Dr. Jerome Dobson

Reinhardt’s VPAA Mark Roberts informs us that the university has a new trustee: Reinhardt graduate Jerome Dobson, Professor Emeritus at University of Kansas and former President of the American Geographical Society. Roberts draws our attention to a speech of Dobson’s entitled “Geography: Use it or Lose it,” which he gave in DC in 2010:

Geography is to space what history is to time, and I think very few people think of it that way. Geography is a spatial way of thinking, a science with distinctive methods and tools, a body of knowledge about places, a set of information technologies, old and new, contrary to a lot of ‑‑ a lot of people think it’s just a new thing we have GIS, but geography has always led in technology, from Eratosthenes measuring the earth on forward. People think of it as place-name geography, but if you look at the deeper parts of the iceberg, spatial thinking, place-based research, scientific integration, GIS and so on, not just place-name geography.

Geography is about understanding people and places and how real world places function in a viscerally organic sense. It’s about understanding spatial distributions and interpreting what they mean. If we look at the specialties of American geographers, a lot of people outside geography think of it as a physical discipline, but as you see here only 10 percent of geographers claim a physical specialty. Far more, about well over half, claim some sort of human geography as a specialty. And, one-fifth, more than one-fifth, claim geographic information science as a specialty.

Interesting stuff. Reinhardt does not have a geography program but we in history are proud to sponsor HIS 210: World Geography. Perhaps the new trustee will inspire us to deepen our course offerings in this area.

The Burgess Building

Reinhardt’s most characteristic building has been designated the Burgess Building ever since president J.R. Burgess retired in 1974. This fact was generally unknown, however: the entire time I’ve been at Reinhardt people have simply called it the Administration Building. Here is what it looked like back in 2006:

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The plaque to the right of the main doors was the only public acknowledgement of its true name:

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This afternoon Reinhardt, in the presence of Burgess’s daughter Martha Burgess Blanton, rededicated the building to President Burgess, and unveiled a new inscription on the entablature:

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Portraits of Dr. and Mrs. Burgess were rehung in the main foyer:

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If Dr. Burgess is known for anything it is for the planting of many varieties of tree on the Reinhardt campus. The main strand is known as the Burgess Arboretum and is one of the things that makes Reinhardt’s campus so attractive. From the 1960s, here is Burgess’s master plan of all the trees he wanted planted on campus:

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The audience heard from Reinhardt’s President Kina Mallard, VP of Advancement Tim Norton, President Emeritus Floyd Falany, Board Chairman Billy Hasty, and History Program member Professor Ken Wheeler, whose remarks are reprinted below, by kind permission of the author.

img_3545 Brief Remarks on the Importance of James Rowland Burgess, Jr., and Martha Stallings Burgess in the History of Reinhardt University

This place, Reinhardt and Waleska, appears different from how it looked in 1944, when Rowland Burgess came here to visit Reinhardt and consider becoming its president. Oh, the road to Waleska from Canton was made of beautiful concrete, but once a person entered Waleska the car started to slip and slide in the mud and loose dirt of the town—which had no paved streets. And as Rowland Burgess toured the campus, it was not inspiring. Dobbs Hall was closed in need of repair. It had 55 broken window panes, and Burgess said the wooden steps leading into the building were so rickety as to be actually dangerous. Reinhardt housed the elementary school, had a high school, the Reinhardt Academy, with 40 or 50 students, and as for the college, Reinhardt had 16 collegiate students. But Burgess took the job, and he and his wife Martha and their children moved into the president’s home, which is today our Admissions House. Livestock grazed across the street, and the Burgesses walked across the campus, which was covered in old stumps, privet, and invasive honeysuckle. The place needed a lot of work.

The Burgesses knew education. Martha had had two years at a teacher training college in Athens, Georgia, before she married Rowland. And Rowland knew Methodist higher education. He started his undergraduate years at Young Harris College, overseen by two Reinhardt graduates, Joe and Ella Sharp, and Burgess finished his undergraduate years at Emory. Rowland had Christian conviction—a sermon in his youth emphasized that “the harvest is truly great but the laborers are few,” which convinced him that he wished to “labor for the master.” Rather than go into parish ministry, he went into education and became a school superintendent for several years before coming to Reinhardt in his late 30s.

The work was not glamorous. Rowland Burgess ordered blocks of ice for the cafeteria, which had no refrigerator. He personally opened sewer lines that clogged. And while presidents today read The Chronicle of Higher Education, Burgess subscribed to the Guernsey Breeders Journal in an effort to improve the quality of the herd of cattle on the college farm. That farm included crops of cotton, corn, sorghum, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, various vegetables, and of course hay. They had hogs in addition to the cattle. A farm manager kept up with all of it, assisted by students whose job it was to plant, hoe, harvest, milk, bale, and so on. Everything that could be eaten in the cafeteria was eaten there, which kept costs low. But Burgess always had to drive to Atlanta at the end of each year and visit Mr. Dobbs to ask for a check to cover the annual deficit, a check that was usually grudgingly written. Reinhardt College had no endowment; it ran on a shoestring.

Over time, though, the college did well. The end of World War II brought veterans who had the G.I. Bill. One was my old next-door neighbor in Canton, R. J. Chastain. He was a Ball Ground boy who volunteered and wound up as an infantryman in Europe. After the war, Chastain rented an apartment in Canton with some other vets, and they would carpool up to Reinhardt. He had not yet graduated from high school, so he finished his high school diploma here, and then stayed for a couple of quarters of collegiate coursework. He represented a trend, and enrollments grew.

While Rowland presided over Reinhardt, Martha kept taking college courses. She finished her bachelor’s degree, obtained a master’s degree, and by the time the Burgesses retired from Reinhardt in 1973, Martha had taught here for 25 years, retiring as a professor of the behavioral sciences.

These were eventful years. Rowland Burgess had a certain genius for publicity. In 1949, Burgess got a federal grant to hold a “Conservation Field Day” at Reinhardt. The college bought some additional acreage, and in one amazing day tens of thousands of people came to the campus, cleared and improved the new acreage, and enjoyed the highlight, a visit from Harry S. Truman’s vice president, Alben W. Barkley. There are still some old-timers in this area who recall coming to Reinhardt as young people to participate in the biggest “work day” in the school’s history.

These were the years, too, when the Waleskans built an elementary school off the campus, and in the middle 1950s the Academy closed, so that Reinhardt became, for the first time in its existence, a purely collegiate institution. The Burgesses did not miss the high school. Some students had been local, but others boarded here, and many times they came to Reinhardt because they had been kicked out of some school system elsewhere. Rowland Burgess wrote in his memoir that “Years later . . . a lady called to ask if we still took ‘juvenile delinquents.’ I was happy to tell her that we didn’t. She said, ‘Well, I’m glad. You took my niece once and she’s still no good.’”

The Burgesses were shaped by the times. In 1954, the Supreme Court’s unanimous Brown v. the Board of Education decision shook a segregated South. At Reinhardt, one trustee insisted this was why they had to keep Reinhardt open—the public schools would be forced to integrate. When powerful trustees over the next several years said that Reinhardt would never integrate racially, Rowland Burgess would not agree or argue, but just say “We’ll see.” When, in 1966, the federal government wrote to Reinhardt and said federally subsidized student loans could go only to integrated schools, President Burgess created an integrated Reinhardt. He went to Canton and talked with Mr. Bell, the principal of the black school there, and asked about who would be a good student to come to Reinhardt. Bell said Burgess wanted a young man named James T. “Jay” Jordan. Burgess and Bell talked with Jordan and his parents about Jay coming, and he entered Reinhardt in the fall of 1966, Reinhardt’s first African-American student. President Burgess took a strong interest in Jordan’s acceptance by students and everyone else on campus, and in fact things worked out very well. Jordan was a friendly person, a good athlete, a capable student, and he wound up having a good two years at Reinhardt. Other African-American students followed in succeeding years, and so the Burgesses, in their understated way, led Reinhardt into a positive future for the school and its students.

The world changes, and Reinhardt has changed. Our president no longer subscribes to the Guernsey Breeders Journal. The streets of Waleska are paved. Reinhardt has not only survived but thrived and done well. And in all of that, the Burgess influence is still here. One can see it in this very building, which serves our campus. One can see it in the library, which Burgess built. And, of course, one sees it outdoors on a beautiful campus, a good portion of which was planted by Rowland Burgess. The privet and the stumps are gone, replaced by trees and shrubs and flowers that create an inspiring environment in which to read, and study, and learn. Time and again, when people visit me from other schools they remark how uplifting this campus is.

The Burgesses wrote poetry, and published some of their poems. In one poem, reflecting on her teaching, Martha Burgess wrote, “How can she know where her influence begins/ Much less tell where it has its end.” I would argue that that influence has not ended. It goes on in the students of Reinhardt from that time, who are still living out their lives, and the spirit of the Burgesses is still here on this campus—it is a spirit of unselfish service, of long devotion and faithfulness, of Christian generosity, of personal warmth toward people and good humor about life. It is a valuable inheritance, and we can all be grateful for that gift.

Sources:

Burgess, James Rowland, Jr., “Three Times Ten: My Thirty Years at Reinhardt College (unpublished ms., Box 2, Burgess Papers, Reinhardt University)

Flashing Eyes, Trilliums, and Trees: Personal Poems and Verses of James Rowland Burgess and Martha Stallings Burgess (Reinhardt College, 1982)

Hinson, Tyler B., “Laboring for the Master: James Rowland Burgess, Jr. and the Birth of Modern Reinhardt” (unpublished paper, 2010)

New Student Induction Ceremony

Last evening the New Student Induction Ceremony took place in the Falany Performing Arts Center here at Reinhardt. I always like this one: it is a serious occasion, but a good vibe tends to prevail. Students take the Reinhardt Honor Pledge, and sign a large poster of it, which gets hung in the Lawson-Tarpley atrium. For the record, here it is:

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I believe in this, and not just because I was on the committee that devised it some twelve years ago now. I cannot claim that I have never indulged in cynicism or irony, but there are times for moral exhortation and aspiration, and I am glad that we sponsor this one.

We also sang the University Anthem, which was unveiled at Dr. Mallard’s inauguration last year. The original music is by Ken Berg, and the lyrics by Michael Berg and Reinhardt’s VPAA Mark Roberts:

1
Reinhardt, Reinhardt, O place of honor!
Beacon of learning may you shine
Through all the days of your sons and daughters
Guiding in wisdom throughout our lives.

Chorus
Reinhardt, Reinhardt,
May you be strong and bold,
Reinhardt, Reinhardt
We sing to the blue and gold.

2
By your lead and faith enabled
To take flight as one whole heart.
Finding within our learning passion
Purer science, deeper art.

Chorus

This I also like – it certainly compares very favorably to Reinhardt’s Alma Mater.

After the ceremony, all students got on the stage for a group photograph, taken by Jeff Reed ’16, who has been hired as the University Photographer this year.

Curtis Chapman, 1943-2016

Longtime Reinhardt art professor Curtis Allen Chapman II died on August 7 in Asheville, North Carolina (obituary). History professor Ken Wheeler has penned a moving reflection on his life and career:

The recent death of Curtis Chapman has me thinking about who he was and what he meant to Reinhardt during almost four decades of full-time work.  I know that others at Reinhardt knew him far longer than I, but his friendship was important to me and I wanted to pass along a few impressions.

Reinhardt Junior College was a small school when Curtis Chapman, who had just graduated from LaGrange College, was hired onto the faculty in January 1966.  Lacking a car, Chapman took the bus to Cartersville, where he was picked up by President Burgess and driven to Waleska along roads that made Chapman think his new job must be at the ends of the earth.  The college housed him in an old sharecropper’s cabin located where the post office stands today.

Waleska may have seemed isolated, but Curtis introduced students to a world of art in his classes.  And almost as soon as he arrived, he began taking students on international trips where they could view up close some of the art and architecture available on the slides in his projector.  In fact, the way I knew Curtis best was because as soon as I came to campus in 1999 he immediately recruited me to join a trip to Italy for the following summer.  That led to a trip to Paris and the south of France, followed by a return trip to Italy. 

Curtis was exuberant on these trips.  His gleeful, spirited eagerness to learn rubbed off on his students, and he made sure that everyone saw and did everything they could.  He encouraged people to try things, to visit museums they did not expect to enjoy, to sleep after the trip had finished.  I remember being in Paris late at night after a full day of visiting churches, museums, and the Eiffel Tower.  Curtis was proposing walking a few miles to see something more.  I felt embarrassed at being run into the ground by a man my father’s age, but I finally had to say I’d had enough, it was time for bed.

Not all of the trips were international.  After the deregulation of the airlines in the late 1970s, cheap airfares were available, and Curtis and his students would catch a Saturday red-eye flight from Atlanta, spend a full day in the world-class art museums of New York, see Central Park, and then take a late flight back to Atlanta that night.

These experiences were profound for so many of his Reinhardt students.  Even in my few trips, I saw first-hand the changes—students who changed their major, and the trajectory of their lives, after visiting the ruins at Paestum or the art of the Uffizi in Florence.  One student who went to Italy with us had not only never flown in an airplane, he had never been inside an airport.  These were experiences that students remember all the rest of their lives, and no wonder—they were educational in so many ways.  Many people have worked hard to internationalize Reinhardt’s curriculum; Curtis Chapman pioneered those efforts again and again and again.

Whether in Waleska or abroad, Curtis was an encourager, and he helped make art accessible to everyone.  He was not elitist, never snobby or forbidding.  And it was clear that art could be made by anyone, anywhere.  Routinely Curtis would lunch in the cafeteria with a large plate piled high with a salad—and every time the salad was beautiful, just arranged with such… well… artistry. 

In conversation with Curtis he would sometimes say “Teach me something,” and then ask me about what I thought about some incident or issue.  It was so striking to me that this senior colleague of mine, instead of setting me straight, was asking me what I thought.  “Teach me something.”  I want to make that spirit, of inquiry, of respect for and interest in others, part of my own intellectual posture.

I’m thankful for what Curtis meant to me, to other people he worked with, and to thousands of Reinhardt students as he dedicated his working life to educating them during decades of great changes.  He had a great love for Reinhardt, and for life.  I miss him.

I second Dr. Wheeler’s thoughts. My career at Reinhardt overlapped only briefly with Curtis’s, but even in that time I found him to be a warm and generous colleague.

History People

• Reinhardt history alumnus Alex Bryant is hiking the Appalachian Trail. Follow his journey at Modern Day Mountain Man.

• Congratulations to Wyatt Dean, 2015-16 history program student of the year.

• Congratulations to Associate Professor of History Anne Good on organizing another successful CultureFest on April 13th.

• Jonathan Good, in one of his last acts as Faculty Senate chair, carried the new Reinhardt mace at the inauguration of President Kina Mallard (from 7:52), and gave some words of encouragement (at 29:00).

• Anne Good has received a short-term fellowship for research at the University of Minnesota’s James Ford Bell Library. She will be traveling there in May.

• Anne Good was accepted to participate in a seminar entitled “Sight and Sound in Renaissance and Baroque Europe,” to be held at Atlanta’s High Museum in June. Jonathan Good was accepted to participate in a seminar on the Histories of Herodotus to be held at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington DC in July. Both of these seminars are sponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges.

Panel at the Funk

I was pleased to attend an interdisciplinary panel last night in the Funk Heritage Center entitled “The Etowah River: History, Ecology, Literature.” Organized by Donna Little, professor of English at Reinhardt, it also served as a kick-off event for Reinhardt’s new low-residency Master of Fine Arts program, currently organized around the theme of “Story and Place in the New South.”

The Etowah River begins near Dahlonega, Georgia, flows southwards and then eastwards, passes through Canton (the seat of Cherokee County and seven miles south of Reinhardt), and then joins the Oostanaula at Rome. The resulting river is named the Coosa; this becomes the Alabama River near Montgomery, and empties into the Gulf of Mexico at Mobile.

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Donna Little speaks at the Funk Heritage Center, 4/20/16.

Dr. Little opened the night’s proceedings by showing a map of the area. Nowadays we are used to thinking in terms of I-75 and I-575, the north-south freeways leading to Atlanta, but the Etowah and the Oostanaula run east-west, and that’s the direction that Indians would have been familiar with: thus the Mississippian Etowah Mounds in Cartersville, and New Echota, the capital of the Cherokee Nation, which was not in the middle of nowhere in north Georgia, but on the Oostanaula, which was a major thoroughfare.

Speaking of the Cherokee (who, it must be said, were only resident in north Georgia from the 1780s or thereabouts), Dr. Little publicly unveiled a discovery of hers: that during the expulsion of the Cherokee Indians during the presidency of Andrew Jackson, a group of Cherokee actually encamped on what was to become Reinhardt’s campus. Lloyd Marlin’s History of Cherokee County (1932) quotes the now-lost journal of Nathaniel Reinhardt (the father brother of Augustus Reinhardt, who was the co-founder of RU on his family’s land). It reads:

In 1835, Father [i.e. Nathaniel’s father Lewis Reinhardt] bought a tract of land on the old Pinelog Road [i.e. today’s GA-140] some two miles from his mill-place, improved it and in the latter part of 1835 he moved on it.

1838… In the spring many U.S. soldiers were passing through the country for the purpose of collecting and removing the Cherokee Indians to the West. They frequently lodged at night at Father’s Saw old Foekiller, a neighbor Indian, just after he had been arrested by the soldiers, who were carrying him to Fort Buffington. They treated him rather cruelly, which excited my sympathies very much in his favor. The old Indian desired to see father, who solicited better treatment in his behalf. He left all his keys with Father. After the Indians had been collected by the soldiers and started on their final march off, they came near our house the first night and camped, I caught the measles from a soldier who lodged with us that night, and had them severely. One of the neighbors came and stayed the night at Father’s from fear of injury by the Indians.

[Emphasis added. Fort Buffington was thirteen miles from Waleska and the distance is certainly walkable in a day.]

The need for a Trail of Tears monument on Reinhardt’s campus (not just an exhibit at the Funk) is very great.

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Ken Wheeler.

Reinhardt History Professor Kenneth Wheeler followed with a talk on the human relationships along the Etowah River, particularly the gold rush of the 1820s and the antebellum iron industry, both of which were ecologically disastrous. He also mentioned how Reinhardt co-founder John Sharp had promoted a steamboat service between Canton and Rome, and how William Nickerson attempted to dredge the Etowah for gold – although the attempt proved uneconomical, and Nickerson later opened a sawmill. Presumably all these characters will appear in Dr. Wheeler’s upcoming book.

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Keith Ray and Diane Minick.

Keith Ray, adjunct professor of biology at Reinhardt (a Reinhardt graduate and Ph.D. candidate at Auburn), mentioned how the Etowah valley is one of about five or six places in the world which, for the past 100 million years or so, has neither been under water, nor under glaciers. This remarkable stability has produced a vast abundance of plant and animal species. (I had no idea this area was so ecologically diverse.) Environmentalists Joe Cook of the Coosa River Basin Initiative and Diane Minick of the Upper Etowah River Alliance spoke of the importance of maintaining this diversity.

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Laurence Stacey.

Laurence Stacey, adjunct professor of English at Reinhardt, ended the evening by reading some haiku.

The GAH

Congratulations to Prof. Ken Wheeler on his paper delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Georgia Association of Historians this past weekend at Georgia Highlands College in Rome, entitled: “Racial Expulsion and a Myth of Whiteness: Why Reinhardt Normal College Abandoned the New South and Became a Mountain School.” This is based on an article forthcoming in the Appalachian Journal, which I have had the privilege to read, and which begins:

Founded in 1883 at the edge of southern Appalachia in northern Georgia, Reinhardt Normal College initially reflected a New South ideology of its German-American founders, who saw the school as part of a larger vision that included mining, business development, and transportation improvements. By 1900, however, a second generation articulated a different story of the college, in which they presented Reinhardt as a missionary outpost among an isolated and ignorant, though promising, population that required moral uplift. For the founding generation, the hilly, even mountainous, topography surrounding their school signified the waterpower that could be harnessed to power mills and factories, but for the second generation the landscape signified a geographically and culturally remote locale in which the school operated. What stayed constant was a racial outlook in which the first generation advocated ridding the area of people of African descent, and the second generation either echoed that aspiration or presented the school as though racial purification had already happened and Reinhardt existed in an all-white setting.

(Cf. VPAA Mark Roberts’s talk last fall, wherein he argued that the Appalachian “hillbilly” was the valued repository of an unsullied original “Anglo-Saxon” culture.)

Given this history, one can see why the admission of James T. Jordan was such a significant event, and worth remembering.

Congratulations are also due to Prof. Wheeler on being awarded a sabbatical leave next spring to work on his book, Creation and Destruction in the Cherokee Country: Georgia’s Etowah Valley 1829-1865.

Photos

Photos (by Jeff Reed ’16) from last week’s Race and Reinhardt event, in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the integration of Reinhardt College by James T. Jordan ’68.

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Professor of history Kenneth Wheeler talks with Mr. Jordan in the Glass House.

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Dr. Wheeler, Mr. Jordan, and Dr. Edith Riehm, who gave a talk on the career of Civil Rights activist Dorothy Rogers Tilly 1899.

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Reinhardt President Kina Mallard presents Mr. Jordan with a framed resolution from the Reinhardt board of trustees.

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Mr. Jordan and his parents, who still live in Canton.

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SGA President Jamie Palmer and Vice President of Student Activities Katie Purcell unveil a portrait of Mr. Jordan from the Reinhardt Cherokee Phoenix, which will be placed in the Lawson Academic Building.

Announcement

From Reinhardt’s Events Page:

Race and Reinhardt: Making a Difference Here and Beyond

Thursday, Feb. 18, 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

During this event, special guest James T. “Jay” Jordan, the first African-American student enrolled at Reinhardt, will discuss his life and experiences as a student when he entered Reinhardt in 1966. The symposium will be moderated by Reinhardt History Professor Dr. Kenneth Wheeler.

In addition to recognizing James Jordan, there will be a lecture by historian Dr. Edith Riehm, who has studied President Truman’s Committee on Civil Rights and the post-World War II civil rights movement. Dr. Riehm will discuss the unheralded trailblazer role that Reinhardt alumna, Dorothy Rogers Tilly, Class of 1899, played in the Civil Rights Movement.

Tilly devoted her entire adult life to reforming southern race relations. Her extensive career as an activist, organizer, and mentor forged a link between the reform efforts of the early twentieth century and the modern civil rights movement. She worked with the Women’s Missionary Society of the Methodist Church, the Commission on Interracial Cooperation, the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching, the Southern Regional Council and the Fulton-DeKalb Commission on Interracial Cooperation, and the Fellowship of the Concerned (FOC).

In 1946, President Harry S. Truman appointed Tilly to his Committee on Civil Rights. The Committee produced a famous and influential report, “To Secure These Rights,” which called for an immediate end to segregation. To the end of her life, through example and education, Tilly promoted racial tolerance and acceptance of desegregation during the explosive years of the civil rights movement.