alumni Charles Allen Stillman, D. Div., (1841) died in 1895, but his legacy endures. A member of Oglethorpe’s first graduating class, Stillman earned his degree 20 years before the Civil War broke out and 24 years before the 13th Amendment freed the slaves. He was born, raised and educated in the antebellum South, but Stillman transcended the time and place in which he lived.
a man Ahead of His Time By Margaret Daniel Stillman was at Oglethorpe during the university’s infancy, when the school barely had classroom buildings and flogging of freshmen and sophomores was allowed. After graduating from Oglethorpe, he earned his divinity degree at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta. Stillman was drawn to the seminary after being influenced by one of the leading ministers of his day, the Reverend Thomas Smyth, the minister of his hometown church in Charleston, S.C. Smyth was dedicated to improving the lives of AfricanAmericans, and his church membership included a substantial number of AfricanAmericans. It was in Smyth’s church, the Second Presbyterian Church of Charleston, that Stillman launched his career in 1844.
Charles Allen Stillman 1841-1895
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From Charleston, Stillman went on to pastor several churches in Alabama. After leading churches in Eutaw and Gainesville, Stillman was called to the First Presbyterian Church of Tuscaloosa in 1870. This call to First Presbyterian brought with it a unique challenge. A group of church members there wanted to start a school to train AfricanAmerican ministers, and they selected Stillman as the individual to lead the effort. To lay the foundation for the school, Stillman began teaching and preparing a few AfricanAmericans to be spiritual leaders of their community. He spent many years teaching and making annual proposals to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the South for a minister training school. His efforts paid off in 1876, when the General Assembly accepted Stillman’s proposal and established a school that was originally called the Tuscaloosa Institute for Training Colored Ministers.
This school has undergone many changes during its history, evolving to meet the needs of its community. It opened to women in 1899, an unusual move for that time. The institute went on to become a junior high school, a senior high school, a junior college, and finally a four-year liberal arts college. Charles Stillman laid the groundwork for the school’s evolution into a liberal arts college by expanding its offerings beyond study for the ministry and raising the level of its academic program. Stillman oversaw the institute until 1893, when ill health forced him to resign. In honor of its founder and first leader, the school was named the Stillman Institute in 1894. Today the school, known as Stillman College, is a four-year liberal arts college serving 1,000 students. It has survived numerous economic depressions, including those of 1893, 1907 and 1929, and more recently the economic downturn that started in 2008. The college describes itself as “a private college with a public mission.” It was ranked in the top tier of comprehensive colleges in the South offering Bachelor’s degrees by U.S. News & World Report in 2008. Stillman College is known for its programs in biological sciences, teacher education and business administration. One of the college’s most outstanding early graduates, William Henry Sheppard, was a missionary to the Belgian Congo from 1890-1910 and was influential in exposing the exploitation of the peoples of the Congo.
Stillman lived out the university’s motto “make a life, make a living, make a difference.”
In his role as founder of Stillman College, Charles Allen Stillman reflects many of the principles that distinguish Oglethorpe, including a vision for the future, a commitment to meeting the needs of the community and a dedication to a broadbased field of liberal arts study. Like the students and alumni of today, he balanced many roles, serving as pastor of a church while leading an institute to train ministers. And like the students and alumni who followed him, Stillman lived out the university’s motto “make a life, make a living, make a difference.”
Alumnus Headlines at CNN By Debbie Aiken ’12
Joe Sutton is putting his OU liberal arts education to work as a news editor and journalist for CNN. He oversees the editorial direction and news gathering for 13 states and serves as the liaison between the Washington, D.C. bureau and CNN headquarters. Joe has worked for CNN and other Turner Broadcasting companies since he was a junior in high school. He has won several Peabody Awards for outstanding public service and had one of his articles submitted as evidence in a federal court case. The kicker? Joe Sutton is only 25 years old. When asked how he was able to accomplish so much at such a young age, Joe candidly says, “It’s a cliché, but hard work pays off.” Joe started working with Turner Broadcasting in high school through a scholarship from the Emma Bowen Foundation, which helps prepare minority youth for careers in the media industry. Joe wanted to pursue higher education, but wasn’t sure how he could attend college while maintaining his employment. “The day my mother and I drove by OU was serendipity,” says Sutton. It was a “remarkable relief” when he learned about Oglethorpe’s adult education program that would offer “a fantastic education at a reputable, credible institution.” Joe majored in communication & rhetoric studies with a minor in politics. On top of working full time and carrying a full course load at Oglethorpe, he completed three internships during his college career. Two internships were with CNN, one in the CNN.com division and the other in CNN’s marketing department. At CNN.com, he spearheaded a project to follow the efforts of the Bauder Campus Crime Club, a group of college students who were researching cold cases, including the famous missing persons cases of Chandra Levy and Natalee Holloway.
Joe also interned with the 2008 NBC Olympics and traveled to China for six weeks. He interviewed various athletes, including Michael Phelps and members of the U.S. Women’s Volleyball Team, and helped to supervise 2,200 hours of live competition coverage—a record in NBC Olympics history. He calls the job “the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had.” Joe often volunteered at Oglethorpe’s open houses so he could share the benefits of the evening program with prospective students. “Being in an intimate setting at Oglethorpe is such an advantage. Being able to connect with students and teachers and being able to approach someone with concerns sets Oglethorpe apart from other institutions in the area.” Joe graduated from OU in 2009 while working at CNN’s Headline News. He quickly moved into a new position with the CNN Newsroom as a producer and has held twelve different positions at CNN in nine years. He aspires to work his way up to the management level and says, “I know for a fact that I will be an executive.” Joe’s advice for other students and working adults is to not be afraid to try new things: “Curiosity is the best thing one can have. Take courses that you aren’t familiar with. There is so much out there in the world to take advantage of.” And he credits Oglethorpe University for helping him reach his goals: “I look at my degree every day,” he remarks. Without his education and experiences in college, he says, “I wouldn’t be where I am today.” Debbie Aiken graduated from Oglethorpe’s Evening Degree Program in 2012 with a major in communication & rhetoric studies and a minor in English. During her last semester she was an intern in the University Communications department at OU, where she now works as Assistant Director. spring SPRING 2013 2013 | CARILLON 27