Page 1

The Magazine of the Ellis College of Arts and Sciences

Movie Magic Design alum visits from Hollywood

Alternative Bubblegum rocks on

Cheering Equality Student recounts aunt’s triumph

Vol. 13, Summer 2011 Henderson State University

Letter from the Dean Dear Alumni and Friends, One thing that makes university teaching so enjoyable is that every day brings something new. There is a constant energy that comes to the classroom with each new group of students, challenging us to be innovative and demanding our focused attention. Regardless of whether you have taught one year or forty, the excitement is always the same when you see students “get it� after struggling with a particular assignment or concept. The fulfillment one feels from making a positive difference in a student’s life is always rewarding. This year, three of our beloved Ellis College faculty retired. They are to be congratulated for their teaching, scholarship and service, but most importantly, for the lives they changed over their combined 97.5 years of service. Below is a very brief summary of their time on campus. Don Wells, associate professor of sociology, retired in December 2010. He received his master of arts degree from Stephen F. Austin in 1971 and came to Henderson the following fall. He taught full-time until 2005 when he took a secondary position as University Transfer Advisor in addition to his classroom duties. Mr. Wells was always available and willing to help whenever asked. He spent many hours working with students in Heart Start each summer and served on many committees over his 39.5 years at Henderson. Don Wells

Jane Dunn, associate professor of biology, came to Henderson as First Lady in 1986. After several semesters as an adjunct faculty member, she was appointed to a full-time position in 1996. Dr. Dunn spent many hours advising and observing students interested in teaching science. She was a wonderful role model and a compassionate teacher, often taking students with serious health or family problems under her wing. She was a master at combining her professional interests in plants and animals with her hobby of photography, creating beautiful works of art for both teaching and pleasure.

Jane Dunn

Julia Hall joined the Department of English and Foreign Languages (philosophy added later) in 1968, and in 1994 was humbled when asked to chair the department, a role she held until her retirement. She was a true advocate for faculty, staff and students, always attentive to their needs and willing to be their voice whenever needed. She was most proud of the work she did in helping students see the world, organizing and taking several trips to Europe with students in both the Honors College and the choir. Dr. Hall served on countless committees over her 43 years, but her work on the University Academic Council was particularly significant as decisions by this committee directly affect the academic integrity of the institution. She had a direct impact on policies and procedures across the institution.

Julia Hall

We thank them for their devoted service and congratulate them on their many successes. Sincerely,

Maralyn Sommer Dean of the Ellis College

If you like what you see


Consider making a donation to an Ellis College organization or department, or endow a scholarship in memory of a friend.

Dr. Dimond

“Highly energetic and quirky”

Page 2

Mr. Wilson Visits from Hollywood

Otsuka San Page 14

Page 4

Volume 13, Summer 2011

Dr. Schranz

“My goal was to make it to the Olympics …”

Page 18

Ms. Burns

I remember thinking that I would just sneak out and not audition

Page 11

Miss Hunter It was so illogical, my brain almost exploded

Page 8

Biology Field Station Open for business

Page 16

The Magazine of Ellis College FORGE is published yearly by the Henderson State University Matt Locke Ellis College of Arts and Sciences. Through profiles and current news, the magazine serves as a personal link connecting the college to its alumni and other related communities. The FORGE staff, composed of students and faculty, strives for excellence in magazine journalism through fair reporting and high quality photography and design. To suggest topics for future FORGE articles or to comment on the magazine, please email

Interim President Bobby Jones Provost, VPAA Vernon G. Miles Dean of Ellis College Maralyn Sommer Associate Dean John Hardee Forge Editorial Board Maralyn Sommer David Stoddard Michael Ray Taylor Marck Beggs Penny Murphy Art Director David Stoddard

Designers Amy Porter Cari Elliott David Stoddard Editors Cari Elliott Michael Ray Taylor Contributors Matthew Axelson Katie Brown Sarah Burns Lurelee Doleshal Cari Elliott Kristen Hansen Kristin Land Amy Porter Josh Sabo Tameika Tank

By Josh Sabo

Rick Dimond jazzes up music programs To understand Rick Dimond, professor of music, you really must understand his childhood. When he was five years old, he begged his parents for six months to learn how to play the accordion after he saw a child with one on a local television show in Pheonix, Arizona, where they lived. Once he started the accordion, his parents could tell he had significant musical talent, and decided to provide him with a more legitimate musical background, by giving him oboe and percussion lessons. By the time he was in the fourth grade, he was taking a total of five private lessons each week: violin, accordion, oboe, percussion, and piano. On the nights he wasn’t busy with lessons, he either played in the Phoenix Symphonettes, an all-city orchestra, or he played with a Phoenixwide symphonic honor band. “My mother would not cancel that,” he says, leaning forward to gesture wildly with his hands. “Not for a spaghetti supper, not for family pictures, not for a football game, not for a parent teacher conference. She wouldn’t cancel them for anything!” The man is 56, about 5 foot 10 inches tall, skinny, and constantly busy. When he isn’t teaching private lessons or his form and analysis class, he is rehearsing Henderson’s NuFusion jazz band or playing a gig with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, where he holds the position of the orchestra’s principle timpanist.


By the time he enrolled in college at Indiana University, he had the option of choosing a major in oboe, piano, or percussion. While he intended to be an oboe major, when he settled in at Indiana, he didn’t like the oboe studio. “I loved the percussion studio and everything that was happening there” he says. “So by the end of the first semester, I put all my marbles into percussion.” Dimond had the opportunity to play with John Mellencamp’s band, but he had teaching responsibilities at Arizona State, along with no support from his wife or parents, so he turned the offer over to his little sister, who went on to play accordion for the group. Dr. Dimond was, however, in a band called “Stream Winner” with Kenny Aronoff, who went on to play with big name artists such as John Fogerty, Elton John, Bob Seger, and Jon Bon Jovi, just to name a few. Dimond began his teaching position at Henderson in July 1984, after his previous job at Arizona expired. He loved the town and the people here, so he stayed. If you ask any student or friend what word best describes him, “driven” comes in at the top. So what makes him such an ambitious person? “I have no idea,” Dimond answers, “My dad had a ridiculous temper. I’m an extrovert.” He also insisted on not having a real favorite kind of music. “I love playing timpani with the ASO. I love it. I wouldn’t give it up for anything.

I like playing keyboards for pop and jazz and rock bands. That’s fun. So if you fuse all that together, thats probably my favorite kind of music.” He thinks for a moment and laughs, “I’m an alternative bubble gum musician.” He is also well respected by his colleagues and students. Darren Cooper, who studied form and analysis under Dr. Dimond, describes him as “a man with knowledge, skills and a vivacious personality that are perfectly blended and balanced. He uses that blend, effortlessly, to help his students gain an understanding of the material he teaches.” Although his teaching techniques and antics are intimidating at times – “Do I have to kick something to make you play that right?”– he understands what it takes to motivate people and brings out the best in them. He is a highly energetic and quirky man who lets his passion for music bleed into everything he does.

Photos by Steve Fellers Illustration by Amy Porter



Illustration by Lurelee Doleshal

By Lurelee Doleshal with additional reporting by Kristen Hansen and Matthew Axelson

Has mom ever kicked you off the couch and demanded you get a job? For art alumnus Johnny Wilson, that was just the push he needed to pursue his dream to work in the film industry. Today, he is an accomplished Hollywood special effects composite artist who has had a hand in editing some impressive titles including television favorites “Charmed,” “Deadwood” and “Caprica,” as well as Hollywood blockbusters like “ G.I. Joe,” “Thor” and “Captain America.”


Brought to Henderson this spring by a Margin of Excellence Grant written by Paul Glover, assistant professor of mass media, and David Stoddard, professor of art, Johnny Wilson hosted workshops and spoke to current students in hopes of encouraging them to pursue their own dream jobs. Excited by classics such as the original “King Kong,” “The Wizard of Oz” and “Star Wars,” Wilson was instilled with an early desire to be involved with movie production. However, as he explained to students, it was a PBS-sponsored “Nova” special on the making of Jim Henson’s “The Dark Crystal” that sealed the deal. Jim Henson’s outstanding creativity inspired him to pursue a career in film production. Upon entering college at Henderson, he naturally wished to major in film. However, with no film major offered, he picked what seemed to be the next best thing, a degree in digital art. More than he could have guessed, this choice determined the course of his career. Knowing of his desire to work in the film industry, Dr. Gary Simmons, professor of art, helped Wilson secure an internship at Dempsey Films of Little Rock. This experience afforded him helpful on-thejob training, and what would later prove to be valuable experience working with the professional video editing software, Avid. After Wilson graduated in 1995, his mother approached him with a request. “They’re shooting a movie downtown,” she said. “Go get a job. Now.”

To this day, Mr. Wilson credits his break into the business to Dr. Gary Simmons. With parental fire under him, he mustered up the courage to ask the set crew if they needed another hand on deck. When they discovered his proficiency with Avid, they hired him on the spot. Wilson credits his break into the business to Dr. Gary Simmons for having made the effort to secure the Dempsey Film internship, without which he would not have gained the crucial onthe-job-training.

And that movie being filmed downtown? It turned out to be Billy Bob Thornton’s hit, “Slingblade.” After wrapping up in Arkansas, the editor was unable to continue on the film. A producer asked Wilson if he would consider moving to California with a pay rate of $300 a week to continue working on the film and other projects. He immediately agreed. “My parents were taking us to Disney World for graduation,” he recalls. “So instead

“I was working hard, like stupid hard. If I knew someone was working ten hours a day, I was working twelve or thirteen.” of my going with them, they gave me the $300 they would have spent on me there.” With a few hundred bucks in his pocket and the promise of a job, albeit a low-paying one, he headed for Hollywood. He stayed in an apartment with a friend of a friend that happened to be located less than a mile away from his workplace. “I was working hard, like stupid hard,” he says of his time there. “If I knew someone was working ten hours a day, I was working twelve or thirteen.” Such persistence paid off, and a string of increasingly large productions came his way. He continues to be drawn to difficult work. “Robot stuff is cool because I’m trying to make it look real,” he says. “It’s challenging sometimes, but it’s fun. The more of a challenge, the more I enjoy it.” Recognizing that current digital art students share his dream of working in Hollywood, Wilson offered his stipend—traditionally paid to speakers brought to campus by the Ellis College Margin of Excellence program—in order to purchase software for three interested students, so that like him, they will have crucial hands-on experience when their own moment of opportunity knocks. “I remember thinking, ‘If I can just get past College Algebra I’m going to be fine,’” he says of being a small-town Henderson student with big dreams. With true Reddie spirit, he is now helping current small-town students pursue dreams of their own.

1995 Graduation from Henderson 1996 Slingblade 2003 Hulk, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Gothika, Bad Santa 2004 Mean Girls, Van Helsing, Nip/Tuck 2005 Charmed, House M.D., Without A Trace


2008 Fanboys, Superhero Movie 2009 G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra 2010 Caprica 2011 Thor, Drive Angry 3D 2012 More to come!

Photo Credit: Christin Harrison


Make friends. Almost nothing in this world is more important than contacts. Friends help each other out; this includes letting each other know when a lucrative job opportunity presents itself, yet is not necessarily made known to the general public. Wilson stresses not to be phony, however: “People can always tell.” You don’t have to be a social butterfly, but speak up and generally avoid being a jerk! Nobody wants to work with an arrogant windbag. Common sense, right?


Work for free. Sounds like a raw deal, I know, but when you’re just starting out, it’s an excellent way to make those contacts. Don’t slack off just because you’re not getting paid. The aim is to impress your client so much that they’ll refer you to paying jobs in the future.


Work Hard. Even if you aren’t necessarily blessed with the divine skills of the fellow working next to you, nothing compares to a strong work ethic. Watch what that fellow is doing, learn from it, and work 10 times harder. Believe me, your boss will appreciate a hard worker much more than a talented slacker.

Above photo by Matthew Axelson Caprica photos courtesy of NBC Universal


By Tameika Tank

A 2011 graduate recalls aunt’s segregation-era triumph Henderson cheerleading has not always been the way it is today. Now, there are usually as many African American cheerleaders as there are white cheerleaders on the squad. Before 1970, all Henderson cheerleaders had one thing in common: they were all white. Back then, Henderson was newly integrated, and before Carolyn Hunter decided she wanted to become a Henderson cheerleader in the spring semester of 1971, the issue of black students joining the squad had never been addressed. She doesn’t know what made her want to try out. She was a chemistry major and math minor, and spent plenty of time in the lab and studying, but during her second semester as a student at the university she decided that cheerleading was what she wanted to do.


Carolyn knew plenty about cheerleading. She had been a cheerleader at her newly integrated high school in Sparkman, Arkansas, a small town about 20 minutes away from Arkadelphia. Therefore, she was not nervous when she and three other students, Betty Macon, Deborah Scott, and Dorothy Stewart (who would eventually become Henderson’s first black Homecoming queen) decided to go to the office of student organizations and ask for the forms that they needed to fill out in order to try out. Then, they did not know that they were embarking on a journey that would result in demonstrations and protests in order for them to be allowed to try out for the squad because, to their surprise, Carolyn and the other three women were denied. “We were not doing it thinking that we were getting ready to start some national movement,” said Carolyn. “We just simply said ‘Hey, we want to be cheerleaders.’ We absolutely did not have a clue that it was going to create the commotion that it did.” The administrator in charge of student organizations on campus told them that they could not try out because Henderson did not currently allow black cheerleaders. Carolyn could not believe that she and the

“...There is nothing that is going to keep a black girl from jumping just like a white girl.”

“ We were not doing it thinking that we were getting ready to start some national movement.” other women were being denied the opportunity to try out because of their race. “How can you tell me I can’t got out for cheer?” said Carolyn. “I go to school here.” But it was true. They were not going to be allowed to try out. However, this did not make them give up. Shortly after being denied the paperwork and being told that they could not try out, the four Henderson cheerleader hopefuls went to the Confederation of Black Students (CBS). The CBS was an organization that existed on campus during the 70s in the early days of integration. It helped to promote unity and to ensure that all Henderson students received equal rights. Whenever black students had a grievance, CBS would try to open a dialouge with campus administrators to settle problem. “We had a whole lot of issues because we couldn’t do anything,” said Carolyn. “We were just there. They simply had us on campus because it was the law to have black students.” For a period of time, the issue went unresolved, and the four young women continued to talk to different administrators. “Different people, different white administrators, told us, ‘No, we are not going to have any black cheerleaders’,” said Carolyn. “I mean, they really meant that they were not going to have any black cheerleaders.” They kept hearing the same message: “No, you cannot do it.” “You cannot go out for cheerleader. We don’t do that.” The students remained content to try peacefully, through talking, to convince the administrators that they should be able to try out. They did not consider any type of active

Cheerleader Caroyln Hunter, along with two of her squadmates, pep up the crowd at a Reddies football game in 1972. protesting until they talked to Ralph Carpenter, the head football coach. They hoped that he would understand their problem because, at the time, there were already black men playing for both the football and basketball teams. “We thought that we would find refuge with him,” said Carolyn. “When the administrators said that we couldn’t be cheerleaders, we thought, ‘Surely the coach knows better. The coach knows that there is no barrier. There is nothing that is going to keep a black girl from jumping just like a white girl.’ So, that’s the reason why we went to him. We went to him trying to get him to support us and to say that it’s okay for us to try out to be cheerleaders.” The four women met with Coach Carpenter in his office one afternoon. However, he told them that they would not be able to try out. “Black girls don’t know how to cheer,” said Carpenter. “They don’t have the athletic ability to be a cheerleader.” After that, Carolyn says that she did not hear another word that Carpenter said. The shock of his answer was too much for her to bear.

“It was so illogical, my brain almost exploded,” said Carolyn. “I just couldn’t believe that he said that.” It was not only the illogical conclusion and the racism that shocked her; it was also the sexism that seemed to rule his reasoning that truly surprised her. “I can see you being stupid and thinking that my brain is inferior,” said Carolyn. “But my muscles are definitely not. I do not have an inferior body. He’s coaching black male athletes. Their bodies weren’t inferior to the white male athletes, so why do you think that a black woman’s body would be inferior to a white woman’s body?” After the meeting with Carpenter, Carolyn and the other students realized that simply talking would not get them what they wanted. “It was then that we went to the streets,” said Carolyn. “I don’t know how we got organized, but we all came together. And we marched.” None of the students were prepared to march that spring day. It was as if that they had become so fed up with being told what they couldn’t


do that all of their frustrated energy exploded, sending them to the streets of Arkadelphia, begging for their voices to be heard, and demanding for their needs to be met. Carolyn, the three other girls that wanted to be cheerleaders, and other black students at Henderson marched around campus, OBU’s campus, and to downtown Arkadelphia. “We demanded,” said Carolyn. “We absolutely demanded to have black cheerleaders.” The students wanted the administration and everyone who was telling them what they could not do to know what they thought. “We gave them our speech about ‘What do you mean we can’t do these things? How about giving us the opportunity? And if we fail, which we will not,’ And that’s exactly what we said, ‘You have no basis for saying what you are saying. Try us out. If we’re lousy, then get rid of us.’ Which we knew wouldn’t happen.”

“It was then that we went to the streets. I don’t know how we got organized, but we all came together. And we marched.” After the march, the president of the university, Martin Garrison, came to a CBS meeting. He told them that they were going to be able to try out. Carolyn tried out and made the squad. “And I was a good cheerleader. I worked at it,” said Carolyn. “I never did anything half-steppin.’ It just wasn’t in my character.” A look at Carolyn’s curricula vitae shows proof that she never “half-stepped.” After cheering for three years, she graduated from Henderson in 1974. Then she began studying for her Ph.D. in biochemistry at Oklahoma State University. She received her


Tameika Tank stands with her aunt, Carolyn Hunter, one of Henderson’s first black cheerleaders, at the 2010 homecoming football game. Ph.D. in 1978. After that, Dr. Carolyn Hunter did several postdoctoral fellowships at different universities while she worked as a research chemist, a biochemistry instructor, a math teacher, and a chemistry instructor. Dr. Hunter retired from teaching at the Arkansas School for Math, Sciences, and the Arts in 2007. In 2011, she was honored in the Cambridge Who’s Who Distinguished Professionals in Education calendar. Dr. Hunter is my aunt. She did all of these things even though it seemed as if the odds were stacked against her. This year, I cheered at my last basketball game as I prepared to graduate with a degree in mass media. As I stood on the court in my halter cheerleading top, with “Reddies” printed

across the chest and my short flyaway cheerleading skirt, I knew I wasn’t going to cry. It was my last game, and I was proud but not of myself. I was proud that I was able to follow in my aunt’s footsteps. Without her footsteps, without her first game, I would never have been able to have my last game. “I didn’t let a thing get in the way to keep me from getting my end prize,” said Carolyn. “As anybody knows, if you really try to be good at something, you can be good at it.”

Photos courtesy of Tameika Tank and 1972 Star


Fond memories on and off stage By Sarah Burns

I remember my first audition at Henderson. I was a new freshman. It was the day before my 19th birthday, and I was terrified. I was completely underdressed. There were so many people there. I am 4 feet 11 inches tall, so most people are intimidating to me anyway, but this was scary. I remember thinking that I would just sneak out and not even audition. I had almost decided to just try again next semester, but luckily, my roommate was sitting with me.


“Hotel Cassiopeia”

“Much Ado A

“The Miracle Worker”

She convinced me to stay. Everyone was so good. I marveled at all the talented people in the room. I had a lot of competition. One after one, people walked down the steps to audition on the Studio Theatre stage. I had picked my lucky number five as my audition number, but it turned out we did not have to go in numerical order. I managed to be the last person. Walking down those steps stretched like an eternity. I felt that everyone was staring at me — they were. I was so afraid I would fall flat on my face in front of all these people. My hands were the sweatiest they have ever been. Yet I finally reached the stage floor, I was fine. No shaking, no nervousness. It was an amazing feeling. This was the reason I was there. “My name is Sarah Burns,” I announced, “and I am auditioner number five.” The words rolled out of my mouth. Before I knew it, my turn was over. After what seemed years, I found out that I had actually been cast. I wondered if I would make friends. I wondered if these people would like me. I wondered if I would even be good in this role I had been given. At my first rehearsal, I thought I was going to pass out. I was part of a seven-person cast, one of only two freshmen. Everyone seemed to know each other, and right away I felt like I belonged. All these people were just like me. They knew what it was like to be in my shoes. I had six instant friends. I never wanted those rehearsals to end.


When a person gets involved with theatre, it consumes their lives. There is a very common phrase found on T-shirts in almost any theatre program: “I can’t, I have rehearsal.” This could not be more true. One must really love this art, because it takes up all of any available time. Even the great Mandy Patinkin had issues with managing his time in college with theatre. “But I loved the theatre and I was just doing theatre 24/7,” he said in an online interview. “I kept dropping courses because I didn’t have the time, and the chancellor thought that wasn’t a good idea after awhile.” Once my show opened, I was at its mercy. The moment I was out on stage, the lights were like stars shining down on me, I was home. I wanted to be there more than any place in the world. As soon as I would get a crowd response, I would feel chills. To have so much talent around me made me feel a part of something big. I never wanted to leave. If I had not known I wanted to be in theatre for the rest of my life before this moment, I surely knew it then. From that point forward, I did not care what I did in theatre, so long as I was involved. somehow. For the next four years of my college career, if I was not involved with a production, I was seeing it. I never missed a show. Henderson did all kinds of plays, from musicals, to comedies, to dramas, to Shakespeare, I loved every show. It was amazing to me that some people did not like some of the more experimental shows we presented. I believe that to be a “theatre-goer,” one must always have an open mind. As quickly as the first year started, my last year at Henderson came to a close. It was time for the final production. I had become so close with everyone involved with the department that I knew this was not going to be easy. Soon enough, the last show was about to come to a close. I came to watch that last show, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” knowing it was going to be emotional. I was not a part of the production, because it was a musical and

Sarah Burns

I am not musically gifted as are many of my friends. I did, however, help to construct and paint the set. It was a magnificent set. The scene was a high school gym where the spelling bee was held. As the lights came up, I was able to marvel at the work we had all contributed to make this show happen. My eyes started at the top, where we had hung a basketball goal on the grid and gym rings. It looked just like an old gym. The floor was the focal point. It was painted like a hardwood floor that had been worn by time. In the center was a blue circle; in the center of that, a beaver head. I watched the show and thoroughly enjoyed it as I did the last three times I had come to see it. Then, as I realized that the musical was coming to a close, it all hit me. I would never sit in this audience again as a student. I planned to head off to Chicago with my boyfriend after graduation, and I had no idea when I would see these people again. These were the friends who had been there for me whenever I needed a shoulder or just someone to listen. They would no longer be in my everyday life — ironic because their last song was “Good-bye.” All the cast was waving and singing, “goodbye,” and for some it really was good-bye. I looked at my family down there waving at me. I caught some of their eyes, and I saw them begin to tear up. It was not long after their standing ovation that I felt the stinging in my eyes. That was it. The waterworks began. All the memories came rushing back. I walked out into the lobby as the cast came out to greet their audience. I was happy to see that I was not the only one with the faucet on. We all hugged and just let the tears flow. I admit it was dramatic, but if one cannot be dramatic in the theatre department, I ask, where can one? I will never forget the times that I spent in the theatre department. Nor will I forget the people I met there. I know we will keep in touch in the future, but it is different now. Now we are all grown up. All photos courtesy of the Henderson theatre department Layout design by Amy Porter

About Nothing” “Urinetown”

“Putnam County Spelling Bee”

“Bus Stop”



Common Book program brings authors and students together. By Katie Brown

“Why did you kill the dog in the book with a shovel?” a student asked. Every hand stopped writing and the class became silent as each student waited expectantly for her answer. It was something the class had discussed with varying opinions, as would be expected for a Creative Writing class that had read the book focusing on content and style, but this particular aspect of the book had flared emotions, dividing writers into two camps: “act of mercy” or “animal cruelty.” It is not unusual for an author’s intent for a piece of literature to be debated in a college classroom. What is unusual is the opportunity to have their questions answered by this small Japanese American woman who poured five and a half years into “When the Emperor Was Divine,” a historical novel based on her mother’s time in an internment camp as a child. This was a work very close to her family and her heart. If anyone knew why the woman in the book decided to use a shovel of all things to kill her old dog, Julie Otsuka knew.


Otsuka’s visit to Henderson, like other authors in the past five years, was made possible by the Common Book Program, headed by Lea Ann Alexander, Librarian and Access Services Coordinator for Huie library. “In my opinion it’s one of the best, if not the best, committee on campus,” Alexander said. “We get to read. We get to talk about books. It doesn’t get better than that.” The Common Book Program, which began in 2006 with Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner,” provides a book for freshmen to read in their Henderson Seminar class and brings about campus-wide discussion. The program’s goal is to bring to Henderson the author of the book, or another speaker with authority related to the subject matter of the book. The program director will take care of traveling arrangements, lodging at the Captain Henderson house, speaking arrangements at Arkansas Hall auditorium, a banquet for the speaker, and arranging visits to other classes that used the book in their curriculum and requested the speaker. “To pull off an event like this, it takes an attention to detail that is almost scary,”

Author Julie Otsuka visits Marck Beggs’ Creative Writing class. Photos by Judea Jackson Design by Amy Porter

Alexander said. And before all of this can take place, the Common Book Committee, a group of faculty and staff, with one student, from varied disciplines of study, begins the selection process 18 months before the next year, even as they are planning events for the book already selected for the current year. The group narrows down a list of nominated books to five or six and then votes for one, taking into account criteria such as whether the book is “readable, relevant and engaging for students.” “It really drew you in,” Heidi Vix, Systems and Electronic Resources Librarian and committee member since 2008, explained why she rooted for Otsuka’s book while it was in committee. “It was one of those stories that I stayed up far too late reading, because I didn’t want to put it down.” She thought it was engaging, a fun read and it also had historical elements that many freshmen may not know about. It was impor-

Besides Beggs’ Creative Writing class and every freshman Henderson Seminar, the common book was used in other classes, such as Martin Halpern’s history class. Halpern said he adopted the book for his US History survey class to study the internment of Japanese Americans and that it fit in perfectly with the rest of his reading assignments. This was his first time incorporating a common book into his curriculum, but he encourages his students each year to pick up the common book. “It’s free,” he tells them. Claudia Gonzalez, senior biology major, was in the Honors Seminar class that Otsuka also visited while at Henderson. “I like the fact that she talked about her book” Gonzalez said. “I wondered why she used these characters and what she wanted to accomplish, so when she shared her reasons, the book had a new light.” This class is focused on interdisciplinary learning and covers a variety of academic areas. Brian Hunt said he was more interested in the

them?” she asks herself. And her enjoyment is the by-product. As a lifetime reader, she relishes all the perks of meeting authors with international reputations whom she already admires or whom she comes to admire. “I’m very happy with it even though I go nuts with the details,” she said and smiled. “It’s really worth it.” The students of Beggs’ writing class would agree with Alexander, especially as the quiet but firm author put her finger to her chin and thought before answering the heated question of the killing of the dog. “Why kill the dog with a shovel?” she began. She explained to the students that at first she had the woman kill the dog with a gun, but someone else showed her why that would not work. A woman like the character, in the suburbs during that time, would not own a gun. The dog was very old and sickly. He was going to die. “I saw it as a mercy killing and not an act of cruelty.” And that’s that.

“The book had a soul ... But once I met her and saw her personality, the book made more sense.” tant to her that the book appeal to multiple disciplines, not just English.“This isn’t just a fun read; this is a learning experience,” she said, then smiled and lifted her shoulders. “Hopefully, it’s fun, too.” Marck Beggs, professor of English and committee member, was so impressed with her book that, once he knew Otsuka was coming, he specifically asked Alexander if the author could come to his Creative Writing Class. Once she came he did not regret his decision. He enjoyed Otsuka’s visit as it enabled the students to get practical writing advice from a published writer. “It’s nice to hear things that I’ve already told them reinforced in a different voice and manner,” he said.

history aspect of Otsuka’s book. “I wanted to know more about the internment camps,” Hunt said. “You learn about them in history classes but it made me think about what actually happened.” Gonzalez also thought the subject matter became more personal when she was able to hear the author speak about her own book. “The book had a soul. I felt her in the book. I know that sounds creepy,” she said and laughed. “But once I met her and saw her personality, the book made more sense.” Experiences like Gonzalez’s and Hunt’s are what the Common Book Program is all about to Lea Ann Alexander. “First and foremost, what will it be like for the students and what can this speaker offer

Courtesy of Random House, Inc.


A New Beginning

Donations make biology field station dream a reality By Cari Elliott Cold, metal desks. Stark walls with plain whiteboards. Harsh fluorescent lights. This sterile environment is what Henderson students are confined to for the better part of the year. The one large window that can be found in most classrooms of Henderson teases students with a look into the bright blue skies of spring mornings, as well as the splashes of red, yellow and green in the trees during breezy fall afternoons. As the seasons change around them, students can only helplessly gaze upon their evolving campus. It’s easy to be distracted from your studies when you dream of being outdoors, enjoying the benefits of attending college in the beautiful Natural State. Thanks to past Henderson president Dr. Charles D. Dunn, biology chair Dr. James Engman, and one generous donation, biology majors don’t have to day dream about having classes outdoors. They get to live it, by studying the ecology and environment of DeGray Lake in Henderson’s newest building: a biology field station. The process of constructing the field station was


a complex one that faculty and staff labored over for years. It began in 2005 when two Henderson alumni, Dr. Della Sue Simonson Spell and her brother, Lt. Col. Gene Simonson, expressed their interest in giving a donation to the school to honor three of their professors at Henderson: Adelphia Basford, Elizabeth Brinkley, and Philip Horton. Engman collaborated with other faculty members to create a list of items, which included anatomy models, an autoclave, a freezer, and some other items, “none of them particularly exciting.” “Just as a sort of shot in the dark,” said Engman, “I added a statement that if the donors were more interested in a big-dollar item, we would love to have a biological field station.” He explained to the president that a residential facility located in a natural area distant from the university, with laboratory and classroom space, kitchen and dormitory, might benefit the biology program significantly. “We estimated that it would cost approximately $500,000 to build the field station,” said Dunn, “so that is what I wrote in my letter to Dr.

Simonson as the cost of the station. A week or two later Dr. Simonson called and said that she and her brother wanted to fund the construction of the field station. I was shocked, but very happy of course.” A few weeks later, Della Sue Simonson Spell met Dunn for lunch in North Carolina where she presented him with a check for $400,000. A short time after that, Dunn was presented with an additional check for $125,000 while visiting Gene Simonson in Alabama. “We are extremely fortunate to have such wonderful donors interested in building this facility,” said Dr. Maralyn Sommer, dean of Ellis College.  Locating a site for the field station proved difficult and stalled any further plans on the project until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dedicated 102 acres on the north shore of DeGray Lake for the station. “That generous gesture permitted us to proceed with the planning and construction,” said Dunn. According to Engman, the lake setting is ideal for summer “field” classes such as entomology, mammalogy, and botany. “It can also be a great resource for faculty and student research projects, workshops, retreats and small meetings,” he said. Groundbreaking of the site took place in October 2009, with Gene Simonson and several family members present to participate in the event. Construction followed that winter and was finished a little over a year later. Components of biology field stations from Illinois, Tennessee, and other places Engman visited were considered for inclusion in Henderson’s station. “The Kibbe Field Station

Station details: The three-floor station is located on 102 acres of lakefront property on long-term lease from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

[in Illinois] was the most significant factor in determining my career path,” said Engman. He stated that the summer courses he took there changed the way he thought about biology.  “I’m very pleased with the station now that it is almost finished,” said Engman. “It is beautiful, functional, and comfortable.” The biology department held the end of the year cook-out at the station and Engman expects to begin teaching there this July. “That will probably be the first true student use,” he said. The building was designed so that years from now, students will find the station a beautiful facility in a fantastic setting, where they can study nature in a more hands-on fashion. “I know the biology faculty is ecstatic about the possibilities [the field station] will provide our students and I couldn’t be happier about the project,” said Sommer.  “[The field station] sets our biology academic program apart from all others in the state,” said Dunn. “I believe that was Dr. Simonson and Lt. Col. Simonson’s intention. They wanted something very special that would set our biology program and students apart. This field station permits that.”

The bottom level consists of dormitory space, a library resource room, and storage areas. The main level includes a large entry room with a fireplace, dining area, kitchen, bathrooms, two laboratory/classrooms, and a small research laboratory. The top floor has offices, faculty bedrooms, laundry, storage and another bathroom. It offers living accommodations for 12, but can host more for day-only events.

Above: Simonson family members break ground; left: biology students visit the unfinished station for the first time.

Future plans include a floating dock and a pontoon boat.

Photos courtesy of Dr. James Engman Design by Cari Elliott


By Kristin Land

Three bounces, the board shakes,

and everyone is dead quiet. There is a splash, some applause and the diver resurfaces. Twenty-two-year old freshman Ingo Schranz prepares for his final and hardest conference dive, the reverse two-and-a-half. He walks up the steps onto the one-meter platform. Henderson State University’s crowded pool area falls back into silence. With four steps and three bounces, Schranz takes off slightly to the left of the board, lifting into his reverse dive, his body straight and tight. He accelerates downward for his entrance when his right hand hits the board. There’s a unison gasp and a splash. As Schranz resurfaces from his dive and swims back to the edge of the pool, everyone stares in awe. Normally the scores


are shown immediately after the dive, but they have yet to be posted. Schranz ignores his broken hand and climbs out the pool. “Where’s my scores?” he demands. “I want my scores.” The crowd echoes with laughter as the scores are revealed: Ingo Schranz breaks the conference record for the one meter as a Henderson diver in 1990, with a broken hand. Schranz was born on July 28, 1968, in Wiesbaden, West Germany. He lived with his mother and father on the top floor of a four-story apartment building shared by four families. Schranz started diving at a very early age and continued for 17 years. He was on the Germany Junior

National Diving Team starting at age 13 and moved up to the “B-Team” at 15. Diving was definitely his priority. He practiced eight hours every day of the week and rarely focused on school. “We practiced every day for hours and hours,” said Schranz. “Three hours of each practice was stretching. We did a lot of gymnastics, trampoline and even meditated once a week.” With slipping grades he decided to drop out of high school in 1988 and continued diving. Schranz enlisted in the Athletic Branch of the German army after dropping out of school. This branch sponsored athletes to represent their country, but they were required to report to “boot camp” on a regular basis to keep the sponsorship. With his life on track in a government sponsored position and as a promising German national diver, he never thought twice about finishing high school or pursuing a college degree. “My goal was to go to the Olympics,” he said, “and compete with the best of the best divers from around the world.” One day, he and his friends were unable to report to their daily practice 40 minutes away, due to a bad snow storm. Instead, they decided to go to the local pool and have a light practice. “What we really did, was go to goof off and meet girls,” said Schranz. “We loved all of the attention we got from showing off our dives.” After a couple of dives, Schranz stepped up for another. He bounced about three times and slipped off the board, hitting his right knee. “The doctors didn’t even know that it was torn,” he said. “They thought that I had pulled something because they only searched across the surface of my knee and not internally.” After a quick two week recovery he continued to dive. The knee started to bother him a little at first, but then the pain progressed. “We knew that something had to be wrong,” he said. “My coach decided that we would have it professionally checked out after the 1989 German Nationals. As soon as the Nationals were over, we had a sports orthopedic take a look. What he found changed my life. I had torn my ACL and never gave it the opportunity to heal. I knew my career as a national diver had come to an end.” With a torn ACL in his right knee, Schranz was unable to report for his army duties, therefore losing his sponsorship. With his professional diving career over in Germany, Schranz had two options. He could attend night school to obtain a diploma to go to college in Germany, or he could get his GED and turn to the United States for a college opportunity with the possibility of a diving scholarship. “My priority was no longer diving, but an education,” said Schranz. “Yes, I wanted to recover from my knee injury and dive in college for fun, but I knew that it could no longer be my life.” Ineligible for any Division I schools, he applied for all schools that were reasonably priced that would even consider a high school dropout with a GED--provided, of course, the school had a diving team. Swimming and diving coach Coak Matthews of Henderson State University contacted Schranz. After a one-year recovery, he soon picked up diving again, his freshman year for Henderson’s Red Wave diving team. Schranz had a strong comeback from his injury. He set the conference record for the one meter and the local record for the three meter. “To this day I still hold the conference record on my one meter dive,” he said. “I even broke my hand during it. It was a relatively low score, but no one attempts the reverse two and a half, so the record still stands.” However, Schranz’s stay at Henderson lasted only his freshman year. His sophomore year he transferred to Drury University, in Springfield, Missouri, on a diving scholarship. While at Drury, he was the national diving champion in 1993 and received first runner up in 1991, 1992, and 1994. “Diving at Henderson and Drury was nothing compared to the German National Team. We practiced only an hour or two a day, and not every day of the week.”

But diving was not the only thing that Schranz succeeded in. This time, school had priority over diving. He always attended class and developed good study habits. “I would study for about three hours each day right after class while the material was fresh on my mind. I took it seriously and was dedicated to my education,” said Schranz. He worked hard to obtain his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and German in 1995, and decided to attend graduate school at the University of North Dakota in 1996. He earned his master’s degree in chemistry in 1998, going on to earn the Ph. D. in inorganic chemistry in 2003. Diving was no longer a sport, but a fun activity for Schranz after graduating from Drury University. He became the volunteer diving coach at the University of North Dakota and once had eight divers qualify for nationals in one year.

“I am the high school dropout from Germany who has two bachelor degrees, a masters and a Ph. D.” After graduate school, Schranz started looking for job opportunities. A chemistry department teaching position came open at Henderson State University. He applied immediately and was accepted, and returned to Arkadelphia with his wife, Edyta, whom he met while at Drury. They have three children who are active in swimming and diving in Arkadelphia. Schranz also became the volunteer diving coach at Henderson. “I’m not hard on my divers at all,” he said. “I want them to have fun, but push themselves. I stress to them that it is very important that their education has priority over their activities.” Schranz tries to teach and encourage his students to do well in anything they pursue. He teaches many higher level chemistry classes, from chemical literature to inorganic chemistry. He also oversees many junior and senior level chemists with various areas of research. His students will tell you that his favorite place to be is in the lab and that you never know what he is “cooking up.” “As for all of my chemistry classes that I teach, I expect the most out of each student,” he said. “My classes are difficult, so the students will work hard and realize how important their education should be to them. If they remain dedicated and work hard they will go far. Look at me for example: I am the high school dropout from Germany who has two bachelor degrees, a masters and a PhD.”

From diving board to teacher’s desk: Ingo Schranz is now a professor of chemistry. Photos courtesy of Ingo Schranz and Henderson public relations


Making Bigger Hearts Freshman class breaks record By Ben Franks There was something new on Henderson’s campus in 2010: more people. With well over 800 students, the past year’s freshman class was the largest in school history. Why so many new faces? There are several reasons, claims Dr. Maralyn Sommers, dean of Ellis College. The new Arkansas lottery scholarships have had an impact, but the increase in enrollment is largely due to recruitment by faculty and admissions counselors, Sommer said. More of Henderson’s faculty have been out in the field recruiting and speaking to students at high schools and conventions. “We are really trying to put HSU in the spotlight,” said Sommer. The near completion of the biology department’s field station has also helped attract students. There are now over 280 biology majors on campus, making it the most popular major at Henderson. Over half those 800-plus freshmen have declared majors within Ellis College. This has resulted in some faculty taking on an overload, primarily for the general education courses that Ellis College provides. Sommer had to hire several adjunct faculty to teach the extra gen-ed courses. There have been six English sections, four oral communications courses, and seven math and government sections added to the schedule. Also, with the increase in enrollment, comes a bigger budget for the future. Sommer credits the budgeting strategy for the surplus. “We have $150,000 to spend on new academic equipment this year,” said Sommer. “This is not a direct result from enrollment, but enrollment helps.” The increased population of Henderson has sparked and increased school spirit. More than 7,000 people attended each of the home football games including the third largest crowd in Battle of the Ravine history and the attendance at other sporting events has increased as well. The student section proudly wears shirts declaring themselves the “Reddie Nation.” They come to each game armed with face paint, red wigs, and vuvuzuelas. If you can’t see them then you can definitely hear them. The vuvzuela is a loud horn made popular at the 2010 World Cup. “It energizes everyone when enrollment is up,” said Sommer. “It’s fun to see more people get involved and catch the Reddie Spirit.”


Freshman Class of 1917

Freshman Class of 2010 Photos courtesy of 1917 Star and Chad Fielding Design by Josh Briggs

The Ellis College of Arts and Sciences 1100 Henderson Street Arkadelphia, AR 71999-0001

Drift Aaron Calvert, 2010 H 10” x W 29” x D 8” Terra cotta and ceramic stain Thrown, hand built and stamped

Aaron Calvert is an associate professor of art in the Department of Fine Arts, teaching

ceramics and managing the ceramic facilities as well as the Russell Fine Arts Gallery. “Often narrative, my art relates to people, places, and events in my life,” Calvert explains. “The work entitled Drift is no exception. This sculpture was created in response to a loved one passing away. The piece acts as a visual to an unfolding and unseen scenario.”

Read Forge online:

Forge Magazine  

The Magazine of The Ellis College of Arts and Sciences

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you