Wofford’s Top Dozen Stories of 2012

January 21st, 2013 by Doyle Boggs

Rhodes Scholar Rachel Woodlee ’13

1. President Dunlap announces his retirement (effective July 2013), and the board of trustees appoints a search committee headed by R. Michael James ’73 to choose the college’s 11th president.

2.Rachel Woodlee ’13, a business economics and Chinese major from Greer, S.C., becomes the college’s sixth Rhodes Scholar.  She is the third Wofford student to be a Rhodes finalist in the past two years.

3.Offering the Wofford community a yearlong conversation about renewing the college’s commitment to the liberal arts, “Re: Thinking Education” sets the theme of the 2012-2013 academic year.  Faculty co-chairs of this project are Dr. Dan Mathewson and Dr. Anne B. Rodrick

4. Dr. Charlie Bass, chemistry, is featured as one of America’s 300 best professors in a new guidebook from Princeton Review.  Dr. Alliston Reid ’75, psychology, is South Carolina’s CASE/Carnegie Foundation Teacher of the Year, selected from among nominees representing the top professors across the United States.

5. As Mike Ayers celebrates his 25th season as the Terriers’ head football coach, Wofford shares the SoCon championship and advances to the quarterfinals of the NCAA FCS playoffs.  Eric Breitenstein, now Wofford’s all-time leading career rusher, led the SoCon with 2,035 yards, the second highest rushing total in conference history.

6. Total enrollment for fall 2012 (including students abroad) exceeds 1600, passing a new milestone. For the first time ever, out-of-state students outnumber South Carolinians in the Wofford Class of 2016, which reports to the campus on Sept. 3.

7. The Montgomery Music Building is dedicated on May 1. Formerly the Baptist Collegiate Ministry, the renovated building is named for Walter and Betty Montgomery; Rose Montgomery Johnson; and, their families in honor of leadership gifts to the project.

8. Wofford advances to the semifinal round of 16 top teams in the 2012 Americas’ regional of the CFA Institute Research Challenge in New York City. The competition involves 1,500 students representing more than 300 teams from the United States, Canada and Latin America.

9. The Department of Biology receives the exemplary program award from the Association of General and Liberal Studies (AGLS). The award was based on the transformation of the first-year curriculum with a new course, Biological Inquiry.  About half of the students in each entering class at Wofford take this course.

10. The Goodall Environmental Studies Center wins an Exemplary Project Award from the U.S. Green Building Council.   The Michael S. Brown Village Center, which opened in the fall of 2011, also was honored with a LEED Silver designation.

11. Whitney Sanders ’12 graduates from Wofford at the age of 17, having double-majored in computer science and mathematics.  He becomes the youngest member-in-course to be elected to Wofford’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

12. Wofford is named a “Great College to Work For” for the second consecutive year. The results were based on a survey conducted for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

 

A time of transition in “the year of the liberal arts”

June 14th, 2012 by Doyle Boggs

President Dunlap, retiring 2013

Wofford College is now almost 160 years old, but during all this time, there have been only 10 presidents!  Thus, a transition in the presidency is inevitably seen as a crossroads, and a time to consider where we have been and where we might be going.

In the summer of 2013, President Benjamin B. Dunlap will retire, and the college will move forward under new leadership.  As we passed through the commencement season, someone asked me how I thought Dr. Dunlap might be remembered beyond the fact that he and his wife, Anne, obviously are virtuous people who have been well liked across the college’s constituency and beyond.

Here’s a list of a decade’s accomplishments that I drafted quickly and in no particular order.

—Applications for admission to the first-year class grew from 1,551 in September 2000 to 2,871 in September 2011.  This important surge has enabled the college to increase its enrollment to almost 1,600 with no adverse effects on the student profile.

—During the first 11 years of the Dunlap presidency, Wofford raised a total of $134 million in gifts and grants. This amounts to an average of $12.2 million per year. The market value of the endowment was $109.9 million in 2000, and even though the recession of 2008 represented a setback, the total now exceeds $160 million.

—Among many campus renewal projects, the restoration and revitalization of “Old Main” at the heart of the historic district was completed early in 2008.

—Wofford continued to build one of the outstanding International Programs among liberal arts colleges, consistently ranking in the top ten of the annual Open Doors Survey. In 2010-2011, 117 students studied abroad for a semester or longer, with 50 percent of them specializing in a language other than English; during Interim, 271 students earned academic credit in other countries.

—Wofford became firmly established as a member of NCAA Division I, with Southern Conference championships in football, men’s basketball, soccer and baseball.

—Curricular changes include new majors in theatre, Chinese and environmental studies as well as a number of interesting interdisciplinary offerings.  The Goodall Environmental Studies Center at Glendale is not only a LEED platinum facility, but it also has claimed a series of awards for historic preservation.

—Dunlap signed the Presidents’ Climate Commitment. Subsequently, a campus-wide sustainability audit was funded through the generosity of the late Roger Milliken and conducted by Jeff Ross-Bain, considered by many to the nation’s leading authority on “green building.”

—The Liberty Fellowship became the Aspen Institute’s only domestic partnership based at a college or university.

—Wofford was featured in an important study of engaged learning, “Student Success in College”  (2005, 2010). The book grew out of Project DEEP, which chose benchmark campuses based on student scores on the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).

— New centers for learning opportunities outside the classroom were created around the Mungo Center for Professional Excellence and the Center for Global and Community Engagement. Heads of both these centers sit in the presidential cabinet.

—One of “50 remarkable people” invited to make a presentation, Dunlap spoke about Sandor Teszler’s “passionate life” at a TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conference in 2008. The inspirational video went “viral” on the Internet, reaching a global audience exceeding 600,000 people.

Nevertheless, when the long-term impact of the Dunlap years is measured some years from now, it may be that none of these impressive achievements will be ranked as his most important contribution to Wofford. That most likely will lie in the effort he and his cabinet made to take a very good faculty and make it larger, stronger and altogether exceptional.

In 2000, Wofford had 83.4 faculty members (full time equivalent), and the faculty to student ratio was 1:13. The individual academic departments were relatively small and in some cases “tenured-in.”  The college needed new professors from a variety of academic backgrounds to complement its senior faculty. The standard teaching load needed to be reduced from four courses to three, and more formal opportunities for professional development and recognition were needed, on campus and off.

By the fall of 2011, the faculty had grown to 136 members (full-time equivalent), for a faculty to student ratio of 1 to 11.  They had earned doctoral degrees at no fewer than 69 graduate schools.  Prestigious faculty prizes included the Roger Milliken Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Science and the Philip Covington Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Humanities and Social Sciences.  Dr. Dennis Wiseman was named dean of a new Center for Innovation and Learning. A concerted effort was made to make assessment more objective and consistent.

Promising young Ph.D.’s attracted to the setting of a “great college to work for” will influence Wofford students for generations to come. They will serve as the principal guardians of the college’s academic strength.  They are the ones who will balance tradition with positive change even as alma mater “proudly stands…  as the years go by.”

That’s why I am excited about the coming “year of the liberal arts” at Wofford in 2012-2013. It is a perfect time to meditate together about the key questions such as, “What are the liberal arts?” “What is their place in American higher education?” “Why do they shape Wofford?”  “What is their future?”

All of Wofford’s constituencies are invited (and urged), to participate in an important discussion in this year of transition.

Living a Happy Life

June 12th, 2012 by Doyle Boggs

Professor Emeritus Hagglund

My friend Dr. Lee Hagglund retired this spring after teaching at Wofford for 35 years (1977-2012).   On Thursday, April 19, he delivered his “last lecture” to a capacity crowd in the teaching theater of the F.W. Olin Building.  The talk was titled, “How to Tune Your Lute, or How the Pythagoreans Could Have Seen the Ocean from Their Boats.”  The title would be a little difficult to explain in just a few sentences, but the scholarly work behind it was thorough and convincing, and it was delivered with a passion typical of Hagglund’s career at Wofford.  Listening to him speak was fun.

When it came time to bring the lecture to a conclusion, I grabbed my pen and notebook, because I realized quickly that Lee Hagglund was in the process of sharing something special about himself:

“Five Suggestions for Living a Happy Life”

1. Make your living at something you love to do.

Hagglund grew up near the campus of a fine liberal arts institution, Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota.  His late father was a professor and registrar there for many years.   After graduating Summa Cum Laude in Mathematics and German from Gustavus, he studied mathematics and the German language at the University of Munich before earning his Ph.D. in mathematics at Duke University.   The “life of the mind” at Wofford came naturally to Hagglund.  It involved teaching in a classroom setting and leading problem-solving institutes for public school teachers, but it also included fascinating January Interims.  One particularly memorable project in the early 1980s explored the mathematics behind Rubik’s Cube, which I saw him solve almost instantly with a few deft twists and turns.  He has ridden his bicycle in the assaults on Marion and Mount Mitchell and is a huge fan of Jeopardy! and college basketball.

Members of the current Wofford student body do not realize that Lee Hagglund once was a member of a folk trio called the “West Winds,” which regularly performed on the busy campus circuit in the Upper Midwest.  One summer during the 1960s, he sang  duets and discussed going out on tour with the late John Deutschendorf, who later became better known by the stage name John Denver.   As an encore to his last lecture, Hagglund agreed to sing one of his signature numbers, “Them Moose Goosers,” from “Them Poems” by Mason Williams.  (It’s hilarious— google it and check out the lyrics!)  In fairness, one should also acknowledge that Hagglund is an accomplished choral musician, who sings with Wofford and civic chorales as well as directing the Chancel Choir of St. John’s Lutheran Church.

2. Be easily entertained.

Hagglund asserts that mathematicians have this trait built in.  “Give us a pencil and a blank piece of paper and we’re as happy as clams.”  And …  “If the Three Stooges don’t make you convulse with laughter you may be taking life too seriously.”

3. Marry someone who is a better human being than you.

Lee and Kitty Hagglund have been respected and popular members of the Wofford community since they arrived in Spartanburg.  Their son Curtis Hagglund graduated from Wofford in 1994, and their son Erik graduated in 1997.

4. Have a dog in your life.

In the case of the Hagglund household, the dogs, plural, are a rescue Golden Retriever “Sam,” a yellow lab “Daisy,” and a Jack Russell Terrier “Oliver,” that seem human and are treated and loved as such.

5. Listen to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Hagglund explained in his lecture that he and a group of graduate-student friends at Duke had a running debate that attempted to identify the single greatest genius of Western civilization.  In the end they could only agree on a list of the top five.  They are J.S. Bach, Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, William Shakespeare and the German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss.  Hagglund admits that there’s room for some debate, but he’s never been tempted to alter that list, and it’s especially easy to see why Bach’s pure, precise instrumentals and complex, inspiring choral works would delight a mathematician.

After retirement, expect Dr. Hagglund to be busy in and around Spartanburg.  His endeavors most likely will include trying his hand at writing fiction, joining Kitty in taking up golf again, riding his bicycle, and spoiling his grandchildren.  I expect he will have much success and continue following his rules for enjoying life.

 

 

 

 

 

Pharmacogenomics

April 23rd, 2012 by Doyle Boggs

 

Dr. Steven Lott ’90 speaks to science majors

Pharmacogenomics may be an unfamiliar term to many Americans in 2012, but we’ll be hearing it often over the next few years. Simply put, it means “personalized medicine,” using genetic testing.

Dr. Steven Lott ’90, head of next generation sequencing clinical implementation for Life Technologies Corp., explains the concept this way:

“Medicine always has been as much an art as a science,” Lott says. “Our bodies have different genetic properties.  We experience disease as individuals, and we react to treatment as individuals. Medications that work well for one person will cause an adverse reaction in someone else.

“Because of advances in third-generation microchips, we can now use mathematics-focused technology to begin unraveling genetic codes more quickly and cost-effectively,” he says. “In the next 10 to 12 years, physicians will be able to look at the course of individual illness as a predictable matter. They will treat it using the regimens and pharmaceuticals that offer the best odds for good results, one patient at a time. We should be able to avoid trial and error as well as the adverse reactions that now impact 2.2 million people each year.

“Everything is happening so fast— it’s difficult to think of any past technology that can be as transformative in health care.”

Lott recently visited Wofford to speak to students about his career and particularly the paid summer internships that Life Technologies Corp offers.  This global, diversified company had sales of $3.7 billion in 2011, employs approximately 10,400 people, has a presence in approximately 160 countries, and possesses one of the largest intellectual property estates in the life sciences industry, with approximately 4,000 patents and exclusive licenses.

Lott is not the only Wofford graduate at Life Technologies.  In February 2012, Ronnie Andrews ’81 was named the corporation’s president for medical services. Andrews has more than 25 years of experience in the diagnostics industry, including leadership positions at Abbott Diagnostics and Roche Diagnostics.

Lott told his student audience that he arrived at Wofford thinking of a career in medicine, but at the University of Texas Health Center, he earned a Ph.D. in genetics and established his focus as research.  “Motivation is when you walk out of your lab in the research hospital, and you are surrounded by patients who have had the disease that your research has been designed to address, such as breast cancer,” Lott says.

He says that Wofford prepared him well for his career because it provided a rewarding liberal arts experience that helped him develop team-building and communications skills.  “I remember my research presentations, and in fact, I still have some of the glass-mounted slides I used here 20 years ago,” Lott says.  “But the biggest regret I have about my undergraduate years is that I didn’t feel I could get out of the laboratory long enough to explore other things that the college had to offer, such as history courses and classes in the humanities. Don’t let pre-medicine totally control your life.”

 

An email from Joe Pugh

March 19th, 2012 by Doyle Boggs

A few weeks ago,  it was a pleasure to receive an email from Joe Pugh, Class of 1960.  Joe’s loyalty and memories of the college have been  invaluable to me for years, and I always look forward to hearing from him.

Joe is very much in demand as a public speaker all around Atlanta, a talent that we can modestly claim he learned at Wofford from the late Dean Frank Logan and others. Among his recent speaking engagements have been the Baron DeKalb DAR, Decatur Chapter; the Maidens of Honor, Atlanta Chapter; the Glenn Memorial Seniors; Lady Anne’s Retreat; and the annual banquet of the Sons the American Revolution, Marietta Chapter.

Joe’s email began: “I spoke to the Buckhead Rotary Club in Atlanta last week. The club was seated at six-person round tables.  As the speaker of the day, I was introduced to my five tablemates as a Wofford College grad. Major General David R. Bockel told us that he had attended Camp Greenville when he was 8 or 10 years old. His counselor was a Wofford student who convinced the future general that he should think about becoming a Terrier when he was a little older.  Had he not been selected to go to West Point, the general said he definitely would have attended Wofford. Another person spoke up. ‘I was at BellSouth for 30 years with the late Walt Sessoms (Class of 1956),’  Everybody at BellSouth knew about Wofford.’  Another gentleman said he had a cousin who attended Wofford and played baseball. The final tablemate, the president of the club,  smiled, looked at us and said, “I am embarrassed. I don’t have a Wofford story.”

“This was a pleasant interlude and quite different from 40 years ago when Wofford had a very low profile in Atlanta.’”

Joe’s story started me thinking that liberal arts colleges truly make their reputations one story at a time, and those stories nearly always concern an alumnus or alumna.  So I went back through my saved inbox.  In a very short time, I came up with these recent examples.

Frank Morris sent me a nice note about Glenn Orr ’62.  Before he retired, Orr was one of North Carolina’s outstanding banking executives.  He always has been interested in independent higher education and certainly has been generous to Wofford, but his contributions to Wake Forest University as chairman of its board of trustees are exceptionally noteworthy.  In February, he received the university’s highest honor, the Wake Forest Medallion of Merit. He made it a point to pose for a photo with another Wofford graduate in the platform party, University Chaplain Tim Auman ’80.

I found a note to be sure to watch ABC’s television program “Shark Tank” on March 2.  A year ago, Kim Adams Nelson ’84 was operating a small Spartanburg bakery that specialized in cakes made from her Great-Aunt Daisy’s recipes using the very best fresh ingredients. Her marketing concept has been “share a slice of love.” In those days, she was baking eight cakes at a time and filling 2,000 orders per year.

Then, on “Shark Tank,” Barbara Corcoran bought a piece of her action.  Corcoran is the street-savvy New Yorker who made over $5 billion in the real estate business. She offered contacts, a bankroll and the marketing skills to build the brand name much more quickly.  Now Daisy Cakes is producing 150 cakes at a time in larger quarters and bringing in revenues of $100,000 per month.  But Nelson’s success is still anchored in a good product and a likability that shines through even on network television.

Finally, I found a new email address for Dr. Michael Copps ’63 in my in-basket. It said that he was planning to retire from the Federal Communications Commission in December.  His 10 years of service left him at number seven on the longevity list of all FCC commissioners, serving under both Democrat and Republican presidents. He always has been a thoughtful and articulate spokesperson on media consolidation, broadband expansion and threats to the free media in the United States.  When I googled his name, I was glad to find several recent interviews, and I am delighted to know that he has no intention of being silent on critical issues.

The public service list of recent alumni achievements could continue with Catherine Brawley Templeton ’93, who on March 15 began her work as the first woman commissioner of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, or DHEC.  On Oct. 3, 2011, my Wofford classmate, the Honorable Henry Floyd ’70, was confirmed 96-0 by the U.S. Senate to serve as a judge on the Richmond-based US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.  He has joined the Honorable Dennis Shedd ’75 and the Honorable Clyde Hamilton ’56 (senior judge) on the bench there and is now hearing cases.

Private liberal arts colleges differ from large state-supported, research universities in several important ways, but perhaps the key difference is that they have (or should have) a single, focused mission.  Wofford’s mission is to provide superior liberal arts education that prepares its students for extraordinary and positive contributions to society. The focus of Wofford’s mission is upon fostering commitment to excellence in character, performance, leadership, service to others, and life-long learning.

By our graduates, we are known.