The second annual Employee Recognition Luncheon was held this week and a number of staff and faculty members were recognized for their exceptional service to Oglethorpe.
Oglethorpe staff members were invited to nominate their peers for six awards that recognized individuals who have gone “beyond the call of duty.” All awards included a monetary prize.
The Staff Member of the Year Award for the 2013-14 academic year went to Renee Vary Keele, director of University Communications. Her award was presented by co-worker and nominator J. Todd Bennett, executive director of University Communications, who spoke of her revitalization of the university’s Carillon magazine and media relations efforts, which both garnered several national awards over the past year, among other accomplishments. “As the university’s editor-in-chief,” Todd said, “she has improved or created tools to tell the Oglethorpe story including the OU Stories, OU Newswire, and the Carillon. Renee’s taken on the work of arts promotion, including all marketing and promotion for the museum. She supports practically every office and department on campus, and does it exceedingly well.”
Additional awards were presented to staff members who exhibited exemplary conduct during the past year in specific categories. The winners of these awards are:
Customer Service Award: George Kopec, Director of Development Services
Professionalism Award: Danny Glassmann, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life
Quality Award: Mark Gross, Assistant Director of the Academic Success Center
Teamwork Award: Jon Akin, Head Soccer Coach
Creativity Award: Melissa Briley, Accounts Receivable Manager
The Staff Recognition Committee was responsible for reviewing and evaluating all of the nominations to determine the winners. This year’s committee was comprised of last year’s award winners Laura Masce, Suzy Lane, Judy Zahn and Katie Paden.
Additionally, pins were presented to employees who celebrated notable work anniversaries at Oglethorpe. Celebrating 5 years of service were Lesley Cole, Leah Zinner, Devon Belcher, Suzy Lane and David Dixon. Celebrating 10 years of service were Daniel Adams, Peter Howell, Kendra King, Lynn Guhde, Roarke Donnelly, Anne Salter and George Kopec. Celebrating 15 years of service were Nick Maher and John Carton. Jeffrey Collins celebrated 20 years and Alan Loehle, Jay Lutz and Barb Henry all celebrated 25 years. John Orme and Monte Wolf celebrated 30 and 35 years, respectively.
Congratulations to all of this year’s honorees, and thank you to everyone who dedicates their professional lives to benefit Oglethorpe University!
by Chloey Mayo ’10
Moscow, Russia is not known as a spring break hot-spot. Nevertheless, a group of Oglethorpe students, led by Dr. Ronald Bobroff, Russian historian and professor of Modern European History, journeyed this year to Moscow to spend their spring break working in one of the city’s many children’s homes.
Through a partnership with the Peacework Development Fund, Dr. Bobroff was able to design Oglethorpe’s first comprehensive, multi-disciplinary service trip to Moscow. “I was really looking forward to making this happen at Oglethorpe,” shared Bobroff, who has visited Russia many times. “Service is such an important part of who we are here…it just made sense.”
The OU students were assigned a mathematics classroom in a Moscow orphanage to refurbish. With gloved hands, they spent a week scraping paint, spackling, and treating the walls. The students stayed in the children’s residences, eating borscht and shchi soups in the dining hall.
“It was certainly no five star hotel, but it was comfortable and well kept up,” said Beth Cleary ’12. “Our week there only taught us that the effort that went into the orphanage also went into making these kids into well-prepared, well-adjusted adults. We were simply short term visitors and we felt loved and appreciated the moment we walked in the door.”
For the past few years, the Russian government has campaigned to change the worldwide image of the Russian orphanage, as well as the basis behind the number of children in orphanages. As a result, the orphanages have begun to evolve, and the colorful walls, abundance of toys, and accommodating orphanage staff tell the story of an institution now well served—one that is a far cry from the stereotyped, underserved images of the past.
According to Dr. Bobroff, who authored Roads to Glory: Late Imperial Russia and the Turkish Strait, the Russian family has suffered from the cyclical effects of alcoholism, abandonment, and a failed economy for years. Official estimates reveal that there could be as many as one parent in each Russian household who suffers from alcoholism, rendering parents unable to care for their children and causing widespread abandonment. The Russian Education Ministry estimates that over one million children are housed in state institutions, and many more are living homeless on the streets. In Moscow, many orphanages are home to children who suffer from developmental and emotional disorders that can be traced back to alcohol abuse and long-term institutionalism.
Oglethorpe’s students visited one of these orphanages that catered to children with special needs and learning disabilities. The orphanages operated under the philosophy that by getting a child’s hands working, the mind will follow. Most of the children’s free time was spent not in front of the television, but with various trades and crafts, teaching them to work with their hands and be resourceful.
“They are equipped with the skills to support themselves after they graduate from the orphanage program and some even go to technical school, “ noted Cleary. “But I would like to see if it is feasible to get some of these kids into college…It really hits home when you see these great kids and amazing sights and you realize that the reason you are even in [their] country is because of your own school. I’ve never felt limited in my endeavors, and I wish the same for them.”
“For me, this is more than an interesting or even educational spring break trip,” said Bobroff. “Every time I’ve ever been I’ve used it as an opportunity to research—to take away from Russia. But this time I’m giving back.”
Before leaving the United States, the student group raised funds to buy supplies for the renovation work. In fact, they successfully raised more than their goal, and presented the orphanage with a cash donation from the residual funds. Dr. Bobroff, who traces his roots back to Russia, plans to return to Moscow in another two years with a different group of students.
“It’s like cultural diplomacy in a way,” said Dr. Bobroff. “It is an important way for people to understand each other. The students visiting the orphanage and accumulating their own resources in order to get the job done shows that there are people who care about each other—from one side of the world to the other.”
Oglethorpe may not be ready for the red carpet just yet, but it certainly has star potential. During the past year, OU has served as the backdrop for some of Hollywood’s most promising movies—and it’s been the set for a number of small screen gems, too.
Back in September, the crew from the 2013 thriller The Reluctant Fundamentalist took over Oglethorpe’s Anderson field and covered the scoreboard with black and orange—Princeton University’s colors. They were shooting a baseball scene for the film, which stars A-listers Kiefer Sutherland, Liev Schreiber, and Kate Hudson. Just a few weeks later, Oglethorpe’s Philip Weltner Library welcomed the live audience of WSBTV’s The Clark Howard Show, in which the money-saving guru talked college finances with a room full of Stormy Petrels.
OU has made its appearance in a number of other TV spots this year, including a fall tailgating scene for a Belk department store commercial, an ad for Moe’s Southwestern Grill, and even a scene from Tyler Perry’s House of Payne. In August Dina Marto ’05, who’s featured on page 25, returned to campus with an artist from her music group to shoot a Roman gladiator-themed music video at Hermance Stadium.
So what makes OU so attractive to filmmakers? Its characteristic collegiate towers and granite, to be sure, but according to Special Events Coordinator Kimberly O’Dell ’10, OU’s Atlanta location likely has just as much to do with its star power as its stunning good looks.
“Obviously, our architecture lends itself to films trying to capture an Ivy League atmosphere,” said Kimberly. “But, we’re also situated near the city, and that makes it more affordable for filmmakers who would otherwise have to travel much farther out to find a campus that looks similar to ours.”
Like so many others, those in film are of course looking to get the biggest bang for their buck—and it seems Atlanta is the perfect place for affordable filming. For the past three years, the city has become a hot-spot for the film industry, and with major studios like EUE/Screen Gems and Tyler Perry Studios taking up residence, it’s no wonder Atlanta is often dubbed the “Hollywood of the South.” Production companies are attracted to Georgia’s recent industry-targeted tax credits that allow any production spending $500,000 or more a tax credit of up to 30 percent from the state. In just two and half years, the film industry has already brought over $2 billion to the local economy.
By Kelly Holland Vrtis ’97
Millions of miles traveled. Years away from home. Countless stories from the road. This is the life of Chris Fulton ’79 over the past 30 years. A sound engineer, Chris has traveled the world with the likes of such musical legends as U2, Michael Jackson, Bette Midler, Fleetwood Mac, Barbara Streisand, .38 Special, and Gloria Estefan.
As a teenager growing up in Connecticut, Chris dreamed of a career in showbiz. He supported his high school’s A/V department and Drama Club, building sets and working lights. At Oglethorpe, he was encouraged by Dr. Vicki Weiss, former English professor and head of the OU Drama department, to become involved with on-campus productions and expand his knowledge of stage and sound. His writing job with The Stormy Petrel gave him a chance to cover concerts and become familiar with Atlanta venues.
Chris accepted odd jobs around the Atlanta clubs, thankful to at least have a foot in the door of the business. His fortunes turned in 1979 when he was hired by a sound rental company in Cherokee Plaza (located behind the now-defunct Great Southeast Music Hall where he worked for a short period of time). It was there that he snagged his first gig touring with an up-and-coming bar band from Athens—known as R.E.M.
“I stayed with R.E.M. for over two years, and went to a lot of places around the world for the first time,” Chris notes. “I would end up going back to a lot of those same cities over the years with different tours.”
In 1987, Chris was hired by his current employer, Clair Global, supplier of the sound systems and crews for most major concert tours and numerous other events that require huge sound systems. These may include anything from the Pope’s recent mass at Yankee Stadium, inaugural events in Washington, D.C., awards shows, and a few Olympic games, to name a few.
“A lot of the time we only see the insides of arenas and football stadiums and work 22 hours a day,” Chris says about being a sound engineer. “Occasionally we get to see and do some pretty interesting things. This last U2 tour went all the way around the world. It was an incredible amount of gear—a logistical challenge to say the least, but the passport is now pretty full, and we got some pretty cool pictures.”
While he is extremely grateful for the opportunity to see so many places and be part of the team that delivers music to fans around the world, Chris quickly points out that his favorite place to travel is home, a log cabin on 25 acres in the woods near Franklin, N.C., where he enjoys spending time doing as little as possible.