INSIGHTS into Meaning
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Finding meaning and direction in a complicated world.
Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D.
Vice President of University Marketing Editor and Art Director
Greg Carroll Bill Noblitt
Editorial Assistants Donna Nassick, George Salis & Sebastian Jones Photographers Contributing Staff Writers
Will Phillips and Brendan Rogers
Janie Graziani, Mary Anne Rogers, Davina Gould, Brandi Palmer and Amy Gipson
Ronald Williamson, Trish Wieland, Kevin Winchell, Kerstin Cook, Mary M. McCambridge, Woody Oâ€™Cain, Michael Calendelaria and Sarah Frohnapfel
Class Notes Editor
S U M M E R
D e p a r t m ents
2 01 5
V O L U M E
I S S U E
12 The Reflective Life The meaning of life can only be found in reflection.
4 Beginnings News about Stetson 50 Inquiry Research and Scholarship
52 Games A Delicate Balance
54 Impact Gifts to Stetson
56 Alumni 58 The Classes 64 Endings Building Your Kaleidoscope 65 Parting Shot College of Law Commencement
is published three times a year by Stetson University, DeLand, FL 32723 and is distributed to its alumni, families, friends, faculty and staff. The magazine is printed on FSC-certified paper. The College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business Administration and School of Music are located at the historic campus in DeLand. The College of Law is in Gulfport/St. Petersburg. The university also has two satellite centers: The Tampa Law Center and the Stetson University Center at Celebration near Orlando.
F e a t u r es
2 Letters Reactions to the Last Issue 3 First Person What Stetson Did for Me
14 Insights Into Meaning We humans seek meaning because we know we are mortal. 18 On Being Human We are proud to be sending our students off with skills. But we are not sending out cogs. 20 What’s the Meaning of Life? Stetson faculty, staff, students and alumni tackle the question. 32 Finding Your Day in the Sun A professor writes about how living your values can lead to a happy life. 34 The Examined Life Without self-reflection, we lose track of what experiences deepen our sense of connection. 36 Are the Big Questions Still Relevant? Those universal questions used to seem so important, but are they still? 44 Why Are We Here? … and other silly questions about life. 46 Learning to Live in a Diverse World A Stetson professor tells us that the sober fact is that we need to learn to get along with people who are different. 48 Harry Potter and the Dark Triad The Dark Triad Traits — narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy — come alive through fiction and tell us something about ourselves.
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human heart and mind. Since I was a humanities major in a religious studies or philosophy class, most of these times were about atheism. When Richard Dawkins says in his book The God Delusion that anyone stupid enough to believe in God is stupid enough to believe in the “flying spaghetti monster,” he makes the same mistake believers make when they say the evidence for God is plain and abundant, and a person is bordering on rebellion for questioning God’s existence. —Samuel McIlrath ’07
God’s Existence The stetson magazine published letters written by Edward Seymour ’91 and Thomas E. Broyles ’73 that, in essence, criticized Stetson for not injecting or forcing Christianity into its core curriculum. Stetson University’s chaplain, Michael R. Fronk ’74, posted a response that was eloquently written. Notwithstanding, I think more needs to be said. While we enjoy the freedom to express our own personal views on the subject of God, religion and the interdependencies that might exist within our institutions of higher learning, individuals that do express their views should bear in mind that it is entirely possible for others to live full, prosperous, joyous, enriched and ethical lives while subscribing to a belief system that may be different or free of any deistic overtones. It isn’t a question of “waking up,” but rather, it is a question of “widening up.” I supported Stetson’s decision that led to the dissolution of its affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention. By doing so, Stetson has been able to widen its diversity by casting off the chains of narrow interpretations that served only to stifle our students’ personal freedoms to determine and choose their own paths in an open and supportive environment. Whether a student believes in God or not or believes in Christianity or not is not a question that Stetson, as an institution of higher learning, should embrace or interfere with as it formulates its future strategic plans. The aforementioned letters used the words God, Christ, Holy Spirit and Truth in the same paragraphs. Frankly, I reject the 2
insertion of the word “truth” as a natural companion to words that express a religious doctrine. One’s truth, particularly as it relates to religion, cannot be said to be any more right than an opposing truth considered wrong. In truth, I have always relied upon science, logic, reason, choice and conscience, rather than faith, as my own moral center. In doing so, I have lived a prosperous, rewarding and ethical life. Stetson is doing an outstanding job in creating critical thinkers. As such, we should let our students think for themselves independent of bias or any other form of religious persuasion. —R. John Bianco ’72 Edward Seymour’s and Thomas E. Broyles’ letters are incredibly
interesting, and I agree with a lot of what they both say about the need for God in the educational lives of students. Tradition is also important and not just for the sake of continuity. But so is the feeling of being able to ask anything in the classroom, including if there is a God. As a nontraditional student who came to Stetson in 2005 at age 40, my only real college experience was in the classroom. And the times I remember best are when the air was alive with the electricity of curiosity and passion mixed with fear of getting the answer wrong. Five, maybe 10 times, this feeling was close to a kind of ecstasy that is rare, really, in ordinary life. It is a feeling, just for a moment, as if you are touching on something divine within the
For more than 20 years, I have seen and looked over the stetson magazine (my partner is a graduate) and have never been interested in writing a letter to the editor until seeing this last issue. I am very familiar with alumni magazines (my own college is a well known award-winner), so my standards are very high. You have met that standard with this issue. From the cover, with an outstanding watercolor, to the layout, to the inside paintings and pictures, the quality of the paper, and even the content of the articles, you made me read it from cover to cover. And I am not an alum! Congratulations. —Carol MacIntyre welcomes letters to the editor. However, we ask that you focus your letter on a topic or article in the magazine. Send signed letters by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or snail mail to Bill Noblitt, Office of University Marketing, 421 N. Woodland Blvd., 8319, DeLand, FL 32723. Because of space limitations, we may edit some letters, so please try to keep them under 200 words. You can also call the editor at 386-822-8861.
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What Stetson Did for Me By Viviana Vasiu As a freshman, I still remember all my fears and doubts as I settled into my first dorm room in Stetson’s Chaudoin Hall. How will this girl from Romania succeed in this challenging environment with support systems and family thousands and thousands of miles away? The answer was what I had been fervently searching for my entire life: a home. Not second to my home in Romania, but a home of firsts — a place where I was constantly pushed to develop and refine the best version of myself. At Stetson, I was able to express and develop my “Renaissance” personality. As Hatters, I quickly realized we are not just here to conventionally study and take exams. We are here to make a special contribution to the world in whatever way we choose with our lives and careers. That special contribution has to bubble up from our own personal development and internal values. Every day at Stetson was an opportunity for this growth. There were hours of critical reading,
researching and writing. Some of those times called for casually walking into professors’ offices and going over papers and future plans. Other times required chairing conduct board hearings, recruiting for my coed fraternity, organizing events for women’s leadership and anti-bullying organizations, training for the athletic rowing team, and revising my law school personal statement ad nauseam. Then fun activities became part of that personal growth, such as attending concerts and parties organized by Hatter Productions. Each time, my values, maturity and personality were tested and refined by Stetson’s liberal arts mindset and culture. This special experience made me more than ready for law school applications and success. Law school admission committees noticed the way Stetson shaped me for lifelong significance. I sent 15 law school applications and did not receive one letter of rejection. I think this is just amazing. I heard from the top 18 law schools, such as Emory, William and Mary, the University of Florida, Penn State and Stetson Law, many
offering me full scholarships. I believe this speaks to Stetson’s quality of education. I am thrilled to start the next chapter of my life at Stetson University College of Law and achieve the top grades, recommendations and growth to potentially continue with an LLM at an Ivy League law school. Stetson showed me that anything is possible and instilled in me a legacy of love, passion, lifelong values, support and a sense of community that no other school or environment could surpass. Nothing beats the Stetson culture. Stetson will soon be much more than my alma mater. It will be the home I will always return to — if not physically, then internally and mentally throughout all the future chapters of my life. Viviana Vasiu is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Stetson University and former student assistant editor of stetson magazine. She was also presented the Etter McTeer Turner Award during graduation ceremonies for outstanding academic achievement, leadership and service to the community. STETSON
Be Stetson Celebrates Commencement
During its 129th Commencement, Stetson graduated 720 students. This number included 166 graduate students and 554 undergraduates. Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D., president of Stetson, gave the “charge” at all three ceremonies — a tradition where the president places a duty and responsibility upon the graduates. At the Undergraduate Awards and Recognition event and three Commencement ceremonies, Stetson presented several awards honoring outstanding students and exemplary faculty. Elisabeth Poeter, Ph.D., associate professor of German, received the William Hugh McEniry Award for Excellence in Teaching. The award is considered Stetson’s most prestigious honor for faculty. At Stetson, Poeter serves as the director of the university’s summer program in Freiburg, Germany. Excellence in classroom teaching is the primary criterion for the McEniry Award, though other factors, such as intellectual growth, professional competency, academic activities outside the classroom, and service to students and the university are also considered. Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards were presented to graduating seniors Rachel Luke and Brian Rodriguez. The award is presented annually to the man and woman in the graduating class whose nobility of character and dedication to service set them apart as examples for others. Created nearly 100 years ago, this presti4
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gious award is given jointly by Stetson and the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation in New York. Luke was captain of the Stetson women’s tennis team and is known for her work ethic. Additionally, she was awarded the United States Tennis Association sportsmanship award. Luke will enter optometry school next year. Rodriguez graduated with a major in music with an outside field in business. He is also a member of Alpha Kappa Psi (Business Fraternity), Pi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Stetson’s American Choral Directors Association, and the American Marketing Association. The Etter McTeer Turner Award is named for Stetson’s first woman dean of students and was presented to English major Viviana Vasiu, who came to Stetson from Romania (See article Page 3). The award is given to the graduating senior who shows outstanding academic achievement, leadership, personal character, integrity and service to the community. She also was inducted into Stetson’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and most prestigious arts and sciences honor society in the U.S. Vasiu will attend Stetson University College of Law this fall. Associate Professor of History Kimberly Reiter, Ph.D., received this year’s John Hague Award for Distinguished Teaching in the Liberal Arts and Sciences. Reiter specializes in ancient and medieval history and serves as president of the Interdisciplinary Environmental Association (IEA). She also directs the Stetson field course in early English history, an
on-site interdisciplinary study of the historic English landscape. Furthermore, Reiter advises the Stetson University chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the history honors society, and is committee chair for the Stetson Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) grants. Reiter also organizes the annual Stetson Showcase, the campuswide honors day in which Stetson celebrates undergraduate research. Reiter was recently awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Enduring Questions grant. At the ROTC Commissioning ceremony, four Stetson graduating seniors were commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army: Chris Bethel, Lanielle Brown, Christopher Long and Scott M. Williams. The Army ROTC program provides students the opportunity to acquire skills and knowledge necessary for commissioning as a second lieutenant. For distinctive achievement and leadership, Stuart Michelson, Ph.D., director of the MBA program and former dean of the School of Business Administration, and Kimberly FlintHamilton, Ph.D., chair and professor of sociology and anthropology, received the Dolly and Homer Hand Awards. The awards, named after Trustee Emerita Dolly Hand and her husband Homer, honor faculty members who are not only dedicated teachers but also have notable achievements in scholarship or creative work in their areas of expertise and who have made a difference in their communities. —Mary Anne Rogers
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Stetson University President Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D., marches with the faculty, trustees and administration on a green, sunny day for Commencement. STETSON
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Stetson Law Is #1 U.S. News & World Report ranked Stetson University College of Law first in trial advocacy for the 17th time. Stetson ranked second in the nation for legal writing, advancing from sixth last year. “Advocacy is a significant strength at the College of Law,” says Stetson University President Wendy B. Libby, Ph.D. “When Stetson Law students graduate, they are prepared to walk into a courtroom with the advocacy and communication skills they need to succeed in representing their clients professionally and persuasively.” “Our acclaimed programs in the areas of advocacy and legal writing distinguish Stetson Law graduates. Two of the most important skills for lawyers throughout their careers are advocating on behalf of their clients both orally and in writing, and Stetson’s success in these areas demonstrates that our students are better prepared for practice,” says Dean Christopher Pietruszkiewicz. Stetson has been recognized as the top law school in the nation for trial advocacy 17 times since 1995 and has ranked in the top six legal writing programs since the inception of the legal writing rankings. “Advocacy education at Stetson enjoys a reputation for excellence across the country,” says Charles H. Rose III, professor of excellence in trial advocacy at Stetson. “The Stetson method of advocacy is sought by scholars at other law schools and legal practitioners around the world.” “Legal writing is the centerpiece of Stetson’s broader emphasis on legal communication,” says Kirsten K. Davis, Ph.D., Stetson’s 6
director of the Institute for Advancement of Legal Communication. “Stetson’s legal research and writing curriculum teaches students to communicate ethically and effectively in today’s evolving legal workplace,” Davis adds. More information about Stetson’s distinguished top national programs is available online at www.law.stetson.edu/ advocacy and www.law.stetson. edu/academics/lrw. For more information on the U.S. News 2016 Best Graduate Schools, visit www.usnews.com/grad. —Brandi Palmer
Law Named Military-Friendly Stetson University College of Law has been named a Military Friendly® School by Victory Media for 2015. The Military Friendly® Schools designation, now in its sixth year, is awarded to 16 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools in the country that are doing the most to help military students to succeed in the classroom and after graduation. Stetson has been recognized as a “Military Friendly School” for the past three years in G.I. Jobs. Military Times named Stetson’s School of Business Administration a “Best for Vets: Business Schools” in its annual 2014 rankings. “The staff at Stetson helped me make the transition from military to student and then later to attorney,” says Trista Miller, JD ’11, assistant director of clinical education and Veterans Law Institute Pro Bono Initiative supervisor. “The faculty, staff and students were supportive, and the academic rigor provided challenge and purpose.” —Brandi Palmer
Thumbs up for a strong entering Stetson class.
Strong Incoming Class Expected Every year by May 1, thousands of high school seniors choose where they will go to college. They are making decisions, assessing life goals and weighing options. As Stetson University bids farewell to the 2015 graduating class, it also is excited about the newly admitted class of 2019. “Of the nearly 11,000 applications submitted to Stetson, about 7,000 were accepted or roughly 63 percent,” says Joel Bauman, vice president for Enrollment Management. “This is on par with what has been seen in the past.”
More than 1,000 of those admitted students have already made deposits, which is higher than Bauman was estimating for the May 1 college deposit deadline. “Potential students are looking at and applying to many different colleges,” says Bauman. “We don’t expect every student who is accepted to attend. But the high number of early deposits is encouraging. It shows Stetson is doing something right when so many great students who have a choice to go many different places want to come here.” Other facts about the admitted class include: •143 are either valedictorian or
Protecting World Wetlands
salutatorian of their high school graduating classes • Average GPA is 3.88 • Average ACT is 26 (out of 36; national average is 21) • Average SAT is 1161 (out of 1600; national average is 1010) • 61.9 percent are female, and 38.1 percent are male • 4.9 percent are international (from 87 countries) • 41.8 percent are students of color from the United States • Applicants represent 48 states and seven U.S. territories • 73.4 percent went to public high school, and 22.1 percent attended private high school “Stetson seeks academically talented individuals with leader-
ship potential and records of personal growth and community service,” says Bauman, noting that the test-score calculations exclude scores for students who were not required to submit them. “Each application is reviewed individually and holistically, taking into consideration qualities of academic preparation, extracurricular activities, leadership potential, character and recommendations,” he adds. The size of the enrolled, incoming class will not be determined until September since students take their time to make the important decision of where they will attend college. —Janie Graziani
Take immediate action to conserve and restore the world’s wetlands, urged College of Law Professor Royal Gardner, the director of Stetson University’s Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy. Gardner coauthored the briefing note with scientists from around the world. The briefing note, published in three languages, was made available to all countries that are member states to the Ramsar Convention at the Ramsar Conference of the Parties, which was held in Uruguay in June. The “State of the World’s Wetlands and their Services to People: A Compilation of Recent Analyses” is a call to action for policymakers. The briefing note describes how failing to protect wetlands, including coral reefs, will impact populations who depend on their ecosystem resources. Key messages of the briefing note include: •Global wetlands is estimated to have declined 64 to 71 percent in the 20th century, and loss and
degradation continue; • People are deprived of ecosystem services provided by wetlands, resulting in more than $20 trillion annually in losses of ecosystem services; • Populations of wetland species in Ramsar sites are decreasing in the tropics; • There are negative trends and negative impacts on biodiversity and other ecosystem services; and • Policymakers have sufficient information to understand the urgent need to take appropriate actions to conserve wetlands and their services to people. Scientists from the United Nations Environment ProgrammeWorld Conservation Monitoring Centre, the European Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the Tour du Valat Research Centre for the Conservation of Mediterranean Wetlands in France, and the Ramsar Scientific and Technical Review Panel contributed to the briefing note. Stetson’s Professor Gardner chairs the STRP, which is the scientific advisory body for the Ramsar Convention, an intergovernmental treaty with 168 countries. —Brandi Palmer STETSON
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Bright Ideas Rewarded Three groups of students were finalists in the Cairns Innovation Challenge, which encourages college students to present their unique entrepreneurial projects to judges for consideration. The top prize of $10,000 plus one-year resident enrollment at the UCF Volusia County Business Incubator is awarded to the winner, and the second-place winner receives $5,000 plus one-year pre-enrollment support at the UCF Volusia County Business Incubator. Presenters had 20 minutes to make their case with five minutes for questions. Stetson students won both first and second place awards at the Cairns Innovation Challenge. Participating schools included Stetson, the University of Central Florida, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, BethuneCookman University, Daytona State College and Florida International University. The event is jointly sponsored by the Cairns Foundation, the Daytona Beach UCF Business Incubator and Volusia County. Of the many proposals submitted from all schools, only six were accepted for live presentation, and three were from Stetson. In addition to the six judges, more than 30 venture capitalists and investors were in the audience to hear the presentations for possible collaboration. Stetson finalists included Christian Micklisch, John Salis and Nathan Hilliard, who created Xeres, a reservation system; David Sawyer and Emma Campbell, whose TSOLife is an online platform; and Michael Austin, whose Austech’s Project Pre-Med is a program that gives undergrad8
uate students the opportunity to practice general surgery, physical therapy, and other specialties with models (synthetic patients). First-place winners were Stetson’s Sawyer and Campbell. Their winning presentation was “TSOLife,” an online platform where you can securely and permanently document the story of your life. For a one-time fee, the company securely stores and hosts your information forever. This is also an ENACTUS project and will be presented at the national conference in St. Louis. ENACTUS is a community of student, academic and business leaders who enable progress through entrepreneurial action. Second-place winners were Micklisch, Salis and Hilliard. Their winning presentation was “Xeres,” a cloud reservation system that can be adapted to the needs of any business or university. Designed for ease of use, scalability and customization, the system allows users to change how and what they are reserving, while adding or removing features as they see fit. This startup is currently being used by Stetson’s IT department for reserving equipment. “The variety of ideas demonstrated during the event was impressive, and having won a prize, I am left with a hunger for future success with my team’s business idea,” says Salis. “This event showcased the amazing students we have at Stetson,” says Associate Professor Gary Oliphant, Ph.D., director of the Joseph C. Prince Entrepreneurship Program. “This is a perfect illustration of the importance of a liberal arts education and the interdisciplinary nature of the entrepreneurship program,” he adds. —Mary M. McCambridge
Stetson Placed on Princeton Review Green List Stetson has been recognized as a “green” university by The Princeton Review’s Guide to 353 Green Colleges: 2015 Edition. Just in time for the 45th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, The Princeton Review’s Guide praised Stetson for its commitment to environmental education, environmentally responsible purchasing, efficient use and conservation of resources, minimal use of solid waste and hazardous materials, and the promotion of a green campus design that incorporates plants native to Florida. “Stetson’s Native Plant Policy is a great example of the proactive approach the university takes in addressing sustainability issues on campus,” says the guide, noting that the move “cuts down on its use of fertilizers and pesticides, since indigenous plants require less maintenance as compared to traditional landscaping plants.” “Among nearly 10,000 teens who participated in our 2015 College Hopes & Worries Survey, 61 percent told us that having information about a school’s commitment to the environment would influence their decision to apply to or attend the college,” says Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s senior vice president/ publisher. “We strongly recommend Stetson University and the schools in this guide to environmentally minded students who seek to study and live at green colleges,” he says. Other notable “green” efforts at Stetson include: • Placing top five in the nation for the past two years in the Recycle Mania Grand ChamPhoto by Joel Jones
A Stetson student walks through Stetson’s early morning green.
pionship category. Stetson University recycles more than 200,000 pounds of paper and cardboard, 10,000 pounds of plastic, and 1,000 pounds of aluminum each year. • Through its Roots and Shoots program, inspired by Jane Goodall’s visit to campus, the university encourages students to give their time to the “environment, animals, and the community.” • Stetson’s Lynn Business Center is LEED-certified. Notably, it was also the first green building in Florida. • The campus is committed to LEED certification for new construction and renovations, and the Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Environmental Learning Center, which features a rainwater collection system, recycled metal roofing, and a geothermal heating system, has also achieved LEED Gold (the second LEED-certified building on campus). The free, 218-page guide is downloadable at www.princetonreview.com/green-guide. There, users can discover detailed “Green Facts” write-ups on the schools. In addition, Stetson has been named 2014 Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation in honor of its commitment to effective community forestry management and a healthy outdoor environment. This is the fourth consecutive year that Stetson has received this distinction. —Janie Graziani
Students Place in Global Top 25 Students in Stetson University’s JD/MBA program recently placed among the Global Top 25 in the GLO-BUS global simulation competition.
Stetson JD/MBA students participated in GLO-BUS as part of their capstone management course. “Through the use of tools like the GLO-BUS simulation in our capstone course, students are able to integrate their functional expertise in business and law,” says Stetson Associate Dean for Graduate Programs in the Stetson School of Business Administration Yiorgos Bakamitsos, Ph.D. “They also experience the dynamic effect of their recommendations,” Bakamitsos adds. Two teams of Stetson students made the GLO-BUS Global Top 25 list for the week of Jan. 19-25. Each week, the best-performing GLO-BUS companies are recognized in the Global Top 25. A total of 309 teams from 30 colleges and universities worldwide participated in the GLO-BUS simulation. Stetson students Danielle Amico, Alex Simser and Jocelyn Skipper made the Global Top 25 list by achieving a 35.6 Return of Equity. Stetson students Christine Krohn and Andrew Pardun made the Global Top 25 list by achieving an overall score of 107. “The JD/MBA program demonstrates that students are becoming prepared for both the practice of law and the business of the practice of law,” says Stetson University College of Law Dean Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz. Students who complete the JD/ MBA program at Stetson receive both an MBA degree from the Stetson University School of Business Administration and a JD degree from the College of Law. Both degrees can be completed within three years, including one summer. For more about dual and joint degrees offered at Stetson, visit stetson.edu/law/dualdegrees. —Brandi Palmer STETSON
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Stetson Trustees Approve Projects Stetson’s Board of Trustees approved more than $35.7 million in capital improvements at its recent meeting on the College of Law campus. Most of the funding will be used for projects on the DeLand campus, including a Welcome Center, funded primarily through private donations, and significant renovation of the Carlton Union Building. Led by Chair Luis Prats, the trustees took action on several key issues affecting the university. These included: Facilities • Discussed space-planning needs for additional faculty offices, an accessible classroom in Elizabeth Hall, and a more prominent location for Career and Professional Services. • Approved the following facilities projects: Celebration, $180,000 for classroom renovations, and the College of Law, $4.6 million for various projects, including the repurposing of the first floor of the Dolly and Homer Hand Library. Finance • Reviewed the current year’s budget results and approved the 2015-16 budget based on total revenues of $132.2 million. Investment • Heard reports on the performance of the endowment, which reached a market value of $203.3 million on March 31, 2015. • Received information on the 403(b)/457(b) programs of the university. TIAA-CREF has been retained as Stetson’s platform and service provider with enhancements that should lower investment management fees. 10
Alumni and Fundraising • Reported that $11.1 million in cash and pledges had been secured in 2015 with an additional $18 million in planned gifts. • Heard of $43 million in proposals that have been presented since July 1, 2015, and another $13.3 million that will be considered before the end of this year. • Reviewed the Office of Alumni Engagement’s top three objectives for the coming year: expand district events; assure a well attended and successful homecoming; and develop alumni support for recruitment and career professional development areas. Academic Affairs • Approved the “Conferral of Degrees” for university graduates. • Noted recent faculty tenure and promotion appointments. • Listened to a progress report on faculty compensation and bringing it in line with peer market norms. The gap continues to close in comparison with peer market norms. Staff will implement Phase V of the faculty compensation equity program in 2015-16. • Reviewed adjunct faculty compensation. Stetson is at the top of regional market norms in per-course compensation. The standard course unit compensation will be raised in 2015-16, while continuing some variability for competitive fields and special expertise and credentials. • Discussed the nationwide search for a School of Business Administration dean. • Reviewed top risk areas affecting academic programs, including market dynamics, strategic budget constraints, technology and I-4 road construction. • Discussed the new interdisci-
Students walk to and from classes along Stetson’s palm tree-lined pathways. To maintain the university’s infrastructure, the Stetson board approved $35.7 million in capital improvements.
plinary Stetson University Institute of Water and Environmental Resilience. Composed of faculty from most Stetson colleges and schools, the institute is focused on educating students and the public while seeking to solve water and environmental challenges. Enrollment and Marketing • Heard reports of undergraduate enrollment tracking ahead of last year. Total applications are at an all-time high at 11,363, as are deposits at 1,035 versus 822 last year as of May 1. Graduate enrollment is mixed. Market dynamics and a different mix of programs being offered from last year — new Photo by Bill Noblitt
programs being launched and others being “mothballed” have affected numbers). It’s too early to evaluate graduate fall enrollment. • Informed about positive trends in a diminishing law school market by the Stetson University College of Law Dean Christopher Pietruszkiewicz. • Reviewed a three-month media tour report and the results of those visits to Tampa/Saint Petersburg, Orlando, Jacksonville and Miami. • Examined recent studies related to job opportunities for graduates of programs along the I-4 corridor and the competition among institutions in this market.
Keeping That Razor’s Edge
Student Affairs and Athletics • Surveyed protocols related to the annual concussion management report, noting Stetson’s proactive stance on the issue. • Reviewed NCAA APR metric that measures athletic team retention and academic performance. • Examined Stetson’s conference alignments within the context of the dynamic nature of affiliations nationwide. • Heard of the restructuring of the Student Government Association, Title IX compliance and emergency management team progress. —Greg Carroll
What do a professor with an “office” in a lobby and a professor with a 3-D printer have in common? They represent just two of many innovative ideas presented at Stetson’s Teaching and Learning Colloquium — a unique, “think outside the box” forum where professors discuss new and more effective ways to engage their students. In short, how can Stetson professors maintain their razor’s edge in teaching? The colloquium was the culmination of a yearlong endeavor with the new Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence, launched last fall with generous support from longtime Stetson Trustees Hyatt and Cici Brown. According to W. Tandy Grubbs, Ph.D., chair of the chemistry department, 3-D printing has become more costefficient and can become a valuable visual tool for students in chemistry (minuscule molecules and complex bonds can “come to life”), biology (life-like skulls and other bones can be created), mathematics (students can touch forms and shapes), computer science (drone components can be constructed), and music (unique instruments can be designed). “The student response to 3-D printing has been tremendous,” explains Grubbs. “Their motivation to learn has skyrocketed. They love this technology.” Statistics Professor John Rasp, Ph.D., wondered how to get more students engaged outside the classroom and nearly two years ago began hosting some office hours in the lobby of the Lynn Business Center. “The results were astounding. Not only did I have more students Illustration by Tim Teebken
seeking to talk with me, but while they are waiting, they are talking and solving problems with each other,” asserts Rasp. “It works, so I just keep doing it.” “It’s our responsibility to educate the next leaders of our free world, and we need to examine what ‘learning’ looks like,” says Rosalie Richards, Ph.D., associate provost for Faculty Development and colloquium chair. Richards, who is also a chemistry and education professor at Stetson, has led the development of the Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence, while supervising the expansion of the Brown Teacher-Scholar Fellows and visiting master teacher-scholar programs. Alicia Slater, Ph.D., Provost Faculty Fellow for Faculty Development and associate professor of biology, helped design the inaugural Brown Innovation Fellows Program this past year and had
teams of professors from accounting, biology and philosophy who revised their courses to include unique learner-centered pedagogies. These professors presented frequently discussed topics at the colloquium: team-based learning and “backward design” — a concept in which professors start with what they want their students to know by the end of the semester and then outline the coursework to achieve that result. “We are trying to build momentum in innovative teaching,” explains Slater. “Our first year was extremely successful, and we look forward to engaging even more professors and students with these powerful learning tools. The vision is to make this a yearly event.” Professors and administrative leaders from Daytona State College and Bethune-Cookman University also attended. —Trish Wieland STETSON
The Reflective Life
hen my newborn son’s fever shot up to dangerous
levels, I cradled him in my arms, took him to the car and sped to the emergency room. A light rain enveloped us like silken gauze. I said to myself: “He’s feeling rain for the first time.” At the hospital, the pediatrician told me my son would need a spinal tap to rule out spinal meningitis. “Is that absolutely necessary?” I asked, knowing the trauma my son would go through. “If you want him to live — yes,” said the doctor. I sat in the waiting room rocking back and forth in a teary fog and prayed for my son. I’m not sure if we can know the meaning of life, but I’m convinced I caught a glimpse of it that night. My son is just fine today, moving into his first apartment and living large. This issue focuses on finding meaning in life. What better place to reflect on a topic like this one than at a liberal arts university like Stetson. You will hear plenty of different voices reflecting on the Big Questions. We even ask if these Big Questions are still relevant today. As members of the Stetson family, I’m sure you know the answer. How can we not look deeply into these questions in a world that oftentimes seems out of control? In our pursuit of truth, will we find answers to them? Maybe not, but it’s the search that’s most important. Bill Noblitt is editor of stetson magazine.
“In our life, there is a single color, as on an artist’s palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of love.” —Marc Chagall, Artist
“The meaning of life is to live in balance and harmony with every other living thing in creation.” —Wilma Mankiller, First Female Chief of the Cherokee Nation
INSIGHTS into Meaning B
the meaning of life? Seriously? The meaning of life? Forget about it. No one knows the meaning of life. But seek meanings in one’s own life? That’s an entirely different matter. It’s a highly regarded human quest, often pushed to cope with our mortality and, pretty much, it’s one of life’s requirements. That’s a common perspective posed by learned scholars in informal conversations, sidewalk chats and classroom lectures in Stetson University’s schools, colleges, institutes, programs and centers. The search for personal meaning may be nothing more than a coping mechanism for death, but scholars encourage it as a key to a full life. The search, most say, is fundamentally human. Probably.
‘Unlike other creatures, we know we will die, a knowledge that leads us to seek meaning.’ STETSON
Maybe. Mostly. Depends on who’s talking. “I think it is a core part of being human. All of history demonstrates that we search for meaning,” says Professor of Decision and Information Science John Tichenor, Ph.D. We seek in order to make life worth living, says a law professor. We seek because the ego demands it, adds a business professor. Because we are curious and highly motivated creatures, stresses a psychology professor. To find purpose, to make a difference, to seek connections, because we’re obsessed with life and death, because existence as a person incorporates this unavoidable quest … and many other observations, beliefs and contemplations. Meaning is among the most personal canons of our lives. Humans have sought life’s meanings since stories were born in cave firelight and shadows against standing stones. Countless answers have been found by eons of cultures and not one answer is universally satisfying to our species. Not one. Humankind doesn’t seem to know the meaning of life if there is one. But meaning in one’s own life, however, is vital, Stetson professors say. It’s so vital, it may be irresistible, certainly elemental. Humans have sought personal meaning in so many ways for so many thousands of years that by now it seems an innate characteristic, and death may be the prime cause. “Unlike other creatures, we know we will die,” explains Associate Professor of Psychology Chris Ferguson, Ph.D., “a knowledge that leads us to seek meaning. We wish to believe that our life has some meaning beyond merely being part of a reductive biological system.” “The meaning of our human existence starts with the realization that we are going to die,” agrees Professor of Religious Studies Dixon Sutherland, Ph.D. “I believe many of us seek meaning in response to the ‘reality principle’ — the reality that we will die,” concurs Law Professor Michael S. Finch. “A meaningful life is one that helps us transcend the seeming bleakness of a short existence.” “We find meaning as a way to deal with our own mortality,” says Hala ElAarag, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science. “It’s difficult for humans to face an end to their own existence, so they want to create something that will live beyond them. “It’s the nature of our mind to look for connections,” ElAarag adds. “The ultimate consequence of this is finding a common connection in all the events of our lives, which is the meaning we find.” 16
Finding no meaning foreshadows a dreadful future. Misery and hopelessness await those who fail to find meaning, says Philosophy Professor Ronald Hall, Ph.D. Meaning is vitally important to people, he says, and the definitive proof is this: “Failure to find something important results in a sense that life is meaningless, without value or that it is not worth living.” That leads to utter despair, concurs Hall. “A life of quiet desperation,” adds Tichenor. “We seek meaning,” says Finance Professor James Mallett, Ph.D., “because people in general cannot accept that there is no permanent self or that everything with form is impermanent. They live in a delusional state that denies scientific knowledge and that leads to unease, stress and suffering.”
“The Ultimate Answer to Life, The Universe and Everything is ... 42!” —Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Meaning born in the certainty of death is one of many common — and uncommon — streams of thought reflected by random queries this spring to more than 40 Stetson professors from various disciplines. The query was basically a single short question: “Why do we seek meaning in our lives?” Because we can’t not seek, say several professors. “It is innate and fundamentally human,” agrees Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Sociology Rachel Core, Ph.D. “The searching is innate — switched on somewhere in our evolutionary past,” says Ferguson. Others believe otherwise. “Seeking meaning is not in our genes. It’s only necessary for those of us who are lost,” counters Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures Robert Sitler, Ph.D. “The search is a symptom for generalized confusion because of lost connections with nature, with other humans, with all that we experience.” Sitler is an expert in and inspired by wisdoms of indigenous cultures of Central America, particularly Mayan. Life in those cultures, he says, is understood in radically different ways and based on beliefs sunk deep in thousands of years of experiential knowledge. “Questions contemplating life’s meaning would not occur to them as it might to a Western mind,” says Sitler. “Their meaning is perpetually in place as a ‘given,’ and seeking is unnecessary unless one has lost connection to the omnipresent meaning around them.” “I don’t think it’s innate or a necessity for everyone, but for some it is,” says Professor of Communication Studies and Integrative
Health Sciences Tara Schuwerk, Ph.D. No, it’s not innate, agrees Law Professor Judith Scully. “It seems to me we have a choice — to seek meaning on one’s own unique path and develop spiritually or be a non-thinking drone who follows someone else’s prescription for life,” adds Scully. Prescriptions for meaning, general and individual, are abundant on Earth, readymade, mostly spiritual and faith-based. A large majority of Earth’s 7 billion humans turn to existing spiritual frameworks for personal meaning. Some are ancient; some are not. Some are accepted outright; others are modified to fit individual beliefs. “Most people need a broader framework of
‘Failure to find something important results in a sense that life is meaningless, without value or that it is not worth living.’
itself,” she says, noting scientist E.O. Wilson’s biophilia hypothesis of a link not only among all humans, but all life forms on Earth. “We seek meaning because we, ourselves, want to be meaningful to others,” says Associate Professor of Music Noel Painter, Ph.D. “We want to affect people, to witness our impact on the world, and to believe that our lives make a difference to those around us.” “We often find personal meaning because of what we believe we mean in the minds of others,” says Finch, “from family, friends, readers, fans, posterity, whoever. This form of meaning is not fully satisfying. It leads us to search for an afterlife that perpetuates our individual existence.”
understanding, a worldview, within which to make sense of their everyday experiences,” says Religious Studies Professor Phillip Lucas, Ph.D. Frameworks can foster meaning and purpose and the conviction that one’s actions fulfill deep aspirations and purpose. “One of the goals of my courses is to introduce students to worldviews that throughout time have provided people with a sense of meaning,” explains Lucas. “I hope to provide students with both a range of ‘meaning-making’ perspectives and also to stimulate a serious search for a personal worldview that gives their lives meaning and significance.” One of the strongest streams flowing through these thoughts of Stetson scholars is that many paths to meaning are intertwined
with other human beings. Of the infinite array of meanings in one’s life, the greatest array may be connections to others. “We find our meaning not in isolation but in others,” says Sutherland, “and if no ‘other’ is there, we’ll create one. Human existence in total isolation is unthinkable. Without the ‘other,’ it self-destructs.” “All life exists within communities — emotional, social, biotic, economic and political,” explains English Professor Mary Pollock, Ph.D. “We are linked to and responsible for each other as well as ourselves. Becoming conscious of the meaning of community enables us to benefit from and contribute to our communities. “A sense of community is meaningful in
So, yes. For whatever reasons and however we manage, human beings seek their own meanings in their own changing lives and in the lives of others, and this activity is as old as those campfire stories. We do it because we are human and because it pleases us. “Henry David Thoreau said that he wanted to live deep and ‘suck out all the marrow of life,’ ” says Tichenor. “Me too! That is why I seek meaning in my life. “I don’t want to float wherever the waters of life carry me — I want to dig the oar deep to guide where the boat is heading. I might capsize, but I might not. I might actually end up going somewhere I was supposed to be,” Tichenor adds. “How can you really live if you do not seek meaning in your life?” Tichenor asks. Perhaps we cannot. Ronald W. Williamson is a freelance writer. STETSON
‘Every worker a cog in motion? Well, that’s the notion of Henry Ford! One man tightens and one man ratchets and one man reaches to pull one cord.’ —Henry Ford character’s lyrics from the musical Ragtime
n Being Human
We are proud to be sending students off with skills. But we are not sending out cogs.
B y K i m be r l y D . S . R e i te r , P h . D . e often question what
makes a human. There are social, spiritual and biological ways to answer the question, some of them more limiting than others. At one end of the spectrum, traditional societies claim that humanity is distinguished by the possession of a soul or spirit or breath that gives us existence beyond the meaningless physicality of a created world. Such societies see gradations in the value of those souls, attributing some with reason and intellect and others with natural servility. At the other end, scientists point to the biological divide that has endowed a creature badly designed for either fight or flight with the opposable thumb for holding a pointy rock we sharpened ourselves. Mother Nature also gave us a means for reproduction that forces us to accept help and community. Natural selection also gave us the tiny throat bones that let us chatter out complex vocalized survival information through whopper hunting stories to our children. Plus, it gave us the brain capacity to think out how to tell these stories around a planned campfire. But others have suggested that what makes a human truly unique from all the other animals is our ability to understand or at least imagine the irrational, the abstract, the fictional. We imagine a future, we create paradigms, we question a higher mind. As children, we ask, “Why?” All too often, we learn to accept “because it just is.” But then we also ask another of the oldest questions known in human literature: Is that all there is? Gilgamesh, an ancient Mesopotamian king and hero, asked it 5,000 years ago as he watched his friend die and a snake rob him of the plant of immortality. The Hebrews sug-
gested as much in the divine pronouncement of endless toil and inevitable death after Adam and Eve learned the lesson of “because you just cannot.” Most ancient religions offered the vaguest idea of an afterlife with consciousness and awareness dependent on the living world’s preservation of memory. The dead only lived as long as the living remembered them. Destiny and fate had already determined existence. Philosophy was created in part from the Greeks’ discontent with such a lack of meaning. There had to be more. There had to be a reason for the cosmos. Mystery religions from the Eleusinian through Mithraism, Judaism and Christianity all proposed to bring meaning to existence, giving answers for why the world is as it is. Even so, we continue to seek meaning. We climb the mountain to the old man in the hills, we go on a walkabout to find meaning in ourselves, we pay exorbitant sums for a not-soold man in an Armani suit to motivate us with the jargon of meaning, we eagerly await the trailer for another Star Wars movie to affirm that the Force lives to give us a reason to fight. Why? Because we cannot, will not accept that this is all there is. We have to have a reason, a purpose. We are determined to seek the next bend in the path, the next signpost, the next reason to take the quest. Without meaning, we become automatons, questioning nothing, seeking nothing beyond the immediate product of our actions. A lot of people seem to like that idea. There is pressure in legislatures to eliminate liberal arts programs and advocate practitioner education to create the workers of the future. Ever since the later 19th century, when Frederick Winslow Taylor and Henry Ford popularized the assembly line, the trend has
been toward replacing meaning with functionality. “Taylorism,” as it came to be called, replaced the older, slower and far more expensive craftsman with the function-specific worker. In the popular musical Ragtime, Henry Ford put it succinctly, “… here’s my theory of what this country is moving toward. Every worker a cog in motion? Well, that’s the notion of Henry Ford! One man tightens and one man ratchets and one man reaches to pull one cord … Even people who ain’t too clever can learn to tighten a nut forever, attach one pedal or pull one lever.” And that’s all there is. No one human has a meaning, but each has a function. And as we ratchet and tighten, we do not waste time in abstract imagination or look beyond the here and now. We do our jobs, make money for somebody, and accept “because it just is.” Practitioner education is an important aspect of the Stetson experience. We are proud to be sending students off with skills. But we are not sending out cogs. Liberal arts education does not create useless elites in philosophy, anthropology, history, literature and other “impractical” studies. Liberal arts education teaches us to question, to accept the abstract and irrational, to imagine a future and new paradigms. It gives us the vision to shape possibilities and, yes, to find meaning. It gives us the freedom to ask “why” and the freedom to reject the “because.” It convinces us that there must be more than what we have been told. Without the incentive or encouragement to seek meaning, we might make great workers. We will not, however, be fully human. Kimberly D. S. Reiter, Ph.D., associate professor of history, is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Enduring Questions grant. STETSON
What’s the Meaning of Life? Stetson Faculty, Students, Alumni & Staff Write About Life’s Meaning
The Pain of Leaving By Mike Riggs ’08 Before last year, I thought about the meaning of life mostly from a figurative perspective and almost exclusively as it relates to my own. Who made me? Why am I here? Am I doing the right things with my time and my gifts? What do I want? I didn’t consider the question literally until 2014 when I met Stephanie George. At the age of 26, Stephanie began serving a mandatory life sentence for distribution of crack cocaine. When a federal judge sentenced her in 1997, Stephanie said goodbye to her three children and her relatives, believing she would never be with them in the free world again. Life went on after Stephanie went away. Her hometown in the Florida Panhandle boomed, then went bust. She beat her addiction. Relatives died. She learned a vocation. Her youngest son, 4 years old when she was sentenced, was killed. Every day, her heart found a new way to break, and every day, she found a new way to piece it back together. Stephanie took control of her life even though the law said her life would never be her own again. The law is clear as day, yet neither Stephanie nor the people she left behind would accept the ruling. Her life sentence was their life sentence too. Wendy, her sister, dedicated every spare second to finding her legal help, including reaching out to the group I work with, Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM). Stephanie’s children visited her as often as they could, mourning in a prison visiting room the loss of their baby brother. Stephanie grieved but stayed busy. She jumped at every chance to prepare for freedom, no matter how unlikely it was. Then, President Barack Obama commuted her sentence, along with those of seven other extraordinarily lucky federal prisoners. And on April 17, 2014, she returned to the free world bruised but unbroken. I had the honor of meeting Stephanie a month later, when she attended a dinner in Washington, D.C., hosted by FAMM. She celebrated with other sentence-commuted recipients. I’m still not sure about the meaning of life, but I know what a life sentence means for those like Stephanie George, for their families, and for their communities. And right now, the most meaningful thing I can do with my life is help America’s prisoners reclaim theirs.
“I believe we are here on Earth to be alive, grow up and do what we can to make this world a better place for all people to enjoy freedom. Difference of race, nationality or religion should not be used to deny any human being citizenship rights or privileges.” —Rosa Parks, Civil Rights Activist
Mike Riggs ’08 is communications director for Families Against Mandatory Minimums. STETSON
Clinging to a Clod By George Salis As Carl Sagan looked at the last photograph that Voyager 1 took of Earth, showing the entire planet as a pale blue dot 6 billion kilometers away, he was compelled to contemplate human existence vis-à-vis the cosmos. He is not alone in that compulsion. The night sky causes this for most of us who care to look up or for those who have explored the awe-inspiring photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope. When we look at the vastness of the cosmos, we can see a symmetrical splendor governed by an everchurning set of laws. It’s beautiful, the essence of anything truly spiritual, but it can make us feel small, for as far as we know the universe is indifferent and cold, hostile to human and other animal life, except within the delicate sliver of atmosphere that we inhabit. But when we realize that we are made of star stuff, that the elements which compose us are from supernovae, a truth surfaces: We are connected, not just to each other through our biology, but to the rest of the universe through our atoms. What can we make of these facts? As Sagan put it, “We are the custodians of life’s meaning.” We are in this together. As living, thinking creatures, it is up to us to create the meaning in our individual lives, for it is not written in stardust, it is not something the wind will whisper in our ears, and the clouds are equally empty. There is so much to live for that we know is real: family, friends, art, discovery, love, sex, nature, honesty, food, conversation, and perhaps most of all, making the world just a little better than it was the day before. I find that the answer to everything is either education or love or a combination of the two. Education in its purest sense: teaching people not what to think but how to think, critically. And love in the conventional meaning, but also in the sense of empathy and sympathy: understanding that everyone comes from an immeasurable amount of experiences both cultural and genetic. Education and love. This simple formula is how we can bear the vastness. George Salis ’15 is editorial assistant for stetson magazine.
“The hard truth seems to be this: We live in a vast and awesome universe in which, daily, suns are made and worlds destroyed, where humanity clings to an obscure clod of rock. We are the custodians of life’s meaning. It is up to us.” –Carl Sagan, Renowned Scientist
Our Frantic Lives By Luz Nagle We seek meaning in our lives in order to have a purpose for being that is sustained by a constant desire to wake up each day with a renewed will to achieve that purpose. Finding meaning in life entails discovering our talents and being successful in how we use them. Coach John Wooden said that finding meaning in life is derived from a “peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.” We may not always succeed in our goals and aspirations, but we gain meaning in our lives by trying our best and never giving up. The time we are on this Earth is the blink of an eye. We are given such a brief moment to fulfill ourselves so that when our days are done, we are able to look back with few regrets and with the hope that we leave this world better than we found it. For a long time, I felt that a state of exhaustion was validation that I was achieving my goals and finding meaning in life, and that stress was part of being successful. But then last year, cancer came calling. My life up to that moment of diagnosis was often a chaotic journey of trying to be everything to everyone -— to be superwoman and supermom and super professor and super lawyer. A serious medical challenge has a way of instantly removing the sense of invulnerability and confidence that comes with thinking we are superstars. It also strips away the accoutrements that form our exterior and how we want people to see us. Going through chemo with a room full of other patients just trying to hang on, not only to our lives, but to our dignity, was a deeply humbling, yet empowering, experience. I realized I was no more or less than the person sitting next to me who was also being poisoned in an effort to be saved. I have since had many months to think about the meaning of life, about who I love, about who loves me, and about what I really care about in this world. I have peeled back the onion that has been my life and found that at the core of my existence is a fundamental desire to be true to myself and to my faith. I still try to be the best I am capable of being, but I now temper my vigor with patience and with a new sense that I can still be successful without rushing through life. The meaning of life, in addition to finding and achieving purpose, is also to stop and smell the roses and to be grateful for each day we are given. Luz Nagle is a professor of law at Stetson. 24
“We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.” —Charles Bukowski, Poet
Finding Meaning By Matthew Forkas If there was one event that really sparked my search for this answer, it would definitely be when I was diagnosed with leukemia back in 2002. I was face to face with death, and I survived. For me, it was difficult to understand why I got it and why I lived through it. I am very spiritual. I believe everything happens for a reason. I also believe that everyone on this planet has a purpose for being here. I am still getting more in tune with myself to discover this purpose. But in the end, I know the point of living is to end suffering and find happiness. Everyone experiences life in a different way. For some, happiness is harder to find than for others. The point is to know it is out there and to understand that you are the only person who can find it. Many people today search externally for happiness. For example, they try to find happiness through Facebook, television, and even through consumerism. They try to fill some empty void they can’t cope with. These things are façades. They are distractions that keep us from finding happiness. The only way to find this happiness is to look within. The reason I think cancer hit me so young was to help me begin that insightful search at a younger age. I could have died, but I lived. I think the meaning of life is to keep moving on, to do good in this world, and help awaken others. Life in the end is about creating your own meaning and knowing that you are always in control of it. Matthew Forkas ’15 is a recent digital arts graduate from Stetson. STETSON
“My dog doesn’t worry about the meaning of life. She may worry if she doesn’t get her breakfast, but she doesn’t sit around worrying about whether she will get fulfilled or liberated or enlightened. As long as she gets some food and a little affection, her life is fine.” —Joko Beck, Zen Teacher
Beautiful Jest By Ramee Indralingam, Ph.D. I have been wondering about the meaning of life for several years now and have not come up with any meaningful answer. I am as confused today as I was when I started pondering the question. As far as I am concerned, the whole universe (“which was in a hot, dense state, then nearly 14 billion years ago expansion started … wait ...”) is somebody’s example of a great joke on humankind. We humans strut around on Earth during the span of our lives thinking that we control the Earth and that we are the lords and masters of all living things. All that happens is that we live for an infinitesimal moment in the large scheme of things and pass on, as ignorant about the meaning of life on the day we die as we were on the day we were born. The best to be hoped for is that we leave the Earth and its inhabitants in a better state than we found them and die gently, with dignity. Ramee Indralingam, Ph.D., is professor of chemistry at Stetson.
“I don’t know the meaning of life. I don’t know why we are here. I think life is full of anxieties and fears and tears. It has a lot of grief in it, and it can be very grim. To me, it’s a complete mystery.” —Charles M. Schulz, Creator of the “Peanuts” Comic Strip
Life Among the Ruins By Frank Klim “Raise your hands, or we will shoot!” shouted the Russian soldier. “You have 15 minutes to gather only what you can carry. If you run, we will shoot you.” And with those orders, armed Russian soldiers stormed my grandfather’s house. The Russian invasion of Poland is a lesserknown chapter in World War II history. During October and November of 1939, the Soviet Union occupied the country, making 13.5 million Polish citizens its new subjects. Over the next few months, the Red Army captured more than 230,000 Polish citizens and made them prisoners of war. On Feb. 10, 1940, every member of my father’s family and every person they knew became part of that group. Men, women and children were forced from their homes into the cold, unaware of what lay ahead. My 14-year-old father’s bucolic life in eastern Poland changed forever that day. No longer would he ride his beloved horse in the pristine valley, help on the family dairy farm, or savor his grandmother’s culinary delights. In mere moments, he changed from a child to a man trying to survive. Confused and frightened, my family quickly gathered essentials. At gunpoint, in freezing temperatures, my family was forced by Russian soldiers to walk to the local school, where they spent the night on the floor. Armed soldiers stood guard. The next morning, they began days of walking, eventually herded into boxcars like animals. For the next three months, they traveled in one of countless boxcars to Siberia to work as slave laborers at concentration camps. It is estimated that more than 1 million Polish citizens were forced to endure unthink28
able cruelty. Hundreds of thousands of people died in the process. As people became sick and died in the boxcars, Russian soldiers would toss their bodies off the train, abandoning them by the side of the tracks. My great-grandparents, great-aunts, cousins and other relatives died on the journey. Upon arriving at the camp, people were literally worked to death or died of disease. My grandfather and my uncle died while working in the concentration camp. One of my father’s jobs was to remove the dead from the camps to a mass grave. Among the bodies he moved were members of his own family. After two years of running the Siberian camps, Russia joined the Allied forces in the fight against the Nazis. Surviving Polish males who were at least 18 years old could join the reorganized Polish army, now part of the Allied forces. Relatives of enlistees were given the advantage of leaving the camps before the others. By then, only my father, grandmother and aunt survived. And my father was determined to get his mother and sister out of the camps. At 16, my father convinced a sympathetic officer that he was old enough to enlist. As a soldier, he went off to fight the Nazis in Africa and Europe. At 17, he was involved in one of the bloodiest battles of World War II, the Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy. After the war, my parents married and lived in England, where I was born. They continued searching the missing-persons list and discovered that his sister — my aunt — had married an American soldier and relocated to Flint, Mich. That’s when we packed our bags and headed to America for a better life. A few years later, we found my grandmother working in New Hampshire. My father was unable to speak about his concentration camp or war experiences until late in his life, and he spoke about them then so that the atrocities he witnessed would not be forgotten in history books. My father was an accomplished student of international politics but found war of any kind incomprehensible. Despite it all, my father’s suffering could not diminish his faith or his love of humanity. He was highly compassionate toward less-fortunate people. His purpose in life was to teach us to love and care for one another, to treat others with dignity and respect, to provide support whenever possible, and to never take life for granted. These thoughts reflected his perspective and set in motion my greater understanding of the meaning of life. Stetson’s College of Law
Frank Klim is executive director of communications for the Stetson University College of Law. STETSON
“The idea of life is to give and receive, and if you didn’t have anybody on Earth to give to or receive from, then you’d have a very sad life.” —Dizzy Gillespie, Trumpet Master
To Serve Others By Max Cleland, ’64 What’s the meaning of life? For me, it’s serving others. I am a Methodist. One of my heroes is John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church. He once stated, “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” That’s my motto. Stetson has helped me accomplish this goal. When I was a student in the early ’60s, J. Ollie Edmunds was Stetson’s president. He once said that his goal for a Stetson student was, as the great English poet Matthew Arnold put it: “To see life steadily and see it whole.” Stetson’s motto, Pro Deo et Veritate (For God and Truth), has helped me do that throughout my life. Former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland ’64 is a highly decorated Vietnam War hero, who lost both of his legs and one of his arms during a combat mission. He is now secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission, managing 25 cemeteries overseas where fallen American troops from World War I and World War II are memorialized. He’s also chair of the Advisory Committee for Arlington National Cemetery.
Finding Your Day in the Sun
B y D a n i elle L i ndne r , P h . D .
The goal is to be fully present in the momentto-moment experience of our lives and to try, as best we can, to spend more time doing things that are consistent with our values.
ith the semester over,
I went to the beach yesterday. After walking to the pier for lunch with friends, I took a moment to consciously enjoy the warmth of the sun, the saltiness of the air, and the crashing of the waves before settling down with a book. I felt really happy, but if someone told me I could be even happier on a regular basis, I’d be tempted to ask how. That’s why we see magazine covers and blog posts with titles like “The Secret to True Happiness” or “10 Things Happy People Do That You Don’t.” Though well intentioned, these titles also send the message that if we’re not happy, we’re doing something wrong. They tell us that in order to lead a good life, we should always strive to be happier than we are. When we buy into this message, we risk falling into what Dr. Russ Harris calls “the happiness trap” in his book by the same name. We get so caught up in our quest to be happier that we lose sight of being content with our lives as they actually are, right now, in this moment. Generally, we’d define happiness as something like, “The state of being pleased, glad, or content.” Therein lies the problem, though. When we define it this way, happiness is temporary. Some people have a tendency to experience states of happiness more often than others, but even for them, life can be messy. There are birthdays and marriages and promotions and whatever else is good in our lives, but relationships also end, loved ones die, and tragedy sometimes strikes. Where does happiness fit in there? Often, when we feel bad — or when we just don’t feel good — our goal is to push away whatever uncomfortable feelings we have and look for something to help us feel good again. Psychologists who study happiness call this hedonic happiness. The idea here is that if we do things that feel good, we’ll be happy, whether it’s a trip to the beach, new clothes, dinner out, the latest episode of a sitcom, a yoga class, or something else. Sometimes these activities are a part of taking good care of ourselves, and it’s important to honor that. But as a long-term strategy for happiness, they come up short because they leave us relying on the next thing that feels good instead of finding happiness in something bigger. My personal and professional approach to happiness is grounded in an intervention called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT argues that when we use our emotional and physical energy to try to change or push away our feelings or to find the next
thing that feels good, we have less energy to do the things that are truly important to us. In ACT, accepting and allowing the good and the bad in our lives frees us up to do the things we value, and this leads to a better quality of life. I use the phrase “better quality of life” intentionally. The explicit goal of ACT isn’t to be happier. Instead, the goal is to be fully present in the moment-to-moment experience of our lives and to try, as best we can, to spend more time doing things that are consistent with our values. Values are like a compass for our lives — they provide an overall direction. Our goals are usually related to our values, but they are finite — we can check them off the list. For example, one of my core values is to be an effective and engaging educator. I know it’s a value because I’m never going to stop in the middle of class, decide I’ve been effective and engaging enough for the day, and proceed to read directly from my notes while I forgo the rest of the activities I have planned. Goals related to this value might include things like designing a new classroom activity or constructing an exam that measures my students’ learning. I can check those off a list. As I write this article, I’m getting ready to grade final exams. Grading exams is probably not going to bring me the type of “feel good” happiness that watching The Big Bang Theory might, but it contributes to the quality of my life because it’s consistent with my values. If someone were to ask why I felt happy at the beach yesterday, the easy answer is because it feels good to be at the beach. But if I look at what I was doing at the beach — relaxing, reading a good book, and socializing with friends — it becomes clear that I also felt happy because I was doing things that are consistent with my values. I was being kind to myself, continuing to learn, and cultivating my friendships. There’s nothing wrong with doing things just because they feel good or they make us happy, but if we rely on quick fixes rather than investing ourselves in the activities we value, we’re falling right into “the happiness trap.” Instead, if our values guide us, we are free to find feelings of happiness everywhere: in the good, the bad, and even the mundane. Best of all, we can’t check values off the list the same way we can finish a beach day or a vacation. If we’re guided by values rather than the pursuit of the next thing that we think will make us feel happy, the possibilities for a deep sense of well-being and a satisfying quality of life become limitless. Danielle Lindner, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of psychology at Stetson. STETSON
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” —Socrates, Philosopher
Examined Life B y J u d i t h S c u ll y
believe that we will never discover
what we are capable of becoming unless we take time to reflect upon what we have already done. Selfreflection is nothing more than our personal search for meaning. Many of us search for meaning by acquiring things — houses, cars, jobs, educational certificates and degrees. We want to earn X number of dollars or attain a certain status to acquire recognition so that we can feel good about ourselves and all of the things we can buy and consume. Eventually, however, we begin to feel diminished by our constant chase of dollars and accolades. We have no energy to connect with the people we claim we love. We grow more distant from each other. We forget why we engaged in the chase in the first place. We feel empty. We stop, and if we are lucky, we ponder whether our lives have any meaning whatsoever. I believe it is only in the moments that we pause and ask ourselves what is it we are doing that we actually begin to define who we are and what the meaning of our lives will be. Many people believe that life is simply a search for happiness. But if personal happiness is our only motivator, we are destined to become selfish and lonely. It seems to me that the meaning of our lives has to extend beyond our own desires. If we are not in community with others, we become lonely and depressed. To avoid depression, we seek out things to do. We fill our schedules with event after event becoming so busy that we no longer have the space or time to reflect. We move from one meeting to another. Emails, texts, Twitter,
Facebook and other forms of social media condition us in our modern world to respond immediately to everything without much thought. We move at lightning speed. We barely have enough time to care for our families, much less ourselves, and with every minute that we schedule things that do not include self-reflection, we lose the opportunity to truly grow. We lose the opportunity to decide what works and what does not. We lose the opportunity to discover what really makes us happy, loving and kind. And more important, we lose
the opportunity to discover what we have in common with others. We become victims of the “just-get-it-done” club. And usually when we “just-get-it-done,” we find that we are not satisfied because accomplishing goals without self-reflection is an empty endeavor. Without self-reflection, we lose track of what experiences deepen our sense of connection to others and what experiences make us feel alienated. Even when we are driven by a noble sense of serving others, we run the risk of losing ourselves and our meaning in a wild array of busy-ness. But if we stop the busy-ness
â€˜Without self-reflection, we lose track of what experiences deepen our sense of connection to others and what experiences make us feel alienated.â€™
for just a moment, if we stop and reflect and assess what worked and what did not, we increase the possibility of giving meaning to our lives. We increase the possibility of setting goals that will bring us happiness and connection to others. If we set aside time to examine our lives, we get to decide whether we are on the right path or the wrong path. We get to choose our destination, we get to set our own goals, we get to decide how long it will take, and we get to decide who we will ultimately become. Examining our lives brings us tremendous
freedom. It forces us to clarify what makes us happy. It inevitably leads us to create goals. And if we write down our goals and assess our progress regularly, we will begin to evaluate the choices we are making. We will develop clarity on what makes us happy and what brings us grief. We will begin to understand what strengthens the bond between us as humans and what truly separates us. Assessing our actions through self-reflection also helps us to recognize when we have achieved our goals, and this provides us with an opportunity to celebrate our accomplishments.
It gives us reasons to be joyful. None of us who are thinking human beings remain the same. We are constantly changing, so if our goals and our joys tend to change along the way, we should not panic. This is just a sign that we are not stagnant. It is a sign that we are flexible, alive, and in movement on our journey to discover and define the meaning of our lives. So examine your life and make it worth living. Judith Scully is a professor of law at the Stetson University College of Law. STETSON
Are the BIG uestions Still Relevant? Those Universal Questions Used to Seem So Important, But Are They Still? Can They Help Us Find Meaning & Direction?
B y B i ll N
obl i tt
y son, a history major, phoned to ask me:
“What’s the theme of the next issue of stetson magazine?” “We decided to deal with a light topic this time,” I told him, tongue-in-cheek. “It’s going to focus on What’s the Meaning of Life.” “So you’re putting out a magazine for unemployed philosophy majors?” he asked with a sarcastic beat to his voice. “But shouldn’t people from all walks of life consider a perennial question like this one?” I defensively asked. And his reaction made me wonder: Are the Big Questions irrelevant today? Is there no place left to use our reason to ponder the meaning of love and desire; living a virtuous life; creating an ideal government; understanding truth, goodness, beauty and the nature of evil; questioning the existence of God, the soul, reality, justice, wisdom that keep us from tyranny, anger, hatred and prejudice? What does it mean to do the right thing versus the wrong thing, and, in fact, what is the right thing anyway?
“I’ve built my entire work on questions, not answers. And ‘Why are we here?’ is the most important question a human being has to face.” —Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize Recipient
Has the academy become so career-first-andthinking-later that it can’t take time to corrupt its youth with questions such as these, as Athens charged Socrates? The economy, along with high tuition costs and unemployment, seems to drive the desire for career building over personal inquiry. In this context, little time is left for reflection. Reflection does take time. In our day-to-day lives, we’re too busy trying to make a living for our families, attending our children’s soccer and baseball tournaments, and just getting by without the weight of asking ourselves what our lives truly mean. According to one person interviewed for this article, we’re just too tired at the end of the day for reflection. Tired or not, though, shouldn’t we take time to explore these Big Questions? And if the above questions sound familiar, it’s because the ancients voiced them thousands of years ago. But I believe they go back much further, across cultures and into humanity’s search for meaning. The Buddha asked the same questions on his way to enlightenment and urged his followers to “find out for yourself what is truth, what is real.” Wisdom, ethical conduct and mental cultivation prodded him all his life to live rightly and with mindfulness. And sometimes the questions change. In her book The Second Sex, the modern existentialist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir asked if the good society values its women less than its male counterparts. In our postmodern world of technological gadgets and short attention spans, how can these questions resonate with us today? Some think them old hat and believe they should remain papyrus dust. Is this just navelgazing at its worst? At one time, I might have thought so. Today, though, I’m wondering about those Big Questions. Maybe the Big Questions are most important because they trickle into our primal memory banks and live within each of us, whether we want them to or not. They seem fired by our curiosity. For instance, Socrates, Plato and their ideas come in and out of style, but their questions never seem stale because they appear to be part of our DNA. In fact, their questions and answers seem to go past the end of each dialogue and into infinity as they continue to discuss the universal “why.” “Humans never lose that child’s need to know ‘why,’ ” explained Kimberly D. S. Reiter, Ph.D., associate professor of history. “If we did, we’d stop being human. We’re flawed, yes, but we’re also determined to seek the next bend in the path, the next signpost, the next reason to 38
take a quest, a reason to find that grail, even if we know we will never find it. “Without meaning, like automatons, we question nothing,” she added. “And these are questions that no one can sufficiently answer.” Reiter herself just received a National Endowment for the Humanities Enduring Questions Grant that is given to applicants who postulate a great question on the meaning of life. New York Times columnist David Brooks in
his book The Road to Character and his article titled “The Moral Bucket List” wrote that we’ve somehow forgotten how to ask ourselves these important questions. “Our culture and our educational systems spend more time teaching the skills and strategies you need for career success than qualities you need to radiate that sort of inner light,” he said. “Many of us are clearer on how to build an external career than on how to build inner character. But if you live for external achieve-
‘The point of these endeavors is the same: the importance of ideas and understanding, of making sense out of our world and seeing our lives in some larger, even cosmic perspective. Ideas give life meaning.’
ment, years pass and the deepest parts of you go unexplored and unstructured,” he wrote. People on the road to inner light, Brooks argued, “do not find their vocations by asking, what do I want from life? They ask, what is life asking of me?” SHOULD STUDENTS QUESTION? Michael Denner, Ph.D., professor of Russian studies and head of Stetson’s Honors Program, props his feet on his desk, leans back
in his chair, and loosens his tie as he ponders my question. “Sure, there are plenty of people who come to Stetson and think that if they hand over a bunch of money, we will give them a degree, and they will, in turn, go on and make lots of money,” he said, the sunlight streaming across his face and into his secondfloor office. “Not my cup of tea,” he stressed. “I believe our students come here expecting us to address these questions. But I also believe they come
here thinking they are going to get the answers as well.” Not surprisingly, however, Denner has found students eager to discuss these questions, debate them, present their own ideas and listen to the ideas of others. “Stetson is exactly the right place for these conversations to take place,” Denner pointed out. Because of their liberal arts natures, places like Stetson University, then, are islands of thought and reflection where faculty and students still grapple with these perennial questions and not just in philosophy and religion, but also across the disciplines. As Associate Provost Rosalie Richards, Ph.D., declared: “For Stetson, our mission of helping students go on to live lives of bold significance has everything to do with asking the Big Questions. It has everything to do with students, faculty, staff and alumni continuously questioning who they are becoming.” And like many universities, Stetson wrestles with how to engage students with the Big Questions. Lecture? Fact-based standardized tests? In an Association of American Colleges and Universities’ article, the Julian Clarence Levi Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University Andrew Delbanco asked: “So what to do for our students while defending their freedom to answer such questions on their own? “It’s actually pretty simple,” he wrote. “Put in front of them some sample of great texts (we can argue forever over exactly which ones — so we should put aside that temptation and get on with it) that place the Big Questions front and center, and let the discussion begin.” EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN This method hearkens back to famed former University of Chicago President Robert Maynard Hutchins and his Great Books strategy. According to Hutchins in The University of Utopia, “The object of the educational system, taken as a whole, is not to produce hands for industry or to teach the young how to make a living. It is to produce responsible citizens.” Similarly, W.E.B. Du Bois, the first black graduate of Harvard, wrote: “I insist that the object of all true education is not to make men carpenters, it is to make carpenters men.” Many believe Hutchins pushed the ideas of dead white males. However, he believed in periodically updating the Great Books list. “In the course of history,” he said, “new books have been written that have won their place in the list. Books once thought entitled to belong to it have been superseded. STETSON
“It is the task of every generation to reassess the tradition in which it lives, to discard what it cannot use, and to bring into context with the distant and intermediate past the most recent contributions to the Great Conversation,” he declared. And what’s the purpose of asking the Big Questions anyway? Hutchins would probably say to inspire wisdom and explore ideas through the rigorous Socratic method. Because of its age and changes through history, the Socratic method may seem outdated. After all, Socrates — since he didn’t write down his thoughts but channeled them through Plato — didn’t leave us a manual on how to ask these questions. Is the Socratic method a guessing game with the questioner trying to prod the student to discover the answer only the teacher truly knows? Or is it something much deeper, where the skilled questioner and the student learn together through probing questions that lead to the truth about a topic? It’s not easy using the Socratic method either. Its success depends on the rigor of the questions and the selfless verbal assault on errors in thought. Hutchins further believed that society must “bring to bear upon its present problems the wisdom that lies in the works of its greatest thinkers.” Wisdom. Such a slippery word. How do we help our students learn wisdom? A group of University of Chicago researchers and cognitive psychologists believe, though, that wisdom can be taught. U of C Psychology Professor Howard Nusbaum, Ph.D., noted that the elements of wisdom are the ability to engage in the intellectual struggle and reflect (“to stick with a problem that’s hard and think about it”), to have humility, to be able to engage in a mental self-examination, and to possess creativity. Robert Sternberg, Ph.D., a professor of human development at Cornell University, said, “I got interested in wisdom because I saw people who were smart doing foolish things. I even authored a book on why smart people can be so stupid. The conclusion I reached is that people can be really smart in an analytic sense — an SAT sense, but their intelligence actually can interfere with their being wise, because they figure they’re so smart they can’t do dumb or foolish things.” Part of the wisdom research team at Chicago, Sternberg believes that wisdom can be taught but that it must be part of the curriculum, not just a “Wisdom Day” or “here-is-your-wisdom-exercise.” To him, wisdom takes balance in one’s life and includes “applying your abilities and your knowledge and your 40
passions for a common good.” In their book The Big Questions: A Short Introduction to Philosophy, Robert Solomon, Ph.D., and Kathleen Higgins, Ph.D., wrote: “The point of these endeavors is the same: the importance of ideas and understanding, of making sense out of our world and seeing our lives in some larger, even cosmic perspective. Ideas define our place in the universe and our relations with other people; ideas determine what is important and what is not important, what is fair and what is not fair, what is worth believing and what is not worth believing. “Ideas give life meaning.” Our distractions of entertainment and recreation, according to Solomon and Higgins, have led us to lose “the joy of thinking.” THERE ONCE WAS A SULTAN … Stetson Chemistry Professor Ramee Indralingam, Ph.D., tells the story of a sultan who told all his wise men to go and find out everything about the history of the world and bring that knowledge back to him. And the wise men wrote so much that they brought 30,000 camels loaded with books to the sultan’s palace. “I can’t read all this,” the sultan fumed. “Go back and make it shorter.” So they went out and came back with several hundred camels, and each time, the sultan would tell them to make it shorter until the number of camels got fewer and fewer. Finally, one wise man said: “I will tell you the history of the world. They were born, they lived and they died.” “I don’t know what our purpose is,” Indralingam said. “I don’t know why we were born. I don’t know if humans will ever know. “But sometimes it’s the search that’s the reason,” Indralingam pointed out. It’s hubris that causes humans to feel they are special, and thinking this way has led to many of the world’s problems, according to Indralingam. “Evolution will decide our fate as a species.” Furthermore, Indralingam understands the problem of exploring the Big Questions in a classroom. “Some students will go, ‘I don’t know, and I don’t care. I don’t think about them.’ ” But what happens if they don’t explore the Big Questions? “Thousands of students, not trained in hard thinking but starved for ideas and understanding, will retreat to the easier alternatives — pop philosophies of self-help, exotic religious practices, extremist politics,” wrote Solomon and Higgins. DINNER WITH AN ALUM I am having dinner with neighbors Richard and Jacqueline Pistell.
Richard, a 1977 finance graduate from Stetson, talks about the crazy things — many of them unethical but funny — that happened while he was a stockbroker. His anecdotes raise a question, however. “Do you have trouble looking at yourself in the mirror?” I asked him directly. “Not at all,” he shot back. “I can honestly say that I always looked out after my clients’ best interest, even at times ignoring what my firm told me to do.” So are the Big Questions relevant? “You see a huge number of lost people out there,” he said. “People going to movie theaters and shooting everybody in sight or a co-pilot who drives a plane into the ground that’s loaded with passengers. “I believe there are a lot of people searching for a meaning in life,” he added. “And there is just no place to find it except on their cellphones or Facebook or whatever. So, yeah, I do believe that having classes where these Big Questions are asked would be a worthwhile endeavor.” “I believe a lot of our cultural ethos isn’t being taught,” said Jacqueline, an Elizabethtown history graduate, “because there is either no money in it or there is no time.” Asking the Big Questions, then, becomes even more important, according to Richard, to fight the barrage of consumerism and advertising. “We’re made to feel that stuff is more important than ideas,” he said. “We need to reflect on life instead of thinking about our next Lexus. “That’s why I think a lot of people are unhappy in today’s world,” he continued. “It’s because we’ve accumulated lots of stuff, but people aren’t necessarily happy even with all this stuff.” In his book Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Reframed: Educating for the Virtues in the Age of Truthiness and Twitter, cognitive psychologist and Harvard Professor Howard Gardner, Ph.D., views wanton consumerism with its free-market lack of controls and relative truth as threats to understanding these three virtues. “Echoing Thomas Hobbes, I believe that a world governed solely by market forces is likely to be ‘nasty, brutish, and short,’ ” he wrote. “What makes us human in the best sense is our potential to go beyond individual self-interest and to think instead about what makes sense in terms of the general welfare, the commonweal.” The virtues he mentioned “while unquestionably in flux and under attack, remain
There once was a sultan who wanted to know the history of the world.
essential to the human experience and, indeed, to human survival.” “With knowledge of the twists and turns of human history, and growing familiarity with disparate cultures across time and space, we become tentative, timid, about assertions of good and evil. One group’s terrorist is another group’s freedom fighter: Who embodies good or evil — Athens or Sparta, Hamas or the Jewish Defense League?” Therefore, “truthiness” bothers Gardner. He believes that a lie told enough times could be perceived as a kind of truth. “In his (George Orwell’s) dystopian novel 1984, the Ministry of Truth declared, ‘War is peace, Freedom is slavery.’ ” Dialogue with the Big Questions might counter this “truthiness.” “Conditions change, people change, and, in the absence of continuous dialogue, received wisdom evolves into
‘Not to ask the Big Questions is to live life wading in shallow waters.’ unreflective orthodoxy,” he stressed. “If we give up lives marked by truth, beauty and goodness — or at least the perennial quest for them — to all intents and purposes, we resign ourselves to a world where nothing is of value, where anything goes,” he warned. Gardner asked: “How can we combat the misconceptions and half-truths that young persons come up with on their own, or that they absorb from others?” He calls for constructive engagement to help students find their own answers and own truths. “Young people need to confront the inadequacies of their intuitive beliefs. If the Earth is flat, then how can we circumnavigate the globe? If all species were conceived at the same time, then how do we account for the fossil record? If human values have not changed for thousands of years, how do you explain the widespread acceptance of slavery until recent times? We must raise these issues explicitly, or help students identify them on their own, and then prod them to reflect on the paradoxes and puzzles.” Gardner also wants to equip students with the methods, “the ways of thinking associated with the major disciplines, such as the sciences and history.” He is convinced that “over time, and with judicious scaffolding by sympathetic mentors, young students will shed their misconceptions and begin to embrace the truths of knowledgeable experts.” The perceived outcome? “Once students come to appreciate that scholarship is a continuing conversation among experts — through words, experiments, through the proposal of models — they are well positioned to pursue truths about the world, both those that are long established and those that are being negotiated at the present moment.” ASKING THE BIG QUESTIONS “That’s what we do in religious studies,” declared Professor Kandy Queen-Sutherland, Ph.D. But are they important to a Stetson student’s education? “Not to ask the Big Questions is to live life wading in shallow waters,” she said. “We have a responsibility to explore them with our students.” Queen-Sutherland believes that exploring 42
the Big Questions helps students to think critically and to analyze and reflect, and that these skills will serve them throughout their lives. She also believes this exploration helps students to understand another’s point of view even if different from their own. “You learn to step back and look at something in a different way,” Queen-Sutherland explained. “That’s not to throw money out the window either,” she said. “Jobs are important. Our world is based on economic factors. That’s the reality. If you’re always anxious about money, then you’re stressed. If you’re flush with it, you spend all your time trying to protect it. “So how do we find balance in our lives?” she asked. It takes wisdom to find that balance, she said. “The most ancient and universal of all literature is wisdom literature. That literature speaks about the good life as one lived in balance. It asks: How do we keep things in check?” And “work” isn’t a bad word, according to Queen-Sutherland. “It’s not only to sustain a lifestyle,” she said. “It’s for our own fulfillment. To find a job that’s not just work but our passion. So to be able to reflect on those questions in a university setting is incredibly important to finding that passion.” She echoes the sculptor Louise Nevelson, who wrote in her memoir Dawns and Dusks: “I’d rather work 24 hours a day in my studio and come in here and fall down on the bed than do anything I know. Because it is living. It’s like pure water; it’s living. The essence of living is in doing, and in doing, I have made my world, and it’s a much better world than I ever saw outside.” In this respect, the Big Questions become something more than a luxury. “The Big Questions are the reason I teach,” QueenSutherland said — “to take young people to an exploration of those deeper issues and to be reflective and purposeful about our life’s choices.” But do Stetson professors raise these questions across the curriculum? “Yes, this isn’t lip service,” she said. “You’ll find them in courses in business and in music and law and all through the College of Arts and Sciences.” As an example, Queen-Sutherland pointed to the School of Business Administration and the work of several colleagues who are “serious about business ethics and social justice issues.” MESSING WITH MOTHER NATURE It’s not easy asking the Big Questions. They can make your head, and sometimes your heart, hurt. Take Assistant Professor of Philosophy Melinda Hall’s, Ph.D., class on
environmental ethics. “This climate change thing has been a really large shadow over our moral deliberation,” she said. In fact, Mark Urban, an ecologist at the University of Connecticut, in the journal Science reported that climate change “could drive to extinction as many as one in six animal and plant species.” Most experts believe the real toll could be even worse, according to an article in The New York Times. “The number of extinctions may well be two to three times higher,” said John J. Wiens, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Arizona. Knowing the possible global catastrophe has heightened tension in Hall’s class. For example, she shows her students how a handful of panicky bioethicists is encouraging human enhancement procedures to stem the negative impact of climate change. Do we mess with Mother Nature? “Their paper suggested we should make smaller children because of the coming famine,” declared Hall. “I see this as casting about for any idea to mitigate the coming catastrophe. Lower-birth-weight babies would have a negative impact across a child’s entire life.” Hall’s response is that people are starving right now, and she sees the irony. “We are using a lot of energy and resources in reproductive technologies, which might counter climate change, but, at the same time, is a crisis of energy use, the cause of that climate change. It’s like we’re supposed to just ‘do’ instead of be ‘thinkers.’ ” In this environment, she’s telling her students not to throw moral deliberation out the window, “because we all live in catastrophe since we are all mortal.” “It’s really tempting to say that the meaning will come later, and we are just too busy now to think about it,” she added. “This is just what life is like. But we should put off that temptation and live a life with meaning.” CONVERSATIONS OVER COFFEE I remember commuting to Chicago, where I’d drop into a bookstore an hour before work for coffee and a bagel. I stumbled on two books there that I read most every day: Epictetus’ Discourses, which were, in fact, notes taken by a devoted follower, and Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. Here were two Stoics, one a former slave and the other a Roman emperor. Their short works captivated me in different ways. Their Stoic beliefs converged, with Epictetus telling me that “the life of wisdom is a life of reason. It is important to learn how to think clearly.”
The Trojan Priest Laocoön
Marcus, on the other hand, seemed to yell at himself and me: “Purge your mind of all aimless and idle thoughts, especially those that pry into the affairs of others or wish them ill.” They became my friends. I leaned on their wisdom through my own troubled times. Our human condition seemed to resonate in their conversations with me. I wondered how much I had missed. What other works out there might inspire me, and I began to feel like a person stuck in the Renaissance uncovering amazing works of art. Like the ancient Laocoön statue that twisted its way into Michelangelo’s consciousness, I began to uncover ideas that rang true, not only for those authors’ times, but for all time. I rushed to reflect on the Big Questions in my own life and came out into the lasting light. Bill Noblitt is editor of stetson magazine. STETSON
? W H Y
Are We Here? By D. Gregory Sapp, Ph.D.
I read the first line of Bill Noblitt’s (editor, stetson magazine) email asking me if I would write an article answering the question, “Why Are We Here?” I thought to myself, “That’s a silly question. We are here because Stetson is a great place to be!” Then I thought that this might be a good opportunity to put in words why I think Stetson is so wonderful: committed teacherscholars who make up our faculty, students anxious to learn and to make their world better, amazing staff and administrators who work to support student learning and a beautiful campus. “This will be easy,” I thought. However, being the careful scholar I am, I continued to read Bill’s email and discovered that this was not the question he wanted me to address. No, he wanted me to write on the dreaded, Why are we (all humans) here (in existence)? I say “dreaded” because this question exposes even the wisest thinker as small, weak, even insignificant. It’s an impossible question to answer. It’s a question about what brought matter, including humans, into existence. To be sure, some believe Cause has indicated to us why we are here. St. Augustine (the bishop, not the city hen
that was named after him) said that God created the exact number of human souls needed to replace the number of angels that fell from Heaven when Satan rebelled and was kicked out. It sounds plausible. Then again, if I ever ran into him, I would ask the bishop how he came upon this knowledge. Other religious traditions have similar answers meant to explain where we came from and why we are here. If you have been holding your breath waiting for me to answer the question of why we are here, please breathe. I can’t answer that question for you definitively. A related question that is somewhat easier to deal with is: What is my purpose? However, this question still implies that an external power has something specific in mind for me and for my life. Many do, indeed, take this view and spend many hours in search of that one purpose. They seek answers in religious texts, through meditation, through gurus, shamans, priests or pastors. Searching for one clear answer to this question raises a couple of issues for me. First, people who seek to find their one true “purpose” tend to ask others to tell them what that purpose is. While I certainly recommend using mentors and trusted friends to clarify one’s direction, I’m not as comfortable recommend-
(and Other Silly Questions About Life)
Photo courtesy of NASA and the Hubble Telescope
ing that one human being determine another one’s life. Second, those who believe there is one true purpose for their lives tend to live in anxiety of missing that one true purpose and doing something else that is less than perfect with their lives. This approach often leads to second-guessing decisions made and living with a lot of regret. Is life really a puzzle in which the many, many pieces can fit only one way for us to be happy? Why are we here? I think I’ll skip that question and move on to another one that has the potential to yield more productive results: Since I am here, what am I going to do about it? This is a much more practical question and one that we must deal with if we are going to do anything in life other than stumble along from moment to moment without direction. To be sure, a lot of people avoid that question, choosing instead to “live in the moment.” While I am all for stopping “to smell the roses,” those who make a career of that tend not to get anywhere with their lives. To get somewhere, we need to have a direction, and to have a direction, we have to think about where it is we want to go. So where do we want to go? I think it is safe to say that most humans want to get to a place of happiness (granting that it seems some of us are “happy” only being miserable). I don’t mean “happiness” in the temporal sense, such as is expressed by those perpetual rose-smellers; I mean “happiness” in a more Aristotelian sense — human flourishing. I believe this flourishing is realized in a two-part way for each of us: by maximizing individual potential and by participating in the life of the community. First, we want to maximize our potential as individuals to be the best we can be. We want to get the most out of life. Examples include earning the highest degree in one’s field of study, doing the best work we can at our jobs, being the best we can be in our personal relationships and being as physically healthy as we can be. Problematically, some of us confuse maximizing our potential with temporal goals, such as having the most money in our bank account or having the highest title or position in our jobs. These kinds of goals put us at odds with other members of our community so that we have a competitive relationship. The second aspect of human flourishing is to be a healthy member of our community, someone who contributes to its well-being so that it provides the necessary social aspect of
‘No, he wanted me to write on the dreaded, Why are we (all humans) here (in existence)?’ our existence in the best possible way. In his Republic, Plato argued that Justice was each person doing that for which he or she is best suited in the community, thus resulting in a harmonious working of the whole. For example, I am a teacher (though, as my students and family members will say, I sometimes make the mistake of thinking I am a comedian). I believe I am best suited to teach and to help others learn and maximize their intellectual capacities. I am not a physician, nor am I a baker or a shoemaker. Should I attempt to do something other than teach, I would weaken the community by not teaching, and I would further weaken the community by trying to do something else for which I am not well suited. I need to do what I can to make the community as strong as it can be, and if everyone does that, the community serves us all in the best possible way. The key, as with most things, is balance. I need to work hard as an individual so that I will become my most useful self for the community. This results in the community valuing and paying me well enough to meet my needs. By remaining a highly contributing member of the community, I make it better. Therefore, I help all who participate in the community. I flourish in my individual work and know that the community values me and, thus, will provide me with security. Why am I here? OK, I’ll take a stab at it: I am here to maximize my existence. This means maximizing my personal potential so that I can make the community stronger. Thus, my community will ensure my security and help me to continue to maximize my personal potential so I can make the community stronger, so I can … Like I said, trying to answer this question is quite humbling. D. Gregory Sapp, Ph.D., is associate professor of religious studies and the Hal S. Marchman Chair of Civic and Social Responsibility. STETSON
Learning to LIVE in a Diverse World
B y R o n a l d W. W i l l i a m s o n f people just get to know one another, they will work out
differences, and everything will be fine. Sounds logical, right? But it’s pure Pollyanna reasoning, scholars say. The off-base thought does, however, raise questions about higher education’s role in diversity and in fulfilling the promise of democracy.
“It’s a logical fallacy to think that if people just get to know one another, they will be ‘friends,’ and everything will be all right,” says Shawnrece Campbell, Ph.D., associate professor of English and director of Africana Studies at Stetson University. She echoes the words of Ina Corinne Brown, a mid-20th-century social anthropologist whose writings have influenced Campbell. “The sober fact is that we have to learn to get along with people who are different and likely to stay that way,” explains Campbell. “The role education plays in diversity is directly related to its ability to help people get along, despite differences and regardless of personal feelings.” Education can provide the essential face-toface, experiential and philosophical engagement required to learn to get along with others in our incredibly diverse society, she says. LEARNING MULTICULTURALISM Campus conversations about diversity, inclusiveness, minorities and multicultural issues heighten across campus every winter as Martin Luther King Jr. Day passes and Black History Month begins. “Higher education helps prepare students to be multicultural citizens within a country made up of many diverse cultures,” adds Patrick Coggins, Ph.D., Stetson professor of multicultural education. “The goal of multicultural education is to foster unity within this diversity.” “We are one people,” he says, pointing to the United States’ motto, E Pluribus Unum or, out of many, one. The preamble to the United States Constitution begins with “We the People.” The People. Singular. The promise of
democracy is “a pluralistic society that works,” says Daryl G. Smith, Ph.D., one of the nation’s most eminent diversity scholars. It’s as simple as that, and as complex. “Higher education has a role in building a pluralistic and equitable society, a society that thrives on diversity,” according to Smith, a senior research fellow and professor emerita at California’s Claremont Graduate University. Although diversity on college and university campuses is a reality today, Smith says, there’s more to be done if higher education is to help fulfill democracy’s promise. That reality at Stetson is encouraging. Efforts here have resulted in more students from different regions of the country and the world, according to university figures. Undergraduates hail from 45 states and 52 countries. Since 2011, there has been a 6-percent increase in out-of-state students and a 42-percent increase in international students. Stetson’s demographics are similar to those of the nation and ahead of the curve of its peer institutions, the studies show. FACULTY DIVERSITY “It is important to increase the number of minority administrators, students and faculty to reflect the essential fabric of American diverse society,” stresses Coggins, “but that is just part of the measure of success. “We can boast about the numbers, but what about the attitude of the students and faculty?” asks Coggins. “Even though we invite diversity, we do not change our attitude to be accepting of making minorities equal partners.” Coggins held a Jessie Ball duPont endowed chair from 1991 to 2011 and has founded several campus organizations. His is a formidable voice for multiculturalism.
Hiring and retaining diverse qualified faculty is essential for inclusive institutions, Smith says, and has numerous advantages. But its broad and deep implications aren’t always easily discussed, and this can hinder the task. “In general, it is challenging to achieve demographic diversity, especially ethnic and racial diversity, in any academic search,” says Provost Beth Paul, Ph.D., executive vice president of academic affairs at Stetson. “Layers of educational and social disparities have ensured a slow pipeline into academia for faculty and staff of color.” According to Smith, the key question for each institution is this: What expertise and talent is needed to be credible, effective and viable in a pluralistic society for today and tomorrow? “As many fields in our society are still more homogeneous on certain demographic characteristics, yes, there are certainly faculty searches in which the candidates are skewed on various
demographic dimensions,” Paul explains. “For example, more females than males apply for positions in education; more males than females apply for positions in computer science.” Hiring and retaining diverse faculty can be difficult, and despite improvements, it continues to lag, says Coggins. Some 83 percent of the nation’s teachers are white, middle-class, English-speaking and hold degrees from predominantly white institutions, he says. Thus, they “have little or no experiential background for effectively teaching diverse students and the increasing immigrant populations.” BUILDING TRUST Because of that difficult situation, says Coggins, building trust has become a major challenge to higher education today, and that is done by addressing the situation head-on and building a faculty of effective cross-cultural
teachers who, among other things, realize the vast differences within minorities. “One size does not fit all,” he says. “Effective cross-cultural teaching entails developing a certain personal and interpersonal awareness and sensitivities, developing certain bodies of cultural knowledge, and mastering a set of skills that, taken together, underlies success.” Educators also must build their cultural competence so they can relate to students’ cultural differences, value minority students’ intellectual competence, and choose textbooks and materials that are culturally connected to diverse students. The benefits of faculty diversity go beyond teaching, Smith explains. A diverse faculty is essential to the institution in decision-making and in vital relations with diverse communities near and far. They also provide role models for undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs and faculty. They attract people from diverse backgrounds and develop diverse forms of knowledge. “The notion that all minority faculty are able to adjust to institutional norms without any trouble is unrealistic,” Coggins says, noting that retaining minority and women faculty through the tenure and promotion process is a problem for most institutions. One way Stetson has increased its retention of minority faculty is by providing them with mentors to guide them through the processes of advancement. “Stetson University has worked diligently over the last several years to use effective strategies for attracting and considering diverse candidates,” asserts Paul. “These efforts are achieving more diverse candidate pools and the subsequent appointment of a more demographically diverse faculty. Attracting, appointing and supporting diverse faculty is a strong university commitment.” But while there are many immediate concerns and improvements to make, Smith is already concerned about the future. “We are at a critical juncture for diversity efforts,” Smith warns. “We must look beyond strides in admissions and curriculum diversity and build capacity on an institutional level, in all its dimensions, to support and sustain the progress that has been made. “Building institutional capacity is an imperative,” Smith declares. “The future viability and health of a pluralistic democracy will depend on it.” Institutions must “set diversity at the center of their mission” and make it as fundamental as technology, according to Smith. They must engage in difficult and ongoing dialogues at all levels of the institution about the challenges of
‘The sober fact is that we have to learn to get along with people who are different.’ how to support and sustain their missions in the future, similar to the way institutions have done for decades with technology. Efforts toward diversity in higher education are having an impact in society, says Benjamin Reese Jr., Ph.D., president of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education and a professor of psychology at Duke University. “Students who have a college or university experience where faculty and administrators pay deliberate attention to encouraging a broad range of perspectives in learning tend to place more value on diversity,” says Reese. These young people have studied with individuals from diverse backgrounds and experienced a range of perspectives and viewpoints. “They tend to be comfortable in and even seek such environments as places to live and work,” he says. People getting along with one another, living and working together is a good sign that more people are learning to get along despite differences. “That ability comes with time,” says Campbell. “It’s a lifelong process, not a oneand-done deal. We must learn to recognize and avoid innate cultural stereotyping as well as the continuous stereotyping in music, newspapers, television, textbooks and myriad other ways. “It takes interpersonal experience with the so-called ‘other’ to change the way people feel in their hearts,” Campbell adds. “You can have diverse inclusive campus programming everywhere but never change the culture of the university campus itself,” explains Campbell. “If students, faculty and administrators of different races, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations and such aren’t hanging with each other outside of the classroom, or having dinner at each other’s homes, going on vacations or other outings together and so on, the culture will not change.” Ronald W. Williamson frequently writes for magazine.
f you tuned in every week to Breaking Bad’s several seasons, you wondered how Walt, a mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher, could turn into a meth maker and dealer. The producers and writers clearly showed meth’s destruction on families and the community. Yet, Walt couldn’t give up the drug of power and continued to pursue his dark arts. As a psychology researcher, I’ve often wondered what leads to such radical changes in character. My research shows that the dark side of life may have a pull on some because they may have to routinely struggle against their own natures to do what is right. Literature and movies are littered with these dark characters — Lord Voldemort, the nemesis in the Harry Potter books; Darth Vader in Star Wars; and Macbeth in, well, Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. In fact, storytelling and fiction help us understand more about our social world and ourselves. My research focuses on the Dark Triad Traits of narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy. Before talking about my research, however, I have to be a good scientist and explain how I use these terms and what they mean. Those
Harry Potter and By Laura Crysel, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Psychology
who score high in all three traits are not the kind of people you would want as friends unless you believe they can get you what you want or need. People with Machiavellian traits are manipulative in order to get their way. It’s all about the ends justifying the means. Along with psychopathy, they’re less likely to empathize with others and to use empathy in making decisions. Machiavellianism, of course, is a term that originated from Niccolò Machiavelli’s manual for successful rule titled The Prince. In looking at psychopathy, I’m not researching clinical psychopaths. At the extreme, those who exhibit psychopathy lack a concern for morality. Thus, they don’t care about right and wrong. It’s similar to Machiavellianism since a Machiavellian might say, “I just want to accomplish my goals no matter what it takes.” My classic go-to fictional example for Machiavellianism and psychopathy is Lord Voldemort from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series of books. Because he was conceived under a love potion and not real love, Voldemort was born unable to love and connect with others, according to the way Rowling drew this character. In other words, he only cared about himself and his self-preservation. Most everyone knows the Narcissus myth, where a young man sees his reflection in the water and falls in love with it. But here’s the irony. He just saw this beautiful man and wanted to stay with that person forever without realizing that he was actually in love with himself. Narcissism, then, is excessive self-love. Narcissists think more highly of themselves than they deserve. Looking again at the Rowling characters, Professor of Defence Against the Dark Arts Gilderoy Lockhart, a half-blood wizard, fits the narcissist label because he’s self-obsessed. His vita looks like it too. He was five-time winner of Witch Weekly’s Most Charming Smile Award. As I mentioned before, I focus my research on the Dark Triad Traits and impulsive behaviors. You know, the “I want to do things without thinking ahead about how my actions might affect others or my community.” Specifically, I looked at how the Dark Triad Traits might predict several impulsive behaviors. For example, in my early research, I looked at blackjack betting. I allowed people in my study to bet anywhere from $5 to $10 on each
hand of blackjack, and I had them play 30 hands. I then looked at the average they were betting. It turned out that people who scored highest in the Dark Triad Traits were much more impulsive in their betting. The Dark Triad Traits, then, are exhibited in people with a “need it now” mentality. In addition, schadenfreude comes into play here. Those with the Dark Triad Traits seem to exhibit more happiness at another’s misfortune. I developed a trait measure for schadenfreude, where I showed subjects different scenarios, such as a politician getting caught in a scandal. Of course, when the politician was from the opposite political party, the higher people were in schadenfreude. Therefore, in my research, empathy negatively correlated with schadenfreude. I’ve also applied these traits to the different Rowling-created Hogwarts School communities or houses. Quite simply, I wondered if the different measures of personality fit those fans who were sorted into each of those Hogwarts houses. That is, extroverted and brave Gryffindors, agreeable and loyal Hufflepuffs, clever and witty Ravenclaws, and manipulative, ends-justify-the-means Slytherins.
the Dark Triad My co-authors and I asked fans from online Harry Potter groups what house they were assigned by Rowling’s online quiz. We then looked to see if their personalities fit the above traits. We recruited 236 participants from Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook with cooperation from the Harry Potter Alliance/Portkey Fan Convention. These fans had already taken the sorting quiz on the Harry Potter-themed website called “Pottermore” (www.pottermore.com/en-us). To our knowledge, ours is the first empirical test of whether group-based traits in a popular work of fiction accurately reflect actual personality trait differences. Fortunately, the Hogwarts house traits described in the Harry Potter series and on Pottermore are reasonably similar to empirically established personality constructs, such as the Big Five traits, need for cognition, and the Dark Triad Traits — narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy. We compared people’s house-placement results from Pottermore’s sorting quiz to their scores on these established constructs. We made specific predictions for members of each of the four houses. We used a convenience sample of Harry Potter fans who self-selected to be a part of a community based on fictional work. These participants are, therefore, more likely to possess the quality of transportation — the ability to lose oneself in a fictional world. Because we were interested in testing the satisfaction derived from belonging to a fictional community, our sample did satisfy our goals. Although our data were derived from Pottermore members, the results should extend to others who self-identify with various fictional characters and communities. We found that Rowling’s sorting quiz taps into some of the traits that personality psychologists measure. For the most part, our hypotheses were supported. We found it interesting that the Slytherins scored highest in Dark Triad Trait measures. However, sorting may influence how people see themselves and how they respond to the questionnaires. Still, Rowling’s unscientific measure taps into some scientific traits and tells us that we can learn something about human nature through fiction. Laura Crysel’s research on “Harry Potter and the Measures of Personality” was published in the journal of Personality and Individual Differences. STETSON
q u i ry
Campaign Finance and Free Speech By George Salis
inancing political campaigns is always a hotly debated issue, even more so in recent years due to steps taken to get rid of past reforms. On one side of the argument is free speech that says that reforms might hinder personal freedom. The other side is concerned about the power of the wealthy who, under slack or nonexistent laws, might squelch the voice and influence of ordinary citizens. Both concerns are worth a closer look. Late in 2014, campaign finance reform legislation was passed that was hidden within a voluminous, 16,003-page, $1.1 trillion spending bill intended to prevent a government shutdown. As CNN reported: “One provision will allow for increased political donations, specifically the amount donors can give to national parties to help fund conventions, building funds and legal proceedings, such as recounts.” Because of this new provision, donors could now give $32,400 (the previous cap) plus $97,200 for each of those three items — for a total of $324,000 annually. The U.S. Supreme Court also fueled the debate. In its 2010 decision on Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, the court ruled that corporations have a constitutional right — namely, freedom of speech — to spend as much money as they please on political ads in candidate elections. “In this case, it seems the court is coming down on the side of the right of individuals to hear all sorts of different messages about campaigns — including from
corporate sources,” explains Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, J.D., associate professor of law at Stetson University College of Law. “But it’s a real concern that the court, in its deregulatory approach to finance, is giving more power to the already powerful,” she says. The decision voids the 1976 decision in Buckley v. Valeo, which held — in the wake of the Watergate scandal — that spending restrictions on an individual are not a violation of free speech but, rather, increase the “integrity of our system of representative democracy.” Now, that decision is undermined by unlimited contributions. At the same time, Buckley decided that restrictions on personal or family resources of a candidate violated free speech. CONSEQUENCES “Due to the diminishment of campaign financing reform by the Supreme Court,” explains T. Wayne Bailey, Ph.D., professor of political science at Stetson, “campaign financing is now in the hands of independent expenditure committees that operate outside of the regular campaign. For example, I can only contribute a certain amount to a federal candidate, but I can potentially create a Super PAC and raise hundreds of thousands of dollars.” As reported by the Orlando Sentinel, Heathrow, Fla., attorney John Morgan, in conjunction with former President Bill Clinton, worked prolifically to earn money for various re-elections. Two U.S. Senate races “each raised more than $1 million; his first (Sen. Bill) Nelson (D-Fla.) party raised $250,000; and the (Sen. Elizabeth) Warren (D-Mass.) party raised $70,000.” Morgan also helped organize a fundraiser for President Barack Obama at basketball star Vince
Carter’s home that raised an estimated $2.1 million. When it comes to wealthy donors, two names include David and Charles Koch, controllers of Koch Industries, the second-largest privately owned company in the U.S. That firm earned revenue of $115 billion in 2013, according to Forbes magazine. As reported in The New York Times, the political network under
the Koch brothers plans to spend $889 million in campaign financing. That budget is potentially larger than either political party’s. “I can’t even begin to imagine spending that much money,” stresses Bailey. “The Koch brothers’ influence is much greater than my influence or yours, because we don’t have access to that amount of resources. To mitigate this problem, if we can’t limit contri-
‘It’s a real concern that the court, in its deregulatory approach to finance, is giving more power to the already powerful.’ is rapidly becoming a plutocracy, that is, a rule by the wealthy, in large part because of the reductions in campaign finance limitations.” “In the American political system,” disagrees U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) in an op-ed on his website, “private contributions have opened up new choices for candidates. In recent memory, it was private money that backed outlier candidates such as Ross Perot in 1992 and Ron Paul in 2008. It is the freedom to raise and spend money freely that has increased the likelihood of viable candidates.”
butions, we should have transparency that will require disclosure of a donation’s origin, but under current law we may never know exactly who donated the money. “If you are not wealthy or cannot attract wealthy donors, which is usually the case, you probably can’t win election to the office,” continues Bailey. “One of the points that I make when I teach on this issue is that America
NEW REFORMERS Laws in favor of campaign finance reform have been and still are being proposed by both parties. On the state level, Missouri state Sen. Rob Schaaf, a Republican, introduced major campaign finance reform legislation, the Missouri AntiCorruption Act. That act would overhaul the state’s campaign finance laws to empower average Missouri voters and reduce the influence of special interests, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. The bill would create a small donorbased public financing system that increases transparency and enforcement. “The main difference between the large influence of the upper class and the influence of the individual boils down to money,” agrees former Florida state Rep. Joyce Cusack, a Democrat who serves as an at-large representative on the Volusia County Council. “We need to make sure that ordinary citizens have more opportunities when it comes to running for public office.” Although many Republicans side with the Supreme Court’s decision, as Sen. Mitch
McConnell (R-Ky.) asserts in a Politico op-ed, a new group headed by conservative political consultant John Pudner called Take Back Our Republic hopes to change that. Its mission is “to alter the hostile posture of many Republicans toward new laws that would curb the reach of big-money donors, to promote ‘market solutions’ to elevate the impact of small donors, and advocate greater transparency for large political donations,” according to The Washington Post. A study by political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page found that even when the general public pushes for a specific change, that change rarely happens unless businesses and elite classes also back it. “What happens is that the people who can make or receive large contributions are ultimately the persons who are elected,” explains Bailey. “The question is: What kind of laws are they going to pass? Well, these are laws, in general, that provide breaks for the wealthy. And it’s the wealthy who already dominate the system.” In a recent op-ed in The Huffington Post, Torres-Spelliscy cites three broad categories for laws that would allow an ordinary citizen a fighting chance in elections: “(1) rules that keep corporate money out of elections; (2) rules that govern pay-to-play, quid pro quo exchanges; and (3) transparency rules for money in politics.” DARK MONEY While the Supreme Court tends to support donation disclosure, other problems can occur, such as the creation of dark money. “There is a kind of clashing of cultures between the approach of the IRS and the approach of the FEC,” says Torres-Spelliscy, who
teaches election law. “The FEC is supposed to provide transparency for the money that’s going through the electoral process. Meanwhile, the IRS keeps charities anonymous, whose primary purpose is not election-oriented,” she adds. “In order to have dark money in a federal election, a political spender, instead of spending up to the lawful limit, will go through a nonprofit, and then the nonprofit will spend on their behalf,” she says. “And because of pre-existing tax laws, certain nonprofits and charities remain anonymous. It becomes totally unclear from the point of view of the voting public that the original source of that money was either a specific individual or a specific corporation.” An argument against disclosure laws is that they violate privacy. “Even if you have a corporation that’s being transparent,” asserts Torres-Spelliscy, “you have a different problem, which is that shareholders in the United States aren’t given the opportunity to approve that political spending. “And this stands in contrast to the United Kingdom,” TorresSpelliscy adds. “In the U.K., shareholders in British companies get the opportunity to accept or reject a budget.” The consequence of inaction on campaign finance laws might be the replacement of the individual by the dollar. But can anything be done without infringing on freedom of speech? As Alexander Heard, who was chancellor of Vanderbilt University from 1963 to 1982, told Bailey when they studied American politics many years ago, “Campaign finance is the Achilles heel of American democracy.” George Salis ’15 is a recent Stetson University graduate. STETSON
A Delicate Balance B y S a r a h F r o h n a p f el
he alarm goes off
at 6 a.m. You quickly dress, lace up your shoes, brush your teeth, and grab an energy bar to go. By 6:30 a.m., sweat is pouring down your face as you raise your arms toward the rising sun for easier breathing between sprints. By 8 a.m., you’re showered and headed into a full morning of back-to-back classes. By noon, you’re starving. After a full meal, it’s off to another class, followed by a half-walk-halfjog back to the gym for practice. You spend dinner planning out what work you need to finish that evening in the library and exactly how many minutes you can sleep before it all begins again. It’s just another day in the life of a Stetson student-athlete. At Stetson, members of the 17 NCAA athletic programs have the dual responsibility of excelling in the classroom and in their
Photo by Jim Hogue
Stetson soccer star Carmen Bernecker finds that delicate balance.
respective sports. Our studentathletes have consistently proved they are capable of this and more. It’s a role that requires discipline, perseverance and, maybe most important, the ability to make constant sacrifices. “The last few years as a student-athlete have not always been easy,” says women’s soccer player Carmen Bernecker, a Phi Beta Kappa inductee. “On the one hand, I invested as much as I could into soccer. On the other, I wanted to succeed in school.” Bernecker, a senior captain on her team and an international studies and Spanish double major, has clearly mastered the balancing act. She was given the prestigious nod of “Outstanding Senior” at the annual Senior Honor Banquet for both of her majors and has maintained a 4.0 grade-point average. While it may seem like a nearly impossible balance, Stetson student-athletes consistently maintain impressive numbers for grade-point average and graduation rates. In the most recent data from 2014, student-athletes who received athletics aid had higher graduation rates — the percentage of students who graduate within a six-year period — as well as a higher average number of credits taken each semester than the average student. In the fall of 2014, the semester GPA of all NCAA Stetson teams was more than a 3.1. The women’s soccer team, sand volleyball team and men’s tennis team all had GPAs of more than 3.4. A total of 33 student-athletes from 11 different sports were honored with Academic AllConference in the past calendar year. That award is given to athletes who exemplify the academic/ athletic balance by maintaining a
Being a Stetson student-athlete requires discipline, perseverance and, maybe most important, the ability to make constant sacrifices. 3.3 GPA or better while participating in 50 percent of the teams’ contests. In the same year, an astounding 90 student-athletes were named Atlantic Sun Conference Scholars, signifying a grade-point average of 3.4 or better. But how do they do it? With less spare time, athletes are forced to make every minute count. “I had to learn how to manage my time well,” Bernecker says. “The best way for me to do this, and to be successful in both school and soccer, was to prioritize. I personally found that, as a student-athlete, that’s the first thing you need to do. You have to know what your priorities are — and then live accordingly.” The academic success of our student-athletes continues to mirror the university tagline — “Dare to Be Significant.” With a graduation rate of 90 percent, athletes are not only succeeding during their time on campus, but are leaving campus with a diploma in hand and a myriad of meaningful experiences. Sarah Frohnapfel is the academic coordinator for athletics at Stetson University. STETSON
If you are interested in supporting Values Fellows like Sarah, contact Rina Arroyo at email@example.com.
Sarah is Stetson’s first Values Fellow, which means she receives a Stetson scholarship in exchange for work related to the university’s values — in Sarah’s case, environmental sustainability. Her fellowship involves research with a faculty mentor (Professor Tony Abbott, Ph.D.) and outreach through the Center for Community Engagement.
Living Stetson’s Values B y S a r a h C o ff e y Freshman Environmental Sciences major Environmental Sustainability Fellow As my goal is to save the planet — or at least a part of it — I was beaming with joy at the opportunity to work with Professor Tony Abbott, Ph.D. Since it was a brand-new program, I had no idea what to expect. Half of my fellowship would be working with him and the other half with the Stetson Center for Community Engagement. Both aspects have been equally important in my personal and career aspirations. Working with Dr. Abbott, I have learned how to calculate the carbon footprint of an institution from collecting data, entering the values, and writing the report. Doing presentations on the results allows us to make improvements in areas, such as energy efficiency and consumption. During the spring, I worked with him on STARS — the Sus-
tainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System — for Stetson, which is an even more in-depth analysis of campus sustainability. The skills I am learning will undoubtedly serve me in graduate school and future careers. I spend my other hours at the Center for Community Engagement, through which I do service projects in the community. I help lead conservation projects — such as the removal of invasive species or planting trees — at DeLeon Springs. With all the information I have on Stetson’s carbon footprint, I try to raise awareness on how we can reduce carbon emissions, such as taking advantage of the recycling facilities we have on campus. Working at the center has opened up many doors for me, because the people who work there — students and staff — really care about making a difference in the world. It is so inspiring to be around people who are living out their passions like me. I also have become extremely active with the Stetson Environmental Club and Hatter Harvest, our campus garden, and will go to the San Juan Islands this summer with Wendy Anderson, Ph.D., chair of our Environmental Science and Geography Department. We’ll conduct a land survey for the Bureau of Land Management so that certain parts of these islands can keep their status as “Areas of Critical Environmental Concern,” as they need special protection from the federal government. The issues that face us today — climate change, ocean acidification, deforestation — don’t just affect the habitats of millions of species, but they also severely impact human beings. It is my goal to spread this information — and how we can mitigate our impact and adapt to
already present environmental changes. I could certainly see myself earning a doctorate one day and working with students like myself who are concerned about conserving the resources of this beautiful planet. Every time I talk about Stetson University, I cannot help but smile. I know it is the perfect fit for me. I am learning skills, making connections, and serving the Earth — including the people who live on it — through the Environmental Sustainability Fellowship. My gratitude is beyond words. As the first student participating in this program, I can only hope that more students will be able to have these opportunities.
Sarah Coffey volunteers at Hatter Harvest with the help of a friend.
Stetson’s goal is to create a robust Values Fellows program that recruits one new Environmental Sustainability Fellow each year who will learn from and mentor other students while making critical contributions to the ways in which the Stetson community lives its values. Other Values Fellows would be added over time in areas such as diversity and inclusion; religious and spiritual life; and wellness.
Jordan first shared these remarks at a recent dinner for 1883 and Stetson Society members, which recognized the generosity of donors to the university.
My Stetson Story B y J o r d a n C o c k f i e l d ’ 16 After attending an Open House at Stetson, I was 99.9 percent convinced that Stetson was the university for me, and the best was yet to come. My dad walked out of Lee Chapel that day after attending a financial-aid seminar, and the first words he said to me were, “Jordan, we can do this.” That was all I needed to hear from him. I sent in my application when we returned home, and the week before Thanksgiving, I was contacted about being accepted as a Stetson Hatter. It’s amazing to think of all that came from that one decision. Who would’ve guessed that I would have met one of my best friends in the Lower 7 hall of Smith? Who could’ve predicted that I would have met my boyfriend at an interfaith event during FOCUS week? My high school friends are often stunned by the relationships that Stetson students form with administrators. None of them can say that they can email their director of community standards just to see how her summer vacation went. None of them can say that their dean of students checks in on their well-being from time to time. But Stetson students can say this, and we say it proudly. Stetson is filled with opportunities that accommodate students’ needs and desires. I strive to be a well-educated and well-rounded individual, and Stetson has fostered an amazing environment
for that. I’m a molecular biology major with a Spanish minor, and I’m actively involved in the Student Government Association, the professional business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi, and the honors biology club Beta Beta Beta. I also have the opportunity to participate in a summer research program at the University of Notre Dame. This opportunity would not have been possible without the constant aid and guidance from my mentor, Assistant Professor of Biology Roslyn Crowder, Ph.D., and my work with lung cancer research. In closing, in my high school valedictorian speech, I recall telling the audience that a mere “thank you” would never suffice for the investment that they have put into the graduating class, and I see how that same realization applies here. Stetson students could never sufficiently express our gratitude verbally to those who give to Stetson. However, we can express our gratitude by showing you that your investment will not return to you void. We will use our skills and
We can express our gratitude by showing you that your investment will not return to you void. knowledge that we have obtained from Stetson to join the fight in positively impacting this world. We will leave numerous marks on people’s lives through the understanding, leadership, commitment and integrity that we have been cultivating during our time at Stetson. And when we look over our lives and our accomplishments, we will have you to thank for making them possible. We will have you to thank for giving parents like my father hope to be able to send their children to this prestigious institution. We will have you to thank for investing in our futures. We will have you to thank for giving Hatters like myself a place to call home. STETSON
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The Stetson mystery trip group includes (from top left, all ’03): Katie Gradoville Lane, Betty Palios, Rachael Sutliff, (bottom row, left to right) Tara Simone McAlonan, Nicki Hostetter Wiggins, Amy Bucciarelli, and Annette Filliatt.
My Mystery Trip By Woody O’Cain Executive Director of Alumni Engagement Stetson University Having been encouraged to “go out and meet our alumni,” I’ve traveled to numerous places and have been amazed by the number of stories I have heard. Alumni from around the country and the world have shared their memories with me. The experience I had in Asheville, N.C., stands out as one of the most significant. I had the chance to meet seven remarkable Stetson alumnae, all of whom arrived at the university as strangers to one another but left as sisters with a bond that has lasted a lifetime. They described that bond as being even stronger now than it was when they received their 56
Stetson diplomas. I first met Amy Bucciarelli ’03 at a gathering in Gainesville. It was there that the “Mystery Trip” story first caught my attention. It is a story that truly exemplifies the meaning behind #foreverconnected. Amy and her six classmates and sisters of AXO have chosen to reserve 72 hours out of each year to reconnect with one another in an interesting and creative way. Each year, two are assigned to plan a trip for all seven, where one is the appointed “Treasurer” and the other “Secretary/Co-President of Adventure.” “Apparently, we revert back to our sorority days where we needed ‘executive roles’ in any planning process,” Amy shared. The “mystery” behind this story is that the other five have no idea where they are going until right before the trip, when the EOA’s (Executive Officers of Adventure) unveil the destination. So the question of, Photo by Woody O’Cain
“Should I pack ski boots or flip-flops,” remains unanswered, keeping the group in limbo right up until the time to leave! The Mystery Trip group includes seven members from the class of 2003: Annette Elizabeth Filliat, originally from Atlanta, Ga.; Betty Katherine Palios from Tampa; Katie Gradoville Lane from New Haven, Conn; Nicki Hostetter Wiggins, a legacy Hatter from Dacula, Ga.; Rachael Kimberly Sutliff from Saint Petersburg; Tara Simone McAlonan from Land O’ Lakes; and Bucciarelli, whose home base was in Gainesville, while she lived “all over” for gymnastics training. EOA’s Tara and Betty unveiled this year’s mystery destination to be beautiful Asheville, N.C. Why Asheville you wonder? Well, it has been described in many ways, including the “New Freak Capital of the U.S.” by Rolling Stone magazine, “One of the 25 Best Places for Business
and Careers” by Forbes, “Beer City USA” by American Style magazine and the “Happiest City for Women” by SELF magazine. The alumnae secured a house within walking distance from downtown Asheville so that they could truly experience all that the city had to offer. Their first trip in 2010 took them to Sanibel; 2011 was Helen, Ga.; 2012 was not a surprise as they attended Tara’s wedding in Delray Beach; 2013 was Amelia Island; 2014 was another exciting year as Betty got married in Tampa. I would love to find out what is in store for 2016, but Amy and Nicki hold the keys to that secret and are not talking! They have certainly added to the memory book with all of these post-Stetson experiences, but it is the memories they share from their days in DeLand that all Stetson alumni can relate to in one form or another.
Below are other favorite memories: Traditions & Memories “Candlelight concert at Christmas.” “Sunbathing in the quad, so fun …” “We used to go to The Pig where they served cheese and sandwiches. It was a fun place to hang out.” “They served food at The Pig?” “We all lived in the sorority house together and random things would happen … like squirrels would come into our room!” “We would totally wake up some mornings, and someone would say, ‘Let’s skip class and go to Blue Spring!’ Loved hanging out there.” “Going to New Smyrna Beach to watch the sunrise.” “A Disco Nap is the power nap you take before going out!” “Back then, we had MySpace, an answering machine, cellphones were only for emergencies, and there was no texting.” “Debate class together and staying up until 4 a.m. to study; pulling all-nighters in the computer labs.” Faculty Remembered “I loved Professor (Donald) Musser, Ph.D., who taught Spiritualities of the East. He would bring in monks and other unusual spiritual people to talk to us. It was very engaging and obviously left a lasting impression on me.” “We went through 9/11 together, and it was the same day as our Domestic Violence Week, so we had a candlelight vigil planned and still held it but specifically for the victims of 9/11. I remember going into the chapter room and watching the second tower fall. Some of us had friends whose parents worked on Wall
Street. We still went to class that day and, ironically enough, my Sociology Professor John Schorr, Ph.D., in urban studies found out that day about a grant he had applied for to study terrorism. Weird, huh?” “I was in the religious studies program, and our professor (name withheld) in a class held at night would let us climb out the window of Sampson Hall onto the flat platform and watch the shuttles take off.” “I was so obsessed with Professor Emily Mieras, Ph.D. She was my favorite professor, and I even wrote a letter of recommendation for her when she was applying for tenure.” Why Stetson? “We all collectively chose Stetson over other schools like Furman, Elon, Rhodes, Sewanee, UF, FSU, UGA, Rollins, Flagler, Eckerd, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest.”
“The personal attention we got from the faculty and staff at Stetson was one of the most important things, along with the small class size that resulted in more engaging conversation, as well as periodic invites to our professor’s home for dinner!” “Stetson was a magical bubble.” “We were all connected by Stetson, and that resulted in our all going into different career fields, having different life experiences, amazing but difficult times we had, but we had them together.” “I used to think that other people must be so jealous of how great our life was at Stetson, because it was awesome. Does that sound bad?” “But when I talk to my friends who went to larger schools, their experiences were just different. At Stetson, you knew almost everyone or, at least, who they were.” “Graduation was the saddest day.”
“Before I brought my husband back to Stetson, he would ask ‘Why did Tara go here?’ When we drove onto campus, he said, ‘got it.’ ” “I was exposed to so many things at Stetson. I loved learning, and Stetson really brought that out of me.” So what do a hospice chaplain, teacher (former television producer), communications manager for diversity at Georgia Tech, early education and primary schoolteacher, attorney for Metropolitan Ministries, art therapist for UF Health, and stay-at-home mom all have in common? Seven Hatters who are indeed “distinctive” in their own way, who are successful, living great lives, and who remain committed to their 72-hour Mystery Trip tradition to go down memory lane, while creating new memories each year. They are and will always be #foreverconnected through Stetson University.
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Send Us Your Class Note Stetson University is proud of its alumni and their accomplishments. Therefore, we want to hear about your achievements. If you are a graduate of Stetson University in DeLand or Celebration, send your class note to the Office of Alumni Engagement at Stetson University, 421 N. Woodland Blvd., Unit 8257, DeLand, FL 32723, or email your news to alumni@stetson. edu. If you are a graduate of the Stetson University College of Law, send your class note to the College of Law’s Office of Development and Alumni Engagement, 1401 61st St. South, Gulfport, FL 33707, or email your class note to firstname.lastname@example.org. edu. For College of Law graduates, you can fill out the online form at stetson.edu/lawalumninews. We will only use photos that are high-resolution, and because of space limitations, we cannot guarantee use of all photographs.
1960s Edgar J. L’Heureux ’61, Winter Springs, published his first book in 1986, The Dollar Collar, a collection of short stories. To date, he has published more than a dozen books. Four novels and four short story collections are mostly historical fiction with a Florida theme. L’Heureux also lectures on a wide variety of Florida topics. Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller ’61, New Orleans, La., received an honorary doctorate in May 2015 from The University of New Orleans. Mueller is a former history professor and administrator at the University of New Orleans, as well as the force behind the creation of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. He is president and CEO of the National World War II Museum. He served as chair of the board from 1998 through the museum’s opening in June 2000. He also guided it into an ongoing $325 million expansion. Mueller previously spent 33 years as a history professor, dean and vice chancellor at UNO. He was the founding president of the UNO Research and Technology Park. Raymond W. Smith ’64, New Haven, Conn., opened his exhibition, “In Time We Shall Know Ourselves: Photographs by Raymond Smith,” at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville, and it will run through the end of August. The exhibition consists of 52 photographs from a three-month road trip he took during 1974, when he traveled America and took photos of the people and places he encountered. Walter L. Kilcullen ’68, Allamuchy, N.J., is a retired guidance counselor and basketball coach. He played basketball for Stetson from 1964-68. He has written a new book called Stroke: Promising Research That Could Change Your Life. The new book is available on Amazon.com and Kindle. Dean B. Bunch ’69, Tallahassee, a partner at the Tallahassee office of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP, has been appointed by Robert McDonald, U.S. secretary of Veterans
Affairs, to a two-year term as a member of the Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee on the Readjustment of Veterans. The committee offers advice to the secretary on providing services to veterans and assisting them in adjusting to civilian life.
1970s Bernard “Barry” Kanner, JD ’74, Saint Petersburg, has been elected a trustee for Menorah Manor and serves as the chair of the board. Menorah Manor began in 1985 and is a non-profit healthcare organization with a highly regarded geriatric and rehabilitation center. Betty Smith Blanton ’75, Lenoir City, Tenn., has been awarded the Helen B. Watson Outstanding Faculty/Student Doctoral Dissertation Award. The award is given to the student voted by the Faculty Senate as having the most outstanding doctoral dissertation in the College of Education, Health, and Human Services at the University of Tennessee each year. The dissertation is titled “Speaking Volumes: Professional Growth in Book Studies.” Lynn Thomson ’75, Sarasota, was presented the 2014 Investigator of the Year award by the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators. Additionally, she was awarded The Honorable Vern Buchanan, Florida, 16th District Congressional Law Enforcement Award for dedication and professionalism and the 2014 Officer of the Year, Region V, Florida Narcotics Officers Association.
1980s James S. Cain ’80, Meridian, Ind., has recently published the World War II history book Personal Justice Denied (The Rest of the 9066 Story) available on Amazon. Murray B. Silverstein ’80, JD ’82, Tampa, has been elevated to shareholder at the international law firm of Greenberg Traurig, P.A. Mark A. Brackett ’83, Laurel, Md., was elected chair of the Board of Directors for the Washington
Suburban Sanitary Commission Federal Credit Union. WSSC is the seventh largest water and wastewater utility in the United States. Thomas R. James ’83, Bowling Green, Ky., is currently the lead pastor at the Eastwood Baptist Church in Bowling Green, and at the annual meeting of the Kentucky Baptist Convention in November, James was elected president of the KBC. The Kentucky Baptist Convention has 2,400 churches and 750,000 members. David S. Becker, JD ’88, Bradenton, of the law firm Heintz & Becker, has been named to the 2014 Florida Super Lawyers list. Wendy Loquasto, JD ’88, Tallahassee, of Fox & Loquasto, P.A., was one of seven attorneys in Florida recognized by the Legal Services Corp. with an award for “extraordinary commitment to providing equal access to justice through pro bono work with Legal Services of North Florida Inc.” Loquasto provides pro bono appellate services to clients of Legal Services of North Florida. Leigh Williams, JD ’88, Orlando, joins Broad and Cassel’s office as counsel in the real estate practice group. She brings more than 25 years of real estate experience to the firm.
1990s Kathryn Masters ’90, Cheyenne, Wyo., is a Bronze Star Medal recipient who was deployed to Afghanistan for one year from 2010 to 2011. After retiring from 23 years of active duty, she served as the deputy intelligence officer for the 29th Infantry Division. Masters has since moved from Maryland to Cheyenne, Wyo., and is enjoying life out West. She is currently employed by the University of Wyoming as a college adviser at a local high school, helping students realize their dreams of going to college. Thomas J. Gray, MBA ’91, Charlotte, N.C., was presented the Skanska USA 2014 MAX Award of the Year. For his accomplishments, he received a check and an invitation to attend the Skanska Global IT Summit in Prague, Czech Republic.
▲ David F. Mack ’92, Roswell, Ga., managing director – wealth management at Merrill Lynch in Atlanta, was recently recognized on Barron’s America’s Top 1,200 Advisors: State-by-State list. He is a senior partner of the global corporate and institutional advisory services team. He is charged with developing relationships with key executives of the group’s Fortune 500 clients. Blane G. McCarthy ’92, JD ’95, Jacksonville, is this year’s recipient of The Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Award, in addition to receiving the Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award of JALA. McCarthy initiated a project at the City Rescue Mission to support residents in its LifeBuilders Program. Five times a year, he and members of the Christian Legal Society conduct intake interviews with residents who have legal issues and questions. Joseph D. Hunt, JD ’93, Tampa, recently spoke at the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers’ Marital and Family Law Review Course on Professionalism and Ethics in Marital and Family Law.
▲ Suzanne Messenger Livesay ’93, Winter Garden, completed her
M.Ed. in secondary education in 2012. Livesay was also recently named theater chair of the Patel Conservatory at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa. Robert “Jake” Bebber ’94, Millersville, Md., has had his article “Countersurge: A Better Understanding of China’s Rise and U.S. Goals in East Asia” published in the foreign policy journal Orbis. George H. Bovenizer ’94, Los Angeles, Calif., has been nominated for two Emmy Awards for his production work at E! News.
Public Defender Dillinger Recognized
▲ Thomas F. Coyle ’96, Deerfield Beach, has been named a finalist in South Florida Business and Wealth’s Leaders in Law Awards 2015. He’s a finalist in the real estate law category. The Leaders in Law Awards program was created by Lifestyle Media Group in an effort to pay homage to lawyers, law firms and corporate counsel who lead the way in both the legal industry and community, promote excellence in law, and exhibit the highest ethical standards. Andrew J. Doyle, JD ’96, Washington, D.C., has been appointed to the Advisory Committee on Admissions and Grievances of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; the editorial board of The Federal Lawyer, the official publication of the Federal Bar Association; and the Federal Court Practice Committee of The Florida Bar. Angela Zervos, JD ’96, Tarpon Springs, was listed in The Best Rated Attorneys in the Tampa Area: 2014 Edition.
Stetson University College of Law presented this year’s prestigious William Reece Smith Jr. Public Service Award to Bob Dillinger, JD ’76, who has served for 18 years as public defender for the 6th Judicial Circuit. This year’s award was presented at the annual Inns of Court Banquet and William Reece Smith Jr. Distinguished Lecture in St. Petersburg. As an assistant public defender for the 6th Judicial Circuit, Dillinger served on the capital crimes defense team and was instrumental in publishing Florida’s first comprehensive death penalty training manual for defense attorneys. He first ran for the Public Defender’s Office in 1996 and has been continuously re-elected to the position ever since. He’s been quoted in the Tampa Bay Times about the importance of public defenders. “There are no lobbyists for poor people,” Dillinger explained. “And people who have been charged with crimes, most people think they’re guilty. Our job is to make sure their rights are protected.” He looks at his job as ensuring that every defendant gets a vigorous defense. “I may not like this particular client, but the job is to protect that client’s rights. And by protecting the client’s rights, we protect everyone’s rights,” Dillinger said. “We defend the Constitution every day. That means a lot to us.” A native Floridian, Dillinger graduated from Columbia University in New York City in 1973 and from Stetson University College of Law in 1976. After several years as assistant public defender, Dillinger left government service and opened a private practice, where he specialized in criminal defense and civil jury work. He decided to run for the Office of Public Defender for the 6th Judicial Circuit in 1995, and by September 1996, he successfully obtained his party’s nomination. He was re-elected in 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012. Stetson established the William Reece Smith Jr. Award in 1990 to honor outstanding contributions to public service, the justice system, and the community. —Brandi Palmer
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other nonprofits. He completed The Greater Fort Myers Leadership Program in November 2014.
▲ Tangela Hopkins Barrie, JD ’97, Stone Mountain, Ga., was elected chief judge of the DeKalb Superior Court in the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit in December 2014. She will also serve as chief judge of the 4th Judicial Administrative District. Her two-year term began in January 2015. At 35, she is the youngest Superior Court judge elected to the circuit and is the second African-American female on the DeKalb County Bench. As a Superior Court judge, she handles felony cases ranging from theft to murder, including death penalty cases. Her civil caseload includes adoptions, child custody, divorces and various other civil matters. She also voluntarily presides over drug court, which is an accountability court designed to rehabilitate offenders who use drugs.
▲ David I. LaRocque ’98, MBA ’13, Orlando, has been promoted to IT solutions architect at The Genworth Foundation. Susana Campos Mandell ’99, DeLand, has been named Mainland High School’s Teacher of the Year for 2015-16. Richard B. Weinman, JD ’99, Orlando, has recently been named shareholder with the law firm Winderweedle, Haines, Ward & Woodman, P.A. He practices in the firm’s litigation practice area, representing clients in business disputes throughout Florida. His practice is concentrated on business/commercial litigation and creditors’ rights in state, federal and bankruptcy courts, as well as binding arbitrations.
▲ Joseph L. D’Ambrosio ’97, MAcc ’98, Fort Myers, has been named a shareholder in the Southwest Florida accounting firm of Wiltshire, Whitley, Richardson & English, P.A. He joined the firm in 2003 with five years of accounting experience and was promoted to the position of accounting and auditing manager in 2006. He has volunteered with United Way, Holidays Without Hunger, American Red Cross and
▲ Jason A. Davis, MBA ’02, Leesburg, was recently named a firm partner at ShuffieldLowman. Currently the head of the firm’s Lake County office, Davis practices in the areas of estate planning, corporate formations, mergers and acquisitions, securities and business succession
planning. He serves as a member of the Cornerstone Hospice Foundation Board, and the Lake & Sumter County Habitat for Humanity Board and is the current president of the Lake & Sumter County Habitat for Humanity Foundation.
▲ Annette Filliat ’03, Atlanta, was named to the Board of Directors of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Georgia chapter. William J. “Josh” Podolsky, JD ’03, Tampa, has been elected to partnership at the law firm of Phelps Dunbar LLP. He practices law in the firm’s Tampa office, where he concentrates in the areas of real estate, commercial transactions, banking, finance, general business, and corporate and partnership matters. His clients include buyers, sellers, investors, developers and financial institutions. Amy Carstensen, JD ’05, Tampa, was featured in the Tampa Bay Times for her artwork during the 2015 Gasparilla Festival. Matthew D. Foster, JD ’05, Washington, D.C., has been named to the Washington, D.C., Rising Stars list for 2015. He is a senior attorney in the firm Pepper Hamilton LLP and practices in the firm’s commercial litigation practice group. He concentrates his practice in securities litigation, white-collar crime, and commercial litigation. Jo Ann Palchak, JD ’05, Tampa, was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) at the association’s meeting in New Orleans in February 2015. She is a life member of NACDL and has been
very active in the women’s initiative of the NACDL, most recently speaking at the association’s spring meeting in Las Vegas. Suzanne Boy, JD ’06, Fort Myers, was sworn in as the 2015 president of the Human Resource Management Association of Southwest Florida (HRMA), a local chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). She concentrates her practice in employment law, assisting clients with all aspects of employment-related litigation, claims and client counseling, including employee handbooks; supervisory training; wage/hour matters; and employee termination, leave and disciplinary issues. She also frequently speaks to businesses and professional groups on various employment matters, and she is the lead blogger and editor of the Southwest Florida Employment Law Blog. Rodney J. MacKinnon, JD ’06, Tallahassee, has been named interim executive director of the Office of Early Learning. He previously served the agency as inspector general. Matthew N. Turko, JD ’06, West Palm Beach, has joined the Haile Shaw & Pfaffenberger law firm. Phoenix Ayotte Harris, JD ’07, Fairfax, Va., announces the formation of a new law partnership, Harris & Carmichael, PLLC. Even as a brand-new firm, Harris & Carmichael, PLLC, has proudly claimed victories on behalf of its clients over the past few weeks. David S. Delrahim, JD ’08, Saint Petersburg, has been elected to the Board of Trustees for Menorah Manor Inc. and serves as the treasurer. Menorah Manor began in 1985 and is a nonprofit healthcare organization with a highly respected geriatric and rehabilitation center. Megan England ’08, Mays Landing, N.J., Atlantic City Free Public Library Teen Services librarian, recently was named a Rising Star at the annual New Jersey Library Association Conference Honors and Awards Reception. She was just one of three librarians in the state to receive the award, which honors NJLA members with less than five years of professional experience for
innovative and creative work. In addition, the Atlantic City Library’s Teen Advisory Group (TAG), which she coordinates, was the recipient of the NJLA’s Library Service Group Award. John M. Miller, JD ’08, Fort Myers, a shareholder in Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, P.A., the tort and insurance litigation practice, traveled to Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the Florida Bar Young Lawyers Board of Governors. The elected governors met privately with Chief Justice John Roberts who gave a brief history of the court. He is now admitted to practice in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. He also speaks and writes frequently before public and private associations and has been recognized by Florida Super Lawyers magazine (2011, 2013-14) as a “Rising Star” in the field of civil litigation defense. He also received the James A. Dixon Young Lawyer of the Year Award from the Florida Defense Lawyers Association. Miller is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell. Miguel R. Roura, JD ’08, and Peter S. Nayrouz, JD ’10, both of Saint Petersburg, presented the adjuster 5-hour Law and Ethics Update Course to Esurance in Tampa. The course is designed to identify for insurance adjusters and insurance investigators ethical issues surrounding fraud investigations and strategies for handling such issues when they arise.
have scored at or above 99.9 percent in selected intelligence tests. About two in 100 people qualify to join MENSA, a similar but less selective group, while one in 10,000 qualifies for Triple Nine membership. Aaron L. Watson, JD ’09, Pensacola, received the Living the Dream award for his commitment, vision and leadership in keeping the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. alive. He recently made partner at his firm, Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor, P.A. Michael J. Kincart, JD ’09, Orlando, has joined BakerHostetler. He focuses primarily on real estate and business law. His experience includes providing representation to corporate clients on real estate and financial transactions, mergers and acquisitions, general corporate matters, and homeowners association matters.
▲ Anthony Ortiz ’09, Saint Cloud, has been promoted to national presenter at Faithlife Corporation.
▲ H. Amos Goodall, LLM ’09, recently was inducted into the Triple Nine Society. This is an organization of 1,400 members worldwide, who
Matthew A. Hatfield, JD ’10, Saint Petersburg, has joined Johnson, Pope, Bokor Ruppel & Burns on its healthcare team in the Saint Petersburg office. Colby S. Hearn, JD ’10, Tampa, has joined Johnson, Pope, Bokor, Ruppel & Burns on its litigation team in both the Saint Petersburg and Tampa offices. Jamie Marcario, JD ’10, Saint Petersburg, joined the international law firm Greenberg Traurig, P.A., as an associate in the firm’s labor and employment practice. She focuses her practice on labor and employment
Double Hatter Tamara Clay finds success.
Innovation Is the Key to Success Double Hatter Tamara Clay, JD ’10, MBA ’15, just earned the position of assistant general counsel and director of human resources at the innovative, supersonic transportation company, Hyperloop Technologies, located in Los Angeles, Calif. Clay earned her JD degree from Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport. While there, she was recognized with the distinguished William F. Blews Pro Bono Award and the Stetson University College of Law Leadership Certificate. Soon after, she enrolled in Stetson’s EMBA program. This unique program offers experienced professionals from all academic backgrounds the opportunity to earn an EMBA degree in only 18 months while still working. Clay became one of the first 15 employees hired to Hyperloop Technologies, and she is excited to use her Stetson education to build up the company. “As assistant general counsel and director of HR, I rely heavily on both my law school training and Executive MBA values-based leadership skills,” Clay says. “By having both a JD and MBA, I am able to perform in a dual role and provide additional value to the company.” As Clay explains, Hyperloop Technologies is advancing quickly with a goal of having 100 employees by the end of the year. Hyperloop is one of the first startup companies to begin development on the science fiction notion of supersonic train transportation. According to a recent feature in Forbes magazine, a train could rocket passengers and cargo from San Francisco to Los Angeles at 760 miles an hour! “Imagine a world where employees can live hundreds of miles away from the city in which they work and yet have the ability to commute to work in minutes,” Clay says. “A system like this will lead to a lot of growth in shipping, real estate, and more. We are going to change the future of transportation.” The Hyperloop would be as fast as a plane, while cheaper and more environmentally friendly than a train. Borders between states would ultimately dissipate, and overcrowding of large cities would vanish since the commute between New York City and Philadelphia would take only 10 minutes. As a self-classified tech geek, Clay was immediately fascinated by Hyperloop Technologies. She is excited to disrupt the status quo of current transportation systems and bring the country into the future. And with the addition of Clay to the team, Hyperloop Technologies has a first-rate lineup to do so. As a graduate, Clay is known as a dedicated and hardworking Hatter, and she’s glad she will work with this futuristic company. “I am so thankful that I moved to Florida to attend law school and later earn my EMBA at Stetson. Stetson provided a nurturing environment that helped me to obtain the confidence and skills I needed to elevate my career to the next level,” she says. —Kerstin Cook
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Barie Holds Accounting Chair Who are accountants? “They are chief financial officers for Fortune 500 companies and advisers to small neighborhood businesses,” says Tommye Barie ’83, the 102nd chair of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the largest member association of the accounting profession in the world. The association has more than 400,000 members in 145 countries. Barie is only the fourth female to hold the position in the history of AICPA. How did she do it? “Volunteering has been an important component of my career,” she says. She enjoyed contributing to the profession’s success at the chapter level of the Florida Institute of CPAs, then at the FICPA state level and finally with board service at the committee level. “When I accepted my first volunteer officer’s position with a local FICPA chapter early in my career, I never dreamed I would become chair of the national organization,” she says. That doesn’t mean that Barie hasn’t run into challenges during her distinguished career. “A small business contacted us and was concerned that its bookkeeper might be embezzling funds,” she recalls. “Through the work of one of our auditors, who is credentialed in the forensics area, we were able to quantify how much the bookkeeper had stolen.” Barie also worked with a small Florida firm that wanted to expand its operations into Chile. To say it was complicated is an understatement. “We had to figure out a myriad of international issues, including planning the move, operating the plant, and investigating tax issues,” she remembers. Barie admires those in her profession for being “strategic thinkers who are well respected for their integrity and commitment to excellence.” She’s now based her platform as chair on relevance, rigor and reach. “The faculty of the M.E. Rinker Sr. Institute of Tax and Accountancy are indeed very proud of Tommye,” says Michael E. Bitter, Ph.D., Rinker Distinguished Professor of Accounting and department chair, “not only for her election as chair of the AICPA this year, but for all she has done for the accounting profession in the state of Florida and in the U.S. over the years.” Barie joins the ranks of other successful Stetson accounting alumni, including Jeff Barbacci ’91, M.Acc. ’92 (Master of Accountancy), who was elected to serve as the 87th board chair of the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants (FICPA) for 2014-15. “It is extraordinary for a small accounting program, such as Stetson’s, to boast not one, but two AICPA chairs among its alumni. I expect our curriculum to continue to change and evolve to ensure that our students continue to be well prepared to enter the accounting profession,” adds Bitter. “Tommye’s successes are excellent examples for our students, particularly our female students, of the kinds of opportunities available to them once they graduate from Stetson,” he notes. —Bill Noblitt
law with an emphasis on defending employment discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, retaliation, and civil rights cases in state and federal courts. Daffnee Cohen ’11, Orlando, has written numerous articles published by The Huffington Post. She is a writer, entrepreneur and fitness instructor. James M. Soldavini ’11, Naples, earned his master’s degree in accounting and taxation and passed his Uniform CPA Examination. He is now a CPA and continues his career at his family CPA firm, Matthew John Soldavini, Certified Public Accountants. Margaret Knaust Kramer, MBA/ JD ’12, Saint Petersburg, has joined Johnson, Pope, Bokor, Ruppel & Burns.
should use during an OSHA investigation. Marcia Myers ’14, DeLand, teaches the fifth grade at Citrus Grove Elementary School and was recently recognized as the top new teacher at her school with the “First Year Teacher of the Year” award.
▲ Wendy Oliver, MEd ’14, Winter Park, is director of grants for Dr. Phillips Charities. Dr. Phillips Charities (which includes Dr. Phillips Inc. and The Dr. P. Phillips Foundation) has contributed more than $160 million in grants and pledges to a variety of Central Florida organizations.
Marriages & Unions Emily Ogorek ’04 to Donell Cummings on Aug. 9, 2014. ▲ Jeremy J. Reidenberg ’12, Short Hills, N.J., recently became a licensed realtor with Adams, Cameron and Co. He covers DeLand and Daytona Beach. Chrissie Fernandez, JD ’13, Saint Petersburg, has been appointed assistant public defender in the 16th Judicial Circuit of Florida. She will be practicing from the Monroe County Public Defender’s Office in Marathon, Florida Keys. T. Luke Markham, JD ’13, Clearwater, has joined Johnson, Pope, Bokor, Ruppel & Burns on its real estate team in its Clearwater office. Anthony D. Tilton, JD ’13, Tampa, a construction law associate with Trent Cotney, P.A., spoke at the Volusia-Flagler Roofing and Sheet Metal Contractors Association meeting in Daytona Beach. He spoke on the OSHA inspection process and the proper defenses that contractors
▲ Collier Black ’05 to Paige Calvert on Nov. 22, 2014.
▲ John Baker ’07 to Claire Griggs on Sept. 27, 2014.
Melissa Madsen, JD ’08, to Joseph Murray, JD ’08, on Dec. 13, 2014.
Chelsie Lamie, JD ’07, and husband David, a son, Michael Patrick, in January 2014. Elizabeth Schaefer Shibly ’07, MBA ’10, and husband Gabriel ’08, MAcc ’09, a son, Elias Gregory, in March 2015.
▲ Kevin Chambers ’09 to Katie Alongi on May 17, 2014.
▲ Scott D. Fortes ’82 and wife Christy, a granddaughter, Peyton Kee, in November 2014.
▲ Caroline Peterson Wieland ’07 and husband William ’07, JD ’10, a daughter, Blair Victoria, in July 2014.
▲ Sarah Capria ’13 to Michael Driscoll on Oct. 11, 2014. ▲ Jonathan D. Bailey ’03 and wife Stacy a daughter, Emma Catherine, in August 2014.
▲ Kristen Mueller ’13 to Jonathan Mendoza ’12 on Feb. 7, 2015. ▲ Jessica Raub Gorman ’05 and husband Sean ’04, a son, Callan Gabriel, in December 2014.
▲ Samantha Roughton ’13 to Justin Pickens ’13 on Feb. 28, 2015.
▲ Matthew Yost ’13 to Victoria Betz on Nov. 15, 2014.
▲ Laina Ferrell Faber ’06 and husband, William ’04, a daughter, Lola Marguerite, in October 2014.
In Memoriam Marguerite Hays MacCalla ’38 Evelyn Olliff Nelson ’39 Leffie M. Caelton ’40 Harryette P. Johnson ’41 James H. Dyson, LLB ’42 Dorothy Day Hittinger ’42 Irma Peterson Swann ’42 Walker S. Green ’44, JD ’51 Verna Baer Nash ’44 Kenneth Pichard ’46 Carolyn Baggett Fain ’47 Dottson L. Mills ’47 Marjorie Merrill Stewart ’47 Marvene A. Gordon, LLB ’49 Ann Stine Hughes-Johnson ’49 Robert E. Rogers ’49 Earl J. Couey ’50 Krama F. Desha ’50 Carmen Albritton Duncan ’50 Edwin E. Kelly ’50 Nan Franklin Kirkpatrick ’50 William E. Lanigan ’50 Andrew F. Romano ’50, MA ’64 Anderson J. Caldwell ’51 John H. Dame ’51 James H. Gaff ’51 Mary Lancaster Hammond ’51 Wayne W. Oeffler ’51 Shirley Turner Christie ’52 Edward L. Drury ’52
Shirley Williams Ash ’53 Anna Cresse Mikesell ’53 Anthony C. Samarkos ’54 Robert Thurman ’54 Harry J. Usher ’54 Richard C. Saltrick ’58 Jo Ann Owens Moulton ’59 Andrew G. Raymond ’59 Diane Ferguson Steelman ’60 Joyce McBride Kresa ’61 George C. Lanier ’61 Doris Sanders Mallard ’61 Gaynelle Posey, MA ’61 Jane Bray Reillo ’61 Arla Mae Hardt Sluisman ’61 J. Mason Wines, JD ’61 James O. Clements ’62, MA ’63 Michael V. Reynolds ’62 Donald G. Waldrop ’62 Robert L. Bidwell ’63 Margaret Gormly Krause ’63 Lewis S. Allen ’64 Frances D. Breton ’64 Rodger W. Dixon ’65 Franklin D. Kelley, LLB ’65 Randall J. Stokes ’65 Mitchell D. Franks, JD ’66 Merl Franklin Nash, MA ’66 C. Allen Watts ’67, JD ’71 Robert L. Miller, MA ’68 Linda E. Styles ’68 Martin L. Mallory, MA ’69 Dolores Wenter Sapp ’69, MEd ’72, SPCEN ’82 Caroline Toldert ’69 R. Wayne Hedick, MBA ’71 George L. Roska, MBA ’72 Margaret Farmer Ivey, MA ’73 Elizabeth White Mixson, MED ’74 Arthur E. Grindle ’76 H. Curtis Skipper, JD ’76 Clyde L. Hayes ’77 John R. Tamm ’77, LLB ’52 Sharon Tootle ’78 Meredith Craig, JD ’80 Jan Johnson Sargent ’80 Robin Kehrley Smith ’82 Linda Simon Maurer ’84 Jennifer Paquette Heneghan ’85, MED ’94 Robert L. McIntyre, JD ’85 Cephas P. Thomas, MEd ’97 Christopher M. Rigoli, JD ’07 Andrew B. Smith ’11
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HOW TO BUILD YOUR OWN KALEIDOSCOPE By Provost Beth Paul, Ph.D.
was a curious child with many different
interests. Never-ending interests kept me amused and occupied in my youth. As I grew older, my different interests often frustrated my parents. Make up your mind! Choose a direction. Focus. As I matured into adulthood, my yen for different interests became a fascination with different perspectives, ways of knowing, and methods of inquiry that have guided (and often complicated) my professional and personal development. I am always thinking, wondering, tilting and turning — fascinated by the complexity of our world and driven to understand the meaning and significance of my life in its context. There are so many elements, so many layers, and so many moving parts! How can we make sense of it all so that we can make the most of the life we are given? I received two special gifts on my eighth birthday that, in hindsight, I have realized were formative in my complex quest for a meaningful life — a yellow-and-red kaleidoscope and my grandmother, who came to live with us. I will never forget the first time I looked through that kaleidoscope — the beauty that was at once complex and simple awed me. And every time I looked, the image was new. Each novel image was even more beautiful than the last. I will also never forget the unconditional acceptance my grandmother, Martha, gave me, appreciating my varied and ever-changing interests. She listened to me try to make sense of it all, asked me challenging questions, suggested new perspectives, and had faith in my potential for a meaningful and coherent life. When I would get exasperated and overwhelmed, she would say, “Go get your kaleidoscope.” In no time, I was reminded anew of the coherent beauty that could be created out of seeming chaos. As I later discovered my passion and purpose in higher education, these two gifts
became organizing concepts for the kind of learning that I believe is imperative for our world. One, of course, requires holistic learning that prepares individuals for an evolving, meaningful and significant life. Stetson University provides a special personal learning community that guides our students in creating their own kaleidoscope — a guide for a lifetime of perspective, wonder, awe, beauty and inspiration. So, let’s create a kaleidoscope, shall we? Here’s what you’ll need: o A scope through which you can orient your vision; o Mirrors that facilitate multiple reflection; o An unending supply of diverse elements — the more diverse the better, no matter if broken or whole — with appreciation for the space between them too; o Glass that is transparent so that as you look through it nothing is hidden; and o Sources of light. The process of assembling your kaleidoscope requires your own handiwork and creativity, and the guidance and models of others around you will enhance your experience. You will build your kaleidoscope in such a way that you can switch out the diverse elements — just like different courses, disciplines, professors and learning experiences. In the process, it will mesmerize and delight you. It will create infinite possibilities, perspectives and ideas. You will have to exercise creativity, adaptability, critical reasoning and collaboration. And you will learn to distill meaning from complexity, to think and see in different ways, to see connections where they may not be immediately apparent and to appreciate beauty. Every time you look through your kaleidoscope you will see something new, unique and beautiful. Ah! Finally! THIS must be the meaning of life! The image you behold will delight you, such
that you may want to hold it still or somehow preserve it. But as soon as you put the kaleidoscope down, the image is gone. And when you pick up the kaleidoscope again, with that fleeting feeling of loss and the return of chaos, something new and different and beautiful will appear, delighting you again and again and again. Through a Stetson education, we learn that life is constantly changing. We are constantly challenged. We cannot hold life still. We discover new things. Things fall apart. Sometimes the light is too dim, clouding our vision. But with the kaleidoscope Stetson has helped us create and with the daring and courage to shake it up, hold it up to the light, look through our non-dominant eye, and peer inside, we will see things we have never seen before. We come to believe in possibility and transformation. We realize that there is something larger than an isolated element — larger than I — that encompasses difference and provides meaning and coherence to this life we are given. Over our lifetime, our kaleidoscope will ensure endless wonder and delight in our search for meaning. It will allow us to see everyday objects in extraordinary and unpredictable ways. The infinite complexity that we create from something so simple will amaze us. And we will be awed by the beautiful coherence that can be created from something so complex. When faced with a challenging problem, our kaleidoscope will free our mind and spark creativity and new ideas. When overwhelmed by stress and the complexity of life, our kaleidoscope will refocus and calm us, reminding us of our sense of purpose and meaning in this magical life. If ever you misplace your kaleidoscope, Stetson friends will always be there to lend you theirs. I have a collection of kaleidoscopes in my office just in case. Beth Paul, Ph.D., is Stetson provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.
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Stetson University College of Law Commencement Photo by Brian K. Vandervliet
Office of University Marketing 421 N. Woodland Blvd., 8319 DeLand, FL 32723
STETSON is printed on FSC-certified paper.
Stetson University Chaplain Michael Fronk â€™74 gives the benediction at Commencement.