A New Era of Innovation
The future is bright! The total eclipse of 2017 brought out the Oglethorpe community to experience the historic event together on the quad. Pictured: America Liborio â€™18 and Benna Curole â€™20.
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HAMMACK SCHOOL OF BUSINESS LAUNCHES IN 2019 Oglethorpe made history this year with a gift that will be transformative for Oglethorpe—and a gamechanger for business students.
COUSINS CENTER FOR SCIENCE AND INNOVATION This new cutting-edge facility will transform learning for the 61% of Oglethorpe students who major in STEM fields and business.
A WORM’S WORTH Oglethorpe undergrads are conducting research—with worms—that could lead to a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
IT’S IN THE GENES Elias Castro’s original research in epigenetics uncovered new findings in the field.
REACHING NEW HEIGHTS More questions, fewer answers—at Oglethorpe, science is all about discovery.
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BY THE NUMBERS Oglethorpe earned a top score for overall financial strength—an important designation that helps to determine eligibility to award federal financial aid.
YUSUF ABDULLAH IS ONE TO WATCH Get to know Oglethorpe’s resident professional athlete and Olympic hopeful.
A DREAM FULFILLED, A CAREER LAUNCHED Three OU Theatre students worked alongside a Tony Award-winning professional theatre company—right on campus.
OUMA RESEARCH CENTER OPENS DOORS Oglethorpe’s large (and growing) permanent art collection just became more accessible.
INTERNATIONAL RECRUITMENT Oglethorpe looks overseas for continued growth in enrollment.
PEGASUS CREATIVE TURNS 5 Dozens of students have interned at OU’s student communications agency. Where are they now?
HISTORIC $50 MILLION GIFT ESTABLISHES THE
Q. WILLIAM HAMMACK, JR. SCHOOL OF BUSINESS
glethorpe University announced in September the receipt of the largest gift in its 182-year history, valued at $50 million, from alumnus Q. William “Bill” Hammack, Jr. ’73. The gift will establish a new School of Business, slated to open in the fall of 2019. This is the largest gift to a liberal arts and sciences university to establish a school of business.
By making this gift to Oglethorpe, I hope to help a new generation of business leaders find their own success.”
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“I didn’t know it at the time, but my years at Oglethorpe resulted in much more than the requisite college degree. As I reflect back upon my professional success, I can directly attribute it to the leadership, communication, and critical thinking skills I learned by attending a liberal arts institution,” commented Hammack, who recently retired from his position as President and CEO of C. W. Matthews Contracting Co., Inc. “By making this gift to Oglethorpe, I hope to help a new generation of business leaders find their own success.” The gift will come to Oglethorpe through a foundation established by Hammack and his wife, Diane, and a significant portion will go to the university’s endowment. The first portion of the gift will be used to start the Q. William Hammack, Jr. School of Business, for which
Bill Hammack ’73 speaks to the Oglethorpe community during a Rikard Lecture on September 27.
the search for a Dean will begin later this year. “This gift will be transformational for Oglethorpe. For an alumnus to make this significant of an investment is the greatest possible validation that the education and experience we offer is valuable both to our students and to the community they go on to work within,” added Lawrence M. Schall, J.D., Ed.D., who has served as president since 2005. “This is a truly exciting next chapter in Oglethorpe’s proud history and we will owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Bill Hammack for many years to come.” The historic bequest adds to a growing list of significant accomplishments for the university, including the early completion of a $50 million comprehensive campaign in 2015, and a recently-announced lead gift
from the Cousins Foundation to the $20 million capital campaign for the new I. W. “Ike” Cousins Center for Science and Innovation, in which the Q. William Hammack, Jr. School of Business will be housed. Cousins was a 1927 Oglethorpe graduate. “It has been amazing to watch what Oglethorpe continues to accomplish as an institution,” concluded Oglethorpe alumnus Tim Tassopoulos ’81, president and COO of Chick-fil-A and chair of the Oglethorpe Board of Trustees. “With President Schall’s leadership, as well as that of an active, engaged Board of Trustees and committed alumni, we are ensuring the future of not only this institution, but also our graduates. I speak for the entire Oglethorpe family in thanking Bill and Diane Hammack for making such an incredible gift.”
DID YOU KNOW?
of Oglethorpe students are business majors.
Georgia was ranked the place to do business in 2017.
Oglethorpe was ranked among the
best colleges in Georgia for business majors.
North America headquarters in Atlanta employs more graduates from Oglethorpe than any other university—and many started as student interns.
Cousins Center for Science and Innovation to open in 2019 Oglethorpe’s science and innovation facility is set to reflect the caliber of its students and faculty.
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glethorpe’s academic quad will soon see its first new construction in nearly 50 years, thanks in part to a generous gift from Atlanta’s Cousins Foundation. Named in honor of the 1927 alumnus, the I.W. “Ike” Cousins Center for Science and Innovation will transform the academic experience in the sciences and business. Goslin Hall, which currently houses the sciences, will be completely reimagined and renovated with a modern, light-filled 25,000-squarefoot addition. The new 45,000-square-foot Cousins Center will feature innovation and designthinking spaces for the sciences and business, discipline-specific laboratory-classrooms (physics, biology, and chemistry, with smaller and separate specialty labs for each), independent study labs, open study
By Renee Vary
rooms, workshops, and office space. Labs and classrooms will meld to provide teaching spaces conducive to both theory and practice, and how the science curriculum is now taught (see pg. 14)—a significant change from separate spaces for lectures and labs of the past. “Our job is to make sure the students’ foundational work is solid. They know how to ask a question, they know how to plan an experiment, they know how to do it from start to finish—in a place that’s safe; in a place that’s exciting; in a place that’s welcoming,” says Dr. Karen Schmeichel, assistant professor of biology and division chair. “The number one reason for this project is the students,” agrees Dr. Glenn Sharfman, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Our students deserve this Center. They
will get space that is inviting them in, that will be open, that they can see students from all different kinds of disciplines.” The building’s fundraising campaign is co-chaired by alumni Tim Tassopoulos ’81, president of Chickfil-A, and Cameron Bready ’94, chief financial officer of Global Payments. Groundbreaking is planned for summer 2018, and the new building scheduled to open in 2019. The Cousins family has a long history of involvement and support in Atlanta and at Oglethorpe University—a relationship that has grown and thrived through Ike’s son, Tom Cousins. A legendary real estate and philanthropic leader in Atlanta, Tom Cousins founded the East Lake Foundation and the Drew Charter School, which have helped to revitalize Atlanta’s East Lake neighborhood. “My grandfather, I.W. ‘Ike’ Cousins was a proud 1927 graduate,” said Lillian Giornelli, CEO of the Cousins Foundation and daughter of Tom and Anne Cousins. “He was a science major and three-sport letterman. But, what started as giving in honor of Tom’s father has transformed into a long-term investment in Oglethorpe, an institution the Cousins believe is making an important impact through efforts like the Center for Civic Engagement, and now this science and innovation center. “In addition to that personal family history, under Larry Schall’s leadership, the university has been an important partner in the work we are doing in the East Lake community,” said Giornelli. “Oglethorpe students mentor at Drew Charter School, they host Drew students for college experience days, and President Schall serves as chair of the East Lake Foundation board. We are delighted to play a lead role in this next phase
of Oglethorpe’s continued growth in memory of Ike Cousins and in honor of the leadership of President Schall.” “It’s recognition not only for (their) gift but for (the Cousins Foundation’s) giving over the past decade,” President Schall says of the Center’s newly announced name. “On the heels of the largest effort we have undertaken, and we’re halfway there thanks to trustees and friends
like the Cousins,” he said. Oglethorpe recently completed the largest campaign in its history in support of the Turner Lynch Campus Center, surpassing its goal two years early. “Our goal has been to be an important institution to Atlanta,” said President Schall. “As Oglethorpe has become more and more successful in being an important citizen to Atlanta, the community has responded.”
In late 2017, Oglethorpe received three additional major gifts to benefit the I.W. “Ike” Cousins Center for Science and Innovation, from the Tull Charitable Foundation ($600K), Lettie Pate Evans Foundation ($5 million), and an anonymous donor ($1 million). Oglethorpe also announced the newly-established Hammack Scholarship, a full-tuition award open to incoming freshmen who will major in business-related fields such as accounting, business administration, economics, and human resources management. OGLETHORPE UNIVERSITY
A WORM’S WORTH By Desirina Boskovich Frew
W How an innovative undergraduate research partnership is benefiting Oglethorpe, Emory and Alzheimer’s research.
hen Oglethorpe’s Dr. Karen Schmeichel and Emory University’s Dr. David Katz came up with the idea for a research partnership between the two institutions, they envisioned an opportunity for Oglethorpe students to conduct hands-on research and gain experience in the lab. They never imagined those students would end up doing research that could one day help identify a drug to treat Alzheimer’s Disease. But that’s exactly what happened.
The research revolves around a humble worm known as C. elegans. The worm is a “model organism,” a favorite in biology research labs. In fact, C. elegans was the first multicellular organism to have its entire genome sequenced. Because researchers already know a lot about the worm, studying it can help illuminate the pieces they’re less sure about—like a Rosetta stone for the ongoing mysteries of biology. C. elegans is also an excellent organism for student research. The worms develop quickly and mate reliably, providing a wealth of genetic data for budding scientists.
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“You can go from an egg to an adult worm in four days and start all over again,” says Dr. Teresa Lee, a researcher in Dr. Katz’s lab. “So we can move faster through the genetic principles we’re trying to teach.” Plus, if a student’s worm colony accidentally meets its demise, the worm’s speedy life cycle means the student can build another colony in time to complete their assignment. Over the past couple years, hands-on research with C. elegans has become a core aspect of the Oglethorpe biology experience. The program is funded in part by the National Science Foundation, which supports institutions like Oglethorpe that are expanding the boundaries of undergraduate science research. It’s a big change from the old curriculum, which was built on a foundational lecture course, loaded
with memorization and vocabulary drills—the traditional approach at universities everywhere. In contrast, Oglethorpe’s new curriculum emphasizes student engagement, using explorations in the lab to put theory to practice and help students build a repertoire of research skills. “We totally reconfigured the introductory biology experience,” says Dr. Schmeichel, assistant professor of biology and the division chair. “All the lessons are driven by the questions we’re asking in the lab. This really allows students to ask a question drawn from their own authentic curiosity.” A promising start—but the skill set that empowers undergrads to conduct original research isn’t built in a semester. So Dr. Schmeichel
and her colleagues—Dr. Lea Alford, Dr. Charlie Baube and Dr. Roarke Donnelly—devised an even more innovative approach. The science professors created a succession of experiential learning courses, each building on the one before it. With every semester, students build confidence and gain additional skills. The approach is one that could only work at a smaller institution like Oglethorpe, where each new class of students encounters the science curriculum in cohorts. And in the close-knit science department, faculty have the agility and flexibility to collaborate on the project of sequential knowledge-building. “My biology colleagues here at Oglethorpe have all embraced this project,” says Dr. Schmeichel. “They’ve gone outside their comfort zones in adopting worm modules in their courses, which all OGLETHORPE UNIVERSITY
“The goal of what we’re doing at Oglethorpe is to show them that biology—and research in general—is a living thing. We’re pushing them into the unknown.”
contribute to the skill development pipeline.” First, students are introduced to C. elegans as a model organism. They learn how to care for the worm and how to do simple crosses based on Mendelian genetics. They master statistical techniques to better analyze these processes. They explore worm mutations. And they practice keeping a worm colony alive for future experiments. In the second year, students conduct an eight-week genetic project with worms. They learn a protocol called RNA interference that allows them to disrupt or “knock down” the function of any of the worm’s genes. They refine their skills in managing worm colonies and achieve greater competence in performing genetic crosses for longterm research. By the third year, the students have gained impressive experience with C. elegans, and the skills and confidence to conduct original research in collaboration with the Katz lab. That’s where things really start to get interesting. Dr. Katz’s research is in epigenetics, changes to gene function that don’t involve alterations to the actual
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DNA. For example, changes in how the DNA is packaged can affect gene function over an an organism’s lifetime. Sometimes these changes are passed between generations. His lab works with both C. elegans and mice to better understand the mechanisms that decide whether or not epigenetic information is transferred to an organism’s offspring. Dr. Katz is particularly interested in an enzyme called LSD1 (Lysine Specific Demethylase 1), which plays a role in turning genes off before they’re passed on; the enzyme is found in organisms from worms to mice to humans. In worms, the enzyme is referred to as SPR-5. When researchers knock out the spr-5 gene in worms, the following generations show significant and increasing defects in fertility. But knocking out LSD1 in mice—and by extension, humans—has even more severe consequences. When the Katz Lab engineered mice to remove LSD1 function between generations at fertilization, the progeny began exhibiting strange behaviors: appearing anxious and fearful, obsessively digging holes, clawing at their cages. Next, Dr. Katz and his colleagues developed
a technique for turning off LSD1 in adult mice. To their surprise, these mice began to exhibit potential signs of a neurodegenerative condition, such as going limp when handled. As Dr. Katz and his colleagues pursued this connection in more detail, they discovered promising evidence that links Alzheimer’s Disease to dysfunctions in the LSD1 pathway. This brings us back to the Oglethorpe students. Dr. Katz asked the Oglethorpe undergrads to explore a related and very important question— is there a way to counteract that effect? To learn more, Dr. Katz gave the class a list of enzymes to investigate in C. elegans. Using their skills with RNA interference to knock down the genes that produce those enzymes, the students methodically generated worms that lacked both SPR-5 and another enzyme on Dr. Katz’s list. If they could produce a combination that didn’t exhibit the normal fertility defects associated with a lack of SPR-5, it would suggest that the enzyme they were testing might be a good potential drug target for treating Alzheimer’s Disease.
It’s labor-intensive work, requiring many hours of work, but it offers just the right level of engagement for an eager class of students…who were surprised to learn that they weren’t just completing an assignment, but actually contributing to real scientific research. “When they did those first experiments, I really wanted to know the results,” says Dr. Katz. “Because we’ve never done those experiments before, and they’re really important to what we’re doing.” To Dr. Katz’s delight, the Oglethorpe students have already identified some promising leads. “We are very interested in the possibility that some of these could be drug targets,” Dr. Katz says. His lab is now undertaking drug screening to look for potential compounds that would target these pathways for Alzheimer’s Disease drugs. While the Katz lab benefits from what Dr. Schmeichel terms a “twenty-headed undergraduate student”—otherwise known as a small army of hardworking researchers-intraining—Oglethorpe is benefiting from the arrangement, too. As a large research university, Emory has access to scientific resources beyond
Oglethorpe’s capacity. For example, the exhaustive library of bacteria strains the students use for RNA interference projects; a collection like this costs around $15,000. Or the microscopes to perform differential interference microscopy and confocal microscopy; together the set costs around half a million dollars. Oglethorpe undergrads use these scopes to film and image their worms. The postdocs in Dr. Katz’s lab are enthusiastic about the collaboration, too. Dr. Teresa Lee and Dr. Brandon Carpenter are conducting research under Dr. Katz’s mentorship; both aspire to serve as educators as well as researchers. They’ve taken the lead in coaching the Oglethorpe undergrads. “One of the beauties of the collaboration is that it goes both ways,” says Dr. Carpenter. “It’s not just research experience for undergrads who will get the experience they need to be competitive. For me and Teresa, we’re getting the skill necessary to be good PIs [principle investigators]. We’re all building and developing our resumes so we can hit the ground running when we start as faculty members.” Dr. Lee agrees. “It’s been so invaluable to go into an actual classroom with
actual students and see both the limitations and the unexpected surprises that happen. The goal of what we’re doing at Oglethorpe is to show them that biology—and research in general—is a living thing. We’re pushing them into the unknown.” The results are particularly impressive for a project that’s still in its infancy. In fact, Dr. Schmeichel was recently chosen to speak at the prestigious American Society for Cell Biology 2016 Meeting in San Francisco, where she presented the collaboration as a model for other institutions. As the Oglethorpe biology department has transitioned into the new curriculum, each new cohort of students has gotten more experience with C. elegans. This year’s class is the first to benefit from the entire program. Next on the horizon is a new science building. This planned addition to campus will offer mixed-use classrooms that double as lecture hall and laboratory, with flexible spaces for demonstrations, discussions and hands-on research. These future classrooms will bring together theory and practice, supporting biology’s new inquiry-based curriculum. What discoveries will Oglethorpe students make next? OGLETHORPE UNIVERSITY
OGLETHORPE UNDERGRAD AIDS EMORY SCIENTISTS How the partnership between Oglethorpe and Emory is opening doors for an ambitious biology student— By Desirina Boskovich Frew and advancing research in epigenetics
he fast-growing field of epigenetics is one of the hottest topics in biology research. Exciting discoveries are emerging all the time. And Elias Castro, a biology major and recent graduate of Oglethorpe University, has contributed to the field with a finding of his own. Through original research conducted for his honors thesis, Castro uncovered new roles for two key genes.
In Dr. David Katz’s lab at Emory University, researchers are working to uncover these secrets. As part of a larger undergraduate research collaboration between Emory and Oglethorpe, each semester the lab also hosts one or two students from Oglethorpe. Castro was one of these students. He was also one of the first Oglethorpe students to conduct original research for an honors thesis in biology.
We all know that genetic information is passed between generations via DNA. What scientists have discovered more recently is that changes in gene expression are passed between generations, too. These changes don’t involve alterations to the genetic code, but instead alterations to how the genes are packaged.
Castro’s mentor was Dr. Brandon Carpenter, a post-doc researcher in the Katz lab. Dr. Carpenter fell in love with teaching while he was completing his undergraduate and masters’ degrees at Appalachian State University. When he headed to the University of Michigan to complete his Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology, he also obtained a teaching certificate and developed his knowledge of pedagogy.
In other words, genetics decides whether you inherit certain traits— but epigenetics can decide whether or not those traits present themselves. An individual’s epigenetic code can be inf luenced by a number of factors, including environment and lifestyle. It changes over a lifetime, and these changes can be passed onto offspring. It’s a fascinating topic with enormous implications for human health and wellness, and there’s still plenty to learn.
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As Dr. Carpenter searched for his first job, his dream was a role in a biology lab where he could pursue hands-on research and also develop his skills in teaching and mentoring. His search led him to Emory University and the Katz lab. Through Dr. Carpenter’s mentorship, Castro benefited from a level of guidance that most students only encounter in graduate programs. They
met often, and kept in touch from day-to-day. Dr. Carpenter advised Castro on approaches to take in his research, coached him on analyzing the data he found, and pushed him to perfect his charts and graphs. Castro also presented in lab meetings and attended scientific events alongside Dr. Carpenter. The opportunity paid off. Castro made some very fascinating discoveries— with immediate relevance to Dr. Carpenter’s and Dr. Katz’s work. Like other researchers in the Katz lab, Castro worked with C. elegans, a worm and model organism that’s very useful for conducting basic research. His project explored two particular genes, spr-5 and met-2, which play a role in deciding how epigenetic changes pass between generations. Previously, the researchers believed these genes mainly functioned as determinants of how parental genetic material is passed on to the zygote. They believed spr-5 and met-2 exerted their effect only during fertilization, when the mother deposits these proteins into the egg. There, they function together to reprogram the progeny’s epigenetic landscape. But Castro’s research revealed these genes have zygotic roles, too. They could also regulate gene transcription
during the worm’s development. In other words, these genes aren’t just determining the inheritance; they’re also operating as the zygote develops into a worm, further influencing the offspring’s traits. The research doesn’t just have implications for the lives of worms; it could also shed light on epigenetic heritability in humans, too. “Elias has really changed the way we’re thinking about how SPR-5 functions,” Dr. Carpenter says. “We used to think it was simple. His experiments have really made it more complicated and interesting at the same time.” While Castro discovered intriguing knowledge about epigenetics, he also learned important lessons about patience and problem-solving. “My biggest lesson has been that I’m human; I’m not superman,” Castro says. As a pre-med student, Castro tended to approach school as a perfectionist. “You strive to be the best and do everything at 100 percent.” But scientific research doesn’t always work like that. Sometimes you have to take risks; sometimes you even learn the most from failure. “I’ve learned that whatever happens, even if it’s a mistake, even if it’s your fault, it’s a learning experience. That’s how you grow.” Dr. Carpenter learned a lot, too. “It’s helped me practice communicating the ideas and the project very clearly, and taught me what to expect at the undergrad level—how to start at the basics.” Dr. Carpenter wants to teach at an institution that emphasizes undergraduate education, so this experience is also helping him get closer to his goals.
Oglethorpe’s inquiry-based science curriculum played a huge role in making this successful collaboration possible. When Castro joined Dr. Katz’s lab, he already knew how to use C. elegans to create genetic crosses and gather data. “As soon as Elias came in, he could start working on his project,” Dr. Carpenter says. So Castro’s mentors could focus on helping him with the high-level stuff, like designing better experiments and presenting data more effectively. While Castro may have been a particularly talented student, he also attributes his success to his previous experiences with undergraduate research at Oglethorpe. “Oglethorpe students are very capable,” he says. “They’re very confident going into a lab. At a lot of institutions, students coming out of undergrad can’t say that.” Castro successfully defended his honors thesis in May and graduated with the Oglethorpe class of ’17. Now, Castro is taking a year to work as a laboratory technician and apply to medical school. Eventually he hopes to go into academic medicine, combining health research and patient care to advance the field.
I’ve learned that whatever happens, even if it’s a mistake, even if it’s your fault, it’s a learning experience. That’s how you grow.” —Elias Castro ’17
With Castro’s lab experience at both Oglethorpe and Emory, he is already off to an excellent start. OGLETHORPE UNIVERSITY
THE SCIENCE CLASS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY By Desirina Bockovitch Frew
More questions, fewer answersâ€” at Oglethorpe, science is all about discovery
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hether you’re an Atlanta resident or a passing traveler, you can’t help but notice the striking silhouette of the Bank of America Plaza. This skyscraper isn’t just the highlight of our famous Atlanta skyline. It’s also the tallest building in Georgia and the 11th tallest building in the United States. So just how tall is the Bank of America Plaza, exactly? A group of budding scientists in Dr. Mariel Meier’s introductory physics course decided to answer that question for themselves. The project fulfilled the final challenge of the semester: choose something unique to accurately measure… then figure out how to measure it. “They were very careful about it,” says Dr. Meier. “They measured the difference between street level and the first floor, and the outside to the center of the building.” The physics course assignment is a fresh update on a more traditional one. In the past, students were given a preselected list of potential stuff to measure: the mass of Stone Mountain, the perimeter of Atlanta, the distance to the sun. But the new project tosses the list aside. Students choose their question from the very beginning—which also means even the professor might not initially be sure how to answer it. “These projects aren’t necessarily as polished or as easily answerable,” Dr. Meier says. “That can be frustrating for students, but also adds to the authenticity of the experience. It’s
a very valuable thing to realize that science doesn’t always happen perfectly the first time.” The measurement project is one small example of a much broader change that’s transforming the science curriculum at Oglethorpe—a move to challenge students with more questions, while providing a lot fewer answers. Because as any working scientist can tell you, that’s what the big, beautiful, messy process of science is really all about. This transformation in science pedagogy is a larger trend taking hold in the best colleges and universities across the country, and Oglethorpe is at the leading edge. The transformation is changing the way students think about science. And hopefully inspiring an enthusiasm for asking questions and a passion for problem-solving that will stay with students for a lifetime. At Oglethorpe, the biggest changes have happened in the biology department, spearheaded by professors Dr. Lea Alford, Dr. Charlie Baube, Dr. Roarke Donnelly and Dr. Karen Schmeichel. The old format for intro to biology was a year-long survey course, often retreading ground students had already covered in high school. Lectures emphasized terminology and vocabulary. Students spent a lot of time memorizing. Labs were simple and straightforward, giving students unequivocal directions from Point A to Point B—more like following a recipe then embarking on a voyage of discovery.
Now the emphasis is about process… Skill development, and the ability to frame a question and test it with an experiment, is really an art as well as a science.” —Dr. Charlie Baube
This model of science pedagogy might have made sense for the 20th
century—but requires an update for the 21st. “Now the emphasis is about process,” says biology professor Dr. Baube, who teaches the intro class as well as courses in anatomy, physiology and animal behavior. “The content is important, but it’s no longer the focus. In this day and age, information access is easy. Skill development, and
develop an experimental design,” says Dr. Schmeichel, associate professor of biology and division chair. “They’re responsible for running the experiment in the class, in the lab, on their own.” In the worm module, students focus on C. elegans, a transparent, onemillimeter roundworm that’s also studied by many working scientists.
own set of classroom challenges. As Oglethorpe breaks ground, both students and professors are learning as they go. For Dr. Baube, one challenge is learning to step back and let students learn for themselves. “Most scientists are micromanagers,” he says. “But students have to be empowered to do projects like this, and given the leeway
(left) During the total eclipse in 2017, Physics students help the OU community safely view the 2017 total eclipse. (center) Conservation biology class conducts research during a trip to Sapelo Island on the Georgia coast. (right) Science students and faculty annually host Science on the Green, a chance for the entire OU community to conduct science experiments on the quad.
the ability to frame a question and test it with an experiment, is really an art as well as a science.” Oglethorpe’s new intro to biology course is called Biological Inquiry, and it’s all about asking questions. Lab and lecture are integrated, and students learn while doing. The course is anchored by four core modules, each one a biological microcosm: bird behavioral ecology, worm genetics, frog heart physiology and plant growth physiology. The modules invite hands-on learning. “Students posit an experimental hypothesis and
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Students learn how to design and execute an experiment using the worms as a model system. In later biology courses, students will do more complex experiments with C. elegans and even conduct original research. In the plant ecology module, students explore phototropism—the way a plant grows toward the light. How do they do this? In this module, students also draw on knowledge from biostatistics, the co-required course on applying and analyzing quantitative data in biological studies. Of course, a more student-engaged approach to learning does pose its
to make it their own and make some mistakes along the way.” Dr. Meier agrees. “Sometimes you see a student going off on a tangent and you know it’s not going to really work for them.” But while it’s a lot less certain as the instructor—and as Dr. Meier says, “a lot more nervewracking”—she realizes it’s a much more effective way for students to learn. The rewards are bigger, too. “When a student or a group is successful at figuring something out, that when they started even I didn’t know if they would be able to get there, it’s a very
rewarding moment,” Dr. Meier says. “It’s rewarding to know that they’re going to be okay once they leave the bubble of Oglethorpe.” And the challenges students navigate throughout science intro courses are paying off… by preparing students to take on more complex and more ground-breaking experiments in later courses.
to different water temperatures. “We’d show up on our own time, set up the procedure drawing on different sources of primary literature, hook ourselves up to a heart rate monitor, and then we’d have a tub we’d dunk our heads in for thirty seconds at different water temperatures.” Another of Dr. Baube’s favorite physiology research projects this past semester was devised by a group of students who were also enrolled in Dr. Schmeichel’s cell biology class… and wanted to explore a question combining disciplines. The students exposed a stem cell sample to a growth factor intended to make the undifferentiated cells develop into neuron-like cells (aka, brain cells). Then, using a frog’s heart as their subject, they tested to see if these induced neurons would release the same neurotransmitters as a real neuron.
resources, the science department is on the cutting-edge of the national movement. “There is a lot of trust between students and faculty,” says Dr. Meier. “There is a sense that no matter what, faculty want students to be successful. Students are willing to go on a ride with us. When we try these crazy things in the lab or read peer-reviewed journal articles in general physics, here students trust there is merit in it. They are happy to try it. And give feedback if it isn’t working.” In other words, learning science is becoming more like doing science: a process. Big, beautiful, messy… with infinite room for growth and change.
The interdisciplinary concept hits on something else that’s key to the sciences at Oglethorpe. “We’re always talking to each other about how to synergize, not doing things in silos,” says Dr. Schmeichel.
Like in Dr. Baube’s human physiology course, where students also finish up the semester with a research project of their own design. For example, Arman Niknafs, a sophomore biology major, collaborated with a partner to study the mammalian diving reflex—the natural instinct that allows human, for example, babies younger than six months to react naturally to water, holding their breath and waving their arms without being taught. Using themselves as guinea pigs, Niknafs and his lab partner used a variety of transducers to measure physiological processes, such as heart rate and blood pressure, in response
“Collaboration is natural and organic,” adds Dr. Baube. “My colleagues and I are all in the same hallway. We have both this nimbleness and this physical proximity, to act and react.” This spirit of innovation is putting Oglethorpe on the map as a leader in science pedagogy. In 2016, Dr. Schmeichel was chosen to present at the American Society for Cell Biology, where Oglethorpe faculty also presented a poster on the new Biological Inquiry course—and found an enthusiastic audience. “There was a huge interest in it, and we had a huge number of discussions with our colleagues at other universities.” Oglethorpe, she says, is small but mighty; despite constraints in
When a student or a group is successful at figuring something out, that when they started even I didn’t know if they would be able to get there, it’s a very rewarding moment.” —Dr. Mariel Meier
OGLETHORPE AWARDED TOP SCORE FOR FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY By J. Todd Bennett
The U.S. Department of Education recently released its annual financial responsibility composite scores for private colleges and universities, awarding Oglethorpe the highest score of 3.0. Based on audited financial reports from 2014-15, these scores measure a schoolâ€™s overall financial strength and help to determine their eligibility to award federal financial aid. Scores may range from -1.0 to 3.0 and require a score of 1.5 or higher to receive federal funds without additional oversight. Nationwide, 177 private colleges failed the test based on most recent measures. Among Oglethorpeâ€™s peers in the eight-member Southern Athletic Association, only one other school, Rhodes College, scored a perfect 3.0. Likewise, among private, non-profit colleges in Georgia, only seven of 38 scored a 3.0.
BY THE NUMBERS
of students receive merit and needbased financial aid totalling $22 million annually.
UNIVERSITY ACCOMPLISHMENTS SINCE 2005:
reduction in debt while doubling net assets
increase in enrollment
increase in annual revenue
increase in the endowment from a low of $13.5M (2009) to $33.5M (2017)
record-breaking individual gifts, both in 2017, benefiting the Cousins Center for Science and Innovation and the Q. William Hammack, Jr. School of Business.
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OGLETHORPE PRESIDENT AMONG ATLANTA BUSINESS CHRONICLE’S “2017 POWER 100” By Renee Vary
Oglethorpe President Larry Schall is among Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2017 Power 100, an annual special section naming Atlanta’s 100 most influential people of 2017, as selected by the Chronicle’s editors. The list spans leaders in business, government and not-for-profits, but does not include media celebrities, pop stars, athletes or religious leaders. “On a list limited to 100 people (out of a metropolitan area approaching 5.8 million), many influential and important leaders cannot be included,” writes the Chronicle. A new addition to the list this year, President Schall has served as university
president for 12 years, and recently became Georgia’s longest-serving, current university president. Under Schall’s leadership, Oglethorpe has doubled net assets while reducing total debt by 43%; increased annual revenues by 65%; grown enrollment by 40%; established strategic entrepreneurial partnerships; and experienced a dramatic rise in philanthropic giving. In recent years, Oglethorpe completed the largest campaign in its history, raising $50.2 million and surpassing its goal two years ahead of schedule. Plans to open the new Cousins Center for Science and Innovation in 2019 were announced in early June.
Since 2013, Oglethorpe also has seen the addition of an award-winning campus center; five global campuses in Barcelona, Cape Town, Greece, London and Rome; a residential complex with state-of-the-art classrooms; and the Atlanta Laboratory for Learning (A_LAB), an incubator for experiential learning through internships, study abroad, civic engagement and undergraduate research. President Schall serves as board chair of East Lake Foundation in Atlanta and on the executive committees of the Georgia Independent College Association, Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education, and Council on International Educational Exchange. OGLETHORPE UNIVERSITY
YUSUF ABDULLAH ’19 MOONLIGHTS AS PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE By Benn Wineka
usuf Abdullah is not set to graduate for another couple of years, but he already has his sights set even further in the future. To 2024, when his current passion may reach the apex of sport; the Summer Olympics. A large percentage of Abdullah’s time outside of an Oglethorpe classroom is used pursuing a path in Ultimate Frisbee. The business major spends almost as many hours practicing and playing Ultimate as he does in lectures. “Easily 12-14 hours a week,” Abdullah says of his time on the field. “I’m always thinking about Ultimate. It’s pretty much my life now.”
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The dedication has paid off. Abdullah has been a professional Ultimate player since 2016, spending nights and weekends during the spring and summer with the Atlanta Hustle, a team in the southern conference of the American Ultimate Disc League, the highest level of Ultimate competition in the country. And while he’s gotten to travel with the team to matches against conference rivals such as the Raleigh Flyers and Nashville Nightwatch, Abdullah is still a student, having to spend some of those nights in hotel rooms finishing papers and assignments. The draw for Abdullah towards
Ultimate was the way it utilized so many aspects of other activities. Ultimate is a hybrid of more “traditional” sports, as it is played on a football field, utilizes the movement of soccer, some rules of basketball and has its own brand of flight physics unique to flying discs. “The throwing aspect still amazes me how people can do some of this stuff,” Abdullah says. Play begins with a “pull,” essentially a kickoff, where a disc is thrown from one team to another. The receiving team then moves its way back towards the opposite end zone by passing the disc between team members. After catching a pass, a player may not move
their feet besides around a pivot foot. A point is scored when a pass is caught in the opponent’s end zone. If a team drops the disc, or the team on defense intercepts a pass or knocks the disc to the ground, possession changes teams and play resumes in the opposite direction. Games generally consist of four quarters. For as basic of a premise, and not helped by lazy stereotypes assigned to Frisbee enthusiasts, Ultimate is a fastpaced, strategic sport that requires as much, if not more, stamina than soccer, as it does not allow players on the field any opportunities to take a rest. “Whether you have the disc or don’t, defense or offense, you’re always running. You always need to be able to get open, or always need to be covering your man,” Abdullah explains. “It’s non-stop.” Abdullah first began playing Ultimate while in high school. He matriculated away from other organized sports such as soccer and basketball to focus primarily on Ultimate by the time he transferred to Parkview High School in Gwinnett County, Ga. when he was a senior.
“I love getting up, jumping on top of people to grab a disc,” Abdullah gleefully remarks about one of the stronger parts of his game. Around campus Abdullah has introduced several groups of students to Ultimate, including his fraternity, Chi Phi. He wants to be able to garner enough participation for a full-time club by the time he graduates. Until then, he’ll continue on with the Hustle, and working for local Ultimate company VC Spin, where he helps manufacture and fulfill merchandise orders. He’ll only be 28 years old when the 2024 Olympics roll around. Or in Yusuf Abdullah’s mind, the perfect Ultimate age.
Watch Yusuf in action on YouTube at oglethor.pe/OUYusuf
Through playing in local youth clubs and tournaments, where he also met fellow Oglethorpe undergrad and frequent practice partner Stephen Myers ’20, Abdullah was introduced to the Hustle, which began play in 2015. After a season spent roving the sidelines as a “disc boy,” Abdullah was invited to try-out for the senior team, making the cut last year. Now Abdullah is a bit of a defensive specialist, often coming in for shifts after the Hustle have scored. In his own words, Abdullah says the job can be “gritty” but is extremely satisfying when you fully extend out for a big pass breakup or deflection. And all this doesn’t mean he doesn’t get in on the offensive fun.
ALLIANCE THEATRE’S “SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE” TAKES THE STAGE By Renee Vary Oglethorpe theatre students step into the spotlight Atlanta’s Tony Award-winning Alliance Theatre opened its 2017-2018 season on Oglethorpe’s campus and three Oglethorpe theatre scholars joined their professional ranks. As part of an ongoing partnership with Alliance Theatre, Oglethorpe hosted two productions during the theatre’s “Season on the Road,” while its Woodruff Arts Center home is undergoing a complete renovation. The nationally-acclaimed theatre presented “Dancing Granny” in June, and opened its main season with Shakespeare in Love in Oglethorpe’s Conant Performing Arts Center, in August.
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Based on the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard, Shakespeare in Love was adapted for the stage by Lee Hall, with music by Paddy Cunneen. The new play is based on the 1998 film that won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture. Former Georgia Shakespeare Artistic Director Richard Garner directed this love letter to William Shakespeare in his company’s former home at Oglethorpe. The Alliance has hosted musical theatre and acting summer camps at Oglethorpe for several years, and leaders from Alliance have
served as judges and mentors for prospective theatre students during the Oglethorpe Theatre Scholarship Competition. And now three of those theatre scholarship recipients were able to work alongside the Alliance’s professional actors—right on their own campus. “This is my first production with The Alliance,” said junior Alexander Oakley ’19 upon learning he had been cast. “I am super excited to able to work with a professional company on our home stage in Conant.”
Alex played Abraham, a member of Shakespeare’s Acting Company in his production of Romeo and Juliet, in addition to other small roles and ensemble parts. He also was the understudy for Adam, a supporting character who is a more prominent actor at Shakespeare’s side. Gillian Rabin ’19 was cast as the queen’s attendant, in the ensemble, and as the understudy for the character Kate, with two set performances in that role.
as Mistress Quickly and the Queen’s Attendant understudy, and was a member of the ensemble. “As Brookhaven’s premier arts venue, the Conant Performing Arts Center was an ideal ‘home away from home’ for the Alliance,” said Oglethorpe’s President Larry Schall. “Our ongoing partnership with the Alliance helps to provide exceptional arts education for our students and the community, while bringing world-class theater to North Atlanta.”
Senior Meredith Myers ’18, a theatre and English double major, was cast
Meredith Myers ’18 OU Theatre Scholar
This is my first production with The Alliance and I am super excited to able to work with a professional company on our home stage in Conant.” Alexander Oakley ’19
Alexander Oakley ’19 OU Theatre Scholar
Gillian Rabin ’19 OU Theatre Scholar
NEW OU MUSEUM RESEARCH CENTER PRESENTS ACADEMIC RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES By Victoria Lindbergh ’18
T The goal here is to ‘un-frame’ much of the work on paper both to consolidate storage needs, and to facilitate access for our students and faculty and community members.
he Oglethorpe University Museum of Art has launched a new research center that is giving greater accessibility and visibility for its ever-growing permanent collection—and growing academic research opportunities for students.
The research center had inauspicious beginnings as a workroom in the museum, but with the help of continuing education student Grady Clinkscales III, the museum began, with its own funds, to transform the space into a resource for students. When OUMA advisory board member and OU alumna Dr. Karen Head ’98 learned of the project, she immediately stepped in and provided the additional resources to complete the research center. “Without Dr. Head, we wouldn’t have been able to finish this space. Her commitment to the students at Oglethorpe immediately helped us—the very first day she joined the board. It was a wonderful present,” said Museum Director Elizabeth H. Peterson. In the new center, researchers will be able to search the collection database and closely examine many of the museum’s prints, drawings, porcelains and paintings in detail. Many of the works of art previously in storage will now be available to view. “[The OUMA Research Center] will contain the bulk of the museum’s collection of works on paper. The goal here is to ‘un-frame’ much of the work on paper both to consolidate storage needs, and to facilitate access for our students and faculty and community members,” said Curator of Collections John Daniel Tilford. Since Peterson and Tilford’s tenure at the museum, the permanent collection has grown from just under 200 pieces to nearly 700.
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OUMA’s Curator of Collections John Daniel Tilford and student intern and curatorial assistant Larissa Randall ’18 inspect pieces in the growing permanent collection. A studio art and art history major, Larissa has interned at the museum since January 2016.
“About once a month, if not more often, we get an unsolicited call, or email from a potential donor, or contacted by an appraisal firm representing a client who is interested in donating one or more works of art to our permanent collection, “said Tilford. “We are also fortunate to have several dedicated collectors whose generous gifts have greatly augmented the collection and whose relationship with OUMA we greatly value.” Peterson added, “The collectors are really the life-blood and there are very beautiful, rich collections in Atlanta that are often never seen, so we end up with acquisitions that are newly in the public eye. We’ve received so many pieces, it really behooves us to have them on view and not store them away.” Although the new space will be especially beneficial for art students, the museum hopes that anyone with an interest in art will use the research center, including other academic departments.
“Starting in January 2018 we will devote the Skylight Gallery at all times to the permanent collection. It will be densely installed and changed each semester to make an even stronger connection with the curricular offerings and to better connect with faculty and students,” said Peterson.
museum studies courses, and volunteer opportunities.
Anyone interested in using the research center can contact the museum in advance to book an appointment. A staff member will then select relevant works and be available for assistance during the appointment. OUMA Research Center will also have weekly open hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 3 p.m. An OUMA staff member will be available to answer questions and assist with research.
OUMA’s first two student lectures were presented by Antonio Mántica ’14 and Ruwa Roman ’14. More recently, Caitlin Tabilog ’18 and Jordan Michels ’17 lectured. Larissa Randall ’18 has been acting as curatorial assistant for the better part of two years during the development of the Hattie Saussy retrospective, curated by Tilford. As a direct result of Larissa’s work at OUMA, which included publishing credit, she received a grant to travel to the AAMG (Association of Academic Museums and Galleries) conference in Oregon and secured an internship with the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.
The opening of this center marks yet another opportunity for students to benefit from the rich holdings of the OUMA collection and the expertise of museum staff. Over the past 5 years, OUMA has introduced student-led lectures, docent tours, performances, internships, independent study,
“Opportunities like these prepare students for postgraduate work,” said Peterson. “Student involvement with the museum at OU has great meaning, and practical application. One of our aims is to be both an academic support and an opportunity for students to get real-world experience.”
OGLETHORPE SELECTS STUDY GROUP AS INTERNATIONAL RECRUITMENT PATHWAY PARTNER
Oglethorpe has partnered with global education firm Study Group to recruit international students, starting with the Spring 2018 intake. Study Group provides its university partners with global marketing and recruitment services, matching wellprepared international students with the university that can best satisfy their scholarly ambitions. Study Group further prepares these students to be successful through a rigorous pathway program upon their arrival. “As part of our globalization strategy, choosing the right pathway partner was important,” said President Larry Schall. “We are excited to be working with Study Group, which was chosen for their managed growth approach and keen global expertise that will help us achieve the international aspects of our long-range plan. In addition to our strong industry partners, international students—like all our students—will also have the advantage of the ARCHE program (Atlanta Regional Council for Higher
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Education), which provides access to courses from more than a dozen other Atlanta colleges and Universities.” Inside Oglethorpe’s new International Study Center, located in the lower level of Robinson Hall, students will take intensive English for academic purposes and acculturation courses, as well as general studies courses, as part of their first year of study (the International Year). This sheltered environment provides them the tools to be successful in their studies, graduate, and achieve their professional aspirations. Study Group Higher Education North America’s Managing Director Emily Williams Knight, Ed.D. explains, “At Oglethorpe, our students will have the advantage of creating their dream career and interning with major corporations headquartered near Oglethorpe’s campus, making this four-year international study experience highly distinctive and ideal for the ambitious career-minded scholar.”
As part of our globalization strategy, choosing the right pathway partner was important.” —President Larry Schall
currently enrolled at Oglethorpe are international students with 38 countries represented Oglethorpe’s goal is to grow its international population to at least
PEGASUS CREATIVE CELEBRATES 5 YEARS Oglethorpe’s student communications agency launches careers By Victoria Lindbergh ’18 This year marks the five-year anniversary of Pegasus Creative, Oglethorpe University’s student communications agency. Under the guidance of University Communications, Pegasus interns work side-by-side with professionals to practice their communication and journalism skills. How have Pegasus alumni used their internships to launch their careers? At Pegasus, Weston Manders ’12 took on the role of Arts Fellow, focused on promoting campus arts events. “Pegasus allowed me to nurture my creative passion for storytelling through video editing and production,” said Manders. “Pegasus provides a great example of how to work within real life timelines and parameters...Under the unique structure at Pegasus, I honed the skills I now use every day.” Now, Manders is a freelance video editor and producer, serving clients like mtvU, Adobe Creative Cloud, The Atlanta History Center and Oglethorpe University. He is also pursuing a master’s degree in video production at Georgia State University.
Marisa Manuel ’13 is currently at the University of Memphis pursuing a master’s degree in fiction. She also works as an online editor for the campus literary magazine, The Pinch. But, she gained confidence in her abilities as a writer at Oglethorpe. “I came to Pegasus as someone who loved writing but doubted herself, a person who was only beginning to understand that the real world was out there, and that soon I’d be part of it,” Manuel said. “Suddenly, I was conducting interviews, attending conferences, and writing blog posts and features articles. Pegasus challenged me in ways I didn’t expect, supported me in all the ways I needed, and helped me grow into the person— the writer—I am today.” When Twain Carter ’14 joined Pegasus in 2013, his goal was to learn content strategy, so an internship in that field was created for him. Carter now specializes in internal communications and content strategy, with companies like General Electric, Yellow Pages and AT&T, and is earning his master’s degree in strategic communications at American University.
Mon Baroi ’15 discovered his interest in marketing, programming, and sales throughout his time at Pegasus. “I never saw those skills as a career until I started working at Pegasus and realized how much I love the technical aspects of driving traffic and developing software,” Baroi said. After graduating, Baroi worked in data analysis and integration for a few years before co-founding his own startup, Tianem. He is now the Chief Product Officer of the invoice management software aimed at construction companies. For Christie Rhodes ’15, the skills she refined at Pegasus landed her a position as a Communications Consultant with Ken Willis Inc., where she strategizes and develops content for Chick-fil-A’s corporate employees and 2,000+ restaurants. “My employer was so impressed with the amount of concrete experience I came straight out of college with,” Rhodes said. “I’ve never met anyone else who got the same kind of opportunities in college as we had at Pegasus.”
Non-Profit Organization US. POSTAGE PAID Atlanta, GA 30319 PERMIT No. 523
4484 Peachtree Road, N.E. Atlanta, GA 30319 www.oglethorpe.edu
20 - March 4 OGLETHORPE UNIVERSITY January The Ashcan School and Their Circle MUSEUM OF ART PRESENTS, OUMA Permanent Collection SPRING 2018 March 17 - April 29 Georgia Watercolor Society National Exhibition OUMA Permanent Collection May 11 - June 24 Southeastern Pastel Society Exhibition OUMA Permanent Collection
museum.oglethorpe.edu Eugène Boudin (French, 1824-1898), Pâturage aux moutons, côte normande, ca. 1882-1886, Pastel on paper, Gift of Drs. Yolanta and Isaac Melamed, Collection of Oglethorpe University Museum of Art 2013.12.1