March 2011

Around Campus
Poverty simulation event provides students eye-opening experience

 

Students and volunteers participating in the poverty simulation event, which took place Feb. 4 in the University Center (photos by Julianna Williams) 

 Forty-four UNF students have a better understanding of the harsh realities associated with living in poverty after participating in a half-day poverty simulation event Feb. 4 in the University Center. The role-playing exercise, hosted by UNF’s Center for Community-Based Learning and United Way of Northeast Florida, challenged participants to perform everyday tasks necessary to sustain a family for a month while dealing with various obstacles commonly associated with poverty. Those obstacles include unemployment, lack of transportation, childcare dilemmas, juvenile delinquency, drug and alcohol abuse, illiteracy and homelessness.

 

Each participant was assigned a specific identity to maintain throughout the exercise, was placed in a family group and received a detailed run-down of the family’s situation. Some students played elderly people struggling to feed and care for their grandchildren on inadequate fixed incomes; other students posed as hungry toddlers who were neglected by single mothers stressed out over public transportation, unemployment paperwork and eviction notices; and others played teens forced to drop out of high school in order to earn income for their impoverished families.

 

Family households were set up in clusters throughout the room, which was lined by tables representing social service agencies, employers, homeless shelters, check-cashing companies, mortgage companies, child care centers, utility companies, pawn shops and grocery stores. Other areas included a jail, juvenile detention center and public school. Representatives from local community agencies associated with United Way volunteered their time to man the booths and play roles such as pawn shop owner, general employer, police officer, caseworker and banker.

 

Dr. Mark Falbo, director of the Center for Community-Based Learning, took on a unique role while wandering around the room: he was responsible for trying to lure vulnerable citizens into participating in illegal activities like buying or selling drugs, stealing cars, selling stolen merchandise or prostitution. “This is like taking candy from a baby,” said Falbo, who gave himself the nickname “creepy guy” during the exercise. “The breaking-and-entering business is pretty good. I got someone’s bank account and somebody’s pink slip for a car, which I’m going to get someone else to pawn for me.”

 

And he wasn’t the only one taking advantage of the less fortunate. In real life Phil Thompson works for Family Foundation, providing credit counseling, debt counseling and housing counseling services to those in need, but in his role as the owner of a check-cashing business during the simulation, Thompson cheated people, charging 10 percent interest instead of 1 percent for check-cashing services. “Every person in here came to me and 95 percent of the time I cheated them out of money,” he said. “Nobody tried to negotiate and nobody ever questioned the rates I was charging.”

 

While business was good for the criminal-minded in the room, those representing social service agencies reported a lack of business from families that could have utilized their services to get ahead. Myra Simmons, who works for the Children’s Home Society and manned the Community Action Agency table during the event, was surprised more families didn’t take advantage of the community’s resources.

 

“It’s amazing that a lot of people don’t know what a community action agency does and the resources that we provide,” Simmons said. “I’ve only had four families come talk to me at all, an average of one family per week, so they just don’t know what’s out there. Here I am able to provide emergency food vouchers, assistance with Early Head Start, utility vouchers, transportation and even cash, but very few people are here to ask for it.”

 

Simmons said people are often confused about where to turn for help, both in simulation exercises and in real life. “It’s a true indication of what’s happening in our community. They really don’t know what kind of assistance is available.” She also stressed the importance of United Way’s 2-1-1 phone line, which people can call during times of crisis to get information about various agencies that can offer help.

 

Kelsi Ketner-Bettis heard about the Poverty Simulation from her Introduction to Leadership professor, who gave students an opportunity to replace an assignment with participation in the event. She played the role of Katie Kaminski, a 57-year-old grandmother who lives with her daughter, son-in-law and teenaged granddaughter because she’s unable to care for herself. “My daughter is part-time employed and her husband is full-time employed but they’re struggling very badly to make ends meet,” she said during the simulation. “We only paid part of our mortgage this month and we went one week without food.”

 

Sociology major Nicole Tercyak earned extra credit for her Racial and Cultural Minorities class by attending the simulation, playing the role of an overwhelmed father struggling to single-handedly provide for his extended family. Tercyak said she was surprised to learn that 14 percent of Jacksonville families live below the poverty level and the simulation gave her a taste of what it would be like to one of the them. “My eyes have been opened to a whole different lifestyle and harsh reality of people living in poverty,” she said. “Trying to live one day at a time, pay bills on time, feed my family and make it to work on time [during the simulation] really put it into my own personal perspective. The program made me want to help out somehow in my community through volunteer programs like the Salvation Army.”

 

The simulation consisted of four sections representing one week each, and during some weeks participants were thrown loops. During Week 3 it was announced that school was out of session so anyone with children in school had to deal with additional child-care arrangements. When school is out of session it’s not uncommon for people with low incomes to miss work, lose jobs, take their kids to sub-standard child-care providers or leave young children unattended at home — all scenarios that took place during the simulation.

 

Dr. Lucy Croft, assistant vice president of Student Affairs and one of four faculty/staff members who participated in the simulation, said she started off the exercise with one expectation but when her “daughter” was thrown in jail for bringing a gun to school and she had to spend time trying to bail her out, her expectation changed dramatically.

 

“I thought I could be smart enough to learn the system and beat it, but the system beat me,” she said. “I was trying to figure out how I could get the most transportation passes and the most money, which meant I was not spending my time trying to find employment because I needed to learn about and apply for other services to help me and I was trying to play the system.” 

 

Coretta Hill, director of volunteer and community engagement for United Way of Northeast Florida, said the poverty simulation activity is just that, a simulation, but that it mirrors reality. “It incorporates a lot of the same obstacles that families living in poverty face, such as issues with transportation, child care, work, etc., and it really bubbles out all of the other elements that come with living in poverty such as crime and child neglect and education,” she said. “It is one of the great ways for us to show to the community why United Way is important because it shows how all of our partner agencies reach out to provide support and eliminate all of these issues.”

 

Falbo has participated in or observed several poverty simulations and noted that most participants find simulated experiences like this quite eye-opening.  “Anecdotally, our students appear to respond similarly, expressing insights into how frustrated or stressed they felt in their roles; how hard it was to learn the system or keep up with the day-to-day realities,” he said. “I believe the poverty simulation is a powerful learning experience as well as an impactful way to introduce students to the critically important role United Way and the United Way member organizations play in the social well-being of the greater Jacksonville community.”

 

Ketner-Bettis said she viewed the simulation as a valuable learning experience rather than an academic obligation. “I learned that people struggle every day with issues that aren’t easy to deal with. There are thousands of people we just bypass at the store or on the street and we have no idea about their story but they very well could be living in poverty,” she said. “This experience made me realize that even though I’m not rolling in money, I’ve been very fortunate to have food on the table and a roof over my head every night of my life. I am extremely thankful for everything I have in my life.”

 

Other participants shared similar feelings during the debriefing period after the simulation had ended. Volunteers from United Way member organizations also shared their own perspectives, including Calanthea Hires, who works for Salvation Army.

 

“I grew up in poverty. My parents had eight kids and even though they both worked, it was a struggle day in and day out,” Hires said. “I was 42 when I graduated from college — this college, in fact — and my life turned around, but I had to struggle to raise my three children and now that I’ve graduated from college and I have a decent job, I can give back.”

 

Matt Osborn, senior vice president of sales operations for Allstate and a board member for Family Foundations, shared a different perspective. “I’ve never, ever experienced a day of poverty or need in my entire life. Many of you will be the same way; you’ll never be in poverty and you’re going to have the things that you need to enjoy the type of life that you want. But just because I’m not in poverty doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t care about those who are,” he said. “What I encourage you to do as you become successful is find a way in your community to give back personally. It would mean more than any money you would ever make.”

 

The Center for Community-Based Learning’s Melissa Tiberio, who coordinated the simulation event with the help of Hill from United Way, said she was pleased with the simulation, which accomplished its goals of stimulating a change in perception, bringing about a call to action and providing time for personal reflection. She said she’s pleased about the success of the event for several reasons.

 

“First, my office works to develop and sustain more opportunities for community-based transformational learning; I saw this as an opportunity to prepare students for more of those experiences,” she said. “Secondly, we were also preparing students for the type of work they might do or issues they might come across in the community. We tried to teach them about the issues of homelessness, education, race and poverty as it relates to the greater Jacksonville community, which is particularly helpful for students who are not from Duval County.”

 

In addition, Tiberio said they wanted an event structure that included time for substantive debriefing and reflection so they could start seeing the transformation process in students.

 

“I think the event really was a great stepping stone for more community involvement,” she said. “I hope the students who signed up to volunteer for the Salvation Army and other organizations [as a result of the simulation experience] really stick to those commitments.”

 

Staff members at the Center for Community-Based Learning are still examining participants’ responses to the program assessment handed out at the end of the session, but undoubtedly the experience made a lasting impact on students.

 

“We have all heard of the old, adapted saying that you never really know someone until you walk a mile in their shoes; well, in some ways that’s the major benefit of this experience,” Falbo said. “Participating in this simulation helps students understand some of the challenges many people in our communities (and on our campus) face on a daily basis. This simulation helps students see things from another point of view, and relates to a defining value of UNF, to promote the value of civility.”

Around Campus
LGBT Resource Center helps transform campus climate
UNF students and employees at the 'Gay? Fine by Me' awareness event at the Student Union (photos by Nick Uselman)

 

This past fall, a string of suicides by gay youth, including two college students, impacted communities around the nation and called attention to the devastating consequences of anti-gay bullying. It also called attention to the importance of having a strong support system on college campuses for those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT), as well as widespread acceptance.

 

In response to the news, a special Campus Update went to students, faculty and staff to remind the campus community of UNF’s core values, including diversity, mutual respect, civility and ethical conduct. It also encouraged anyone who had been affected by harassment or discrimination to contact Equal Opportunity Programs, the LGBT Resource Center or the Counseling Center on campus for assistance. In addition, the campus community was invited to take part in a candlelight vigil to remember victims of bullying who felt suicide was the only way out.

 

Fortunately, the majority of faculty, staff and students at UNF who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender report that the overall campus environment is accepting of them, according to preliminary data from a campus climate survey conducted in 2010. Sixty-four percent of LGBT faculty and staff and 60 percent of LGBT students reported the UNF campus community is either very accepting or somewhat accepting. Those numbers are up from 2005, when only 16 percent of LGBT faculty and staff and 29 percent of LGBT students felt the campus environment was accepting.

 

The Committee on Equity and Civility, in collaboration with the UNF Public Opinion Research Laboratory, originally conducted the survey in 2005 to examine the campus climate on gender and sexuality. The survey also asked respondents about experienced and observed bias against and harassment of LGBT students, faculty and staff. They were asked if they had experienced or witnessed verbal harassment, physical assault, sexual harassment, threats, anti-gay graffiti or jokes, employment problems (for faculty and staff), pressure to keep silent, refusal of association by friends or colleagues or pressure to leave campus housing (for students).

 

Of those responding to the 2005 survey, 61 percent of LGBT faculty and staff and 54 percent of LGBT students reported experiencing at least one form of harassment at UNF — and 26 percent of LGBT students and 25 percent of LGBT faculty and staff felt that they had cause to feel unsafe on campus.

 

Following the analysis of the original survey, two members of the Committee on Equity and Civility worked with a panel of 17 faculty, staff and students who identified as LGBT to make more than a dozen specific recommendations to improve the campus climate. Among them was to provide a full-time coordinator for an on-campus LGBT resource center, to increase the number of safe or welcoming places for LGBT students and to open UNF’s curriculum to discussion and acknowledgment of sexual orientation.

 

All of those recommendations were transformed into results with the establishment of the LGBT Resource Center five years ago.

 

“UNF is one of only two universities in the state with an LGBT Resource Center [along with University of Florida] and others want to know how we got it done so smoothly, so successfully,” said Dr. Mauricio Gonzalez, vice president of Student and International Affairs and former chair of the Equity and Civility Committee, which has since been replaced with the Commission on Diversity. “I think the answer is just that you have to be passionate about it. We’ve been very fortunate that the community seems to be very accepting of what we’re doing. As a University that embraces the values of promoting mutual respect, civility and diversity, it is only natural that our community would embrace the center’s mission.”

 

Ryan Miller has served as the LGBT Resource Center’s coordinator for more than 18 months and has been consistently working more than 50 hours per week to ensure the center accomplishes its vision, mission and goals. The center also employs a part-time program assistant and student assistants — and solicits quite a bit of help from volunteers as well.

 

“The center is here on campus as a resource to all students, faculty and staff around issues of sexuality and gender,” Miller said. “We have an educational mission, first and foremost, to educate the campus community on LGBT issues and reduce homophobia. And we also serve the role as a safe space on campus for those who identify as LGBT or who are allies to the community.”

 

He said the educational component is probably the most important task of the center because it opens minds, dispels myths and stereotypes and raises the visibility of LGBT issues in the community.

 

“One of our most successful programs is our Speakers’ Bureau. Through that program I go into classrooms with a panel of students, do a short presentation and have the panel talk to the class to share their experiences,” Miller said. “We do kind of an LGBT 101 with each specific class, whether it’s history, psychology or public health, making it relevant to them and their curriculum.”

 

Through the Speakers’ Bureau program, students have an opportunity to ask questions and have open conversations with the panelists in a non-threatening and engaging environment. “Depending on where they’re from and what they’ve been exposed to, students have different levels of awareness of LGBT issues,” Miller said, “so for some people, it’s really an important milestone.”

 

Other ways the center accomplishes its educational mission is by hosting national and local guest lectures on gender, sexuality and diversity; Living with Pride discussion series on healthy living; workshops and training sessions for faculty, staff and students; and a variety of events on campus during Coming Out Week and LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) Awareness Days as well as other events both on and off campus throughout the year.

 

A more visible program the center presents is the “Gay? Fine By Me” t-shirt campaign, during which the entire campus community is encouraged to don brightly colored (and free) t-shirts to announce their acceptance of those who are gay.

 

Miller said the campaign is a fun way to get their message across to a more mainstream audience, but that is does cause a splash sometimes. “My hope is that people can wear those t-shirts and it doesn’t have to be this strong statement or this outlandish thing, that it would just be recognized as part of our campus, part of our world that we’re living in and that the LGBT community is vitally important to UNF,” he said.

 

Another vitally important function of the LGBT Resource Center is to provide a safe space on campus for LGBT students, faculty and staff and their allies. “It’s just a space where you can bring your whole authentic self to the table, including your gender and your sexual orientation, to not feel like you’re going to be harassed, judged, tokenized or stereotyped in any way,” Miller said. “We serve that safe space role at the center, but another part of what we do is try to make the entire campus a safe space through our programs, trainings and events.”

 

The center itself, located on the ground floor of the Student Union’s east wing, is a very welcoming space, with couches and comfortable chairs for students to lounge on between classes, during lunch breaks or whenever they have extra time to hang out with friends. There’s also a resource library with more than 500 books, DVDs and other resources that have some relevance to the LGBT community and its allies.

 

Since the inception of the center in 2006, numerous strides have been made toward transforming the campus into a safe and supportive environment for the LGBT community: the UNF non-discrimination policy now prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender; in 2010, domestic partner benefits were expanded to include a stipend to offset the cost of health insurance for same-sex partners of University employees, and other partner benefits include the use of University facilities, leave time and tuition reimbursement; gender-neutral restrooms are now located in several buildings throughout campus; Safe Space stickers are now displayed on the doors and windows of numerous office and classrooms across campus; and UNF now offers several academic courses that address gender and sexuality.

 

Natalie Nguyen, who works 30 hours a week as program assistant for the LGBT Resource Center, remembers what it was like on campus before the center had been established. “I was a student at this campus, working on my second bachelor’s degree, before the center was created and I do remember that the campus didn’t feel very safe, that it was not accepting, and that as a student, I didn’t feel like a part of the campus community,” she said. “I feel the LGBT Resource Center is very important to this campus and our programs, services and ability to create a safe space for LGBT and ally students is an integral factor to our University’s vision.”

 

Miller also feels the campus community has begun to undergo a transformation into a more accepting and open environment. “I think it’s a mixed climate still but we’ve really come a long way,” he said. “There’s been a lot of progress and a lot of improvement, particularly in the past five years since the center opened. Preliminary results from the campus climate survey that was conducted in October seem to paint the picture that things are getting better on campus, that there’s more visibility, more awareness and fewer instances of harassment and discrimination being reported, so it looks like we’re making progress.”

 

Miller’s assessment is based on preliminary observation of the 2010 campus climate survey. Official results/data will be available to the campus community by the end of the spring semester.

 

To learn more about the LGBT Resource Center and review a listing of upcoming events, click here or visit the center’s blog.

 

Around Campus
UNF students adopt campus creed

UNF Student Creed 

The students of the University of North Florida have adopted a student creed that clearly states the values they hold dear and those they strive to achieve.

 

In a bold move, Student Government leaders adopted the creed in the hopes that all students will embrace and embody the creed and all for which it stands. Student Government hopes the creed will be incorporated into every student-related activity including sporting events, convocations and the annual student orientation.

 

The creed’s author, Christopher Warren, said it was developed as an offshoot of the Fly Far, Fly Fast and Fly Hard awards that Student Government gives to the very best of the best Ospreys during the annual Week of Welcome. The three awards – which correspond to athletics, academia and overcoming the hurdles international students face – acknowledge UNF’s unofficial spirit-boosting anthem, “Fly Far, Fly Fast, Fly Hard” and recognize students who transcend the call of duty.

 

The secondary purpose of the creed was to help promote school spirit and Osprey pride. Universities across the country have adopted creeds that have successfully encouraged school spirit, community interest and a more enjoyable experience for students, faculty and staff. The creeds have also helped to promote unity among students and a sense of common purpose.

 

“We really wanted to build from those awards and create tradition and pride on campus,” Warren said. “We really wanted a creed that would make this University better.”

 

Warren said many of his friends at other institutions of higher learning have student creeds they can recite at will from memory. He wanted the same thing at UNF. He wrote the creed to reflect the mission of the University because he wanted the core values of the institution to be reflected in the student creed.

 

“I wanted the creed to state what we value, what we stand for and what we believe in our hearts,” Warren said. “I want it to band us together and make us greater than the sum of our parts. I believe the creed does just that.”

 

At its January meeting, the UNF Board of Trustees approved the adoption of the creed. Warren said the board members were very supportive and asked that the creed to hang from banners at all sporting events and UNF functions. It will also be engraved in the wall of the new Student Health and Wellness Center. Warren said he believes the incorporation of the creed across campus will help students to embrace it and eventually weave it into the culture and traditions of the campus. Its omnipresence can only have a positive effect and will help students come together as a whole.

 

President John A. Delaney said he believes the creed will help unify UNF students. “That the creed has come from the students themselves is significant,” Delaney said. “They are not just words on paper, they have a deeper meaning that I believe student have already embraced and embodied.”

 

The creed states:

 

I AM THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH FLORIDA. 

I am loyal to the Nest without reservation. 

I am selfless in my effort to advance its values. 

I am relentless in the pursuit of truth and knowledge carried out in the spirit of intellectual and artistic freedom. 

I am one who wears the colors of the Osprey proudly. 

I am wearing them on my chest and in my heart, on and off the playing field with confidence and vigor. 

I am filled with courage and dare to soar. 

I am an Osprey flying far, fast, and hard. 

 

- Christopher Warren, 2010

Around Campus
Students perform a ‘Wolfbat Wedding’ of printmaking and sculpture at MOCA
Some of the costumes for the 'Wind Weaver and the Whirling Wheel' were designed by UNF Art and Design students.

 

 The University of North Florida and its cultural resource, the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, a cultural resource of UNF, present “Wind Weaver and the Whirling Wheel: A Tale of Woflbat Romance,” a monthlong hybrid print/sculpture exhibition from Feb. 3 to March 20, and a one-time art performance Thursday, March 3 at the museum.

 

Underwritten by the Barbara Ritzman Devereux Artist Workshop, “Wind Weaver and the Whirling Wheel” consists of the new breed of printmaker, sculptor, musician, performer and poet. Artists Dennis McNett of Howling Print Studio, John S. Hancock of Amazing Hancock Brothers and John Hitchcock of Hybrid Press will exhibit 2-D and 3-D work based on a Nordic folklore creation myth led by wolves, gods and cosmology of hybrid animals. 

     

The visiting artists will conduct a series of collaborative print and sculpture workshops through Friday, March 4, with UNF Department of Art and Design students and Assistant Professors Jenny Hager and Emily Arthur Douglass. During the workshop, students will work alongside McNett, Hancock and Hitchcock to produce prints, costumes and large-scale sculptures. Later, they will work with museum staff to install the created work at MOCA.

     

“‘Wind Weaver and the Whirling Wheel’ gives us an interesting way that figuratively and literally marries sculpture and printmaking to educate our students, gives them hands-on experience with professional artists and produces work that is educational, entertaining and visually striking,” said Hager.

     

With additional support from Academic Affairs and the College of Arts and Sciences, the BRD Artist Workshop culminates with a performance of “Wind Weaver” at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 3, at MOCA. The three-act performance, staged in the museum atrium, tells the wedding story between the sky and sun/moon and two wolves. Featuring ornate and elaborate costuming, UNF students, faculty and the visiting artists will parade through Hemming Plaza highlighted by a musical performance from Associate Professor Charlotte Mabrey and UNF Drum Ensemble students.

     

The Barbara Ritzman Devereux Artist Workshop at UNF is designed to supplement traditional academic and applied art instruction by providing students the opportunity to work with distinguished artists representing a broad range of visual media. The aim of the workshops is to place students in an atmosphere where experimentation, production and constructive discussion is encouraged and guided by accomplished artists representing diverse aesthetic practices and philosophies. Selected workshop events are open to the general public.

     

For more information about “Wind Weaver and the Whirling Wheel: A Tale of Wolfbat Romance,” visit MOCA's website or call (904) 366-6911.  Additional information can also be found at the Barbara Ritzman Devereux Artist Workshop website.  

 

Around Campus
UNF Concert Series welcomes singer Janis Ian

 

Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Janis Ian 

 

 The Challen Cultural Series, funded through private support, will host a free public performance by Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Janis Ian at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 2, in the Fine Arts Center’s Andrew A. Robinson Theater.

 

Born to a Jewish family in New York City, Ian was primarily raised in New Jersey, initially on a farm, and attended East Orange High School and the New York City High School of Music & Art. Her parents, Victor (a music teacher) and Pearl, ran a summer camp in upstate New York, and, in that Cold War era, were frequently under government surveillance because of their left-wing politics. Ian said she admired the work of folk pioneers such as Joan Baez and Odetta.  At the age of 12, Ian wrote her first song, “Hair of Spun Gold,” which was subsequently published in the folk publication Broadside and was later recorded for her debut album.

 

Ian's journey is really a series of milestones. She made her recording debut at 15 in 1966 with “Society's Child,” a Top 40 single about interracial teen dating that many radio stations wouldn't air. Her classic, Grammy-winning “At Seventeen” was the first song ever performed on “Saturday Night Live” and still remains one of the most astute, heartfelt tales of outsider angst and growing up ever written.

 

Ian has been hailed as a formidable talent by some of the music industry’s legends. Ella Fitzgerald called her “The best young singer in America.” Chet Atkins said “Singer? You ought to hear that girl play guitar; she gives me a run for my money!” Reviewers have called her live performances “overwhelming to the spirit and soul” and “drenched with such passion, the audience feels they've been swept up in a hurricane.” 

 

 “It was good to start young,” Ian said. “It was good to learn, early on, that what matters is the music. I got most of my big mistakes over with before I was 21. When people say ‘Didn’t you miss having a teenage life?’ I just say ‘I only know the life I lived.’ I was a teenager, working. A hundred years ago, no one would have thought anything of it. At least I got to do something I loved! I could have been working in a factory or a day job where every day is the same thing, day in and day out. I lived an entire life in my teen years, and I don’t regret a second of it.”

 

In addition to singing, she is an accomplished short story and science fiction author and runs the Pearl Foundation, which has granted more than $300,000 in scholarships for returning students to various colleges and universities. Donations will be accepted during her performance to benefit UNF’s First Generation Scholarship Program.

 

In 2009, "At Seventeen" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Columbia/Legacy released “The Essential Janis Ian,” a two-disc anthology spanning Ian’s four-decade-long career and coinciding with her U.S. tour and the paperback release of her book, “Society's Child: My Autobiography.”

 

The concert is free. E-tickets are required and available online. For additional information, contact Carl Holman in Public Relations at (904) 620-1921.

 

Around Campus
Relay for Life raises cash, awareness and hope for a cure

 

Relay for Life 2010 at UNF 

 

 It is truly a sight to behold. A track filled with grandmas and grandpas, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers. A track filled with captains of industry and stay-at-home moms. A track filled with the young and the old. Filled with black and white. Filled with people speaking all sorts of languages but communicating a much more basic level – one of survivorship.

 

The annual Relay for Life event to raise money for cancer research always begins with the Survivors’ Lap. The first lap of the 24-hour relay is a celebration of the victories achieved over cancer. Survivors carry signs, candles and mementos from their battles. Many still carry the scars – some visible and some not. But the mood is one of triumph as they walk together or apart, linked by their common bond of survivorship.

 

As soon as that first lap is completed, others join and the baton is passed to continue the fight. The annual Relay for Life is not only a celebration of life, but a much-needed fund raiser for the American Cancer Society. The funds raised by individuals and teams are used to help fight cancer and to create a world with more birthdays and where cancer cannot claim another year of anyone’s life.

 

There is still time to join the Relay for Life effort at UNF. This year, the event will take place April 8 and 9 at the J.B. Coxwell Amphitheater at the UNF Student Union. The UNF faculty and staff have their own team and new members are still welcome.

 

“The Relay for Life is a chance for UNF faculty and staff to show our students and community that there is more to our school than classes and sports,” said Carl Holman, the captain of this year’s team, marketing/publicity chair for the event, assistant director for Marketing and Communications for Public Relations in Institutional Advancement and a 36-year survivor of kidney cancer. “By giving back through the Relay for Life, we are able to impact our community in a positive, meaningful way. Giving an hour of your time to walk really equates many miles in the fight against cancer.”

 

Sherry Hays, a second-year participant and information specialist for Public Relations in Institutional Advancement, said she walks for all those she knows who have been affected by cancer and to change the future for others.

 

“I know that the money I raise goes to help eliminate cancer,” Hays said. “That means something to me. I want to live in a world where cancer is not a death sentence.”

 

The walk also includes a Luminaria Ceremony after dark. Candles are lit inside bags filled with sand, each bag bearing the name of a person touched by cancer. Participants often walk a lap in silence when first lit. At some Relays, the names are read aloud. The sight of all those bags is a visual reminder of how many people cancer impacts.

 

If you would like to join the UNF team and make a difference in battling this disease, simply click here and follow the instructions for joining an established team. It is that simple to help fight back.

 

You’ll be glad you did.

 

 

Around Campus
State-of-the-art building addition made possible by generous donors

A rendering of the future addition to the College of Education and Human Services Building 

Donors are the lifeblood of any campaign and their role is especially prominent in the new addition to the College of Education and Human Services.

 

The $5.6 million, two-story addition will not only house the Disability Resource Center (see related story above) but three other programs: The OCT (On Campus Transition) Program, the Military and Veterans Resource Center and the Institute for Values, Community and Leadership.

 

Collaboration with the Division of Student Affairs was critical to the planning and implementation of the addition. Construction is expected to be finished in January of 2012.

 

The DRC will be housed on the first floor and will include a state-of-the-art assistive technology lab, library, testing facilities and staff offices. The DRC currently serves nearly 1,000 students.

 

The OCT Program, to be housed on the second floor, is one of only eight programs of its kind in Florida and serves 25 students with intellectual disabilities.  UNF’s OCT students can select a two-year or four-year program that mirrors options provided to most college students.

 

The Military and Veterans Resource Center assists UNF veteran and active military students with admission, enrollment and financial aid. The MVRC serves about 900 active-duty, veteran and ROTC students.

 

The Institute for Values, Community and Leadership will also be housed on the second floor. It advises UNF graduates on ways to set themselves apart from their peers with a Leadership Certificate program emphasizing such skills as public speaking, group dynamics and ethical decision-making. Four hundred students are enrolled in this program.

 

Each of these programs is the beneficiary of donations that have helped make their services to students a reality. The following is a list of those donors.

 

Gifts of $250,000+ 

The Michael Ward Foundation

Tom and Betty Petway

David A. Stein

 

Gifts of $100,000+ 

The Community Foundation in Jacksonville

Irene and Gasper Lazzara

 

Gifts of $50,000+ 

Meredyth Anne Dasburg Foundation

R. Lee Smith

 

Gifts of $10,000+ 

Mary K. and Philip B. Phillips, Jr.

Fletcher Group, LLC

Prudential Foundation

Thomas M. and Irene B. Kirbo Charitable Trust

 

Gifts of $1,000+ 

Friends of the Arc Jacksonville

1st Place Sports Running Club

Eileen Shan Hand-Kaye

Linda and Tom Slade

Marcus L. Snow, Jr.

Kristine W. Webb

 

Gifts up to $1,000 

Anonymous

Awards Unlimited

Susan K. Gregg

Kip Grossman

Bryon O. Iveson

Mary Beth Janson

Megan Mauney

Mary McConville

Orange Park Furniture

Janice J. Seabrooks

Tiffany L. Winemiller

 

Around Campus
Donors play pivotal role in students’ lives

 

Megan Mauney and her guide dog O'Malley (photo by Nick Uselman)On a chilly January morning recently a small group of University of North Florida faculty, staff and friends gathered in a College of Education and Human Services lecture hall to mark the groundbreaking for a new addition to the structure. Few in the audience had a better understanding of the significance of the event than Megan Mauney.

 

Mauney provides a unique perspective on the vital role donors play in making concrete campus enhancements that change the lives of students and illustrate the true meaning of The Power of Transformation campaign. She acquired that perspective by not only working with donors on the UNF project but also being a recipient of the services from one of the departments located in the new addition.

 

Mauney is legally blind as the result of retinitis pigmentosa or RP, an inherited disease that is progressively robbing her of vision. Diagnosed with the disease at age 6, Mauney has seen her peripheral vision decline to less than 10 degrees (normal eyesight is 180 degrees). In addition, because RP affects light-sensing cells that are responsible for vision, dim-light situations render her virtually blind. Although research has made some promising discoveries in recent years, she faces the possibility of total blindness in the years ahead.

 

Far from holding her back, the disease has forced her to become a meticulous planner. That trait prompted her to go to UNF’s Disability Resource Center for assistance shortly after enrolling as an undergraduate in 2003. She discovered how DRC services such as providing note takers, offering priority registration and supplying books on CD could greatly reduce the stress of attending a new school and an ever-growing campus.

 

“Coming to UNF is when I first began to realize that I had a disability and needed assistance. Up until then I didn’t give it much thought because I had grown up with it [the disease] and worked around it. I began to learn to speak up for myself and figure out what I needed,” she said. “Going to college can be pretty stressful to begin with, the DRC allowed me to keep the stress under control.”

 

Mauney graduated with her bachelor’s degree in 2007 and the DRC played a role in the ceremony as well. Her guide dog at the time, Shay-Bay, who had been at her side since Mauney was a senior in high school, was in declining health. “I depended on her to help me navigate campus, to comfort me during the stress of finals week and to help other students understand more about people with disabilities. I needed her by my side as I received my diploma.”

 

Mauney was concerned that Shay-Bay might not be able to handle the stress of the graduation ceremony amid thousands of people at the Arena. She contacted the DRC and they came to the rescue. Staff member Deborah Lenehan offered to meet the two and do a dry run before the ceremony.  “Shay-Bay and I rehearsed over and over again until I was confident that she had memorized the route and could guide both of us across the stage.”

 

Graduation went off without a hitch. “No one would have ever known what an anxiety-ridden time that was for either of us. That memory of graduating with her is one that will never fade in my mind.”

 

Commencement wasn’t the end of Mauney’s UNF involvement.  After working for a time at Baptist Hospital, she accepted a position in Student Affairs as a development coordinator.  She now has the opportunity to work with donors and potential donors, some who have made contributions to the DRC. “I think my experience helps me connect with people in the community because I’m a real-life example of how their donations make a difference.”

 

The fact that UNF is willing to make a major investment in the DRC “sends a huge message to the community that this is a priority here,” she said.

 

When she isn’t working, Mauney is volunteering and studying. Along with another alum, Lisa Ludlam-Pleasants, she is a co–chair of VisionWalk, the national signature fund-raising event of the Foundation Fighting Blindness. This year, VisionWalk will take place May 21 on the UNF campus. She also is a volunteer mentor for the OCT (On Campus Transition) Program which will also be housed in the new addition to the College of Education and Human Services.

     

Mauney and her new guide dog O’Malley can be seen regularly in the College of Education and Human Services because she continues to be a UNF student, studying for her master’s in disability services. (Shay-Bay has retired and is Mauney’s pet.)

 

When graduation day arrives again this April, Mauney expects to again walk across the stage with her guide dog leading the way. For her it will hearken back to her undergraduate ceremony when the DRC went above and above the call of duty to help her. 

 

“The DRC does an incredible job connecting students with the resources and accommodations that they need to be successful at UNF, but the human touch they provide with each and every student is what sets them apart,” she said.

 

It’s also one more example of The Power of Transformation at UNF.

Around Campus
O’Steen 2011 Jetta Jam contest pays big for Music Department employee

 

Top: Tori singing her heart out in the video; middle: Ashley Earles-Bennett (second from left), her husband, Josh, and sisters Tori and Bella holding VW merchandise they won as part of the grand prize; bottom: Earles-Bennett and Tori enjoying their new rideAfter a 44-day emotional roller-coaster ride and 1,419 “like” votes on Facebook, UNF Music Department Director of Public Relations Ashley Earles-Bennett and her family got the news they’d been so anxiously awaiting: their creative rap video starring Earles-Bennett’s 11-year-old sister Tori beat out 40 other contestants in the O’Steen VW Jetta Jam 2011 Jetta Giveaway and O’Steen Volkswagen would be awarding them a brand new Volkswagen Jetta. The news came two weeks after her old car caught on fire, so the timing couldn’t have been better.

 

Earles-Bennett had heard about the music video contest from Music Department Chair Dr. Gordon Brock, who encouraged all music faculty, staff and students to enter. Desperately needing a new car to replace their run-down secondhand Jetta, she, her husband, Josh, and her two younger sisters teamed up and produced a catchy video in only two days.

 

“Entrants had to create a music video describing why they needed a new car, within a two-minute limit,” Earles-Bennett said. “I wrote the lyrics to the song, my sisters Tori and Bella put a spin on them and my hubby Josh and I did the music on our computer. We used a 35 mm camera with HD capabilities to shoot it and Avid to edit it.”

 

While the creative endeavor was a team effort, Tori was unquestionably the star of the one-minute-seven-second video. A natural performer on camera, the spunky 5th-grader oozed personality, exhibiting three parts Madonna, one part Punky Brewster and showing off some robot dance moves that would impress the likes of James Brown and Michael Jackson.

 

The lyrics for the song Earles-Bennett wrote say it all:

 

My sister’s had her cool green Jetta since 2003 

and now it’s falling apart and it’s all because of me. 

I scratched my name on the door, 

I put my feet on the seat, 

I pulled the ceiling down, 

I dumped some soda on the floor. 

I left some trash in the back, 

I piled some food in the front, 

With all the damage I’ve done 

My sister’s car is looking bunk. 

O’Steen Volkswagen, please help my sister. 

She’s been my guardian for more than five years. 

She works real hard taking care of our family, 

Driving me to school, her to work and them to the vet. 

If she wins the new Jetta it’ll be the best present yet. 

With its large trunk space, heated seats and touch-screen navigation, 

Driving down the road will seem like a family vacation. 

 

To view the video, click here.

 

After creating the video masterpiece, the Earles-Bennett crew posted it on the O’Steen Volkswagen fan page on Facebook and encouraged their Facebook friends (and friends of friends) to “like” it. “At first, there were only a couple of submissions, but as the contest neared the close, tons of videos were submitted,” Earles-Bennett said.

 

The three videos with the most votes would be in the running for the grand prize (with the final decision up to the folks at the car dealership), so the pressure was on. With dozens of professional-quality videos submitted, competition was fierce.

 

“The initial Facebook round of the competition seemed tough, as I think one her competitors had an entire elementary school (plus parents, staff, etc.) voting for it,” said Dr. Erin Bennett, UNF assistant professor of music. “But Ashley is a great PR director, both for the department and for this competition – people came out of the woodwork to vote for it. And with the power of social media, I had former students in Cincinnati, colleagues in Kansas City and Princeton and even my great aunt in California voting for Ashley’s video! Our music students were also very involved in the process as well.”

 

The following posts on Earles-Bennett’s Facebook wall illustrate the highs and lows she and her family experienced from the day their video was posted until they took home the grand prize:

 

Dec. 8: 

In 2003 I bought my first O'Steen Jetta from my friend who was moving to India. I love my car, but after years of driving my little sisters around, driving back and forth from college to work, driving our doggies to the vet, my Jetta has taken a beating. I need a new car desperately. Please "like" our video on the "O'Steen VW Jetta Jam" Facebook page so that we have a chance to win a new car. Thanks in advance. Take care. (Good luck to the other contestants!)  

 

Dec. 13: 

Totally bummed because I don't have anyone else left to ask to like our commercial and still need 200 more votes to make top 3. Tragic. Goodbye car that I really need. I'll miss you. 

 

Dec. 15: 

We still need about 150 "likes" to be in the top 3. If you have already voted, can you talk one more person into liking us (maybe your lady or fella)?  

 

Dec. 15: 

My car caught on fire on the way home today. Awesome. 

 

Dec. 20: 

We only need 90 more "likes" to be in the top 3. Just click the link and like the video. Easy peesy. 

 

Jan. 2: 

Okay folks. We have exactly 14 days to get into the top 3! We are at #5 now. I want to win the new Jetta so that I can give my old car to my younger sister. Please ask at least one person to like our link.  

 

Jan. 11: 

We just need 200 more to catch up with the 3rd place guy! 

 

Jan. 15: 

With more than 1,400 people voting for us, the nightmare is finally over! Thanks to every person that endured our non-stop posts and begging. Sadly, we did not make the top 3; however, some people may get disqualified for not following the rules, so we'll see. Mental note, never enter online voting contest again. Ever. Take care. 

 

Jan. 18: 

Holy Cow! A friend of mine just told me that we made the TOP 3! I didn't even know. Yeah us and yeah you! Thanks everyone for harassing your friends and family for us. I am in total shock. 

 

Jan. 22: 

Just got back from the O'Steen dealership. They let us upgrade to an automatic, pick the color exterior and interior we wanted, gave Tori a ton of free gear from the VW shop, and said they want to use her in commercials. How rad! Go buy a car there. Now. 

 

On Jan. 21, Tori appeared on the Channel 4 Morning Show, along with the other two runners-up, to find out who would win the grand prize. Earles-Bennett and Bella remained off-camera as Mark O’Steen handed an oversized cardboard $500 check to second runner-up Donald Blocker, and then another one to first runner-up Diane Nguyen. It was at that moment that Earles-Bennett and her sisters realized they were the big winners and would be driving home a sparkling new vehicle.

 

Sitting in the driver’s seat of her new car for the first time — and just seconds after finding out O’Steen Volkswagen would also be paying the taxes on the vehicle — Earles-Bennett unleashed all the pent-up emotion and let her excitement show. “This is awesome. I never thought we’d make the top three and I think all the contestants were really awesome and so we came here thinking whoever won, it would be great, and I’m glad we won. It’s awesome!”

 

Probably the most heartwarming part of this fairytale ending is the story behind the story: due to unusual circumstances involving her immediate family, Earles-Bennett and her husband have served as parental guardians for her two younger sisters for more than five years. Many of the comments on Earles-Bennett’s Facebook page focus on the fact that this fantasy couldn’t have happened to nicer, more deserving people.

 

“The video is absolutely first-rate and truly captures Tori’s life force and energy,” Brock said. “Couldn’t happen to a more deserving family. We are very fond of them all and we were so privileged to play a small part in their success.”

 

“I wanted Ashley to win this car very badly. She supports an entire family and is guardian for her two sisters,” said Dr. Nick Curry, assistant professor of cello at UNF. “I knew if we got the students involved, then she had a chance. I announced to them in performance lab that if they voted for her video and helped her win, I’d sing in performance hour.” Although he has never performed a vocal work in public and is adamant that he’s not a singer, Curry plans to live up to his promise and is currently practicing for his solo performance.

 

The Earles-Bennett clan is still on Cloud 9, having picked up their new car Jan. 29. Earles-Bennett is the primary driver of the new vehicle, while Bella, who’s a freshman at UNF, will take over driving the older, recently repaired Jetta.

 

The whole experience has been larger-than-life for video superstar Tori, who’s been getting a lot of attention as a result of all the publicity. “I was really happy to get to be on the news so all my friends could see me,” she said. “The kids at school are congratulating me and all the teachers watched it live in the front office, which was really cool.” It should come as no surprise that Tori aspires to become a professional actress someday.

 

Even though it’s been more than a month since the end of the contest, the excitement lives on.

 

“To be honest, I think there’s still a buzz from the competition around the [Fine Arts Center] building,” Bennett said. “As recently as a week or two ago I heard one of our students walking down the hall and singing to himself some of the lyrics from the video.”

 

… I scratched my name on the door, I put my feet on the seat, I pulled the ceiling down, I dumped some soda on the floor … 

 

Briefs
University Safety Council conducts survey on non-motorized vehicles on campus

 Students, faculty and staff are asked to participate in the University Safety Council's survey regarding the use of non-motorized vehicles on campus. 

 

 The University Safety Council is conducting an online survey for students, faculty and staff regarding the use of non-motorized vehicles on campus.

 

Jeff Michelman, the chair of the University Safety Council, said feedback from the University community is vital to the committee as it strives to form future policy and procedures.

     

“The ultimate goal of everyone is to make the University of North Florida campus as safe as possible for everyone – students, faculty and staff,” Michelman said. “When an issue like non-motorized traffic is brought to our attention, we try to examine the issue and garner as much input as possible before suggesting possible changes.”

     

The Safety Council is partnering with organizations throughout campus — including Student Government, Faculty Senate and the Administrative and Professional Association — to help spread the word about the quick and easy survey. The Safety Council needs input from all members of the University community in order to help form future policy and procedures.

 

To complete the survey, click here. The survey is open through Monday, March 14.

Get to Know
Dr. Michelle DeDeo
march_dedeo2

Department: Mathematics and Statistics

Job: Associate Professor of Mathematics

Years at UNF: 13

 

What do you do at UNF? 

I teach classes in mathematics ranging from college algebra to graduate number theory. I also serve on many departmental and university committees. Currently I am chair of the University Academic Appeals committee and chair of our department's Professional Development and Resource committee.

 

What is your favorite thing about working at UNF?  

Although this probably sounds corny, I like just about everything in the day-to-day – I like my department, my department chair, my students, the campus and my colleagues. One of my favorite things is to serve on committees. Currently I am chair of the University Academic Appeals Committee and chair of our department’s Professional Development and Resource Committee. Not only do I get to meet people outside my college, I learn why decisions were made in the past and the history of the University as well as being a part of guiding it into the future.

  

If you were not working at UNF, what would you be doing?  

I’m very involved in scouting. I believe the tenets of scouting instill our youth with skills that they would not otherwise learn elsewhere. As I am the advancement coordinator for Boy Scout Troop 474 and den leader for Pack 280, I might do something to promote scouting on a larger level. I’ve also been wooed by the National Security Agency (seen the movie “Sneakers?”). I have quite a few friends from graduate school who love working there, but can’t talk about what they do!

 

What is the best thing you ever won?  

When I was 10, I entered a Lifesavers [candy] contest. I had to write an essay describing my favorite flavor and why. I basically said that it was tangerine because it was the flavor that was always in my grandmother’s purse. I won a year’s worth of Lifesavers!

 

Tell us about your family.  

I have five men in my life: my husband, Brad, my children Noah and Ethan and my cats Paco and Chico. Brad owns several businesses in Northeast Florida. Noah is a sixth grader, in flag football, is a new percussionist and a Boy Scout in Troop 474. Ethan is in second grade and a Wolf Cub Scout in Pack 280. My cats are orangecicles — orange and white — and are brothers who like to leave mice and birds at our back door. They are very successful hunters despite their lack of camouflage!

 

What is the proudest/happiest moment of your life?  

The day I married Brad. Noah was three at the time and the ring bearer. Not being too interested in the ceremony, he threw the wedding rings across the chapel of our temple. I laughed and cried at the same time. It was the funniest, happiest moment as it was a snapshot of what happens in life itself.

 

What person had the greatest impact on your life?   

My grandfather. He taught me the gamut: from riding a bike to being a good citizen by volunteering. He always valued me as a person and for that I am eternally grateful.

 

Who is the most famous person you ever met?  

I’ve actually been in restaurants and bars seated next to a lot of famous people, as I lived in California for 10 years – Benjamin Bratt, Mickey Rourke, Mark Wahlberg, Jude Law, Nicolas Cage, Gwyneth Paltrow, to name a few.

 

My most memorable moment was in 1988. I am a big fan of Monty Python and John Cleese was visiting USC while I was a student there. I shook his hand and was so panicked that I could only say, ”Wow, you're much taller than I thought!” I felt like such a shmuck that I couldn't think of anything wittier. I also got to meet the band Pink Floyd at USC around that same time. I was working in the music department and the band members came in to use the soundboards. I got to open the doors for them!

 

What was the first concert you ever attended, and what was the most recent concert you attended?  

Besides concerts like the “Nutcracker Suite” when I was a child, the first real concert was Air Supply. Awful, I know. I did see Mel Torme at the Greek in L.A. in 1990. The last concert I attended was Tesla about 10 years ago. It was one of the first dates I had with Brad. I have very eclectic taste in music – from Metallica to Mozart. Oh, and my son Noah’s first band concert was in December. He did great!

 

If you won the lottery, what would do with the money?  

After paying off my and my family’s obligations, I would send 10 percent to several charities such as SOS Children's Villages, Mercy Corps and EngenderHealth. After that, not much would change ... except for more travel!

 

If you could choose any other career, what would it be and why?  

Besides helping my husband out with his businesses, I can’t think of anything else I’d like to do ... unless I could travel for money! I really love teaching at UNF. I love mathematics and being able to share the beauty of math. I think my students appreciate my passion for the subject at every level.

 

What would you like to do when you retire?  

Travel, travel and travel. I’ve been to 26 countries on three continents, so I still have many more countries to visit. My husband and I ski and are advanced certified scuba divers. We love adventure!

 

What is your favorite way to blow an hour?  

Reading science fiction, playing a computer game or watching “NCIS.”

 

What was the best money you ever spent?  

Buying my husband his first few birthday and holiday gifts. I can’t remember what they were, but I’ve struck out so many times that he just tells me he doesn’t want anything. Now, if I actually buy him something that he likes, he really appreciates it.

  

Tell us something that would surprise people to know about you. 

I was state champion in 2007 for weapons in Tae Kwon Do. I was also third in sparring and I earned third in worlds for extreme forms.

 

What are you most passionate about?  

Justice in the community and in the world. Although I feel that people should do their part in their communities, if they are sick, they should receive medical treatment. Not treating people’s medical conditions places strains on many other social services and on families. If everyone is entitled to K-12 education, why not health care?

   

Tell us something about you that even your friends don’t know.  

I really detest violence and guns especially on TV and on computer games. My kids harp that the can’t have any games with blood or guns, but it’s one issue that I don’t compromise.

 

What do you hope to accomplish that you have not done yet?

The most difficult thing ever – successfully getting my boys through school without major trauma to them or to me!

 

What was the last book you read? 

“Cryoburn,” by one of my favorite authors, Lois McMaster Bujold

Faculty & Staff
Dr. A.C. 'Josh' Samli with his book on infrastructuring

  

   

Brooks College of Health 

 

Nursing: William Ahrens, former agency partner Sarah Holdstein of the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition (now with the Coggin College of Business), and undergraduate students Melissa Bowen, Anila Daragjati, Justin Newberry and Melissa Usina presented “Community Campus Partnership to Promote Safe Sleep for Infants” at the American Association of Colleges and Nursing Baccalaureate Education Conference in Orlando in November.

 

Dr. Carol Ledbetter consulted on the development and delivery of a TriService Nursing Research Program workshop on Evidence Based Practice (EBP) in Landstuhl, Germany last month.

 

Dr. Jan Meires and Meg Corrigan Humphries published “Girl 6, with Facial Weakness” in Clinician Reviews, Vol. 21, No. 1. Meires and B. Louden published “Bite of the Brown Recluse Spider” in Clinician Reviews, Vol. 20, No. 12. Meires and B. Futch published “Man, 72 with Peeling Skin” in Clinician Reviews, Vol. 20, No. 12.

 

Coggin College of Business
 

Marketing & Logistics: Dr. A.C. “Josh” Samli published his 21st book, “Infrastructuring: The Key to Achieving Economic Growth, Productivity, and Quality of Life.”

 

College of Arts & Sciences 

  

Mathematics & Statistics: Dr. Beyza Aslan presented “Mathematical Methods for Modeling of Lightning and Thunderstorm Electrification” at the 7th Annual International Conference on Differential Equations and Dynamical Systems in Tampa in February.

 

Dr. Kening Wang presented “Sk(Q) Error Estimates and Superconvergence Analysis for Finite Element Methods for Compressible Miscible Displacement” at the Joint Math Meetings in New Orleans in February. At the same conference, Dr. Michelle DeDeo presented “Improving Pass Rates in Mathematics using Interactive Software – Revisited” and Dr. Qiang Zhen presented “On Processor Sharing Queue that Models Balking.”

 

Philosophy: Dr. Bert Koegler published “Recognition and the Resurgence of Intentional Agency” in a special issue of Inquiry in October. In November, he was an invited speaker and presented “The Open Self: Toward a Critical Hermeneutics of Identity” at the Future of Hermeneutics conference at the Free University of Berlin. He also presented a four-day block lecture “Hegel, Heidegger, Habermas: The Experience of Modernity” at the University of Austria in Klagenfurt.

     

Dr. Jonathan Matheson co-authored with Jason Rogers “Bergmann’s Dilemma: Exit Strategies for Internalists” in Philosophical Studies, Vol. 152, No. 1, pages 55-80.

  

Psychology: Dr. Emily Zitek published “Technical Fouls Predict Performance Outcomes in the NBA” in Athletic Insight, Vol. 3, No. 1.

 

College of Computing, Engineering & Construction 

 

Construction Management: Dr. Mag Malek served on both the organizing and the engineering and technology committees of the Annual Conference of 2010, Association of Egyptian-American Scholars at the American University in Cairo. At the same December conference, Malek also presented his paper, “Modeling and Measurement of Project Constructability.”

 

Dean’s Office: The newly formed Taraba State University in Nigeria sent a delegation to UNF to seek a possible collaboration in areas such as course and program development, student and faculty exchange and joint faculty research. The Taraba State visitors, Michael Noku, professor and deputy vice chancellor, Dr. Joseph Rishante, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Tony Dzegede and Sylvi Dzegede, both consultants, were escorted by Dr. Morrison Obeng of Bethune Cookman University.

 

School of Computing: Dr. Karthikeyan Umapthy, Sandeep Purao and John W. Bagby published their paper, “Analyzing Processes Behind Web Service Standards Development,” in both Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing, Vol. 52, and in the proceedings of 2009 Workshop on eBusiness. Umapathy also participated in the Junior Faculty Consortium at the International Conference on Information Systems in December.

 

Dr. Charles Winton conducted the 2011 Florida Region Botball Educational Robotics Workshop for middle and high school teachers and students in January at UNF. Winton was also an invited participant at the 2011 Educational Robotics Instructors Summit at the University of Oklahoma in January.

     

School of Engineering: Dr. Chris Brown was selected by the Hinkley Center for Solid and Hazardous Waste Management to submit a full proposal regarding the reuse of wastewater biosolids and yard waste. The acceptance of “Beneficial Reuse of Wastewater Biosolids and Yard Waste Blend in Florida” marks the first time any UNF pre-proposal has been selected by the Hinkley Center for consideration.

 

Dr. Birce Dikici recently published two papers. The first, authored with S. Datta, M.L. Pantoya and S. Ekwaro-Osire, is titled “Reaction Dynamics and Probability Study of Aluminum-Viton-Acetone Droplets” and was published in the Journal of Propulsion & Power. The second was written with V.I. Levitas and M.L. Pantoya and titled “Toward Design of the Pre-Stressed Nano- and Microscale Aluminum Particles Covered by Oxide Shell” in the Journal of Physical Chemistry. 

 

Jean Fryman participated in the Hendricks Avenue Science Spectacular for fifth-grade students and the school’s Science Spectacular. Both events took place in January.

 

Dr. Murat Tiryakioglu and John Campbell published their paper “Weibull Analysis of Mechanical Data for Castings: A Guide to the Interpretation of Probability Plots” in the Metallurgical and Materials Transactions, Vol. 41A. Tiryakioglu also gave a presentation on the “Next Challenge at UNF: Educating the Engineers of/for the Future” to a joint meeting of the Florida Engineering Society, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Society of American Military Engineers.

 

College of Education & Human Services 

 

Childhood Education: Dr. Gigi Morales David has been invited to present at the March meeting of the Florida Writer's Association. She is also is working on a community-based project involving her arts-integration students at Ortega Elementary, where she serves on the design team at the museum studies magnet. Morales David and Drs. Katrina Hall and Lunetta Williams are working with UNF students to implement a Transformational Learning Opportunity (TLO) grant, “ABC Literacy: Art, Books, Community.” The primary goal of this arts-based program is to encourage family engagement in supporting academic achievement at Woodland Acres Elementary. UNF education majors have the opportunity to create and implement arts-based activities that enhance school readiness while gaining firsthand knowledge of working effectively with at risk families.  

 

Exceptional Student and Deaf Education: Dr. Caroline Guardino recently traveled to the Philippines and lectured at the University of the Philippines to students majoring in special education. While there, Guardino gathered information for a study-abroad proposal so students in the fields of exceptional student and deaf education will be able to understand and experience special education in a developing country. Guardino and Dr. Susan Syverud presented “Impacting Deaf Struggling Readers: The Outcomes of Phonological Instruction” at the Florida Educators of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Individuals (FEHI) annual conference.

 

Leadership, School Counseling and Sport Management: Dr. Terence Cavanaugh presented a workshop at the Florida Educational Technology Conference on “Mapping Literature: Using Technology to Explore or Create Setting.” Cavanaugh also presented two research papers at the Eastern Educational Research Association in Sarasota, one with co-authors, Dr. Haihong Hu and Dr. Marcia Lamkin titled “Using a Generalized Checklist to Improve Student Assignment Submission Times in an Online Course” and “Gradebook Link Location within a Course Management System and Its Impact on Student Viewing.” In March, Cavanaugh will be presenting two papers at the Society of Technology in Education conference in Nashville: “Integrating an Open Textbook into Pre-Teacher Educational Technology” and “Creating a General Checklist for Graduate Distance Learning Students to Improve On-time Submissions in an Asynchronous Course.” Cavanaugh will also work with the Connect-Educate-Lead project and UNF’s Students in Free Enterprise by traveling to the Dominican Republic to assist in designing of the education resource technology that will be placed and assembled inside a shipping container converting it into a computer classroom that will be delivered to a school.

     

Dr. Dianne Dawood will present a paper, “Value-Added Public Education: The Arts Magnet High School” at the 2011 Annual American Educational Research Association (AERA) meeting in New Orleans.

 

Student Affairs 

     

Drs. Mauricio Gonzalez, Annabel Brooks and John Frank, along with and student Chanel Stovall recently presented “Calibrating the Leadership Compass with Values: A Model that Inspires and Transforms” at the Dalton Institute for College Student Values at Florida State University in early February. Their presentation shared the story of the partnership between Academic Affairs and Student Affairs in creating UNF’s Institute for Values, Community and Leadership while chronicling how the University of North Florida is taking a multi-faceted approach to values education integration across the organization’s culture.

 

Ryan Miller and Natalie Nguyen of the LGBT Resource Center presented at the South/Southeast U.S. Regional Caucus at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Creating Change Conference in Minneapolis in February.

Dateline

 Congratulations to employees celebrating milestone anniversaries this month. 

Milestone Anniversaries 

Congratulations to the following employees who will celebrate a milestone anniversary at UNF in March:

 

35 Years: 

Everett Malcolm, Associate Vice President, Student Affairs

 

15 Years: 

Cathryn Hagan, Associate Director, Small Business Development Center

 

10 Years: 

Jacqueline Huff, Senior Custodial Worker, Physical Facilities

 

Five Years: 

Linda Howell, Instructor, English

Becky Raines, Custodial Worker, Physical Facilities

Janice Strickland, Administrative Secretary, Center for International Education

Jennifer Urbano, Coordinator of Events Planning, Academic Affairs

Deborah Williams, Custodial Worker, University Housing

 

Welcome  

The following employees were either hired by UNF or were promoted from OPS positions from mid-January to mid-February:

 

Amber Barnes, Adjunct, Public Health

John Belanger, Police Communications Operator, University Police Department

James Brestle, Irrigation-Turf Specialist, Stadium-Sports Complex

Daniel Cesar, Senior Telecommunications Technician, Telephone Services

Gennadly Gedroit, Network Analyst, Networking Services

Lori Hartley, Applications Systems Analyst, Information Technology Services

Sherri McCormack, Information Technology Auditor, Internal Auditing

Joshua Padgett, Parking Services Technician, University Parking

Anita Parks, Office Manager, Graduate School

Marcia Pertuz, Adjunct, College of Education and Human Services

Sashi Rizai, Custodial Worker, Physical Facilities

Teresa Sandrock, Associate Director, Human Resources

Joyce Smith, Senior Custodial Worker, Physical Facilities

Rhea Sparks, Admissions Evaluator, Enrollment Services Processing Office

Judith Vaesa, Office Manager, Child Development and Research Center

Joshua Wethington, Technical Support Specialist, Enrollment Services

Lawrence Whiting, Mental Health Counselor, University Counseling Center

Joslyn Zale, Assistant Director for Admissions Processing, Enrollment Services Processing Office

 

 Charlotte Rose HymanCongratulations 

Melissa Hyman (Coordinator of Budgets, Enrollment Services) and her husband, Jeff, announce the birth of their first child, Charlotte Rose. Charlotte was born at 8:22 p.m. Dec. 31.

The Goods
The Love of Chocolate

Got acne? Don't blame chocolate! 

Does chocolate appeal to you for its flavor, symbolic meaning of love or potential health benefits? Dr. Judith Rodriguez, a nutrition professor in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics and president of the American Dietetics Association, discusses myths and facts about chocolate.

 

Myth: 

Chocolate is native to Switzerland.

 

Fact:  

The cacao tree was discovered 2,000 years ago in Mesoamerica. Ancient Maya and Aztec cultures ground the seeds into a paste and made a bitter chocolate drink. The Aztecs often used the cacao seeds as a form of money, in non-sweet main dishes (like today’s mole sauces) and some sacred ceremonies. Explorers took the seeds to Spain and cacao was then dispersed throughout Europe. There, new recipes, which included cream and sugar, were created and the new sweet version of a chocolate-based food was developed.

 

Myth: 

Cacao and chocolate is the same thing.

 

Fact: 

Cacao is the seed of a pod. Cacao, or what is used to make chocolate, is bitter in its raw form. There are different types of chocolate: unsweetened, Dutch, bittersweet, sweet (dark), milk and cocoa. By law, these items differ in terms of cacao content and amounts of other ingredients. For example, sweet chocolate can be 15 to 34 percent cacao. Milk chocolate has about at least 10 percent unsweetened chocolate plus specific amounts of milk solids and milk fat.

 

Myth: 

Chocolate causes acne.

 

Fact: 

Scientific evidence supports the fact that chocolate doesn’t cause acne or pimples. Moreover, acne doesn’t appear to be caused by a specific food but rather by acne-causing bacteria, an excess of skin oil and a buildup of dead cells within the pores.

 

Myth: 

Chocolate can cause a heart attack.

 

Fact: 

Actually, cacao is associated to a decreased risk of heart disease because of its content of phytochemicals. Cacao may help lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation and increase HDL (good cholesterol). Dark chocolate contains more of these components than milk chocolate, so cocoa and dark chocolate are recommended over other chocolates.

 

Myth: 

White chocolate is chocolate without the coloring.

 

Fact: 

Actually, white chocolate isn’t chocolate. It’s a confection made with sugar, vanilla, cream and/or milk solids, cocoa butter and doesn’t have chocolate liquor.

 

Crispy Chocolate-Peanut Treat  

12 oz. large marshmallows

3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter

6 cups Cocoa Krispies cereal

 

Place the marshmallows and peanut butter in a large microwaveable bowl. Microwave 1-1/2 to 2 minutes, until soft enough to add the Cocoa Krispies. Thoroughly mix in the Cocoa Krispies. Pat down in a 13 x 9 x 5/8 inch small cookie sheet. Refrigerate. When cool, cut into 18 squares.

 

This Crispy Chocolate-Peanut Treat will be a bit stickier than the traditional crispy treats because it doesn’t contain butter, but will be more nutritious and delicious! You can also top with chocolate or red sprinkles or cut into heart shapes with a cookie cutter for decoration.

 

Calories: 176

Fat calories: 52 (6 grams fat)

Protein: 4 grams

Dietary fiber: 1 gram

 

If you have questions about chocolate, contact Rodriguez at jrodrigu@unf.edu.

 

“The Goods” monthly column runs every third Thursday in the Taste section of The Florida Times-Union, promoting UNF nutrition faculty and featuring myths and facts about various foods.