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LMU welcomes Japanese students

21 Mar

LMU-Kanto Program Director Curtis Klinghoffer greets the Kanto International High School Students during orientation on Tuesday.

The long journey was complete Monday night as 57 students and two teachers from Kanto International Senior High School in Tokyo, Japan, arrived at Lincoln Memorial University. The group was met by LMU’s Kanto Program Director Curtis Klinghoffer, Assistant Director JoAnn Russell and a handful of residential life staff members to help move them into the rooms that will be their home for the next seven weeks.The English immersion program began in earnest on Tuesday morning with orientation. LMU President Dr. B. James Dawson, Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs Evelyn Smith, Dean of Students Frank E. Smith and Director of Housing Leslie Chumley were among the administration to greet the students during orientation. In addition to the well wishes from LMU brass, the students were introduced to their instructors, received their class schedules, went on a campus tour and were issued IDs. After lunch in the LMU dining hall, the students were given the afternoon to explore campus and get acquainted with the area. Several found their way to the LMU softball game for their first truly American experience.

Kanto Instructor Kathy Francisco gives a group of Kanto students a campus tour during orientation.

Students have come annually to LMU from the Kanto International Senior High School since the LMU-Kanto Program began in 1979. This group of 57 students will spend the next six weeks engaging in rigorous, immersive English studies and an extracurricular cultural program that exposes them to the richness of the culture of the Appalachian region. In addition, the group will take a three-day excursion to Washington, D.C. The students also make home stays with host families.

The home stay involves a family welcoming a Kanto student into their home for a weekend. The encounter begins with the family picking the student up Friday evening. The student must be back to campus some time on Sunday. The LMU-Kanto Program is still looking for families to host students this spring. Russell, who coordinates the home stays, says the students are looking for anything more than a look at a typical weekend at home. “They really want to see what is like to live in an American home. They aren’t looking for any big exciting side trip or anything. They are here to learn English and experience our culture.”

As much as the students gain from this experience, the benefits are reciprocal: the entire LMU community is enriched by the presence of these Japanese students who teach about their own customs and traditions.

Six years & six memorable moments!

15 Sep

Happy Anniversary to me! Six years ago today, I started work at Lincoln Memorial University. It was a glorious day for sure. Not only, did I get to come back to higher education, I managed to stay off unemployment after my last employer was bought out. In honor of my six fun-filled years in Harrogate, I have come up with a list of the six most important or memorable moments since I joined the LMU family.


                6.  Ribbon Cutting & Grand Opening celebration at LMU-Cedar Bluff (June 17, 2010)

LMU-Cedar Bluff Ribbon Cutting

The University had outgrown its former West Knoxville Extended Learning Site on Hayfield road. Home to the MBA program and graduate education classes, the facility was at capacity and the University was looking to expand its offerings in Knoxville. For months LMU Chairman Pete DeBusk and President Jim Dawson scoured the area for space. The pair kept coming back to a then-vacant former Food Lion location in the Cedar Bluff area. The lease deal became final in January of 2010 and the construction team immediately got to work with the goal of having the facility ready for fall classes.

                The timeline accelerated after it became apparent that the facility would be needed for summer classes. This also meant marketing the new facility and programs would need to be bumped up as well. Pulled together in less than two months, the Ribbon Cutting & Grand Opening kicked off the campaign. Once we started an award-winning advertising campaign promoting the event, the nail biting started as it wasn’t 100% that the facility would be ready on time. Thankfully, all was well that ended well and the day went off without a hitch. Hundreds of people streamed through the open house and now almost a year and a half later the site is a vibrant hub of activity.

                5. COM Announcement (January 18, 2006)


LMU Chairman Pete DeBusk announces plans to bring a College of Osteopathic Medicine to LMU

              The day that LMU announced its intent to pursue a College of Osteopathic Medicine was an important day for the University, but it was memorable to me as an early test in a new position. Though I had been on the job for four months, it was the first time my writing was really scrutinized. I think we rewrote the press release nearly fifty times and it was frustrating. In the end the announcement was made to a full crowd of media, alumni, local politicians and guests. The press release was pitch-perfect. As much as I stressed about the press release and questioned if I was good enough for the big job I had taken, the day was pretty enjoyable. Though the thought of a medical school on campus was very exciting, the idea of it was pale in comparison to the reality that is now the DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine

                4. DSOL Naming (March 27, 2009)


The Duncan School of Law Seal

               In February of 2008, University officials signed a lease to take over the occupancy of one of Knoxville’s most historic buildings, Old City Hall. At that time the University didn’t have specific plans for what it would put in the building, though the idea of a law school had been floated. By March 27, 2009, LMU had renovated the facility, received Sothern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and Tennessee Board of Law Examiners approval for a School of Law and hired a dean for its new school. What it hadn’t done was announce publicly the name for the new venture. After months of careful planning, a press conference and reception was held on site. It was the public’s first opportunity to see the multi-million dollar renovation of Old City Hall. Once again, it was an event that I spent a lot of time planning and stressing over. When the day arrived I panicked as the new sign for the school was delivered and installed early in the morning. As the sign was hoisted into its position the covering flew off allowing the morning rush hour traffic at Summit Hill and Henley to see what in a few short hours we intended to announce, that the law school was being named in honor of Congressman Jimmy Duncan. I can still picture myself stomping out to the installation team demanding them to cover the sign. Surely, we couldn’t have our guests driving past a sign declaring the very thing that we had invited them there to announce. Thankfully, a new cover was found. Again, the announcement was made without a hitch and the event was beautiful. Congressman Duncan’s wife, Lynn, went to special lengths to invite many of her husband’s congressional colleagues to be on hand for the announcement.  The surprise guests made the day all the more special.

                3. The Arrival of Amy Drittler (September 5, 2006)

                In my first year on the job it was not unusual for me to be at the office by 6:30 a.m. and work until 6:30 p.m. There were at least six months between the time that my predecessor left and I started at LMU. Catching up and getting a feel for what needed to be done was overwhelming. Handling all the marketing and public relations for the University, which was just 2,802 students strong in 2005, was a big job and I was determined to prove myself. Then at the turn of the new budget cycle, my boss told me that we would be hiring someone to handle the public relations and marketing for the then “proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine.” Prayers had been answered, I was getting help. Unfortunately the search process took another three months.

                My savior, Amy Drittler, started on September 5, 2006. In 2006 the University had under-3,000 students, the medical school had not opened and the school of law wasn’t even a glimmer in the administration’s eye. In the five years that we have been a team, the University has grown rapidly. The PR and Marketing department on the other hand, remains a team of two. As much as we have grown, learned and gained valuable experience from our hard work, I think we would both agree that our friendship has been the grand prize.

                2. DCOM Inaugural Class Graduation (May 14, 2011)

The LMU-DCOM Class of 2011

                The DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine has been the catalyst for LMU’s rapid growth.  I’m not sure event Pete DeBusk would have predicted how much the medical school would change not only LMU, but the surrounding community. Having been there from the very first announcement, the inaugural commencement ceremony was special to witness. From the initial announcement, to the groundbreaking, to the entrance of the first class, I had had been a part of many milestones for the institution, but no one was more poignant that watching that first graduate go up the steps a student and come down on the other side as a DOctor.

                1. The First Remote Area Medical Clinic (August 19 & 20, 2006)

People lined up for the first LMU Remote Area Medical Clinic

WOW! What a weekend. It is something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. The experience truly changed me. The whole RAM saga started when my boss invited me to join her for meeting about “something health related.” It turned out to be the start of a movement at LMU. The Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corp. provided a wide range of free basic health, dental and optical services to the people of Southwest Virginia, Eastern Kentucky and Northeast Tennessee. At the time the Knoxville-based organization kept thing fairly local, though they now travel across the country and around the world. In this instance they were looking to fill a whole in their schedule. The good news was that LMU could do it. The bad news was we had less than three months to pull everything together. A host of issues compounded matters and in the end I went from attending a meeting to coordinating the entire event. When the weekend arrived we didn’t know what to expect. By the time the doors opened at 6:30 a.m. more than 200 people were waiting in line for the free services. All told, LMU and RAM served over 500 people and provided services in excess of $100,000 to people who may otherwise have not been able to pursue care. Additionally the expedition provided veterinary services to 231 animals. The people we served were so grateful for the services it was overwhelming to be a part of such good works. The University’s mission was so in line with the RAM mission, that we have made in annual event.



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.   

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 .

Snapshot: Class of 2015

21 Aug
LMU’s largest ever freshman class moved in yesterday. Aren’t they a great looking bunch?

LMU Entering Freshmen

Thacker goes “Voice Hunting”

16 Aug

With a rich and layered literary history, LMU has been home to some of the most haunting voices in Appalachian Literature. Our heritage, including noted alumni James Still, Jesse Stuart and Don West, has made LMU a Mecca for Appalachian literature today, drawing the likes of Lee Smith, Silas House and Ron Rash to campus. Events like the annual Mountain Heritage Literary Festival and the Appalachian Reading Series have shined a light on the work that LMU is doing to promote and preserve Appalachian Literature, but perhaps the greatest contribution to the movement continues to be LMU’s people.

Larry Thacker

LMU’s faculty and staffs are laden with gifted storytellers and their reign is not limited to the English department. A prime example is Director of Student Success, Retention and Career Services Larry Thacker. Already the author of Mountain Mysteries: The Mystic Traditions of Appalachia, Thacker’s first foray into poetry will be published next month.

Voice Hunting, a collection of poems, dives into what being Appalachian in today’s world means. From the obvious to the symbolic in everyday life, Thacker’s poems are a journey of discovering personal voice and meaning in a mountain culture that is quickly being absorbed into the mainstream.

“These poems are my attempt at preserving snapshots of clarity I’ve experienced over the last few years as I’ve tried to understand who I am as an Appalachian in this early 21st century culture,” Thacker said. “Some serve as prayers of understanding, some express frustration with the challenges of our area, some deal with our unique connection with our natural surroundings, while others try to fill in the blanks of my family history that have been lost with time.”

As a seventh-generation Cumberland Gap-area native, Thacker’s writing over the years – whether through columns, fiction or poetry – has served as a cultural balm of sorts, helping him, and hopefully others, better understand the history of our surrounding Appalachian experience. 

Voice Hunting is being published by Finishing Line Press (Georgetown, Kentucky) and is available by mid-September from the publisher ( as well as a number of local book dealers including Book Haven and the LMU Bookstore. Contact Larry via his Facebook at

And then I climbed…

13 Aug

See, easy. Turner Bowling is at the top in about two minutes.

My High Adventure experience started on the course’s newest feature, a foot climbing wall. After a quick tutorial and demonstration from Turner Bowling, coordinator of the High Adventure program, I was ready to take a climb. It was my first experience climbing anything other than a tree. Bowling practically ran up the wall, looking a lot like Spider-Man, so I thought I should at least make it half way up before things got too difficult. Boy, was I over confident.

The climbing wall has two sets of hand and foot hold: an “easy” route and an “advanced” route. The holds on the advanced side are smaller and further apart. Climbing for the first time, I was not arrogant enough to think that I could manage the advanced side so I broke toward the easy path with my first couple of moves. Things were going great and I quickly reached the first level. The wall is marked in zones, one to seven, so you can track your progress. As soon as I passed the number “1” inscribed on the wall, I noticed that the holds started to get further apart; still I managed to get to number “2”.

Taking the easy route.

Up until that point, I had chosen my own path. Honestly, I didn’t really think much about it. I just kept moving to the next hold, happy to be moving up. Two things happened next that changed my progression on the wall. First, my shoe came untied. It didn’t affect my foot hold at all, but after my team brought it to my attention I glanced down to look at my PR partner in crime, Amy, and realized how high I was. Then, on my next move my foot slipped. Whoa, that was a scary feeling.

I stayed on the wall and was able to get back on the hold I slipped off of, but I was having trouble finding the next hold that would work. My team of spotters below called out suggestions and I tried to reposition myself to make something work. Ultimately, I made two more forward climbs and then could go no further. My summit was somewhere between “2” and “3”.

The end of the line for me.

Though it wasn’t a bad effort for my first time, I felt I could have done better. I know the next time I attack the wall, I am going to start planning a path sooner and try to look two to three steps ahead as I climb.