Issues by Date: September 2017

Dean of Students Emeritus Tom Carver with his BCC 100 students.

Dean of Students Emeritus Tom Carver (standing rear left) with his “BCC 100” students. This group was among 595 newcomers (553 first-year students and 42 transfers) who started classes in August.

Dean of Students Emeritus Tom Carver will be the first to tell you that when his heart starts acting up, it’s usually something to worry about – but that’s not the case this time of year. “When I take a page off the calendar and see it’s August again, my old heart starts to palpitate,” the 79-year-old Carver said with a grin. “I rejoice that 600 new faces are coming to see me!”

Though he retired as vice president of student affairs and dean of students in 2004, Carver continues to provide a welcoming presence for Berry newcomers as an instructor for the BCC 100 First-Year Seminar, a program he helped initiate in 1980. Students in his group had no idea they were in the presence of a Berry “celebrity” when they gathered at his off-campus home the week before classes began to eat pizza and discuss this year’s summer reading selection, Will Allen’s The Good Food Revolution: Growing healthy food, people and communities.

Even after all this time, Carver continues to marvel at Berry’s “number one blessing … the quality of its students.”

This year’s nearly 600 newcomers certainly measure up in that regard. They are notable both for their geographic diversity – representing 26 states and 10 foreign countries – and impressive credentials. Among many honors and distinctions, the group includes 17 valedictorians and salutatorians, a published poet and at least one Eagle Scout. Almost immediately, these students began weaving themselves into the fabric of Berry through participation in First-Year Service Day.

You can bet Carver has high hopes for these new arrivals, and so do we!

More photos: Opening of School, First-Year Service Day, Will Allen lecture

By student writer Katherine Edmonds

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Elvin and Fleta Patterson SimsIn life, Elvin (35C) and Fleta Patterson (35C) Sims dedicated themselves to quietly shaping the character of their own children as well as the countless others they served as educators in rural Georgia. Now that legacy will extend to generations of Berry students thanks to a $2 million gift from their son John Edward Sims to fund the directorship of the Berry Center for Integrity in Leadership. Among many important responsibilities, the new director will work with faculty to infuse coursework related to personal integrity and leadership into every major and develop tools and training for students to practice ethical problem-solving. This individual also will oversee existing initiatives, including the Gordon and Joyce Carper mentoring program and the Cecil B. Wright III lecture series. Berry officials expect to fill the position in 2018.

“We are grateful for Ed Sims’ vision and desire to honor his parents in a way that recognizes their life-changing experience at Berry,” President Steve Briggs said. “Because of his generosity, generations of emerging leaders will be asked to think deeply about issues of conviction and character as part of their Berry experience.”

Read more: Retired marketing executive honors parents with $2 million BCIL gift

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Ford BuildingsMere weeks after being featured in The Best 382 Colleges, a new book by The Princeton Review, Berry is back in the spotlight as the headliner on Times Higher Education’s list of the Ten Most Beautiful Universities in the U.S. Besting the likes of Stanford, Cornell and Princeton, Berry was lauded for its “eye-catching Gothic-style architecture, rolling green spaces, and impressive natural backdrops which attract students and tourists alike.”

The folks at Southern Living were similarly impressed, placing Berry on their list of the South’s Most Beautiful Colleges.

By student writer Katherine Edmonds

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Say the words “Mountain Day” to any Berry alum, and you immediately call to mind such longstanding traditions as the Mountain Day Olympics, plates of barbecue (and ice cream cups!), the Grand March of Students, and, of course, that iconic penny basket. The memories are different, depending on your “vintage” – older alums recall the annual tackle football game between rival literary societies, while the youngest among us smile at the thought of Marthapalooza – but the annual celebration of Martha Berry’s birthday remains a touchstone for all.

With this year’s celebration – to be held on Martha’s actual birthday of Oct. 7! – now just two weeks away, it’s high time you made plans to be here. Registration is underway for many events, including reunion brunches for the academy classes of 1972, 1977 and 1982 and the college classes of 1972, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2002, 2007 and 2012. There’s also a milestone reunion reception at Oak Hill for the classes of 1977A, 1977C, 1992C and 2007C.

Peter Lawler

Dr. Peter Lawler

Other alumni highlights include the Mountain Day Golf Scramble benefiting the Berry Vikings Booster Club on Friday afternoon, Oct. 6, and a special induction ceremony and dinner for the new Berry High School and Academy Sports Hall of Fame to be held the following evening. Click the corresponding links to register.

A complete schedule is available here. Of particular note is the Friday evening reception and Saturday afternoon picnic for students and alumni of Berry’s government and international studies program. The picnic will feature a remembrance of legendary professor Dr. Peter Lawler, and you can bet many memories will be shared at the reception as well. Email Dr. Kirsten Rafferty Taylor at for more details.

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Jackie McDowellGraduates of the Charter School of Education and Human Sciences don’t have to be told about the dedication of dean and mentor Dr. Jackie McDowell – they’ve experienced it firsthand! Still, it’s gratifying to see the longtime Berry faculty member tapped by Gov. Nathan Deal for service on the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. This statewide group of 18 educators and administrators is responsible for regulating performance standards for Georgia’s public school teachers.

“For the past 20 years, I have worked with the faculty and students at Berry to assure that all 24 of our teacher-education programs and all of our future teachers and leaders meet the highest standards,” McDowell stated. “I’m so honored to now have the opportunity to represent all Georgia teachers and teacher-education programs.”

In addition to her status as one of two PSC commissioners representing higher education, McDowell serves as president of the Rome-Floyd County Commission on Children and Youth and is part of the executive committee for the Association of Independent Liberal Arts Colleges for Teacher Education.

 By student writer Katherine Edmonds

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Alumni Council in Pennies for Martha T-Shirts

CAPTION: Berry Alumni Association President Frances Richey (83A, 87C), kneeling, and other members of the Berry Alumni Council model their 2017 “Pennies for Martha” t-shirts.

As long as there has been a Mountain Day, Berry students have been dropping pennies into the basket at the foot of Lavender Mountain – first as a birthday gift to Martha Berry and more recently to support scholarships and student work. Last year, this longstanding tradition was extended to alumni and friends through the Pennies for Martha day-of-giving campaign, and more than 2,300 in-person and online gifts resulted.

With another Mountain Day just around the corner, we hope you’ll help us build on this new tradition by making a gift of any size between now and Oct. 7. Contribute online at for martha or, even better, in person at Mountain Day. Anyone making a gift of $10 or more will be entered in a raffle for a Pennies for Martha t-shirt.

Whether you make a gift or not, we hope you’ll keep an eye on the Pennies for Martha website for news of a rumored “super fan” who could be making an appearance in the days ahead. If the stories are true … well, you’ll have to see it to believe it.

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Dr. Martin Cipollini addresses former President Jimmy Carter at Carter Center chestnut tree dedication.

CAPTION: Dr. Martin Cipollini addresses former President Jimmy Carter and others at the Carter Center’s chestnut tree orchard dedication.

President Jimmy Carter at dedication.Dana Professor of Biology Martin Cipollini has cultivated quite the professional network in his quest to restore the American chestnut tree to its former glory. A year ago, we told you about his radio appearance with Rolling Stones keyboardist and environmental activist Chuck Leavell. Now he’s at it again, this time addressing an audience that included former President Jimmy Carter at the dedication of a new chestnut orchard on the grounds of the Carter Center in Atlanta. The longtime Berry professor was speaking in his role as scientific coordinator of the Georgia Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation.

A dominant species in American forests prior to a devastating blight in the early 20th century, the chestnuts are making a comeback thanks to the efforts of TACF, which has planted more than 500 orchards from Maine to Alabama. Cipollini and his students have coordinated the planting of more than 7,000 American-Chinese hybrids at approximately 200 sites in Georgia alone, including several orchards at Berry that produce seedlings for the disease-resistance breeding program.

“For more than a decade, Berry has been the center of the chestnut restoration project in Georgia,” Cipollini explained. “Students have been invaluable to our success. Their efforts have included helping with tree breeding, harvesting, planting, and orchard maintenance tasks at Berry and at numerous other sites throughout Georgia.”

By student writer Katherine Edmonds

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Berry Alumni in Cambodia as Medical Students

Left to right, Courtney Large Sanchez (13C), Alayna LeCroy (12C) and Will Smith (14C) in Cambodia.

It’s not our policy to share news from other colleges and universities, but we couldn’t help but notice the significant “Berry” presence among aspiring doctors who traveled to Cambodia this summer as part of the Mercer University School of Medicine’s “Mercer on Mission” program. Three Berry alumni – Will Smith (14C), Courtney Large Sanchez (13C) and Alayna LeCroy (12C) – joined seven fellow Mercer medical students on the journey to Southeast Asia, honing their medical skills while providing care to nearly 1,600 patients.

“In Cambodia, I was able to take a patient all the way from their problem through a plan,” Smith raved of the experience. “I’ve been dreaming of this career for most of my life, so getting to treat patients was incredible.”

Upon their return home, Smith was gracious enough to send along this photo of the Berry contingent, noting that it was “a pretty strong showing if you ask me!”

We most certainly agree!

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Green HallLast month, we challenged readers to name the Berry alumnus who claimed national honors in the 1,500-meter race at the 2017 USA Track and Field Masters Outdoor Championships. Berry Kindermusik Director Kathryn Dugger Nobles (82C) nabbed her own championship (of the trivia variety) by correctly responding David Matherne (87C).

For September, we decided to focus our attention on some of the most familiar words on the Berry campus. For a shout-out in our next issue, “do your best” to tweet the name of the person who uttered the quotation immortalized on the colonnade of Green Hall. (Hint: It’s probably not who you think.) Don’t forget to include the hashtag #berrycollegetrivia.

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