C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n magaz in e FALL 2 01 0
Turning the Tide
Cyrus Buffum â€™06 serves as a tireless advocate and watchdog protecting Charlestonâ€™s waters.
FAL L 2 0 1 0 Volume XV, Issue 1 Editor
Mark Berry Art Director
Alfred Hall Managing Editor
Alicia Lutz ’98 Associate Editor
Jason Ryan Photography
Leslie McKellar Contributors
Trevor Baratko ’08 Bryce Donovan ’98 Bridget Herman ’08 Jenny Peterson ’05 Jamie Self ’02 Holly Thorpe Jason Zwiker ’97 Online Design
Larry Stoudenmire Alumni Relations
Karen Burroughs Jones ’74 Executive Vice President for External Relations
Michael Haskins Contact us at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 843.953.6462 On the Web
magazine.cofc.edu Mailing Address
Which Giants Will Fall This Year?
GAME ON. www.CofCSports.com
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 58,000 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 ]
The DNA of Great teaching
Around the Cistern
by Alicia Lutz ’98
Chris Korey knows he can’t teach his students everything. But what he can teach them – how to challenge their potential and question the world around them – is all they really need to know. They will discover the rest all on their own.
The Professor Who came in from the Cold
Life Academic 8 Making the Grade 14 Teamwork 20
by Jason Ryan
Point of View
As the saying goes, sometimes life is stranger than fiction. For George Heltai, a beloved history professor who captivated an entire generation of students, that life seemed torn straight from the pages of a Cold War political thriller.
Class Notes My Space
by Eric Frazier ’87
Diversity strikes at the very core of what it means to be a liberal arts and sciences university. An alumnus explores this idea of diversity as well as the ways in which the College is making its student population more diverse.
In Deep: A love story written in Water by mark berry
Dedicated to protecting and preserving Charleston’s waters, Cyrus Buffum ’06 is proving that he just might be the Lowcountry’s real prince of tides.
on the cover: Cyrus Buffum ’06, photo by Peter Frank Edwards ’93
AROUND the CISTERN
| Anita Zucker, Charleston businesswoman and philanthropist |
Gifts to Never Forget When Ted Rosengarten was 3 or 4 years old, he opened up a cabinet in his family’s Brooklyn, N.Y., home and took out the books he found tucked away. Opening them, his eyes grew wide. Inside were images not meant for children – photos of concentration camps and extermination camps that, just a few years earlier, housed millions of Jews and other people deemed undesirable by the Nazis. The images stuck in Rosengarten’s impressionable mind, just like the Jewish refugees he saw around New York, whose
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
forearms flashed identifying numbers tattooed in place by their Nazi captors. More than 60 years later, Rosengarten is still curious about the Holocaust, and still unable to shake certain images from his mind. He’s come to associate other, less obvious visual cues with the Holocaust, too, such as railroad tracks, which remind him of the way the Nazis carted in boxcars full of Jews to the camps, designating them for hard labor or death. Rosengarten visits some of these camps every couple of years, taking
along students from his class on the Holocaust that he has taught for 12 years at the College. Thanks to a gift of $1.5 million from Charleston businesswoman Anita Zucker and her family, the College will soon be able to supplement the work of Rosengarten, creating a permanent chair of Holocaust studies, enhancing Holocaust archives and providing funding for Holocaust-related student travel. The gift could not have come at a better time. The ongoing teaching and studying of the
| Photo by Ben Williams |
AROUND the CISTERN
Holocaust is at a critical juncture, says Rosengarten, with the last generation of Holocaust survivors dying out. Soon, he notes, there will be no living witnesses of the Holocaust, no one able to provide firsthand accounts of the horrors endured by the Jews and others targeted by the Nazis. One witness to the Holocaust that still remains is Zucker’s mother, Rose, who survived a Nazi purge of her town in Poland by hiding under a mattress, then shuffled between hiding spots for years until the war ended, living for a time beneath the floorboards of a barn with her mother, two brothers and a cousin who was just a baby. Though she survived, she lost her father, a sister and three other brothers during the Holocaust and World War II. One of these brothers had been arrested by the Nazis, was brought to court and had his charges dismissed by a judge. A Nazi officer, however, was unhappy with this decision, so he pulled out a gun and shot the man, killing him in the courthouse. Zucker’s father, Carl Goldberg, had it no easier: He was imprisoned at the Buchenwald labor camp after fighting in the Jewish resistance against the Nazis. About the same time, his first wife and 3-year-old daughter were killed by the Nazis. It was after the war that he remarried and started a family with Rose. After living in a displaced-persons camp outside Berlin for four years, the family moved to the United States, where daughter Anita was born. Zucker says her recent gift to the College is meant to honor the previous generations of her and her late husband’s families who were displaced or killed during the Holocaust. Her family takes to heart the phrase tikkun olam, or repair of the world. By continuing to discuss the horrors of the Holocaust, Zucker says, future generations will hopefully avoid, or at least minimize, the occurrence of genocide. Sadly, she notes, genocide continues today, half a century after the Holocaust ended. Yet for her and countless others, the Holocaust trumps other genocides in its insidiousness and manifestation of pure evil. This summer, Zucker visited the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, Ill. Portions of the museum’s
exhibits focused on the eugenics programs fostered by Nazi scientists and doctors, detailing their plans to create a master race by eliminating those judged inferior. Zucker recoiled, flabbergasted that highly educated men would instigate such atrocity. Similarly, Rosengarten
Jewish Culture and to boost the College’s Jewish studies archives. Marty Perlmutter, director of the Jewish Studies Program, says the Center for Southern Jewish Culture will be a natural fit for Charleston, considering the city was home to the country’s largest
| Ted Rosengarten, who teaches Holocaust studies in the Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies Program | shudders when he thinks of the resources devoted to the annihilation of people. “Never before and never since did a state commit all its assets – intellectual assets, technological assets, material assets, social assets – to the destruction of one race of people,” says Rosengarten. “They had one thing on their mind: the destruction of the Jewish people.” The Holocaust studies gift from Zucker is one of a number of significant donations recently made to the College’s Jewish Studies Program. This semester, Linda Gradstein, a longtime National Public Radio correspondent in Israel, is teaching two courses as the Norman and Gerry Sue Arnold Distinguished Visiting Chair in Jewish Studies. The Arnolds donated $1 million in 2009 to endow the position. This year, an anonymous gift was made to improve Jewish student life at the College, promising $45,000 a year for the next five years. On top of that, Samuel Greene bequeathed $250,000 to Jewish studies toward the development of the Center for Southern
population of Jews at the turn of the 19th century. Additionally, Charleston is home to the first Hebrew Benevolent Society and the first Hebrew Orphan Society and had the first Jew elected to public office. Capitalizing on all this philanthropy, the College will offer the first major in Jewish studies in 2011. Perlmutter couldn’t be happier with the direction the Jewish Studies Program is headed and is proud to say the College has the best Jewish studies program in the state. And with the gifts from Zucker and others, the College’s program is sure to become even better, demonstrating to students that even in times of tragedy, goodness and kindness can shine through. “Helping others and giving back is a responsibility that we all share,” says Zucker. “My family and I want to honor our parents and the countless victims and survivors of the Holocaust. We want their legacy to be the importance of helping others, even in the face of unspeakable evil.”
FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
Never ever LEAVE!!
This past May was my fifth year since I graduated, and I still miss CofC all the time. Study hard and play hard. These will be the best years of your life. You will make friends that last the rest of your life.
Balance your coursework and social time as though one does
not compete with the other. Also, try to on campus as much as you can.
– Christian LaBlanc ’12
Organize your time, finances, living area,
and study hard. Ask for help if you need it. It’s there. Make new friends. I’ve been out of school 18 years, and
FOCUS! FOCUS!! FOCUS!!!
work makes Jack (or Jill)
I’m jealous of the fun you’re going to have
boy (or girl).
over the next four-tofive years.
– Rex Boateng ’84
my best friends now are the ones I made while in school.
senior year of high school was your “party” time. Hope you enjoyed it. Now it’s time to get serious. All play and no Your
– Doug Ferguson (communication professor)
– Paul Bordewyk ’05
When walking down a flooded street and you see a city bus coming, RUN! They cause huge waves. Never laugh when someone trips on the brick sidewalk because it will happen to too!
– Rob Vinson ’92
– Cindy Compton
FACE-OFF We asked the more than 22,000 people who “like” us on Facebook to share some words of wisdom for the Class of 2014. Here are a few highlights (and some truly sage advice). Join the discussion on the College’s Facebook page and share your thoughts and memories for the next face-off question.
rain boots, and
a poncho that not only covers you but your book
bag, and an umbrella.
When it rains it floods! And just using one of these items will leave you
soaking wet and unhappy during class. – Amanda James ’10
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
palmetto bugs. – Tammy Alford England ’84
– Hank Bridges ’01
sailing class – no matter what! Take a Spoleto
Maymester class, too. If you’re not from Charleston, make and keep a good friend from there – you will want that later, for sure. Make a professor in your major a pal – you will need them for
reference letters for years. You will look back with fond memories and realize how lucky you were to be there.
I wish I was in your shoes right now!!!
– Anne Cocke Caraway ’93
your wallet depends on it! – Rita Addison
These will be the best four years of your life, and you’ll probably never want to leave Charleston. I know I didn’t, and I’m trying to move back now. Have fun, but remember how important school is. Don’t miss class!!! – Conor Hayden
AROUND the CISTERN
CAMPUS ICON Jane Reno-Munro She takes their blood. She pokes them with needles. She insists they say “ah” as they choke on tongue depressors. And yet, she manages to make everything a little better. Ever since arriving on campus as head nurse in 1992, Jane Reno-Munro has done everything in her power to make students feel their best – even when they come into the clinic feeling their absolute worst. “I love the students. I always say that every semester I have 11,000 kids, because I care for each one of them,” explains Reno-Munro, director of Student Health Services, a nurse practitioner who – in addition to administrative tasks like balancing the budget – still tends to patients on a daily basis. “Students come first. They’re the reason we’re here. We just want to keep them safe and healthy.” And part of that, she points out, is teaching them how to take charge of their health. “We should take every opportunity to talk to our students about healthy lifestyle choices,” she says, adding that – because parents often oversee their children’s healthcare through high school – many students have never Although be difficult for even calledit a may doctor’s office before. incoming students to imagine now, the– “It’s important for them to figure it out College is their newtohome. At the and it’s rewarding see them gosixth from annual convocation ceremony, they were teenagers to savvy young adults.” home by faculty and staff welcomed And, of course, the savvier they are, before they signed their the the healthier they are … names and theinless class ledger, formalizing their place likely to be tapped on the knee within the College family.little reflex hammer. Reno-Munro’s In preparation for the event, students What or convocation staff member dospeaker you think isand readprofessor Jewel by a campus icon? E-mail us your suggestions at English professor Bret Lott, who has email@example.com. returned to the College after three years at Louisiana State University. Jewel gained national attention when Oprah Winfrey picked it in January 1999 as one of her book club selections. “Coming home to the College is a dream come true,” says Lott, who previously taught at the College from 1986 to 2004. “And speaking at the convocation underscores the fact that the College is and always has been my real home.”
[ from the president ]
Forging Ahead Toward a Better Future In recent months, there has been much discussion in South Carolina about tuition at the state’s public colleges and universities, including the College of Charleston. As most of you know by now, the College’s Board of Trustees voted in June to increase tuition for the current academic year. The increase was necessary for three reasons: to partially offset repeated state budget cuts, to maintain the academic core and competitive standing of our institution and to begin implementing our new 10-year strategic plan. It is important for every member of our extended College community – from our newest members in the Class of 2014 to our thousands of alumni and supporters all around the world – to understand each of these issues and why failing to address them would threaten the quality and direction of our institution.
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
Higher education in South Carolina was underfunded long before the current economic crisis arrived. Our state simply has not made higher education a continuing priority in the way that neighboring states such as North Carolina and Georgia did decades ago. In 2008–09, Georgia and North Carolina spent $7,788 and $11,552, respectively, per full-time undergraduate student, while South Carolina spent just $4,820. The national recession has merely accelerated the decline in South Carolina. Consider that in the 1980s, the State of South Carolina provided 66 percent of the College’s operating budget. This contribution fell to 30 percent in the 1990s, and by 2008 had dropped to 17.5 percent. This academic year, it fell to 8.5 percent – and is expected to continue dropping. Reductions over the past three years alone amount to a loss of state funding of more than $16 million,
which is a 45 percent reduction of our state appropriation. In response to these dramatic losses, the College of Charleston, along with all of the state’s public universities and colleges, made the difficult decision to raise tuition. This has elicited strong reactions from certain of our state’s news outlets and a number of elected leaders. Much of the attention surrounding tuition increases has focused on percentage increases rather than the actual dollar increase or the total cost of tuition. When evaluating the College’s tuition increase in light of these factors, the College remains affordable relative to other universities in the state and institutions of equal caliber around the country. The average cost of tuition for South Carolina’s 13 four-year public institutions is $9,958. The College of Charleston’s tuition for in-state students is $10,314.
AROUND the CISTERN
If we exclude the unique undergraduate programs at the Medical University of South Carolina, the most costly institution in the state is Winthrop University, with tuition of $12,176, 18 percent higher than the College’s. The second most costly is Clemson University, with a tuition of $11,908, 15 percent higher than the College’s. It is also important to understand that South Carolina supports its public colleges and universities at disproportionate levels. Some receive a larger percentage of their budgets from the state than others, ranging from a low of 6.27 percent to a high of 21.25 percent. (As noted above, the College receives 8.5 percent of its budget from the state, ranking us near the bottom among the state’s 13 four-year institutions.) But state support is only part of the equation. The College of Charleston is at a critical juncture in its rise from a small private college to a nationally recognized liberal arts and sciences university. The decision to increase tuition was partially driven by our strong desire to maintain this momentum as well as the quality of our academic programs and student living environments. Along with our growing reputation have come growing pains. Following significant enrollment increases throughout the 1990s, the College had to face the fact that its facilities and infrastructure could not support a student body of 10,000. As a result, we have been engaged in a concerted effort over the past decade to expand, renovate and build facilities to accommodate this earlier growth. Meanwhile, our fixed costs such as employee healthcare benefits, utilities and maintenance have continued to increase at a much faster rate than inflation. Our unique location in Charleston’s Historic District also presents us with economic challenges. Nearly everything we do is complicated by the historical significance of most of our buildings, several of which are recognized as National Historic Landmarks. We have 80 buildings over 100 years old. Most people don’t realize that the College of Charleston is the largest historic preservationist in Charleston. We are honored to be entrusted with the care of national treasures such as
| President Benson welcomes the first class of the College’s new M.B.A. program. | Randolph Hall and Towell Library, but this responsibility comes with significant costs. We must continue planning for a future in which state support of higher education continues to decline. To that end, our new 10-year strategic plan, titled “Gateways to Greatness,” calls on us to refocus and strengthen our efforts to identify and attract outside investment. This includes private fundraising and government grants as well as corporate and foundation giving. We must also do a better job of engaging our very young alumni so that they maintain strong connections to their alma mater throughout their lives. Among our more than 46,000 living alumni, some 90 percent graduated in 1980 or later! That means that fewer than 5,000 of our alumni are 50 and older, which is generally when people become more interested in philanthropy. We must establish a culture of philanthropy among our network of graduates and supporters and ensure that they understand and embrace the College’s envisioned future. By placing the College on a stronger
financial footing, we can provide greater access to South Carolinians, firstgeneration college students and students with significant financial need. The recent tuition increase already has enabled us to begin addressing the very real challenges that many of our students and their families face. Our commitment of an additional $3 million to need-based and merit-based financial aid this academic year and for future years is only the first step. Our state’s financial challenges need not resign the College to a future of mediocrity. In fact, the budget cutting and economic uncertainty clearly say to us that we must become more responsible for shaping our own future and become more self-sufficient. To guide us, we have a comprehensive strategic plan that reflects the input and shared vision of all of our stakeholders. I am confident that 10 years from now, we will look back at this period in the long and proud history of the College of Charleston and recognize that forging ahead in pursuit of our institutional goals was exactly the right call. – President P. George Benson
FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
LIFE ACADEMIC The Shrimp Whisperer
| Photos by Ben Williams |
The snap, crackle and pop of the marshes are sounds well known to residents of the South Carolina Lowcountry. But where do the sounds come from and what do they mean? The answer to the first half of the question is simple. The sounds are made by snapping shrimp (not quite the same as the plump curls of succulence that line your shrimp cocktail: These are wee crustaceans, each as small as the tip of your little finger). The second part of the question – what do the sounds mean – is a bit trickier. That’s where biologist Melissa Hughes,
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
a specialist in animal communication, comes in. “I never thought I’d go back to shrimp,” says Hughes, who wrote her Ph.D. dissertation on the subject and later moved on to studying birdsong. “But when I accepted a position at the College of Charleston in 2001, the temptation was too much to pass up. The marshes around here are chock-full of them.” Hughes is fascinated by the signals animals use to convey information. After all, these signals directly impact their abilities to find food, avoid physical harm and achieve reproductive success.
“Animals have to make all kinds of decisions in social situations,” she says. “Should I fight you? Should I mate with you? Are you my offspring? Should I be protecting you?” What she has found is that most of the time, animals are conveying reliable information. This begs the question of why animals are honest when they are competing for finite resources. “Honesty is often maintained by some kind of physical limit,” she notes. A much bigger claw makes a much bigger snap, for example, and that kind of information is useful in a fight-or-flight situation. “An
Melissa Hughes is fascinated by the animals use .... After all, these signals directly impact their abilities to find food, avoid physical harm and achieve reproductive success. animal that is dishonest – for example, if the signal does not convey truthful information about its physical size – might end up in a lot of trouble when a fight actually does occur.” In other words, you have to be able to walk the walk if you’re going to talk the talk. The questions that can be asked about honesty and deception, signaler and receiver, physical and chemical signals and the relationship between form and function are virtually endless. And Hughes has enlisted the help of two SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research with Faculty) grant students, Kathleen Hollowell and Rachel Vickery, to help answer them. Hollowell, a senior marine biology major, will be expanding upon the
research into honesty, deception and visual signals. Vickery, a biology major with an interest in medical school, is studying the ways in which snapping shrimp use their antennae to facilitate communication. “There are social interactions in which they will fling out their antennae,” Hughes notes. “There are also times when they will not.” It’s no small thing to fling your antennae forward in the presence of a potentially hostile intruder wielding a big snapping claw, so the potential benefit of the action should outweigh the risk. She has found that the decision – to fling or not to fling – depends upon the sex of the shrimp and their individual statuses, as resident or intruder, in the burrow.
Time spent collecting shrimp in the field and staging interactions between them in the laboratory is just the beginning of the process. There’s data to be sorted through and decisions to be made about the what, the how and the why. Hughes uses game theory, an application of mathematics, to explore the interactions between signalers and receivers that she observes. “The best outcome for each of them may be very different,” she notes. “So, again, why are animals honest? There seems to be a selective pressure on signalers to convey useful information.” With snapping shrimp in particular, the process is made even more interesting by the fact that other shrimp likely do not experience the snap as sound but rather as something like a pressure wave. The snapping of the claw (both the size and the shape of the claw matter) forms a small bubble that collapses with a concussive pop, known as cavitation, and this is what the receiver perceives. Though her current research has her knee-deep in the marsh, where her main subjects of interest happily burrow and snap the days away, Hughes still looks to the skies quite frequently. “I have a field site up in Pennsylvania, near Lake Erie, that I visit each year to study sparrows,” she says. When asked why the subject of animal communication fascinates her, Hughes offers her own honest, straightforward answer: “I just think that it’s really cool.” For Hughes, it’s all about better understanding the natural world. When she’s not in the classroom, the field or the lab, she can usually be found hiking or kayaking. This makes living in the Lowcountry another big plus for her. “The ACE Basin and the Francis Marion National Forest are some of my favorite places,” she says. “I like to be outside whenever I can.” In those peaceful moments of relaxation, while wandering in the woods or dipping an oar in the water, she listens quietly as nature tells its story. – Jason Zwiker ’97
FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
A classic Accompaniment They dined one table over from George Lucas. They explored the vineyards at Skywalker Ranch. They enjoyed the state-of-the-art technology of Skywalker Sound. But, for Marc Regnier and his fellow musicians, the best part about recording a CD together was, well, recording a CD together. “Being contracted by a record company is rare in our field; to be able to include colleagues in a recording is even more rare,” says classical guitarist Marc Regnier, who summoned guitarist Marco Sartor ’03 and fellow music professors Natalia Khoma (cellist) and Tacy Edwards (flutist) to join him on the recording of Brazilian composer Radames Gnattali’s works – which feature elements of jazz, chamber music and classical music, as well as the very accessible sounds of Brazilian bossa nova. “It was a wonderful opportunity to showcase the amazing talent we have here, and it’s a great way to showcase the College itself.” The CD, titled Radames Gnattali: Solo & Chamber Works for Guitar, is now available on Amazon.com and at Barnes & Noble Booksellers.
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
The Safety Network There was a time when celebrity chef would be considered somewhat of an oxymoron, when watching someone prepare a steak for someone else would be considered a kind of torture, when a primetime show about cooking would be considered a considerable risk – and an entire network? Forget it! Those times, of course, are long gone. Thanks to Food Network programming, chefs like Emeril Lagasse, Rachael Ray and Bobby Flay have been catapulted from their private kitchens into millions of living rooms across America – and we, as consumers, can’t get enough. In fact, homemakers, teenagers, foodies and TV dinner–zappers alike seem to eat up whatever the Food Network puts out there for us. “The popularity that Food Network programming has seen is a really interesting phenomenon – it’s become completely ingrained in who we are,” says Amanda Ruth-McSwain, assistant professor of communication, pointing out that there’s been a cultural shift not only in food and cooking (“what we eat now is so different from what we were eating just 10 years ago”), but also in how we see food and cooking. “What was once a necessary chore is now a form of entertainment.” Despite our huge appetite for this kind of entertainment, however, fewer and fewer Americans are preparing their own meals, which begs the question: What are we learning from Food Network – and how does that information translate into our everyday lives? That’s exactly what Ruth-McSwain hopes to find out. In a multi-phased study of Food Network programming, she and a colleague from Louisiana State to find out how to use the popularity University are looking at what is being of these programs to communicate communicated about food and health food safety. That’s our agenda – to behaviors, what viewers are taking away communicate food safety practices to from the programs and how their habits the general public.” of buying, preparing and consuming of By first examining the food-safety food are affected. messages within the programming “We know that a good portion of and then establishing how consumers Americans are watching these shows – so use the information they get from the how can we capitalize on that?” considers programming, the researchers hope to Ruth-McSwain, whose background is have the evidence they need to earn a in agricultural communication (“which USDA grant for packaging food-safety basically translates to food-to-plate the Food communication”). “Ultimately, we’re Duval keeps her “pens oftrying the world”messaging collection for displayed onNetwork. her desk,
“That’s way, way down the line, but that’s the goal – to play out our agenda to fit these different kinds of shows,” says Ruth-McSwain, who will be presenting this fall the findings of the first phase at a national conference, Convergence and Society: Health and New Dimensions of Communication. “The good thing is, we’re taking this academic research approach and giving it a practical, real-world application. It’s all pretty exciting.” After all, she notes, “Ten years ago, this wouldn’t even be something to discuss.”
providing a colorful “parade of pens. They’re too nice to hide away.” FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
Inside the Academic Mind: Joe Weyers Joe Weyers is a student favorite at the College. Since 1995, he’s made learning Spanish a fun and rewarding experience, helping students to think beyond conjugations and successfully navigate the preterite and imperfect tenses. Professor Weyers took a few minutes to share his thoughts on learning a language, his favorite place to unwind and his hidden talent. What’s your favorite class to teach? I enjoy teaching, so that’s a difficult question. I’d have to say the most enjoyable is conversation. It gives me the opportunity to interact with my students on a more personal level. At the same time, I get to see their progress in speaking, which is generally very gratifying. Learning a language can be pretty intimidating to students. What’s the hardest part about teaching Spanish? The greatest challenge in teaching any language is trying to get students to where they don’t feel the need to question every point and instead are comfortable enough letting their brains do what they’re wired to do, and that’s acquire languages. Beginning students normally and naturally see language as a word-for-word translation and a series of verb conjugations. It takes a while to overcome that barrier of wanting rules and explanations for everything. Why should students choose Spanish to learn? Languages are meant to be used, and the Spanish-speaking world spans continents. It’s a language of global commerce, of the European Union, of spectacular places and of warm, caring individuals around the globe. So, why not choose Spanish? In what ways would you like to see Spanish majors get more exposure to Hispanic culture and history? Our Spanish majors are doing a great job of exposing themselves to the Spanish-speaking world through coursework, community involvement and study-abroad opportunities. I’d love to see them spend more time with each one of those endeavors for longer, more meaningful experiences. When students truly live Spanish in an extended, immersion experience – which can be local or abroad – their worldview expands and their language skills increase dramatically. Having a real-world use for language is the key to developing a high level of proficiency. What’s your hidden talent? I’m a decent enough artist when I put my mind to it. My students would likely disagree, given some of the chicken scratch I’ve been known to draw on the board to illustrate a vocabulary point. Give me some time and motivation, however, and I might come up with a pretty OK sketch. What’s been your favorite travel destination? Lascano, Uruguay. It’s a tiny town in the countryside, where there are more cows and sheep than people. But, the people who live there are real, down-to-earth, wonderful people. Lascano’s a tiny dot on the map that I visited 20 years ago as a
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
Rotary International scholar. The Rotary Club of Lascano invited me to speak at their club, and, of course, I accepted, thinking that I’d go, I’d speak and then I’d be on the next bus out. I ended up staying four days. Everyone there was so wonderful and caring. I had the pleasure of returning to Lascano in July and had an equally memorable experience. Rio is beautiful, Mexico City is exciting, Barcelona is captivating, but Lascano is really my favorite place. It makes me smile just thinking about it.
How do you relax? I love going to the beach and finding a quiet spot where I can hear only the waves. As much as I enjoy teaching and being in front of my students, once class is over, I really enjoy quiet and solitude. There’s something curative about an afternoon at the beach that provides what I need to recharge the batteries. What is your favorite Spanish phrase? Para que en todas partes quepas, no hables de lo que no sepas. That translates roughly as “so as to fit in everywhere, don’t talk about what you don’t know about.” That’s directed to those who might think they think they know more than they do and insist on making sure you know that they think they know what they really don’t know. I find it very useful. Do you dream in Spanish or English? Both. In my dreams, people I know speak the language they speak. I rarely remember the details of my dreams, but I do often recall those dreams that were a flurry of back-and-forth between English and Spanish as English-speaking friends and family interacted with Spanish-speaking friends. What is one Spanish-related book that every person should read? One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. It’s a beautiful, captivating story that, in short, presents an allegory of Latin American history and culture through one family. And what Spanish-related movie should every person see? Any of the multiple versions of the Man of la Mancha, on film or on stage. As a novel, Don Quixote might be difficult to follow, but on screen, you can follow the wonderful adventures of that crazy old man with big dreams and a big heart, who might not be so crazy after all. You grew up in Pittsburgh. Tell us about the Steelers. I’ve never been a sports fan, but there’s something in the air or water there that makes you a Steelers fan. It’s the law. When I was growing up – late middle school, beginning high school – the Steelers were winning Super Bowl after Super Bowl, so there was an amazing energy that permeated the city. Their last win two years ago was certainly a point of pride, and I made it my business to watch Super Bowl XLIII because the Steelers were in it. It was a worthwhile couple of hours. If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be? I’d be involved in travel and tourism. I always thought I’d missed my calling and might have been a great travel agent. If you need to make some plans for a trip, feel free to contact me.
Δ Patricia Lessane is the new director of the College’s Avery Research Center of African American History and Culture. Lessane comes from the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, where she was the program developer for the museum’s annual Black Creativity exhibition and programs. “With the center’s robust collection of African American art, artifacts and archives and the College’s most viable resources, namely the students and faculty,” Lessane observes, “we are poised to propel Avery onto the international radar as one of the most important repositories of African American history and culture, including that of the Gullah and Lowcountry traditions.” • Chris Fragile, associate professor of physics, received a grant from the Oak Ridge Associated Universities and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to conduct research on black holes and to explore the role of radiation in their development. • Journey of Five Capuchin Nuns, written by Sara Owens, associate professor of Spanish, was the winner of the Josephine Roberts Prize for Scholarly Edition Award from the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women. Her book follows five nuns on their three-year travel odyssey from Madrid to Lima, Peru, in the early 1700s. • Skip Martin ’82, an adjunct faculty member who has taught business law in the School of Business for more than 20 years, was selected to be the private counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice for the district of South Carolina. • Ted Rosengarten, an adjunct faculty member in the Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies Program, earned the Governor’s Award in the Humanities from the Humanities Council of South Carolina, recognizing his work and research in race relations, Holocaust studies and environmental history.
FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
MAKING the GRADE Generations Crossing As a teenager, you can’t imagine anything worse. Just after finishing high school – as you start counting down the days until college begins, drooling at the thought of finally experiencing the
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
freedom you’ve been craving – you learn some devastating news. You rant, you stomp up and down the house, you choke back tears and curl into a ball on your bed, then finally give in to your emotion and
sob into your pillow, making it a sopping mess. How could she, your own mother, do this to you? It’s inconceivable, inexcusable and most definitely unforgivable: Mom is going back to school – and not just any school, but the same school as you! Mom is going to be your college classmate! Such a scenario is the reality for sisters Caroline and August Wright, who attend the College with their mother, Jenna-Lyn Johnson. In their case, though, there was no yelling, no crying, no weepy face-toface confrontations. The girls, in fact, encouraged their mother to join them as Cougars. They were proud to see her resume her quest to attend medical school after being thwarted nearly 20 years ago when the demands of motherhood forced her to delay completion of her undergraduate education at Queens College in Charlotte in the early 1990s. Back then, Johnson was recently divorced from a high school sweetheart, forced to have fellow students babysit her young daughters in dormitory rooms while she went to class. Such a routine became unsustainable, and she withdrew from school to concentrate on her kids. She soon remarried and continued raising her kids, with the family eventually moving to North Charleston in 2008. As her youngest daughter, August, was finishing high school and began thinking about joining her sister at the College, the wheels started turning in Johnson’s head, too. She did a little homework – a novel task after all those years – and rejoiced when she found that it wasn’t unusual for older students to attend college or medical school. “Universities realize now that older students bring other things to the table,” says Johnson. “They add variety to the matriculating class.” Now Johnson, 39, is finishing her last year at the College, scheduled to graduate with a degree in biology and a minor in discovery informatics. Her daughters
Making the Grade
| (l to r) August and Caroline Wright and Jenna-Lyn Johnson | are both sophomores: Caroline studying business and Japanese and August studying chemistry and linguistics. Last year, the three women regularly ate together at the Liberty Street Fresh Food Company four days a week, each bringing a few friends to tag along, forming a group Caroline affectionately refers to as “the island of misfit toys.” In many ways, Johnson says, college has not changed that much, it’s just she who’s different. Initially, the pace of classes surprised her, and she was reluctant to ask questions. As an adult, she finds it
Much of the time, say Caroline and August, their mother acts more like their friend than parent. She watches movies with them, attends concerts with them and refrains from acting like a mom while on campus. Oftentimes, other students and professors don’t realize Johnson is their mother. Those who do are supportive of Johnson’s returning to school and achieving her goals. One friend of the family, senior Jacque Roberts, credits Johnson with striking a delicate balance: “On campus she tries to keep the mom portion toned down, but
“On campus she tries to keep the mom portion toned down, but at home – forget about it – it’s mom all the time.”
– Jacque Roberts
takes her longer to write papers since she is particular about what she wants to say. Test taking requires more time, too, because she is more careful and, in turn, more accurate. She took one class with daughter Caroline and was embarrassed when Caroline bested her by turning in a paper early.
at home – forget about it – it’s mom all the time.” Roberts, who took Japanese classes with Caroline and a statistics class with Johnson, is one of the regulars at the family’s lunch table. At 30 years of age and a veteran of the Air Force, he’s also getting his undergraduate degree later than is
traditional. He says that Johnson differs from her daughters and other college students in that she has little patience for dawdling or amusements – and would never suggest a television break during a study period. “There’s no nonsense with her. It’s, ‘Let’s sit down and do this and get it done,’” says Roberts of Johnson’s approach to homework and class projects. “She’s not one for games.” That’s not to say there’s no place for fun in Johnson’s college life. She’s been to two Linkin Park concerts with her daughters, as well as a My Chemical Romance show. This fall, she attended a Jason Mraz concert in the College’s Carolina First Arena with August (Caroline is studying in Japan this semester). With each class she takes, Johnson is becoming more and more like a bona fide college student again, learning how to use a graphing calculator and checking out Ratemyprofessor.com before signing up for classes. She’s pulled an all-nighter, she confesses, but hasn’t skipped class yet – and she hasn’t gone to a college party this millennium. There are just some college experiences she’ll never have again. “I would walk in, and it would be Mom walking in. It would kill the party,” laughs Johnson. “I’d never get that invitation.” And that’s OK with her.
FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
training for greatness
| Photo by Mike Ledford |
Kenni Bowling has always considered herself a leader. She was the volleyball team captain in high school and has even coached volleyball at local middle schools. But it wasn’t until last spring, when she was accepted into the American College of Sports Medicine’s Leadership and Diversity Training Program, that she began to grasp her leadership potential off the court. “Now I have this opportunity to work my way up and be a leader in my career, so I can continue setting an example,” says Bowling, an exercise science major who plans to study physical therapy after she graduates in May. It’s this motivation to be a role model in the field of sports medicine that earned her a spot in the Leadership and Diversity Training Program, which provides members with mentorship and funding opportunities. Ultimately, the hope is that the students in the program will go on to take leadership positions within ACSM. “When I do make it to that level, I think it will be really rewarding to give back and offer guidance to other people like me who are just starting out,” says Bowling, who so far has enjoyed an all-expenses-paid trip to the ACSM Annual Meeting in Baltimore – an experience that included a visit with U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin – and has been working with her professional mentor, who is there to give her ongoing guidance as she explores her future, her goals and her potential. “It’s a great opportunity,” says Bowling. “It’s all about experiencing things I maybe wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s really pretty cool.”
Making the Grade
The Keys to His Life Dotan Nitzberg lay weeping uncontrollably, tears drenching the sheets of his hospital bed at the Barzilai Medical Center in his hometown of Ashkelon, Israel. The toddler’s parents could not seem to comfort him, and the doctors could not seem to diagnose him. The only thing they all knew for sure was that something was wrong, and it wasn’t getting any better. Desperate to ease his young son’s discomfort, Dotan’s father stopped at a toy store, picked out a plastic keyboard and brought it to the hospital. The relief was instantaneous: No sooner had his tiny fingers begun gingerly pressing the plastic keys than his tears stopped. “It was a bright idea,” says Nitzberg of his father’s wherewithal to choose a toy reminiscent of a piano. Not because it was something familiar: He hadn’t so much as touched a piano in his short life. No, it was more of a father’s hunch that his son needed, nay, required, this instrument in his life – something he deduced from the first complete sentence his son had ever uttered: “I want piano music.” It may have taken a little longer than the young Nitzberg had hoped, but eventually, piano music is what he got – or, more accurately, what he gives. At 23 years old, Nitzberg is now an accomplished classical pianist, whose gift continually garners more and more international acclaim. Most recently, he won a 2010 VSA International Young Soloist Award, which honors young musicians with disabilities and accepts applicants from all genres – from rap to classical. “Dozens of classical pianists applied, so it is still beyond my grasp that I was chosen,” says Nitzberg, who copes with Asperger’s Syndrome – something he considers not a disability, but a “diversity.” And, in this case, it afforded him the opportunity to perform on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage in Washington, D.C., last June – not to mention $5,000. The cash, however, “was only supplementary. The greatest prize was to play there. After that, I was most happy to shake hands with the sister of the late John F. Kennedy.” It may sound entirely too intimidating for most of us. But – while he admits
he always gets a little nervous before his performances (“It has to happen. Otherwise I don’t feel inspired.”) – Nitzberg didn’t let the size or caliber of the audience faze him. “I come to play – no matter where, no matter the audience, no matter the conditions.” And, no matter what, he always enjoys performing. “What I like is being on stage and playing a fine instrument and giving the best possible of myself – to find the utmost possibility you can bring out of the instrument, to show all the options of what it can do,” he says. “Dotan is an impressive pianist and a born entertainer,” says Enrique Graf, the College’s pianist-in-residence, who first met Nitzberg at a festival in Perugia, Italy, where the then–undergraduate at the Academy of Music in Tel Aviv was performing. Since then, he has worked extensively with Nitzberg, who is entering
his second year as a candidate for the College’s Artist Certificate in Piano. It has been an invaluable experience for Nitzberg – both musically and personally. “I have learned the confidence to be who I am and remain faithful to my principles,” he says. “I’m taking more initiative and doing more things on my own.” And he’s looking forward to doing even more on his own when he’s completed his studies at the College – perhaps heading to Miami, Washington, D.C., or South Bend, Ind. Wherever he goes and whatever he does, however, he knows one thing: He’s got to play the piano. “I will never tire of playing the piano. Ne-ver,” emphasizes Nitzberg. “I am still far away from my final target, and the target ends when life ends. But not really – it goes on, there’s just not enough time in life to reach it.” And Nitzberg, for one, isn’t wasting any more time. FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
The Butterfly Effect It’s no walk in the park when Tom Smith ’03 goes butterfly catching. Actually, it’s a slog through the mud. Donning an old pair of sneakers and pants, he wades into South Carolina’s freshwater marshes in pursuit of his quarry, slipping past sawgrass, snakes and alligators. He wears a backpack stuffed with glass jars and carries a butterfly net in his hand. He leaves his car parked on a dirt road. There’s no one around for miles, and the horseflies keep biting, taking away chunks of his skin. Blocking all this out of his mind, he continues on, intent on finding his target – the elusive wetland skipper. As he says, in typical understatement, “You really have to go out of your way to find the species.” Despite the difficulty in reaching the small, quick butterflies, Smith has had great success identifying the Southern habitats in which nine types of wetland skippers can be found. The fieldwork is part of his thesis research as a master’s of environmental sciences student at the College, and his findings will give natural
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
scientists a wealth of information about a species that remains shrouded in some degree of mystery, mostly because the wetland skippers he studies prefer to live in either wooded wetlands or near river deltas – places in the Southeast not typically visited by humans. They’re also remarkably fast. Even for Smith, a frequent visitor to the marshes and an adept butterfly catcher, there are a few skipper species that confound him. He’s found only a few Berry’s skippers, for example, and scientists still aren’t sure what these creatures eat. This academic year, Smith is finishing writing his thesis under the advisement of biology professor Brian Scholtens, who can’t wait for him to wrap up. With the thesis out of the way, explains Scholtens, the men can start tackling their next project: a book on all the butterflies in South Carolina. But first, Smith must end his research of the skippers, which includes the construction of a GIS database on their locations throughout the Southeast. Like many scientists, Smith enjoys
fieldwork more than writing. His frequent forays into the forest and marshes have made him witness to some astounding natural displays, such as the territorial dominance exhibited by the small and fragile skippers. He’s watched males, perched on tall pieces of grass, intercept intruding skippers and identify them as friend or foe. Should the interloper be female, Smith says, the male will try to mate. Should the trespasser be male, the butterflies start combat. “They have these aerial dogfights,” says Smith. “It’s pretty amazing to watch.” Other times, he hasn’t lingered to observe the marsh’s wild animals, such as the time the large alligator near him suddenly submerged and he noticed a wake heading in his direction. “At that point,” says the normally intrepid Smith, “I decided not to stick around.” Retreating to land, he headed back to his car. He’d be back in the marsh soon enough, and thanks to his research, he knew just where to find plenty more skippers.
Making the Grade
Open-Minded in a Major Way Six years ago, Dan Taber ’10 penned an admissions essay dripping with the allknowing wisdom of a high school senior. It railed against the evils of socialism. It championed capitalism and free market economies. Most importantly, it got him into the Honors College. Taber hasn’t looked at that essay since high school, but he’s sure that if he were to comb through his old computer files and find it, its presumptuous and naive tone would give him a big, long, hearty laugh. It’s not that he’s become a socialist, but rather that he’s found the world to be a bit more nuanced than he thought before entering the College. These days, he’s unwilling to argue any opinion without first collecting the facts. One could describe Taber’s time at the College as one extensive factfinding mission. In May, he graduated with degrees in political science and economics. This school year, he’s finishing coursework for a third major – in biology – and his professors are glad he’s not rushing away from campus. In class, he’s a valued student, soaking up material from lectures, asking questions and volunteering for research projects in the
summer. And why not? After all, says Taber, there is always more to learn. “Some people come into college looking for their own views to be reinforced,” he says. “I try not to have any sacred cows.” Taber is the type of student professors love to teach: a true liberal arts scholar who finds connections between different academic disciplines. Economics professor Calvin Blackwell says Taber was an invaluable member of a fourman research team that he assembled for a study of voter behavior in primary elections. And even before he joined the study, formulating complicated mock elections and tallying results, Taber wowed Blackwell by excelling at a class project in which he was tasked with finding an environmental problem and posing a solution. Taber had noticed that computers in the library were wasting energy, partly because they were running after hours. By adjusting a few settings, Taber calculated, the College could use less energy and save thousands of dollars a year in electricity costs. It was advice the library heeded. “He has a lot of initiative,” says Blackwell. “He thinks for himself.”
Biology professor Melissa Hughes agrees. “Dan’s just really curious about the world. If he has a question, he finds an answer. He doesn’t just wonder about something and forget about it,” says Hughes, who worked with Taber in a private tutorial that studied the application of game theory in the biological world. “It was a lot of fun. I learned tons.” Learning – and education in general – is what Taber is all about. After he completes his third major, he hopes to become a teacher or professor, perhaps in biology. He has a keen interest in evolution and a desire to give students a stimulating introduction to the sciences. He’d like to encourage appetites for fact finding, too, as he laments that too many people’s opinions are ill informed and that too many decisions are not made rationally. Scientific evidence, he says, can provide a framework for reasonable discussions of some of the most vexing problems. “For our long-term survival as a species, let alone as a society, we need to understand the world around us,” observes Taber. “Everything should be subject to critical examination.”
FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
| Photo by Michael Darter |
Star Aboard Classes were over, her degree in the bag and graduation slowly becoming a memory. Allie Blecher ’10, however, still had unfinished business at the College. Actually, it was unfinished business on Lake Mendota in Madison, Wis., where she and her College sailing teammates gathered in late May to compete for a national championship. The breeze was faint that week, and algae in the lake further slowed the
the SPORTSTICKER |
women’s sailboats. Beyond these lessthan-ideal conditions, Blecher and her fellow Cougars faced stiff competition from Boston College, Harvard, Georgetown and other top sailing schools. But Blecher had worked four years for this chance at a championship, and she wasn’t going to let the opportunity slip away, especially when she and her teammates had come so close the year before, finishing
second at nationals in a narrow loss to Yale University. Unfazed by the light winds, Blecher and sophomore teammate Alyssa Aitken dominated the pack, coming in first or second for eight of their 10 races. Racing in the College’s other boat were Rebecca Bestoso ’10 and Shannon Heausler ’10, who performed nearly as well in their own races, making the College of Charleston women’s sailors the national champs for
Kristi Woodall (softball) and Branko Gavric (men’s soccer) earned the SoCon’s Coleman Lew Leadership Award, which honors student-athletes’ off-field character and leadership. + Greg Fisher, a former All-American and a world-renowned sailor, is the College’s new director of sailing. + Kelly Goins received All-American honors from the National Dance Alliance. + Former Cougar standouts Hunter Gilstrap and Darren |
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
| Photos courtesy of the Department of Athletics |
| LEFT: (l to r) Alyssa Aitken and Allie Blecher ’10; RIGHT: Allie Blecher ’10 | 2010. Even better, Blecher was named the Quantum Women’s Sailor of the Year, only the second time a Cougar has been awarded that honor, which is considered the equivalent of college football’s Heisman Trophy. Blecher’s twin achievements at the Madison regatta punctuated the end of an incredible sailing career at the College. By her own estimation, Blecher arrived at the College as an unremarkable junior sailor. She had grown up outside Los Angeles and spent summers sailing with her parents and grandmother to the Catalina Islands off the California coast, but didn’t make much of a splash. At the College, though, her coaches saw her potential and encouraged her growth. By sailing almost daily, she became better and better. “By the time I became a senior,” Blecher says, “everything just clicked.” Critical to her success was her coolheaded sailing companion, Aitken, who trimmed the jib and spotted for Blecher.
Aitken learned that when Blecher got riled or anxious during a race, she got quiet. So Aitken would spur Blecher to talk, about the shape of clouds, or life at the College – anything but dwelling on mistakes made in the water. That kind of reflection could wait until later, after the race was finished. Blecher’s sailing technique is exceptionally smooth, says Ward Cromwell, the College’s women’s sailing coach. That finesse, as well as Blecher’s and Aitken’s small size, consistently made them one of the fastest sailing teams in the country, even when the wind was light. “She actually taught me some things,” admits Cromwell. Alana O’Reilly ’06, who is the only other Cougar to be named the Quantum Women’s Sailor of the Year (2006) and is now a sailing coach at Georgetown University, recalls watching Blecher sail with Aitken at the national championships in Madison and persevere through the difficult conditions. “She
just dominated,” says O’Reilly. “Even if she had a bad start, she would fight her way back.”
Allie Blecher ’10 was
named the Quantum
Women’s Sailor of the Year ... the equivalent of college football’s
Heisman Trophy. When Blecher received her award in May, she took to the podium and thanked her teammates and competition. Then she said a few words to her coaches – Ward Cromwell, Nick Ewenson and Alice Manard – recognizing their role in getting her to the top of collegiate sailing: “I loved sailing for you for four years. It’s been a long road, and I enjoyed every minute of it.”
Toby ’08 were named to the first and second teams, respectively, of the United Soccer Leagues Second Division. Gilstrap is a goalkeeper with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, and Toby is a midfielder with the Charlotte Eagles. + The women’s tennis team was named a 2010 ITA All-Academic Team, posting a combined 3.102 GPA. Four studentathletes were named ITA Scholar-Athletes: Caroline Newman, Irene Viana, Nina Burgoon ’10 and Holly Dowse ’10. + FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
| Photo by Diana Deaver |
I’m Bat Man That white chalk rectangle in the dirt in front of the catcher – that’s Matt Leeds’ box. Opposing pitchers would rather not see him standing in his box, just 60 feet in front of them, because from that box, Leeds – the reigning Southern Conference Player of the Year – hit .340, launched 20 homers and drove in his teammates 80 times in 2010. “When you’re up to bat,” Leeds smiles, “you own the batter’s box.” In sports, confidence is critical, so it’s no surprise the switch-hitting Leeds takes this “my box” approach. Still, there are times when he may take it beyond what’s necessary. “Matt never moves out of the batter’s box,” says Head Coach Monte Lee ’00. “He’s like a statue. Our guys laugh at that because he has no fear at being hit by a 90-m.p.h. fastball.” Essentially, Leeds says, you do whatever it takes to send a message to the pitcher.
While baseball was instrumental in Leeds’ decision to come to the College, it wasn’t the lone factor. “I wanted to make sure wherever I went had good academics,” he says. “I’ve always valued education.” Coach Lee points to Leeds as the “blueprint for what a student–athlete” should be, not surprising, considering he was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District III First Team on account of his 3.89 GPA – as an economics major, no less. “Matt is mentally and physically tough,” Lee notes. “He plays with injuries and competes as hard as anyone I’ve coached. If I had nine of him on the field, we’d go to Omaha and the College World Series every year.” Leeds did get some off-the-field, topnotch tutoring last summer during his internship in New York City with Hawkeye Capital Management, for which he worked as a junior research analyst valuing publically traded companies.
“It was a learning experience. I was definitely at the bottom of the barrel,” confesses Leeds, adding with a laugh, “I’m used to people coming to me and asking me for advice.” While a backup plan is always wise, make no mistake: Leeds has big-league ambitions. He likely could’ve been drafted last summer, but he was honest with scouts, telling them he wanted to be sure to get his degree, which he’s currently in line to receive this spring. The third baseman, who scouts say could play either corner-infield spot at the next level, knows his name will likely be circled by the opposing pitchers during the 2011 campaign. And opposing coaches will point to his name and say, “Don’t let him beat you.” “That doesn’t bother me,” Leeds shrugs. “I like that challenge.” So, have fun with that, SoCon hurlers. It’s going to be a long season. – Trevor Baratko ’08
Men’s golfer John Duke Hudson participated in this summer’s U.S. Amateur Championship. + Five baseball standouts were selected in last summer’s MLB Draft: Joey Bergman ’10 (Cardinals), Kevin Decker (Pirates), Casey Lucchese (Cubs), Heath Hembree (Giants) and Rob Kral (Reds). + Two former Cougars made their MLB debut this summer: Brian Schlitter ’08 (Cubs) and Michael Kohn (Angels). + Former player Christian Michner ’98 is the new head coach of the women’s soccer program. |
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
| Photo by Mike Ledford |
Up close and personal, Lukas Koncilia is warm and engaging. He’s softspoken and polite in conversation, and his brown eyes are disarming. But from 78 feet away – the length of a tennis court – he makes quite a different impression. He plays aggressively, looking to strike winners early in rallies. He wants to vanquish his opponents as quickly as possible. Last spring, Koncilia had a breakout season, going 15-4 at No. 1 singles. His record was so impressive that he was named the 2010 SoCon Men’s Tennis Player of the Year, and he made the All-Conference first teams for both singles and doubles players. This coming spring the senior from Innsbruck, Austria, will compete in his final season of collegiate tennis, hopefully leading the Cougars to a conference title. Regardless of what happens, he’s already added to the Koncilia family’s athletic legacy, making tennis headlines to complement the achievements of his father and uncle, both of whom played professional soccer three decades ago and were members of Austria’s national team. Soon, his star could shine brighter than his relatives. “Lukas is a great all-court player, with weapons to dictate from the start of every point and the attitude to get to the next level,” says men’s tennis head coach Jay Bruner. “He has gained valuable experience at the top of the lineup and has the potential to gain national recognition.”
POINT of VIEW
[ student ]
Native Son For years, bumper stickers have been telling us to “Think Global, Act Local.” But for this biology major, that messaging should be updated so that people now think and act local. His is an environmental cause that everyone can embrace because no matter where you are, it’s right in your backyard. by Nicholas Boatwright
| Illustration by Timothy Banks |
When was the last time you went outside and just listened? Just sat there and heard what nature was offering? If you are anything like me, it has been a while. With work, school, family and friends, who really has time to just sit outside and relax?
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
As a society, we have, I believe, forgotten about nature. And in the process, we have replaced our native landscapes with sites and subdivisions that are changing our ecosystems. Whether intentional or not, we have created new communities dominated by non-native plants and are thus driving away most of our native plants and animals. Over the years, native plant species have been pushed out of our living spaces in favor of our expansive, green monocultures. Last May, I took a field botany class with biology professor Jean Everett. In the intensive month-long course, we traveled across South Carolina looking at vegetation that grows in different plant communities. It wasn’t until this trip that I decided that something needed to be done about the lack of native plants and animals in our urban landscapes. In May, at the 12th annual symposium of the South Carolina Native Plant Society, Professor Douglas Tallamy of the University of Delaware spoke on the importance of “bringing nature home,”
POINT of VIEW
which is also the title of his book. This idea sparked many conversations among my classmates on our long rides across the state, and with Professor Everett’s guidance, we decided that we would take on the project – to bring nature back to Charleston. Spending time out in the field and taking time to talk with professors revealed a great need to bring native species back into our urban and residential landscapes. In both of my courses with Professor Everett – Plant Taxonomy and Field Botany – I found myself amazed by the wide variety of ecosystems that are within just a 30-minute drive of my downtown apartment, ecosystems which I had no idea existed. With each trip, my interest grew in trying to understand our native landscapes and the plants and animals that
meaning that these spaces are typically landscaped with nonnative plant species. Our westward move across the continent has seen us clearing and slicing up land and creating isolated patches, or islands. The spaces between these islands, like bodies of water, act as both physical and reproductive barriers for plant and animals species. More recently, we have erected cities and neighborhoods that form islands the same way farmlands of the past did. Our modern landscapes are composed mostly of lawns and asphalt, and we reserve only a small amount of space for our parks. Yet, wrongly, we expect these few parks and preserves to keep our overall ecosystem balanced. Looking at a land disturbance map of the United States reveals a highly developed
There is hope. We’re in control of the plants used around our homes and in our towns and cities. There are many ways that you as an individual can help bring nature back to our communities and recreate the native environments that we have driven out of our urban landscapes. inhabit them. “How do we live so close,” I found myself constantly asking, “yet I’ve never seen half of these plants and animals in my life?” My first trip to the Francis Marion National Forest, located just north of Charleston, was a transformative experience. If you’ve never been to a longleaf pine ecosystem like those found in the Francis Marion, you must visit one at some point in your life. These ecosystems are formed by frequent fires and thus create a severe dichotomy, dominated by grasses and wild flowers and the gigantic and ephemeral longleaf pine trees. The entire forest has a cathedral-like feel, with light streaming down in bands between the pine trees’ slender needles. We are so close to these beautiful landscapes, but because of urbanization, we could not be further separated. When native plants are removed from an area, so too are the insects that have co-evolved to feed on them. When the insects disappear, the birds that eat the insects and the larger mammals that eat the birds also disappear. In his speech, Professor Tallamy noted that nearly 96 percent of the bird species in North America depend on insects to feed their young. So by planting nonnative plants in our communities, we are creating environments that are nearly untouchable by our native insects, and thus starving our bird populations. Although you might be thinking that ridding our gardens of insects sounds delightful, we’re simply decreasing the number of native bugs and increasing the amount of alien species of insects, such as the destructive Japanese beetle. In our highly developed country, we have relegated our native ecosystems to national parks, national forests and preserves. Most of the remaining land has been “disturbed,”
nation with small, isolated pieces of undisturbed landscape – mainly national parks. These small islands also have high rates of local extinction, which means that a particular species is likely to leave the area when it’s confined to a small isolated space. If we create more of these small islands, we’re going to see the loss of many more of our native species. However, there is hope. We’re in control of the plants used around our homes and in our towns and cities. There are many ways that you as an individual can help bring nature back to our communities and recreate the native environments that we have driven out of our urban landscapes. The first and best way is simple: Spread the word. The more people that know about the close relationship between native plants, the insects that feed on them and our songbirds, the easier it is to save our native ecosystems. Second, ask your local garden center which plants are native to the area, and suggest that they promote those native plants to others in the community. Third, plant your own yard with native species. You can find lists that are native to your area from your local garden store, local native plant societies and even online (but make sure that your source is reliable). This issue is not irreversible. It’s up to us to change. By doing your part, you’re helping bring nature back to the sterile zones we have been and are creating. So next time you find yourself free, go outside and listen. Relax and remind yourself of the wonderful sights, smells and sounds that we must protect. It’s only natural – if we work together to fix it. – Nicholas Boatwright is a senior biology major with minors in health and African studies.
FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
POINT of VIEW [ faculty ] Dark Lords on Campus? When it comes to film and television, the representative professor of the college experience tends to reside in the English department. More often than not, this esteemed scholar – stereotypically haughty, brilliant, tortured and seductive – plays the unenviable role of the serpent in the garden. One of the College’s English faculty members weighs in on the subject and answers: Why us? by Tim Carens Over the past 25 years – first as an undergraduate, then a graduate student and finally as a member of the profession – I’ve met my share of English professors. My colleagues in the English department are a fine representative sample, a cordial group of women and men with a broad range of interests and perspectives. I don’t claim to speak for them all, but it seems to me we have a pretty good job. True, we have to grade stacks of essays on the weekends, but we also get to discuss favorite works of literature with smart students, help them become more adept critics and writers and pursue our own intellectual interests in books and articles. I don’t imagine that this sketch of our relatively tame pleasures will come as a huge surprise. But it does offer a striking contrast to Hollywood’s depiction of the typical English professor. In the 1980s and ’90s, as I became increasingly interested in becoming an English professor, I also became increasingly amused and perplexed by a growing series of movies about college life in which an English professor plays the role of a villainous libertine who seduces students and consumes heroic quantities of booze and marijuana. Think of Professor Jennings, the character played by Donald Sutherland in Animal House, who lures students to his bohemian apartment and grins devilishly, his face illuminated by the flicker of candlelight, as he teaches them to smoke pot. His sexual affair with one of them further displays his evil and seductive charm. This sort of depiction of the English professor has gained wide popularity: The seductive English professor plays a central or peripheral role in movies such as Looking for Mr. Goodbar, A Change of Seasons, Terms of Endearment, D.O.A., Mr. Wonderful, One True Thing, Loser, Miss Congeniality, Wonder Boys, The Rules of Attraction, The Squid and the Whale and Elegy and crops up as well in television series such as Dawson’s Creek and Dead Like Me.
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
These movies and programs develop a melodramatic plot featuring a charismatic but villainous English professor. Female students play the role of heroines who are smart, assertive and sexually adventurous but also, in a recurring paradox, wide eyed and innocent. In D.O.A., Sydney Fuller (played by Meg Ryan) is careful to note that she, a latter-day Dorothy, hails from Kansas. In The Rules of Attraction, an admirer describes Lauren as “sweet … pure … innocent … a virgin.” Dora (played by Mina Suvari), the student in Loser, sports artfully torn fishnet stockings, but her platform Mary Janes and plaid skirts suggest a school-girl vulnerability masquerading as urban chic. The 2002 season of Dawson’s Creek follows Joey (played by Katie Holmes) to college in Boston, where she realizes, “I’m totally and completely on my own for the first time in my life.” After her professor (played by Ken Marino) kisses her, he worries, “I’ve robbed you of your innocence, haven’t I?” English professor characters even fall into comparison with the great robber of innocence, the arch-fiend himself. As Professor Jennings begins a lecture on Paradise Lost, he bites into an apple while standing beside the only word on the blackboard: “SATAN.” His apple symbolically links the classroom, in which it represents a mark of student esteem and affection, and the Christian narrative of lost innocence, in which it represents perilous temptation. Animal House is not the only movie or program to station an English professor at this intersection. In Dawson’s Creek, a friend encourages the heroine to become romantically involved with the “gorgeous” and significantly named Professor Wilder, describing him as “forbidden fruit.” The suggestive examples go on and on. What is going on here? Why this recurring association of the English professor with mythic themes of seductive exploitation and loss of innocence? In an essay recently published in College English, I argue that this media trend reflects an intellectual rather than a sexual conflict – that it has more to do with what goes on in the classroom than what goes on in the bedroom. This conflict arises from the fact that, more visibly than any other discipline on campus, English requires forms of thought assumed to be free of objective standards. On the first day of ENGL 299: Introduction to English Studies, I asked my students why they chose the major. A number of them told me what I have heard on many other occasions, that they are drawn to English because of the interpretive freedom it offers. Such students have a strong point, of course, because the process of interpreting a novel or poem does not generally boil down to right or wrong answers. But there is also a dark side to interpretive freedom, which emerges with special intensity in relation to the figure who
POINT of VIEW
What is going on here? Why this recurring association of the English professor with mythic themes of
and loss of innocence? ... This conflict arises from the fact that, more visibly than any other discipline on campus, English
requires forms of thought assumed to be free of objective standards. presumes to hold authority in the literature classroom. It is only natural that college students, even those who respond favorably to interpretive freedom, distrust the authority figure who first invites them to interpret and then judges the effectiveness of their ideas. In light of this dynamic, it’s no wonder that the experience of studying literature in college generates stories of seduction and betrayal. The experience of college, after all, conjures images of newfound freedom and the heady authority of self-determination. Consider the theme song of the uninspired sitcom Saved by the Bell: The College Years, delivered from the perspective of the entering college student: I’ve never seen such a view before: A new world before my eyes! So much for me to explore; It’s where my future lies!
| Illustration by Britt Spencer |
The movies and television programs noted here register the painful shock of discovering that the “new world” of college is already inhabited by a suspicious figure who flatters and beguiles, who tells students that they are mature enough to taste the forbidden fruit of interpretive freedom. And then the devil gives them a grade. – Tim Carens is an associate professor of English. When asked who would play him in film or on television, he astutely replied, “Unfortunately (and this is sort of the point of my argument), my life is way too boring to make it to the big screen.”
FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
POINT of VIEW
[ alumni ]
The Forgotten War The fight in Afghanistan is now the longestrunning war in U.S. history. But this conflict doesn’t seem to have an impact on Americans’ day-to-day lives. We asked an international expert to share his insights about why this war hasn’t resonated with the American public like past conflicts and to answer why we should care. by Bruce cauthen ’84 As the war in Afghanistan lumbered into its ninth year, thereby acquiring the unenviable distinction of becoming America’s longest war, it was perhaps inevitable that the already exhaustive inventory of essays, op-eds and blog posts exploring the parallels between U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Vietnam would be augmented by even more explicit warnings about repeating the same mistakes of the past. Although I’m inclined to agree that there are some worrisome similarities, it seems to me that the two conflicts are incongruous in one significant aspect: how they’ve resonated in the American consciousness.
to marginalize the mission in Afghanistan. Policy debate and mainstream media alike were dominated by Iraq, and it appeared that Afghanistan had been almost completely superseded – so much so that journalists and pundits began to refer to Afghanistan as “the other war” and even “the forgotten war.” During the presidential campaign of 2008, candidate Barack Obama suggested that Afghanistan had been imprudently neglected and that, if elected, he would refocus American wherewithal on this strategic theater. By the time President Obama authorized the deployment of an additional 30,000 troops for Afghanistan in December 2009, however, the war there had yet again been eclipsed by a new, more immediate crisis: the financial meltdown and an attendant recessive economy. The attention of the American people was now understandably concentrated much closer to home and more urgently on their lost jobs, declining portfolios and plummeting property values. As the American dream became a nightmare, one could surely understand the multiplying degrees of psychological separation from a war in a remote and inscrutable land. And so, Afghanistan had again receded into near oblivion. The U.S. campaign in Afghanistan was catapulted back into the headlines when, in May, the death toll of American forces climbed beyond the 1,000 mark. Then, in June, Rolling Stone
As the American dream became a nightmare, one could surely understand the multiplying degrees of psychological separation from a war in a remote and inscrutable land. And so, Afghanistan had again receded into near oblivion . While the reality of the Vietnam War supplied an inescapable backdrop to American life during the late 1960s and early ’70s, the ostensible effect of Afghanistan has been far less palpable. Indeed, for the better part of the last decade, it seems that the conflict in Afghanistan has occupied a rather fleeting, episodic and incidental place in the American imagination. At the outset of the air strikes on Kabul in October 2001, there was nearly universal popular agreement that the United States had no choice but to dislodge the Taliban regime; yet, very soon thereafter, America’s focus was diverted to another antagonist in the Bush Administration’s rapidly expanding War on Terror: Saddam Hussein. The fact – or so we were told – that the Iraqi dictator had not only cavorted with bin Laden, but also wielded a formidable arsenal of weapons of mass destruction somehow seemed
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
magazine released a sensationalistic exposé in which General Stanley McChrystal and his aides castigated the commander in chief – and numerous others in the Obama White House – for what the warriors regarded as inadequate support for the current policy of counterinsurgency. Their remonstrance seemed little more than a cynical and callous amalgam of ad hominem insults, but the magazine had hardly hit the newsstands when Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele ignited another spectacular firestorm, denouncing the war as one of “Obama’s choosing” and declaring that victory was impossible as no combatant had ever prevailed in a land war in Afghanistan. The statistics hardly warranted optimism, either, as June had emerged as the most lethal month of the war with a total of 60 American fatalities – only to be surpassed by July’s record of 63.
| AP Photo / Pier Paolo Cito |
POINT of VIEW
Yet, if the nation was becoming accustomed to shocking revelations about Afghanistan, it was to experience its most monumental manifestation when Wikileaks posted a voluminous dossier of secret government files reinforcing the general perception of a military campaign that had encountered repeated setbacks. Wikileaks rather tantalizingly taunted that even more explosive material was in hand and likely to be subsequently released, and public attention remained somewhat transfixed on this particular issue. But, then, all of this too began to fade from current contemplation. The media was soon absorbed by the withdrawal of the combat battalions from Baghdad – with NBC even providing live coverage as the troops rolled back toward the Kuwaiti border – and Afghanistan had again been eclipsed by Iraq. It is disillusioning that it has taken the increasingly heavy loss of American soldiers, the bombastic and counterproductive rhetoric from prominent officials who should have known better and the outrageous theft and reckless publication of classified documents to return Afghanistan to the front page – even if temporarily. Yet, perhaps if the American public had been more actively engaged with the issue, we would not now be ensnared in an exorbitantly taxing war in which we do not appear to be prevailing. I had hoped that the transition from McChrystal to David Petraeus would provide an opportunity for a vigorous policy debate in the U.S. Senate, in the salon and in the street; however – with the war in Afghanistan being the nonissue which it has increasingly become – such was not the case. In
fact, when Petraeus cited school enrollment and immunizations as benchmarks of progress during his confirmation hearing, I knew we’d be stuck with this deeply defective policy for the intermediate term. It would seem that the rationale behind what some are now calling “Obama’s escalation” had become muddled, and the strategy it underpins increasingly ineffective. If the military objective is now to facilitate the emergence of a unified, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan, I fear our soldiers will remain there for many decades to come and will continue to suffer unconscionable losses. And, this is exactly why the war in Afghanistan must resonate more powerfully in the public consciousness. The people must influence official policy and ensure that American forces are not expended in the pursuit of impractical objectives that do little to promote our national security interests. The war has gone from bad to worse, and the time for a comprehensive reassessment of our involvement there is long past due. Moreover – with the relentless recession, TARP, the stimulus, a declining dollar, “Cash for Clunkers,” the gargantuan debt owed to China, “Obamacare,” and the $1 trillion deficit – how can we continue to afford the purported expenditure of $8 billion per month to fund a military campaign which has obviously gone awry? But then again, how can we foresee the hardships we face in the future if we can’t even learn from the mistakes of our past? – Bruce Cauthen ’84 is a public speaker, scholar and business consultant in the field of international affairs. To learn more about Cauthen’s work and research, check out www.brucecauthen.com.
FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
The of Great
by Alicia Lutz ’98 Illustrations by Alberto Seveso
Chris Korey, the 2010 recipient of the College’s newly named William V. Moore Faculty-Scholar Award, proves that the building block of a successful learning experience is shared discovery. Chris Korey’s lab is where a sassy poster shouting, “Viva La Diva!” and a more subdued notice sighing, “I wish my hair could borrow volume from my butt,” are posted on a fruit fly incubator. A “Get Out of Hell Free” card and a comparative analysis of ninjas vs. professors are taped up next to maps of the human genome. That classic dorm-room flair Magnetic Poetry makes statements like, “the neurotransmitter says lets synapse under our hypothalamus.” It’s where college students are scientists. And where Korey shows them exactly what they have to discover. “We start with just getting them used to the lab, what’s going on in there, the research we’re doing,” says the associate professor of biology, who typically oversees the independent studies of three students at a time – introducing them to their projects when they’re juniors and mentoring them through their research, all the
way to graduation. “I train them to a point, but they take over once they feel comfortable doing it on their own. It’s their project, not mine.” The projects are all part of Korey’s ongoing research program that studies the fruit fly as a model system for the molecular genetics of neurological disease – specifically, Batten Disease, a rare pediatric neurodegenerative disorder that eventually leaves the afflicted blind and bedridden with severe mental deterioration. The long-term goal is to determine what’s going wrong with the genes that cause the disorder (which are shared by fruit flies and humans alike), thereby opening up therapeutic possibilities for patients down the road. The short-term goal is to expose students to molecular biology, neurobiology, genetics and cell biology – to give them a real, practical, meaningful taste of what it’s like to be a scientist.
"Everything they might do if they want to go on and research, they can try. Even if it's not for them, they get the experience of being a scientist. It's all about giving them a full range of experience through different opportunities." – Chris Korey
That means working full time in the lab for 10 weeks during the summer, writing grants to pay for travel to neuroscience meetings, presenting their work at conferences and even becoming authors in peer-reviewed publications. “Everything they might do if they want to go on and research, they can try,” says Korey, estimating that about half of the 22 students who have worked in his lab since he came to the College in 2003 have gone on to pursue careers in scientific research. “Even if it’s not for them, they get the experience of being a scientist. It’s all about giving them a full range of experience through these different opportunities.” Opportunities, for example, like presenting their work to their peers at the annual Symposium for Young Neuroscientists and Professors of the Southeast and even to the 27,000 experts in attendance at the national Society for Neuroscience meeting every year. “Imagine the change in confidence for these students, returning from a conference where they successfully and independently |
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
discussed their research with leading neurobiologists,” marvels biology chair Jaap Hillenius. But even for the students who don’t present there, the SFN conference is “a good meeting because a lot of very well-known neuroscientists give talks about broad topics, and, at the same time, you get to see all the aspects of the research,” says Korey. “They get to see science on display.” Back in the lab, of course, students are on a much more intimate level with science – authoring articles in peer-reviewed publications and getting to know their research better than anyone else. “Chris treats his undergraduate collaborators as professional colleagues,” says Hillenius, “and so that’s what they become.” Take Tiffany Williams ’10, for example. When she first arrived in Korey’s lab, she was struggling with her science classes, doubting that she wanted to continue studying biology. It wasn’t long before she was presenting her research at the Louis Stokes South Carolina Alliance for Minority Participation program’s
undergraduate research conference, winning second prize the first year and first prize the second year. “I couldn’t believe what I was accomplishing,” says Williams, who went on to win the 2009 ExCEL Award for the School of Sciences and Mathematics Student of the Year. “And it’s all because of Dr. Korey. He showed me that all my limitations were in my head.” “There’s also a little bit of tough love there,” says Alexis Smith ’06, remembering that, at one point during her two years working in his lab, Korey suggested she consult with researchers at Harvard to get their expertise. “That was really scary for me, but Chris just said, ‘Why not? Call them!’ It made me realize that just because I was ‘just’ a college student didn’t mean my research was any less important. Science is science – no matter who the scientist is.” That’s exactly what Korey hopes all of his students come to realize. Because, after all, as long as they’re in his lab, they’re scientists – scientists who might abruptly abandon a vial of fruit flies for an impromptu dance-off or impulsively flee the lab altogether for a quick gelato run, but scientists nonetheless.
Question Everything | For Chris Korey, being a scientist means constantly learning, always discovering – being, in a word, a student. And what better place to be a student than in a college classroom? “I go in the classroom to teach, sure – that’s my job. But ultimately, we’re all there to learn,” says Korey, who carries a notebook to class and jots down any idea that comes up and needs further investigation. “I like getting those questions that I can’t immediately answer. I end up learning something that I may not otherwise have ever considered. I like that. I like that they make sure there’s always something more for me to learn.” It’s another reason Korey enjoys working primarily with undergraduates. “They have the ability to come up with ideas that are totally out of left field,” he says. “Once you become indoctrinated into your own field, you stop asking things like how we know what we know and why we don’t know some things. I never want to feel like I’m making assumptions or taking knowledge for granted. I rely on my students to keep me on my toes.” Which explains why the very first thing Alexis Smith ever heard come out of Korey’s mouth was, “Challenge everything I tell you. If I say the sky is blue, don’t assume that’s true. You need to know why. Question everything.” “It’s that single statement that stuck with me,” says Smith, who was a freshman in Korey’s Intro to Biology at the time and is now applying for ER residencies. “I’ve challenged everything I’ve been told ever since then, and it made me a better student in college and in med school. And I think it will make me a better doctor.” And, for his own part, it’s certainly made Korey a better teacher. “Chris is always stretching, continually innovating and experimenting, always trying to develop new ways to teach,” says Hillenius. “Particularly impressive is the meaningful way he’s able to incorporate technology.” Using podcasts, video conferencing, wiki-assignments, blogs, Skype, i-Clicker response systems and other technology, Korey does everything he can to reach out to the technologyminded students.
“When I find something that works well for a particular topic, I integrate that in,” he shrugs, adding that he tries to keep lecturing to a minimum. “I find that when it’s just me yapping up there, I don’t know how much they take in. Certainly some things I haven’t figured out how to do without lecture, but when I can, I try to adapt things so the class is a little more interactive.” And it doesn’t get any more interactive than the inventive approach he’s taken to the freshman seminar on personal genomics he’s teaching this semester: He has submitted his own DNA to a commercial genomics firm, presenting himself as an object of discussion about the increasingly popular business of direct-to-consumer genetic testing. “We’re watching this genetics revolution, where, 10, 20 years from now, these students will be going to the doctor with their genetic information – it will be available, and we may even be using it to create personalized medicines,” says Korey. “So the class will explore what we should know now, what kind of protection there should be for this information, and then the ethical, legal and social implications it raises.” Revealing not only what part of the world your ancestors lived in, but also any genetic disorder that could compromise your life or that of your children, genome sequencing raises plenty of concerns. “What you find out in these reports might change the way you live your life; you may make different reproductive decisions,” points out Korey. “And it can change what we think we know about ourselves and our identities. I’m really excited to see where we’ll go with this topic. I’ll be learning right there alongside the students.” And, as unusual as this approach might sound, it’s just the kind of tactic Korey has always wanted to take, and hopes to continue to take in the future. “Chris is always going the extra mile to try something new or unusual or to make abstract material as real as possible for students,” says Hillenius. “His courses are a rigorous synthesis of theory and real-world problems, and he’s always looking for new and interesting courses to teach.” One such example is the four-week neuroscience seminar that he and assistant professor of psychology Mike Ruscio have established in Germany. As the new co-directors of the College’s Neuroscience Program, Korey and Ruscio traveled to Germany last May to feel out the possibilities for the course, and – through the SFN–affiliated Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience (FUN), for which Korey formerly served as president – were able to provide undergraduates nationwide with the opportunity to study in Berlin and Munich next summer. The goal is to expand the course down the road to create a credit-earning overseas experience for students studying neuroscience. “I just want to make sure students have as many opportunities to experience new things as possible. You never know what might speak to them – what experience might change everything for them,” says Korey, adding that this possibility of exposing students to potentially life-changing opportunities makes working with undergraduates even more motivating for him. “They’re still learning who they are and what’s out there, figuring out what they want to do with their lives. It’s kind of exciting, because, you know, discovering your passion and what you want to do in life is a pretty big deal.” You could say it’s the discovery of a lifetime.
FAL L 2 0 1 0 |
so es o me f o
B Es attle no ca fro de t ju pe f nts i n t c a d s t r o m . Po an elle es a h be liti i c d da ctua at th stor hind al c ng l e y p th he er wh Co ro e ss ou o lle fe Ir m s t liv ge ss on at im ed – or Cu ch es th he wh r t es of rou w ose ain . Se th gh as te . G cr e 2 s an n eo et 0t ome ex ure rge pri h ce of trao spa Hel sons nt th rd nn ta . ur e in ed i w y. mo ar a st y c thre s dr am e am pu ati s c
hen George Heltai spoke, his audience listened, and listened well. Their keen interest was mostly out of respect for the weight his words carried, but certain practical considerations accounted for their attention, too. For one thing, the history professor was soft-spoken, prompting his students to sit close to the front of class. For another, a cigar or cigarette was often perched on his lip, wiggling about, dodging left and right, up and down – whatever direction was needed to allow words to squeeze out his mouth. Then there was the thick Hungarian accent, which, even as it interfered with his speech, created an intoxicating, cosmopolitan aura about the man. Even if one never took a class with Professor Heltai, it was hard not to know him, or at least not know of him. He could be seen daily sitting on a bench in the Cistern Yard, ambling across campus back to his home on Wentworth Street or chatting with a colleague in the faculty lounge in the basement of Randolph Hall. He was the unassuming man with the shock of somewhat unruly gray-andwhite hair and a bushy mustache, who always dressed in coat and tie, whose words were carefully measured. For two decades, Heltai was a veritable campus icon with a spirited fan club among the student body, if not an outright cult following.
Many of his students signed up for every course he taught, willing to decipher the man’s accented English and slog through dense texts on the history of Europe and that continent’s last few centuries of political and intellectual leaders in exchange for being audience to the thoughts of a battered survivor who came to Charleston and the College after a series of unhappy incidents, yet who never stopped seeking the answers to fundamental questions concerning human rights, governance, societal order and freedom. The smokes Heltai enjoyed were easily tolerated if you knew the hardships he endured. One could argue he was making up for lost time, indulging in mild pleasures and vices that for long spells he had been deprived of. He smoked through class, during office hours and at his home when he invited students over for visits. No one complained. The College was more relaxed, more intimate, and it wasn’t uncommon for Heltai to hold class in the Three Nags bar at the corner of George and St. Philip streets – again, no one complained. There were fewer rules in the 1970s, and far fewer students at the College than the 10,000+ that roam campus today.
It was another era, when secondhand smoke didn’t prompt raised eyebrows, finger wags and restaurant smoking bans; when Americans raged instead against the shootings at Kent State University, the war in Vietnam and Watergate. Those subjects were among the issues that riled many of Heltai’s students and inspired political thought that bordered on the radical. Heltai encouraged his students’ independent thinking, even if he did not always agree with particular ideas. His own beliefs had morphed over time, too, as he lived, and sometimes suffered, under a host of governments run by monarchs, fascists, Nazis, communists, socialists and capitalists. As Heltai became an old man at the College, he was happy to impart some of these experiences to others in the hope that their still-budding brains might benefit. Students soaked up his lessons, realizing they were in the presence of a legend, and somehow knowing they would carry his teachings with them through their lives, no matter if the European events they discussed were half a world away and centuries old. “I think he helped students understand that history doesn’t always provide answers to life’s most serious questions,” says former colleague Malcolm Clark, professor emeritus of American history, “but what it does do is help refine the skills of good judgment.”
Life of Resistance When George Heltai came to America in 1964, he was a 50-year-old refugee with a wife and three kids who had floated though Western Europe for the previous nine years after narrowly slipping out from behind the quickly closing Iron Curtain. When he arrived at the College in 1967, he was not secretive about his life in Hungary, but he wasn’t always forthcoming either, perhaps considering it inappropriate, or immodest, for him to attach significance to certain life-changing events. On campus, his murky biography only added to his allure. “We had many conversations about George Heltai,” says former student Sue Bowler ’76. “We all found him very exotic and very mysterious.” For students who asked enough questions, they would have known that before coming to Charleston, Heltai had taught at Columbia University in New York for three years, alongside the former Polish statesman, and future National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski at the Research Institute for Communist Affairs. Before then, Heltai and his family lived in Brussels, where he was director of a political research institute. These were
Heltai's fake identification during World War I I, declaring him a Catholic, made by his wife, Agnes
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
eclipsed an idyllic childhood spent between bourgeois Budapest impressive credentials, especially in Charleston, but those jobs apartments, concert halls and summer cottages on lakes. In were not among the most fascinating parts of Heltai’s life. To learn 1938, at age 18, she took what her son Blaise calls “her last real about those events, one would have to ask Heltai what happened in vacation,” touring Rome with a friend. A year later, war broke out, Hungary, and cross your fingers that he would tell you. and Agnes and millions of other Europeans became consumed He was born in Budapest on September 22, 1914, a few years not with enjoying their days, but surviving them. Toward the end before World War I would shake Hungary from the rule of the of World War II, Budapest was the site of a bloody three-month Hapsburgs and drastically shrink its geographic boundaries. After siege, and the Heltais lived among the fighting, with the Germans the Austro-Hungarian Empire was defeated in the war, the 1920 occupying Buda on the west side of the Danube, and the Russians Treaty of Trianon gave more than two thirds of Hungary’s land to occupying Pest, on the east bank. neighboring countries and forfeited more than half the country’s At the end of World War II, Hungary was rid of the Nazis, though population, along with its coastline on the Adriatic Sea. As Russian troops lingered in their place. Hungary grappled with Communists took power, and Heltai this tumult, Heltai came became the foreign ministry’s deputy of age. His schoolmates chief for policy planning in the in Budapest included new government. In this role he Paul Erdös, who went met a variety of world leaders, on to become a worldincluding Joseph Stalin, Winston class mathematician, and the Gabor – Sue Bowler ’76 Churchill, Josip Broz Tito and Ho sisters – Zsa Zsa, Eva and Magda, who Chi Minh. At home in Budapest, later became famous as Hollywood he started a family, with the births of a daughter, Sophie, and a actresses and socialites. Heltai’s younger brother, Tibor, would son, Martin. For a few years, Heltai experienced a semblance of briefly be married to Magda from 1972 to 1973. peace, though he and Agnes noticed with some alarm that Russian At the University of Hungary, Heltai earned doctoral degrees influence was increasing in the country and the Hungarian in law and political science and studied under Laszlo Gajzago, government was nationalizing industries and seizing land. Hungary’s representative to the League of Nations. Gajzago Heltai himself aroused suspicion within his party by virtue of his was critical of the rise of Nazi power in Europe, and Heltai was frequent interactions with Western leaders and diplomats. influenced by these views, himself becoming an outspoken critic Early one morning in 1949, policemen raided the Heltai home in of Nazism and the fascism that was taking hold in Hungary during Budapest, arresting Heltai on fabricated charges of espionage and World War II. When the Hungarian government committed troops treason. He was among a number of intellectuals arrested by fellow to fight alongside Germany against Russia, Heltai was punished communists and placed in secret prisons as part of a political for his political beliefs and Jewish heritage by being assigned purge intended to tighten ranks and impress Russia. Though to a labor camp on the front lines. His comrades included other Agnes Heltai knew her husband was innocent, she was unable to dissidents, Jews and undesirables. appeal to anyone for help. Her husband was not charged in open “We were sent to the Russian front as shock troops, and few of court, and she didn’t know where he was being held. us came back,” Heltai told the Charleston News and Courier in Neighbors began to shun her, either convinced her husband was 1982. “My regiment was at the River Don when the Russians a traitor or fearful of what harm might come to their own family broke through.” should they continue their association with the Heltais. As the In subzero weather, Heltai and other survivors retreated 600 weeks went by, she received no word from her husband, and she miles on foot through Ukraine, back toward Hungary. When they was left alone to care for their 2-year-old daughter and 8-monthwere 100 miles away from the border, they bribed a train engineer old son. On account of his alleged crimes, she had trouble finding to drive them home, but were thwarted when a German general work. Weeks turned into months, and months turned into years, commandeered the train for purposes of transporting Russian yet she did not receive word of her husband’s fate, not from him nor booty. Heltai and his compatriots marched the rest of the way from the authorities that made the arrest. home to the Hungarian border. Upon reaching Budapest, Heltai “I didn’t hear from him for four years,” Agnes said. “I was sure he joined an underground resistance organized by communists. Some was dead.” nights were bad, such as those he spent sleeping on tramways. Others were better, such as when he met his wife, Agnes, who was also in the resistance and excelled at cryptology and forgery. She made a fake identification for her boyfriend, and, in time, forged a marriage certificate for the couple. The newlyweds honeymooned by trying to topple the Hungarian government and end the Heltai endured five years in prison. Eighteen months of that country’s cooperation with the Nazis. time was spent in solitary confinement, locked in a cramped, Like other communists, George and Agnes Heltai were eager underground cell with a wall-mounted plank for a bed. A light to restore Hungary’s glory through a government that promised bulb hung overhead in a cage, illuminated at all hours, making efficiency and equality. For Agnes, a talented pianist and daughter sleep difficult and the differentiation of night and day impossible. of famed Hungarian composer Victor Lanyi, World War II had Physical abuse was frequent, and the prisoners’ captors seemed
“We had many conversations about George Heltai . We all found him very exotic and very mysterious .”
FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
uninterested in hearing anything but confessions from the prisoners, even if they were forced and false. Oftentimes, beatings followed a prisoner’s refusal to confess to their alleged crimes, or a refusal to implicate associates and guarantee them a similar fate. In the prison account Volunteers for the Gallows, Heltai’s onetime cellmate and lifelong friend, Béla Szász, writes of the frequent beatings he suffered at the hands of fellow communists, including being rolled up in a carpet and having the soles of his feet – one of the most sensitive areas of the body – beaten with batons until they were gruesomely bruised and swollen. Men also beat Szász’s kidneys with batons, kicked him silly and shoved salt into his mouth after prying his clenched teeth open with a knife. Beyond this abuse, prisoners were rarely allowed to wash. The little food they were given consisted of slop. Guards sometimes showed mercy on the prisoners by allowing eyeholes in their cell doors to be left open, letting in the smallest amounts of sound and light. Other times, writes Szász, the guards left the eyeholes open so they could spit through them, onto prisoners’ faces. Heltai tried to stay active to ward off madness. “I knew I must exercise, so I walked up and down hours at a time. To do otherwise would have been to give up. I lived off memories. Many went crazy. Later, I got a Russian dictionary, which I memorized,” Heltai told The Meteor campus newspaper in 1981. “I was glad when they took me out to beat me, just so that I could have contact with other human beings.” At a show trial, Heltai was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Others were sentenced to death. Prison life did not get easier for Heltai, now certified as a traitor. He and other political prisoners continued to be treated harshly, though a few of their keepers acknowledged their imprisonment was a sham, as evinced by a debriefing Heltai once underwent with a male investigator and a female trainee. As Szász recounts,
Soon afterwards the experienced interrogator sent the girl from the room on some errand and turned to the prisoner with an explanatory, almost apologetic murmur: “The comrade doesn’t understand yet. The comrade hasn’t been with the organization very long.” Analyzing such behavior, Heltai later ascribed such denial to the fact that his countrymen found it easier to believe in the treacherous misdeeds of a handful of intellectual traitors than to admit the entire government was headed by murderous men and staffed by complicit subordinates. “Ours was a Western country, not Russia,” Heltai told The Meteor. “They did not want to hear, did not believe such things could happen in Hungary.” After more than four years in secret prisons, Heltai and other prisoners were permitted to write a short note to their families and tell them they were alive. A week later, wives were allowed to visit, though they stood behind fences with a field between them. “There were about 300 persons on each side of a fence,” Heltai told the News and Courier. “Conversation was not possible. But we were able to see one another.” Three months later, following the death of Joseph Stalin, Heltai was released from prison and made to sign a paper promising he wouldn’t discuss his imprisonment. The Communist Party in Hungary invited him back, but he declined the offer due to distrust and disillusionment. He instead found work at an academy researching Hungarian poets and their connections to Utopian socialists. Settling back home with his family, he became aware of how much they suffered in his absence, even if they weren’t behind bars. “Sometimes I think it was better for me in prison than for my wife outside. Friends she would meet in the street dared not speak to her,” Heltai told The Meteor. “After I was out, people came by and apologized. Some we forgave, others we did not.”
Physical abuse was frequent , and the prisoners’ captors seemed uninterested in hearing anything but confessions from the prisoners, even if they were forced and false .
On this occasion, the pupil, a young woman, was sitting beside the experienced interrogator. The girl performed the administrative tasks, she recorded the prisoner’s personal details and asked him how many years he had been sentenced to and why. “To ten years, on the pretext that I was a spy,” Heltai told the female interrogator. “What to do you mean by ‘on the pretext?’ Are you suggesting that you were not a spy?” she replied. Heltai shrugged his shoulders and replied in an indifferent voice: “I was never a spy.” Whereupon the young woman jumped up from her chair beside herself with fury, gave the prisoner a good dressingdown, and finally announced loudly and with great dignity: “The court of the people’s democracy would never sentence an innocent man to 10 years.”
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
Hungarian Rhapsody Decades later at the College, Heltai hardly ever spoke of his time in prison, not with colleagues, not with students. With his children, too, he was quiet about this time, offering up relatively few details beyond a couple of anecdotes that, in retrospect, could be found humorous or portrayed his old friends in positive ways. When Heltai drew from his past, he overwhelmingly preferred speaking of his interactions with foreign leaders and the principles on which their governments stood. Sue Bowler recalls taking one of Heltai’s courses that began at the unfortunate hour of 8 a.m. As she and her classmates sleepily staggered in and sipped coffee, Heltai took mercy on the students and regaled them with stories for a few minutes, detailing his meetings with Stalin, for example, and the Soviet leader’s unusually strong passion for cinema, including American Westerns.
Heltai (left) during his days as a Hungarian dignitary
“That was a fascinating way to wake up,” says Bowler, now an administrator within the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families. College of Charleston trustee Dan Ravenel ’72 says that Heltai was an extremely affable professor who managed to be demanding of his students without being strict. Other students say Heltai’s humor and informal teaching style went a long way, and his friendly demeanor was critical to his encouragement of critical thinking. Jeanne Fowler Stieglbauer ’76 remembers Heltai as the first teacher in her life to use the Socratic method in the classroom, and one of the few to be engaged in the lives and minds of his students. “He made me feel like a scholar,” says the now-principal of Dreher High School in Columbia, S.C. “He made me think at a different level.” Before Stieglbauer graduated, Heltai gave her a reading list, solemnly telling her “these are the books an intellectual would read.” For years she whittled away at the list, digesting works by Leo Tolstoy, Thomas Mann, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and more. Even though Heltai was a history scholar, he attached great value to literature and the perspectives of artists. Heltai inspired legions of history students during his tenure, some of whom became professional historians. One – David Moltke-Hansen ’73, who directed the South Carolina Historical Society and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania before becoming director of the Simms Initiative at the South Caroliniana Library – recalls Heltai serving as his thesis director when he explored the cultural origins of German nationalism. Heltai, he says, taught him how to truly think about history,
often while he was sipping wine on a sheepskin rug in the professor’s home. “He was definitely a European intellectual,” says another history student, Alex Moore ’70, an acquisitions editor for the University of South Carolina Press, who remembers Heltai as an open-minded professor who could be found debating the merits of socialism versus anarchism with colleagues in the faculty lounge. Among his history department colleagues, Heltai was respected for his camaraderie and his support of younger faculty members. History professor Clark remembers Heltai, who was chairman of the department several times, supporting the teaching of history courses on Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Former history professor Sister Anne Francis Campbell remembers Heltai being receptive to beginning women’s studies and African American studies courses, too – an endorsement a bit unusual from older European faculty members at that time. Among Clark’s and Campbell’s more vivid memories are the dinner parties the Heltais would host at their home on Wentworth Street, and, later, at a house on Thomas Street. Agnes Heltai would labor to make exquisite meals, serving the gourmet food with wines and Hungarian pastries and cakes. An eclectic set of dinner guests was always present, making for fascinating conversation. Clark almost smacks his lips when reminiscing about Agnes’ liver pâté, and recalls how she’d buzz around the house, encouraging guests to talk less and eat more. Her husband, meanwhile, reveled in having an audience of artists, scholars, musicians and neighbors to converse with. Students came by the house, too, to talk with Heltai or take oral exams. It was hard not to notice the giant Hungarian Komondor, or
FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
sheepdog, who lounged around the house, or the casual way the Heltais lived, with a stray plate or wine bottle somewhere in the living room. Agnes Heltai said her husband enjoyed “the comfortable life,” and it was she who tackled home repairs, such as a hole in the ceiling, while her husband considered intellectual matters from the couch. In this way, Heltai was a paradox, as his understated manner of living created a persona that was larger than life. Even among those with big imaginations, such as author Padgett Powell ’74, he made a distinct and lasting impression. “George Heltai – in looking and, as far as we knew, acting like Einstein; and having been, we thought, the prime minister of Hungary; and having edited there what we thought its leading intellectual journal (no matter how inaccurate these surmises on our part were) – could not have been more iconic or larger than life or outright strange,” notes Powell, author of novels that include Edisto, Mrs. Hollingsworth’s Men and The Interrogative Mood: A Novel?. “Conversation with him was not overtly intellectual. The cigars and the cognac were more important than any of that. One got the feeling that he enjoyed your American limitations and the limitations of your youth, and that he felt withal, somehow, kindred in these wants of yours. He seemed to be chuckling at you and chuckling at himself as well. This was thrilling if you took him, as I did, for a bona fide Old World intellectual. I have known only a few people I would characterize this way.”
they did not pack suitcases but instead put on layer after layer of clothing. They told their two older children, 9-year-old Sophie and 7-year-old Martin, that their father had been appointed head of a library in the countryside, and they were leaving right away. Sophie was excited, having just learned how to read. George Heltai also secretly gave sleeping pills to their 18-month-old, Blaise, for fear that he’d make noise. He slept for 24 hours straight, and Agnes panicked when the toddler would not wake up, becoming furious with her husband when she learned that he had drugged their son. They left at night, during a windy storm, figuring fewer people would be in their way in the inclement weather. On the way to the border, they were stopped often, but Hungarian – Padgett Powell ’74 soldiers were sympathetic to their plight and let them proceed, to a point. Close to the border, they were required to continue on foot, and the family crossed fields in the miserable weather, sleeping in barns and hiding from the Russian patrol by burrowing into haystacks. Martin wanted to know why they couldn’t just call a taxi. While taking cover, they heard other voices, and realized other Hungarians were in the haystacks, too, waiting for their chance to leave the country. One evening a farmer took pity on the family and gave them milk, sausages and bread, which Sophie Heltai still recalls, 54 years later, as the best meal of her life. When the Heltais finally crossed over a trampled barbed wire fence, they knew they were in Austria. After spending time in refugee camps, they headed to Brussels, where Heltai eventually established the Imre Nagy Institute for Political Research, which he then headed. His workplace’s namesake, however, had been hanged a year before after being arrested by Soviet-backed Hungarian communists and convicted in a secret trial. Life in Brussels was hard. The Heltais were very poor and – pegged forever as foreigners, despite living there for nine years – they felt out of place. In 1964, they moved to New York so George could teach at Columbia University, and, they hoped, the children would have an easier time making friends and establishing a new home. America was the one country, the Heltais believed, where an immigrant could be accepted into society and not forever be regarded as a foreigner. Life was enjoyable in New York, though the Heltais experienced a fair amount of culture shock, such as the time Agnes started crying after being pulled over by a police officer. She had forgotten that the speedometer, which read 100 just moments earlier, measured the car’s speed in miles per hour, not kilometers. Or when she headed to the bread aisle in a supermarket and confused the pre-sliced loaves with cake. Or when the Heltais were invited to a party, only to discover it was a “Tupperware party.” Only in America, they laughed, would the party’s hosts try to sell something to their guests. From their home in Nyack, N.Y., Heltai commuted two hours each way to teach at Columbia University. No matter the enjoyment of his job, he yearned for a teaching opportunity that was less taxing. Through a classmate of Heltai’s son Martin, College of
“One got the feeling that he enjoyed your American limitations and the limitations of your youth , and that he felt withal, somehow, kindred in these wants of yours.”
The Flight of Their Lives Heltai did not leave Hungary and the Old World by choice. In 1956, three years after leaving prison, Hungarians revolted against their government and its strong Soviet influence. Imre Nagy, a former neighbor to the Heltais and one of the few people to be seen publicly with Agnes during George’s imprisonment, became prime minister as his followers disbanded the state police and fought Russian troops. Nagy, who had originally offered Heltai a government position after his release from prison, again asked Heltai to join his government. This time Heltai accepted, becoming deputy foreign minister while Nagy himself kept the title of foreign minister. After about two weeks of successful fighting by the Hungarians, in which Heltai wrote a declaration of neutrality and Nagy declared Hungary’s intention to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact, additional Soviet troops invaded the country and overpowered the Hungarian revolutionaries, crushing the uprising. Nagy and other ministers and their families fled to the Yugoslav embassy for protection. Deputy foreign minister Heltai was inclined to join them, but his wife refused. No one could be trusted, she argued. The only way to be safe, she said, would be to leave the country immediately. In November 1956, Heltai hired a car to drive them from Budapest to the Austrian border. Wary of arousing suspicion,
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
Professor Heltai, fumbling for his signature smokes, enjoys a light moment in Charleston. Charleston President Walter Coppedge heard of Heltai and invited him down for a visit in January 1967. The timing was fortuitous for the College, as Heltai left behind a snowed-in Big Apple to find Charlestonians enjoying 80-degree days. A few months later, Heltai signed on to head the College’s history department and his family moved south to start new lives once again.
The Beauty of Freedom George Heltai never returned to Hungary, even after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the end of communist rule in Eastern Europe. For many years, he was unwilling to forgive former colleagues he held responsible for the death of Nagy and others. For other tormentors, though, he was merciful. When his son and wife returned to Hungary for a visit, Heltai asked them to visit the secret police colonel responsible for his brutal interrogation in 1949 and deliver a message on his behalf. “Tell him not to worry,” he told his son, Blaise. “Whatever forgiveness he needs from me, he has it. He is my friend.” That Heltai chose not to seethe over past injustices or fume at continued human rights abuses in Eastern Europe was a conscious choice, says former colleague Clark. He did not forget his and others’ suffering, he just didn’t want to spend the second half of his life dwelling on those sorrows. “To react with anger would have disrupted his energies,” says Clark, “and, in the end, would destroy his life. He’d be unable to enjoy anything. In that sense, he was a highly disciplined man.” Agnes, who died in August at age 90, a few weeks after being interviewed for this article, said her husband was an innocent man,
capable of seeing good in almost anything, despite being forced into war, imprisoned and forced to flee his homeland. In the end, none of those experiences defeated or defined him. Though he discussed politics, history and government daily, many found it difficult to discern Heltai’s own opinions and how he came to feel about his participation in communist governments, especially when the United States squared off against the Soviet Union and began the Cold War. In 1982, Heltai answered a reporter’s question about his political beliefs, saying that “the only ideology we should accept is the ideology of the humanists of the 16th century, such as Machiavelli, Pico and Guicciardini. They invented the free life and explained the beauty of freedom. They held the view that the only time a prince should use force is when somebody threatens the freedom and welfare of his people.” In 1986, Heltai retired from the College. He died in Charleston in 1994, two years after suffering a major stroke. His three children all graduated from the College (Sophie ’70, Martin ’71 and Blaise ’76) and many of their fellow students came to regard George and Agnes Heltai as family, embracing them the best they could in Charleston, even if the world the Heltais came from – a place of grand culture, war-torn capitals, secret prisons and oppressive regimes – was exceedingly foreign. The lessons Heltai learned in Hungary, however, were transferable, and he shared them with eager students in an attempt to better their futures. The lessons were appreciated, as evidenced by the fond memories evoked among so many College alumni with just the mention of his name. Even more than three decades later, many can still remember George Heltai’s lessons, can hear the distinct accent of his voice and even smell the soft, mysterious smoke enveloping his every word.
FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
Diversity is a fundamental concept in the College’s new “Gateways to Greatness” strategic plan. Like many universities across the country, the College is doing its best to attract a heterogeneous student population, but with varying degrees of success. Minority Report by Eric Frazier ’87 We asked an alum journalist to reflect on his experience as a minority student a n d s e e w h at t h e C o l l e g e i s d o i n g t o d i v e r s i f y , e s p e c i a l ly w i t h A f r i c a n American students. IMAGES BY SULLY SULLIVAN I was a freshman, maybe a sophomore, walking along George Street under a blue bowl of Saturday afternoon sky in the mid-1980s. The street had been blocked off for a student activities festival, and I was soaking up the sights and the color, happy to be alive and young. And then, a song I’d never heard came wafting out of a loudspeaker: Bye bye, Miss American Pie. Drove my Chevy to the levee, But the levee was dry. Them good ol’ boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye Singing “this’ll be the day that I die. This’ll be the day that I die.” I barely noticed. But everybody around me did. They responded instantly, smiling at each other in mutual recognition. Guys draped their arms across each others’ shoulders. A couple of girls skipped past, swinging clasped hands between them, grinning like ninnies. George Street burst into song, and it seemed everybody knew the lines except me, the only African American in sight. I stood there, dumbstruck, wondering what kind of cultural wormhole I’d just tumbled down. All I knew was that in the world where I grew up, talk of drunken “good ol’ boys” didn’t prompt smiles and celebration – it meant time to knuckle up or make yourself scarce.
I knew no one at that moment meant me any harm, of course. My time at the College had been overwhelmingly positive. I’d come in on a scholarship named for J. Waties Waring, a Charleston judge whose progressive rulings helped pave the way for school desegregation and the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case. Shortly after my admission, the College had immediately offered me a slot in the SPECTRA program, which gives incoming minority freshmen a head start on classes and invaluable orientation sessions. Everything the school did for me said, “Welcome – we want you here.” But then, one simple, innocent song, and I was asking the question every minority student on predominantly white campuses asks: Do I really belong here? It’s the question so many black students head off to historically black colleges and universities to escape. If only for one season in their lives, they want to feel totally, randomly, anonymously homogenous. Not the black guy. And at the College back then, you only had to look at the architecture around you or the Confederate flags on frat boys’ T-shirts to know you were still in the Old South. It was easy to think that you might not really fit in, even when all the surface facts said you did. I suspect fear of that question is part of the reason why the College, even two decades removed from my time there, finds itself with the lowest percentage of minority students of any public four-year college or university in South Carolina. But I also know that the College has been and is working hard to change those low numbers. So, I went back to campus to see how the College was addressing the minority challenge. FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
The Diversity Dilemma John Bello-Ogunu, the College’s chief diversity officer, greets me with an outstretched hand and a courtly formality matching his black double-breasted suit. He shows me to his office, dominated by a framed picture of a tiger and wood carvings that bespeak his native Nigeria. He arrived at the College in January, tasked with fixing a problem that likely is much bigger than the College and could prove to be well beyond the reach of any strategies he devises. State enrollment statistics for fall 2009 showed the College with just 551 African American students, compared to nearly 1,400 for Winthrop, more than 1,600 for Francis Marion and more than 1,100 for Coastal Carolina. African American students accounted for 4.9 percent of new freshmen at the College and 5.4 percent of the total undergraduate population. International students accounted for less than 1 percent of incoming freshmen and 1 percent of the undergraduate population. Bello-Ogunu, who came from Wichita State University and holds a doctorate in speech communication, took the job knowing it would be, in his words, “what some would consider an uphill climb.” The problem stretches back generations, he points out, and likely has roots in the long era of segregation that today’s students know only from talk they hear through their parents or grandparents. As he interviewed for the post, Bello-Ogunu grew convinced that the school understood the importance of diversity and stood ready to offer the kind of support and commitment that separates successful diversity programs from the failures. “The College is very mindful of the seriousness of the challenge that exists here, and it is determined to succeed,” he says, “but the diversity challenges will not be overcome overnight.” He held town hall meetings for students, staff and faculty early this year, taking the pulse of his new school. He scheduled programs on Gullah culture, women’s equality and sexual harassment. It marked the start of what he calls his fight to create a “culture of collective responsibility” at the College, an environment where everyone sees diversity as their personal responsibility, not just something black students or gay students or women or other minority students should be concerned about. He has asked for and received permission to hire a director of diversity education and training, a staffer who will conduct sensitivity sessions for students, faculty and staff. Bello-Ogunu suggested – and President George Benson quickly approved – plans for a presidential commission on diversity, access and inclusion. This working group will develop a comprehensive strategic plan with clearly defined action goals, budget targets, measurable outcomes and lines of accountability. Bello-Ogunu hopes to have it ready for the College’s Board of Trustees to approve by the end of the academic year. His plans take into account the research on what makes diversity programs successful. Talking about his efforts, brows furrowed behind his black-rimmed glasses, he sounds very much like a scientist tackling a research project. But, I find myself wondering, isn’t teaching tolerance more art than science? Doesn’t solving this still come down to decisions made by teenagers – teenagers who more quickly take guidance from other teens and online reviews sites like Collegeprowler.com than from well-meaning adults like Bello-Ogunu? Collegeprowler, for whatever it’s worth, recently gave the college a D in diversity. “Culturally some students feel that they are immersed in a world of Southern mindsets, mannerisms and ways of life,” a student reviewer wrote. “The College of Charleston is not a school that is unwelcoming or discouraging to minority and ethnic students, and it offers clubs and organizations for its minority and international students to come together and form a community within the Charleston campus. Even with these resources, non-white students don’t tend to flock to the College of Charleston the way white students do.” I tell Bello-Ogunu how I was struck during my own student days by the relative absence of black students from Charleston. A few of the ones at the College then told me their Charleston friends felt the school was for rich white kids, not them. The massive columns and sweeping staircases of Randolph Hall, the ancient Spanish moss–draped oaks of the
"the college is very mindful of the seriousness of the challenge that exists here, and it is determined to succeed, but the diversity challenges will not be overcome overnight." - John Bello-Ogunu, the college's chief diversity officer
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
Cistern Yard, the regal Sottile House – it all seemed too Deep South, too forbidding, for them. “Unfortunately, that perception lingers on,” Bello-Ogunu admits. He knows the “Eureka!” breakthrough scientists live for is not yet in sight for him. “Unfortunately, the tendency for students in general has been to always believe and form their perceptions based on what they have heard.” Still, the challenges facing the College are no different than those facing other predominantly white institutions of higher learning, he adds. At any predominantly white university, from the University of South Carolina to Clemson to Winthrop, minority students find themselves confronting the question I did on George Street that day. The key, Bello-Ogunu says, is developing that culture of collective responsibility. “In our case, we are building that culture,” he says. “But these are challenges that can be overcome.” When Associate Admissions Director Debbie Counts travels around South Carolina on recruiting trips, African American students often tell her they’ve never heard of the College of Charleston. Those who have heard of it sometimes say they thought it was a private school. She even had one African American high school guidance counselor tell her she wouldn’t recommend the College to any of her students because she felt the
current African American students didn’t receive enough support to succeed. Fortunately, after Counts explained the resources the College has to offer, two African American students enrolled from that school. And they have done well at the College. “I just think we have some sort of negative image in the minority community,” says Counts, the College’s point person on minority student recruitment. “I do think it’s getting better … but it’s just going to take a little bit of time.” One of the biggest obstacles to minority recruitment is money. Counts has found that the University of South Carolina spreads its scholarship money more broadly than the College can afford to. Even if a student might like the College, she says, they and their parents are understandably likely to go with the best financial aid package. Officials at the College are working on increasing the endowment, especially through the new strategic plan, “but that doesn’t help in the short term,” she says. “All people know is that their student didn’t get enough money.”
Finding the College I’m on the phone with Kim Houston Ligon ’87, a friend from my days at the College. She served as a mentor in Upward Bound, the federally funded summer program that gives minority high school students a taste of college life. She met her husband, FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
"I know that when i first came here, I wanted to find something familiar. SomEthing that i could relate to." – Brittany Johnson
Gerald Ligon ’87, a former CofC basketball player, during her days on campus. I wondered what she might think about the College’s minority student recruitment dilemma. Coming out of Goose Creek High School, she’d figured on following her older sister to the University of South Carolina. She hadn’t thought about going to the College. She’d heard the same kind of talk among black teenagers back then that I’d heard: The College was for rich white kids. “Yeah, absolutely,” she says. “You just didn’t consider it.” But she babysat for a couple who had attended the College. Remus Harper ’72 was one of the College’s first black basketball players. His wife, Tanya Trescott Harper ’73, was also a student. The Harpers surprised her one day by taking her to meet with a recruiter for the College. She won acceptance. She still recalls the reaction from her high school guidance counselor, a black woman who’d encouraged her to attend the historically black Claflin College in Orangeburg. “She just rolled her eyes at me and looked at me like, ‘I don’t believe this.’” The College didn’t get Kim’s 21-year-old twins, though. They’re seniors at the University of South Carolina. As they prepared to graduate from Mt. Pleasant’s Wando High in 2004, she wondered if they’d consider attending the College. A lot of their white friends did, she recalls, but only one of their African American friends enrolled – a young man who sang opera. When she asked the twins about possibly attending the College, “they just kind of shook their heads,” she says. They told her in their opinion, the kids who went to the College “were the smart kids, but they were the kids who wanted to go hang out at the beach all the time.”
Financial Hurdles As students began returning to campus for this fall’s classes, I took a walk around the campus. It has changed so much. My old dorm, the funky-if-decrepit College Inn, has been replaced by the new state-of-the-art sciences and mathematics facility. The old Bishop England High School, with its hundreds of green-and-white uniformed students, has been replaced by the massive Marlene and Nathan Addlestone Library. But it was nice to see how many things haven’t changed: the moss-covered oaks in the Cistern Yard, the Stern Student Center, Randolph Hall’s elegant columns, Maybank Hall, where I took most of my first classes. A friend, an African American raised in Miami,
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
walked with me. “Gorgeous,” she noted, gazing at the Sottile House. “It looks like white Southern royalty.” In front of Berry Residence Hall on St. Philip Street, I find Kelli Mack, an African American sophomore from Columbia, S.C., waiting beside a clump of her luggage and belongings. Her dad, Carlton Mack, is leaning against the wall, fiddling intently with a cell phone. “It’s not very diverse,” Kelli says of the College. “It’s still very self-segregated. It seems black people hang out with black people, white people hang out with white people. “I wouldn’t say it’s not welcoming,” she adds. “The school, the community itself, is welcoming.” Her father, a chemical company project engineer and 1980 graduate of South Carolina State, looks up, his interest piqued. “Do you think the school should do more to foster that?” he asks his daughter. “I think the school does all it can,” she shrugs. “It’s like, what can you do?” The same words could have been coming out of my mouth, standing around outside the College Inn, two decades earlier. She grabs some of her stuff and heads inside. Her dad explains that the family chose the College because Kelli didn’t want to stay in Columbia at USC. So, even though other schools, including nearby Charleston Southern, offered her better aid packages, Kelli came to Charleston. “Basically, all we got here was the lottery money,” he says. But “we’re doing it because the school does have a good reputation.”
Reaching Out The College is ramping up its recruitment and retention efforts. In 2009, the school created MOVE (Multicultural Overnight Visit Experience), which brings high schoolers on campus and treats them to campus cultural events as well as informational sessions with faculty and staff. In the summer of 2009, the school brought 23 rising high school seniors on campus as part of its first Senior Project program. The College put them up in the Liberty Street Residence Hall for a week and provided them with sessions on time management, writing and other subjects they’ll need in getting ready for college. They had breakfast with College officials, met with deans and did a tour of the Medical University of South Carolina. Nineteen of them enrolled at the College. This year, 43 went through the program, and all filled out applications; Debbie Counts in admissions hopes at least half will enroll. Getting students to campus means little if they don’t succeed. To that end, the College just received a five-year, $1.1 million federal grant to extend tutoring and other support services to 140 students through the ROAR (Reach Overcome Achieve Results) Scholars program. It will help low-income and first-generation students, as well as students with disabilities. “We are busy,” Counts says, “and we are reaching out.” In August, she traveled to Missouri for a college fair that usually attracts historically black institutions such as S.C. State University and Claflin College. She figures it’s time to start going head-to-head with those institutions for students, even if that means following them to their key recruiting fairs. She wound up with a table near officials from Claflin, who were surprised to see a representative from the College there.
Counts, who has been in her post since 2007, says the College will continue to expand its outreach efforts, and she believes they’ll bear fruit. “We’re not sitting in the office saying there’s nothing we can do. We’re thinking outside the box,” she says. “Once we get this thing going, we’re going to see some benefits from it, and we’re going to see more and more students coming here.” Hopefully students like Brittany Johnson. The senior computer science major from Sumter, S.C., is a three-year member of SCAMP (S.C. Alliance for Minority Participation), a Ronald E. McNair Scholar, a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and, usually, the only African American female in her computer science classes. Her sunny outlook beams through, even in e-mails. “There are so many opportunities on campus for students to get involved, but most just don’t,” she writes. “Find something you’re interested in, then do it. There’s no better way to network and make new friends than to put yourself out there.” Another reason for her positive outlook: her mentor, Jim Bowring, whom she met her freshman year and credits with helping her find her way. She works part time, doing software research under him for CIRDLES (Cyber Infrastructure Research and Development Lab for the Earth Sciences). She thinks the College should focus less on its history and more on getting the word out about the diversity of clubs, organizations and students already on campus. “I know that when I first came here, I wanted to find something familiar. Something that I could relate to.” Something to relate to. That’s what I so desperately wanted that day on George Street when Don McLean’s 1971 folk-rock anthem made me question my place at the College. The shock I got that day proved only fleeting. More students, staff and faculty than I can count reached out to me over the years and assured me that I was indeed welcome at the College. I went on to become a SPECTRA counselor, a member of the judicial board, a reporter on the school newspaper staff, and even had my picture taken for some now-ancient, hopefully forgotten admissions office brochure. An internship in the College’s public relations office literally set me on my career path as a writer, when Bobbin Huff, a kind soul there – who happened to be white – noticed my writing ability and put in a good word for me with her friends down at The Post and Courier. The College turned out to be the best training I could have received for life in “the real world.” I’d grown up in Colleton County, an hour’s drive into the countryside west of Charleston, surrounded mainly by my own cousins. In my early years, virtually everyone in my community was black. But at the College, I met people of all colors, from all kinds of backgrounds, and by the time I graduated in 1987, the College was such a big part of my life that I recommended it to my younger sister, a 2005 graduate. I’m not sure where my 16-year-old daughter will want to go to school when she graduates in 2012. I asked her about the College recently. “Maybe,” she said. The choice will be hers, but I’ll be rooting for the College. All these years later, I can still summon up the melody and the chorus for “American Pie” at will. It’s as if that day on George Street permanently embedded it in my subconscious. That’s OK, though. It’s just a song. And it is pretty catchy. – Eric Frazier ’87 is a reporter for The Charlotte Observer.
FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
A Love Story Written in Water Not all jobs are created equal. For Cyrus Buffum ’06, the Charleston Waterkeeper, he’s found a calling that immerses him in his passion for water and his desire to save the world. by Mark Berry | photography by Peter Frank Edwards ’93
ave you ever loved something so much that you would give your everything for it? Yes, your everything – your every waking moment, your every thought, your every ounce of energy. Would you be willing to commit your youth and even your future to an uphill battle that dips you in and out of poverty like some cruel seesaw, that leaves you – sometimes days, sometimes even months – feeling like a David stripped of his slingshot facing an entire army of Goliaths? And even in your darkest moments – literally, because your electricity’s been cut off for the last couple of months and you keep telling yourself that you really only need your place for sleep anyway – can you meet each day with a bright and sincere smile? Actually, a smile and a dogged willingness to give it your all, mentally, physically and socially? You would probably do that for your child. But would you do it for something that can’t say thank you – ever? Would you give your life to something that will never appreciate even one of the thousands of sacrifices you make, day in and day out? Cyrus Buffum ’06 would – and is. His love of the water may be one of the greatest romances in human history. While it may seem like his is a story of unrequited love, maybe a tad bit crazy, as great affairs of the heart often are, it’s not. As Buffum will tell you, water, like love, is and has to be pure. For him, water is really the only thread that connects us all – as a people, as a planet, as life. And if that thread frays, as it seems to be doing, all will be lost. But there’s hope. Love, Buffum believes, will triumph. Not just his love, but our collective love will make the difference when we wake up and finally realize that this is really our love story with water.
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
The Dreamer and the Doer The September sun shines within a canvas of deep blue. Today is one of those late-summer days in the Lowcountry that scatters artists across the Charleston peninsula in hopes of finding their magical spots and soaking in some of this inspiration beamed in azure. They would find a lot to be inspired by at the Seabreeze Marina, located in the shadow of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. A squadron of pelicans flaps silently under the span, swooping low in search of food. The water shimmers and sounds like blue television noise – hypnotic, impossibly relaxing. There’s also a gentle shushing sound of distant cars crossing the Cooper River, accompanied by the light thudding bass of sailboats and Key West skiffs rocking in their slips against the dock. Only the shrill chatter of seagulls occasionally disrupts this tranquil morning scene. Cyrus Buffum steps onto the dock and takes a deep breath, the kind of breath a cliff diver makes after struggling from unseen depths and finally breaking the surface. The weight of the world seems to disappear with just that one breath. Man, it feels good to be alive, thinks Buffum, to be right here, right now. Ever since he took his first sailing lesson at age 12, the water has been a playground of sorts for Buffum. Through regatta racing
at Wianno Yacht Club in Osterville, Mass., he discovered that the water was an amazing place to challenge yourself, to push yourself to new limits of endurance and quick thinking. As any sailor will confess, whether off Cape Cod or South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, the ocean can be an unforgiving mistress, and it requires a total commitment of your attention, total immersion in the moment. Without hesitation, Buffum became an enthusiastic devotee. “Water was like the Wild, Wild West to me,” Buffum says. “It gave me a chance to conquer the unknown. I think it taps into that frontiersman mentality our country was founded on. Water is a road that is constantly changing, and it makes you rely more on yourself. That translates into a greater sense of personal independence.” During his teen years, water grew into something much more than a recreational diversion. It became his sanctuary. Whether on the shoreline or on a sailboat, the water – cool against his fingertips – always reminded him that there was something bigger out there than himself. That the problem of the moment – a bad grade, an argument with a girlfriend, his parents’ divorce – was pretty small in comparison to the vastness of the ocean. Standing on that dock at Seabreeze Marina, breathing deeply of the salt air, Buffum is again in a spiritual moment. Dragonflies hover nearby. Small, yellow sulfur butterflies dance in the breeze. A dolphin briefly surfaces. The water transports him to a place of constant calm. But then life intrudes, as it always does. A forklift, beeping like an unsympathetic alarm clock, reverses toward the dock. Air brakes from a passing tractor trailer screech at the nearby port. A muffled, monotone voice calls out names and instructions on a distant intercom. Buffum smiles, his reverie broken. But he doesn’t mind. Those industrial noises don’t grate on him as you might expect from an environmentalist. His role as the Charleston Waterkeeper, as he sees it, is to help everyone, and that includes businesses, to better understand their relationship with the water. Because the water, he knows, is many things to many people.
Boiling Point The title “Waterkeeper” sounds like something medieval, perhaps even post-apocalyptic. Why does Charleston need a Waterkeeper? How, frankly, do you “keep” water? For Buffum, it’s a bridge of avocation and vocation. It’s a career that was an idea that he worked tirelessly to make into a reality. In many ways, it’s the natural culmination of his passion for water and his need to solve problems. But Buffum wasn’t the first to gravitate to this idea of preserving and protecting the water. That honor goes to a group of men and women who, in 1966, formed the Hudson River Fisherman’s Association, a citizen-advocacy group who wanted to ensure the health of their waterway against industrial polluters. By 1983, they had hired the first full-time Riverkeeper, who patrolled the Hudson River and served as the primary watchdog against offenders of environmental laws. Over the course of the next two decades, this grass roots organization attracted the attention of many waterside communities, which began to see how Riverkeepers, Baykeepers and Waterkeepers could benefit them without hurting their local economies. In 1999, the Waterkeeper Alliance was founded
FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
“Water is our resource. It’s part of the public trust. I want to make sure companies are not just taking careless environmental shortcuts for short-term profits, but they’re making informed decisions based on their long-term impact in our community and the scientific data we collect.” – Cyrus Buffum
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
to organize these environmental programs, and today boasts nearly 200 Waterkeepers working on six continents. But Buffum didn’t know any of that until much later. Like most teenagers, he was too busy growing up – and too busy learning the finer points of sailing, exploring the waters of West Bay and Nantucket Sound and discovering his college destination close to 700 nautical miles south along the Atlantic coastline. As environmental groups toiled to bring about changes in legislation and keep government agencies accountable for industrial polluters in the early 2000s, Buffum was enjoying the intellectual freedom that a liberal arts and sciences university like the College of Charleston has to offer. He devoured all his subjects, finding connections and common ground in literature, philosophy, languages and the sciences. Each class seemed to open new doors of thought and raise even more questions about the things around him. It was a lot to consider – and he loved it. As a college student, Buffum had something special. Yes, he was smart, energetic, gregarious, fun to be around. But so are a lot of people. Although he looked like your typical college guy – well-worn T-shirt, shorts, flip-flops, sunglasses and an ever-present Red Sox cap, weathered just to his liking – there was definitely something different about him. As physics professor Jeff Wragg notes, “There’s a special twinkle in Cyrus’ eye.” “He’s someone who radiates this amazing vibe,” agrees Ian Wheeler ’06. “When you meet him, you just know that he has this Thing. I don’t know really how to describe it. He just has It.” “Yeah,” Chris Robinson ’05 adds, “when Cyrus walked into a room, everyone noticed him right away and wanted to be around him. Sure, he had this way of dancing that just made you stare and laugh. It always cracked me up – it was a true showstopper. But he was also the guy that people cornered and opened up to because he’s so genuine, so bright. Perhaps the most telling thing is that almost his entire family moved to Charleston after he came to school – that’s how magnetic a personality Cyrus has.” That magnetism would serve him well in his campus involvement. He was an active participant in the College’s Emerging Leaders program and a member of the Student Government Association, serving as chief of staff and a senior senator. And through those connections, he joined a close circle of friends who, as Wheeler describes, were more interested in starting their own legacy than being a part of an established one. Together, they became founding fathers of Pi Kappa Alpha, a fraternity that grew to be one of the largest on campus during their time in school. But Buffum wanted more. “Cyrus has always been a dreamer,” says Courtney Clarkson ’06. “He’s the type of dreamer who’s always enthusiastic and excited about everything … who’s always had a ton of big ideas and wanted to make things better.” The opportunity to “make things better” came to Buffum in a song – specifically “Elias” by Dispatch, a Vermont-based rock band that he listened to in high school. The song was inspired by a gardener in Zimbabwe who dreamed of sending his sons to college. Through the popularity of that song, a nonprofit was organized in 2005 to help Zimbabwean youth get an education. Eric Byington, cofounder and director of the Elias Fund, remembers receiving an e-mail out of the blue from Buffum, who expressed an interest to get involved in the cause. “More often than not, these unsolicited inquiries don’t go anywhere,” Byington admits. “The person may have great intentions, but little initiative. In fact, we didn’t hear from Cyrus for a while, and we assumed he had fallen away.” But what Byington didn’t realize was that Buffum was working furiously behind the scenes to pull different campus groups together to raise money. “Suddenly, we hear again from Cyrus,” Byington recalls, “and he’s planned a movie screening, speaking engagements and a Friday-night concert. We spent four days in Charleston, and I got to know him pretty well. He’s an all-around fantastic guy, certainly driven, and we stayed in touch. Later that spring, I invited him to go with us to Zimbabwe for six weeks, and he accepted.” In Zimbabwe, Buffum, a fresh-faced college graduate, started putting the pieces together. His physics degree had taught him to analyze possibilities, to weigh cause and effect. And he had much to ponder as he looked around him in his dismal surroundings.
FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
“Cyrus is good at playing what if,” explains Professor Wragg, who taught Buffum in his Modern Physics class. “Physics majors are not all about laser beams and atom bombs. We’re thinkers about initial situations and consequences. Even complicated situations have simple underpinnings. You start looking at it simply because if you can’t address it simply, you can’t address it at all.” What Buffum saw was very complex, indeed. A country ravaged by financial and ecological mismanagement. A people held hostage by a dictator. A place with one of the lowest life expectancies in the world. Everywhere he turned, the country was in crisis. But despite the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the food shortages and the lack of educational opportunities and healthcare resources, the people were resilient, even optimistic. When Buffum looked into their eyes, he saw not the vacant stares of victims, like he’d seen so many times in TV commercials; rather, he saw a smart, proud people searching desperately for solutions. “Before we left for Africa,” says Clarkson, who also went on the trip with the Elias Fund, “Cyrus was kind of all over the place – in a good way. When we were thrown into this uncomfortable situation, he just totally thrived. He opened up to everybody. He was like a sponge, taking everything in and wanting to figure out ways to help.” Around this time, Buffum picked up John Cronin and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s The Riverkeepers, a book detailing the Hudson Riverkeeper’s efforts. It was one of those books in which each page seemed to speak directly to him. It was history, politics, environmental philosophy, finance, but above all, an impassioned rallying cry to do something. Buffum had seen in Zimbabwe what a degraded waterway looked like up close, how it hurt the people and limited their possibilities. He knew Charleston lacked a watchdog group dedicated to its waters, and in scientific parlance, he knew the Aristotelian theory that nature abhors a vacuum. Now, it was time to fill the void.
Time and Tide The boat slows to a puttering crawl in the No Wake zone of Hobcaw Creek, a winding, watery path that skirts along some very expensive real estate in Mt. Pleasant, near the Wando Terminal of the S.C. State Ports Authority. Buffum pulls out his black notebook and jots down the location from his handheld GPS. “Can you pull up on the embankment?” Buffum asks Bart Beasley, a volunteer boater working with the Charleston Waterkeeper out in the field that day. Two 30-foot sailboat hulls, their keels mired in pluff mud, list a few feet away from the creek at low tide. One boat reads, “F-O-R Because, Howell, MI” and the other’s name is scraped off past recognition. It’s a scene reminiscent of Charleston after Hurricane Hugo: of boats unmoored and tossed randomly about the torn landscape. But these boats are not the victims of nature, they’re the product of human neglect. Beasley’s boat scrapes up on the creek’s bank. Buffum scribbles some more in his notebook, tucks it in the back of his pants and then throws a rope up onto the stern of one of the abandoned boats. Like an acrobat, Buffum lifts himself up and teeters along the broken railing. He peers into the hatch and sees empty Dasani water bottles, old DVD cases and the ubiquitous PBR bottle, half full of water and mud. A long, yellowed plastic tube runs from the cabin and dangles over the side, swinging slowly in the breeze.
“It looks like someone was trying to siphon the water out,” Buffum calls from the boat. He notices two deep tire tracks in the pluff mud just off the bow and a broken television set half-buried in the marsh grass. “I guess they stripped everything of value.” Buffum balances on the railing and writes a few more things in his notebook, his head shaking slightly as he looks around. “The State of South Carolina recently passed legislation banning the abandonment of watercrafts,” explains Buffum, “because these vessels not only pose a threat to the safety of recreational boaters, they’re also environmental hazards, eyesores and economic burdens. The recent statute, enforced by the state’s Department of Natural Resources, delegates the responsibility of removing these vessels to local municipalities. And as a result, unfortunately, it’s now an ‘every man for himself’ environment.” In an effort to help local governments find these abandoned boats, Buffum has created an open-source map that he hopes the entire community will access and add up-to-date information. “Every local fisherman knows the location of an abandoned boat or two,” he says. “After all, that’s where the fish hang out in the summer. And every sailor knows which side of the channel to hug to avoid running into a submerged object, and just about every person driving over the Ashley River Bridge has seen the cluster of abandoned boats left dying along the marsh. We’re trying to tap into this collective knowledge and compile an inventory that can help address this serious problem.” Buffum inches his way back to the stern and drops carefully onto Beasley’s boat. There’s almost a look of betrayal in his eyes, an inability to fathom why someone would leave something so valuable like a boat, and just discard it like some piece of litter. And why so many? “Cyrus is smart, energetic, full of ideas,” says Joe Payne, Casco Bay (Me.) Baykeeper, who was one of the founders of the Waterkeeper Alliance and who approved Buffum’s membership as a Waterkeeper in 2008. “But what’s most important is his passion. He’s offended by the bad things that happen to the water around Charleston. He feels it personally.” Christine Ellis, the Waccamaw Riverkeeper in Conway, S.C., agrees about Buffum’s passion. But passion, she points out, will only take you so far. Becoming a Waterkeeper isn’t the declaration of an environmental enthusiast, it’s a structured process. For close to a year, Buffum worked around the clock to meet the guidelines and quality standards to be a licensed Waterkeeper. He researched the threats to the Charleston watershed and created an action plan. More important, he also raised funds for his position and a boat, created a 501(c)(3) organization, secured office space and developed strategic membership drives and educational programs. “Ultimately, a Waterkeeper must be a strong leader, capable of educating the public about the importance of their waterbody and its protection,” Ellis says. “Pretty much singlehandedly, Cyrus has developed the Charleston Waterkeeper into an impressive education and advocacy program. His energy and enthusiasm are contagious and, without a doubt, he’s a force that cannot be ignored, not only locally, but statewide and nationally.” On the national level, Buffum raised his profile this past summer by jumpstarting the Save Our Gulf campaign. Like many Americans, he was outraged by BP’s inability to stem the millions
FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
of gallons of oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico. He knew that this might be one of the greatest environmental catastrophes in history. But as Buffum believes, anger without action is pointless, so he acted. He created a website to raise funds to help those Waterkeepers on the front lines of the Gulf as well as to educate the public about the clean-up efforts and detail ways they could get involved. He even cut a public service announcement with Kick Kennedy, an ambassador for the Waterkeeper Alliance (and daughter of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.), and actress Amy Acker. But Buffum’s no armchair quarterback. He had to see for himself what was going on there. Was this like Zimbabwe? Was it worse? In July, he flew down to Mobile, Ala., with Keith Sauls ’90, a Charleston Waterkeeper supporter, and then traveled to New Orleans in a converted 1978 Blue Bird school bus called Busta Ride, driven by other Charleston Waterkeeper supporters.
“The images the media caught of birds drenched in oil and dead fish floating on black eddies, the smell of oil on the beaches,” recalls Buffum, “were all horrible. But what stood out most to me were the people and the psychological impact it had on them. Their livelihoods were vanishing. Their water was dying. They were completely devastated.” The trip, the spill – they reminded Buffum why he had become a Waterkeeper. It wasn’t to save turtles and fish, although that was important. Clean water, according to Buffum, is a basic human right – a basic freedom. Just as important as the freedom of speech or the freedom of religion. Without clean water, the entire ecosystem falters, us included. Those other freedoms in the Bill of Rights don’t even exist then. |
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
Part-time Crusader, Half-hearted Fanatic Buffum’s boat veers left from the Cooper River into Shipyard Creek, skirting along the Charleston Neck, where iconic Charleston homes give way to factories and industrial complexes. It becomes apparent pretty quickly that this is a Charleston scene you won’t see captured in postcards. Immediately, the smell hits Buffum. It’s familiar. Methane. Burning wood. Like a polite houseguest lighting a match in the hallway bathroom. The boat slows down and drifts in silence. Just moments ago, on the Cooper River, Buffum marveled at the wildlife. Mullet jumping around the boat. Birds squawking overhead. A sea turtle paddling nearby. Here, in Shipyard Creek, nothing. The water even has a black, inky quality to it. “No,” Buffum observes, running his fingers in the water, “I wouldn’t swim in it. And I certainly wouldn’t eat anything caught here – if there were anything to catch.” The job of the Charleston Waterkeeper is manifold. One day, it may be putting together a group of volunteers to pick up trash along the beach; the next, identifying and recording abandoned boats; then, maybe it’s a workshop with a community group to educate them about the serious problems of run-off from Charleston’s roads and paved areas; or, it’s talking to a group of first-graders about the importance of the waterways and then leading a training session with citizen spotters regarding marine debris. But perhaps the most important work to Buffum is his role in serving as a watchdog against industrial polluters. He dips a jar in the water and closes the lid, marking carefully its GPS location in his notebook. “We’ll send this off to a lab to determine the water’s quality,” says Buffum, who would eventually like to expand his team to include a full-time scientist dedicated to sampling and testing. “I’m not some kind of alarmist when it comes to pollution. I’m totally data driven. I want to record accurately what is happening to our water so that we can work together to fix it.” Under the Clean Water Act, Buffum and other Waterkeepers are able to serve as watchdogs through the citizen suit clause, which effectively means they can sue on behalf of the public when an individual or company is polluting the water. Sounds simple, but there’s a wrinkle. Also under the Clean Water Act, companies are able to apply for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits, which allow them to discharge certain pollutants within a specific range. “Yes,” Buffum says, “companies can be legal polluters. In South Carolina, DHEC gives out these NPDES permits. However, it’s the responsibility of the individual company to record the levels of pollutants in their discharges into the water. Then, that paperwork goes to DHEC, where only one person is responsible for reviewing all of the records. Basically, the system is dependent on a company self-reporting its violations, or you need whistleblowers to say that their company is exceeding their pollutant limits.” Not very effective, Buffum believes. And that’s where he wants the Charleston Waterkeeper to step in and make sure these companies are staying within the ranges of their permits. “Over the next five years,” he says, “I would like to do a complete audit of the Charleston waters so that we have an accurate baseline to work from in the future. Too many companies see the water as
just another commodity – a low-priority line item in their budgets, if you will. That’s why so many of them do their dumping at night or their pipes are below the water’s surface. It’s kind of the out-ofsight, out-of-mind approach. “Water is our resource,” Buffum adds, the passion in his voice rising. “It’s part of the public trust. I want to make sure companies are not just taking careless environmental shortcuts for short-term profits, but they’re making informed decisions based on their longterm impact in our community and the scientific data we collect.” Of course, this doesn’t come without some sacrifice, they may say. And Buffum understands that. Perhaps he knows better than anyone this concept of sacrifice. Buffum didn’t start the Charleston Waterkeeper to get rich. Far from it. For far too long, he didn’t get paid at all. But Buffum didn’t see it as suffering. He saw it as simply treading water because he knew eventually things would take off as more people learned about the Waterkeeper cause. So, he went homeless for a while. At that point, he was borrowing and sharing office space from TheDigitel, an online news company. Each night, the staff members would wave to him and ask him to lock up on his way out. Gosh, they would think, this kid is one hard worker. He’s the first one in and the last to leave. They were partially right. What they didn’t know was that Buffum would pull out his sleeping bag and make himself comfortable, pulling two chairs together to make an impromptu bed. Or, he would leave for a few hours, crashing on a friend’s couch that night. Buffum didn’t mind – he knew it was temporary, even if “temporary” meant a couple of months. Then, when he did move into a house, he had to make some tough choices regarding bills. His cause came first – electricity didn’t even make the Top 10 on his priority list. He learned to shower, get dressed and keep home in the dark. Again, no worries, he thought, I can do this for a month or two. And he was right. There was a light at the end of the tunnel. His power was eventually restored, and, by that time, his work as a Waterkeeper was gaining more and more attention from the Charleston community. “Cyrus thinks with this sense of clarity,” notes Mike Scarpato ’06, Buffum’s former roommate in a 400-square-foot home in downtown Charleston. “He’s always thinking on a different wavelength … always has. Maybe someone on the outside looking in might think he should be miserable, but he’s not. Yeah, he’s an idealist, but Cyrus has specific goals, and he knows how to make it work.” And each day, he finds a way to make it work. Building relationships in the community. Forging partnerships between environmentalists and businesses. Basically, making a difference in the way people perceive the waters of Charleston. “I’m lucky in that water is not a polarizing issue,” Buffum admits. “It’s not something that people can debate or argue against. It’s one of the only issues where everyone can see eye to eye. I just need to tell the story in a way that speaks to each individual – the surfer, the tugboat operator, the skier, the sailor, the fisherman. I have to remind them that water is the meeting ground for every walk of life.” And after only two years of being the Charleston Waterkeeper, Cyrus Buffum finds himself no longer swimming against the tide – it’s now coming in with him. FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
Philanthropy An Educational Lifeline
| LEFT: Tanya Hunt; RIGHT: Michelle Gorski ’96 at her graduation | Life, it seems, is one big balancing act for Tanya Hunt. Just this semester, the junior biochemistry major is juggling the demands of classes in physics, physical chemistry, biology and biochemistry. Three of those courses, she laments, require lab work each week, too. Outside of class, she’s frequently balancing her body atop a one-inch line suspended a foot or so off the ground, tied between tree trunks. This activity, called slacklining, often draws attention to her and her nylon strap–walking friends who practice the sport in public parks. This past summer, the spectacle made Hunt and her boyfriend, senior philosophy major Jack Weaver, a new friend in Spain, where they were traveling for three months. They invited the Spaniard back to their lodging, cooked him curry and discussed
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
everything from Buddhist philosophy to the death penalty. The unusual introduction and meal was even stranger for the fact that Hunt’s summer home for six weeks of the trip was a compact car, with the back seat serving as pantry and kitchen. The couple and their guest all shared one bowl. “It was really tiny, and I’m really tall,” Hunt says of her mobile home. “It was an experience.” That collegiate experience and many others in Charleston and Spain (where Hunt had studied the year before as part of the College’s study abroad program in Trujillo) might not have happened if not for the generosity of the Gorski family of Duncan, S.C. In May 1996, Michelle Gorski graduated from the College with a marketing degree and began work at
a dental supply company in Charleston. Seven months later, she passed away from complications of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Seeking to honor her memory, Paul and Nancy Gorski endowed a scholarship in 1997 in their deceased daughter’s name, aiming to help College students with financial needs. Michelle Gorski was a bubbly woman who never complained about her cancer, despite regular chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant as a teenager and other invasive medical treatments. At the College, she was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha, picked up a long-term boyfriend during tennis lessons, kept a pet cat named Mr. B and enjoyed Charleston’s shopping and restaurant scenes. She rarely missed class, despite her cancer repeatedly going into remission and returning, and was never too busy to share thoughtful notes or baked goods with loved ones. “She just fought like you wouldn’t believe,” says Paul Gorski. “She never thought she wouldn’t beat the thing.” This semester, Hunt was awarded the Michelle Gorski Endowed Memorial Scholarship, and she credits the award for helping provide freedom in her undergraduate pursuits and enabling her to find balance between academic responsibilities at school and a desire to explore. Hunt, who is from Fort Mill, S.C., also works as a chemistry tutor at the College and is a radio deejay. Upon graduation, she’s keen about joining the Peace Corps, looking to travel and help people at the same time. All these activities and ideas, she says, couldn’t happen without the financial support she receives, including the scholarship endowed by the Gorski family. “It’s given me the freedom to focus … learning about what I want to do, learning about different cultures in the world,” says Hunt. “It’s kept me coming back to school. I really appreciate my scholarships.”
Paper Sculptures Take it from Alice: You never know what’s going to pop up next. But, when Eleanor Heldrich generously donated her collection of pop-up books to Special Collections in the Marlene and Nathan Addlestone Library – it was a happy surprise, indeed. The collection includes everything from The Jolly Jump-Ups: Favorite Nursery Stories (1939) to In the Beginning: The Art of Genesis (2008) – and each of the 1,200 books is a treasure in and of itself. “All movable books are works of wonder and delight, but when a movable book combines story, art, movement, scale, color and balance with elegance and flair, it becomes a treasure,” says Heldrich, whose son, Rick, is a professor in the College’s chemistry department, and who reviews movable books for a children’s book-review service. “Pop-ups are paper sculptures pressed between the pages of a book.” As the proud new owner of the thousands of paper sculptures that spring from the collection, the College is grateful for Heldrich’s considerable gift. It just goes to show, generosity can pop up just about anywhere.
CLASS NOTES 1949 Clint Robertson is a retired
anesthesiologist and lives in La Verne, Calif.
1958 Tank Barnette and Scooter
DeLorme Barnette ’78 were the recipients of the SoCon’s Distinguished Service Award for 2010. Started in 2002, this award is a way for the SoCon to recognize individuals who have contributed to all aspects of their respective institutions. Jean Rouse Spell was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Governing Council of Chi Omega at the sorority’s national convention.
1973 Michael Roberts is an executive vice president and head of the personal trust business for Reliance Financial Corporation in Atlanta.
1975 Marilyn Jones Armstrong is
the membership database coordinator for the League to Save Lake Tahoe in California. Dewey Mauldin is a director of business development for the Boeing Company and is based in Suffolk, Va.
1977 Andy Solomon is the president of
the S.C. Athletic Hall of Fame, which celebrated its 50th anniversary. Andy is an associate athletics director at The Citadel.
inducted into the Greater Knoxville (Tenn.) Sports Hall of Fame for her contributions in volleyball. Foster was a standout studentathlete at the College, playing both volleyball and basketball. After graduation, she played on several USA national volleyball squads and even tried her hand at a professional beach volleyball career. Today, she works in the systems genetics program at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and is a first-year volleyball coach at Oak Ridge High School. Flo Lester Vinson is an attorney with Folkens Law Firm P.A. in Florence, S.C. Kaye Jones Wallace is a finance and accounting specialist with Knowledge Capital Group LLC in Charleston.
1983 Florence Belser is an attorney with the S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff.
Steve Hall is a managing partner of GTS Solutions and lives in Chapin, S.C.
1985 Michael Carnell is a consultant,
and private banker with Atlanic Bank and Trust in Charleston.
1979 Derrick Bailey is self-employed
1986 Janice Atkinson Kiser earned
(see Tank Barnette ’58) Debra Stanley Stewart is a vice president
in the legal services industry and lives in Asheville, N.C. Katherine Moorer McDermott was recognized by Cambridge Who’s Who for demonstrating dedication, leadership and excellence in creative writing and illustration. Katherine, a retired high school English teacher and guidance counselor in the Charleston County school system, is also the author of several plays, numerous magazine articles and four books, including All Work, All Play and The Underwear Tree. Greg Padgett was recommended by the College’s Alumni Association and appointed by South Carolina’s governor to serve on the College’s Board of Trustees in the newly created Alumni Association seat. Greg is the chief financial officer of Fennell Holdings Inc. in Charleston.
1981 David Hay was appointed by the
governor of South Carolina to fill a seat on the College’s Board of Trustees. David is the president of Hay Tire Company in Charleston and is the immediate past president of the College’s Alumni Association. Charlie Mosteller was named one of the 2009–10 Cougar PAWWS Admission’s Volunteers of the Year. Charlie is an
1982 Carmen Mercadal Foster was
trainer and developer for Palmettobug Digital, a firm that provides social media, Web development and PC and Macintosh support services for small businesses and nonprofits in Charleston. Susan Ivey is an environmental, health and safety integration specialist with Kestrel Horizons in Charleston.
1978 Scooter DeLorme Barnette
ophthalmologist with Premier Medical Eye Group in Mobile, Ala. Daun Hand Stuart is a teacher at Ashley River Elementary and lives in Summerville, S.C.
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
her master’s degree in education from the Richard W. Riley College of Education at Winthrop University in May.
1987 Amy Ballenger Guest is a
ministry associate with Perimeter Church in Alpharetta, Ga.
1988 John Marino is a podiatric
surgeon with Palmetto Podiatry in Mt. Pleasant. Anthony Meyer Jr. is the chief development officer for the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.
1989 Steve Swanson was the recipient of the Honors College’s first Distinguished Alumni Award.
1990 Stephan Futeral and Kelsey
Gilmore ’06 were married last May. Stephan
is an attorney with Futeral & Nelson in Mt. Pleasant. Kelsey earned her J.D. (with honors) from the Charleston School of Law in May. Robert Gaynair, a retired USAF master sergeant, earned a third-degree black belt in Shotokan karate. Robert is the sensei for Central Oregon Shotokan in Bend, Ore.
1991 Malia Towles Dunn earned
her doctorate with a dual concentration in instructional and educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University. Malia teaches math and pre-algebra at Long Middle School in Cheraw, S.C. Dave and Mills Cobb Smith announce the birth of their twins, Ashley Louisa and Parker Granville, born in August. The Smith family lives in Charlotte.
1992 Teresa Davis Bulford is
an attorney with the Bulford Law Firm in Summerville, S.C. She specializes in divorce, child custody, child support, children’s guardianship and wills. Christa Smith Gogstad and her husband live in Nairobi, Kenya. Chivon Jackson Jenkins is the registrar for the Charleston School of Law. John and Jenn Bahen Liberatos ’99 announce the birth of a daughter, Pensy Dameron, born in May. Eleanor and Joe Meyer announce the birth of their third child, Joseph Bernardin II, born in May. Caroline Nicoll Rhodes is the mid-Atlantic regional sales manager for OraPharma, a division of Johnson & Johnson. She and her husband, Temple, live in Centreville, Md., with their five children: Morgan, Tripp, Alexander, Temple and Madeline. Anne Patrick Rosenblum and Mark Moore were married in January. Anne Patrick is a district manager for ACA Laboratories in Charleston. Lee Runyon is the principal for St. John’s High School on Johns Island, S.C. Barrett Watts Walker is the director of development for Sandhills/Moore Coalition for Human Care in Southern Pines, N.C.
1993 Cindy Clegg Davies is the dean
of learning resources at Piedmont Technical College in Greenwood, S.C. Cindy and her husband, Rob, live in Greer. Taralyn Parker Fender earned her master’s in mathematics from Jacksonville University in May. She and her husband, Paul, have two daughters, Christee and Joye, and nine grandchildren. Taralyn is a mathematics teacher at Jacksonville University. Scott Heavin is the owner of Heavin & Associates/The Promotion Lab. Scott and his wife, Page, live in New Castle, Ind.
1994 Holly Anderson lives in
Minneapolis and is the president of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Minnesota Chapter. Charlie Geer and Concepcion Estepa were married in March. Charlie teaches at Monasterio de Educación y Ciencia in Puente Genil, Spain. Kimberly Webb Keable is an attorney with Keable & Brown in Greenville, S.C.
[ alumni profile ]
This Land Is Your Land for jennie stephens ’89 (M.P.A. ’94), property matters. It’s more than just parcels of land. It’s a window to the past that can tell the story of a family, a community, even a way of life. It may be a 100-year-old house that was passed down from generation to generation, along with stories of the family’s heritage. Or perhaps it’s a large swath of land where culture evolved and family traditions formed. As executive director of the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation, Stephens is on a mission to preserve these communities, honor their past and keep their stories alive. The center helps family members take outright control of their inherited land and protect it. “That’s wealth to many people ... knowing about your family’s culture and history and creating your sense of place,” Stephens says. “Loss of heirs’ property affects everyone, not just one family.” Since 2005, the center has helped clear 47 property titles, preserving not just the families’ heritage, but Charleston’s heritage as well. Her work helps Charleston retain some of its rural character in a quickly developing metropolitan area. “Why do people want to visit this coast?” she asks, quickly answering: to see the land. “With urban sprawl, heirs’ land needs to be protected more than ever.” It can be a tricky job, even for an accounting major who spent her College days studying financial principles. The Walterboro native never thought she’d be overseeing the sorting through of property titles, mediation of family disputes and helping fulfill the wishes of long-lost family members. Yet, she finds fulfillment in running an organization that empowers these families to take a proactive role in preserving their property. Historically, African Americans who owned property in the Charleston area – and all along the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor – passed down property to family members with no formal will attached. However, the state of South Carolina doesn’t legally recognize oral agreements, putting many parcels of heirs’ properties in jeopardy of being sold, developed or taken over.
In one case that Stephens is all too familiar with, for example, “a man lost his home when a family member, and fellow heir, wanted to be compensated for her share of the land. This man, who had lived in the house for decades, lost his family home to the forces of modern development and collected next to nothing for the waterfront property. He had no control of the situation.” That’s where the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation – and Stephens – comes in. Started as a project of the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina, the center formed in 2005, and Stephens was tapped to run the organization. “When anyone thinks of heirs’ property in the Lowcountry,” Stephens says, “I want them to think of the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation. We’re the experts and we can help.”
Some days, her role mirrors that of a lawyer. Other days, she’s a therapist. She also writes grant applications and helps with the center’s fundraising efforts – funds that allow families to get a clear title to their property. Whatever role she is playing, Stephens has always been drawn to issues involving social justice. “It’s the history, the family dynamics, the opportunity to help people,” she says. “That’s what keeps me motivated.” And while each family case can be complicated and time consuming, Stephens is determined to help families keep their land intact – one Lowcountry property at a time. “My calling in life,” she says, “is to help people and help them learn how to take care of their property.” And in helping them, Jennie Stephens helps us all. – Jenny Peterson ’05 FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
Emily McDaniel is an adoption attorney with
the Law Offices of Thomas P. Lowndes Jr. in Charleston. Ted Millings is a senior scientist for Savannah River Nuclear Solutions. The Millings family lives in North Augusta, S.C. George and Katina Turner Nelson announce the birth of a daughter, Rachel Elizabeth, born in July 2009. The Nelson family lives in Charlotte, where Katina is a senior compliance manager for Merrill Lynch. Paul Pethel has returned to the States after his deployment in Japan, Kuwait, Italy and the United Kingdom. Paul, his wife, Yayoi, and their three children – Derek, Emily and Madeleine – are currently living in Little Rock, Ark., where Paul is the commander of the 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. Gene Rinehart is the director of provider network management with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia and lives in Atlanta. Cindy Middleton Stancil is the interim director at the Cloud Forest School in Monteverde, Costa Rica. The school offers a bilingual education while emphasizing environmental studies.
1995 Steven and Stephanie Leonard
Eames announce the birth of a son, Benjamin Leonard, born in July.
Susan Gilley is a senior sales analyst for CIBA
Vision in Atlanta and holds an M.B.A. from Georgia College and State University. Susan and Steve McCart were married in February and live near Lake Lanier. Kenny Inman has opened his own law firm in Mt. Pleasant and is practicing civil and administrative law. Pete and Summer Moorer Paulatos ’02 announce the birth of their daughter, Sophia Leigh, born in July. The Paulatos family lives in Charleston, where Pete is a senior accountant with Fennell Holdings and Summer is an optometrist. Michael Renault is a senior vice president and commercial banking manager for Carolina First in Charleston.
1996 Timothy and Shawnee Brown
Boyle announce the birth of their daughter, Patsy Kate, born in October 2009.
Gena Brown teaches honors/gifted American
literature and AP language at Pike County (Ga.) High School and was named the school’s teacher of the year. Tammie Cosich Hoy works with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and lives in Charlotte. Kevin Kurtz (M.A.T.) has released his second children’s book, A Day on the Mountain. Kevin lives in Eugene, Ore. Robbie and Linda Milnor Nichols announce the birth of a daughter, Sophie Marie, born in April. Linda is a commercial credit analyst at Bank of America in Charleston.
1997 Brett Bluestein and Bess
Brockington ’02 were married in May. Brett
is a wealth strategist with U.S. Trust, Bank of America, Private Wealth Management, and Bess is a school psychologist intern with the Charleston County School District. Cheré Bosch and Darrell Pressley were married in October 2009. Jennifer Higgins Cox is an agent with AgentOwned Realty in Mt. Pleasant.
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
Henry Leventis is a civil rights attorney for the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, D.C. Henry is also a member of the College’s Alumni Board of Directors.
1998 Marissa Seber Allen is a
kindergarten teacher at Palmetto Christian Academy. She was named the Mt. Pleasant Christian Teacher of the Year by Mt. Pleasant Teen Bible Study, a local Christian youth organization. Nathan Clark is a partner at the law firm of Derrick, Ritter, Williams & Morris P.A. in Seneca. Nathan and his wife, Elizabeth, live in Clemson, S.C. Michael and Kimberly Dixon Harkins announce the birth of their second child, Caroline Elizabeth, born in September 2009. Graham and Katie White Kellett announce the birth of a daughter, Kathryn Hartley, born in July. Katie is the director of publishing for Arcadia Publishing in Mt. Pleasant. Christian Michner is the new head coach of the women’s soccer team at the College. DeAnna Rutherford Moss (M.S.) is the owner of Moss & Lewis CPAs PA and lives in Mt. Pleasant. Amy Rush Sheppard is the retail manager and buyer for The Children’s Museum of the Upstate in Greenville, S.C. Amy Macchiaverna Springett announces the birth of a son, Liam. The Springett family lives in Greenville, S.C. Dennis Turner is a patrol sergeant with the police department of Hanahan, S.C.
1999 Sherlonda Peake Adkins
is a real estate sales consultant with the Adkins Advantage team and recently formed a partnership with Carolina One Real Estate in Goose Creek, S.C. Elizabeth Buchanan Crowley works for PFP Schmitt Sussman Insurance. Last year, she was the first S.C. sales representative to make “pro level” status. John and Leah Sigafoes Davidson announce the birth of a daughter, Claire, born in May. Leah also received her master’s in health systems management from George Mason University in May. Brian Fay and Katie Bell-Fay announce the birth of their son, Nevin Jonathan, born in September 2009. Katie is a senior clinical team manager with PPD, and Brian is a senior investment manager with Vanguard in Charlotte. Neil and Stephanie Rice Jones announce the birth of a daughter, Emery Wofford, born in August 2009. Eric and Dina Perrotta Lescourret announce the birth of a son, Elliott Joseph, born in May. The Lescourret family lives in Alpharetta, Ga. Jenn Bahen Liberatos (see John Liberatos ’92) Keisha and Matt Lynch announce the birth of a son, Noah Joseph, born in December 2009. Amanda and Dennis Maxwell announce the birth of a son, Caden, born in Septmeber 2009. Dennis received his J.D. from Washington and Lee University School of Law in May. Kristi Coker Mitchum completed her first year in business as R.E.D.D.Y. Recycle. Her business operates within Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties and recycles plastic, office paper, magazines, newspaper, cardboard, aluminum, glass and tin.
Dalen and Lisa Rucks Moore announce the birth of a son, Westin Henry, born in November 2009. The Moore family lives in Hamilton, Mont. Barrett and Mary Katherine Trible Peters announce the birth of a son, Lochlan Trible Ross, born in June. The Peters family lives in Richmond, Va. Matt and Jackie Hause Scarafile ’05 announce the birth of a daughter, Charlotte, born in March. Christy Haas Turner earned her M.S. from Winthrop University in May. Boris Van Dyck is the president of Ice Box Innovative Beverage Services in Charleston. Boris is also the managing partner of Event, Dining Rental Solutions. Sedric Webber is an insurance agent and real estate agent in Charleston. Sedric is also an independent associate with Prepaid Legal Services Inc. He and his wife, Eboni, have a 3-year-old daughter, Cailyn Elise.
2000 Rhett Templeton Ambrite
owns Templeton’s Timeless Infant Silver and has a baby-friendly jewelry line that was featured on Elevator Pitch, a business show on MSNBC. Kate Howard Arnold is working toward a B.F.A. in ceramics with art education at the University of Georgia. Thomas Beckner served as an associate producer for the documentary Lafayette: The Lost Hero, which featured College history professor Robert Crout. A member of The Documentary Group in New York City, Thomas is currently producing a film about West Point’s Class of 1967 and a series of short films for the U.S. Army about labor challenges facing its officer corps. Ebony Dawkins and Yalkin Pinar were married in June. Delicia Deen is a real estate agent with MarshallWalker.com Group in Charleston. Kyle Kraiter has traveled to New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Singapore, working with some of the best designers to perfect the art of glass blowing. He’s now back in Portland, Ore., and his work is featured in galleries throughout the country. Ellery Walde Schauer is the office manager for Lane and Smythe Real Estate in Charleston.
2001 Becca Ansert is a public
art consultant with Green Public Art in Venice, Calif. Sherrie Armstrong has completed a judicial clerkship with the Honorable Jerome Holmes of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Oklahoma City. Sherrie lives in Charleston, W.V., where she is a litigation associate with Bailey & Glasser LLP. Drew and Angela Brown Elliot announce the birth of twin daughters, Allison Love and Isabel Hunter, born in May. The Elliot family lives in Raleigh, N.C. Jay Feinstein is the national director of the physician relationship program for Tenet Healthcare Corporation in Dallas, Texas. Chris Horschel is the director of sports medicine at the College. Tom and Beth Kaner-Bibb announce the birth of a son, Jacob Jerry, born in October 2009. The Kaner-Bibb family lives in Simpsonville, S.C. Lindsey Gertz Moore is the director of admissions and marketing for Covenant Classical Christian School. Lindsey earned
[ dream job ]
Ironically enough, in the world of designer furniture, it might just be a guy named Risk who’s the surest bet. Timothy-Charles Richard “T.R.” Risk ’92 began crafting one-of-a-kind furniture during his early years at the College as a way of paying the rent. Today, he could probably rent the entire apartment complex with what he fetches for his work, though he’ll be quick to tell you being an artist is a feast-or-famine lifestyle. Still, he says, “right now things are pretty good.” Over the past 15 years, the Pennsylvania native and resident has earned a national reputation for salvaging old lumber from historic barns and ranches and turning it into amazingly detailed and stylish pieces of furniture that are built to stand the test of time. And when Risk looks at a stack of lumber, he sees pieces of furniture: “I look at it, and I just know what to do with it.” When it comes to dealing with clients, who are located in Montana, California,
the Dakotas and all around the Northeast, Risk sometimes thinks of himself as a boxer in a ring. “Although I’m not fighting anyone,” he says very matter-of-factly, “each client is a challenge.” Risk started out designing pieces in his house and then driving them around in the back of his truck until he sold them all; these days upper-crust society flies him first class across the country to size up a space and then design pieces specifically for them. “I’ll come in and say, ‘we need to rip apart your kitchen,’” he explains. “And then I’ll write all my ideas on a napkin and my clients are like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ But this business is about trust, and I’m happy to say I’m finally at a point in my career where I’ve earned it.” Once back in Westchester, Pa., he goes to work in his 3,500-square-foot studio, listening to classic rock while he saws, sands and frames. “I’m friends with the entire neighborhood, so they’re totally cool with hearing me jamming my music
all day,” he says with a smile. Though beautiful places still provide him with some of his creative ideas, it’s his family that serves as his main inspiration. Six-year-old son Jagger (Risk is a huge Rolling Stones fan) and wife, Marcie, are clearly the center of his universe, as the designer can’t go five minutes without mentioning one of them. “I never thought I’d be married and have a kid, but here I am, and I can’t imagine life without them,” he says. It’s that love of family that fuels his passion to create unique pieces of furniture. As for his particular style of work, well, that’s probably the only thing the man is unsure about. “If you can give it a name, I’d love to hear it,” he admits. “Every time I build something, it’s different. People just say, ‘I want a T.R. piece,’ and so that’s what I give them.” – Bryce Donovan ’98 Check out Risk’s work at www.trrisk.com.
FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
her first master’s in architectural history and preservation from the University of Virginia and her second master’s in early childhood and elementary education from Columbia International University. She and her husband, David, live in Columbia. Allyson Smith received her master’s in education from Southern Wesleyan University and works for the Charleston County School District. Allyson and Randolph Kahler were married in June and live in Summerville. Neil and Jackie Tyler Thomson announce the birth of a son, Neil “Davis” Thomson Jr., born in May. Richard and Laura Garrett Vaughn announce the birth of their second son, Garrett Maxwell, born in January. The Vaughn family lives in Alpharetta, Ga. Courtney Droz Young received her master’s in education in curriculum and instruction from Winthrop University in 2005. Courtney and her husband, Jay, live in Clover, S.C., with their daughter, Lydia Ann, who was born in July 2009.
2002 Lauren Justesen Bailey is the assistant vice president and branch manager of the South Carolina Bank and Trust in Summerville, S.C. Christine Meuschke Bingham is a real estate services coordinator with CB Richard Ellis in Nashville, Tenn. Jonathan Brilliant earned his M.F.A. in spacial art from California State University.
Jonathan has begun his “Have Sticks, Will Travel” world tour, in which he uses coffee stir sticks to create large-scale sculptures at art galleries and universities. Bess Brockington (see Brett Bluestein ’97) John and Chesley Stetten Correia announce the birth of a daughter, Airlie Clarisse, born in November 2009. Brian Moore is a Spanish teacher and baseball coach at Alexandria Middle School in Hunterdon County, N.J. Brian and his wife, Katrina, announce the birth of a son, Kason James, born in June. Summer Moorer Paulatos (see Pete Paulatos ’95) Leigh Wood is a NOAA coastal management fellow with the N.J. Coastal Management Office in Bordentown. Leigh is assessing community vulnerability to coastal hazards and sea-level rise.
2003 Ian Adams and Emily Drude were married in July and live in Boston.
Danielle Adkins is a business development
manager with Trade Queensland Australia and is based in Los Angeles. She is responsible for selling the company’s exports to the United States, Latin America and British Columbia. Koasta Bates was selected to participate in the 2010 Mickelson Exxon Mobil Teachers Academy. Only a dozen teachers from South Carolina were selected for the national program, which helps teachers boost their
skills in engaging students in math and science at an early age. Marcy Buckner is a state policy analyst with the Public Affairs Department at the American Occupational Therapy Association in Bethesda, Md. Corrie Gilchrist and Zachary Manis were married in May and live in New York City. Dylan Jones is a Realtor with William Means Real Estate in Charleston. Dylan was named one of Realtor magazine’s 30 Under 30 and was also a 2009 Realtor of Distinction. Lewis Leal is a software developer with CommIT Enterprises in North Charleston. David Ledbetter and Katherine Ruhf were married in May and live in Charleston. David works for Mass Mutual Financial Group, and Katherine works for the National Trust for Historic Preservation at Drayton Hall. Heather Leman is a senior loan officer with PrimeLending in North Charleston. Julie and Jason Loring announce the birth of a son, Oliver James, born in May. Jason is an associate in the commercial finance practice group of the Atlanta law firm of Parker, Hudson, Rainer & Dobbs LLP. Alex Pellegrino and Brian Rogers were married in March. Alex is the sales manager at BeBe on King Street in Charleston. Jessica Polk and Steven Delfs were married in May. Kari Skye Senterfeit is a photo assistant for Travel + Leisure magazine in New York City. Crystal Smith’s short play Godly Acres was performed at the Edgemar Center for the Arts in Santa Monica, Calif., as part of the Acts on the Edge Festival. The festival received 890 submissions, and Crystal’s play was one of only 12 chosen to be performed. Lindsay Stanfill and Joseph Rembert were married in May. Lindsay is a teacher for the Berkeley County School District and also received an M.A.T. from the College as well as an M.Ed. from Lesley University. Joseph is in his senior year at the College and majoring in geology. Davin Wise is an academic recruiter for Virginia College in Charleston.
2004 Stephen Barker earned his
College Part of Your holidaY deCorations
The second historic gate featured in the Alumni Association’s holiday ornament series is the St. Philip Street Gate, entering the Cistern Yard.
To order, PleASe CAll 843.953.5630 or e-mAil Alumni@CofC.edu. |
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
master’s in English from Winthrop University in May. Stephen is now pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of South Carolina. Jamie Mathews Barnes works in the marketing and admissions department of the Life Care Center of Charleston and lives in Summerville. Caitlin Shockley Bosh is an account executive at C+M Media, a high-fashion public relations firm in New York City. Anne Bumgardner and Hunter Hopkins were married in June and live in Atlanta. Jenifer Kampsen Carreras is an attorney specializing in child-welfare law and family law. She represents the State of Georgia in child-protection proceedings. Jenifer and her husband, Jace, live in Roswell, Ga. Brandon Cochran is a campaign account manager for the Laurus Group, a consulting firm that specializes in fraternity/sorority alumni communication programs and major capital campaigns. Brandon lives in Atlanta. Tai and Travis Drayton announce the birth of a son, Xavier Omari, born in December 2009. Travis is a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army.
[ alumni profile ]
| Photo by David Murphey |
Taking the Heat
For most of us, getting close to a fiery lava flow may seem like an extreme occupational hazard. But for Andrea Steffke ’01, it’s just part of the job. In fact, the volcanologist has little use for solid ground. She finds her footing instead on earth, or – more precisely – mountains, in flux. “You can actually see the earth being made,” says Steffke, whose fascination with volcanoes began at the College, where she majored in geology. Since graduation, she hasn’t missed a step: Steffke earned her master’s degree at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks and her Ph.D. at the University of Hawaii in Manoa, and she’s lived in arctic extremes and tropical paradises along the way – peering over the edge of a volcano’s vent into its mysterious depths and traveling far and wide to study volcanoes with names like Bezymianny and Ruapehu, Kilauea and Etna. Now, she serves as a post-doctoral fellow at the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology in Manoa.
“Hawaiian volcanoes are relatively safe,” Steffke says, because they’re “flowing on relatively low-angle slopes.” Basically, if the lava were to chart a course toward her toes, she’d have plenty of time to move out of the way. “However, you better stand upwind of the lava flow,” she warns, as its 900-degree centigrade heat could scorch the skin. Though less dangerous than sampling lava, Steffke’s daily research is no less fascinating. “A mountain will emit a certain amount of energy,” she says, explaining that her challenge is to monitor that energy using field research and data beamed down to earth from NASA and NOAA satellites. While many volcanoes are monitored seismically, Steffke says, “the more tools you have to monitor them, the better.” In one project, she monitors temperature increases along a volcano’s surface, signs that volcanic activity may be intensifying. In another, she compares the height of an eruption’s ash plume to the intensity of its pressure waves. Such findings could help aircraft avoid
hazards, such as the one produced by the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokul earlier this year. Perhaps more importantly, however, her findings could help volcanoside communities better prepare for the molten surprises that sometimes destroy homes and claim lives. “Most of the communities that build in ‘red areas,’ or danger zones, are communities that have been there a really long time,” Steffke observes. “Usually in developing nations, that’s where the most fertile soil is.” While much of her research involves interpreting satellite data, whenever she gets the opportunity, she heads into the field. Hiking, enjoying nature and being in the company of friends and colleagues are what she savors most. “When you’re out there with a group of people, it’s not only educational, but it’s also a lot of fun,” she says. Of course, studying volcanoes isn’t just fun and games: For Steffke, tuning in to the powerful, yet often imperceptible, energy of volcanoes is all in a day’s work. – Jamie Self ’02 FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
Ali Glosson and Jason Rhines were married in May.
Marissa Hockenberry has returned from
Italy, where she studied sustainable agriculture practices. She is now a manager with ARAMARK in San Francisco, Calif., where she manages their prepackaged fresh food and vegetable program. Jennifer Jefferies is a student services specialist with the College’s Office of New Student Programs. Jennifer and Dwayne McClerkin were married in April. Ben Phelps earned his M.B.A. from Duke University. Ben is an associate in Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s mergers and acquisitions team in New York City. Natalie Whitney is the associate director of marketing and development for the Middleton Place Foundation in Charleston.
2005 Caroline Bell and John Stowe
were married in June and live in Virginia Beach. John proposed to Caroline on the Cistern. Deana Goodwine Cook is an account manager with Intercontinental Hotels Group in North Charleston. Rob Crawford is a radio marketing professional with OTS Broadcasting, where he designs and manages advertising campaigns for small- to medium-sized companies, creates eventmarketing opportunities, writes and produces commercials and, at times, performs minor on-air reporting. Rob lives in Rock Hill, S.C. Devin Eakes is a special investigator with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in Charleston. He is also assisting the Coast Guard and other agencies with any aspect of port security that involves commercial motor vehicles. Adam and Christine Renner Freeze ’06 announce the birth of a son, John Logan, born in September 2009. Sarah Gipe is a Realtor with Prudential Georgia Realty and a member of the Junior League of Atlanta and co-chair of Atlanta Botanical Garden Placement. Nicholas Glover is a manager of American Express’ USCC – Strategy and Deal Team in New York City. Nicholas serves as an internal consultant to the company’s account and business development team. Stephanie Harris is the marketing director for Trademark Properties in Charleston. Stephanie and James Rushton were married in April.
Sasha Horne earned her master’s in journalism
from Georgetown University in May. She is a CNN Master’s Fellows and is based out of the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, where she works with the HLN TV/Web Integration Team producing segments for HLN shows such as Morning Express with Robin Meade and Prime News. Andrew Jaffee and Meg Haley ’06 were married in May. Andrew is a financial representative with Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, and Meg earned her J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law. Angela Jones earned a spot in GreenFaith’s National Fellowship Program, which is based in New Jersey. This program focuses on eco-theology, “greening” the operation of institutions, environmental advocacy and environmental justice. Deshia Leonhirth earned her M.B.A. from Winthrop University in August and is now working on a Ph.D. in health-services policy and management at the University of South Carolina. Ashley Martin earned her master’s of public health in global maternal and child health from Tulane University in May. Ashley is a program manager at the Mary Amelia Women’s Health Education Center at Tulane. William Gray McDowell is a realty specialist with Naval Facilities Engineering Command (Southeast) in Jacksonville, Fla. Javier Orman is a violinist and part of an ensemble called La Belle Musique, which showcases the music of the 17th and 18th centuries, notably that of female composers. Erin Rogers Randall is a grant writer for SunGard in Greensboro, N.C. Meredith Raynor teaches dance at Windsor Hill Arts Infused Elementary School in North Charleston. Meredith and Michael Crawford were married in May and live in Summerville. Jackie Hause Scarafile (see Matt Scarafile ’99) Tiffany Speelman was the 2009–10 teacher of the year at Mary Ford Elementary School in North Charleston, where she teaches third grade. Tiffany and Richard Suggs were married in July. Andre Tennille earned his J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law and is now pursuing an LL.M. in taxation. Andrew is the director of legal policy and finance for Georgians for Hodges Inc.
ARE YOU IN IT? Tell us what’s new with you. It’s simple. Visit the magazine’s website and update your class notes there or visit the Alumni Association website to share your news.
magazine.cofc.edu alumni.cofc.edu |
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
James Ward is a vice president of vertical market strategy for NFi Studios, a social networking company in Washington, D.C.
2006 Mary Abraham is a graduate
student at the Charleston School of Law. David and Jessica Webster Arraya live in Miami. Perri Brenner and Robert Silverstein were married in June and live in Chicago. Perri teaches middle school math in the Chicago public schools system, and Robert is a health administrator at Rush University Medical Center. Saviela Edwards earned her master’s in information technology management from Webster University. Jeremy and Amy Bromberg Erb announce the birth of a son, Eli Ryan, born in March. Amy earned her master’s in school administration from Wingate University in July. Ray Evanoff earned his master’s in music composition from the University of Huddersfield (U.K.) in 2009. He is now a Ph.D. student and working as a part-time lecturer. Christine Renner Freeze (see Adam Freeze ’05) Kelsey Gilmore (see Stephan Futeral ’90) Benjamin Greene is the co-owner of Greene Flooring in Greenville, S.C. Benjamin is also an independent sales consultant for GF Solutions and advises clients on floor covering–related products, brands and choices. Meg Haley (see Andrew Jaffee ’05) Katie Kovaleski received a dual master’s in mental health and marriage and family counseling from Barry University in May. Katie is the founder/owner of Integration Life Coaching and lives in Winter Park, Fla. Kristin North is a graduate student in New York University’s museum studies program. Nate Romberger is a teacher at Hunley Park Elementary School in North Charleston. Nate and Brittainy Sentell were married in July. Robert Shaw is a registered investment adviser with Prudential Financial in Mt. Pleasant. Lauren Towe is the communications manager for the Boeing Project at readySC in Charleston. Lauren and Zack Hanson were married in July.
2007 Kristen Bennett is a
graduate student in Webster University’s communications management program.
| Photo by Ben Williams |
[ alumni profile ]
Her Garden Summer There’s something inspiring about Hailey Wist ’08. When we studied literature together at the College, she possessed a joie de vivre that I immediately liked and admired. For example, during a weekend trip to a friend’s lake house, I balked at jumping off the rickety roof of a pontoon boat. Not Wist – she pinched her nose and leapt without hesitation. “It’s not scary – it’s exciting!” she yelled up at me. I followed, and she was right: I loved the thrill. Last August, she came to visit me in my tiny Chicago apartment. Dressed in a worn chambray shirt and a panama hat – the brim stained with sweat – she looked more like a farmer than a scholar. But I knew she’d just wrapped an exciting academic project. As part of her master’s thesis, Wist spent the summer on her family-owned farm in Greenbrier, Ark. She grew produce, sold it at a farmer’s market and ate mostly local food. Wist wanted
to record the adventure, so she brought four friends along and asked them to film the whole thing with HD flip cams. She’s editing the footage into a documentary called The Garden Summer, which she hopes to show at film festivals next year. The project began with Wist’s craving for a deeper connection with nature. As a child, she thrilled at visits to the family farm. As a young adult, she read Thoreau’s Walden and dreamed of moving there for good. When Wist enrolled in Georgetown University’s Communication, Culture, and Technology M.A. Program, she began to study concepts such as sustainability, community and the intersection of media and nature. “I’m interested in how humans have placed themselves in the natural environment,” she says, “and then, the responsibility we have toward that environment.” The Garden Summer was designed to explore those ideas outside of the classroom.
In March, she traveled to the farm to plant seeds in peat pods and returned in May to place them in the ground. Friends, including Marie Barker ’08 and Seth Amos ’08, joined her for the harvest season, from late June through late July. On Fridays, they’d rise at 4 a.m. to beat the heat, filling buckets with flowers, herbs and veggies (tomatoes, basil, crookneck squash, sunflowers), which they’d sell the following day at the nearby farmer’s market. The money they earned had to sustain them for the week, so meals were carefully planned to maximize resources. “We couldn’t just run to the grocery store,” Wist says. “It was much more conscious. Maybe we’d make a soup with mung berries, and that’d last for a week.” Thanks to Greenbrier’s thriving food community, they had plenty of menu options. Flour from a nearby mill lent itself to bread, and duck, elk and buffalo meat were all available locally, along with plenty of vegetables. The crew was quickly accepted into the local community: The head of the farmer’s market became a close friend, and a neighboring farmer and cheese maker often invited them over to exchange produce and share glasses of his homemade wine. “We’d bring him a bouquet of sunflowers, and he’d give us a bushel of tomatoes,” she says. Along with these new friendships, the rural life offered plenty of leisure. Some days were purely recreational, and the farmers would swim in a nearby lake or play instruments on their porch. Afternoon naps, Wist admits, were plentiful. And though there were some challenges (Wist found it was surprisingly difficult to manage the “here-and-now experience” of rural life with the responsibility of being a character in her own documentary), she left the farm feeling triumphant. “We were sustained by our own hands,” she beams. “Everyone was blown away by what we could do for ourselves.” I was blown away, too, and I’m vowing to follow Wist’s lead and experiment with a more self-sustaining lifestyle. Even if it’s only a container garden in my apartment’s windowsill, I’m betting that I’d love the thrill. – Bridget Herman ’08 Check out Hailey Wist’s rural adventure at thegardensummer.com.
FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
A NEW SEAT AT THE TABLE Two heads, the thinking goes, are better than one. With that notion in mind, the College of Charleston added some extra brainpower to its leadership this summer, expanding the Board of Trustees from 17 members to 18. Thanks to a bill sponsored by South Carolina Rep. Chip Limehouse, the College’s additional trustee is to be nominated by the College’s Alumni Association and appointed by the governor. That way, College alumni will have even more representation during board meetings. Serving the inaugural four-year term for this seat is Greg Padgett ’79, chief financial officer for Charleston-based Fennell Holdings Inc. Padgett, who was elected the board’s chairman in October, notes the addition of a trustee with the interests of alumni at heart is a critical one, considering the growth of the College’s alumni population in the last few decades to more than 45,000. Alumni used to be concentrated in Charleston, he says, but “now we have alumni from all over the world. “What better group of people to engage with the College,” Padgett adds, “than the alums?”
Kelly Damberger was a Peace Corps volunteer
in Mbarara, Uganda, from February 2008 until April 2010. Chelsey Didsbury and Justin Morrison were married in May. They live near Durham, N.C., where Chelsey is the group resources manager for the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau and Justin is a real estate agent with Cimarron Homes. Jessica Edwards is a Peace Corp volunteer working in education in the Dominican Republic. Sarah Exell works for Automated Trading Desk in Mt. Pleasant. Sarah, an abstract painter, was also highlighted in Charleston’s The Post and Courier as a local artist of the week. Jessica Forman earned a master’s in education from Columbia College in 2009. Jessica teaches middle school German in Lexington (S.C.) District One. Kati-Jane Hammet is a graduate student in the University of South Alabama’s creative writing program. Kati-Jane and Richard Ellison were married in May and live in Mobile. Adam Hofmeister is a graduate student in Georgetown University’s sports industry management program.
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
Danielle Kaczenas is a graduate student
in The Citadel’s education program and is a guidance counselor intern at Harbor View Elementary School on James Island. Mackenzie Kay and Elizabeth McGough started their own communications and marketing firm, McKay Communications, in Charleston. Casey Martin earned his master’s in mental health counseling from Central Washington University. Casey lives in Lubbock, Texas. James McDaniel and Mary Elizabeth Sosnowski were married in June. James is a graduate student at the Charleston School of Law and works for The Charleston Museum. Mary Elizabeth is pursuing her master’s in early childhood education at the College. Kristen Munsey earned her M.B.A. from the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia and is now a government relations associate at UGA. Iris Renoux is actress Goldie Hawn’s personal assistant in Los Angeles and lives in Santa Monica. Holly Rickards is the business travel manager at the Westin in Alexandria, Va. James Romano is the general manager of the Amen Street Fish and Raw Bar in Charleston.
Jessica Terry is a speech-language pathologist at Spartanburg (S.C.) Regional Medical Center.
Jamie Van Etten is a graduate student in the
University of Michigan’s biological chemistry doctorate program. Matthew Wilson (M.S.) is a partner with Wilson & Associates CPAs in Smithfield, N.C.
2008 Bucky Buchanan is the program director for Louie’s Kids in Charleston.
Brad Chapman is a sales representative for ConAgra Foods in Charleston.
Kimberly Fuller is a graduate student at
Widener University in its dual master’s in social work and human sexuality program. Kimberly is ultimately working toward a Ph.D. in human sexuality. Kenny Gardner is a third-year law student at Charleston School of Law and has been selected a Nexsen Pruet Diversity Fellow. Gregory Goschy and Frances Dorsey Seignious were married in May. Gregory earned his master’s in organic chemistry from Emory University, and Frances works for Lassiter & Associates in Atlanta. Carina April Dancer Herrera is a department assistant at Nickelodeon and Viacom Consumer Products for MTV Networks.
Whitney Hinds is a law student at the
Tennessee, New York and New Jersey.
University of Pittsburgh. Whitney and Brett Coble were married in May. Amandalyn Jones is an account coordinator with Weber Shandwick in Chicago. Laura LeaMond works for Life Cycle Engineering in Charleston. Melissa Mandel is a property manager. Melissa and Aaron Lemieux were married in May. Colin McNair is a specialist with Copley Fine Art Auctions in Craddockville, Va. Daniel Navarro is an inside sales executive for eGroup Inc., an IT-consulting company in Mt. Pleasant. Brian Schlitter, a former Cougar standout, made his Major League Baseball debut as a pitcher with the Chicago Cubs in June. Danielle Smith and Steven Burke ’09 were married in May. Angela Sumner works for Charleston’s S.C. Aquarium in its finance and operations office. Kaylee Walters Tabor is co-owner of The Design Group, a marketing and Web design company in Charleston. Noreen Watson is a second-year graduate student in Texas Tech University’s clinical psychology doctorate program. Rebecca Weil is a graduate student in Old Dominion University’s elementary education program.
Lisa Buckley is an account development
2009 Tinja Anderson-Mitterling
2010 Allie Blecher lives in Fullerton,
is an account manager with iMAGE In-Store Promotions Inc. Jen Boling is the owner of Pandora Jewelry in Charleston. Seaton Brown is an admissions counselor in the College’s admissions office. Seaton is responsible for recruiting students in Alabama,
representative at Blackbaud on Daniel Island, S.C. Steven Burke (see Danielle Smith ’08) Andrew Fyfe works in the Backup, Recovery Systems Division for EMC Corporation in Raleigh, N.C. Stephanie Hall is an account development representative at Blackbaud on Daniel Island, S.C. Jonathan Hessinger is a graduate student in the Chicago School of Professional Psychology’s clinical psychology doctorate program. Rachel Martin is a copywriter with Benefitfocus on Daniel Island, S.C. Beau Merlini works for Cisco in Denver, Colo. Mike Peres is an account executive with Touchbase, a telecommunications company in Colorado. Daniel Russell-Einhorn is the owner of Affordabike, which specializes in building custom bikes in Charleston. Isa Salazar and Ellie Somerville work for Lonny magazine, an online publication that highlights design trends in London and New York City. Isa is a photo assistant, and Ellie is an editorial assistant. Todd Stoudenmire is an events manager at Sun Center National Bank Arena in Trenton, N.J.
Calif., and was featured in the “Faces in the Crowd” section of Sports Illustrated (July 5) for her selection as the ICSA Quantum Women’s Sailor of the Year. Katherine Brock is a proposal coordinator with Scientific Research Company in North Charleston.
Save the Date:
A Charleston Affair April 16, 2011
Erin Cartwright is conducting research in the
Department of Rheumatology and Immunology at the Medical University of South Carolina. Anna Kate Christophillis (M.P.A.) is a consultant with Knowledge Capital Group LLC in Charleston. Colin Colbert works for SLS Development. Taylor DeBartola works for CBC National Bank and lives in Alpharetta, Ga. Carter Eiler is an intern at the global headquarters of Quintiles in Raleigh, N.C. Alex Felts is a sales coordinator with the Marriott Residence Inn on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Melissa Hoefel is a marketing specialist with Momentum Marketing. Deidra Jones is a fiscal technician in the College’s Treasurer’s Office. Michael Kohn made his Major League Baseball debut as a pitcher with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in July. George Patrick McLeer is the executive director of the Mauldin (S.C.) Cultural Center. Ashley Mitchum and Joshua Razumich were married in June. Joe Nicolazzi is a development assistant in the College’s athletics department. Molly Spence is a development associate with Junior Achievement in Charlotte, N.C. Andy Swatzyna is a graduate student at The Citadel. James Tauscher is an executive event director for Westin Hotels & Resorts in Alexandria, Va. Sarah Ward is the director of community relations for the RiverDogs baseball team in Charleston.
[ passages ] Olivia Cooper ’33
Sarah Hood Seithel Jones ’49
Sylvia Sande ’87
Hyman Olasov ’36
Emory Langdale ’49
Cecilia Slowinski ’93
Pinckney Bailey ’37
Malcolm Danner ’56
Patricia Burbage Burney ’99
Inez Hay James ’39
Joyce Jernigan Dubis ’56
Travis Branch ’00
Lester Gretenstein ’41
Robert Dukes ’58
Kristin Lane Kort ’02
Louise Sahlmann Heffron ’41
Jack Glawson ’59
Sapna Patel ’02
Vernon Moore ’42
Thomas Johnson Jr. ’66
Harrison Greenberg (student)
Jesse Bowers ’45
Catherine Hudson Cahill ’75
Ronald Butler (former staff)
Dorothy Dangerfield Gerth ’46
Rita Sturkie Dooley ’86
Robert Gillis (former staff)
Elliott Collins ’49
Patricia Hiers ’87
Earl Kline (former faculty)
Fred Doscher ’49
Leslie Green Migliozzi ’87
Robert Smith (former faculty)
July 15; Summerville, S.C. July 21; Charleston, S.C. July 18; Charleston, S.C. April 9; Greer, S.C.
August 17; Savannah, Ga. July 4; Mt. Pleasant, S.C. June 27; Athens, Ga.
August 24; Carlsbad, Calif. June 29; Carmichael, Calif. June 10; Longmont, Colo. July 23; Eufaula, Ala.
July 6; Summerville, S.C.
September 4; Walterboro, S.C. August 30; James Island, S.C. June 2; Summerville, S.C.
June 18; North Charleston, S.C. August 30; Beaufort, S.C. June 5; Birmingham, Ala. June 9; Mt. Pleasant, S.C. June 16; Lexington, S.C.
May 27; Johns Island, S.C. June 11; Hendersonville, N.C.
July 9; Eutawville, S.C. August 31; Charleston, S.C. July 17; Moncks Corner, S.C. June 13; Zachary, La.
August 2; Pawleys Island, S.C. July 29; Rochester, Minn. July 10; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. July 30; Charleston, S.C.
November 29, 2009; North Kingstown, R.I. July 11; Charleston, S.C.
August 29; Summerville, S.C.
FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
[ faces and places ]
There’s always something going on at the College. Here’s a sample from the las t few months. 1 NIKE /Aaron Olit sk y Memorial Soccer Classic: Ralph Lundy (men’s soccer), Judy Olit sk y and Har vey Olit sk y 2 Higdon Student Leader ship Award Ceremony: Recey Blake, Shayla Bellamy ’10 and Bret tica Moody ’10 3 Back-to School Picnic: Michelle Van Par ys (s tudio ar t) and Dean Valerie Morris (School of the Ar t s) 4 Convocation: C atherine Oliver Jones ’60, welcoming the Class of 2014 5 Legac y Luncheon: Provos t George Hynd and George Snyder 6 Jason Mraz concer t at the C arolina Fir s t Arena: Isaiah Nelson, Ross Kressel, Jason Mraz, L aQuyna Baker and J.K. L awler 7 Convocation: Margaret Hagood ’92 (teacher education), discussing her new book on how to incorporate pop culture into the classroom 8 The O f fice of the McNair Scholar s Program Fall Open House: C arrie Bullock Ben-Yisrael (program coordinator) and scholar ship recipient s Josephine Kapicka and
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
11 12 13
Katherine Gumps 9 Spaulding celebration: Board of Trustees member David Hay ’81 and President George Benson 10 Legac y Luncheon: C arolyn Mc Clam, Mark Mc Clam ’82 and Tony Meyer ’49 11 Welcome Week: a mini putt-putt course led students through the Addlestone Library 12 Move-In Day: Vonnie Stoneburner and Madelyn Stoneburner 13 Legac y Luncheon: Jim Deavor (chemistr y), Regina Anderson and George Wat t (executive vice president, institutional advancement) 14 Legac y Luncheon: Student Alumni A ssociates members Kristen Beres and Will Cruthers 15 Legac y Luncheon: Chandler Miler, Cindy Watkins Wof ford ’79, Si Wof ford, Carolyn Rogers, Lauren Ghelardini 16 Back-to-School Picnic: Rose Ann Box x (information technology) and Susan Morrison (biology) 17 George Spaulding’s bir thday celebration at the Beat t y Center: George Spaulding and former president Ted Stern 18 Legac y Luncheon: Cathy Hill Mahon ’80, Rachel Fowler and Randy Fowler ’84
FA L L 2 0 1 0 |
Dr. Joe’s Office, 74 George Street I came to the College with my heart firmly devoted elsewhere. I’d completed my undergraduate degree at Clemson only two years before, and I assumed that earning my master’s degree in English from the College would be like a great job: I’d work hard, hopefully make some good friends and come out the other end the better for it all. But I was certain my loyalty would remain solely with my undergrad alma mater. After all, I’d been one in a long line of Clemson grads and had loved the university since childhood. I never expected to fall in love with the College. But in the spring 2003, I met Professor Joseph Harrison, and that meeting changed everything for me. Dr. Joe (as I fondly call him) was an English professor leading an undergraduate trip to Italy –
| C o l l e g e of C h a r l e s t o n m agazin e
a summer course in Italian Renaissance art and literature – and I talked my way onto the trip with the promise of producing graduate-level work. Dr. Joe soon became my independent study adviser, and we began to meet weekly in his office on George Street. His office had floor-to-ceiling bookshelves filled with books, photos and treasures given to Dr. Joe by former students; there were several chairs, a couple of desks, even a cot where Dr. Joe apparently slept some nights when he ended up working too late. The room had a welcoming warmth and soon became my very favorite place on campus – all because of the professor who inhabited it. He not only opened my eyes to new ways of thinking about classic works, but through his example,
he showed me how to one day be a better professor myself. By the end of my College tenure – and because of Dr. Joe – I’d completed two separate theses, had the overseas experience of a lifetime and had been taught more than I’d ever thought possible. I never expected to fall in love with the College, but I did – thanks to my wonderful graduate professors, the incredible city of Charleston and, most of all, those afternoons in Dr. Joe’s office, under the tutelage of the best pure teacher I’ve ever had the privilege to know. – Katie Crawford Dodson ’04 (M.A.) E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your favorite place on campus and what makes it so special to you.
Steve & emily SwanSon impact challenge Steve ’89 and Emily Swanson ’89 believe in the power of a College of Charleston education. Their educational experiences positioned them well for their professional careers. For Steve, the gift of opportunity – a scholarship – brought him to the College. “That’s why,” says Swanson, “it seems utterly natural to give back to the school that gave me so much.” This fall, Steve and Emily Swanson will double gifts made to the College of Charleston Fund. For all new and increased leadership donors, the Swansons will match gifts to reach a total of $100,000. That’s $100,000 for vital scholarships, extraordinary faculty and our alumni network.
Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID College of Charleston Charleston, SC 29424-0001
Cert no. SW-COC-002556