by Grace Lim
On a gorgeous sunny day, thousands poured into the Leach Amphitheater to listen to music that lifted the American spirit. The Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra, led by the newly tapped music director and conductor Andre Gaskins, played numerous songs including the hauntingly poignant Adagio for Strings and the rousing God Bless America. During the second half of the concert, the orchestra played with the popular Vic Ferrari Band.
At the concert, Gaskins acknowledged the pain and sorrow that came from that fateful day in September 2001. However, he urged the audience to also remember that despite the horrors of that time, the American spirit remains true and strong. He promised the throngs that he'd lift their hearts with music.
Gaskins kept his word.
John Koker, dean of the College of Letters and Science at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, joined the orchestra for Liberty for All, an orchestral piece with narration that uses quotes from the Declaration of Independence, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. The composition is by James A. Beckel, principal trombonist with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. The combination of Koker's passionate readings and the soaring music swept the audience members into a patriotic frenzy. By the end of the song, the crowd, many of whom with tears streaming down their cheeks, sprang to their feet and cheered.
|Highlights from Liberty for All
The Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Andre Gaskins, performed Liberty for All, a composition by James A. Beckel. The narration is by John Koker, dean of the College of Letters and Science at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.
The highlights clip was edited by Andre Gaskins, with permission from composer James A. Beckel. The audio recording is courtesy of Aaron Zinsmeister of Nitecrawler Recording Studio email@example.com.
Scenes from the 9/11 Remembrance Concert
Conductor Andre Gaskins and the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra a few hours before the concert began at the Leach Amphitheater.
John Koker, dean of the College of Letters and Science at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, narrates portions of Liberty for All.
The Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra rehearsing under the direction of conductor Andre Gaskins at the Leach Amphitheater.
Thousands at the 9/11 Remembrance Concert at the Leach gave the Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra a standing ovation.
Photos by Angela Piechocki and Grace Lim. Photo composite by Shawn McAfee of UW Oshkosh Learning Technologies.
The Making of Airboat Rescue 1: When the Ice Breaks
On Ice (from l-r) Radio-TV-Film student Mark Mazur, ice rescuers and brothers, Colin and Perry Lee, and student Trent Hilborn on Lake Poygan. Photos by Shawn McAfee/UW Oshkosh Learning Technologies.
By Katie Holliday
COLS Special Reports Intern
Grace Lim loves a good story. She loves hearing them. She loves telling them. When she heard about the Lee family and their quest to keep the community safe through an airboat named Rescue 1, she knew she had the ingredients for a great story.
|Airboat Rescue 1 Film Crew: Radio-TV-Film students Mark Mazur (left) and Trent Hilborn with journalism instructor Grace Lim at the Poygan Waste Water Treatment Plan|
A longtime newspaper and magazine journalist, Lim is now an adjunct instructor in the Department of Journalism and the producer/editor of COLS Special Reports at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Her greatest skill, she likes to say, is finding other people with skills. In the telling of the Lee family story, Lim teamed up with students Trent Hilborn and Mark Mazur, both radio-TV-film majors, who shot, lit and edited more than 16 hours of video and 8 hours of audio. They then trimmed 24 hours of material into a compelling 16-minute documentary. Lim wrote, directed and produced the documentary. Shawn McAfee, an adjunct instructor in the Department of Art and a coordinator in the University Learning Technologies, was the still photographer and designer of a 28-page full-color companion magazine. Andre Gaskins, Director of Orchestral Activities & Cello, scored original music that he and his students Amanda Martin (flute) and Callie Soddy (piano) played on the CD soundtrack.
In this Q & A, which has been compiled, condensed and edited from multiple interviews (in person and via e-mail), COLS Special Reports Intern Katie Holliday talks to Grace Lim, Shawn McAfee and the two young filmmakers about this multimedia cross-discipline collaborative project.
What is Airboat Rescue 1: When the Ice Breaks about?
Grace Lim: It is a story about a family of heroes, particularly about a man named Norm Lee, who lost a son, Brian, to a tragic snowmobile accident in 1977. Brian Lee was 20 years old when he and three of his friends decided to cross Lake Poygan after the first lake freeze. Lake Poygan is about 20 miles west of Oshkosh.
|Freeze Frame: Students Trent Hilborn and Mark Mazur shot and edited more than 16 hours of footage for a 16-minute documentary.
People who know lakes and Wisconsin winters know that the ice can been unpredictable. All four fell through the thin ice. Only one was saved. At that time there were no ice rescue vehicles readily available that could cut through both water and ice. That meant that family, friends, neighbors, public safety folks all stood on shore that day, knowing that the guys were only about a mile away, and they couldn’t get to them. Can you imagine how awful that must have been? Rather than let his grief overwhelm him, Norm, along with another victim’s wife, purchased the area’s first ice rescue airboat. Now that act would have been enough, but Norm decided he had to do more. He didn’t want any other family to go through what his did. He decided to become a ice rescuer. In fact, he and his sons, Colin and Perry, Brian’s brothers, have been rescuing people off Lake Poygan and surrounding lakes for more than three decades. They do this as volunteers. Norm is now 87 and his wife, Joyce, is 85. Even Joyce is involved. Every time Rescue 1 is called on a mission, she’s logging everything she hears on the scanner. Airboat Rescue 1: When the Ice Breaks is about this amazing family of heroes.
|In this video Grace Lim, director of Airboat Rescue 1: When the Ice Breaks, and Shawn McAfee, principal designer and still photographer, and student filmmakers Mark Mazur and Trent Hilborn, share the story behind the story of this multimedia project. The video is directed by Wayne Abler of UW Oshkosh Learning Technologies.|
photo illustration by Shawn McAfee of UW Oshkosh Media Services
Maestro & Musician
Andre Gaskins doesn't get stage fright. Ever.
In fact, Gaskins is most at ease performing for an audience with a cello bow or a conductor baton in his hand. With those tools, he's able to do magic.
"The power of music and live performance is this ability to transport people to another place," says Gaskins, who is the new director of orchestral activities and cello at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. He is also the music director and conductor for the Columbus (Ga.) Ballet. "To be able to get (the audience) to focus on something other than their daily routine, that's really a beautiful thing."
Gaskins' career path, he jokes, may have been pre-determined. The only son of a insurance salesman and a Japanese language translator, Gaskins says his father had told his mother, while they were dating, that they'd have three children and that they'd all be musicians. Well, his father wasn't far off. One of his two sisters is a professional violist, having played with the Indianapolis Symphony. The other sister is a linguist. "Well, he's got two out of three," says Gaskins with laugh. "That's not bad."
In an interview with COLS Special Reports producer Grace Lim, Andre Gaskins talks about the power of the live performance, the audacity of his asking superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma for a favor and the value of music in today's world.
The video is also available for download to your iPod through UW Oshkosh iTunesU (requires iTunes).
The Big Instrument
Gaskins' choosing the cello as his main instrument wasn't as mystical. "It's a big instrument, and I'm a boy," he says. "I wanted to play a bigger instrument than the violin which my two older sisters played."
But he soon grew to love the sounds he was able to coax out of the instrument. At 14, Gaskins won a competition that resulted in his being solo cellist with the Carmel (Ind.) Symphony Orchestra, playing Allegro Appassionato by Camille Saint-Saens.
He recalls how his fellow classmates asked him, "My gosh, aren't you totally freaked out? I would be so nervous."
To Gaskins, that nervousness was and, to some extent, still is a foreign concept. "This is what I had identified myself with from the very beginning," he says. "To me, it was very natural."
What also came naturally to Gaskins is standing on the the conductor podium. When he was a senior in high school, he asked his orchestra director for a chance to conduct. The director, seeing a musical spark that would not be denied, agreed and handed over the baton.
"He was a very generous and giving man," Gaskins says of his high school orchestra director.
Gaskins remembers the day he led the 85-member orchestra because it was Election Day 1992. "I never got nervous. This is who I am. This is what I do," he says. "It was as natural as walking to me."
After high school, Gaskins attended Butler University for his undergraduate's degree in violoncello performance. Then he earned his master's degree from Indiana University, where he is in the final stages of completing his doctoral degree.
Along the way, Gaskins has enjoyed a diverse career as conductor, soloist and music educator. In addition to the Columbus Ballet, he has conducted for the Youth Orchestra of Greater Columbus, the Columbus State University Philharmonic and the Richmond Symphony, among others. His recording of Martinu's Concerto for the Summit Records label was nominated for the 2004 Grammy Awards in the category of Best Performance by a Small Ensemble (with or without conductor).
This past Thanksgiving in Richmond, Va., Gaskins logged his 30th performance as a solo cellist. His other solo appearances have included performances with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, the Richmond Symphony Orchestra and the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra. Gaskins can be heard in the soundtrack for the PBS documentary For Gold and Glory (2003) and is a featured soloist for the motion picture soundtrack Forgive Me Father (2001).
Cello Boot Camp
Since September, Gaskins has been at the helm of the UW Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra and is the music department's cello instructor. He hopes to build up both the numbers in the orchestra (55) and the cello studio (5).
At the beginning of the fall semester and before his cello students even had a chance to play a note, he called a meeting. He told them that during the first six to eight weeks, they will be participating in a "cello boot camp."
Gaskins shared with them this story about his first encounter with his own instructor at Indiana University, the world-renowned cellist Janos Starker:
"He told me before he accepted me into his studio, 'You are going to be miserable for the first six months of studying with me.'
"I said, 'Why is that?'
"'Because we’re going to go back to some basics.'
"I thought about it for a few seconds and I said, 'Well, I’d rather be miserable now than be miserable for the rest of my life.'
"Apparently that was the right answer because he scheduled me for a lesson and, from that point after, I was in his studio."
Gaskins has never forgotten that lesson from the master cellist.
In addition to technique, Gaskins aims to teach his students patience. "The younger generation lack patience," he says. "They need to know that this is serious business. It doesn't come easy. It certainly doesn't come overnight."
Says Gaskins: "My biggest hope for my students is that they be able to teach themselves by the time they leave. Just because I'm the teacher doesn't mean that I provide all the answers. They are also responsible for making discoveries on their own."
Even after all these years of playing, performing and conducting, Gaskins still views himself as a work in progress. "You can always improve," he says.
While Gaskins is constantly pushing himself and his students, he will not be pushed by those who say he can't be both a conductor and a cellist. "I know my limits. I know my abilities, and I can do this," he says. "When people tell me I can't do something, I say, 'Watch me.'"
On Dec. 10, 2009, Andre Gaskins will be conducting the UW Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra Concert Dance Trance: Spanish and Slavonic Dances. On Dec. 11, 2009, he will be participating in the Faculty Lecture-Recital Clara Schumann Speaks, Joyce Andrews, soprano, and Jeri-Mae Astolfi, piano, with Carmen Shaw, piano, and friends & alumna. Gaskins will perform with Klara Bahcall, violin, and Eli Kalman, piano. For more information, please visit the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Department of Music Calendar.
(Photo credits: Shawn McAfee of UW Oshkosh Media Services; photo of Gaskins as solo cellist with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra courtesy of Lynn. C. Felton.)
The following video is of Andre Gaskins playing J.S. Bach's Sarabande from Suite No.1.
The following video features Andre Gaskins at age 18, performing the cello solo during the 1993 ISSMA (Indiana State School Music Association) state orchestra contest. His high school, Carmel High, won that year.
The following video shows Andre Gaskins performing the song Farewell from the soundtrack of the motion picture Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra in Indianapolis in 2007.
“Electronic Health Records Adoption and Use in Wisconsin Skilled Nursing Facilities”
Dr. Anna A. Filipova is an assistant professor in the Department of Public Administration (DPA) at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. She teaches undergraduate public administration courses for the Center for New Learning and graduate public administration courses with health care emphasis in the DPA.
Dr. Filipova's presentation examines the current level of automation for 21 clinical and operational functions, the types of automated clinical decision support and health information exchange and integration capabilities, the types of automated systems to capture and query information relevant to health care quality, as well as the perceived barriers and benefits of electronic health records adoption and use in skilled nursing facilities. The study is the first to use a scientifically-based, comprehensive instrument and establishes a baseline assessment for future research. Facility and policy implications are discussed for successful electronic health records transition.
The following is Dr. Anna Filipova's presentation on electronic health records.
Photos by student multimedia reporter Brad Beck.
B.S. Sridhar, Ph.D.
College of Business
by Grace Lim
the teacher’s son
On the grounds of the National Primary and Middle School in Bangalore, India, B.S. Sridhar reflected on his father’s lessons:
You need to be a life-long student to be a productive citizen. You need to live a life giving back to the community.
On that pleasant January day in 2012, Sridhar, an associate professor of business at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, and his siblings stood on the grounds of the school that their father founded more than 75 years ago. They saw their father’s life’s work in the shining faces of more than 700 students. The Balakuntalam siblings, five total, were back in India to celebrate what would have been the 100th birthday of their father, who passed away in 1980. They came back to honor the man, who taught them to value education for themselves and others by establishing the Srividya Foundation, which will focus on making educational opportunities available to children who cannot afford them. The foundation’s first order of business is to provide uniforms for the students at the first school that their father founded.
Sridhar and his siblings did not want to make a big fuss over their return to the school. They had just wanted to drop in, reminisce a bit, then leave. But when word got around that the sons and daughters of the founder, Balakuntaalum Sundareswara, were on the campus, the school canceled classes and held an impromptu welcome presentation.
Sridhar was touched beyond words. He said his father would have been terribly embarrassed by the attention, but would have loved that the school is thriving and the children are learning.
And he would have loved that his son Sridhar is continuing that tradition of cultivating young minds.
Sridhar was born in Bengaluru, the capital city of the Indian state of Kamataka, which is situated in southern India. His father was a trained child psychologist, but chose to go into education. His mother, a consummate volunteer and avid reader, provided the steady hand in the rearing of five children. His mother was the only daughter of an affluent businessman and came from a family steeped in community service. When Sridhar’s parents got married, his father did not want the customary dowry that is provided from the bride’s family. “My father who was an idealist wanted none of that. He said, ‘Just come as you are,’ which meant that my mother had to give up a lot of her comfortable living,” Sridhar says. “As a Gandhian, my father could go into the field and pursue his vision, but the person that kept the family intact and gave him all the support was my mother. We owe a lot to her.”
Sridhar says his father trained teachers and taught high school for a few years, but was disenchanted with the quality of educational foundation the students had prior to entering high school. His father took a 50 percent pay cut so he could start a kindergarten and middle school. That school, the National Primary and Middle School, opened in 1937. After a few years, the family moved from town to town while the father promoted his educational visions. Sridhar remembers several schools that were so impoverished that the students had no furniture. But the children were not lacking education-wise because of teachers who truly cared.
Since that first school, his father had helped found several more schools and until his death continued to train teachers and mentor many others. “He firmly believed that you cannot really educate students unless the teachers have had good training and preparation,” he says.
Education was paramount, Sridhar said. His parents’ home was filled with books and news magazines. “We did not have a radio in our house until I was 12,” he says. “I did not grow up with television.”
His parents often hosted well-known Indian poets, authors and artists, and encouraged the children to interact and engage with the guests. They were followers of Mahatma Gandhi, who valued education and culture. “That was invaluable,” Sridhar says of lively dinners and friendly debates with guests. “That was huge as an education.”
Arts and Science
Sridhar enjoyed and excelled in school. He knew what society’s expectations were of him. A professional career that begins with engineering school, medical school, something of that ilk. However, that was not what interested Sridhar. “I took science, I enjoyed it, but I had never any inclination on becoming an engineer or doctor, which for the larger community is almost taboo,” he says.
“How could you not think of becoming an engineer or doctor?” well-meaning friends and relatives would say somewhat incredulously. Sridhar smiles broadly. “For me, liberal education was more fun.”
He “dabbled in literature” while majoring in physics and chemistry and minoring in mathematics at Bangalore University. Between his undergraduate and first graduate degrees, he was selected as a Naval Aviation Cadet Officer. He was one of 16 people out of 7,000 applicants accepted into that program. After 18 months, an ear problem grounded his flying days. He then made the transition from science to management.
That switch wasn’t too hard because he had always exhibited leadership qualities even as a boy, from leading student organizations, fundraisers, participating in music competitions, debate, and plays. In college, he competed in literary debate in three languages. (He has comfortable fluency in five languages.) “Leadership came very naturally for me,” he says. “So, to me, management is about leading people and leading organizations.”
|In this video, B.S. Sridhar talks about the importance of liberal arts education. Video produced by multimedia news intern Noell Dickmann.
After his stint with the Navy, Sridhar immersed himself in the world of business. He has worked as a personnel officer, personnel and administration manager and chief personnel manager for several large companies in India. He earned his first of three advanced degrees, a master’s of arts in personnel management and industrial relations from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India.
Teaching as a Vocation
He had entertained the idea of teaching, having participated in employee training sessions at various companies. However, he had a different view about teaching as a vocation than his father, who had viewed teaching as a calling. His father’s life and career choices meant the family lived in poverty. Rich in ways not measured by money, yes, but poor in reality, nonetheless.
Sridhar says he has a more pragmatic way of looking at life than his romantic father. “I was looking for an opportunity to be gainfully employed and be comfortable,” he says. “I wanted something that could balance my economic needs as well as my professional needs.”
He began questioning his career path. His wife, Sandhya Sridhar, worked for a bank as a Selection Psychologist; he was head of HR for a large company. They have two children and lived a comfortable life. “I said, ‘Money and power is good, but is this really what I want to do for the rest of my life?’ The answer was, ‘No.’”
He thought about what he liked to do–learning and teaching. He could have stayed in India to do just that, but he felt he would have to give up too much to do so. But teaching in the United States, now that had promise.
He made his way to Columbus, Ohio, on straight immigration to study organizational behavior and marketing at the Ohio State University where he earned his M.B.A. and doctorate’s degrees. (His wife Sandhya Sridhar also earned her doctorate’s degree in business there, and now also teaches in the College of Business at UW Oshkosh.) Soon after graduating in 1987, he landed a teaching position at UW Oshkosh, where he has earned numerous teaching honors including the Excellence in Teaching Award, Management & Human Resources Team (2007, 2011) and Beta Gamma Sigma Professor of the Year (2003, 2006). “In the U.S. you have a fairly decent standard of living as a teacher,” he says with a smile. “Teachers are still not compensated well compared to a plumber or an electrician. On the other hand, I can’t complain. My needs are minimal and I can have fun with teaching.”
At UW Oshkosh, Sridhar teaches both graduate and undergraduate students. He is the founding advisor of the International Business Club, which began in 2001. Bryant Nankee, a senior majoring in marketing and minoring in global business, says Sridhar’s teaching have helped him with his current position as a marketing intern at Oshkosh Corp. “A lot of the course material has allowed me to better understand how to communicate with employees and customers of Oshkosh that are of different cultures,” says Nankee, who is also the Treasurer of the University’s International Business Club. “Wanting to pursue a degree in the international field, I can take away many of the subjects he teaches and be able to use them in the future.”
Kathryn Simon, a marketing senior and President of the International Business Club, says she is struck by Sridhar’s willingness to help. “Dr. Sridhar has taught me the power of connecting with people,” says Simon, who is working as an intern at New North in De Pere, Wis. “He has shown me that it is important to make connections with business professionals. I truly value his advice.”
Tim Fliss, who earned his MBA from UW Oshkosh in 2000, says he often uses Sridhar’s lessons in his job as Vice President of Human Resources at Bemis Company, a multinational company and major supplier of flexible packaging in Neenah, Wis. “Dr. Sridhar used several effective teaching and facilitation techniques to push us out of our comfort zones and think about new possibilities,” Fliss says. “This experience had a profound impact on me and was a catalyst that resulted in several years of rapid personal and professional growth. I also have used many of Dr. Sridhar’s concepts and techniques as I coach and develop leaders in my role as Vice President of Human Resources at Bemis Company.”
In September of 2012, Sridhar passed his quarter-century mark as a professor at UW Oshkosh. His commitment and passion to teaching remain as strong as ever. “There is not a semester when I don’t take a close look at my syllabus and the contents,” he says.
One student recently inquired about an upcoming Spring class. “He sent me an email about three days ago saying, ‘I want to be prepared for your class. I know you are a tough task master, and I want to use these three weeks to prepare.”
Sridhar took the student’s request to heart. “The last two days I updated my entire course content, and my wife was saying, ‘I thought you wanted to relax,’” he says with laugh. “I said, ‘No, I don’t want to send him a bad syllabus.’”
Sridhar still keeps current with his field with outside consulting projects. He works with local companies in the Fox Valley including nonprofits like the Leadership Oshkosh, Paine Art Center, Oshkosh Symphony in Oshkosh and several small, medium and Fortune 500 companies in the area. “The reason I consult is not because of the money because money comes and money goes,” he says.
He says he is a better teacher when he can bring real-life experience into the classroom. “You gain more credibility when you are conveying abstract concepts like strategy, culture, motivation and leadership” he says of his consulting work. “You get a chance to test your concepts, test your techniques. You can bring the experience to validate or invalidate the textbooks.”
Sridhar wants his students to the see the world from different perspectives. In one recent MBA online class, International Business, he posed a question to his graduate students, “How do you market pizza in Kenya and Nigeria?”
For two days, the students, all in their 30s, engaged in a lively online discussion about the unlikelihood of marketing to people who “lived in trees,” had no infrastructure or need for such modern goods. “They had so many solutions and preconceived notions,” Sridhar recalls.
Then the teacher taught them a lesson with simple YouTube clips. He posted videos of modern supermarkets in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, and Lagos, the most populous city in Nigeria. “The students were shocked,” he says, chuckling. “They said, ‘We don’t have supermarkets like this in Appleton or Oshkosh.' Suddenly they started thinking about these African countries as having great potential for business.”
|In this video, B.S. Sridhar explains a program he works with called IndUS. Video produced by multimedia news intern Noell Dickmann.|
If there is one lesson that Sridhar stresses to his business students, it is this: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
He wants his students to understand that best-laid plans often are rendered useless because they are not in sync with the culture of the organization. “The hardest thing for an organization is building and sustaining desired organizational culture.” In other words, people. How do you attract and retain people, the right kind of people with right kind of values, beliefs and talent,” he says. “They have to understand that people are your most important asset.”
Though both his parents passed in the 1980s, their lessons on education and community service still resonate in Sridhar. “They’ve taught me that learning is fun and that you grow by giving,” Sridhar says.
He lives those lessons daily. He teaches, keeps current in his field, and he gives back to the community by volunteering in many organizations. He has served as president of the Oshkosh Area United Way. He founded Seva, a volunteer group that serves lunch at the Salvation Army in Appleton every Saturday since 1993. He co-founded IndUS of Fox Valley, Inc., a volunteer organization whose mission is to promote “Indo-American friendship and goodwill by serving the community through social, cultural, educational and charitable activities,” and has served as its founding president for six years.
Since 1999 IndUS produces an annual cultural extravaganza that includes an exhibition, musical and dance performances and a multi-course authentic Indian dinner prepared by a renowned chef. The past five years, the gala has been held at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel in Appleton and has attracted a sell-out crowd of 400 attendees.
It is in this venue that another side of Sridhar appears, one that his parents had cultivated when he was young and engaged in lively debates with authors and other creative souls. He has written, directed, and produced two plays, three dance-dramas, and seven musical-dance revues that have been staged in Oshkosh, Appleton and Madison.
For the most recent one in November titled “The Mysterious World of Indian Mythology,” Sridhar wrote and directed the dance drama. The dancers were from Kalaanjali School of Dance & Music, Madison, and Kanopy Dance, the resident dance company of Overture Theater of Madison. Only hours before the main event, Sridhar was going over the final blocking with the professional dancers from the Kalaanjali. His body swayed with the music, his arms flowed in time as the dancers swirled and twirled on stage.
“I am a great believer of liberal education so for me the liberal education has continued,” he says, adding that the business world would benefit greatly from people who embrace the arts. “A liberal education widens your mind. It teaches you how to learn. Art, music and literature are symbiotic with what I do as a professor of business.”
He doesn’t mind the long hours and the stress that comes with producing the cultural program at the annual event. “I learn so many new things,” he says. “It’s actually quite selfish on my part because I always come out ahead. I continue to grow.”
by B.S. Sridhar, Ph.D.
My most recent project
is a review of the various methods used in research of online teaching
and learning in business schools. Alvin Hwang (from Pace University)
and I have developed a paper comparing progress in methods in online
business education research relative to progress in discipline-based
management research and guidelines called for by the American
Educational Research Association (AERA). We reviewed literature
published in this area over the last 10 years, and we found that
advances in analytical techniques have been adopted more rapidly than
often is the case in discipline-based management research (if anything,
perhaps too rapidly), and that the practices employed in this literature
stream fare quite well relative to AERA guidelines. Considering that
we scholars tend to be critical by nature, it is nice to be able to
produce a review paper that is rather positive regarding the state of a
field of study. Probably the biggest area of concern that emerges from
our reviews of this literature is that we would benefit from having a
lot more business educators doing research in this area.
Photo/Shawn McAfee of UW Oshkosh Learning Technologies
By Grace Lim
COLS Special Reports
As the first UW Oshkosh student to be named to the National Debate Scholars Team in 2010, communications major Bridget Isnardi is on track to two-peat this prestigious academic feat.
Isnardi was selected to the Magna Cum Laude National Debate Scholars Team by the Cross-Examination Debate Association, which honors students who maintain strong academic records in addition to their competitive accomplishments. To be eligible for any level of national scholar recognition, a student must have attained at least junior standing, competed in at least 18 rounds on the current topic, and meet the minimum grade point average for that specific award. For Isnardi, she had to maintain a 3.5 GPA to be considered for the Magna Cum Laude team.
UW Oshkosh Debate Team coach Douglas Roubidoux says the honor is equivalent to being selected to the NCAA’s Academic All-American Award. “It is important to note that there are no divisions in debate,” says Roubidoux, who has coached the team since 1997. “Our students compete against Ivy League Universities and Division I Universities.”
|In this video podcast, Bridget Isnardi, a member of the National Debate Scholars Team, shares her thoughts about winning arguments in competition and at family dinners. This podcast is produced by COLS Special Reports editor Grace Lim.
This season Isnardi, 20, is one of eight full-time members on the team that has gone head-to-head and won against larger universities such as University of Miami (Florida), Florida University, West Georgia University, George Washington University and California State University Fullerton.
At the Georgia State University in September where 160 debate teams from 60 colleges, the UW Oshkosh debate members had a combined record of 8-5. The team of Isnardi and Nic Irick went 5-1 and finished in fifth place in their division.
Isnardi says there is no secret to her success. “I guess if I had one it would be time management. It's just important to prioritize - it's important to be realistic with yourself and the goals one sets for themselves,” she says.
For Isnardi, school work always come first. “I've just learned to be efficient in doing homework so I can spend the rest of my time working on debate and doing other things I enjoy.”
However, there is some sacrifice, she says, jokingly. “I have had to give up my afternoon naps - I'm a sucker for cat naps so I've been struggling with that.”
For more information about the UW Oshkosh debate team, please visit
Carmen Heider, Ph.D.
College of Letters and Science
by Noell Dickmann
Student Features Reporter
beyond the statistics
Carmen Heider stood behind the lectern and smiled broadly at the people gathered in front of her. Some were dressed in semi-formal attire; others were in matching blue-green prison apparel. On that day at the Taycheedah Correctional Institution in Fond du Lac, Wis., Heider, an associate communication professor at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, was celebrating her students’ success.
Half the class were known as “Inside” students, women incarcerated in Wisconsin’s largest female prison; the other half were UW Oshkosh students, known as “Outside” students. But behind the prison walls and in Heider’s eyes, they were all one and the same. Heider’s course is part of the Inside-Out Prison Exchange program, a national program that brings together college students and incarcerated people to learn about each other and to dispel myths and stereotypes.
“I am honored and very proud to be a part of this,” Heider said of the Inside-Out program. She unabashedly proclaimed this class as her favorite teaching experience because of the confidence it instills in the “Inside” students and the lasting impact it has on the class as a whole. She introduced two students who were chosen by their fellow classmates to give remarks at the ceremony that signified the completion of the program.
Shartina, an “Inside” student, shared how her life has changed through taking this course under Heider’s direction. “I feel as though I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone, pushed to challenge my thinking,” Shartina said. “Inside-Out has equipped me with a broad base of knowledge, a motivation to live beyond the statistics... What is before me is far greater than what is behind me.”
Wade, a senior at UW Oshkosh, recounted how he was a little unsure about going to prison for a class and how quickly that apprehension went away. “As the weeks went on, Thursday was the new day to look forward to,” he said. He explained how the class gave the UW Oshkosh students a more accurate portrayal of incarcerated women than the stereotypes on TV, movies and in the general media. “Because of this class...those stereotypes are gone.”
|Carmen Heider with the students of the 2012 Inside-Out Prison Exchange class at Taycheedah Correctional Institution.|
|In this audio-only podcast, Carmen Heider tells why she teaches. Podcast produced by student features reporter Noell Dickmann.|
Heider’s students at Taycheedah Correctional Institution won’t forget the lessons learned during the semester. At the closing ceremony, there was plenty of laughter and a palpable sense of camaraderie. The students knew the rules from Day 1–—no telling each other’s backstory, no sharing of crimes and misdemeanors, no last names. These restrictions allowed the students to feel free of the labels that unjustly define them.
While the students were friendly, there was a no hugging rule, even on the last day (though one “Outside” student managed to sneak in a few when no one was looking).
The “Outside” students said they gained a new perspective on the people behind the prison walls. The “Inside” students of the spring 2012 class said they felt encouraged and empowered.
“The most rewarding part about the class is to be able to feel like a human being,” said Enna, one “Inside” student.
Another “Inside” student echoed that sentiment. “It’s the one day a week I didn’t feel incarcerated,” Amy said. “I would be ecstatic the rest of the day after class.”
“Inside” student Ana noted Heider’s dedication - not just to the program, but to the content too. “She has this inner passion and fire,” she said. “She’s really devoted to what she does and that translates when she speaks.”
“Outside” student Nicole said she felt so inspired after completing the course with Heider that she decided to major in criminal justice. She hopes to some day work in a women’s prison.
Upon hearing those words, Heider beamed with pride. “This,” she said after the ceremony, “is why I do what I do.”
Since 2000, Heider has been teaching in the Department of Communication at UW Oshkosh. She is the author of numerous publications on women’s studies and rhetoric, and has received awards for her teaching including the 2005–2006 Wisconsin Teaching Fellow and the 2011 College of Letters and Science Community Engagement Award.
Tiny Town, Big World
Heider grew up in the town of Deshler, Neb. Her father was a livestock and crop farmer, her mother, a former elementary school teacher who left the profession to raise two daughters. The town’s population of about a thousand meant the farmer’s daughter was always finding ways to keep herself amused.
“I was outside a lot when I was little,” said Heider, who remembers building frog houses along a nearby creek and exploring the land with her dog. “My mom always said that I was good at entertaining myself.”
Heider learned at an early age that there was a big world outside her little hometown. She had the urge to see all of it–a trait inherited and nourished by her mother through family trips. She remembers one learning experience when she was about 10 years old, on a trip to Mesa Verde, Colo. The cliff dwellings of the Anasazi people there showed an entirely different way of life to Heider.
Every other year the family would travel to Colorado to see relatives; the years in between they would visit somewhere else, often national parks. “I think that sparked a lot of my curiosity,” Heider said. “Just learning about different things, seeing different things and realizing that not everybody lives the way we do in Deshler, Nebraska.”
Heider was a good student in high school, a social student, but a serious student nonetheless. She always enjoyed reading and analyzing different things, and she excelled in her English classes. One English teacher, Jeanne Weiner, introduced Heider to symbols through George Orwell’s Animal Farm. “I still have my notes from the class that I took with her,” she said.
|In this audio-only podcast, Carmen Heider talks about after-dinner speaking, a forensics event she took part in throughout college. Podcast produced by student features reporter Noell Dickmann.|
Hooked on Rhetoric
Her interest in symbols would further ignite into rhetoric when Heider became a student at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, majoring in speech communication and journalism. An undergraduate course required her to read The Language of Oppression by Haig A. Bosmajian, and Heider was hooked on rhetoric ever since. “It changed the way I thought about words,” Heider said of the book.
Her eyes burn with excitement as she explains the topic of rhetoric, which she said has two parts. First, symbols such as language, images and names make up the world. Second, rhetoric is designed to understand how these symbols function, how we make sense of the world through them.
Heider also took part in forensics throughout college. She did informative speaking, persuasive speaking and communication analysis, but her best event was after-dinner speaking. “It was humorous speaking and I talked about my hometown, Deshler,” Heider said with a laugh.
For the after-dinner speech Heider often used the hometown newspaper, the Deshler Rustler, as fodder, especially a section that highlighted important events in the town’s history. One headline from the past read, “The wholesale grocery company received a cart of bananas on Wednesday and a cart of grapes on Saturday.” Another headline from 1986 read, “Just what is a wild boar?”
“The overall point was that small, rural towns actually can be interesting places to live,” Heider said.
After graduating from UN–Lincoln in 1987, Heider worked for a few years at a bank doing collections and at a newspaper creating advertisements. It was during this time that she realized she wasn’t really doing what she wanted. “I felt like I wasn’t learning enough,” she said. “I missed being in the classroom.”
Her longing to learn propelled Heider to apply at a new master’s program in speech communication at Texas A&M University. Right away she knew she had made the right move. “I loved being able to spend my time reading the articles that were required for the class, writing the papers and just learning about things in more depth,” said Heider, who earned her master’s degree in 1993.
Her renewed enjoyment of the classroom made her start thinking about pursuing a career in academia. “It just seemed like a good fit,” said Heider, who then went on to Pennsylvania State University for her doctorate in speech communication, which she received in 2000. Heider started teaching at UW Oshkosh the
|In this audio-only podcast, Carmen Heider reveals what she hopes students take away from her classes. Podcast produced by student features reporter Noell Dickmann.
Heider has been teaching at UW Oshkosh for more than a decade, but has yet to grow tired of it. She stays enthusiastic by not limiting the learning to the four walls of a classroom. She has led several study abroad trips to Greece and Tanzania. “We can learn inside the classroom, but I think we can learn a lot of things outside of the classroom too,” Heider said. “The travel experiences or going to a prison can be really phenomenal ways to learn the subject matter in less traditional ways.”
The Tanzania trip is a journey that takes her students more than 8,000 miles from home–away from running water, away from people who speak English, away from comfortable homes and people who wear shoes. In Tanzania, the students are thrown into a desert of poverty, where lions and tigers roam free, where houses are made of sticks, where people get their dinner by a bow-and-arrow and where naked, starving orphans are covered in flies.
Well, not quite. Such misconceptions are exactly why Heider brings her students to the East African country.
While Tanzania does have its problems, Heider said, UW Oshkosh students can see first-hand how the people address them despite a lack of resources. During the three-week study abroad program, students saw the Tanzanians practice AIDS education, engage in a grass-roots fair-trade movement and observed local women learning trades to become self-sufficient.
Heider recalls an especially touching moment during the January 2012 trip to Tanzania. During a session with a local group of women in a very poor area of the country, the study abroad group learned how to hand-weave baskets. Even though the two groups of people faced a challenge–the Tanzanian women did not speak English and the UW Oshkosh students did not speak the local language of Swahili–they found a way to communicate with each another. “It was magical,” Heider said. “We connected, and that was really powerful.”
Even Heider was caught up in the moment; she purposely over-paid for a hand-made necklace and through a translator told the seller, who tried to give her the change, to “just keep it.” The woman was beyond grateful. “The expression on her face was like she had won the lottery and it was 11,000 shillings, which is probably $8,” Heider said. “I will never forget that.”
|Carmen Heider in Tanzania with UW Oshkosh instructor Liz Cannon, Ph.D., and a local student from Tanzania.
|In this audio-only podcast, Carmen Heider tells why she encourages students to study abroad. Podcast produced by student features reporter Noell Dickmann.|
Whether it’s traveling, researching or diving into stereotypes, exploration spreads to every aspect of Heider’s life. Her husband Paul Czisny, a self-employed attorney, shares her passion. In the summer the two head southwest for hiking expeditions.
From getting married in 2004 at Yellowstone National Park to hiking the Grand Canyon rim to rim, to the top of Mount Elbert (the highest point in Colorado), they can be found outdoors where the rocks are red and the mountain peaks scrape the sky.
While retirement is a ways off, they do share a dream of joining the Peace Corps together. “Being immersed in another culture for two years would be a powerful experience,” she said. “It would enrich my teaching and my research too.”
For now, Heider is happy researching, teaching and expanding her students’ worlds. “I hope I can help students step back and see things from multiple perspectives, and I hope that I can help students understand the importance of asking the “why” questions,” she said.
Heider has climbed part of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania; she has seen the struggles of society both in America and abroad. She has seen the good and the bad, and all that is in between the two, and has learned that people everywhere are typically more similar than different.
She said it is critical that students leave her courses with a broader understanding of the role that language and symbols play in shaping identities and communities.
“I hope students learn that language has consequences, and that those who have the power to control language also have the power to direct our attention and actions in certain ways,” she said. “However, if we change the language, we can change how we think, and sometimes, how we act.”
research mattersby Carmen Heider, Ph.D.
My current research focuses on a book-length project based on the rhetorical analysis of 50 interviews I conducted with women in a maximum/medium security prison. My goal was to gain an understanding of how incarcerated women perceive their lives prior to incarceration, how they understand their experiences in prison, and how they think about their lives in the future, be it in prison or upon release. I also asked these women to share the messages that they would like to communicate to three different audiences: tax-paying citizens, individuals who work in the criminal justice system, and girls or women who might find themselves in circumstances similar to those that each of these women faced prior to her incarceration. I am exploring the themes, metaphors, and contradictions that emerge in their life narratives and their messages to various audiences. My hope is that this project creates a space for the voices of the incarcerated to be heard and to become more integrated into our public discourse on incarceration, which might then have an impact on reducing the number of women in prison.
From Campus to Prison:
Teaching the Inside-Out Course at Taycheedah Correctional Institution
In spring of 2012, Dr. Carmen Heider will once again hold court behind the barbed wires at the Taycheedah Correctional Institution in Fond du Lac, Wis. Heider, an associate professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, led the first Inside-Out program in the state three years ago.
(Read about that first Inside-Out experience.)
In the Oct. 9, 2011, Dean's Symposium, Heider presented “From Campus to Prison: Teaching the Inside-Out Course at Taycheedah Correctional Institution.”
Here is a description of her presentation:
What is it like to teach behind prison walls? This talk focuses on the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, which was first taught at Taycheedah Correctional Institution in Fall 2009 and is scheduled again in Spring 2012. The class brings together 10 “outside” university students and 10 “inside” incarcerated students who learn together as peers in a semester-long course that explores issues related to gender, language, and incarceration. The Inside-Out course is part of a national program that provides outside students with the opportunity to question their assumptions about women in prison, and invites inside students to situate their life experiences within a larger, theoretical framework. As a whole, the course is designed to dismantle “us versus them” thinking and serve as an impetus for social change.
The following is Dr. Carmen Heider's audio-only presentation. John Koker, dean of the College of Letters and Science, gives the introduction.
Looking at Bones
When Dr. David Dilkes and Dr. Joseph Peterson talk about bones, they are painting vivid pictures of a prehistoric world where dinosaurs roam.
In a fall Dean's Symposium, Dilkes, Department of Biology, and Peterson, Department of Geology, shared their research in a talk titled: "More Than Just Bones: Interpreting Function and Behavior in Fossil Vertebrates."
In his introduction of the two presenters, John Koker, Dean of the College of Letters and Science, said the following:
“Try to imagine yourself in the Cretaceous Period. You get your first look at this "six foot turkey" as you enter a clearing. He moves like a bird, lightly, bobbing his head. And you keep still because you think that maybe his visual acuity is based on movement like T-Rex – he'll lose you if you don't move. But no, not Velociraptor. You stare at him, and he just stares right back. And that's when the attack comes. Not from the front, but from the side, from the other two raptors you didn't even know were there. Because Velociraptor's a pack hunter, you see, he uses coordinated attack patterns and he is out in force today. And he slashes at you with this – a six-inch retractable claw, like a razor, on the middle toe. He doesn't bother to bite your jugular like a lion, oh no … he slashes at you here or here … or maybe across the belly, spilling your intestines. The point is … you are alive when they start to eat you. So you know … try to show a little respect.”
This quote from the classic film, Jurassic Park, explains our fascination with these extinct animals. Their interesting behaviors (real or imagined!) and their incredible anatomic structure do not just serve as entertainment for our first Dean’s Symposium presenters of the year. Dr. David Dilkes and Dr. Joseph Peterson have built strong scientific careers around the study of prehistoric life.
|Dr. Dilkes shares his research on prehistoric amphibians and reptiles.
Dr. Dilkes earned his PhD from the University of Toronto at Mississauga in Vertebrate Paleontology, a field of study that combines comparative anatomy, biomechanics, sedimentology, ecology, and evolutionary taxonomy. He began his tenure at UW Oshkosh in 2003 in the Department of Biology & Microbiology, where he teaches courses in Human and Comparative Anatomy. His research takes him to locations throughout North America and to Argentina and South Africa. His interests include anatomical differences between extremely different amphibians and reptiles from distinct time periods, evolutionary relationships among vertebrates from separate pylogenetic branches, biomechanics, restoration of non-fossilized soft tissue, and the ecological roles of these extinct vertebrates.
|Dr. Joseph Peterson presents his research on horned dinosaurs.
Dr. Peterson earned his PhD in Geology from Northern Illinois University and began his faculty position at UW Oshkosh in 2011. His teaching assignment includes Historical Geology, Paleontology, and Environmental Geology. Dr. Peterson, like Dr. Dilkes, has a broad range of interests in the area of vertebrate paleontology, paleobiology, fossil lesions in archosaurs, geomicrobiology, and experimental taphonomy (the study of decaying organisms and how they become fossilized). His most current project involves the study of injury and behavior in the horned dinosaurs.
Here is a description of their talk:
Hypotheses of function and behavior in extinct vertebrates can be formed from examination of how bones connect with each other and reconstruction of soft-tissue structures attaching to bones such as muscles and ligaments. Type and range of movements at these connection points will determine basic behaviors such as food capture, processing of food, manipulation of objects by the skull or limbs, and locomotion. These behaviors can, in turn, tell us about the ecology of extinct vertebrates. Dr. Dilkes has studied anatomy and function of bony plates associated with the vertebral column in early amphibians and how they affect locomotion on land. He has also studied the form of limb bones and their musculature in the plant eating duck-billed dinosaur Maiasaura to infer patterns of locomotion and how locomotion may change during growth. The study of injuries on ancient bones can also allow for inferences of behavior and physiology of extinct animals. Dr. Peterson has studied injuries in Cretaceous dinosaurs such as the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex, the horned Triceratops, and the thick-headed Pachycephalosaurus to shed light on the lives and behaviors of dinosaurs.
|This audio podcast features Dr. Dilkes and Dr. Peterson's "More Than Just Bones: Interpreting Function and Behavior in Fossil Vertebrates."
The first presenter is Dr. Dilkes. To follow along with him, please click here to download the PowerPoint.
A photo of Denise Parrish, who is featured in the War: Through Their Eyes, Warriors & Nurses student multimedia project
Soldier and Mother
Denise Parrish smiles broadly as her son Zach pulls up, towing a trailer with a sleek black Polaris snowmobile. Her son had just purchased the vehicle and wanted to show it off.
“Does it go fast?” Parrish asks, almost rhetorically.
Zach, 20, grins. “Not too fast.”
They look at each other and chuckle. Parrish’s heart aches just a bit. As a mother, she just wants what all mothers want, to keep their children safe. Young men and snowmobiles… As a nurse of 15 years at Mercy Medical Center in Oshkosh, Wis., Parrish knows that every winter, eager young snowmobilers will find their way to the emergency room.
She shakes away those thoughts and musters enough enthusiasm for Zach’s newest purchase. She replaces the muted dread with gratitude. She is thankful that Zach can look forward to zooming across the frozen lakes in Wisconsin and hanging out with friends and family.
She is grateful that her son’s 21st year will be nothing like hers—when she was a new mother and a Specialist in the U.S. Army, deployed to a foreign country to fight in a war that she barely understood.
To read the entire story, please download this PDF.
In this video, Denise Parrish discusses the moment she knew she'd be a nurse, the role her school guidance counselor played in her decision to join the military and the anguish she felt leaving her husband and infant son when she was deployed to Croatia.
In this audio podcast, Denise Parrish talks about her first experience as an Operating Room Technician in Wiesbaden, Germany.
In this audio podcast, Denise Parrish discusses the lack of public acknowledgement regarding the U.S. Army’s role in Croatia.
Podcasts produced by student reporter Amy Wasnidge and multimedia news intern Noell Dickmann.
War: Through Their Eyes, Vol. 2, Warriors & Nurses, a student/faculty multimedia project that focuses on the veterans in the College of Nursing at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Warriors & Nurses are the stories of the students and alumni who have seen war in the jungles of Vietnam to the deserts in the Middle East, and yet have found their way into a field of healing.
To read the entire 80-page book, please download this PDF. Warning, it is a large file.
A photo of Dixie Berres, who is featured in the War: Through Their Eyes, Warriors & Nurses student multimedia project
Small Town Girl
Most of her co-workers at Mercy Medical Center in Oshkosh, Wis. know of her military background, but they don’t know the nitty-gritty details. They don’t know about the extreme heat under the unforgiving sun. They don’t know about the desert sand and how it gets into everything. Everything. They don’t know about the monotony of patrolling the tower, carrying an M16, and staring for hours into the darkness of the night. They also don’t know about the fear, the fear of an unseen enemy plotting a mortar attack. They just don’t know.
But some of her patients do. Every once in a while, Dixie Berres, a third-shift nurse on the cardiac floor, would come across a fellow veteran. Within minutes, patient and health care worker become quick fans of each other, for they know. They know what each had done for the good of the country.
To read the entire story, please download this PDF.
In this video, Dixie Berres discusses how the military gave her the confidence needed to deal with the challenges of nursing, her disinterest in the news reports from the front lines and finding out her best friend and maid of honor would be deployed again, missing her wedding.
In this audio podcast, Dixie Berres remembers how September 11th, 2001 changed the course of her life.
Podcast produced by multimedia news intern Noell Dickmann.
War: Through Their Eyes, Vol. 2, Warriors & Nurses, a student/faculty multimedia project that focuses on the veterans in the College of Nursing at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Warriors & Nurses are the stories of the students and alumni who have seen war in the jungles of Vietnam to the deserts in the Middle East, and yet have found their way into a field of healing.
To read the entire 80-page book, please download this PDF. Warning, it is a large file.
In this audio only podcast, Heil discusses the ideas and work behind his book “Primetime Authorship,” which is available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com. This podcast is reported and produced by multimedia student reporters Kristen Manders and Andrew Munger.
The Pages podcasts are discussions with UW Oshkosh faculty and staff about books they've authored and books they love.
In his presentation "Every Day that We Live is the Future: Essays on Environmental Injustice in Nicaragua," Douglas Haynes read excerpts from his published essays and shared the experiences he and his study abroad students had in one of the world's poorest countries. He also discussed how government programs and non-profit organizations in Nicaragua are working to mitigate environmental injustices, including organizations that partner with his UW Oshkosh study abroad course in Nicaragua.
The following is the description of his presentation:
This presentation will journey through daily life in some of Nicaragua’s most marginalized communities to show how poverty magnifies the negative impacts of ecological degradation there. Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and ranks among the world’s ten most vulnerable countries to climate change. The narrative nonfiction and photographs shared in this presentation portray a Managua squatter settlement on the shore of one of the world’s most polluted large lakes, as well as a peasant farming community increasingly undermined by years of extreme weather. By documenting how these communities in Nicaragua are affected by pollution and climate change, these essays reveal how ecological degradation and economic inequality gradually and cumulatively combine to make survival increasingly difficult not only for low-income Nicaraguans, but for many of the world’s poor.
|In this audio podcast, Douglas Haynes presents his symposium “Every Day that We Live is the Future: Essays on Environmental Injustice in Nicaragua”
The following are essays by Dr. Haynes about his Nicaragua experiences. His students from his ES 390: Special Topics: Telling True Stories of Community Development in Nicaragua course also produced a magazine of essays and photos called Building Bridges Between Nicaragua & Wisconsin. The entire magazine is available in PDF format.
The Lake at the Bottom of the Bottom
By Douglas Haynes
It's 8 a.m. in The Bottom, and the sun already feels like a flashlight in my eyes. A guardabarranco, Nicaragua's national bird, flicks its two-pronged tail feathers on the jury-rigged power line behind Edda Montes's house of scrap wood, sheet metal, and concrete blocks. The sun glints off the bird's iridescent blues and oranges. It has a panoramic view of Lake Xolotlán: high enough to see the pale-green water stretch toward dusky mountains but too low to see the deltas of drainage ditches pocked with plastic bottles and unpaired shoes just below the knoll Edda's house sits on…Read more...
A Peaceful Nicaraguan Election Brings a Mandate for Sandinista Social Programs
By Douglas Haynes
At 3 a.m. on election day in Nicaragua, an elderly woman emerged from the dark streets of Managua’s Barrio La Primavera and planted a plastic chair in front of the Alfonso Cortés elementary school, then went home to take a shower. She wanted to be the first to vote when the polls there opened at 7 a.m. Two men walking slowly with canes arrived just after her, saying, “The Sandinistas are here to vote first…”Read more...
Storms Without Names
Climate Change Wreaking Havoc in Central America
By Douglas Haynes
“It’s worth it to come up here to drink a cafecito and meditate on the world, maybe write a poem,” Evenor Malespín told me on top of San Pedro de Carazo, Nicaragua’s highest hill. “Or even eat a carne asada.” Malespín has three bony, chestnut-colored milk cows, but subsistence farmers such as him can rarely afford to eat beef…Read more...
‘Friends of Nicaragua’ share cultural journey
By Emily Miels
A group of UW Oshkosh students sold coffee outside of Reeve Memorial Union on Wednesday to raise money for the non-profit “Compas de Nicaragua” and raise awareness about the hardships and poverty in Nicaragua…Read more…
Study Abroad Photos by Liz Granberg.
To access the host organization in Nicaragua, The Compas de Nicaragua, website:Compas de Nicaragua
Photo by student news intern Katie Holliday
Dr. Andy Robson
By Courtney Rinka
COLS Special Reports Student Reporter
UW Oshkosh Celebrates 10th Anniversary
of Earth Charter Community Summit
This year marks the 10th anniversary of UW Oshkosh’s first Earth Charter Community Summit, an event focused on inspiring others to embrace Earth Charter’s principles for a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society.
The weeklong summit events each year include a discussion and celebration of the Earth Charter’s four principles - respect and care for the community of life; ecological integrity; social and economic justice; nonviolence, democracy, and peace. This year’s summit occurred the week of October 17-23 and included more than 14 events.
UW Oshkosh endorses Earth Charter
UW Oshkosh’s endorsement of the Earth Charter document started in 2001 with a mysterious phone call to Dr. Andy Robson, a professor of English at the University. The woman, who didn’t identify herself, had told Robson to contact Jan Roberts, founder of Earth Charter Community Summits.
“To this day I’ve never known who this person was,” Robson said. “She said you need to contact Jan Roberts, and so I did.”
Conversations with Jan Roberts encouraged Robson to organize one of 12 original Earth Charter Community Summits in 2001 held nationwide. “[Organizing an Earth Charter Community Summit] seemed a natural fit,” Robson said. “Any university should provide fertile ground for the discussion of issues such as those listed in the charter.”
Robson invited Chancellor Richard H. Wells and faculty to attend the first summit in fall 2001 in hopes to securing their support for the Earth Charter. “I wanted to get university endorsement of the principles,” Robson said. “The Chancellor suggested going to each committees that were part of shared governance on campus.”
By May of 2002, UW Oshkosh endorsed the Earth Charter in all areas of Shared Governance; Faculty Senate; Senate of Academic Staff; Classified Staff Advisory Council; Assembly and Senate of the Oshkosh Student Association.
UW Oshkosh became one of eight institutions in the Unites States, and the only institution of higher education in Wisconsin to fully endorse the Earth Charter.
|Mountain Musicians from l-r: Dr. Eli Kalman, and his students Tanya Paulson, Luke Swanger, Rebecca Ottman at the Rocky Ridge Music Camp. Photo courtesy of Dr. Kalman.
By Bradley Beck
Multimedia News Intern
For five weeks at 9,300 feet above sea level, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Professor Dr. Eli Kalman blended his passion of teaching and music with the rustic life at Rocky Ridge Music Camp. Under guidance of a world-class faculty of musicians, students from all over the country created and performed music at the oldest music camp in the United States, which is situated in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. This summer, Kalman shared the Rocky Ridge experience with three students from UW Oshkosh: Rebecca Ottman, Tanya Paulson and Luke Swanger, who was named a co-winner of the annual Young Artist Seminar Concerto Competition. Kalman, a distinguished pianist and professor of music, has performed professionally in many venues including the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in January 2011. Hailing from Israel, he was the recipient of the Paul Collins Wisconsin Distinguished Graduate Fellowship for Excellence at UW-Madison. Dr. Kalman earned the Diploma in Piano Performance at the Academy of Music “G. Dima” in Cluj, Romania, the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The Rocky Mountain Way
In email interviews, we asked Kalman and his students about their experience at the Rocky Ridge Music Camp.
1. How did you get involved with Rocky Ridge Music Camp?
Kalman: Working towards my doctorate at UW Madison in the summer of 2005, I got invited to be the collaborative pianist at Rocky Ridge Music Camp – a position I have filled with much easiness in the early fifteen years of my musical life elsewhere. I had similar positions in Romania and Israel and loved the sharing and the coaching I was able to do give to performing students. That specific learning phase is extremely important – it is the phase in which I could make such a difference as an older musical partner. Also the interaction was supposed to happen in a beautiful mountain setting at 9,000 feet altitude. The mix of mountains and culture is second to none for the simplicity of life in a rustic cabin and the sophistication of such classical training.
|The following video was shot by Dr. Kalman using his iPhone. The video is of Luke Swanger playing the Rondo from Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1 at the Rocky Ridge Music Camp.
2. What do you do at Rocky Ridge Music Camp?
Kalman: My first responsibility is to be the pianist of most of the students as their dedicated partner for performance. I am their musical coach and “older” pianist partner supposed to create an easy professional setting in which their performance would be greatly supported if not enhanced by my years of experience in the field. It includes performance in public concerts, master classes, coaching and a lot of rehearsals in individual lesson format. My other responsibility is to be on the piano faculty, teaching students brought from UW Oshkosh or other places to this music camp. It is actually a continuation of my work from UWO with same challenges and gratifications. I was delighted this year to have three of my own students joining the camp as participants and representing UWO the way they did. All three of them made me very proud of what we do here at our school and of our level of preparation and professionalism. All three have beautifully performed in the RRMC Concerto Competition and I couldn’t be more satisfied in regard to their performance.
3. What types of student applicants are chosen to participate?
Kalman:This is a difficult question to answer. Of course musically, you want the best possible music students but given the intense community life for the 5 weeks you are also counting on certain human qualities, which can make their adaptation easy.
Compatibility and strong communication skills are very important although at times you see students acquiring those qualities out of necessity. Love of natural settings and hiking are important although we have seen many students and faculty lacking those tendencies and still doing very well. It is a mix of qualities we have learned to recognize for strength and weaknesses.
RRMC is a very rich experience with multiple ramifications of other-than-music ones. It is so much more that music only that it is tough to reduce it to a few sentences.
Making music: Dr. Eli Kalman, a professor of music at UW Oshkosh, on piano, recorded "The Jewish Soul" with Israeli cellest Amit Peled. The CD was released on Centaur Records in 2009.
Kalman: The Music Camp offers a number of professional advantages, which are essential to the participants.
First, RRMC enables the students to continue their work in the summer and to reach a different level of preparation just by meeting peers in the field from so many different schools.
Second, they have two piano lessons a week and multiple chamber coaching with different teachers and they are expected to rehearse on a daily basis when there is no assisted lesson.
Third, they have a variety of evening lectures and mainly informal but direct interaction with many faculty. Their 5-week life is basically organized as music around-the-clock.
Lastly, student exposure to other music faculty and students create a musical network in which they all learn a lot about the very nature of the music business. In addition, there is also a social aspect, which is typical to all summer camps, and fun is everywhere one is capable of recognizing it.
5. How has that experience benefited them musically/personally?
Kalman: My students Rebecca Ottman, Tanya Paulson and Luke Swanger greatly benefited of all-the above listed learning opportunities and to my assessment they have gained strength in all areas they needed and more. Their performance skills got stronger and more secure and although sometimes the learning starts in an uneasy way – they have made a journey which I believe that was useful in an immediate way. They had to earn their placement in the micro-society of RRMC 2011 session and prove themselves as worthy of respect for all professional and human qualities. Quite a challenge at times but what a thrill when you realize you did so well in multiple areas. They all did!
6. What do students take away from the music camp?
Kalman: A combination of things from the higher intensity of instruction all the way to the plusses and minuses of mountain life. Social bonding with other musicians and in-depth exposure to a musician’s style of life . For most students it helps in the decision making of staying or leaving the path. Some risk taking in actually bringing them to the camp, but so far it worked miracles for my students. Luke Swanger played with the orchestra as a winner in the competition and my other two students were – in my opinion – the closest to him. But that is a personal opinion, of course.
7. How is instruction at camp different from what takes place with music teachers/professors during the school year?
Kalman: There is no way to focus so much on piano performance during the school year although that would be the right thing to do. So many other courses and real life are taking us away from the piano. At the camp the illusion is that there is nothing else outside of your main goal.
No distractions…nothing else but your music. It is so amazing to discover how much one can improve when there is no distraction of any kind around. When you see that the other sixty students are also pushing hard for the same goal – you end up working twice as much.
8. What makes Rocky Ridge Music Camp such a special place?
Kalman: The gorgeous natural setting and the isolation from all possible distraction. Great people all loving music and fantastic mountaineer attitude. It's easy-going at surface but really serious about music.
The Music Camp Experience
Rebecca Ottman: Early start to the day followed by four hours of chamber practice --I was personally involved in two chamber groups. Each chamber group was assigned a 'new' piece of music to start from 'scratch' to later perform for the public at the end of the six week seminar. After lunch we had a couple hours to either continue with chamber practice or work on solo material. Evenings were generally reserved for orchestra rehearsal, theory and/or guest lectures and more solo practice time. Every Monday was a 'free' day in which we traveled as a group to nearby cities (Boulder, Denver), chance a hike in the Rockies, or just relax at the nearest lake.
Tanya Paulson: Although most of our time at camp is spent making, listening to, and learning about music, we manage to find time for other kinds of fun, as well. One of my favorite aspects of Rocky Ridge is the mountains, which I try to take full advantage of by going on lots of hikes. My biggest triumph so far is summitting Longs Peak, the highest peak in Rocky Mountain National Park at 14,259 ft.
Another important part of my time at Rocky Ridge was my work-study commitment. This covered part of my tuition in exchange for a few hours of work every day. My duties included setting up, serving and doing breakfast dishes with two other students. This was often one of the most fun parts of the day, and resulted in two great friendships.
How has the music camp benefited you musically/personally?
Luke Swagger: Personally, I feel Rocky Ridge has helped me tremendously. The confidence one gains from each performance is amazing and I feel Rocky Ridge has had a large impact in my development as a performer.
It has had a very big impact with my musical career. I met Dr. Gallo at Rocky Ridge the year prior and he invited me to Georgia State for an audition. I now have a teaching assistant-ship and will be starting my graduate degree with him this fall.
Tanya Paulson: This was my third summer attending Rocky Ridge. Every year, at the end of the session, I feel stronger and more confident than when I arrived. Being immersed in a community of passionate and supportive musicians provides tremendous inspiration and drive to achieve one's goals. Going into this semester I am already planning and looking forward to the repertoire I will play next summer.
What are you taking away from this experience?
Luke Swanger: Rocky Ridge has helped me gain confidence. I have met and hopefully developed lasting connections with many talented individuals. Because of this I feel Rocky Ridge will continue to impact me in the years to come.”
Rebecca Ottman: A lot of stress accompanies performance, especially when you only have a few weeks to learn a lot of new material; however, I outperformed my expectations. I have more confidence in myself as a musician. I was exposed to many different types of musicians and music, I left a more educated and aware musician.
Tanya Paulson: Perhaps even more valuable than the musical experience I gain each summer are the life experiences. Music camp is a crash course in communication, dealing with other people, making friends, and countless other skills. Most importantly, Rocky Ridge brings together a small number of people who are all bonded by a love of music. This leads to some incredibly special relationships which are hard to find anywhere else. I have gained friendships which I will treasure for the rest of my life.
Photo illustration by Shawn McAfee/Learning Technologies
From Grace Lim:
As the editor/producer of COLS Special Reports, I get to tell cool interesting stories about the people who make up the College of Letters and Science at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. The following Faculty and Staff Notes story is one that I am personally happy to highlight because it is about one of my best friends, Dr. Jennifer Szydlik, a professor of mathematics.
Each year, the UW Board of Regents recognizes two faculty and academic staff members from the 26 UW System institutions. This year, they tapped Dr. Szydlik as a 2010 Regents Teaching Excellence Award winner.
Along with this honor is $5,000 and 5 minutes to address the regents at their August meeting in Madison. You must watch how Dr. Szydlik used her 5 minutes at the mic. I will only say this: this woman is like a verbal ninja.
Not the Usual Acceptance Speech
Jennifer Szydlik, a professor of mathematics at UW Oshkosh, addressed the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System at its August meeting in Madison, where she was awarded a 2010 Regents Teaching Excellence Award. Regent Jeffrey Bartell gave the introduction and a glimpse into her storied teaching career. Dr. Szydlik's speech starts at 3:55.
|Watch her Board of Regents speech first, then listen to the my sit-down interview with her. In this audio-only podcast, Dr. Szydlik, whom I really know as Jen, will share her thoughts about what makes a good teacher, why she hasn’t balanced her checkbook since 1987 and what she is going to do with her $5,000 prize.
(Please pardon the paroxysm of laughter in the podcast.)
These podcasts are also available for download to your iPod through UW Oshkosh iTunesU (requires iTunes).
Photo: Shawn McAfee/UW Oshkosh Learning Technologies
By Tom Hanaway
Multimedia News Intern
Dr. Stephen Kercher is an associate professor in the Department of History at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Dr. Kercher, who earned his Ph.D. in history and American studies at Indiana University at Bloomington, specializes in post-WWII American history. He has received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 2008 and has directed history projects such as “Black Thursday,” “The Algoma Riots” and “Earth Day.” He co-founded and formerly directed the Northeast Wisconsin Teachers Academy for the Study of American History, a project funded by more than $1.7 million from the U.S. Department of Education. Dr. Kercher has been teaching at UW Oshkosh since 2000.
For this Setting the Course story, we asked Dr. Kercher a few questions about his passion of history, projects he has been a part of and his love for teaching.
Setting the Course PodcastIn the following audio-only podcast, Dr. Kercher discusses his course, America in the 1960s, which follows the counterculture movement, the Vietnam War and the sexual revolution. The class will be offered in Spring 2012. This podcast was conducted and produced by multimedia news intern Tom Hanaway.
1. What first got you interested in history?
I came to an appreciation of history rather late. History as it was conveyed to me in middle and
high school—with its specific attention to the rote memorization of names and dates—bored me to tears. As my intellectual curiosity grew in college I gave history another chance. In college
history classes, as I began to study how popular attitudes, political ideologies and social
movements evolved over time, the world around me became more relatable. Historical insights
were suddenly revelatory, and I was hooked for life.
2. What area of history do you enjoy the most?
I am interested in many facets of twentieth-century United States history, but I am most drawn to
cultural and intellectual history, the study of how ideas, cultural institutions and the popular arts
have reflected and influenced American life.
Kercher discusses Joseph Pulitzer's role in the Spanish-American War during a History 202 lecture on February 22, 2011.Photo taken by Shawn McAfee of UW Oshkosh Learning Technologies.
3. Why did you want to become a professor?
I imagined that devoting myself to researching and teaching history would continually engage
me in the world of ideas and allow me to help others understand the importance of our past.
4. You are originally from Illinois, so why did you decide to teach in Wisconsin? What drew you to Oshkosh?
I grew up in northern Illinois, with the Badger State practically in my backyard. I partook of
Wisconsin’s natural wonders often, traveling throughout the state to fish, ski, boat and play. I
was enrolled at both UW Madison and the University of Illinois but at the last minute chose the
latter because its in-state tuition was much less expensive.
The appeal of teaching in a beautiful state, particularly one with a state university system that has enjoyed such a great reputation, was immediate. My great colleagues in the History Department were another draw.
5. You have done several projects based on the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s history, like "Black Thursday" and the "Algoma Riots." Why do you feel it is important to archive UWO’s history?
I strongly believe that we can all acquire a new, more nuanced understanding of our past when
we see how historical events played out in our backyard. For students, certainly, local history
often seems less distant and more immediate. “Black Thursday” and the “Algoma Riots”
demonstrate that the American crisis of race and the campus turmoil of the 1960s were not
confined to the South or campuses such as UC Berkeley. Their stories are important and
interesting in their own right, but each relate to other, wider historical moments that interest me
greatly. And both of them were also very well documented, so I - and the students who have
worked with me - have been able to piece together their stories with a surfeit of historical
As curator of the Neil A. Harriman Herbarium at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Dr. Thomas G. Lammers keeps current by reading an array of botany journals.
Usually he makes note of anything that might enhance the herbarium's collection of over 115,000 prepared plant specimens from around the world. And as a recognized expert in the flowering plant family Campanulaceae, Lammers is attuned to articles about bellflowers.
However, one recent article in the Harvard Papers in Botany caught his eye. The article was a new plant species that had nothing to do with his field of expertise.
What he saw was an article about a new plant species -- the Ardisia lammersiana -- from Indonesian Papua discovered by Dr. Wayne Takeuchi, a botanist Lammers had known when he was conducting field study in Hawaii in 1983.
Unbeknownst to Lammers, his former associate in Hawaiian botany had named the new plant after him.
Lammers, an associate professor in the Department of Biology and Microbiology, is the author of World Checklist and Bibliography of Campanulaceae, the first book to be published since 1839 that provides an encyclopedic bibliography of this plant family.
In an interview with COLS Special Reports producer Grace Lim, Lammers talks about having a plant named after him and why he's fascinated with dead plants.
|The video is also available for download to your iPod through UW Oshkosh iTunesU (requires iTunes).
Faculty Notes are short news and feature items relating to the faculty members in the College of Letters and Science.
For the Love of Math
by Tom Hanaway
Student News Intern
Drs. Jae Lee and Ju Youn Bae and their sons, Alex, left, and Eric. Photo/Shawn McAfee of UW Oshkosh Learning Technologies
A husband-and-wife teaching duo is demystifying the world of mathematics for local students.
Jae Lee and Ju Youn Bae, lecturers from the UW Oshkosh Department of Mathematics, have dedicated their Saturday mornings to teaching math at their church, the Appleton Korean Presbyterian Church at 1100 London St. in Menasha, Wis.
Bae realized there was a need for such service when parents who were looking for a private tutor for their children approached her. “I thought, ‘What about other parents, the parents who can’t afford a private tutor?’” she said. “What about their kids?”
That is when Lee and Bae decided to provide free tutoring for local students of all ages. They started this tutoring service in February. The couple now helps students with their homework on Saturdays from 9-noon at their church. They help students from kindergarten to seniors in high school.
These students seeking their help come from a diverse background, Bae said. “Students who come to our tutor service are international,” she said. “Most of them are born in America, but their parents are from Ecuador, Mexico, Columbia, America and South Korea.”
Lee said he wants to inspire students to enjoy math, just like he did when he was younger. “In high school, I loved math,” Lee said. “I would study it by myself, on vacation. But not everyone likes math.”
Lee hopes that these tutoring sessions would help change some students’ perceptions about math. “Having fun with math and taking an exam is different,” he said, adding that students need only a helping hand to appreciate all aspects of mathematics.
Lee said that he encourages all students who are struggling with math, or just want to polish their mathematics skills, to join their tutoring session.
“Bring your textbook, bring your homework, bring your questions,” he said. “We will work through this together.”
Who: Dr. Jae Lee and Dr. Ju Youn Bae
What: Free Math Tutoring for K-12 students
Where: Appleton Korean Presbyterian Church at 1100 London St. in Menasha, Wis.
When: Saturdays from 9 to noon until Dec. 4. No tutoring service on Nov. 27.
The free tutoring service will resume in February 2011.