Archive | August, 2011

The Return of the Mary Todd of Old

31 Aug

I have already shared the story of the LMU-Duncan School of Law’s beloved peahen, Mary Todd. Recently, there has been much concern surrounding Mary Todd and her well being, so earlier this week when I saw her perched on the roof of her purple house I breathed a heavy sigh of relief.


The corner where Mary Todd made a nest for her eggs.

Midway through July, the gentle bird that had spent the past three years splitting time between her comfy house, an adjacent courtyard and LMU-DSOL’s roof began to display some uncharacteristic behaviors. She holed up in one area and stayed put. Later she started reacting unpredictably when people approached her, even the students who had been responsible for leaving food for her.

Finally, staff found two eggs that she had laid. Soon after they were first spotted, Mary Todd began nesting. For over a month and a half she sat on the eggs and fiercely defended them. I once witnessed her swooping after a squirrel that I’m sure didn’t realize she was there until she attacked.

Since Mary Todd is a feral bird, we could not be certain the eggs were in fact fertilized. She could have found another feral peacock while away from LMU-DSOL ground and it is also not unusual for peahens to lay unfertilized eggs. After contacting officials with LMU’s Veterinary Technology department and UT’s Veterinary School, it was determined that the eggs had been around longer than a natural incubation period. Following that advice, the eggs were retrieved and just like that we had our Mary Todd back. The UT folks said that had the eggs remained, Mary Todd ran the risk of starvation, since she was not leaving the nest for nourishment.   

What’s Happening: ‘Splitters for Summitt

30 Aug

The LMU community shows its support for UT Lady Vol Coach Pat Summitt.

Tennessee’s highest court coming to LMU-DSOL

29 Aug

Anyone visiting the LMU-Duncan School of Law on Wednesday afternoon can expect a heavier than normal security presence. While the University has round-the-clock security at the law school, it’s never as noticeable as it will be on Wednesday when the Tennessee Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments in LMU-DSOL’s Courtroom on the third floor.

Pictured in the courtroom at the Supreme Court Building in Nashville are (seated) Chief Justice Cornelia A. Clark (standing left to right) , Justice Janice M. Holder, Justice William C. Koch, Jr., Justice Gary R. Wade and Justice Sharon G. Lee.

Tennessee’s highest court goes on the road a handful of times each year to promote access to educational institutions.  Through the Supreme Court Advancing Legal Education for Students (SCALES) program the Court visits high schools and high school programs. For instance this year they heard oral arguments to both Tennessee Boys State and Tennessee Girls State. The Court has also heard arguments at the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis. It will be the first such engagement for LMU-DSOL, though the Courtroom was specifically designed to hold five justices on the bench in hopes that the Supreme Court would one day sit there.

Not only will the students of LMU-DSOL be fortunate enough to witness the Court in action, the docket for the afternoon includes a death penalty appeal. Chief Justice Cornelia A. Clark and Associate Justices Janice M. Holder, Gary R. Wade, William C. Koch, Jr., and Sharon G. Lee will preside over  Leonard Edward Smith vs. State of Tennessee, Allstate Insurance Company vs. Diana Lynn Tarrant, et al and SNPCO Inc., dba Salvage Unlimited vs. City of Jefferson City, et al.

The Smith case originated in Hamblen County and is a post conviction appeal. Smith is appealing orders of the Hamblen County Circuit Court denying his initial and amended petitions for post-conviction relief challenging his 1985 conviction and life sentence for the first degree felony murder of John Pierce, his 1989 conviction for the first degree felony murder of Novella Webb and his 1995 sentence of death for that murder.

In accordance with the security requirements of the Court, LMU-DSOL will be limiting access to the building throughout the day. The third floor will be restricted in the afternoon when court is in session and everyone entering the building should expect to be wanded by security.

The arguments will be heard beginning at 1:30 p.m. The proceedings are open to the public.



‘Splitters for Summitt

28 Aug

 The LMU community is nothing, if not supportive of our collegiate brethren. Following the April 16, 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech the LMU community came together and reached out in a number of ways.  So it came as no surprise to me that following Pat Summitt’s announcement that she had been diagnosed with dementia, that two LMU students came forward to organize a show of support on behalf of our University community. The students, Tiffany Roach and Amanda Manis, took to Facebook to coordinate a ‘Splitters for Summitt photo opportunity.  The event invite reads:

“As a fellow Tennessean, Pat Summitt has put monumental effort into women’s basketball and women’s athletics in general. As a coach of 37 years, she has won 8 NCAA National titles. She is also the winning-est coach in men’s and women’s basketball. Without this amazing woman, women’s basketball would not be what it is today. Thank you Pat Summitt.

So come and show that the ‘Spliiters support Summitt by wearing orange on Tuesday.”


Oklahoma! in Harrogate

27 Aug

Throughout the years some remarkable theater productions have been staged at the Duke Hall of Citizenship, the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum’s Arnold Auditorium or even in the dining hall. For years, faculty member Dr. John Irvine, now retired, sat in the director’s chair for the Railsplitters Playmakers Dinner Theatre.

For over 30 years group put on two productions a year. Casts have included faculty, staff, students and community members. Productions of plays such as Crimes of the Heart, the female version of The Odd Couple, Steel Magnolias, Bedroom Farce, Love Letters, The Mousetrap, The importance of Being Earnest, The Foreigner and You Can’t Take it With You came to life for all to enjoy. In 2006 the Bell County Chamber of Commerce recognized Irvine and the group with the Cultural Development Award for enriching the culture of the area.

However, a few years ago Dr. Irvine retired from the University and the Railsplitters Playmakers Dinner Theatre came to an end. It was not the end of plays at LMU. Long time technical director for the Railsplitters Playmakers Dinner Theatre Vaughn Schutz and his wife, Sara, stepped up and created the Railsplitter Playhouse. Since then, the Railsplittter Playhouse has presented Love Hurtz, The Curious Savage, The Nerd and You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.

This fall, the Railsplitter Playhouse is taking on their most ambitious production yet. Next week director Sara Schutz and musical director Candace Armstrong will be casting for Oklahoma! The Broadway favorite first premiered on the Great White Way in 1943 with and ran for an unprecedented 2,212 straight performances. The epic musical requires a large cast.

Auditions will be held September 1, 2 and 3. They will be held at the Sam and Sue Mars Performing Arts Center in the Duke Hall of Citizenship on LMU’s main campus in Harrogate, Tenn. The times are set for 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on September 1 and 2 and from 2 to 4 p.m. on September 3. They are open to ages 12 and up. Schutz and Armstrong will be casting for actors, singers and dancers, though not all cast members will need to do all there. No prior experience is necessary. The large scope of the production requires a strong commitment from everyone.

Prospective cast members should come to the auditions prepared to sing a short song, read from the script and learn a short dance. Accompaniment will be provided by Armstrong, so prospective cast members are asked to bring your music to your audition. Attendance is only required at one of the audition sessions. Call backs will take place on September 6 at 6:30 p.m. The cast will be set on September 6 and rehearsals start on September 7. Performance dates have been set for November 10, 11, 12, 17, 18 and 19.

For more information please contact Schutz by email at or phone at (865) 585-5377 or Armstrong by email at Candace.armstrong@lmunet.eduor phone at (423) 869-6449.

Guest Blogger Carla Dunn shares her summer internship experience

26 Aug

This entry is courtesy of guest blogger Carla Dunn. Carla is a senior broadcast communications major at LMU.

Summer break… that coveted few months every student looks forward to each year for sleeping in and taking a break from school work. For me I had an extra reason to be excited about my 2011 summer break. I was given the opportunity to be an intern at NBC affiliate WBIR Channel 10 in Knoxville, Tenn. I remember the joy and excitement I felt when I got my acceptance letter late one night. I might have awakened my dorm neighbor with my shout. Shortly behind the excitement was the nervousness of thinking about what my summer might hold for me. I would be working alongside news anchors and reporters that I have watched on TV since I was a child. The question that came to mind was…would I be prepared?  I was entering my senior year as a Broadcast Communication major, and had already completed the majority of BCOM classes.

WBIR Reporter Stoney Sharp

First there was an orientation, a sort of meet and greet where I discovered the other interns who came from as far away as Texas, were just as nervous as me. A week later my first full day was on May 2ndand I soon found my niche with the Channel 10 family. Everyone was extremely nice, and very willing to answer any question I had. I worked mostly with reporters Stoney Sharp and Steve Butera, who offered tremendous amounts of advice and guidance you can’t find in a classroom. For that I am very grateful to them. I also developed a much greater respect for reporters, because not only are they reporters, but they are backpack journalists (BPJ’s). They are the writer, camera man, editor, reporter, and countless other jobs that go into making a news package rolled into one person. Oh, and they must have all that done for the six o’clock news.

WBIR Reporter Steve Butera

My favorite part of being a reporter for the summer was going out into the community and meeting countless precious people. The stories that you cover might not always be good news stories, but the people you encounter along the way of bringing the story to the viewers is very special. One gentleman in particular was dealing with the power outages in Knox County from the storms earlier this summer. He was also blind, a diabetic and required special care daily, but he was a blessing to me because of his optimistic attitude and outlook on life that he shared with me. While we were in his home the electricity came back on and he cried tears of joy. Those kinds of stories are special, and allow WBIR to live up to their motto, Straight From The Heart. They’re a family at Channel 10 and now I feel like I am a part of that.

LMU Student Carla Dunn interned at WBIR over the summer.

Splish! Splash!

25 Aug

Classes are back in session. The students are all moved in. Campus is back to busy and the LMU Pool has just unveiled its Fall 2011 Schedule. Continually voted Claiborne County’s Favorite Place to Swim by readers of the Claiborne Progress, the pool offers a host of activities for the young and young at heart.

The pool has added some important programming this Fall, including swim lessons for all ages. One of the biggest additions is Children’s Swim Coordinator Kathy Francisco. Kathy will instruct the swimming lessons and plan special program aimed specifically at the youngest members of our community. The move underscores LMU commitment to building on the recreation of the area.

As a mother of two young daughters, I can appreciate the availability of swim lessons. But like most parents I struggled with deciding when my daughters were old enough for swim lessons. Like most aspects of child rearing, there are many schools of thought on the appropriate age and developmental stage for swimming.

I think the key is to remember that learning to swim doesn’t make anyone drown-proof. It only takes seconds for a child to drown, so no matter how comfortable you or your child may be around water, it’s a parent’s duty to be vigilant. I grew up around lakes and pools and I don’t remember a time when I was uncomfortable around water. My husband’s experience with water is limited and though he does swim, he has never been comfortable in the water. I was insistent from very early on, that our girls would take after me when it comes to swimming, I never want them to fear something that has given me such joy growing up.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has said that developmentally, a four-year old is ready for swim lessons. Until recently, the AAP was against aquatic programs and swimming lessons for younger toddlers and preschoolers between the ages of one and four. The group still recommends that ALL children who are four years and older begin to take swimming lessons; however, it is no longer totally against aquatic programs for tots younger than four.

The faculty/staff parent/tot swim class from Spring 2009.

In the new children’s programming at the LMU pool, Francisco is now offering parent-child water familiarization classes. The parent-tot class is nothing new to the pool. Director of Aquatics Services Floyde Anne Gardner presented a similar program for faculty and staff a couple years ago. In fact, my daughters and I were a part of it.  

Francisco will offer five more sessions of swim lessons this fall. The lessons are an hour in length and are held on Mondays and Wednesdays. Each session runs over two weeks and includes four hours of instruction. The cost per session is $75 for swim lessons (children or adult) or $55 for parent/child water familiarization classes designed for children under the age of three. The remaining sessions for swim lessons include Session B: September 12, 14, 19 and 21; Session C: September 26, 28, October 3 and 5; Session D: October 17, 19, 24 and 26; Session E: November 7, 9, 14 and 17; and Session F: November 28, 30 and December 5 and 7. Francisco also plans to present Friday Night Family Specials as the season progresses.

Remember, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swimming lessons for anyone over the age of four. Even if you’re an adult, it’s not too late to learn. Swimming is an important skill that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Swimming also offers a low-impact workout that will help keep you fit. Besides, one you know how to swim, then you can take advantage of all the other great aquatic programming at LMU.

For more information on all of the LMU Pool programming, click on .