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APRIL 2014 / VOL. 25, NO.4

What’s Outside Sailing, Cycling, Etc. Classes and opportunities under the sun, page 4

Garden Poetry Topiary artist and USC poet unite to commemorate desegregation page 10

Night Skies Alumni astrophotographers capture the cosmos, page 12

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USC Times is published 10 times a year for the faculty and staff of the University of South Carolina by the Division of Communications. Managing editor Craig Brandhorst Designers Philip Caoile Michelle Hindle Riley Contributors Peggy Binette Glenn Hare Thom Harman Chris Horn Page Ivey Liz McCarthy Steven Powell Elizabeth Renedo Megan Sexton Jeff Stensland Photographer Kim Truett Printer USC Printing Services Campus correspondents Patti McGrath, Aiken Candace Brasseur, Beaufort Cortney Easterling, Greenville Shana Dry, Lancaster Jay Darby, Palmetto College Jane Brewer, Salkehatchie Misty Hatfield, Sumter Annie Smith, Union Tammy Whaley, Upstate Submissions Did you know you can submit photos, stories or ideas for future issues of USC Times? Share your story by emailing or calling Craig Brandhorst at, 803-777-3681.

SOMEONE LEFT THE CAKE OUT IN THE RAIN* On the eve of our first Meet & Three picnic, as I lay in bed going over the grocery list, trying to remember what I’d forgotten, trying to forget for a moment what I didn’t want to remember (specifically, the 50 percent chance of precipitation and 50 degree highs forecast by the weatherman), I couldn’t get Richard Harris out of my head: “MacArthur’s Park is melting in the dark, all the sweet green icing flowing down,” the crooner crooned as I tossed and turned. “I don’t think that I can take it, ’cause it took so long to bake it, and I’ll never have the recipe again…” See, the April USC Times is our outdoor issue: thus the picnic (page 8); thus, too, the sleepless night haunted by thoughts of a good idea washed away. After all, how does one plan for a 50 percent chance of anything? Such is the season, though. The Bradford pears are blooming all over town, the azaleas on the verge of explosion; NCAA baseball is in full swing. But barely a month ago we were shoveling out from under a mountain of snow the likes of which we hadn’t seen in almost two weeks. For photographic evidence of seasonal change, see our social media photo spread, beginning on page 2. So you know, most of the issue came together much more easily. Our spotlight on outdoor classes and opportunities, for example: smooth sailing, a walk in the park, like riding a bike — if we knew how to conflate free Tai Chi lessons and the editorial process, we would. But you get the idea. Get Smart, Get Out starts on page 4. And when the sun finally sets, enjoy “Capturing the Cosmos,” a Carolinian Extra, on page 12. But don’t call it a day just yet. We’ve also profiled topiary artist Pearl Fryar, who will unveil three living sculptures outside Osborne as part of the university’s 50th anniversary of desegregation commemoration April 11. We had a great time in Fryar’s Bishopville garden (page 10) and look forward to watching his newest topiary mature in the years to come. Finally, since you’re in the garden already, how about some brand new work by National Book Award-winning poet and USC professor Nikky Finney? “The Irresistible Ones” is Finney’s tribute to the three African-American students who opened the university’s gates to people of color back in 1963. At press time, the poem was being etched onto a granite monument to stand alongside Fryar’s topiary, but we’ve got a sneak peak on page 11. After you finish, visit the garden to read the poem again the way it’s meant to be read. These are words worth remembering.

Every year, Gamecocks pitch in to raise funds for Columbia’s United Way and local charities. This year’s campaign will run April 14-18. Faculty and staff can donate through payroll deductions or one-time gifts.

Discovery Day You’ve taught them all year, now come see what they’ve learned. Undergraduates will present their classroom and out-of-theclassroom experiences at Discovery Day, April 25, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Russell House. The annual event features oral, theatrical and musical performances; creative writing; research from all disciplines; study abroad, internship, co-op and community service activities; plus service learning and national fellowship competition experiences.


The University of South Carolina does not discriminate in educational or employment opportunities or decisions for qualified persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetics, sexual orientation or veteran status.


*In the end, we opted for a pie instead—and moved our picnic inside. Props to the School of Social Work for letting us use the sunroom at 1731 College Street.

Are you set for retirement? Does that question make your heart skip a beat? Learn how to achieve your financial goals in a one-on-one planning consultation with a TIAA-CREF financial adviser. Appointments are available between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. April 8-10, May 5-7 and June 10-12 at the Benefits Office, Suite 803, 1600 Hampton St. To schedule, call TIAA-CREF (800) 732-8353.

Summer School Registration is underway for Summer at Carolina. Faculty and staff are asked to encourage students to keep their graduation plans on track. Summer is also a great time to take advantage of the employee tuition reimbursement program. Offerings include a Chinese Language Institute, which packs a full year of instruction into 12 weeks. Learn more at

SMARTEN YOUR TARTAN Students, alumni and fans have a new way to don the university’s garnet and black. University officials unveiled the official USC tartan, a plaid design called “Old Cocky,” on March 26. The new tartan was made official by the Scottish Register of Tartans, which maintains a database of designs aimed at protecting, promoting and preserving the tartan tradition. Apparel and accessories are available through Carolina’s Barnes and Noble University Bookstore and Addam’s University Bookstore.


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A picture’s worth a thousand clicks #UOFSC CAMERA BUFFS WORLDWIDE Be sure to tag your photos with #UofSC.





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Sailing, cycling, etcetera It’s warming up, the flowers are in bloom, there’s a light breeze — let’s move class outside. Bring your bicycle. And your boat shoes.

Learning the ropes On a clear March day at Lake Murray, University of South Carolina students are learning the basics of sailing a 22-foot keelboat. Call it the Best. Classroom. Ever. “It’s probably the most interesting, intriguing thing I’ve done while at USC,” says Jessica Parler, a 22-year-old biology senior from Orangeburg, S.C. “I hope to buy a sailboat one day and keep sailing. Right now, I hope to bring my family out because I know they are excited that I will be certified.” At the end of Brian Adams’ Basic Keelboat Sailing, a course taught through Adams’ branch of the Lanier Sailing Academy on Lake Murray, students are able to safely skipper or crew a 25-foot boat on sheltered water (lakes and bays) in moderate weather. They receive certification from the American Sailing Association, which accredits sailing courses. And the class is anything but a day at the beach. The combination of classroom instruction and three full days on the water doesn’t just prepare students for sailing a boat. It also teaches them about leadership and making good decisions. “The captain is responsible for the welfare of the crew and the boat,” says Adams, a newly minted U.S. citizen who comes to Columbia from England, via the Caribbean and Atlanta. “When you are the captain, you have to make the decisions.” Students learn to safely take a boat out and bring it back in, as well as how to properly rescue a sailor who falls overboard. However, Adams says his favorite aspect of the course is how students who don’t know each other and come from vastly different backgrounds, with different majors, bond during the eight-hour days on the water. “By the end of it, they’re a little team, and I’m not needed anymore,” he says. Case in point: Duggan MacDonald. An analyst at Deutsche Bank Securities in New York City, the 2010 finance graduate took Adams’ class his senior year and is now a member at the Manhattan Sailing Club. Every spring, he sails with the Deutsche Bank team in competitions against other bankers. “Basic Keelboat Sailing was one of the most rewarding classes I took in my time at USC,” MacDonald says. “By the end of our eight weeks, even the most timid novice was able to walk away with the skills needed to confidently take the helm of a 22-foot keelboat. Brian has made myself and the three others on my boat lifelong sailors, and for that, we are grateful.”


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Tai Chi with Sun and Song

Switching gears Outdoor Recreation’s bike shop might be one of the university’s better-kept secrets. A small army of student technicians is available to offer faculty, staff and students free labor and advice to keep their bikes tuned up — but the shop is virtually hidden in an out-of-the-way corner of campus. That’s about to change. The bike shop is moving from a storage room in the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center to the Blatt P.E. Center. Opening at the start of the fall semester, the new shop will be staffed for longer hours than its current noon to 4 p.m. window and will have more service bays. It will also continue to offer free general tuneups and maintenance plus cycling advice. “We see bikes solving three issues on campus,” says Liz Jones, outdoor recreation director in Student Life. “Parking is getting stretched, so biking helps the university sustainability-wise, more people on bikes helps reduce the number of cars and air pollution, and becoming a bike commuter can reduce your stress level.” As someone who regularly commutes to campus from her home in Forest Acres, Jones knows firsthand the value of a built-in workout and no-hassle parking. And while not everyone can choose to ride a bike to work, cycling is becoming an increasingly popular option among campus residents. “Bike racks are full,” Jones says, “and we’re introducing new racks to accommodate more cyclers.”

If you’re crossing the Horseshoe this month and chance upon a group of people moving in synchronized slow motion, no, you didn’t just stumble into a Celebrex commercial. Monday and Wednesday afternoons in April, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., the heart of campus will become an outdoor classroom where members of the Carolina community can drop in for an hour to learn the ancient art of Tai Chi, courtesy of USC’s Confucius Institute. Developed in China thousands of years ago as a martial art, Tai Chi is frequently practiced as a form of exercise for both the body and the mind. There are many different types of Tai Chi, some with more than 100 distinct movements of varying complexity. “Here we do a simplified version. We use 24 movements,” says Li Sun, one of the course’s two instructors. Sun and fellow instructor Siyuan Song, master’s students from Beijing Language and Culture University, will lead classes through a flow of Tai Chi movements. And while mastery only comes with practice, participants can join in at any time during the month. Loosefitting athletic clothing is recommended, though Song and Sun will wear traditional garments. “When we master the 24 movements, then we can add music,” says Li. “In China, we always do it with music.”

An organic community After filing off a bus at Saluda Shoals park, John Nelson leads his eager students in a rousing cheer: “Vivat Linnaeus!” A tribute to Carl Linnaeus, the father of botanical taxonomy, the cheer makes sense. BIOL 527 Spring Flora is all about identifying S.C. plants and trees. But spring flora is more than just a class; it’s a community, one Nelson has been building for years. And while Nelson credits distinguished professor emeritus Wade T. Batson for inspiring the field trip biology course — “there are still plenty of people who owe their interest and success in botany to Dr. B,” he says — the quirky nature of BIOL 527 is pure Nelson. “It’s not New Zealand, but … Ostrya,” he prompts as the group moves along the banks of the Saluda River. And judging by the students’ subsequent outbursts of “Where, oh where, oh where is Susie?” (a lyric from a traditional song that mentions the pawpaw, aka Asimina triloba) these little tricks and mnemonic devices really do work. Of course, when students hear about the syllabus, which features trips to Peachtree Rock and Riverbanks Zoo, the course fills fast. “When I heard we were going outside, I was, like, ‘Please, take me!’” says undergraduate Marla Smith. “I watched the schedule for days to make sure I could get into this class. I’ve enjoyed every second of it.”


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umans, according to one theory, attend to their environment in two ways. When you consciously focus on work when there may be more interesting things in your environment, that’s called directed attention. Involuntary attention, meanwhile, is the kind automatically captured by interesting stimuli in the environment. Think flowers in the park or a sunset. According to USC psychology professor Marc Berman, whose research looks at something called attention restoration theory, directed attention seems to deplete over time. Eventually, it becomes very difficult to concentrate. Involuntary attention, however, is more immune to fatigue, and under the right conditions, if activated through engagement with nature, could be very good for you.

Pay Attention—Or Don’t

is that if you go into an environment that doesn’t place a lot of demands on directed attention, but that at the same time stimulates involuntary attention, you can replenish those directed attention resources. When you’re in a park you can just mindwander and engage with the environment. Evidence shows that this improves your mood but also your memory and attention.

In honor of spring, we invited USC psychology professor Marc Berman, naturalist and creative writing professor Jim Barilla and competitive triathlete and conservation biology graduate student Anna Battiata to a picnic lunch to discuss the benefits of getting outside. And when Mother Nature had other ideas about us eating our berries and Brie under the magnolias, we found the nearest sunroom and brought the outside in. BY CRAIG BRANDHORST

Also, people don’t have to enjoy the walk to get the positive effects. Some of our early studies were conducted in Michigan, and we had people walk in January, when it’s freezing cold. People said, “Marc, why’d you make me go out there? I hated it.” But they showed the same memory benefit as people who walked in June. Jim Barilla: I find this fascinating — just as ecological resto-

ration can restore a landscape, this could restore us. But it strikes me that if you’re wondering, “Is there a grizzly out here?” you need to be hyper-vigilant. There’s the William Wordsworth “As I wondered lonely as a cloud” kind of walk, and then there’s nature as menace — the “Oh, I’m part of the food chain” awareness. Marc Berman: Right. If you’re scared that there may be a grizzly,

then that would involve directed attention. That would not be restorative. Potential danger in any environment, whether natural or more urban, will tax directed attention. Our studies have involved local parks where there is no chance of running into a bear.

This month’s three



Assistant professor of creative writing, author of “My Backyard Jungle”

Graduate student in conservation biology, competitive triathlete

Anna, as a triathlete and a conservation biologist you’re outdoors a lot. And Jim, your most recent book is partly about turning your yard into a wildlife habitat. How much are you motivated just by a desire to be outside? Anna: It’s why I got into running in the first

Marc Berman: The idea behind attention restoration theory

Picnicology, Inside Out

On a related note, we wonder if hiking in the Grand Canyon or Rocky Mountain National Park is going to be more or less restorative than walking in the local park. Is the effect even better if you go to some grander park?

MARC BERMAN Assistant professor of psychology, researcher in attention restoration theory

place. I was working as an ocean lifeguard and started going for runs on the beach. I thought, “Man, this is great”—especially after you’re done, when you have that higher serotonin level. I think a big part of that comes from being outside. If I’m running hard, my brain shuts down, but if I’m just out for a run, not racing, I get really distracted by things around me. I like to pick out plants and birds. Sometimes I’ll run one way and then walk back, just so I can pick out the birds. JB: I enjoy hiking, but there’s a distinct pleasure for me in interacting with the natural world. It’s one thing to go for a hike and another to actually do something. My first book was about fly-fishing — and there you’re participating, not just observing. I’ve also written about gardening. But one thing I’ve realized is that as soon as you start to participate in nature, it’s not just good vibes; it can also be challenging. “Something is eating my strawberries, how do I deal with that? This plant I planted is dying.” The more invested you become in the landscape, the more complicated it becomes emotionally. It’s part of the richness of the experience, but it’s not strictly pleasurable. MB: There have been studies showing how

gardening can be restorative. One compared gardeners who use pesticides and gardeners who don’t. It turns out that gardeners who did not use pesticides got greater benefits. The theory is that gardeners who use them feel a

need to control the environment. They’re more stressed when plants die. Gardeners who don’t are more likely to just let nature take its course. They think of themselves more as members of the environment. Apart from just getting outside more, how can we improve our access to nature? MB: The short answer is, “Okay, let’s add more

parks.” The long answer is trickier. I’m not sure we know yet what elements of nature are the most beneficial. If we’re going to impact policy, we have to find those answers. How much nature do we need? How much is it worth to improve people’s memory by 20 percent, as we’ve shown in our work? If we make a park that’s just ball fields, is that as good as a park that’s just trees? How much biodiversity do we need? We’re just scratching the surface. AB: A lot of good work has been done at USC already: the Green Quad, the raised bed gardens — the triathlon club has one. We get plants from the campus greenhouse: collards, kale, peppers, tomatoes, all for free. I also think making campus more bike-friendly will help.

MB: I do think what Jim has talked about

— having a backyard nature preserve — is something to think about. I’m definitely not advocating that we all move to the country; we need to preserve that nature. I think we need to incorporate more nature into our urban environment. That may be the most fruitful approach.


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F Taking shape Topiary and poetry unite in a new garden commemorating USC’s desegregation BY GLENN HARE

ifty years ago, Henri Monteith Treadwell, Robert Anderson and James Solomon climbed the steps of the Osborne Administration Building to register as the first African-American students at the University of South Carolina since Reconstruction. As part of a yearlong remembrance, USC is dedicating a new garden in a quiet nook adjacent Osborne’s north wall. The garden, to be dedicated April 11, will feature a granite monument engraved with an original poem by poet and USC professor Nikki Finney, plus three living sculptures by topiary artist Pearl Fryar, who is cultivating three young junipers to represent the three students. “I was on the picket lines during the civil rights movement,” says Fryar, who attended North Carolina College (now N.C. Central) in the late 1950s and early 1960s. “If you had told me 50 years ago that one day I would be asked to do this sculpture, I would have thought I’d lost my mind. This is huge and shows how far we’ve come.” The son of a North Carolina sharecropper, Fryar knows what it means to seek a better life. “We were just laborers,” he says of his days behind a mule and plow. “It was like a plantation. My father grew up there, and I was being groomed to do the same.” After college, Fryar went to Korea with the military, then worked in private industry, living in New York and California before finally settling in Bishopville. There, the desire to win the city’s Yard of the Month award finally led him back to the soil — though he knew nothing about horticulture or ornamental plants. “Gardening was a way to earn a living, feed

The Irresistible Ones ROBERT ANDERSON



They arrive knocking at Osborne’s great garnet door. They want to study mathematics, join the debate team, and sing in the choir. They are three in a sea of six thousand. With each step they pole-vault shards of doubt, sticks of dynamite, and stubborn hate mail. With them arrives the bright peppermint of change. The new laws of the new day can no longer resist these three irresistible ones, in a sea of six thousand, stepping through a door now garnet and black. Nikky Finney (2014)

your family and pay the bills,” he says. “Not something to look at.” Still, Fryar imagined a landscape of wonderfully shaped plants reminiscent of a public garden he had seen in Korea. A local nursery gave him “throwaway” trees and shrubs, plus a three-minute lesson on shaping topiaries, and he began converting a former cornfield into the garden of his dreams. The fact that no African-American had ever won Bishopville’s Yard of the Month contest was no obstacle. “I wasn’t going to let that determine my future,” he says. After five years of both praise and odd glances, a sign proclaiming Fryar’s yard the best in Bishopville was placed on his front lawn. “They left the sign there for three months,” he says with chuckle. “I had to remind them to come and get it.” That was in 1985. Since then, the Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden has been featured in

national magazines and newspapers, showcased on national television and recognized by the Garden Conservancy for its exceptional display. Each year, Fryar shares his garden with more than 10,000 visitors from around the world. Now, Fryar is bringing his vision to USC. The three new topiary sculptures — two spiral-shaped junipers and a third featuring three pompoms connected by an arc representing unity — are still young but will fill out over the next few years. “I like to let people see what they want in my plants,” Fryar says. “I want to create a place where people can reflect and feel, a place that will somehow make you feel differently than when you came.”


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FOCUS UofSC LANCASTER Q&A with Bob Bundy, chemistry and biology instructor and faculty adviser for the Outdoor Recreation Club at USC Lancaster

How did you get interested in the outdoors? I’ve been interested in the outdoors since I can remember. Some things that heightened my interests were involvement in Scouts as a youngster, participation in field botany courses through Wade Batson and John Nelson at USC, as well as my activities with the USC Lancaster Outdoors Club. When I was a student here, I spent my free time backpacking, hiking or paddling.

How do you bring your passion for the outdoors to your professional career? I feel a strong need to pass on my love of the outdoors to others. One way to do that is to teach students, of any age, more about the world around them. If they better understand that world, they will live richer lives. We just went outside to look at some plants in my botany class, and it makes a lot of difference to see how stamen and pistils vary among the plants in our yard as opposed to just looking at it on a PowerPoint slide.


You teach a master naturalist class. What’s the goal?

You don’t have to come in just because the sun goes down.

The goal is to teach students from USC Lancaster and the community about the intricacies of nature and how everything fits together. We do this by getting people out into the natural areas within our region. Students have the opportunity to visit habitats like Forty Acre Rock, Landsford Canal State Park and Congaree National Park. Once they’re successful in the class, they become stewards for the outdoors.

That’s a joint program through USC Lancaster and Clemson University, similar to the Master Gardener Program. Although we started it at USC Lancaster, it’s now administered by the Anne Springs Close Greenway in Fort Mill, S.C. I teach some of the sessions, and a group of USC Lancaster graduates still helps maintain and manage our trail system.


For astrophotographers and USC alumni Hap Griffin and John Hodge, the nighttime is the right time — for seeing stars but also for capturing them in pictures. Along with eight other stargazers, Griffin (’86 engineering) and Hodge (’81 master’s, geology; ’83 law) maintain their own roll-off roof observatories at the MAC-Hunter Astronomical Observing Site in rural Kershaw County, where they use sophisticated telescopes and cameras to produce high-quality images of the heavens. Horsehead Nebula photo courtesy of Hap Griffin

“When you spend as much time outside at night as we do, you see things others don’t,” says Hodge. “Satellites come over, meteors — I’ve been up twice this month to get pictures of a supernova in the Big Dipper. You get a much better idea of the universe and how it’s all constructed.”

MAC-Hunter is a private site, but the two share their knowledge with the public, hosting school groups and visiting S.C. classrooms. “Hap and I had the luxury of growing up in the ’60s, and the space program was extremely inspiring,” says Hodge, a designated NASA Solar System Ambassador. “It’s important to share that level of wonder and curiosity, that excitement that there’s a whole universe out there.” Griffin is on a similar mission. “Mars and Jupiter and Saturn are not just pictures in a book,” he says. “These are real places, with air and sky and sunrises and sunsets. They’ve been there for billions of years, regardless of what’s been going on here on Earth.” Read more about USC alumni stargazers in the spring 2014 issue of Carolinian magazine.

AROUND THE SYSTEM USC Aiken may have set the Guinness World Record for a single game of basketball knockout, with more than 571 participants from campus and the community. The record must now be verified by Guinness.

USC Lancaster Educational Foundation was awarded a $25,000 grant from the Herbert and Anna Lutz Foundation for medical training equipment for the bachelor of science in nursing program.

USC Beaufort is hosting the inaugural Charles E. Fraser Sustainable Resort Development Conference in May at Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island.

USC Salkehatchie will induct former baseball player Travis Howard (’08 associate’s, Salkehatchie; ’10, USC Aiken) into the USC Salkehatchie Athletic Hall of Fame.

School of Medicine Greenville Dean Jerry Youkey and senior associate dean for academic affairs and diversity Spence Taylor received the Greenville Chamber of Commerce Special Chairman’s Award at the chamber’s annual meeting.

USC Sumter will celebrate Campus Day this spring for current and potential students, allowing high school seniors a chance to sit in on classes and experience campus life.

USC Union Bantam Baseball plays its last regular season home game April 27. The Bantams won the District IV East championship in their inaugural season last year. USC Upstate has received final approval to offer a master of science degree in nursing with a clinical nurse leader concentration.

To learn more about the USC system, visit

OVERHEARD @UofSC From “The Irresistible Ones” by USC poet Nikky Finney, page 11.

USC Times April 2014  

What’s outside? Sailing, cycling, Tai Chi, topiary, photography, astronomy, botany and don’t forget picnicology. Rediscover the great outdoo...

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