Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Faith + Science = Saving Resources

Gordon College recently marked the opening of its new Ken Olsen Science Center with a weeklong celebration culminating in the official opening day on Saturday, September 27. Featured were special guest speaker Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, as well as a series of related arts and academic events.
In preparation for this opening celebration, Gordon departments challenged themselves to be as “green” as possible as they promoted the event. Events of this size typically generate a great deal of paper in the form of invitations, banners, posters, programs and brochures—most of which end up in landfills. “Gordon has an ethos of environmental stewardship,” said Cyndi McMahon, associate director of College Communications. “The Ken Olsen Science Center Dedication was a natural opportunity to highlight our commitment to sustainable communications.”
The end results were both creative and green: plantable table centerpieces, organic cotton staff T-shirts and recycled-paper napkins. Most would-be paper products were replaced with LCD screens around the Science Center. What little paper was used had a special significance: invitations and programs for the event were printed using soy ink on small pieces of seeded paper. The paper had a double use: guests followed the events for the day and returned home with their programs, and if planted, the paper will yield flowers similar to those outside the Science Center.
The biodiesel soap project, a collaboration involving Gordon organic chemistry students, chemistry faculty member Irv Levy and Leo Cleary of Gordon’s Physical Plant staff, is another of Gordon’s “green” projects. Cleary built a biodiesel processor that recycles cooking oil into two substances: biodiesel fuel and a remaining sediment that is so pure and clean, soap can be made from it. Students volunteered over the summer to help manufacture 500 bars of soap, which were distributed during the event.

“Our students worked on the design goal of maximizing the amount of biodiesel glycerin while maintaining the firm, dry quality that we normally expect from a bar of soap,” commented Levy. “After many trials we settled on a formulation that contains 20 percent biodiesel glycerin byproduct. This might not sound like much, but the “glycerin soap” sometimes sold in stores usually has only about 15 percent glycerin in it, so ours is actually quite high in glycerin content.”
Levy hopes to outline the process and offer instructions on the Gordon website so others can prepare our soap for their own use or as a green chemistry educational experience for students.
Guests left with seeded paper, biodiesel soap, and a greater knowledge of what happens when faith and science come together.


Friday, September 26, 2008

A summer at Youthworks

This summer Madeleine Smith, a senior social work and Spanish major, spent her time working for the Minnesota-based Youthworks.
Youthworks is a Christian organization whose goal is to provide life-changing, Christ-centered missions trips to youth across the country. They have 78 trip sites within the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Smith said she chose Youthworks for her internship because of the organization’s “emphasis on building relationships and community along with encouraging youth to be the church of today.”
Smith was placed in Bridgeport, Chicago, where she and three other college students organized and facilitated various youth missions trips and supported the youth and the social service agencies they served.
“Going into the summer I was really excited about the ministry that I would be doing and the people in Chicago I could contribute to,” Smith said. “Near the end of the summer I realized more and more that my mission was to help the youth to do the ministry I was excited about. The youth were interacting in the lives of the Chicagoans, and I was encouraging those youth and giving them the tools to be the church.”


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Youth Ministry Symposium Branches Out

Gordon College’s annual Youth Ministry Symposium went cross-country today, meeting on the Littleton, Colorado, campus of Denver Seminary.
Started in November 2003 at Gordon College, the symposium is meant to continue the education and training of workers in the field of youth ministry. The symposium has always been free of charge as a way to thank and support attending youth ministers.
This year the symposium gathered over 150 youth workers for the day-long session that addressed the topic of “Media and Its Impact on Adolescent Life and Ministry.” Guest speaker Dr. Walt Mueller, president of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, addressed the impacts of media on adolescents, how it shapes their lives, and how youth ministers can effectively respond.
“It gave us the opportunity to highlight all that we offer at Gordon to a large gathering of youth pastors from the front range, many of whom weren’t familiar with the college,” said Bob Whittet, associate director of youth ministries and director of church relations at Gordon. “Youth workers are relational in ministry and in life. Gordon College became part of their relational circle today.”


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

“I’m Just Him, Over Again.”

What would you do if you discovered you were a copy of another person? And not only that, but that there are 19 other copies just like you out there.
In celebration of the Ken Olsen Science Center dedication week, Caryl Churchill’s A Number ran its preview performance at Gordon last night. The two-man show, starring theatre professor Norman Jones and actor Paul Turbiak, ’04, runs 50 minutes.
A Number confronts the human aspect of scientific advancement. (mouse over for spoiler)
This dialogue leads us beyond the questions involved with the science cloning and encourages us to question the fundamentals of human individuality. Where do people derive their identity from? Am I a “real person” solely because I have a unique set of DNA? Or is it that I have free will over my thoughts and actions?The stage is minimal: two couches facing each other, two hanging lamps, two actors. The focus is not on setting but squarely on the characters and conversations.
It would, no doubt, be a grand step for science and human achievement to be able to replicate the human DNA—to clone people. However, as A Number portrays, the “clones” are more than just science experiments. At the outset of the play the other clones are spoken of as abstract, as just “a number.” By the end, however, we see these clones have lives as complex and real as any original.
The play will run September 24-27 in the Margaret Jensen Theatre in Barrington Center for the Arts. For times and tickets visit http://www.gordon.edu. See the Gordon College homepage for other events during the dedication week.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Doctor in Spite of Himself

Michael Monroe, music faculty, writes: “So perhaps you’d like to know what this opera is about. Here’s a brief synopsis, with links to the tunes that have already been featured in karaoke.
The Doctor in Spite of Himself fits squarely in the French comic opera tradition that was mastered by Offenbach and that helped inspire the works of Gilbert and Sullivan. Although Italian comic operas are generally sung throughout, the French, German, and English traditions favor spoken dialogues. In this case, all of the spoken dialogues come directly from Molière’s play. The lyrics for all the musical numbers were written by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré, who also served as librettists for Faust, Roméo et Juliette, and most of Gounod’s other operas. Our production will be performed in English.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Helping Troubled Kids: A Summer Internship

“I had the privilege of working in a group home of 10-12 boys, ages 15-17 at Youth Villages this summer,” says senior Katy Keith, who is majoring in youth ministry and completed her internship in Memphis, Tennessee.
“Youth Villages is a large organization that works with troubled children who come from rough pasts and home lives.” The boys Katy worked with had issues ranging from anger to physical and sexual abuse to crime.
“My responsibilities varied depending on my shift, but usually I spent time with the residents, talking and getting to know them better, and correcting them as needed. All of them come from ‘darker’ childhoods that have permanently impacted who they are today, meaning most are from abusive families, have been or are still involved with gangs, and some have even been in jail. My biggest role was to be a guide. That was hard because no one likes being told they are doing something wrong.
“The most difficult thing was having to go through with a required task even if it meant upsetting a resident (for example, taking points away for poor behavior). There were many times when I had to ignore the fact that I was being cussed out, yelled at, and seriously threatened. I was trained to not take anything personally because it was not me they were necessarily angry with; I just happened to be there to get the blow.
“My favorite memory is of helping one of the residents fill out a college application. I could see the anxious hope in his eyes as he asked me to help him with it, and the desire to make his life better. It felt great knowing I could encourage this young man in his endeavors to accomplish what most of his peers believe they cannot accomplish. I know for a fact that he is going against the odds, and I couldn’t be more proud of him.
“The experience was extremely challenging but was also very eye-opening. What these kids really need is guidance and someone who is not afraid to correct them in firm love. I’m very grateful for the opportunity.”


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

We the People

In honor of Constitution Day, the students in Dr. Paul Brink’s American National Politics course read the Constitution of the United States of America aloud in class today.
From 1 to 2 p.m. the 32 students took turns standing and reading from the document, skipping over the italicized text—sections that resulted in amendments from the original document. These sections will be used as material for discussion later in the course.
So what was the purpose of reading the entire Constitution? “My main goal is for students to know the Constitution, and to have read and heard it with some care at least once,” Brink said. “Both the right and the left see it as the bedrock of American politics, and both also again and again appeal to it. So students need to have more than a passing acquaintance with it.”


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Galilee by Sunset

Elaine Phillips, professor of biblical studies, and her husband, Perry, took a group of students to Israel and Jordan in May. Christina Matthew ’10 says, of her experience: “Now if I read about the Israelites in the Old Testament, I can picture the vast desert of the wilderness. I can picture Jesus preaching to thousands during the Sermon on the Mount. I have walked all over the city where Jesus lived. Through all of these experiences God has graciously made His Word all the more alive in my life, and I am so thankful.”
Matthew continues, “One of my favorite days there was my 20th birthday, starting with a museum display of a first-century fisherman’s boat and a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. We got off in Capernaum and the surroundings were beautiful—not only were we standing in the midst of palm trees and pink, orange and yellow flowers, we were standing on the foundations of the first-century church where Jesus preached. After that we went to the Mount of Beatitudes and had time to sit and reflect and pray. We ended our day with a rock climb along the Cliffs of Arbel and a sunset over the Sea of Galilee.
“Jordan was so different from Israel. Petra, a hidden city with a lot of character left in the rocks, was incredible—definitely a workout as we hiked around the city! We laughed at ourselves as we, a bunch of “healthy” 20-year-olds, were panting behind our fearless, unstoppable leaders.
“The Phillipses are both amazing leaders and teachers, and it was a blessing getting to know them. Their wealth of knowledge and their love for God is contagious!”


Monday, September 15, 2008

Of Wall Street and Mustard Seeds

From Bruce Herman’s new blog, Question Autonomy:
“The New York Times headline this morning—‘Two Wall Street Banks Falter’—reveals growing fissures in the brittle global economy. European markets foundered and the Asian markets will undoubtedly follow suit when they reopen after holidays. All this reminds us that the security we derive from investment portfolios and retirement accounts is illusory. That much is clear—and clearer every day that passes in this roller-coaster young century. Add to this Alan Greenspan’s pronouncement yesterday that this is a singularly dire situation—a ‘once-in-a-century’ fiscal event. No comfort there.” Read more...


Red, Blue—or Purple?

Red state. Blue state. Church state. Civil state.
With the presidential campaign heating up, the American political debate again seems to have devolved into twisted Dr. Seuss verse.
But Nathan Baxter, a Beverly resident and an assistant professor of communication arts at Gordon, sees something far more complex working under the political and religious surface; he sees a society that’s far more purple than the red and blue.
Read more of Dan Mac Alpine's recent Beverly Citizen interview with Baxter.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Beautiful Day for Service Learning

Every fall Biology 250 students engage in a service-learning project. This past Thursday their assignment was to clear loosestrife, a nonnative invasive species, from the area surrounding the parking-lot pond. “This project allows students to learn firsthand how persistent purple loosestrife and other nonnative invasive species can be,” states Dr. Ming Zheng, professor of biology.
In this photo Dr. Zheng demonstrates how the slightest touch triggers a spring-release action in the seed pods of the weed commonly known as Touch-Me-Not (Impatiens capensis).


Doctor Lends Helping Hand to North Korea

Steve Price’s hands have been shaken by Sheik Zayed of Dubai, one of the richest men in the world. A high honor, perhaps, but Price has a far loftier mission for those hands.
Since 1997 this family doctor who formerly had a practice in Hamilton, Massachusetts, has been volunteering his time to aid victims of natural and manmade disasters around the world. He’s been to Congo during a civil war and New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Now he’s set his sights on one of the most repressive societies in the world, North Korea.
Read more of Steve Landwehr’s Salem News article and view Dr. Price’s Emmaus Road Ministries website.
Pictured: Dr. Steve Price with Abdul Halim, a boy from Bangladesh who needs lifesaving heart surgery (photo courtesy of Salem News).


Chester’s Place

The former Lane conference room has been undergoing some drastic renovations this summer. Instead of a bland conference room, the new area will be a cozy coffee shop and meeting place for students. Named “Chester’s Place” after benefactors Dale and Ann Fowler’s pet cat, it sounds like it will be everything the stereotypical cat is not: warm, welcoming and full of caffeine.
Bob Grinnell, vice President for development, described how the area is expected to look upon completion: A coffee bar will be in the corner, where students can enjoy a beverage of choice; booths will be along the sides; and tables will fill the main area. He says it will have “a low ceiling, kind of like an old tavern.”
The project is expected to be completed by Homecoming Weekend in October.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Green-Chemistry Convert

A FEW YEARS AGO one of Irv Levy’s students told him she wanted to write her organic chemistry research paper on green chemistry. Levy was skeptical. He didn’t think green chemistry sounded like “real chemistry.”
“It sounded like touchy-feely tree hugging,” he recalls. “I recommended that she consider another topic, but she insisted.” So he reluctantly agreed.
Read more of the article “The Ivory Tower Goes Green” in Chemical and Engineering News...


Ken Olsen’s Archives at Gordon

While the Ken Olsen Science Center is the newest addition on Gordon’s campus, its connection to the past is evident throughout the uniquely designed building. Named after one of the 20th century’s pioneers in computer science and cofounder of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), the Science Center marks the first time Mr. Olsen has agreed to have his name associated with a building, which will be dedicated Saturday, September 27, at 11:00 a.m. In the spring of 2007 Mr. Olsen also gave his personal archives to Gordon College. They contain thousands of his manuscripts, personal letters and business memos as well as the technology produced at DEC, which contributed to the technological revolution of the 20th century. Read more...


Arts and Science: An Interdisciplinary Celebration

From the drama of human cloning and a satirical look at medicine to sculptures and paintings, the dedication week for Gordon College’s Ken Olsen Science Center on Boston’s North Shore will include an unusual blend of creative and academic events.
Occurring Tuesday, September 23, through Sunday, September 28, Gordon’s interdisciplinary celebration will culminate with a Saturday morning ribbon-cutting dedication of the new state-of-the-art Science Center, followed by a lecture from one of the nation’s leading experts on DNA, Dr. Francis Collins. Throughout the week several artistic events that explore the relationship between faith and science have been scheduled. Read more...


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Life and Love in El Salvador

“El Salvador is a beautiful country with amazing people,” says Carolyn Conlon ’10 of her recent two-month trip to Latin America. “I learned so much about the church, the government, the people and the culture. The kids at the orphanage were so much fun. It surprised me how happy and optimistic they were even though many had suffered beyond belief.
Teaching English to 150 Salvadoran middle and high schoolers was one of the most challenging aspects of the trip—but also very rewarding. A highlight was working with Michael, a deaf 5-year-old. He is beginning to regain some of his hearing, which is miraculous under the circumstances, and is an amazing child.”


Stones the Builder Rejected: Jim Zingarelli’s New Exhibit Draws Saturday Crowd

It was standing room only in the cinema of the Barrington Center for the Arts on Saturday, September 6, at 3 p.m. Friends, students and art enthusiasts came to hear how—and why—Jim Zingarelli, art professor and departmental chair, had created the sculptures that comprised the latest gallery exhibit, Host and Hunger. He spoke about his influences, from Popeye to Easter Island, about his process and progress creating the various open-mouthed heads. He showed before and after slides of the stones that, in some cases, had literally been rejected by certain builders (like St. John the Divine in New York City). And he talked about the international trips he’d taken that had influenced his work and his faith, raising his awareness about the hunger and need in the world that he felt he had to respond to. The privilege, he said, was great. “I went out and saw the needs and came back to the studio to create these works.”
It took Jim two and a half years to complete this body of work. And though it took less than a few hours for the crowd of visitors to wander through the exhibit, no one left without being inspired in some small way, like Jim, to respond to the needs of those around us. Jim is donating half of all proceeds from the sales of his sculptures to a variety of hunger-relief organizations and artists he met overseas.

See also the recent boston.com article, "Gordon Professor Shifts Focus."


Monday, September 8, 2008

Ray Loring, Requiescat in Pace

Ray Loring, adjunct professor of music at Gordon, passed away Saturday, September 6, after suffering a heart attack while hiking in New Hampshire.
Loring taught courses in music composition, music theory and instrumental arrangement at Gordon. An accomplished composer, he scored nearly 100 episodes for the NOVA series “Saving The National Treasures” as well as numerous other PBS commissions, including Frontline, The History Channel and The Discovery Channel. “Ray was an incredibly talented composer and much sought after to compose music for NOVA programs,” said Paula S. Apsell, senior executive producer for NOVA of WBGH Boston. “Everyone at NOVA has always loved working with Ray. He was not only talented and bright, he always knew the right melody to go with our programs,” she said. “We knew he was busy teaching at Gordon College, but we were hoping to work with him again. Many producers here worked with Ray and loved him. He will be sorely missed.”
A classically trained pianist, Loring studied with Fred Noonan, the White House pianist for Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman. At age 28 he wrote the score for the film Ruby.
“Gracious, kind-hearted and always ready to do more to serve others, Ray was greatly appreciated by students and colleagues here at Gordon College,” stated Gordon Provost Mark Sargent. “His passing is an occasion for sadness, but we can also celebrate a life of dedication, service and kindness.”
Also a founding member of Emmaus Road Ministries, a charity that takes medical care to persons during times of war and natural disaster, Loring was considered “the Norman Rockwell of music composition—composing miracles in his beloved studio, which was a converted barn loft next to his Georgetown home,” said Dr. Stephen Price, president of Emmaus Road Ministries. “He was able to recognize talent and fan the flames of creativity in his many students. Ray had a deep faith. He was respected and loved by persons of all creeds and races, who readily recognized that in his success he never left God out as he walked passionately, yet humbly with his Creator.”
Born in 1943, Charles Raymond Loring III was a graduate of Perley High School in Georgetown, Yale University, and was a Woodrow Wilson fellow at Brandeis during his graduate years. The Gordon College community, where Loring first began teaching in 2006, will miss him dearly. “Ray was fabulous mentor and teacher, and great man of faith,” said Tom Brooks, chair of the Gordon Department of Music. “We are certainly shocked and saddened at the sudden loss of our friend and colleague.”
One of his colleagues at Gordon, Michael Monroe, recently posted this tribute. You can also read more about Loring in this 2005 Georgetown news article.


Friday, September 5, 2008

Struggle Is a Holy Word

Mark Wheeler is the parent of a new Gordon student. Recently (ah, the wonders of RSS!) we ran across this post on his fine blog, On Target:
“Last week Carol and I were in Boston helping our youngest daughter get settled into the dorm at Gordon College. During one of the sessions for parents, Dr. Judson and Mrs. Jan Carlberg shared some words of encouragement. Jan Carlberg used the phrase ‘Struggle is a holy word.’ As parents our desire is to smooth out the path for our children. We want to shield them from pain. When a child calls home to say they are not getting along with their college roommate, we want to storm the administration to demand a change. When that same child says they are unhappy after the first week of school and wonder if they made the right decision to go away to college, we want to jump in the car or on a plane and bring them home forthwith. Yet, when we do that, we often stunt our children’s growth because we don’t allow them to struggle.”
Mark Wheeler is “a husband, father, pastor, teacher, author and wannabe theologian” living in the Pacific Northwest. Mark serves as the senior pastor of the United Evangelical Free Church in Seattle, Washington, and also serves as an instructor for Walk Thru the Bible Ministries.
Mark’s blog includes links to some of his articles. I particularly recommend “When You Feel like a Failure.”


A Cup (Bottle) of Cold Water

As new students and their parents arrived on the first day of Orientation, President and First Lady Jud and Jan Carlberg were there to welcome them. This year’s 482 new students (428 freshmen and 54 transfers) come from 15 countries and 32 states.
Odd stats on students’ hometowns: The city name that shows up most frequently (five times) is Manchester (Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont). The city with the longest single name: Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Soccer as Language

Having just returned from a recent trip to Romania with the Summer Missions Program (SMP), Justine Andrade ’11 says, “[The trip] was an amazing experience. It was hard witnessing some of the injustices the kids we worked with underwent, but watching some of them thrive despite that was a real encouragement. Not being able to speak the language was also difficult—especially for me, because I am not very good with languages—but the kids just sort of talked anyway and assumed eventually you would get what they were saying. And speaking isn’t the only sort of language you can use to communicate. A lot of the kids just wanted someone to sit and listen—whether you understood or not—or to hold their hands or to play soccer, even if you were probably the worst soccer player they’d ever met.”


Good "Hauntings" from the Holy Spirit

“Having an opportunity to travel across the globe and witness the work God is already doing was a highlight for me,” says Jonathan Crawford ’09, who traveled to India this summer with the Summer Mission Program (SMP). “We were able to interact with some people whose lives are being used by God in ways that I have never come across in the U.S. One example was hearing M. Shiamala Baby’s story as a victim of extreme domestic abuse for 10 years. God led her to leave her husband and start an organization that helps women in similar situations as well as other downtrodden people.
"Going to India has made me face a huge question: What is my responsibility in all of this? One of the big ideas that this trip tries to drive home is that the point of a short-term mission trip is not to go somewhere, build a house and pat yourself on the back only to wash your hands and be done with it. I am convinced that short-term mission trips have more to do with impacting the participants than impacting the host country. I think a trip like this will lead to some sort of life transformation, whether great or small. I am sure the question of what my responsibility is in light of what I’ve experienced this May through July will continue to haunt me, but it’s a good haunting, as long as it’s a prodding of the Holy Ghost!”


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First Labs in New Science Center

Science faculty began their labs today in the brand new classrooms and laboratories of the Ken Olsen Science Center. Students in Organic Chemistry performed an old experiment: Observe a candle for the duration of the class period. The experiment called for various methods of observation including using tinfoil barriers to check air flow and floating a candle in a beaker of water to measure displacement.
Irv Levy, professor of chemistry and computer science, dubbed it “a historic day.” The new classrooms, he says, are “more open.” In the old Emery classrooms he often couldn’t see half his students due to shelves and poor classroom layout.


Jenks 2.0: It’s NOT Your Parents’ Library

Myron Schirer-Suter, director of Library Services (pictured at faculty-staff picnic), offers his Top Ten Tips to Know and Tell for fall 2008:
1. The reference room now has a Flavia coin-operated coffee machine located just a few paces from a student’s favorite Jenks studying spot. With nine coffee flavors to choose from as well as hot cocoa and tea, there is no longer a need to make the late night pilgrimage to Claymore. (Note: Machines only accept change, so steal three of those laundry quarters for your 75-cent caffeine boost.)
2. While robbing the piggy bank may be necessary to feed a caffeine addiction, printing and copying have now been merged and can be paid for with a current Gordon ID at five cents a page. On a brighter note, printings are available in color for 25 cents a page.
3. For those unlucky students without a plasma screen TV overtaking their dorm room: Jenks now has a group study room with a large mounted flat screen TV available to the Gordon community. It can be used as a DVD/VHS player or can be attached to a laptop to display collaborative group work.
4. For those who feel that a flat screen is too excessive for their needs, white boards as well as white board markers and erasers are available at the circulation desk.
5. For those mid study phone calls on the patio of Jenks, two large umbrellas have been installed to make your talking experience more enjoyable.
6. Thanks to the Davis Ed grant, student workers trained to assist you with your researching needs are at your service.
7. Books are now where they should be. Checking inventory was the big project in Jenks this summer meaning that what’s on the shelves is now matching the library catalog. Now you can spend less time scouring book spines and more time reading what’s in them!
8. Attention all audio learners: Jenks selection of downloadable audio books has increased in size. See the circulation desk for more details.
9. Jenks now has access to all online resources provided by the Boston Public Library.
10. As always, Jenks resources are more than just Google. With valuable information available only to the Gordon community, take advantage of the library catalog, electronic databases and periodical lists to accommodate your studying needs. All of which are available through the Gordon website