Oglethorpe Magazine Examines “The Art of Critical Thinking”

Attention all OU alumni, parents, students and friends—the latest issue of Oglethorpe’s award-winning Carillon magazine is here!

This issue delves into the role of liberal arts and sciences in the 21st century and features articles written by senior Foss Baker and Dr. Brian Patterson, assistant professor of computer science & mathematics, President Schall, and our new provost, Dr. Denise von Herrmann. 

Read stories about Oglethorpe alumni using their liberal arts education—sometimes in unusual ways!  Did you know an OU alum wrote the 2010 CMA Song of the Year? Or, that an OU alum’s thriving business was featured on HGTV, and that another alum is the editor of a top magazine?!

Get a sneak peek into the plans for a new student center. Learn about the freshman class’s new What the Dog Saw common reading program, and hear from the newest additions to the Office of Campus Life—Danny Glassmann, Kendra Hunter and Bre Berris—about the plans they have for student life at Oglethorpe.

Alumna Chloey Mayo’s “Oglethorpe in Lights” offers a glamorous twist on some campus events of Hollywood proportion with a review the TV shows, movies and commercials that have used OU as their backdrop.

 Read the Carillon here or look out for the magazine at your home—and let us know what you think!

History In the Making: Oglethorpe Visits Cuba

Dr. Mario Chandler and Dr. Viviana Plotnik, together with President Schall, led a group of OU students on an educational trip to Cuba over winter break as part of a course focusing on Cuban history, politics and culture.  This is the first Oglethorpe University educational trip to this country.

The course, taken for academic credit, included extensive lectures, readings, films, homework, and other requirements. The trip focused on hands-on exploration of Havana’s extensive Asian heritage, the historical and contemporary importance of Cuba’s tobacco industry as well as the island’s economic importance.  After the trip, each student had to turn in a journal and each are required to write a reserach paper due later in the semester.

The trip coincided with Delta Airlines’ adding direct flights from Atlanta to Cuba in December 2011. The decision allows  for flights for passengers with close relatives in Cuba, for those who are involved in the medical or agricultural business sectors, or for education or religious activities. OU’s group was on one of the first  flights to Cuba, just a few days after Christmas. Dr. Chandler shared his thoughts on the trip with the OU Blog.

OU Blog: How did the trip to Cuba come to fruition?

Dr. Chandler: The idea for the OU trip to Cuba was inspired, in fact, by President Schall, who has great interest in the Spanish language and Latin American issues.  The President approached me and my colleague in Spanish, Dr. Viviana Plotnik, and shared with us his desire to see such an opportunity come to fruition for our students.  Dr. Plotnik and I designed the itinerary and course, which received an enthusiastic and immediate response from the campus community.  We were able to put all of the organization pieces together during the Fall 2011 semester.

OU Blog: Why was this trip important?

Dr. Chandler:  For me the trip to Cuba symbolized one important, but all-encompassing notion: opportunity.  This trip constituted an opportunity for Oglethorpe students to engage Cuban culture, history, and society on that country’s terms rather than through a five-decade long filter of misunderstanding and distrust between Cuba and our country.  Unfortunately, the average American students’ views about Cuba are often imbued with misunderstanding, so an opportunity to challenge popular opinion by allowing students to meet Cubans and engage issues from an internal perspective is a powerful and potentially transformative educational experience.  As Spanish professors, Dr. Plotnik and I couldn’t be more proud than to have had the chance to shepherd our students in their navigation of this wonderful opportunity, an exercise that takes place, ideally, in the people’s language…Spanish.

OU Blog: How was the Oglethorpe group received by the local people?

Dr. Chandler: Our OU group members were consummate ambassadors throughout our Cuban journey.  We were proud to see our students using the Spanish language for engaging in daily contact with Cubans, for holding conversations and maintaining discussions, and for cultivating acquaintances that extended beyond the typical tourist demarcations.  Frequently, throughout our Cuban travels, we used public transportation alongside Cubans going about their daily tasks or ate peanuts while strolling the country’s prados and malecons, in small but significant ways bringing us closer to our Cuban hosts and erasing barriers on both sides whether real or invented.

If you would like to learn more about this trip, Dr. Chandler, Dr. Plotnik, and Oglethorpe students will give a presentation about their experiences as part of tomorrow’s OU Day celebrations. Join the conversation, “OU Student Reflections on Cuban Culture–What Happens in Cuba Doesn’t Stay in Cuba,” on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 12:10 p.m. in the Conant Performing Arts Center. For more photos from the Cuba trip, check out Flickr. For more information about Oglethorpe’s study abroad program, check out OUSA’s page.

Oglethorpe’s First Lady on the Road in Uganda

Last month the OU Blog told you about a lecture and book signing by author Twesigye Jackson Kaguri and organized by Oglethorpe’s Women’s Network.

In Kaguri’s book, A School for My Village: A Promise to the Orphans of Nyaka, he describes his amazing journey from a small farm in Uganda to the ivy halls of Columbia University, and then home again to build a tuition-free school for almost 500 Nyaka orphans.

Affected by the Kaguri’s story, Betty Londergan, President Schall’s wife, journeyed to Uganda, to see the work of Kaguri’s Nyaka AIDS Orphan School wtih her own eyes. Read about her experiences and follow her journey on her blog:

Nov. 11 – You are welcome here, Bet-ty!
Nov. 14 – Somewhere over the rainbow…
Nov. 17 – Not the same old song.

CNN VIPs, Spirited Runners Highlight Oglethorpe Day

The Starting Five: Petrels of Fire runners have 30.92 seconds to finish the race around the quad, before the noon carillon bell stops tolling. No runner has ever officially finished within the allotted time frame.

Tom Johnson and Natalie Allen with Dr. Schall

On February 9, 2011 Petrels all over the country celebrated Oglethorpe Day, an annual celebration of James Edward Oglethorpe, the university’s namesake and founder of the Georgia colony.

On campus, students and staff welomed former CNN President Tom Johnson and current CNN International Anchor Natalie Allen for a lively discussion about their experiences in global media. 

The  festivities began with the Petrels of Fire race, a 270-yard dash around the quad in an effort to beat the 12 noon carillon bell toll.  This year’s race drew five brave sprinters who battled the cold and each other in the fierce race to the finish.  In keeping with tradition, runners had 30.92 seconds to complete the challenge, and this year freshman Billy Colbert reportedly came within three seconds of the bells.

Following the race, a bagpiper summoned the crowd of spectators to the Conant Performing Arts Center to attend the OU Day dialogue.  Both Johnson and Allen engaged in an hour-long discussion, moderated by Devon Belcher, assistant professor of philosophy, about their careers in media. They entertained questions from students and touched on current issues such as censorship, Wiki-leaks, and the future of journalism. 

Afterward, OU President Larry Schall and Dean of Students Michelle Hall presented the speakers with plaques commemorating two four-year scholarships that have been established in their names.  Two deserving students in next year’s freshman class will be the recipients of the scholarships. 

Happy Oglethorpe Day!

CNN International anchor Natalie Allen poses with student leaders Matthew Claiborne '11 (right), who introduced the two speakers onstage, and Nathaniel Goldman '11 (left).

What's OU Day without Petey?