Monday, September 25, 2017

Brain Videos, IV Bags, and Deadheads: The Most Interesting Teaching Experience Contest

Today's Spartan Stories post was written by Arlen Hansen, a PhD student in History. Arlen worked in Special Collections and University Archives during Summer 2017, assisting with research related to the University's 125th anniversary celebration.
Michael McIntosh

One day in 1998, sitting in the UNCG Dining Services facilities, Michael McIntosh, an Associate Professor of Nutrition at UNCG, would recall the exact moment—on a day twenty-four years earlier, that he knew he wanted to be a teacher. It was the day the new English teacher arrived at the mission school in the small village in Cameroon, West Africa, where McIntosh was a Peace Corps volunteer. A few months earlier, the previous English teacher had had to leave the country suddenly because of a serious illness, and McIntosh, who had been training local farmers in fish farming (to enhance local production and consumption of protein-rich foods), was pressed into service as an interim English teacher at the mission school. The next day he found himself out of the field and in front of sixty French-speaking junior high school students. McIntosh would soon discover that their level of comprehension in English was about the same as his own comprehension in French. Over several weeks, McIntosh and the students learned to communicate with each other by use of hand signals, demonstrations, models of all sorts, and blackboards full of chalk. It was difficult, but at last McIntosh felt that he was making real progress. McIntosh described the following three months of teaching those Cameroonian middle schoolers as some of the most fulfilling of his life. And then the new English teacher arrived, and McIntosh sadly went back to the fields. It was at that moment, he knew he wanted to be a teacher. McIntosh told this story as a part of the “Most Interesting Teaching Experience” Contest held by the UNCG Dining Services in 1998.

McIntosh’s story is inspirational, and thus perhaps fitting for a teacher from a university that started its life as the “State Normal and Industrial School.” A “normal” school was a college with the specific mission of training teachers. While McIntosh’s story was inspirational, many other entries in the contest were mostly humorous, if a little frightening on occasion. William Purkey’s class in Counseling asked him to describe what “encounter group activities” were like in the 1960s. Purkey wrote, “To demonstrate…I asked for 10 volunteers to form a very tight circle in the middle of the classroom, then I asked for a single volunteer to “break” into the circle. In the 1960s the one being excluded would run around the closed circle, looking for an opening. But I forgot [to mention] this…. The excluded volunteer suddenly started from one side of the classroom, ran to the circle. Then vaulted completely over the 10 circled student and landed head first…inside the circle.” Purkey concluded his story by saying that he has never since described that activity again. He did not say if the vaulting student sustained any injuries.

An even more disturbing experience was described by Psychology Professor Kathy Bell. While teaching about electrical impulses in the brain, Bell showed a video segment on how electrical impulses in the brain fire during a seizure. In the video, areas of the brain firing were illustrated with flashing lights. While this “seizure” was being demonstrated on screen, a student in the class had an actual seizure. Wrote Bell, “After depressing the student’s tongue to avoid her choking, I sent another student to call an ambulance. The student was fine by the time the ambulance arrived….” Later in the semester, Bell would discuss a study of children in Japan who were having seizure in reaction to flashing lights. She observed that this “provided a possible explanation for what we had observed in class. Needless to say, I do not intend to show the brain video again.”

But the Grand Prize winner of the contest takes the cake for being both hilarious and disturbing, in nearly equal portions. Bill Tullar remembered a professor from his college days whose name was Hailey. Professor Hailey had a reputation for giving the most difficult tests anyone had ever seen or experienced. Hailey hated giving make-up exams, and made them absolutely impossible if he had to give them. Consequently, students would do anything to avoid missing a regularly scheduled exam. One night during finals, Tullar remembers walking past Professor Hailey’s classroom and seeing a most astonishing sight through the open door. Tullar wrote, “In the front row of the class was a young man. He had his IV stand, a full IV bag hung on the stand, and the IV needle was firmly stuck in his left arm. He was writing furiously. This young man had gotten out of Moses Cone hospital, come to school to take the exam, and as soon as he was done, he went right back to Moses Cone, IV bag and all.”

Adams teaching on the bus in the summer of 1989
UNCG is, of course, no longer strictly a “teacher’s college,” but is classified as a “research university.” Yet, teaching, and the student-teacher interaction, as either transformative or frightening, as the anecdotes above illustrate, remains central to the task of education, here at UNCG, and everywhere that there are students and teachers. “Research and teaching are…inseparable,” wrote Sociology Professor Rebecca Adams in her response to the contest’s question. The entries were mostly hand written on a half-page size entry card that could be picked up at the Dining Services locations. For her entry, Adams submitted an article she had published in which she described teaching a summer class on Field research and Methods and Applied Social Theory to twenty-one undergraduates and then taking them on the Grateful Dead’s 1989 Summer Tour to research the subculture surrounding the band. In the article, Adams describes the close bonds that formed among the students from the experience of class on the road, and how, she wrote, “The students became a part of my life.” Long after that summer tour, Adams and the students she came to call “my deadheads” would meet up again over the years at Grateful Dead concerts. Adams husband and toddler daughter had accompanied the class on the tour, and wrote Adams,
At the urging of the students, my daughter spoke her first sentence: “Go Bus!” They held her, talked to her, and played with her. They sided with my husband when we bickered. The intensity of emotion I felt towards “my deadheads” both surprised and scared me; I had always kept a proper distance from students. Then I realized the benefits of this closeness. Because the students knew me, really knew me, they were more likely to come to me with problems, questions, and ideas. They knew I would respond as a friend, not just to the limits of my bureaucratic responsibility. They respected me more, not less. I now have more insight into the lives students lead. I am a much more effective teacher.
Sounds like a true education, for teacher and student alike.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The History of Dance on Campus

Student Dancer, 1928

Dance has always been a very important part of the history of The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG). When the college opened in 1892 as the State Normal and Industrial School, “movement” was taught as part of the Physiology and Hygiene curriculum under the direction of resident physician Dr. Anna Gove. The program stressed posture, calisthenics, gymnastics, and walking. This cutting edge curriculum was a product of several important conferences held during the mid-nineteenth century, which attempted to refine different physical education ideologies prevalent in the United States and Europe.

Only a decade after the school opened, Physical Culture had broken away from Physiology and Hygiene, concentrating on “the development of grace, precision, alertness, agility, and endurance.” This plan of study also included sports such as tennis, field hockey, and basketball. Physical education was stressed so that the students could both keep in shape and learn basic athletic skills that would prepare them for their career as teachers. By 1911, the school’s “Physical Training” program included rhythmical movements and folk dancing, as well as singing and games. These areas remained an important part of teacher training through the 1920s.

Folk Dancers

During these years, dance also emerged as an important part of school pageants and productions. Park Night, May Day, Field Day, and school clubs provided opportunities to bring both music and dance to campus events. Park Night festivities began with the “Dance to the Past,” followed by a large procession of students carrying torches. The event continued with lyrical poetry, presentations, and a solo dance, ending with the “Dance to the Future.”  The elaborate May Day celebrations included students dancing around colorful, ribboned poles, as well as group dances performed as part of smaller productions held around the campus. Even Field Day, primarily an athletic event, incorporated a “dance drama” performed by the Orchesus Club. This exclusive campus group was founded for students interested in interpretive dance.

Mary Channing Coleman

In 1920, college president Julius Foust lured Mary Channing Coleman away from her position at Columbia University to be the director of the school’s Physical Education Department, and the wheels were in motion to move the program into one of national importance. Under Coleman’s direction, dance became a growth area within the physical education curriculum, offering a variety of choices such as rhythmics (including interpretive dance), clogging, and folk dancing. Dances such as clogging and square dancing, which were both closely connected to the mountain culture of the state, were particularly popular.

The students’ interest in dance was fueled by the visit to the college by several important dance troops, including the Duncan Dancers, which had been organized by the internationally renowned American dancer, Isadore Duncan; the Denishawn Players, featuring Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn; and the famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova.

Virginia Moomaw
The curriculum continued to grow under Coleman’s strong management and in 1945 Virginia Moomaw was brought to the college to develop an official dance program. Shortly after her hire, the interdisciplinary Graduate Creative Arts Program was approved, which established dance as an MFA degree program and in 1957, students had the opportunity to declare dance as their major. Moomaw was also very involved with dance outside of the school. She was active in the early years of the National Dance Association as well as the AAHPERD (American Association of Health, Physical Educations, Recreation, and Dance). Her reputation for excellence and her creative curriculum made the college’s dance program one of the best in the nation.

Student Dancer, 1990s
In the following decades, dance became a part of several administrative changes. In 1963, the program was included in the Physical Education Department with health education, physical education and recreation but by 1970, dance became part of the School of Heath, Physical Education, and Recreation, which was renamed the School of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance in 1980. When in 1991, the School of Health and Human Performance was formed, dance was included and remained as part of the department until 2010 when it joined the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance.  In 2016, the Department of Art merged with the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance to form the College of Visual and Performing Arts, the largest performing arts programs in the state and one of the largest programs in the region and in the country.*

* The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (20 January 2015). "UNCG: GRAMMY nods for four with ties to School of Music, Theatre... -- GREENSBORO, N.C., Jan. 20, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --".

Monday, September 11, 2017

Bringing Music to Peabody Park

If you have ever walked the length of College Ave (in the direction of Market Street), you will eventually find yourself crossing a metal and concrete bridge. The structure and placement of the bridge creates for the walker the illusion of floating through and above a wooded section of Peabody Park. As you pass through a line of tree tops, you begin to see hints of a brick and glass structure located just beyond the bridge. The building’s multi-story entrance beckons students, faculty, and visitors to pass through its glass doors and experience the energy and creativity of music education as well as the wonders of musical performance. It is the Music Building.

The Music Building is situated at the corner of West Market Street and McIver Streets. Drawing on the existing landscape of Peabody Park, the design team built the three-story structure into an existing hill. Thus, the 130,000 square foot building blends into the surrounding landscape and conveys a sense of permeance. Would you be surprised to learn that the building only opened in 1999?
Prior to the building’s construction, the music program had struggled with growing pains and operated out of seven different buildings on campus. Faculty and students had to walk from building to building to study, rehearse, and perform. For example, the Brown Building on Tate Street housed the program’s administration and instruction spaces. The Brown Building Annex housed rehearsal spaces, the music education library, and faculty offices. Three separate campus-owned houses were used as offices and practice spaces. Finally, music performances were held at the University’s Auditorium and the nearby Curry Building. Thus, the hope was to bring together all the program’s functions and house them in one academic building.

The planning and construction of the Music Building in Peabody Park reflects the forward vision of its administrators and faculty. Starting in 1977, the music school Dean Lawrence Hart charged a committee to consider the needs of the program and the feasibility of constructing a new campus building. The committee’s work stopped with the Dean’s retirement. In 1984, with the appointment of Dean Arthur Tollefson, there was a new push to study the program’s current and future needs. Dean Tollefson himself articulated a vision of a building that provided both the “appropriate tools” and space to support a world-class music education.

Over a period of years, the University’s Board of Trustees worked to obtain funding for a new building. With the passage of the $310 million North Carolina University’s Improvement Bond by voters in 1993, monies were secured for various capital improvements on campus as well as the construction of a $23.4 million music building. In February 1994, the Board of Trustees voted to select the architecture firm Calloway, Johnson, Moore, and West of Winston-Salem. This firm designed the building in association with Howard, Montgomery and Steger Performance Architects of New Orleans. Also in February 1994, the Board of Trustees selected the site of the new building. Surprisingly, the Board rejected Chancellor William E. Moran’s recommendation of constructing the new building on Tate Street (between the Weatherspoon Museum and the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks). Instead, they approved an alternative location for the music building on the corners of West Market and McIver Streets. The Board justified its decision by stating that the new site would provide the music building more visibility.

The selection of the West Market and McIver Streets site was not fully embraced by all of the University’s faculty and students. For example, the Environmental Awareness Foundation (a coalition of students, faculty, and members of the surrounding community protested and expressed concern about the impact of new construction in Peabody Park. At the same time, this group did recognize the need for a new music school building. Several demonstrations were held on campus. In response to these protests, the University’s administration sought design changes and protective measures to minimize any impact on the flora and fauna in Peabody Park.

On August 1999, the new music building opened its doors to 50 faculty members and 500 music its 500 students. The new building featured a 351-seat recital hall, a 120-seat organ recital hall, and a 140-seat lecture hall. One of the star features of the organ recital hall was a stunning 28-feet tall 1,900 pipe organ. The organ was fabricated by the Andover Organ Company in Methuen, Massachusetts. Additionally, the building contained faculty offices, classrooms, rehearsal spaces, recording studios, and a music library. The new building also adopted a range of new technologies. For example, the Wave (Wenger Acoustic Virtual Environment) Room stimulated the acoustics and environment of various concert halls around the world. Chancellor Patricia Sullivan formally dedicated the building on October 3, 1999. The afternoon-long event was filled with tours, demonstrations, and recitals.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Gregory Ivy: The Legacy of a Non-Conformist

Today's Spartan Stories post was written by Arlen Hansen, a PhD student in History. Arlen worked in Special Collections and University Archives during Summer 2017, assisting with research related to the University's 125th anniversary celebration.

To the extent that UNCG is known as an “arts school” in North Carolina, much of the credit for that reputation can go to Gregory Ivy (1904-1985). “Consider,” wrote his student Lee Hall, “what the world and North Carolina were like in the Great Depression, what the Woman’s College was about…when Gregory Ivy arrived in his super-modern space craft and -- seeming to barely speak the language of the country he had invaded -- urged the female natives to seek and value freedom, to question what they had been taught was unquestionable, and to notice that most authority figures were swaggering about as buck naked as the emperors they imagined themselves to be.”1  According to Lee Hall, “Ivy might as well have been an alien when he arrived in North Carolina” in 1935, to found the art department of the Woman’s College (later UNCG).2

Ivy was a Columbia University-educated artist, a modernist influenced by surrealism and the Cubists. As such, according to Hall, Ivy was always advancing challenges to the status quo, and he made the newly minted art department at the Woman’s College into “a mini-cosmos of the humanistic world he envisioned.”3  With this guiding philosophy, Ivy influenced generations of students, and shaped art education at the Woman’s College. In 1938, Ivy established a summer art colony held at the Beaufort Summer School through the mid-1950s, which focused on landscape painting. In 1941, with the help and support of community members, Ivy established an art gallery, now known as the Weatherspoon Art Museum. Ivy’s connections to the wider art world meant that he could bring nationally known artists to the Woman’s College. This is how the sculptor Maurice Glickman, for instance, anchored the inaugural exhibit at the new Woman’s College Art Gallery in 1941. In subsequent decades, under Ivy leadership, the Weatherspoon Gallery became nationally known in the art world as a leading showcase of modernist art. His legacy is still felt in the Arts at UNCG, and in the Weatherspoon Art Museum.

Ivy's watercolor Dead End, Beaufort (1940)
Lee Hall met Gregory Ivy as an art student at the Woman’s College.4  Hall would later recall that in 1950s “McCarthyism” America, Ivy “did not fit in, he did not conform.”5  Ivy had built the UNC system’s first department to award a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in fine arts, and assembled an art department of very talented colleagues. According to Lee Hall, “these “liberal” or “arty” or “pinko” faculty…kept the gossips and scolds stoked, and caused among the keepers of the status quo near-terminally raised eyebrows and pursed mouths.” Lee Hall recalled that students seemed to either love or hate Ivy, and recalled the gossip of her fellow students about him. From students who liked him: “He’s hip.” “He has Negro friends.” From students who hated him: “He’s an atheist and communist.” “He believes in sex before marriage.” “He’s going to be fired.”6

Gregory Ivy left the Woman’s College in 1961, after twenty-six years, to work as design coordinator for an architectural firm in Greensboro. He resigned with an angry letter to acting-Chancellor W.W. Pierson bemoaning the lack of funding for the art department, and the apparent disinterest of the College to fund it. “The Art Department,” he wrote, “is the only department here which is not housed, and yet, it is the best known nationally of all the departments.”7  His resignation letter detailed all of his grievances with the administration, and continued, “I feel that I can no longer assume the responsibility for maintaining decent standards under these conditions. The quality of the work done under these really outrageous and scandalous conditions suffers.”8

 In 1965, Ivy left Greensboro to head the art department at California State College in Fullerton. Over the course of his long career, Ivy participated in exhibitions with major artists such as Edward Hopper, Jackson Pollack, and Marc Chagall, and at institutions including the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago. The Weatherspoon Art Museum houses a major collection of Ivy’s work.

1 Lee Hall. Lecture delivered November 13, 2005 at Weatherspoon Art Museum on the occasion of the public reception for the exhibition, “Gregory D. Ivy: Making North Carolina Modern.” Gregory Ivy Bio Files, Special Collections and University Archives, UNCG Libraries. 
2 Ibid. 
3 Ibid. 
4 Lee Hall was the student artist who drew the male nude which graced the cover of the Fall 1954 issue of the Coraddi. In the ensuing controversy, The Coraddi staff was censured by Chancellor Edward Kidder Graham, resulting in the resignation of the magazine's staff. 
5  Lee Hall. Lecture delivered November 13, 2005 at Weatherspoon Art Museum on the occasion of the public reception for the exhibition, “Gregory D. Ivy: Making North Carolina Modern.” Gregory Ivy Biographical File, Special Collections University Archives, UNCG Libraries.   
6 Lee Hall, e-mail to Will South, 4 March, 2004. Gregory Ivy Bio Files, Special Collections University Archives, UNCG Libraries. 
7 The Carolinian, May 12, 1961. 
8 Ibid.