09/29/16

UM-Flint Communication Students Unite for Charity Blitz

UM-Flint Communication 226 students in Fall 2016

Assistant Professor of Communication, Christopher Kowal, jumped right in to his first semester at UM-Flint. He came up with a creative project for students in his advertising class, splitting students into five groups and then challenging each to raise $150 for a charity of their collective choice. He noted that the assignment was meant to “challenge the groups’ urgency, strategy, and communication” in preparation for their final projects that involve working with local businesses.

Kowal was happy to report that, “They all met and exceeded the goal, raising just shy of $1,500 for a variety of charities. When I announced the challenge it was [met] with anxiety and resistance, today they were full of pride and confidence.”

The COM 226 students created a press release to share news of their success in their own words:

Students typically spend the second week of classes familiarizing themselves with syllabi, textbooks and the hallways on campus–not the case for Dr. Christopher Kowal’s COM 226 Advertising class who were recently charged with raising $150 to benefit a charity of their choosing…in just one week!

The charity assignment, part of a larger theme in Dr. Kowal’s class, was designed to teach students how to actively engage in team work and group projects–something that is “critical for success and survival in the advertising world,” according to Kowal. What better way to test a team’s functionality than to hold a charity fundraising blitz?

 All five groups of UM-Flint students met the goal to raise $150 and surpassed it, ultimately raising $1,456 for five different charities. The charities benefited were Flint Child Health and Development Fund for Water Crisis Victims, St. Jude’s Research Hospital, The Wounded Warrior Project for Veterans, Genesee County Animal Shelter, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

After reaching their goals, the teams reflected in class about how hard they thought it would be to raise $150 in one week. “Everyone has a different schedule and different responsibilities, so it seemed like an impossible task and we weren’t sure if we were going to reach our goal at first,” said Michelle Cardillo, a junior at UM-Flint. The teams came together to benefit a cause they believed in and in turn, ended up exceeding their goals and testing the dynamics of their groups. The teams were left with the feeling of pride and accomplishment, which is a great start to any semester–and may just be the beginning of a new tradition for UM-Flint Communications students.


To learn more about the College of Arts & Sciences’ Communication Department, visit umflint.edu/communication or call 810.766.6679.

09/21/16

Women of STEM: Bev Smith

The College of Arts & Sciences at UM-Flint is proud to recognize some of the exceptional women of its STEM disciplines. As leaders, mentors, and educators, these women bring passion and talent to students in classrooms and the world of science, technology, engineering, and math.


smith2

Unearthing a Passion

When Dr. Beverley Smith, archaeologist and associate professor of anthropology in UM-Flint’s College of Arts & Sciences, was a little girl, she would show up early for her piano lessons to look through her teacher’s collection of National Geographic magazines. Recalled Smith, “I learned about the search for human ancestors in Africa and exotic sites in places like Peru, Cambodia, and North America. I also found the articles about animals fascinating. It wasn’t until much later I found that I could integrate these two interests into a wonderful career. As an aside, I didn’t know my piano teacher knew I was coming so early to read, but when she moved, she dropped off all the magazines in our garage. My parents were shocked but I was thrilled.”

Years later, as an undergrad at the University of Toronto, Smith took courses in both biology and anthropology. “I came to realize that, while I would have to specialize in a targeted area of study in biology, whether fish, birds, mammals, or invertebrates, as an archaeologist I would have the opportunity not only to study the bones of all of these animals, but to make them meaningful by considering how the various species were procured, how they contributed to human survival, and what they symbolized in ideology and ritual to the people who relied on them within their environments.”

As a student with potentially disparate interests, Smith was fortunate to find a mentor in Dr. Howard Savage, described as a “pioneer in the field of zooarchaeology.” Remembered Smith, “this extraordinarily kind and patient professor taught me the analytic tools for my future work.”

Her unique path was further defined when she was recruited to Michigan State University by Dr. Charles Cleland for her graduate studies. His “work on fishing techniques and the application of his research to a pivotal court case in Michigan, which supported Indian people with the right to use gill nets, made me realize that my research could benefit Native people in contemporary concerns,” said Smith. “I have, ever since, worked closely with Native communities to facilitate their interests in their past, their concern for the destruction of archaeological sites, their struggle to repatriate ancestors, and their efforts to challenge restrictive jurisdictional and subsistence related laws in the courts.”

Smith is now an established expert who specializes in the study of bones. Her work involves “identifying, quantifying, and analyzing the various animal species used by people [which] helps us to better understand the food sources, seasonality, and technologies used to hunt and fish.”

Added Smith, “My work also extends to the analysis of human bones, which can tell us a great deal about the health, activities, origins, and belief systems of the population. Consequently, my work overlaps considerably with more traditional STEM fields, such as biology, chemistry, and environmental studies as well as with the social sciences and the arts.”

Teaching and Research at UM-Flint

At the University of Michigan-Flint, Smith’s teaching interests lie in introductory archaeology, Mesoamerican archaeology, historical archaeology, biological anthropology, and Native Americans. She is consistently lauded as a favorite faculty member by her students, noted for her caring and excellence.

Student Jonathan Henneberry described her as, “a dedicated educator who has enlightened me in the practices of anthropology and archaeology through lecture as well as practice. In addition, she possesses great knowledge within the field of anthropology as well as being a wise counselor and steadfast mentor.”

UM-Flint students on an archaeological dig with Dr. Bev Smith at Flint’s Stockton House.

UM-Flint students on an archaeological dig with Dr. Bev Smith at Flint’s Stockton House.

Smith’s archaeological digs and expeditions have been the subject of both UM-Flint News stories and those by the wider media. To her, they are an important way to connect her students to lessons. Said Smith, “The most effective tool for engaging students in archaeology and biological anthropology is to talk about my own experiences and research in the field. When students engage in a course in which the material is a shared experience, it becomes a powerful tool for learning and opening up possibilities for their own future of inquiry. This is one of the many reasons an active and diverse research agenda by professors is essential to our legitimacy and success in a place of higher learning.”

Alumnus Thomas Steele agreed: “Dr. Smith used text, supplementary readings, and videos that provided engaging, real-world experience to augment her instruction. She expected a great deal of academic maturity in order to grasp the complex cultural concepts of each course, particularly that of the Mesoamerican civilization and Native Americans . . . I carried this level of expectation, cultural appreciation, and connection to community with me throughout my studies, which in no small way helped play a role in my academic success.”

Outside of the classroom, Smith is currently “working on an National Science Foundation funded project that involves a group of scholars concerned with understanding the changing use of aquatic resources identified from inland eastern Woodlands archaeological sites during the Archaic period—about 8,000 to 3,000 years ago.” She and the other researchers are “using a program called, tDAR (the Digital Archaeological Record) to integrate our datasets and to make this data available for other scholars in the future.”

Using Expertise to Inspire

Smith’s work as a mentor and teacher continues in the community. She is a part of the American Association of University Women’s annual Explorathon—a spring event aimed at helping girls develop science literacy while being inspired by a dynamic selection of scientists and fields of study. According to the AAUW site, the event’s “focus on women in science prepares and inspires girls by giving them role models and by showcasing state-of-the-art careers for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

Dr. Beverly Smith, anthropologist, archaeologist, and associate professor at UM-Flint

Dr. Beverley Smith, anthropologist, archaeologist, and associate professor at UM-Flint

Added Smith, who presents on the popular topic of Forensic Anthropology, “This is an extraordinary opportunity for girls to learn that senior women in their aspired professions are approachable, interesting, and, hopefully, not nearly as nerdy as they expected. They value our advice which is, of course, to study and excel in as many sciences as possible in their high school coursework, and that sacrifices and hard work will reward them in their future endeavors. It is only with a broad range of knowledge and experiences that they may find something as interesting and wonderful as, for example, zooarchaeology.”

Smith’s expertise will be available to community members in the Flint area on September 22, 2016, as she presents Archaeology in our Backyard at the Sloan Museum. Her special lecture will “provide an overview of the prehistoric past in the Flint region and will be geared to a general audience.” She’ll discuss methods and tools of archaeologists and the ways in which artifacts help reconstruct the past. Highlights from recovery efforts at a local ancestral burial site will be included.

For event information visit sloanlongway.org or call (810) 237-3450.


To learn more about anthropology and archaeology at UM-Flint, visit the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice’s website at umflint.edu/SAC or email bevsmith@umflint.edu.

09/20/16

UM-Flint History Heads for Peaks and Valleys of Germany

Chris Molnar, Associate Professor of UM-Flint History and 2016-17 Wyatt Fellow

UM-Flint History and the Wyatt Exploration Program

Since 2009, the Wyatt Exploration Program has allowed History students in UM-Flint’s College of Arts & Sciences to travel the world with their faculty—at almost no cost to the students themselves.

The program is funded from a generous bequest made by Dr. Dorothea E. Wyatt, the first chair of the Department of History and one of the original sixteen faculty members of the University of Michigan-Flint (or Flint College as it was called in 1956).

Each Wyatt journey is led by a History Department faculty member (known as the Wyatt Fellow) and explores a region and topics related to their field of study. Past trips abroad have been made to Poland, Japan, Wales, and London; others have explored topics closer to home, heading to the “Old South” and even staying in Flint.

Both UM-Flint History majors and minors are  eligible to apply for the Wyatt Exploration Program.

When history major Monica Wiggins transferred to UM-Flint from Mott Community College, she was ecstatic to find out about the Wyatt program and its support for students. She said, “When I found out via email that I had been selected, I screamed, cried, and then said a thank-you prayer to Dorothea Wyatt. Having the trip paid for enables ‘broke college students’ to experience another country and culture that they might otherwise not be able to. It makes you a better informed person. You study these places and events, and then getting to see them first hand and in person is completely different.”

A Life-Changing Journey

The Wyatt Program is officially announced each year at a Kick Off Celebration. This year’s event, held in early September, included talks by the 2015-16 Wyatt Fellow, Professor John Ellis; department chair, Professor Roy Hanashiro; and one of the student travelers from the 2016 trip to London, Melissa Ormechea-Smith.

Dr. Ellis described his trip as a transformational experience, and noted how special it was to see London through the eyes of his students, saying “that is an experience as a teacher that is irreplaceable.”

Melissa Ormechea-Smith - Social Studies TCP and English Literature student - speaking on the UM-Flint History trip to London, England, in 2016.

Melissa Ormechea-Smith – Social Studies TCP and English Literature student – speaking on the UM-Flint History trip to London, England, in 2016.

Melissa Ormechea-Smith, a student of education and english literature, was also changed by her three weeks in London, England. It was her first time abroad and she was grateful for the financial support provided by the Wyatt Program. She noted that, while trips to museums, palaces, and the financial district were memorable, it was the chance to visit the resting place of Elizabeth I in Westminster Abbey that will really stay with her. Amidst awe-inspiring architecture and while being humbled by the sheer weight of history, said Smith “I was brought to tears by gratitude for the Wyatt experience. In that huge crowd, I had a profound personal experience.”

Smith is working on her secondary teacher’s certificate program (TCP) in social studies. She knows her experience in London will make her a better teacher and that it’s something she’ll share with her students. “I knew I wouldn’t be the same person coming home,” said Smith, “My perspective and outlook are forever changed.”

The 2016-17 Wyatt Exploration Program—titled “Germany: Land of Peaks and Valleys”—will be led by Dr. Chris Molnar, Assistant Professor of European History. Said Molnar, “It is a great honor to have been chosen by my colleagues as the 2016-2017 Wyatt Fellow. Now I am excited to have a chance to share my interest in German history and culture with the campus community and to take a group of students to Germany and Austria at the end of the year.”

Germany: Land of Peaks and Valleys

“When people hear ‘Germany,’” said Molnar at the Wyatt Kick Off event, “they think of two things: beer and Nazis.” With this in mind, Molnar chose his Wyatt Exploration Journey carefully—intent on showing his students that there are many more sides to Germany. He acknowledged the Third Reich and the Holocaust may be the darkest spots in Germany history, but reminded the audience that they are not the whole history.

Chris Molnar, Associate Professor of UM-Flint History and 2016-17 Wyatt Fellow

Chris Molnar, Assistant Professor of UM-Flint History and 2016-17 Wyatt Fellow

Molnar plans to bring students to Nuremberg, Regensburg, and Munich—focusing on the Bavarian region of Germany and its Alpine mountain range. They will also stop in Salzburg, Austria. Said Molnar, “The mountains have shaped German and especially Austrian culture, and so Wyatt explorers will also have a chance to head up into the mountains to take in the fresh air, breathtaking views, and traditional alpine hospitality.”

Students will see the remains of a Roman fortification, visit the favorite seat of the Holy Roman Empire, cruise the Danube, ride a cable car to the peak of Untersberg mountain, and enjoy traditional fare at a variety of eateries.

Continued Molnar, “Those who take part in this year’s Wyatt trip will develop a much deeper appreciation for the complicated history and culture of a fascinating and beautiful country!”

Wyatt Events for Campus & Community

To be eligible for the Wyatt Exploration trip, History majors and minors attend a series of events in addition to the required coursework. The events consist of guest lectures and fun activities—most open to all campus and community members.

The 2016-17 Wyatt events include:

• Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Lecture: “The Many Faces of Munich: The Bavarian capital in the Turbulent Twentieth Century” with Dr. Derek Hastings, Associate Professor in History at Oakland University.
Time: 4pm
Location: 251 French Hall

• Saturday, October 15, 2016
Oktoberfest Celebration featuring a thirty-piece German brass band, a dance floor, and complementary Bavarian dinner buffet. Registration required.
Location: Flint Elks Lodge, 7177 E. Maple Ave., Grand Blanc, MI.

• Thursday, October 20, 2016
Lecture: “Terrorism and Security: or, How Did We Get Here? The Example of 1970s West Germany” with Dr. Karrin Hanshew, Associate Professor in History at Michigan State University.

• Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Wyatt Movie NightAli: Fear Eats the Soul

• Monday, November 14, 2016
Lecture: “The Modern Invention of the Medieval Executioner” with Dr. Joel Harrington, Professor of History at Vanderbilt University.

• Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Krampus: the South German Christmas Devil. Join us on St. Nick’s Day to hear Professor Molnar describe the murky origins, history, and cultural meaning of Krampus, the south German Christmas devil.

Full event details will be posted on the UM-Flint History website. Questions can also be directed to Chris Molnar at chrismol@umflint.edu.


For more information on the Wyatt Exploration Program, visit umflint.edu/history or call 810.762.3366.

Applications for the 2016-17 Wyatt Exploration journey to Germany open in November 2016 and close in early January 2017. History students interested in being considered should obtain a passport and further details from the UM-Flint History Department office.