Issues by Date: April 2016

Lunar Lemon Racing

The Lunar Lemon van competes in the “24 Hours of LeMons” race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.

Students in Berry’s creative technologies program are always looking for a challenge, so when the opportunity came to test their mettle in an endurance race for cars costing $500 or less, they couldn’t resist.

The result was the “Lunar Lemon,” a vintage Chevy Astro van purchased from Berry and fitted with wings and “rocket boosters” made of recycled materials. Its first outing didn’t quite go as planned – the vehicle failed to pass inspection on race day – but the student team led by Visiting Instructor Zane Cochran (with assistance from the Hatch Athens nonprofit group) was undeterred, working for 40 hours straight to get the Lunar Lemon ready for competition. Despite the late start, the Berry entry earned the “Eternal Optimist Award” from race judges after completing 95 laps (approximately 225 miles) without any mechanical issues, beating a number of teams that started a day earlier. Emboldened by the experience, the team is already planning another outing April 30.

Students Fixing Van

Students Jacob Ramsey and Chris Whitmire work on the interior of the Lunar Lemon.

Such hard work and resourcefulness are hallmarks of Berry’s groundbreaking creative technologies (CRT) major, the first undergraduate degree program of its type. Combining business, computing, engineering, manufacturing and hands-on design, the program provides students very real opportunities to give physical form to their most imaginative thoughts. Since its 2014 launch, CRT’s mix of high-tech creative tools and do-it-yourself ingenuity has become quite the draw for students, with 29 now majoring in creative technologies and others enhancing their Berry experience through classes such as vehicle prototyping and advanced robotics – so many, in fact, that the program’s HackBerry Lab recently moved into a new space near the Emery Barns.

“The projects I’ve done in creative technologies have taught me problem-solving strategies and given me mechanical experience,” said sophomore Jacob Ramsey, a management major and creative technologies minor. “But they also let my imagination have free rein.”

Rome News-Tribune: HackBerry Lab spurs student ingenuity

By Maxine Donnelly, philanthropic communications senior student writer

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Cabaret Performance ImageMomentum is building for the dramatic arts at Berry, with fundraising surpassing $3 million for new and improved campus theatre facilities and attendance reaching new heights during the Berry College Theatre Company’s February production of Cabaret. More than 70 students worked on stage and off to bring the Tony Award-winning musical to life on the Berry stage, and their efforts did not go unrewarded. Attendance totaled nearly 1,300 for the eight shows (more than 80 percent capacity), breaking the previous record set by Little Shop of Horrors in 2014.

Audrey MorganAmong those who turned out was Audrey Morgan, the Board of Visitors member and recipient of Berry’s honorary doctorate whose $1 million challenge gift has spurred significant additional support for construction of a new theatre and renovation of Blackstone Hall. In recognition of her generosity and leadership, the stage in the new theatre will be named in her honor. If you share Mrs. Morgan’s desire to see construction on a new theatre begin in 2016 and would like to take advantage of the matching funds she has made available, click or contact Scott Breithaupt (91C, 96G) at

All gifts should be designated to “New theatre and Blackstone Hall renovation.”

Around Berry: Cabaret Photo Gallery

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Whit Whitaker (83C), center, with wife Maria Crego Whitaker (85c) and Gov. Nathan Deal.

Whit Whitaker (81C), center, with wife Maria Crego Whitaker (85c) and Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal after Whit’s 2014 appointment to the Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission.

Berry’s executive leadership team is proving to be fertile ground for colleges and universities seeking new presidents. Just weeks after Provost Kathy Richardson was tapped by Westminster College in Pennsylvania, Chief of Staff Whit Whitaker (81C) has been chosen to lead King University in Tennessee. He will begin his new role Aug. 1.

A retired Navy captain and former member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, Whitaker is in his 10th year on the Berry staff. During this time, he has worked closely with the college’s governing and advisory boards and has been responsible for oversight of public relations, religious life and historic assets. He also served as assistant vice president for major gifts and continues to assist with fundraising as chief of staff. Off-campus service includes membership on the governor-appointment Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission.

In a campuswide announcement, President Steve Briggs noted Whitaker’s deep ties to Berry – his father was once a member of the English faculty – and praised his distinguished service.

“We will long remember Whit’s intelligence, insatiable curiosity and sparkling wit,” Briggs stated. “We will miss his turn of a phrase and impeccable timing. And oh how he loves a well-crafted practical joke. Students in the president’s office will also never forget his heart for mentoring and his personal acts of kindness.”

Bristol Herald Courier: Georgia native named King’s 23rd president

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Faye GibbonsFaye Junkins Gibbons (61C) found herself in the spotlight as the 2016 recipient of the Augusta Literary Festival’s Frank Yerby Award for her young-adult novel, Halley. The book chronicles the Depression-era trials faced by a fictional teenaged heroine who dreams of a better life while growing up in the mountains of North Georgia. We won’t spoil the ending … let’s just say a certain Rome, Ga., school figures in the plot!

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Berry recently welcomed one of America’s foremost authorities on leadership as the inaugural speaker in the Cecil “Buster” Wright III (73C) Integrity in Leadership Lecture Series. Dr. Barbara Kellerman, a prolific author, speaker and Harvard University faculty member, shared her insights with the campus community during a lively address in the Berry College Chapel. Later, she sat down for a brief interview focusing on the hard times facing America’s leaders and the steps Berry is taking through its new Integrity in Leadership Center to help students meet those challenges. Fast-forward to 5:21 in the accompanying video to hear her discuss the benefits of Berry’s Gordon and Joyce Carper Integrity in Leadership Mentoring Program.

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Outdoor AdventureAre you tired of all the negativity in politics? Ready for a platform we can all get behind? We’ve got the perfect candidate … BERRY!

BuzzFeed has already declared us to be the world’s most beautiful college campus, while America Unraveled recently ranked us the No. 1 up-and-coming liberal arts college. Now we have our sights set on the title of Top Adventure College, to be determined by readers of Blue Ridge Mountain Outdoors. Berry is one of eight remaining colleges and universities in a March Madness-style online competition culminating April 18-25 with a “David-meets-Goliath” showdown matching the winners of the small-school (enrollment less than 5,000) and large-school brackets. Berry knocked out Washington and Lee University in the opening round, then defeated Montreat College in the “Sweet 16.” Now we’re facing off against Emory & Henry.

Click here to cast your once-per-day vote for Berry, and don’t forget to share with your friends.

Photo by Jason Huynh (15C)

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David BeasleyDavid Beasley’s impressive ability to prepare student-athletes for success on the baseball field and in life has earned him induction into the Rome-Floyd Sports Hall of Fame. A quick glance at Beasley’s accomplishments tells the story:

  • 563 wins (and counting), first all-time among Berry coaches
  • 98 percent graduation rate among his players
  • 14 All-Americans
  • 9 Academic All-Americans
  • 22 future pros including Collin McHugh (09c), the first Berry player to reach the Major Leagues.
  • 48 former players who are now coaches, including six at the college level and 42 in the high school ranks

This spring, Beasley’s Vikings are well on their way to their 16th winning season in his 19 years as head coach. Click here to follow their progress.


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Berry College EaglesSocial media users (and media in general) are chirping (or is that tweeting?) about the inhabitants of Berry’s famed bald eagle nest. A March 7 Facebook post featuring a screen capture of the two new eaglets earned more than 14,000 likes and 7,800 shares while achieving an estimated reach of 750,000 viewers worldwide! The Berry College Eagles community on Facebook is now 119,000 strong, and more are joining every day. Excitement (and interest) will continue to build as the eaglets prepare to test their wings – literally – later this spring. Visit our live Eagle Cam to track their progress 24 hours a day.

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Stan PethelProfessor of Music and former Chair of Fine Arts Dr. Stan Pethel may be retiring this spring after 43 years at Berry, but he certainly isn’t going quietly. Hundreds of alumni and friends gathered April 3 to celebrate his musical legacy with a rousing “All-Pethel” concert in Ford Auditorium.

Drawn from a diverse catalog of more than 1,200 compositions published by Pethel during his distinguished career, the set list featured a variety of selections ranging from trumpet solos to choral works (and most everything in between). The longtime Berry faculty member was happy to go to the effort of sifting through all that music, noting, “It’s nice to be recognized by great colleagues and students for my work over the years.”

Although Pethel is retiring from full-time teaching, his many Berry friends won’t have to look very hard to find him – at least during high school basketball season. The Northwest Georgia Tip-Off Club’s 2016 Referee of the Year has no plans to hang up his striped-shirt and whistle just yet.

Story by Maxine Donnelly, philanthropic communications senior student writer

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Jason Sweatt

Jason Sweatt

In our last issue, we launched a new interactive feature by asking readers to name Berry’s first graduate. Kudos to Planned Giving Council member Jason Sweatt (88C) for drawing upon knowledge gained during his four years as a student worker in The Martha Berry Museum by correctly answering Wylie Clayton Henson (1904H). Click here to read more about the history-making alumnus who famously asked Martha Berry, “How high can you take me?” Her response: “How high do you want to go?”

Scroll to the blog footer for this month’s question, which involves a special group of alumnae who made history in the spring of 1976. (Hint: There’s a stone marker celebrating their accomplishment outside Ford Gymnasium). Be the first to tweet the correct answer with the hashtag #berrycollegetrivia and earn a virtual “high five” in our next issue.

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