University Communications

The Newsletter for Marshall University        May 6, 2010

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Commencement is this Saturday

Nearly 1,400 students will graduate from Marshall University on Saturday, May 8, when the university celebrates its 173rd commencement at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena. The ceremony begins at 9 a.m.

Among the 1,389 students receiving degrees are 818 undergraduates and 468 graduate students, 62 from the School of Medicine and 41 who will receive associate degrees.

The commencement ceremony is for tentative May 2010 graduates only. Past spring commencements included summer and December graduates from the previous year, but Marshall University conducted a winter commencement for those graduates in December 2009.

Registrar Roberta Ferguson said about 700 students have indicated they plan to participate in the commencement ceremony.

Ferguson said 355 students will graduate with honors. Seventy will graduate summa cum laude (3.85 to 4.0 GPA), 120 magna cum laude (3.6 to 3.84 GPA), and 158 cum laude (3.3 to 3.59 GPA). Two students receiving associate degrees will graduate with high honors, and five associate degree recipients will graduate with honors.

  Marshall will continue a practice that began in 2006 of recognizing individually each graduate who attends commencement. Each graduate will walk to the area in front of the stage, where his or her name will be announced and he or she will receive congratulations and a representative scroll from the Marshall Alumni Association.

Marshall also will recognize its graduating honor students during commencement. Based on tentative grade point averages calculated through seven semesters, 15 students will complete their baccalaureate degrees with perfect 4.0 GPAs.

A list of upcoming commencement-related events may be found at

Callebs to Speak at Commencement

Sean Callebs, a 1983 Marshall University graduate and general assignment correspondent for CNN based in New Orleans, will deliver his alma mater’s commencement address this spring.

Callebs was a reporter and anchor for local television station WSAZ-3 in the 1980s. He began working for CNN in 1989 as an environmental reporter, and joined CNN Newsource in September 1998, covering stories around the world. He has reported from places such as Afghanistan, Jordan, Kuwait, Cuba, Japan, China, Mexico and Central America.

“I can’t tell you what an honor it is coming back to Marshall University to speak to the 2010 graduating class,” Callebs said. “Marshall, and Huntington, is where it all began for me, and gave me the foundation that allowed me to work at CNN and travel the world for more than 20 years.”

Callebs has covered many history-making stories while at CNN, often receiving awards for his efforts, including an Emmy and the prestigious Headliner Press Award. In addition to reporting on numerous headline-making stories, he also served for two years as an anchor and correspondent for CNN Financial News.
  “We are honored that Sean Callebs has agreed to deliver our spring commencement address,” President Stephen J. Kopp said. “During more than two decades with CNN, he certainly has distinguished himself, earning the trust of viewers worldwide. Every time he is on the air, he makes the Marshall University community immensely proud. I look forward to hearing this true ‘Son of Marshall’ inspire our new graduates.”

In 2004, Callebs received the Marshall University Distinguished Alumni Award, which is given to Marshall alumni for outstanding national achievements in their particular fields of endeavor. He said it is “rather ironic” that he will be speaking at Marshall’s commencement 27 years after graduating.

“I did not have a chance to attend my own commencement because I was working as a young reporter at WSAZ,” Callebs said. “So, for a few hours I will pretend I am a gangly kid again with my whole life in front of me and act as if this is my graduating class.”

He said he remembers fondly his days as a student at Marshall University. “It’s hard for 22- or 23-year-olds to realize how much they learned at Marshall, and how the lessons there will help them each and every day for the rest of their lives,” Callebs said.

General Faculty Meeting Honors Award-Winning Faculty

Awards of distinction and teaching awards were presented during the spring faculty meeting April 27.  Retiring faculty also were recognized during the meeting, which took place at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center.
The meeting included remarks from President Stephen J. Kopp and Faculty Senate Chair Camilla Brammer.
Distinguished Service Award

To qualify for Distinguished Service Awards, persons must have at least 20 years of service at Marshall University, a record of distinguished service to the university and/or college, and a record of distinguished teaching as evidenced by peer, administrative and/or student evaluations. The Distinguished Service Award winners, each of whom will receive $1,000, are:

  • Dr. Michael Brookshire, Finance/Economics, Lewis College of Business, 23 years of service
  • Dr. H. Wayne Elmore, Biological Sciences, College of Science, 34 years of service
  • Dr. Thomas Hankins, Information Systems, College of Information Technology and Engineering, 37 years of service
  • Dr. Michael Little, Biological Sciences, College of Science, 36 years of service

Distinguished Artists and Scholars Award

To be eligible for the Distinguished Artists and Scholars Awards, faculty members must either be tenured or hold tenure-track appointments. The purpose of the award is to recognize distinction in the fields of artistic and scholarly activity on the part of the Marshall faculty. The senior recipients of the Distinguished Artists and Scholars Awards receive $2,000 apiece while the junior recipient receives $1,000. The Distinguished Artists and Scholars Award was given to:

  • Dr. Eric Blough (Biological Sciences), senior recipient in the field of Sciences and Technology
  • A.E. Stringer (English), senior recipient in the field of Arts, Social Sciences, Humanities, Education and Business
  • Dr. Gregg Twietmeyer (School of Kinesiology), junior recipient among all faculty

John & Frances Rucker Graduate Advisor of the Year

Two people received the John & Frances Rucker Graduate Advisor of the Year Award. They are:

  • Dr. Eric Blough, associate professor, Biological Sciences
  • Dr. Eric Lassiter, professor, Graduate Humanities

Retiring Faculty

Marshall recognized 16 retiring faculty who have a combined 396 years of service. They are:

  • Eugene Anthony, professor, Theater, 17 years of service
  • Dr. Robert Bickel, professor, School of Education, 23 years of service
  • Dr. Madonna Combs, professor, Nursing, 26 years of service
  • Dr. Violette Eash, professor, Human Development & Allied Technology, 33 years of service
  • Dr. Thomas Hankins, professor, Engineering & Computer Science, 37 years of service
  • Larry Jarrett, professor, Geography, 16 years of service
  • Dr. Jerry Jones, professor, GSEPD, 8 years of service
  • Dr. Wendy Moorhead, associate professor, Library, 14 years of service
  • Dr. Robert Nerhood, professor, Chair, Obstetrics & Gynecology, 17 years of service
  • Dr. Kurt Olmosk, professor, Management, Marketing & MIS, 27 years of service
  • Dr. Simon Perry, professor, Political Science, 48 years of service
  • Dr. Vernon Reichenbecher, professor, Biochemistry, 29 years of service
  • Dr. Karen Stanley, professor, Nursing, 21 years of service
  • Dr. Powell Toth, professor, Leadership Studies, 42 years of service
  • Dr. Omayma Touma, associate professor, Family & Community Health, 3 years of service
  • Dr. Kay Wildman, professor, Music Library, 35 years of service

Charles E. Hedrick Outstanding Faculty Award

Dr. Maria Carmen Riddel, a professor of Spanish, is MU’s Charles E. Hedrick Outstanding Faculty Award winner for 2009-10. She will receive $5,000 through a grant from Charles B. and Mary Jo Locke Hedrick.

The award is named in honor of Charles Hedrick’s father, Charles E. Hedrick, a former history professor and later Chairman of the Graduate Council, and one of the founders of Marshall’s graduate program. This award recognizes a full-time faculty member who has a minimum of seven years teaching experience at Marshall and has a record of outstanding classroom teaching, scholarship, research and creative activities.
Riddel has taught in the Department of Modern Languages since 1983, teaching courses in introductory language, Spanish culture, literature, history as well as honors courses. She has served as chairman of the department since 2002.
Riddel, a native of Madrid, Spain, earned her bachelor’s degree from Marshall in 1975, her master’s degree from Universidad de Salamanca in Salamanca, Spain, in 1977, and her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in 1988.
“My goal as a Spanish language instructor is to have students communicate in Spanish even if they make pronunciation, grammatical, and vocabulary errors,” Riddle said. “Those errors can be corrected slowly through exposure to the language either through additional language courses, contact with native speakers of that language or through visits to countries where Spanish is spoken.”
Recognizing the importance of total language and cultural immersion, Riddel created the summer Spanish Language and Culture Program in Madrid in 1989. During the past 20 summers some 400 Marshall students have participated in the program.
Riddel said quite a few of those students, after completing their foreign language requirement, have continued studying Spanish and frequently double major in their initially chosen field and in Spanish.
Dr. Montserrat Miller, associate professor of history at MU, supported Riddel’s nomination for the Hedrick Award. “Maria Carmen has dedicated her adult life to this institution and to its students and has embraced her career at Marshall with tremendous energy, professionalism, and creativity,” Miller said. “She has a tireless and dogged work ethic.”
Jose Luis Morillo, a professor of Spanish at Marshall, has known Riddel for nearly 10 years. He described her as “diligent, insightful, creative, personable, and very reliable.”


Riddel said her classes are interactive and lively, and to keep the students engaged, she plans three to five different activities per class session. These include grammatical explanations, readings, drills, question-and-answer sessions, translations, dictation, listening comprehension quizzes, PowerPoint presentations, and story-telling.
Riddel was the 2008-2009 Drinko Fellow at Marshall University. She delivered a presentation on her Cuban-American research at the 2009 Drinko Symposium.

Marshall & Shirley Reynolds Outstanding Teacher Award

This year's winner of the Marshall & Shirley Reynolds Outstanding Teacher Award is Dr. David Mallory,  professor of biological sciences. The award includes a $3,000 stipend, and all full-time faculty members who have completed six or more years of service at Marshall are eligible.
Mallory teaches mid- to upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses in human physiology and embryology. According to Dr. Elmer Price, professor and head of the Division of Biological Sciences, Mallory “is probably the most knowledgeable physiologist and embryologist that has taught at Marshall and the popularity of his classes, year after year, proves this.”
“He is a dynamic lecturer, engaging the students and pushing them to their intellectual limits, while maintaining the positive atmosphere that today’s classroom must offer,” Price said.
Mallory, who has been at Marshall for 20 years, has been associate chair of the Department of Biological Sciences since July 1, 2009. He received his bachelor of science in animal science in 1980 from Cornell University, his master of science in animal science in 1983 from the University of Maine, and his doctor of philosophy in reproductive physiology in 1987 from West Virginia University.
“I firmly believe that if a student has a personal investment in or attachment to the course, they will take more out of the class,” Mallory said. He said he cultivates in his students the desire to confirm what they are told by finding data to support or refute what has been delivered in the classroom.
 “Dr. Mallory has been a dedicated teacher, friend of students, and MU community leader since 1989,” Price said. “To this day he arrives to work early, leaves late, and walks with a spring and a purpose to each and every class.”
Pickens-Queen Excellence in Teaching Award

Each of these three award winners receives a $1,000 stipend. The award honors outstanding junior faculty. All faculty members teaching on a full-time, tenured or tenure track appointment who are at the instructor or assistant professor rank and who have completed one to five years of service at Marshall are eligible. This year, the winners were Julio Alves, Dr. Christina Franzen, and Dr. Jason Morrissette.
Alves teaches Advanced Music Theory II, Advanced Aural Skills II, Guitar Techniques, Guitar Ensemble, and three sections of guitar at Marshall.
As a professor, he says he has three priorities: 1, to lead his students to find the real musician within themselves, by teaching in a way that allows them to develop their potential while he makes himself obsolete to them; 2, to efficiently prepare his students to overcome the challenges they face as professional musicians after they graduate, which he does by helping them master current pedagogical trends and techniques; and 3, to promote cultural diversity among his students by teaching them a repertoire that includes music from diverse cultures.
Alves is deeply committed to developing an exchange program in music among Marshall, Morehead State University and two universities in Brazil. The MAGNETS (Music Abroad Generating New Experiences for Talented Students) Project, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and the Brazilian Ministry of Education, will allow 36 students to have the opportunity to study abroad for a semester during the next four years.
He received his bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Brasilia in Brazil and his master’s in music from The Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University. Alves is pursuing a doctorate in music at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. 
Franzen, who has been at Marshall since fall 2007, is described by Caroline Perkins, chair of the Classics Department, as “a model faculty member.”
“Dr. Franzen is an outstanding teacher,” Perkins said. “Her syllabi are very professional and clear, and they conform to the university standard. She prepares for her courses tirelessly and is always thinking of her students. Her students really like her and she gets a lot of repeat students in her classes. Her evaluations are excellent.”
Franzen said she strives to connect with her students in every class that she teaches. To stimulate conversation and reveal themes, she often draws parallels to modern films and literature.
“This allows students to gain access to the ancient material through a familiar medium,” Franzen said. “My classroom atmosphere is completely open, and students have remarked that they feel free to share their thoughts; while allowing such discussion, I ground the course in my knowledge of ancient history and literature and offer deeper insight by always keeping these at the fore.”
Franzen’s areas of special interest include prose, poetry, and social history of the Roman Republic and Empire, Greek Lyric Poetry, Greek Tragedy and Cultural Poetics. She received her master’s degree in classics in 2003 and her Ph.D. in classics in 2007, both from the University of Washington.
Morrissette is in his third year at Marshall University. He believes it is crucial to incorporate the “real world” into the classroom whenever possible.
“By exposing my students to new perspectives on world politics and encouraging them to ‘step outside of themselves’ and think critically about the subject matter, I hope to provide them with the skills not only to comprehend our increasingly interconnected world, but also to excel in it as responsible global citizens,” Morrissette said.
Morrissette received his master’s degree in political science in 2001 from Virginia Tech University and his Ph.D. in political science in 2007 from the University of Georgia. He teaches Politics of Development, Fundamentals of International Relations, and Politics of International Terrorism at Marshall.
Dr. Marybeth Beller, chair of the Department of Political Science, nominated Morrissette for the Pickens-Queen award. She said course evaluations of Morrissette from his students were overwhelmingly positive.


Sport Marketing Paper Wins Award
Science Faculty Members Receive
Grants for Research Preparation
Dr. Jennifer Mak, professor and director of sport management at Marshall University, co-authored a paper that was selected the 2010 Best Paper in Sport Marketing Track at the annual Association of Marketing Theory and Practice’s conference in Hilton Head, S.C.

Mak, along with Dr. Steve Chen, assistant professor from the College of Business at Morehead State University, wrote the paper, “Collegiate Basketball Season-Ticket Holders’ Purchasing Motivation and Interests.”

The purpose of the paper was to explore different aspects of men’s basketball season ticket consumption behavior. In addition, the study identified the differences among marital status and those who brought children to the game, to varied aspects of men’s basketball season ticket consumption behavior.

  Members of the Marshall University science faculty have received three of eight grants recently awarded statewide by the Division of Science and Research, West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC).

The awards, worth $5,000 each, are intended to assist tenured or tenure-track, or research faculty members at institutions of higher education in the state with the preparation of research or research equipment proposals for submission to external funding agencies or foundations.

Marshall faculty members awarded the grants include Dr. Derrick R.J. Kolling, assistant professor of chemistry; Dr. Suzanne G. Strait, professor of biological sciences; and Dr. Wendy C. Trzyna, associate professor of biological sciences.

Faculty members are expected to prepare research proposals as part of their routine activities. These summer stipends are designed to provide uninterrupted work, allowing development of stronger, more-competitive proposals in a timelier manner.

According to the HEPC, this year saw the largest number of applications in the grant program’s history, with 22 submissions from faculty from institutions across the state. The grants are funded competitively through the state’s Research Challenge Fund.

'Herding Cats' Exhibition Underway at Gallery 842

“Herding Cats,” an exhibition of work by Marshall University College of Fine Arts students Mark Earnhart and Jason Kiley,  opened Friday, April 30, in Gallery 842 and will run through May 27. The exhibit is free and open to the public. 

Earnhart’s and Kiley’s show consists primarily of sculpture, including installations and freestanding forms. Most are new works, but some are collaborative pieces. According to the artists, the work engages the viewer beyond the visual and uses space to create irreverence. 
Kiley describes his work as having more than just surface value. “I try to build rewards into my work for the viewer who takes the time to investigate,” he said. “Mark and I decided to try and get a show set up together in not so much that our work is similar, but that we think about and approach art in the same way.”

  “The work that I am currently producing is rooted within my observational self,” Earnhart said. “I have found that by looking at the physical details of my own space and place I am able to create work that narrates subjectivity. 
Earnhart earned a B.F.A. in sculpture from Ohio University. He came to Marshall in 2007 as an academic lab manager. Kiley came to West Virginia when his wife accepted a position as a federal park ranger with the Army Corps of Engineers.
Gallery 842 is both a community and university held space to promote local talent and initiative. The gallery is a free cultural experience for any artist or art enthusiast and is located at 842 4th Ave. in downtown Huntington.
For more information, contact Jaye Ike by phone at ext. 6-3296 or by e-mail at

Profile: Jerri Clagg - a series on interesting Marshall University people

Jerri Clagg understands how hard it is to juggle a family, job, and on top of those, classes and study, so the soft-spoken academic advisor has total empathy for the nontraditional students who come to the Regents Bachelor of Arts program offices. They're eager to begin or complete an academic journey that will lead to a degree. And she’s there to listen and skillfully guide them through the process with understanding and knowledge.

She’s been with that office for nearly 31 years, an enthusiastic ambassador of goodwill for the program as well as a veritable font of information who is always willing to go the extra mile. There’s little she doesn’t know about the RBA, and she warmly welcomes newcomers and shares her years of experience that will help them earn those coveted letters after their names.
The RBA she explains, is a degree without a major. Students can complete their degrees in shorter time frames with the option to receive credit for life and work experience and the flexibility to take online and evening classes. Also, the RBA accepts military credit as well as credit by examination through CLEP and DANTES. Although there are no majors, a student can choose an area of emphasis, and a new component of RBA now lets them select a minor. Key to the program are the versatility and flexibility afforded to participants.

“Our students are different; they have various reasons for getting a degree," says Clagg. "Some have been out of school for years, others may have spent several years on campus, skipping around majors without completing degree requirements. Some find they need a degree to get a promotion and some want it for self-satisfaction. Whatever their reason, we’re here to help them graduate.”

RBA guidelines are relatively simple. Students must be out of high school for four years before enrolling in the RBA. Prior college credits, even those that are years old, can be transferred to the program. One popular option is the preparation of a portfolio, which can earn credits for work and life experiences.

“Students can get a degree that many couldn’t get any other way,” Clagg says. “Many are working, taking care of family and have other responsibilities. They can transfer hours and do online classes. The time is undefined. Some get through the program very quickly; others take years because they can only take one class at a time. But we encourage all of them to graduate. And we encourage them to go through the commencement ceremony ... we think that’s important.”

Students in the program get personal and individualized attention from the small staff, which consists of Clagg; another academic advisor, Rita Spears; and interim director Dr. Elaine Baker. Clagg heaps praise on her coworkers. “We are blessed to have the staff we do. I can’t think of enough words to describe Rita and all she does for the students, along with Dr. Baker, who is so attuned to the program and the needs of our students. Since we are relatively small we get to know the students as individuals. Sometimes we just listen when they need someone to talk with. We’ve become kind of surrogate mothers to some. We do a lot of impromptu counseling. Many are nervous about coming back to school. We encourage them, we give examples of people who have completed it and let them know they can, too. It boosts their self-confidence. It’s so rewarding when we see them succeed and get that degree.”

  Students sometimes take unorthodox routes getting through the program, both literally and figuratively, and they come from all kinds of backgrounds. Clagg fondly remembers one memorable student whose first impression definitely proved to be deceiving. Glancing out her office window one day she spotted “a huge burly guy” climbing off a motorcycle. With wild hair flying and a big bushy beard, he appeared at first glance to be faintly menacing. Moments later he was in the RBA office explaining that he had never taken a college course nor stepped foot on a college campus but he wanted to get a degree and someone had pointed him to the RBA. He had come to the right place for sure. “He was great ... so much fun; he was such a hard worker. He was really serious about his classes and we were all delighted when he graduated and wanted to go through commencement. He was so proud, he rode his motorcycle to the ceremony wearing his cap and gown.”

Clagg has been with the Marshall RBA almost from its inception in 1975 and has been an integral part as it grew and flourished. Enrollment started small, but quickly gained momentum and popularity through the years as more and more people opted for the flexibility the program offers. “We had 64 people who graduated in the entire 1979-80 year and last year, from July through May, we had 231 graduates. We have an enrollment of 450 for 2009-10. Altogether we’ve graduated over 4200 students,” she says proudly.

With two young sons at home, Clagg in her early Marshall years worked part time—20 hours a week—for 10 years, later working up to 30 hours before transitioning to full time several years ago. She’s never regretted her career choice. “This has been a great place to work. There are so many good people to work with and being around the students is a real joy.”

She’s been married for several years to Dr. Sam Clagg, a Marshall legend in his own right, who is now retired. Well known in athletics, he’s an ardent Marshall booster who, in addition to being the longtime chair of the geography department, the author of several books, and chairman of the Hall of Fame athletic committee, was the interim president of Marshall for a year.

The Claggs' rare spare time is filled with activities of their respective grandchildren, an athletic clan. There are always soccer, basketball and softball games to attend. They’re proud that Sam’s granddaughter Kelly is a Marshall grad with a degree in education, while his grandson Shawn is currently working toward an education degree. And Jerri is about to realize a long-cherished dream when she, along with her son David, daughter-in-law Tammy, granddaughter Taylor and members of her church, the First Baptist Church of Proctorville, are going on a mission trip to Costa Rico this summer. Her first international trip is going to be thrilling for her, but she’s helped guide students from all over the world through the RBA program.

“Many of our students take classes online, so in addition to having students from all over the U.S. we’ve had people from Mexico and some from Iraq who are in the military earn degrees. They’ve graduated without ever coming to campus. But we encourage everybody who can to come to the campus at some point. And now we’ve added a new degree, the Bachelor of Applied Science. We all enjoy working one on one with students, getting to know them as individuals. Our staff is so proud and pleased when our students graduate. Commencement is one of the best times of the year for us.”




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