A Note from the Dean

Scott GeisThe last few months of 2016 have been interesting, to say the least. For many, the gratitude and joy typically associated with Thanksgiving and Christmas seem to have been replaced by anger, fear, and hopelessness. This is one of the reasons I’m especially grateful for the Advent wreath in our SOA hallway – a generous gift from our friends in Campus Ministry – symbolizing as it does the promise of hope, peace, joy, and love. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been thinking a lot about hope, as of late, and, in this note, I’d like to share with you some of my thoughts as they relate to this Advent season.

When Christians are asked about their favorite holiday season, they’re fairly evenly split between Christmas and Easter – though, at least in my experience, Christmas usually gets the nod. After all, Christmas is about joy, light, and life, and there’s no slogging through the despair, darkness, and death of Good Friday to get to Easter. Indeed, the Christmas “equivalent” to Good Friday, Christmas Eve, is, for many, the most anticipated day of the year (unless, that is, you’re into Black Friday sales). For most children – or, as the song goes, “for kids from one to ninety-two” – this is the “coming” or “arrival” at the center of the Advent season. And yet, I’ve come to realize there are some striking parallels between the Holy Week of Easter and the season of Advent.

This realization has been inspired in part by a wonderful collection of Advent meditations I’ve been reading, based on G. F. Handel’s beautiful and provocative oratorio, Messiah. One movement in particular, the ninth, has really haunted me the last couple of weeks; it’s based on Isaiah 40.6-9 and titled, “O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion.” In this passage, the author likens humans to grass and their beauty to flowers, and then sharpens his point by writing, “The grass withers, the flower fades.” Well, that’s certainly hopeful and uplifting, isn’t it? Ultimately, yes, but only when the entire passage is read (or heard) against the often cold, dark, bleak background of lived human experience.

Rest assured the point of this note is not to dampen our holiday spirits. On the contrary, I want to encourage us to see, and to understand, why the light that guided the Magi – who, like us, were living in a dark and deeply divided world – shone so brightly. The tiny baby they sought – believed by Christians to be the human face of God – arrived on the darkest night in human history and, several years later, had the audacity to call himself the “Light of the world.” Or, as Lucy Pevensie, one of the children in C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, put it, “In our world, too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.”

May the hope, peace, joy, and love of this truly wonder-full season be yours in abundance and in profound, altogether new and surprising ways!

Hopefully yours,

Scott

Grand Opening for The Rosa Deal School of Arts

You are invited to join us for the grand opening of The Rosa Deal School of Arts on Jan. 23rd from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.

RDSOAWhen completed, this state-of-the-art educational facility will host the School of Arts offices, multi-modal classrooms, new art studios, the writing center and language lab, psychology lab, and communal spaces for students. You can learn more about the Rosa Deal School of Arts here.

2017 Vanderhaar Symposium Welcomes Shaka Senghor

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On Friday, March 31st The Gerard A. Vanderhaar Symposium at Christian Brothers University welcomes Shaka Senghor, author of Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death and Redemption in an American PrisonThe event is free and open to the public.

Author Photo-Shaka Senghor WebShaka is a leading voice in criminal justice reform and the President and Co-Founder of #BeyondPrisons, an initiative designed to uplift the voices and experiences of those impacted by the criminal justice system. His memoir, Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death and Redemption in an American Prison, was released in March 2016 and debuted on The New York Times Best Seller List as well as The Washington Post Best Seller List. An unforgettable tale of forgiveness and second chances, Writing My Wrongs reminds us that our worst deeds don’t define who we are or what we can contribute to the world. Senghor’s story has inspired thousands and serves as a powerful testament to the power of hope, compassion and unconditional love.

Oprah Winfrey has referred to her interview with Senghor for SuperSoul Sunday as “one of the best I’ve ever had-not just in my career, but in my life… His story touched my soul.” Senghor’s TED Talk, which he delivered at TED’s 30th Anniversary Conference, received a standing ovation and has been viewed more than 1.3 million times; TED later featured his talk in its “Year in Ideas” roundup, a collection of the most powerful TED Talks of 2014.

Senghor has been a guest on CNN, CBS This Morning, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Good Day New York, NewsOne Now with Roland Martin, and C-SPAN’s After Words. He has also been a guest on numerous radio programs, including All Things Considered, The Lenny Lopate Show, The Maggie Linton Show, and Power 105.1 with Angie Martinez.

Shaka Senghor is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2016 Ford Man of Courage Award, the 2016 NAACP Great Expectations Award, the 2015 Manchester University Innovator of the Year Award, and the 2012 Black Male Engagement (BMe) Leadership Award. He was recently recognized by OWN as a “Soul Igniter” in the inaugural class of the SuperSoul 100, a dynamic group of trailblazers whose vision and life’s work are bringing a higher level of consciousness to the world around them and encouraging others to do the same. Senghor was also a 2014 TED Prize finalist for The Atonement Project, is a former MIT Media Lab Director’s Fellow, and a current Fellow in the inaugural class of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Community Leadership Network. He has taught at the University of Michigan and shares his story of redemption around the world.

This year’s Vanderhaar Symposium kicks off two days of peaceful fellowship under the banner “Know Justice. Know Peace.” with The Gandhi-King Conference, which will be held at CBU on April 1st, and The National Civil Rights Museum, which will host a guest speaker that Saturday night. We hope you’ll join us as we come together for what promises to be an eventful two days of learning, camaraderie, fellowship and community building. Follow the School of Arts on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with announcements.

Art Therapy Exhibition at The Memphis Brooks Museum

6_brooksarttherapy4webIn the fall of 2016, the Brooks Museum partnered with the Visual and Performing Arts Department at CBU to offer an Art Therapy Field Course for undergraduate students who are interested in pursuing a career in art therapy. The Brooks provided art therapy for two groups from Alzheimer’s and Dementia Services of Memphis (ADS), while CBU students enrolled in the course observed the adults’ experience in the Brooks’ galleries and in the studio art therapy session.

This exhibition is a result of artwork created by the art therapy participants from ADS and CBU students who learned about building connections and enhancing self-expression through art therapy groups, gallery discussions, and the creative process. *

The exhibition is on display from December 10th to March 26th, 2017.

Want to learn more about the art therapy profession? Join CBU adjunct professors Paige Scheinberg and Sarah Hamil for an information session at the Museum on January 8th. RSVP here.

*This article was first published on the Brooks Museum website.

SOA’s Taylor Flake and Rakesha Gray Named 2016 Lasallian Fellows

29235326926_b81977c5d1_zTaylor Flake can be most easily described as a “Drum Major for Justice.” These are the words that come to mind when describing CBU senior Taylor Flake and her untiring mission to seek economic and social justice for all. Taylor, a 2013-14 Trustee Scholar, is a history major with minors in Spanish, political science and global studies. Her academic pursuits complement her desire to serve a wide range of constituents in her desired career path as attorney and judge.

While Taylor has assumed leadership roles in many student organizations at CBU, her most significant include being founder and president of the CBU Chapter of the NAACP (National Association for the Advance of Colored People), which received the College Chapter of the Year Award and is the first NAACP chapter at a Lasallian university.  The Chapter’s advisor, Dr. Jeffrey Gross, reminds us of why having an NAACP chapter at CBU is so important: “An NAACP chapter on this campus ensures that students will have the opportunity to discuss and learn about the ways prejudice affects people. Education creates a foundation for advocacy and empowerment. Education is the foundation of justice.”

Despite the onerous work of founding a new organization and nurturing it to maturity, Taylor has found the time to contribute to the Tennessee Intercollegiate Supreme Court, Student Activities Council, Lasallian Collegians, Young Ladies United, the CBU Honors Program Board of Directors, the CBU Student Government Association, and Phi Alpha Delta Pre Law Fraternity. For her excellent leadership and service, Taylor received the CBU Spirit Award and was named 2015 CBU Senator of the Year.

In addition,Taylor has collaborated with other organizations to address critical issues facing the Memphis community, including the Juvenile Justice Summit, NAACP Reads, and the Black Lives Matter campaign. Taylor Flake is definitely a change-maker with a heart and conscience for serving and a desire for ensuring justice and equality for individuals from all walks of life. She has already been recognized with the 2015 Vanderhaar Student Peace Award, given to a college student within the city of Memphis involved in non-violent work for peace and justice, and absolutely deserves to be named a 2016-17 CBU Lasallian Fellow.

 

29235326626_80a527ca9c_zRaKesha Gray may be one of the most beloved students ever to walk the halls of CBU; she is simply one of the most positive, inspirational, generous, thoughtful, and loving people on our campus. RaKesha, a Religion and Philosophy major, always has a warm smile, a good word, and an open heart for those she meets. It is, therefore, no surprise that she plans to pursue a career in community service or education. Her many positive qualities will certainly be gifts to those she serves and teaches.

RaKesha has been a constant source of joy in her many activities on and off-campus. At CBU, RaKesha has contributed her time and talents to the Divine Voices gospel choir, Young Ladies United, the NAACP, Campus Ministry, Residence Life, President’s Ambassadors, and the CBU Honors Program, where she has held the offices of President and Vice-President. In her “time-off” she has been a tireless servant for Creative Life, a community youth development organization whose purpose is to provide creative learning opportunities to under-served youth in South Memphis. RaKesha volunteers for their summer feeding program (which has prepared over 12,000 meals for families in poverty), conducts ACT Prep sessions, and sets up and attends college tours with high school students. She promotes, coordinates, and plans weekly spiritual empowerment services and participates in Creative Life’s performing arts program by acting in plays and choreographing dances for the younger girls.

Because of her many positive attributes and activities, RaKesha Gray is no stranger to recognition, having received the CBU Spirit Award, the St. Thomas More Service award, and was named Ms. CBU at the 2016 CBU Homecoming. In addition, as a result of her dedication to Creative Life, Inc. RaKesha was the recipient of the organization’s 2015 Champion Award.

RaKesha Gray is an incredible young woman who truly embodies the spirit and love of CBU, and it is, therefore, befitting that she be named a 2016-17 CBU Lasallian Fellow.

Learn more about CBU’s other Lasallian Fellows.

The Art of Science w/ Professor Nick Pena

Visual and Performing Arts Professor Nick Pena‘s piece entitled Behind the Cancer Wheel (Teresa’s Story) is currently showing through December 16 in The Art of Science exhibit at the Hyde Gallery. The 2016 exhibit is an exploration of the beauty of science and power of art, and features artistic interpretations of research being performed at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. To create this imaginative collection, more than two dozen Le Bonheur researchers were paired with local artists, who then communicated the significance of their work in unique ways.

Statement by Nick Pena:

Memphis Cancer Wheel by Emanuel VillaThe Memphis Cancer Wheel (left), created by Dr. Emmanuel Villa, Data Architect for Le Bonheur Research Center, shows the distribution of Breast Cancer patients from 2005 to 2012 (almost 4,000) among their cancer stage, age group, and outcome. Data comes from a repository made by the Center of Biomedical Informatics in which data from the West Clinic, Methodist Hospital, and the tumor registry were consolidated. Understanding the importance of data collection for research and the necessity of obtaining and maintaining accurate data collection are essential. The architecture and design of preexisting data helps to provide an understanding of what data exists, how it flows, and when and how this information can be measured.

Pena AOS opening reception

Teresa Bullock, a friend of Mr. Pena’s, is a breast cancer survivor who lives and works, as a graphic designer, in Memphis, TN. The text in the image is her cancer survivor story.

When viewing the Memphis Cancer Wheel I couldn’t help but wonder, who are the people who lost their battle with cancer, and who are the people who bravely faced, fought, and beat cancer? The diagrammatic image leaves me conflicted - I find myself searching for a narrative and wondering about the lives of each group and whether their lives had intersected like the curvilinear lines found in the diagram.

These simple inquiries led me to ask a larger question, “What is meaningful data?” That very question is the impetus for this piece, leading me to “play both sides” by juxtaposing the context of the data behind the command lines or computational analyses (the cancer wheel). In the end, I wanted to take the time to consider who the data represents and how their personal narrative is missing from the data.

 

Dr. Emily A. Holmes, National Alumni Board Teaching Excellence Award Recipient

Emily Holmes GlalaCongratulations to Dr. Emily Holmes, Associate Professor of Religion, who was recently honored by CBU’s National Alumni Board with the 2016 Teaching Excellence Award. The award is given in recognition of Dr. Holmes’s commitment to her students and the craft of teaching, and for her thought-provoking engagement within her field of study in relation to the local community.

Dr. Holmes’ research interests include medieval theology and mysticism, women’s writing practices, feminist theory and theology, and food ethics and the spirituality of eating. She has published articles and chapters in a variety of journals and books, and is the author of Flesh Made Word: Medieval Women Mystics, Writing, and the Incarnation (2013); the co-editor of Breathing with Luce Irigaray (2013); and the co-editor of Women, Writing, Theology: Transforming a Tradition of Exclusion (2011). She has received grants from the Louisville Institute, the CBU Faculty-Staff Development Fund, and the Lindsay Young Fellowship at the University of Tennessee, and was a fellow of the American Academy of Religion/Luce Summer Seminars in Theologies of Religious Pluralism and Comparative Theology (2009-2010). Dr. Holmes is the network editor for feminist theology at Religious Studies Review and served as co-chair of the Women and Religion section of the Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion (SECSOR) from 2007-2010. She recently edited a special issue of the Journal of Theology & Sexuality on the theme of maternality, and published a chapter, “Feminism: Gendered Bodies and Religion,” in Embodied Religion: Bodies, Sex and Sexuality volume, edited by Kent L. Brintnall (Macmillan, 2016). She is currently developing a theology of food justice.

At CBU, Dr. Holmes teaches courses in World Religions, Christian Spirituality, the History of Christian Thought, and Catholicism and Other Faith Traditions. She has developed new courses including Women and Christianity and Spirituality and Ethics of Eating. Her religion courses are interdisciplinary and experiential in approach, drawing on Dr. Holmes’s strengths in theology, philosophy, and literature, as well as her personal and professional interests in religious diversity, spirituality, and food ethics. Dr. Holmes is faculty advisor to the CBU Gay Straight Alliance. In 2010, she received the New Advisor Award. She has served on the Vanderhaar Symposium committee; chaired the Faculty Assembly Policy Committee from 2012-2015; and chaired the CBU Safe Zones Committee from 2013-2014. As a member of the Faculty Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees, she developed the CBU Philosophy of Compensation in 2015. She currently chairs the newly-formed CBU Food Committee.

Dr. Holmes served on the board of GrowMemphis from 2013-2016 and now serves as a charter board member of Memphis Tilth, a non-profit collective housing like-missioned initiatives for land, food, people, and place. She also serves on the Christian Education committee of First Congregational Church and is the Community Garden Leader of Peabody Elementary School.

Dr. Holmes joined the Religion and Philosophy faculty at CBU in 2008. She holds degrees from Emory University (Ph.D. 2008), Harvard University (M.T.S. 1999), University of Cambridge (M.Phil. 1998), and Tulane University (B.A. 1996).

CBU Scientists Take Minneapolis By Storm

Three students, two alumni, and one faculty member represented CBU at two research conferences in Minneapolis in late September. The sextet combined to present two posters and one 50-minute talk.

At the annual meeting of the international Society for Psychophysiological Research (SPR), CBU alumni Lauren Dahlke (Psychology ’16) and Daniel Gabriel (Natural Science ’16) presented “Emotional images reduce the N1 to auditory distractors.” James Rogers (Psychology ’17), Jamonté Wilson (Psychology ’15), and Dr. Jeff Sable (Behavioral Sciences) were also co-authors of the poster. Andrea Perez-MuñozPatrick Woody, and Rogers (all Psychology ’17) presented “N1 to distractor tones is affected by tone salience and primary task difficulty.” Wilson and Sable were also co-authors of this poster

Sable, Woody, Dahlke, EhrmantrautThe following week, Dahlke, Gabriel, and Sable joined Brother Dominic Ehrmantraut (Director of Mission and Special Assistant to the President) at the annual International Symposium on Lasallian Research. Dahlke, Gabriel, and Sable gave a presentation entitled “Distractibility: What we are learning from the brain about competition for our attention.” It was listed under the Educational Innovation theme—one of the research themes identified by the International Association of Lasallian Universities. Rogers, Woody, and Perez-Muñoz were also co-authors of this presentation.

All three presentations were based on student collaborations with Dr. Sable in the CBU Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, using equipment purchased with a Major Research Instrumentation award from the National Science Foundation. The researchers focused on a brain response called the N1 that reflects automatic attention. They measured this response to examine factors that influence distractibility.

Students also took on several responsibilities at the conferences. Gabriel volunteered to coordinate an initial effort to organize the grants and research coordinators of the seven universities in the Lasallian Region of North America (RELAN). Gabriel, Rogers, Woody, and Sable joined the SPR Committee to Promote Student Interests, including the Primarily Undergraduate Institution (PUI) subcommittee.

Perez-Muñoz, Rogers, and Woody will be the first students to complete the new cognitive neuroscience minor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at CBU. Dahlke and Gabriel are currently graduate students in psychology at the University of Memphis.

Sable also co-authored a poster at the SPR meeting with faculty members from Salisbury University, the University of Wisconsin-Stout, Pennsylvania State University-Erie, and Swarthmore College entitled, “Infrastructure and resources for research at primarily undergraduate institutions.” CBU has become a national leader in engaging undergraduate students in research in the fields of psychophysiology and cognitive neuroscience. Dr. Sable is involved in efforts to enhance communication and information sharing among schools that engage undergraduates in similar research.

In Memoriam: Dr. Roger Easson

Roger Easson In MemoriamDr. Roger Easson (Literature and Languages, Retired) passed away on Saturday, October 22 at Methodist Hospice. He had been suffering for several years from cancer that was diagnosed five months after he retired from CBU and had recently spread to his bones. He chose palliative care rather than an operation that might have interfered with his ability to breathe on his own and to continue writing. His wife, Kay, and his sister, Joyce, had been with him during his hospice stay.

Dr. Easson began teaching in the School of Arts in 1987 and played a seminal role in establishing the still-popular English for Corporate Communications major, which aims to prepare students for careers in professional writing and also directed the Writing Center for a number of years, and guided students through internships at Memphis-area businesses. He retired from CBU in 2013.

Follow this link to read more about Dr. Easson’s life and career, including testimonial from his colleagues at CBU.

Please keep Dr. Easson and his family in your thoughts and prayers. Donations to help pay for Roger’s medical expenses can be made on his GoFundMe page.

Modern Manhood and the Boy Scouts of America

Ben BooksigningDr. Ben Jordan’s (History and Political Science) book, Modern Manhood and the Boy Scouts of America: Citizenship, Race, and the Environment, 1910-1930, has garnered significant press coverage since its release in April of this year. A review, entitled “Boy Scouts brought corporate virtue to ‘Modern Manhood’” appeared in The Commercial Appeal; the online magazine Chapter 16, which supports writers and writing communities across Tennessee, published a review entitled, “From Boys to Men“; and Southern Bred Books published a review and excerpt.

Additionally, Dr. Jordan published two op-ed pieces in support of his book’s release: “The Boy Scout Litmus Test both Veep Candidates Had to Pass” was published by the History News Network; and “How summer camps and Scout groups turn children into citizens was published in the online magazine Aeon.