Dr. Richard Summers

Dr. Theresa Ast and Dr. Richard Summers in 2007. Photo: JG.

With sadness we acknowledge the death today of Dr. Richard Summers, professor emeritus of mathematics at Reinhardt University, of liver cancer. Dick received a Ph.D. from Georgia Tech and was a professor at Reinhardt from 1996 until his retirement in 2015. He was a dedicated teacher, a voracious reader, and a kind soul, and continued to teach as an adjunct at Reinhardt until last year. He will be missed! He is survived by his wife Pat and numerous children, stepchildren, and grandchildren. Please keep them in your prayers. 

UPDATE: A colleague writes:

I am not sure if this message went out already,  Kristy DeBord would like me to pass on that she is collecting donations for Dick’s funeral and medical expenses. He supported many people, and this will be a great help to his family at this difficult time. Please don’t feel obliged but if you would like to donate, Kristy is collecting this week and will give it to Pat on Friday.

For those of you who did not know Dick Summers, I will tell you that he is one of the nicest people I have ever met. He had a heart of gold and was such a blessing to countless Reinhardt students and colleagues. He was without a doubt a genius but so incredibly patient working with our weakest math students over and over again in the Center for Student Success and in his classes.

He and Pat were love birds through and through. They loved to read out loud to each other and always had a ton of books going – even in the hospital she was reading to him. He was peacefully groggy these last days.  I was saying a bunch of sappy but true stuff about what a great mentor he was etc. but he only really perked up twice – once when I said something about geometry that got a big smile, but the best was when he heard Pat’s voice as she came closer, he started beaming. It was precious and amazing and a blessing to witness.

Reinhardt, Waleska UMC, and the world will not be the same without him.

UPDATE: Another colleague writes:

As a former student and first mathematics graduate of Reinhardt, I can attest to Dick’s supernatural intelligence and infinite patience. I was an undecided major student who took geometry to try out mathematics at a college level. His knowledge and passion for this field inspired me, and he is the reason I am a math teacher.

When I had the chance last year to join Reinhardt as an adjunct professor, he was the first person I wanted to see. It saddens me to know his health was keeping him from teaching.

Today, my heart and soul are hurting as he was my mentor and a father figure to me. I remember so much of him and Pat like our trip to Mercer University for a mathematics Conference and our mission trip to Miami.

Although I am sad that I won’t see his bright wide open eyes on this Earth again, my heart rejoices knowing that heaven is celebrating the entrance of a great and faithful servant of God. To me he is and will always be the smartest man on Earth (this is what I always respectfully called him since I met him).

President Roberts

From The Reinhardt Eagle:

Reinhardt’s Board of Trustees appointed Mark A. Roberts, Ph.D., as the 21st President of Reinhardt University. Dr. Roberts assumed his role on April 7, 2021.

“The Board of Trustees embodies a strong sense of purpose and is deeply committed to the ideals of private higher education and the mission of Reinhardt University,” said Ken White, Chairman of Reinhardt’s Board of Trustees. “We are pleased to announce Dr. Mark A. Roberts as our 21st President, a leader who will uphold the values of Reinhardt and who, with great care, will impact the lives of our students and the entire Reinhardt community. The  Board took its responsibility seriously in making this selection and invited the community, faculty and staff, and alumni leaders into our process. Throughout Dr. Roberts’s distinguished career, and during the past several years as Reinhardt’s Provost, Executive Vice President and Interim President, Dr. Roberts has proven to be a highly respected and effective leader who can guide and elevate Reinhardt during a time of tremendous opportunity in providing the education for today’s students to thrive in a very complex and changing world. We are grateful for his service to Reinhardt and look forward to his tenure as our President.”…

[Roberts said] “I am very grateful to the members of the Board of Trustees for their confidence in my leadership. Their engagement and collaboration throughout these trying times have been of strategic importance and, quite frankly, inspiring to me. I also must recognize Reinhardt faculty, staff, and students. Their devotion and openness to innovation has been the guiding light that allows the university to persist and grow despite many obstacles. I am humbled to serve as president of this great learning community.”

More at the link. This is great news. All best wishes to President Roberts as he moves Reinhardt forward. 

Spotlight on Ken Wheeler

From the Reinhardt Alumni Facebook page, some publicity for one of Reinhardt’s star professors:

Spotlight on Dr. Kenneth Wheeler:

I have had a wealth of fun experiences at Reinhardt, especially in the classroom. Sometimes the work we do is sober and serious, but I love the laughter I have shared with my students as we have recognized human foibles, the ironies of life, and as we have sometimes guffawed at ourselves in our efforts to read difficult handwritten documents from the past. Years ago, in China with other Reinhardt professors, we heard a lecture from a professor who clearly had more he wanted to say, but he decided not to overburden us: “Learning should be light,” he said. It was a charming moment, and I have tried to take a lightheartedness with me into the classroom so that our learning can be joyful, which makes us eager to know more.

Speaking of Flags…

We were watching Season 2, Episode 10 of the 2015 television series Poldark, which is set in the fourth quarter of 1793. Dr. Dwight Enys, heartsick for a woman who has rejected him, has decided to enlist in the Royal Navy as a surgeon and fight against Revolutionary France. Here he is at the recruiting station.

The only problem is that the White Ensign and the Union Jack on display here are anachronistic: they are the versions employed after 1801, following Irish parliamentary union (itself partly a response to the revolutionary wars). (This is to say nothing about whether floor stand flags would be on display like this in Britain in the late eighteenth century.)

And this is a British show! I would expect this sort of mistake with Murdoch Mysteries, but not from the BBC. 

Here is the same error made closer to home – specifically, on a poster up at Reinhardt last year. Even the Betsy Ross flag dates from 1777 at the earliest. 

UPDATE: In Season 3, Episode 3 of Poldark, we see that the producers haven’t procured the correct version of the Royal Arms either. This appears on the wall behind George Warleggan as he acts as the local Justice of the Peace.

Yes, the image is rather blurry, but it clearly shows 1. England, 2. Scotland, and 3. Ireland, with the fourth quarter somewhat obscure. The arms of George III in 1794, however, looked like this.

Wikipedia.

That is, in the first quarter we have England impaling Scotland (for the parliamentary union of 1707), while in the second we have France, illustrating the king’s ancient claim to be the rightful ruler of that kingdom, which he only relinquished in 1801. The fourth quarter shows the Hanoverian territories on the continent. It would appear that the royal arms shown in Poldark are those of Queen Victoria.

Once again, I acknowledge my pedantry and wet-blanketness. But I still say that with a little extra effort, you can minimize such mistakes, and thus not alienate those audience members who might notice them. There are plenty of underemployed historians out there who would be happy to help out! I would add that while absolute accuracy might not matter all that much with eighteenth-century heraldry, it might be more important when depicting other times and places. Imagine a movie that showed, say, a Sioux encampment of teepees, each one with its own totem pole and/or inuksuk in front of it, to give an authentic “native” cast to the scene. Anyone with half a brain would be able to see that this represents an amalgamation of three quite distinct Native American cultures, and would be a major insult to the people in question. So if you get into the habit of thinking accurately anyway, it will help you avoid charges of insensitivity when the topic is politically significant.

Congratulations, Graduates!

This past year has been a little… different, of course. In common with most colleges in the United States, Reinhardt did not hold a graduation ceremony on account of the plague – which meant that I, regretfully, neglected to acknowledge our history graduates on this blog. To rectify this, please allow me to present, and congratulate:

Abigail Merchant.

Caitlin Neighbors.

Joshua Carver.

Presidential Transition

From the Cherokee Tribune and Ledger-News:

Kina Mallard resigns as Reinhardt University president

Reinhardt University President Kina Mallard is resigning, effective June 30 and is being replaced on an interim basis by Executive Vice President and Provost Mark Roberts starting July 1, the university Board of Trustees announced Thursday.

Roberts has been leading the university since February when trustees granted Mallard’s request for a sabbatical for the remainder of the academic year.

In an interview with the Tribune Thursday afternoon, Mallard said both her sabbatical and resignation were a result of wanting to take time away and consider her future.

“I’ve been in the profession for 30 years non-stop and had never taken a sabbatical,” Mallard said. “Sometimes it’s good to be able to take some time, clear your head. It’s hard being a university president. I’ve been at Reinhardt for five years and have loved it.”…

“Dr. Mallard has provided exceptional leadership of the University during her tenure. We thank her for her service and wish her the best in her future endeavors,” said Board of Trustees Chairman Ken White. 

More at the link.

Phi Alpha Theta 2020

Allen Fromherz, Josh Belden, Orbelin Pineda-Espino, Fredrick Harp, Tyler Leon, Tripp Wickard, Jamie Rhinehart, and Jonathan Good. Photo: Anne Good.

Congratulations to our newest members of Phi Alpha Theta at Reinhardt, who were inducted this afternoon in a ceremony in the Community Room of Hill Freeman Library. These are:

Josh Belden
Fredrick Harp
Tyler Leon
Orbelin Pineda-Espino
Jamie Rhinehart
Tripp Wickard

Our guest speaker was the entertaining Allen Fromherz of Georgia State University, who spoke on the social aspects of history and how studying history changes the historian himself.

“Transitions”

Almost exactly five years ago this blog gave notice that Kina Mallard had been named president of Reinhardt University. Yesterday, board chairman Ken White sent around the following email:

Today, Reinhardt University’s Board of Trustees announced that it granted President Kina Mallard a sabbatical, effective immediately, for the remainder of the academic year. During her absence, Dr. Mark Roberts will assume all of the duties of President in addition to his continuing academic responsibilities. The Board of Trustees has committed to Dr. Roberts that it will join him in efforts to obtain additional staffing for the significant administrative responsibilities of an institution like Reinhardt. The Trustees are confident that all of the important work of leadership and oversight will be capably discharged by Dr. Roberts during this interim period.

Congratulations and all best wishes to Dr. Roberts as he assumes the duties of president. 

Happy Birthday, Funk Heritage Center

From the FHC:

Osiyo.

Waleska was the name of a man who lived in Cherokee County in the early 19th century and was quite a noted person in his settlement. He was distinguished for always wearing feathers from eagles that he shot himself. He had six children, including “quite a handsome daughter.” Lewis Reinhardt moved to this area in 1834, one of the early settlers in this area, and he lived very near this man, Waleska, and his family. It was said that Mr. Reinhardt was very kind in his dealings with Waleska, the Four Killers, and other local Cherokees, and that they respected him in turn. Reinhardt was a Christian and often spoke of Jesus Christ’s teachings to the Cherokees. He spoke to them of what was “displeasing in the sight of the Lord,” which included working on holy days, and most especially the Sabbath.

One day, however, Mr. Reinhardt went down to his farm tend a burning log heap. In one heap he found that the chunks needed to be pushed closer together, and so he climbed over the fence to do so. As he was in the act of climbing, a group of his Cherokee neighbors came along and caught him tending to the fire. Instantly they began to upbraid him for his hypocrisy, shaking their heads dubiously. Waleska and Four Killer said they did not care much for the religion of a man who would work on Sunday clearing land, but did not want the Cherokees to do so. 

To his dying day, Lewis Reinhardt said he never forgot the rebuke.

Today is a special day for the Funk Heritage Center, as we mark the 20th anniversary of this place. In doing so, we welcome the descendants of the Four Killer family that was forcibly removed on the Trail of Tears. Today is a kind of holiday, at least for us. So take a lesson from our local history, and stop working, at least for a short while, and come help us welcome these friends back to their ancestral homeland this afternoon.

According to the 19th century newspaper report of Belle Kendrick Abbott in the Atlanta Constitution, as well as Nathaniel Reinhardt’s diary entries from the time, it was Mr. Reinhardt who stood up for the Four Killer family when Old Four Killer was “cruelly abused” by the soldiers.

The Four Killers and other area Cherokees, “headed by Mr. Reinhardt, struck out for the fort,” it was reported. As they neared Fort Buffington “suddenly they all halted and refused to go further. By persuasion they soon made known to Mr. Reinhardt that they had heard the drum beating in the fort, and they were afraid. Mr. Reinhardt reassured them, but before moving a step, they began to unpack a bundle of stuff they had with them, from which they took about two pounds of gunpowder and gave it to Mr. Reinhardt to keep. Four Killer asked for four days of grace, in which to dispose of his belongings as he chose, and he obtained it from the soldiers through the act of Mr. Reinhardt standing as his security for his appearance.

He did return, and with his family, along with the Waleska family and thousands of others, journeyed on the long Trail of Tears to Oklahoma.

Today at 2 p.m. they come home again, at the Reinhardt University campus. Please join us as we at last tell their story, with our newest exhibit, “Resistance & Resilience: The Cherokee Trail of Tears.”

Please also enjoy a slide show with us, looking back on our two decades as a museum family. Meet staff members past and present, as well as our volunteers. Help us recognize some of our family with some special presentations. Have some cake with us. We will see you soon.

(Please forgive us if you have to stand … we’re already out of chairs! But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to see you.)

Wado.