The Blog @
Southern Virginia University

Posts with the tag: Academics

  1. Marriott Scholar Society Inaugural Meeting

    March 7, 2016


    Provost Madison Sowell and Dr. Debra Sowell recently hosted a “Family Home Evening” for Marriott Scholars to announce the formation of a new Marriott Scholar Society.

    The Sowells opened their home to Marriott Scholars (and spouses!) for fancy cheeses (the fig chèvre was my favorite), sparkling white grape juice, and a spiritual thought based on the speech “And with All Thy Mind” by John W. Welch. In his speech, Welch discussed the meaning of the biblical commandment to love God with all your mind. One of the points that stood out the most to me was that “[w]e break this commandment when we think contrary to the degree of knowledge we have received, when we know better.” This idea is consistent with the principle of academic integrity, and is not a new concept. However, Welch expanded the responsibility of knowledge beyond the academic realm, adding that “[w]e break this commandment when we promote ideas that injure other people, for with knowledge comes … duty and accountability.” The responsibilities of scholarship therefore extend to the social realm, to examine the impact of applied theories on real people in real circumstances. Knowledge is not just the promotion of ideas, but the protection of people.

    The leadership-service implied by this responsibility is not only the primary tenet of Southern Virginia’s mission statement, but its amplification is an expected outcome of the Marriott Scholar Society’s formation.

    “The fruits of this new association of Marriott Scholars will include the expansion of opportunities for cultural exchanges, intellectual and spiritual experiences, and meaningful chances to serve the rest of the student body and the community,” Provost Sowell explained. ”We believe that higher retention will follow as a consequence of more significant involvement of our Marriott Scholars in enriched and meaningful activities.”

    The Marriott Scholarship itself is not new, but scholarship recipients were organized into a society because of an idea proposed in response to a challenge from Provost Sowell at last semester’s University Conference to “come up with ideas for how [the university] could retain more of [its] very best students.”

    “Ideas were submitted to a committee, and one suggestion that was approved was the creation of the Marriott Scholars Society,” Provost Sowell said.

    Marriott Scholars are students who have applied for and received the Marriott Scholarship, the largest and most prestigious scholarship awarded by Southern Virginia University, courtesy of Richard E. Marriott, Nancy P. Marriott and the Marriott Family. The scholarship is awarded based on demonstrated academic excellence, leadership and service. The application is available for incoming freshmen and transfer students.

    (Post by Lauren Hafen ’16.)

  2. Phi Alpha Theta Spring Induction

    March 2, 2016

    For the Alpha Mu Sigma chapter of Phi Alpha Theta (that’s us), this has been an exciting year! In addition to the seven new members that were inducted last semester, four were inducted this semester. Normally there is only one induction ceremony per academic year, scheduled for the fall term. However, the increased eligibility and interest of students prompted a second wave of inductions this spring.

    Phi Alpha Theta is the national history honor society, but you don’t have to be a history major to join. Prerequisites to membership are a minimum GPA of 3.1 in at least 12 history credits, and an overall GPA of at least 3.0.

    Professor Jeff Benedict was invited to address inductees, chapter members and friends at this semester’s induction ceremony. Benedict is not only a professor at Southern Virginia University, but also a New York Times bestselling author, a special features writer for Sports Illustrated, and a television and film producer. His investigative work has increased public understanding on a variety of contemporary issues (interestingly, “Contemporary Issues” is one of the courses he teaches at Southern Virginia), ranging from athletes and violence against women to eminent domain to food safety to American Indians and casinos. His command of controversial socio-political issues makes him a modern-day muckraker, in the best sense of the term. Particularly interesting to Phi Alpha Theta members is that Benedict’s career started after a Bachelor of Arts in History. His address was followed by a question and answer session, during which we learned who in history he would choose to shadow for a day (Alexander Hamilton or Benjamin Franklin, both of whom started out with a means and status far lower than that which they ultimately achieved), what it’s like to rewrite lines for a movie between shooting scenes (intense … and fun!), and the importance of being trustworthy as a journalist (and, well, as a human being).

    Members of Phi Alpha Theta are now looking forward to presenting papers at a conference next month. Practice presentations will be in Durham 203 at 3:30 on Thursday, March 3, and at the same time on Tuesday, March 16. Come support members of Phi Alpha Theta and learn about espionage during WWII, Japanese Internment, and other really interesting things!

    (Post by Lauren Hafen ’16. Photos by Sarah Bench ’17.)

  3. Come to the Garden

    February 20, 2016

    This week marks the closing weekend of the university’s production of “The Secret Garden,” and the start of some very mixed emotions on my part. I’m thrilled to know that audiences will be exposed to the inspiring, magical story of this play and the many characters within it. I’m excited to see what it is that makes people laugh tonight and what it is that makes them cry tomorrow. And I’m filled with a bittersweet, indescribable sensation — a sort of premature nostalgia  at the thought that the wonderful experience of being involved in this show is coming to an end.

    When I came to Southern Virginia two and a half years ago, I didn’t know a soul. Not one. A week passed, and my social status (or essential lack thereof) didn’t seem to change. But then Professor Stoddard, who was at the time my theatre history professor, walked up to me and asked me to be his assistant as he directed “The Servant of Two Masters.” Within a month, I was assistant director for another show, “Hello Dolly,” and ready to declare theatre in addition to my English major.

    Since high school, directing was always the element of theatre that held the most appeal to me, and I dreamed of doing a directing senior project at the end of my tenure at Southern Virginia. I fought my way awkwardly, nervously, yet somewhat successfully through two acting classes in order to take directing last semester, and then Professor Stoddard made me an unimaginable invitation: he asked me to associate direct this spring’s musical, “The Secret Garden.”

    I was raised on this musical, and it was difficult for me to believe that many people had never heard the music, or perhaps even of the play, before Professor Stoddard added it to this year’s season. My mom and I used to belt “Lily’s Eyes” in the car. When he offered me the position, I don’t think Professor Stoddard realized that he wasn’t just providing me with fodder for a senior project — he was giving me the most perfect culminating experience, the best possible cherry on top, of my career as a theatre major at Southern Virginia.

    This entire production is such a testament to the wonders brought about by “the genius of small.” Theatre majors and non-theatre majors alike have come together to sing, learn, act, live, and laugh. Though only a student, I have been fortunate enough to work with Professor Stoddard as a collaborator, to learn from him while we worked together to block scenes, coach actors, and realize our vision for the show. At what other university could I possibly have had this opportunity?

    Ultimately, in five short weeks of rehearsal and many hours of work, the cast and crew of this production have put together what I think is the best show I’ve seen since I’ve been here. Sure, I may be a bit biased, but just as being so closely involved in this show has made me attached to it, it has (necessarily) made me especially critical of it, too. So, it is with both tenderness and the “eye” of a director that I say that this show is a gem.

    “The Secret Garden” tells a story of loss, fear, mistakes, faith, hope, family, love, and forgiveness. It captures, in my opinion, some of the most vibrant and integral emotions of the human experience  the messiness and the beauty of it alike. Furthermore, it tells this story through incredible music and characters that you’ll either love to love or love to hate. This particular production also adds some intricate physical elements through the set and costumes that together provide the audience with a performance that is rich musically, visually and emotionally all at once.

    So, as the lyric says, “come to [the] garden.” I can attest to the fact that the efforts of the many talented and diligent people I’ve been able to work with have produced a show that has the ability to both entertain and enrich. One audience member told me, following the opening night performance, that the show was a “sacred experience,” and I really can’t think of a better commendation.

    The final performances are tonight and tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for the general public and $7 for children, senior citizens, and Southern Virginia students, faculty and staff. They are selling quickly and ought to be purchased in advance, if possible, through Student Financial Services or at 540-261-8464.

    (Post by Madeleine Gail Rex ’16. Photos by Eva Sorensen Smith ’17.)

  4. Jennifer Babcock on Art, Family and Culture

    February 10, 2016

    Worn finish, missing spindles and patched upholstery tell a story in Jennifer Babcock’s exhibition of paintings titled “No Empty Chairs” currently hanging in the Corridor Gallery.

    A native Virginian, Babcock grew up surrounded by chairs that her father collected and repaired. Over time, the family chairs came to mean more to her than just places to sit. As part of her opening reception last Friday, Babcock explained what these chair “portraits” mean to her. Like an archaeologist finding cultural significance in ancient treasures, these unassuming, mundane objects represent to Babcock the lives and memories of her family. The lovingly captured, colorful canvases act as an abstract family album, portraying the people and stories that give her a deep sense of self.

    Listening to her presentation and viewing her work made me reflect upon my own grandparent’s home and the objects that pervade my childhood memories. My grandfather’s collection of Native American art, my grandmother’s crocheted afghans, and a roll of stamps that always sat in their kitchen window. I think that besides telling her personal story, Babcock’s chairs are meant to remind us of our own roots because in the end, our family memories will be our greatest treasure.

    (Post by Corey Egbert ’15. Photos by Matt Anderson ’17.)


  5. Open House: A Taste of Southern Virginia

    Open houses are a fantastic way to get a taste of what Southern Virginia University has to offer. Students can start their day with a rad breakfast buffet (those blueberry scones. Seriously.) and proceed to get to know some professors in mini classes, explore campus on student-guided tours, eat lunch in our dining hall, and glimpse what it’s like to be a student here at Southern Virginia. Those who are interested can also schedule meetings with coaches, auditions with those heading arts programs, and other such opportunities.

    You’d really be hard-pressed to find a better way to acquaint yourself with this university, especially when you take into consideration the $200 travel voucher provided to prospective students. For more information about upcoming open houses and how you can find yourself at one, check out the open house page.

    You can also read more about previous open house experiences in other blog posts, like this one and this one.

    (Post by Madeleine Gail Rex ’16. Photos by Eva Sorensen Smith ’17.)