Berea College Joins National Partnership to Address Racial Disparities in Rural America

Partners for Education at Sullivan Foundation partner school Berea College has joined a partnership with Save the Children, StriveTogether and the Annie E. Casey Foundation to develop and launch a first-of-its-kind collective impact effort for rural America.

Designed to address complex social issues through a collaborative approach adapted to the unique needs and interests of rural communities, the effort has kicked off in three pilot communities—Perry County, Ky., Whitley County, Ky. and Cocke County, Tenn.—with the goal of improving children’s lives from cradle to career.

As part of the collaboration, the Rural Accelerator Initiative will provide $400,000 over three years to the three pilot communities—an unprecedented $1.2 million investment of funds to rural communities to align action plans developed in each community to prioritize kids and families.

Related: Sullivan Foundation partner schools Berea College, Alice Lloyd College recognized as tuition-free work colleges

“At StriveTogether, our mission is to help communities transform how they serve children and families,” said Jennifer Blatz, StriveTogether’s president and CEO. “We know we can achieve more by working together than apart and have proof from nearly 70 communities across the country that the collective impact of organizations working across sectors can influence outcomes for every child. We are excited to bring our proven approach to this initiative and are proud to be part of a landmark effort to accelerate results for youth and families in rural America.”

Rural collective impact combines leadership development, strategic investments, local partnerships and peer learning to ensure children in rural America enter school ready, have a successful education and leave high school prepared for a career or higher education. With the support from the national partners, rural communities are working to change local systems to improve results for children, with an initial focus on early developmental milestones of kindergarten-readiness and third-grade reading and math proficiency.

Related: Berea College lead nation in on-campus sustainability efforts

“We have the opportunity to harness the expertise of national leaders in education as well as the local communities where we work, to drive progress toward positive outcomes for children in rural America,” said Betsy Zorio, vice president, Save the Children’s U.S. Programs & Advocacy. “We are grateful to our partners for their support, skills and knowledge and look forward to working together to empower communities to create a successful cradle-to-career pathway for every child in rural America. It’s our ambition to take these learnings and scale to support the nearly 2.5 million children growing up in poverty in rural communities.”

“This Rural Accelerator Initiative recognizes that transformative and lasting change in rural communities must be led by community members,” said Dreama Gentry, executive director of Partners for Education. “To do this difficult work, communities need partners who can provide the resources needed to implement change, and we are proud to support the people in rural areas who are leading the way.”

“The Annie E. Casey Foundation has honed an approach to leadership development—called Results Count—that it’s bringing to the Rural Accelerator Leadership Program,” said Shanda Crowder, senior associate at the Casey Foundation. “Participants will become more skilled at making effective and lasting changes that will help children grow up healthier and better off.”

Building on the success of StriveTogether’s work in collective impact across the country, Save the Children’s legacy of serving children in rural America, Partners for Education’s achievements throughout Appalachia, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s powerful Results Count leadership development approach, the national partners plan to expand rural collective impact into additional communities in 2020.

Save the Children works in rural communities across the U.S. where child poverty rates are high and resources are low. StriveTogether is a national nonprofit network that supports children’s educational success. The Annie E. Casey Foundation is devoted to developing a brighter future for millions of children at risk of poor educational, economic, social and health outcomes.

This article was adapted slightly from the original version on the Berea College website.

Ferrum Promise Makes Path to Graduation Easier for Community College Transfers

Sullivan Foundation partner school Ferrum College is making a bold “Ferrum Promise” to students in Virginia: Beginning in Fall 2020, students who transfer from a Virginia community college with an appropriate associate’s degree will be able to graduate from Ferrum within two years of transferring or they will receive free tuition for the remaining coursework.

“Today, nearly 40 percent of students who graduate from a Virginia community college need three or more additional years to finish a bachelor’s degree because their new college will not accept many of their credits,” said Ferrum College President David Johns. “This is not what they expected—it’s frustrating, time-consuming, and expensive.”

this photo shows a potential beneficiary of the Ferrum Promise

The Ferrum Promise makes it easier for community college students to transfer to Ferrum College and then graduate in two more years.

Ferrum College already guarantees admission from all 23 community colleges in Virginia. The Ferrum Promise is the college’s next step to becoming even more transfer-friendly. It applies to all students who are enrolled fulltime, enter with an appropriate associate’s degree from a Virginia community college, and meet certain academic requirements.

Related: Berea College, Alice Lloyd College recognized as tuition-free work colleges

The Ferrum Promise encompasses many majors offered by Ferrum College, including its signature programs:

  • Agriculture
  • Business
  • Criminal Justice
  • Ecotourism
  • Environmental Science
  • Recreation Leadership
  • Social Work
  • Teacher Education

“We are excited to offer transfer students a seamless transition to Ferrum College, where they will receive individualized course mapping with our faculty,” said Provost Aimé Sposato.

“Ferrum College is student-centered and future-focused, and because of this, we are making a promise to our transfer students that will dramatically impact their future,” Johns said. “We support a vision of making college affordable, accessible, and even a little more predictable, and we promise to make this a reality for students who transfer to Ferrum College.”

Visit here to learn more about the Ferrum Promise and transferring to Ferrum College.

 

University of the South Recognized by Carnegie Foundation for Outstanding Community Engagement

The Carnegie Foundation has selected the University of the South for its 2020 Community Engagement Classification, a designation that indicates institutional commitment to community engagement. The classification was assigned after an extensive review of the college’s serious and sustained commitment to community engagement.

Sewanee, a Sullivan Foundation partner school, is one of only 18 U.S. liberal arts colleges focusing on the arts and sciences to receive this designation in 2020. A total of 119 institutions were classified.

“The Carnegie Foundation has acknowledged Sewanee’s excellent alignment among campus mission, culture, leadership, and resources, and its deep and significant commitment to community engagement,” said Vice-Chancellor and President John M. McCardell. “The dynamic and innovative work of the Office of Civic Engagement since its inception in 2015 has benefited the communities in which it works around the world, but especially here on the South Cumberland Plateau. My wife Bonnie and I are delighted to have played a role in supporting the University’s community engagement mission and look forward to its momentum continuing.”

Sewanee civic engagement programming seeks to engage with and benefit local communities. Partnering with the South Cumberland Community Fund in an innovative university-community collaboration, the Office of Civic Engagement supports an award-winning Americorps VISTA Program, a grants program, and a Sewanee student philanthropy program that distributes up to $30,000 per year to local organizations.

“This recognition by the Carnegie Foundation acknowledges the success of our unique model of cooperation with the University, a partnership between an institution of higher education and a rural philanthropic organization,” said Sheri Lawrence, the South Cumberland Community Fund board chair. “Together, we are achieving our mission of building on the strength of the area’s people, communities, and natural setting by enhancing community capacity and collaboration, and supporting innovative ways to solve community problems.”

Sewanee philanthropy interns are pictured here in 2018 with Nicky Hamilton, director of community development.

More than 80 percent of Sewanee students participate in some form of community service before they graduate. Director of Civic Engagement and Professor of Philosophy Jim Peterman points out that “the hallmark of Sewanee’s civic engagement is the way in which it seeks to achieve its mission: ‘To cultivate knowledge, resources, and relationships to advance the economic, social, and environmental well-being of our communities.’  We envision,” he said, “a Sewanee committed to active global citizenship, where community members, students, staff, and faculty work together for meaningful change.”

Sewanee’s civic engagement programs are wide-ranging. Students work in 75 local, academic-year internships to support Sewanee’s network of community partner organizations. In addition, Sewanee offers long-term projects in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Haiti, Jamaica, Miami, and New Orleans as part of its “alternative break” program. For students looking for intensive summer work experience, the Canale Summer Civic Engagement internships, the Ministry and Service internships, and the VISTA Summer Associate internships offer service opportunities locally, domestically, and internationally.

Faculty and students work in 24 academic courses per year to integrate academic learning with community benefits—the heart of Sewanee’s academic civic engagement work. For students interested in developing leadership skills and academic expertise in relation to their intensive community engagement projects, the Civic and Global Leadership Certificate program offers two academic tracks and culminates in a senior capstone project.

The Carnegie Community Engagement Classification has been the leading framework for institutional assessment and recognition of community engagement in U.S. higher education for the past 14 years. The classification is awarded following a process of self-study by each institution, which is then assessed by a national review committee led by the Swearer Center for Public Engagement at Brown University, the administrative and research home for the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification.

This story was edited slightly from the original version appearing on the University of the South website.

Rollins College Named One of the Nation’s Best Colleges for Merit Aid

In one of a string of recent honors during the Spring 2019 semester, Sullivan Foundation partner school Rollins College was recently named to Money.com’s list of the nation’s best colleges for merit aid, ranking in the top 50 for access to merit-based financial aid.

The 50 colleges on the list award merit aid to at least one in four students, and their average award covers at least 25 percent of the tuition price.

“We extend merit-based financial aid to enable bright and promising students to join our community of learners,” says President Grant Cornwell, “and it is deeply gratifying to see these students develop and thrive at Rollins.”

Rollins offers a multitude of partial merit scholarships that range from $10,000 to $30,000, and since 2005, the College has awarded more than $16 million through the Alfond Scholars Program.

Money.com ranked the colleges by a combination of overall quality, average merit grant, and share of students who receive merit grants.

Earlier this spring, Phi Theta Kappa, the premier honor society recognizing academic achievement at associate-degree-granting institutions, ranked Rollins among the nation’s best colleges for transfer students. Prior to that, Rollins’ MBA program at the Crummer Graduate School of Business was named the country’s No. 1 masters program for leadership and organization development. And College Choice in February ranked Rollins’ undergraduate business program among the best in Florida.

Photo by Scott Cook

Lees-McRae College Students Sew Pouches for Baby Marsupials in Australia

Students at Sullivan Foundation partner school Lees-McRae College, located in Banner Elk, N.C., took matters into their own hands this week to bring relief to those affected by Australian wildfires.

On Tuesday, Jan. 14, and Thursday, Jan. 16, 25 students, led by Director of Library Services Jess Bellemer, sewed 21 pouches for baby marsupials.

Related: 12-year-old social entrepreneur Darius Brown sews bowties to help shelter animals get adopted

Held in the Dotti M. Shelton Learning Commons Makerspace—a dedicated space where students can design, craft, sew, podcast, and more—Bellemer guided students of all skill levels through the process.

“The goal of the makerspace is to connect students with making skills that they’ll take with them beyond their Lees-McRae experience,” Bellemer said. “The pouch-making workshops showed them how they can use a skill such as sewing to support victims in a terrible crisis on the other side of the world. I think learning to sew and making usable materials for animals in need really clicked with the students.”

Image by Angelo Giordano from Pixabay

With pouches now at the ready, the college will ship them to the Animal Rescue Collective Craft Guild (ARCCG), an organization dedicated to “creating, sewing, building, and designing for animal rescue.” The ARCCG Facebook group has over 230,000 members sewing pouches, knitting blankets, and crafting stuffed animals.

As of now, the ARCCG has placed a hold on accepting pouches due to the massive influx of those being made. Those interested in creating pouches or any other craft are encouraged to check the Animal Rescue Crafts Guild Facebook group for updates before shipping.

Related: Hotel for dogs lets guests foster or adopt stray pups

Volunteerism for College Students: Turn Your New Year’s Resolution into a Lifelong Passion

According to research from the University of Scranton, only about 8 percent of Americans manage to keep their new year’s resolutions. That’s probably not the most encouraging (or surprising) statistic you’ll come across in 2020, but take heart: If you’ve added “serving others” to your list, there are plenty of ways you can keep that resolution as a college student in the Sullivan Foundation network. There’s a real demand for your talents, skills and energy, and it’s likely that your school can help you get started.

America’s young people are more interested in “doing good” than ever, according to a 2018 report by the Do Good Institute at the University of Maryland School of Policy. Unfortunately, volunteerism for college students and high school students remains stagnant nationwide.

Related: Sullivan Foundation offers opportunity to serve those in need in Selma, Alabama

On average, 26 percent of college students provided volunteer service to community organizations between 2013 and 2015, while 28.5 percent of high schoolers took part in service activities. Those figures are “significantly lower” than statistics recorded for the years right after 9/11 (2002-2005), the Do Good Institute report states. Even so, nearly 2.8 million high school students (age 15 and over) and 3.1 million college students volunteered in their communities between 2013 and 2015. Not too shabby!

this photo illustrates the possibilities of volunteerism for college students at Warren-Wilson College

Warren-Wilson College puts a strong emphasis on volunteerism for college students through programs like Bounty & Soul, which increases access to healthy foods in food-insecure communities.

As Fast Company has reported, more than three quarters of entering college students feel a duty to help others in need—and that number has been steadily growing. “We’re at an all-time high of entering college students’ desire to do good, but we are far from an all-time high in college students actually doing good,” Robert Grimm, the Do Good Institute’s director, told Fast Company.

So why the disconnect? One problem, as Fast Company points out, is that many college students are in financial need themselves. College and university expenses have soared for the past 20 years, according to U.S. News and World Report. The average in-state tuition and fees at public national universities (defined as research-oriented schools that offer bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees) has climbed by 221 percent. For private national colleges and universities, tuition and fees have jumped 154 percent, and out-of-state tuition and fees at public national schools have gone up 181 percent.

Related: University of the Cumberlands collects 21,764 pounds of food for local pantries

But Grimm suspects there’s more to it than that. “Youth’s historically high interest in doing good will not automatically translate into action without the right opportunities,” he states in the Do Good Institute report. “We need more innovative, educational experiences that offer youth the opportunity to make an impact today and spark a lifetime of community engagement.”

Fortunately, volunteerism for college students is strongly encouraged at many of the Sullivan Foundation’s partner schools. Judson College, for example, kicks off every new school year with Marion Matters, a community-wide day of service for the local schools, nursing homes, churches and a nature preserve. At Mercer University, students are encouraged to volunteer for nonprofits like Loaves & Fishes, which provides food, clothing and furniture for local residents coping with homelessness and food insecurity;  Meals on Wheels of Macon & Bibb County, an organization that delivers nutritious meals to elderly and disabled individuals; and the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Georgia.

this picture depicts volunteerism for college students at Campbell University

Campbell University’s Campus Kitchen encourages volunteerism for college students by transforming unused dining-services foods into meals for people in need.

At Warren-Wilson College, community engagement isn’t just recommended—it’s required. WWC treats volunteerism for college students as a “fierce obligation” and a must in order to earn their degree. WWC focuses on five issue areas: the environment, food security, housing and homelessness, race and immigration, and youth and education. Among its service opportunities are Bounty & Soul, an initiative that increases access to healthy foods for low-income communities; volunteering at an AHOPE day shelter or with Habitat for Humanity; and mentoring Latino youth in the public schools through the college’s MANOS (Mentoring and Nurturing Our Students) program.

Campbell University, meanwhile, offers a range of opportunities for students to help others, including the Campus Kitchen, which transforms unused foods from dining services into meals for families in need around Western Harnett County; the Mustard Seed Community Garden, which grows and provides foods for the Harnett Food Pantry; and the annual Spiritual Life Spring Fling, in which students take part in fun activities with Harnett County-area adults who have developmental disabilities.

Berry College also invites its students to volunteer with numerous local nonprofits, from the Boys and Girls Club and Habitat for Humanity to the Ruth and Naomi House, a local women’s shelter, and the North Broad Youth Center. And Carson-Newman University encourages students to give back through Appalachian Outreach, a poverty-relief ministry, as well as the Samaritan House Family Ministries and the Baptist Collegiate Ministries Outreach team.

Related: Carson-Newman University mobiles 500 volunteers for Operation Inasmuch

 

Carson-Newman University encourages students to volunteer with Appalachian Outreach, a poverty-relief ministry.

Volunteerism for college students can include individual activities as well, including:

  • Organizing a campus-wide blood drive
  • Tutoring at-risk youths in the community
  • Teaching English as a second language
  • Coaching a local kids’ sports team
  • Volunteering at an animal shelter
  • Participating in clean-up programs in local nature areas

Volunteering isn’t just good for the community. It provides benefits for the body, the soul and even your career, according to Reward Volunteers. Volunteerism for college students leads to “reduced stress, a greater degree of happiness, and development of social and professional skills.” Ninety-four percent of volunteers say volunteering improves their mood, while 96 percent say it gives them a greater sense of purpose.

So start out the spring semester by checking out your college or university’s community-engagement programs. Once you get started, volunteering is one new year’s resolution that you’ll want to keep for many years to come.

High Student Voter Turnout Earns Award for Winthrop University

Winthrop University, a Sullivan Foundation partner school, recently earned a Gold Seal from the All In Democracy Challenge for its high student voter turnout in the 2018 mid-term elections.

Winthrop students’ turnout was at 40.1 percent, thus qualifying the university as a Gold Seal winner with a turnout of between 40 and 49 percent. Overall turnout for college students was 40.3 percent in the 2018 midterm elections, a more than two-fold increase over 2014. Winthrop more than doubled the number of its students voting from 2014, going from 19.8 percent to 40.1 percent.

Related: Winthrop University is a national leader in student voter engagement

Katarina Moyon, director of the John C. West Forum on Politics and Policy, said Winthrop’s inclusion in the Gold Seal category put the university in with many other highly regarded, politically active campuses. “Our goal now is to achieve Platinum Seal recognition where more than half of our student body is voting by 2028,” Moyon said.

Winthrop typically trains Student Voting Ambassadors to help register students, to hand out “check your voter registration” cards and to distribute absentee voting procedures. Campus clubs, organizations and academic departments hold dozens of election-related events and will continue to do so during the 2020 primaries and presidential election.

The full list of campuses receiving seals of recognition can be found here.

More than 550 campuses participated in the challenge to develop a more inclusive democracy so that the electorate mirrors the country’s makeup. The idea also is that college students will democratically engage on an ongoing basis, during and between elections, and in elections.

Related: The pivotal role of youth fighting climate change

The All In Challenge does not support or oppose candidates for public office or take a stand for or against any political party.

Winthrop’s voter efforts over the past few years has resulted in the university being designated in 2017 and 2019 as a Voter Friendly Campus by the national nonpartisan organizations Campus Vote Project and NASP-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. Its student voter turnout earned the university a Bronze Shield from the All In Campus Democracy Challenge for the 2016 election.

Winthrop is recognized among the Top 80 in the Student Voting category of the 2019 Washington Monthly College Rankings and is one of three institutions listed from South Carolina.

For more information, contact Moyon at moyonk@winthrop.edu.

This story was modified slightly from the original version appearing on the Winthrop University website.

Sullivan Award Winner Shares Untold Stories of African-Americans at Washington and Lee University

By Lindsey Nair

MaKayla Lorick, winner of the 2019 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at Washington and Lee University (W&L), can trace her love of stories to early childhood, when her grandparents told lively yarns about their younger years. She followed that thread to W&L, where it has afforded her the opportunity to seek and record some of the university’s most important overlooked tales.

Lorick, an English major who is minoring in creative writing, has been working since the summer of 2018 on a multi-institutional project that aims to incorporate more African-American perspectives into the history of desegregation and integration at private Southern schools. Her role allows her to comb through W&L’s Special Collections and gather oral histories from black alumni, faculty and staff.

MaKayla Lorick received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award from Washington and Lee University in 2019.

“It’s such an exciting thing to dip your fingers into history and to listen to other people’s stories,” she said. “It betters your life and the lives of others. Just to color in one person’s perspective on history is beautiful.”

The overall project, “Pathway to Diversity: Uncovering Our Collections,” is a collaboration with Centre College and Sullivan Foundation partner schools Furman University and Rollins College, and is funded by a grant from Associated Colleges of the South (ACS). Along with its partner institutions, W&L is working to build a shared digital archive of information regarding the history of desegregation and integration at these schools. At W&L, the project is being led by Mellon Digital Humanities Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor of English Sydney Bufkin, with support from Tom Camden, head of Special Collections and Archives.

Compared to public colleges and universities in the South, whose public status and reliance on federal funding forced them to integrate in the wake of Brown vs. Board of Education, Bufkin said, “the history of integration at W&L looks very different. It’s quieter, but also less effective and slower. We are grappling with the consequences of a response to integration that really, when you look at the documents and history, appears to be an attempt to do as little as possible… It is a history that we continue to live, so I think recognizing some of the ways the institution has dealt with race—or not dealt with race—historically is really valuable and is something we can address a little more head-on, especially as we try to do things differently.”

Related: Learn more about how students like MaKayla Lorick qualify for the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.

Washington and Lee’s board of trustees did not take action regarding integration until a full decade after Brown vs. Board, in July 1964, with a statement that was viewed by most as deliberately vague and uninspired. Without using the words “integration,” “desegregation” or “race,” it simply stated that no policy of discrimination existed at W&L. It was accompanied by no effort to recruit students of color or make W&L a more welcoming place for them.

Another eight years passed before Carl Linwood Smothers and Walter Blake became the first African-American graduates of W&L in 1972. The W&L School of Law had awarded its first degree to a black student, Leslie Devan Smith Jr., in 1969.

 ‘Serendipity’
Initial goals for the ACS project included identifying materials currently in Special Collections that belong in the digital archive; creating an annotated bibliography; collecting oral histories from alumni, faculty and staff; and determining how to incorporate those materials into the curriculum. As Bufkin considered the oral history piece, she said, she immediately thought of Lorick, who had taken her African-American literature class.

photo MaKayla Lorick speaking to an audience

MaKayla Lorick has been combing through W&L’s Special Collections and gathering oral histories from black alumni, faculty and staff.

English professor Lesley Wheeler agreed that Lorick, her advisee, would be a perfect fit, as she has an interest in digital humanities, and spent the summer of 2016 assisting history professor Ted DeLaney on an African-American history project in Special Collections. (Since becoming involved in the project, Lorick was also selected to be a member of the Working Group on the History of African Americans at W&L). Although the ACS grant does not cover student researchers, Bufkin was able to fund Lorick’s role with Mellon Digital Humanities summer research funding and, as the academic year commenced, with a Mellon Digital Humanities Fellowship.

What started as a simple summer job search became something incredibly meaningful, Lorick said. “I thought I was just going to get some random summer job on campus but Professor Wheeler really opened a door with one tiny conversation. Stumbling onto this project is one of the best things that’s happened to me. It’s really serendipity.”

Lorick began by reading sections of Mame Warren’s 1998 history, “Come Cheer for Washington and Lee” and Blaine Brownell’s “Washington and Lee University: 1930-2000.” She also scoured yearbooks, scrapbooks, newspapers, letters and other sources in Special Collections to start a list of people to approach for oral histories.

While the project was initially focused on black men who graduated in 1974, the first year with a noteworthy number of black graduates (17), Lorick and Bufkin soon realized that scope was too narrow. They also knew that Warren had already collected oral histories from those men. Lorick wanted to include the perspectives of black women, who had not been interviewed for Warren’s book, so she began to build a list from the first few years of coeducation at W&L, from 1985-1990. She also wanted to include faculty and staff, not just alumni.

Related: Rollins College Remembers Alumnus and Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award winner Fred Rogers

Midway through the summer, it was time to start scheduling interviews. Over the next couple of months, she would record conversations with Ted Delaney ’85, associate professor of history at W&L and a Lexington native; Edwin Walker, a retired Print Shop employee; Stephanie Coleman ’89; Willard Dumas III ’91; and Marquita Dunn, who retired from Dining Services. These interviews included questions about the subject’s first impressions of Lexington and W&L, and their experiences connected to integration and/or coeducation.

Some interview subjects recalled negative experiences at Washington and Lee, such as a white boyfriend’s reluctance to escort his black girlfriend on the homecoming court, or white professors taking advantage of a black employee’s intellect and work ethic while denying him the respect and upward mobility he deserved. But Lorick said she was surprised to find that the interviews were, for the most part, positive.

“It ended up being more positive than I expected,” she said. “Interview subjects do not forget about the bad, but they are better able to remember the good.”

Related: Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award winner Joey Jennings overcame racism and poverty to become a top scholar/athlete at Winthrop University

Lorick said she also had to work through some disappointment over the lack of detail provided about segregation in Lexington, particularly about the relationships between white and black citizens. “When the first individual told me that there was nothing more to say, I thought, there has to be! But as I began to unravel the project a little bit more, I thought more about what segregation must have looked like, and in the end they were totally right. They didn’t really know their neighbors, and that was just the culture.”

Recording these views and closing even the smallest gaps in W&L’s institutional history has been fulfilling, Lorick said. As a first-year student, she was frustrated by the lack of black perspectives in the archives; now, through her work as an upperclassman, she will be directly responsible for changing other students’ experiences.

“I thought that W&L wasn’t making a big enough effort to cover the staff, faculty, students and alumni. When I came upon this project, I knew that there was a choice that I had to make and it was exciting and thrilling. I get to go through these archives all the time and I see the people who have recorded history. This time, I’ll be the one recording history.”

Digging Deeper
One requirement of the ACS grant was that each of the four colleges incorporate findings into a course. At W&L, that course was “Race, Memory, Nation,” a first-year Fall Term writing seminar taught by Assistant English Professor Ricardo Wilson. Wilson spent considerable time with Bufkin and Lorick in Special Collections over the summer to develop the course, which delved into issues of race, integration and civil rights.

another photo showing MaKayla Lorick at work

MaKayla Lorick gets ready to conduct an interview as Professor Ricardo Wilson and his students look on. (Photo by Kevin Remington)

With guidance from Lorick and Wilson, the students conducted research and selected topics about which they were required to produce video essays as final projects in the course. The four groups decided to focus on integration in athletics, coeducation, and two pivotal moments in W&L history: the 1923 football game against Washington and Jefferson University, and the board of trustees’ 1961 decision to not invite Martin Luther King Jr. to speak at W&L.

The group that focused on integration in athletics secured on-camera interviews with four former W&L athletes, including its first African-American athlete, Dennis Haston ’70. Haston, who ran track and field, and former basketball player Eugene Perry ’75, ‘78L, recounted upsetting incidents both on and off campus. In one example, Perry was invited by a coach to try out for the basketball team, only to find out the team had already been selected and jerseys had been ordered. But the men said they also found allies at W&L, including white fellow athletes.

“At the time when I came to W&L, I didn’t come to W&L to be a pioneer. But now if people look at me, they want to say, ‘You were a pioneer.’” Haston said. “I was one of the first ones to … open the door for other African-Americans to come. Maybe because of me doing that, it has made it easier for other students to come. I’m glad I had the opportunity. If I had to live my life over again, I would still do it. I have no regrets about the decision I made.”

Related: Read MaKayla Lorick’s Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award Biography here.

The hours of raw interview footage collected by Wilson’s students has been sent to Special Collections, where it will bolster Lorick’s contributions and strengthen the university’s overall archive of materials related to desegregation and integration. Wilson is cautiously optimistic about what he sees as positive strides toward confronting some of the university’s most difficult history and smoothing the way for future students of color.

“In general in the U.S., we have a tough time confronting our history, and W&L is certainly at a critical moment where I think there is great possibility,” he said. “It is also something we have to approach carefully because we have a chance to set the tone and make an example, not only in the region but also to other academic institutions.

“How fortunate we are to have someone like MaKayla Lorick, with a blend of extraordinary talent and extraordinary passion,” he said. “To have someone like her involved in this project is a good first step.”

Next Steps
MaKayla Lorick plans to present her findings during Black Alumni Reunion weekend (March 8-9). She also has received a Johnson Opportunity Grant for summer 2019, which will allow her to gather more oral histories and develop a digital exhibit. She has begun to share her findings on her project website. As she prepares to graduate in December 2019, she will hand off the project to other students. One, Rose Hein ’22, has already been awarded a summer research scholar position to contribute to the ACS project.

Tom Camden, head of Special Collections and Archives at W&L, helps students in Professor Ricardo Wilson’s class, “Race, Memory, Nation,” as they begin research for their final projects. (Photo by Kevin Remington)

“Our hope is that this material and some of these questions will continue to be integrated into the classroom so students can be exposed and they can continue to work,” Bufkin said. “I think we are really excited to have this material support student-driven projects…It is a very collaborative effort. Nobody owns it or has a single direction.”

For MaKayla Lorick, what started as a two-month summer gig grew into an experience that she says “has really shaped me, has made me stronger, and has made me think that in a couple of years the university will truly be better.” She hopes that her daughter, Zara, 2, will someday become a General and will see her mother’s name on documents in university archives — a very different experience from her own.

“I can’t even imagine how that would have felt for me to see my mom’s name recording histories,” she said. “I hope that she can have that experience and she can know that anything is possible, that you can touch the stars and that you can be a history maker, and you can be on the right side of history, too.”

This story has been adapted slightly from the original version appearing on the Washington and Lee University website.

Berry College Awards Its First Sullivan Scholarship

By Faythe Choate, Berry College Public Relations Student Assistant 

A freshman has been chosen as the first recipient of Berry College’s inaugural Sullivan Scholarship. Animal science major Hailey McMahon was recently awarded $10,000 annually for her four years of study at Berry.

Sullivan Scholarships are awarded to students who demonstrate model character and a commitment to service above self, aligning with the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation’s ideal traits of character, including honesty, morality, ethics, responsibility, determination, courage and compassion.

Before coming to Berry, McMahon was involved in youth leadership and volunteered in her school’s Biology Club, cleaning animal cages and coordinating events for elementary school students. She also worked with a Marine Science Station to replant eel-grass and assisted with hurricane clean-up in Florida. McMahon has a passion for animals, specifically felines. She hopes to use her time at Berry as a Sullivan Scholar to explore and promote animal welfare in the community.

“I’m researching organizations in Rome that have trap, neuter and return programs,” McMahon said. “Every cat deserves a chance to thrive. Just because they may not live in your home doesn’t mean they’re not worthy.”

Students apply for the Sullivan Scholarship with an essay detailing their careers of service, leadership and community outreach. Recipients are asked to remain in good academic standing. Recipients are also expected to actively participate in community engagement such as service, community-based research, or social entrepreneurship.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation’s roots date back to the 1880s when U.S. President Grover Cleveland and a group of other influential persons created the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award to honor those that inspire a life of integrity and service. Recipients include First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, Fred Rogers of “Mister Rogers” fame, and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, to name a few. In addition to the award, the Foundation has been funding service-based Sullivan Scholarships at colleges across the American South since 1925.

The Sullivan Foundation remains dedicated to alleviating socio-economic issues. Today, the Foundation remains as strong as ever and is expanding the reach of the Sullivan spirit by focusing on social entrepreneurship education, which equips universities, students and community members with the tools necessary to apply business models to social issues.

“I have a strong belief that this program will help me achieve so many wonderful things throughout my years here at Berry and those that follow,” McMahon wrote. “I can’t wait to further develop my leadership skills and social skills and to really dive into how I can help my community.”

Nationally recognized for academic excellence and as an outstanding educational value, Berry College is an independent, coeducational, comprehensive liberal arts college of approximately 2,100 students. For more than a century, the college has offered an exceptional education that balances intellectual exploration, practical learning, and character development. Its 27,000-acre campus is the world’s largest. Visit www.berry.edu.

 

 

 

Rollins College Remembers 2001 Sullivan Award Winner Mister Rogers

The world knew him as a saintly, soft-spoken figure in sneakers and a cardigan sweater who lived in a magical world of puppets and singing policemen. But long before he became every child’s best-loved neighbor, the real Mister Rogers was a familiar and comforting sight on the campus of his alma mater, Sullivan Foundation partner school Rollins College.

Those who knew Fred Rogers best unanimously agree the character he portrayed in his classic PBS show, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” was scarcely different from the man who studied music composition, philosophy and religion as a Rollins student in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In fact, Rogers was such a force for goodness and decency, Rollins awarded him the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation Award in March 2001.

this photo depicts the real Mister Rogers as a student at Rollins College

There was little difference between the real Mister Rogers and the character Fred Rogers played on his iconic TV show, according to those who knew him well at Sullivan Foundation partner school Rollins College.

Rogers isn’t the only famous Sullivan Award recipient—Eleanor Roosevelt was another recipient, after all—but he’s certainly the only one to be played by A-list actor Tom Hanks in a major feature film. “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” debuted to rave reviews nationwide last month. And although box-office numbers would probably be the last thing Mister Rogers would care about, the film raked in a respectable $35.7 million in its first 10 days in theaters.

Related: Sullivan Foundation sponsors Social Entrepreneurship Field Trip to Germany for faculty

A native of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, Rogers graduated from Rollins in 1951. For the remainder of his life, he carried with him a photo of an engraved marble plaque, located near Strong Hall on the Rollins campus, that bore the motto, “Life is for Service.” Rogers’ list of activities at Rollins would likely surprise no one who ever watched his show. He served on the chapel staff, sang in the chapel and Bach choirs, and belonged to organizations such as the Community Service Club, the Student Music Guild, the Welcoming Committee and the After Chapel Club.

Although he shot “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” in Pittsburgh, Rogers and his wife, fellow Rollins College graduate Joanne Byrd Rogers, spent a part of their winters every year in a rented house in Winter Park, Fla., near Rollins College. He touched many lives in that neighborhood as well as in the fictional one he created for PBS.

“Some of my favorite childhood memories are from the time my family and I spent with Fred and Joanne Rogers having afternoon teas and piano concerts,” recalled Sara Patrick, Rollins’ Executive Assistant for Alumni Engagement, in a Rollins College website article published last year. “I was eight years old, and it was just like having him step out of ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ and into my home.”

“I’d see him walking to the chapel every day in winter,” recalled Daniel Parke, a 1997 Rollins College graduate, in an article in Rollins Magazine. “Every day. He’d take the time to stop and talk with students as if it were no big deal.”

Rogers was even known to drop by his old music department haunts and play piano for the students. “Uncle Fred would put his face up to the window of my music class, and everything would come to a stop,” remembered Rogers’ nephew, Dan Crozier, a music professor at Rollins College, in the Rollins Magazine article. “He’d walk in and say, ‘How are things in this neighborhood?’ The students were in awe.”

the real Mister Rogers receives medal

President George W. Bush presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award to Fred Rogers in 2002. Photo by Paul Morse, courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Library

Rogers was such a beloved figure that the school created the Mister Rogers Rollins College Self-Guided Walking Tour, offered year-round Tuesdays through Fridays, on the campus. Visitors can wander through Tiedtke Concert Hall, where a large portrait of Rogers hangs on the wall, and check out his stone in the Rollins Walk of Fame in front of Lyman Hall, his old dormitory. Additionally, Rogers’ famous sweater and sneakers are on view at Olin Library, along with a collection of other personal items, including letters and photos.

When Rogers received his honored spot in the Rollins Walk of Fame in 1991, the “low-key ceremony” didn’t quite go as planned, according to Joanne Rogers and Rita Bornstein, who was president of Rollins College at the time. “Fred was concerned about word getting out,” Joanne Rogers explained to Rollins Magazine. “He told Rita, ‘If you want me to spend time with the adults, then don’t make this an occasion for children. If children come, they’ll get first dibs.’”

Related: Sullivan Foundation announces Study Abroad in Scotland program for Summer 2020

To give everyone a chance to meet Rogers, Bornstein arranged for him to visit Rollins’ Child Development and Student Research Center. “Word got out,” Bornstein told Rollins Magazine. “Children came from everywhere. Girls were wearing princess dresses. Boys were all excited to see Mister Rogers. I thought, ‘Oh … my … God.’ … He did what only Fred could do. I have a picture from the ceremony of him surrounded by children—the children I was supposed to keep away.”

Rogers died of stomach cancer in 2003, but his legacy has never faded. A 2018 film about him, called “Won’t You be My Neighbor?” became the highest-grossing biographical documentary of all time. Its success was quickly followed up by “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” based on author Tom Junod’s experience with Rogers on assignment for Esquire magazine in 1998.

this photo shows Tom Hanks in the role of the real Mister Rogers

Tom Hanks plays Mister Rogers in the new film, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”

Hanks told Rollins Magazine that he had bounced ideas around with Marielle Heller, the movie’s director, for years, “but either my stuff didn’t gel with her or vice versa. Then she called me with ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.’ We agreed to shoot it as soon as I was available.”

Hanks was Rogers’ favorite actor, Joanne Rogers has said in press interviews. “The biggest shock of my life,” she told Rollins Magazine, “is when I heard Tom Hanks said ‘yes’ to being cast as Fred.”

Rogers passed away just weeks after serving as the Grand Marshal of the Tournament of Roses Parade and tossing the ceremonial coin in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day. But family members said Rogers had no fear of death. “He’d talk about how wonderful his next journey would be,” Joanne Rogers said.

“Our family had to share him a lot,” his son, John Rogers, told Rollins Magazine. “I’ve said he came as close as you can come to being Jesus Christ himself. It bothered me that I couldn’t measure up to him, until I was about 30 years old. He would have been the first to tell me, ‘Just be you.’”

Related: Sullivan Ambassador Lori Kaitlyn Babb aims to use social entrepreneurship and bioethics to “change the world”