August 24, 2015 Rotogram: 8

MSU Women’s Basketball

Vic Schaefer, MSU Women’s Basketball coach, revisits this past historic season and previews the one to come. Dave Boles introduces him.

Next Week: Starkville Police Department

Frank Nichols is Starkville’s police chief. Zach Rowland will introduce the 23-year veteran of the local force.

For the Record—August 17

  • Invocation and pledge:            Giles Lindley
  • Attendance:                                         70.7%
    Present — 104 (37 exempt)
    Absent — 74 (21 exempt, 12 honorary)
  • Makeups reported: Jeff Donald and Grant Arinder
  • Guests: Visiting Rotarian was Alan Phillips. Member guests were Mary Ann Arnold, Carrie Arnold Bowie and Scott Bowie of John Robert Arnold, and Seth Pounds of Austin Shafer. Guests of the club were Clay, Steve and Jenny Turner, Benedetta Trentarossi, RYE student, and James Carskadon, Starkville Daily News.

Meeting Notes

  • President Zach congratulated President-elect Briar for his recognition in the Starkville Daily News’ Spirit of Oktibbeha feature.
  • He noted that the Absolutely Nothing To Do With Rotary Minute would be missing since Sid Salter was out with a rotator cuff injury.

Opportunities for Service Above Self

Rotarians do a lot of good in Starkville, but there’s always more that needs to be done. A sampling of how you can get involved in Rotary service includes:

  • Get Swept Up! Sept. 9—contact Carrie-Beth Randall.
  • Between the Lions reading—contact Christina Lucas.
  • Rotaract mentoring—contact President Zach.
  • Interact sponsorship—contact Ned Browning.
  • Rotary Youth Exchange host—contact Grant Arinder
  • Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign, Dec. 3 and 19 at Walmart.

My Rotary Sign-up

Stressing our goal of 50 percent sign-up for My Rotary, President Zach said we will begin automatic enrollment during the next month. Members will receive an e-mail with an activation message that must be acknowledged to complete the process. If you wish to opt out of the process, sign the list at the secretary’s table.

Youth Exchange Student of the Week

Clay Turner, a junior at Starkville High, is an honor student who represented SHS at the Mississippi Governor’s School this summer. A band section leader and member of the History Brain Bowl Team, he is active in the First United Methodist Church youth group. And, he is nearing Eagle Scout rank in our Boy Scout Troop 14.

MSU’s Honors College Raises Academic Rigor Through Community

August 17—Mississippi State University’s nine-year-old honors college provides a living-learning environment modeled on England’s Oxford and Cambridge.

Chris Snyder, professor of European history and dean of the Shackouls Honors College, said, “We really want to bring interdisciplinary approaches to research and study to solve the world’s problems.”

Of the university’s 1,400 honors students,     all freshmen are required to live in the honors dormitories. Griffis Hall and North Hall (just renamed Nunnelee Hall) have classrooms and computer labs as well as residential and dining spaces.

“As American universities became very, very large research institutions under the German model, they realized their undergraduates were losing a sense of community,” he said. “In the early twentieth century, universities such as Harvard and Princeton adopted the British residential college model for students to really get to know their faculty.”

The national recommendation is for five to ten percent of the undergraduate population to enroll in an honors program. MSU’s participation is at nine percent. In contrast, the University of Alabama has 6,500 honors students. Snyder suggested that such a large group poses management problems.

The university’s decades-old honors program became a college in 2006 through the gift of alumni Judy and Bobby Shackouls. It now boasts an interdisciplinary curriculum that includes a common first-year experience for the students. All academic disciplines are represented in the college.

The college is funded by the generous endowment and some other programs. As an aside, the dean noted that MSU is only 31 percent state funded.

A minimum regimen of classes and a capstone experience is required of all members. The special graduation designation of cursus honorum (path of honors) requires a specified 27 credits, study abroad and an honors thesis. It is especially aimed at students interested in graduate studies.

“Some honors programs have a grade/score cut-off,” said Snyder. “We believe if you set an arbitrary cut-off, say an ACT score, you might miss some students with great potential. Our candidates write an essay and letter of application. Reading all of them is a lot more work for us, but in the end it lets us get a ‘diamond in the rough’.”

The average honors student’s entering ACT score is 31 with an average high school GPA of 4.0.

Key among the college’s goals are to qualify students for Rhodes, Goldwater and Truman scholarships. Field Brown, MSU’s second-ever Rhodes Scholar, came into the college and was mentored early. Jamie Aron, the most recent fellowship honoree as a Truman Scholar set her goals toward the end of her freshman year.

Snyder hosts students for study abroad each summer in England. His research at Oxford has established an interesting link between State’s first Rhodes recipient and an American literary classic.

“From mediaeval history, I somehow ended up with The Great Gatsby,” he said. “I was looking for a project that tied in to the research I had been doing on J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis for the previous seven years when I had become very familiar with the 1920s.”

Keying off of the phrase “an Oxford man” in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s memorable work, Snyder found a link to the experience of Mississippi State’s first Rhodes Scholar, Major William M. Rogers

After serving in combat in World War I, Rogers supervised 150 American army officers who were given the opportunity to attend Oxford lectures in 1919. That experience is claimed by Jay Gatsby in Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel.


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