Oglethorpe Professor Named to “40 Under 40: Professors Who Inspire”

hebbarCongratulations to Dr. Reshmi Hebbar, assistant professor of English at Oglethorpe, who was named to NerdScholar’s 2015 list of “40 Under 40: Professors Who Inspire”. She is among professors from across the country recognized for the positive impact they have made on their students.

Honorees were selected based on their ability to captivate and engage students in the classroom, their outstanding involvement on campus and in the community, and their overwhelming passion for their subject matter. Nominations were collected through student, alumni, and faculty recommendations following an open call to several hundred colleges and universities nationwide.

Dr. Hebbar was nominated by Dr. Glenn Sharfman, provost and vice president for academic affairs, who recognized her as a “dynamic, engaging, and passionate teacher” with a “deserved reputation for excellence in the classroom.”

“The best professors do more than teach. They leave impressions on our lives that change the way we think, work and view the world around us. These 40 professors are doing just that, demonstrating the difference between good and great.”  – NerdScholar

NerdScholar is the higher education branch of NerdWallet, a consumer finance website that helps people make better decisions when it comes to their money. NerdScholar offers advice and resources specifically for college students. Their free website walks students through the process of choosing a best-fit college, applying for financial aid, taking out student loans, and landing a job.

Read more about Dr. Hebbar’s selection to NerdScholar’s “40 under 40″.

Einstein Makes an Appearance at Oglethorpe

photo by Travis TaylorIn celebration of the 100th anniversary of our campus, Oglethorpe University has put one of its rare treasures on display: Albert Einstein’s handwritten manuscript, “The Experimental Confirmation of the General Theory of Relativity,” on view through April 30, 2015 in the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art (OUMA).

The manuscript, penned in 1920, was written by Einstein by request from his colleague Robert Lawson, an English physicist. Lawson was in the process of translating Einstein’s 1917 work, “Relativity: the Special and General Theory” and asked Einstein to give him observational proof of general relativity for the 1920 English edition. The exact documents Einstein gave to Lawson are now being exhibited for a special few months, exclusively here on campus.

Thornwell Jacobs

Dr. Thornwell Jacobs, President of Oglethorpe University, 1915-1943

Oglethorpe came into possession of the documents in a unique way that spans back to its founding in 1835. Oglethorpe originally had its roots in Midway, a town near Milledgeville, Ga. Because of the Civil War, the school closed for a while. However, Thornwell Jacobs, a generous and well-educated Presbyterian minister, was determined to restore the school. He had grown up hearing stories about Oglethorpe from his grandfather, Ferdinand Jacobs, who had been a faculty member there, and it became his dream to someday reopen the school. A skilled fundraiser, Thornwell Jacobs raised enough money and interest to organize a Board of Trustees for the college by 1912. With land donated by the Silver Lake Park Company and the help of Atlanta architectural firm of Morgan Dillon and Downing, Oglethorpe University at last reopened in 1915 and welcomed 45 students in 1916. Serving as president of the university through 1943, Jacobs accomplished many things, including launching the Crypt of Civilization and establishing a medical school. Jacobs was a true Renaissance man with a talent for writing that led him to found and publish The Westminster Magazine. He will always be remembered for his detailed letters and amazing ability to positively influence others.

As for the Einstein manuscript, it was given to Oglethorpe University by alumna Nellie Jane Gaertner ’34 in 1982. She was the daughter of Herman Julius Gaertner, one of the first faculty members appointed when Jacobs re-opened Oglethorpe at its current Atlanta location in 1915. The manuscript had been retained by Lawson for some years before it was acquired by Herman Julius Gaertner, a professor of German and Mathematics. Oglethorpe is lucky to posses the manuscript as most of Einstein’s work now resides at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel.

Jordan Michaels_Holly Bostick_John Tilford

Students Jordan K. Michels and Holly Bostick examine the manuscript with OUMA Collections Manager John Tilford.

OUMA Collections Manager John Tilford helped to illustrate the historical context of the manuscript’s creation, as well as the history of Einstein’s expansive archive. He relied on a number of rarely-seen images of Einstein and his colleagues, including personal secretary Helen Dukas and Professor Otto Nathan, both co-trustees of Einstein’s literary estate. According to John, Helen Dukas preserved Einstein’s papers for decades before they were given to Hebrew University after her death, and for this, scholars and historians owe her an enormous debt.

“Staff and faculty of Division III (Natural Sciences), OUMA, and the Philip Weltner Library, with the enthusiastic input and support of OU students, came together seamlessly to present the manuscript and a rich program of lectures, films, and other events,” says Elizabeth Peterson, director of OUMA. “We are grateful for a Georgia Humanities Council grant which supports these activities and thrilled to again be part of the Atlanta Science Festival.”

The Einstein exhibition has generated robust student involvement with interest from scholars of all disciplines and departments. Students from a variety of majors including physics, theatre, English, and philosophy came together to participate in a group reading of Einstein’s Dreams. Additionally, Oglethorpe University senior and physics major Antonio Mántica leads “A Tour through Time”, during the week of the Atlanta Science Festival. His presentation will explain the historical and current understandings of how time functions and how we can use that knowledge to inform our experience of it. Other events include three film screenings and discussions about Einstein-related movies, and an evening of astronomy with Fernbank Science Center astronomer April Whitt.

“The manuscript should be viewed in person to truly appreciate its uniqueness as each word, diagram and calculation, including a few corrections, were all penned by Einstein’s own hand,” says Tilford. “Anyone can read the transcribed text in print and digital formats but the power of the handwritten documents must be witnessed first hand.”

Ariana Feiner is a writer and a student at Oglethorpe University. She enjoys art history and recently published her first children’s book, Ariana Rose: A Story of Courage.
This online story was adapted from an assignment for her journalism class.

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.

Oglethorpe Partners with Alliance Theatre, Horizon Theatre, Capitol City Opera

conant1Oglethorpe University has partnered with three leading Atlanta arts organizations—the Tony Award-winning Alliance Theatre, the Horizon Theatre Company, and Capitol City Opera Company—to present performances and provide educational opportunities for students of all ages at the Conant Performing Arts Center.

“With the unfortunate dissolution of Georgia Shakespeare in the fall, we were committed to exploring new partners in the arts that were not only rooted in excellence and quality, but also would offer significant hands-on learning opportunities for our students and complement our theatre and music programs,” said Oglethorpe University President Lawrence Schall.

The Alliance Theatre will host three satellite camps at Oglethorpe during summer 2015, two geared towards primary school children and the third for high schoolers focusing on musical theatre. Oglethorpe theatre majors will be hired as teaching assistants for each of these camps, which will run for two weeks. Each camp experience will culminate in a showcase performance. In January, leaders from The Alliance served as judges and mentors for prospective theatre students during the Oglethorpe Theatre Scholarship Competition.

The Horizon Theatre Company will bring a multi-week run of their summer production, Avenue Q, to the Conant Performing Arts Center, starting in June 2015. Specific dates and further details will be announced soon. Two Oglethorpe theatre students will have the opportunity to be on stage for this production. Lisa and Jeff Adler, co-artistic directors at Horizon Theatre, also participated in this year’s Oglethorpe Theatre Scholarship Competition.

Oglethorpe’s relationship with Capitol City Opera has grown over years. Capitol City Opera now presents multiple performances annually in Oglethorpe’s Conant Performing Arts Center, in both the spring and the fall. The Opera also offers internship opportunities for Oglethorpe students and ticketing benefits for the campus community. Capitol City Opera’s next performances at the Conant Performing Arts Center will be The Abduction from the Seraglio, from March 27th through 29th, and Hansel & Gretel on March 28th.

“Oglethorpe has a long history of offering distinctive arts experiences for both the campus and the larger community,” said President Schall. “These partnerships will help to ensure that continues.”

The Art of Living and Learning

Holly Bostick ’15 sat on the porch of her small cabin drinking a cup of coffee, watching toucans fly before the most breathtaking sunrise she’d ever seen. There was no electricity, air conditioning, or hot water—just a small wooden cot where she slept. And somehow, that was more than enough.

An art history major and Spanish minor, Holly was among a small group of volunteers who traveled to Belize this past summer to assist in archeological excavations at the Maya ruins. She pursued this “life-changing” experience after another—an Oglethorpe-sponsored short-term trip to Greece in 20Belize archeological dig 213. As part of her studies on ancient art and architecture, Holly had visited an active archaeological dig in Corinth and was captivated. She wanted to find a way to relive that experience.

Holly researched similar programs and discovered the Maya Research Program, a nonprofit that sponsors archaeological and ethnographic research in Central America. Holly and approximately 35 other volunteers, including fellow OU student and art history major Emily Prichard ’15, trekked to Blue Creek, Belize, where they joined archaeological digs. Each morning, they jumped into the back of pickups and navigated to the excavation sites—usually Xno’ha, an “elite residential complex” discovered in 2013. There, they were “hands on,” organizing remains and piecing together skeletons. Having no experience in anatomy or anthropology, Holly admits she had a bit of a learning curve, but that it was “absolutely incredible and a one-of-a-kind experience.”

Back in the U.S., Holly was determined to continue her journey. Oglethorpe art professors Alan Loehle and Dr. Jeffrey Collins recommended that she apply for an internship at The Carter Center, which holds an extensive art collection. Given the competitiveness of any opportunity at Center, Holly felt honored to be selected for the art internship, and credits her academic and global experiences for setting her apart from other applicants. Holly has gained insight into museum operations and experience with fine art, a compliment to her work with artifacts.

“The Carter Center’s art collection is very eclectic, with no specific genre,” Holly said. “Many of the items are donations from countries around the world in thanks for the Carter Center’s worldwide efforts in peace. So, a general knowledge in many different art mediums and cultures was crucial for the internship.”

Holly graduates in 2015, and while she’s yet undecided about her career path, she knows her options are endless, crediting her ventures while at Oglethorpe.

“When I would tell people where I was going and what I was doing, they would always give me a look and ask ‘why?’. My response, of course, being ‘why not?’” she said, laughing. “[My experiences] broadened my sense of the world, and my personal world, specifically. It showed me that there aren’t limitations and I don’t have to settle for any one career. I have options and places to explore and that is what I intend to do.”

Heather Johnston ’17 is a communication & rhetoric studies major, with a minor in business administration. She is currently an intern for Pegasus Creative, the student communications agency in the University Communications department, and writes for the Stormy Petrel student newspaper.