Issues by Date: February 2014

Gift of Home

Bob (62H) and Kay Williams with Berry football coach Tony Kunczewski.

An on-campus stadium for Berry’s football, lacrosse, and track and field programs is one step closer to reality thanks to a $500,000 commitment from Bob (62H) and Kay Williams.

Gifts and pledges toward the facility – named Valhalla by lead donor Steve Cage (74C) – now exceed $3.9 million. Construction will begin when the fundraising goal of $6.5 million is achieved. Bob and Kay hope their gift will encourage other alumni to support the project as well.

“Let’s get behind it,” Bob challenged. “Let’s show the world that we can do with football what we’ve done with everything else.”

This is the latest in a series of generous gifts by the couple. Their recent commitments, which total $1 million with the addition of the Valhalla gift, include funding for Berry’s new baccalaureate nursing program, two Gate of Opportunity Scholarships and an additional need-based scholarship named for their late daughter, Ann.

Though initially critical of Berry’s decision to add football as an intercollegiate sport, Bob is proud that the field on which the team plays will bear his surname. He and Kay became champions of the program due in large part to the leadership they have witnessed from head football coach Tony Kunczewski. The coach, in turn, feels blessed to have the couple on his team.

“We are overwhelmed by the generosity of Bob and Kay,” Kunczewski stated. “They have been such ardent supporters of Berry athletics for years.”

Visit the Valhalla website to learn more about the project and make your own show of support.

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John Barge

Photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Education.

Dr. John Barge (88C), Georgia state school superintendent and a 2014 candidate for governor, has once again been named to Georgia Trend magazine’s list of the state’s 100 “most powerful and influential citizens.” This is the second consecutive year that Barge (pictured) has been so recognized. Three other members of Berry’s alumni community Joe Cook (88C), Sara Totonchi (99C) and Dr. Roger Tutterow (84C) were named “notable Georgians” in the same issue. More.

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Peter LawlerDana Professor of Government and International Studies Peter Lawler has been appointed to a two-year term on the Georgia State Advisory Committee for the United States Commission on Civil Rights. He is one of 14 members representing a variety of backgrounds, skills, experiences and perspectives who will focus their attention on immigration and other issues of importance to their fellow Georgians.

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Naing OoAs a graduating senior, Naing Oo (13C) was profiled by and featured in Berry magazine as one of seven former refugees who found success as Berry students. Today, he is putting his education to work and indulging his passion for global affairs through service in the Peace Corps. The international studies major and public relations minor is currently stationed in the western African nation of Burkina Faso, working in the community economic development sector.

A native of Burma and a charter recipient of the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship, Oo’s unique perspective and natural leadership abilities served him well as a Berry College presidential ambassador and resident assistant in Dana Hall. He credits Berry’s unique mission of educating the head, heart and hands for properly preparing him for his new international journey. His jobs at Berry helped refine his interpersonal communication skills.

“I am representing the United States to the locals in my village, just like I was representing Berry College as a presidential ambassador,” he said. “When the locals see me, they see all of America through and in me. I am so thankful for my experience at Berry for preparing me for this monumental milestone in my career.”

When Oo completes his Peace Corps training, he will be sent to a village called Gabou in the south Sahara. He plans to work with villagers by applying practical public relations and marketing strategies in hopes of increasing sales of the village’s cattle.

Story by Public Relations Student Supervisor Hayden Sloan.

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Collin McHugh

Collin McHugh addresses Berry baseball players and their families during a recent visit to campus. Photo by student Blake Childers.

In 2012, Collin McHugh (09c) experienced the dizzying heights of a Major League Baseball debut that was nearly flawless,striking out nine batters in seven scoreless innings as a starting pitcher for the New York Mets. A year later, the right-handed hurler found himself in the midst of a prolonged “lesson in understanding and managing expectations” as he bounced between two organizations and six affiliated teams in pursuit of a career in the majors. This spring brings a new organization – the Houston Astros – and a fresh perspective for the former Berry standout, who recently returned to campus to address current players and their families.

“We believe things happen for a reason,” Collin wrote in a blog post picked up by ESPN New York. “And some things won’t change just because we change cities: I expect to be a great husband; I expect to be a great teammate; I expect to treat everyone with respect; baseball will be baseball, but I expect to work my hardest in the hope of reaching my fullest potential as a ballplayer … wherever that may be.”

Keep up with Collin’s progress by reading his blog and following him on Twitter.

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Curt HerseyAssistant Professor of Communication Curt Hersey (93C) was one of 20 television and media instructors nationwide chosen for a November seminar hosted by the Television Academy Foundation. While in Hollywood, he had the opportunity to meet with high-level industry professionals, tour major on-site facilities, and get up close and personal with a coveted Emmy Award. Though he didn’t get to keep the trophy, Hersey is already putting the knowledge he gained and connections he made to work for his students.

“I’m working with the foundation to set up video conferences with industry professionals for classes,” he explained. “And they are also helping me make contacts for a research project I’m working on. Long term, I hope to eventually take a group of students for a Maymester experience in L.A. using the contacts I’ve made.” More.

Reporting by Public Relations Student Assistant Alyssa Smith

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MLK Day of Service

Berry students contribute their time and energy during the MLK Day of Service. Photo by student Blake Childers.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” Approximately 100 members of the Berry community answered that question Jan. 20 by taking part in the official launch for “100 for our 100th,” a yearlong service initiative leading up to the 2014 Mountain Day centennial. Throughout the year, students, faculty, staff and alumni are encouraged to perform acts of service tied to the number 100. It could be 100 hours of service to a particular cause, 100 cans of food for a homeless shelter or 100 toys for the needy. Participants in the MLK Day of Service got their 100 started by assisting a variety of community organizations including Habitat for Humanity, Rome Action Ministries, Angel Express and the Golden Living Center.

“It was thrilling to see Berry students, faculty and staff not only serve in memory of a great man, but also bring some energy to this exciting new venture,” said Sydney Hulebak, student director of Berry College Volunteer Services.

Keep an eye on the alumni relations website and future issues of the Alumni Accent for more details on how you can take part. More coverage.

Story by Philanthropic Communications Student Supervisor Casey Cox.

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Steve Bell and Jackie McDowell

Dr. Steven Bell accepts his Charter Fellows Award from Charter School Dean Jackie McDowell. Photo by student Mary Claire Stewart.

Alumni and colleagues in the Charter School of Education and Human Sciences recently honored Professor Emeritus of Psychology Steven Bell with the Charter Fellows Award for Outstanding Service to the Profession of Teaching. Bell has served Berry with distinction since 1976, proving himself to be a caring and compassionate educator who encourages students to think outside the box and consider diverse viewpoints (while also challenging them to navigate what one colleague lovingly referred to as his “abstract” syllabi).

In addition to his work in the classroom, Bell is also known for his writing and scholarship in the areas of learning styles and disabilities, environmental education, school and university partnerships, and positive parenting. Recently, he published a paper recounting his experiences working with children and families in a harsh and often hostile environment during his 2010 sabbatical in the West Bank. Community service includes work on behalf of the Martin Luther King Commission, Habitat for Humanity, the Governor’s Council for Developmental Disabilities and the Rodeph Sholom Synagogue. He retired from Berry in 2013 but continues to teach classes two days a week.

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Ryan Boyle

Berry student Ryan Boyle shows off his cycling prowess for CNN. Photo by student Blake Childers.

Ryan Boyle dreams of representing the United States as a cyclist at the 2016 Paralympic Games. Earlier this month, he took a big step toward achieving that goal by earning a spot on the U.S. national developmental team. The Berry sophomore is one of 17 riders chosen for the national developmental team and 36 overall who will represent Team USA during the coming year. This is the latest chapter in an amazing comeback story for Boyle, who was struck and nearly killed by a pickup truck at the age of 9. In the aftermath, he had to relearn how to breathe, swallow, talk, eat, stand, sit and walk. His inspirational journey has been chronicled by CNN and in Boyle’s own book, When The Lights Go Out: A Boy Given a Second Chance.


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The polar vortex brought the waterfall in Berry's Kilpatrick Commons to a breathtaking halt. Photo by student Lauren Neumann.

The Alumni Accent poll set a new record for participation in December, with more than 100 readers weighing in with responses to the following question:  Which movie or TV series featuring Berry locales would you most like to find under your Christmas tree?

Not surprisingly, the poll turned into a “two-horse race” between Remember the Titans and Sweet Home Alabama, with the Titans once again coming out on top after garnering 42% of all votes cast. Sweet Home Alabama was a close second at 36%, followed by Perfect Harmony (11%), The Following (7%) and Dutch (4%).

Next up is a question perfectly suited to a winter dominated by news of the polar vortex and North Georgia’s recent “Snow Jam,” which resulted in the first snow day for Berry students since 2011. Scroll to the bottom of this page and let us know which campus landmark you would most like to see blanketed in white.

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