Earl Danieley highlights the past century of Elon University graduation ceremonies

April 18, 2013 Leave a comment
Dr. Earl Danieley graduated from Elon College in 1946 (Photo Courtesy of The Pendulum)

Dr. Earl Danieley graduated from Elon College in 1946
(Photo Courtesy of The Pendulum)

Earl Danieley, 88, clasps his hands together and escapes into memory. His eyes are lost, gazing through his oval glasses; as he sorts through recollections of a lifetime.

Grinning to himself, he returns from his muse.

“One time they called me just days before graduation and asked me to do the sermon,” he said in his hoarse voice. “Sam Proctor, who was a good friend of mine, was lined up to do the sermon. Just two nights before, he died! So they called on me to do it.”

Giving the sermon at Elon University’s Commencement service is just a chapter in the book of memories the school’s President Emeritus has from Elon graduations since he first stepped on campus as a student in 1941.

“Graduation was sort of lonely the first time they did it here,” Danieley said.

The first classes were in September of 1890 and the first commencement was in May the following year. There were only three men, who had transferred from other schools and that graduated that May. The graduation of 1892 was even lonelier, with only one woman graduating.

Danieley, who graduated in 1946 from Elon, joined the faculty later year. Later he received a doctorate  in organic chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and conducted post-doctoral research at Johns Hopkins University. He has since remained a fixture of the community.

“I graduated in Whitley Auditorium,” Danieley said while pointing to a map – of then Elon College – on his office wall. “Commencement used to be a whole weekend back then.”

Graduation locations, speakers, and students of Elon’s last 60 years can all be remembered on the timeline of Danieley – also, they will most likely be remembered by Danieley himself.

“In the early years, commencement was in the Old Main Building,” Danieley said. “But in January of ’23 that building burned down, so graduation was under the oaks for the first time. They only went out there because they had no where else to go.”

The following year, graduation was moved to Whitley Auditorium, where it stayed until commencement grew too large, and then moved to Alumni Gym, and then back to ‘under the oaks’ behind West Dormitory.

When asked to share a story from one of the venues, Danieley revels and drifts into narration.

“It was 1945,” he said. “Truman was president at the time and it just so happened that every year we gave a few honorary degrees. We thought to ourselves, ‘wouldn’t it be great to give the president of the United States a degree?

Danieley served as the dean for Elon College from 1957-73. (Photo Courtesy of Elon.edu)

Danieley served as the dean for Elon College from 1957-73.
(Photo Courtesy of Elon.edu)

“So that’s exactly what we did.”

Truman was unable to come to Whitley Auditorium to get his degree on account of the nation being at war, so the United States Congressman from North Carolina, Carl T. Durham, received it on behalf of the president.

But that’s just one story that Danieley reminisces on of presidents receiving honorary degrees from Elon. He vividly shares the story of Oscar Smith, the president of Smith Douglas Fertilizer Company, coming to Elon and the excitement he had at introducing Smith to his father.

“Oscar Smith was coming and I wanted my Daddy to meet him,” Danieley said, while sharing stories of working on his father’s farm and using products of the Smith Douglas Fertilizer Company, which his father sold.

“We were standing there outside of Whitley. Daddy was there. Oscar Smith was there. And we were talking, and along walked Bill Jobe with Eloise Fisher. Bill was at least 6’8 and Eloise was nothing more than 5’5,” Danieley said. “I’ll never forget Smith looking at us and saying, ‘ now that’s how nature keeps people the right height’.”

Snickering to himself, Danieley leans back in his chair and pauses, as to soak every bit of the memory before saying, “I’ve got another!”

And so he begins, sharing and narrating times of years past – as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

“It just tickled me,” he said about Senator Sam J. Ervin.

Ervin was selected to be the speaker at one of the first commencements that Danieley served as dean when something unusual happened.

“The morning of graduation, a courier came up to my office and gave me a letter addressed to Ervin from the Ervin Senate office,” Danieley said. “Now, Ervin was a great speaker and a tremendous storyteller but what happened was his staff had written the speech for him to read at our graduation. The first time he saw the speech was when he was reading it on stage and it was just awful!

“It just tickled me to see one of the best speakers in the country get caught so off guard and just simply flunk out with the speech.”

Scratching his chin, he says, “I wished I had ripped up that note when I first got it!”

Education has been the vantage point for Danieley’s life and so Elon graduations are naturally highlights every year.

But with every high point comes the opportunity for disappointment and frustration.

“Up until a few years ago, graduation was a very frustrating time for me,” Danieley said. “I would sit there, watching my students graduate and I would not be able to find them and meet their parents. It would make me so sad.

“But I said to myself, ‘I can beat that.’ So I went to the store and bought about ten cards for seniors who were known to me and I wrote asking them to meet me by the fountain near Alamance (building).”

Danieley said he has just been delighted at the outcome.

“Every year, I stand there for hours, taking pictures, meeting families and congratulating my students.”

Last year Danieley was standing near the fountain for nearly an hour before a father approached him and asked if he was a celebrity because everyone kept coming up to him and taking pictures.

“Well of course they come to see me,” Danieley told the man. “I told them to!”

He chuckles a little bit more about the man near the fountain.  With the grin still on his face, he says, “It’ll be the best graduation you’ll ever see. And believe me, I’ve been to many!


Social Media helps bridge relational gaps in the Digital Age

April 13, 2013 Leave a comment
Nancy Satkovich, 91, on Skype with daughter, Janice, and granddaughter, Kara.

Nancy Satkovich, 91, on Skype with daughter, Janice, and granddaughter, Kara.

It had been fifteen years since Nancy Satkovich had heard from her childhood friend Pete Barta. And never did Satkovich, 91, envision the friendship of over 80 years to be rekindled on social media.

The morning of Satkovich’s birthday, her daughter Janice posted on Facebook that she would have her Skype account online all day for people wanting to wish her mother a happy birthday – which provided the opportunity for Barta to reconnect with his old friend.

“It was so wonderful to speak to him,” Satkovich said. “We used to live across the street from each other before (WWII). Speaking to them over Skype was like nothing changed (in our friendship).”

Stories like these seem to follow the ever-increasing presence of social media in the Digital Age. At the start of 2013, there was over a billion Facebook users online with 100 billion connections and 54 percent of those users being over the age of 35. Facebook alone gained over 200 million users in 2012. This rapid growth is shrinking the world

Storify about social media connecting friends and family.

Storify about social media connecting friends and family.

and providing ample opportunity for friends like Satkovich and the Bartas to reunite.

Janna Quitney Anderson, director of the major international resource Imagining the Internet: A History and Forecast believes that the future of social relations are bright because of social media.

“The social benefits of Internet use will far outweigh the negatives over the next decade,” Anderson reported in a publication for the Pew Research Center. “The Internet lowers traditional communications constraints of cost, geography, and time; and it supports the type of open information sharing that brings people together.”

Nancy Christensen, 60, is another Facebook user who was able to reconnect with a long-lost friend. Christensen’s father was stationed in Taiwan from 1961-63 where she met Janna Hall, who’s father was also stationed there.

“We lost touch in middle school when we moved back to the states,” Christensen said. “But then we found each other on Facebook about six years ago”

Christensen says that Facebook helps bridge the geographical gap between the two friends and keeps them up-t0-date on each other’s lives.

Not only are geographical gaps being crossed on the bridge of social media, but family gaps too.

Jon Delamarter, 39, had never met his cousin Kathryn Howard until a serendipitous post by Delmarter on a fan page brought him in connection with Howard in 2011.

“I saw the name ‘Kathryn Howard’ and recognized it,” Delamarter said. “I messaged her and we got connected and I have since stayed at her house while I’ve done business in Baltimore.”

Although Facebook’s one billion users have the strongest presence on the Internet, Twitter, Google +, Instagram, and Pinterest also provide mediums for reconnecting with old friends. This ThingLink demonstrates some of the platforms. These platforms are rapidly growing with Instagram boasting a 724% increase over the past six months and 625,000 people joining Google + every day.

In a canvassing conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University of a diverse set of experts, 85% agreed with the statement:

“In 2020, when I look at the big picture and consider my personal friendships, marriage and other relationships, I see that the Internet has mostly been a positive force on my social world. And this will only grow more true in the future.”

ThingLink on the state of social media users.

ThingLink on the state of social media users.

Cynthia Lowen exposes bullying in America at Elon University

April 12, 2013 Leave a comment
A Thinglink about award-winning documentary Bully

A Thinglink about award-winning documentary Bully

“I was a target, but by in large, I was a witness.”

Award-winning documentary producer Cynthia Lowen gave a charge to a packed room of students at Elon University’s Whitley Auditorium to round off the events of anti-bullying week. She told the audience that the staggering 85% of bullying incidents that go unaccounted for need to change. People need to take a stand against bullying.

“Each of us have been touched by this issue,” she said on Thursday night. “We’ve become so used to bullying that it has become invisible to us. Let’s take a stand.”

Lowen has begun to take a stand by producing the documentary Bully in 2011 about bullying in U.S. schools. The movie chronicled a year in the life of American bullying. It showed stories of a 19-year-old transgender girl named Kelby Johnson who was ostracized from her community when she came out as a lesbian. It also showed the story of a 12-year-old named Alex Libby who was verbally and physically abused everyday on his bus ride to school.

The documentary illuminated the age-old problem by exposing the harsh treatment of Kelby and Alex in the context of their situations.

Storify on cyber bullying

Storify on cyber bullying

Lowen explained the factors that played into the bullying of Alex.

“Alex’s story was the perfect storm of bullying,” Lowen explained. “The peer culture had been normalized, there was a lack of communication with adults and parents, and administrators and school officials were not equipped to stop the bullying he was experiencing.”

Tim Garber, a senior at Elon University studying education for middle grades, agreed with Lowen’s reasoning for bullying in Alex’s situation. He said that these are the factors influencing bullying around the country.

“It starts from the top,” Garber said. “We need to have administrators and teachers who demonstrate a level of concern for bullying. If that happens then it can be prevented. If not, Alex and Kelby’s situations are reenacted.”

The Bully Project social action campaign was created to prevent stories like Alex and Kelby. The national movement to stop bullying has screened the documentary for over 250,000 students and 7,500 educators across 120+ cities. Along with the documentary, the Bully Project offers a curriculum and training packet from Facing History and Ourselves as resources to fight against bullying. Open dialogue about bullying is the first step to taking a stand against it.

Lowen charged the audience to have conversations in the class rooms and work places to illuminate the problem, while using Einstein’s famous quote as motivation.

“If you’re not a part of the solution, then you are a part of the problem.”

Infograph about bullying

Infograph about bullying


College baseball interest spurred on by technology

March 20, 2013 Leave a comment

ThingLink of College Baseball Media Coverage

March Madness and the Bowl Championship Series games clog media outlets every fall and spring, but the teams and players involved splash into national media long before post-season play.

Traditionally the media exposure has been less when talking about college baseball.

This is changing.

The surge of popularity in sports has virtually always been accompanied by a dramatic increase in the coverage provided by the media. This is no different in college baseball.

“The beat is changing and growing,” said Aaron Fitt, Baseball America’s National Writer for college baseball. “Twitter, Facebook, podcasts and video have all become a part of it. There’s a lot more to it than there used to be.”

The multimedia tools now incorporated into the coverage of college baseball have allowed fans to familiarize themselves with the names and statistics of up-and-coming prospects as well as follow live tweets on marquee matchups. Before these tools were available, blogs and magazines were the means of keeping people informed.

“It’s gotten to the point where you can get information from around the country and from more places almost instantaneously,” said Bob Sutton, Sports Editor of Burlington (N.C.) Times-News. “You can find the information if you want to.”

The availability of the information has been pivotal to the recent rise of popularity in college baseball, which finds its pinnacle in Omaha, Neb., for the College World Series. ESPN owns television broadcasting rights of the national championship.

In 2011, the best-of-three championship between the University of South Carolina and the University of Florida averaged a little more than 2.2 million total viewers.

The Digital Age has allowed fans to become part of the discussion. In college basketball, the audience participates in the conversation by filling out brackets to predict what will happen throughout the NCAA Tournament.

In college baseball, the main source of this interactivity is Twitter.

“Twitter has been popular in the coverage of college baseball because it bypasses the editing process and eliminates the gaps between the readers and the writers,” Fitt said. “It allows the readers to directly interact with us as the writers.”

Storify on Aaron Fitt's take on multimedia coverage in college baseball

Storify on Aaron Fitt’s take on multimedia coverage

Fitt said Twitter changed the landscape of following college baseball.  For instance, if something surprising happens in a marquee game between two ranked teams or a big upset takes place, beat writers are expected to have a comment on it right away.

Twitter has also been utilized for the promotion of college baseball.

“We want to be interactive with our fans on the (Elon Phoenix) Twitter account,” said Chris Rash, Associate Director of Communications for Athletics at Elon University. “We’ve had remarkable growth because of Twitter and it allows us to promote.”

Rash also runs the Elon Phoenix website (ElonPhoenix.com) which has play-by-play statistics run by SIDEARM Stats for baseball games, links to audio broadcasts of 25 of the team’s 56 games, media guides, up-to-date statistics and previews of upcoming games.

“The school’s own website has been one of the best tools for covering and following teams,” said Sutton, beat writer for Elon baseball. “So more people will know about the (information) that is out there.”

Interest and technology have simultaneously been fueling each other in the coverage of college baseball, as well as the patterns of other sports.

“I think about March Madness and how you can get all of them on your computer,” said Fitt. “We need to be able to watch all of the NCAA (baseball) tournament games online. Streaming is where we need to be. We’re getting there, but we’re not there yet.”

ESPN has begun answering that demand.

In 2012, ESPN broadcasted 83 college baseball games on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3 with up to 17 scheduled games between June 15-26 for the College World Series.

The Southeastern Conference (SEC) signed a broadcasting package with ESPN to air over 70 contests in 2013. All of those games are broadcast in high definition.

The schools outside of SEC look for options outside of ESPN to broadcast games on video.

Max Negin, assistant professor in Elon University’s School of Communications and three-time Emmy award winner, believes that money will determine the availability of high quality video broadcasting throughout college baseball. (YouTube slideshow: Negin speaks on multimedia coverage in college sports)

“For college baseball to take advantage of newer technologies there would probably need to be some subsidies with teams and colleges and universities,” he said. “The question is who would pay for it.”

Fitt believes the media industry is in a strange juncture and everyone is trying to break into the video world.

Negin believes that video will come when the demand for it translates to money.

“I think the demand would have to happen first and whatever equipment there was available to produce games would have to be used and eventually when they could capitalize on the eyeballs watching, then that would translate to better equipment and better streaming.”

Bryan Alexander discusses storytelling and pedagogy in technology

March 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Bryan Alexander is a man of imagination. Science fiction paved the way in his mind for a career’s interest in the hybrid that can come out of academia in a world ruled by technology. He brought his interests to Elon University on on 6 March 2013.

Bryan Alexander is senior fellow at the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE). He researches, writes, and speaks about emerging trends in the integration of inquiry, pedagogy, and technology and their potential application to liberal arts contexts. Dr. Alexander’s current research interests include emerging pedagogical forms enabled by mobile technologies, learning processes and outcomes associated with immersive environments (as in gaming and augmented reality), the rise of digital humanities, the transformation of scholarly communication, digital storytelling, and futurist methodologies.

“We view the record of humanities with a critical eye,” he said. “We look for weaknesses and strengths, we look for abuse and potential. Perhaps the humanities can give us a criticism of the digital world as we try to understand what’s happening.”

Read more about it on Storify!

International Students at Elon University offer global perspectives on Lakeside Dining Hall

February 27, 2013 Leave a comment
Residents of Isabella Cannon International Studies Pavilion speak on Lakeside Dining Hall's international station

Residents of Isabella Cannon International Studies Pavilion speak on Lakeside Dining Hall’s international station

Countries from literally around the globe have representatives enrolling in Elon University. The global community is something that the university has taken drastic measures to preserve and grow in recent years.

The most recent addition to Elon’s campus is Lakeside Dining Hall, which is considered the global dining hall because of its international station featuring global cuisine with a different country represented each week.

“It’s pretty interesting to eat a new kind of food each week,” said Louis Munck, a sophomore from France. “It is pretty great that us international students, or even American students can learn about other cultures, habits, and differences.”

The dining hall gets the nod of approval from students in the Isabella Cannon International Pavilion. The International Pavilion is a residential area designated to students with international experience, backgrounds, and interests. Most of the students are from one of the 57 countries represented in Elon’s student body.

It is common, and promoted for students in the International Pavilion to share respective interests, experiences, and cultures with each other, so the dining hall fosters a suitable atmosphere for these topics to be shared.

“I think that it is a really good move and it shows (Elon’s) commitment to creating a global neighborhood,” said Omolayo Ojo, a sophomore from Nigeria who lives in the International Pavilion. “And the food they cook there, although it may not be as authentic as it could be. Even if you don’t like the food that much, you have to appreciate the effort. And at the end of the day, that’s what counts.”

The applaud for Elon’s efforts is felt, and warmly accepted by Kevin Koberg, a freshman from Costa Rica also living in the the International Pavilion.

“It’s nice to see that Elon is trying to make people from other countries feel at home,” said Koberg. “I think (Elon) is doing the right thing with Lakeside Dining Hall.”

The dining hall offers students the opportunity to taste the world. Although Elon’s study abroad program is among the best in the nation, the ability of one student to experience many cultures is still limited to the places he has been and people he has talked to. The international station provides a medium of diverse learning through taste that would otherwise be absent. This is the same motive present daily in the International Pavilion. It is no shock then why the residents residing there support the efforts of Elon.

Since its grand opening on 4 February 2013, the dining hall has already represented Turkey, Germany, Thailand, India, the Philippines, Spain, Japan, and Lebanon in the country’s respective foods. With each country represented, there is a table located in the middle of the dining hall with information on the country’s options to study abroad, learn more about the culture, and appreciate their customs.

Each time the dining hall’s international station reaches into the kitchen of one of the students’ respective culture, that student beams with pride.

Billy Stevens teaches the musical history of the American South

February 21, 2013 Leave a comment
Natchez Under the Hill

Natchez Under the Hill

American music is a staple of its culture. Around the world artists such as Eminem, Eric Clapton, and Elvis Presley are well-known. But, what is it that these three artists have in common? They are white artists that have sounds deriving from African-American culture.

Billy Stevens spoke at Elon University, as Black History Month nears its end, chronicling the fusion between black and white music throughout American history.

Stevens has lectured and performed in over 60 countries in a wide variety of genres as a modern day, one-man band. He came to find that wherever he traveled, American music preceded him, and that same music finds its roots in the American South.

There was no music that was distinctly American until the 1820s when white artists would imitate the singing, dancing, and bowing of their African-American slaves. The slaves brought hoarse voices and flat notes to fuse with European sounds in the late 1700s in a beautiful storm that had never before been mixed.

“It caught fire. It was original,” Stevens said. “No one had ever done anything like it … and since then, from jazz to rap it has been the black music being mixed with the white to produce new music.”

The Banjar, an instrument that looks very similar to a banjo was one of the original instruments that the slaves played. According to Stevens, the slave and his Banjar were the source of entertainment around the plantation. Even Thomas Jefferson talked about his slaves playing the Banjars and dancing for him on his plantation.

“The people couldn’t get their minds around the sounds of the slaves,” Stevens said. “But they loved it and imitated it.”

The key to imitation and emulation is that it is an unspoken tribute and honor to the one being imitated. Thus, in the 1820s when American music really began to boom, the white artists were silently complimenting the African-Americans by performing their music. This was what has happened throughout musical history in America, from Elvis Presley playing “black” music in Tennessee to Eric Clapton playing the sounds of Little Richard in New York.

The African-American sound has paved the way.

“If you look at any music that has come out of America you can easily trace it back to the African-Americans taking a sound, changing it to meet with their hoarse voices and modified instruments and you will see that the product are things like Jazz, the Blues, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Rap.”