Issues by Date: February 2016

Berry Track and Field Team

Full competition in track and field will return to the Berry campus for the first time in decades March 5 when the Vikings welcome teams from Sewanee, Piedmont, Meredith, Millsaps, Oglethorpe, Union (Ky.), Reinhardt and Clark Atlanta for the Ice-Breaker Duals.

Limited to distance running only since the 1980s, Berry’s track and field program has been expanded this year to include competition in sprints, hurdles, jumps and throws. This was made possible by the 2015 completion of the Valhalla stadium complex including Clark Track and the Dickey Field throws area.

Berry Coach Luke SyversonThe newly expanded team is headed by coach Luke Syverson, who came to Berry in 2015 after five years as an assistant track and field coach at Lipscomb University, an NCAA Division I institution in Nashville. Assisting him in the various event groups are Paul Deaton (91C), Berry’s longtime cross country and distance running coach, Neal West, Ossie Buchannon, Zack Smith and Shannon Riley.

“One of the greatest parts of coaching is seeing growth take place in all areas of a student-athlete’s life, not just athletic performance,” Syverson expressed. “To have the opportunity not only to do that but also to see and affect growth in an entire program is even more fulfilling.”

Already, Syverson’s student-athletes have been making their presence felt at various indoor meets across the Southeast. The team’s March 5 campus debut marks the official beginning of the outdoor season. A second home meet, Berry Field Day, will be held April 9, at which time the college will celebrate the official dedication of Clark Track and Dickey Field. That meet will feature a full slate of intercollegiate competition as well as special intra-dormitory and alumni races.

Visit for more coverage.

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Kathy and Randy RichardsonProvost Kathy Brittain Richardson will be leaving Berry at the end of the current academic year to take on a new challenge as president of Westminster College in Pennsylvania. She is the first woman to be named president of Westminster, a top-tier liberal arts college that has been ranked among the “Top 25 Best Colleges in the Northeast.”

A beloved member of the communication faculty since 1986, Richardson has been honored with Berry’s top awards for teaching, scholarship and service. In addition to her work in the classroom, she also distinguished herself as associate provost and dean of academic services (1999-2007) and interim provost (2007-08) before assuming her current role as chief academic officer in 2013.

“We will always know Dr. Richardson as a colleague who fully embraced Berry’s commitment to an education of the head, heart and hands,” said Berry President Steve Briggs. “She has poured herself into the fabric of our community and has worked tenaciously to make Berry better.”

Joining her at Westminster will be husband and colleague Dr. Randy Richardson, another beloved member of the communication faculty who is legendary for his work with the Berry forensics program. Under his leadership, Berry has won 20 consecutive state forensic championships and numerous national honors. He is a past recipient of the National Forensic Association’s Distinguished Service Award.

Berry officials will conduct a nationwide search for a new provost. Dr. Andy Bressette, currently associate provost, has accepted an interim appointment for 2016-17.

If you’d like to honor these amazing faculty members for their many years of service to Berry, please consider an online gift to the “Kathy Brittain Richardson Faculty and Staff Leadership Fund” or the “Randy Richardson Forensics Union Fund.” The former will support a variety of activities within the Faculty and Staff Leadership Academy, a future initiative of the Berry College Integrity in Leadership Center. The latter helps fund the activities of the Berry College Forensics Union. Contact Fred Mercer at 706-290-2164 or for more details.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Westminster to get first look at new president

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Animal Science Laboratory at Rollins

Architectural rendering of the Animal Science Laboratory at Rollins, slated for construction later this year.

Giving to LifeReady: The Berry College Campaign for Opportunity has now surpassed $91 million! This includes more than $43 million in commitments for Gate of Opportunity and general use scholarships. We are truly grateful to everyone in the Berry community who has supported the campaign to date. A special shout out goes to our alumni, whose gifts account for nearly half the campaign total. Thank you for your support!

Highlights in 2015 included the opening of two major campaign priorities – the new campus Welcome Center and Valhalla stadium for football, lacrosse, and track and field – and Audrey Morgan’s $1 million challenge commitment to fast-track fundraising for the renovation of Blackstone Hall and construction of a new campus theatre. There was also further development of initiatives within Berry’s Integrity in Leadership and Entrepreneurship centers.

Construction of two other campaign-funded projects – the Animal Science Laboratory at Rollins and an event pavilion at Oak Hill – is on tap for 2016. In addition, fundraising is underway for Ford Auditorium’s renovation as a recital hall and construction of an animal science addition for McAllister Hall.

Visit to learn more about the various priorities, and thanks again for helping to make the dream of a “life-ready” education a reality for our students!

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Janisse RayWriter, activist and naturalist Janisse Ray will be the featured presenter for Berry’s inaugural Buzz and Barbara Mote McCoy Southern Women Writers Lecture, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23, in the Berry College Chapel. Admission is free and open to the public.

A 2015 inductee into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame, Ray is the author of five books of literary nonfiction and a collection of eco-poetry. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Montana and two honorary doctorates. She has served as a writer-in-residence at numerous institutions, and her translated work has been published in France and Turkey. Among her many honors are the Southern Booksellers Award for Poetry (2011), the Southeastern Booksellers Award for Nonfiction (1999) and an American Book Award (2000). Full bio.

Three days prior to Ray’s visit, on Feb. 20, Dana Professor of Biology Martin Cipollini will lead a two-hour guided hike of Berry’s Longleaf Pine Trail, discussing the history and scenery surrounding the types of trees featured in her writing. The hike, also free and open to the public, begins at 2 p.m. at the Longleaf trail head on Berry’s mountain campus. Parking at the trail head is limited, but overflow space is available at the Old Mill.

The new lecture series honors the generosity of Barbara Mote McCoy (61C) and her husband, Buzz. Mrs. McCoy holds an English degree from Berry and served with distinction as a member of the Executive Steering Committee for the college’s $100 million Century Campaign. Mr. McCoy is a nationally recognized writer and teacher of business ethics who has served as executive-in-residence for the graduate business schools at Stanford University and Notre Dame and as adjunct professor for the Pacific School of Religion, UCLA’s Anderson School of Management and the University of Southern California’s graduate real estate program. The retired Morgan Stanley executive has authored many works on the subjects of business ethics and real estate finance, including the Harvard Business Review classic, “The Parable of the Sadhu.”

Both are avid readers whose previous support of Berry’s Southern Women Writers Conference made this series possible.

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Kris CarlisleThe hits just keep coming for Associate Professor of Music Kris Carlisle. Recently, the chair of Berry’s fine arts department added The American Prize in Piano Performance Special Judge’s Citation: “Championing Piano Music by American Composers” to his impressive list of awards and honors. His winning CD,  The American Evolution: Piano Sonatas, is part of a larger project exploring the way contemporary composers explore traditional genres.

In addition, Carlisle has been named chair of the Georgia Music Educators Association’s Piano Division for 2016-17.

Visit to enjoy a sampling of his music.

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Marcus Autism Center Interns

Merrill Wood, right, and Matthew Klein gained valuable experience as summer interns at the Marcus Autism Center.

Merrill Wood has long known that she wanted to work with those who needed help most, so when an opportunity presented itself to intern at the nationally recognized Marcus Autism Center, she jumped at the chance.

Working in the severe behavioral unit of the renowned Atlanta facility, the senior psychology major gained valuable experience conducting therapy sessions, gathering data and working one-on-one with children facing a wide range of issues that might prevent them from accessing public school and other normal social experiences. Such issues might have been intimidating to some, but Wood wasn’t fazed.

“When we were having a therapy session and the kids were smiling and we were smiling, we knew we communicated with them,” she said. “That was one of the best moments.”

Wood is one of a growing number of students taking advantage of Berry’s budding collaboration with the Marcus Autism Center, which is bearing fruit not only in meaningful internship experiences but also enhanced career opportunities.

Recently, a new four-course sequence jointly developed by Berry psychology faculty and the Marcus staff gained approval by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. As a result, students who complete the new course sequence and a set number of clinical hours can pursue board certification as assistant behavior analysts (BCaBA) upon graduation.

“This opportunity opened up because there’s a need,” explained Dr. Michelle Haney, professor and department chair of psychology, who recruited Dr. Allison Doerr to Berry to help develop the new program. “There’s a serious lack of clinicians with this training in our community.”

A related track within Berry’s Master of Education program is also being discussed.

Reporting by student writer Carey Blankenship

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Martin CipolliniDr. Martin Cipollini recently shared the Georgia Public Broadcasting airwaves with Rolling Stones keyboardist and environmental activist Chuck Leavell as part of a radio segment spotlighting efforts to restore the American chestnut tree. Cipollini has been working with The American Chestnut Foundation since 2004, but his interest in the threatened species dates to childhood.

“I grew up in a rural area, and when my father and I found chestnut trees out in the woods, he always told me about the fungal blight which nearly destroyed the species in the early 20th century,” the Berry professor explained. “We were never able to get those trees to survive long enough to produce nuts. So when I later learned The American Chestnut Foundation had made significant progress in helping to bring the trees back, I wanted to be involved.”

As scientific coordinator for TACF’s Georgia chapter, Cipollini has established several orchards containing potentially blight-resistant American/Chinese chestnut hybrids on the Berry campus and has also supervised the planting of more than 6,500 hybrid trees statewide, including a small orchard at The Carter Center. He credits Berry’s expansive campus and enthusiastic student assistants with helping to propel these efforts forward and hopes that increased public awareness and involvement will allow even more to be accomplished in the future.

“Our goal is to plant a minimum of 12,000 trees statewide in the next 10 years,” Cipollini said of his work with the TACF Georgia chapter. “It’s going to take a lot of money and effort, but what we have is growing, and we’ve got to keep looking ahead to find ways to help it keep growing.”

By Maxine Donnelly, philanthropic communications senior writer

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Menaboni CatalogOak Hill and The Martha Berry Museum recently earned statewide acclaim for its 2015 exhibition “Menaboni’s Birds: Georgia’s Own Artist as Naturalist,” which was honored as Museum Exhibition of the Year among exhibits with budgets under $100,000 by the Georgia Association of Museums and Galleries.

Celebrating the work of Italian-born Georgia artist Athos Menaboni, the exhibition was a collaboration between Oak Hill and guest curator Russell Clayton, who assembled a total of 37 Menaboni paintings – many of which had never been shown publicly – from 18 private lenders,

“We are grateful to be recognized by our peers for our work on this exhibition,” said Oak Hill Director Tim Brown. “’Menaboni’s Birds’ brought new attention to The Martha Berry Museum, and visitation almost doubled because of the show.”

Though the exhibit is no longer on display, catalogs featuring prints of the Menaboni paintings can be purchased online through the Oak Hill Gift Shop.

Catalog cover designed by Kathy Clements

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James Childre

Photo courtesy of

Not long ago, we were pleased to share the story of an impressive group of Berry Academy alumni celebrating the golden anniversary of their championship basketball season. Now an effort is underway to recognize the achievements of the many men and women who excelled as high school athletes during that special era in Berry history.

The new Berry High School/Academy Athletic Hall of Fame is meant to honor alumni who achieved at a high level and gained notable recognition in an official school-recognized sport; received a varsity letter or the equivalent; and demonstrated the highest levels of integrity, character and sportsmanship. Nominations may be submitted electronically or by mail to Berry College Athletic Department, Hall of Fame Selection Committee, P.O. Box 495015, Mount Berry, Ga., 30149. The deadline for consideration is Oct. 6.

If you’re not familiar with Berry’s proud heritage in high school athletics, click here to learn more.

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Caitlyn JansenWhen Berry’s highly successful volleyball program returns to action this fall, Caitlyn Jansen (14G) will be at the helm. She succeeds Mika Robinson, whose eight-year tenure came to a close when she accepted a similar role at Rollins College in Florida.

Jansen has been a familiar face on the Berry bench for the last four seasons, serving as a graduate assistant in 2012 before being promoted to full-time assistant in 2013. During this time, Berry has posted an impressive 94-36 record while earning two Southern Athletic Association regular-season championships, a pair of SAA tournament crowns and two NCAA Division III national tournament appearances. Last summer, she served as assistant coach under Robinson during an all-star tour of Brazil.

Before coming to Berry, Jansen played and later coached at Christopher Newport University, where she was 2009 USA South Conference Player of the Year and a two-time All-American. As an assistant coach in 2011, she helped Christopher Newport advance to the Division III national finals.

“I am extremely excited that Caitlyn has accepted our offer to be our next women’s volleyball coach,” said Berry Athletic Director Todd Brooks. “She had a storied career as a student-athlete at Christopher Newport University and has been an integral part of our volleyball program as our assistant coach. These experiences have prepared her well for this opportunity.”

Read more.

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Henson1In our last issue, we asked you to tell us which Berry-themed Christmas gift you’d most enjoy. The most popular answer turned out to be Berry itself! More specifically, the top choice – with 38 percent of the vote – was a weekend getaway on campus. Next, with 28 percent, was a sampling of Berry cheese and produce, followed by a night out with your best Berry friends (20 percent), a guided tour of Berry movie locations (10 percent) and treats made of Berry-ground corn meal (4 percent).

This month, we’re launching a new interactive feature – Berry trivia! A picture of Berry’s first-ever graduate is posted at left. Can you name him?

Share your answer on Twitter with the hashtag #berrycollegetrivia and you might just get a mention in our next issue.

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