Putting words to work


Imagine the scene: Natural light pouring into an open, industrial-modern room, muscular metal beams soothed by aged wood. There are desks, many of them, where English major after English major type away, crafting words for something called a “paycheck.”

They’re productive. Happy. Valued members of society’s workforce.

Welcome to The EnVeritas Group company headquarters in Greenville, which, you may be surprised to learn, is not the backdrop to an unpublished fantasy novel written by one of those sad, unemployed English majors but a real, live business that has become a bit of a go-to destination for Furman degree holders. Laurel Reese ’10, Taylor Davidson ’13, and Lauren Vaughn ’14 have all found a home at EnVeritas working in internet content marketing, an emerging industry that may begin to assuage suffering parents desperately hoping children foolish enough to follow their artistic passion in college come to their senses in time to get into law school.

Reese, an Atlanta native who majored in English and art history, got a job as a writer with EnVeritas four years ago after fellow Furman alums Katie Levans ’07 and Emma Rayner ’08, who had been working for the company as contractors, encouraged her to apply. She has since risen to project manager, where she supervises a team of 11 editors and writers who maintain the content on hundreds of Web sites for five hotel brands.

“Publishing and newspapers, it’s harder to get a job in those industries,” she said. “Content marketing is kind of a forward-moving, progressive industry that’s a good place to be right now, and it’s definitely interesting. It’s exciting to be a part of a company that’s growing along with the industry.”

Like many English majors Davidson grew up dreaming of being a writer, but as graduation day approached job-market reality reared its head. She was alerted to an opening at EnVeritas by Furman English professor Lynne Shackelford, Ph.D.

“I have always wanted to write, since I was a child. I did not go to school thinking I want to write for marketing or I want to write Web site content necessarily, I just went thinking I want to write,” she said. “I was trying to find a job that would let me write in some capacity.”

Which is exactly what she’s doing while also learning valuable digital marketing skills like search engine optimization. The Internet has certainly taken a healthy chuck of traditional publishing jobs, but now it looks like at least some of those positions are being replaced—albeit in a different form—as the Web exposes people to more words than ever before.

“There’s a lot of independence, which I like a lot. You are trusted to get the assignments done the way they need to be done on time, which is good for me,” Davidson says. “We have some journalism and some communications people, but we are an extremely English major-heavy organization. There are a lot of skills that English majors have, and I think businesses are increasingly recognizing they can be really valuable, especially with Web content. There’s a growing recognition you don’t only need people who can crunch numbers; you need people who can write something that’s concise and well-worded and engaging and that people will actually want to read.”

It’s not a coincidence there’s a heavy Furman presence at EnVeritas. The school has built a reputation.

“Furman students bring to the table more than just what I’m hiring them for,” EnVeritas chief operating officer Aubrae Wagner said. “Every Furman student that I’ve hired does their job really well, what I’ve hired them to do, but then they also layer on these other abilities and we kind of sniff out these extra skills as it were.”

Internet content marketing isn’t limited to Greenville, of course. It’s the kind of career that affords people the opportunity to move to a better place, which is what usually happened to Furman grads back in the day. Not anymore.

“I still run into people I graduated with all the time, and I honestly did not think I would stay in Greenville,” Reese said. “A lot of people told me when I graduated if you want to write for a living you’re going to have to move to New York, period. I’m really glad that I ended up back in Greenville. Greenville is growing so much, even since I graduated. It’s a great place to spend your early career.”

“I definitely knew that I wanted to come to Greenville because I feel like there’s a lot to offer here,” Davidson, an Anderson, S.C., native, said. “Not just in terms of more job opportunities, which there were, but the culture and downtown area and the park and the theaters . . . I feel like the culture is becoming more and more vibrant and more and more art-centric, and I really liked that.”

Davidson, who went out of her way to credit Shackelford and Furman English professor Joni Tevis, Ph.D., for recommending her to EnVeritas, isn’t sure where her career path will lead, but she has confidence it will include writing for a living. Even if it wasn’t quite like she planned.

“Right now I’m still like, I have a desk?” she said with a laugh. “I would love to use writing and marketing to work with non-profits or diversity and that type of thing . . . I want to use writing to do something social-justice oriented because that’s something I am really passionate about. I still want to write novels, but no one makes a living writing novels except J.K. Rowling and Stephen King.”

Asked what advice she has for English majors, Wagner says the key is to view your education as a path to a profession.

“I myself was an English major, and I thought that I would never find a job. But it’s a very unique degree I think because it really does prepare you for a lot of things. You just have to find the right niche and think outside the box,” she said. “I would tell them as they’re developing their love of literature and writing just to always be considering the practical ramifications of their degree and what they might do with it. Really get interested in careers and look around, whether it be journalism or digital media or somewhere in the magazine world, even book publishing. Look out and find real-world internships and look for practical experience.”


Learn more about the Furman English Department.

Rethinking classical

 Maggie Stapleton 2014 3A
The only thing older than most of the people tuning in to classical music these days is the music itself.

Classical is the second most popular format on public radio stations, but nearly 71 percent of its listeners are over the age of 55—and 51 percent are over 65. So how in the world are you going to make that hip?

Maggie Stapleton ’08 thinks you start by telling people new—and hip—classical music is being composed every day. Then you give it to them.

That’s the idea behind Second Inversion, an online stream “dedicated to rethinking classical music” Stapleton co-created and manages as part of her job with Seattle’s KING-FM.

“Anyone who has a background in music theory knows that a second-inversion chord is a chord that has been rearranged such that the pitches are in a different order,” Stapleton said. “We thought that was a fun connection on the musical level, but even if you don’t know what a second-inversion musical chord is, second inversion has the spark of being something different.”

And different is important. KING is one of the top five classical stations in the country, but it realizes the future depends on getting younger.

“As you may imagine, the average listener is on the older side. Sixty-five and up makes the vast majority of our audience, and we started thinking a few years ago about how to reach a younger audience,” she said. “We embarked on focus-group research in 2012 to find out what people in their 20s and 30s, especially those who had a pretty strong musical background, wanted, and they wanted to hear more contemporary music. They wanted to hear local performances. They wanted to hear their own voices as DJs or hosts. So we put our heads together to come up with this project.”SI_ULP_01

Stapleton is young, and she knows what she likes. Throw in a deep knowledge of music stemming from a pair of degrees in flute performance—a bachelor’s from Furman and a master’s from Washington—and she represents the ideal demographic. But are there enough of her?

She thinks so.

“We launched our website and our stream in January, and we’ve gotten a great response from local musicians who say ‘oh my gosh, I’m so glad there’s a local voice for this contemporary music now,’” she said. “So far it’s been a really great success.”

The term classical music normally brings to mind thoughts of nineteenth century Europe and names like Beethoven and Brahms. It also has a reputation for being complex and simply inaccessible to untrained ears that have been bombarded since birth with simplistic, four-minute top-40 songs, but Stapleton thinks the masses can be reached if a bridge is built between the two.

“The goal of the programming is much different than what you would hear on KING-FM, really focusing on music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, music that is a little bit edgy, a little bit different. We’re also reaching into the realm of crossing genres to classical music that’s got a little bit of bluegrass influence, things like pop songs being played on piano,” she said, citing string quartet Brooklyn Rider’s recent collaboration with banjo master Béla Fleck and classical pianist Christopher O’Riley’s Radiohead covers as examples. “It’s not something that’s super common, and I think that’s one reason this has gotten so much buzz and excitement, because there is so much energy that’s coming into classical music and music that is being composed and performed and recorded. Those musicians are absolutely thrilled to have a media outlet for it.”

Stapleton grew up in South Carolina and made the bold move to move to the Pacific Northwest upon her graduation magna cum laude from Furman. She “fell in love with Seattle,” which turned out to be a good thing for someone who also loves the arts.

“At first when I was applying for the job I thought, well, gosh, I don’t have any experience in radio. I don’t know how this is going to work out,” Stapleton said. “But it turned out … a big part of the job requirement was having a strong foundation of classical-music knowledge. And the great thing about Seattle is there are tons of performing opportunities as well … I’m very active in my performance life in the evenings and on the weekends.”

That includes playing in two orchestras and a chamber music collective called the Parnassus Project as well as private teaching lessons. It also helps her stay connected to Second Inversion’s mission.

“A big part of the job is working to get musicians heard in various ways and promoted and publicized, and that’s something that has always been really important to me,” Stapleton said. “As a musician I understand that it’s really important to have media support and to get the word out, so it’s been really gratifying to help other musicians in the area.”

Stapleton’s family is still in South Carolina, and she credits Furman with awakening her interest in contemporary classical music.

“Furman had a big influence on shaping me as a musician, so I’m thrilled to be talking about all of this,” she said. “I can trace back some of my earliest experiences with new twentieth and twenty-first century music to playing Jennifer Higdon’s “Blue Cathedral” with the Furman Symphony Orchestra under Thomas Joiner. That was my first time playing a piece of music written in the past 15 or 20 years I think, and I realized that there’s so much out there that’s not Brahms and Beethoven.”

Learn more about studying music at Furman and get the latest news on the Furman Music News Facebook page.

CLP Wednesday: According to Josh

7 p.m., Wed., Jan. 28, McAlister Auditorium. PHOKUS presents Josh Rivedal who delivers performance about his struggle with suicide.

Tuesday CLP: Building Mental Fitness

7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 26, Patrick Lecture Hall. PHOKUS hosts Robyn Hussa Farrell, founder and CEO of Mental Fitness.

Hendricks named VP for enrollment management

Mike Hendricks, Vice President, Enrollment Management. 5/3/07 2007_153Furman University President Elizabeth Davis today announced the appointment of W. Michael Hendricks, Ed.D., as Vice President for Enrollment Management.

Hendricks, who currently is Vice President of Enrollment Management at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., will begin his new position July 1, 2015.

“Mike is an experienced professional who has had success at every level of enrollment management—from recruiting to integrated strategy,” Davis said. “He is forward-looking, has a strong commitment to our traditional undergraduate program, and will also bring innovation and creativity to our continuing education initiatives for adults—offerings which are increasingly vital to Furman’s role as a provider of intellectual capital for the broader community.”

For more than two decades, Hendricks’ career has been marked by sustained achievement and an ever-broadening scope of responsibilities within enrollment management.  Most recently, under his leadership The Catholic University nearly doubled applications over a five-year period while also raising student quality, selectivity, and overall net tuition revenues.

He began his career in higher education admission and enrollment work in 1992 as Assistant Director of Admission and Financial Aid at Fairleigh-Dickinson University (N.J.). By 1997, he had risen through the ranks to become University Director of Admissions, supervising the daily operations and 26 professional and support staff members while also working as an assistant football coach for the institution’s NCAA Division III team.

From 1999-2004, Hendricks was Dean of Admission for Widener University (Penn.) where he also chaired a University-wide enrollment management committee that crafted a comprehensive plan for enrollment, retention, and tuition revenues.

He became Vice President at Catholic in 2004, serving as a member of the senior leadership team with responsibility for admission, financial aid, student business services, and other student-related campus services, including housing and dining.

Hendricks said his goals at Furman would include increasing enrollment demand while also promoting access and affordability, developing a comprehensive strategy for the range of Furman programs and offerings, and enhancing Furman’s prominence and market position.

“I am thrilled to be joining Furman at this point in its history,” Hendricks said. “As one of the nation’s top liberal arts universities, Furman provides many opportunities to build on its success and achieve even greater prominence. To me, this is a great opportunity to define and structure a data-driven, research intensive enrollment operation that integrates university-wide strategic planning and enrollment planning to achieve institutional goals.

“Furman’s liberal arts education gives students the skills to be successful in life—the ability to think critically, find creative solutions, and to see the bigger picture. These are qualities that make Furman graduates attractive to employers and graduate and professional schools. That’s a competitive advantage that assures the best and brightest will continue to seek admission to Furman.”

Hendricks holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Lehigh University, a Master of Arts in Teaching from Fairleigh Dickinson, and a Doctorate in Education from Widener University.

He and his wife Christina have three children, Shea 16, Cecilia 14, and Wilson 13.

“Mike will be an integral part of our leadership team as we develop a culture of shared ownership of our enrollment management strategies—one where we recognize that each stage of a student’s journey from matriculation to graduation is critical to their overall experience,” Dr. Davis said. “We are pleased that someone of his caliber and character will be helping lead the way.”

PHOKUS presents “Mental Health Week”

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Furman University’s PHOKUS, Promoting Healthy Options through Knowledge, Understanding & Service, will present a week-long program addressing mental illness beginning Monday, Jan. 26.

“Mental Health Week” includes CLP speaker engagements and panel discussions, a relaxation day, and an off-Broadway sketch (CLP). A schedule follows:

CLP: Building Mental Fitness, 7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 26, Patrick Lecture Hall. Robyn Hussa Farrell, founder and CEO of Mental Fitness, offers evidence-based methods for improving coping skills.

Relaxation Day with RLC and FUSAB,  Furman Residential Life Council and Furman University Student Activities Board bring tea, healthy snacks, and lovable dogs in front of Duke Library, 2-4 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 27. Join RLC and FUSAB in the library basement 7-10 p.m., Tuesday for more tea and snacks, plus mini meditation classes and free massages!

CLP: “According to Josh,” 7 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 28, McAlister Auditorium. Internationally known suicide prevention speaker Josh Rivedal will speak about his own struggle with thoughts of suicide in his one-man rendition of his off-Broadway production. His talk is followed by a panel discussion on mental illness and suicide, and what can be done to help a friend or ourselves.

CLP: SPEAK OUT: Break the Silence. End the Stigma, 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 29, Watkins Room. Furman students share personal stories of struggles and successes with mental illness. A panel discussion follows addressing the stigma surrounding mental illness in our culture and what we can do to combat it.

For more information about Furman’s “Mental Health Week,” contact Sandra Adams, RN-BC, Student Health Services, (864) 294-2180, or sandra.adams@furman.edu.

Jazz Ensemble in concert Jan. 30 with special guest

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

The Furman Jazz Ensemble will present a concert Friday, Jan. 30, at 8 p.m. in Daniel Recital Hall on the Furman campus.

The concert is open to the public and features guest Bill Sears, Director of Jazz Studies and Instructor of Saxophone at Interlochen Arts Academy (Mich.). Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students. The event is part of Furman’s Cultural Life Program.

Dr. Matt Olson, Professor of Saxophone and Director of Jazz Studies at Furman, will conduct the ensemble which will perform a variety of music written for large jazz ensemble. The performance features music from Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Thad Jones, and other composers throughout jazz history.

Sears has served as director of jazz studies and instructor of saxophone at the Interlochen Arts Academy since 1987 and at the Interlochen Arts Camp since 2010. Under Sears’ leadership, the academy’s award-winning jazz ensemble and combos are considered to be among the finest high school groups in the country.

An active jazz saxophonist, Sears has performed, toured and recorded with many leading musicians including Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie, saxophonist Bill Evans, Rick Margitza, Peter Erskine, Art Farmer, Joe Williams, and Nancy Wilson. He has recorded two CDs, “Chasin’ the Goal” and “With One Accord,” both of which feature his engaging and individual saxophone voice, as well as several of his original compositions. He has also performed in backup orchestras for many popular artists including Natalie Cole, Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, and The Temptations. Sears is a Conn-Selmer performing artist and clinician.

For more information about the event, contact the Furman University Music Department at (864) 294-2086, or FurmanMusic@furman.edu.

Riley Institute to co-host law, sports symposium in Charleston

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Panels of sports scholars and practitioners will examine the role of law in the world of sports in a Friday, Jan. 30 conference that is drawing participants from across the country.

The day-long symposium, “Under Further Review:  A Legal Look at the World of Sports” will take place at the Charleston Music Hall on John Street.  It is hosted by the Charleston Law Review of the Charleston School of Law and the Riley Institute at Furman University.

Among the subjects that panelists and moderators will tackle are NCAA reform and the future of college athletics; concussions and sports injuries; and disciplinary powers and due process in league scandals.

“Sport has always been an integral part of our society and, like our society today, both professional and major college sports are in a period of rapid and potentially dramatic change. Not surprisingly, much of this change carries with it significant legal implications, said Dean Andy Abrams, who teaches sports law at the school.  “This symposium will explore some of the key areas and issues currently being faced at both the amateur and professional levels, and identify how the law and the legal profession will be impacted in the days ahead.”

Don Gordon, executive director of the Riley Institute at Furman, added, “This symposium could not be more timely and, so far as we can tell, is unique nationally. I am very excited about this event and its relevance to all of us, not only attorneys, but those who are athletes, administrators and coaches at institutions of higher education, health care providers, and frankly, all of us who follow sports.”

Megha Parekh, vice president and general counsel for the National Football League’s Jacksonville Jaguars, will offer keynote remarks.  Prior to joining the Jaguars in 2013, Parekh worked in the sports group at the Proskauer law firm, which represents NFL and other pro sports teams.  In 2013 and 2014, she was named to Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30 sports lists, which honors the nation’s top athletes and executives under age 30.

Other panelists and moderators for the symposium include:  Constance Anastopoulo, Charleston School of Law; Warren Zola, Boston College; Furman University legal counsel Angela Littlejohn; attorney Alan Milstein of New Jersey; attorney Timothy L. Epstein of Chicago; Dr. Hunt Batjer, former co-chair of the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee; Dr. David Geier Jr., East Cooper Sports Medicine; Robert Raiola, Sports Entertainment Group; and attorney Daniel Wallach of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The symposium qualifies for 4.0 Continuing Legal Education credits in South Carolina, which includes 1.0 CLE credit for ethics.  Walk-in CLE registrations will be accepted at the door for a tuition of $150.  Attendance without the CLE credit is free.  The event is open to the public.

See the full agenda and register online here.

The Charleston Law Review is the flagship journal of the Charleston School of Law.  In its past issues, the Charleston Law Review has published significant public figures ranging across the political spectrum from President-elect Barack Obama to John Yoo, former presidential legal advisor to President George W. Bush.  The Law Review will publish a companion issue to the symposium that may be ordered at www.charlestonlawreview.org.

The Charleston School of Law offers students the unique opportunity to study the time-honored practice of law amid the beauty and grace of one of the South’s most historic cities, Charleston, South Carolina. Students at the Charleston School of Law study law as a profession and find a faculty focused on using the law as a calling in the public interest.  Faculty members devote their full attention to excellent teaching and scholarship, both in and out of the classroom.  Where traditions meet opportunity — that is Charleston and the Charleston School of Law. More: www.CharlestonLaw.edu

Named for former Governor of South Carolina and United States Secretary of Education Richard Riley, The Riley Institute’s 26 programs are multi-faceted, but share one common goal: They all strive to make South Carolina a better place in which to live, learn, and do business. More: riley.furman.edu

Psych professor Gil Einstein to give talk Jan. 28

ProfessorEinsteinwinsnationalmentorawardFurman University psychology professor Gilles Einstein, Ph.D., will give a post-sabbatical talk Wednesday, Jan. 28 at 3:30 p.m. in Johns Hall 101 on campus.

His talk, “Remembering to Perform Intended Actions: Implications for Aging and Remembering Your New Year’s Resolution,” is sponsored by the Research and Professional Growth Committee and the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean.

A Furman faculty member for 38 years, Einstein’s research in “prospective memory” has received international acclaim. Prospective memory is memory for performing tasks in the future, such as remembering to take medicine at the appropriate time or remembering to pick up a loaf of bread at the store. It differs from the traditionally studied retrospective memory which is memory for events or things learned in the past.

Einstein is the William M. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Psychology at Furman.  He has published six books and more than 100 chapters and articles, and has collaborated with scientists across the nation and abroad who study memory.

He was invited to co-author the memory chapter for the 2008 edition of “The Handbook on Aging and Cognition,” published every five to eight years and widely recognized as the authoritative reference in aging and cognition research. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Institutes of Health.

Einstein joined the Furman faculty in 1977 after receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado. He served as chair of the psychology department for 16 years.

Among other honors, Einstein won Furman’s Annual Meritorious Teaching Award (1985), the Excellence in Teaching Award from the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (SCICU) (2006), the Council on Undergraduate Research Fellows Award (2008), the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Distinguished Mentors Award (2010), the Governor’s Excellence in Scientific Research Award (2013), and the Association for Psychological Science Mentor Award (2014).

For more information, contact the Department of Psychology, (864) 294-2205.