A documentary of hope

4-14-15 - Hope O. at Furman engaged

Hope Ogunsile, a Furman University junior majoring in film and business, parlayed her skills into an internship last summer with the Riley institute at Furman, the Charleston YMCA, and Camp Hope.

She presented a poster and video—the result of her internship—during FurmanEngaged! The video also is posted on YouTube and is being used by Mozaik, a team of the Riley Institute’s Diversity Leaders Initiative that created Camp Hope in Charleston.

Leaders from all sectors of South Carolina, nominated by DLI alumni and invited to apply, take part in the Initiative, an interactive program where participants learn to understand and celebrate their diversity and try to find their “blind spots” and suspend assumptions about others. They create projects in their home communities and come away with focused decision-making skills and deep knowledge of how to effectively manage and lead increasingly diverse workers, clients, and constituents.

The Camp Hope video, running a little more than five minutes, “was my first hands-on project without someone behind me,” said Ogunsile, a Greenville native. “It was interesting. I definitely learned how to make a documentary-type film.

“One day I hope to be an analytical producer, which doesn’t now exist,” she said of her career goal. She said that job would be analyzing video, figuring how out to best use it, and teaching businesses how to use film in their marketing.

Basically, she said, that’s what her video of Camp Hope does. The evening camp in Charleston is designed for low-income, high-risk children aged about 6 to 13. They have interactions with police officers, learning how police can help them and the trouble they can find themselves in with gangs. The youngsters learn various skills, take boat rides on Charleston Harbor to learn about the history of the harbor and the city, and attend baseball games.

“They find shelter at Camp Hope,” she said. “The children learned that there are police officers who will take care of them.”

Many, she said, “had never been on a boat or even swimming.” Camp Hope gives them opportunities to see a different life and realize they can do something different from what they see in their neighborhoods.

Ogunsile also learned much during her internship. She became more proficient in pre-production, production, and post-production, she said, learning how to develop questions, interview kids, keep them on target and help them speak in complete sentences to say what they wanted to express. She also learned to blend into the background and how to edit out good material that didn’t match the video’s goal.


Learn more about FurmanEngaged! Day.

Furman listed among top “green colleges”

green-ranking-seal-2015Furman University is listed in the new 2015 edition of The Princeton Review Guide to 353 Green Colleges, a guidebook providing information about the most environmentally responsible “green colleges.”

The newest edition of the free guidebook profiles colleges with the most exceptional commitments to sustainability based on their academic offerings and career preparation for students, campus policies, initiatives and activities.

The 218-page book can be downloaded for free at this link.

“We strongly recommend the colleges in this guide to the many environmentally-minded students who seek to study and live at green colleges,” said The Princeton Review’s Robert Franek, Senior VP-Publisher.

The Princeton Review chose the schools for the sixth annual edition of its “green guide” based on data from the company’s 2014 survey of hundreds of four-year colleges concerning the schools’ commitments to the environment and sustainability.

The profiles in The Princeton Review’s Guide to 353 Green Colleges provide information about each school’s admission requirements, cost and financial aid, and student body statistics. They also include “Green Facts” about the schools with details on the availability of transportation alternatives at the schools and the percentage of the school food budgets spent on local/organic food.

Furman has been widely recognized for its commitment to sustainability.  In addition to being a charter signatory to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, the university has been named a Campus Sustainability Leader by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education and a Climate Action Leader by Clean Air-Cool Planet.

In addition to being the only liberal arts school in the nation to offer a bachelor’s degree in Sustainability Science, Furman built the first LEED-certified building in South Carolina and established the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability on campus.  The university recently earned a STARS Gold Rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education in recognition of its sustainability achievements.

For more information about Furman’s environmental efforts, contact the Shi Center for Sustainability at 864-294-3655.

Making concessions


Hot dogs, soft drinks, pizza, and candy—these are the staples of the concession stand menu. Convenient? Yes. Good for you? No.

But, if healthy food options were offered, would customers take advantage of them?

Health sciences major Olivia Haase ’15 says “yes.”

At this year’s FurmanEngaged!, Haase and her faculty mentor, Dr. Jeanine Stratton, presented their research and analysis of sales at concession stands at two Greenville County waterparks. The research, which partners with LiveWell Greenville and Rhino Concessions, targeted recreational facilities with concession stands because those areas have a captive audience and healthy food choices are typically not offered or available.

Surprisingly, they found that providing healthy food choices and marketing them to consumers at recreational facilities results in higher sales of those healthy foods.

“Looking at children between the ages of 6 and 11, researchers found that 31.8 percent of the U.S. population is obese while 33.7 percent in South Carolina and 35 percent in Greenville County hit the obesity mark. Greenville County’s numbers are among the highest in the country,” Haase said.

She and Dr. Stratton wanted to find out whether an increase in healthy choices, menus that label the healthy choices, and LiveWell-approved choices, would change the pattern of consumer purchases between 2011, the base year, and 2014. In addition to identifying the new items on menu boards, LiveWell hung banners to promote them. Among the items added were grilled chicken sandwiches, salads, wraps, and fruit cups.

“There was some price change. The average was about 50 cents more. We don’t think that would sway a purchase” either way very highly, she said.

Sales totaled nearly $90,000 in 2011. “Overall total sales are decreasing, but healthy choices sales were increasing,” Haase said. “Bottled water is through the roof. Mixed fruit cups did really well.” However, some healthy choices didn’t do as well as anticipated, perhaps because people don’t go to recreational facilities to eat healthy food.

In 2011, healthy food choices made up about 5 percent of total sales. In 2014, healthy food purchases made up nearly 14 percent of total sales. During the study period, attendance dropped from 110,000 in 2011 to 73,000 in 2013, with weather patterns being a major variable in attendance levels.

The data shows that availability of healthy choices and marketing can affect purchasing decisions, she said. But more research is needed to determine whether marketing is a major factor or whether awareness of the obesity crisis makes consumers more likely to buy a healthy choice even without promotions. Plans are underway to expand the facilities offering the LiveWell–endorsed foods.

“People are recognizing that the obesity epidemic is so grave that they must be open to healthy options,” Haase said.

But, Stratton, assistant business professor at Furman, pointed out, consumers still have a choice. The menu items were not all healthy or LiveWell endorsed.

“You’re giving them the option, but you’re also giving them the knowledge,” Haase said.

Stratton said she believes adding healthy options to menus will continue to become more prevalent. “Businesses want to do well by the communities they serve,” she said, and in the long run that’s good for the business.


Learn more about FurmanEngaged!



Image courtesy of shutterstock.com

Furman on film

When Kayla Cartee ’17 needs to unwind, she takes a break and watches some of her Netflix favorites, Scandal and Parks and Recreation.

For members of the Furman University women’s soccer team, the key to stress relief before a game is a silly dance to loud music in the locker room.

The Electronic Media Festival, part of the University’s celebration of Furman Engaged! this week, highlighted features of the quintessential Furman experience, including academics, athletics, friendships, and favorite role models. It also tackled more serious questions, offering suggestions for improving Furman’s Cultural Life Program, handling stress, and coping with career-changing injuries as a student athlete.

A total of nine short films were shared during the festival at Furman Hall, all final class projects produced by students in communication studies professors Dr. Janet Kwami and Dr. Emily Price’s Digital Communication course. The class focuses on the use of digital, electronic media in the cultivation of democratic society and shows students how to share information through various multi-media platforms.

Introducing the session, Kwami congratulated students on their creative works. “Video storytelling is a craft,” she said. “We are showcasing students’ talents today.”

She called for the need to expand our conceptions of what it means to be literate in today’s digital age noting “it is important for students to be digitally literate in today’s interactive and convergent media landscape. This requires a familiarity with the full range of communicative tools and media, as well as sensitivity to the power of representation.”

Cartee, a communication studies major, worked on the film, Collegiate Stress, with classmates Helen Fite ’17 and Kate Mancosh ’17.

“On certain weeks, class assignments can pile up and it can be overwhelming,” Cartee said. “We talked about it in class and decided we wanted to share some ideas for staying balanced.”

For Amanda Richey ’17, Amanda Stanley ’17 and Nick Shaw ’17, their video, Food as Culture, was the culmination of a semester focused on good eating.

As part of their semester-long assignment, Stanley blogged about local restaurants. Shaw blogged about gastronomy and cooking as an art form. Richey blogged about the sustainability of Furman’s food system.

“Because I’m an earth and environmental sciences and communication studies double major, I’m interested in how Furman gets its food, where it comes from, and what it does with food waste,” said Richey.

Their video focused on food as cultural expression and featured interviews with international students at Furman sharing their food traditions. They also included interviews with Spanish professor Dr. Ronald Friis talking about the sociology of food and philosophy professor Dr. Sarah Worth talking about the ethical implications of food and modern food production.

“So much goes into making even a simple cup of coffee, and I feel like much of what goes into a product—water and land obviously, but also labor, worry and dedication— is ignored,” said Richey, a native of Baton Rouge, La. “I hope this video challenges people to use something as commonplace as food to bridge gaps on our campus and in the broader Greenville community, whether it be a conversation about cultural food or something else.

“I said it in the video, and I genuinely think it’s true: food has the power to bring people together,” Richey said.

Learn more about FurmanEngaged! 


Food fight

Kelsey Kinderknecht, sized

Childhood obesity is arguably one of the more pressing and complex public health issues in the United States. The Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention cites studies showing dramatic increases in obesity among youth, doubling in the 6-11-year-old range and quadrupling in the 12-19 age bracket since 1980. Today, more than 30 percent of our children 6-11 years old in the U.S. are considered overweight or obese.

While the national stats are troubling, the local numbers are even more sobering—35 percent of youth in Greenville County are overweight or obese. But LiveWell Greenville and its partnership with the Greenville County School District aim to stem the rise in the condition (and its attendant health risks) with their school nutrition intervention, Culinary Creations Initiative—the subject of several student posters at Furman Engaged!

Health Sciences major Kelsey Kinderknecht’s ’15 poster, “Food Fight: Combatting Child Obesity in Greenville County Schools,” describes the goals of CCI. Battling obesity on three fronts, CCI promises to improve the nutritional environment in schools through menu redevelopment, and changes in the way incentives and fundraisers are carried out.

Retooled elementary and middle school menus across the county saw modifications like offering oven roasted chicken versus breaded chicken tenders or teriyaki bites, bumping up vegetable quantity and variety, and adding whole grain breads and super food fruits like honeydew melon over canned peaches—options that exceed USDA requirements.

So with the addition of healthier options in the cafeteria, it makes sense to also stay on the same page for incentives. CCI encourages non-food incentives such as games, pajama days, and extra recess for good behavior and attendance.

For a lot of years, coupons for a personal size Papa John’s pizza were offered to elementary and middle schoolers to reward perfect attendance. LiveWell and GCSD teamed to craft a healthy alternative featuring light cheese, grilled veggies and whole grain crust. Senior Abbey Myers looked at this shift in her poster, “When Research Gets Cheesy: Papa John’s Pizza Delivering Healthy Incentives to Greenville County Schools.”

Another component of CCI is school fundraising, an activity rife with cookie dough, candy bars and other not-so-healthy food options. CCI has marshaled the use of 5K runs, color runs or “Boosterthons” in lieu of food-centered fundraising.

Menu overhauls are mandated by Greenville County Schools and Greenville County Nutrition Services, but implementation of the incentive and fundraising programs advanced by CCI hinges on the choice of school administrators. Statistics crunched by Kinderknecht indicate a sea change among CCI schools. Administrators in CCI schools are more likely to respond positively to survey questions about incentives and fundraisers that employ non-food options than administrators in non-CCI schools.

While the jury is still out on what CCI means for childhood obesity in Greenville County, one thing is clear—CCI is moving schools in the right direction by presenting healthier alternatives. Other studies by Furman students will examine changes in Body Mass Index over time across a sample of nearly 14,000 youth in 3rd-5th grades. Health Sciences student Sarah Clark ’16, presented “Cracking the Code: What’s for Lunch in Greenville County Schools,” at Furman Engaged! As part of her research, Clark wrote code to summarize data at the school and district levels, and to test the significance of associations between BMI and socio-demographic variables.

Working alongside Health Sciences professors Alicia Powers, Ph.D., Meghan Slining, Ph.D., and Natalie The, Ph.D., students have the chance to affect real change in Greenville County Schools. Their findings and the continued work of LiveWell Greenville in partnership with GCSD will be the drivers of nutritional policy change, and eventually a healthier youth population in Greenville County.

Learn more about FurmanEngaged!

Hicken wins SCICU teaching award

Leslie W. Hicken

Leslie W. Hicken, Professor of Music at Furman University, has been awarded a 2015 Excellence in Teaching Award from the South Carolina Independent Colleges & Universities (SCICU) organization.

SCICU annually recognizes one faculty member from each of its 20 member schools with the teaching awards. Each recipient is given a $3,000 professional development grant and honored at a special dinner.

Dr. Hicken joined Furman in 1993 as Director of Bands and supervisor of instrumental music education. Outside of Furman he is the Artistic Director for the Carolina Youth Symphony and the Furman “Music by the Lake” Summer Concert Series.

Beginning his musical career as a clarinetist in the United States Military Academy Band at West Point, Hicken holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music; the Teachers College, Columbia University; and Indiana University.

Hicken’s band pedagogy articles have appeared in The Instrumentalist and The Music Director’s Cookbook, among other publications. He has presented clinics and adjudicated competitions at regional and national events throughout the nation.

In 2000, Hicken completed a residency with the public schools in Brazil. The South Carolina Chapter of Phi Beta Mu awarded him both the Outstanding Bandmaster of the Year Award and the Outstanding Contributor Award. In 2002, he was elected into the American Bandmasters Association. He is a past President of the College Band Directors National Association Southern Division, and is currently the President of the South Carolina Band Directors Association.

Under Hicken’s direction, the Furman Wind Ensemble has performed as a featured ensemble at numerous state and national venues including the New York Wind Band Festival at Carnegie Hall, the American Bandmasters Association National Convention, and the Chicago International Music Festival at Symphony Hall.

President Elizabeth Davis praises Hicken’s career for “enriching the musical life of the Upstate and for mentoring many of the leading band directors in the state.”

Previous Furman winners of the SCICU Excellence in Teaching Award are Gil Einstein (Psychology), Elizabeth Smith (Political Science), Brannon Andersen (Earth and Environmental Sciences), Lloyd Benson (History), Scott Henderson (Education), Victoria Turgeon (Biology), Anne Leen (Classics) Jim Guth (Political Science) and Alicia Powers (Health Sciences).

For more information, contact Furman’s News and Media Relations office at (864) 294-3107 or visit the SCICU website.

Furman alum Jerry Thomas receives honorary degree

Jerry Thomas, a 1963 Furman graduate, received the honorary degree from President Elizabeth Davis.

Jerry Thomas, a 1963 Furman graduate, received the honorary degree from President Elizabeth Davis.

Dr. Jerry R. Thomas, a 1963 Furman University graduate who serves as Professor and Dean of the College of Education at the University of North Texas, has been awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Furman.

Thomas received the honor Tuesday, April 14 during a special ceremony on campus.  He also delivered an address, “The Value of Undergraduate Research.”

The address and honorary degree presentation were part of the university’s “Engaged!” day celebration, an annual event where Furman students share the details of their research projects and internships.

Thomas, who majored in what is now Health Sciences at Furman, has enjoyed a distinguished career in higher education as a teacher, researcher and administrator.  He is one of the world’s leading scholars in the field of motor development and motor learning, and has published his findings in more than 200 research and professional publications.  His best-selling graduate textbook, Research Methods in Physical Activity, is widely used in the U.S., and has been translated into six other languages.

In addition to holding teaching positions at Iowa State, Arizona State, Louisiana State and Florida State universities, Thomas has been a visiting scholar at institutions in Australia, Korea, China, Thailand and Hong Kong. He has served as the C.H. McCloy Lecturer and Alliance Scholar, as well as presenting numerous named lectures.

Thomas has been editor-in-chief of Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, and is a Fellow in the American Academy of Kinesiology and Physical Education.  He has served as President of the North American Society for Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity, and he is currently the first President of the American Kinesiology Association.

For more information, contact Furman’s News and Media Relations office at 864-294-3107.

Exploring theatre on the British Isles


She met a theatre legend, received a tremendous gift of kindness from a stranger, saw 40 plays, and discovered food so good she’s willing to cross an ocean to eat it again.

For Clare Ruble of Simpsonville ’17, her travels with Furman students and faculty through more than a dozen different cities in the British Isles provided an unforgettable three months of memories.

Every other year, members of Furman’s English faculty team up with faculty from theatre arts and other departments for a semester-long study away program in the British Isles. The fall 2014 trip brought 22 students, English professor Jeanne Provost, and theatre arts professor Margaret Caterisano to cities including Dublin, Edinburgh, Belfast, York, Bath, and London.

Their jam-packed itinerary included dozens of plays including shows on London’s West End, classes with Royal Shakespeare Company member Tom Davey, and visits to museums and historical sites like the Victoria and Albert Museum and Dublin’s Abbey Theatre. The study abroad program in the British Isles is available to Furman students at the same cost of a semester’s tuition on campus.

While the trip included many famous locations like Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon, even a little fishing cottage on a remote island off the West Coast of Ireland wasn’t overlooked. It was the home where playwright John Millington Synge found inspiration for his plays, said Provost.inishmaan-2

“Students might read about the British Iron Age or about Synge for a course on campus, but they will remember these things far better for having actually experienced places connected with this history and literature,” said Provost, who specializes in medieval British literature with an emphasis on drawing connections between literature and the natural environment.

Having a wide variety of majors represented on the trip provided opportunities for students to learn from each other and enjoy works of art more fully. “The theatre arts majors learned to think more fully about themes and ideas in the plays we studied, while the English majors learned about play production and craft,” Provost said.

As part of her fashion history course, Caterisano’s students were able to not only see period clothing first-hand in museums and discuss the psychology of dress, but try on period costumes themselves at the Fashion Museum of Bath.

“Their experiences gave them a chance to see the evolution of fashion and come to a greater understanding of its history,” said Caterisano. “We definitely hope it broadened their horizons.”

During their travels, students completed readings, kept journals and wrote essays on their experiences to complete required credits for theatre and English classes.

Psychology major Carly Bailey ’16 said the trip gave her a new appreciation for the arts and culture of other countries.

She described it as an “honor” to share the stage with such talented actors on the Globe Stage. “Getting to use the space and learn from an actor there was the type of experience you cannot get anywhere else,” Bailey said.

For Ruble, a theatre arts major on a pre-health path towards speech therapy, the trip was her first time out of the country. Her connections with her Furman family and new friends made along the way were a highlight of the trip.

After her debit card was hacked and had to be cancelled, Ruble worried about making her money last on the trip. In Scotland, she ran into some neighbors from her hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan, who knew her family. Not knowing the trouble she had gone through, one of them gave her 200 pounds. “It just goes to show you how truly small the world is and how nice people are,” she said.

During a performance of the Scottsboro Boys in London, one of the men sitting in front of Ruble was John Kander, who wrote the music and lyrics to Cabaret and Chicago. “I got his autograph and was able to thank him for creating music,” Ruble said. “It was beautiful and we both cried.”

Returning home, Ruble said the trip gave her the chance to visit places she thought she would only read about. “I now see a bigger picture of all my studies,” she said. “I am much more focused because I want to work to see the world again . . . I am just beyond grateful.”


Learn more about Study Away opportunities at Furman.






Riley Institute recruits Quinn, promotes Martin

The Riley Institute at Furman has recruited Mark Quinn, Director of Public and Member Relations at the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, as Senior Associate at the Institute, and has promoted Jacki Martin, formerly Associate Director of the Riley Institute, to Director of Riley Institute Operations.

Mark Quinn, sized verticalAt The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, Quinn is responsible for strategic communications, advertising, branding initiatives and media relations. As Senior Associate at the Riley Institute, Quinn makes contributions that help shape the Institute’s critical issues programming, including OneSouthCarolina, the Diversity Leaders Initiative (DLI) alumni event, and the four-week Summer Series presented in partnership with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Quinn is uniquely qualified to make these contributions through his broad and deep experience as a professional journalist in the state. He worked in television journalism for more than 16 years, 13 of which were spent in Columbia. For 11 years, he worked in various on-air capacities for one of the most successful NBC affiliates in the country, WIS-TV.

In 2007, Quinn began work with South Carolina Educational Television, and is the former host of ETV and ETV Radio’s weekly news and public affairs program, “The Big Picture.” Among the highlights of his tenure with SCETV was his on-site coverage of both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions of 2008 and the statewide gubernatorial, congressional, and constitutional officer debates in 2010.

Jacki Martin2, sizedJacki Martin, Director of Riley Institute Operations, joined the Institute in 2009 as Associate Director. Says Executive Director Don Gordon, Ph.D., “This new classification reflects the true scope of Jacki’s duties. She oversees the daily activities of the Institute’s three centers of work and supervises and supports 10 staff members. In her six years with the Institute she has helped drive and shape many new initiatives in our public education, diversity leadership, and critical issues programming.”

Martin’s background is primarily in policy and program management related to community development issues, including land use, conservation, transportation, and public education in the government, nonprofit, and for profit sectors. Within the conservation and development communities she has worked with the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, the Main Street Association, the Urban Land Institute, and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, among other groups. Prior experience in higher education includes directing marketing and communications at Technical College of the Lowcountry.

High-resolution images for Quinn and Martin are available upon request. For more information about the Riley Institute, contact Director of Operations Jacki Martin (864) 294-3578, or jacki.martin@furman.edu. Follow the Riley Institute on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or visit the website to learn more.

Symphonic Band & Wind Ensemble in concert April 17

Dr. Robert Chesebro

Dr. Robert Chesebro

The Furman Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble will present a concert Friday, April 17, at 8 p.m. in McAlister Auditorium on the Furman University campus.

The concert, “Viva Chesebro!” is open to the public. Tickets for the Sound Quality Concert Series event are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $5 for students.

The performance is conducted by Furman Director of Bands Leslie W. Hicken, and honors retiring Furman clarinetist Robert Chesebro who joined the music faculty in 1965. Also guest conducting is Jay Bocook, Furman Director of Athletic Bands.

Chesebro will perform Artie Shaw’s “Concerto for Clarinet” and will take the podium to lead both ensembles in some of his favorite compositions.

Chesebro is the Charles E. Daniel Professor of Music at Furman and a Yamaha Artist/Clinician. Chesebro’s students have won numerous awards and have excelled in their careers. He has helped more than 60 students win first chair in the South Carolina All-State Band and led 33 more to first place in the state level of the Music Teachers National Association Woodwind Competition.

He has completed 25 seasons as musical director and conductor of the Carolina Youth Symphony. He has also conducted the Furman University Symphonic Band, Greenville Symphony Orchestra, Hendersonville Symphony, Greenville Little Theater, Carolina Ballet Theater, and several all-state bands.

As an artist and clinician for the Yamaha Corporation, Chesebro provides woodwind clinics for students with a special “how to practice” routine. Recently, he joined former student Tod Kerstetter to co-author The Everyday Virtuoso, a book featuring a structured approach to developing virtuoso technique for advanced high school and college students.

Chesebro holds doctorate and master’s degrees from Indiana University and a bachelor’s from Wisconsin State University.

For more information about the concert, contact the Furman Band Office at (864) 294-3069.