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[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="469"] Junod[/caption]
On March 26, Tom Junod and Charles McNair made their appearance on Mercer University’s Macon campus to talk about writing, share their struggles and success stories and to introduce a technique of blending fact and fiction in writing.
Hosted by the Center for Collaborative Journalism, the event was open to all Mercer students and the Macon community.
Junod, a writer for Esquire Magazine and winner of several awards, has written journalism pieces that involve aspects of fiction in order to, according to Junod, enhance the truth about the characters presented. While Junod advocates the incorporation of fiction into pieces that were previously regarded as a strict nonfiction outlet, he does not stray away from the truth. He said, “Because the power of stories is so great, you have to get it right because the damage can be so great.”
As a fiction writer, McNair has published two books and is currently working on a third. He additionally serves as Books Editor for Paste magazine. McNair also believes in multiple uses of fiction and said, “We use fiction to explain things that can’t be explained.”
The title of the event, “The Truth is in the Telling,” was reflected in the views, anecdotes, and concepts presented by both Junod and McNair. McNair stated the main concept of the event: “If you want the truth, read fiction.”
Tim Regan-Porter, the first director of Mercer’s Center for Collaborative Journalism, directed and coordinated the speakers’ appearances. He said, [inlinetweet prefix="From @mercercluster:" tweeter="@mercercluster" suffix=""]“I really wanted to bring some of the best writers around to share their wisdom and just be inspiration for students and writers in the city.”[/inlinetweet]
In order to advertise to such a large audience from both the Mercer and Macon community, the event was directed by the CCJ’s Regan-Porter. As a founder of Paste Media Group, Regan-Porter said, “I’ve known Charles for about 10 years now as a great guy and a great writer,” as McNair is the books editor for Paste Magazine.
“Tom is an icon to writers everywhere,” said Regan-Porter. He continued and said that as an Atlanta native, he is especially important in Atlanta and the state of Georgia. After separate contacting and planning, “they decided to do something together,” said Regan-Porter.
The reason behind inviting writers Junod and McNair, said Regan-Porter, was that CCJ students, other Mercer students, and the Macon community has an opportunity, “to hear good writers, their tips and their struggles [which] is always enlightening and entertaining.” He continued and said, “I really just wanted to bring some of the best writers around to campus to share their wisdom and be an inspiration to students and to writers in the city.”
“I hope it is valuable to the community in general, both at Mercer and in Macon,” said Regan-Porter at the conclusion of the event. He continued and said, “It’s good affirmation that it’s hard to write, anybody who writes probably struggles with the same issues.”
The discovery of truth, subjective and objective writing, and even a satirical song mark the writers’ presence on Mercer’s campus. While closing, Junod said, “Some of our greatest stories are fictional stories. The shelf life of fiction lasts a lot longer than nonfiction because, somehow, made up stories get to the truths that stories of fact cannot.”
Kicking off Friday, March 21, Macon’s 32nd Annual Cherry Blossom Festival offered a wide variety of activities that featured some of Macon’s classic landmarks and once-in-a-lifetime experiences and sights.
Held throughout the entire Cherry Blossom Festival, March 21 through March 30, was Ocmulgee National Monument’s Lantern Light Tours. With a choice for a guided or self-guided trip through the expanse of the historic Indian mounds, visitors had an opportunity to gaze at the city of Macon all lit up and aglow at night. The tour totals a one-mile candlelit walk along a designated lantern lighted trail. Even Cherry Blossom Festival dignitaries visited the mounds for the tour one weekend evening.
Jim David, the superintendent of Ocmulgee National Monument, said that the lantern tour hosted by the park is among some of the longest associated Cherry Blossom Festival events. “The second or third year [of the Cherry Blossom Festival], the park started doing the lantern light tours but with lit torches,” said David. With fire hazards and increased danger, the park moved to candle lanterns.
Not only is it a special experience to walk the park with lanterns, but also at night.
“The night sky view is quite nice looking into downtown,” David said.
As the business manager at Ocmulgee National Monument Association, Lisa Lemon was one of the main coordinators of the event.
“We have tours all year long, but we do this specifically for Cherry Blossom to get people who haven’t been out here who are local, or those who are coming from out of town, to experience Ocmulgee at night,” she said.
When describing the experience of the tour, she calls it spiritual. “It’s quiet, and you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere,” while still being so close to downtown Macon, Lemon said.
Along with the Ocmulgee tours, artist Greg Glenn’s sand sculptures were shown free to the public throughout the festival. Using over 25 tons of sand, Glenn created the pieces from March 21 through March 23 with visitors watching him as he worked. For the rest of the festival, attendees gawked and took photographs of his massive sand creations.
The Blue Ridge Helicopter rides allowed for a view of the whole city. At only $35 per person, the aerial tour of Macon featured such local landmarks as the Ocmulgee Indian Mounds, downtown and more. These rides ran throughout the duration of the festival, allowing riders to watch the Cherry Blossom activities from the sky.
Camels travelled to Macon for the duration of the festival to give rides for only $7. Every day at 11 a.m., the camels were available to give rides to all visitors, even children. These camels were provided by Carolina Camel Rides and sponsored by Jackson Automotive.wAdditionally, a petting zoo in Central City Park continued throughout the festival. With free admission, the petting zoo was open from 11 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. daily, and visitors were able to see all kinds of animals, including llamas, goats, and donkeys.
From 6 to 7 p.m. at Riverside Cemetery and Conservancy, visitors could take a Spring Spirit Stroll in the dusk of night. For only $10 per person, actors in costume assumed the roles of many famous veterans, educators, religious leaders and well-known members of Macon families. The purpose was to educate visitors or local residents of the stories, lives, and accomplishments of some of the individuals buried there. The Spring Spirit Stroll is a close kin to the Conservancy’s Spirits in October, albeit the latter hosts a spookier atmosphere.
Some of the other sights included the Cherry Blossom Bed Race. Judging was divided into four different categories: Most Original Bed Design, Funniest Bed, Judges Choice award and Fastest Bed. As a classic part of the Cherry Blossom Festival, it is always a sight to see beds speeding down Cherry Street.
While all these events have already occurred, the Magnolia Street Soapbox Derby will continue past the closing of the festival. Still associated with the Cherry Blossom Festival’s events, the derby will be held April 12 at 12 p.m. Teams will compete in all kinds of crazy custom race cars, usually hand-made, and there will be live music, food trucks, and other exciting activities. This event is free to the public and will start at Washington Park on Magnolia Street.
Among all of the amazing events that Macon’s most famous festival features, these events include some of the most unbelievable sights. For more information about Cherry Blossom Festival and its events, visit Macon’s official Cherry Blossom Festival homepage at www.cherryblossom.com.
As a professor of foreign languages and literatures, and the director of the Great Books Program, Dr. Achim Kopp has served Mercer University for more than 16 years.
The Mercer professor, a native of Germany, said, “I got all my schooling there: High school, followed by a graduate degree and Ph.D. at Heidelberg University.”
Kopp said that after he improved his English, the Heidelberg University sent him as an undergraduate student abroad to England, where he spent a year teaching German.
He later returned to Heidelberg to complete his undergraduate degree with a double major in Latin and English.
At the time of his England exchange, Kopp had already decided to go abroad again.
“I applied for an exchange to come to this country, and they sent me to Bucknell University in Pennsylvania for a year,” said Kopp.
For the duration of this graduate exchange, Kopp continued to instruct German as a teaching assistant.
Kopp’s exchange in America led him to his interest in the Pennsylvania Germans, who lived near Bucknell.
“I was interested in English linguistics and these people spoke a German dialect similar to my hometown dialect, which was fascinating to me,” said Kopp.
Having started some research on the way the Pennsylvania Germans speak English, Kopp returned to Germany, where he attained his Master’s Degree.
“My professor asked me if I was interested in turning my research into a Ph.D. dissertation,” said Kopp, who quickly enrolled in Heidelberg’s doctorate program and returned to America in 1989 to complete his research.
“I had to come back to Pennsylvania to conduct large amounts of fieldwork among the Amish, Mennonites and other Pennsylvania Germans.”
After receiving his doctorate, Kopp returned to the United States in 1994 to teach at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania.
He was hired by Mercer in 1997 as a professor of Latin.
Although formerly hoping to be a high school teacher of Latin and English in Germany, here at Mercer, Kopp is “really into classics.”
While his research focus is still on Pennsylvania German and German-American studies, he said that he is planning to develop a research line in classical literature in the near future.
Along with duties on Mercer’s Macon campus, Kopp also leads his students on study abroad programs conducted both during spring break and the summer semester.p
After last spring break’s trip to Turkey, Kopp decided to take his students to Rome and Pompeii, Italy, this past March.
“I connected [the trip] with my large classical literature course, and some students from that class participated,” said Kopp.
In addition to the classical literature students, some of Kopp’s Latin students also took this opportunity to be exposed to ancient culture.
Kopp enjoys teaching at Mercer, most of all because of his students: “I love the students. We have very bright students here.”
Kopp’s time and service to Mercer translates in his work and attitude. “It’s just a very pleasant place to work and was exactly what I was looking for when I came to this country.”
Following Ash Wednesday, which occurred on March 5 this year, the season and practices of Lent, implemented by various Christian denominations, began.
According to Dr. Craig McMahan, dean of chapel at Mercer University, in the earliest Christian traditions, new converts were baptized on Easter, therefore, “there was a need for a period of preparation to help them understand what they were getting into.” Lent acted as a 40-day period of preparation before Easter that was used for new converts to be taught about their faith, to come to learn about how their faith affected their lives and how they needed to reshape their lives around this new faith in Jesus. The purpose of Lent for the earliest Christians was used for new converts and already existing Christians as a period of confession, reflection and self-examination.
“The 40-day period came from the 40 days that Jesus was tempted in the wilderness where his own sense of ministry and vocation is shaped,” said McMahan.
McMahan explained that the purpose of confession, especially that which happens during the period of Lent, “is not to be self-loathing or self-hatred but a recognition that we are already loved and an honest approach to [addressing] our aspects that need growth.” The whole idea of confession in the Christian faith is not one designed of self-loathing but recognition of areas for growth. “If your view of God is one of a judge, then the meaning of confession for you is pleading guilty to being a criminal. If your image of God is one that Jesus tried to implement, as a parent, your understanding of confession is one of standing before one who loves you more than you love yourself.”
Traditionally, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, lasting for a 40-day period, excluding Sundays, until Holy Saturday, which falls on April 19 this year. While some Western denominations still uphold this time frame for Lent, Roman Catholics begin Lent on Ash Wednesday and end when Mass starts on Maundy Thursday, which is April 17 this year.
At the end of Ash Wednesday services, the priest or minister (or in some cases officiating layperson) take ashes—traditionally from the burnt palm branches that were used in the Palm Sunday service from the previous year—and makes the sign of the cross on people’s foreheads. While crossing, the worship leader either says, “Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return,” from Genesis 3:19 or, “Repent, and believe the Gospel,” from Mark 1:15. McMahan said that the point of the references is that they are a reminder to think about what kind of life you want to live.
According to McMahan, after Ash Wednesday, the practices of the season of Lent include spending time paying attention to oneself through reflection. Secondly, Christians are to name those things that still need work in their own lives. “By naming those things, we can identify the problem and solution,” said McMahan. Lastly, it is a time to work on those problems by a time of prayer, increased worship attendance and Biblical reading. McMahan said a Christian during Lent is “really trying to take the daily practices of what a Christian should do and making sure [they] are attending to those throughout this period.”
Another practice of Lent is that Christians usually give up something. McMahan described this as practice in order to try “to cut out the distractions that keep you from hearing the things around you. It is a reminder that our life does not consist of the things that we possess, but that our life comes from another place.”
Finally, McMahan said, “Lent is to remind of us of who we are.” So whether this is your first, tenth or thirtieth year following Lent, it is a time for Christians to engage in an important aspect of their faith by becoming more in tune to themselves and to God.
Macon welcomes Hometown Yoga as the innovative community-approach style studio for yoga classes. The studio offers a wide variety of classes while bringing the Macon community together in a relaxed setting.
Offering an extensive variety and number of classes, Hometown Yoga is like no other yoga studio around. It not only allows participants to gain the benefits from yoga sessions, both physical and mental, but also to create a familiarity and build community among its members.
Co-founders Rachel Gerrity and Ashley Dunwoody, Macon natives, established the Hometown Yoga studio in Macon in the hopes of creating “a community for all the people who we had met through previous classes,” said Gerrity.
“We wanted to make yoga accessible and attractive to all people: mommy-and-me yoga and yoga for all ages, including kids,” she said.
From “Beginner’s Yoga” to “Deep Stretch” to “Yoga Boot Camp,” Hometown Yoga seems to really have a class for everyone. With a wide variety of classes, the studio can offer something to yoga students of all ages and all levels of experience.
“We are really making yoga fun and accessible for all people,” Gerrity said. She continued by saying that Hometown Yoga offers a number of “gentle, deep stretching classes, a yoga body boot camp, children classes, Kundalini classes [and more.]”
Additionally, Hometown Yoga features heated yoga. Heated yoga, when the studio room is heated to different temperature levels reaching 80 or above, is proven to relax muscles more, thereby increasing flexibility.
Gerrity said that the heated yoga style “opens up your muscles to get into those poses that normally are difficult.
“We offer a lot of hot classes, or classes that are performed in a heated room,” said Gerrity. The heat is also proven to detox “your system by helping flush toxins from the body and skin,” allowing you to feel more energized, according to the Hometown Yoga website.
Yoga classes are “a great way to get in shape and to relax you in a mind-body experience,” said Gerrity. She added that the classes offered at Hometown Yoga are designed to be an hour where you can feel relaxed and rejuvenated.
The studio features guest teachers and classes, giveaways and discount classes all on their Facebook page, Hometown Yoga. The studio even allows you to hold a yoga party by contacting the office.
Hometown Yoga offers single class prices, introductory packages, class cards (in 5 or 10), monthly classes with unlimited access, and many more deals and membership options.
The best part about the Hometown Yoga studio is that for Mercer University and other colleges, they feature a student discount of only $12 for a single class.
Check out a list of their regular classes and information on their website at www.hometownyogamacon.com. To follow upcoming events, guest classes and teachers, giveaways and more, like Hometown Yoga on Facebook.
Macon has an estimated average of 400 homeless individuals.
There are several organizations dedicated to assisting Macon’s homeless population. Daybreak is a unique program that provides specific services unavailable elsewhere. They do not offer services found in other homeless organizations of Macon, such as meals, lodging or clothing. Rather, they provide community, job connections, healthcare and education among many other services.
Daybreak is a project initiated by Depaul USA, which is a national program that establishes opportunities to help homeless people move toward an independent future. Daybreak is one of four Depaul USA projects.
Supported by 10 local church communities, Daybreak Center hosts approximately 125 people every day. An initial interview takes place when a new participant comes to the center, where a part-time social worker identifies the individual’s needs and goals. Showers, laundry facilities, telephones, Internet and employment assistance are then offered to empower and encourage each individual.
Earlier this month, the Greater Macon Sleepout was hosted to raise funds for Daybreak.The purpose of the event was to support the center financially as well as inform the Macon community about the issue of homelessness. Sponsored teams signed up to take part of the event which began with a tour of the Daybreak building and explanation of services, followed by campfire fellowship, songs and marshmallows at Central City Park. Afterward, campers settled into their tents to try and sleep in the park.
Sharon Bailey, the advisory board representative for First Baptist Church of Christ, was one of the campers. Bailey explained that the prepared camping gear (tents, sleeping bag and warm clothes) was vital to being able to stand the below-freezing night temperatures.
“Also, if you did not have friends you could trust, a sense of safety and the promise of warm grits at 7 a.m. at Daybreak, the night would have been a very frightening experience,” said Bailey.
Conversation among campers the next morning centered around a greater appreciation of the challenges homeless individuals face every day.
“I was impressed, too, with how hard the outdoor ‘sleep’ was on my body, how tired and achy I was the next morning. It would be hard to have a ‘get up and go’ attitude or energetically pursue resources and services after a night like that,” said Bailey.
More than 50 teams signed up for the Sleepout, each providing $1,000 for participating. The money raised will enable Daybreak to hire a full-time social worker.
“This will strengthen efforts to link participants with all the programs and resources they need to chart a new course,” Bailey said.
Several Mercer students currently volunteer at Daybreak.
There will be a volunteer orientation and training session on Monday, March 24, at 5 p.m. at the center.
For information on volunteering, contact Nan Eaton at email@example.com.
Mercer recently named Gary J. Simson as senior vice provost for scholarship at the Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law. Daisy Hurst Floyd will take Simson’s previous role as law dean until a new individual is found.
As senior vice provost for research and dean of graduate studies, Dr. Scott Davis named Simson as the new senior vice provost for scholarship at the Mercer school of law in Macon. Davis said, “I am pleased that Gary Simson has agreed to lead this new initiative in the Provost’s Office.” Davis also said that Simson will serve as a key role in Mercer’s focus on cultivating scholarship among junior and established faculty expands.
Davis said that his efforts in recruiting Simson for some time on this role were stalled by Simson’s desire to fulfill his responsibilities in completing “the law school’s re-accreditation process before accepting these new responsibilities.”
Before his appointment as senior vice provost, Simson was previously a professor of law at Mercer Law and has been with the law school as dean and Macon chair in law since July 2010. Davis said Simson is “a nationally regarded legal scholar and has an excellent reputation for mentoring young faculty in the development of their scholarship portfolios.”
President William D. Underwood said that Simson’s service as dean for the previous four years has made a number of important contributions to the law school. Underwood said that during Simson’s Mercer tenure, he has “recruit[ed] outstanding faculty, improv[ed] the school’s facilities and enhanc[ed] career services, which has resulted in Mercer Law School having one of the best placement rates in the country for its graduates.”
Floyd will take Simson’s position serving as a temporary dean of law until a national search for an individual can fill the role. Floyd is currently a Mercer School of Law professor. Floyd previously served as Mercer’s dean of law from 2004 until 2010.
On Floyd’s acceptance as temporary role as dean of law, Davis said, “We are fortunate to have an experienced dean like Daisy Floyd to step in and provide leadership at the law school.”
“Because of her experience and track record, the law school will continue to flourish while Gary Simson brings his knowledge and expertise in the area of scholarship to the entire University,” said Davis.
Simson began his career in 1971 when he received a B.A. summa cum laude from Yale College majoring in Spanish literature. He obtained his J.D. in 1974 from Yale Law School, also serving as the editor of The Yale Law Journal.
Simson began teaching after his one year spent clerking for Judge J. Joseph Smith of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He was hired at the University of Texas School of Law in 1975 and was later promoted to full professor in 1977.
In 1980, Simson began teaching faculty professor of law at the Cornell Law School for 26 years. While there, he served as associate dean for faculty development for three years from 1997 until 2000 and as associate dean for academic affairs for four years from 2000 until 2004.
He left Cornell Law School in 2006 for the position as dean and Joseph C. Hostetler-Baker and Hostetler professor of law at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland, Ohio. He was there for four years, leaving to take the position as dean of the Mercer Walter F. George School of Law in 2010.
More information can be found on Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law’s website or on the press release by Kyle Sears at Mercer News on Mercer University’s website.
What happens when Picasso, Einstein and Elvis walk into a bar? Comedy, wit and the truth about creativity and humanity. “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” directed by Marian Zielinski, opened on Feb. 13 in Mercer University’s Back Door Theatre.
Set in Paris in 1904, the play was written by Steve Martin in 1993. Martin said, “the play attempts to explain, in a light-hearted way, the similarity of the creative process involved in great leaps of imagination in art and science,” according to an article in the “La Grande Observer.”
The story casually follows history in the making with a plot centered around Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso meeting in a bar—followed by a variety of quirky characters including a time-travelling visitor (who is immediately identified by the audience as Elvis Presley). The script explores deep issues of human intelligence, philosophy and creativity while also providing comedic relief at every turn.
Zielinski said, “The larger issues of the play are intricately woven into many genres of comedy including terrible puns, satire and the absurd, making this play both challenging and delightfully amusing,” according to the play bill.
Katie Clay, a Mercer freshman, said, “I feel like all of the [cast] did their best to make it as genuine as possible. It was nice to see different parts of history come together in this really weird and misshapen world.” “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” was Clay’s first production at Mercer.
The production required extensive work and rehearsals. Zielinski, also a professor of communications and theater arts at Mercer, said, “We started on the day we got back to campus, Jan. 6. I had two days of auditions, casted, then we all had a read through and we’ve been working 6-9 every night until the opening night.”
Although there was hard work involved, it created a spirit of theater community. Clay said, “Since it was my first time, I was kind of shy and timid at first, but they were really welcoming and kind.” She continued and said, “There’s something about theater kids where you just can’t be shy around them. You have to be open. It was nice to be able to be myself after only being there for two days.”
Guest cast members and alumni featured included Evan Ayoub, Kevin Kersey and Patrick Mathis. Ayoub, who is a Mercer graduate, said in the play bill that he was “humbled to work with such an amazing cast and crew and is blown away every time they are on stage.”
Next at the Back Door Theatre will be “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead,” April 3-13. Auditions will be held Feb. 25- 26, at 6:00 p.m. in Willingham Auditorium.
The Next Big Idea Entrepreneurship Competition allows college students in middle Georgia to compete for monetary prizes up to $10,000. Semifinals and finalist competitions will commence on March 10 and April 5, respectively.
The entrepreneurship competition hosted by College Hill Alliance and sponsored by the Knight Foundation aims to motivate college students to stay in Macon upon graduation and to contribute to the local economy.
“Macon has a brain drain. We have all of these college students coming out of Mercer, and too often they go on to other things,” said Lake Lambert, dean of Mercer University’s College of Liberal Arts. “This is an effort to encourage entrepreneurship by our students [that] will hopefully lead to small businesses that will thrive in Macon,” he said, “and to encourage our students to stay in Macon after they graduate.”
The competition rules state that a total of 12 teams will be selected from six colleges and universities, including Central Georgia Technical College, Fort Valley State University, Georgia College, Mercer University, Middle Georgia State College and Wesleyan College.
It’s a “business plan competition to encourage the entrepreneurship spirit around central Georgia,” said Joseph Wozniak, intern for College Hill Alliance and sophomore at Mercer. “Small business owners have a really hard time on figuring out how to start. [The Next Big Idea]’s purpose is to raise awareness that it is not that hard.”
Teams are encouraged to use staff, faculty, alumni and other school and community resources to provide feedback. Each school will hold an internal competition selecting one or two semi-finalist teams to compete in the final round.
Each college has a designated faculty member devoted to guiding the teams through the competition. Dr. Linda L. Brennan, associate dean and professor of management at the Stetson School of Business, serves as Mercer’s faculty aid to The Next Big Idea Mercer competitors.
So far, five teams from Mercer have submitted their entries for the semifinals, with a sixth on the way.
The opportunity to compete is open to all students.
“Entrepreneurship is not just limited to business students,” Lambert said. “It is something that all Mercer students should consider.”
“We are called the Harvard of the South and are the hub of academia in Macon,” Wozniak said. “Mercer students are known for their creativity and problem solving because of the liberal arts.”
The first place prize is $10,000 with 30 percent being distributed on the final competition day and the remainder held by College Hill until the team presents evidence that the idea will be implemented in Central Georgia. The second place prize is $3,000, and third place prize is $2,000.
Materials for semifinals are due March 10. From there, each college will determine their winner to be nominated to the finals and release these nominations on March 21. The final competition will be held April 5 at Mercer.
College Hill Alliance is now accepting applications for semifinals. If you have an idea that you think could be The Next Big Idea, go to www.thenextbigidea.us to submit it.
The sixth annual First Pitch Classic ceremony marking the start of the Mercer Bears baseball season will be hosted this year on Tuesday, Feb. 4, featuring keynote speaker Pete Rose, a former 24 year-career MLB star.
Unlike previous speakers from the Atlanta Braves such as Chipper Jones, Dale Murphy, Jeff Francoeur and John Smoltz that were featured at First Pitch Classic before, Rose will be bringing a new perspective to the Mercer Bears baseball team from his time with the Cincinnati Reds and the Philadelphia Phillies. Mercer Baseball head coach Craig Gibson said, “We thought we would go outside and try to bring in a non-Brave.” He continued and said, “His name came up, and I don’t think we could have gone with another ‘outsider’ any better than who we got.”
According to the website of Mercer University Athletics, tickets for the autograph session by Pete Rose and the dinner are sold as separate events. Tickets for the autograph session are $75 per person but are limited to the first 150 participants. Tickets for the dinner are $100 per person. All of these proceeds benefit Mercer baseball.
Pete Rose started his career in Macon, playing with the Macon Peaches in 1962, who were affiliated with the Southern League from 1964-1967. The Macon Peaches were an important affiliate team for the Cincinnati Reds from 1962–1964. In 1963, Rose moved to Cincinnati Reds. While with the Reds, he earned the nickname “Charlie Hustle” and quickly proved himself as a player. Later that year he earned the National League’s Rookie of the Year.
Retiring as a player in 1986, Rose still holds 14 major league records, including career hits (4,256), singles (3,215), at-bats (14,053) and games played (3,562). Throughout his 24 year-career, he won three National League Batting Titles (1968, 1969 and 1973), appeared in the World Series three times (1975, 1976 and 1980), won two Gold Glove awards (1969 and 1970), was awarded the NL MVP (1973) and named the World Series MVP (1975).
Apart from playing with the Cincinnati Reds, he was also manager from 1985-1988. In 1989, discrepancies and allegations came flying his way on charges of betting on baseball games. He denied these charges until 2004, when he wrote his book, “My Prison Without Bars.”
He agreed to a lifetime banishment from baseball in 1989 and was dismissed from eligibility from the Hall of Fame. His dismissal for consideration for the Hall of Fame award is a highly controversial topic that is “revisited every year,” according to the online edition of the Athens-Banner Herald.
Macon’s own Bobby Pope, the executive director of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, said, “Rose admittedly has made some mistakes along the way, with a major indiscretion keeping him out of a place he belongs, and that is the Baseball Hall of Fame,” according to The Telegraph.
Regardless of Rose’s past, his legendary mark on baseball is evident through the number of records he continues to hold and his enthusiasm which first granted him the 1963 Rookie of the Year. His return to Macon does not go unappreciated according to Gibson who said, “Obviously Pete’s baseball resumes speaks for itself and his accomplishments on the playing field are unparalleled.”
The second annual Faculty Policy Intensive hosted by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), from March 24-27, in Washington, D.C. this year will feature Mercer University Georgia Baptist College of Nursing assistant professor, Tammy Barbé.
Although Barbé will represent Mercer at the Faculty Policy Intensive, she will also represent the state of Georgia as the first fellow from a Georgia institution.
Dr. Linda A. Streit, dean of the Georgia Baptist College of Nursing, commended Barbé and saiid that she “is a very organized, driven and conscientious educator with high ethical and moral standards.” She continued and said, “She is admired by her students, as well as her faculty peers, for her comprehensive approach to teaching.”
As one of eight nursing faculty chosen from all across the country, “Dr. Barbé will have the opportunity to meet with leadership from federal departments and agencies, network with Capitol Hill staff, attend workshops to strengthen and refine communication skills for effective advocacy,” according to a news release from Mercer. Additionally, the release said that Barbé will have the connections in order to “engage with representatives from national professional nursing organizations on current health care policy issues and the role of the collective voice.”
As a colleague of Barbé, Streit said, “Knowledge gained from this experience can not only be incorporated into specific coursework within our own program, but will also serve as a launching pad for her to become more involved in nursing legislation efforts.” She continued and said that these efforts “include the Georgia Nursing Leadership Coalition, the Center to Champion Nursing for America as well as other national health care endeavors.”
As coordinator of the Georgia Baptist College of Nursing’s Health Care Policy Issues graduate course, Barbé’s students focus “on sociopolitical and economic issues that influence health care, access, quality and cost,” according to Mercer’s website.
Barbé said, “As an educator, I strive to foster an increase in student awareness and participation in the policy process.” She continued and said, “In the health policy courses I teach, my intention is that students complete coursework with a belief that they are capable of influencing health policy and a passion to use that knowledge to effect change.”
Among this AACN honor, Barbé also recently accepted the Honor Society of Nursing’s, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI), Chapter Key Award for the 2011-2013 biennium. This award was presented to The College of Nursing’s Pi Gamma Chapter at Mercer University’s Georgia Baptist College of Nursing. As president of the Pi Gamma Chapter at the Georgia Baptist College of Nursing, Barbé accepted this award at the Chapter Awards Celebration on Nov. 18 during STTI’s 42nd Biennial International Convention, according to Mercer University’s website.
For more information on Tammy Barbé, visit www.nursing.mercer.edu/faculty-staff/nursing-faculty-barbe.cfm. For more information about the Faculty Policy Intensive and the AACN, visit www.aacn.nche.edu/government-affairs/.
Mercer University’s Opera and Townsend School of Music began the semester with a colorful production of W.A. Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” Under the direction of Dr. Martha Malone, Chair of Vocal Studies and the Director of Mercer University Opera, the opera featured over 30 vocalists, 12 instrumentalists, with some students doubling as crew and production staff. Included in the cast of performers were guest performers Loretta Seabolt, a Mercer University alumna performing the role of the Queen of the Night and Eric Fischer, a fifth-year at Oberlin Conservatory performing the role of Sarastro. Mercer School of Medicine professor Matt Astin was also apart of the production.
Mercer Opera began rehearsals at the beginning of last semester, and after returning to campus this year, met every day until they opened, with some practices extending over eight hours.
The playful color scheme of the set acted functionally and artistically as the show transported the audience to a fantastical circus world, similar to that of Cirque du Soleil. Additionally, the costumes all contributed to an airy and whimsical setting. Costume designer Shelley Kuhen, in her 19th season as designer for Mercer University Opera, thanked her “amazing costume crew for their countless hours of hard work and the gift of love and laughter...” in the play bill.
“The Magic Flute” was Mozart’s last stage work and “is a recue opera in which the hero is saved by the girl he came to rescue...” according to the program note written by Malone. She continued that it is also “a heroic quest in the struggle of good v.s. evil much like the modern stories of ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ and ‘Harry Potter.’”
Dr. Richard Kosowski, the production’s music director, said, “The experience allows the students to practice the fine art of stage craft, to practice learning a role and to practice becoming consistent musicians.” Furthermore, he said that it teaches the students to practice, “taking ideas that are in the score and bringing them to life and learning how to execute those words through physical movement, vocal inflection, and reacting to their peers on stage.”
For the instrumentalists, Dr. Kosowski said, the experience teaches them how to be a part of a small chamber ensemble emphasizing the “independence of lines.” He continued that being in the small ensemble “keeps them thinking far enough ahead,” and that “it is a very different skill to play in an operatic pit as compared to play in a symphonic orchestra.”
As far as reaching the community and the production’s impact, Dr. Kosowski said, “I hope [the audience] takes away the love of a great piece of music. The goal for the community is to introduce, or reintroduce in some cases, the beautiful score. There’s no other motive that, it is just great music and a great story.”
Although the setting was fanciful, this opera was taken seriously by its performers and musicians. It was evident from the outstanding vocal technique, seamless blocking and stage directions, and perfected musicianship that Mercer’s performers are dedicated to their craft.
If you missed this performance, make sure and mark your calendars for the next Townsend of Music School performance on Feb. 7 featuring the Mercer Chamber Wind Ensemble. Coming up next for the Mercer University Opera is a Chamber Opera of various opera scenes opening the first weekend in April.
Tremont Temple Baptist Church, the building currently facing demolition proposals, has been the focus of business deals which have reached a standstill: the congregation has voted to consider an exclusive contract with the Dunkin’ Donuts developer after initially declining Historic Macon’s offer to purchase the historic building. Last November, it was made aware to the Macon community that the historic Tremont Temple Baptist Church was being faced with possible demolition as a part of a business deal that included the construction of a Dunkin’ Donuts. Currently, the congregation “unanimously voted” to renew the contract with the developer of the potential Dunkin’ Donuts instead of accepting Historic Macon’s offer to purchase the building, according to Josh Rogers, Executive Director of Historic Macon. He said, “the property is under exclusive contract with the developer until they have exhausted all opportunities for appeal, meaning that the congregation cannot consider any other offers for the property.” Although at this point deals can be swayed either way, Historic Macon has not lost its interest to buy the building. Rogers said, “We expect the appeal to be unsuccessful, and hope the congregation will reconsider selling the building to Historic Macon at that point.” If the offer with the current projected developer is denied by the congregation and Historic Macon’s is accepted, the team’s plan is to “purchase, stabilize and ensure the complete rehabilitation of the entire building and to see it put back into active use,” said Rogers. Additionally, Rogers said that the building would host an informational and educational “exhibit about Macon’s civil rights history in the space [so that] people can learn about local history,” made by raising funds.
According to Rogers, although the building is still potentially faced with demolition, Historic Macon’s goal was going “a step further than just preventing demolition [and] offer[ing] to buy the building.” Although impossible for Historic Macon to purchase all historic sites around Macon, Rogers said, “Tremont is really a unique case where buying the building became the only way to save it, after we exhausted all other methods.” With the impending fate of Tremont Temple, Rogers said, “What makes Macon unique are our historic buildings, and we intend to keep them.”
President William D. Underwood was recently named Macon’s Citizen of the Year by the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce at the organization’s 153rd annual meeting on Dec. 5. Chamber member Chris Sheridan of Chris R. Sheridan & Co., who recently completed the construction of Cruz Plaza for Mercer University, presented Underwood with the award. Sheridan said that the committee unanimously voted on Underwood, who was the only person nominated for the honor.
Underwood wants to serve, wants no credit and seeks no accolade, said Sheridan. He continued to say, “[Underwood] is a thorough and clear thinker of the highest order, and he exhibits and fosters excellence in every endeavor.”
Underwood said that the award was a surprise, but that it was a “wonderful one.”
Although Sheridan praised Underwood’s accolades of leadership and service, Underwood said that “the Citizen of the Year award is a reflection of the appreciation that the Macon community has for all the great things that are going on at Mercer,” and that “honoring me is a way of honoring the university.”
Since 2006, Underwood has lead and established essential Mercer programs like the Mercer on Missions program. He additionally embraced and encouraged the student-led College Hill Corridor program. General enrollment since his arrival has increased by 20 percent, and the number of doctoral students has increased from less than 25 to more than 300.
Sheridan said, “because of the capacity of Bill Underwood’s mind, he is most effective conceiving and leading the big picture.” He continued, “Because of the capacity of his heart, he is most comfortable guiding and encouraging the individuals on the ground. And because of the combined capacity of both his mind and his heart, the Macon Chamber of Commerce unanimously presents its Citizen of the Year Award to Bill Underwood.”
Upon receiving this award, Underwood’s hope for Mercerians is that they “feel the same pride of what is going on at Mercer that I do.” He said, “My hope would be that everyone at Mercer would take pride in all the things that [Mercerians] are accomplishing.”
A video of the presentation at the Chamber of Commerce Meeting can be found on Mercer University’s YouTube account.
Downtown Macon's historic Tremont Temple Missionary Baptist Church could potentially be demolished in preparation for the construction of a new Dunkin' Donuts.
The Macon-Bibb Planning and Zoning Committee is set to discuss the proposal for these plans on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. at City Hall.
Congregants have worshipped there for over 110 years, but the old building at 860 Forsyth St. has been unused since early 2007 when the congregation moved its operations to a building located at 5263 Bloomfield Rd., according to Tremont Temple Missionary Baptist Church's website.
The church is located directly across the street from the Medical Center of Central Georgia, and the building has been on the market since its abandonment. In a letter to planning authorities dated Sept. 18, Pastor Camile Holmes and trustee chairman Adrian Fort wrote, "We are very much praying for the sale of the building so that we can utilize the proceeds from the sale to continue our ministry at 5263 Bloomfield Rd."
According to the church’s website, the vacant church "has hosted some of the pulpit giants of this age. Some of them include Dr. Vernon Johns, Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Reverend Jesse Jackson.”
According to GPB, "The Historic Macon Foundation issued a 'preservation alert' Thursday evening, not long after news of the planned demolition made the rounds on social media."
Historic Macon Executive Director Josh Rogers said in a written statement, according to GPB, "Historic Macon is opposed to the demolition of the church, and intends to work together with the congregation to find a solution that will help the congregation sell the church and preserve the current building."
In an interview, Rogers said, "Across the country, historic churches are facing major challenges, from the National-Park-Service level down. Those of us who are involved in preservation really believe strongly in being creative with historic churches—it's most important to keep the building."
On whether or not the integration of historicity and modern development was taking place, Rogers said, "The reuse that is proposed is a Dunkin’ Donuts, and I don't think those uses are mutually exclusive at all." He went on to say, "I don't see why that use couldn't take place in the current building and still be viable."
MU Miracle hosted The Great Pumpkin Bash on Friday, Oct. 25. Mercer University students formed teams to smash pumpkins in an effort to raise funds for the Children’s Hospital at the Medical Center of Central Georgia in partnership with The Children’s Miracle Network.
Two teams participated in The Great Pumpkin Bash, and a few other teams solely donated funds. According to external board director and junior Shelley McDaniel, “teams participated in a pumpkin toss, a pumpkin carving contest, a pumpkin pie eating contest, a tug of war competition and many other [activities].”
Senior and director Kristina Drew said, “The pumpkin bash was our October milestone event that consisted of multiple pumpkin related activities.”
Grace Dusseau, freshman and Marking Director for MU Miracle, said, “We painted a banner that we put in The Connell Student Center and we put [the event] on our Facebook.” However, she also said, “I think it would’ve been better if we had better marketed it. Next time, we are planning on really getting the word out and to market this and get people to know what we are about.”
McDaniel continued and said, “Not as many people attended the pumpkin bash as we wanted to. As a whole, MU Miracle really ends to get the word out there about what we stand for as an organization.” Drew said, “The event wasn't near as successful as we were hoping, but I think that is because we are still working to establish our presence on campus.
Although the numbers of attendees was considered low, Dusseau said, “All the money we raise is for the kids.”
The positive outlook is common among other MU Miracles members. Drew continued and said, “We aren't letting the disappointment get us down though. We are simply just using it as more motivation to improve our events and start marketing to Mercer's campus.”
The proceeds from all of the fundraising events throughout the year hosted by MU Miracle, including the funds raised from The Great Pumpkin Bash, go directly to The Medical Center of Central Georgia.
Additionally, the MU Miracle team went to trick-or-treat on Halloween night with the current children patients at the hospital designated for donations. McDaniel said, “It was such an incredible experience to meet the faces that we strive to help.”
The 2013-2014 MU Miracle organization, a completely non-profit program on campus, has a goal of $30,000 to donate specifically to the Children’s Hospital of the Medical Center. Although the Mercer program has a lofty goal this year, in previous years, and in coalition with the Georgia College and State University, they have already raised “enough money to build the entire neonatal unit at the hospital,” according to McDaniel.
Additionally, the organization hopes to have over 300 participants at Dance Marathon on March 1. Dance marathon, the main fundraiser for MU Miracle, is a nine hour event where participants engage in games, eat food and hear the stories of children patients and families who have been cared for by the children's hospital with Miracle’s support. McDaniel said, “The nine hours is to represent a nurse’s shift length and also how exhausted a child is after chemo treatment.”
At the Dance Marathon, the amount of funds that were raised throughout the year and that are to be donated will be revealed.
In order to accomplish these goals, Drew said, “We are really looking to get more people involved. In past years our organization has primarily catered to the Greeks, but we want MU Miracle and Dance Marathon to be a campus wide event.”
By promoting, marketing and raising participation for events similar to The Great Pumpkin Bash, Drew said, “We want all Mercerians to show their support for our Macon community.” She continued, “We have some big goals to accomplish and our executive board can't do it alone!”
McDaniel said, “Look out in the next few weeks and months to see more from us in order to become an established presence on campus and in the community.”
Information about MU Miracle events like The Great Pumpkin Bash can be found on MU Miracle’s Facebook page or can be reached at MercerUMiracle@gmail.com.
Mercer University Quadworks’ Leadership, Education, And Diversity (L.E.A.D.) committee hosted the first annual Step Up or Step Off Friday, Oct. 11, on Cruz Plaza.
Step Up or Step Off featured three performances. Chi Omega and Lambda Chi Alpha paired for performance, followed by Omega Psi Phi. The Soul-Stepping-Soldiers (Triple S), a step team from the campus ministry AGAPE, finished off the night. The Triple S team won over the other two teams, winning $400 and a trophy.
Victoria Wright, a senior at Mercer University and President of Quadworks, said, “It turned out even better than we thought it would. It was executed really well.”
Nora Essien, co-chair of the L.E.A.D. Committee and co-director of Step Up or Step Off, said, “This is the first time we’ve done it and we hope that it would be a traditional thing that happens every year.”
Wright also said, “I can say fairly confidently that it will be repeated in the future.”
Kathryn Alexis, co-chair of L.E.A.D. Committee and also co-director of the event, said, “Everyone I talked [with] seemed to enjoy it a lot. It’s just Mercer traditions and bringing out the things that students do outside of the classroom.” She continued and said, “It was a way to bring out the camaraderie among students. It was just bringing the student body out.”
In regards to participating teams, Alexis said, “We were excited to do Step Up or Step Off with Mercer’s organizations and Greeks.”
Wright said, “We had really good feedback from students. It was a good way for teams to come together.” She continued and said, “We had a lot of student organizations that really wanted to participate.”
As far as Greek organizations, Wright said, “It was a good way to not only put on a show for the community but to collaborate within Interfraternity Council (IFC), National Pan-Hellenic Council, and PanHellenic Council.”
According to Alexis, “it was something to get people acquainted with what the organizations stand for and awareness of the organizations. It was also a way to amp up excitement for Stompfest.”
Essien said, “There’s a connection between Greek and non-Greek students. Bringing the event connected people together.”
According to Wright, “Step Up or Step Off was a preview” for Quadworks’ annual Stompfest. Stompfest is held in early February and hosts schools from around the state and southeast region.
“The only reason we put [Step Up or Step Off] on was to bring something like Stompfest to Mercer University where people get to see what Mercer Greeks have to offer to students,” said Essien.
Additionally, Wright said, “We wanted to do something smaller and that was committed just to Mercer students. This was really exclusive, just catering to our students and our community. We were hoping that it would just be fun.”
However, as far as Stompfest is considered, Wright said, “We’re making it bigger and better this year.”
Essien said, “All of the members helped us make this show successful. We hope that since it went so well that more Greeks and non-Greek organizations would participate next year so we can have a bigger and better show.”
Alexis said, “Hopefully, [next year] we look to double attendance and participating organizations.”
The election of local government officials in the Special Nonpartisan Runoff happens Oct. 15, electing the new consolidated government of Bibb county and Macon city commissioners and mayor.
With impending elections, Mercer students’ level of participation is being called upon from those officials.
Adah Roberts, county commissioner candidate for District 6 and previously the finance director for the city of Macon, said, “This is [students’] home when [they] are in school. What happens here affects [their] lives one way or the other: what we have for recreation and for culture.” She continued, “We would like to influence [them] to make this [their] home after they finish college. Students should have say in what goes on in the few years they are here and hopefully, for the future.”
Additionally, Rabbi Larry Schlesinger, county commissioner candidate for District 2 and Rabbi for Temple Beth Israel located in downtown Macon, said, “Whatever time the students are here, they should consider themselves residents of Macon and vote in local elections. If [students] see [themselves] as a part of this community, then [they] will have the same [political voice] as anybody else.” He continued, saying, “It depends on whether the students see Macon as a four-year college or whether they see it as a home for the four years they are students here. If they consider Macon a home, they will probably take a more active interest and be more involved in what is going on here locally.”
Henry C. Ficklin, also county commissioner candidate for District 2 and Mercer graduate, said, “I think that those students from Mercer who are residents of Macon, or choose to become residents while they are here, it can have a great impact in Macon local politics. They are at the seat of high learning in Macon, and I think that can have an impact on the turnout of issues surrounding them.” He went on to say, “I think that those students who are registered to vote will get involved in the politics and in the political discussions. I think if they could vote, they could really help to change some things.”
These three local candidates agreed that a way for Mercer student’s involvement, beyond voting, was internships.
Roberts said, “I would like to mentor young people. I don’t think enough young people get involved in the politics. We need to introduce younger people to it. It’s a way of life. It’s something we should do to prepare our young people for the future. [Internships] are something that we can promote.”
Although, according to Schlesinger, the Macon-Bibb government is primarily elected officials and city and county employees, “We have a lot of issues that I think Mercer students that basically brought to our attention and championed: One was human trafficking.” He said, “I’d like to see this new consolidated government form some type of internship program. I think we could easily develop something like that.”
Ficklin said, “I really think that there are a lot of opportunities for internships, especially with the linked local government. Interns would be a great thing to have.”
Roberts said, “I think that [attending political public meetings] would be an invaluable experience. I hope that students would get involved and vote.” However, she addressed students specifically saying, “Don’t vote ignorantly. Stay in tune to what is going on in the area around.”
Schlesinger said, “Mercer students need to recognize that we have all the makings of a larger city. I think Macon offers graduates of Mercer the opportunity to really become grounded and rooted in the city itself and spend not just four years of college here, but really a lifetime.”
Ficklin called upon students saying, “I think that they need to get involved and be in tune with what’s going on because even if they do not choose to live in Macon, wherever they go, the political structure is similar and the issues are going to be similar. The more they get involved, the more they will learn, perhaps, that they need to help when they go back home.” He continued, “We need intelligent and informed youth involved in the political process, all over this county and all over this state. It cannot be anything but a plus if youth were to get involved.”
Specifically speaking about consolidation, Roberts said, “[Consolidation] is a unique opportunity for students to understand what happens when a government consolidates.”
Schlesinger addressed consolidation as well saying, “So what we’re looking to do it just streamline our efforts and redefine the way we govern ourselves: instead of two bodies, one for the city one for the unincorporated county, we will have one for everybody. We’ve got to think regionally as a consolidated government. It’s not just Macon-Bibb but the [surrounding] counties.” He connecting Mercer students to the issue by saying, “I think the big question is: what can Mercer students offer the city of Macon? I’m not sure that everybody in town appreciates just what an economic engine Mercer University is for the city.”
Ficklin, who stated he was “not supportive of [consolidation]” but that he “would love to see work,” said, “Consolidation means for Mercer students that the government is in one piece now. It does not give them an example of what government should really be with checks and balances.”
The recent consolidation efforts and its effects as well as upcoming elections allow for a window of opportunity for Mercer students to get involved. According to Schlesinger, “We’re partners basically and we both need to help each other in order to thrive.”
MPact Macon is a newly founded community service organization dealing with social issues in the local area through programs, forums and other projects and events.
Made up of young professionals in the Macon area, MPact is becoming one of the city’s outlets for social issue tensions among residents.
Trey Gordon, President of MPact, stated that the goals of the program are to “broaden the horizons of what’s going on,” and to close the “racial divide [by] trying to get the community to work together to become one powerful force, creating one Macon.”
Amber Jones, MPact Treasurer, stated that MPact holds the idea that “if [people] want to live here, they should be able to live here and not feel bound by the color of their skin or the color of someone else’s skin.”
Founded by 13 young professionals, the organization had its first forum, titled “Change: A Community Forum” on July 18, 2013, 5 days after the verdict of the George Zimmerman trial was decided. The forum discussed, according to the MPact Facebook Event, “the changes that must take place within Macon, Georgia in order for greater racial understanding and healing to take place.” The forum was openly addressed that it was “a forum where anyone can speak without judgment, without political agenda, and without fear.”
Speaking more about the first forum, Jones said, “People were so outraged and upset that they were actually talking about race which is something that doesn’t happen in Macon.” She continued, “It’s a huge problem here, but a problem that no one is willing to talk about or address publically. We had a forum to discuss [racial issues] because we felt it was a very important time not just for our country, but also for Macon.”
Commenting that it was well attended, Jones said that the forum received “a lot of response from both races.”
Gordon continued emphasizing that the forum “just covered the bases about what people [were] afraid to talk about.” He stated that “in order for us to understand we have to talk about what it going on and what is not going on.”
The productive and positive response from the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman forum has inspired more forum and events for MPact Macon. The organization will be hosting a Fall Festival located in Tattnall Square Park on October 10.
About the upcoming Fall Festival, Amber Jones commented, “We are definitely open for volunteers.” She continued saying that soon, “we are going to launch a volunteer website, hopefully by the end of this month, where anyone who wants to get involved with us can see our whole calendar.”
According to Gordon, if Mercer and other surrounding college students were to become involved in and volunteer for MPact, it will “definitely help MPact more than we can imagine.”
Jones continued saying, “We definitely want to see some response from Mercer students. We want to create relationships and understanding. Volunteers from Mercer would be awesome. We are looking for Mercer students to really get involved.”
Volunteers can not only help serve at the Fall Festival, but also with an upcoming Elementary school reading program.
The goal of MPact with the reading program, according to Jones, is to “start with younger children and give them opportunities to face racial issues.” She elaborated saying, “In Macon, there’s a strong private school system. Most of the white children go to private school and most of the black children go to public school. There’s no way to evolve unless they find their own relationships, make their own judgments and realize that people are people, no matter what color their skin.”
Currently, MPact Macon is undergoing the process to make the organization formal and to officially become a non-profit. To become involved through volunteering, contact Amber Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Thursday, Sept. 26, the Mercer University Macon campus held a panel discussion titled “The Case of Trayvon Martin: Legal, Ethical, and Civil Rights Perspectives.”
The event was organized by the Mercer Lyceum, whose year-long theme is “Racial Justice in America: Where Are We Now?” and thus coordinated with Mercer’s celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Integration. The panel discussion, which later opened the floor for audience questions and commentary, incorporated Mercer’s 2013 theme “Looking Back, Moving Forward: Celebrating a Half-Century of Integration at Mercer University.”
According to an article published in the Aug. 28, 2011, issue of The Cluster titled “Lyceum aims to educate, inspire,” the Mercer Lyceum, started in 2011, is a program designed to “plan university-wide events that follow the theme of morally transformative learning, service and student life.”
Dr. Craig McMahan, moderator of the panel discussion, addressed the audience stating, “It struck me as ironic that now 50 years after that milestone, [of voluntary integration], we are still needing to ask the question of ‘Where are we in terms of justice in the United States?’” He continued, “In the last year, there’s nothing that has called us to ask that question more poignantly and more painfully than the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, a 17-year-old in Sanford, Fla.”
McMahan continued, “We want to come and examine the legal, the moral and the religious implications of [the case]. As a culture and as a community, we want to put that whole tragic situation on the table, where there are still a lot of feelings about what happened and what didn’t. We want to be part of the conversation together, both the faculty members and with [the audience].”
Following the introduction by McMahan, each panelist had 12 minutes to present an argument or valid statements about the case and its implications.
The faculty panel was composed of four Mercer University professors. Dr. Teri McMurtry-Chubb is an associate professor of law at Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law. Dr. Timothy Floyd is a professor of law and director of the law and public service program in the Walter F. George School of Law. Dr. David Gushee is the distinguished university professor of Christian ethics, the director of the Center of Theology and Public Life, and the coordinator of the Mercer Lyceum. McMahan, acting as moderator, is the Mercer University minister and dean of chapel.
During the discussion, Gushee commented, “I hope that Mercer is consistently teaching a restlessness and discontent for [violent racial] instances and [teach] a hunger for justice.”
Furthermore, Floyd addressed Mercer students saying, “Never lose your passion and anger at injustice.”
Upon conclusion, Dr. Marilyn P. Mindingall, senior vice provost for administration and special programs, stated, “I thought [the discussion] was excellent: going beyond the feelings that we have regarding a trial such as this, in that we are forced to look at ourselves and how we interact with others. That plays a key role in these types of situations.” She continued, “I think they [addressed] the reality of the limitations of the legal system as well. It’s not a perfect system by any means. If we expect everything to happen through the legal system and policy and we’re not doing our part, then I think we’re missing the boat.”
Joshua Crawford, a Mercer University junior, said, “I felt that everyone on the panel understood what they needed and brought proper background information. For example, [Professor Floyd] was able to tell the law in a clear manner.”
McMurtry-Chubb reflected saying, “I think that [the panel] was very effective in having a good dialogue about this event in a way that wasn’t inflammatory. Hopefully it will cause [Mercer students] into action and to actually develop some programming around social justice issues that faculty can support and the community can support as well.”
Floyd stated, “I’m quite pleased. Our goal was to have an open conversation and I think we had that. I think both my colleagues did a great job in setting a tone that way. A lot of the questions and conversations afterwards were the kind of things that we hope that students will listen to and follow through with.”
This discussion is the first of many to come throughout the year as a part of Mercer Lyceum’s theme of the racial justice question and Mercer University’s integration celebration.