Tag Archives: Steve Briggs

Lance Simpson and Dnika Joseph at the Reunion Brunch

Lance Simpson (09C) and Dnika Joseph (09C) share a hug at the annual reunion brunch. Photo by student Matthew McConnell.

Berry was the place to be Oct. 4-6 as alumni, students, parents and friends joined faculty and staff for the 105th celebration of Mountain Day. Those who couldn’t make it back took part via social media, posting hundreds of photos using the #mtnday19 and #cupcakesformartha hashtags.

On-campus highlights included traditional favorites such as Friday’s Mountain Day Golf Scramble and Olympics and Saturday’s picnic, Grand March and Marthapalooza carnival. There were also games featuring the men’s and women’s soccer teams and sold-out performances of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, presented by the Berry College Theatre Co.

Hundreds of alumni turned out for reunion events at the WinShape Hub and Oak Hill’s Christopher Browning Pavilion, and a crowd of more than 400 students and family members attended the Class of 2020 Breakfast hosted by senior class officers and the Berry alumni office.

Mariel Trosa celebrates Mountain Day in China

Mariel Trosa (15C) celebrates Mountain Day in China.

On campus and online, alumni and friends once again raised “Cupcakes for Martha” in honor of Martha Berry’s birthday (search #cupcakesformartha on Instagram and Facebook to see photos). Student entrepreneur Jorie Hodapp supplied hundreds of sweet treats for distribution in Krannert Center and also took the time to provide a quick baking lesson for President Steve Briggs, which you can watch here.

The ever-popular Mountain Day t-shirt soared – literally – as alumni from as far away as California, Colorado, Texas, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Ohio took advantage of a new option to purchase shirts online and have them shipped to their homes. Many of those alums then joined us in spirit by posting selfies in their shirts with the hashtag #mtnday19.

Thanks again to everyone who joined us this year, both on the mountain and digitally! We’re especially grateful to our Mountain Day sponsor, Plainville Brick Company, and other community partners for their role in helping to make the event a success.

If you missed the fun this year, don’t worry! We have several more alumni events scheduled this fall. Watch our Facebook page and your email inbox for updates!

Related: Reunion Photos

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In the summer issue of Berry magazine, President Steve Briggs highlighted efforts to tell Berry’s story authentically and creatively through production of a new “anthem” video conveying the spirit of what makes the college special. Recently, that video debuted to rave reviews on social media, with alumni of all ages singing its praises. The title of the video, Carry on the Work, is drawn from one of Martha Berry’s final letters. Check it out above.

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Ford Auditorium Renovation

Current view of Ford Auditorium stage, with seats removed and scaffolding installed to provide access to the ceiling.

As a student, Betty Anne Rouse Bell (52H, 56C) performed in Ford Auditorium – and scrubbed its stage. In May, the alumna who counts the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan among the many she has entertained with her voice returned to the source of so many great memories, this time with mini-sledgehammer in hand, to celebrate the beginning of a $6.3 million renovation and restoration of the beloved Berry icon.

Bell – whose name will grace the interior recital hall thanks to a generous surprise gift from her husband, Robert – joined many other alumni and friends at the event, which featured performances by student vocalist Carrie Sturniolo, trumpeter Leif Atchley (19C) and the Ross Magoulas-led Alumni Choir.

President Steve Briggs commended the more than 400 donors who have contributed to the LifeReady Campaign project thus far, noting that they “have banded together, each playing a part like the members of an orchestra, to accomplish something beautiful that transcends their separate contributions.”

Fittingly, some of the most significant gifts have honored alumnae like Bell whose lives found expression through their experiences as students in Ford Auditorium and the surrounding Ford Buildings. They include Dr. Ouida Word Dickey (50C, FFS), whose 90th birthday challenge spurred significant support for the renovation last summer; and Margaret Weaver Faison (36C), whose family has named the entrance hall in her memory.

Dickey took her turn with a sledgehammer, as did Audrey Morgan, an honorary alumna and Berry Board of Visitors member whose late sister, M. Bobbie Bailey, will be remembered with the naming of the Ford stage.

Following a plan developed by Kirkegaard Associates of Chicago, one of the nation’s foremost acoustics consulting firms, workers are even now breathing new life into the facility. Highlights of the renovation include installation of an all-wood ceiling, wood-carved acoustical paneling, adjustable acoustical banners, and sound reflectors; a 1,086 square-foot accessible stage with curved front; a new arched seating configuration with room for 366; a redesigned balcony with improved sight lines; and restoration of historic elements, among other enhancements, including updates to adjacent music department spaces.

There’s still time to lend your voice to the chorus of donors ensuring that Berry students have a performance venue worthy of their talents. Click here to make your gift supporting the Ford Auditorium renovation today.

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Haley Brown Celebrates in the PoolAngel Mason

MAKING A SPLASH: Angel Mason, at right, takes over a Berry athletic program that has had much to celebrate in recent years. Highlights in 2018-19 include a return trip to the NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving National Championships for senior Haley Brown (seen above in this photo by student Leigh Hadaway).

A former college athlete with 14 years of experience as a coach, administrator and NCAA Division III advocate has been chosen to lead Berry’s high-performing athletic department. Angel Mason will officially begin her service as director of athletics June 1, concluding a successful national search.

“Building on her experience as a player and coach, Angel has established a strong national reputation through administrative positions at top colleges across the country and in her leadership work with the NCAA,” President Steve Briggs said. “She is well-poised to help our program flourish.”

Mason currently serves as senior associate athletic director and senior woman administrator at Pomona-Pitzer in California. At Berry, she will provide leadership for a program that has enjoyed tremendous success in the Southern Athletic Association and NCAA Division III. In 2017-18, Viking athletes won eight SAA team titles and qualified for nationals in 10 different sports. This academic year has produced additional SAA team championships in volleyball and football, six individual SAA crowns in swimming, seven conference wins in track and field, and national qualifiers in five sports (with more possible).

“I am excited to join a team of professionals that are focused on serving students first,” Mason said. “There is a bright future ahead for Vikings athletics, and I am honored to have the opportunity to grow with the athletic and greater campus community.”

Click here to learn more about Berry’s new director of athletics.

By student writer Kendall Aronson

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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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Debbie Heida PortraitMerriam-Webster defines “pillar” as “a supporting, integral or upstanding member or part,” as in “a pillar of society.” Such words aptly describe Debbie Heida, who this fall was named a “Pillar of the Profession” by the National Association of Student Affairs Administrators in recognition of her work on behalf of students and higher education.

Heida has been a member of Berry’s leadership team for 14 years, beginning with her appointment as dean of students and vice president of student affairs in 2004. This year, she left that role to serve as chief of staff to President Steve Briggs.

“In her 14 years at Berry, Debbie has managed a weighty portfolio of responsibilities and still, to her credit, she is always among the first to run toward a new problem or reach out to offer help when a colleague has a need,” Briggs said. “She is creative and resourceful and therefore one of the people I turn to first for a fresh perspective. She was instrumental in leading the planning effort when Berry joined Division III of the NCAA, and she worked determinedly for several years to bring the Georgia Governor’s Honors Program to Berry and ensure a successful transition.”

Assisting in the nomination process was former SGA President Paton Roden (15C), now second-year experience coordinator at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“I found my passion at Berry through my student involvement and leadership positions on campus and followed this into my current career in higher education,” Roden said. “I did all of this with the help of Debbie Heida. She is very deserving of this award based on her commitment and involvement.”

Photo by student Matthew McConnell

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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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Spires Balcony

Above: The view of Lavender Mountain and Eagle Lake as envisioned from a balcony at The Spires. The new continuing care retirement community will be located on leased Berry property not far from the main campus.

Spires Lobby

Rendering of The Spires’ lobby.

The first shovel of dirt has yet to be turned for The Spires at Berry College, but excitement is rising among those who plan to make their home in the new continuing care retirement community to be built on the shores of Eagle Lake in view of Lavender Mountain.

To date, deposits have been made on 91 of the planned 174 residences, which will include free-standing cottages as well as apartment-style homes. A number of those making deposits are Berry alumni or have other connections to the institution.

The community will be located on leased Berry property and operate as a financially independent, self-sustaining nonprofit. It will offer a full slate of housekeeping, maintenance and leisure services, as well as a comprehensive on-site wellness center, all in close proximity to the Berry campus and Rome’s medical centers. It also will provide significant work and learning opportunities for Berry students, with as many as 50 to 100 work positions expected to be created. Construction will begin once deposits have been made on 70 percent of all residences. Completion is expected in 2020.

Visit retireatberry.com for project plans and videos featuring some of the people who will call The Spires home. Click here to read President Steve Briggs’ 2015 Berry magazine essay detailing the vision for this and other strategic partnerships.

 

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Cynthia CourtPresident Steve Briggs recently announced the appointment of Cynthia Court as Berry’s new vice president of advancement. She will assume the role on a full-time basis Jan. 1, following the retirement of Bettyann O’Neill. Until that time, the two will work together on an interim basis to ensure a seamless transition in the areas of alumni relations, development and philanthropic communications.

Court’s impressive resume includes experience as chief marketing and development officer for Special Olympics International in Washington, D.C., executive vice president of development and marketing for Boys & Girls Clubs of America in Atlanta, and group vice president for personal giving for the Arthritis Foundation in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. She most recently served as managing director of the nonprofit practice of the executive search firm Harvard Group International. Read more.

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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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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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Bettyann O'NeillA 23-year career highlighted by the two most successful fundraising campaigns in Berry history will come to a close Dec. 31 when Bettyann O’Neill retires from her longtime position as vice president for advancement. O’Neill, who plans to marry and relocate to Florida, has led Berry’s fundraising and alumni engagement efforts since 1999, during which time alumni and friends have committed more than $235 million to advance Martha Berry’s vision and mission, including more than $65 million for student scholarships. Her work has helped lead to such notable campus additions as the McAllister Hall science center, Cage Center, new theatre, Valhalla stadium and Kilpatrick Commons.

“In the days and weeks ahead, we will determine how we will move forward to fill the void her departure will create,” President Steve Briggs said. “Her efforts to support the college’s most critical strategic initiatives have left an indelible mark on Berry’s firsthand educational experiences and have transformed the face of the campus physically.”

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