CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden, Atlanta arts leader Richard Garner to speak at Oglethorpe Commencement

The 2015 Oglethorpe University commencement ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 16 at 9:00 a.m. on the academic quadrangle of campus. Oglethorpe President Lawrence M. Schall and Board of Trustees Chair Ceree Eberly, Chief People Officer at The Coca-Cola Company, will preside over the commencement ceremony for approximately 170 graduates.

Thomas Frieden

Dr. Thomas Frieden

During the ceremony, Oglethorpe University will bestow honorary degrees on two outstanding leaders in their respective fields:  Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will be presented with a Doctor of Science, and Atlanta arts leader Richard Garner will receive a Doctor of Fine Arts.

Richard Garner

Richard Garner

“This year we have chosen to honor two individuals who represent the value, depth, and impact of an education in the liberal arts and sciences,” said President Schall. “As head of the CDC, Dr. Tom Frieden leads our nation’s efforts to positively impact the current and future health of the U.S. and the world. Richard Garner, a longtime friend of our university, has enriched the lives of generations of Atlantans through his commitment to presenting and preserving the arts.”

Both honorary degree recipients will address the graduating class. Additional speakers will include student leaders in the graduating class and Austin Gillis ’01, President of the Oglethorpe University National Alumni Association. Further details may be found at oglethorpe.edu/commencement.

Dr. Thomas Frieden became Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in June 2009 and oversees efforts to control health threats from infectious diseases, respond to emergencies, and battle the leading causes of suffering and death in our nation and around the world. As the director of the nation’s health protection agency, Dr. Frieden is leading the CDC in addressing these challenging health priorities: improving health security at home and around the world; reducing the leading causes of death and illness; and strengthening public health and health care collaboration. A physician with training in internal medicine, infectious diseases, public health, and epidemiology, Dr. Frieden is especially known for his expertise in tuberculosis control. Dr. Frieden worked for CDC from 1990 until 2002. He began his career at CDC as an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer at the New York City Health Department. Dr. Frieden speaks Spanish and graduated from Oberlin College. He received both his medical degree and a master’s of public health degree from Columbia University and completed infectious disease training at Yale University. He has received numerous awards and honors and has published more than 200 scientific articles.

Richard Garner served for 29 years as co-founder and producing artistic director of Georgia Shakespeare from 1986-2014. As a mainstage director for Georgia Shakespeare, he directed numerous productions, including Hamlet, As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, The Glass Menagerie, an original adaptation of The Odyssey: A Journey Home, an original musical adaptation of Antigone, Henry V, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Winter’s Tale, The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest, The Comedy of Errors, Metamorphoses, Pericles, Richard II, Julius Caesar, and Titus Andronicus. He also edited and directed Shakespeare for Students tours and the inaugural production for Shake at the Lake, free Shakespeare in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. He has served as adjunct faculty at Emory University, Oglethorpe University and Kennesaw State University, and has been a guest lecturer at Georgia Tech, Mercer University, the University of North Georgia/Brenau University, and West Virginia University in Shakespearean performance and audition technique. Richard is the past president of the Shakespeare Theatre Association of America, and is the recipient of the 2015 Community Artist Award from the Emory University Center for Creativity and Arts, the 2008 Flourish Award in Arts Leadership from Kennesaw State University, the 2004 Distinguished Career Award from the Georgia Theater Conference, the 2000 ABBY Award for Outstanding Arts Professional, and the LEXUS Leader of the Arts Award. Richard studied in the Professional Actor Training Program at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco where he received a two-year Conservatory Certificate, and at Berry College, where he earned a B.A. in English and Theater.

A Short History of Oglethorpe’s Moulthrop Bowl

Moulthrop Bowl 1Large majestic trees are an important feature of Oglethorpe’s beautiful campus. I came here as a student in the ’60s, and there was a large American Beech tree that always caught my attention. It was located on the Peachtree Road side of Phoebe Hearst Hall. In past years, its huge trunk and towering limbs made one pause to acknowledge and appreciate its magnificence.

According to the history passed down, the tree was growing at that spot when the cornerstone was laid at Hearst Hall in 1915. However, in recent years it began to show signs of distress, and the efforts and attention of arborists were not successful in saving the tree. Perhaps it simply died of old age.

In thinking about how this tree, which had been a part of this campus since the first permanent building, could remain in some type of commemorative way, it occurred to me to contact Matt Moulthrop, a third-generation wood-turning artist of the internationally known and highly regarded Moulthrop family. Fortunately for all of us, Matt accepted the challenge.

When the dead tree finally had to be removed from the spot it had occupied for more than 100 years, large sections were put aside. Matt came to the campus to choose some pieces that showed potential and arranged to have them transported to his studio in Marietta, Ga. There, Matt worked his magic over the past year to give one of Mother Nature’s creations further life—in the form of a beautiful Moulthrop Bowl.

Oglethorpe University joins many fine museums, such as the Woodruff Arts Center and The Smithsonian, along with discrimination collectors throughout the world, in proudly displaying a Moulthrop Bowl, the roots of which have been intertwined with the life of this university.

Adapted from a April 25th, 2014 presentation to the Oglethorpe Board of Trustees

Robert Bowden ’66 an Oglethorpe Trustee Emeritus, lives in Marietta, Ga. and Sanibel, Fla.

The Refounding of Oglethorpe University

Thornwell Jacobs, the future president of Oglethorpe, pictured in an undated photo given to the university archives by his granddaughter, Ms. Carrie Lee Jacobs Henderson.

Thornwell Jacobs, the future president of Oglethorpe, pictured in an undated photo given to the university archives by his granddaughter, Ms. Carrie Lee Jacobs Henderson.

By Thornwell Jacobs, President of Oglethorpe University (1915-1943)
March 1927

In all the history of American educational institutions there has never been written a more charming chapter, interwoven with real romance and moral beauty, than the story of the birth and death of Old Oglethorpe University.

And rarely has there been in America a finer illustration of the immortality of high ideals than is exhibited in her resurrection from the gray ashes of fratricidal strife to her present position of honor and power among her sisters. She is perhaps unique among standard institutions of learning in that she alone, having died for her ideals, has also been raised from the dead. For today, on Peachtree Road, she is rapidly arising as one of the most beautiful universities in the whole world.  …

My personal interest in this tragic romance originated in the stories told me when I was a little boy by my grandfather who used to visit his son in a little village of South Carolina and tell us, among his grandfather’s tales of the days when he was a professor at this old school in Milledgeville. I remember I used to say to myself, “When I am grown up and ready for college, I am going to Oglethorpe.” But his reply was, “No, my boy, you will never stand on the Oglethorpe campus.”

 As a matter of personal history, I finished my University work at Princeton. …During those wonderful three years at Princeton I heard the mention from the far West talking about Leland Stanford; the men from Illinois praising the new University of Chicago; the men of New England telling of Harvard and Yale, and before my own eyes were rising the exquisitely beautiful buildings of the new Princeton. During all that time, I knew in my heart that there was not in the Southern states a single university whose architecture and construction could be compared with the best of Eastern and Western institutions. All this seemed to me strange because the South, more than any other section of America, is the home of beauty and ideals, of romance and courage. So I made up my mind that if the time ever came I would be true to the great University with its dreams and its deeds. …

So it came to pass that without invitation save from within, and without authorization save from above on September 13, 1909, we came to Atlanta to refound Oglethorpe University. For there was practically no choice in the matter of location. Oglethorpe had been founded originally in the capitol of Georgia, and when later the capitol was moved from Milledgeville to Atlanta there had been an attempt to reopen the University on the site of the old Girl’s High School on Washington Street, where it had lasted for a couple of years until the disorders of reconstruction days rendered further efforts futile. Since that day the little city had grown into a great metropolis and had become the intellectual, artistic, and commercial capitol of the Southeast. Thus did she who was founded by invisible, intangible, and inaudible powers draw another spiritual adventurer to her borders.  …

[The story of Oglethorpe] is the story of the immortality of the ideal which is an illustration of the way in which the beautiful thing persists to influence the lives of men, for here, in the city whose name Oglethorpe never heard and of whom Lanier knew little is being gathered the most precious heritage of all Georgia—the legacies left by her two best citizens, James Oglethorpe, her founder, and Sidney Lanier, her poet. For they are centering on their campus three great traditions. One is that inimitable excellence of statecraft and philanthropy exhibited by James Edward Oglethorpe, cleanser of the prisons of England and founder of the commonwealth of Georgia. The second is the tradition that clusters around the incomparable Lanier, first of that sweet chorus of Southern singers whose word-music breathes the same principle of magnanimity and generosity and love. From Oglethorpe they draw the inspiration of humanitarianism and wisdom in politics and government. From Lanier they win their ideals of literature and art. For this Oglethorpe boy, one among the Southern-born, has won his right to sit down with the nine immortals of American Literature: Bryant, Longfellow, Emerson, Lowell, Whittier, Holmes, Whitman, Poe, and Lanier. His diploma hangs over the desk of the President and his spirit hovers over the campus of his Alma Mater. The third is the spirit of the university itself into which is gathered all the love of the invisible., intangible, and inaudible greatness of the past and the splendid generosity of spirit, the elegance of soul, and the purity of sentiment of her Lanier and Oglethorpe and to this is added the utter abandon of love of new worlds of science and discovery which is the perpetual gift of God to each generation, and all the solid conviction of the essential sinfulness of veneer and sham or anything short of the absolute truth which is so well expressed in her architecture and construction and management.

Two men were standing in the Great Hall of the Administration Building of Oglethorpe University. They had been looking at the beautifully carved oak room, the heavy, quartered oak furniture, the leaded glass-work, the sturdy tiling, the attractive lighting system, and the beautiful lime-stone fireplace with the inscription carved on it,

 “Square round and let us closer be,
 We’ll warm our wintry spirit;
 The good we each in other see
 The more that we sit near it.” 

The visitor turned to the president of the institution and remarked: “Doctor you have spent enough extra money on this great hall alone to educate one hundred men! Why have you done it?”

“Because we plan to educate one hundred thousand men with it,” replied the President.

This is the keynote of Oglethorpe University. The purpose of the founders of the institution is to build a school which will express all the fine qualities of a great human soul in its architecture, equipment and appointments.

Adapted by J. Todd Bennett

Exploring Cultural Crossroads

Dr. Herschler pictured at the Library of Celsus, an ancient Roman building in Ephesus, now part of Selcuk, Turkey.

He could be happy to simply consider himself to be an established expert in international affairs. But for Dr. Stephen Herschler, no amount of “book knowledge” can substitute for immersive experiences when learning about a culture or society. He easily “walks the talk,” engaging in the same real-world learning he encourages his students to pursue.

Dr. Herschler has lived on four continents, speaks three languages, and has taught comparative politics at Oglethorpe for 12 years. “I’ve spent time in Europe, Asia, and Africa, but the Middle East has always been a gap for me,” he admits. And, with the modernization of the Middle East and Islamic culture a vital part of the current global political conversation, it was a poignant time to gain a personal perspective.

This past summer, Dr. Herschler spent 10 days in Turkey with The Atlantic Institute, absorbing the rich culture, historical abundance, and political eccentricity of a country that is suspended between two very different worlds. Turkey has always found itself in an Turkey 20140614_095515identity crisis between the East and the West, creating a unique (and often confusing) cultural climate. This is why The Atlantic Institute, an Atlanta-based nonprofit, strives to bridge the gap between the Middle East and West by facilitating dialogue and fostering understanding. The organization is a derivative of the Istanbul Center, which bolsters the same goals to embrace diversity and build tolerance. This annual excursion of educators and civic leaders from the southeast is an opportunity to inform those who are in a position to share knowledge with students and citizens, hopefully spreading a better understanding of Turkey. Dr. Herschler joined other educators representing Atlanta-area institutions, including Agnes Scott College, Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University, and Morehouse College. The educators’ differing perspectives were a compelling part of the journey and, according to Dr. Herschler, reminiscent of the interdisciplinary conversations he witnesses in his Oglethorpe classes. “Hearing questions and comments from the varying disciplines made every day more interesting,” he said.

Indeed, the travelers’ diverse interests sometimes made for spontaneous adventures. While staying in the city of Sanliurfa, a fellow educator expressed interest in Turkish music, prompting their guide to arrange for an outing to a local university. The group was treated to an impromptu concert with classical Turkish instruments.

Turkey 20140612_112519During the 10-day trek, the crew also visited the cities of Istanbul, Gazi Antep, Ankara, Izmir, and Mardin-each of which contains stunning historical sites and manmade marvels. Greek and Roman ruins are scattered throughout the the land, sites of Biblical significance (such as the house of the Virgin Mary and the landing site of Noah’s Ark) are abundant, and of course, monuments such as Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque are “must-see” edifices. According to Dr. Herschler, one particularly striking site was Gobekli Tepe, the world’s earliest known place of worship, which outdates Stonehenge by approximately six millennia.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESEvery day, Dr. Herschler and his peers took part in discussions on topics ranging from social reforms in Turkey to interfaith dialogues, and even learned about traditional Turkish carpet making. Each topic was presented from a uniquely Turkish perspective which opened the travelers’ minds to a side of the story they may have never before have heard. Their excursions were led by Turkish guides who were eager to share their knowledge, culture, and history. As Dr. Herschler learned more about the politics and current issues of Turkey, he started to form connections with the course material of the classes he teaches at Oglethorpe, especially Comparative Politics. This course—famous among OU politics majors—surveys a multiplicity of theories on the development and stability of international governments.

Upon his return, Dr. Herschler decided to add a series about Turkey to his syllabus, citing his trip as the impetus. “Before this experience, I possessed ‘book knowledge’ of Turkey and of Islam,” he said, “but I did not understand it fully as a living community. Now I know I can address the topic fairly.”

But, this experience affected much more than the content of his courses, he says. “My new knowledge facilitates connections with students who are interested in that Turkey 20140610_040619 1part of the world.” In fact, even while still in Istanbul, he connected with Oglethorpe student and advisee John Yager ’15, who was interning abroad for through Koç University in Instanbul. The two were able to catch up and talk Middle Eastern politics over an authentic Turkish dinner.

“Now, Turkey is a part of my life,” says Dr. Herschler. “And, I have become more attuned to Turkish culture here in Atlanta.” Asked about his plans to return, he admits he would love to go back to Turkey, but as always, has his sights set on even more international horizons. “I want to go back to Asia. It has been a decade since I’ve visited, and that is quite long enough.”

Christie Pearce ’15 has always had a love affair with the written word and—more recently—political science. She hopes to continue her post graduate education by studying political marketing and campaign strategies for female candidates in the United States.

Oglethorpe Senior Racks Up Hackathon Wins

IMG_8825Haider Khan ’15 doesn’t exactly fit the hacker stereotype. But, the Oglethorpe senior, who’s majoring in chemistry and minoring in computer science, recently bested the competition to win two back-to-back hackathons, as well as a start-up competition, all hosted in metro Atlanta. A testament to Haider’s skills and training, the victories have also been lucrative. So far, Haider and his teammates have won a total of $13,300 in cash and prizes.

In layman’s terms, a hackathon is a competition, usually lasting several days, in which groups of developers and other experts collaborate in computer programming to solve a given issue or challenge. The events typically are kicked off with an introduction to the sponsoring companies and a presentation about challenge the competitors will tackle. The sponsoring companies then give the developers access to their technology to create their solution.

Haider’s first competition was the AT&T Mobile App Hackathon, which focused on real public safety issues. Atlanta emergency medical responders, police officers, dispatchers, fire and rescue teams were onsite to discuss with the developers the challenges they encounter in their jobs. In response, Haider and his team built a hybrid mobile-web app called Safety Net to assist EMS responders in large scale disasters by tracking personnel in real time. They were awarded 1st place in Best Overall Public Safety App, 1st place in Best Use of AT&T’s WebRTC API, and 2nd place in Best Use of Telerik Technology.

khan 2

Haider (left) with his one of his Charge Forward teammates after their big win.

The next hackathon, for interactive wearable financial apps, was sponsored by Global Payments Inc. and CaixaBank in Barcelona. “At the second hackathon, the theme was wearables,” Haider explained, “so we were given smart watches and were told to come up with novel solutions to five challenges, ranging from ease of payment, user authentication, security, alternative payments, and design for payment services and transactions.” Haider and his team Charge Forward were awarded the $10,000 3rd prize for their smartwatch application that lets the user change credit card payment method with the flick of a wrist and uses NFC technology to process transactions on the spot.

Most recently, Haider competed in Atlanta Startup Weekend, hosted at Coca-Cola Company headquarters. Teams pitched startup ideas to judges (and an audience) and were evaluated on customer empathy (did their idea address a real problem for real people?), execution (did it work?), and their business model (how would it successfully compete in the market?). Haider’s team, GatherCam, pitched their idea and business plan for a program that would compile photos posted on various social media sites by different people at the same event, such as a wedding. Their idea was a true crowd pleaser and won over the judges, earning them 1st place in judge’s scores, as well as the audience choice award.

Haider (second from left) with his GatherCam teammates during the Atlanta Startup Weekend at Coca-Cola.

Haider (second from left) with his GatherCam teammates during the Atlanta Startup Weekend at Coca-Cola.

After graduation, Haider hopes to continue his efforts in creating innovative technology. He plans to move to California to work in Silicon Valley and eventually to start his own technology company. Haider is confident that the knowledge he’s gained while pursuing his education at Oglethorpe, particularly his minor in computer science, has helped him significantly in his recent accomplishments.

“I highly suggest to Oglethorpe students that if they have a passion for technology to take a computer science minor,” Haider advises. “I personally think the tech industry is extremely fun to work in (and) the applications are endless. We are moving into an economy where knowing how technology works is a currency.”