Archive | LMU History RSS feed for this section

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.

Advertisements

Did you know, DCOM is not LMU’s first medical school?

4 Oct

It’s been about six years since LMU first announced its plans to pursue what is know the LMU-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine.  I still remember one of the most interesting tidbits about the University that was unearthed in the planning for the announcement was the historical timeline for the first medical school run by LMU.

I was reminded of that history recently, when Oliver Springs native Dean Ford contacted me. Ford, who had no connection to LMU, purchased a lot of frames at an auction years ago. He said he assumed they were all blank and never went through them all. When he finally did, years later, he found a large diploma from the Medical College of Lincoln Memorial University for one Dr. Stanley Nease. The diploma was dated 1915, which would make it one of the last class years to graduate from the Medical College of Lincoln Memorial University.

The Medical Department of LMU in Knoxville, Tenn. circa 1905.

The school  dates back even earlier than LMU as it was founded in 1889 as the Tennessee Medical College. It was a private medical college located in Knoxville, Tenn. It was one of 133 medical schools in operation in the United States by 1890. Following a period of time, the school fell on hard times financially and started looking to align itself with larger schools. TMC approached LMU with an articulation agreement to make TMC the Medical Department of LMU in 1905. A contract was affirmed and ratified in 1906. By 1909, TMC was sold to LMU and became the Medical College of LMU.

The Operating room of Lincoln Memorial Hospital.

The financial troubles continued and by 1914, LMU’s board arranged for the sale of the school building and associated hospital. It concluded operation at the end of the school year and made arrangements for its students to complete their coursework elsewhere. Dr. Nease was among those who completed their degrees after the school was shuttered. Included in the back of the frame Ford found was a letter from the University of Tennessee certifying that Nease had in fact completed his studies.

Dean Ford presents Stanley Nease's diploma to Senior Director of Marketing and Public Relations Kate Reagan.

After his discovery, Ford tried to find a living relative of Dr. Nease to give the diploma to. After a exhaustive search, he contacted his friend John Rice Irwin, the founder of the Museum of Appalachia, to see if he would be interested in adding the diploma to the museum’s collection. Irwin, a longtime friend of LMU, referred Ford to the University and last week I met him at the LMU-Cedar Bluff Extended Learning Site. He generously gave LMU the diploma, which is nearing 100 years old. It had been damaged by water and time.

 I turned the Nease diploma over to University Archivist Michelle Ganz. She indicated that the document was likely beyond repair for display, but it was still an important piece of LMU history that would be saved in our collection. When she returned to the archives she discovered that our collection already boasted several duplicate diplomas or diplomas that were never picked up from the Medical College at LMU from that time period.

My newest project will be to take one or two from the archives and prepare them for exhibit at LMU-DCOM. On the heels of the Inaugural Class graduation in May, I think it would be great to display one of the first LMU-DCOM diplomas alongside one of the last Medical College at LMU diplomas.

A day of days for the Duncan School of Law

6 Sep


And with that, the Tennessee Supreme Court was in session at the LMU-Duncan School of Law. What an exciting time for LMU’s young law school. For the roughly 200 students, it was an opportunity to see the state’s highest court in action; for Dean Sydney A. Beckman, his faculty and the administration of LMU, it was a watershed moment in the institution’s lifespan.

 

LMU Chairman Pete DeBusk and LMU-DSOL Dean Sydney A. Beckman take in the action just prior to the Supreme Court proceedings.

When Beckman and company set out to build a law school at LMU, chief among their goals was to harness technology to enhance a student’s experience. They wanted to employ faculty who had practice experience and could offer advice from the life lessons they had learned in their careers. They wanted to provide their students with mentors, as well as teachers, and make sure access was never an issue. They sought to build a facility that could and would host even the state’s highest court so students could observe the law in action.

Last Wednesday, as Justice Sharon G. Lee, Justice Gary R. Wade, Chief Justice Cornelia A. Clark, Justice Janice M. Holder and Justice William C. Koch entered DSOL’s courtroom to the sound of a gavel striking the bench, I could not help but feel a swell of pride for the school, its students, faculty and Dean Beckman.

 

James Alexander of the Old City Hall Partnership, Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) President Nancy B. Moody and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam sign lease agreements to allow LMU to occupy the Old City Hall Building in Knoxville while LMU Board Chairman Autry O.V. “Pete” DeBusk looks on.

Sitting in the very same room that had hosted the lease signing in February of 2008 it’s impossible to quantify just how much has changed in “Old City Hall.” Back then, LMU was still developing plans for the facility that “might” include a possible school of law. Soon after the lease signing, LMU notified the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners of its intent to pursue a jurisprudence degree. Dean Beckman, hadn’t made his first visit to Knoxville yet and was still a faculty member at the Charleston School of Law. He would join LMU in July of 2008. To think of all the man hours that have been spent to get that “possible law school” to the point where it would host the state’s highest court is staggering.

Beyond the pride in how far we’ve come, Wednesday was a celebration of the potential of what is yet to come. As the overflow crowd gathered to hear oral arguments presented in three cases, including a death penalty appeal, it isn’t hard to imagine that some students might one day present their own arguments before the Tennessee Supreme Court. Likewise, it isn’t a far stretch to envision other judges and area courts presiding over the bench in the LMU-DSOL courtroom.

 

 

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 saravaughnschutz@gmail.com or phone at (865) 585-5377 or Armstrong by email at Candace.armstrong@lmunet.eduor phone at (423) 869-6449.

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 (http://www.finishinglinepress.com/NewReleasesandForthcomingTitles.htm) as well as a number of local book dealers including Book Haven and the LMU Bookstore. Contact Larry via his Facebook at www.facebook.com/thackalachia.

President Stewart McClelland and the Younger Woman, a recipe for scandal

8 Aug

On days like today, when I’m struggling to find a topic to write about in this blog, I hit the web to see what other people are saying about Lincoln Memorial University. In Sunday’s Knoxville News Sentinel veteran opinion columnist Ina Hughs delivered a column “New book traces history of Lincoln Memorial University.” http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2011/aug/06/ina-hughs-new-book-traces-history-of-lincoln/

The book in question is Lincoln Memorial University and the Shaping of Appalachia, by Associate Professor of History and The Stewart McClelland Distinguished Professor in Humanities Earl J. Hess. I have referenced this book in this blog before as it is my go-to source, presenting the history of LMU in a well-written and enjoyable read.

For her part, Hughs describes Hess’s latest work as “well-written and readable.” She highlighted the story of the founding of the University and even touches on another one of my blog topics, mentioning that a University is not often the first thing that comes to mind when you hear ‘Lincoln Memorial.’ Her column also puts the spotlight on one of the more scandalous stories in the University’s past.

It’s ironic that Hess shares a story about a “sex scandal” from the late 1940s, because a similar story can probably be told throughout academia even today. This story actually involves the namesake of Hess’s endowed professorship.

Following two presidents with a combined presidency of three years, Stewart W. McClelland arrived on campus in August of 1932. He would be a steadying hand for the University, which was barely getting by following a student strike and in the wake of the nation’s financial despair. His was not an easy path, especially early on when he was at odds with the chancellor, John Wesley Hill, and the board, but in 1936 he succeeded where his predecessors had failed and LMU was admitted to the Southern Association as an accredited institution of higher education.

The accreditation turned the tide for the University and secured McClelland’s position as president. He remained in that role until 1947 when he resigned under a “mini-cloud of controversy.” The controversy came when he quietly divorced his wife of 24 years in the summer of 1946. It shortly became apparent that McClelland had developed a relationship with Ann Samonial, who served as dean of women at the University.

The new couple’s 26-year age difference stirred the ire of the University’s community as well as that in nearby Middlesboro, Ky., but the high regard the communities shared for McClelland’s wife also complicated matters for the President. Outwardly, it appeared that he had abruptly abandoned his much-admired first wife.  Hess quotes board member Lester Schriver, who said, “Stewart and the young woman in question knew but one thing. That was that they wanted each other. Everything that stood in the way of that had to go.”

Higher Education is riddled with similar stories throughout history, though it is surprising to hear of one at LMU in 1947. Samonial resigned from the University around the same time of McClelland and they were married. McClelland remains the longest serving President in LMU’s history, having served 15 years. He spent the rest of his long life working as dean of instruction for the Dale Carnegie Institute. He died as a result of complications from a head injury after slipping on the ice at his Indianapolis home in 1977. He was survived by his second wife, Ann.

 

 

 

What is in a name?

1 Aug

Today’s blog post was inspired by @BenjaminMerry who tweeted “Got a letter in the mail inviting me to apply to Lincoln Memorial University. We name schools after objects now?”

Okay here is a history lesson for anyone who might wonder who or what Lincoln Memorial University is named for and how the University came to be (Hint- Abraham Lincoln had a hand in our founding). Benjamin, I guess that means you.

First, I would like to note that Lincoln Memorial University is one of thousands of dots on maps across the country that bears the name of our 16th president. There are automobiles (Lincoln), toys (Lincoln Logs), cities, towns, tunnels, battleships, vessels and forts. There are Lincoln Counties in Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Bottom line, LMU is not original. Or is it?

General Oliver Otis Howard

Lincoln Memorial University is nestled in the heart of the Cumberland Gap, where Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia converge.  How a college came about in this setting is a testament to President Abraham Lincoln and a group of determined visionaries near the end of the 19th century. During the Civil War this area around the Cumberland Gap remained staunchly loyal to the Federal Government. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln met with General O.O. Howard and expressed his desire to repay that loyalty after the war. Remembering that comment, on February 12, 1897, Howard helped charter Lincoln Memorial University as a living memorial to Abraham Lincoln.  The University’s mission would be to provide educational opportunities to the then isolated citizens of Appalachia.

 

Courtesy of the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum

 

 

Monuments and memorials to the slain President began popping up immediately following his assassination. And demands for a national monument were voiced well before Congress passed the first bill to provide for planning and funding for the endeavor in 1867. The initial design never gained the support needed to see it through and hope for a national memorial fell into doubt. It wasn’t until December 13, 1910, that a final bill passed. The Lincoln Memorial Commission had its first meeting the following year under President William Howard Taft.

From the time the Civil War ended to 1912 when the national monument for Lincoln got off the ground, many schools, tunnels, roads and memorials here dedicated throughout the Northern Union states. Naturally, the Southern Confederate states were less apt to honor the “Great Emancipator.” But, in Tennessee one remained that Lincoln himself had a hand in creating.

Now, back to Benjamin’s original query: ‘We name schools after objects now?’ Though I am sure that there are some colleges out there named after an object, Lincoln Memorial University is not one of them. In fact, as a member of our communications team, I stress that we always refer to ourselves as Lincoln Memorial University or LMU, just to be sure there is no confusion with the Lincoln Memorial.

That is not to say we aren’t big fans of the Lincoln Memorial, because we certainly are. Every year we have the honor of being the only educational institution to lay a wreath at the wreath laying ceremony in honor of Lincoln’s birthday. The Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum on the LMU main campus also contains a number of Lincoln Memorial artifacts. Our collection includes a casting used in sculptor Daniel Chester French’s studio during the design of the interior sculptor around 1916. The casting was a working model, never meant for display and is one of a handful of such that exist. Several poses were proposed during the design process and the LMU French casting is actually very close to the final marble figure.

So to answer the great debate of which came first, LMU, with a founding date of 1897, wins over the Lincoln Memorial, with a completion date of 1922. But no matter where we stand in the chronology of entities named after the 16th president, we wear his name proudly.