November 11, 2012

John O. Schwenn: College nurtures community’s cultural and intellectual growth

 While the primary mission of Dalton State College is the education of our students, it is our outreach activities that bind us to the community.

We demonstrate outreach in a number of ways, all of which connect us to our Greater Dalton neighbors. For instance, we open the Roberts Library to the public, contributing significantly to the resources available for research, scholarship and recreational reading. Our students participate in civic engagement projects, volunteering their time and energy for the benefit of others. Faculty and staff are actively involved in the work of the Archway Partnership, working to develop creative solutions to identified community needs.

Perhaps the most visible outreach of the college is the ever-expanding array of cultural programs that we make available to the community, most of them free of charge.

This fall we have offered a variety of cultural programs designed to enlighten the mind, expand the imagination and sometimes just entertain. Hundreds of local residents have come to campus to hear our faculty as well as outside artists and speakers.

Collectively these programs enrich the cultural and intellectual life of our town and elevate the level of dialogue and discourse in our community. Consider the topics covered in lectures and lunch and learn programs: politics, immigration, civil discourse and mass media.

The local economy was examined by area business leaders in a program moderated by our Interim Dean of Business Larry Johnson. Dalton State’s School of Business also hosted an entrepreneurial resource rally and welcomes Michael Chriszt of the Federal Reserve Bank who will present an economic outlook with a focus on the housing industry in a pair of programs on campus and in town on Tuesday.

Film producer Jesus Nebot screened his thought-provoking documentary “No Turning Back” and led a dialogue on humanitarian solutions to illegal immigration the following night, and “Friday Night Lights” author and sports columnist Buzz Bissinger pushed us to reconsider the wisdom of college football in a simulating program held on campus and hosted by the Fine Arts and Lecture Series.

Kris Barton invited students to eulogize him for a “Last Lecture” in which he made a compelling case on the value of mass media to our culture, and mentalist/illusionist Wayne Hoffman delighted his audience with mind-reading, magic and humor.

Four times this semester we have spotlighted nature, three times in programs on our beautiful college trail system that wends up Dug Gap Mountain and is open for campus and community members alike.  

We have hosted piano, trumpet and violin concerts on campus with two choral recitals still to come. And Dalton State will host the world premiere of the original Southern melodrama “Muscadine Wine” written by our own Nancy Mason and performed by Dalton State students in performances Thursday through Saturday.

Our opportunities to “reach across the interstate” will be even greater next year when we launch intercollegiate athletics and invite the community to come cheer Roadrunner athletes in basketball, volleyball, golf, tennis, cross country and competitive cheer.

Cultural events are just one way Dalton State reaches out to connect with our greater community. If you haven’t already done so, plan to come to campus soon and enjoy the outstanding programming we have to offer. You can learn more about any of our upcoming programs by clicking on the Campus Calendar tab on our homepage, www.daltonstate.edu.

John Schwenn is president of Dalton State College.

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