OU Alumni Board’s On-Campus Retreat a Success

A few weekends ago the campus was buzzing with activity. Perhaps you saw the lines of cars on Peachtree Road packed to the brim with enough furniture, clothes and school supplies to fill all the dorm rooms on campus multiple times over. Buried under it all, were our newest Petrels, ready to start the next chapter of their life.

A few more Petrels—not quite as new—were in the midst of this traffic as well, gathering for the Oglethorpe Alumni Board’s annual retreat held on campus that same day. Despite having to weave through the crowd of parents and freshmen, all members agreed that this year’s meeting was perfectly timed for such an exciting day on campus.

Should you hear the words, “annual retreat” and assume that our meeting was just a social gathering, I am here to report that new Alumni Board President Cleve Hill ’01 not only gave us homework before we arrived but sent us off with additional assignments once we adjourned! Nonetheless, there were no complaints to be heard as all members, ranging from the Class of 1958 to 2008 were excited to be back on campus and continue the exciting and rewarding work ahead of us.

Our meeting kicked off with reports from the Vice Presidents on the Board who each gave an update about their committee’s recent work and upcoming plans. We discussed Oglethorpe’s record breaking year for alumni giving, plans for alumni gatherings across the country, recent and upcoming contributions to the Carillon magazine, efforts surrounding admissions and how alums are continuing to attract the best and brightest students, and plans for various career networking events coming to campus. It was so exciting to hear all the new ideas, recent success stories, and plans for the future coming out of each committee.

During lunch, we were joined by another group of hard working alums—our class agents responsible for generating continued growth in alumni giving—and OU President Dr. Larry Schall, who discussed some new and exciting efforts and priorities for the future of the campus.

In addition to the full Board meetings, we were able to participate in various roundtable discussions. As a member of the Communications Committee, I joined in on a discussion related to how we could make the Carillon an even greater publication for all Oglethorpe alums. We came up with some GREAT ideas so be on the lookout for several new features!

Finally, the Alumni Weekend 2012 theme was revealed by the Events Committee.  Mark your calendars for April 26-29, 2012—you won’t want to miss this!!!

Being back on campus always makes me nostalgic and it is such a pleasure serving on the Alumni Board with so many committed and excited people who are all “making a life, making a living, making a difference.” I always come away from our gathering energized and so proud of my alma mater.

Photo above: Jodie Sexton Goff ’02 with Alumni Board President Cleve Hill ’01.

Alpha Psi Omega to Present ‘Of Dice & Men’

Oglethorpe University’s chapter of the Alpha Psi Omega theatre honor society invites you to a tabletop game of Dungeons and Dragons—on stage, that is. 

The Chi Kappa “cast” is set to produce Of Dice & Men, a coming-of-age play about six young people, all Dungeons and Dragons players, who must suddenly face the fact that one of their own will soon be deployed to Iraq—a conflict that will force them to realize why they game, what it means to grow up, and what true friendship looks like. Dice is one of this year’s breakout stage productions, and the thespians from OU’s Alpha Psi chapter are bringing it to the Lupton Hall stage later this fall.

The whole play, from top to bottom, is entirely student produced.  To help defray the cost of building the set, costumes, and outfitting the Lupton stage for a production of this quality, Alpha Psi has set up an online fundraiser, powered by Kickstarter.com.  They’ve already raised over $1300, and are looking to raise a total of $2000 by the beginning of next month.  Danielle Hitchcock ’12, the play’s director, says that bringing an up-and-coming stageplay like Of Dice & Men to the Atlanta theatre scene is a wonderful challenge for the cast and a real treat for audiences.

“This show really spoke to me, and I am going to do my very best to bring to the stage all of the realism and truth of the relationships and emotion that Cameron McNary composed in the work,” said Danielle.  ”This show is extremely touching, and I think it will resonate with anyone who sees it, regardless of whether or not they’ve ever even heard of Dungeons and Dragons.”

“The game is really more of a device to show how close the characters are and to explore what it means to grow up.  I know that our tightly-knit ‘Ogle-community’ will be universally affected by the conflict of the play as everyone has had to deal with changes in their family of friends—whether it is just someone graduating or something more serious, the emotions in this play are ones that everyone must deal with at some point.”

Alpha Psi Omega’s Kickstarter fundraiser ends on Sunday, August 28, but the group will continue to collect donations through September 1.  To donate, please e-mail Danielle Hitchcock.

Photo: (from left) Ryan Boland ’14 and seniors Jacque McFadden ’12, Alfred Rudzki ’12, and Danielle Hitchcock ’12 read through Of Dice and Men.

Dig This: OU Senior Studies Archaeology in Turkey

Here at the OU Blog, we’ve heard plenty of stories of students traveling all over the world to enhance their OU education.  Most explore places like England, Spain, and plenty of places in Asia—but a student studying archaeology in Turkey?  That’s a new one for us!

Meet Katherine Harkleroad ’12.  She is an art history major at Oglethorpe, and decided to spend her summer in Turkey, where she attended an international archaeology seminar at Crisler Library.  Crisler is an American archaeological research and teaching facility which hosts some of the world’s brightest researchers and historians.  The program is open to undergraduates, graduates, and PhD candidates, and it’s based in Selçuk, near the ancient Roman city of Ephesus.

But when we say archaeology, don’t think of Katherine with a shovel and brush in hand.  As much as she’d probably love to dig, Katherine was taking the seminar from the standpoint of an art historian, and was a respectful observer of those “on the ground.”

“We are not actually digging in the dirt,” explained Katherine, while still in Turkey. “We are visiting Ephesus and the surrounding sites—such as Priene, Miletus, Didyma, and Aphrodisias—with archaeologists and professors from around the world…Turkey is very strict about who is involved in excavations. Although the archaeologists here are from all over, the excavation crews are from Turkey…[While] walking behind the scenes at many of the sites, our group has been able to view and hear about finds that are not yet published.”

Even without digging, Katherine kept a busy schedule.  Each morning, she and her colleagues traveled to a new site, exploring topics such as Roman private life, cult and politics, pagan sanctuaries, and how the Romans supplied themselves with water.  The seminar is taught by esteemed archaeologists known the world over for their research, including Germany’s Hilke Thür, the main lecturer in the course and a thirty-year veteran in the field.

“It is such a great opportunity to visit Ephesus and the surrounding sites with such a well known and renowned archaeologist,” said Katherine.  ”[This] has helped me better understand archaeological practices, excavation, and restoration techniques and strategies. Such things are very useful for historians as well as art historians. [In the past,] I have taken a basic archaeology course, but this seminar has given me first-hand experience with the field of archaeology.”

So, after spending her summer up close and personal with professional archaeologists, can this Petrel see some digs in her future? 

“I am very interested in the work of archaeologists, but I don’t think that I am cut out for the life of an archaeologist,” comments Katherine. “The work season for most [is in] the summer, [when the] heat and sun are brutal. The living conditions in an excavation house are…interesting! …like being at camp,” she says laughingly.  “The program was a great—a once in a lifetime opportunity.  It was amazing.”

Photo: Katherine atop a fortress at the Basilica of St. Johns in Selçuk, near Ephesus.

Hundreds Volunteer During Oglethorpe’s Orientation Day of Service

Orientation Day at Oglethorpe is unlike orientation at any other school.  While new Petrels do rush to meet their professors and participate in the essential get-to-know-your-campus activities, they also add another stop to their list of things to do:  community service throughout the Atlanta area.  

On Monday morning,  Oglethorpe University’s incoming class volunteered at seven Atlanta-area nonprofits as part of the annual Orientation Day of Service.  In past years students have volunteered during their first week of college, but this is the first time an entering class has reached seven locations within the same day

For most, it was a way to become acclimated with the city around them, and experience hands-on learning about an an Atlanta nonprofit, its mission, and how it serves the community need.  For others, like 17-year old Parth Patel, the biggest personal impact of the project was having the opportunity to create relationships with classmates from around the world.

“[The day of service] was a great way for me to start making friends,” explained Parth, who spent his morning clearing shrubs and picking up litter at nearby Silver Lake.  “I am originally from Zambia, and it is neat to meet other international students from all over… because we’ve been working together all morning, we’ve had plenty of time to talk and learn about each other’s cultures and backgrounds.”

Parth and 19 fellow freshmen volunteered at Silver Lake in preparation for the community’s 100-year anniversary celebration.  But hundreds of other Petrels spread out around the metro area with plenty of other tasks in mind.  About 80 volunteers packed and sorted books for Africa’s youth at Books for Africa in Smyrna while 40 others worked at Medshare, sorting and preparing medical supplies for those in need the world over.  Another 50 offered their hands at Decatur’s Delano Line Park, helping to remove invasive species on its grounds, through a program called Park Pride.  At Grant Park, more than 100 volunteers worked to  prepare and beautify Atlanta’s oldest public park—just in time for next weekend’s Grant Park Summer Shade Festival.  More students visited Open Hand, packaging meals for medically-fragile patients, and more still spent time at Push Push Theatre, cleaning, organizing and painting areas of the theatre in preparation for a television show that is to be filmed there in the fall.

In recognition of their efforts, the Class of 2015 received the Phoenix Award from the office of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed for “exemplary commitment to community service” and “for its hard work and dedication toward improving our quality of life and making our city a better place to live, work and play.” The Phoenix Award is given to organizations and individuals who have made significant contributions to the residents of Georgia.

“Oglethorpe University has expanded its Orientation Day of Service for incoming students to reach multiple nonprofit sites in the Atlanta area,” said Tamara Nash, director of the Oglethorpe’s Center for Civic Engagement. “Our goal is to make the service experience more impactful for both the nonprofits and for the students.”