served her well in her senior swan song. “My four years here at the College could not have been better,” says the business administration major, who also earned a reserve national champion honor in the individual open flat and finished in the top five in both of her team events as well, earning a reserve national champion honor in the team open fences and placing fifth in the team open flat. “Even though the Cacchione Cup is an individual competition, it means a lot to bring it to the College, and I know it means a lot to Coach Story, too. It’s a huge honor I’ve been working really hard for my entire life, so it’s great to have that pay off.” After all, she has a name to live up to.
POINT of VIEW
[ student ]
Conquering Misconceptions College is about breaking down stereotypes. Our students do it in a variety of ways: making new friends not like themselves on campus, taking classes that expand their worldviews and even doing research on topics that shatter long-held misconceptions.
| Illustration by John Phillips |
by Michael Chapman
I would like to paint you a mental picture. Imagine a big burly man with a big blond beard and long blond hair flowing down past his shoulders. Picture him wearing fur clothing and on the top of his head is a horned helmet. In one of his hands is a crude ax and in the other is a circular shield. This is pop culture’s image of what the Vikings may have looked like, including the myth that surrounds them. And who doesn’t love a great myth? I mean, isn’t it true that behind every great mythical saga there lies an even greater true story? Plus, what’s more mythical than the Vikings? As a little
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POINT of VIEW
all Vikings were big blond Scandinavian brutes who cared about nothing except for which town to plunder next.
kid, whenever I thought about the Vikings, I would imagine big and barbaric men with blond hair wearing horned helmets and sailing all over the North Atlantic. However, with the Vikings, it is pretty difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction. Between movies, television shows and action figures, stereotypes become the truth, and the real truth becomes lost. Take, for example, the horned helmets. They are the most recognizable feature of Vikings and are seen with everything having to do with the Vikings, from SpongeBob: Leif Erikson Day to actors at a Medieval Times restaurant to the logo of the Minnesota Vikings football team. Even the comic book rendition of Marvel Comics’ Thor, a character taken from Viking mythology, has two metal spikes extending from the top of his helmet. However, there is little evidence that Vikings wore horned helmets – and there is no supporting evidence that they were worn during battle. Rather, today’s popular association of the horned helmets with Viking warriors probably arose in the 19thcentury Scandinavian revival. Before I came to the College, I believed this and many other stereotypes surrounding the Vikings. When I got here, I wanted to make sure that before I graduated I had the opportunity to seek out the truth about the Vikings. I thought to myself, Surely not all Vikings were big blond Scandinavian brutes who cared about nothing except for which town to plunder next. In reality, these stereotypes reflect only a small percentage of the truth surrounding the Vikings’ appearance. The Vikings were actually clean and well-groomed fighters who were skilled with swords and only wore iron helmets in battle. Though they did maintain long hair and had larger muscle mass than most people today, there was a mix of different hair colors and styles. As a double major in anthropology and archaeology, I have learned that it’s important to understand cultures of the past and the present by relying on solid evidence. So what better way to find the great truth of the Vikings than by looking at ethnohistoric documents and reports of archaeological sites? I am currently working with anthropology professor Brad Huber to explore the Vikings more in depth and to understand what makes them so special. Professor Huber specializes in the study of kinship, marriages and family. While he has allowed me to work independently, he has still been a powerful influence in the way that I look at the Vikings and the relations within Viking culture. My research involves looking specifically at Iceland because the Vikings were the first to settle that island, providing a wonderful example of Viking growth and development with little outside influence. My research is primarily done by examining Viking Icelandic sagas and other legal documents that have been discovered and preserved.
Something that I found particularly interesting within the Vikings’ culture was their view of honor. Though we may believe them to be ruthless raiders, the Vikings possessed a strong honor code. To them, honor to one’s family was everything. It controlled all aspects of life, from marriage to political influence to even military leadership. If a Viking farmer was convicted of killing a neighbor’s flock of sheep, then that particular Viking would repay his neighbor and then sentence himself to exile so that the disgrace and dishonor associated with that crime would not extend to his family’s household. Though this punishment may be an extreme, it shows how important honor and family were to the Vikings. Perhaps a less extreme example of Vikings’ honor may be seen in the attempt by a son of a Viking to go out on an expedition to find new lands in order to restore honor back to his family. This was the reasoning behind the expedition of Leif Erikson, the Viking who discovered North America almost 500 years before Christopher Columbus. The honor that came from his discovery would be recognized not just in his time, but also today. In recognition of his discovery of North America, the U.S. Congress and every president since Lyndon Johnson have observed October 9 as Leif Erikson Day (Columbus Day is October 12 this year, so Leif is ahead of him once again). Today there is nothing that compares to this type of honor. In our society, honor has become influenced by how many followers a person has on social media or how much money a person may have. It’s not uncommon to witness politicians (who hold offices built upon the foundations of honor and integrity) being able to finance their re-elections and act as the people’s representatives even though they may have a history of performing dishonorable activities. That was just not the case during the Viking era. And while they may be falsely remembered as horned helmet–wearing travelers, they should be praised for their understanding and practice of honor. Since I have started on this path to find the truth, I have wondered if some of these Viking stereotypes have started to change. So, I thought, what better way to find out than to ask my friends and co-workers what they think of when I say, “Vikings.” I got an array of responses, from such things as the people in How to Train Your Dragon to big fearsome pirates to even a group of people from Scandinavia who drink from skull cups. Not surprisingly, almost everyone that I asked gave the response that they think of men who wear helmets with horns on them. I guess I have my work cut out for me in painting a new mental picture of who the Vikings truly were. – Michael Chapman is an anthropology and archaeology double major.
SUMMER 2015 |
POINT of VIEW [ faculty ] And the Band Begins to Play For a few years now, music professor Blake Stevens has taught a Maymester course on the Beatles, exploring their songwriting craftsmanship as well as their impact on popular culture. Studying “Love Me Do” to “Here Comes the Sun,” today’s students discover the historic power of the Fab Four and leave the class no fool on the hill. by Blake Stevens Late in the semester in my Beatles class, as we were exploring the surreal territory of the White Album, a student asked in exasperation, “Why do they always have to be so weird?” She had singled out an aspect of the Beatles that makes them surprising and even unsettling after 50 years: They were indeed weird, with their uncanny ability to assimilate the musical styles around them and transform them in unexpected and provocative ways. Looking back now, all these years later, we can really appreciate how they accomplished a nearly impossible feat: They managed to create an exceptionally popular body of music that challenges the prejudice that rock music is disposable, merely fashionable or commercial and lacking in craft, complexity and ambiguity. This prejudice is still alive and kicking in some musical quarters. Yet if we exclude John Lennon and Paul McCartney from a tradition that embraces Schubert, Schumann, Varèse and Stockhausen, we miss their most compelling achievement. By the force of their imagination and their ability to shuttle across the popular- and art-music cultures of their day, the Beatles radically changed what it meant to produce “popular” music and what it meant to be a “rock ’n’ roll band.” Their work dismantled the all-too-easy assumption that popular music can’t achieve the cultural and even spiritual significance that we expect of “art.” This challenge to academic conventions is one of the many reasons why the Beatles’ music is so rewarding to study and teach. It’s so closely bound up with the political and cultural transformations of the 1960s that it opens new perspective onto the entire period. A survey of the Beatles’ career introduces the study of sociological and aesthetic issues in musical production in the way that Jean-Baptiste Lully’s operas illuminate court life and tastes under Louis XIV, or that Mozart’s piano concertos and operas lead us into the world of 1780s Vienna. Leaving history aside for the moment, I am always struck by how immediate a presence the Beatles have in the lives |
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of students today. When their music is playing, it seems that generational divides and historical distance melt away. Just watch footage of that iconic moment when the group first appears on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964. Through the black-and-white screen of stale comedy routines and stilted advertisements for shoe polish and shaving cream, the young musicians leap forward with astonishing immediacy, singing “All My Loving” and “She Loves You” as if they belong to our moment. Even to today’s students – now removed by two generations – the music’s vitality remains current. If it’s so timeless – so relevant from generation to generation – why do some students find the Beatles’ music so weird? That observation has a lot to do with the wide range of the Beatles’ music, pushing in multiple directions. It would be impossible to capture this range in a short essay or even in a full semester of close study. Every fan likely gravitates at various times toward a particular period or moment in the Beatles’ career – for instance, toward the early, hard-driving and visceral rock ’n’ roll with its roots in dance clubs, or toward the more lyrical and introspective songs on Rubber Soul. I feel sure students will come to appreciate even the “weirdest” and most experimental of the Beatles’ repertoire at some point along the way. As for me, I currently find myself drawn to the period in which the group first retreated from live performance, when they essentially became composers in the studio as opposed to concert performers. At this point their contact with their audience started to loosen, and they began to create introspective, mindful soundscapes, exploring themes of alienation and loss. This was largely new territory for the legions of teenagers who had drowned out the group’s live performances with their screams. With Revolver in 1966, the group shifted its concerns to questions of the self and the depiction of complex states of consciousness, linked – but not limited – to psychedelic experiences. Most critically, they devised musical techniques to draw the listener into these states. If most of their early songs, from Please Please Me to Help!, used the instruments to carry a beat and propel the body into motion, the group was now approaching instrumental arrangements as a part of integrated poetic and dramatic structures. Perhaps for the first time in popular songwriting, we hear musical analogues (and not merely reflections) of states of consciousness. The first four songs on Revolver map out this new territory. With “Taxman,” the band is no longer presenting itself as a purveyor of fantasy and electrified libido, but rather as a critic of the tax code and the politicians who control it. “Eleanor Rigby” sketches a narrative of the loneliness and death of an individual, hinting too at the broader disenchantment of modern life (“No
POINT of VIEW
and performance. Lennon himself described “Revolution 9” as the “drawing of revolution”; it materializes the conscious awareness of a violent revolution that is only hinted at in the song “Revolution.” The Beatles’ exploration of these themes and states makes their music both perennially strange and relevant: Their songs don’t merely reflect, as with a mirror, the self and the world – but they create a sound world that absorbs the listener into that experience. Their music is at once a “mirror of society” and a “way of perceiving the world,” to borrow an expression from the theoretician of noise Jacques Attali. But these strange moments appear alongside – and even erupt through – the more traditional, straightforward rock ’n’ roll songs, mixing the avant-garde with the immediately accessible in ways that continue to puzzle and inspire us, that continue to get us to think in one moment and dance in another. Maybe their music is weird. But that’s exactly what keeps us listening. – Blake Stevens is an associate professor of music history.
| Illustration by Allison Conway |
one was saved”). The music of “I’m Only Sleeping” trails the meandering course of the daydreaming mind: Consciousness gradually becomes unmoored and seems to “float upstream,” while a guitar solo unravels backward in time – just one of many random ideas floating around inside the poet’s mind. Finally, a new perspective of love is achieved in “Love You To,” one that is aware of life’s inevitable end but still hopes to “make love singing songs.” The razor-edged drones of the sitar and tambura, however, keep the listener’s mind focused on the bitter reality. And if the Beatles’ depiction of mental landscapes often takes the form of random bits of noise and music (e.g., the collages that end “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Good Morning Good Morning,” “A Day in the Life” and “I Am the Walrus”), this kind of experimentation culminates in “Revolution 9” on the White Album: surely the least liked but most radical track on the double album. Its full significance emerges when it is placed within the history of experimental music, leading from the Italian Futurists, who translated the noises of modern life into sound art, and John Cage, who allowed for chance in musical creation
SUMMER 2015 |
POINT of VIEW
[ alumni ]
The Old College Try The College’s history reads like a novel at times: larger-than-life personalities and dramatic events in a setting of beauty and change. During one of its darkest financial chapters, several people worked behind the scenes to save the College. While their solution may not have been realized, their effort reveals the deep love so many have had for this special institution. by Michael Mercurio ’73 It was against the backdrop of the bloody Civil Rights movement and the disastrous Vietnam War that I first met George Heltai in 1967. A mutual friend, Professor Michael Thorn, who was a member of the history department, arranged for us to meet in Thorn’s small apartment in the then-blighted area of Ansonborough. I was in the insurance business at the time, and my company had just completed a large loan for the construction of a new Piggly Wiggly grocery store on Meeting Street. I have no idea how Professor Thorn had knowledge of the loan for the Piggly Wiggly, but he was certainly aware that I worked for the same company, and that I was a leading sales associate who knew some of the major players.
I was completely unfamiliar with the College at that time. The only person I knew there was Professor Thorn. I had lived in Charleston since 1962, as a U.S. Marine guard at the naval base, and then had joined the insurance company in 1964. My worldview was narrow, to say the least. And all I knew of George Heltai was what Professor Thorn had told me: that George had been a high-ranking official in the communist party in Hungary and had been incarcerated after he’d fallen out of favor with party members. Subsequently, he’d escaped with his family during the 1956 Hungarian revolution. When we met, after cordial greetings on both sides, we immediately sat down and lit up our smokes: me, my Marlboro and him, his cheroot. It became clear that George was indeed a worldly man – and also a bit eccentric, and passionate about the study of the humanities. I had a hard time understanding what George was saying because of his thick accent and the cheroot that seemed never to leave his lips, even when it went out. But I was able to learn about his and President Walter Coppedge’s vision of turning the then-private College into one of the most prestigious liberal arts schools in the country. For this, the institution would need a ton of money. It was so long ago – I can no longer remember the millions of dollars that would be needed, but I do recall that it had to be enough to build a new library. The old one – Towell Library – was tiny and ill-stocked, built for a 19th-century population of students and faculty. New dormitories and teaching facilities would also have to be constructed to accommodate a much
It became clear that George Heltai was indeed a worldly man – and also a bit eccentric, and
passionate about the study of the humanities. I had a hard time understanding what George was saying because of his thick accent and the cheroot that seemed never to leave his lips, even when it went out.
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POINT of VIEW
SUMMER 2015 |
| Illustration by Joy Halstead |
most of my class. The program was intense and extremely greater school enrollment – estimated to be four times that of challenging. We began with approximately a dozen students, the College in the 1960s, when it stood around 500. and by the end of the second and last year, the class size was Despite the obvious hurdles, I was impressed and excited inevitably reduced. Nevertheless, the knowledge and experience by the idea, especially when George told me that he had garnered from the program helped immensely in honing my assembled a cadre of world-renowned professors who would be intellectual skills as well as those of others. willing to come to the school for a modest salary to teach in an With my degree in hand, I had intended to head for law school. environment of small classes taught in the Socratic tradition. So However, life intervened when my daughter, Lisa, was born. Then, off I went, with five years of the institution’s financials to study, I began a new career in real estate with the Arthur Ravenel Jr. to prepare a persuasive argument for obtaining the monies Company (led by Arthur Ravenel ’50). The degree gave me social needed to make the dream come true. respect that opened many doors; I became very successful in I examined the financial statements, trying to make sense of business and a force in politics. them so that, when I first presented the idea to my company, I I cannot help but wonder how the life of the College – and would be able to discuss them intelligently. Unfortunately, the Charleston itself – might have been changed if Heltai’s dream financial statements were lackluster, to say the least. had been realized. Believing that I must have misinterpreted the information on endowments to the College, I called Thaddeus Street ’35, a former member and chairman of the Board of Trustees. I never had the – Michael Mercurio ’73 is a retired real estate broker pleasure of meeting the gentleman; all conversations we had and restaurateur who lives in Las Vegas. He recently took place by telephone. published the novel A Charleston Yankee, set in the “Mr. Street,” I asked, “am I correct in believing that the Holy City in the 1960s. Professor Heltai served as endowments for the past five years have amounted to the inspiration for one of the novel’s characters. only $70,000?” “Yes,” he replied with a note of chagrin. “Mr. Mercurio, you have to understand that although Charlestonians take great pride in our institution, it is quite another thing to get them to open their wallets and support it.” Aware of the dire straits the school was in financially, I believed that seeking a loan from my company was a Hail Mary play to keep the College private by establishing an elite academic environment. But I was still determined to make the deal work, so I took off for Jacksonville, Fla., where my company’s headquarters was located, to make the hardest sales pitch of my life. I had serious doubts that the company would make the loan, but was determined to give it my best shot. In the end, my strategy was based on the premise that the loan would represent a terrific opportunity for the company to make a difference in the community, and enhance both their philanthropic reputation and, hopefully, increase their business success in Charleston. I had them going for quite a while. It took three months of back and forth before a polite letter arrived one day informing us that the College was indeed a fine institution, but at this time the company, regrettably, was unable to make the loan. We were all, of course, crestfallen. Not too long thereafter, when Ted Stern assumed the presidency, it was announced that the College would be joining the state system. However, George and others managed to keep their dream alive in small part by creating the honors history and English programs, and I became one of the lucky beneficiaries of their efforts when I enrolled at the College in 1969 at George’s urging. I was 28 years old, | George Heltai (1914–1994), a history professor who taught at the College from 1967 to 1986 | quite a bit older than
All in a Day’s Work At the College, we like to speak in metaphors. In true academic fashion, that type of language, that type of thinking, applies gravitas with just the right poetic flourishes. And so, we often frame our faculty and students – their collective curiosity and passion for inquiry – as the very heart and soul of campus. Which they are.
But, just as the human body is not simply a two-organ system of heart and brain, the body collegiate is also more than that. There’s another aspect of campus that is often overlooked. Although it may not be mentioned in our recruitment materials or celebrated in Cistern Yard ceremonies, there are legions of people working dutifully and creatively behind the scenes to support our academic mission. They are the nerve system, the muscle fibers, the very skeleton upon which the heart and mind are able to operate.
In these four portraits, we meet some of the men and women who work, day in and day out, to make this campus safe, operational and beautiful. Like their counterparts in the faculty, these staff members bring enthusiasm and expertise to their jobs, and through their everyday contributions, they showcase how the entire body works together to make the College of Charleston an exceptional place of learning.
images by Leslie McKellar S U MME R 2 0 1 5 |
The Networker For most of us, it’s as simple as turning on our computers. Jim Bennett ’00, however, knows just how complicated an Internet connection really is. As the College’s network manager, he is always behind the scenes, keeping things simple for the rest of us.
very morning – before the tangle of the day, the endless untangling of the day’s tasks – Jim Bennett ’00 checks in with his people, connecting with them individually, listening to their concerns and offering his support. Do you have what you need to do your job? His voice is calm, deliberate – the kind of voice that can only belong to someone patient, someone considerate. For him, this is something of a morning vigil. He is mindful of that fundamental need for connection. He takes the time to understand, to be honest and fair – to be a conduit for encouragement and communication. We’re all connected, he assures the seven people on his team in the Division of Information Technology. As the College’s network manager, nobody knows better than Bennett how essential it is to connect – to stay connected. “The network is what runs the campus – every function is riding on that connection,” he says. “Without it, nothing can work.” You start thinking about a thing as elusive as a network, and your mind can easily be boggled: all that data zipping across campus in the form of ones and zeroes somehow ending on your monitor in the form of a class assignment or a cat meme. How? Don’t worry about it. Leave all that to Bennett and his colleagues. They manage the network from the 700 switches and 43 routers housed in the 187 equipment rooms across campus and in six off-site locations. Let them deal with all that. All you have to know is, it works. (This is where a little faith helps.) “There’s a lot you don’t see when you’re walking across campus,” says Bennett, explaining that all the buildings are connected by underground fiber optic cables. “These connections are what make this place run.” Boiled down, it is Bennett’s job to make sure the network is working. And safe. Here’s how he explains his job to his 7-yearold daughter (who, let’s face it, is probably just as capable of fathoming this mysterious network as the rest of us): “You know how the Internet comes out of your iPad and my computer upstairs? I help make that happen for the whole College. “Not a great description,” he concedes, “but, she’s 7.” When Bennett first came to the College, it was to study elementary education. Both Fran Welch, dean of the School of Education, Health, and Human Performance, and Genevieve Hay ’82 (M.Ed. ’85), associate professor of teacher education, took an interest in him and tried to convince him to pursue a teaching career. But by the time he graduated in December 2000, he already had a job with the College’s IT department waiting for him. Most elementary education majors don’t become network PC engineers – especially not straight out of school. Bennett, however, had been a student worker for IT since 1998, when he started working the front desk, delivering papers that the different
departments printed out on IT’s line printers. Kind of like the network cables do now, Bennett ran all over campus, delivering printed data to wherever it needed to go. When, in September 2001, Bennett was made one of the College’s two network engineers, there were only 3 megabits/ second for Internet, and the network had only 60 switches. Things have changed. Things have grown. And Bennett has been part of it all – playing a key role in designing and building today’s ever-evolving network. “It never really ends,” he says. As the College acquires new buildings, for example, Bennett and his team expand the network architecture, taking on more switches and increasing connections to, say, Harbor Walk and the new North Campus. But extending the network is the least of this team’s worries: It can plan for those projects. It’s the constant repairs that challenge them. “You come to expect the unexpected,” says Bennett. “It doesn’t matter how well you plan, you can count on something breaking.” Even at night. Even on weekends. Even on holidays. Two winter breaks ago, for example, there was a major power outage in one of the circuits, causing repercussions all over campus. Bennett spent most of his break on campus, sometimes working 15-hour days. His wife won’t let him forget it. Although he’s on call 24/7, it’s not just emergencies that have Bennett on campus when everyone else is home. The majority of the team’s work is done when students aren’t around, with a good chunk of it scheduled between December commencement and Christmas: “While everybody else gets time off, that’s when we’re getting it all done behind the scenes.” Behind the scenes is where Bennett likes to be – he’s a quiet force, quick to deflect attention, even quicker to praise his team. “The amount of equipment is a lot for such a small team, but they make it fun and easy,” he says, noting that he always tries to match his team members’ varied skill sets to the task at hand. “I think taking the time to learn people is important. When you know people, you know how they get their work done and what they need from you in order to do their best work,” Bennett says. “I believe we do the best when we understand each other and how we can help each other.” At the end of the day, this is what keeps us all going – this sense that we’re working together for a greater purpose, a greater connection. Thus, Bennett’s workday ends the same way it begins – with visits to each of his people, checking in, offering support: Do you have everything you need to do your job? “If they do,” he says with a smile, “I consider that a success.” — Alicia Lutz ’98 SUMMER 2015 |
The cultivator Officially, Marlene Williams’ job is a crew leader of the College’s campus grounds department. Really, though, she’s an artist.
hen you walk through campus, you can’t miss Marlene Williams’ masterpieces. There are all the hanging baskets suspended above piazzas, popping with petunias. There are the black pots sitting along Cougar Mall, dripping with ivy and assorted colors of calibrachoa, or Million Bells. There are the two large planters standing behind Addlestone Library, each holding a dwarf palmetto and teeming with pansies, snapdragons and dianthus. These are just a few of the more than 150 flower containers that Williams plants and maintains around the College. One day this spring, the affable Williams stood beneath the shade of an oak tree off Coming Street, preparing to plant a container destined for a shady area of the President’s Garden. “They call it potting soil, but it’s dirt to me,” says Williams as she fills the container bottom. She next adds fertilizer. “It’s like mixing up a nice little cake,” says Williams, stirring the soil with her hands. Then comes the fun part: picking the plants. Williams makes three depressions in the soil before sinking three eye-catching coleus plants into the container. One coleus is handsomely bloodand copper-colored. The other two are maroon and green. “It grows big, it spreads,” she says of the plant. “I just like it.” Three waxy, red-flowered begonias come next, followed by yellow torenia, which blooms well in shade. “I like a burst of colors. I like light, not darkness,” she notes. Williams is careful not to crowd the pot or pack the soil, leaving room for young plants to grow. After planting a few more flowers, she adds the final touch before watering: non-toxic slug poison. “They got to eat,” she concedes. “I just don’t want them to eat my work.” Eliminating a slug is about as mean as the mild-mannered Williams gets. She’s all about harmony and understanding. “My main objective in life is to love people, respect people and have them love me,” says Williams. “I try to keep a clean heart and don’t wish harm on anyone.” Williams was born on James Island and moved to New York City with her mother when she was 6 years old. About four years later, after returning to South Carolina, her mother passed away from a brain tumor. Williams then moved back and forth between older siblings’ households in South Carolina and New York before graduating from James Island High School, where she was a star on the basketball and track and field teams. She moved away to Charlotte for college, desiring independence, then moved back home when she found out independence wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. She finished her education at Trident Technical College and then had careers in ship welding and port operations. For 15 years, she ran her own ice cream truck business. |
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Meanwhile, she’s raised three children: two boys and a girl. Williams’ older kids live in South Carolina, but her baby boy, Husain, is up in New York, singing under the performance name Mello Deas. “I ain’t braggin’, but he’s good,” says Williams. “I just wish and pray every day that someone will listen and see how good he is.” One day, back around 1997, Williams applied to the College’s grounds department, despite having no landscaping experience. She was hired, but was quickly warned that she’d receive no pity on account of her gender. “You come here on a man’s job, you’re going to do a man’s job,” one co-worker told her when she started. Indeed, Williams was sent to cut grass and weed-whack, no matter the often hot and humid Charleston climate. These days she still works hard, patrolling campus with the rest of the grounds crew during their 7 a.m. “police call,” in which they pick up trash and cigarette butts. After that, the crew meets and divvies up assignments for the day. In May, the grounds crew works particularly hard to make the campus beautiful for two big events: A Charleston Affair and the spring commencement ceremonies, which are held on subsequent weekends. Walking through campus, Williams tidies up pots she planted months earlier. Plants inevitably get leggy or start to wither when the weather changes, requiring their removal. Williams pulls them from the pots unceremoniously. On a campus as heavily landscaped as the College, there’s always more to do. Things look good, but they could always look better, at least according to the exacting eyes of the grounds crew. When work is over each day, the 60-year-old Williams is tired. “It’s a lot of lifting and bending. You’re putting a lot of stress on your body, really,” she says. “But you just keep on plucking because you know you gotta do it. That’s life.” Williams is not a complainer. She’s had ups and downs in life, but she does not whine, does not make excuses. When other people come to her to talk in confidence, she listens and sympathizes, but also reminds them that obstacles are things to be overcome. “Lift your head up,” she says. “Somebody has it worse than you.” Looking ahead, Williams hopes to build her own home on family land on James Island. “That would be a big goal for me. That would be a blessing,” she says. “I think I’m going to get it one day. I don’t know how or when, but it will happen. It will definitely happen.” In the meantime, Williams communes five days a week with flowers and shrubs, adding bursts of color to a campus that everyone can enjoy and admire. “I don’t know if they feel my spirit or not,” she says of her leafy companions, “but I feel theirs.” — Jason Ryan
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The guiding light The smile and can-do spirit of Markus Williams of the Physical Plant are as bright as the lights he keeps burning around campus.
arkus Williams backs his green Honda CRV out of his driveway in Hanahan a little after 6 a.m. most weekdays. When it’s your job to make sure the lights are on, the day starts early. As an electrician, Williams deals with a lot more than lights. If it relies on the campus power plant and if it’s ever needed repair, there’s a good chance Williams has worked on it. He joined the Physical Plant department in 2008. Before that, he plied his trade in construction. When the recession hit, he went looking for steadier work. His clipboard holds a stack of work orders, each identifying a different electrical problem around campus. These printouts are a map of Williams’ day. Each promises a new challenge. Some – say, an expired light bulb – he’ll fix in a jiffy. Others – perhaps an issue somewhere in the underground maze of wires snaking around campus – are more complicated and may require several days of attention. He’s not seen a day yet where there were no work orders. Students always take priority. So Williams and his colleagues work around class schedules. He calls the registrar’s office to find out if a room is in use. Still, after unlocking a door, he opens it a crack and peeks inside, just to be sure. All clear. Williams likes working around students. They remind him of his own children. Tonight is his daughter’s high school senior prom. That alone makes this papa proud – that his daughter is growing up and will soon be headed to college. But there’s more good news: Williams’ son, a freshman at Louisburg College in North Carolina, just finished classes and arrived home last night. He is taking his little sister to her prom. That’s the kind of thing that’ll bring a tear to a father’s eye. Williams and his wife also have a 6-year-old son. When Williams attends night classes for electrical engineering, the little guy is often asleep by the time his dad pulls into the driveway. The routine starts over again the next day. When he gets his work orders first thing in the morning, Williams prioritizes the jobs based on when he can gain entry. Some buildings are easier to access than others. There’s rarely an empty classroom in Maybank Hall during the day. “If I see Maybank, I go there first,” he says. There are no work orders for Maybank today. A public safety officer doing her nightly rounds has noted, among other routine deficiencies, a burned-out streetlight along Physicians Promenade. Williams carefully climbs a ladder, pops the top on the street lamp, removes the bulb and checks the circuit. Both check out fine, so he has a pretty good idea where the problem is. There’s a switch on the light post that overrides the sensor that turns the light on at night and off in the morning. Sure enough, it’s been flipped. Problem solved.
The electricians often work in teams. Today, Williams is paired with Herbert Frasier Jr. Earlier this morning, both attended a breakfast reception honoring Frasier’s father, Herbert Frasier Sr., who is retiring from the Physical Plant after 42 years on the job. That’s a long time to work at the same place, Williams says. But he can understand why some people would stick around that long, if they liked their work. “I love this job because you meet a lot of people,” he says. “There are always new faces – always something different.” If there’s an electrical problem on campus in the middle of the night, on a weekend or holiday, the on-call electrician will get a ring at home. It’s happened to Williams a couple of times. Early one winter morning, a public safety officer smelled smoke in the Robert Scott Small Building. Williams knew his number was up when he saw the incoming number on his caller ID. It turned out that the heat had recently been cranked on, and it burned off some dust as it warmed the vents. Well, at least traffic was light at 1 a.m. Williams wears a maroon long-sleeved shirt and a black baseball cap that says NY. Williams is not from New York. He grew up in Berkeley County’s Huger community. But he’s visited the Big Apple and enjoyed it, so he wears the hat most days. He walks down a hallway on the second floor of the Lightsey Center, his steel-toed boots squeaking on the polished floor and a ring of keys jangling from his belt loop. A screwdriver and pliers poke out the back right pocket of his black work pants. A row of electric outlets in a lab has no power, the work order says. There are dozens of outlets around the room, and the work order doesn’t specify which ones lack juice. Starting in a corner of the room, Williams patiently checks each outlet with a voltage meter. A red light and a beep on the pen-like device signal if the outlet is good. After identifying the faulty outlets, he walks down the hallway to an electrical panel and resets the breaker. Then back to the lab. A computer monitor plugged into one of the previously dead outlets flickers to life. Another job complete. Williams heads over to the School of Education, Health, and Human Performance Building on Wentworth Street. A row of safety lights in a stairwell is not working. If there were a power outage, the battery-powered safety lights would cut on to help ensure safe passage out of the building. The way Williams sees it, these are not just some lights in a back stairwell in a remote corner of campus. Those beacons could aid in an emergency. He takes that seriously. His daughter is headed off to college in the fall. He will worry about her safety, as fathers do. He hopes her university has a good electrician. — Ron Menchaca ’98 SUMMER 2015 |
The good cop While most of us may hop on a bicycle for exercise or recreational use, for Officer Richard Gillard ’06 (M.A.) of Public Safety, riding a bike is an essential part of keeping the College safe and sound.
he world looks a little different at 6:45 a.m. For most of us, we’re just revving up for the day, maybe hitting “sleep” for the last time on our alarm clocks or trying to get the kids ready for school or perhaps starting our own half-awake, mostlyasleep commuter’s march to work. At 6:45 a.m. on campus, Officer Richard Gillard ’06 (M.A.) is seated in the Department of Public Safety’s command room on St. Philip Street listening to his daily briefing. It’s a quick 15-minute meeting. An opportunity to learn of any issues from the previous night shift as well as a rundown of the day’s 12-hour patrol assignments. Fortunately, it’s business as usual. Gillard glances up at the wall-mounted map, which divides the campus into four sections: Areas 10, 20, 30 and 40. Within those areas, blocks of campus are color coded by shades of blue, green, yellow, orange and red. Today, he will crisscross the persimmon orange portion of the map: Area 30, covering Bull Street south to Beaufain Street. At 7 a.m., Gillard pulls out his bike, makes a few adjustments to his gear and then heads to his first mandatory stop: Starbucks. There’s not much of a crowd yet – no students or faculty members lining up for their frappuccinos or espressos. He orders his usual, a tall blonde, because it delivers a 330-milligram caffeine jolt. It’s like an adrenaline shot to the heart. A few sips down, the caffeine dispersing the last remnants of the mind’s morning fuzziness, he heads off to his beat. This is his favorite time of day. Everything is quiet. Well, mostly quiet. There are the sounds of distant, early-morning delivery trucks, brakes squealing and the beep-beep-beeping as the heavy vehicles ramble in reverse. There’s also a trilling birdsong, a soft, melodic accompaniment that will later be drowned out in the action of the day. But what Gillard loves most are the voices of his colleagues: the scattered laughter and animated conversations of the residence life team, grounds crew and Physical Plant employees. In this stillness, before the campus is fully awake, it’s a chance to catch up and hear what’s going on in different areas of the College. It’s something of a secret world, at this time of day, that only a privileged few get to experience. It also feels different. There’s a crispness in the air that will soon melt away with the high temperatures and high humidity. But right now, it’s cool, and the campus is awash in warm colors from the rising sun, acting as a spotlight on Calhoun Street. Gillard, his bright yellow uniform reflecting in the morning light, pedals down this street that bisects not only the campus, but the entire Charleston peninsula. He can’t help but think how this street has also cut across his own life: “I guess I’ve never left Calhoun. I was born in Roper Hospital, which is still down the street, then later went to Bishop England – in the spot where
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the Addlestone Library is now – took my graduate history classes right there in Maybank Hall, and now I’m here. Funny how things work out.” As a student of history, Gillard appreciates how things unfold, how seemingly random events build upon random events – only in retrospect does a pattern emerge. “Everything in my life is by accident,” he laughs. Perhaps. Or maybe the pattern in his life is not fully evident quite yet. Gillard has taken a circuitous route to this job, with stops as a boarding agent for container ships, a logistics coordinator for the port and a six-year stint with the U.S. National Guard. With a desire to get into law enforcement, Gillard hadn’t considered a career in campus public safety until one day, leaving his daughter’s ballet recital on King Street, he happened to see two officers on patrol. It was a light bulb moment for him. And seven years later, the light is still burning bright. However, the life of a bicycle officer is not easy. “It’s cardio all day,” Gillard points out. “As you can imagine, there’s a lot of riding. I easily pedal 25 to 30 miles a day. Every day is like a marathon.” That’s why he took the odometer off his bike soon after he started: Gillard didn’t want to know how many miles he logged each day. His aching lower back, his stiffening knees and his hands – tense from holding onto the vibrating handlebars – were the only reminders he needed at shift’s end. And a mileage number will only weigh him down – like the 20 pounds he carries on his uniform: the vest, the belt, the notebook. Not knowing his mileage is a little mental trick he plays to keep himself as fresh in the morning as he needs to be closer to 7:00 at night. Because each day is vastly different. Maybe it’s trapping a squirrel that’s wreaking havoc in a professor’s office or getting somebody out of a stuck elevator or jumpstarting a stalled car or responding first on a scene when someone is hurt. But even within that variety, there is a routine. At each class change, officers find a spot in their area that has the heaviest foot traffic. They understand that it’s important to be visible. Because for public safety officers, service greatly outweighs enforcement – the citations, the tickets. And that’s evident right now, as a stream of students, faculty and staff files by Gillard, perched on his bike. While some are lost in their workdays or concentrating on their next classes, many others smile and call out to “Officer Bubba,” as he is known to most on campus. Seeing him there brings them a peace of mind that there is someone nearby who can help, if needed. “That’s what makes this job so great,” says Gillard, leaning forward on his bike. “We’re here – rain, sleet or shine – always ready to lend a hand.” — Mark Berry
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by Jason Ryan
It is an unwelcome fate, perhaps only better than dying in combat or suffering severe injury. Captured soldiers who are made into prisoners of war often endure humiliation, abuse and neglect during indefinite wartime detentions. In a best-case scenario, POWs are treated humanely despite the curtailing of their freedom. In a worst case, POWs are tortured, starved, enslaved or executed by their captors. Throughout American history, a number of men associated with the College have spent portions of their lives as POWs. During the Revolutionary War, the British imprisoned many of South Carolina’s most prominent citizens and patriots. Some of these patriots later became the College’s earliest supporters and trustees. In the Civil War, one of the Confederacy’s youngest officers, Lt. Henry Elliott Shepherd, was captured at the Battle of Gettysburg and imprisoned on Johnson’s Island, Ohio. Twenty years later, Shepherd became president of the College. In World War II, Sgt. Alvin Skardon ’33 was captured by German forces and shuttled between prison camps until war’s end. And, in 1967, a sailor named Steve Robin was aboard the USS Pueblo spy ship when it was captured by North Korea. After his release, he eventually took classes at the College. Each of these POWs had different experiences in confinement. Some suffered indignity only; others were routinely beaten and denied sufficient food and clothing. None knew when, or even if, they might return home to the company of loved ones. Here are their stories.
Thomas Heyward, Arthur Middleton, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and Edward Rutledge, Patriots Conflict: The American Revolution Capture: Charleston, S.C. August 27, 1780 Imprisonment: Charleston and St. Augustine, Fla. In May 1780, following the month-long Siege of Charleston, more than 5,000 American troops surrendered to British forces during the American Revolutionary War. For the British, the successful siege posed some problems, chief among them, how to accommodate such a large number of prisoners of war. The British solution, in effect, was to scatter the prisoners, with some soldiers and unranked militiamen kept aboard prison ships in Charleston Harbor or within city barracks that would, after war’s end, serve as the first classrooms for the College. American officers were treated in superior fashion. The British permitted officers to return to their homes on parole so long as they promised not to cause trouble. Such was the fate of College founding father and framer of the Constitution Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, who was paroled to his Snee Farm Plantation. Other officers, such as fellow College founding fathers and signees of the Declaration of Independence Thomas Heyward and Edward Rutledge, were also paroled to their homes and allowed to walk freely about Charleston.
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More than three months after the fall of Charleston, the British suddenly arrested 29 of these officers and transported them by ship to St. Augustine, Fla. British commanders claimed that the American prisoners of war had violated their parole by continuing to instigate rebellion. One of these prisoners, Josiah Smith Jr., complained in a diary of “the Severe manner in which we were taken up and the Scandalous method made use of in conveying us from our Habitations.” Despite the patriots’ protests, one could consider the British merciful in their punishment. “The British had to do something,” says Carl Borick, director of The Charleston Museum and author of Relieve Us of This Burthen: American Prisoners of War in the Revolutionary South, 1780–1782. “Really all the British were doing was getting them out of their hair. They could have been a lot worse.” Upon arrival in St. Augustine, the American officers were allowed to rent homes within the city and walk freely within the heart of town. Though prisoners of war, the American officers, including Heyward, Rutledge and fellow College founding father and signer of the Declaration of Independence Arthur Middleton, who arrived in St. Augustine later, were allowed many privileges. They enjoyed their own quarters, ate good food, kept gardens, drank rum and were allowed to write and receive letters. The officers were even permitted to bring slaves, who would fish and catch oysters for their masters. Despite these comforts, American officers were very sensitive to slights by the British and the Loyalists. According to Smith’s diary, the officers were incensed when they were made to answer
(left to right) Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, captain of the 1st S.C. (Continental Army).
The Siege of Charleston by Alonzo Chappel (painted c. 1860). The siege took place in 1780 and resulted in the capture of more than 5,000 patriots. Edward Rutledge, lieutenant colonel of the Charlestown Battalion of Artillery. Thomas Heyward, captain of the Charlestown Battalion of Artillery. Arthur Middleton, member of the local militia.
American Revolutionary Josiah Smith Jr. on the journey he and some of the College’s founding fathers endured on a ship to St. Augustine: In going up to town, the Schooner unluckily grounded on the edge of a large Sand bank, over which the tide set so strong, and the coming home of her Anchor, we could not get her off, was therefore obliged to spend a very disagreeable night there with very little Sleep, among Sheep, Hoggs [sic] and Poultry, most of us being put to the necessity of laying on Deck, in the Sails, and in a large Boat alongside. On having to submit to a twice-a-day roll call: This we cou’d not but look upon as a kind of fresh Insult to our Persons, as it not only carried a suspicion of our Honour, but also put many of us to the inconvenience for dancing attendance in the warm part of the day, when we woul’d rather be retired to our
apartments, there to improve ourselves by Reading &c.– however humiliating such a measure must be to us, after some debate upon the matter, considering we were intirely [sic] power of the Commandant, and that our Noncompliance might Induce him to plague us more in some other way, We in the General Agreed to comply with the requisition, provided we were Served with the Order in Writing.
to a twice-a-day roll call and when British troops mocked them by playing and singing “Yankee Doodle” during “druken froliks [sic]” through town. In July 1781, about a year after many of the officers’ arrests and transport to St. Augustine, nearly all American prisoners of war in the South were released as part of a prisoner exchange between the United States and Britain. More than 60 American officers in St. Augustine were taken by ship to Philadelphia, where they could reunite with their families. As a condition of the prisoner exchange, the South Carolina revolutionaries and their families were prohibited from returning to Charleston.
On passing the holidays in captivity: Being Christmas day a very good dinner of Roasted Turkeys & Pig, Corn’d Beef, Ham, Plumb pudding, and pumpkin Tarts &c was provided by our Mess. And having Invited the Mess at Parole Corner to partake thereof, we dined together Thirty in number very heartily, and many of the Company as merrily Spent the Evening by a variety of Songs &c. On the relatively comfortable conditions of imprisonment in St. Augustine: The weather has been exceeding agreeable, some times a little Cool, but in general Warm, indeed very little Cold hath been felt here all this Winter, and have seen Ice but once, early in January. Vegetation here comes on rapidly, the Orange Trees thro’ught the Town being in bloom most of the present Month, and what is very remarkable, not only Blossoms, but Green and Ripe fruit are now to be seen on many of those Trees. NOTE: Josiah Smith’s full account of his captivity is printed in the South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine, beginning with Vol. 33, No. 1, January 1932.
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Lt. Henry Elliott Shepherd, Confederate States Army Conflict: American Civil War Capture: Battle of Gettysburg Gettysburg, Pa., July 3, 1863 Imprisonment: Johnson’s Island, Ohio Henry E. Shepherd served as the College’s president from 1882 to 1897, increasing student enrollment, insisting on the continued teaching of Classics and overseeing the rebuilding of Randolph Hall and other buildings damaged in the earthquake of 1886. A native of North Carolina, he had previously been superintendent of education in Baltimore, and, before that, at age 17, one of the youngest Confederate officers during the American Civil War. In 1863 Shepherd was captured at the Battle of Gettysburg. The wounded 19-year-old officer was soon taken by Union troops to a cotton warehouse in Baltimore that had been made into a makeshift hospital. After recuperating sufficiently, Shepherd was sent to a Union prison camp on Johnson’s Island, Ohio, within Lake Erie. The many prisoners who failed at escaping, Shepherd notes in his memoir, were “subjected to the most degrading punishments in the form of servile labor, scarcely adapted to the status of convicts.” At war’s end, Shepherd was freed. Within three years he married and moved to Baltimore, where he began a career in education that would culminate with his presidency at the College. Beyond being a respected administrator, Shepherd was a highly
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regarded scholar and author, having been educated at Davidson College, the N.C. Military Institute in Charlotte and the University of Virginia. Shepherd’s books include History of the English Language, Life of Robert Edward Lee and A Commentary Upon Tennyson’s In Memoriam, which Shepherd wrote with the help of the great British poet himself. Shepherd died in 1929 and is buried in Baltimore. Shepherd On his medical care in Baltimore after being wounded and captured at Gettysburg: The immense (hospital) structure was dark, gloomy, without adequate ventilation, devoid of sanitary hygienic appliances or conveniences, and pervaded at all times by the pestilential exhalations which arose from the neighboring docks. During the seven weeks of my sojourn here, I rarely tasted a glass of cold water, but drank, in the broiling heat of the dog days, the warm, impure draught that flowed from the hydrant adjoining the ward in which I lay. My food was mush and molasses with hard bread, served three times a day. The use of anaesthetics, which had been known to the world for nearly fifteen years, was awkward, crude and imperfect. The surgeons of that time seemed to be timorous in the application of their own agency, and the carnival of horrors which was revealed on more than one occasion in the operating room, might have engaged the loftiest power of tragic portrayal displayed by the author of “The Inferno.” The gangrene was cut from my wound, as a butcher would cut a chop or a steak in the Lexington market; it may have been providential that I was delivered from the anaesthetic blundering then in vogue, and “recovered in spite of
(left to right) Lt. Henry Elliott Shepherd, captured on Culp’s Hill, Battle of Gettysburg, July 3. Rough sketch of U.S. military prison on Johnson’s Island that appeared in Shepherd’s memoir: Narrative of Prison Life at Baltimore and Johnson’s Island, Ohio. Aerial view of Johnson’s Island, c. 1950. Today the island is home to private residences and a marina. Union guards of the Hoffman Battalion at the Johnson’s Island prison. Confederate Stockade Cemetery on Johnson’s Island. More than 200 Confederate officers and soldiers are buried here. Henry Elliott Shepherd (front row, beard), the 12th president of the College (1882–1897), pictured with the student body of 1890–91.
my physician.” Consideration originating in sensibility, or even in humanity, found no place in West Hospital.
On His imprisonment on Johnson’s Island: The rations upon which life was maintained for the latter months of my imprisonment were distributed every day at noon, and were as follows: To each prisoner one-half loaf of hard bread, and a piece of salt pork, in size not sufficient for an ordinary meal. In taste the latter was almost nauseating, but it was devoured because there was no choice other than to eat it, or endure the tortures of prolonged starvation. ... Vegetable food was almost unknown, and as a natural result, death from such diseases as scurvy, carried more than one Confederate to a grave in the island cemetery just outside the prison walls. I never shall forget the sense of gratitude with which I secured, by some lucky chance, a raw turnip, and in an advanced stage of physical exhaustion, eagerly devoured it, as I supported myself by holding on to the steps of my barrack. No language of which I am capable is adequate to portray the agonies of immitigable hunger. The rations which were distributed at noon each day, were expected to sustain life untill [sic] the noon of the day following. During this interval, many of us became so crazed by hunger that the prescribed allowance of pork and bread was devoured ravenously as soon as received. Then followed an unbroken fast until the noon of the day succeeding. For six or seven months I subsisted upon one meal in 24 hours, and that was composed of food so coarse and unpalatable as to appeal only to a stomach which was eating out its own life. So terrible at times were the pangs of appetite, that some of the prisoners
who were fortunate enough to secure the kindly services of a rat-terrier, were glad to appropriate the animals which were thus captured, cooking and eating them to allay the fierce agony of unabating hunger. Although I frequently saw the rats pursued and caught, I never tasted their flesh when cooked, for I was so painfully affected by nausea, as to be rendered incapable of retaining the ordinary prison fare. I had become so weakened by months of torture from starvation that when I slept I dreamed of luxurious banquets, while the saliva poured from my lips in a continuous flow, until my soldier shirt was saturated with the copious discharge. The winters in the latitude of Johnson’s Island were doubly severe to men born and raised in the Southern States. Moreover, the prisoners possessed neither clothing nor blankets intended for such weather as we experienced. During the winter of 1863–64, I was confined in one room with seventy other Confederates. The building was not ceiled [sic], but simply weather-boarded. It afforded most inadequate protection against the cold or snow, which at times beat in upon my bunk with pitiless severity. The room was provided with one antiquated stove to preserve 70 men from intense suffering when the thermometer stood at fifteen and twenty degrees below zero. The fuel given us was frequently insufficient, and in our desperation, we burned every available chair or box, and even parts of our bunks found their way into the stove. During this time of horrors, some of us maintained life by forming a circle and dancing with the energy of dispair [sic]. NOTE: Shepherd’s recollections of capture are contained in his Narrative of Prison Life at Baltimore and Johnson’s Island, Ohio.
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Sgt. Alvin W. Skardon ’33, U.S. Army Conflict: World War II Capture: Battle of the Bulge, Schönberg, Germany, December 19, 1944 Imprisonment: German POW camps at Mühlberg, Furstenberg and Luckenwalde Following his graduation from the College, Alvin Skardon ’33 worked for eight years at the Lady Lafayette Hotel in Walterboro, S.C., where he was a manager. In summer 1941, Skardon was drafted into the Army during World War II, serving in the infantry, chemical warfare and field artillery. In November 1944, Skardon was sent to Europe as part of the 106th Army Division, which was occupying territory on the border of Belgium and Germany. Skardon and his fellow soldiers were under-equipped and ill-trained, but Army planners believed they were well insulated from a German attack and would see little fighting throughout the cold winter. The Army planners were wrong. A week after arriving on the front lines, German forces began a daring counterattack through the Ardennes Forest, beginning the Battle of the Bulge. American forces suffered approximately 90,000 casualties in the ensuing weeks, including 23,000 soldiers who were captured or went missing. Many of these American POWs were soon marched deeper into Germany, away from the fighting. Eventually Skardon and his comrades were placed into train cars, which were very cold, very cramped and littered with horse droppings. Food, and
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especially water, were scarce. The POWs were placed in Stalag IV-B, a prison camp outside Mühlberg, filled with British POWs. After two weeks, the American prisoners were transferred by train to Stalag III-B near Furstenberg. Two months later the prisoners were marched toward Berlin to Stalag III-A at Luckenwalde. Here the prisoners slept beneath large tents and received extremely sparse rations that left them near starving, though they occasionally received food parcels from the Red Cross. Skardon surmised that the Germans deprived them of substantial meals to keep them weak and easier to control, yet were careful not to starve the prisoners entirely, which might spark a revolt. Beyond being constantly hungry, Skardon and his comrades were infested with lice and had no access to bath facilities. Though conditions were miserable, the Germans did not otherwise mistreat the American prisoners. In fact, Skardon says the prisoners became “chummy” with the guards, many of whom were old men who were veterans of World War I. The guards would trade food for cigarettes with the prisoners and warn them before a German officer was to make an inspection of the camp. Skardon says these guards knew Germany’s days were numbered and the war would soon be over. In May 1945 Russian soldiers liberated the camp. Skardon had been a prisoner for six months and was emaciated. When Skardon returned to the United States, he discovered his brother, who had been a prisoner of war in Japanese-controlled Burma, had also made it home safely. After the war, Skardon earned his master’s degree and Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago, where he taught for a number of years. Skardon also taught at Youngstown State University in Ohio. He died in 2002.
(left to right) Alvin W. Skardon as a sophomore at the College in 1931. American soldiers in the Ardennes Forest during the Battle of the Bulge, winter of 1944–45. Captured American soldiers, the Battle of the Bulge. Captured soldiers of the 106th Infantry Division, U.S. Army (to which Skardon belonged), on the front page of a German newspaper. The prisoners were being marched to Stalag III-A in Luckenwalde, Germany. Allied prisoners of war inside Stalag III-A in Luckenwalde, Germany. Alvin Skardon, a professor of urban history at Youngstown State University, where he taught from 1957 to 1983.
great difference. In most cases you were not stopped until you got to the Swiss border, which was almost impossible to get through. If you saw the guard come in, the first person who saw him was supposed to shout “Air raid! Whoooooo!” and go like that. The guards always seemed to think that was some way of showing them honor, because one day, the guard came in and no one said that because they didn’t see him, and he yelled out, “Ja, Ja. It’s me! Air raid! Whooooo!” Apparently he thought that was something that should be done.
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Skardon on his experiences in German POW camps, or stalags: Conditions were rather terrible. We had to sleep on the ground, just straw on the ground. We had thin blankets. We had minimal rations. The Swiss Red Cross complained again that we were not being fed enough for an average person to live on. At the second prison camp that we went to, the Germans put us in a big cooler that was so cold that we had to walk around all the time to keep from freezing. Then when we got too tired, about twelve fellows would just sleep in a bundle with our overcoats over us. We got what the Germans call coffee but it was definitely Ersatz, that is, artificial coffee, and it tasted terrible and did not have the bracing effect that coffee usually gives. That was breakfast. For lunch we had usually a piece of bread with some butter and for dinner we had usually six small potatoes and a cup of soup. I managed to borrow books almost every day and read them. But when you were reading you had to walk around. You couldn’t remain seated, it was too cold. You would freeze if you remained seated. Our contact with the Germans was almost exclusively through the one guard, an old man who had charge of four hundred prisoners. And he just walked around during the day with his rifle slung over his shoulder and, incidentally, we never found out whether the rifle was actually loaded or whether he had bullets or not. It was easy to escape and easy to get through Germany. There were so many different nationalities in Germany and so many different uniforms that one more uniform made no
On being liberated by the Russian Army: We were marched down to a hut and there were two lines: one, English prisoners, and one, American prisoners. And there were Russians inside registering us. We heard the English prisoners were furious. It turned out we were being registered by Russian WACs (Women’s Army Corps) while they were being registered by Russian men soldiers. They were saying, “The bloody Yanks, they always get the women and the liquor.” Later on when the Russians liberated our camp, they just lined up all the men who were Russian prisoners and asked who had collaborated with the Germans, and if you were accused of collaborating with the Germans, they just stood you up against the wall and they shot the whole bunch down with machine guns … without any trial or investigation at all. NOTE: Skardon’s recollections of World War II were documented by Youngstown State University’s Oral History Program through interviews in 1975 and 1978.
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Petty Officer 3rd Class Steven J. Robin, U.S. Navy Conflict: The USS Pueblo Incident Capture: Off North Korea, January 23, 1968 Imprisonment: North Korea Steve Robin attended the College in the 1970s, about a decade after he and 82 other sailors were imprisoned by North Korea following the capture of the American spy ship the USS Pueblo. Robin, who died at age 62 in 2008, was a communications technician aboard the Pueblo, helping collect and analyze foreign electronic communications in a secure area within the ship. In January 1968, the Pueblo was cruising off the coast of North Korea, eavesdropping on electronic communications, when North Korean sub chasers and torpedo boats suddenly surrounded the boat. The Pueblo claimed it was in international waters, but North Korea said otherwise. When the Pueblo attempted to maneuver away from the North Korean ships, a sub chaser opened fire on the American vessel, killing one American sailor. Crewmembers aboard the Pueblo then began to destroy classified material as the outnumbered and outgunned American ship readied itself for surrender. After capture, the Pueblo was escorted into the North Korean port of Wonsan, where the crew was then transferred to a train and taken to the capital of Pyongyang, where they were imprisoned in a building the Americans nicknamed The Barn. The Barn was not a place of pastoral pleasures, but rather pitiless
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punishment. There the crew was interrogated and tortured, even though many of them were clueless to the spy operations that had occurred within secure areas of the ship. Seaman Earl Phares, who was a boatswain’s mate, says he and his fellow crewmen were forced to sit in chairs while they were beaten. Their captors whacked them with plastic flippers and twoby-fours. The North Koreans delivered karate kicks and smashed the American’s fingers with rifle butts. Robin, meanwhile, was perhaps subjected to even more extreme torture because of his role as a communications technician, or spy, aboard the ship. Phares feels confident stating that Robin “got the living shit beat out of him,” as did many of the crew. Robin’s brother, Sherwin Robin, says his brother was made to walk on his knees on a rutted, wood floor, sometimes while holding his ankles. Steve Robin’s knees turned bloody on the floor and his skin grated away, revealing bone. When he stumbled, Sherwin Robin says, guards hit his brother with a two-by-four. After about two months, the Pueblo crew was moved to a barracks within a North Korean army base. It was here that Robin, Phares and Petty Officer 3rd Class Alvin Plucker became roommates with five other men. The beatings continued, and conditions continued to be oppressive and miserable. Food was horrible. The Pueblo crew was given three meals a day, each usually consisting of some combination of turnip soup, turnip greens, hard bread and hot, oily water that tasted fishy. “It was nasty,” says Phares. Sometimes, says Plucker, the men received something like catfish that the Americans nicknamed “sewer trout.” Other times, North Koreans were seen to urinate in the Americans’ food.
(left to right) Petty Officer 3rd Class Steven Robin, upon his release from North Korea. The crew of the USS Pueblo in 1969. Steve Robin (front row, wearing glasses) with his cellmates, including Alvin Plucker and Earl Phares. Steve Robin (left) playing chess with Alvin Plucker during captivity. USS Pueblo docked in Pyongyang, North Korea. Today, it is a tourist site. Steve Robin (1946–2008) at a reunion of the USS Pueblo Veterans Association.
Most famously, the Americans routinely flipped their captors the middle finger, especially when they were photographed as part of North Korean propaganda efforts. When the North Koreans asked what the one-fingered salute meant, the Americans explained it was the Hawaiian good luck sign. Eventually, the captors discovered the true meaning of the gesture. Infuriated, they began beating the crew with renewed vigor, leading the Americans to label this time period “Hell Week.” The constant beatings, poor food and fear of death (the North Koreans conducted mock executions on some) caused much anxiety, making the Americans irritable and short-tempered, even with each other. But as time went on conditions improved to some extent, with the prisoners being allowed to attend a circus, for example, and share, among four people, treats like an apple or a piece of bread with butter. Sometimes the Americans would squirrel away an apple to be enjoyed later, only to discover it missing. When they learned the guards were stealing their fruit, they began urinating on the apples and placing small, glass shards in the flesh, hoping the North Koreans would ingest the contaminated food. “After a while,” Plucker says, “the apple stealing stopped.” On December 23, 1968, following an apology by the United States, the Pueblo crew was released by North Korea and allowed to walk across the Bridge of No Return at Panmunjom, passing through the Korean Demilitarized Zone into South Korea. The crew of the Pueblo had spent 11 months in captivity. The Pueblo, however, remains in North Korean hands and is the only commissioned Navy vessel held captive by a foreign power. The Pueblo is docked in Pyongyang and is a tourist attraction.
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Predictably, the men suffered severe malnutrition, each losing a third of their body weight: Robin dropped from 210 pounds to 147; Phares withered from 180 pounds to 120; and Plucker, already a slight man at 131 pounds, was reduced to 98 pounds. Diarrhea was a common ailment, and worsened by the fact that the sailors were deprived of toilet paper. The captives improvised by separating layers of cardboard and fashioning small squares of the coarse fiber to be able to clean themselves, albeit in painful fashion. A trip to the bathroom also required a dose of courage, as guards often kicked the Pueblo crew when they ventured to the toilet, as if the sailors were traveling through a gauntlet. There were other humiliations. The North Koreans gave American sailors penknives to cut the grass on a soccer field outside the barracks. While doing this, some crew ate any earthworms they found, says Plucker, since they were so hungry. The crew was allowed to read books and occasionally watch movies, though the books and films were all propaganda pieces denouncing the alleged imperialism of America. Phares would prop a book in front of his face and go to sleep behind it. It was one way to escape the incessant boredom. “Sleep was our time away from Korea,” says Phares. But sleep was only a partial reprieve. Bedbugs ravaged the men, resulting in blood-spattered bed sheets. Plucker moaned when he slept on account of the pain caused by the many beatings that bruised his ribs. Guards poked the feet of the sleeping American with bayonets to get him to quiet down. The Americans retaliated against their captors subtly, mocking them in various ways the North Koreans could not appreciate.
Sarah Jones â€™09 had a way of making things better â€“ of inspiring people and bringing them together. She had the kind of bright energy that woke people up, got them moving. And, while she may no longer be with us, that energy is still going strong, pulling together a nationwide movement for better safety standards in the film industry.
t was just the beginning. That time when a sweet buzz of anticipation, hope, excitement still clings. Things were wide open, possibilities in every direction. And she was ready to roll, ready for action. Anybody could see it: Sarah Jones ’09 was just getting started. Jones’ adventure in the film industry began in 2007, when she interned with Lifetime’s Army Wives. She immediately became known on set for her smile and her laugh, and for her dedicated work ethic and her bright, eager attitude. She had a kind of purposeful enthusiasm – the kind of energy that translates into appreciation for the little things and a determination to do her best work. And her energy was contagious. She made veterans of the industry remember why they loved this job, and she gave the newbies something to aspire to.
She was, by all accounts, a rising star. “Sarah had an intuitiveness to her. She had a curiosity. She kept her head down and got the job done,” says Stephen Yetman ’83, a location manager who worked on Army Wives all seven seasons. He recalls being proud of Jones when she joined the camera crew after two years of interning: “It struck me that she was really brave – not just because she was a girl in the South in this industry, that’s hard enough. But the camera crew, that takes a lot of work and a lot of strength.” Yes, Jones chose a physically tough, overwhelmingly male discipline within the industry. But it made sense: She’d always loved being behind the camera. Even as a child, she spent hours making movies of her brothers and sisters rolling down the stairs of her family home in West Columbia. Plus, she had drive.
Sure, the gear she had to haul around was often twice her size, but she huffed and puffed and found a way to make it work. It’s what earned her the nickname, The Ant. Just like an ant, Jones was always hustling, putting work first. She became a respected member of the International Cinematographers Guild (Local 600) and, when she moved to Atlanta in 2011, she was soon a treasured addition to the tightknit Atlanta film community, as well – working with the CW’s The Vampire Diaries and other productions, including Fast & Furious 7. With her surprising strength, her unstoppable can-do attitude and her zest for life, this tiny South Carolina girl – oversized tool belt hanging heavily around her waist – was making a name for herself. Sarah Jones had started something – something big.
Quiet on the Set It was February 20, 2014, and Jones was starting something new. That’s a bonus in this industry: Your script is always changing – there’s always a new scene to explore, a new adventure to begin. It was her first day on the job, working on Midnight Rider: The Gregg Allman Story, a biopic starring William Hurt as the rock and blues singer-songwriter. She and the 21 other crew members met in a studio in Savannah before heading out to their location on the Altmaha River in Wayne County, Ga. It was a windy day, and the crew was shooting a dream sequence on a 110-year-old metal train trestle. Before they’d set up the twinsize metal-framed bed and mattress in the middle of the tracks, two freight trains had barreled through. Now, they were told, it was safe to shoot on the tracks.
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It was, some crew members worried, a little precarious up there. It didn’t calm any nerves when someone back on the shore yelled up at them, “If you see a train coming, you have 60 seconds to clear the tracks!” Eyebrows raised. Seriously? While the concerned crew members huddled together in prayer, however, Jones prepared the equipment for the shoot. She trusted that the director, Randall Miller, wouldn’t put them in danger. Why would he? That wouldn’t make any sense. Some things, we all know, don’t make sense. So, let’s make this fast – that is how it happened. When they spotted the train hurtling toward them at 58 mph, its horn blasting, there was panicked chaos. A scramble for safety. They couldn’t move the bed out of the way. There was no time. “Just drop it!” people were screaming at Jones when she tried to grab the camera equipment. “Just run!”
“They didn’t have permission to be there, which is just wrong,” says Yetman, Jones’ colleague from Army Wives. “Railroads aren’t the easiest to deal with anyway – and rightly so: They present a great liability to film on. But putting those people out there on the tracks is unconscionable. It’s unforgivable.” OSHA agreed. With a penalty of $75,000, they issued Film Allman a “serious citation” for putting its crew at risk for falls from the trestle and a “willful citation” for putting the crew in danger of being struck by a train. In addition, Miller, Sedrish, co-writer/producer Jody Savin and first assistant director Hillary Schwartz were all charged with involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass. Miller, Sedrish and Schwartz pled guilty, but Savin’s charges were dropped as part of Miller’s plea agreement. Miller is currently spending two years in prison before serving an eight-year probation. Sedrish and Schwartz were fined and sentenced to 10 years of probation.
“It struck me that she was really brave – not just because she was a girl in the south in the industry ... But the camera crew, that takes a lot of work and a lot of strength.” – Stephen Yetman ’83 There was nowhere to run. Some, including Miller and Hurt, had escaped, but others were crammed onto the metal walkway, inches from the track – and Jones and the hair and makeup artist, Joyce Gilliard, were forced onto the gangplank. They were too close. As the train tore across the trestle, it pulled Gilliard’s left arm with it and ripped through the metal bed, sending shrapnel flying and pulling Jones onto the tracks. Gilliard opened her eyes. She looked at her arm and saw bone and blood. Then she looked for Jones. And, just like that, Jones was gone. Just like that. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. It was supposed to be an adventure, not a tragedy – a beginning, not an end. It was, however, far from the end. When you have what is being considered the biggest safety-related scandal to rock Hollywood in over a decade, there’s no end in sight. This, in fact, was just the beginning.
Roll Camera They shouldn’t have been there to start with. Unbeknownst to the crew, the Midnight Rider filmmakers not only had been denied permission to film on the train trestle, but they’d hidden that information. In an email to the Film Allman production company, CSX Transportation officials stated that the request to film on the railroad could not be approved for safety reasons. However, the film company did not comply. “The email was confusing,” they told Occupational Safety & Health Administration investigators. Executive producer Jay Sedrish says he dismissed the denial because it was “a no, but not a forceful ‘No.’” |
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“These people are morally corrupt,” says Yetman. “They didn’t even think of the safety of their crew.” According to OSHA reports, the filmmakers forwent critical safety protocols: There was no safety meeting, no medic on site, no safety information on the call sheet (in fact, there was no checklist for the day’s shoot whatsoever). “Just the fact that the location crew wasn’t on location tells you they knew what they were doing was wrong,” says Yetman. Indeed, investigations by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Railroad Administration found that the film’s location manager refused to attend the shoot because he knew they didn’t have permission to be there. Within days of the tragedy, the filmmakers requested permits to continue filming, thus prompting Hurt to pull out of the film and Gregg Allman himself to make this appeal: “Your desires as a filmmaker should not outweigh your obligations as a human being, I am asking you to do the right thing and to set aside your attempts to resume the production out of respect.” And the film industry, for its part, showed its respect in its outpouring of support. To them, this tragedy means more than money or movies. It means an opportunity to be better. And, collectively, the film industry looks to Jones’ determined spirit to inspire that change: We are all Sarah Jones. And Sarah Jones is any one of us.
Action Sarah Jones had started something. Something pretty amazing. Something that could make history. Redefine an industry. Save a life. Save quite a few lives. When the news of the Midnight Rider tragedy got out, the reaction was fierce – people from all over the world, strangers
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and friends alike, expressed grief, anger and disgust with the senselessness of this death. Remember, the film community is a tight one, with crews often overlapping on different projects. For all crews everywhere, this hit home. “She is any one of us,” Drew Duncan, an Atlanta-based creative consultant who did not know Jones, wrote in his blog, Drewprops. “The events that led to Sarah’s death could have happened to any man or woman working in the film industry, in any state, in any country anywhere around the world. What happened to Sarah happened to us all. ... Sarah has reminded crews from around the country and around the world that beyond our regional rivalries we’re all interconnected and that these avoidable ‘accidents’ can happen anywhere in the world. In the end, I am Sarah, and you are Sarah. She is any one of us.” By Sunday, February 23, a Facebook campaign encouraging everyone going to the Academy Awards to wear a black pin in honor of Jones had 2,600 likes; 60,000 people had signed an online petition for Jones to be included in the “In Memoriam” video segment of the show. Although she was not featured there, she was recognized by a photo and caption at the end of the segment. In another online movement, Slates for Sarah, actors and film crews from around the world paid Jones respect by posting
awarding a “safety stamp” for the credits of movies and shows that uphold the highest safety standards. “While Sarah’s death seems to have made an impact on the industry, we want that to continue so that others can be safe while they work,” her father, Richard Jones, says, adding that We Are Sarah Jones, a new feature-length documentary about Sarah, her life, career, death and impact on the industry is in the works for a 2016 release. At the Sundance Film Festival last January, the Jones family unveiled their three-minute public service announcement featuring people from all disciplines of the industry – including director David Lynch and actors Steven Yeun, Heather Locklear and Jack Black – imploring film crews to “stop and care” and make safety a priority. “We want to go beyond talk and beyond concern,” says Richard Jones. “We want it to effect change, and we want to make the industry better.” By most accounts, things are already better than they were at the time of Jones’ death. As of January 1, for example, OSHA requires much more thorough reports of on-set injuries, and all accidents that result in hospital visits must be reported. In addition, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees created an industrywide safety hotline, and the
“I have noticed a difference on sets since the incident. I think everyone is more aware of safety issues and is asking questions.” – Sarah Dano ’08 photographs of their clapboards with notes in her honor – a fitting tribute, as one of Jones’ duties was clapping the slate at the beginning of each take. Photos of messaged slates came pouring in from actors and crewmembers from Glee, The Mindy Project, Castle, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Revenge, The Vampire Diaries, Parenthood and Parks and Recreation, just to name a few. Several TV shows dedicated episodes to Jones, as well: The Walking Dead, Drop Dead Diva, The Vampire Diaries. And, all across the country, the first shoot of the day became known as “the Jonesy.” “I’ve had a lot of people saying, ‘I haven’t seen something like this in 30 or 40 years in the film industry,’” Jones’ friend and coworker Eric Henson told CNN. “The solidarity of people coming together has really been incredible.” All her life, Jones had been bringing people together, and now here she was, uniting people even after her death. It was a legacy all her own. To continue that legacy and help sustain and focus the current environment of set safety awareness, Jones’ parents established the Sarah Jones Foundation, which, in addition to advocating for set safety, will award film scholarships and take on initiatives such as creating a safety report website for crews to report incidents, recommending a “time out” mechanism where crew members can pause production to address safety concerns and
International Cinematographers Guild launched a safety app for reporting unsafe set conditions anonymously. “The union and the film community really banded together after this to make some changes. The union has made certain we follow safety protocol,” says Yetman. “I think more people are sensitive to making sure all safety precautions are in place – that the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed.” “I have noticed a difference on sets since the incident. I think everyone is more aware of safety issues and is asking questions and holding people accountable rather than trusting each department is doing its job,” agrees Jones’ friend Sarah Dano ’08, a set/costume designer who recently wrapped up work on Showtime’s Happyish (where, she notes, they had set safety meetings every morning). “In fact, I filmed on a train trestle this spring and we were all required to put on safety vests and a limited crew was allowed on the actual tracks. I felt every safety precaution had been taken and I don’t know that before last year it would have been the same.” Jones certainly gave the film industry the wakeup call it needed, motivating people to stand up, get moving, come together, make things better. Be better. That’s what she always did. She brought a new energy to the table, to the set. She lit people up, got them excited, reminded them what really matters. And, as far as we can tell, the impact of Sarah Jones’ life is just getting started.
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There’s a theory in evolutionary biology hypothesizing that humans were born to run. When Ashley Arnold ’08 is running at her best, she seems to provide living proof of this theory. She’s blessed with an aerobic engine that throttles at top speed for hours on end. Her slight, board-rigid torso is mounted atop powerful, indefatigable legs that motor up near-vertical ascents. She has a pain threshold that a Navy SEAL would envy. But there’s always a catch with such gifts – the universe keeping things in balance. What if the activity that sustained you also caused you to question your self-worth and your abilities? What if running called forth your darkest demons? What if you gave in to those whispers that tell you you’re fat, even when the needle on the bathroom scale has dropped into the danger zone? Skinny wins races, the coaxing demons say, so you kneel over the toilet and heave your guts out, hoping to purge the guilt and whatever nibble of food you just ate. For half of her 28 years on earth, Arnold has lived with these demons. To silence them, she must stop running.
... the more mileage she logged and the more her confidence grew, the less daunting the longer distances seemed. One lap around the track stretched to two. , After four laps, she d covered a whole mile. The Energizer Bunny kept going.
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t is fitting that Ashley Arnold ’08 grew up amid the bluegrass fields of Kentucky, a region renowned for its horseracing. She is like a champion thoroughbred – durable and fast, graceful and magnificent. Horses graze in the calcium-rich meadows of the Arnold family acreage in Lexington. For young Ashley and her older sister Lauren, the wide-open spaces provided ample room to play and explore. At the end of a summer’s day, the giddy girls staggered home filthy, having spent hours making mud pies, wading through creeks and running through the forest in search of fireflies and blackberries. Gymnastics was her first athletic passion. Mirroring the famous athletes she worshipped, like gold medalist Dominique Moceanu, Arnold had the characteristic body type of a gymnast: compact, lean, sinewy and flexible. Gymnastics seemed the ideal outlet for her boundless energy. Her family called her the Energizer Bunny. Like the hyperactive pink mascot from the battery commercials of her youth, Arnold kept going and going … until her parents and teachers would demand, “Ashley, stop! Sit still!” She loved gymnastics – loved the freedom and self-generated power of somersaulting across the mat and springing deerlike into the air. It felt like flying. But the sport could also be dangerously serious. Practices and competitions existed in a pressure-cooker environment. There was an unhealthy emphasis on weight and body type. And always the piercing stares of judges, the nonnegotiable harshness of scorecards and the unrelenting pressure to be the best, the most beautiful, the thinnest. This was the beginning of her battle with eating disorders. As Arnold grew into her early teens, the gymnastics routines became increasingly complex and difficult. One day she was practicing on the balance beam when, airborne several feet above the hard wooden surface below, she twisted her body in the wrong direction and dropped, back first. Her body bounced off the beam like a rubber ball. There were other close calls, though none left her seriously injured. The real damage was to her psyche. Following these near misses, a new and unfamiliar feeling invaded her thoughts: fear. She had lost that crucial edge that all gifted athletes know. The ability to transcend fear and pain is the margin that separates competitors from champions. “The moment the fear sets in, you just cripple yourself,” she says. “I was afraid.” She never again regained her enthusiasm for the sport. After years of grueling practices, thousands of miles traveled to competitions and camps, and scores of medals and trophies, Arnold quit gymnastics. In the years that followed, Arnold found new outlets to fill the void gymnastics left behind. She satisfied her need for creative expression through dance and theater. And she discovered that the athleticism she developed through gymnastics translated easily into track and field events such as pole vaulting and sprinting. Initially, she had no interest in running longer distances like her sister Lauren did on the high school cross country team. The 300-meter hurdles appealed to Arnold because it covered only three-fourths of the track. But the more mileage she logged and the more her confidence grew, the less daunting the longer distances seemed. One lap around the track stretched to two. After four laps, she’d covered a whole mile. The Energizer Bunny kept going. Her body adapted to meet the different physiological demands of running long. For the sprinting events, she had bulked up and focused on building strength and power. But longer runs required more endurance and a leaner physique. The thinner she became, the faster she ran. As she had done years earlier in gymnastics, Arnold began to associate size with success. Her fast times and high finishes in races only reinforced the restricted eating habits that had by then become a routine part of her life. By her junior year of high school, it was clear that Arnold could compete at the next level. She considered following her sister to Centre College in nearby Danville, Ky., until her future was revealed on a college visit road trip to Charleston.
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n 2003, Amy Seago was still finding her footing as the first-year head coach of the College’s cross country and track teams. Seago met with Arnold when Arnold and her mom visited Charleston during her junior year of high school. Seago harbored reservations about Arnold. From her previous coaching stints at other universities, Seago knew that eating disorders could be a problem for many collegiate runners, especially female distance runners. “As I was recruiting her, I don’t know that she necessarily told me she had an eating disorder, but I had the sense that this was the kind of kid who was going to have trouble with those kinds of things, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to take that on the team,” recalls Seago. The fact that Arnold had been a gymnast, another sport in which eating disorders are not uncommon, only heightened Seago’s concerns. Still, she kept Arnold on her recruiting radar as the promising runner entered her final year of high school. Seago’s instincts were spot on. Anorexia had wringed Arnold’s body of excess fat, calorie by calorie. She was floating around the track at a gaunt 86 pounds and had thrown her body’s rhythms so far out of whack that she had stopped menstruating. As if to affirm her self-destructive behavior, Arnold had a breakthrough senior season, finishing 10th in the Kentucky State Cross Country Championships and winning the unseeded section of the
Footlocker Cross Country Regional in November 2003. She capped off her high school career in June 2004 with second-place finishes in both the mile and two-mile events at the state championships. Because Arnold had bloomed late as a high school distance runner, larger universities had overlooked her. It was something of a coup for Seago to sign her to a partial scholarship. But it didn’t much matter if other schools were interested in her or not. Arnold had already fallen hard for Charleston and never seriously considered going to college anywhere else. From afar, it appeared everything was falling neatly into place for her. Before the start of the semester, she was assigned her college roommate, Heather Clark ’08, a talented running recruit from Cincinnati. Separated by only an hour and half drive, the girls met up before moving to Charleston to bond and discuss decorations for their room in McAlister Residence Hall. They quickly became best friends. Arnold’s carefree spirit brought levity to the otherwise painful and lonely business that is distance running. She was an integral member of the team, Clark recalls. “She was goofy. She would have team get-togethers and pasta dinners. She made everyone laugh. Running was hard and draining, but she always made it fun for everybody.” While Arnold’s fun-loving personality made her popular among her teammates, Seago and the other coaches struggled to harness her energy and keep her focused on the conservative training plans they developed for the rising star. Arnold begged to run more mileage and often questioned the training philosophy of her young coach. But those battles were eclipsed by her strong performances in competition. In fall 2004, Arnold placed fifth at the cross country conference championships and was named the conference’s freshman of the year. “She was really starting to turn a lot of heads,” says Seago. What Seago and others did not fully realize was how serious Arnold’s struggle with eating had become. She was obsessively weighing herself and meticulously tracking every calorie. Her restricted eating had whittled her body to less than 100 pounds. A typical female athlete has between 14 and 20 percent body fat. Below 10 percent is considered unhealthy. Arnold’s body fat hovered around 6 percent. She had fallen into a vicious cycle. As her weight dropped, so, too, did her running times. But her mood and energy levels were up and down like a volatile stock. Running was actually killing her. During practice one day, a coach pulled Arnold aside and told her she needed to put on some weight. The coach suggested that she set her alarm clock and get up during the night to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Arnold fumed. How dare they suggest such a reckless diet. “It made me so mad. I thought, Really? That’s not even a good way to gain weight.” Her struggle with eating disorders had less to do with food and more to do with her need for control – a desire that often drove her to make major, life-changing decisions at the drop of a hat. Arnold was feeling homesick as winter break of her freshman year approached. Her sadness mushroomed from typical firstsemester blues to “I’m leaving the College.” She abruptly announced to her coaches and teammates that she was transferring to Centre College, where her older sister was running.
After returning home over the holiday break and spending some time with her family, Arnold changed her mind and decided to return to Charleston and to running. She geared up for the spring track season. Seago had circled one meet in particular on that season’s race calendar – the Duke Invitational, where some of the fastest runners in the country would be competing. Throughout the season, Seago would predict times she thought Arnold was capable of running based on her recent training results. The calculations usually proved accurate. Arnold’s training had been strong leading up to the Duke outdoor meet, and she and Seago were feeling confident that she could run a personal record of under 17 minutes in the 5k. The thunderous clap of the starter’s pistol ricocheted around the Duke track. The pace was quick from the get go, faster than any race Arnold had ever run. Among the elite pack of women was a future Olympian. Elbows flew and wayward track spikes ripped gashes in shins as the women jockeyed for lane position. Arnold ran strong for the first few laps before the demons started chirping in her ear: You don’t belong here. You’re not good enough to run with these girls. She finished in 17:34, a new outdoor personal record and an impressive time for a freshman, especially one from a smaller running program. Her time also established a new school record and qualified her for Junior Nationals. While she knew Arnold could run faster, Seago was ecstatic with the performance because she knew they could build on it. But the achievements were no consolation to Arnold. She crumpled to the ground, devastated, inconsolable. She felt she hadn’t run to her potential and had let her coach down. Through sobs, she told Seago that the pressure was too great and that she had to stop running for a while. At first, Seago encouraged Arnold to explore other interests outside of running. She was hopeful that Arnold’s burgeoning fascination with the arts scene in Charleston and an African drumming and dance circle in Columbia would bring some desperately needed balance to Arnold’s life. As it turned out, these other activities became distractions from running. Something was different when Arnold returned for her sophomore year. She still had raw speed and posted some impressive times, but her heart was no longer in it. The rocket flare that had illuminated her freshman season began to fizzle out. One of her last official race times for the College was recorded at a meet in North Carolina in March 2006. Arnold ran the 10k on the track, a grueling event in which the runners speed around the oval a dizzying 25 times. Arnold finished the race in 38 minutes, 38 seconds. Another school record. She lopped 48 seconds off the previous best mark. It was not enough, however, to change her mind about running. The pressure to perform was fueling her obsession with weight, and her eating disorder, in turn, was triggering a host of other issues, such as sleeplessness and depression. As much joy as she derived from running, the cost to her health was too high. “I desperately wanted to not be that way,” Arnold admits. “I thought getting away from running and getting away from competition would help.” Arnold’s parents, Charles and Jeanne Arnold, pleaded with her to stick it out, especially since quitting the team would mean forfeiting
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her athletic scholarship. Her father had played college football at Kentucky. Her mom was an avid runner. They told Arnold it would be a mistake to walk away from her team. Seago was heartbroken. The coach had invested countless hours and considerable resources in training the fickle runner, counseled and consoled her through tough losses and self-doubt. Together, they had celebrated Arnold’s achievements and excitedly imagined her future in running. “Still to this day, I wonder what she could have done at the NCAAs had she stuck it out and been focused and not gotten distracted,” says Seago. “I’ve always wondered what Ashley would have been able to do.” At first, the break from running proved positive. She threw herself into the arts, modern dance and choreography. She was bursting with creative energy and ideas and enjoying the freedom of not having to train, travel and compete. She began doing more writing through internships with local art publications. It thrilled her to work on photo shoots and coordinate events. She attended dance festivals and workshops, networked with teachers, choreographers and performers. This was her future. Running was in the past.
he subconscious mind works in mysterious ways. Arnold hadn’t run seriously in over two years. But her brain was craving this primal locomotion like a drug she once knew intimately and needed to taste again. Arnold remained in Charleston after graduating with a degree in arts management and a minor in dance. Her love of dance kept her active and she managed to put on some weight. But she was still feeling depressed and confused. She had been so sure that getting away from running would solve her problems, but she had stopped running and the problems hadn’t gone away. “It was like I was trying to fix something that I couldn’t fix,” Arnold says. “I started doing other things and partying and going in the opposite direction.” To maintain some measure of control, she began making herself vomit.
One afternoon in late 2008, she was having lunch alone at an Earth Fare supermarket. She was busily typing away on her laptop, stressing over details of an upcoming dance festival she was organizing. She was feeling overwhelmed. She popped open a Web browser and Googled “running magazines in Colorado.” One of the top results caught her eye, and she clicked on it. Trail Runner magazine, based in Carbondale, Colo., was accepting applications for writing internships. The job came with no pay, only the promise of adventure writing about the fast-growing sport of ultrarunning in scenic locations around the world. For her application, she put together a mini-magazine showcasing her accomplishments in writing, dance and running. It worked. The magazine’s editor offered her an internship the next day. If I work for a running magazine, maybe I’ll start running again, she thought. The answer to all of this – the answer to my unhappiness – it must be running. And just like that, “I started getting fascinated with this idea of running really far,” she says. “I guess it was so strange and crazy and difficult and weird that I was like, I want to do that.”
s its name implies, ultrarunning is running taken to an extreme. Take one of those ubiquitous 26.2 bumper stickers. Double the distance. Better yet, quadruple it. An ultramarathon is any race distance longer than the traditional marathon distance of 26.2 miles.
If running 100 miles sounds crazy, that’s because it is. Imagine the aid stations at your run-of-the-mill marathon, typically spaced at two-mile intervals, and stretch out the increments to one every 25 miles or so. Now, move the racecourse from a smooth, relatively flat city road to a steep mountain at an oxygen-starved elevation of 12,000 feet. Make sure the trail is pocked with holes and covered in tree roots and jagged rocks. Crank the air temperature way up until it’s baking hot. This is the world of the ultramarathon. It is intense, agonizing, humbling, dangerous and, to its devotees, gloriously liberating and transcendent. If you truly want to know who you are and what you’re made of, go run 100 miles. You’ll know death. Once considered a fringe activity for running extremists, the sport has surged in popularity in recent years and is now one of the fastest-growing endurance sports on the planet. Last year, there were an estimated 1,300 ultramarathons held in the United States alone. Ultras attract all types, forming a tight-knit community of hippie athletes, burned-out middle-agers, former marathoners or adrenaline junkies looking for new challenges, young guns, midpackers, geezers and everything in between. Women, in particular, are reshaping the sport’s male-dominated roots. Outdoor gear and running shoe companies such as North Face, Salomon and New Balance sponsor ultrarunners and major races. And certain cities around the country have become home to ultrarunning communities. Boulder, Colo., is one such mecca. The city is like Hollywood for runners. On any given day, you can see stars of college and professional distance running plodding along the local trails and hammering up mountain passes in the front ranges west of town.
Ultras attract all types, forming a tight-knit community of hippie athletes, burned-out middle-agers, former marathoners or adrenaline junkies looking for new challenges, young guns, mid-packers, geezers and everything in between. Women, in particular, are reshaping the sport’s maledominated roots.
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
Unlike a local 5k or a charity fun run, ultramarathons are not the sort of weekend activity one jumps into on the spur of the moment. Unless you are Ashley Arnold. Before she left for her internship in Colorado, Arnold signed up for her first ultramarathon – a 50-kilometer race in Huntsville, Ala. She had never run anything approaching that kind of distance. Yet, despite being totally unprepared in terms of training, gear or knowledge of the course, she won the women’s division of the race. It was sheer hell. One of the hardest things she has ever done. Afterward, her body was wrecked and she could barely move for several days. She swore she’d never run another ultra. But pushing herself mentally and physically had lit up caverns in her mind that she hadn’t known were there. There was also something special about the atmosphere and the people at the race. The spectators, the runners, the volunteers – everyone was so laid-back and positive. It wasn’t at all like the competitions she was used to. These ultrarunners might be crazy, she thought, but they sure were cool. Arnold had found a new tribe. They even had their own language, talking about altitude and pacers, super foods and 100-mile races with odd-sounding names in remote locations. The name of one race in particular stuck out because the runners talked about it in such reverential terms. They called it Leadville. First staged in 1983 with 45 entrants, the race takes place every year in the historic silver-mining town of Leadville, Colo. Maybe she would check it out when she moved out West. Maybe she’d run it someday.
few weeks later, Arnold loaded up her black Subaru Outback and steered it toward the vastness of the Rocky Mountains. She was greeted warmly by the magazine staff in Carbondale, a small town nestled at the foot of 13,000-foot Mount Sopris. She quickly made friends with the other interns, who taught her the ins and outs of ultrarunning. Later, she turned her internship into a full-time job as a writer and associate editor for the magazine. Arnold’s job and her sponsorship deal with North Face gained her entry into and travel to many races she otherwise could not have afforded. She took full advantage, flying to exotic running locales all over Europe and South America. Month after month, she did little else but travel, run and write about running. The training cycles that coaches had once tried so hard to force on Arnold fell by the wayside as she spun at maximum RPMs, barely recovering from one grueling 50-mile race before toeing the starting line at another. She trained and raced according to her own internal coach and spontaneous impulses. She was living in the moment. And it worked unbelievably well for a while. She was making the podium in nearly every race she entered. She was gradually building up her weekly mileage and her courage to tackle her first 100-miler – the one she’d heard about before moving west. By summer 2010, she felt ready to test herself at Leadville. Her mother and sister and a few running friends formed her race crew. A race crew in ultrarunning serves essentially the same purpose as a pit crew in NASCAR. When the runner rolls up, the crew springs into action, doling out food, hydration, medicine, massages, words of encouragement – whatever is necessary to get the runner refueled and back on the course in as little time as possible. Ultras are won and lost at the aid stations. After covering 75 miles of a 100mile race, the very innocent – and logical – decision to sit down and rest for just a few minutes can end a runner’s race. It’s that hard to get back up and run the equivalent of another marathon. She finished third in the women’s division. Almost immediately after finishing, she vowed to come back stronger next time. In the meantime, she focused on a new goal. Since her gymnastics days, Arnold had always dreamed of representing her country in athletic competition. While it was too late to get into the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon
Trials, she still wanted to see if she could get close to the minimum qualifying time. She was undertrained and inexperienced for the marathon distance, which, at the elite level, demands a hard-earned blend of endurance and speed. Arnold could easily handle the 26.2-mile distance, but maintaining a pace fast enough to run under the qualifying time would push the limits of her capabilities. In January 2012, she lined up at the Charleston Marathon start along East Bay Street. She went out too fast. Her lack of preparation became painfully evident as her pace slipped in the latter miles and the lactic acid building in her legs felt like cement hardening in her veins. She was cramping and couldn’t eat or drink at the aid stations. Her vision blurred. She finally hit the wall somewhere around Park Circle in North Charleston. She had had enough. She stopped and walked. She seriously contemplated dropping out until she managed to gather herself and set off again at a plodding pace. She grinded through the remaining miles but finished way off the qualifying time she needed for the Olympic trials. In her mind, she had failed. But to the jubilant spectators who cheered wildly for her as she broke the finish line tape in 2 hours, 57 minutes, her finish as the first-place female was something to be proud of. Back in Colorado, Arnold returned to the trails. It’s where she feels most at home. The natural environment calms her mind. There’s a reward waiting for her at the top of a mountain. She runs up and up under her own power, her lungs searing and heaving. Just
when she can’t will her body to climb any farther, the trees part and the sky opens a window on the city below. Up here, in the thin, cool air, she is happy, her soul cleansed. She summited peak after peak over the next several months. Her top finishes in several prestigious races thrust her onto the radar of the ultrarunning media and blogosphere. But she could only stifle for so long the crippling self-doubt and fear that had long plagued her in competitions. They were always there below the surface, just waiting for a crack to slip through. Nearly three years had passed since Arnold ran her first 100-mile ultra at Leadville. By summer 2013, she had amassed an impressive running résumé, sponsorships and a hefty sum of frequent flyer miles. She decided it was time to return to Leadville. She left her job at Trail Runner magazine to devote more time to writing, dancing and running the trails. She logged upwards of 80 hard miles at elevation some weeks and jumped into one race after another, including the 148-mile Desert Rats Stage Race, where she ran out of water and became hopelessly lost in 100-degree temperatures. In all, she ran a total of 162 miles from Grand Junction, Colo., to Moab, Utah, before winning that race. She was on a tear heading into the final weeks before the 2013 Leadville Trail 100. She was as strong and fit as she had ever been. But no matter how hard or far she ran, Arnold could not free herself from the death grip of depression and loneliness. She was secretly gagging herself almost every day.
SUMMER 2015 |
he self-talk that sloshes around the mind of some ultrarunners during a 100-mile race sounds schizophrenic. The chatter never ceases. Is that a rock in my shoe? Am I eating enough? What’s that pain in my right calf? Will they have the peanut butter I like at the next aid station? Why am I doing this? Is that a blister forming on my pinkie toe? What day is it? Am I still awake? Are those footsteps? Is someone about to pass me? The pain becomes so great and overwhelming it morphs into another state of consciousness. “Once you’ve been running for a while there’s this total exhaustion and this other place you go to,” Arnold says. “I don’t know if I’m masochistic. I’m totally obsessed with the idea of altering your consciousness through movement – whether that’s running or dance.” When she is hurting and wants to quit, she tries to focus on a fixed point in the distance. If she can get to the next aid station, she’ll quit there. But her crew will be cheering for her, egging her on. Their energy and love give her a boost and she sets off again. As their whoops and hollers fade in the distance, the suffering resumes.
eadville 2013 was the first time her boyfriend, Austin Lottimer, crewed for Arnold. “It’s a difficult thing to crew somebody you love,” says Lottimer, “because you are watching them hurt themselves. You have to tell them to keep going, but you don’t really want to. You want to tell them to just chill and that it’s not that big of a deal, but you have to be like, ‘go, go, go, you got this, you’re good. It doesn’t hurt.’” Of course, it does hurt. Arnold’s ankle is throbbing. She injured it in a previous race. She most likely broke a bone, but because she had no insurance at the time, she didn’t have it treated and it didn’t heal properly. One of her crewmembers slathers comfrey oil on the ankle to help reduce inflammation. The pain causes her to run tentatively on the downhill rocky section of Leadville. She has
always run well uphill and has always struggled going down. The voices are there. The ones that got in her head after those nasty falls in gymnastics: Slow down or you’ll fall. She sips from her handheld water bottle and tries to swallow the fear. Sometimes, very rarely, all of the voices and noise and all of the second-guessing and minute-to-minute fluctuations that make running 100 miles so hard just disappear. Some athletes call it flow. Arnold calls it transcendence. She peaks at just the right time, has just the right crew, the right course, the right weather, the right competition. She doesn’t think about her struggles with eating or her work or her relationships or any of that stuff. She just runs. There are moments when it feels like flying. Out of the hundreds of races she has run, this one race, this big important race called Leadville, feels totally different. She is focused, in the moment. There is no next mile, no next aid station. There is only right now.
| Photo by Glen Delman |
here’s a picture of Arnold winning the Leadville Trail 100 in 2013. It’s about 1 a.m., still dark. The white finish line tape wraps her chest. Her arms are extended out and slightly upward in celebration. Her right lower leg is smeared in mud. The beam from her headlamp throws out shards of light. She wears white earbuds, the cords framing the lower half of her face. If her music is still playing, she doesn’t realize it. Her eyes are closed, as if she is still fighting off sleep after having been awake and running virtually nonstop for an entire day and night.
Her finishing time – 20 hours, 25 minutes and 43 seconds – is nearly three hours faster than her time at Leadville three years earlier. The expression on her face is a mixture of complete exhaustion and euphoric relief. She knows she’s won. The sense of overwhelming joy washing over her at that moment is the greatest feeling in the world. Ashley Arnold can stop running now. There will be a period of calm during which she won’t feel compelled to push herself to her physical and emotional limits. The sense of accomplishment, however fleeting, will act as a force field, protecting her, for now, from the doubt and insecurity that are waiting to pounce on her ego. They will eventually penetrate the swelling bubble of victory. But right now, she will savor this hard-earned bliss. In this perfect moment, she tastes satisfaction so completely. It has not yet been subjected to her scathing self-critique. That will come later when she looks back at this moment – this monumental achievement – and tells herself that it is not enough, that she can do better, run harder, endure more pain. “I know I can break 20 hours,” she says. Winning Leadville catapulted Arnold to the upper echelon of ultrarunning. She was in high demand. Running and fitness magazines wrote articles and posed her for photo spreads. She was the darling of her sport. Her humble, aw shucks indifference toward her unbelievable feats only seemed to generate more interest. The articles and profiles gushed over her accomplishments and abilities, her preference for avocados and
bacon during ultras, and her ritual of holding a small rock in her hand when competing in trail races. But she was struggling inside. Life got crazy fast. At the beginning of 2014, Arnold and Lottimer decided to move from Carbondale to Boulder to get their new film company off the ground. The move and the stress of trying to build a new venture sent Arnold into a tailspin. Everything seemed fuzzy and out of focus. Maybe another race would quell the turmoil inside her. If the Leadville win was the high point of her career, the low point came in August 2014, when she and Lottimer traveled to France for the start of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. It is widely considered to be one of the world’s premier ultramarathons. Runners cover 103 miles as they scale the Alps through France, Italy and Switzerland. Deep down, she knew before she even started the race that she wouldn’t finish. Her stubbornness, however, wouldn’t let her admit it. “I kept thinking, I’ll be fine, I’ll be fine,” she says. “I just progressively and quickly started feeling bad like I had already run a hundred miles. My legs hurt. I kept falling. I continually kept getting slower and slower. I couldn’t see straight, and I was already at that hallucination stage and it was way too early for that.” Lottimer, her lone crewmember and usually a strategic tactician, was himself in shambles. He was sputtering around foreign towns in the middle of the night in a rental car on unfamiliar roads with unfamiliar signs, wrestling with maps written in languages he couldn’t read. All he could think about was how much Arnold needed him to be ready with the proper gear and food and treatments when she arrived at each aid station. If she failed, it would be on him. In those frustrating moments, the whole thing – the whole ultrarunning obsession that was eating away at the woman he loved – made absolutely no sense. He realized then that these races and the unhealthy way Arnold was attacking them, were insane and totally unsustainable. “What the hell is the point of this?” he asked himself as he sped through the night. About 47 miles into the race, Arnold reached the same conclusion. She could not walk another step. It was about 5 a.m. near the Italian town of Courmayeur when she finally called it quits. More than two-thirds of that year’s field would drop out of the race at some point. The sun was about to come up, which was a bummer because she had run all through the night. If she could have survived a little longer, until the sun broke over the mountains, the inspiring views might have lifted her spirits just enough to keep her going. Instead, the breathtaking beauty was just a sad reminder of what might have been. She had bottomed out. And she stopped running. Again.
t’s midday, sunny and clear. Spring has arrived. From the top of Mount Sanitas in the foothills of the Rockies, a peak in Boulder’s famed Flatirons, the city spills out below in a grid of Lego-like blocks and swaths of juniper and ponderosa pines. Prairie dogs peer out from craters in the dirt. Students from the local university trudge down the sidewalks with backpacks slung over their shoulders. It seems like every other car on the road is a Subaru.
Somewhere down there, on the outskirts of downtown Boulder, is an old warehouse Arnold calls “the hive.” True to its name, it’s been a hub of activity and collaboration since Arnold and Lottimer began renting it last year. The space serves as their work studio. Last year, they – along with Lottimer’s brother – formed a video production company called Trine Films. They aspire to make feature films, but to pay the bills they’ve been taking on clients for documentary work. The hive is a beautiful wreck – gritty, interesting and eclectic. The shower is located outside behind a lattice of thin boards. Arnold’s black cat Fugazi saunters past. There is stuff stacked and stored everywhere – random bicycle and skateboard parts, storage bins full of clothes, old punching bags, beat-up guitars and enough video and audio equipment to fill a Radio Shack. Somewhere in all of this stuff are some of Arnold’s running awards, which, for most ultramarathons, are big Texas-size belt buckles. She has no idea where her belt buckles from Leadville are. Arnold wanders into the backyard behind the studio, kicks off her running shoes and climbs onto a trampoline. She bounces slowly at first to find her rhythm, storing energy in her legs. Then she uncoils like a pinched spring set free, soaring 10 feet in the air, her lean legs kicking out into a split at the height of her rise. The muscle memory kicks in, and she is transported back to those childhood performances on the gymnastics mat. She hated being scrutinized. What did those judges know anyway? Her display here is free and natural. It’s play. No judges, no scores, no clocks, no aid stations, no expectations, no labels, no fear – just an impromptu celebration of self-expression and movement. She doesn’t know when or if she will return to competitive running. Maybe she’ll get back into road races. Maybe she’ll do shorter distances again. Maybe she won’t. This crossroads reminds her of when she quit running in college. She didn’t know what was ahead then. But things worked out. Whatever happens, this period of reflection has been good for her. She feels healthier. She’s eating normally for the first time in years. Her mind is starting to clear. “I had to quit running to really see,” she says. “I had to deal with the dark, uncomfortable places I never wanted to go and just be with them. It is working. I was able to separate from running. Find me again. Find me for the first time maybe.” If she goes back to running, things could get crazy again. “I’m a little bit worried about that,” she says. “I feel like I’m still trying to figure out my intention with running and not to come at it from an unhealthy place. It’s like the addict mentality of going back to something.” Arnold rockets skyward, rising higher and higher above the trampoline. Her short blond hair billows like a small cape with each jump. Looking up at her from below, her frame silhouetted against the blue sky and the mountains where she once ran, it looks like she is flying.
Postscript: After a long hiatus from running, Arnold laced up her trail shoes again in May 2015. She signed on with a coach and plans to compete at the U.S. Mountain Running Championships to be held in Bend, Ore., in July 2015.
SUMMER 2015 |
| (l to r) West Memorial Scholarship recipient Brandon Phillips; Phillips with Ezekiel at Metanoia’s after-school program |
A Legacy of Love Emotions were running high when Celeste West and Brandon Phillips embraced that September evening. They didn’t know each other: this student embarking on his first year of college and this mother who’d lost her only son just a year ago. But it was clear that a bond was already there, forged by the impact that Barker West and his legacy had had on their lives. A native of Alexandria, Va., Barker West was headed to a University of Virginia football game with his Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity brothers when he was killed in a car accident in September 2013. He was a sophomore at the College with plans to major in international business and minor in Asian studies. |
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“Coming to the College of Charleston certainly made an impact on Barker,” says his mother. “His heart was definitely in Charleston. He absolutely loved the College and the city.” And if the outpouring of support from his fraternity brothers and other members of the campus community is any indication, the College absolutely loved him, too. Upon Barker’s death, his fraternity brothers raised money for buses to take students to Virginia for the funeral. When they raised more than $30,000 (the goal had been $4,000), they gave $12,000 to the Wounded Warriors Project in Barker’s name and used $16,000 to start the Franklin Barker West Memorial Scholarship Fund.
With an additional $79,000 in funds raised over the following months, the first Franklin Barker West Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Brandon Phillips last fall. “We cannot think of a more meaningful way to honor our sweet Barker and to keep his memory alive than to have a scholarship in his name that will assist future students at the College in achieving their educational goals,” says Celeste West. “And I couldn’t have asked for a better choice for the inaugural recipient. Brandon reminds me so much of Barker, and he is so deserving of the scholarship.” “I am proud to be fulfilling Barker’s legacy,” says Phillips, who met the West
family when they came to campus for the Alumni Scholars Reception. “It was overwhelming for all of us – we were all just overcome with emotion. They told me that Barker would be proud and that they saw Barker in me. That meant so much, especially when I learned what an outgoing, involved guy he was. It was really good to connect with his family, and it encouraged me to get more involved.” An Eagle Scout, Phillips arrived at the College with more than 300 hours of community service already under his belt – mostly from volunteering with kids at day camps and at a special needs school. At the College, the Honors College student began volunteering with an after-school program in North Charleston called Metanoia. “Working with kids is a passion of mine,” he says. “It’s really neat to instill qualities and values in them that they didn’t know they had, to give them goals and ambitions.”
Phillips spends at least two hours a week at Metanoia working with Ezekiel, a sixth-grader whom he now considers his “really good friend. … Basically, I’m there to help him with his homework and just be a role model for him – show him that, you know, we’re not all that different, and he can go to college one day just like I did,” he says, adding that he hopes to continue working there for the next few years. “It makes me feel fulfilled. If you’re having a bad day, go out and volunteer. All that bad will go away.” This summer, Phillips is also running and managing his own house-painting business in Summerville through the Student Painters program. He spent the past academic year writing a business plan and working on painting estimates, and launched the business in May – something he never imagined himself doing. And, frankly, he probably wouldn’t have the time for such an educational endeavor if it weren’t for the Barker West Scholarship.
“This scholarship relieves the financial burden of school so that I can concentrate on my studies and my community service work. It allows me to join clubs and really branch out and grow while I’m here,” he says. “It gives me a chance to bolster my résumé and work on my inner self and do things that will really make a difference in my future – like studying abroad. I want to go expand my horizons and really open up the world for myself.” And, for that, he thanks not just the support of the Barker West Scholarship, but of the West family itself. “They greeted me with such open arms, and it showed that I had a whole other support system backing me up,” says Phillips. “It means a lot to know people believe in me. It empowers me and makes me want to work harder to carry on Barker’s legacy.” More than anything, Phillips says, “Now that I’m connected to his family, I just want to make them proud.”
bo u n d le ss C a mpa i g n up dat e
21,555 TOTAL DONORS
% ALUMNI 43
28% FR IEN D
$53M FACULTY & PROGRAMS
$5M ANNUAL GIVING
PA R ENTS
*All philanthropic commitments made to the College between October 2009 and May 31, 2015. The campaign ends June 2016.
J o i n u s at bo u nd l es s . C o F C . e d u
SUMMER 2015 |
In Scoring Position
| Photo by Alice Keeney ’04 |
Sometimes when Dan Ravenel ’72 is driving his car and spots a soccer game in progress along the highway, he’ll pull over to watch. It could be a school league match or a pick-up game among friends. He’s not concerned with who’s playing. He just loves to observe “the beautiful game.” “Soccer has an élan about it. It is just a great game to watch. I am a soccer guy, and my family are soccer people,” says Ravenel, who is currently president of the Alumni Association and has served on the Board of Trustees, Foundation Board and Cougar Club Board. Ravenel played soccer as a boy growing up in Charleston at a time when soccer was still a fringe sport in the U.S. As a sophomore at the College in 1969, he started a soccer club with friends from his fraternity. It was the first soccer team to play for the College. They took the field against any opponent that could muster 11 players, including crewmembers from ships docked at the Navy base. The portly British sailors would decimate the students in the first half
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before Ravenel, who usually played goalie, and his teammates employed their secret weapon: “During halftime we would invite them over for a drink and we’d have a keg. So they were ill-equipped to sustain themselves the second half. It worked every time.” After college, he stayed close to the game as a rec coach and NCAA referee. By then, soccer had become a varsity sport at the College, and in the mid-1970s he officiated the first matchup between the Cougars and The Citadel. Later, he passed along the sporting tradition to his children, who played on several state championship soccer teams. Ravenel doesn’t play soccer anymore. But his continued passion for the sport has helped ensure others can. Ten years ago, he established an endowed scholarship to support women’s soccer players at the College. It was his way of giving back to the university that gave him so much. With an initial corpus that has more than doubled, the Daniel Ravenel
“The real joy of
having a scholarship like this is getting to meet the recipients and their parents and being part of their college experience.
You, the donor, get more out of it than what you give.” Endowed Scholarship has made a difference in the lives of several studentathletes over the years. “The real joy of having a scholarship like this is getting to meet the recipients and their parents and being part of their college experience. You, the donor, get more out of it than what you give.”
The French connection During his tenure at the College, from 1975 to 2003, Jeffrey Foster, professor emeritus of French, watched the campus transform from a small institution of approximately 2,000 students to a university of more than 10,000 students. Having accompanied one of the first groups of College students to study abroad in France and helping lay the groundwork for the School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs, he played a leading role in making the languages a critical component of a College of Charleston education. “Travel is an invaluable experience for students,” Foster believes, “and I decided to start a scholarship to assist students to study abroad in France because I want them to appreciate another culture and what it’s like to enjoy a society with different values.” The first recipient of the Jeffrey A. Foster French Travel Scholarship, Marjorie Rawle, an Honors College double major in art history and arts management, traveled to Lille, France, this spring. “I met some of the most incredible and interesting people there,” observes Rawle, “and it’s really a testament to how intriguing the French are as a whole. It’s an amazing country with a really rich history and an even richer contemporary culture that is so complex and unique that I would need another 10 years there just to appreciate it fully.” What she can fully appreciate, however, is this amazing opportunity to travel. And she has Foster to thank for that.
S PRI N G 2 0 1 5 |
CLASS NOTES 1949 Tony Meyer was awarded
an honorary degree from the University of Charleston, S.C., at the May commencement ceremony.
1955 Anna Chrisanthis Coutlakis
has traveled the world with her U.S. Air Force husband and finally settled down in Washington, D.C., to raise their family. She’s worked at the Environmental Protection Agency for the last 35 years as a chemist and still loves it – and is still traveling all over the world.
1965 Marion Doig retired from the
College’s chemistry department after 40 years of teaching. Phil Duwel is the owner of Duwel Photography on Pawleys Island, S.C. He specializes in South Carolina coastal scenes and wildlife.
1972 Bud Ferillo has received the
Leadership in Diversity Award from the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina. This award honors those who have played a significant role in helping people living in poverty in South Carolina. Bud works with the Children’s Law Center at the University of South Carolina School of Law.
1974 Deborah Lipman Cochelin is a
civil court mediator certified by the Supreme Court of South Carolina and is the founder and principal of a law practice concentrating in elder law, estate planning, probate administration and personal injury.
1978 Debra Turner is a member of
the College’s Alumni Association board of directors. Debra is a CPA and the managing partner of WebsterRogers in Charleston.
1979 Elizabeth Colbert-Busch is a
member of the College’s Alumni Association board of directors. Elizabeth is the director of business development for Clemson University’s Office of Economic Development and is responsible for Clemson’s Restoration Institute, based in Charleston.
1980 Carolyn Burroughs Muller is a
member of Auto-Owners Insurance Company’s board of directors. Carolyn is the senior vice president of claims for Auto-Owners Insurance. She and her husband, Barry, live in Dewitt, Mich.
1981 Meredith “Duffy” Lee Baehr
is the owner of Baehr Feet Shoe Boutique in Spartanburg. Her shop is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this fall. Lisa Bollinger Burbage is a member of the College’s Foundation board of directors. After completing two years of study at Duke University, Lisa is a certified integrative health coach and has started her own company, Wellness Beyond Fifty. Lisa continues to sell real estate with Elaine Brabham and Associates in Charleston. |
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1983 Elizabeth Chambliss is a professor
of law and director of the Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough Center on Professionalism at the Unviersity of South Carolina School of Law. Elizabeth received both her J.D. and her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin. She serves on the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services. Vic Howie is a vice president of the College’s Alumni Association. Vic is a senior financial adviser with Merrill Lynch Wealth Management in Charlotte. Vic also serves on the College’s Foundation Board. Rahul Mehra is a member of the College’s Alumni Association board of directors. A board-certified child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist, Rahul is the CEO and chief medical officer of MehraVista Health, a national Florida-based health care organization that specializes in employee wellness. He lives in Tampa and is the president of the Tampa alumni chapter. Chris Starr is an associate professor of information management in the College’s new Department of Supply Chain and Information Management. Previously, he was chair of the computer science department. He is the director of ICAT, the College’s tech accelerator for undergraduates. Chris is also a member of the College’s Alumni Association board of directors.
1984 Helen Pruitt Butler is an agent with William Means Real Estate in Charleston. Marc New is the president of the Cougar Club and is its representative on the College’s Alumni Association board of directors. Marc is a gastroenterologist with Elms Digestive Disease Specialists in Charleston.
1985 Ernest Andrade is the director of
the Charleston Digital Corridor Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the organization. Mitchell Leverette is a member of the College’s Alumni Association board of directors. Mitchell is a geologist and the chief of solid minerals division of the Bureau of Land Management in Washington, D.C. Chrissy Parke and Walt Rosen were married in March. Chrissy is the regional director of development at Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville, Ga. The Rosens live in Cumming with Chrissy’s son.
1986 Bernard Peters is the vice president
of global finance and chief financial officer for Sloan, a manufacturer of commercial plumbing systems. Bernard is based in Franklin Park, Ill.
1987 Natalie Parker Bluestein finished
her term as president of the Charleston County Bar Association and is the recipient of the 2015 Gold Compleat Lawyer Award from the S.C. Bar Association for outstanding civic and professional accomplishments. Natalie is a partner with Bluestein & Douglas in Charleston. Carson Mencken is a professor of sociology and the director of graduate studies at
Baylor University. Carson, who earned his Ph.D. from LSU in 1994, also directs the Baylor Religion Survey. Tom Trouche is the president and CEO of ServisFirst Bank South Carolina.
1988 Jane Barrett Dowd is a Realtor with
William Means Real Estate in Charleston. Herschel Harvey is a financial adviser with Northwestern Mutual. Herschel and Melanie Parker were married in August and live on Daniel Island, S.C. Fred and Lisa Parnell Roitzsch ’93 announce the birth of their daughter, Carleigh Annette, born in March. The Roitzsch family lives in Warner Robins, Ga. Bobby Warrick is a senior vice president and senior lender for ServisFirst Bank South Carolina.
1989 Steve and Emily Molony Swanson were awarded honorary degrees from the College this spring. Steve served as the May commencement speaker. Michelle Vandermaas is a child life specialist at the Medical University of South Carolina.
1991Keith Farfone is a sales manager
with Trident Funding Corp. and oversees marine and recreational vehicle loan originations in the Carolinas and neighboring areas. Joe Keadle is the senior vice president of operations for the Automotive Finance Corporation in Carmel, Ind. Laura Osborne is an assistant principal at Cario Middle School in Mt. Pleasant.
1992 Ericka Burroughs is the program
manager for the Arnold School of Public Health’s Prevention Research Center at the University of South Carolina. Joe Meyer is a vice president of sales in Cigna’s Charlotte office.
1993 Joseph Burwell received the
2015 Alumni Award of Achievement from the College’s School of the Arts. In the last decade, Joseph has shown his work in group exhibitions in Brooklyn, Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia, Nashville, Providence, Portland (Ore.) and Santa Ana (Calif.). Joseph’s work has also been included in exhibitions in Helsinki, Finland; Trondheim, Norway; and Seoul, South Korea. His impressive record also includes the 2013 exhibition, titled School of the Viking Spaniard Revisited, at the College’s Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art. Joseph earned his M.F.A. from Tulane and has taught at both Tulane and Loyola universities. Stan Hickson, who earned his master’s from MUSC, is the president of Northside Medical Center in Columbus, Ga. Stan and Alice-Lyle have three children. Cynthia Marcengill Legette is a member of the College’s Alumni Association board of directors. Cynthia is a senior vice president and private client manager with US Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management in Charleston.
| Photo by Kevin Hoth |
[ alumni profile ]
Pursuit of Hoppiness When left hand brewing company redesigned its logo in 1995, it was important that the symbol not only convey the company’s values, but that it also look good on a bottle cap. Twenty years and 24 Great American Beer Festival medals later, the brand’s readily recognizable red, left hand insignia is a reminder that the best choice is often the simplest. Simplicity is a guiding philosophy for Chris Lennert ’94, chief operating officer and minority owner of the Longmont, Colo.–based brewer. Lennert didn’t always embrace the less-is-more approach. After earning a business administration degree as an inaugural member of the Schottland Scholars Program, he set out on a fast track to the corporate life. Along the way, he learned valuable lessons about the risks of choosing pay over passion. One of his first jobs was serving as a strategic assistant to Baby Superstore founder and CEO Jack Tate, a longtime philanthropist and namesake of the College’s Tate Center for Entrepreneurship. It was a heady job for a single guy in his early 20s, but Lennert felt blindsided when Baby Superstore was sold to
Toys “R” Us in 1997. He soon went to work as a buyer for Bi-Lo in Greenville, S.C., only to discover that he didn’t enjoy the suit-and-tie world or the aggressive business practices of the grocery industry. “It started to come into focus what I wanted my life to be,” he says. “Am I chasing the almighty dollar or am I chasing a better life? I decided I’m going to trade money for meaning.” The outdoors had always held meaning for Lennert. He loved camping, hiking and mountain biking, so he began lobbying several outdoor companies for interviews until he signed on with Boulder-based Kelty, where he developed a line of kids’ products into the company’s most profitable division. After a few years, Lennert jumped to a new company called GoLite. As vice president of sales, he oversaw several years of rapid growth before the company, which had helped spark the minimalist trend in the outdoor industry, began to overextend itself. Having learned another valuable lesson, Lennert moved on. As he was plotting his next career move in 2005, Lennert occasionally stopped in for a pint at Left Hand Brewing. One thing
led to another, and within weeks, he was working there. It was a huge leap of faith. He and his wife had just had their second son, he was taking a big pay cut, and he knew very little about making beer. But he had something that couldn’t be bottled: passion. Fast-forward 10 years, and both Lennert and Left Hand are thriving. The company has seen nine straight years of double-digit growth, racked up numerous awards for its brews and swelled its employee roster to more than 100, including two other College alumni (Lauren Foster ’13 and Brynn Keenan ’14). “I absolutely love what I do,” says Lennert. “I don’t really consider it a job. I consider it part of who I am.” The success has also prompted Lennert and the company to give back to the communities that support them. For the past several years, Lennert has organized cycling teams in multiple states and has raised more than $1 million for multiple sclerosis. “I love making beer,” Lennert observes, “and if we can leverage our brewery to do good, that’s one of the best things that we will be able to put our stamp on.” – Ron Menchaca ’98
SUMMER 2015 |
Lisa Parnell Roitzsch (see Fred Roitzsch ’88) Angel Brown Touwsma is a vice president of the College’s Alumni Association. Angel is the marketing director for Starwood and W Hotels in Atlanta.
1994 Kim Clifton is executive director
Donnetta Grays is appearing in an upcoming episode of HBO’s Crime. Donnetta lives in New York City. Damon Hilton is a senior financial analyst with Santee Cooper’s corporate headquarters in Moncks Corner, S.C. Dallas and Jaime Harrington Jarrell announce the birth of their daughter, Addison Blake, born in August 2014. The Jarrell family lives in Wadesboro, N.C. Abigail Walsh is an attorney and partner at Williams and Walsh in Charleston.
1995 Van Broad is the Younts Center for
2000 Marvell Adams is a member of
of Charleston HALOS, a nonprofit providing support and advocacy to abused and neglected children and kinship caregivers. Kim received her master’s in social work from Boston University.
Performing Arts director and the director of economic development for Fountain Inn, S.C. Stephen Delmonte is a senior engagement leader for Cerner Corporation in New York City. Greg Joye is director of development for American Friends Musée d’Orsay in New York City. Randy Lowell is a member of the College’s Board of Trustees. Randy is an attorney with Willoughby and Hoefer and serves on the Savannah River Maritime Commission. He and his family live in Blythewood, S.C. Ginn Leebern Maiers is a real estate agent with Dunes Properties on Isle of Palms. Pete and Summer Moorer Paulatos ’02 announce the birth of their second daughter, Lia Claire, born in October 2014. The Paulatos family lives in Charleston. Michael Renault is a vice president of the College’s Alumni Association. Michael is a regional vice president for TD Bank in Charleston. David Rogers is the general manager at The City Marina Company in Charleston.
the College’s Alumni Association board of directors. Marvell is the chief executive officer of Collington Life Care Community in Baltimore and president of the Baltimore alumni chapter. Kris and Margaret Seeley Furniss announce the birth of their second son, Gray Alexander, born in March. Margaret is the co-owner of Caviar and Bananas, a gourmet market and cafe in Charleston. Michael McCall is a partner at Carlock Copeland & Stair in Charleston. Michael received his J.D. from the University of Louisville. Michael and Jill Kapusta Randazzo announce the birth of twin daughters, born in January. The Randazzo family lives in Alexandria, Va. Colby and Stephanie Wall Rankin announce the birth of their second child, Harrison Grice, born in March. The Rankin family lives in Mt. Pleasant. Betsy Strickland works in M.B.A. career and professional development at the Harvard School of Business.
1996 Katharine Owens (M.S. ’03) is
2001 Melanie and Joachim Abels
an associate professor and chair of the Department of Politics and Government at the University of Hartford in Connecticut. She is also the university’s co-sustainability coordinator. Katharine received her Ph.D. from the University of Twente in the Netherlands. Carmen Sessions Scott is a member of the College’s Alumni Association board of directors. Carmen, who received her J.D. from the University of South Carolina, is an attorney with Motley Rice in Mt. Pleasant.
1997 Todd LeVasseur earned his Ph.D. in
religion from the University of Florida, with an emphasis on the study of religion and nature/ ecology, in December 2011. He is the first alum of the College’s religious studies department to earn a doctorate. Bob Luckett is a social work instructor and department chair in criminal justice and social sciences at South Texas College.
1998 Youlanda Gibbs is the founder
and executive director of the Palmetto Palace in Charleston, a support agency for families with a medical emergency in need of care and support services. Haley and Jeff Lynn were married in November 2014. Jeff is a vice president with Dillon Tractor and Implement in Dillon, S.C. Monica Spells is an assistant county administrator for Beaufort County, S.C. Chris Swetckie is the prinicipal at Howe Hall Arts Infused Magnet School in Berkeley County, S.C. The school received the state’s Verner Award for Arts in Education this year.
1999 Katie and Patrick Burns announce the birth of their first child, James Andrew, born in April 2014. The Burns family lives in Charlotte.
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announce the birth of their son, born in December 2014. Andy and Meredith MacMillan Dyer announce the birth of twins, Ruby Elizabeth and Benjamin “Brooks,” born in December 2014. The Dyer family lives in Savannah. Seth Mason is the executive director of the Solidus.Center in Charleston. Seth has an M.B.A. from the University of Georgia. Dale and Sarah Burkhart Savage ’04 announce the birth of their first child, Grayson William, born in September 2014. The Savage family lives in Mt. Pleasant. Lewis and Laura Confer Scott announce the birth of their son, Caleb Ethan, born in January. The Scott family lives in Charleston.
2002 Niki Fisk makes hand-wrought
sterling silver shadowbox jewelry that is inspired by myths and sacred symbols, science fiction and fantasy. She has shown her work at many arts and crafts shows around the country, including the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, where she was selected as the best new artist in 2013. She’s also built a performance career as an aerial artist, doing trapeze, silks and hooping. She has performed with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Chris Mattox is a member of the College’s Alumni Association board of directors. Chris is the founder and president of Carolina Recycling and Consulting in Charlotte. He earned his M.B.A. in international business from Georgia State University in 2008. Lauren Kirby Ott (see Brian Ott ’03) Summer Moorer Paulatos (see Pete Paulatos ’95) Elliott Rhoad is the general manager of Hyatt Place St. Louis/Chesterfield. Jordy Schaffner is a broker associate with Charleston Preferred Properties.
Josh and Caroline Swain Strehle announce the birth of their second child, Theodore, born in March 2014. The Strehle family lives in Cary, N.C.
2003 Brian Conn is a terminal operator at
Kinder Morgan. Chris and Jessica Marchant Hartzog announce the birth of their son, Cooper Michael, born in July 2014. The Hartzog family lives in Charleston. Jenna Jones earned her master’s in religious studies from UNC-Charlotte. Samuel and Alison LeMaster Langridge announce the birth of their daughter, Eloise “Elsie” Hollings, born in December 2013. The Langridge family lives in British Columbia. Samia Hanafi Nettles is an attorney and shareholder at Richardson Plowden & Robinson PA in Charleston. Samia received her J.D. from the Charleston School of Law. She also has a master’s in historic preservation from Georgia State University. Brian and Lauren Kirby Ott ’02 announce the birth of their son, Barnes Jürgen, born in March. The Ott family lives in Leland, Miss. Andi Perullo de Ledesma is the owner of a Chinese medicine clinic and is celebrating a five-year anniversary of the business. Somewhat unexpectedly, she has become a specialist in treating infertility. Andi has a second career as a travel photojournalist. Her website – My Beautiful Adventures – is one of the top travel blogs in the industry. Over the last couple of years, she has worked with magazines, brands and companies all over the world and visited more than 60 countries. She is also the travel editor of Queen City Exclusive magazine. This summer, she is going to Las Vegas as well as England, Scotland and Tanzania; she will also be going back to Argentina for the holidays with her husband, Lucas Alejandro Ledesma Pavon. Lucas and Andi have a son, Joaquin Alejandro Ledesma, born in January. Amanda and Jason Raitano announce the birth of their son, Miles Joseph, born in November 2014. The Raitano family lives in Tampa. Ryan and Brooke Vance Rushton announce the birth of their son, Vance Palmer, born in July 2014. The Rushton family lives on Johns Island. Matt and Leigh Fulmer Smith announce the birth of their second child, Lucas Dewitt, born in August 2014. The Smith family lives in Charleston. Crystal Smith-Connelly published her fourth book – Paranormal Jokes and Haiku – in February. Lauren Trexler earned a degree in Jewish nonprofit management from Hebrew Union College in May 2012.
2004 Mary Jo Leonard Fairchild (M.A. is the manager of research services in
’08) Special Collections in the College’s Addlestone Library. A certified archivist, she earned her master’s in history from the College as well as an MLIS from the University of South Carolina. Seth and Alicia Scherini Hall announce the birth of their daughter, Madeleine Jane, born in January 2014. Alicia is an attorney with Sessums Dallas in Ridgeland, Miss. Mariharden Hogan McElheny (see Clay McElheny ’06) Sarah Nicksa is an assistant professor of criminal justice at Widener University in Chester, Pa. Joe Palma is the executive chef at Bourbon Steak in Washington, D.C.
CLASS NOTES [ alumni profile ]
| Photo by Mike Ledford |
Strength in Numbers
| (l to r) Graham Ervin ’05 and Shannon Meteraud ’91 | Most of us have been there: cringing at a photo of ourselves and wondering when we started looking like that. Maybe it’s the extra insulation you picked up over the winter. Maybe your rear has begun to sag and dimple. Maybe the definition in your arms is lost. Whatever the gripe – we vow to make a change. We promise ourselves to get back in shape and start eating better. And, for many of us, that’s as far as it goes. Graham Ervin ’05, however, took it much, much further. It was four months before her 30th birthday. She was fairly active – she played softball and took group fitness classes here and there. But it wasn’t cutting it. She needed to step it up, and she needed help to do it. “I saw these figure competitors, and it was the physique I wanted: muscular, lean and toned,” says Ervin, who – upon a quick
Google search for figure competitors in Charleston – tracked down International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness Figure Pro Shannon Meteraud ’91 and asked her to coach her for a competition. “I wanted to do one competition for my 30th birthday, so I set that goal and said, ‘OK, you’re going to compete.’” Meteraud, a co-owner of Tres Gym in West Ashley, is an expert competitive coach. She competed for 12 years and went to the Figure Olympia competition seven of those years. In case you don’t know, Meteraud explains, the Olympia is “like the Super Bowl for us. It’s what every pro wants to do. Getting there is everyone’s goal.” Although she retired from competing in 2010, Meteraud is still active in the industry – and she considers this era in her career to be her best: “My biggest accomplishment is passing down my
fitness and healthy lifestyle to others.” Within a week, Ervin had lost 10 pounds. “The weight just started melting off. It was amazing how fast my body changed,” says Ervin, who admits that not giving into temptation can be a struggle – as can waking up every morning at 5 a.m. to get her 70 minutes of cardio in. “There’s an internal struggle every single morning. You’re competing with yourself every day.” “You just make it a priority,” agrees Meteraud. “You have to enjoy it, and I do. People find their niche, what they like. This is mine.” And, admittedly, it’s a weird little niche. There’s an entire subculture built around this industry – the bikinis are all handmade by the same person, there are certain spray tans that must be used at competition, certain stage jewelry, makeup and eyelashes. And then there’s the posing – with every judge looking for something different on stage. But Ervin learned it all, and – when her competition finally came around that October – she’d lost 50 pounds and she was pumped. “At this point, it’s all about stage presence. And I was shaking – just being out there and posing, I guess it got my adrenaline going,” says Ervin, who took home second place at that very first show back in 2013. “I was just doing it for me, to challenge myself, and then I got second place and I was addicted!” In June, she took first place in Figure Class B as well as earned an Overall Figure championship in the South Carolina NPC Upstate Classic. “I started out not expecting anything – and here I am now,” says Ervin, who is an account supervisor for the public relations firm the Reynolds Group as well as running a blog about health and nutrition and being an affiliate for Royal Sport LTD and Isolator Fitness. She was also the official “poster child” for the 2015 Cooper River Bridge Run, appearing on the race’s website and banner and modeling its merchandise. “It’s changed a lot for me.” Indeed, Ervin has come a long way since she saw that photo back in June 2013 and vowed to make a change. It makes her feel pretty darn good to accomplish the goal she set out to do: “That’s what I’ve learned – don’t wish for it, work for it.” – Alicia Lutz ’98
SUMMER 2015 |
Andrew and Ashley Read Parker ’06 announce the birth of their second child, Henry Read Cheatham, born in April. The Parker family lives in Land O’ Lakes, Fla. Sarah Burkhart Savage (see Dale Savage ’01) Danielle Tillilie is an administrative coordinator for the sociology and anthropology department at the College.
2005 Jim Brueckner wants everyone to
know he’s still having fun. Jennifer Bussey and Bobby Bender were married in October 2014. Jennifer met her future husband while working for Samaritan’s Purse in South Sudan. She returned to South Sudan in May with a team to perform cleft lip and palate surgeries. Amy Caffee is the director of recruitment and marketing for the College’s North Campus. Amy earned a master’s in history from the University of South Carolina. Katie Cunningham, who earned a master’s in occupational therapy from MUSC, is the manager of client experience at Medalogix, a health care technology company in Nashville. She is a board member for Nashville’s American Heart Association. Mary and Christopher DeCosmo announce the birth of their son, Lucas, born in October 2014. The DeCosmo family lives in western New York, where Chris works for Constellation Brands. Travis and Alexis Fanelli Garlock announce the birth of their son, Carter Matthew, born in September 2014. The Garlock family lives in Glen Allen, Va. Carter’s proud grandmother is Freddie Golding Fanelli ’75. Julianna and Chris Glaz announce the birth of their son, Mason Christian, born in April. The Glaz family lives in Charleston. Nicholas Glover is a 2015 New Leaders Council Institute Fellow. NLC is the country’s premier leadership and professional development, training, mentoring, networking and career and political advancement program for young professionals. Leigh Page is an assistant vice president at CCS Fundraising in Washington, D.C. William and Jackie Flemons Richardson ’06 announce the birth of their son, William Henry Richardson IV, born in January. The Richardson family lives in Charleston. Teressa and Jason Rosenberg announce the birth of their second child, Ari Ayerst, born in September 2014. The Rosenberg family lives in Pittsford, N.Y., and Jason is the vice president for the Rochester alumni chapter.
2006 Brittany Boykin is an attorney
with Turner Padget Graham & Laney, P.A., representing the interests of carriers, individuals and businesses as well as defending personal injury claims, construction defects and trucking and transportation matters. An active leader within the South Carolina Bar Young Lawyer’s Division, Brittany has been honored as a South Carolina Rising Star by Super Lawyers magazine for the past two years. Will and Katie Dangerfield Edwards announce the birth of their daughter, Chandler Caroline, born in October 2014. The Edwards family lives in Mt. Pleasant. Aman and Susannah Creech Kapoor announce the birth of twins: Ashwin Charles and Shivin Alexander, born in December 2014. The Kapoor family lives in Heathrow, Fla. Dave Lansbury (M.S.) is an appraiser in CBRE’s valuation and advisory services group. Shannon Malmstrom is an audit lead for data analytics at Fannie Mae in Washington, D.C. |
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
Clay and Mariharden Hogan McElheny ’04 announce the birth of their second daughter, Luciella, born in November 2014. Teaching physics and chemistry for the 11th and 12th grades, Clay was selected as teacher of the year at Georgia Military College Prep in Milledgeville. Merrill McGregor is the director of government relations for the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League. Ashley Read Parker (see Andrew Parker ’04) Andrea Kenzig Perry (M.P.A.) announces the birth of her son, Alexander Nelson, born in January. The Perry family lives in Browns Mills, N.J. Jackie Flemons Richardson (see William Richardson ’05) Charles Vance and Erin Yates were married in March 2014 and live on James Island. Charlie is an assistant manager at the Charleston County Parks and Recreation’s Folly Beach Fishing Pier, and Erin is the human resources manager and store manager for Bits of Lace on King Street. Meghan Norman Walter (see Jay Walter ’07)
2007 Andrew Aghapour received an
M.Phil. in history and philosophy of science at Cambridge University and is a doctoral candidate studying religion and science at the University of North Carolina. Andrew delivered a lecture at the College, titled The Religion of Homo Nexus: Neuroplasticity and the Age of Enhancement. Will and Ashley Jarvis Barrett announce the birth of their daughter, Charlotte Olivia, born in November 2014. Ashley is a Realtor with Keller Williams Realty and lives on Johns Island. Laura Patrick and Andrew Boyles were married in December 2014. Laura earned her J.D. at the San Diego School of Law and owns her own business in Charleston. Tanisia Charles is a recruitment coordinator for Jones Day in Atlanta. Tanisia is an alumni chapter leader in Atlanta. Ben ’08 and Mary Kelly Stribling Clary announce the birth of their second child, Mary Candler, born in January. The Clary family lives in Atlanta. Emily and Eric Faust announce the birth of their son, Evan Carl, born in September 2014. The Faust family lives in Groves, Texas. Matt Foster started Carolina Moves Property Management in Greenville, S.C. Brad and Sarah Bjorkman Harris announce the birth of their son, Hayes Andersson, born in September 2014. The Harris family lives in Lexington, S.C. William and Jamie Kirby Keigans announce the birth of their daughter, Eleanor Grey, born in November 2014. The Keigans family lives on Johns Island. Laura Pustarfi Reddick earned her master’s in the philosophy, cosmology and consciousness program and is a doctoral student pursuing a degree in ecology, spirituality and religion at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Laura Harris Shaleuly is an ESOL instructor for Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach. Mary Alice Springs and Eric Salzer were married in October. The Salzer family lives in King of Prussia, Pa., outside of Philadelphia. Mary earned a master’s in city and regional planning from Clemson and is a transit service planner for the public transit authority of the Harrisburg, Pa., metropolitan area. Jenna Stephens works in education reform for StudentsFirst and lives in Davison, Mich. Jenna and Kevin DeBuck were married in May.
Jay and Meghan Norman Walter ’06 announce the birth of their second daughter, Hollis Lee, born in September 2014. Scott and Lauren Burton Watson announce the birth of their son, Alexander David, born in November 2014. The Watson family lives in Annapolis, Md. Travis and Lisa Blasco Zobel announce the birth of their son, Camden Lee, born in September 2014. The Zobel family lives on Johns Island.
2008 Amanda and Brad Chapman were
married in August 2014 and live in Charlotte. Brad is a customer business manager for the Campbell’s Soup Company. Ben Clary (see Mary Kelly Stribling Clary ’07) Amber DePriest Dryden announces the birth of her daughter, Ava, born in May 2014. Matt Foley is the founder of Holy City Youth Slam, a youth poetry program in Charleston that helps young people across the tri-county community find their voices through writing and performance poetry. Jason and Kelly King Gainey announce the birth of their son, Solomon DeWitt, born in November 2014. The Gainey family lives in Greenville, S.C. Jennifer Warren Jessup is director of catering and conferences at Charleston’s Francis Marion Hotel. Kate Ramza earned her doctorate in physical therapy from Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa, this spring. Kate and Jake Zanger were married in November 2014. Jordan Ratliff is the administrative assistant to the head of institutional sales and global capital markets for SPDR ETF at State Street. Brendan Redeyoff is a senior associate with CBRE and specializes in industrial real estate. Ryan and Meagan Vucovich Robichaux announce the birth of their daughter, Elisabeth “Libby” Barry, born in July 2014. Meagan is the director of donor development for EWTN News and the National Catholic Register. The Robichaux family lives in Birmingham, Ala. Jess Tuckman is a business development manager with Blue Acorn in Charleston. Ashleigh Valluzzo is the director of operations for the Alabama Gulf Coast region of Moe’s Original Bar B Que. One of the four locations she oversees was the franchise-wide leader in sales for 2014. Ashleigh is also a partner in the Moe’s location in West Mobile.
2009 Rich Bailey and Clara MacMillan ’11
were married in November 2014. Rich is a grant administrator for the Department of Pediatrics at MUSC, and Clara is the coordinator for the Department of Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences at S.C. College of Pharmacy/MUSC. Matt Casey completed his Ph.D. coursework in the history program at the University of California – Davis, where he specialized in Latin American religious history. Britt Foster received her M.B.A. from The Citadel’s Graduate College. Jason Humphrey (see Elizabeth Poore ’10) Stephanie Kozersky is a development coordinator for the new Charleston Gaillard Center. Madeline Wallace is the director of alumni affairs and special events at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. Madeline and Graham O’Brien were married in October 2014.
2010 Michael Broderick lives in northern
Japan and is beginning his third year of teaching English in the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Programme. Georgia DiOrio and her husband, Tim Callaghan, announce the birth of a daughter, Bea Marie, born in January 2014. They live in Charleston.
| Photo by Charles Harris |
[ alumni profile ]
Stirring Works of Art when jonathan brilliant ’02 entered graduate school at San Jose State University, he began a life phase he describes as “very reductive.” The M.F.A. candidate soon forfeited a studio, deliberately limited the use of color in his art and shaved his head. He rejected many tools and technology, opting to read more books. Meanwhile, Brilliant was attracted to British natural artists such as Andy Goldsworthy, who began creating art in the 1970s through the arrangement of found objects in a landscape, such as stones, leaves and sticks. Putting his own twist on this method, Brilliant chose a decidedly less natural, but perhaps more relevant, modern-day landscape from which to gather materials: the local coffee shop. Brilliant scoured coffee shops within a two-mile radius to collect as many cardboard sleeves, plastic lids and wooden coffee stirrers as he could. Then, he began creating. He had no idea this was the beginning of an artistic method that would come to substantially define him as an artist. But, 10 years after first working with coffee shop supplies, Brilliant continues to work with these discardable items, creating massive installations across the country and world. These days, however, he buys the supplies himself – and in bulk.
Brilliant’s most eye-catching works are the large, room-filling sculptures he makes almost entirely from woven wooden coffee stirrers. “It’s my way of making a big drawing,” he says. Most people are amazed to learn that Brilliant’s sculptures contain no glue and remain in place from the tension created by weaving together an average of 50,000 stir sticks at a time. Viewers might think this speaks to some kind of purity within the sculpture, but Brilliant says it’s really about keeping things simple. Glue was simply not necessary. “I wasn’t looking for a gimmick. I was being practical. I was being unfussy,” he says, adding that the absence of glue doesn’t mean an absence of stability or strength. “It’s not like a game of Jenga. It is actually a structure. People lean on them sometimes.” Other times, he’ll fashion artwork from coffee cup sleeves, using an average of 3,500 sleeves each time. “But I don’t care about the numbers,” he says. “I’m just trying to make the work.” Brilliant’s fascination with coffee shops manifested itself before graduate school. As a studio art major at the College, Brilliant spent much time sketching in the Starbucks coffee shop on Calhoun Street, across from the entrance to Cougar Mall.
He sketched parking meters and a nearby tree, over and over, all in the name of learning to draw. Also crucial to his artistic education was the support and tutelage of the late Michael Tyzack, a British painter and printmaker who became a favorite professor among art students during his 30-year teaching career at the College. “He treated our work like it was the greatest work ever seen,” says Brilliant, who received an individual artist grant from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation in 2011. “He was very enthusiastic and encouraging. He never made it seem like we weren’t special.” Brilliant lives in Raleigh with his wife, Brooke Nicholson Brilliant ’05, and two young children, Asher and Mabel. He travels regularly to install his sculptures and gets a glimpse at how many other artistic institutions operate. Few, he says, offer the same level of nurturing that the College provides its young artists. “I didn’t realize what a unique experience it was until I was done and went to other places,” says Brilliant. “The intimacy we had in the art department … it was pretty special.” – Jason Ryan To see more of Brilliant’s art, visit jonathanbrilliant.com.
SUMMER 2015 |
Caroline Eubanks is a freelance writer and travel blogger based in Atlanta. She was named one of Southern Living’s “30 Bloggers to Follow in 2015” for her work on ThisIsMySouth.com. Stephan and Ashley Tillman Gilliard announce the birth of their son, Stephan J. Gilliard Jr., born in December 2014. The Gilliard family lives in North Charleston. Dakota Hadley, a physician assistant, received his master’s in health sciences and physician assistant studies from George Washington University. Dakota and Tinsley Iselin were married in April and live in Charleston. H. Schuyler Halsey is a real estate agent with Agent Owned Realty in Charleston. Kaleigh Knudsen and Matthew Daigle were married in September 2014. Christine Kremchek finished her master’s in the philosophy, cosmology and consciousness program at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. Elizabeth Poore and Jason Humphrey ’09 were married in April. They live in Seattle, where Liz is the marketing director at Dupar and Company and Jason is the director of university advancement for Amplo Advance. Greg Trotter received a master’s in philosophy from Loyola University Chicago and is a Ph.D. student at Marquette, focusing on 20th-century continental philosphers.
2011 Davis Cranford III is the vice
president of sales for NOLA Brewing Company in New Orleans. Erin Freeman served as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in South Korea. Andrew Goudelock starred for Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul and set the Euroleague’s single-game three-point mark (10). He was named a Turkish Basketball League All-Star and a member of the All-Euroleague Second Team. Ashlyn Spilis Hochschild is the intern and student coordinator for the College’s Office of Sustainability. Shannon Vaughn Hodges is the gift administrator with the College’s development office. Sean Hughes (M.P.A.) is the director of operational planning for the Charleston County School District’s finance, operations and capital programs division. Chelsea King is a staff accountant at South Carolina Federal Credit Union. Chelsea and Andrew Milford were married in April. Eric and Grace Williamson Larson announce the birth of their daughter, Audrey Grace, born in April. The Larson family lives in Bartlett, Tenn. Clara MacMillan (see Rich Bailey ’09) Nathaniel Mansell is a physical therapist and athletic trainer and lives in Mt. Pleasant. Carlee Reynolds is the director of member services with the Florida Council for
Community Mental Health. Samantha Sammis is one of the leaders of Loving America Street in Charleston and is a graduate student in The Citadel’s clinical counseling program. Cat Taylor is a partner with ByrdHouse Public Relations in Charleston. Nicole Trevisan is a recruiter for Randstad Sourceright and is a certified NASM personal trainer. Bo Ward graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Officer Candidate School last fall. Bo is a commissioned officer stationed in Charleston aboard the USCGC James (WMSL 754).
2012 Elizabeth Bemis is an actress and
comedian living in Los Angeles. Emily Gallo is the assistant to the president and CEO of Big Machine Label Group in Nashville. Courtney Gerstenmaier (M.S. ’15) is a Sea Grant Knauss Fellow and works jointly with the NOAA Fisheries’ communications office and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. David and Melissa Ladusau Haeffner announce the birth of their daughter, Scarlet Elise, born in January. Lauren Hetzel is a billing specialist with McKesson and lives in Summerville, S.C. Kathryn Higgs is the office manager and bookkeeper for Pampered Paws Animal Hospital in Oxford, Miss.
[ passages ] Edna Quinby Morgan ’35
William Wells ’58
Brenda Dolder ’86
Mary Ellen Bond Fenner Parker ’38
Susan Walker Williams ’59
Suzette Antol Phillips ’87
February 12; Clyo, Ga.
April 17; Rocky Mount, N.C.
March 16; Burke, Va.
Perry Feldman ’61
June 24, 2014; Winchester, Va.
March 8; Charleston, S.C.
Mary Conlon Bischoff ’40
Ellen St. Clair Smyth Young ’65
Gretchen Welch ’90
Virginia Brunson Mann ’42
Janice Roumillat Foster ’71
Janis Peterson Ploth ’95
Elizabeth Macmurphy Kimball ’45
Elaine Rowland Cordes ’76
Wilson Reed ’95
Lucia Johnson Vest ’47
Paula Whyde Eurenius ’76
Ana Kimsey ’97
James Boyle Sr. ’48
Marion Smith ’76
Brac Turnipseed ’01
Elizabeth Christie Oliveros ’48
Anne Padgett Pitts ’77
Joanna Joly ’13
Kathleen Jenkins Parish ’49
William Smith ’78
March 12; Charleston, S.C.
March 19; Charleston, S.C.
Ruth Mengedoht Long ’50
Steadman Westergaard ’78
Frank Petrusak, former faculty
Ward Johnson ’52
Brian Melling ’79
George Spaulding, former faculty
Eugene Woods ’52
Michael Lee ’82
Carol Beth Beyer, staff
John Beckwith III ’55
Robert Pugh ’82
Wilford Hoats Jr., former staff
Lucile Hyde Wehman ’58
George Shannon ’84
Mildred Holliday Sorrell, former staff
February 4; Mt. Pleasant, S.C. February 19; Greenville, S.C. April 16; Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
March 22; Fort Washington, Md. March 24; Summerville, S.C.
February 11; Johns Island, S.C.
February 3; Yonges Island, S.C.
October 31, 2012; Fort Belvoir, Va. July 25, 2013; Columbia, S.C. January 15; Fort Myers, Fla. January 24; Mt. Pleasant, S.C. April 29; Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
May 19, 2014; Summerville, S.C.
February 3; Charleston, S.C.
Clarence Singletary ’40
February 25; Moncks Corner, S.C.
April 12; Folly Beach, S.C.
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
March 14; Georgetown, S.C. January 15; Nokesville, Va. May 17; Rapid City, S.D. April 8; Naples, N.Y.
January 22; Charleston, S.C. February 28, 2010; Alabaster, Ala.
April 4; New York, N.Y.
January 28; Summerville, S.C.
April 1; Seneca, S.C. April 7; Frankfort, Ky. March 11; Newberry, S.C.
Janey Parker Godwin ’90
March 19; Clover, S.C.
April 22; Charleston, S.C.
February 9; Powhatan, Va. February 26; Durham, N.C. February 24; Roebuck, S.C. March 26; East Sandwich, Mass.
John Schulte Jr., student
February 13; Summerville, S.C. May 22; Charleston, S.C.
April 16; Charleston S.C.
February 24; Charleston, S.C. March 30; Goose Creek, S.C.
| Photos by Kip Bulwinkle ’04 |
| It was a night, or two, to remember. For the second year in a row, A Charleston Affair was held on both Saturday and Sunday 5,000 friends of the College in attendance. A tradition since 1900, the Alumni Association’s popular reception welcomes alumni back to campus and celebrates the graduating class. |
evenings to accommodate the
Emma Keech is the coordinator of regulatory affairs for CTIA - The Wireless Association in Washington, D.C. Courtney Marous is an associate with Avison Young’s industrial services group in Mt. Pleasant. Courtney is a CCIM candidate, completing her coursework at the College. Melissa Murray is a campus recruiter for Northwestern Mutual of Louisiana in New Orleans. Melissa and James Overhold were married in April. Hunter Smith is a marketing coordinator for the Charleston market at SGA Architecture. Before that, Hunter was an English project specialist and teacher in the Philippines with the Peace Corps. Laney Talbert is the assistant director of alumni events in the College’s Office of Alumni Relations. Tyler and Jenny Coe Terronez announce the birth of their son, David, born in September 2014. The Terronez family lives in Jacksonville, Fla. Crystal Waters is the administrative coordinator in the College’s Office of Alumni Relations.
2013 Russ Becker is a graduate student
in the University of Pennsylvania’s social work program. Ashley Fabian won third prize at the Grand Concours Vocal Competition at the University of Texas, Austin. She won second place at the Orpheus Vocal Competition in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and is singing with the Central City Opera (Colo.) in their Young Artist Program this summer. Ashley has received a scholarship to pursue a master’s in voice at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music.
Heather Habecker is a Ph.D. student in the University of Missouri’s anthropology program. Jacqueline Kastberg has written a book, The Elemental Guardians (Page Publishing). Jacqueline lives in Charleston. Kerianne Krause is a lead behavior specialist with STAR in Charleston. She completed her master’s in applied behavior analysis and autism at Sage Graduate School in Troy, N.Y. Abby Whiten Miller is a real estate agent with Carolina One Real Estate in Goose Creek. Daniel Nesmith is an administrative assistant in the College’s studio arts department. Kristen Pace is the community engagement coordinator and social media manager for the Upcountry History Museum (Greenville, S.C.), a Smithsonian Institution– affiliated museum. London Penland is the owner of Privacy and Design Fences in Greenville, S.C. Taylor Phillips-Brown is a senior business development associate with Vorsight in Washington, D.C. Flannery Winchester is the editor of Best Self Atlanta Magazine. Flannery and Brad Keck were married in August 2013.
the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. Griffin Peddicord is the founder of Ohana Syndicate, a Charleston-based technology company that produced Voyzik, a shared music experience linking listeners around the world. Griffin was recognized by the White House as one of the top 30 emerging global entrepreneurs. Meghan Proctor is a receptionist for Water Missions International in Charleston. Alexia Sosa received second place for Excellence in Lighting Design and an award from the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region IV conference in Albany, Ga., in February. She is an electrician apprentice at the Olney Theatre Center, located near Washington, D.C. Erin Sutherland is an urban planner for Akerman in Miami. She assists international and domestic clients with performing due diligence on development projects throughout Southeast Florida. Erin is one of only three urban planners in the Miami office and the youngest employee in the firm.
2014 Lauren Brooks is a graduate
2015 Nina Rosenberg received a
student in George Washington University’s sociology program. Jack Fishman is an intern at Reef Environmental Education Foundation in Key Largo, Fla. Tripp McElwee (M.P.A.) is completing a second master’s (in environmental studies) at the University of Charleston, S.C. Tripp and Eliza Rodrigue were married in April. Jackelyn Payne is a graduate student at
fellowship with Repair the World and is a part of the education justice team to improve social inequalities in the Philadelphia education system.
Check out College of Charleston Magazine’s website at magazine.cofc.edu.
SUMMER 2015 |
[ faces and places ]
1 3 2
There’s always something going on at the College: 1 ICAT pitch event: M.H. Johnson with judges Glenn Starkman, Tommy Baker and Jonathan Zucker 2 Legislative reception: Clyde the Cougar with House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford and Senator Marlon Kimpson (Charleston District 42) 3 Commencement: honorary degree recipients Sam and Gina Shapiro with Don Belk ’00 4 Outdoor Club on Shem Creek 5 Geology class field trip on Folly Beach 6 Rendering for Theatre class: Russel Jones ’15 and Janine McCabe ’98 (theatre and dance) 7 First African American studies majors: (front row) Clerc Cooper ’15, Miya Fowler, Liam O’Leary ’15, Beneshia Webb ’15; (back row) Hannah Craig ’15, Olivia Williams ’15, Kyran Davis ’15, Siera Barksdale ’15, Matthew Corder and Jasmin Wilson ’15 8 Legislative reception: Greg Padgett ’79, President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman and Randy Lowell ’95 9 Commencement: Demetria Noisette Clemons ’75, honorary degree recipient Gilda Cobb-Hunter and John Busch ’85 10 BOUNDLESS campaign executive committee |
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
12 14 13
members Hilton Smith, Steve Osborne ’73 (business affairs), George Watt (institutional advancement), Renee Anderson, President McConnell ’69, Steve Swanson ’89 and, of course, Clyde the Cougar 11 Commencement: M.B.A. degree candidates Brandon Murray ’14, Austin O’Bryhim ’14, Jianyu Pang and Adam Rabe 12 Commencement: Cherry Daniel ’75, honorary degree recipient Tony Meyer ’49 and Henri Golding ’74 13 Retirement recognition: Jack Sewell (owner, Jack’s Café) 14 Commencement: honorary degree recipients Steve ’89 and Emily Molony Swanson ’89 15 April Board of Trustees meeting: Annaliza Oehmig Moorhead ’92, Trisha Folds-Bennett (dean, Honors College), John Zeringue, Morgan Larimer, Elizabeth Bernstein-Meyer (Honors College) and Ryan Spraker (Student Government Association) 16 Baseball game at Patriots Point: Cherry Daniel ’75, Edward Thomas ’76, Renee Romberger ’81, Clyde the Cougar, Toya Pound ’91, Joe Thompson ’74 and John Busch ’85 17 2015 Pro±Con Anime & Gaming Convention in Stern Student Center Ballroom SUMMER 2015 |
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Within these pages, you're going to find many stories showcasing the College of Charleston's dynamic and intellectually vigorous culture.We...
Published on Jun 18, 2015
Within these pages, you're going to find many stories showcasing the College of Charleston's dynamic and intellectually vigorous culture.We...