As I begin my second year as chancellor of the University of South Carolina Upstate, I am able to reflect on a fulfilling year and am thankful for many things. From our first days here, Marsha and I have been embraced without hesitation by this community; and for that we will be eternally grateful. Our engaging interactions with students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and supporters of the University have been overwhelming and extremely satisfying. Many of you have contributed in innumerable ways to make us feel an immediate part of our new hometown and campus.
One of the most gratifying aspects of the past year has been seeing USC Upstate graduates in leadership positions across Upstate South Carolina and beyond -- in industry, nonprofits, education, community/volunteer endeavors, etc. These experiences reflect the quality of our programs and the importance of USC Upstate to the lives of individuals, the region, and the world. This issue of Upstate Magazine includes articles about two of our recent graduates who are in graduate school, neither of whom planned to pursue graduate education when they came to USC Upstate. One is doing cutting edge facial recognition research in computer science at Clemson University and one is developing and using international research methods in sociology at the University of London. They credit the faculty at USC Upstate for inspiring their minds and transforming their lives.
Our excellence in the Upstate goes well beyond preparing students for productive work; we engage students with the enduring questions that have concerned human beings throughout history. Many such questions relate to religious issues. This issue profiles two religious leaders in our community who take their capacities out of the synagogue and sanctuary into our classrooms where they challenge students to apply their academic abilities to matters of belief and faith.
This year will be challenging in many ways as we work to deliver programs that serve our mission in ways that make them accessible and affordable to the students we serve. With strong support from USC leadership, faculty and staff at USC Upstate, and friends and supporters across the region and the globe, we will continue to do exactly that. Enjoy this issue of Upstate Magazine and be grateful for this institution and what it means to you and many others.
Marsha and I are thrilled to be here; I look forward to my second year as chancellor of this great university.
Dr. Thomas F. Moore, Chancellor
By Tammy E. Whaley
A Rabbi and a Baptist minister walk into a movie theatre.
It is not the start of a joke but rather the beginning of a religious collaboration and enduring friendship that aims to build understanding, awareness and harmony among religions and the people who practice them.
The year was 2004 when Dr. Kirk Neely invited rabbi Yossi Liebowitz to attend a special preview of Mel Gibson’s controversial movie The Passion of the Christ. The men, extremely respectful of each other’s religions, attended the movie to gain the other’s perspective.
“I wanted to see the movie through Jewish eyes,” explained Neely. “We waited until the next day to discuss the movie so that we would have time to properly process what we had seen and to prepare our thoughts. I knew there were things in the movie that I would not see. Yossi did point out several anti-Semitic scenes to me.”
“Christians often don’t hear what Jews see and Jews often don’t see what Christians hear,” added Liebowitz. “It was a very meaningful experience for both of us and allowed us to further cement our relationship.”
Once the relationship was established, the two men never looked back. “Our collaborations have been a very valuable thing to have happened. We’ve had pulpit exchanges and I’ve gone to Kirk for congregation advice. We have a very meaningful and mutually beneficial relationship,” said Liebowitz.
Theirs is a relationship that on the surface can seem rather unconventional and unlikely. By all measures, Rabbi Yossi Liebowitz and Dr. Kirk Neely are polar opposites.
Liebowitz, the rabbi for Congregation B'nai Israel, hails from Brooklyn. He enjoys dinosaur digging and science fiction and is an accomplished musician. Neely, a native of Spartanburg, is the senior pastor of Morningside Baptist Church. He enjoys gardening and is a published author.
Neely is often the straight man to Liebowitz’s comedy routine. They are so dynamic, both individually and collectively.
For all their vast differences, these two men share a common belief in “showing a love of God for everybody” and in cultivating interfaith relationships.
It is a belief that they have been bringing to groups across the Spartanburg community with their participation in projects such as the Community Thanksgiving Service, Spartanburg Interfaith Hospitality Network (SPIHN), TOTAL Ministries, and Healthy Smiles.
Beginning this fall Neely will join Liebowitz as an adjunct instructor of religion on the USC Upstate campus.
Dr. Rob McCormick, chair of the Department of History, Political Science, Philosophy, and American Studies, is enthusiastic about having these two well-known religious leaders in the classroom.
“Many USC Upstate students have not had an opportunity to meet, much less discuss significant religious issues, with a rabbi. Having Rabbi Liebowitz on the faculty provides our students with a different perspective and one that they most likely had never encountered. Bringing Kirk Neely aboard is equally important. Although he is well-known in the Spartanburg community, he offers a perspective on religious harmony that needs discussion in the classroom. Both men bring contagious enthusiasm to the discipline which is complemented by genuine compassion for students. They contribute immensely to the Upstate educational experience.”
Their addition to the faculty comes at a time when student interest in religious studies is growing steadily at USC Upstate.
Dr. David Damrel, associate professor of religion, cites several factors to the increased interest. “First, religion has become an important civic issue in the country overall. The U.S. is the most religiously diverse society in the world, and that means our students right here in the Upstate are truly part of a mosaic and melting pot of religious ideas, practices, beliefs, customs and values from all over the world. Students are starting to see that knowledge about other people’s faiths can satisfy personal curiosity but also actually help make their degrees more valuable in the real world outside of college.”
McCormick also attributes this interest to the accomplished and energetic professors who are eager to challenge their students and the fact that his department has worked closely with other faith communities, especially Temple B’nai Israel and Morningside Baptist, to promote religious dialogue on campus and in the community.
“Studies of the Upstate population note that this is a region where religion is of great importance and our student population reflects those findings,” added McCormick. “Lastly, religious study is critical if one hopes to understand our world.”
Damrel believes that Liebowitz and Neely’s approach to interfaith cohesiveness will be of great benefit to students. “Rabbi Liebowitz and Minister Neely are both truly skilled communicators who bring unparalleled experiences and depth to their discussions of religion. But what makes this really exciting is the academic context. Religious Studies classes, after all, are about the study of religion, not about how to be religious. With the rabbi and the minister, students at Upstate will have the opportunity for an academic, neutral look into religious life, values, thought and history. Their classes epitomize the sorts of controversial courses that a public university can offer that other institutions cannot.”
Given that demand for religion classes is steadily increasing, administrators are beginning to investigate expanding the religious studies minor into a full degree offering program. It is a move that both Liebowitz and Neely fully support. “A public institution of higher education not only has the opportunity but also the responsibility for establishing a multi-denomination program,” said Neely.
McCormick concurs, “To be responsible citizens, USC Upstate graduates need to have a deep understanding of the differences and similarities within different belief systems while appreciating how these faiths contribute to our world.”
Speaking of a better understanding of global affairs, Liebowitz and Neely both point to how the world has changed following September 11th and the pressing need for open dialogue and tolerance among religions.
“It became very clear after 9/11 that we better get down to the business of understanding other people,” said Neely. “That trajectory continues to follow today. Fear is the root of prejudice and bigotry. We desperately need to understand our neighbors. It is really important for all of us to be able to get along.”
“The University represents all people so it has a real need for religious diversity,” noted Liebowitz. “The community in which we live has become very religiously diverse. The fastest growing religion in South Carolina is Roman Catholicism. The fastest growing religion in the U.S. is Islam. The time to understand and respect each other’s religious beliefs is now. There is no better place to do this than at USC Upstate.”
By Meg Hunt
Some say that mathematics is the basis for all things. At first, one would be inclined to disagree, even argue the point. After all, how could that be true?
Upon closer study, however, the fact of the matter is mathematics does, indeed, lie at the heart of many things.
Perhaps that’s what piqued the interest of Nicole Tobias (Hodge) at an early age or maybe it was the idea that a problem’s solution could be found by more than one approach. Whatever the reason, this USC Upstate graduate discovered that her path has always been guided by what made sense to her.
“I have always enjoyed math and the sciences,” said Tobias. “It just seemed to make sense to me from an early age. I enjoyed problem solving and seeing how different approaches can lead to the same result.”
Her freshman year, Tobias decided to major in Secondary Education with a focus on mathematics. Her goal was to become a teacher. Shortly into her coursework, she recognized that she was actually limiting her possibilities with that decision.
“I realized that the opportunities for a degree in mathematics were far more numerous than those if I cornered myself in a degree that would basically only allow me to teach,” noted Tobias. “And at the end of the day, I’d rather have a lot of options as opposed to none.”
Once she made the switch in majors, Tobias found that, much to her surprise, she enjoyed the required programming/computer science courses affiliated with earning a degree in mathematics.
“I enjoyed them so much that I sat down and figured my schedule so I’d be able to not only get my Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics, but also a B.S. in Computer Science,” she said. “Computer science is an extension of mathematics in many ways; constantly changing and updating. It allows itself to be interdisciplinary extremely well.”
So, in 2009, she graduated Cum Laude with a B.S. in Mathematics and in 2010, Cum Laude with a B.S. in Computer Science.
While graduate school wasn’t in her original post-undergraduate plans, Tobias stayed true to her desire to keep all options open and explored available opportunities. What she found was that her math and computer science degrees gave her an edge for getting into graduate school.
As doors opened, Tobias opted to enter the graduate program at Clemson University.
“Timing is everything,” acknowledged Tobias. “Clemson accepted me as a direct entry Ph.D. student since I had two B.S. degrees. My current plan has me finishing my Master’s this December and my Ph.D. in computer science in May 2015.”
At Clemson, she works as a graduate research assistant in the Biometrics and Pattern Recognition Lab (BPRL). Biometrics, as defined on the BPRL website, “refers to the study of methods to establish the identity of an individual based upon one or more intrinsic or behavioral traits. Of particular interest are iris recognition, facial recognition, and multimodal biometric systems for use in less constrained operating environments.”
What that means in layman’s terms is the BPRL is “dedicated to performing basic and applied research in Biometrics, Pattern Recognition, and Matching Learning. Its missions are to advance the field of biometrics, as well as promote its use as a means of establishing identity.”
While BPRL research is generally done on an individual basis, collaboration on other projects is a team effort in order to complete various tasks relative to grants held by the lab, many of which are related to national governmental agencies.
“My work is currently focused on soft biometrics in the presences of age,” noted Tobias. “Soft biometrics refers to the study similar to biometrics; however, it is not entirely concerned with establishing the identity of an individual. It is more concerned with establishing other information that may help us narrow down the search space when trying to establish the identity of an individual.”
According to Tobias, aging drastically changes the appearance of the human face, causing all sorts of problems with recognition.
“I am interested in finding models that would help reduce the inaccuracies in facial recognition and the sub-areas that are caused due to aging of the face,” she added.
Tobias attributes much of what she’s accomplished, thus far, to her start at USC Upstate.
“I really value the connections I made at Upstate,” she said. “The faculty got to know you and care about you. Many of them also became mentors to me, and I am very grateful for that. I definitely liked that I was a name and not just a number on a roster.”
At first glance, what Tobias saw was actually more than she could have imagined. Now, she’s helping redefine the image for others.
By Meg Hunt
USC Upstate’s $50 million capital campaign, “Carolina’s Promise: Expanding Excellence in the Upstate,” launched in May. In committing to the concept of expanding excellence in the Upstate, the university is striving to enhance its efforts to provide opportunities and service that enrich and transform lives and to educate citizens who are equipped to contribute to the public good through productive work and meaningful lives.
As the title conveys, this campaign is a promise of excellence, performance, value, opportunity, loyalty, dedication, value and partnership between the university, its students, and the community at large.
Just a month after the kick-off, the university was able to announce two major gifts to the campaign. The first, given by Chris Crowley, a 2011 graduate, and his wife Garrow, will be used to establish The Dr. John B. Edmunds, Jr. Distinguished Lecture Series. The second, given by Dr. Lawrence E. Roël, will provide support for the Watershed Ecology Center.
“It is important for us to expand on the fact that “people do not give because you have needs; they give because you meet needs,” said Vice Chancellor for Advancement Mike Irvin.“USC Upstate is meeting the educational needs of this area every day, and that impacts economic development, quality of life, and the entire future of the Upstate.”
The Edmunds Lecture Series, named for the founding faculty member of USC Upstate’s History Department, will feature important scholars from around the world who will examine significant issues in history, political science, philosophy, American studies, or religion.
“This is an exceptional, transformative gift to the department,” said Rob McCormick, associate professor of history and department chair. “The series will feature specialists of great international significance and will put students in touch with the most prominent scholars in the field. This gift, and this lecture series, will absolutely revolutionize the department.” A great respect for science and conservation, as well as a belief in instilling in the younger generation a sense of responsibility for the environment led Dr. Roël to turn his beliefs into action.
“Dr. Roël has a passion for science education,” said Dr. Jack Turner, director of the Watershed Ecology Center. “The Center is a privately funded educational outreach program housed at USC Upstate whose mission to bring hands-on science education into classrooms, and it is through the support of people like Dr. Roël and other organizations that we are able to do this.”
In a world where change is a dominant characteristic, the challenges for institutions of higher learning can be daunting. By embracing those challenges together, however, USC Upstate, its alumni and members of the community at large can turn those challenges into possibilities and those possibilities into reasonable expectations.
With 85 percent of USC Upstate students choosing to remain in the Upstate upon graduation, the Carolina’s Promise campaign presents an opportunity to not only enhance the mission and success of USC Upstate, but to be leaders in ensuring the economic vitality and quality of life in this region.
“We have engaged a number of community leaders to serve on our advisory panel for this campaign, individuals who are willing to use their influence and position to promote USC Upstate as a major player in the future of the Upstate,” added Irvin. “Since most of our graduates stay in this area once they complete their degree, investing in USC Upstate will guarantee a highly educated work force to meet the area’s needs in the future. It will be all of our responsibility to let the community know who we are and the value we bring to the Upstate.”
For more information on how you can become a part of the area’s vibrant future and economic vitality, go to www.uscupstate.edu/carolinaspromise, or contact Bea Walters Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or 864-503-5235.
By Meg Hunt
Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, a 33-20 record, seven All-Conference honors, numerous post-season honors…not bad for a team picked to finish last in the conference.
The Spartans certainly took their first year of full NCAA Division I eligibility in the Atlantic Sun Conference seriously and the other nine A-Sun teams are probably wishing they had taken USC Upstate more seriously, too.
After the five-year transitional phase from Division II to Division I, the Spartans opened the 2012 season knowing they could now compete in Atlantic Sun Conference tournaments. They did so with every intention of proving that the wait had been worth it.
“There is no doubt the transition to Division I was extremely difficult,” said Head Coach Matt Fincher. “Certainly those who have played here in recent years paved the way for the success we enjoyed this year.”
Ending the regular season in second place, earning a No. 2 seed in the league tournament, and finishing with an overall 33-20 record, just three wins shy of the all-time school record, meets the criteria for success by any definition.
“We were able to win 10 games in a row early in the season, and I continue to feel that stretch left a lasting mark on our season,” noted Fincher. “It was during that stretch that we came together as a team, developed the confidence we needed, and determined to compete on a daily basis. By the end of the third week, I think everyone in our program knew we would be competitive for the entire season.”
With a combination of talent, mental toughness and teamwork, the Spartans set about making their presence felt early by getting their season of to a 12-1 start, including the 10-game winning streak.
“I would attribute our success this season to a number of things,” said Fincher. “Our pitching was vastly improved. Our staff remained healthy through the season. We also had a number of returning players whose experience and leadership helped immeasurably.”
Post-season recognitions further affirm that the Spartans’ season was no fluke.
Those recognitions include center fielder Gaither Bumgardner named A-Sun Player of the Year; Fincher named A-Sun Coach of the Year; infielder Austin Liput and pitcher David Roseboom named second team All-Conference selections, while pitcher Chad Sobotka and outfielder Greg Guers named All-Freshman selections. Outfielder Tyler Cook was named an A-Sun Academic All-Conference selection.
Sobotka also earned Louisville Slugger Freshmen All-American honors and was selected as a Freshman All-American by the National College Baseball Writers Association.
In addition, pitcher Scott DeCecco was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 21st round of the Major League Baseball Draft this past June. He is the eighth player in the last eight years who played for Fincher and was either drafted or signed with an MLB organization.
“The most rewarding aspect of the season was our ability to compete at the upper level of our conference,” said Fincher. “We made a great deal of improvement this year, and have hopefully developed the confidence and the will to continue to move forward.”
After 15 seasons at the helm of Upstate baseball, Fincher knows how to carefully address predictions for the next season. It is that same degree of experience, however, that instills confidence in his players.
“Baseball players have to learn how to handle failure and disappointment, and at the same time remain confident,” he said. “I am very hopeful for next season. Our core group remains mostly intact. If these players can continue to develop their will to prepare, and if we can get some assistance from first-year players in our program, then I believe we can handle a rise in expectations next spring.”
2011-2012 Baseball Team:
Ben Augenstein, Gaither Bumgardner, Tyler Cook, Chris Cox, Scott DeCecco, Brett Duckett, Lee Dunnam, Christian Faust, Ryan Fern, Brody Greer, Greg Guers, Chris Knauff, Brandon Lee, Austin Liput, Kyle McKay, Tyler Miller, L.J. Newman, David Palladino, Brandon Patterson, Trey Richardson, David Roseboom, Jordan Rusk, Erik Samples, Chad Sobotka, Jordan Stampler, Brian Thompson, Anthony Vacca, Jake Waller, Dillon Way, Luke Weber, Grason Wiggins, and Andrew Wyant
By Tammy E.Whaley
Dr. Margaret Hindman has a lofty goal – to further the revolutionary concepts born of the nursing program at USC Upstate.
To do so, she has been busy updating the Mary Black School of Nursing Simulation Center for Teaching Excellence by expanding the replicated clinical situations and the amount of computerized and web-based video recording opportunities made available to the nursing students.
“The Simulation Center is a safe environment that accurately provides students the opportunity to practice, analyze, refine, and perfect their skills in patient care,” said Hindman, assistant professor of nursing and director of the Joint Center for Nursing Research and Scholarship.
The Simulation Center allows students to hone their clinical skills by replicating clinical situations that nurses are faced with in real life. Students are able to access web-based video recordings of these exercises to critique their performances and to gauge their progress in areas such as critical care, home care, and obstetrics.
“These areas simulate hospital settings, making the situation feel very real,” explained Hindman. “The more seriously the students take the situation, the better it makes for a superior learning environment. This type of teaching and learning environment allows USC Upstate to produce highly-skilled nursing graduates as it grounds them in the latest research and best practices of the nursing profession.”
In addition to her work with the Simulation Center, Hindman received the Jo Ann Sinclair McMillan Endowed Professorship for Advanced Nursing Study, which provides for advanced study in a specialized discipline required for the advancement of the nursing curriculum or for the development of the Mary Black School of Nursing’s capacity to prepare more nursing graduates. Using the Professorship, Hindman returned to the University of West Georgia to pursue her Post Master’s CNL (Clinical Nurse Leader) Certificate and upon completion of the program, she will be the only nursing faculty member in the state of South Carolina with this certification.
This will be a significant accomplishment for Hindman and will enhance USC Upstate’s pursuit of gaining approval to offer a graduate nursing program. Hindman is currently a member of a committee helping to develop a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program at USC Upstate.
“There is a nationwide shortage of master programs in nursing,” said Dr. Katharine Gibb, interim dean of the Mary Black School of Nursing. “We will be the first MSN with a clinical nurse leader focus (CNL) in the state and it will prepare experts to lead at the bedside. Nationwide where CNL’s are located there are less medical errors, less readmission rates, and less infection rates and improved quality of care because these experts are at the bedside help to direct the staff to a higher quality of care.”
Teaching nursing students to deliver a higher quality of care is at the core of Hindman’s work and research.
She was selected by the National Institutes of Health and the National Library of Medicine for a BioMedicine Informatics Fellowship to be hosted by the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass. in September 2012. Biomedical informatics focuses on the interface of computers and healthcare, or biomedicine and the eight-day program is designed to familiarize participants on the application of computer technologies and information science in biomedicine and health science through a combination of lectures and hands-on computer exercises. The program will help identify the conceptual components of biomedical informatics, or telemedicine, by offering courses such as principles of database design, human computer interfaces, and methods for measuring costs and benefits in health care systems.
“I realized that for me to make a contribution in this field, I needed more knowledge, a mentor and a better understanding of the current state of telemedicine research across the nation,” said Hindman. “This opportunity will expand my knowledge base in informatics and will provide mentorship for me to do further research which will benefit me professionally and, hopefully, have positive impact for USC Upstate and the community.”
Accolades and accomplishments have been accumulating in recent months for Dr. Margaret Hindman. While her own list of personal achievements grows, Hindman is certainly doing just as much to raise the stature of the Mary Black School of Nursing on a state and national level.
By Meg Hunt
Storytelling is an equalizer. Whether spoken, sung, drawn or written, stories create a balance between generations. Storytelling establishes evenness to the layers of society that exist within each culture because everyone has a story to tell.
As the 19th century dawned, it did so with an expectant air of change. Perhaps one of the more significant changes lay in the increased means to tell the stories of a few to the masses. No longer were people confined to their own communities, either by choice or by the invisible societal boundaries. Opportunity now existed to introduce these communities to each other.
One of the early pioneers taking advantage of the opportunity to transcend those boundaries was North Carolina native Bascom Lamar Lunsford.
Born on the Mars Hill College campus in 1882, he grew up hearing his mother sing mountain and religious songs and playing the banjo and fiddle given to him by his father. These childhood experiences instilled in him an appreciation for the music and the message and the stories they combined to create.
Over the course of his lifetime, Lunsford used his musical talents and his many professions to gain entry into communities throughout the Southern Appalachian region in order to preserve its culture, heritage and perspective. His approach to collecting these songs was an equally important aspect given that he often went literally “house to house” in western and piedmont North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, eastern Kentucky, north Georgia, and northern South Carolina to obtain these songs.
“The reason Bascom Lamar Lunsford recorded all of these songs was to preserve them and the culture they represented,” said Wayne Robbins, professor of English in the Department of Language, Literature, and Composition at USC Upstate. “He felt the music was too good to be lost.”
Since 2011, Professor Robbins has been working with Ed Herron, Lunsford’s grandson, to produce a seven CD boxed set of Lunsford’s 1949 Library of Congress Memory Collection, the largest collection of recordings by any one artist in the Library of Congress. In February of this year, the duo received a contract from the non-profit record label of the Smithsonian Institution, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, to facilitate this endeavor.
And an endeavor it is as Lunsford collected thousands of songs and tunes, more than 300 of which he recorded in 1949 as a “Memory Collection” for the Archive of American Music at the Library of Congress; the largest collection of recordings by any one artist in the Library of Congress.
A musician and songwriter in his own right, Robbins was struck by Lunsford’s perseverance and commitment to preserving this music, music which has essentially preserved the history of an entire culture.
“These songs were orally passed down, nothing was written,” noted Robbins. “When he (Lunsford) traveled to the different areas, he’d just pull out his banjo, wait for others to join in, and follow up with those whose songs he’d want to include in his collection. He’d then write down the words on whatever piece of paper he could find.”
At one point during their collaboration, Robbins and Herron had the opportunity to meet Robert Plant, former front man for Led Zeppelin, and introduce him to Lunsford’s work.
“He (Plant) was so impressed that Herron was such a good steward of his grandfather’s legacy and music, that he, too, wanted to have a part in helping make this project a reality,” said Robbins.
On his album “Band of Joy,” Plant and Buddy Miller even include a version of the traditional ballad “Cindy, I’ll Marry You One Day” and attribute the inspiration for their interpretation to “a renowned Appalachian banjo minstrel, Bascom Lamar Lunsford.” (Source: Songfacts)
Robbins feels that Lunsford was an educated person who never lost sight of who he was and where he came from. Each recording he made names the person he got the song from, where he was when he obtained the song, and most included an anecdote to help a listener relate to the relevance of what they were hearing.
“Dew Drops Are Falling on Me is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard,” said Robbins. “I’m convinced that if Bascom Lamar Lunsford hadn’t recorded it, it would have been lost forever.”
The release date for the unique set being compiled by Robbins and Herron is slated for early 2013. Each of the seven CDs highlights recordings under the broad headings of Primitive Fiddle Tunes, Sacred Songs and Preacher’s Spoofs, Songs of Love and Courtship, Nonsense Songs and Singing Games, Songs of Drinking and Wandering, Death Songs and Ghost Stories, and Very Varied Variance.
“I’m really proud to be a part of this project,” said Robbins. “It’s almost like we’re completing his mission of preserving these songs for the American people because these songs really aren’t anywhere else.”
By Claire Sachse
Over the past two decades, human-animal studies, or anthrozoology, has grown from a relatively small, somewhat arcane area of study, to a modern interdisciplinary approach to the analysis of human-animal relationships, interactions, and perceptions. Dr. Flynn, professor of sociology for 24 years, has been a key figure within this movement with his teaching, international conference presentations, and books on the subject of animal abuse.
His latest book, released by Lantern Books in April, and titled Understanding Animal Abuse: A Sociological Analysis, focuses on animal abuse and its connection to human violence, a topic of his research for the past 15 years. As more cases of animal abuse are reported in the news, as public discussion focuses on whether violence toward animals can be a predictor of violence toward humans, and as governing bodies are responding by passing animal violence legislation, the timing of the book’s release couldn’t be better. The assistant editor of Upstate Magazine sat down with Dr. Flynn to discuss his views on the place of animals in our society, in our homes, and in our hearts.
Q: A significant amount of your research involves battered women and their relationship with their pets, which are often also abused. In your book you write about the animal’s status as “relationship partner.” How important is the bond, especially when the woman needs to get out of an abusive relationship?
A: When we think about battered women, the world may be cut off for them, they’re socially isolated. That cat or that dog may be the most important individual in their life. That animal knows and is upset by her abuse in the same way that she’s upset by the abuse toward the animal. It has a multidimensional quality to it. The animal will either be a protector, try to intervene, or will try to comfort her after the fact. What makes the pet abuse all the more powerful is if the batterer knows how important the relationship is between the woman and the animal. The stronger the relationship, the more effective his strategy is to hurt her by harming or threatening the animal. That will get to her. You are starting to see states where you can include your pet in an order of protection. Society is starting to see animals differently. Whether women have pets is a question that is now more frequently being asked of women when they come to the shelter. A fifth of women delayed coming to the shelter because they were concerned about their companion animals, according to my local study. But still, most shelters won’t let you bring an animal. But they are doing better at finding foster services. How much longer is she (and possibly her children) at risk because they don’t want to leave the animal behind?
Q: Most people believe animals shouldn’t be made to suffer. We like to say we afford them the same consideration we do our fellow humans. Yet, you write that we are inconsistent, contradictory, even paradoxical in our approach. How is this?
A: Animal fighting, animal competitions and so forth are what most of us would think of as illegal, socially unacceptable acts done by individuals or small groups, and are the things that cruelty statutes are meant to address. The abuses that I mention that we need to be paying attention to are the institutional, legally and socially acceptable forms of animal abuse. Much of the abuse happens on factory farms, laboratories, circuses, and in hunting. The harm and suffering that goes on there is much greater by comparison. The interesting thing about animal testing is that most people support it because they perceive a human benefit. If asked, ‘Is it ok to test on animals to help human life, to provide a cure for cancer?’ the answer would be ‘yes.’ But if you asked whether animals should enjoy the same rights as humans, most would say yes. It’s a paradox. If they are so different from us, is it ok to test on them? Why test on them? We’re not going to learn anything. And if they’re so similar to us that it makes sense to test on them, don’t we have some sort of moral and ethical responsibility to not test on them, on beings that are so much like us? Don’t we have some moral obligation to not cause them pain?
Q: What factors influenced your decision to become a vegetarian?
A: I have been a vegetarian for about 16 or 17 years. My wife at the time bought me a book by Carol Adams called The Sexual Politics of Meat. It fundamentally changed the way I thought about these things. It was a book that focused on the interconnected oppressions of women and animals. I had always been concerned about animals. I never hunted or did any of those things. But I always thought that sexism and racism and those types of inequalities were more important. Once I read this book I couldn’t ignore the way we think about and treat animals. I saw the connections. You didn’t have to choose either humans or animals, you could be concerned about the exploitation of both, of all. And so that’s when I quit eating animals.
Q: How does your “Animals and Society” class change students’ perceptions and open their minds about our relationship to animals?
A: It’s the course that is most fun for me to teach. It looks at the roles of animals in society and our interactions with animals from a sociological perspective. We look at how social and cultural factors influence our relationships with other animals. It’s fun! One of the things this class does is it gets students excited. Students who will not speak, who are completely quiet in all their classes, will talk in this class! There’s something about animals -- particularly if it gives them a chance to talk about their own animals -- that really gets them engaged. Most of them have companion animals so they can really relate to some of the topics. We look at history and how our relationships with animals have changed over time. It has only been in the last 150-200 years that people have started keeping pets. We look at the social and cultural factors that have made that possible. We ask, do some animals like cats and dogs have “selves,” are they persons? Can we create relationships with them? Are they legitimate partners? How can we possibly study interaction in society without taking into account animals and our relationship to them? I also talk about animal abuse, and animal rights as a social movement.
By Claire Sachse
In the fall of 2011, shortly after graduating magma cum laude from the Honors Program, sociology major and Boiling Springs native Randi Hunton was on her way to London to begin her graduate studies in social research methods at Goldsmiths, University of London. She had never traveled outside the United States prior to that flight.
And if she gets her wish, she may not come back. Not anytime soon, anyway.
“I LOVE London! Of course, I miss my family and friends, and there are times when I miss the Carolina sun as I’m putting on my third pair of socks and a couple of long-sleeve shirts to go out, but the way of life here is everything I needed, and I hope I never have to write the end of this chapter,” Hunton, 23, writes.
The graduate program at Goldsmiths covers both qualitative and quantitative methods of sociological research and their application in the study of substantive areas, as well as the relationship of research studies to sociological theory. The program is known for its international research conducted on a wide range of issues from sensory sociology, networks and technologies to inequalities, law and human rights.
When considering graduate program options, she originally was drawn to programs that focused on qualitative-analytical thinking, as opposed to the quantitative-statistical side of sociology. In the end, she says she determined that a strong background in knowing how to conduct research, specifically in quantitative research methods, would make her a more competitive candidate for future Ph.D. programs. She is pleased that the Goldsmiths program offers both approaches to sociological study.
“I can still hear myself as an undergraduate saying, as I winged my way through a research methods course, ‘I’ll never be interested in crunching numbers or using statistics to make generalized statements about masses of people.’ Now, though, I’m actually sticking my foot in my mouth a bit because I’m enjoying the statistical analysis a lot, particularly with projects where I can combine stats, theory, and some sort of qualitative method, like focus groups or interviews,” Hunton writes.
Hunton plans to graduate in September, take a year to work an internship, obtain her Ph.D. in quantitative research in England, and “have a career somewhere in Waterloo by the time I’m 30,” she says.
Her motivation and interest would not have been possible, she adds, without two very special faculty members.
“I wouldn't be here today without the help, support, guidance, and pure brilliance of the sociology faculty at USC Upstate. Dr. Clif Flynn and Dr. Brigitte Neary were absolutely instrumental to the journey that's led me here and I am so thankful and grateful that I had an opportunity to work with them as an undergraduate.”
There were challenges to adjusting to life abroad. You wouldn’t necessarily expect communication barriers to occur, she says, but when they do, they can be a little embarrassing, yet entertaining.
For example, take the English word for underwear: ‘pants.’
“I just can’t seem to break myself from referring to jeans or trousers as ‘pants,’ no matter how hard I try. I get some funny looks from people when I say something about how nice their pants are,” she says.
Learning to navigate London via the “tube,” living with seven roommates in a “house share,” and braving the cold wet winters are other adjustments that Hunton is making with aplomb.
By Claire Sachse
It was a little unusual to see an art class convening in the George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics this past spring semester, with business students and their professor. But the students from graphic design and marketing were working on a collaborative project that not only tested their knowledge of art and business classroom theory, but also gave them the opportunity to present their work to real-world business clients.
It was the “perfect marriage” of two academic disciplines, said Lisa Anderson, associate professor of graphic design.
Her class, Packaging and Brand Identity Design, a special topics 300-level art class, met regularly with the 400-level Strategic Brand Management class, taught by Alan Deusterhaus, to research and rebrand two clients’ corporate identities. The combined class was called Upstate Brand Audit and Design.
The clients were Couture Closets, an upscale consignment boutique located in downtown Spartanburg, and the City of Spartanburg. Both clients agreed to let the students into their operations to observe, collect data, perform interviews, take photographs, and research many facets of business operations.
The focus of the business students was a “brand audit” for both of their clients. They studied the message being put forth to the public by the company or organization and the responses to the marketing message. They “crunched the numbers,” analyzed website and social media statistics, performed surveys with customers, and researched the customer’s demographics.
In the case of Couture Closets they examined the layout of the store, positioning of certain sale items, and even analyzed how the quantity of an item on display could affect sales.
The City of Spartanburg’s brand audit involved surveys which revealed details on the multiple brand associations Spartanburg is known for, including its proud history, textile heritage, vibrant arts scene, and as a city with multiple colleges and opportunities for active living.
When the audits were complete, the graphic design students used the research as the basis for refreshing visual enhancements to the brand. New logos were created, packaging was repurposed, billboards were conceptualized, letterhead revamped, signage re-imagined, websites redesigned, and catchy advertising tag lines brainstormed.
The project culminated in the presentation of the research and the artwork to their clients at the George in a series of meetings held in May. Amy Zimmer, owner of Couture Closets, and Will Rothschild, the city’s marketing and communications director, together with Hub-Bub representatives, attended the presentations.
“The city has struggled for a long time to find its strategic marketing and messaging footing,” said Rothschild. “There is an awful lot of positive momentum and energy in Spartanburg right now, and it is critical that we leverage our considerable assets to entice residents and businesses to choose the city. We have begun in recent months to strategically ramp up our work in this area, and the ideas, feedback and data these USC Upstate students provided has been very useful to our efforts.”
Joseph Jiles, a marketing major from Charleston, clearly enjoyed making his presentation in the boardroom to his clients. “My favorite part of the class was working together, the collaboration, and definitely the public speaking practice,” he said afterwards.
By Meg Hunt
his last two years of undergraduate studies at USC Upstate, Aaron Winters’ list of accomplishments was most noteworthy and certainly a sign of things to come for a young man whose sights were set on how he could, in his words, “work on something that will make a difference in the world.”
A University of South Carolina Magellan Scholar Award winner, Phi Kappa Phi member and student vice president, and featured student on USC Upstate’s Research YouTube Channel for his research project, Winters graduated summa cum laude in May with a diploma in one hand and an acceptance letter from Yale University’s School of Management in the other.
“The decision I had to make was whether to pursue an MBA or a Ph.D. in Computer Science,” said Winters. “I agonized over my options, but it came down to one question: after completing which program would I be best-placed to bring about the most good in the world?”
Aiding the decision-making process was the announcement that he had been selected to receive a Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship for the 2012-2013 academic year. One of only 51 scholars chosen, Winters is “particularly excited to have gotten Upstate’s name in print.” (Phi Kappa Phi prints brief biographies of Fellowship recipients in their Forum magazine.)
“I serve on the national Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship Committee and Aaron’s application was very strong, very competitive,” said Dr. Carol Loar, associate professor of history at USC Upstate. “This is a real honor for Aaron and for USC Upstate.”
Winters, a Computer Science major who minored in Mathematics and Business Administration, seemed destined to pursue a Master’s in Business Administration degree. His undergraduate research project was dedicated to creating software that detects risky lending behavior in a microfinance institution.
“The idea was to build a software predictor that can take other variables in a data set and predict that risky behavior sooner before it becomes a problem and threatens the institution,” he noted. “This research project helped me learn more about microfinance and gave me a good, basic understanding of how to run a research project.”
Both of which seemed to guide him closer to a range of study that will allow him to further explore the proficiencies and benefits of computer science and business.
“What now draws me to business is what initially drew me to computer science,” said Winters. “At a high enough level of abstraction, there is little difference between a business process or the behavior of a financial instrument in a given environment and a software algorithm. In making each better, one has the potential to enrich the lives, even in some tiny way, of huge numbers of people.”
In a world where the interplay between business and society has become more complex and extensive, Winters finds that he is right where he wants to be.
“The most interesting problems, the solutions to which will be the most impactful, require cross-disciplinary thinking,” he said. “While an approximation of something which may fill this requirement may be arrived at using a group of experts in various domains, there is, nonetheless, a large gap to be filled by persons with deep knowledge of several domains.”
Domains that on the surface can appear to be loosely connected or even unrelated, but underneath, very much dependent on one another.
“Few fields now are not being shaped by the rapid advances occurring via the application of computer science,” noted Winters. “The worlds of business, academia, and politics are undergoing a tectonic shift, and if you want to help shape it, you need to have a deep understanding of computer science and related statistical topics.”
If his undergraduate efforts are any indication, there can be no doubt that Winters clearly understands what it takes to help shape the future in order to make a difference.
By Claire Sachse
It was supposed to be a routine outpatient procedure and recovery. Sydney McMakin had a heart condition known as Supraventricular Tachycardia, or SVT, a condition that caused her heart to beat at a very rapid pace. For four years she dealt with the condition by taking blood pressure medicine. At age 16 she bravely decided to undergo surgery to correct the problem, knowing that with surgery came the risk, albeit minute, of developing a blood clot.
Less than 24 hours later, the worst happened. On December 30, 2011, the Byrnes High School junior suffered a fatal pulmonary embolism due to complications after the surgery.
Sydney became that “one in a million” affected by the risk, said Kim McMakin, Sydney’s mother, “and our world will never be the same.”
Though Sydney’s untimely death is hard to bear, her parents, family, and friends want her extraordinary spirit to live on. Since she had just made the decision to attend college at USC Upstate prior to the surgery, her family felt it would be fitting to establish a scholarship for a Byrnes graduate, so that if not Sydney, then someone else from her beloved high school could attend USC Upstate.
The recipient, who must be a Brynes senior admitted to USC Upstate with a 3.0 overall GPA, will receive $1,000 per year. The first recipient will be chosen from Byrnes’ 2013 graduating class, Sydney’s graduating class.
The scholarship has been established within the USC Upstate Foundation, and the family is asking for help from the USC Upstate community to grow the endowment so that Sydney’s college dream will be possible for others.
For more information, contact Bea Walters Smith, Director of Development and Foundation Scholarships at USC Upstate, at (864) 503-5235 or email@example.com.
“Sydney was an exceptional young lady who loved life, loved learning and loved helping others learn. We couldn’t ask for better daughter and sister and we miss her every day. We are excited about the scholarship because it means that Sydney will continue to help others learn for many years to come.”
--- Kim McMakin
Diagnosed at age 12 with SVT, most of Sydney’s friends never knew she had the condition because of her laugh, beautiful smile, and boundless energy. The website established in her honor appropriately bears the name SydneysSmile.org.
By Tammy E. Whaley
Dr. Colleen C. O'Brien, an assistant professor of Early American Literature, has been awarded the Fulbright Research Chair in North American Studies at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario Canada. The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.
O’Brien is one of approximately 1,100 U.S. faculty and professionals who will travel abroad through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program in 2012-2013. She will spend the fall semester researching the history of Black Loyalist communities, African Americans who emigrated to Canada after the Revolutionary War and eventually settled in Sierra Leone.
Her research interests include hemispheric American studies and the history, literature, and culture of the nineteenth century. She earned her Ph.D. in English and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and has published various journal articles on transnational race relations, gender and sexuality. O’Brien’s first book manuscript, Romance and Rebellion in the Nineteenth Century Americas, is in review at the University of Virginia Press. She will be working on her second major project, Metaphors of Heart’s Blood and Home: Black Revolutionaries and Agrarian Freedom in the Americas, at the University of Western Ontario this fall.
Before coming to Upstate in 2008, O’Brien held a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Africana Studies and History at Johns Hopkins University and also worked at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama.
By Tammy E. Whaley
While most people headed off to the beach this summer, Dr. Lizabeth Zack took a two-week trip to the Middle East where she conducted research and attended an environmental conference hosted by German-Jordanian University. Zack, an associate professor of sociology who has been researching environmental activism in Jordan since 2006 when she spent a year in the area as a Fulbright Scholar, also visited sites near the Dead Sea and Jordan River where restoration projects are underway.
As a sociologist, Zack has conducted projects on different kinds of political activism. But it was during her first trip to Jordan that she read about environmental protests, which indicated people in the region were gaining awareness of the issues and were becoming mobilized and organized.
“There’s a common misunderstanding that people in developing regions of the world, including the Middle East, don’t have the luxury of caring about the environment in the face of political unrest and economic difficulties,” said Zack. “But there’s plenty of evidence that people are concerned about how natural resources are managed and that they want to have a say in how their communities are developed.”
During her stay in Jordan during 2006-2007, Zack saw evidence of this in a couple of protest campaigns, in the media, and in government policy-making circles. So, she decided to document some of the ways that Jordanians were mobilizing around environmental issues.
“Over the last few years, I’ve been tracking individuals and groups mobilized around various environmental issues, such as industrial pollution, recycling, water, and species and habitat protection,” said Zack. “This latest project focuses on efforts to address the decline of the Dead Sea, an important world heritage site that sits on the border of Jordan, Israel and the West Bank and is known for its healing properties and biblical significance.”
The water level has been falling for decades as Israel and Jordan have diverted the Jordan River, the Dead Sea’s main feeder. Environmentalists, government officials, international organizations, and tourism advocates have all voiced concern that the Dead Sea is in a state of environmental emergency and that urgent action is needed to prevent its disappearance. Debate and controversy have swirled around competing proposals to solve the problem, one of which is to build a canal and pump water about 200 km from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, hence the project name ‘Red-Dead.’
“My research examines the framing of environmental issues, or how and why we come to define certain changes as environmental emergencies,” said Zack, who conducted interviews with local environmental activists and government officials working to solve the water problems of the Dead Sea. “Certainly, environmentalists, the media and scientists have played a role in raising awareness but, in the case of the Dead Sea, we also see powerful political and economic elites pushing to declare the site a major environmental problem.”
The issue of the Dead Sea, the lowest point on the face of the earth, is drawing the attention of the international media as Jordan and Israel continue to disagree on solutions. According to Zack, if a resolution isn’t reached to save the Dead Sea, three entities will feel the impact – tourism, spirituality and the mining industry.
The Dead Sea has evolved into a major hub of both religious and health and wellness tourism in the region. A robust tourism industry contributes significantly to the economy, which is very evident by the number of tourists who flock to the area and the hotels located along the Dead Sea.
The religious significance of the Dead Sea cannot be downplayed in the importance of stopping the receding of the water. The Dead Sea is mentioned throughout the Bible, often in reference to the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized. The Dead Sea Scrolls, which enhance our knowledge of both Judaism and Christianity, were discovered in 11 caves along the northwest shore of the Dead Sea.
Incredibly rich in minerals, the Dead Sea is home to sodium, potassium, calcium, bromine, and magnesium salts. Also, along the shoreline there are thermo-mineral springs containing many minerals, predominantly sulphur. There are 21 minerals in the Dead Sea, 12 of which are not found in any other water body, each providing for a very lucrative mining industry.
Saving the Dead Sea is a project that should aid in a better understanding of the conditions driving environmental concerns in the Middle East and the impact that citizens may, or may not, have on sustainable development and environmental policy making in the region, explained Zack. It may also offer insights into the shifting patterns of political activism in the context of regional changes associated with the Arab Spring.
“One of the questions I addressed during my trip was how environmentalists in Jordan have been affected by the regional developments of the Arab Spring,” said Zack. “I imagined that the opening of the political systems in Tunisia and Egypt might provide new opportunities for activism but not necessarily in Jordan where protest has resulted in minor reforms and the persistence of authoritarian rule.”
Her research found that the Arab Spring has some environmental dimensions. Deeper variations are being seen in Egypt and Tunisia where political transactions are providing opportunities to make environmental changes. Zack cited the example of the Egyptian protesters who maintained a very clean environment at Tahrir Square. She noted, however, that in some cases, the Arab Spring placed environmental issues on the back burner as elections and constitutional changes took precedence.
During her research, Zack has noted emerging trends in environmental activism, one such trend being a shift in emphasis from traditional conservation issues, such as preservation of forests and protection of species and habitat, to a framework of urban sustainability. This approach focuses on promoting growth and development of urban communities that is more environmentally sensitive, which means incorporating such elements as more green space, alternative transportation, and recycling systems.
“Another trend is the shift in the tools environmentalists use to organize and raise awareness,” said Zack. “As with other forms of activism in the Middle East, there has been an explosion of Internet-based sites, from alternative media to blogs that cover different environmental issues.”
Even as environmental activism gains popularity in the Middle East, some question why it took so long to come to the region when western, developed countries embraced the movement much earlier.
Zack explained, “In the decades after independence in the mid-20th century, governments in the Middle East were focused primarily on development – of infrastructure, industry, housing, schools, etc. – without much regard for the cost to the natural environment. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was becoming clear that the Middle East was facing serious water shortages, land degradation, and a host of problems associated with increasing urbanization. The United Nations Earth Summit in Brazil in 1992 helped bring international attention to these problems and to channel resources to address them.”
It is also the case that autocratic regimes in the region have been preoccupied with suppressing any political opposition and have monopolized control of key resources such as oil and water as a way to secure power. It has been during moments of political liberalization, such as in the early 1990s in Jordan, when environmental groups did form and take on certain issues.
Political conflict in the region, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has also been an obstacle to addressing environmental problems, especially the regional, trans-boundary challenges such as how to develop and protect the Jordan River Basin.
Zack will continue her academic research and travels to the Middle East in spring 2013 when she returns to Jordan.
By Tammy E.Whaley
Dr. Charles F. Harrington assumed the duties of senior vice chancellor for academic affairs at USC Upstate on July 1, 2012. Harrington joins the senior leadership team at USC Upstate from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke where he was a professor of management and international business. He served UNC Pembroke as provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs from 2005-2010.
“As the chief academic, planning and operations officer for the university, Dr. Harrington brings two decades of experience in areas critical for the future of USC Upstate -- academic programs, institutional growth, and program development,” said Dr. Tom Moore, chancellor of USC Upstate. “Charley Harrington has demonstrated great capacity to lead and manage in areas of academic excellence, enrollment growth, academic planning, student success, curriculum development, faculty recruitment and development, and budget management,” added Moore.
Harrington’s career in higher education includes administrative experience as well as undergraduate and graduate teaching. He served as assistant vice president for academic affairs and director of institutional research and assessment at the University of Southern Indiana and as assistant director of institutional research and planning at State University of West Georgia. He has taught human resource management, organizational behavior, statistics, economics, management and international business.
Harrington earned a Ph.D. in higher education administration and educational research from Ohio University. His master’s degree is in non-profit management from Drexel University; his undergraduate degree in philosophy is from Ohio University. He holds certificates from Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management Program and Higher Education Management Development Program.
By Tammy E. Whaley
Gregg Akkerman is jazzed about music.
And the USC Upstate professor is working to ensure that students, readers and music lovers the world over are, too.
As an associate professor of music and director of Jazz Studies and Commercial Music, Akkerman recognizes that college students prefer to spend their time on social media outlets such as Facebook and YouTube.
Rather than fighting that trend, he is joining it, using musical videos as a teaching tool and giving new meaning to the phrase, “class notes.”
He designed 40 educational videos on music topics and uploaded them to YouTube. They quickly became a hit way beyond the classroom.
"I was delighted to see these clips recently crest 35,000 viewers, and I plan on creating more to meet the demand," Akkerman said. His most popular topic, with more than 5,500 views, is on Motown and Soul music. His videos can be viewed at www.youtube.com/greggakkerman.
He said brevity is key to their popularity.
"People are too busy to sit through a traditional hour-long lecture, so I break them into digestible segments, and the results speak for themselves," said Akkerman, who has received requests from viewers around the world for more content.
In addition to engaging students and music lovers on the web, Akkerman will be getting attention of audiences as a published author.
On July 2 his book, “The Last Balladeer: The Johnny Hartman Story,” was published by Scarecrow Press. The work is the first biography of jazz vocalist Johnny Hartman (1923-1983), a critically acclaimed artist known for his iconic album with saxophonist John Coltrane and as the singing voice in Clint Eastwood's “The Bridges of Madison County.”
He interviewed legendary figures such as Tony Bennett, Billy Taylor, Bill Cosby, Jon Hendricks, and Kurt Elling. More information about the books is available at www.johnnyhartmanbook.com.
By Meg Hunt
Since Florence Nightingale left the comforts of her British upbringing in 1854 to aid wounded soldiers fighting in The Crimean War in Turkey and champion improved medical and living conditions, the nursing profession, and in particular the role of a nurse, has never been the same.
In addition to the professionalism, training, nursing degrees, and associations dedicated to furthering the profession as it has evolved over the years, there is a common denominator among those serving in this field, and it is a desire to do just that – serve, regardless of where they are called or for how long.
That’s how Dr. Kathy Fitzsimmons, assistant professor of nursing at the Greenville Campus, describes her recent teaching trip to Vietnam.
She was invited to teach a two-week graduate nursing course as part of a program supported by the Friendship Bridge Nurses Group (FBNG). One of its founders, Faye Hummel, was Fitzsimmons’ dissertation chair at the University of Colorado so she was familiar with FBNG and its objectives.
Founded in 1991, the mission of the FBNG is “to enhance nursing and health care in Vietnam through the provision of educational programs and consultation and collaboration with Vietnamese leaders in nursing education and clinical practice.”
“We were teaching a graduate nursing course at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Ho Chi Minh City,” she said. “This is the only Master’s of Nursing program in Vietnam.”
Fitzsimmons and another nurse from Alaska worked with two co-teachers from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy. The two Vietnamese teachers were Master’s Prepared Nursing Instructors, but “the gap (in Vietnam) is having Ph.D. prepared nurses to teach in a Master’s program,” noted Fitzsimmons.
“We had 37 students in our program,” she added. “They have to test to enter the program and only the top students can participate.”
As one of the Ph.D.-prepared nurse instructors, Fitzsimmons was responsible for creating her course syllabus and making sure she was prepared to teach six hours a day. She also had to take into consideration a tight schedule, cultural sensitivity and dependence on other people during her two weeks.
Of course, as with most international teaching trips, language presented a slight problem. While there is a certain “universal language” that exists within the field of nursing, the translation variances in teaching graduate course work during a compressed two-week window posed some additional hurdles.
“Language capability is a big barrier,” Fitzsimmons noted. “I found the graduate students we were working with had lower English skills than we had thought before we came.”
But that didn’t keep the students from working hard.
“There is still a big push for them to increase their English skills,” said Fitzsimmons. “The students will take their nursing courses for two, three or five weeks, back to back, and then during their break they take English classes.”
The significance of the continuing effort by FBNG and Vietnamese colleagues from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy to develop and implement the first Master’s in Nursing program is not lost on Fitzsimmons. She recognizes the value of a concept that FBNG believes “supports the progression of Vietnamese graduate nursing education toward an advanced level that is sustainable within Vietnam.”
As Fitzsimmons sees it, the primary hindrance to having indigenous, doctoral-prepared nurses teaching these courses lies in the fact that no Ph.D. program currently exists in Vietnam.
“After being there, teaching in English and working with an interpreter, I realize how important it is for them to develop their own teachers,” said Fitzsimmons. “The students were so appreciative of this access to a Master’s program. It reminded me how motivated and dedicated they were.”
As cited in the FBNG description of this ongoing endeavor, “the collaborative nature of the project with Vietnamese colleagues and the fact that it is being coordinated and taught by volunteer Ph.D. nurse educators demonstrates the international nature of nursing practice and the shared goals that dedicated nurses worldwide hold in support of improvement of nursing education and health care.”
It’s a concept Nightingale would be proud of. For her part over the two weeks, Fitzsimmons knows she is.
E. Wayne Holden was named President and Chief Executive Officer of RTI International.
Lorraine Walker is the 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year at Pauline-Glenn Springs Elementary School in Spartanburg District 6.
Gladys “Sissy” Bush is the 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year at Jesse Boyd Elementary in Spartanburg District 7.
Tracey Jackson was nominated for her leadership in the local battle against HIV and AIDS. She has brought federal, state and local resources to bear on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Spartanburg, Cherokee and Union counties since becoming the executive director of Piedmont Care in 1998. During her tenure, Piedmont Care has served more than 1,100 people living with HIV/AIDS, provided more than 300 free HIV tests, and expanded its mission to include HIV prevention and education.
Dana Cooper is the 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year at Cooley Springs-Fingerville Elementary in Spartanburg District 2.
Patti Grubbs Hardee is the 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year at Boiling Springs Elementary in Spartanburg District 2.
Tonya Beaty is the 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year at Boiling Springs Middle School in Spartanburg District 2.
Amy Flynn is the 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year at Chesnee Elementary in Spartanburg District 2.
Matthew Harrison uses his artwork paintings and assemblage sculptures – to explore the relationship between man-made items and the natural world. He combines cast-off pieces of metal with bamboo roots and acorns, drill parts with cicada shells. Some of these works can be seen in an exhibition at the Sandor Teszler Library Gallery at Wofford College through Aug. 17.
William Joseph Stellar (Billy) donated a Hosta collection to USC Upstate that contributes to Campus Beautification.
Jerry Lee was named head baseball coach at West-Oak High School in Anderson, SC.
Rory Scovel, a former communications student, performed his standup comedy in a new Comedy Central series called “The Half Hour.” He has made several national television appearances, including NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and Conan O’Brien’s late-night show on TBS, as well as appearing numerous times on Comedy Central. He has also opened shows for nationallyknown comics Louis C.K., Daniel Tosh and Nick Swardson.
Dione Williams is the 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year at E.P. Todd Elementary School in Spartanburg District 7.
Sarah Jansen was promoted from assistant women’s basketball coach at Belmont Abbey College to head coach at Mars Hill College.
Jennifer Mooneyhan is currently employed as a Procurement Specialist at EnergySolutions in Columbia, SC.
Felicia Ratcliffe is the 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year at Chapman Elementary in Spartanburg District 7.
Heather Bostic is the 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year at Woodland Heights Elementary in Spartanburg District 6.
Amanda Justice is the 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year at Jesse S. Bobo Elementary in Spartanburg District 6.
Allison Muise Carman graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a Master’s of Science in Nursing specializing in Acute and Continuing Care Neonatal Nurse Practitioner.
Angela Shippy is the 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year at Cleveland Elementary in Spartanburg District 7.
Melissa Williams works in the research, assessment, and accountability department as a data analyst for Orangeburg County Consolidated School District Three.
Jessica Dyer is the 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year at Arcadia Elementary in Spartanburg District 6.
Summer Wall Keener began her career as a NICU nurse.
Danielle Thomas is the 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year at Chesnee Middle School in Spartanburg District 2.
Tyler Phillips wrote a song that was purchased and sang by Jason Mraz. The album was just released and the song is “Everything is Sound.”
Stacey Gardner, a graphic design graduate of Visual Arts Program, is already receiving professional acclaim from her peers. On Feb. 18, 2012, the 27-year-old Fulton, N.Y. native received a Gold Student ADDY award for her Guinness Heist Campaign from the American Advertising Federation (AAF) of Greenville at an awards ceremony held at Zen Greenville.
Aglaia Kargiatlis ’08 and Daniel
Nguyen were married April 21, 2012.
Summer Wall ’08 and Austin Keener were married on June 2, 2012.
Benjamin Cooper ’09 and Keri Pack were married on April 26, 2008.
James Dillon ’09 and Lauren Mabry were married on July 20, 2010.
Nicole Green ’10 and Brett McRae were married June 16, 2012.
Ashley Lynn Humphries ’10 and David
Eric Aughinbaugh were married on June 2, 2012.
Cameron Gray Bailey ’11 and Kendra Ruth Gallman were married on May 5, 2012.
Kirby Leigh King ’11 and Preston David Wood were married on May 20, 2012.
Tiffany ’97 and Eric Butler welcomed Collin into the world on September 8, 2011. They also have two other sons; Cooper, born August 16, 2004, and Corben, born February 27, 2009.
Nathan ’02 and Amy Frommelt welcomed Chase Scott into the world on June 20, 2011.
Jennifer Mooneyhan ’04 gave birth to Tripp Johnson on October 3, 2011.
Alicia Lucas ’11 welcomed Jayden Todd on January 25, 2012. She has three other children; Brandon, Caleb and Doster.
Patsy Smith Harvey ’75 passed away on June 19, 2012.
Billy Seay ’79 passed away on February 5, 2012.
Mae Blanton ’80 passed away on April 19, 2012.
Miriam Phillips ’82 passed away on May 2, 2012.
Kelly Felmet Long ’85 passed away on March 10, 2012.
Debra Peterson Eckley ’96 passed away on March 22, 2012.
Amy Lee Cromer ’97 passed away on May 28, 2012.
Casonya Lakia Boyce ’98 passed away on March 22, 2012.
Laura Carol Brown Brennan ’98 passed away on March 23, 2012.
Michael Scott Ramey ’99 passed away on June 18, 2012.
Anna Leigh Huckeba ’08 passed away on June 23, 2012.
Brad Biggerstaff ’10 passed away on July 27, 2011.