Oglethorpe Students Help With Campus Clean-up

Last week Michelle Hall, OU’s Vice President for Campus Life, was preparing for students’ arrival for the new semester and noticed a few areas around campus that could use a little sprucing up before the incoming class was the first to arrive on Saturday.  She challenged Oglethorpe RAs and orientation leaders who were already on campus, to beautify their home-away-from-home in just over 24 hours.  The students then challenged each other to see which group could collect the most trash.

With that, they got to work.  The crews completely filled 40 heavy duty trash bags with their finds, and discovered a number of (rather peculiar) items in the process, including tiki torches, old furniture, traffic cones, and even a car tire. 

“I honestly did not think we’d need as many trash bags as we did,” said Dona Kiosef ’14, a rising sophomore at OU. “We found some weird stuff, too. The coolest thing I found was the face of a CPR dummy. I was proud of it [and] showed it off during the pick up…Who doesn’t like sprucing up the place where we all live? It was tons of fun in the end and even served as a bonding experience between us all.”

Even after sorting through piles of trash and proudly sporting numerous mosquito bites, it’s safe to say that these Petrels clean up well.

“[They] really went above and beyond the call of duty to ready our campus for the newest Petrels,” said Dean Hall.  “Their teamwork and willingness to help truly reflects the spirit of Oglethorpe.”

Photos:  (1) Two teams of OU Residence Assistants and Orientation Leaders take a break from beautifying their campus. (2) Part of the campus clean up included bamboo removal near the Emerson Student Center—now the Conant Performing Arts Center and a small creek are visible from Emerson. 

Oglethorpe’s New Athletic Conference to be Named Southern Athletic Association

With the new academic year, starting in less than a week, comes the announcement of the name of Oglethorpe’s new athletic conference that will launch in 2012-13: the Southern Athletic Association (SAA). 

The new conference is truly southern, in that all eight member schools represent six southern states, its territory reaching from Georgia and Alabama over to colleges in Kentucky and Arkansas.  The geographic focus will result in reduced travel time and fewer missed classes, while still allowing for a strong conference of like-minded institutions, all of which integrate competitive athletics into the whole of the student’s educational experience.

In a statement released today, the SAA announced its commitment to “fostering athletic competition and cooperation among academically selective, residential liberal arts colleges located in the southeastern region of the United States.” 

The SAA member schools are Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama, Centre College in Kentucky, Hendrix College in Arkansas, Millsaps College in Mississippi, Oglethorpe University and Berry College in Georgia, and Rhodes College and Sewanee: The University of the South in Tennessee.

Jay Gardiner, athletics director at Oglethorpe, will serve as the Southern Athletic Association interim commissioner. Oglethorpe president Lawrence Schall will serve as convener of the conference’s Presidential Council during the 2011-12 academic year while Brian Chafin, athletics director at Centre, will serve as convener of the Athletics Director Council in 2011-12. 


Former OU Star to Play in PGA Tournament This Weekend

Former Oglethorpe golfing great Olafur Loftsson, who guided the Stormy Petrels to their first ever NCAA Championship in May 2009, earned an invitation to compete in the PGA Tour Wyndham Championship held this weekend at the Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C.

Loftsson, who now plays under scholarship as a senior for UNC-Charlotte, will compete at the PGA Tour event as an amateur after earning the invite by winning the prestigious Cardinal Amateur in Greensboro this past weekend. He fired a final round 65 to win the event by four strokes and clinch his chance to compete against the sport’s best this weekend.

In May of 2009, Loftsson, then a sophomore transfer from Gardabaer, Iceland, won medalist honors and the Arnold Palmer Player-of-the-Year distinction by leading Oglethorpe to the Division III National Championship.

Loftsson came to Oglethorpe on a foreign student exchange program as a sophomore in the fall of 2008 and was scheduled to return to Iceland following the academic year. His performance on the golf course, however, caught the eye several Division I schools with available golf scholarships. OU Golf head coach Jim Owen made phone calls on Olafur’s behalf and it wasn’t long before the “Iceman”, as he was affectionately known to teammates, had landed a full ride to compete for the 49ers of UNC-Charlotte.

The Wyndham Championship begins on Thursday and will be broadcast from on the Golf Channel from 3:00-6:00 p.m. both Thursday and Friday. If he is fortunate enough to survive the cut, Loftsson could be viewed on CBS this Saturday and Sunday from 3:00-6:00 p.m. To view the Championship website with links to a live updating leaderboard, go here.

Photo:  Loftsson shown holding up his medalist trophy after guiding the Stormy Petrels to the 2009 NCAA Championship.

OU Alum Michael Rowe Makes a Difference One Dog at a Time

Each year 10,000 abused and neglected dogs are brought to Atlanta’s Fulton County Animal Control.  Though half of those animals are adopted out to loving families, nearly 5,000 dogs become casualties in the most populated animal shelter in Georgia.  That’s where people like Michael Rowe ’95 come in.  Michael works for the Barking Hound Village Foundation Rescue, a non-profit that rehabilitates and find homes for dogs that end up on the shelter’s death row. Their mission is to save the lives of lost, abandoned and unwanted pets in Fulton County.  And that mission, according to Michael, falls right in line with his life course. 

Back in June of last year, three pit bull puppies found Rowe as he walked his pit-pointer mix, and through his search for a good home for those pups, he stumbled on Barking Hound.  This wasn’t the first time Matt had found himself seeking help for a misplaced canine in his community.  After spending some time with the organization, Michael seized an opportunity to carry out this work full-time. 

“[People] have always said, ‘Do [for a living] what you like to do anyway,” says Michael.  “Well, I’ve always taken the dogs in…I’ve done that all my life.  This is something I really love doing…and I think I’ve found my niche.”

There are only a handful of full-time associates at BHVFR, so Michael shares a number of different responsibilities—but his main job is preparing 60 dogs each month for a new home.  Unlike most other animal shelters, Barking Hound guarantees a home to the 60 dogs they take in each month, relocating them through other rescues  in the northeastern U.S.—where strays are fewer and sterilization laws are stringent.  Each month, Michael selects the dogs he is confident  the foundation can place, and spends the entire month rehabilitiating, socializing, and nursing sick dogs back to health.  After placing the dogs on their website for other reputable rescue organizations to see, the dogs are then transported to the partner rescue, where a loving family meets the dog.  In less than two years, Barking Hound has saved the lives of over 1,500 animals.

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Oglethorpe Takes Up White House Campus Challenge

This year Oglethorpe University will participate in President Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, which challenges more than 300  colleges and universities around the country to promote intentional interfaith dialogue and community service. Oglethorpe will focus specifically on the issues of health and hunger.

To work toward meeting the challenge, OU students and staff created COEXIST Oglethorpe, an effort open to all Oglethorpe students, faculty, staff, and alumni who are interested in this interfaith initiative. Staff from the offices of Admission, Campus Life, and Center for Civic Engagement have met with students Clair Carter ’12, Jimmy Comerford ’13, Emily Sharfstein ’14, Awet Woldegebriel ’14, Zach Robinson ’15 and Ruwa Romman ’15 throughout the summer to pave the road for the next two semesters.

“COEXIST helps us create a culture of understanding and in doing so, allows us to reach out to the community and work towards progress in health and hunger,” said incoming freshman and committee member Zach Robinson ’15.

Heather Staniszewski ’02, assistant director of the Center for Civic Engagement, recalls that when she first started working at Oglethorpe, she was impressed with “the Interfaith Council and collaboration between faith groups to keep the dialogue open and ongoing.”  She joined COEXIST Oglethorpe because it “gives [her] a chance to work with students and fellow OU staff members of different faiths to not only educate the community, but educate [each other].”

The fall semester’s inaugural event, to be held September 11, 2011 in Emerson Student Center, will combine service projects with an educational interfaith dialogue. The day will consist of three different service projects including a healthy nonperishable food drive, a blood drive from 1:00-6:00 p.m. hosted by the American Red Cross, and an opportunity to write letters to soldiers and veterans. From 2:00-4:00 p.m. a panel of various community faith leaders will answer questions and lead discussions with participants.

Please direct any questions or interest in volunteering for these events to the Center for Civic Engagement staff via email at hstan@oglethorpe.edu or call 404-504-1978.  We hope to see you in Emerson on Sunday, September 11.