Furman Theatre presents “The Sweetest Swing in Baseball”


Just call her Eliza Doolittle.

In this case though, this “fair lady” isn’t selling flowers and learning proper English. She’s getting a crash course in baseball and selling pictures of chickens.

Furman University Theatre’s latest production, The Sweetest Swing in Baseball, takes a sobering look into the world of mental illness, but it doesn’t forget its sense of humor.

The show, by playwright Rebecca Gilman a decade ago, tells the story of Dana Fielding, a rising star painter who attempts suicide after critical reviews of her latest work and a break-up with her boyfriend, Roy.

Caitlin Cain ’15 plays the afflicted Dana, a role previously played by Gillian Anderson in London during a run in 2004.

After the failed suicide attempt, Dana finds herself in a mental institution where she befriends, Gary, a sociopathic stalker, hilariously played by Sal Donzella ’17, and a recovering alcoholic, Michael, endearingly played by Sam Feigenbaum ’15. After finding out Dana’s basic health insurance plan will only pay for 10 days of care, the two become unlikely therapists and coaches as the trio concoct a plan to help Dana stay longer.

“Do you think I could fake something?” Dana asks.

“People fake multiple-personality disorder,” responds Gary, encouraging her new persona to have a “scary edge.”

While she doesn’t choose scary, Dana does make the unlikely personality choice of Darryl Strawberry, the legendary 6’6” African-American Major League baseball outfielder with the “sweetest swing in baseball.”

For Furman students performing in the show, the play meant making a statement on some very relevant topics.

“Mental illnesses are serious issues and are not treated as such, either by the people that surround Dana or by her insurance company,” said Courtney Dorn ’18, who played the dual role of Rhonda, an art dealer, and mental health physician Dr. Gilbert. “It’s an important issue that is often overlooked and swept aside with an “oh, you’ll get over it” and that is just not the case, especially for Dana.”

For Savannah Klosowski ’18, who also plays dual roles as Erica, an art agent, and mental health physician Dr. Stanton, the show was a reminder of what it means to be successful.

“As we have further cultivated this show, I have come to appreciate the message of success and happiness through the eyes of the beholder rather than the desperate search for approval from secular society,” said Klosowski. “I think this show has the potential for incredible laughs and great connections with different characters.”

Furman adjunct Theatre Arts Professor Jason Adkins directs the play. Set and lighting designer is Alan Bryson, with sound design by Kevin Frazier and costume design by Will Lowry.

Intended for mature audiences, “The Sweetest Swing in Baseball” runs Nov. 12-15 and 19-22 at 8 p.m., with a matinee performance Sunday, Nov. 16 at 3 p.m. in the Theatre Playhouse on campus. Tickets are $16 for adults, $13 for seniors and $8 for students. For ticket information and reservations, call the Playhouse Box Office at (864) 294-2125.

Paladins run the show


Cate Pichon Fenster ’93 remains the only Furman runner to ever compete in the NCAA cross country championship meet, a feat she pulled off in 1991. There is a very good chance that will finally change this weekend.

Fresh off their second straight Southern Conference titles, the Paladin men’s and women’s teams will compete in the Southeast Regional Championships on Nov. 14 in Louisville, Ky. There are nine regional meets, and the top two finishers in each earn automatic bids to the NCAA Championships to be held Nov. 22 in Terre Haute, Ind. Thirteen schools also receive at-large bids.

The men, who until last year hadn’t even won the conference since 1976, are seeded first, and third-year coach Robert Gary doesn’t mince words about his team’s chances of making Furman history.

“I don’t think we need to have a crazy, miracle race by any stretch. If we run as well as we have I think the men’s program will make it,” he said. “Now, it’s tough. We’re just a really young team. A lot of the freshmen at some of the bigger schools redshirt, and we didn’t do any of that. If you’re here it’s time to get going. That’s about the only thing we’re worried about is how young they are and the distance moving from 8K to 10K.”

If the Paladins’ performance at the SoCon meet held on Halloween in Kernersville, N.C., is any indication, he has good reason to be confident. Furman became the first school to ever win back-to-back men’s and women’s Southern Conference championship simultaneously, but the real story was the Paladins’ record-breaking dominance. The women posted the lowest score in the 29-year history of the competiton with 22 points, and amazingly the men were even better with a perfect 15 points that resulted from sweeping the top five individual finishers.

No Southern Conference men’s team had done that since East Tennessee State’s three-year run of perfection from 1980-82, which matched William & Mary’s trio of 15s posted from 1972-74, and Furman set a mind-boggling record that can never be broken when its nine individuals beat every other runner from every other school.

Senior Tripp Hurt led the way by becoming Furman’s first male individual conference champion since Dennis Patterson in 1962, crossing the line in 24:18.63 to cap a career that saw his league meet finishes improve from 12th to seventh to fourth last year. The SoCon Runner of the Year, who was also named first-team all-conference for the third straight season, was followed by 2013 SoCon Freshman of the Year Troy Reeder (24:18.83), 2014 SoCon Freshman of the Year Aaron Templeton (24:18.88), sophomore Tanner Hinkle (24:18.92) and sophomore Brock Baker (24:23.56).

Freshmen Frank Lara (24:25.05) and Austin Sprague (24:31.32) nabbed the final two first-team slots, with senior William Ivey (24:35.28) and freshman Mark Hadley coming in eighth and ninth to garner second-team All-SoCon accolades.

On the women’s side, sophomore Allie Buchalski took the women’s individual title with a time of 16:44.42 a year after finishing second to become Furman’s first winner since Megan Lordi in 2008. The Paladins claimed three of the top five spots and six of the top 10, with senior Sinead Haughey coming in second with a time of 16:45.76 followed by sophomore Julia Rodriguez (fourth), 2014 SoCon Freshman of the Year Emma Mashburn (seventh) and sophomores Grace Tinkey (eighth), Laura Miller (ninth), Maddie Wolfe (21st) and Bryce Seymour (31st).

The Paladin men earned the first national ranking in program history when they finished second at the Virginia/Panorama Farms Invitational on Sept. 26 in Charlottesville, Va., and they finished fourth at the Pre-NCAA Invite on Oct. 18 in Terre Haute behind top-ranked Colorado, second-ranked Oregon and Georgetown. Furman has climbed to 16th nationally and first in the Southeast Region. The women are ranked ninth in the region.

Gary was SoCon Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season.
“The women would be a little bit of a long shot to make the national meet, but the men, just going on a piece of paper, we probably should so that’s pretty exciting,” he said. “It doesn’t feel like a whole heckuva a lot of pressure.”

An influx of money from the Blue Shoes program has rejuvenated the long-underfunded sport at Furman, and Gary hopes the Paladin community, which sees few and far between NCAA championships, will start to take notice.

“Sometimes I think at Furman for some reason athletics is kind of tip-toeing around and hoping nobody notices as opposed to hey, there’s something really great going here,” Gary, a two-time Olympian who came to Furman from Ohio State, said. “When we came home from the SoCon, a bunch of the sports had come out to meet us, we had a police escort, President (Elizabeth) Davis came out to congratulate us, so those kind of things are really great. And I hope to set a tradition where we expect to win the SoCon and I hope we except to make the national meet every year.”

And Gary has no plans to stop there.

“Then it’s just a matter of can you get a trophy, and that’s our ultimate goal inside the next four years. You get a trophy for top four at the NCAA meet, so having both genders shooting towards that will be really exciting,” he said. “There’s only a handful of schools that really talk about that on a yearly basis, only five or six out of the 350 cross country programs in the country. … In that little nerdy track-and-field world, there’s a lot of buzz and a lot of people are really taking notice that a small liberal-arts school in South Carolina is a player on the national scene on the men’s side and soon to be the women’s.”

Hurt was also the Southern Conference Cross County Runner of the Month for September, and he and Buchalski were the SoCon Cross County Athletes of the Month for October.
Furman’s 2013 women’s team title broke a 13-year drought. They notched their first three championships in 1993, ’94 and ’95 behind three-time individual champion Heather VandeBrake Hunt ’96 and added another in 2000. The men also won in 1961 and 1965.

Play off seeding set

Furman will travel to Salisbury, Nov. 21-23 to participate in USA Rugby’s Round of 16 National Tourney. The squad will face Notre Dame College 1 p.m. November 21.

Please check here for the latest brackets.

Furman Lyric Theatre to present opera scenes recital

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Furman University Lyric Theatre will present an opera scenes recital Tuesday, Nov. 18 at 8 p.m. in Daniel Recital Hall on the Furman campus.

The recital, “Opera in the Classical Era: Gluck, Mozart, and Haydn,” is free and open to the public and is presented by the Furman University Music Department.

The performance is directed by Furman Professor of Voice and Director of Lyric Theatre Dr. Grant Knox. Nearly 20 students will perform scenes from “Don Giovanni,” “Lo speziale,” “Orfeo ed Euridice,” and “The Impresario.” Assisting Knox in directing is Furman senior Bryce McClendon. Furman Piano Professor Dr. David Gross provides accompaniment.

Knox joined the Furman music faculty in 2013. An American tenor, Knox enjoys a varied career in opera, musical theater, concert and recital. He has appeared with the Cincinnati Opera, Atlanta Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, and Chautauqua Opera, among others. Equally versed in concert repertoire, Knox has performed with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Illinois Philharmonic, Cobb Symphony, Binghamton Philharmonic, and others, and has appeared in recital at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

As a recording artist, Knox can be heard on the complete cast recordings of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Grand Duke” and “The Sorcerer,” Offenbach’s “The Brigands,” Romberg’s “Maytime,” and Kalman’s “The Carnival Fairy,” all released on the Albany Records label. Knox holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and a doctorate from Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music.

For more information about the recital, call the Furman Music Office at (864) 294-2086.

Concert celebrates 10th anniversary of Hartness Organ

C.B. Fisk Organ (Opus 121)

C.B. Fisk Organ (Opus 121)

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of Furman University’s installation and dedication of the Hartness Organ (C.B. Fisk, Opus 121), Furman will present a recital Monday, Nov. 17 at 8 p.m. in the Charles E. Daniel Memorial Chapel on campus.

The recital is open to the public and features guest artists Dr. Timothy Olsen (organ) and Ms. Judith Saxton (trumpet).

Tickets for the Hartness Organ Series event are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $5 for students. A reception for Dr. Olsen and Ms. Saxton will be held following the recital in Daniel Chapel.

The evening’s program includes pieces by Claude Gervaise, Petr Eben, Phil Snedecor, Ted Oliver, Maurice Duruflé, and Dmitri Shostakovich.

The Hartness Organ was given in 2004 by the late Tom and Edna Hartness in honor of Bobby and Becky Berry Hartness.

For more information about the recital, contact the Furman University Music Department at (864) 294-2086. Tickets may be ordered by calling the same number, or purchased online at this link.

About Timothy Olsen

Dr. Timothy Olsen teaches a studio of high school, undergraduate, and graduate organ majors as the Kenan Professor of Organ at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and Associate Professor of Organ at Salem College in Winston-Salem, N.C. Olsen also serves as Cantor at Augsburg Lutheran Church in Winston-Salem, where he oversees the music program directing the adult choirs, playing for services, and directing a music staff of an assistant musician and a music intern. A graduate of Concordia College (Moorhead, Minn.) and the Eastman School of Music, Olsen enjoys a multi-faceted career in organ pedagogy, performance, and sacred music. Olsen is an avid proponent of 20th- and 21st-century music having premiered numerous compositions for organ and for organ/trumpet duo. He also enjoys performing baroque music on period instruments—both as a solo organist and as a continuo player.

About Judith Saxton

Judith Saxton enjoys a multi-faceted career as an international soloist, chamber, and orchestral musician and educator and has been lauded as a “virtuoso player and superb soloist.” She is University of North Carolina School of the Arts Trumpet Artist/Faculty and has served as the Brass/Percussion Chair during her entire nine-year tenure. Saxton is currently featured Soloist and Principal Solo Cornet for the newly formed professional North Carolina Brass Band whose 2014 debut CD is “First in Flight.” She performs regularly with the North Carolina, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Roanoke symphonies and an array of chamber organizations on the eastern seaboard. Saxton concertizes nationally with her colleagues Timothy Olsen (organ) and Allison Gagnon (piano) with whom she recorded her acclaimed solo CD “Concert and Contest Pieces for Trumpet,” issued worldwide by the International Trumpet Guild. In her 27-year career, she remains a sought-after soloist for many orchestras and bands in the US and abroad. Saxton is a graduate of Mansfield (Penn.) and Northwestern Universities.

Harvard professor to discuss “sleep, memory and dreams”

Dr. Robert Stickgold

Dr. Robert Stickgold

Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Robert Stickgold will discuss “Sleep, Memory and Dreams: Putting it All Together” when he speaks on the Furman University campus Thursday, Nov. 13 at 4:30 p.m. in Johns Hall 101.

The event, free and open to the public, is part of a special colloquium series hosted by Furman’s Psychology Department.

Stickgold, director of the medical school’s Center for Sleep and Cognition, is an internationally leading researcher investigating the cognitive functions of sleep.  His work was among the first to establish the benefit of sleep for long-term memory formation and to describe how this process might occur in the brain.

His ongoing studies continue to establish the importance of sleep for memory formation in healthy controls and the contribution of sleep disruption to memory dysfunction in clinical populations including schizophrenia, insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Stickgold is also an associate professor of psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School. He received his B.A. from Harvard and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, both in biochemistry. Stickgold has published more than 100 scientific articles and two science fiction novels.

For information, contact the Psychology Department at 864-294-2205.

A special breed of student

Rachel Moore trains "Jesse" to be a service dog for kids with autism


For Rachel Moore ’16, her junior year at Furman has meant getting up early for walks and taking regular trips to the tennis courts for exercise.

With long days of classes and activities on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Moore is carrying an even heavier backpack. She always makes room for the essentials, including a white plastic bowl for water, dry food in a storage bag, and bright blue plastic bags for, never mind. Then there is the favorite treat, a large chewy Nylabone.


When you have a hungry friend at your side for the day, you have to think ahead.

Moore’s new friend and constant companion on campus, Jesse, is a 76-pound yellow Lab. As part of her internship with the Exploration of Vocation and Ministry (EVM) program through the Chaplain’s Office, Moore is training Jesse in the hopes that he will become a service dog through Dogs for Autism (DFA) in Greenville.

Forty-three Furman students, from freshmen to seniors, are participating in EVM this year, either in a ministerial setting or in Moore’s case, serving a community organization. Furman University has provided internships for students through DFA since 2007.

“It’s a great opportunity for Rachel to work with a non-profit agency and develop new skills for her career path,” said Dr. Vaughn CroweTipton, associate vice president for spiritual life and university chaplain. “With a growing demand for service dogs in the community, it also meets a very significant need.”

Moore and Jesse first met about two weeks before classes started in August and went through a series of training classes together. Since then, Moore has continued Jesse’s training on her own, helping him to learn basic commands including sit, down, come, and heel.

Part of the training includes teaching other people on campus about how to treat a service dog. While Jesse is on duty, wearing his service dog vest, people shouldn’t pet him or interact with him since it distracts and excites him, Moore said.

One of the biggest challenges is teaching one-year-old Jesse how to stay focused, said Moore, especially on a campus with so many squirrels.

Jesse goes “off duty” later in the evening. After taking his service vest off, Jesse is able to chase balls in the tennis court or his favorite, curl up with Moore or one of her roommates and watch a movie.

“He thinks he’s a lap dog,” said Moore, an education major who is planning a career as a child life specialist after graduate school.

While it has been a big responsibility, Moore’s favorite part about the internship has been educating folks on campus about service dogs. “College students need puppy therapy,” she said. “I love seeing how excited they get when they see him.”


Learn more about the Exploration of Vocation and Ministry (EVM) program

Duer wins poster award


Jennifer Duer ’16, a psychology major from Edison, N.J. recently won the Society of Southeastern Social Psychologists Conference Poster Award. She presented the findings of her research with Furman Psychology Professor Erin Hahn during the society’s 36th annual meeting at The Classic Center Oct. 17-18 in Athens, Ga. She was the only undergraduate student selected for the award. After graduating from Furman, Duer plans to pursue her Ph.D. in Child Development.

Celebrating Campus Leaders

ben-riddleFurman junior Ben Riddle is involved in the University Innovation Fellows, a group of students intent on generating more entrepreneurial activity and collaboration across their campuses. Supported by Epicenter, a national hub for entrepreneurship and engineering education funded by the National Science Foundation and headquartered at Stanford University, the program has more than tripled in the past year to 168 students at 85 campuses. In a recent blog post, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy praised the University Innovation Fellows program while celebrating National Entrepreneurship Month. Riddle, who is from Greenville, is creating an Individualized Curriculum Program (ICP) in Social Entrepreneurship with a minor in Poverty Studies.

Making sense of the midterm elections

Dr. Jim Guth

Dr. Jim Guth

The midterm elections on Nov. 4 delivered a big victory for the Republicans, who now have control of both the House and Senate. But what actually happened? Was the Democrats’ defeat a rejection of President Obama’s policies and a mandate for a more conservative agenda?  Or did the American voters deliver a message that every politician on Capitol Hill should heed?

Furman political science professor Jim Guth will look at the fallout from the midterm elections and talk about whether anything in Washington, D.C., is likely to change as a result when he speaks at the university’s High Noon fall lecture series Wednesday, Nov. 12 at the Upcountry History Museum-Furman.

His lecture—“Making Sense of the Midterm Elections”—begins at noon.  It is the last of eight lectures presented by Furman professors during the fall High Noon series.

Guth, who has taught at Furman since 1973, is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Political Science at the university.  He is a specialist in American politics, and has recently studied the impact of religion on the electoral process and on public policy in the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations.

Guth has commented on American politics for numerous media outlets, including CNN, NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, ABC World News Tonight, All Things Considered, CBS Sunday Morning, and the BBC.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and holds a Ph.D. degree from Harvard University.

The Upcountry History Museum/Furman is located at 540 Buncombe Street in downtown Greenville’s Heritage Green area.

For more information, contact Furman’s Marketing and Public Relations office at 864-294-3107 or e-mail Vince Moore at vince.moore@furman.edu.