Tag Archives: Mentoring

Dr. Peter Lawler holds court in his famously messy office.

COLLECTIVE MEMORY: Decades of Berry alumni can close their eyes and call to mind this image of the late Dr. Peter Lawler holding court in his famously messy office. Last fall, that space was named in his memory, and this spring, Dr. David Ramsey (01C) delivered the first Peter Augustine Lawler Lecture in Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.

Rita Lawler and Dr. David Ramsey

Dr. David Ramsey, right, visits with Rita Lawler, widow of his longtime mentor.

It’s been two years since Dr. Peter Lawler’s unexpected death shocked the Berry community, but his influence continues to burn brightly in the lives of alumni and friends who were inspired by him.

Last fall, Lawler’s former office in Evans Hall was named in his memory – the result of an outpouring of gifts to the scholarship bearing his name – and this spring a former student and mentee, Dr. David Ramsey (01C), delivered the first Peter Augustine Lawler Lecture in Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.

Ramsey, who has followed in Lawler’s footsteps as a professor of constitutional law and political philosophy at the University of West Florida, said the beloved professor is second only to his parents in influencing his life.

“My vocation is an imitation of his,” he said. “Peter Lawler touched my life at Berry in the most amazing ways. He gave freely of himself to his students and taught me that’s what teaching is about.”

Lawler, who taught at Berry for 38 years, was a nationally renowned political scholar and a prolific author and editor of more than 15 books. Appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on the President’s Council on Bioethics, Lawler was a recipient of the Richard M. Weaver Prize for Scholarly Excellence and was honored as the George Washington Distinguished Professor of the American Founding by The Society of the Cincinnati, among other distinctions.

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Julie Bumpus and Alexi Bell

PEOPLE WHO MAKE A DIFFERENCE: Above, student Alexi Bell interviews Associate Dean of Students Emeritus Julie Bumpus during this year’s Scholarship Night program. Below, senior Danielle Bowling, left, poses with her mentor, Director of Student Activities Cecily Crow (94C), during Always Berry Week. Photos by students Matthew McConnell and Bailey Albertson.

Always Berry Week

What does it mean to be “Always Berry?”

That question inspired a series of videos produced this spring in which alumni of all ages (and President Briggs!) have reflected on the things that make Berry special. Hopefully, you’ve seen and enjoyed these videos in your inbox or on social media. If not, click here to see what we’re talking about.

Earlier this month, students joined the conversation as part of a week-long campus celebration known as “Always Berry Week.” The alumni engagement office hosted the event in partnership with Athletes Bettering the Community, the Student Government Association, Krannert Center Activities Board, Berry resident assistants and the Student Philanthropy team. Together, they provided students with the opportunity to honor their Berry mentors while simultaneously supporting the Save a Student Scholarship. More than 400 students, faculty and staff took part, filling a display in Krannert Center with Polaroid selfies honoring the people at Berry who have made a difference in their lives.

The week concluded with Berry’s annual Scholarship Night celebration pairing donors with their scholarship recipients in the Cage Center. More than 100 student volunteers welcomed participants by lining the drive as candleholders, honoring a tradition that dates back to the “Berry Pilgrims” of Martha Berry’s day. Students Mahmood Abdellatif and Alexi Bell acted as hosts for the program, which was planned by students and featured remarks by a number of donors and scholarship recipients in attendance.

Always Berry Week is over now, but there is more fun yet to come. Click here to learn more about what it means to be “Always Berry,” and keep an eye out later this week for a new video featuring an unforgettable rendition of Berry’s Alma Mater that you don’t want to miss.

By Jennifer Wright

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Vikings Sports Alliance Group PhotoMAKING CONNECTIONS: Alumnae and students participating in the recent Viking Sports Alliance mentoring program pause for a group photo.

“Know how to lead, even if you don’t wear the captain’s band on your arm.”

So advised Hannah Parker (18C), a former Berry soccer player now pursuing a master’s degree at Wake Forest University, during the recent Viking Sports Alliance mentoring program. Parker was one of approximately 40 alumnae and students – all current or former athletes – in attendance at the one-day event organized by Ginger Swann (93C), assistant athletic director for sports medicine and senior woman administrator for Berry athletics. Student media coverage.

Communication major Bruno Rose networks with Pam Kinzer Rogers (89C) at a recent Viking Connections event.

Communication major Bruno Rosa networks with Pam Kinzer Rogers (89C) during a recent Viking Connections-Employers event.

For Berry students, hearing from those who have “been there and done that” is key to their success – and alumni are quick to lend their expertise and support. This culture of mentorship – a key component of the new Berry Compact – is evident all across campus, from the advice and support provided by Roy Miller (58C) as an entrepreneur-in-residence to the many alumni who volunteer to conduct mock interviews with graduating seniors (eight this semester alone!). You can also see it in the eagerness of the more than 30 recent graduates who signed up for this spring’s Young Alumni Partner Program, an annual event pairing our newest alumni with seniors preparing to make the jump to post-college life.

On one recent evening, 37 students interested in the humanities and nonprofits traveled to Atlanta for a Viking Connections-Employers event involving 35 different employer representatives, 22 of them alumni. The night kicked off with speed networking, where students had one minute to answer questions like, “What’s your elevator pitch?” or “What’s your greatest accomplishment?” The icebreaker was followed by 1.5 hours of one-on-one interaction between students and alumni/employers/guests.

Berry hosts several Viking Connections-Employers events per year, each focusing on different schools and majors. Students are encouraged to expand their network of contacts and gain industry knowledge. The connections they make have led to internships and job offers.

Interested in lending your voice and experience to such efforts? Email Mark Kozera (79C) in employer development for information on Viking Connections-Employers, and be sure to follow Berry Alumni on Facebook for news of other opportunities!

By Jennifer Wright

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"Rumors" Set

SPACE TO PERFORM: Students actors make themselves at home on the set designed by Carl Tallent (01C) for BCTC’s fall production of Neil Simon’s “Rumors.” Photo by student Lindsey Campbell.

Carl Tallent Working on the Set of "Rumors."

Carl Tallent working on the set of “Rumors.” Photo by student Jacob Bushey.

It’s been more than 17 years since Carl Tallent (01C) graduated from Berry, but when he returned to campus in September to assist with set design for the Berry College Theatre Company’s production of Neil Simon’s Rumors, it felt like no time had passed at all.

Tallent, who has put his Berry-honed skills to good use working on props for Broadway productions such as Rock of Ages and Cirque du Soleil, did note one impressive change – new facilities for the dramatic arts in the form of Sisters Theatre and an updated Blackstone Hall, both funded by the generous gifts of alumni and friends.

“It seems like the resources have really grown,” he said. “There’s a new costume shop and a new theatre. It is a really exciting time.”

In addition to his Broadway production work, Tallent has also showcased his talents designing shows for community theatres and high schools and creating window displays on New York City’s Fifth Avenue. When Associate Professor of Theatre Alice Bristow contacted him about the possibility of sharing his experience with current students, he was happy to oblige.

Students Building "Rumors" Set

Students gain valuable experience building the set for “Rumors.” Photo by student Lindsey Campbell.

“I really love working with students,” he said. “These people are just starting to do work outside of Berry, so it’s exciting to advise them and help them get jobs.”

When Tallent first arrived at Berry as a student, he wanted to be an actor. His work in the scene shop opened up new possibilities.

“I was always artistic and crafty, but I never thought of set design as a career,” he said.

His professor thought he had skill, both in set painting and set design, and encouraged him to explore those options.

“If I had been at a larger school I might not have explored doing set design, but it wound up being what I was passionate about,” Tallent said. “It was great that at Berry we were able to experience all different aspects of theatre, so I discovered that set design was what I wanted to do.”

Click here for more on Tallent’s visit.

By student writer Kendall Aronson

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James Blount and Barry Griswell (71C)

WHAT A VIEW: Berry student James Blount welcomes Board of Trustees Chair Barry Griswell (71C) to the podium during the groundbreaking ceremony for The Spires at Berry College. Eagle Lake can be seen in the background, with Lavender Mountain in the distance.

Spires RenderingA soaring bald eagle provided the perfect backdrop as student James Blount offered opening remarks at the official groundbreaking for The Spires at Berry College, a continuing care retirement community to be located on approximately 50 acres of leased Berry property off the North Rome Connector.

Blount, an intern with the project, joined college and local officials in welcoming future residents – some of them Berry alumni – in attendance. He lauded the strength of the community they are already forming and compared their experiences to his own.

“Involvement characterizes the life of a Berry student,” Blount explained. “It is one of the cornerstones of having a beneficial and loving relationship with this school. And I can see in this community that there is already so much involvement.

“You are so special because you have bought in,” he added, addressing the future residents in the crowd. “You’re the first, and you realize just how truly magical this place is.”

When completed in 2020, that “place” will be a community of 170 cottage and apartment-style homes located on the shores of Eagle Lake, a former quarry. Deposits have now been paid on more than 70 percent of those residences, allowing construction to begin.

President Steve Briggs first shared the vision for the project – a long sought dream of Berry alumni – in this 2015 Berry magazine essay. For residents, benefits will include first-class amenities as well as proximity to the Berry campus and Rome’s thriving medical community. For Berry students, the facility represents opportunity in the form of intergenerational mentoring relationships and significant student work experience. Read more.

While located on Berry property, The Spires will operate as financially independent, self-sustaining nonprofit with its own board of directors. Visit retireatberry.com for project details.

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UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE: Check out the student-produced video above for an example of Berry innovation in action, courtesy of applied physics and creative technologies double-major Janosch Spohner.

Class Meets Outside Evans Hall

Assistant Professor Dr. Jonathan Parker leads a class outside Evans Hall.

College presidents, provosts and admissions deans from across the South are singing Berry’s praises for its strong commitment to undergraduate teaching and penchant for innovation.

Their feedback, as reported in U.S. News and World Report’s annual “best colleges” edition, landed Berry at No. 3 in the undergraduate teaching category among regional universities in the South. The college also ranked 11th among “Most Innovative Schools,” to go along with a “best-value” designation by publication editors.

“At Berry, you won’t just be another face among a sea of students,” said Provost Mary Boyd. “Berry’s culture of mentoring gives you one-on-one time with your professors who can become not only mentors, but friends in your journey to fulfilling your dreams.”

Click here for more on this recent recognition.

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Several hundred first-year and transfer students filled the Cage Center arena in early September to hear from the author whose words were a substantial part of their introduction to Berry College.

Dave Isay, four-time Peabody Award recipient and founder of StoryCorps, wrote Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work, the first-year reading assignment for Berry’s newest students. His book recounts conversations about work and vocation collected through StoryCorps, the mission of which is “to record, preserve and share stories of Americans from all backgrounds and beliefs.”  To date, more than 75,000 oral histories by ordinary Americans have been recorded and preserved at the Library of Congress.

During his Berry presentation, Isay shared audio recordings from the people behind the stories and talked about upcoming goals for StoryCorps. Afterward, he encouraged students to explore opportunities and continue doing what they love.

“The lecture was amazing,” First-Year mentor Hannah Norman said. “He shared heart-felt stories that were very inspiring and also hilarious ones that made us laugh.”

Click the video above to view Isay’s presentation.

Reporting by student writer Alisa Jordan

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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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Gordon CarperThe late Dr. Gordon Carper spent the better part of his life guiding Berry students, so it’s only fitting that the new mentoring program within the college’s budding Integrity in Leadership Center bear his name.

“Nothing gave Dr. Carper more pleasure than to see his students do well,” said Dr. Keith Parsons (74C), professor of philosophy at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, capturing the essence of a man who positively influenced the lives of countless students during his 38 years teaching history and political science at Berry.

The Gordon and Joyce Carper Integrity in Leadership Mentoring Program honors that legacy by providing opportunities for students to gather regularly in small groups with community mentors for in-depth discussion, case studies and other activities. In 2014-15, a total of 60 students met with 15 mentors; the eventual goal of the program – just completing its second year – is to increase those numbers to 200 and 40, respectively, with students from all Berry majors participating. More than 70 students already have been accepted for 2015-16.

“Leadership is one of the most overused words in our culture today, yet most of the living examples we see in the media represent leadership that is bad, unethical, self-serving, and at best, ineffective,” said mentor and Berry trustee Cecil “Buster” Wright (73C). “The mentor program was created to expose Berry students to intellectual and experiential learning about what ethical leadership really is.”

Wright, a retired regional president for Wells Fargo Advisors, has been a force behind the Integrity in Leadership Center, believing strongly in the college’s unique ability to foster both qualities in young people. He also has played a significant role in the development of the mentoring program, recruiting the community leaders who serve as mentors and helping to shape its curriculum and procedures.

Look for more in the summer issue of Berry magazine. Gifts to the program in memory of Dr. Carper can be made at www.berry.edu/gift.

Media coverage: Mentoring program connects students, community leaders

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