LRU News

An evening with North Carolina Poet Laureate: Joseph Bathanti

Fri Feb 14 2014

Hickory, N.C.— Professor, poet and author: Joseph Bathanti will speak at Lenoir-Rhyne University on Thursday, March 6
in Belk Centrum at 7 p.m.

Bathanti, a creative writing professor at Appalachian State University, first came to North Carolina by what some might consider an unorthodox path. In 1976 Bathanti graduated from college and joined Volunteers in Service to America (the domestic branch of the Peace Corps). As a volunteer with the VISTA program he was assigned to teach and mentor prisoners in the Huntersville Prison work camp in north Mecklenburg County.  It was during his VISTA training that he met his wife of 35 years.

Bathanti has continued his work with prisoners for more than three decades while going on to publish two novels, a collection of short stories a non-fiction book and six volumes of poetry.

In 2012 North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue named Bathanti the state’s seventh Poet Laureate, a post he has held from 2012 until 2014.

At Appalachian State University Bathanti serves as Director of Writing in the Field and Writer-in-Residence in the University’s Watauga Global Community. He’s also the former chair of the N.C. Writers’ Network Prison project.

“I can’t imagine a better place in the United States to be a writer than North Carolina,” Bathanti said in an interview with the N.C. Arts Council. “There is no place richer in literature and no place has celebrated writers in quite the same way as our state does.”

Bathanti is a two-time recipient of Literature Fellowships from the N.C. Arts Council (1994 and 2009) and received the 2012 Ragan-Rubin Award, made to an outstanding North Carolina writer, from the N.C. English Teachers Association. He has received numerous other awards including the 2002 Linda Flowers Prize, awarded annually by the North Carolina Humanities Council; 2006 Novello Literary Award; 2002 Sherwood Anderson Award; 2006 Spokane Prize for Short Fiction, to name a few.

This event is open to the public, and free for all guests. No tickets or reservations are required.

Sponsors of the 2013-2014 Series include: Crowne Plaza—Hickory, WFAE 90.7fm, Our State: North Carolina, the Hickory Public Library, the Greater Hickory Kia Classic, the United Arts Council of Catawba County, Barnes and Noble Booksellers, and the Catawba Valley Community Foundation.

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LRU Presents Community Service Awards

Fri Feb 14 2014

HICKORY, N.C. — On behalf of Lenoir-Rhyne University, President Wayne Powell and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Boyd George, will present three individuals with Community Service Awards on February 27, at 6:30 p.m. in Belk centrum. This year’s recipients are all advocates of youth and children, and have been named as Edward L. “Eddie” Beard, Jr. and Judy White of Hickory, and Andrea Triplette Benfield of Newton.

Community Service Awards are awarded to persons who have rendered significant philanthropic or volunteer service to their communities and whose lives are exemplary role models to the college community as it educates students for leadership and service. All award recipients were nominated through submissions to Lenoir-Rhyne’s Board of Trustees’ Committee on Honors and Awards, which currently presents special recognitions of three types: Honorary Degrees, Trustee Awards, and Community Service Awards.

This event, expected to last less than one hour, is free, open to the public, and on the Convocation Schedule for LR student. During the event, a student, faculty/staff member, and on campus organization, chosen by the Student Life committee at LRU will also be announced as award recipients.

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Lenoir-Rhyne champions sustainability in Asheville

Tue Feb 11 2014

ASHEVILLE, N.C.—Sustainability’s not just about making grand globally sweeping sea changes—it’s also about starting the journey of 1,000 miles with a single step. Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Sustainability Studies master’s program is in its second year and it’s beginning its journey close to home by taking a look at the University’s own sustainability practices on its Asheville campus. This is being supported in part by a new Reese Institute Fellowship that is providing a few select students the opportunity to make change happen and build skills while receiving a partial tuition reduction.

Before taking a look at the larger community, LR is taking the time to get its own house in order—literally. Lenoir-Rhyne shares a building with the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Visitor’s Center and that’s where this year’s Reese Institute Fellows Lin Orndorf and Bekah Webb will be focusing their sustainability efforts during the first year of the program.

“Why not start with our own building?” asked Orndorf. “If charity and a lot of other things begin at home, then sustainability does, too.”

Orndorf and Webb will be working with the University and the Chamber in a joint partnership designed to make improvements in sustainability and wellness in the building all three share.

“I would like to see the university’s facility become a model for the region, especially for businesses and academic institutions,” Orndorf said. “I’d like to reduce the building’s energy footprint, and I believe it can be done without a major investment or retrofit.”

The Sustainability Studies graduate program is focused on four areas: sustainability, business, public policy and research within a structure that is custom-tailored to each student’s needs, interest and schedule. The program was a natural fit for Orndorff.

“I’ve been interested in sustainability since I was an environmental studies student at Warren Wilson College in the mid-1980s, but I think the real cincher for me was the rapid pace of development around Philadelphia in the late 1990s,” Orndorf said. “An acre an hour was being bulldozed into housing developments, office parks, and shopping centers with little thought of the consequences on the environment or the community. I felt it was a waste and knew what we were losing we’d never get back again.”

Although she doesn’t have any concrete plans for what lies ahead following graduation Orndorf said, “I have a strong interest in working in an academic or public service setting. I think I would really enjoy sharing my passion for sustainability with college students or youth, or helping to shape policies. A few people have suggested politics for me, and that’s not out of the realm of possibilities.”

As for Webb she plans to step into the marketplace upon earning her degree.

“I am working to start my own business using GIS (Geographic Information Systems) to design more connected and sustainable communities,” she said. “I hope to work on personal sustainability projects as a way to make small but meaningful changes in our own lives.”

LR’s Reese Institute for the Conservation of Natural Resources was specifically designed to allow students the opportunity to participate in a curriculum that honors that old bumper sticker, “Think globally—act locally.”

Through service learning, scholarship, fieldwork, travel opportunities and internships, students have the chance to positively impact their immediate community, while setting their sights on the larger conservation issues of the nation and beyond.

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Coming home to the seminary – Alum returns to head LTSS advancement

Tue Feb 11 2014

HICKORY, N.C. — For the Rev. Paul Summer, his appointment as the new Executive Director of Advancement at Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary is a homecoming decades in the making.

Summer grew up in Columbia and did his seminary training at Southern before moving on to Florida where he served as a pastor for some 22 years.

From there he became the ELCA foundation’s regional gift planner for five years before becoming the assistant to the Bishop of the Southeastern Synod—the position he left to join the LTSS team.

“I was fully committed as the Bishop’s assistant—I wasn’t looking for mobility,” Summer said. “I was approached by various people and asked to consider the position.”

He said the urging he heard was more than the urging of his friends and peers.

“It was an external call—it was God’s voice through the voice of his people,” Summer said. “I thought about it and prayed about it. I meditated on the sense of an internal call to take the position and I looked at my gifts to see if they lined up with the external call.”

Over the years since his own graduation from the seminary, Summer’s ties to the school have remained strong. His eldest daughter followed in her father’s footsteps and graduated from Southern and Summer served on the seminary’s Board of Trustees.

He knows first-hand the value of an education designed to teach, form and nurture leaders to serve the institution of the church and he realized he belonged at Southern where he will continue his life’s work.

“Being connected to Lenoir-Rhyne University is key because the church is called to be active in the world,” Summer said. “God’s at work in doing more than training seminarians—he’s training others as well.”

He said he wants Southern to be in a position to ask one question: “Where is the church in the world and what is our calling in the world?” Summer said. “LR and Southern have put these concerns into a missional context that fits.”

He described his leadership style as a collaborative networker and said he’s looking forward to working on the fundraising side of Southern’s leadership team in an effort to ensure the seminary’s long-term fiscal health.

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View Stars, Planets and the Moon at LRU

Mon Feb 10 2014

HICKORY, N.C. — Lenoir-Rhyne University in conjunction with the Catawba Valley Astronomy Club is sponsoring a “Public Observing Night.” This event will be held on Friday, February 21, weather permitting, at the LR Observatory on top of Minges Science Building. This free event will begin at 7:00 pm and conclude at approximately 10:00 pm.

The public is invited to come to the top of Minges Science Building where several telescopes will be set up in addition to the 12.5 inch Cassegrain telescope in the observatory dome.  To access the rooftop observatory, enter the building then take the elevator to the 4th floor and come up the steps.

During this viewing, participants will observe Jupiter and its moons, the Orion Nebula plus the Pleiades star cluster. If visibility permits, participants may also be able to see Uranus, a double star cluster, and the Hyades star cluster.

Television monitors should be available outside the observatory for many people to view the sights.  Should weather not permit observing, an alternate program will be offered in room Minges 118.

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Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Playmakers Present Award Winning Musical

Fri Feb 7 2014

HICKORY, N.C. — Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Playmakers and the music program will present Ragtime, a play based on the novel by E. L. Doctorow, February 19 through 22 at 7:30 P.M. in PE Monroe Auditorium.

Doctorow’s 1975 novel, Ragtime captures the spirit of America in the era between the turn of the century and the First World War. The story opens in 1906 in New Rochelle, New York, at the home of an affluent American family. When the family patriarch sets sail for the North Pole, certain “the world will stay the same”, his family becomes the center of changes connecting New Rochelle, Harlem and the Lower East Side. This Tony Award winning musical captures a changing time and the magic of transformation, as the line between fantasy and historical fact, between real and imaginary characters, disappear.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for senior citizens, children and non-LR students, and free for L-R students with ID. This production contains adult language and themes that may not be suitable for children. For additional information and to make reservations, call 828-328-PLAY or go to Tickets will also be available at the door.


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Military Service: Keeping Faith and Finding Hope – A Community Film Screening of Travis: A Soldier’s Story

Wed Feb 5 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. —   In an effort to support military and veterans, Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary will host a community film screening of the documentary, Travis: A Soldier’s Story, on Friday, March 28 at 7 p.m. The event, hosted in Reinartz Hall at 1000 Wildwood Avenue, also includes a reception and an opportunity for questions with SSG Travis Mills (Retired), his wife Kelsey, and the documentary film crew from Fotolanthropy. All proceeds go to benefit local non-profits that support the military and veterans’ community.

On April 10, 2012, a landmine nearly took the life of Travis Mills, a husband, father, and soldier. Amputations took parts of each of Travis’ limbs, making him one of just five quadruple-amputees from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to survive their injuries. Travis: A Soldier’s Story explores Travis’ remarkable journey of healing as he learns to live life to the full in ways he never before imagined.

“No one enters war-time military service and is unchanged,” says Pastor Eric Wester, Assistant to the Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  “Hearing Travis describe his experiences will help anyone who wants to ‘support the troops’ learn what actually helps.”

The Rev. Dr. Clay Schmit, Provost of the Lenoir-Rhyne School of Theology, concurs. “This event provides an invaluable opportunity for members of the seminary, military, and Columbia communities to celebrate the journey of Travis, as well as to anticipate this sort of healing and redemption in all of our contexts.”

Come experience the courage and determination of this young family who live remarkable hope in the midst of great sacrifice, and, perhaps, find inspiration to live life to the full. Visit for a film trailer and to learn more about Travis’ story.

Tickets are $7, and for every ticket purchased, one will be given to a local student. You may purchase tickets online at or by mailing a check payable to LTSS to Emily Silvola at 4201 N. Main Street, Columbia, SC, 29203. This is the first in a series of film screenings hosted by Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary that will continue in the Fall of 2014.

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Exploration and Creative Thinking at the Center of LRU Kids in College Program

Wed Feb 5 2014

HICKORY, N.C. — Applications are now being accepted for Kids in College, the Lenoir-Rhyne University summer enrichment program for students who have completed kindergarten through eighth grade this spring. This year, the program will focus on the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).

Students will utilize 21st century skills including critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity. Kids in College is designed for teacher-recommended students who meet any of the following criteria:

• Identified as academically gifted

• Achieved a Level 4 on reading and/or math EOG

• Maintained an “A” average in math and/or reading

• Recommended by current teacher

The middle school program will run June 23-27 and is open to students completing fifththrough eighth grades. The elementary school aged program will run August 4-8 and is open to students who have completed kindergarten through fourth grade. Both sessions will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and lunch will be provided.

Experienced, AIG certified teachers will facilitate learning experiences throughout the week. The classes will be held in the Rhyne Building on campus. Parents will be responsible for dropping off and picking up their children.

The cost of the program is $325 per week. Additional information and registration forms can be found on the LRU web site at Registration will be on a first-come, first-served basis for qualified students. Parents will be notified of acceptance as soon as the following requirements are received:

• Completed application

• Teacher Recommendation Form submitted

• $50 deposit (returnable only if space is unavailable)

• Release Form signed

The remainder of the program cost is due by May 1 for accepted students. Parents are invited to attend an informational meeting at 7 p.m. on May 20 in the Belk Centrum on campus.

Contact Debbie Bandy, program director, at 828-328-7189 or for additional information.

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Doctors and storytellers to collaborate on care Lenoir-Rhyne and Four Seasons Hospice to present Narrative Medicine Weekend Workshop

Mon Feb 3 2014

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — For many “narrative medicine” is a new term, but its foundation is in story—specifically the stories told from patient to doctor and from doctor to patients.

Columbia University Medical Center’s Dr. Rita Charon sought to bridge the gap between physicians and patients through the development of the school’s Narrative Medicine program. Now Lenoir-Rhyne University is partnering with Columbia University to bring Narrative Medicine to Western North Carolina.

On Feb. 7 and 8 Prof. Laura Hope-Gill, Director of the Graduate Writing Program at Lenoir-Rhyne University Asheville and Dr. Claire Hicks, M.D. of Four Seasons Hospice will present a Narrative Medicine Weekend Workshop on the Lenoir-Rhyne University Asheville campus at 36 Montford Avenue.

Narrative is a source of knowledge. Narrative is an instrument of knowledge. Both are vital for patients and doctors alike as they work together to create an alliance based in empathy.

“Narrative Medicine fortifies clinical practice with the narrative competence to recognize, absorb, metabolize, interpret, and be moved by the stories of illness,” according to Columbia’s website. “The Program in Narrative Medicine helps physicians, nurses, social workers, mental health professionals, chaplains, social workers, academics and all those interested in the intersection between narrative and medicine improve the effectiveness of care by developing these skills with patients and colleagues.”

Hope-Gill and Hicks attended training at the Columbia Program and have based the format for the weekend workshops upon the Columbia model.

Narrative Medicine is a systematized method for empathy-training for practitioners. Exercises to be discussed at Lenoir-Rhyne’s workshops include reflective writing, close reading, and listening engagement. The workshop will be a meeting place of arts, literature and clinical care, which will support care providers who can often suffer “burnout” and distance from their emotional selves.

The weekend workshop is one of several offerings for Narrative Medicine at Lenoir-Rhyne. It includes hands-on sessions in the three aspects of narrative training as well as insight from Dr. Hicks’ work in Hospice for patients with HIV and Professor Hope-Gill’s experiences in literature and writing. Participants will view the Oscar-winning Japanese film “Departures” prior to the event.

For more information, email or call 828-407-4268.

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An Evening with Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author: Isabel Wilkerson

Mon Feb 3 2014

HICKORY—Historian, journalist and writer Isabel Wilkerson will be at Lenoir-Rhyne University on Thursday Feb. 20 to discuss her work. Her book “The Warmth of Other Suns,” details a key period that shaped this nation and forever changed the future of African Americans across the country.

Wilkerson will speak at 7 p.m. in Belk Centrum. This event is open to the public and free for all guests. No tickets or reservations are required.

From 1915 through the 1970s some 6 million African Americans left the southern states in what has become known as The Great Migration. Wilkerson’s bestselling book was 15 years in the making and it tells the story of the Migration by chronicling the lives of three of the people who left the south behind in their quest for opportunity and equality. During her research for the book, Wilkerson interviewed more than 1,000 people who made the migration from the South toNorthern and Western cities.

Wilkerson was the first African American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in the history of American journalism. She won the award for feature writing for her coverage of the 1993 midwestern floods, and her profile of a 10-year-old boy who was responsible for his four siblings. Several of Wilkerson’s articles are included in the book Pulitzer Prize Feature Stories: America’s Best Writing, 1979 – 2003, edited by David Garlock.

Sponsors of the 2013-2014 Series include:  Crowne Plaza–Hickory, WFAE 90.7fm, Our State: North Carolina, the Hickory Public Library, the Greater Hickory Kia Classic, the United Arts Council of Catawba County, Barnes and Noble Booksellers, and the Catawba Valley Community Foundation.

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