Dr. Matthew Bloom, history professor, was selected by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History to participate in a special American history seminar on the Gilded Age—the long period from the end of the Civil War to roughly the turn of the 20th century.
Bloom is one of 27 faculty members selected from 55 to take part in the seminar this July at Stanford University in California. In lectures and discussion groups, participants will exchange ideas with seminar director Richard White, a Pulitzer Prize finalist historian specializing in the history of the American West, environmental history, and Native American history. He is the Margaret Byrne Professor of American History at Stanford University, a faculty co-director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West, and former president of the Organization of American Historians.
The Gilded Age has moved from being an embarrassing backwater of American history to one of the most fruitful sources of new scholarship. Encompassing the so-called Greater Reconstruction in the West and the South, mass immigration, industrialization, violent class conflict, transformative new technologies, and explosive growth, the era created the foundation for the modern United States. The Gilded Age was one of staggering corruption but also of real reform. The seminar will examine the era in its own right and explore the larger pedagogical problem of how to teach an era of the past that has so many parallels to contemporary times.
“Strengthening the teaching of American history at colleges and universities is of critical importance. The number of institutions that nominated faculty members who are active as scholars and teachers of this subject is most impressive,” said CIC President Richard Ekman. “We believe that Bloom play a strong role in the seminar.”
This hilariously ridiculous, fast-paced jaunt through the Bard’s works was first produced for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1987, and has delighted Shakespeare lovers and haters alike for over twenty-five years, becoming the second-longest running comedy in London.
Originally written by and for three actors, the CTX production maintains the three-character narration while also adding a diverse ensemble of comic actors, each of whom plays several roles.
The student cast featured Bethany Heimann, Caleb Heine, Terry Hillis, Cassandra Hood, Kelly Nichols, Susan Pacey, KyLene Pederson, Rebecca Sunil, and Maggie Thompson. The production team also included stage manager Elizabeth Oerther, master electrician/board op, Emily Parsons, and sound board op, Justin Petty. Visiting director, Dr. Kelly Carolyn Gordon, staged the production.
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [revised] was presented through special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing, Inc. All authorized performance materials are also supplied by BPPI: BroadwayPlayPubl.com
Concordia students in Professor Jimmy Astacio’s Fall 2012 English 3311 class gain real-world experience and put into practice Concordia’s ethos through a collaborative writing project.
Students chose volunteer projects that fit their academic and career interests. “The overall goal of these projects was for students to gain experience writing for a real-world, non-academic audience,” said Astacio.
Leah Hughey, Elizabeth Pulliam, and Jonathan Graham volunteered at the Texas Baptist Children's Home. Greg Brown, Ryan Gaze, and Sarah Hardister volunteered their time to inform the public about the lack of resources and assistance in Haiti after the devastating earthquakes in that country. Bianca Martinez created a helpful guide for individuals to better understand financial terminology.
Click to read the students written works:
Serving Others: A Visit to the Texas Baptist Children’s Home (PDF)
by Elizabeth Pulliam, Leah Hughey, and Jonathan Graham
Remembering Haiti and Making a Difference (PDF)
by Sarah Hardister, Gregory Brown, and Ryan Gaze
The Importance of Financial Awareness (PDF)
by Bianca Martinez
Twelve Concordia students were invited to participate in the 2012 Model Organization of American States (MOAS), a mock diplomacy competition among university students held at Baylor University in Waco this fall. Students from participating schools were assigned a country by the MOAS board, presented solutions and debated them using parliamentary procedure, with the goal of passing bills during the process.
Concordia students this year were assigned as delegates for Bolivia. Ian Clemens and Espi Comacho served as committee chairs. The competition is a real lesson in diplomatic affairs, and many of the students involved are business or political science majors with an interest in international affairs. Professors Dr. Brent Burgess (political science), Dr. Debra Allen (history), Dr. Matt Bloom (history) and Dr. Rich Potts (political science) served as faculty advisors for the team.
The Concordia team walked away with many awards and the honor of hosting the 2013 parliamentary workshop offered to prepare all participating schools and approximately 2,000 students for the pending competition. Jonathan Brown, a senior business administration major won an award for the best budget statement on the finance committee. Ian Clemens, a sophomore political science major, and Espi Camacho, a multi-disciplinary major concentrating on history and religion, won awards for their positions as rapporteur and committee chair for their adept use of parliamentary procedures.
“It’s an honor to serve as a host school for the parliamentary workshop next September,” said Brent Burgess, professor and program director for political science at Concordia. “Ian will lead this event, along with MOAS director Josh Hiles, to teach students about the parliamentary procedure before the mock event in November.”
MOAS provides students with an opportunity to experience the procedures of diplomatic relations and earn the chance to serve in leadership roles.
“I was able to build connections and learn how to be diplomatic in helping other people,” said Ian Clemens. “This event opened doors I didn’t even know existed, and helped me realize possible career aspirations in international relations.”
The 2013 MOAS competition will take place at Baylor University in Waco, Texas during November.
Times are changing from when cell phone use was banned in the classroom to a time when cell phones are used as learning tools for students. It’s not uncommon for teachers to use hashtags in Twitter to create a conversation with students about class. Social media keeps classmates and professors connected without having to share too much personal information. Communication adjunct professor, Jeff Birdsell, uses social media to engage his students not only in the classroom, but also how to use it for their professional careers.
I use [social media] as a teaching tool in class,” said Birdsell. “In some of my larger classes, I have [students] use a unique hashtag to tweet questions and thoughts for discussion.”
Today’s generation grew up with social media and other online innovations. For some, it is a preferred method of communication. As social media continues to grow in today’s society, Birdsell believes that how students manage their social media accounts is important for their professional careers.
“It is important for students to be their own best client,” Birdsell said. “I think having some agency in your online footprint is important.”
Social media can be used as a personal and promotional tool, but no matter how private a page is, the information posted is public and permanent. It is important for students to be responsible about what information they decide to share.
“Students should use social media as a tool for their personal and professional development,” said Birdsell. “[Personal and professional development] is always going to be focused around how people are using [social media] to engage in impression management.”
Birdsell doesn’t limit his use of social media to the classroom. Upon arriving to Texas, he knew the Round Rock Express (Triple A baseball) was in town, and at the time, needed a summer job. He grew up in a family that loved baseball. He first applied at the Round Rock Express as a Party Patrol Officer and after a brief audition, was offered the position of Spike, the team’s mascot.
Birdsell wanted to give Spike a voice to connect with his fans and soon, Spike had a presence on Twitter.
“I want to keep the Express in people’s minds,” Birdsell said. “I want Spike to be a factor in the entertainment.”
Spike is a fun-loving quirky mascot who interacts with the crowd, high-fiving fans and dancing in the aisles.
“I get to be the unfiltered positive me [as Spike],” Birdsell said. “I am blessed with a mask, but Spike also has a lot of my own personality.”
In addition to teaching and performing at the Express games as Spike, Birdsell is also in the process of completing his last semester of doctoral coursework in Organizational Communication from the University of Texas. He also teaches courses and tutors student athletes at the University of Texas.
“I have great family support from my wife and children,” Birdsell said. “With my busy schedule I have to allocate my resources appropriately.”
Matt Smith, an Austin-based musician, author, teacher and producer visited Dr. Kim Perlak’s American Pop Music class on Thursday, December 6. Students learned about various parts of music production including how to create interlocking music parts, incorporate singing parts that don’t overpower the band and how to conduct a band. Smith is an accomplished musician who has worked with well-known artists including B.B. King, Al DiMeola, Sheryl Crow and Greg Allman.
To contact and learn more about Matt, visit www.musiciansunitedformusic.com.
Students held a ‘Rock the Vote’ event September 24 and 25 on campus, incorporating live guitar music from the civil rights movement and signing up students to vote in the November election.
During Rock the Vote, 198 students were registered to vote. It was the first time that students at Concordia did anything like this. Not only were students able to register on campus, they voted here as well.
To prepare for the event, music professor, Dr. Kim Perlak, took 22 students to the Travis County Tax Office during Constitution Week to become volunteer Deputy Registrars.
“[Cheryl Reese at the Travis County Tax Office] was explaining how we register people to vote and how to approach others about voting,” said American Pop Music student Rosalie Cutrer. “Then we deputized each other.”
Dr. Perlak’s mission was to encourage students to vote.
“Students were inspired through the music and history to do something,” said Perlak. “Before this, students said they didn't feel part of the political process, but music is a powerful motivator for them.”
Dr. Perlak’s American Pop Music class changed students’ perspectives on voting.
"I never would have voted if I hadn't taken this class. I was caught up in my own life and wouldn't have thought about it. But this music [about Civil Rights] made me realize that so many people couldn't vote,” said Alix Chavez. “And I now I feel this obligation to vote because they couldn't.”
Concordia University, for the first time, opened its doors as a mobile early voting location for voters registered in Travis County on October 23.
If Concordia had not served as a polling location, many students said they would not have voted.
“I don’t have my car here, so I wouldn’t have voted,” said American Pop Music student Holly Bolden.
This new perspective on the election process continues to inspire students to share this experience and encourage others to vote.
"I registered my own parents to vote during this process," said Chavez.
"We all went to vote together for the first time ever."
Dr. Carl Trovall has been named Interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts for the 2012-2013 academic school year. Trovall has served at Concordia in various part-time and full-time roles including campus pastor and professor since 1997. In addition to his current role as dean, Trovall is also teaching an honors class in philosophy and a history class on the culture of the Mexican-American.
Trovall believes the liberal arts are an essential component of education at Concordia.
“It’s the liberal arts that give people happiness,” said Trovall. “They give life meaning. They are meant to pursue, in a critical way, the truth, the good and the beautiful.”
And beautiful things are planned for the coming year in the arts. Former Dean Ken Schmidt is working to develop an art major, recitals and concerts are planned for the music programs and the theatre program is planning another production for later in the semester.
Concordia played host to the Ben & I Play for Peace benefit concert in April, a multi-city event aimed at raising money for disabled children in Iraq and wounded veterans. Classical musicians from Seattle to Sarasota joined forces along with music faculty from Concordia, philanthropist Ben Werdegar (for whom the concert is named) and special guest appearances from the guitar ensemble from McCallum High School’s fine art program in Austin and critically acclaimed guitarist and composer Benjamin Verdery from the Yale School of Music.
The event, in its second year, was the creative idea of Ben Werdegar and Dr. Kim Perlak, music adjunct at Concordia. The two met in 2010 during a guitar workshop in Maui, Hawaii. Werdegar, the 14-year-old guitar prodigy from San Francisco, California, has raised more than $35,000 to provide wheelchairs to disabled and injured children in Iraq through CNN Hero and Texan Brad Blauser’s organization, “Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids.” Since last year’s concerts, Ben has become the largest single fundraiser for “Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids.”
This year’s concert benefitted both “Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids” and the “Wounded Warrior Project”.
This concert has become an annual project of Dr. Perlak’s “American Popular Music History” courses at Concordia University Texas. As the students learn about the power of music to create positive change and express an American identity, they join with professional members of the community to do so in the present. Throughout the year, student teams organize sponsors to underwrite publicity costs, provide services to the concert, correspond with musicians and charity workers, and publicize the event. This project has facilitated relationships between traditional college students and veterans attending school on the GI Bill, and has sparked inspiration for other projects that combine work, talent, and service.
Ben and his story continue to inspire people. Recently, a local elementary school student who attended the concert challenged his classmates to raise money for Wheelchairs for Iraqi kids. During a two week period, the student raised $800, bringing the total raised from this event to nearly $15,000.
Plans are being discussed for Ben & I Play for Peace 2013. To read more about this event and how you can help, please visit www.benandiplayforpeace.com.
Concordia University Texas was invited to participate in the Model Organization of American States (MOAS) in fall 2011. MOAS is a simulation of the Organization of American States and reflects hemispheric concerns and allows university students an experiential learning opportunity in international relations. Groups of students from competing universities represent one assigned country and draft resolutions for proposal at the competition. Debra Allen and Dr. Matthew Bloom, both history professors at Concordia, along with political science professor Dr. Brent Burgess, agreed to serve as advisors for students wishing to participate.
“We began with ten students who were very excited about this opportunity,” Allen commented. The following students attended the Model:
After learning that Concordia would represent Peru, the students and faculty advisors began working on committee assignments and writing resolutions. Dr. Bloom and four students attended a workshop at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette from September 30 to October 1where they learned more about the topics for the resolutions and especially about parliamentary procedures (“parli-pro” in political science-ese ).
“The workshop,” Bloom states, “was an informative and exciting experience for all of us!”
After weeks of more research and practice on presenting the resolutions, the group was ready to travel to San Antonio on November 3, when President Cedel and the Rev. Dr. Carl Trovall saw the group off with a benediction. Concordia experienced a tremendous success rate with all five resolutions passing, two of them unanimously. Samantha Stahl received an award for a well-written resolution.
Student participants were enthralled with the experience and most plan to participate at next year’s MOAS.
“Concordia is “Developing Christian Leaders” and we have continued that,” Jonathan Brown said.
Allen hopes to see this developed into a class, so students can receive academic credit in Political Science.
For more information about MOAS, please visit www.stmarytx.edu/moas.
Concordia’s Music Department provides many opportunities to experience the talent of students and faculty through recitals, concerts and special events. In December, the community is invited to enjoy a string concert benefitting families in Bastrop, Texas who were affected by the wild fires in the fall of 2011. The University Choir and Concordia Singers perform holiday concerts featuring favorite Christmas music and classics like John Rutter’s Gloria and Daniel Pinkham’s Christmas Cantata. For a full listing of music events, locations and times, please visit the music page or contact music director Patricia Burnham at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Student service learning leader at Concordia University, Mark Harris, will be honored as the Kelly Davidson Memorial Outstanding Philanthropic Youth by the Austin chapter for the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) in February. Mark was nominated for his tireless efforts on campus with the Service Learning program and Campus Ministries.
A senior behavioral sciences major, Mark plans to pursue the seminary after graduation.
To learn more about Concordia's Service Learning program, click here.
The Concordia University Texas Theatre Program opens a production of The Miracle Worker at 7:30p on Thursday, Nov. 10 in the Black Box Theater. Additional performances are at 7:30p, Friday, Nov. 11 and Saturday, Nov. 12.
A cast of ten students will perform playwright William Gibson’s Tony Award-winning drama under the direction of Dr. Lisa Neely, who directed last spring’s sold-out production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
Adult tickets are $7 in advance and $10 at the door. All CTX students, faculty and staff can purchase tickets for $5. To reserve tickets, please call 512.313.PLAY (7529). Seating is limited.
Theatre history at Concordia:
One of the earliest theater groups at Concordia was spearheaded by Latin and English professor Susan Stayton, who in 1966 directed a performance of George Bernard Shaw’s “The Devil’s Disciple”, set in Colonial America. The actors called themselves The Hubbard Players as a nod to the volunteer, bare-cupboard nature of their troupe. Physics and physical science professor Ted Zoch oversaw the theater program’s next incarnation, using the Woltman gym as his performance hall for staging elaborate musicals, featuring an orchestra. “The Sound of Music” and ”The Music Man” were among the shows, along with dramas such as ”Inherit the Wind” and ”Our Town”. Constructed in 1986, the Louise T. Peter Center housed the Schroeder Performance Hall, where plays were directed by communications Dr. Michael Kramer. Conveying a minimalist approach, Kramer’s stagings ranged from ”You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” to ”Death of a Salesman”.
From1989 to1996, Dr. Claudia Teinert directed thirteen productions at Concordia, among them ”The Real Inspector Hound”, ”The Glass Menagerie”, ”Macbeth”, ”Murder in the Cathedral” (set in Birkmann chapel), ”Tales from Saki”, ”The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, and ”The Magician’s Nephew”. Special school-day performances brought area elementary schools to campus for the children’s theatre performances. The theater program then went on hiatus for several semesters, until students Risa Schroeder and Tanya Garde approached Dr. Stayton about the possibility of launching a production. Concordia alumnus Jeff Hinkle, who had starred in several of Dr. Teinert’s productions as an English major, returned to his alma mater and, teaming up with Schroeder and Garde, nurtured a renaissance of the program. Under Hinkle’s direction, which spanned more than a decade, Concordia was home to dozens of productions, ranging from Shakespeare’s classics to ”Tartuffe”, ”Cyrano de Bergerac”, ”A Steetcar Named Desire”, and contemporary dramas including ”Wit and Ordinary People”. Hinkle is now on the board of directors for City Theater and has directed numerous acclaimed productions throughout Austin.
Concordia’s move to a spacious new campus made it feasible to create a black-box theater. Now housed in the Fine Arts division, the theater program welcomes Dr. Lisa Neely for an inaugural performance of ”The Importance of Being Earnest”.
About the director:
Lisa Neely, Ph.D., has worked in the theater as a director, actor, teacher, and research for the last 15 years. Her work ranges from contemporary plays to Greek classics, from mime to new play development. She was awarded best director by Portfolio magazine of Hampton Roads, VA, for her production of Medea. She currently resides in Austin, TX, where she teaches and directs at Concordia University, and continues an initiative in theatrical hospitality through 3rd Course: Theatre.