Sunday, August 29, 2010

Life (and freedom) precious

Visited one of my former students today who's serving a life sentence in a medium security prison in South Carolina.

At best, it's a dreary, somber, bleak place--what with all the razor wire lining the top of the fences, the stone-faced guards and the long faces of the inmates.

Some of them have been there a long time.

We shook hands, hugged and conversed in a a room about the size of a high school cafeteria. I counted 47 small tables, each with four chairs, set up in that room. Families (wives and parents of inmates) got to spend some precious time with their loved ones.

The former student I visited, who graduated from Winthrop in 1986, has been incarcerated in South Carolina, at first at a maximum security prison in Columbia and now in Kershaw County where he was recently transferred, for 20+ years. He's now 47 years old and is a leader in the prison ministry, I'm told. He's also earned a master's degree while behind bars.

He comes up for parole next year and I am hoping for the best for him.

At Winthrop, I remember him as a hard-working, focused young man.

I send him a Christmas card every year.

Today, however, was my first visit with him.

Life gets complicated and takes dramatic turns--sometimes for the worse.

We make mistakes or incur errors of judgment.

I think this guy has paid his debt to society.

I wish him the best.

And I cherish my freedom.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Little Lucy pays me a visit

Last week Lucy, my first grandchild, came for a visit in Rock Hill. We had a great time. She's a lively, curious, always moving 18-pound sack of potatoes!

(Her mother, Dorothy, snapped this photo.)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The elephant and the dog

I'm always looking for a good dog story. My friend and colleague Jamie Low has sent me one--about an odd couple elephant and canine.

This is an amazing piece--about Bella the dog and Taura the elephant. It touches the heart.

Click on the video and enjoy.

(And thanks, much, Jamie!)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

All-day retreat at Winthrop University

Early this week, faculty leaders at Winthrop University convened all day to "re-imagine higher education," among other charges.

We learned that higher education, the business we're in, needs to be more permeable, lighter and more fluid.

Also, an administrator reminded us that the world we're in demands that we change, and we must respond to changes in our world with "guarded flexibility."

But what changes are essential?

That's a key question.

We also, as professors, need to have goals and objectives for our students that are clear, attainable and assessible.

We heard a ton about assessment and accreditation and re-accreditation.

A colleague of mine remarked (quietly) that we are being "assessed to death."

A group of faculty had been charged earlier this year with ascertaining what all Winthrop University graduates should possess. This is what that faculty group came up with after looking at all the academic programs at our university, as well as programs at other universities:

1. Winthrop graduates should have critical thinking skills.
2. Winthrop graduates should value multiple perspectives--the interconnectedness of the world--(in their work and as they search for truth and meaning)
3. Winthrop graduates should be effective communicators
4. Winthrop graduates should be socially responsible.

Twas an enlightening retreat. Some intellectual fire. Some mind-numbing stats. Much discussion on how to do what we do better or more effectively.

And, as always, we had a delicious lunch.

Time to get started with a new school year--the 125th for Winthrop.

Wonder if they had retreats in those first 25 years?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Police brutality in South Carolina?

Look at this video; I hate to prejudge a law enforcement officer but what do you think?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Lane Kiffin and press conference

My colleague Guy Reel shared this interesting story with a link to video of reporters arguing over whether to take off camera statements from former Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin when he quit to go to Southern Cal. The WBIR news director said since it was a press conference, they shouldn't agree to any off-camera comments; what's interesting, as Reel notes, is the other reporters are arguing with him.

Be sure to click on the youtube video accompanying the story.... it's 7-8 mins. but worth looking at and showing to anyone interested in journalism ethics.

By the way, SPJ is presenting the WBIR news director an ethics award at its national convention in Las Vegas coming up in a few weeks.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Woman fights off intruder who snuck into bed with her

This TV news report from Huntsville tells it all.

Hide your wife. Hide your husband!

And for a lighter and funnier take on the same news item, turn up your sound and enjoy this video.