Issues by Date: June 2017

Rear Adm. Vince Griffith (81C) addresses spring graduates.It’s only fitting that a speaker well versed in logistics – Rear Adm. Vince Griffith (81C) – was on hand for the largest spring commencement ceremony in Berry history. A record total of 473 undergraduate and graduate students completed their degree requirements this spring. Joining them in the tidal wave of black robes sweeping across the Evans Hall lawn on May 6 were other newly minted alumni who finished their coursework in August or December, pushing the total number of participants to more than 500.

In his remarks, the decorated U.S. Navy officer shared insight gleaned during his own life journey, which has carried him from humble beginnings growing up on a farm in Rockmart, Ga., to his current role as director of DLA (Defense Logistics Agency) logistics operations with responsibilities around the globe. The Berry trustee – described as a “regular guy” by classmates – stressed the importance of perseverance, character and relationships, challenging the new alumni to “try to be just a little better” every day. He also emphasized the value of hard work, recalling his rise to student supervisor of the grounds crew for the House o’ Dreams.

“While I doubt many of you will have to lead an attack in Iraq or face the Taliban, you will have your own challenges – dealing with a demanding boss, trying to manage your peers or getting a new business off the ground,” he stated. “Berry College has prepared you to face any of these trials, and you will be successful.”

Click here for more coverage, including photos from the ceremony and statistical highlights of the 2017 class.

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Dr. Peter Lawler in his officeNational commentators joined Berry alumni, faculty and staff in mourning the loss of Dana Professor of Government Peter Augustine Lawler, who died unexpectedly May 23. The nationally renowned scholar had been a fixture on the Berry campus since the late 1970s, earning the love and admiration of countless alumni who flooded social media with tributes in the days following his death.

Peter Lawler“For 38 years, Peter has been a vital member of the Berry community and a legendary teacher, mentor and colleague,” said President Steve Briggs. “A keen observer of human culture and the human condition, Peter will long be remembered for his teasing and provocative approach to teaching and writing. His passing reminds us of the fragility of this life in which, as Peter taught us, we are destined ‘to both wander and wonder.’”

Dr. Tom Kennedy, dean of Berry’s Evans School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, added, “Few teachers have devoted so much time over so many years to their students. Peter could be counted on to entertain students even as he stretched them to engage and wrestle with the major texts of the Western tradition.

“Students had easy access to Peter – though not in his memorably messy office,” Kennedy continued. “He made time for them, drank many, many cups of coffee with them, listened to them, and formed them with their conversations. Countless students fell in love with political thought and the life of the mind through Peter’s teaching and mentorship.”

Click here to read more about Dr. Lawler’s many accomplishments. A brief sampling of the tributes published nationally following his death includes these articles from The Federalist, National Review, First Things and The American Conservative.

A campus event honoring Dr. Lawler’s life and legacy will be planned for fall. Those wishing to remember him with a gift to the Peter A. Lawler Endowed Scholarship may do so using Berry’s online giving portal. Remember to type the name of the scholarship in the “Other Designation” box when completing the online form.

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What does a nationally recognized forensic scientist, a servant-leader with a passion for integrity, an innovative business owner and a talented creative professional have in common? All are recipients of Berry’s 2017 Distinguished Alumni Awards. Click the names below to learn more about each of these impressive individuals. Hear their own words in the video at right.

Kelly Fite (68C), Distinguished Achievement

Cecil “Buster” Wright III (73C), Distinguished Service

Jim Johnson Jr. (85C), Entrepreneurial Spirit

Ashley Harp Sheppard (01C), Outstanding Young Alumni

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Awards. If you have a deserving classmate, let us know today!

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Isabella Kukor conducts research with Dr. Jay Daniel.

Isabella Kukor conducts research with Dr. Jay Daniel.

Hours before most people pour their first cup of coffee, freshman Isabella Kukor slips on her boots for the early-morning shift at Berry’s on-campus dairy. By the time she heads to class at 8 a.m., she has milked cows, fed newborn calves and performed many other duties in and around the facility. Next on her to-do list – after class, of course – is researching new techniques for preserving animal tissue with Professor Jay Daniel in Berry’s new animal science laboratory. Overwhelming? Kukor wouldn’t have it any other way.

The animal science major from Frederick, Md., has been working with large animals since she was 8 years old. By the time she was 15, she was showing prize-winning goats and dairy heifers at her local county fair. In high school, she was a member of the National FFA Organization (formerly Future Farmers of America), serving as a chapter officer. After graduation, she spent a year as state president for the organization before choosing to travel nine hours from home to attend Berry. The reason? Opportunities available through Berry’s highly regarded animal science program to work toward her dream career in agricultural business management.

“Berry provides real job experience and realistic expectations when it comes to a career in veterinary medicine or agricultural science,” Kukor explained. “Students are encouraged to work with the animals, taking care of their needs.”

Berry hopes to maximize the educational opportunities available to students like Kukor through the LifeReady Campaign. Click here to learn more about the vision for animal science, including a major new classroom and teaching-lab facility to be constructed adjacent to McAllister Hall.

By student writer Katherine Edmonds

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Dewey and Irene Large Science Museum GraophiThere’s a new must-see destination for alumni visiting Berry – particularly those with an interest in science – the Dewey and Irene Large Science Museum in McAllister Hall. Located on the first floor of Berry’s 130,000 square-foot science center, the museum features displays on loan from the Tellus Science Museum and items from the existing collections of faculty members and the chemistry and physics departments.

The name honors the memory of Dewey (44c) and Irene (47c) Large, an alumni couple captivated by the possibility of incorporating a museum into McAllister Hall’s original design. Funding was provided by the sale of a gift of land made by the couple before their deaths.

More coverage: New museum opens in McAllister Hall. photo gallery

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Sydney Weaver (17C)

Sydney Weaver (17C)

Genesis Leggett throws the shot put

Freshman Genesis Leggett throws the shot put for Berry during the SAA championships at Valhalla.

Sydney Weaver (17C) made history this spring as the first Berry student-athlete to compete in the NCAA Division III Women’s Golf Championships, finishing seventh overall. The first-team All-American has taken her last swing for Berry, but she’ll continue to serve the program as a graduate assistant.

Weaver’s success was one of many athletic highlights for Berry this spring. Others included a No. 5 national finish and All-America recognition for men’s golfer Ryan Elmore (17C); national equestrian crowns for sophomores Allie Robertson and Emily Lambert; Berry’s first All-American in men’s lacrosse; two conference championships for Southern Athletic Association Women’s Field Athlete of the Year Genesis Leggett; and numerous regional and national honors for Berry’s record-breaking softball team.

Berry facilities were also on display, with Valhalla hosting Georgia High School Association state championships and the SAA track and field championships, the newly-christened Kay Williams Field hosting an NCAA Division III softball regional, and the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College welcoming the NCAA Division I Atlantic Coast Conference championships.

Visit for complete coverage of Berry athletics.

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Kevin Bacon on the set of "The Following."

Kevin Bacon takes a break during shooting for the pilot of “The Following.”

Most alumni can rattle off Berry’s impressive list of film credits – ranging from major motion pictures such as Sweet Home Alabama and Remember the Titans to television’s The Following – but how many know that such productions support historic preservation efforts on campus?

A recent article by the Georgia Studio Alliance played a game of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” to illustrate how production fees from an on-campus shoot – in this case, the pilot for The Following –  supplemented gifts from friends and alumni such as the Daughters of Berry and the Daughters of the American Revolution to help fund the renovation of Roosevelt Cabin. Read article.

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Hundreds of alumni and friends made the pilgrimage home to Berry for Alumni Weekend and Work Week.

This year’s Alumni Weekend celebration featured reunions for the college, high school and academy classes of 1952, 1957, 1962 and 1967. Highlights included Golden Guard induction for 1967 alumni and special recognition for reunion classes achieving notable success in participation and giving. The class of 1967C earned two such distinctions, the Viking Cup and Martha Cup, for giving participation and greatest percentage increase in annual giving, respectively. The Class of 1962H claimed the Ford Cup for total gifts, while the class of 1967A won the Reunion Cup for percentage in attendance. Class reunion photos.

Individual recognition went to recent Berry retiree Rose Nix, the institution’s newest honorary alumna; former Alumni Association President Dr. Randy Green (37H, 41C), the 2017 recipient of the Virginia R. Webb Exceptional Service Award; and Al (61c) and Becky (61C) Christopher, winners of the Alumni Association’s President’s Award.

Once the reunion dinners wound down and the various awards had been presented, the focus turned to one of Berry’s most unique traditions, Alumni Work Week, which this year featured approximately 175 participants and 17 different work crews. More coverage.

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Viking Fusion HomepageViking Fusion continues to excel in regional and national competition, recently claiming the title of “Best Independent Online Student Publication” in the Society of Professional Journalists’ regional Mark of Excellence Awards. This was one of six distinctions claimed by Viking Fusion and the Campus Carrier newspaper in this year’s contest. Read more.

Viking Fusion also made its presence felt in the the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences regional Student Production Awards, earning three wins and nine honorable mentions. Read more.

Click the graphic at left to visit the Viking Fusion homepage and sample some of the award-winning content.

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Brad Bohannon (98C) is the new head baseball coach at the University of Alabama. The former Berry standout, who batted .335 in two seasons for the Vikings, has distinguished himself as an NCAA Division I assistant, most recently at Auburn University. In 2015, he was named National Assistant Coach of the Year by Baseball America and the American Baseball Coaches Association for his work at the University of Kentucky. More on Bohannon.Also in the news is Stephen Gaylor (14C), another Berry baseball alumnus who is now playing for the Class AAA Gwinnett Braves, just one step short of the major leagues. Gaylor, Berry’s all-time leader in stolen bases, is one of 32 former Vikings to compete professionally dating back to the 1960s. More on Gaylor.

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Berry Trivia PhotoWow! Last month’s trivia question – asking readers to identify the Berry alumnus now “getting his kicks” with the Atlanta United professional soccer team – produced one of the closest results in our history, with Alyssa Nobles (12C) beating Sarah Huffman (12C) by a scant two minutes in tweeting the correct response of Mark Bloom (10C).

The subject of this month’s question (pictured at left) will be honored in July as the 2017 recipient of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s E. Burr Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award, one of six Distinguished Service Awards presented by the international organization each year. Earn a shout-out in our next issue by being the first to tweet the name of this 1961 Berry high school alumnus who recently completed his 40th year as a college president. Be sure to include the hashtag #berrycollegetrivia.

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