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University of South Carolina

February 28, 2013

A publication for faculty, staff and friends of the university



USC Times




winter break in the tropics may conjure up images of tanning on a white sand beach, but a group of six students and faculty members from the USC chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) had other priorities. They would instead spend time trudging up the steep hillsides surrounding southern Ecuador’s La Victoria, a town of 1,500 nestled in the foothills of the Andes Mountains. Although it has its share of striking vistas, La Victoria is far from a popular tourist destination. The USC group traveled there to meet with local officials and members of a coffee-growing cooperative of 23 farmers. The main goal of the 10day trip was to help the growers identify a sustainable water source for their crops. “They have to get their water trucked in during the dry season, and that can be kind of expensive as you can imagine,” said Brendan Croom, a junior mechanical engineering student. “Projects like this are the whole reason this organization exists.” With the use of GPS devices, the students and volunteers from an engineering firm helped survey a 1.5 mile path through dense jungle to a mountain stream. They will use the data to design a gravity pipeline that will provide a yearround water supply to the coffee processing facility as well as a tree nursery housed at a local school. The EWB team plans to return to La Victoria to serve as project directors during the pipeline’s construction. The project was first identified nearly two years ago through the national EWB organization, a non-profit which matches student chapters with specific engineering projects in developing countries. An award from the Magellan Scholars program through USC’s Office of Research helped fund the trip. The group is not just for students who dream of becoming professional engineers. Andrea Eggleston, a sophomore biomedical engineering student, says she plans on attending dental school and opening a practice to serve the Hispanic community. “This trip was a perfect match for my interests,” she said. “I’m very motivated by public service, and this also gave me the opportunity to practice my Spanish.” As the team mingled with local residents and visited a health clinic and a school, the trip became about much more than engineering. “It was wonderful to make friends with these folks,” said Charles Feigley, a professor in the Arnold School of Public Health who served as the team’s health and safety officer. “One student would play soccer every night with the locals.






By Jeff Stensland

“I’m very motivated by public service, and this also gave me the opportunity to practice my Spanish.”

see ENGINEERS, page 2

FCC commissioner talks tech with USC students

International Connection USC’s English Programs for Internationals hosted 14 teachers from Brazil for intensive English language and teacher training recently. The Brazilian English Teachers Program — sponsored by the Institute of International Education, CAPES, the Fulbright Commission and the U.S. Embassy in Brazil — involved many different units across campus. Alexandra Rowe, director of EPI, said she hopes the teachers, who have been immersed in Carolina history and culture, will encourage their students to come to USC. More teachers from the program will arrive on campus in June.

“The way we communicate has changed. This nation has grown from landlines to wireless. Our challenge at the FCC is to ensure that people have access to the technology they need so that they can fully participate in society. You shouldn’t have to live in an urban hub to be able to get services. Our charge is to ensure that whether you live in a rural or urban area you will have the same opportunities.” FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, ’84 business, visited Don Fowler’s “Politics and the Mass Media” class to discuss the Universal Service fund and the importance of making telecommunications services available throughout the United States. This month Clyburn will be sworn in for her second term as an FCC commissioner. Get the free mobile app at

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University of South Carolina


Circle the correct answer. A new Honors College course entitled “Football Writing” … A) surveys the work of American sports writers from Damon Runyon to Rick Reilly B) reviews pigskin-themed movies such as Brian’s Song, The Longest Yard and North Dallas Forty C) is a crip course for student athletes D ) none of the above


By Chris Horn

Pigskin penmanship

New Honors College course goes to the gridiron to practice creative writing

isiting instructor Ran Henry could probably lecture exhaustively on sports writers and football flicks, but his course on football writing is, plain and simple, all about students learning to craft compelling stories that deal with some aspect of the sport. And with weekly assignments and stringent grading on the mechanics of good writing, this is no gimme course. “When I heard about this class, I told my adviser that whatever it took, I had to get in,” said Rixon Lane, a junior broadcast journalism major, who has set his sights on a career in sports radio. Suryah Martin was intrigued by the course’s title but wasn’t sure what to expect. “I love football but my writing is not all that great,” said Martin, a freshman international business major. “But I thought — why not write about something that I love?” She struggled with the first week’s assignment — a general piece on football — but threw a TD strike with the second assignment: a story about a particular football, crafting a poignant piece about throwing a worn football with her dad shortly after he retired from the Air Force. Over the course of several months, she came to love the sport and the man who had been a distant figure through much of her early childhood. “Veracity is crucial in this class. This is creative or narrative nonfiction in the tradition of Truman Capote’s ‘In Cold Blood,’” said Henry, who also teaches writing strategies courses at the University of Virginia. “Even if none of these students becomes the next great football writer, they’ll at least develop a feel for the mechanics of great writing.”

Making time

ENGINEERS, cont. from page 1

Another student had the foresight to bring crayons and photocopied pages of coloring book pages to hand out to all the kids.” USC’s EWB members will now spend months devising a specific project plan and raising funds for the return trip to La Victoria. The connections they’ve made there have strengthened their personal commitment to the project, which has expanded beyond the pipeline to include other needs identified during the trip.

By Liz McCarthy

Danielle Schoffman is always on the go — between completing homework, writing her dissertation proposal, working in a lab and maintaining a social life. And, as if she weren’t busy enough, the second-year doctoral student in the Arnold School of Public Health has taken on the Graduate Student Association (GSA), trying to bridge the gap between the colleges and schools. Schoffman says she wouldn’t devote time to something if she wasn’t passionate about it. “I love what I’m studying and I really enjoy my graduate assistant position,” she says. “I find that intellectually stimulating, but I’ve found that GSA is a different set of skills, and it gives me this whole area of opportunities that I’ve never had access to. It feels like it’s worth making the time to do it.” For Schoffman, a California native, her entire Carolina experience has been about intentionally getting out of comfort zones. “I came to push myself and expose myself to different ways of thinking, different family histories than I grew up with,” she says. “And GSA has really catalyzed that.” In her role as president, she’s building connections and fostering collaboration. That’s why she joined GSA during her first year of graduate school; she hoped to meet people from other programs. “It’s still a challenge in graduate school to help people understand the value of doing something beyond their program because everyone is so strapped for time,” she says. “But I really believe if we can foster a sense of community among graduate students and get people engaged in this entire university, not only will we have more access to the resources, we can learn from each other.” So far, Schoffman has found the university to be receptive. In her meetings with deans and department chairs, she says the administration wants to foster the graduate student community. The Graduate School, for example, has deepened its ties with the association to advocate for

When he isn’t teaching at the University of Virginia or helping his wife, Linda, run a wedding business in Charlottesville, visiting Honors College instructor Ran Henry devotes himself to his magnum opus: an authorized biography of Steve Spurrier. He’s been working on the book for 15 years and the final manuscript is due to the publisher early next year. “Ball Coach: How Steve Spurrier taught the South to play football” (Lyons Press) is due out in fall 2014, and it promises to be a lively take on the man who went from Heisman Trophy winner in 1966 to football coaching great.

“I came to push myself and expose myself to different ways of thinking” graduate students, says Jessica Elfenbein, senior associate dean of the school. The association is moving toward a stronger role in the university, according to both Schoffman and Elfenbein. In the last election, for example, seven candidates ran for the vice president position, which typically only had one or two candidates. “It’s not the same 10 people coming to meetings. Things are changing and people are getting excited about GSA,” Schoffman says. Although her duties as president require about 15 to 20 hours a week, she says it’s worth it. Graduate school may be busy, but life is only going to get busier. “Graduate school is a very busy time. It’s also a very unique time when you can make connections like this that you’ll never have again ,” she says. “Whenever I wonder if I’m too busy to do something now, I just remind myself that it’s probably not going to get much better. There’s no time like now.”

The town’s health clinic has a leaky roof and mold growing on the ceiling tiles, among other problems. And many residents living right outside La Victoria frequently battle intestinal infections as a result of drinking untreated water directly from streams. Feigley said the team hopes to establish the framework for a public health campaign targeting residents about water quality. The EWB also plans on helping the clinic construct a new roof. Croom said it’s important that USC’s EWB chapter continues to recruit new members and identify faculty mentors since completion of the projects could take years. “Everyone we met with was very enthusiastic about our involvement, but they wanted to make sure we were committed, that we’d see this through,” he said.

USC Times

FEBRUARY 28, 2013


Dancing all night; building future leaders F By Megan Sexton

About Dance Marathon What: A 24-hour, no-sitting, no-sleeping event, raising money for the Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital, the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital When: 7 p.m. Friday, March 1, through 7 p.m. Saturday, March 2 Where: Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center For the public: The Carolina community and public are invited to a reception and silent auction from 4-5:45 p.m. Saturday at the event. Auction proceeds will benefit the Children’s Hospital. Closing ceremonies at 6 p.m. Saturday are also open to the public. Due to restrictions on access to the Strom, those planning to attend the reception or closing ceremonies must RSVP to

rom her first USC Dance Marathon, Lauren Nottoli was hooked. “I’ll never forget sitting there watching the board of directors and the people on stage introducing the families and hearing them talk about how much the cause meant to them,” she said. “I said right then, ‘This is something I want to do.’” Nottoli grasps the importance of leadership – and she understands the need to help build future leaders. This year, she got a head start on USC’s Dance Marathon, organizing mini-marathons at two Columbia schools, raising more than $52,000, and helping form young leaders and philanthropists along the way. For Nottoli, a senior public relations major and political science minor, working with the high school students offered a chance to help younger students get an early start on learning leadership skills. “The great thing about this is it lends itself to leadership experience. You don’t have a club in high school that teaches you to recruit people for a cause,” she said. “And if you want to work for a non-profit or a university, this helps you learn these ideas early on. It builds leadership skills applied to real-life situations.” This is the second year Dance Marathon helped sponsor the mini-marathon at Cardinal Newman and the first year Hammond was involved. Dance Marathon is the largest student-led philanthropy in South Carolina, with more than 800 dancers and 120 volunteers expected at this year’s USC event. During Nottoli’s sophomore year she coordinated the Miracle Cup (the competition among organizations that participate in Dance Marathon), and later served as the external director, overseeing public relations and special events. She knew last year she wanted to have a mini-marathon, and reached out to her alma mater, Cardinal Newman. The school loved the idea, and raised $20,000 its first year. This year, Cardinal Newman raised $31,213 and Hammond raised $21,188. “I grew up in Columbia and had a lot of friends treated at Children’s Hospital, so it was very real to me,” Nottoli said. “It’s great to be able to give back to those kids.”

USC historians want South Carolinians to know their civil rights history


In June 1954, Sarah Mae Flemming, a black woman boarded a Columbia bus to go to work. She took the only empty seat. The bus driver told the woman that she could not sit in that seat, and ordered her to move to a section set aside for black riders. Flemming refused and hired a white Columbia attorney to represent her in a civil suit against South Carolina

with ARMEN shaomian

Her story is one that university historians want to preserve in a project “Lift Every Voice: Capturing and Teaching Civil Rights History Narrative.” USC will host a national forum in May 2013 to discuss the challenges of collecting and archiving civil rights history in the classrooms across the country.

You teach management so you have an interest in the business side of music, but you also continue to perform. What do you like better?

You left Miami, which has a vibrant arts scene, for Columbia. What do you think about the Palmetto State’s arts scene so far?

I like both. Music business is still finding itself in new technology. There are a lot of artists that can manage their own bands or give out records on an indie label now. You can record your own album with a nice computer and put it on iTunes. You could never do that before. So I love being an active performer who also knows the entrepreneurship or business side of things.

Columbia is certainly smaller than Miami, so you can’t compare it. But I was impressed by the amount of culture here. The first thing I do when I visit a town is look at the arts scene because it says a lot about the people who live there. And Columbia has quite a thriving arts scene. What I’ve noticed is that we have this wealth at USC and this cultural wealth in Columbia but from the short time I’ve been here, they don’t work together at all. I’m hoping to be able to connect those two to help advance the arts in the community.

What made you decide to get into music business if you love performing so much?

Armen Shaomian has an interesting story. A child prodigy from Sweden, he spent his childhood on the national stage playing piano, doing voice recordings for Disney and developing a passion for performance. He went on to work with the famed Second City comedy troupe as the musical director. Last fall he joined the Department of Sport and Entertainment Management as the other “entertainment guy.” He has big plans for USC and Columbia.

Electric and Gas, the bus operator. Flemming’s case was ultimately decided in favor of the electric company.

When I started doing live shows with Second City where I would write the music and pick the songs that the actors would sing, I started to get into the business aspect of things. I realized that if you pick this kind of song, it will set this kind of mood for the audience. There’s so much that music controls that people don’t realize. I realized then that there’s much more than just the performance. There’s business planning that goes into any sort of performance.

In Miami you were running your own consulting business. What made you decide to become a professor? In my mind, there is no difference whether I’m on a stage or in front of 85 college freshmen. They are all here to learn. It’s been an easy transition, mostly because I still go back to Miami and perform. The teaching part I actually really enjoy, especially when you have students that want to learn more or get internships.

It seems like you’re big on collaboration. Do you see other areas at USC that you can bring together? I’ve already become involved with the Music School and I’d like more contact with the Moore School. We have quite a few Moore School students in our minor. I get a nice cross mix of students from all the different programs at USC. I get to swap some ideas and work with those students. Hopefully as I settle in here at USC, I will have opportunities to collaborate cross colleges and work with colleagues on innovative research that can have an impact on the way we regard and consume entertainment today.

USC Times

february 28, 2013






oys in middle school typically dream of careers as professional athletes or astronauts or rock stars. Few are able to see career options that are more realistic and that are often more fulfilling. But Charles Spirrison knew from a very early age exactly what he wanted to be. “I was pretty unusual, I think,” he said. “At an early age, I’d say 10, 12 years old, psychology was one of the career choices on my list.” By high school, he knew he wanted a profession in which he could help people, and psychology would allow that. Following that dream, Spirrison began a career as a researcher and professor that’s taken him from Starkville, Miss., to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. But now he’s settled in as chair of social science at USC Beaufort. Spirrison wasn’t really looking to leave his post at the University of Nicosia, in Cyprus, which he says is “kind of the Hawaii of Europe.” “It was such an interesting and complex place,” he said. “It’s a wonderful place to be.”

But he heard about an opening in the South Carolina Lowcountry and it was too intriguing to pass up. His role as chair allows him to work for the good of the university, the faculty and his students. “And I’m excited about teaching via the Internet,” he said. After teaching in classrooms since the mid- to late1980s, Spirrison embraced the chance to teach an online course a few years ago. And he has learned to use online delivery to his advantage. “I was skeptical, but now I see that it really is possible to help students meaningfully relate to the class materials,” he said. “And so I enjoy that.” He’s looking forward to breaking some new ground through South Carolina Palmetto College while still pursuing his goal of helping others. “I think it’s wonderful for USC Beaufort, for the USC system and for the state of South Carolina,” Spirrison said. “The idea of being able to serve people, who may not have the opportunity to go to a residential college, and allow them to complete their education is an important goal.”

USC took home several CASE awards this year, winning four Grand Awards at the ceremony in Atlanta. The Council for Advancement and Support of Education recognizes outstanding work in communications and marketing. USC competed against schools across the Southeast including Clemson, Vanderbilt and UNC.

4 4 4


Grand Awards Integrated marketing communications plan 2012 freshman recruitment materials College World Series ad Carolina on King card series

Awards of Excellence Freshman recruitment materials Capitol One Bowl ad Homecoming brochure Marketing for Carolina on King

Special Merit Awards Carolina on King micro website Carolina’s Promise capital campaign newsletter USC Beaufort Family Fund campaign USC Aiken Family Fund campaign

USC TIMES Vol. 24, No. 4 | february 28, 2013 USC Times is published 20 times a year for the faculty and staff of the University

Keeping a healthy tropical glow

of South Carolina by the Division of Communications. Managing editor: Liz McCarthy Designer: Linda Dodge Contributors: Peggy Binette, Craig Brandhorst, Frenché Brewer, Glenn Hare, Thom Harman, Chris Horn, Page Ivey, Steven Powell, Megan Sexton, Jeff Stensland and Marshall Swanson

Float on your back in the Mangrove Lagoon on St. Croix and you can trace out a “glow-angel,”

Photographers: Kim Truett

the tropical relative of winter’s snow-angel. Stirring the waters there causes microscopic

To reach us: 803-777-2848 or

biota to illuminate, giving a milky shimmering to the areas of agitation that’s rather vivid. For

Campus correspondents:

more than 15 years, the bioluminescence in the lagoon has been the subject of nightly kayak

Patti McGrath, Aiken

eco-tours, even as the sources of the light have remained a subject of pure speculation. Now

Candace Brasseur, Beaufort Shana Dry, Lancaster

USC biologist Jay Pinckney is leading a team of scientists that will establish the species –

Jane Brewer, Salkehatchie

presumably dinoflagellates – responsible for the light show and help ensure their survival.

Misty Hatfield, Sumter

Master’s student Michelle Zimberlin, for example, is studying mangrove leaves from the trees

Annie Houston, Union

Tammy Whaley, Upstate

surrounding the lagoon as a potential source of a key nutrient combination that supports the luminescing microbes. Knowing the species involved, and understanding how to keep them thriving in the larger phytoplankton community, is crucial to maintaining the bioluminescent lagoon, a rare and fragile ecosystem found in just a few places throughout the world. The area has more than a passing interest to the USC community; the university is leading a consortium of four universities to establish a marine research and education center nearby on U.S. National Park Service property.

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.

USC Times Feb. 28, 2013  

A publication for the University of South Carolina's faculty, staff and friends.

USC Times Feb. 28, 2013  

A publication for the University of South Carolina's faculty, staff and friends.