'Southern Winter 2019

birminghamsouthern

BIRMINGHAM

Eats & Drinks

MAKING THEIR MARK

in Birmingham

COMING HOME

to the Hilltop

’SOUTHERN

A Publication for Alumni and Friends Fall/Winter 2019 | Volume 44, Number 1

the

BSC

Birmingham-Southern College


sc snapshots

The Department of Art and Art History held its annual Iron Pour

event Oct. 4. The event features food, music, and the chance to

create a piece of art. The BSC Art Students League sells sand

blocks so those who attend can make their own designs; then

Sloss Metal Arts experts pour molten iron into the designs. Learn

more about sculpture workshops in casting, welding and forging

(no metalwork experience required) at slossmetalarts.com.


Letter from the President

After more than a decade in Connecticut, Brooke and I moved home to Birmingham 10 years ago.

We wanted our children to grow up in our hometown, and we were eager to become involved in ways

that could make a difference.

Brooke soon joined the boards of several nonprofits and, on a regular basis, she ran into graduates of

Birmingham-Southern College. She would argue that no other institution is as well represented as BSC

in nonprofit leadership positions in Birmingham.

I soon understood what she was talking about. As I invested in Birmingham businesses and real estate,

I encountered alumni at law firms, commercial real estate development firms, and start-up companies.

All of the alumni we met seemed to have one trait in common: They were purposefully engaged in

our community. There must be something about the BSC experience that is different because there is

something different about BSC graduates. They have an outsized impact on the world around them.

It is unlikely that everyone shares the same sense of community engagement when they arrive, but

there is something about learning, exploring, and growing on the Hilltop that inspires young people to

become involved in the surrounding community even before they graduate.

Even as campus traditions and culture have evolved for today’s world, they remain true to the mission

of the College established by the Methodist Church and built on the teachings of John Wesley:

“Do you not know that God entrusted you with that money (all above what buys necessities for your

families) to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to help the stranger, the widow, the fatherless; and,

indeed, as far as it will go, to relieve the wants of all mankind?”

That fundamental mission is as strong as ever – more than 85 percent of our students participate in

community service projects – and it will remain the lodestar of our educational process for the next

100 years.

In this edition of ’Southern, you will read about graduates, from many professions and backgrounds,

who share a common sense of purpose: They all strive to make Birmingham better.

From what I see of our alumni and our students, the work they do and the efforts they make on

campus and off, I am optimistic for their future as well as the future of my hometown.

Daniel B. Coleman

President

BSC’s 16th President

Daniel B. Coleman was appointed Birmingham-

Southern College’s 16th president in November

2018. Coleman, who was CEO of the global financial

services firm KCG Holdings until its 2017 sale, has

been a member of the College’s Board of Trustees

and an adjunct professor of finance. Coleman earned

his B.A. in English at Yale University and an M.B.A. at

the University of Chicago. In his four years at KCG,

he raised more than $1 billion of debt, cut costs,

restructured businesses, and after four years sold the

company with an 80% return for investors. Coleman

and his wife, Brooke, a fellow Birmingham native, have

three children. They returned to Birmingham in 2009.

The BSC Black Student Union hosted two voter

registration events in September.

’SOUTHERN MAGAZINE

VOLUME 44, NUMBER 1

Daniel B. Coleman, President

Denson N. Franklin III, Chair,

Board of Trustees

’Southern magazine is published

by the Office of Communications

at Birmingham-Southern College,

Birmingham, Alabama 35254.

Non-profit postage paid at B’ham.,

AL Permit No. 2575.

Postmaster: Send address

changes to Alumni Engagement,

Birmingham-Southern College,

900 Arkadelphia Road, Box

549003, Birmingham, AL 35254;

telephone (800) 523-5793; or visit

www.bsc.edu/alumni.

©2019

Birmingham-Southern College

Editorial Offices

10 Stockham Building

900 Arkadelphia Road

Box 549004

Birmingham, AL 35254

Phone: (205) 226-4922

E-mail: communications@bsc.edu

Virginia Gilbert Loftin

Vice President for Advancement

and Communications

Executive Editor

Amy Bickers

Director of Communications

Art Directors

Traci Edwards

Assistant Director of

Visual Content

Patrick Bradford

Assistant Director of

Visual Content

Contributing Writers

Elizabeth Sturgeon

Communications Coordinator

Samantha Wallace

Advancement Communications

Coordinator

Photography

Cameron Carnes

Photographer and Videographer

Dustin Massey ’12

Office of Alumni Engagement

Jennifer Waters ’86

Director

Mackenzie Quick

Assistant Director

www.bsc.edu

2 / ’southern


CONTENTS

DEPARTMENTS

2

President’s Message

4

Campus Life

10

Office Hours

11

Off Hours

12

Panther Pride

14

The Next Chapter

44

Giving to BSC

48

Lifelong Learning

FEATURES

15

Students in the City

New BSC students tour

Birmingham’s historic landmarks

and attractions.

16

The Birmingham

Issue

Alumni work to better

Birmingham through service,

entrepreneurship, ministry,

nonprofit work, and more.

26

Making Their Mark

in Birmingham

A look at how BSC graduates

have practiced engaged

citizenship through the decades.

32

The

Birmingham Issue

‘SOUTHERN MAGAZINE // VOLUME 44, NUMBER 1

14

30

Birmingham Eats & Drinks

Treat your taste buds at alumni-owned

eateries and bars across the city.

32

Downtown’s Original

Farm to Table

Chef Chris DuPont ’85 created a

fine-dining destination in the heart

of Birmingham.

33

Coming Home to

the Hilltop

Scenes from BSC’s 2019

Homecoming Weekend

37

Distinguished Alumni

Awards

Meet the 2019 Alumni Awards

honorees.

42

BSC Across the Miles

Alumni tell us about the cities they

call home and how they connect with

BSC from miles away.

11

15


campus life

Examining Jim Crow

In March, Associate Professor of History Dr. William Hustwit

unveiled his new book, “Integration Now: Alexander v. Holmes and

the End of Jim Crow Education.” He explores the often-ignored

1969 landmark Supreme Court case and assesses its significance in

integrating the South’s public schools.

“Although Brown v. Board of Education has rightly received

the lion’s share of historical analysis, its ambiguous language

for implementation led to more than a decade of delays and

resistance by local and state governments,” Hustwit says. “Alexander

v. Holmes required ‘integration now,’ and less than a year later,

thousands of children were attending integrated schools.”

By combining a narrative of the larger legal

battle surrounding the case and the

story of the local activists

who pressed for change,

Hustwit offers an innovative

account of a legal decision

that reaches from the

cotton fields of Mississippi

to the chambers of the

Supreme Court.

PANTHER PARTNERSHIPS

In October, BSC announced its 2019-2020 class of Panther Partners,

a cohort of 68 students – selected through a competitive process

– and Birmingham-area professionals. The intensive, structured

program matches students with mentors in their field of interest to

help them achieve individualized educational and career goals.

The 2019-2020 class of mentors includes 15 alumni:

Carrie Beth Gantt Buchanan ’05, Instructional Specialist,

Jefferson County Schools

Brad Cherry ’01, attorney at Maynard, Cooper & Gale, P.C.

Hunter Craig ’00, Managing Director at Highland Associates

Onna Cunningham ’08, Vice President of Operations at Devote

Cristin Gavin, Ph.D. ’06, Assistant Professor of Neurobiology at UAB

Casey Lambert ’15, Financial Analyst at BBVA USA

Kathryn Cannon Lavender ’92, Chief Operating Officer at Porter

White and Company

Jonathan Prince ’02, Second Vice President and Actuary at

Protective

Matthew Penfield ’92, attorney at Bressler, Amery & Ross P.C.

Elizabeth Gniadek Peters, M.D. ’94, pediatrician at Children’s of

Alabama/Mayfair Medical Group

Margaret Ann Renneker Pyburn ’84, Executive Vice President for

Sales at Cobbs Allen

Ashley Rhea ’11, attorney at Rhea Law LLC

Erin Kendrick Stephenson ’01, Vice President, Client and

Community Relations Director at PNC Financial Services Group

Harrison Walker, M.D. ’97, Associate Professor of Neurology and

Medical Director for Brain Stimulation at UAB

Hanlon Walsh ’12, Public Relations Specialist at Peritus Public

Relations

To volunteer as a mentor, contact Katy Smith at (205) 226-3037

or kesmith@bsc.edu.

4 / ’southern


Service

DOGS 101

After an E-term class on the sociology of therapy and service

animals, a group of Birmingham-Southern students were inspired to

educate others on the different types of support animals, and now

their work is being seen nationwide.

The BSC students wrote, directed, and starred in a video, published

and filmed by the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and

Disability (NCHPAD). The final video, which explains the difference

between service dogs and emotional support animals (ESAs), was

released this September in honor of National Service Dog Month.

After extensive training, a service dog completes tasks that assist

and protect the handler, an individual with disabilities. This bond

forms the long-term “team” of a handler and his or her service dog, a

connection that can often be misunderstood and legally complex.

Dr. Meghan Mills, assistant professor of sociology, developed

her E-term class around the misunderstandings of support animals

and the legal intricacies behind each type of animal. Her research

focuses on these issues, and Mills herself is accompanied by her

own service dog, Arrow.

“I think it’s an important social issue as more people use service

dogs and as more laws change,” she says. “I’d definitely say that the

prevalence of service dogs is increasing. There’s more interest in how

they can help different disabilities.”

When Mills first came to BSC, she pitched the idea for the class.

She partners with Hand in Paw, a nonprofit organization that trains

therapy dogs, allowing students to work with dogs in the class.

Students take part in training exercises, observe therapy animal visits

at Children’s of Alabama and The Exceptional Foundation, and hear

more about Mills’ own research on the sociology of service dogs and

disability law.

For junior religion and sociology major Olivia Seckinger, learning

the difference between the types of support animals was extremely

impactful. The animals that college students have for emotional

support in their dorm rooms do not have the training that therapy

dogs and service dogs must have. These differences are what she

focused on as the student director of the NCHPAD video.

“We wanted to create something that could benefit everyone

outside of our campus, but this is also a huge issue on our campus,”

Seckinger says. “Not many people know the difference between

these kinds of support animals. We wanted the video to help

students at BSC.

Seckinger wrote the script for the video, which features two

teams of handlers and service dogs: junior Austin Cooper with Fitz

and Hannah Collier ’19 with Arrow. Collier worked as Mills’ TA

and knew Arrow well enough to complete tasks with him. Amelia

Guarino ’19 and her emotional support cat, Colby, are also featured.

The video follows students and faculty who learn how to treat

service dogs and presents the proper etiquette surrounding teams.

Service dogs only complete tasks for their handler, and, unlike what

most people believe, there is no legal registration that has to be

shown for a service dog in a public place.

“I was interested in the difference between service dogs and

emotional support animals and how they help people, especially

since some people lie and use it as an excuse to have a pet on

campus,” Seckinger says.

Dr. Meghan Mills

and Arrow

In her course and her research, Mills explores how the increase in

handlers with support animals comes with an increase of people who

lie about their needs. The false representation, in turn, leads to a greater

amount of questioning towards service dog handlers and discrimination

of those who truly need them.

“I’m interested in visible versus invisible disabilities as a sociologist.

Some people get more questions of legitimacy,” Mills says. “Falsely

presenting pets as service animals because of convenience can be

detrimental to real teams.”

Seckinger says that she’s seen a noticeable increase in the amount of

support animals on campus, especially ESAs who stay in residence halls.

Depending on the disability, service dogs and ESAs can be helpful for an

individual’s wellness, and more professionals are recognizing that.

“When barriers exist in the campus environment that present

challenges for students accessing academics, programming, activities,

events, and living in the residence halls, then utilizing service animals

and assistance animals may be valuable for students,” says Angie Smith,

coordinator of academic

accessibility services.

Outside of the classroom,

Mills continues to bring

awareness to these social

Watch “Service Dogs 101”

at nchpad.org/videos

issues due to this growing frequency of support animals. She leads

professional development and legal education sessions through

Children’s of Alabama and St. Vincent’s Birmingham, since medical

professionals need to be aware of the facts but can sometimes be the

least aware. Mills leads Arrow in a demonstration and speaks about her

personal story, all as volunteer work to educate the community.

“It’s harder because they’re dogs, but service dogs are medical

equipment. You wouldn’t pet or greet a wheelchair,” she says. “You have

to see the person before the animal.”

To learn more about having a support animal on BSC’s campus, reach out

to Angie Smith at awsmith@bsc.edu or accessibility@bsc.edu.

FALL/WINTER 2019 / 5


LITTLE FOOT PROVIDES ANSWERS

Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Jason Heaton served as the lead scientist in a study of

an early human skeleton, Little Foot, which sheds light on the evolution of humans.

In July, Heaton and an international team published their research on the nearly

complete Australopithecus skeleton from Sterkfontein, South Africa. With a focus on

movement, the research includes descriptions of the arm and leg bones that reflect patterns

of locomotion.

Nicknamed “Little Foot,” the Australopithecus human group moved upright on two legs

like we do. This trait separates human lineage from modern apes and four-leg movement,

and Heaton’s research now provides more insight into this evolution.

“Because of its completeness, Little Foot will allow us to test hypotheses about the

behavior of these early groups in ways that have been difficult to do to date,” Heaton says.

The scientists considered the role of trees in the day-to-day movement of Little Foot and

their relatives. Primates that spend more time moving and climbing through trees reflect

that mode of locomotion through longer upper limbs.

Considering this question of movement, the scientists examined the skeleton’s upper

and lower limbs, including the arm, forearm, thigh, and leg, and the bones’ proportions in

relation to each other.

“Broadly, these proportions are indicative of an individual that spent less time in the

trees than modern chimpanzees and regularly moved around bipedally, or on two feet,”

Heaton explains. “The degree to which the limb anatomy of Little Foot deviates from that

of chimpanzees, our closest living relatives, may be a reflection of the latter’s evolution.”

Their conclusions are based on evidence of a shortened forearm and lengthened tibia

and femur bones, as well as the knee’s placement more directly under the pelvis for

improved bipedal balance. However, other evidence, like certain muscle attachments in the

arm, suggests some reliance on behavioral climbing.

Research will extend to other parts of the skeleton to address these conclusions and clarify

if certain traits developed from behavior or were only retained from Little Foot’s ancestors.

The study, titled “The long limb bones of the StW 573 Australopithecus skeleton from

Sterkfontein Member 2: Descriptions and proportions,” was published online in the

Journal of Human Evolution on July 4. The research is featured in the special issue devoted

to Little Foot.

6 / ’southern


Impossible Rotation

T. Morris Hackney Professor of Physics Dr. Duane Pontius ’81 and

two recent Birmingham-Southern graduates have published research

that significantly advances our understanding of Saturn.

Though Saturn’s rotation period was measured in the 1980s as

10 hours and 40 minutes, the 2004 measurement during NASA’s

Cassini-Huygens mission was six minutes longer and varied for the

remaining 13 years of Cassini’s orbit. The planet’s northern and

southern hemispheres were also determined to rotate at different

speeds. Like most other researchers, Pontius long assumed that there

must be a problem with data interpretation.

“The idea that a planet could rotate at a completely different speed

over that short a period of time is too weird to actually happen,”

he says. However, a presentation at a research conference in 2015

convinced him that the phenomenon was real and worth exploring.

Pontius, ready to explain this oddity, brought the discussion

and research to his BSC students. During their summer research in

2016, physics majors Christopher Fernandez ’17 and Eli Brooks

’18 worked through the algebra and calculus to model the idea they

developed with Pontius.

“When you do research like this, you not only don’t know the

answer. Sometimes you don’t even know the question. You have to

fumble and generate ideas that have never been thought of before,”

Pontius says.

The summer before, he worked with other students to eliminate

a lot of ideas without finding one that worked. However, Pontius,

Fernandez, and Brooks settled on an idea, Pontius gave them a

conceptual framework, and the students cranked through the

mathematics in the BSC physics lounge.

With guidance from Pontius, they developed a model to explain

Saturn’s inconsistency in two months, described in the paper’s plain

language summary:

“As charged particles move through Saturn’s magnetic field (its

magnetosphere), they change rotational speed, just as ballet dancers

change speed by shifting their limbs. This puts electromagnetic stress

on the planet’s atmosphere and causes a high‐altitude layer to rotate

more slowly. The summer hemisphere is more directly exposed to

solar ultraviolet radiation, which makes it conduct electricity better.

Electrical currents go preferentially to that hemisphere which slows

the atmosphere more than in the winter hemisphere. The result

is a longer summer period compared to the winter. As the seasons

change, the rotation periods should swap between North and South,

as is observed.”

With the research and proposed explanation, the three co-authors

have opened the door for other questions and curiosities regarding

the gaseous planet. Pontius now plans to study Saturn’s magnetic

field, which has no tilt and is perfectly symmetric yet sends out

periodic signals. He will again open up the process to BSC student

researchers.

“We solved one basic mystery, but there are other secondary

mysteries that we can now go on and investigate,” Pontius says.

“We now have a start to keep looking at Saturn.”

DISTINCTION IN BLACK STUDIES

Assistant Professor of Political Science Dr. Desireé Melonas has worked since 2017 to create

a focused study on the Black experience. BSC’s recently established Distinction in Black Studies

program introduces students to the political, social, economic, and historical dimensions animating

the lives of Black people in Africa and the African diaspora.

“Taking into account that BSC is situated in Birmingham, we need to have curriculum that reflects

a broad set of interests as we make active efforts to build a more diverse and inclusive environment,”

Melonas says.

Faculty from departments of political science, history, and media and film studies came together

in spring 2018 to develop course ideas and determine a direction for the transdisciplinary distinction.

This fall, students quickly enrolled in and filled up the flagship introductory course.

“The program was already something students needed. We just responded,” Melonas says.

Turn to page 10 to learn more about Melonas.

FALL/WINTER 2019 / 7


Connor Hansen and Allen Packwood

When in Cambridge

For five days in June, Connor Hansen lived the life of a

true British scholar, studying historical documents by day and

discussing big ideas over dinner by night.

Hansen, a senior history major from Fort Collins, Colorado, is

BSC’s inaugural Hardin-Churchill Scholar. He received funding to

conduct research at the Churchill Archives Centre at the University

of Cambridge’s Churchill College through the Hardin-Churchill

Archives Centre Endowed Travel Award, established with gifts from

numerous friends in honor of Edward L. Hardin Jr. ’62. The archive

includes 2,500 boxes of papers produced between 1874 and 1965

relating to Winston Churchill’s personal life and political career.

Alongside the travel award, a gift from the late Robert B. Callahan

’50 and his wife, Ginger Callahan, underwrote access to the digitized

Churchill Archive and funded the Churchill Seminar Room in the

College’s library. BSC is now one of only 20 colleges and universities

in the United States with full access to the archive.

Before taking up his research on British policy in the Middle

East, Hansen toured London with his younger brother, visiting

museums that further inspired his research interests. By the second

week of his time abroad, he took on the life of a Churchill College

student, surrounded by fellow scholars in the archives, at dinner,

and in his residence hall.

“You never knew if the person sitting next to you would be a

Nobel Prize winner or not,” Hansen says, reflecting on the rich

conversation in the Churchill College dining hall. He also joined

Churchill Archives Director Allen Packwood at a High Table dinner, a

formal occasion for Cambridge post-doctoral fellows and faculty. The

traditional meal brings the same sophistication and magic that Harry

Potter readers find at Hogwarts’ opening feast.

Hansen has been interested in the Middle East since he began taking

history and Arabic courses at BSC. After recognizing this interest, his

faculty advisor and W. Michael Atchison Professor of History and

Law Dr. Mark Lester told him about the archives project and the

opportunity to study in Cambridge.

“I didn’t know much about Middle Eastern history before BSC,” Hansen

says. “The sheer amount of history in the old centers of civilization interests

me. And once you study a language, you bond with the people who speak

it, gain insight into their world, and learn the soul of who they are.”

The range of material in the archives allowed him to study Leo Amery,

a lifelong friend of Churchill and a fellow politician. Amery helped to

draft the Balfour Declaration, the British government’s 1917 statement

supporting a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine.

“Churchill has been written about by everyone, but Amery is more

obscure, especially in America,” Hansen says. “Because Amery had his

own vision of the British Empire, he undertook measures in the Middle

East that had very significant consequences. I had direct access to his

correspondence, speeches, and war cabinet briefings.”

The Hardin-Churchill endowment will continue to send one student to

Cambridge every summer, but thanks to the Callahans’ generosity, all BSC

students can access more than 800,000 pages of documents digitally. The

contents range from letters between political leaders and popular celebrities

to the report cards of a young Churchill and drafts of his most memorable

speeches, complete with handwritten notes scrawled in the margins.

The Churchill Seminar Room is located in the N.E. Miles

Library on the BSC campus. For more information,

visit library.bsc.edu or call (205) 226-4740.

8 / ’southern


EVENTS CALENDAR 2020

JANUARY

January 13–19

Biennial Southeastern High School Artists Competition

Durbin Gallery, Doris Wainwright Kennedy Art Center & Azar Studios

January 23-26

“Silent Sky”

College Theatre/The Underground

FEBRUARY

February 7–26

BSC Faculty Exhibition

Durbin Gallery, Doris Wainwright Kennedy Art Center & Azar Studios

February 9

Faculty Recital: Margery MacDuffie Whatley, Piano

Hill Recital Hall

February 16

Winners of the Frances & Dorsey Whittington Competition

Hill Recital Hall

February 18

Provost’s Forum: Anticorruption Campaigns: Fight for What?

Norton Theatre

February 23

Faculty Recital Series: Lester Seigel, Organ

Hill Recital Hall

February 25

Provost’s Forum: Inclusion Is Not Only a Choice, But a Requirement

Norton Theatre

February 29

BSC Opera: “Little Red Riding Hood” and “A Game Of Chance”

Hill Recital Hall

MARCH

March 4

Featured Speaker: Dr. Deborah Lipstadt, Professor of Modern Jewish

History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University

Bruno Great Hall

March 6-25

Suffrage

Durbin Gallery, Doris Wainwright Kennedy Art Center & Azar Studios

March 12-15

“35MM: A Musical Exhibition”

College Theatre/The Underground

March 31

Provost’s Forum: You’re Growing on Me: Interactions between

Western Mosquitofish and their Parasites

Norton Theatre

APRIL

April 2

Forward Ever Day

An Online Day of Celebration and Giving

BSC

April 3–22

2020 Bachelor of Fine Arts Exhibition

Durbin Gallery, Doris Wainwright Kennedy Art Center

& Azar Studios

April 7

Provost’s Forum: Classroom Talk: When Culture, Teaching,

and Learning Collide

Norton Theatre

April 14

Steven Hesla Piano Recital

Hill Recital Hall

Provost’s Forum: Experiential Business Education in the Liberal Arts

Norton Theatre

April 19

Concert Choir Homecoming Performance

Hill Recital Hall

April 27

The Southern Chorale

Hill Recital Hall

April 28

Lizzy Borden, Rock Star!

College Theatre/Mainstage

April 30

BSC Symphonic & Jazz Bands Spring Performance

Hill Amphitheatre (Hill Recital Hall in case of inclement weather)

April 30-May 3

“Lizzie”

College Theatre Mainstage

MAY

May 4–13

Juried Student Exhibition

Durbin Gallery, Doris Wainwright Kennedy Art Center & Azar

Studios

May 7

Stravinsky’s Mass presented by the BSC Concert Choir

Hill Recital Hall

Honors Day

May 11

Hilltop Singers Season Finale

Hill Recital Hall

May 13 & 14

Student-Directed One Acts

College Theatre/The Underground

May 21

Capping Ceremony

May 22

Commencement

Visit www.bsc.edu for details and updates.

FALL/WINTER 2019 // 11 9


Dr. Desireé Melonas

Space and place – more than

a political theory

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.” - Plato

When you walk into Dr. Desireé Melonas’ office on the third

floor of the Harbert Building, you are greeted with this quote from

Plato, thoughtful reading list suggestions, and pictures of prominent

black figures, such as Frederick Douglass and Ida B. Wells, all placed

around the door frame.

As a political theorist of space and place, Melonas, assistant

professor of political science, often spends time contemplating what

she has chosen to surround herself with.

“I think about space a lot,” Melonas says. “I think about how

space shapes us, at the level of identity. I think about what goes into

constructing physical and social spaces.”

Adapting her office into a place where she felt inspired was an

important step when she arrived at Birmingham-Southern College

three years ago. A graduate of Saint Vincent College and Temple

University, Melonas came to BSC from Swarthmore College, where

she was a visiting assistant professor.

One of her first projects was to change the lighting and add

more comfortable seating, creating a softer, more humanized

environment for students and colleagues to come visit and have

office hours

discussions. Pictures of the people most important to her hang right

above her computer, as she wants to keep them in close proximity.

Beside these pictures, many cards filled with kindness are pinned to

a board.

“I see these as really, really beautiful reminders of how I have

been able to impact students,” Melonas says. “I appreciate their

willingness to share that with me, and I don’t think they truly

understand how meaningful their words are.”

Above her desk hangs the Bob Whetstone Faculty Development

Award that Melonas received in 2018 for excellence in teaching.

Melonas hopes to exemplify excellence in teaching through her

focus on a positive classroom dynamic. One way she does this

is by taking 10 minutes at the beginning of every class to have

conversations with students.

“I aim to cultivate an environment where students feel connected,

appreciated, and enabled,” says Melonas. “With this foundation, we

are then able to learn and teach other people.”

During her time at BSC, Melonas has focused on the development

of a black studies distinction and the addition of a political theory

focus in the political science department. Although both have since

been established, she wants to continue improving future course

offerings to students.

Beyond working to create new classroom opportunities, Melonas

is involved with the Black Women’s Union, the Mortar Board,

Students Demand Action, and the Diversity Committee. She also

helps with recruiting efforts for the BSC softball and football teams.

10 / ’southern


off hours

Pamela Grubbs-Lowery ’17

While we always appreciate Pamela Grubbs-Lowery’s hard work

welcoming transfer and nontraditional students to BSC, her afterwork

hobbies might be just as cool.

The BSC admission counselor dresses up as different movie,

literary, and comic book characters for cosplay conventions and

renaissance festivals throughout the year. Hela, the Marvel character

and recent “Thor: Ragnarok” villainess is her current favorite look.

“I love any reason to dress up,” she says, which she’s loved since she

was a kid. “Whenever my siblings and I finished classes, we dressed up

and played in the woods behind our house, usually as knights who’d

sword fight, or as pioneers who’d go hunting for acorns.”

In high school and especially as a student at BSC, Grubbs-

Lowery realized how widespread cosplay conventions were and got

more involved over time. She was immediately drawn to the tight

community and inclusivity she saw. The events allow her to express

her interest in comics, movies, and all things medieval.

The creativity Grubbs-Lowery puts into each costume design also

emerges in her crochet work. She’s been crocheting for 18 years, first

teaching herself from library books and with help from her dad.

While she’s participated in craft shows, crochet is mostly a hobby

that keeps her hands busy and results in fun and meaningful gifts.

Like her costumes, her crocheted pieces require the same

attention to detail. Grubbs-Lowery makes shawls, blankets, hats,

or other projects, often with her nieces and nephews in mind. But

within the intricate detailing of her hobbies and the time poured

into each piece, they provide a relaxing, fun escape.

“It’s a way to wind down after school or work, the way some

people watch sporting events or go to the beach a few times a year,”

Grubbs-Lowery says. “Conventions and festivals are my beach.”

BSC admitted a record number of transfer students in fall

2019, and the College has signed 11 articulation agreements with

community colleges in the region. Articulation agreements outline

the course requirements for degrees and how credits will transfer,

making the process more transparent. Once a transfer and

homeschooled student herself, Pamela Grubbs-Lowery supports

transfer and nontraditional students as they navigate the process

of admission and transition to a four-year institution.

FALL/WINTER 2019 / 11


panther pride

A Cinderella Season

After dropping its first two series of the 2019 season to ranked teams, Birmingham-

Southern baseball rebounded in epic fashion. In May 2019, the Panthers went on a

13-game win streak across three weeks to improve to 15-4 overall, and thus begin their

Cinderella season and wild ride to the national spotlight.

BSC won nine of its last 10 regular season games, earning the Southern Athletic

Association regular season title. Sweeping both Oglethorpe University and Rhodes

College to win the tournament title and automatic qualifier to the NCAA tournament,

BSC hosted No. 14 LaGrange College in a grueling five-game regional May 17-19.

Advancing to the Super Regionals for the first time in program history, BSC took

advantage of the opportunity and, in the May 24-25 series, swept No. 17 Coe College to

earn a spot in the College World Series.

“The atmosphere at the regionals and super regionals was phenomenal,” says Head

Coach Jan Weisberg. “The sendoff from the campus community when we came out

to Iowa was completely unexpected and awesome. We had not only family — we had

faculty, we had ex-players, we had fans. That support has been tremendous and it did lift

us. It did carry us here.”

BSC baseball finished the season second in the country, with two Rawlings Golden

Glove Award winners, seven all-region selections, 11 all-conference nods, and a new

program win record.

“These guys took us on a heck of a journey,” Weisberg says. “It’s been fun. This team

peaked at the right time. I think this is the most fun team that we’ve had.”

BSC’s Finest Enter the Hall

The T. B. Pearson Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2019 was inducted

over Homecoming weekend, honoring three student-athletes and

one coach.

Walter Arrington ’11 finished his football career with 2,495

rushing yards and 32 total touchdowns. In 2007, he ranked second

in all-purpose yards in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference

(SCAC), which earned him Freshman of the Year honors and a

spot on the all-conference second team. During his senior season,

Arrington added a team and conference high of 1,185 yards and 11

touchdowns. He was named first team all-conference and the SCAC

Offensive Player of the Year.

Ashley Bice Culliver ’12 is the most decorated softball player in

program history. With a .455 batting average her freshman season,

she helped BSC to a top 25 national ranking. Culliver earned first

team all-conference honors both in her junior and senior seasons

as the Panthers won their first SCAC and second Eastern Division

titles as well as the SCAC Championship in 2012. She tied for first in

conference player of the year voting.

Drew Leachman ’11 helped jump start the newly transitioned

baseball program to Division III in 2008. He earned first-team

all-conference honors (2008, 2010, and 2011), first-team all-region

honors (2011), and the SCAC Offensive Player of the Year award

(2011). Leachman also received spots on the All-South Region First

Team and the American Baseball Coaches Association All-America

Team. During his freshman and junior seasons, the Panthers won

the SCAC Eastern Division title. In his final season, with the third

highest batting average in school history at .451, he led the Panthers

with 73 hits and 105 total bases. When Leachman graduated, he

12 / ’southern


MORE SPORTS NEWS:

Women’s volleyball finished Southern Athletic

Association play with a 13-1 record to claim

its first-ever regular season championship. The

Panthers made their third consecutive trip to the

NCAA Tournament Nov. 15-17. Head Coach

Haven O’Quinn was named SAA Coach of the

Year, and six Panthers earned all-conference

honors, headlined by Newcomer of the Year

Alyssa Coats. Named National Player of the Week,

senior middle blocker Rebecca Erwin is second

in the country for blocks and blocks per set. The

senior biology major also excels in the classroom

with a 3.9 cumulative GPA, and she was named

Academic All-District.

The football team held on to the Wesley Cup

with a 45-13 win over Huntingdon College,

marking the first time since 2012 that the Cup

remained on the Hilltop for consecutive years. The

Panthers won five of their last six games, including

a 28-15 win over conference champion and

nationally ranked Berry College on Homecoming.

BSC (7-3, 6-2 SAA) finished the season one game

away from a conference title. Helping lead the

team was junior running back Robert Shufford,

who was named a First-Team All-American by the

American Football Coaches Association. He’s the

first Panther to earn All-American honors since

2011. Senior political science major Austin Lewter

holds a 3.875 GPA, was named Academic All-

District, and serves as SGA President.

Under new head coach Katelyn Geddings,

women’s soccer finished tied for third in the

league. Five Panthers earned all-conference honors,

led by Newcomer of the Year Gabby Bernal. Junior

accounting major Abby Kay Choate has a 3.98

GPA and was named Academic All-District.

Men’s soccer had four all-conference nods,

headlined by Newcomer of the Year Coleman

Jennings.

Cross Country made a splash at conference

championships. Senior Marjorie Head placed

seventh overall. She went on to place 22nd at

the NCAA Regionals and was named both allconference

and all-region.

Indoor track and field hosted the BSC

Panther Indoor Invitational Dec. 6.

The swimming and diving teams had six

Athlete of the Week honors before Nov. 1.

Freshman diver Mallory Wilson set new

program records in both the 1-meter and

3-meter events. The men’s team is ranked No.

24 nationally.

Basketball season is underway. As of Nov.20,

the women are off to a 3-0 start, led by senior

Emilee Olsen and sophomore Derienne Black.

Juniors Ben Spence and Christian Stewart

earned the first two SAA Player of the Week

honors of the season on the men’s side.

It’s been a busy fall for the Panthers. BSC

earned over 20 SAA Athlete of the Week

awards, six national weekly awards, three

SAA Newcomer of the Year awards, and

three Academic All-District honors, all before

Thanksgiving break.

Rebecca Erwin

Robert Shufford

ranked second in program history with a .412 career batting

average and was drafted by the Minnesota Twins.

Ann Templeton Dielen is BSC’s winningest and longesttenured

coach and the first coach of a reestablished program.

Her 41-year coaching career brought 678 victories to the

Hilltop for both men’s and women’s tennis teams. Dielen

led BSC teams to 40 total NAIA national tournament

appearances, four Division I winning seasons, and 10

Division III winning seasons. She has been honored as the

2016 Southern Athletic Association Coach of the Year, a

seven-time NAIA District Coach of the Year, the 1992 ITA

Women’s Coach of the Year, and as a member of the Georgia

State Athletics and Alabama Tennis Halls of Fame. BSC’s

tennis facility bears Dielen’s name.

FALL/WINTER 2019 / 13


the next chapter

Anna Marie Dobbins ’13

When you curl up this winter to watch the

newest made-for-TV Christmas movie, you may find

yourself watching a BSC alumna. Actor, dancer, and

model Anna Marie Dobbins starred in “Christmas

Matchmakers” on ION, sharing the screen with Vivica

A. Fox. And if you’re in Birmingham this holiday

season, you could even spot her around town.

Dobbins flies in from Los Angeles regularly to teach

dance at her mother’s studio, Linda Dobbins Dance in

Mountain Brook, which opened when Dobbins was

four years old. She fell in love with dance early on and

followed her passion for performance. As she grew up,

Dobbins also began traveling to Atlanta and Los Angeles

for dancing and acting opportunities.

Through her role in the 2011 “Footloose” remake,

which was filmed near Atlanta, Dobbins made

connections in the industry, but she still chose to stay in

Alabama and attend BSC.

“Even though I knew I wanted to move to L.A. after

college, I loved the programs at BSC,” she says. “In a

way, BSC drove me to go for the entertainment industry

because I wanted to be unique and set the bar.”

In addition to acting, Dobbins works as a

choreographer and dance instructor in Los Angeles.

Last year, she worked with Eric Roberts in the Lifetime

film “Stalked by my Doctor: Patient’s Revenge,” and has

recently taken on other darker roles.

“I never went for the devious role when I was

younger. It’s cool to see where your age takes you,”

Dobbins says. “I’m starting to play more nitty-gritty

roles rather than the girl next door.”

Her upcoming projects include the action movie

“Cross: Rise of the Villains,” starring Tom Sizemore and

Brian Austin Green, and the feature film “Women,”

which will be released next year.

In her busy schedule, packed with brand deals,

modeling, filming, and taking classes herself, Dobbins’

passion for what she does is clear through her dedication

to coming back to Birmingham and devoting time to

aspiring dancers like her younger self.

“Being surrounded by people in the industry keeps

you creative. Getting into different classes molds you

and keeps you on your toes,” she says.

Are you a graduate of the last decade? Tell us what you’re

doing next! Email communications@bsc.edu.

14 / ’southern


Students in

THE CITY

In August, BSC welcomed more than 385 new students to

campus, from across town, across the country, and around the

world. As part of orientation, students participated in Uniquely

Birmingham, choosing one of 17 locations across the city to

explore. The tourist destinations included the Birmingham

Museum of Art, 16th Street Baptist Church, Birmingham

Civil Rights Institute, McWane Science Center, Sidewalk Film

Festival, Sloss Furnaces, and Southern Museum of Flight.

FALL/WINTER 2019 / 15


A city on the rise, BIRMINGHAM boasts historic theaters, AWARD-WINNING

restaurants, URBAN parks and trails, CREATIVE start-ups, and world-class

health care. And every element of today’s Birmingham is powered in part by a

BIRMINGHAM-SOUTHERN graduate. Meet nine of the numerous ALUMNI

who are fueling growth and service across the MAGIC CITY.

the

16 / ’southern


FALL/WINTER 2019 / 17


If we have a strong

community and metroarea,

it is going to make

it better for everybody.

ASHLEY RHEA ’11

As a reserved teen, Ashley Rhea never expected to be the incoming freshman

volunteering to run for SGA. But, after being elected as a Freshman Representative and

joining Chi Omega sorority, nothing could stop Rhea from being as involved as possible at

Birmingham-Southern College.

Since graduating, Rhea has made strides professionally and in the community by

continuing to push herself into action.

With a law degree from Samford University and experience representing companies at

Maynard Cooper & Gale, Rhea wanted to pursue her dream of practicing disability-related law.

She quickly realized that if she wanted to live her dream, the only option was to open her own

firm – so once again, Rhea took a chance and pushed herself into making a difference.

In August 2018, Rhea opened Rhea Law LLC, with the motto “Your case shouldn’t be

bigger than your disability.”

“I just did it,” Rhea says. “I felt like there was no reason to keep delaying. If you’re not

doing what you love, then you aren’t going to have motivation to work every day.”

Before going out on her own, Rhea took the time to research and meet with solo

practitioners. What she learned supported what she was already aware of from experience

with her own disability: there was a serious need in the community.

“If you have been discriminated against, your case is disabling and then you have your

actual, physical limitations,” Rhea says. “I can’t take away your limitation, but I can help

this disabling situation become less threatening to you.”

Rhea sees her own disability as a way to

connect with people and show them their

options.

“Often it gets to the point where the

individual can’t negotiate anymore, so

sometimes they just need someone as a

third party to come in with additional

resources,” she says.

Rhea believes that the connections

she has made through civic involvement

have contributed to her firm’s success.

The Rotaract Club and Junior League of

Birmingham are just two ways that Rhea

stays plugged into her community.

Partnering with Birmingham-area nonprofits

is another crucial element of Rhea’s

community involvement. In order to stay

up-to-date on the resources available to

people in the community, she works with

the Lakeshore Foundation, Disability

Rights and Resources, and Alabama

Disabilities Advocacy Program.

Through her law firm, Rhea hopes to add

one more service to the available resources

for people with disabilities.

From studies at BSC in history and

political science, internships during law

school, and partnerships with Alabama

Possible, Rhea saw that statistically,

people with disabilities are the most

underemployed sector in Alabama.

Children with disabilities are also

affected, as they are routinely left behind

and not pushed to the same level of success.

Rhea has a lot of hope for the state’s ability

to improve these issues, and continues to

focus beyond her career on advocacy.

“Whatever is happening now will affect

future generations,” she says. “I live in

Vestavia, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t

pay attention to what is happening in

West Birmingham. If we have a strong

community and metro-area, it is going to

make it better for everybody.”

18 / ’southern


When Terrence Ingram decided to major

in music at BSC, he didn’t know exactly where

that would take him. He just knew music was

his passion, and he was determined to fill his

education with a subject he enjoyed.

Music is now central to what Ingram does as

the founder and CEO of LegacyWorks, a program

that uses life coaching, engaging curriculum,

and music production to support Birmingham’s

urban youth and help them succeed.

“When people think of excellence, they

tend to point outside of urban areas. We

want the urban youth in our city to reverse

that,” Ingram says. “I believe that in 20

to 40 years, we can see unprecedented

growth and economic independence in

Birmingham’s urban communities.”

After graduating from BSC, Ingram became

a Teach For America corps member and took

a position in Nashville, teaching seventh and

eighth grade inner city students. There, he

also found his passion for education, another

essential component of LegacyWorks.

“I saw students’ gifts and talents but also a

lack of direction,” he says. “It was in my blood

to teach.”

Ingram returned to Birmingham and later

began working for Scantron Corporation,

which led him to Martha Gaskins Elementary

School in the Roebuck neighborhood in 2018.

While he was there to explain new end-of-year

tests, an instructional coach suggested he might

be there for a deeper purpose.

From there, Ingram and his team of

friends developed a plan to invest in the

community and Birmingham’s youth. They

launched a pilot program at Martha Gaskins

last August and began to build relationships

with six students. Most members of the team,

including Ingram, work full-time day jobs yet

spend their evenings focused on LegacyWorks

and its growth.

“It’s a people business, fueled by passion,”

Ingram says. “I’m always energized when

working to accomplish our objectives.”

LegacyWorks soon expanded from in-school

to after-school and weekend programs, held

at Homewood Church of Christ. Students

take classes on a variety of skills and trades,

including speech, agriculture, and auto

mechanics. The program also includes time for

youth, ages 10 to 16, to be with mentors who

they can “do life with.”

Inspiring them to create, LegacyWorks

includes a production course that allows every

student to play a role in making and recording

music and video. Mentorship and educational

materials collide with expression and creating

40

BIRMINGHAM

non-profit agencies are

led by BSC graduates

I feel strongly that

my purpose is tied

to this city.

TERRENCE INGRAM ’09

digital content, which can be found on the organization’s YouTube channel.

Only in its second year, LegacyWorks has already expanded, with growing interest from

parents and mentors like Ingram himself who are helping mold Birmingham’s community.

“I feel strongly that my purpose is tied to this city. Something in the soil makes me feel

at home when I’m here.”

FALL/WINTER 2019 / 19


CAMILLE SPRATLING ’98 (MPPM ’07)

Before Camille Spratling joined Railroad Park as the foundation’s executive

director, she was a Birmingham resident who shared the dream for an urban green

space – one that could bridge the north and south sides of the city.

Spratling saw the idea for a park move from this dream to a 19-acre landmark, and

she grew with the process. First serving as her neighborhood association’s president,

she soon became a Railroad Park Foundation board member before stepping in as

director a few months after the park opened in September 2010.

“There was a long history of people dreaming about the park, and so many different

people in the community made this dream a reality. The hope was that it would

be a place where all of Birmingham could come together — a tangible sign that

Birmingham was on the move,” Spratling says.

Her job involves a wide array of industries, from fundraising to event planning to

landscaping, and Spratling says her BSC education prepared her to juggle these roles.

“There’s no one track of study that could have prepared me for this role, but the

liberal arts education did. I was constantly pushed to see things in a new way or to

look at a problem from many different perspectives,” she says. “BSC also helped me

see how important service in the community is.”

As a student, Spratling was involved in service learning locally through Alpha

Omicron Pi and honor societies and abroad in Zimbabwe on an E-term trip. She

remembers experiencing what good service looks like as volunteers let go of themselves

and focused on the heart of the project. Now a director of a nonprofit, Spratling

frequently must do the same, and she encourages her volunteers to hold that mindset.

Prior to her current position, Spratling worked at Children’s of Alabama and in

the president’s office at BSC. She moved out of the city for a bit after graduation, but

she recognized Birmingham’s potential and saw the way the city was digging into

problems, working on issues, and growing rapidly.

Spratling herself had a part in Birmingham’s

revitalization through Railroad Park. Its

opening marked a surge of energy in the city’s

downtown. The green area, located between the

I knew we were going to

look back and see this shift

in Birmingham.

financial and health districts, introduced a new

vitality through a diverse range of activities and

events, from summer concerts to the holiday

magic of a winter ice skating rink.

“The park was a splash in the city. People

were stunned by how top-notch it was,” she

says, remembering the early days. “It caught

hold in a viral way. I knew we were going to

look back and see this shift in Birmingham.”

20 / ’southern


BHAKTI DESAI ’16

Bhakti Desai starts each day with the intention to

“lead a life of significance,” advice from President Emeritus

Gen. Charles C. Krulak that she will never forget.

With those words in mind, Desai is already working

toward improving life for people in Birmingham.

At the end of her first year at the University of Alabama

at Birmingham School of Dentistry, she applied for the

Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF), a program intended

to prepare the next generation to serve others and create

healthier communities. She submitted an outline for

implementing an oral health education program at

Cahaba Valley Health Care.

After her project was chosen to be funded, she spent

one year teaching the community about preventative

dental care.

“I thought I would have to wait to make a difference, but

realized that if I kept pushing it off it would never happen.

I decided to intentionally put time toward giving back to

others,” Desai says.

She credits her BSC experience with preparing her to

make a difference. Participating in the Harrison Honors

Program, Southern Ambassadors, the orientation team,

and Pi Beta Phi forced Desai out of her comfort zone.

She specifically remembers the presentation skills she

developed through the Harrison Honors Program.

Desai appreciated how the BSC environment gave her

room to grow, allowing her to voice her own opinion and

think outside of the box.

“It was the best four years of my life,” Desai says. “BSC

cultivates potential, and the one-on-one environment

helped me grow personally and academically.”

While she experienced a shift in her reserved personality,

one thing that did not change for Desai after high school

was her focus on pursing pediatric dentistry.

She was selected as a representative at the 2018 ASF

National Conference, where she was able to recharge

around other individuals fighting for something

meaningful.

Focused on serving her community while completing

her degree, Desai is able to see issues in healthcare

firsthand. This has piqued her interest in public policy,

as a way to mitigate the problems she finds on a day-today

basis.

“The more I see, the more prepared I am to fix issues in

the future.”

FALL/WINTER 2019 / 21


“It is important that we first acknowledge that this is a

problem, and then that we deal with it,” Fry says.

He has established a lawyer wellness committee

for the Birmingham Bar charged with finding ways

to incorporate activities that help manage the stress

involved with being a lawyer.

Birmingham is a diamond in

the rough city. You can have

a great quality of life and a

sophisticated professional life.

CHARLES FRY ’95

As the fourth graduate of Birmingham-Southern College to serve as

president of the Birmingham Bar Association, Charles Fry is proud to have

strong roots in Birmingham.

“Birmingham is a diamond in the rough city,” Fry says. “You can have a great

quality of life and a sophisticated professional life. Not many markets offer these

things in the way we do, and we are still in the process of maturing and growing

from the past.”

BSC graduates Alan Rogers ’77, Bruce Rogers ’80, and Carol Ann Smith ’71

preceded Fry in leading the Birmingham Bar as president, and he has continued

their positive influence on the professional organization.

As the current General Counsel of the University of Alabama Health Services

Foundation, P.C., Fry often finds health at the top of his mind. He saw an

immediate need for improvement in lawyer wellness, as the profession correlates

with high levels of alcohol abuse and suicide rates.

Fry is the first in-house lawyer to be elected president –

something that he has not taken lightly. He has made

recruiting in-house lawyers to the Bar a priority.

Under Fry’s leadership, the UA Health Services

Foundation has added about 300 physicians and has

expanded throughout the state, opening locations in

Anniston, Montgomery, Florence, and Mobile.

One project that has been specifically meaningful to Fry

is building the first proton therapy facility in the state at the

University of Alabama at Birmingham, which can provide

cancer patients with state-of-the-art, non-invasive treatment.

Fry worked with the department of radiation oncology in

developing the project from the ground up.

Fry says that everything he has done in Birmingham was

set in motion during his time at Birmingham-Southern.

“I owe so much to attending Birmingham-Southern

College,” Fry says. “It was a critical education for me; it gave

me confidence in myself – which I sorely lacked. It was the

challenge of learning that presented itself everyday by my

professors that prepared the way for me to believe in myself.

This ultimately led to me taking on leadership roles. ”

After graduating from BSC in 1995 with a philosophy

degree, Fry worked as a paralegal at Bradley Arant Rose &

White LLP. He then attended the University of Alabama

School of Law and was a clerk for Judge Arthur J. Hanes,

Jr. Fry then worked at Johnston Barton Proctor & Rose LLP,

where he became a partner.

His work in Birmingham

goes beyond the professional

sphere. Fry has served on

the board of the Youth

Leadership Forum since

1999. The organization,

modeled after Leadership

Birmingham, provides

opportunities for high school

students to learn about what is

happening in the community.

10%

estimated percentage of

THE BIRMINGHAM BAR

who are BSC grads.

Fry’s mindset on service is out of a genuine love for his

community. “We as professionals owe it to the community

to give back, as we have been blessed with important tools

to provide the community with something that it didn’t

have before.”

22 / ’southern


Since they first met at BSC, John Boone and Hunter Renfroe have traded ideas. Whether

they were planning Sigma Nu events – Boone was the fraternity’s president and Renfroe the

social chair – or investigating problems in the city around them, the two quickly figured out

how to work together.

“John sees what’s wrong in the world, and I analyze and flesh out how we can tackle the

problem,” Renfroe says. “We would put together the framework for changes we wanted to

make in the future as we philosophized.”

Through Orchestra Partners, their real estate development firm, Boone and Renfroe now

invest their shared ideas into Birmingham and its historic buildings. Their mission aims

to create sustainable neighborhoods by redeveloping existing properties within charming

Birmingham markets and communities like Five Points South, Avondale, Parkside, and

Morris Avenue.

Orchestra Partners projects have become some of Birmingham’s most popular and

innovative destinations, including The Woolworth Recreation and Refreshment, a nostalgic

and neon social house in Five Points South, and Founders Station, Morris Avenue’s first true

mixed-use experience, featuring retail and Pilcrow Cocktail Cellar, a basement bar owned by

Joe Phelps ’07, their Sigma Nu brother.

“Hunter and I create neighborhoods where we want to live,” Boone says. “The bars and

restaurants we design are places where we want to eat, and the office spaces we work on are

places where we want to work.”

The mindset behind Orchestra Partners emerged, ironically, once they left Birmingham.

After a few post-grad years in the city, Boone moved to Washington, D.C., where he became

interested in education reform. Renfroe, with his wife Whitney Mayfield Renfroe ’09, moved

to Boston to get his MBA. Both ditched their cars in the walkable cities and gained a new

perspective on urban living.

“I decided that the only way to change my lifestyle was to get out of the car,” Renfroe says.

“Humans were designed to live in cities and to walk, but we hardly ever do it.”

A few hundred miles south, Boone was experiencing the same lifestyle change in D.C.,

where he walked 45 minutes to work every morning. He later moved to Florida to work for a

charter school development company, which merged his interests in education and real estate

development. However, he moved back to Alabama once Renfroe called him with an idea to

build a walkable lifestyle in Birmingham.

With parallel experiences in bigger cities, plus

a solid friendship and shared idealism, the two

launched Orchestra Partners in 2015 with a

mission to develop within urban communities.

Founders Station, one of their first projects,

combines a variety of experiences in one of

Birmingham’s most compelling locations.

“It blew our minds that nobody has ever

done what we did in Founders Station because

everybody who walks down Morris Avenue talks

about what a cool street it is,” Boone says. “It truly

speaks to what we’re trying to accomplish: making

downtown a neighborhood that has everything

you need for urban life.”

Boone and Renfroe believe building

connectivity – a core principle of Orchestra

Partners’ business model – is essential.

Alongside Tom Leader, the nationally renowned

landscape architect who designed Railroad Park,

Orchestra Partners recently unveiled a Parkside

District master plan that features pedestrian

pathways and mixed-use redevelopment concepts

on the west end of Railroad Park, positioning

Parkside as the central hub of connectivity and a

vibrant entertainment destination.

Particularly as the Parkside project further

bridges the Hilltop to downtown, Boone and

Renfroe hope to see BSC students connect with

the city’s core and participate in the revitalization

of Birmingham.

ORCHESTRA PARTNERS:

JOHN BOONE ’06 AND HUNTER RENFROE ’08

FALL/WINTER 2019 / 23


10

BSC ALUMNI

HAVE LED THE

KIWANIS CLUB

OF BIRMINGHAM,

the largest in the world.

4

6

BSC

GRADUATES

(starting with Frank

Spain, Class of 1910)

have been president of

THE ROTARY CLUB

OF BIRMINGHAM,

the largest in the world.

BSC ALUMNAE

have been president of the

JUNIOR LEAGUE

OF BIRMINGHAM,

one of the largest

Junior Leagues

in the world with more than

2,300 MEMBERS.

11 in

BSC alumni have led the

BIRMINGHAM BAR

ASSOCIATION

since 1906, including three

the last nine years.

GRADUATES HAVE

participated in every class of

LEADERSHIP BIRMINGHAM

since its inception in 1983,

AND DOZENS OF ALUMNI

have also participated in

LEADERSHIP ALABAMA

OVER ITS 30 YEARS.

24 / ’southern

Every senior minister

of Canterbury United

METHODIST CHURCH

10graduated from BSC.


Last year, Courtney French made an

unconventional purchase that is now putting

the voices of Birmingham on a global stage.

French, a senior partner at Fuston, Petway &

French LLP, purchased the radio station B 94.9

FM WATV, returning it to local ownership for the

first time since 2002.

The station originally opened in 1946 and

was known for iconic on-air legends such as

“Tall Paul” and Maurice “Thin Man” King.

During the mid-1970s, WATV was the leading

radio station in Birmingham.

While French wants to maintain the station

as an integral source of information for the

community, he has also made efforts to expand

its reach far beyond the city limits.

“There is a three-prong reason to what we do

with our station,” French says. “I look at having

the radio station as a way to continue what I

do as a lawyer, in service to the community,

as an educational means, and also a way of

entertaining the community.”

A societal change that French has observed

in millennials, Generation Z, and Generation

Y inspired him to reevaluate how the station is

disseminating their music and information. He

recognizes that, although these generations still

love music, the way they receive their music is

different than it ever has been before.

To address this, he has used technological

advances to take the station outside of vehicles

and onto phones and computers. The station

has an app called V94.9, offers live streaming on

its website, and is available through the virtual

assistant device Amazon Alexa. In the past year,

these additions have gained listeners from across

the country and all over the world, including

Europe, Africa, and India.

French has been passionate about

education in the community since his time at

Birmingham-Southern College. As a secondary

education major, the skills he learned in

school were beneficial as he continued

his education at Samford University’s

Cumberland School of Law, even taking the

time to teach while he was there.

As a founding partner of Fuston, Petway &

French, LLP, French currently spends his days

representing individuals and families who have

suffered personal injuries and wrongful death.

His devotion to the community is also seen

in his service as president of the Alabama

Association for Justice and as president of the

Alabama Civil Justice Foundation. French is

active with the nonprofit I See Me, Inc., which

aims to increase literacy rates in children of

color by engaging them in literature that reflects

their culture and mirrors their image. They have

multiple programs that intend to help students

of color read at or beyond their grade level.

What I am doing now is to help

others, to continue what BSC

instills in students about service.

COURTNEY FRENCH ’95

He has also served on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and

on the Board of Directors for the Shades Valley YMCA. French joined the BSC Board of

Trustees in 2018.

Business Alabama has recognized French as one of the Top Attorneys of Alabama. He was

named one of the “Top 40 Lawyers under 40” by National Trial Lawyers and “50 Future Leaders

of America” by Ebony Magazine.

“I truly believe in the saying that to whom much is given, much is required, and I have been

blessed – largely credited to BSC for giving me the tools and education to be able to be where

I am in my career and my profession,” French says. “What I am doing now is to help others, to

continue what BSC instills in students about service.”

FALL/WINTER 2019 / 25


Valerie Abbott MPPM ’99 –

As the current Birmingham

City Council President, Abbott

spends every day working to

improve Birmingham. Her

focus on neighborhood health

and revitalization implemented

two community gardens,

receiving national recognition

for the East Avondale project.

She is also spearheading

a rebirth of Birmingham’s

recycling program, as a

proponent for taking better

care of the community.

o

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25

two

Susan Beard Brouillette ’86 – Named “One of Birmingham’s

Most Influential Executives for 2018” by the Birmingham Business

Journal, Brouillette has led Alacare Home Health & Hospice, one of

Birmingham’s largest private companies, since 2002. She has also been

recognized on Birmingham Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40” list in

2002, and one of the “Top Women in Business in Birmingham” in 2006.

Alacare was acquired by Encompass Health Corp. in 2019.

MAKING THEIR MARK

IN BIRMINGHAM

For more than a century, BSC graduates have

dedicated themselves to making their mark

and making a difference in the Birmingham

community through philanthropy, medicine, media,

government, business, and more. We’ve highlighted

25 of these alumni here, but we know there are

more. Please tell us about a BSC alumnus’s impact

on the community, in Birmingham and around the

world, by emailing communications@bsc.edu.

26 / ’southern

Dr. Alan Dimick ’53 – A pioneer for burn

and trauma treatment, Dimick founded the

UAB Burn Unit, which has been nationally

three

recognized as a leader in treatment for

burn-related injuries. His professional life

has been committed to improving pre-hospital emergency care, as he

increased paramedic training throughout the state.


Joseph M. Farley ’48 – For

20 years, Farley served as the

president of Alabama Power,

guiding the company through

a time of political and financial

difficulty. He began as a legal

counsel to the company in the

1950’s, with a background in

private law. In 1989, he became

CEO of Southern Nuclear

Operating Company, that later

named the Joseph

M. Farley Nuclear

Electric Generating

Plant in his honor. He

passed away in 2010

at the age of 82.

four

five

Cathy Rye Gilmore ’68 –

Gilmore’s first stage role as

a dancer was at the oldest

theatre in Birmingham for the

performing arts, the Virginia

Samford Theatre, where she is

now president. After beginning

her professional career in New

York, Gilmore cofounded a

Cabaret troupe called The Wits’

Other End, which was based

in Atlanta and Birmingham.

Today, she continues to create

programs and productions that

exemplify the transformative

power of the theatre.

W. Cooper Green ’25 – The Cooper Green Mercy Hospital was named

in 1975 to honor the legacy of Green’s service to the Birmingham

community. He served three terms in the Alabama Legislature, presided

over the Birmingham Post Office, and served as President of the

Birmingham City Commission, where he helped spark the development

of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and the Birmingham Museum of

six

Art. Green died in 1980.

Herschell Hamilton MPPM

’96 – With a background in

investment banking, Hamilton

now is co-founder and chief

strategic officer for BLOC Global

Group. The leading southeastbased

U.S. commercial real

estate consulting services firm

has offices in Birmingham and

Washington D.C., contributing

to the economic development,

innovation, and revitalization of

American cities. Hamilton also

serves the community on

multiple boards, including

the Bank of Atlanta’s

seven

Birmingham Branch Board,

the Birmingham Business

Alliance, and Leadership

Birmingham.

eight

James Hatcher ’43 – Hatcher made incredible strides in

the theatre community, bringing talent and opportunities

to Birmingham. As the Miss Alabama pageant director

for 36 years, two-time producer of the Miss America

pageant, and founding director of Town and Gown Theatre,

Hatcher encouraged young talent to stay in-state. He

received numerous awards, including BSC Distinguished

Alumnus, the first Award of Excellence from the Alabama

State Council of the Arts and Humanities, and the Marian

Galloway Award from Alabama Theatre League. Hatcher

passed away in 1993.

Kristi Tingle Higginbotham ’87 – Higginbotham spends

every day in Birmingham doing what she loves: singing

and acting. Her career has included roles from Velma in

“Hairspray” to The Witch in “Into the Woods” and regular

performances with symphonies such as the Winnipeg

Orchestra, the Alabama Symphony, and the Las Vegas

Philharmonic. She is also a vocal coach and a member of two

local cabaret acts, The Hot Tamales, and Four For Time.


Robert E. Luckie Jr. ’40 – Luckie founded one of the

top 50 ad agencies in the U.S., Luckie & Company.

With clients including Little Debbie and Alabama

Tourism, they have been able to make an impact locally

and globally. After graduating from BSC, Luckie

began working in advertisement for the Birmingham

News, and his career took off from there, with a short

intermission during World War II, where he served as

Assistant Pacific Fleet Press Officer.

thirteen

Katherine McTyeire ’41 – McTyeire

was named “Birmingham Woman

of the Year” by the Business and

Professional Women of Birmingham

in 1966, and was inducted into the

Birmingham Business Hall of Fame in

2000. In 1949 she founded Iron Art,

a successful business she ran for 58

years. Her service to the community

included serving on the board for both

the Better Business Bureau of Alabama

and the Birmingham Area Chamber of

Commerce. She passed away in 2013.

ten

Philip “Jack” Mann Sr. ’61 – A force in

Birmingham theatre, Mann founded The Little

Theatre Players, The Wits’ Other End, appeared

in dozens of theatre productions, and was involved

with Town and Gown Theatre. He was a founder of

the Alabama School of Fine Arts, where he helped

develop and oversee the Excellence Program for

Birmingham City Schools. He served on the boards

of ASFA, the Downtown YMCA, Birmingham

Boys Choir, and the Virginia

Samford Theatre. Mann

passed away in December

2018 at the age of 79.

fourteen

eleven

Bernard

Monaghan

’35 – Under his

leadership as

executive

vice president and then chief

executive officer, Vulcan Materials

Company grew to become a Forbes

500 company. Before this, the

Birmingham native served as

General Counsel of the Army and

became a partner at the firm that

would eventually become Bradley

Arant Boult Cummings LLP. As

he remained active in the U.S.

Marine Corps Reserve, he eventually

attained the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Monaghan passed away in 1987.

The Monaghan Lecture at BSC was

established in 1981 in his honor.

twelve

Margaret “Peggy” Spain

McDonald ’39 – It all started with

her work for the American Red

Cross in Asia during World War II.

Her dedication to service continued

as she introduced community

education programs to leaders in

the Birmingham-Jefferson County

Area, eventually establishing the

Center for Community Education

at the University of Alabama. She

was the first director of the Greater

Birmingham Foundation, which

later was named the Community

Foundation of Greater Birmingham.

She passed away in 1996.

fifteen

six teen

James Donald Patrick Jr. ’57 – A man with multiple groundbreaking roles, Patrick was the first

person in Alabama to receive a Ph.D. in vocational rehabilitation. He then became the first

vocational rehab counselor at the newly created Spain Rehabilitation Center at the University

of Alabama at Birmingham. Later he helped found the Lakeshore Rehab Center and Foundation,

which is well-known in the community as a highly successful rehabilitation facility. He died at the

age of 83 in 2018.

Martha Jane Patton ’64 – Patton’s career began as

a coordinator for the Selma Inter-Religious Project.

After receiving her law degree, she opened her own

office in Birmingham. In 1998, Patton was named

executive director of the Legal Aid Society of

Birmingham. She served the community for 18

years as the heart and soul of the organization.


eight

teen

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Sonja Smith ’03 – With

bachelor’s and master’s

degrees in music, Smith has

taken on many roles in Alabama. She has

worked as a teacher, a tennis coordinator for

USTA Southern, and a project coordinator

for Enroll Alabama. In 2017, she decided to

run for office and now serves as a Birmingham

City Schools school board member.

Frank Spain 1910

(Southern University) –

Although probably most

known for bringing Liberty

National Life Insurance to

Birmingham, Spain was a

major leader in the community and contributed to many other projects until his

death in 1986. These local efforts included the Spain Rehabilitation Center, the

Spain-Wallace Building, and the Alabama Heart Hospital. Spain was president

of the Jefferson County Community Chest, the Birmingham Rotary Club, and

served Rotary International as a district governor and as international president.

He was inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor, the Birmingham

Gallery of Distinguished Citizens, the Alabama Business Hall of Fame, and the

Birmingham Business Hall of Fame.

nine teen

Sharon Spencer ’79 – Recognized

as a Distinguished alumna by BSC

in 2012, Spencer has made notable

accomplishments in the medical

community. She currently is the chief

of medical services at the University

of Alabama at Birmingham the Ruby

Meredith Outstanding Clinician

Endowed Chair. Other awards she

has received include Fellow of the

American College of Radiation

Oncology and the American Cancer

Society Life Inspiration Award.

teen

Elton B. Stephens ’32 – After founding

EBSCO Industries, one of the state’s

largest private companies with close to

6,000 employees, Stephens expanded

his resume to include philanthropist.

Stephens and his family have since

donated significant amounts of money

to charity, educational institutions,

the arts, and many other causes in

the community, often for little or no

recognition. His efforts have included

projects such as the Alys Robinson

Stephens Performing Arts Center at

UAB and the Elton B. Stephens Science

Center at BSC. He passed away in

2005. He was married to

Alys Robinson Stephens ’32.

twenty

twenty-one

Sandra Ross Storm ’68 – As a District Court

and Circuit Court Judge in Jefferson County,

Storm presided over child abuse and domestic

violence cases. Beyond implementing the

process that allows domestic violence victims

to obtain protection from abuse orders without

an attorney, she also developed 26 youth gun

and drug court programs. At the August 2002

opening assembly, Storm told students, “Give

of yourself with no expectation of reward…

learn to serve if you ever hope to lead.” Storm

passed away in 2018.

Vincent Townsend ’25 –Known to many as “Mr. Birmingham” for his

civic and business leadership, Townsend was a journalist who worked at

The Birmingham News for more than 50 years, eventually becoming the

executive editor. His role was instrumental in founding the Community

Affairs Committee of Operation New Birmingham, which aimed to change

community practices for the better. By initiating a “Design for Progress”, the

Regional Postal Facility, Civic Center Complex, Birmingham Zoo, and many

more locations important to the city were built. He passed away in 1978.

twenty-two

Marti Turnipseed ’65 – On April 24, 1963,

as a sophomore at BSC, Turnipseed became

the first white student to join in Birmingham’s

lunch counter sit-ins. This combined with her

participation in civil rights marches led to her

expulsion. By her senior year, BSC allowed her

to return to campus. Turnipseed continued

her activism by initiating a phone campaign

to get highly qualified African-American students

to apply to the College. She graduated

two months before the first African-American

student was enrolled. Turnipseed was killed in

an auto accident in 1972.

twenty-three

Historian, journalist, writer, professor – these are

just a few of the titles held by Virginia Van der Veer

Hamilton ’41, the second woman ever to earn a

doctorate in history at the University of Alabama

when she graduated in 1961. Her writings and

historical research set an example of success for

other women interested in the field of history. Upon

Hamilton’s death in 2016, historian Leah Rawls

Atkins said, “Hamilton changed the way history was

taught in Alabama. She advocated for the equality

of women in history...Young women in Alabama in

2016 may not realize who influenced the greater

professional equality they now enjoy. Virginia Van der

Veer Hamilton played a large role in that history.”

t

w

e

n

t

y

f

o

u

r

Kyle Whitmire ’02 – Whitmire has pursued

his passion for writing and is currently

a political columnist for the Alabama

Media Group, as one of Alabama’s most

listened-to voices. His career interests

surfaced while at BSC, where he was editor

of the student newspaper, but developed

through both writing and editing jobs

at The Birmingham

Weekly, The New twenty

York Times, and

al.com.

five


FEATURES

BSC alumni in the

food and beverage

industry are taking

Birmingham flavor

to the next level.

BIRMINGHAM

32 30 / ’southern


BISTRO TWO EIGHTEEN

218 20th Street North

BSC Connection: Chef/Owner

Tom Saab is the father of Ashley

Rhea ’11 (find out more about Rhea

in our cover story). The restaurant

offers a mix of French bistro and

American bistro traditions.

THE COLLINS BAR

2125 2nd Avenue North

BSC Connection: Manager Lauren

Delashaw ’14 (daughter of Leigh

Anchors Delashaw ’79) mixes

perfect flavor combinations at one

of the South’s best bars, as named

by Southern Living Magazine.

CAHABA BREWING

4500 5th Avenue South

BSC Connection: CFO and

Partner Andrew Pharo, married to

Elizabeth Featheringill Pharo ’00,

helped grow the microbrewery into

a major Avondale attraction,

earning the title of Alabama’s

2017 Silver Retailer of the Year

in the Annual Sales $1 Million to

$5 Million category.

From top left clockwise: LeNell

Camacho Santa Ana ’91, Edward L.

Hardin Jr. ’62 and Chef James Boyce,

and Laney DeJonge ’91

LENELL’S BEVERAGE BOUTIQUE

1208 32nd Street North

BSC Connection: LeNell Camacho Santa Ana ’91

Called “the first lady of liquor” by Garden & Gun

Magazine, Camacho Santa Ana opened LeNell’s

Beverage Boutique in June 2018 in historic

Norwood. Bringing the same flair as her previous

liquor store in Brooklyn, New York, Camacho Santa

Ana stocks sustainable and organic beverages

from a diverse range of producers. John T. Edge

wrote that Camacho Ana brings the future of the

American package store into focus: “In the hands of

LeNell, a proselytizer of wine, spirits, and the spirits

life, that future looks obsessive and playful and

tastes flat out delicious.”

GALLEY & GARDEN

2220 Highland Avenue

BSC Connection: Owner Edward L. Hardin Jr. ’62

Housed in what was once the historic Merritt House

on Highland Avenue, Galley & Garden serves

American-French inspired, southern cuisine. Hardin,

a local attorney who received an Honorary Doctor

of Laws in 2019, encouraged Chef James Boyce

and his wife Suzan, of Boyce Restaurant Concepts,

to bring their culinary expertise to the Birmingham

restaurant scene. Together, they have been sharing

a seasonal menu since 2014, driven by the quality

provided by utilizing local farmers and foragers.

ROJO

2921 Highland Avenue

BSC Connection: Co-owner Laney DeJonge ’91

In 2009, music legend Bob Dylan recommended the

casual Highland Park bar and grill to his nationwide

radio show audience. “That was a song about 12

bars,” he said. “Here’s four more that I like. If you’re

in Birmingham, Alabama, stop by the Rojo.” Dylan

said what anyone who lives in Birmingham already

knows – Rojo, opened in 2002 by DeJonge and Clark

Lopez, is one of the city’s best spots (especially for

outdoor dining). Rojo is also a good neighbor, winning

the National Restaurant Association Educational

Foundation’s 2018 Restaurant Neighbor Award

for Alabama, given to restaurants dedicated to

community service and philanthropy.

GOOD PEOPLE BREWING

114 14th Street South

BSC Connection: Stefano Daneri

‘12, sales team manager, has been

taproom manager, assistant brewer

and brewery sales rep in his nearly

8 years at the popular

microbrewery in Birmingham’s

growing Parkside District, right

across from Regions Field.

HIGHLANDS BAR & GRILL

2011 11th Avenue South

BSC Connection: Pardis Stitt,

co-owner and operator, who

attended BSC, and Chef Frank

Stitt III, who received an honorary

Doctor of Laws from BSC in 2019,

run the award-winning Highlands,

2018 Outstanding Restaurant by

the James Beard Foundation, as

well as Bottega, and Chez FonFon.

PILCROW COCKTAIL CELLAR

2015 1st Avenue North

BSC Connection: Joe Phelps

’07 opened the underground

bar, serving craft cocktails and

specializing in agave spirits, in

Founders Station in 2018.

FALL/WINTER 2019 / 31


Chris Dupont ’85

a day in the life

When Chris Dupont relocated his restaurant from Springville,

Alabama, to Birmingham’s North End in 2003, the city was quiet. Yet,

Café Dupont made downtown a fine-dining destination in the heart

of a city that now takes serious pride in its award-winning restaurants.

A day in the life of Dupont relies on a few things — the special

events scheduled at the restaurant, the staff that’s coming in, and,

most importantly, what seasonal foods are growing.

Every Saturday morning begins with a trip to the Market at Pepper

Place so he can stock Café Dupont with fruits and vegetables from

Alabama farms. Dupont has always based his work around local

growers, and the menu changes daily with the season.

“Everything has a purpose, and the purposing behind it determines

our days,” Dupont says.

As the South gets a late start on colder weather, Café Dupont’s

menu slowly shifts towards heartier meats, like braised rabbit and

stuffed quail, as well as autumnal vegetables for squash pastas and

pumpkin pie.

To Dupont, each dish, representative of local farms and seasonal

ingredients, tells a story, one further crafted by his diverse and

skilled staff.

“It’s a technical business as well as an inspirational and creative

business,” he says.

32 / ’southern


From reunions to open houses to a football victory for the Panthers, the BSC community celebrated big this

Homecoming. On Oct. 18 and 19, we welcomed alumni, family, and friends to the Hilltop for the College

traditions we enjoy every year. Take a look to see who you spot in the crowd. Forward, Ever!

FALL/WINTER 2019 / 33


Distinguished Alumni Awards

Birmingham-Southern College honored the 2019 Alumni Award recipients during the festivities of homecoming weekend. The

Distinguished Alumni, Outstanding Young Alumni, and Rising Star awards recognize graduates who have achieved outstanding success

in their chosen professions. The awards were presented at the Alumni Awards Brunch on Saturday, Oct. 19, in Bruno Great Hall of the

Norton Campus Center.

FALL/WINTER 2019 / 37


Distinguished Alumnus

Dr. Robert G. Bottoms ’66

As the longest-serving president of DePauw University and a graduate of

Birmingham-Southern, Dr. Robert Bottoms spent his life observing the importance

of a liberal arts education.

“It prepares people to think creatively, communicate, and to write well, which are all

traits so important in any job,” says Bottoms.

It all started with the relationship Bottoms developed with BSC’s 10 president,

Ralph Tanner. His encouragement and advice helped Bottoms as he began his journey

in the world of higher education.

After working as BSC chaplain from 1973 to 1976, in addition to serving as

assistant to the president from 1974 to 1976, Bottoms moved to Nashville, where he

was assistant dean and assistant professor of church and ministry at the Vanderbilt

Divinity School until 1978. He left Vanderbilt to accept the position of vice president

for university relations at DePauw University. Bottoms was named president of the

university in 1986. During his 22 years as president, Bottoms was able to make major

impacts on the forward progression of the school.

His efforts to improve diversity on campus stand out, as he strove to make

the community more reflective of the world around it. The number of minority

faculty members increased from just three percent to over 17 percent through his

leadership. He also saw a need for a change in student diversity, increasing

the number of students with culturally diverse backgrounds from 3.5

percent to 16 percent.

Bottoms was able to guide DePauw in raising more than

$500 million in funds, tripling annual giving from the time of

his arrival. The investments he made in campus infrastructure

led to the development of more than six major additions,

including the Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics and the

Pulliam Center for Contemporary Media.

The dedication Bottoms has to making his community a

better place did not stop when he retired from the presidency

in 2008. He later began serving as director of the Janet

Prindle Institute for Ethics, which allowed him to focus time

on his family and serve his community.

Serving on boards of Seabury-Western Theological

Seminary in Chicago, the Posse Foundation, the Center for

Leadership Development, and, most recently, Episcopal

Divinity School at Union Seminary in New York, Bottoms

has dedicated his time to causes close to his heart.

For the years of care that Bottoms put into DePauw, the

university has named the alumni building the Robert G.

Bottoms Alumni and Development Building, honoring

the positive changes he implemented across campus.

“Take a wide variety of courses.

Don’t decide too early what you want

to do and what you want to major

in, as exposure to new subjects can

change your direction.”

advice

38 / ’southern

SPRING/SUMMER 2018 / 40


Distinguished Alumna

Sandy Barker Thurmond ’84

In all areas of her work — whether it’s a project at Children’s of Alabama, a BSC

alumni gathering, or an educational session for women in healthcare — Sandy

Thurmond is constantly building up her community.

She completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees before entering an

administrative residency at Children’s of Alabama. Now, with 32 years of

experience, Thurmond finds herself within the same compassionate organization

and around its dedicated team.

As the vice president of primary care services at Children’s, Thurmond oversees

the operations and development of Pediatric Practice Solutions, the hospital’s

primary care network, and builds relationships with pediatricians around Alabama.

“I bonded with the mission of Children’s from the start,” she says. “Our team

has a meaningful impact on the care, teaching, and advocacy of the hospital.”

Thurmond gained experience in operations, facilities, and strategic planning

at the hospital before joining the primary care team in 1995. She moved into

the VP position in 2004. With 13 Pediatric Practice Solutions offices in Alabama,

Children’s primary care division saw over 335,000 patients last year.

Thurmond has always been drawn towards the medical field. In fact, her premed

and biology studies were a big factor in why she decided to attend BSC. Those

courses, along with the small size BSC offered, made her choice easy.

“The friendships and people I met lasted. We chose to still spend time with each

other after graduating,” she says.

Many of her BSC friendships carried on long past graduation, sometimes in the

form of supper clubs, birthday clubs, or vacations. Thurmond has also served as a

dedicated member of BSC’s Alumni Board, including her term as president

in 2018-2019, and now serves on BSC’s Board of Trustees.

Among her many leadership roles and career successes,

something Thurmond is the most proud of is her support for

women, particularly women in healthcare. She mentors

women under her leadership and offers work-life balance

as an executive at Children’s, but her dedication also

extends much farther than her own workplace.

Thurmond was named by the UAB Commission

on the Status of Women as the 2019 Outstanding

Woman in the Community, honored for her

work in many areas including with BSC, the

Momentum Women’s Leadership Program, the

American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women

movement, the Ronald McDonald House

Charities of Alabama, and the UAB Women in

Healthcare Leadership Initiative.

advice

“College is exciting and meaningful, so

be a part of all the activities and learning

opportunities you can.”

41 / ’southern


Outstanding Young Alumna

Kelley Brooks Simoneaux ’07

In 2018, after having dinner with an Alpha Chi Omega sorority sister in Washington D.C., Kelley Brooks Simoneaux

called an Uber to get home. When the driver arrived, he took one look at her and refused to give her a ride. Simoneaux

was in a wheelchair.

The incident gave her a mission: Draw attention to how the world is moving forward at such a rapid pace that the

disability community is being left on the curb.

She has used a wheelchair since she was 16, when an accident involving a negligent driver and a faulty seatbelt

left Simoneaux a paraplegic.

She went on to attend Birmingham-Southern, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in political science.

She then graduated from the University of Tennessee Law School in 2010, where she was president of the

Student Bar Association. Simoneaux is married to Bradlee J. Simoneaux ’08.

One of Simoneaux’s proudest professional accomplishments has been starting her own law firm. The

Spinal Cord Injury Law Firm, PLLC focuses specifically on spinal cord injuries and fosters professional

growth for people with disabilities. It is the only firm in the nation to be founded by a nationally

recognized attorney who is able to share in the experience of being in a catastrophic event.

In an effort to do more, she created an organization called Wheel2Ride. This advocacy campaign

focuses specifically on directing policy changes regarding the inclusion of individuals with mobility

disabilities in using ride sharing platforms.

A survey created by Wheel2Ride found that 83 percent of the disability community has faced

discrimination in transportation.

“It is a slow process, but is one that I am continuing to work on,” Simoneaux says. “I want to build

allies within every state to make changes in legislation.”

In addition to her work and advocacy, she also serves on multiple boards, including the

ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia.

She sees reminders of BSC reflected in her day-to-day life, as the culture on campus emphasized the

importance and satisfaction that can be found in helping others.

“Absolutely take advantage of all the opportunities to get yourself

off campus, engaged, and around people that are different than you.

We live in such a homogeneous society, but BSC does a great job of

allowing you to get outside of the classroom and engage with others.”

advice

Outstanding Young Alumnus

Kindred Motes ’12

Kindred Motes’ interest in a career focused on human rights was formed

early on, but it began to take shape in a Hilltop classroom. In Dr. Ed

LaMonte’s civil rights and justice course, Motes felt a responsibility for the

communities he was part of and an urgency to advocate for social justice.

His commitment to the field grew with the opportunities and discussions

he had as a BSC student. Sometimes those took the form of debates in the

English department, other times as conversations in the Alabama State

House as BSC’s Collegiate Legislature team captain. He also participated in

multiple study abroad trips, and his time in Europe ultimately led him to

earn his master’s degree in international relations at the University of Essex

in Britain.

40 / ’southern

“Don’t limit yourself too early. Give yourself time to

learn, grow, and change your mind. What you do in

college doesn’t determine the rest of your life.”

advice


Rising Star Award Honoree

Graham Spencer ’16

With grandparents, parents, an aunt, three uncles, and a sister all being BSC alumni, Graham Spencer was the definition of a

legacy student. After graduating from Homewood High School in 2012, Spencer made the transition to BSC, where he majored

in political science.

Political science professors such as Dr. Natalie Davis, Dr. Larry Brasher, Dr. Bob Slagter, and Professor Kim Lewis

make up a short list of the people that meant a great deal to Spencer during his time at BSC. His educational interests

were on the history of politics and the manifestation of policy in the day-to-day, as well as how data makes a

difference and can be a predictor to the outcome of races.

“BSC has a knack for selecting superb individuals, not only on the student side, but also the faculty and staff

who are working with students,” Spencer says.

While on campus, Spencer worked to connect with as many of these individuals as possible. Beyond

his extensive involvement with Sigma Chi, he also was a member of the BSC Honor Council, a Southern

Ambassador, a member of Quest II, BSC’s student programming board, and enjoyed his time working in the

president’s office. Spencer is engaged to Ashley Bice ’15.

Following graduation, Spencer began working at the Education Advisory Board (EAB), a Washington, D.C.-

based organization that provides best practice research and consulting for institutions across the country. Due

to his big ideas and impressive work-ethic, he was quickly promoted from associate to director.

This promotion allowed Spencer to co-found and launch EAB’s global research partnership, designed to

serve tuition-driven institutions and help drive progress on institutional challenges, such as enrollment,

student success, and operational efficiency.

In the future, he is hoping to explore leadership opportunities, while making the most of

his time.

“I have learned that given how finite of a resource time is, if you are dedicating time to

something, why not try to do it in the best way you can,” Spencer says. “Eventually, it

would be a dream to come back to BSC and serve in some way.”

advice “Choose what you want to succeed in, and then make

sure you are having a good time and enjoying yourself. It

should be a goal for each year to be better than the last.”

“BSC is where I first started to realize that my career options were

wider than I’d ever considered. The College pushed me to expand

the limits of what I thought was possible when it comes to advocacy,

policy, and human rights,” Motes says.

As the award-winning director of digital strategy at the Vera Institute

of Justice in New York City, Motes oversees digital media, impact

partnerships, and social media campaigns and manages growth and

engagement initiatives for the organization. He often travels across

the country, building relationships with advocates, organizers, and

public figures to highlight the work Vera does to fight pressing social

injustices. His work has grown Vera’s audiences by more than 1,000

percent in just three years.

Since graduating from BSC, Motes has worked with peace, justice,

and poverty initiatives and was recently nominated and confirmed

to the Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of

Alabama. While in graduate school at Essex, he worked at human

rights organization REDRESS and represented the organization at the

Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, chaired by UN

Ambassador Angelina Jolie and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Among many of the specific social issues to which he’s

dedicated his career, Motes has a deep personal interest in smaller

communities that get left behind in the changing economy. He grew

up on a family farm, which gave him a firsthand view of the lack of

investment in small town America as well as the incredible people

there who are too often overlooked.

“Not everyone can move to New York or Chicago, or even to

Atlanta or Birmingham,” Motes says. “I want to know how we can

invest in a system that helps improve the lives of everyone. For me

to be where I am today, quite a few people invested in me – and that

allowed me to attend BSC.”


Vicki VanValkenburgh ’68

REALTOR with Van Valkenburgh and

Wilkinson Properties, Inc. Huntsville, AL

“Huntsville has a can-do spirit that I have grown

to appreciate more and more as I’ve grown older. To

paraphrase Bobby Kennedy, some cities see things as they

are, and ask why; Huntsville dreams of things that never

were, and asks why not? It embraces new ideas and new

people, and weaves them into the ongoing tapestry of

its history. I feel incredibly lucky to have grown

up here and to be living here now.”

Shannon Cason, M.D. ’87

Opelika, AL

“Opelika, Alabama is a special place. It is just

large enough to have everything a person really

needs, but it retains much of the feel of a small town.

We still have traditions in which most of the city

participates, especially during the Christmas season.

We gather in the summer for evening concerts in

our municipal park. We have a safe, inviting, and

successful downtown area that features

small businesses, restaurants, and

venues for the arts.”

Ronald Johnsey ’71

Founder/CEO ThinkWhy LLC

Dallas, TX

“BSC has been good about keeping alumni informed

about the school’s progression and new milestones with

publications and alumni events. More importantly, the personal

relationships I made at BSC are still strong, but in a different

way. As we have gotten older, we see each other less frequently,

but we are able to follow each other’s lives via social media,

alumni events, and trips to Birmingham. I know if I had to

call on them for support, they would be there for me,

and in turn I would be there for them!”

Janie Asseff ’10

Baton Rouge, LA

“Baton Rouge is the capital city of Louisiana which

makes it easy to stay abreast of state legislature. There

are often many opportunities to participate in advocacy

groups that help make our community a better place. Lastly

(but certainly not least), Baton Rouge has tremendous

south Louisiana culture including great food and

festivals.”

42 / ’southern


Kindred Motes ’12

Digital Strategy Director at the Vera Institute of Justice

New York City, NY

“Everyone knows that New York is a city with a ton of people and a never-ending

list of things to do, and I think many people think of the busyness and envision subway

cars, taxicabs, and Grand Central trains. But those are things that can really stress locals

out! Fewer people from out of town appreciate New York as a walking city, but it really is. For

me, some of my happiest moments in New York have involved really long, cross-borough

walks, either with a friend or with a favorite podcast. A particular favorite is crossing

the Williamsburg Bridge around sunset. It’s one of the few times I feel alone with

my thoughts (or others’ thoughts), and the amazing thing about that is

that you’re still in the middle of everything.”

Webb Lyons ’06

Senior Associate

Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr

Washington, D.C.

“People are often drawn to D.C. because they have a vision of how

the world should work, and feel a real desire to work to achieve

that vision. It’s a manifestation of many of the best values –

service, collective action, caring for others – that we

learn at BSC.”

Ginger Gannon Myers ’93

Pensacola, FL

“Pensacola has a vibrant food scene for a

town our size, and the water is beautiful – but

my favorite thing about it is our Mayor and

First Lady Grover ’92 and Jill Robinson ’92,

fellow BSC grads.”

Dr. Megan Snider Bailey ’12

Tuscaloosa, AL

“Now that I am a college professor, I constantly draw on the teaching styles that my

professors used in our seminars. I try to be as gracious with my time as Dr. Cottrill and as willing

to mentor as Dr. Levey. I also borrow from Dr. Lester’s tradition of writing a letter to students who

get an A+ as their final grade. I wanted a letter from Dr. Lester so badly, but I never got one! It

was a great motivator for me and continues to be for my students!”

FALL/WINTER 2019 / 43


giving to BSC

Donated Pianos Continue Their Stories at BSC

The pianoforte has revolutionized music since its creation in the 1770s, largely because it

was one of the first easily accessible instruments with the ability to be expressive in volume.

Within the past year, two of these valuable instruments have been generously donated

to Birmingham-Southern College’s music department. While these pianos both hold the

important quality of expression, they also have unique stories to tell.

THE STEINWAY

Jimmie Hess’s love for music ran in her family. Her father, Sidney Seidenman, was a

well-known violinist as well as an orchestra leader for presidential inaugural balls and

other major social events in Washington, D.C. Jimmie herself was an accomplished

pianist who moved to Birmingham after World War II with her husband, Emil Hess.

Together, they built the family’s Birmingham department store, Parisian, into a major

retail force with stores throughout the Southeast. They also became known as active

and generous supporters of many good causes in Birmingham, including BSC’s fine and

performing arts program.

“We always had a piano in the house,” says her son, former BSC trustee Donald Hess.

“I remember her playing all the time, usually Broadway show tunes or Frank Sinatra.”

On her 65th birthday, Emil Hess

gave her a Steinway Model L Grand

Piano, for which she created an

intricate needlepoint bench cushion

in shades of black, gold, and green.

After she passed away in 2013,

Donald Hess inherited the piano,

and in 2019 called family friend

Dr. Lester Seigel ’79 in hopes of

finding it a new home.

44 / ’southern


Seigel, the Joseph Hugh Thomas Professor of Music and Department

Chair, as well as the director of Birmingham-Southern’s Concert Choir,

was overjoyed for the College to receive such a valuable gift.

“What makes Steinways so valuable is their limited production,” says

Jon McClaran, director of education and institutional sales at Alabama

Piano Gallery. “It takes about 14 months to build a Steinway grand

piano, which means it is built to a standard.”

The walnut piano is currently housed in Seigel’s teaching studio, where

it is being used for coaching and personal lessons, as well as the personal

time Seigel spends playing. The needlepoint cushion crafted by Jimmie

Hess is proudly displayed beside the Steinway.

“Mrs. Hess had an unmatched enthusiasm for Birmingham-Southern,

and a great love for music,” says Seigel. He hopes that she would be

happy to see how the piano is currently being used and loved by the

music department.

“We have great satisfaction and great joy from giving it to somewhere

that it would be used,” says Donald Hess on the family’s decision to

donate the piano. “Birmingham-Southern’s focus on liberal-arts is an

important piece of the educational landscape in our state.”

The previous Steinway housed in Seigel’s studio, which is

speculated to be the piano Birmingham-Southern President

Daniel B. Coleman practiced on as a child, has been moved

to a different room in Hill Music Building, where students will

use it for ensemble work.

THE ANTIQUE

Jay McKinney ’86 was attending an auction when something

that no one else seemed interested in caught his eye. With the

help of Terry Tindol, an Irondale piano restorer, McKinney was

able to return the antique – believed to have been built in a

small Austrian town in the 1840s – to its past glory.

Original ivory and ebony keys, an ornate music rack with

candle holders, and deer skin hammers are just a few of the

details that make the piano unique. The softer, muted sound it

creates is another indicator of its age.

During a move earlier this year, McKinney made the difficult

choice to part with the priceless piece, but knew exactly where

he wanted it to go.

“I was so incredibly happy when the College was interested,

because it is something that needs to be appreciated and loved,”

McKinney says. As a student, McKinney was impressed by the leadership

and guidance of the faculty and staff at BSC as they helped students with

figuring out their direction in life. Now, McKinney has been able to give

back to the College in a big way.

The piano sits in the lobby of Hill Music Building, directly in front

of a wall filled with neatly hung photographs of notable musicians

who have attended or graduated from BSC, including Seigel’s former

teachers Joseph Hugh Thomas and Lois Greene Seals ’28. This wall is

also home to photographs of composer Hugh Martin ’35, who wrote

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and Edna Gockel-Gussen,

owner of the Birmingham Conservatory of Music from 1920-1930, who

is remembered for putting to music Julia S. Tutwiler’s poem “Alabama,”

which is now the state song.

Seigel uses the antique piano in music history classes to illustrate the

evolution of the piano. Additionally, students use the piano to play period

music, as the authenticity of the instrument deepens their experience.

To make a gift to BSC

Visit bsc.edu/give/southern

or call (205) 226-4909.

FALL/WINTER 2019 / 45


giving to BSC

DICKERSON AWARD DEVELOPS

GLOBAL CITIZENS AT BSC

Senior Devon Adams has been selected as the 10th Dickerson

Award winner for her devotion to making a difference on a global scale.

The Dickerson Award was established in 2013 to honor the memory

of Shanon Dickerson ’96, a member of the first class of Leadership

Studies graduates. His passion for international travel and hands-on

philanthropy inspired the creation of this competitive scholarship,

supporting BSC students who have a strong desire to study abroad.

Twice a year, some of Dickerson’s closest friends, including Andy

Armstrong ’97 and Laura Cammack Eanes ’96, meet back on the

Hilltop to select a student who shares his ideals of adventure, travel,

and service.

“Shanon was a global citizen, a wonderful ally and friend. We look for

people who remind us of him, of his intelligence and curiosity. We look

for glimpses of his servant heart and open spirit,” Eanes says.

In summer of 2018, Adams participated in a service-learning project

in Belize focused on the African Diaspora.

With the Dickerson Award, the Birmingham native will travel to

Brazil in spring 2020.

“It is close linguistically to a lot of other romantic languages that I find

interesting,” Adams says. “I really enjoy the culture and feel like it will be

a good fit for me.”

She also has future plans to make a difference in the Birmingham

community through her experiences.

Combining the skills she has learned in her Arabic classes, cybersecurity

internship, and computer science major will allow her to put

together a project uniting diverse Birmingham communities. Through

a two-week coding camp developed to expose minority communities

to future opportunities in STEM fields, she will introduce Python

programming to Arabic speaking youth.

Past recipients of the scholarship have studied in locations such as

Chile, Ireland, Argentina, the UK, and Morocco.

BSC RECEIVES SIGNIFICANT BEQUEST

TO SUPPORT MUSIC AND FINE ARTS

John Lovin Jr. ’52 had a successful career as the senior vice

president of Torchmark Corporation, yet his community knew

him for the constant service he gave to those around him.

Lovin continued his legacy of generosity through a significant

bequest to the Nina Rae and John W. Lovin Endowed Fund, a

fund he created in 1986 in honor of his parents.

This fund awards scholarships to Birmingham-Southern

College students majoring in Fine and Performing Arts, and

with Lovin’s newest donation, it has been expanded to include

funding in support of the Music Department of the College.

A true Birmingham native, Lovin grew up in the College Hills

neighborhood directly beside Birmingham-Southern, where he

was able to witness the growth of both the city and the College.

Anne Morris Smith ’51, a close lifelong friend of Lovin,

Camera Donation

PROVIDES OPPORTUNITIES

Well-known Birmingham photographer Bob Farley has been

interested in photography and the idea of journalism since

childhood. In high school, he bought his first camera and worked

for the yearbook and newspaper, which led to a photo journalism

internship with the local newspaper his senior year.

In an effort to provide photography experience to a new

generation, Farley donated a considerable amount of camera

equipment to the college.

While speaking to the Trussville Photography Club in April,

Farley brought in some old equipment to use as examples. One

member of the club was the parent of a current BSC student who

was interested in still-photography, and suggested that Farley

consider donating the equipment to the College.

Farley was familiar with BSC, from knowing multiple

professors and working on stories with the Birmingham

Post-Herald, so he decided that giving back to educate future

photographers was the right choice. Farley attended the Missouri

School of Journalism before moving to Birmingham in 1988 to

work for the Birmingham Post-Herald. He spent close to 20 years

working as both an editor and a photographer.

46 / ’southern


emembers playing on campus with Lovin as a child. “He was an

only child, but he made friends quickly,” Smith says. “John always

put others first, which was probably strongly influenced by his

parents’ love of entertaining and taking people in.”

She remembers Lovin’s parents looking out for Birmingham-

Southern students who did not have family living nearby, making

sure they felt at home.

His parents were also influential in his passion for music and fine

arts. Nina Lovin was an artist who encouraged her son to participate

in organizations like the Birmingham Boys Choir. Lovin faithfully

attended theatre performances and the Alabama Symphony

Orchestra throughout his life.

A math major at Birmingham-Southern, Lovin went on to obtain

his master’s degree from Vanderbilt University. He began his career

at Liberty National Life Insurance, where he eventually became

executive vice president.

Susan Anderson, whose husband Charles Anderson Jr., was a

close friend and work associate of Lovin, considered him family.

“He was always innovative,” Anderson says. “He brought in the first

Amdahl computer to Birmingham, which completely modernized

Liberty National.”

She also recalls Lovin’s work ethic, as he would work night and

day. Any free time he had was spent making a difference in the

community he loved.

“John had an incredible desire to make the world a better place,”

says Canterbury United Methodist Church Associate Pastor Sam

Williamson ’83. “He wanted to give back to the community that

had given him so much. He gave unconditionally to many people

and never did it for the recognition.”

Williamson came to know Lovin through Canterbury, where Lovin

was a member his entire life. He was able to witness the committed,

In 2005, he decided to become a full-time photographer. His

specialization is in people and events for corporate, advertising, and

editorial clients.

“No one gets to where they are by themselves,” Farley says. “I was

given opportunities from people I didn’t have personal connections

with that allowed me to do things I otherwise wouldn’t have been

able to do. It is part of being included in a community.”

The media and film studies department received a Lowell light kit.

Department chair Teddy Champion says the light kit will be housed

in their new studio and used for interviews, student exercises, and

occasionally out in the field.

Farley also donated several 35mm film cameras, digital SLR

cameras, and lenses to the art department.

“The equipment will become part of the collection of cameras

and lenses that are available to students for use when enrolled

in photography courses,” says Pamela Venz, chair of the art

department. “The collection allows students to experience

professional-level photographic equipment if they do not have

access to that equipment themselves.”

Senior art major Mary Beth Yaeger has already benefitted from

using this collection of equipment. While taking Venz’s intro class

on basic camera mechanics, part of the course required possession

of a film camera, which costs about $500. Yaeger, who is paying

her own way through school, says purchasing even a used camera

was not a viable option.

“can-do” spirit possessed by Lovin during his time spent volunteering

with the Beeson Trust, established at Canterbury by the late Lucille

Stewart Beeson (whose husband, Dwight Beeson, was also a Liberty

National executive) to help senior citizens in the community.

Lovin used his intellect to assist low-income families with their

taxes, receiving multiple medals from AARP for his service. “People got

an extra service with John that I know other volunteers didn’t provide,”

Smith says. “If they were unable to leave their home, he would

personally go to their house, pick up the needed paperwork, and return

it to them finished.”

Williamson recounts multiple instances when an individual’s

need, for items such as a refrigerator or groceries, would be brought

to Lovin’s attention, and he would have it delivered to their house

anonymously.

Birmingham-Southern College remained important to Lovin

throughout his life. Many of the items that he chose to surround

himself with were representative of the College. His favorite chair was

black with the BSC emblem proudly displayed, a gift he received when

he was recognized with the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1996.

In addition to providing future students the opportunity to receive

the quality liberal arts education of which Lovin was so proud, the

Nina Rae and John W. Lovin Endowed Fund will also allow the music

department to make necessary updates in the Hill Music Building.

“John was a mentor, encourager, believer, hard worker, and giver,

who gave not only monetarily, but also of his time,” Anderson says.

Are you 70 1/2 or older?

An IRA charitable rollover gift, or Qualified Charitable

Distribution (QCD), is a smart and easy way to make a gift

to Birmingham-Southern. Individuals age 70 1/2 and older

with a traditional IRA can distribute funds annually from

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Reduce your tax bill while supporting a meaningful cause –

providing educational opportunities to BSC students.

Visit freewill.com/QCD/Birmingham-Southern to

explore our online tool that makes it fast and simple.

“Donations like this are so necessary for students like me,” Yaeger

says. “It really means a lot more than just a dollar amount.”

Being able to use a film camera from the collection allowed Yaeger

to learn about the basics of motion and light and how to manipulate

a camera, helping her develop a new skill.

Sara Jones, a senior political science major, became infatuated with

photography after taking her first intro class. She is now in Venz’s

more advanced photography lab course.

“I’ve tried other art mediums before, but the thing with

photography is that it is hard to get started because you need a

quality camera,” Jones says. “If this collection had not existed,

I would never have been able to try out something so new, just

because of a lack of equipment.”

FALL/WINTER 2019 / 47


lifelong learner

classical, romantic, and contemporary

styles, and always feels like there’s more

for her to explore and master.

Her late husband Dr. Andy Rowell ’61

encouraged her to take up lessons again,

having always loved music himself.

When he served as the Midfield Board

of Education superintendent, he hired a

church choir director to teach the high

school music class when the program

lost funding.

For their 50th wedding anniversary,

Rowell’s husband bought her a baby

grand piano. She often practices on it,

though she sometimes goes back to the

1947 Baldwin Acrosonic spinet piano

I didn’t have the

confidence to play as

much prior to taking

lessons again.

Marilyn Rowell ’60

In 1991, more than 30 years after completing her last class at BSC, Marilyn Rowell

took her first class at BSC’s Conservatory of Fine and Performing Arts.

“I just had that yearning inside to come back. It had been that way for a couple of

years,” Rowell says. “I knew the reputation of the Conservatory was excellent, and I felt

that I would get excellent training and begin to learn again. I wanted to truly learn the

notes, the composers, and the dynamics.”

Even after taking lessons each fall and spring semester since she began at the

Conservatory in 1991, Rowell is driven to learn more. She took piano for eight years

as a child, but the lessons didn’t challenge her. At BSC, she works through baroque,

that sits in her “room of antiques.” The

spinet, a gift from her parents, was the

one she played as a child.

Rowell used to play often at Westwood

Baptist Church, and still does every now

and then. If she had not taken lessons

at the Conservatory, she says she never

would have sought out the opportunity

to play piano at her church.

The BSC Conservatory, which has been

a part of the music department for more

than 120 years, makes college-level music

lessons available to students of all ages.

No matter the experience level or musical

interest, Conservatory Director Lucy

Victory can pair students with the right

teachers and performance opportunities.

“I didn’t have the confidence to play

as much prior to taking lessons again,”

Rowell says. “It didn’t satisfy. I wanted to

get back into it, but I needed the nudge,

inspiration, and patience from a teacher.”

For more information about BSC’s

Conservatory of Fine and Performing Arts,

call (205) 226-4960.

48 / ’southern


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