Life and the Liberal Arts

BSC Professor and Alumnus Reflects on Life and Learning

What does a liberal arts education mean to you? It is a question that all students at Birmingham-Southern have asked themselves. Beyond platitudes about the value of critical thinking and the importance of interdisciplinary studies, all of us have concerns about an increasingly uncertain future.       

 A professor of psychology and graduate of the college, Dr. Chandler embodies the liberal arts, practicing meditation, reading presidential biographies and beat poetry, studying the connection between nutrition and neuroscience, and playing basketball. He is well known for his passionate and encouraging style of teaching that pushes students to think deeper in the classroom and place what they learn in a broader context. But to him, the liberal arts go far beyond the bounds of the classroom.

“I was raised in the liberal arts, though, I didn’t recognize it until much later in my life,” Chandler said. “My mom is a librarian and Catholic theologian. My dad is a journalist and professor. I grew up steeped in the idea that ideas have their own merit, that embracing the pursuit of knowledge is, really and truly, its own reward.”

As it did for many of us, going to BSC came as a surprise to Dr. Chandler. “As rejection letters started coming in, I got a personal recruiting letter from BSC, inviting me to take part in a scholarship competition,” Chandler said. “I spent a full day on campus, and I fell in love. Everyone was warm, welcoming, community-centered, and service-oriented.”

His time at Birmingham-Southern gave him the opportunity to reflect on the liberal arts ideologies with which his parents had already raised him. “I explored passions in natural and social sciences, philosophy, literature, art, and math,” Chandler said. “I spent time as a neophyte monk in a Buddhist monastery during E-Term, published research with professors, and committed myself to a life of service.”

By the time that Chandler began looking into graduate school, he was greatly influenced by his time and education at BSC. Chandler said that he chose to go to the University of Alabama instead of his other options, Emory and George Washington.

“Even in grad school I couldn’t break from the liberal arts way; I got a master’s degree in cognitive psychology, a doctorate in social psychology, and specializations in gerontology and statistics,” Chandler said. “And after all my grad training, I am now a sleep specialist.”

After graduate school, Chandler set out on a new path that would take him to the US Navy. “I was fortunate to work with the Department of Defense’s preeminent sleep expert, Dr. Lynn Caldwell,” Chandler said. “Again, I ended up in the company of a liberal arts mentor. Lynn is, of course, an accomplished scientist, but she also studies the confluence of Western medicine with traditional Chinese medicine as a hobby and is an equestrian.”

Perhaps it was only fitting that Birmingham-Southern College would come back into Dr. Chandler’s life, but it did so in an interesting way.

“An ad came up for a job at BSC. I applied and did not get it. Tonya and I settled on staying in Dayton for a good long time. Just when we started to look for houses, the BSC job came open again,” Chandler said. “I faced a tough decision: do I indulge my pride and refuse to apply, or do I embrace the opportunity to serve my alma mater and the community that raised me? I chose the latter, and I have never regretted that decision.”

Splash Into SOCO

Escaping Finals with a Weekend Filled with Music and Fun

Our school’s annual SOCO concert will be held May 5th and 6th and will continue the two day event format that was tested out last year. This year, Residence Life and the Interfraternity Council (IFC) have planned a small change to add to the event. SOCO Splash, a daytime event centered on waterslides, will be held on the fraternity row to help make all of the activities of the day more fluid.

“Previously, SOCO Splash, which was introduced last year, was on the Residence Quad,” Allen Doyle, the IFC president, said. “[We thought that] the attendance of both would go up if it was at the same location. We didn’t want to split up the crowd.”

By adding the location of fraternity row to the event, there is now the opportunity to have band parties with live music to help amp up the atmosphere. Residence Life and IFC hope to bring the two interests in music and outdoor water activities together to appeal to more students.

“I’m super into water, slides, music, friends, [and] food,” Doyle said. “It’s my five favorite things all in the same place.”

Photo via Avery Bottom

Photo via Avery Bottom

The concert itself is being put on by the Quest II director of concerts Clayton Crawford and assistant director Divya Desai. Beyond the responsibilities of logistics and budgeting, the well-known role of director is choosing the artists that will perform.

“I know a lot of people wonder why we get certain artists,” Crawford said. “It all depends on who is available, who fits our pretty-small-for-a-concert budget, and, probably worst of all, what administration will allow us to do.”

Even though this is a show for college-aged students, artists are still expected to do a clean show because they are being paid and sponsored by a Methodist-affiliated school. This, along with a modest budget, limits who can be brought to campus.

“We had an artist that I really wanted, and it seemed like a lot of people really wanted, but, when we floated [his] name past administration, there were reservations about some of the themes,” Crawford said. “The shows are supposed to be PG-13/radio friendly, and a lot of music that’s really popular with people at our school doesn’t fit that bill. That’s probably the hardest obstacle to overcome.”

This need to fit certain requirements already puts a strain on the possibility of musical acts that are allowed to come to campus. Beyond these limitations, the concert directors have to find artists that will please the majority of students. The new structure of making SOCO a two day event offers the ability to have two different groups to appease the musical tastes of those who prefer either DJ or live music.

“We are trying to book different genres and not just target one audience,” Desai said. “It’s really important to try to include everyone on campus.”

These two artists, along with the bands that will perform during SOCO Splash, will offer something for every student. While the artists themselves have not been released at this time, Quest II promises that they have been deliberate in choosing groups that will make this year’s event enjoyable to all.

“We’ve worked really hard,” Desai said. “It would be awesome if we could have a big turnout for SOCO.”

Feature photo via Trinity Kubassek

Joseph S. Bruno Capstone Entrepreneurship's Top Competitors

Exploring the keys to success in building a business

Each January, students across campus have the option to order food to be delivered to them, buy unique products to wear or use, and participate in services offered by Business Administration majors during their capstone projects. 

These capstone business projects require seniors to start and run businesses for the month of January with only an initial investment of $500 given to each business. Each business is required to give an initial pitch in front of BSC business professors and a final pitch in front of BSC business alums who currently hold high positions in the business world. Although this is a Jan-Term project, in reality, the teams only have 18 days to actively sell their food, products, and services because they dedicate the first week of January to in-class discussions, creation of the businesses, and brand profiling.  

At the end of Jan-Term, three teams have the honor of receiving The Phillip C. Jackson Jr. Profit Award, the Wayne W. Killion Sr. Innovation Award, and the Kevin R. Stump Sr. Overall Entrepreneurship Challenge Award. 

Featuring Iron City Apparel which received the Phillip C. Jackson Jr. Profit Award (left to right: Dylan Rose, Cliff Poe, and Jacob Dresher).

Featuring Iron City Apparel which received the Phillip C. Jackson Jr. Profit Award (left to right: Dylan Rose, Cliff Poe, and Jacob Dresher).

The Phillip C. Jackson Jr. Profit Award goes to the team with the highest overall profit margins. This year, the award went to Iron City Apparel, a Birmingham themed apparel company which was run by Jacob Dresher, Cliff Poe, and Dylan Rose. This company offered originally designed t-shirts and koozies, as well as hand-knit beanies, made personally by Dylan Rose’s grandmother. During Jan-Term, the groups could sell to students on campus, but the teams were also encouraged to go off campus to expand their businesses to a larger and more diverse market. 

“Getting off campus was one of the greatest challenges,” Rose said. “[But], I really enjoyed the experience and would recommend it to any business major.”

The Wayne W. Killion Sr. Innovation Award went to Magic City Match, which was run by Caroline Irby, Evan Piedrahita, and Breanne DeBaets. This service aimed to provide college students in the greater Birmingham area with dating connections. 

“We wanted something that would set us apart,” DeBaets explained. The group wanted something different from most of the BA499 teams that only sold products. Caroline Irby originally suggested that they offer a dating service for BSC, UAB, and Samford students. 

“We felt like it is hard to meet people… [and to] foster connections,” DeBaets explained. This innovative service and catchy name set this business team apart and allowed them to win the innovation award. Magic City Match offered a free survey to students, then after a match was made and verified through school emails, students received emails offering them the option to pay to get their matches. The team decided to stick to similar pricing as the dating service Tinder: $5 for 3 compatible matches or $8 for 5 compatible matches. There was also a $10 option for 5 matches and attendance to a speed dating event, which was hosted on campus. 

Featuring Magic City Match which received the Wayne W. Killion Sr. Innovation Award (left to right: Breanne DeBaets, Evan Piedrahita, and Caroline Irby).

Featuring Magic City Match which received the Wayne W. Killion Sr. Innovation Award (left to right: Breanne DeBaets, Evan Piedrahita, and Caroline Irby).

The team realized that credibility is a huge aspect for a dating service, which is why their two-week Jan-Term business was more of a trial run to see if this idea would have the potential to be successful in the future. DeBaets explained that they tried to place target ads on Facebook and Instagram, but because they did not have a business license, their advertising on social media was limited to sharing posts. As a result, they saw more BSC students taking surveys than Samford or UAB students. Overall, the team would have liked to have had a higher profit. 

“In some ways we should have increased our prices from the start,” DeBaets admitted, but they ended up sticking to their original prices because the market they were targeting was college students with limited budgets and a hesitancy to pay for a service.

The Kevin R. Stump Sr. Overall Entrepreneurship Challenge Award for the team with the overall best business went to Perfetto Polish, which sold high-end lip and body exfoliators. This group was run by Scott Barton, Dallas Coyne, and Meredith McAdory. The team of Perfetto Polish not only received the Kevin R. Stump Sr. Overall Entrepreneurship for the overall capstone class, but they also won an initial challenge near the start of the term, receiving $100 in capital for the ‘best first presentation and idea’ when they presented to the panel of BSC business professors and brought in samples of their products to test. 

When faced with criticism from this panel for lack of having a poster to display their brand, Barton came up with the idea of projecting their brand logo onto the wall and playing music to draw potential customers to their table. From his experience working at Mac Cosmetics, Barton also came up with the idea of creating edible sugar lip scrubs (vanilla, cinnamon, and mint) and body scrubs (lavender, rose, grapefruit, and forest) using essential oils and all-natural ingredients.

Featuring Perfetto Polish which received the Kevin R. Stump Sr. Overall Entrepreneurship Challenge Award (left to right: Scott Barton, Meredith McAdory, and Dallas Coyne).

Featuring Perfetto Polish which received the Kevin R. Stump Sr. Overall Entrepreneurship Challenge Award (left to right: Scott Barton, Meredith McAdory, and Dallas Coyne).

“It took us until January 3rd to come up with a name for [the business],” Barton said. They ended up naming it Perfetto Polish because Perfetto means ‘perfect’ in Italian and polish makes it sound like a luxury product. They also created their logo to be similar to the Chanel logo and packaged the product in sleek metal jars instead of mason jars to suggest the idea of luxury to potential customers. 

“We, as a group, tried to do more off campus selling, which was one of our major advantages,” Barton revealed. They used almost all $500 in start-up money, and as soon as they started turning profit, they went out and bought more supplies so that they would have extra product on hand.

 “I was really strong-willed on having pretty display testers,” Barton said. “Only a few people didn’t buy the product after trying it. It’s all about creating demand for your product in the market.”

Perfetto Polish was able to display their products off campus at a salon for free, at Rhapsody in Hoover, and with a.k.a. Girl Stuff, which is run by a Birmingham-Southern Alum.

On Saturdays, the team went to a.k.a. Girl Stuff to set up a table and talk to people, which allowed them to learn active selling techniques and learn conversation that draws individuals in to try the products. “It was really helpful to have partnerships,” Scott stated, as selling at other places required a business license which the group did not have.

The team plans to continue selling their products outside of the Jan-Term capstone.  “We’re going to really push our online store because it will be much easier for us to manage,” Scott said. However, their products will also be available at E.B & Grace Hair Studio in Vestavia and possibly at Alabama Goods. They would also like to continue their partnership with a.k.a. Girl Stuff.

The other option for the business capstone class requires business majors to write a paper about a theoretical business, rather than running an actual business. “Some people went on the business capstone trip and got great [experiences], but here we got real world experience,” Barton said. “It was a lot of learning and adjusting, but it really opens your eyes to this is how a business runs and this is what you have to do to be successful.”

All photos courtesy of the BSC Business Administration Department.

Row Woes

The Pros and Cons of Common Source

Earlier this semester, the school’s administration introduced measures to punish fraternities for serving common source alcohol. Seeing as BSC is a wet campus, students are unsure of how these rules may affect the fraternity functions that have traditionally served alcohol for the past several years.

Kyle Lo Porto, Assistant Director of Student Activities, explains that "common source is when an organization provides alcohol to a guest at their event.” He went on to say that common source tends to appear often at open fraternity parties, where organizations feel they need some way to draw guests to their events.

While the school is able to give this clear-cut definition of common source, some students are confused by the change of rules. Since the administration has changed its stance on the subject, some students are hesitant to believe that the rules are as straightforward as they appear to be.

 "Common source has been redefined several times by our school, and the student handbook shows their lack of clarity, in a sense," an anonymous fraternity member says. "Birmingham-Southern College has started incorporating any distribution of alcohol, at all, even when the organization is not implicitly purchasing or distributing the alcohol. When one container of alcohol is handed to another person, that is affiliated with the organization, [and] that is [now defined as] common source."

Historically, the administration has always been opposed to common source alcohol, but punishments were varied due to a lack of precedent in the handbook. Greek conduct boards (made up of all 6 fraternity presidents, plus the Interfraternity Council [IFC] VP of Judiciary, IFC President, and Kyle Lo Porto) would hold hearings and hand out punishments as they saw fit. The new rule incorporates punishments for fraternities that serve common source, which includes losing three events and being put on probation for the remainder of the term and the next term for the first offense. If there is a probation violation, then there is a risk of the house being shutdown. It seems that one of the biggest changes for the fraternities is working with sororities to have them refuse common source and report it when they see it, a rule the presidents all agreed to adopt.

"It is a very tough situation since it is such a long history for certain events," Lo Porto says. "Everybody pledged to stop expecting it from sorority side of things and [for fraternities] to stop providing it."

From a risk management standpoint, there is a concern that banning common source alcohol at parties, like mixed drinks and beers, prevents organizations from controlling how much alcohol is being consumed at parties and makes it harder to cut people off. In addition, this ban may encourage activities like pre-gaming and bringing hard liquor into events. Furthermore, there is concern that the ban on common source simply will not stick and that it will get even further out of hand.

"The biggest problem is that there is a row mentality, where all six fraternities feed off each other in order to sustain the social image at BSC," the anonymous fraternity member says. "So if one frat decides to follow a certain policy, unless all the fraternities are also following, it will very likely hurt their social scene and not be a benefit to the greater Greek community."

Feature photo by jamesomalley via Flickr.

Our Natural Heritage

Dr. Scot Duncan On Alabama's Amazing Biodiversity

If you surveyed people around the country and asked them what comes to mind when they think of Alabama, you would probably get a lot of unflattering answers about our state. To many, we are emblematic of the South’s worst stereotypes. Oftentimes our state finds itself near the bottom of national lists with regards to matters like education and healthcare. You might not know that Alabama ranks top on one very important list, relevant to everything from economic well-being to the sustained existence of humans. That list is biodiversity.

Dr. Scot Duncan, head of Birmingham-Southern's biology department, is not just a familiar face around campus but also an ecologist, conservation scientist, and author. In 2013, he published the book Southern Wonder: Alabama’s Surprising Biodiversity. Intended as a guide for the general public, the book addresses our state’s great biodiversity, why we have it, and why it is important.

In order to answer these questions, we must first understand the meaning of biodiversity.  Dr. Duncan explains that it could refer to the number of different types of ecosystems in a region or the distribution of genes in an area. However, Dr. Duncan believes that the term is mostly used to refer to the diversity of species. In Alabama, we rank #5 in the country and #1 east of the Mississippi for species biodiversity. What is especially noteworthy is the biodiversity of our rivers and streams.

Photo via Dr. Scot Duncan

Photo via Dr. Scot Duncan

“If you look at particular groups of species, Alabama isn’t just in first place; it's a global hotspot for biodiversity,” Duncan said. “We are the global hotspot for freshwater fishes in the temperate zone, [and] we're the global hotspot with no qualifiers for freshwater snails, freshwater mussels, crayfish, and freshwater turtles.”

Historically, Alabama ranks #2 in terms of total number of extinct species. The two main threats to our biodiversity are dams and sediment pollution. As many ecologists will tell you, a dam’s destructiveness comes from the barriers it creates. These artificial structures prevent animals from migrating, mating, and doing anything else that requires geographical movement.

“[The dams’] effect on river and stream ecosystems is devastating. They’re the biggest threat to our diversity of aquatic species,” Duncan said. “[However] dams have done things like economic development, hydropower, flood control, and river navigation.”

While dams impede natural movement, sediment pollution degrades animals’ habitats. If left unregulated, these processes would decimate our aquatic biodiversity.

“Every time it rains, silt, clay, and sand from farmland, construction sites, and even urban areas wind up washing into our rivers and streams," Duncan said. “Because they block light as they float downstream, they cut off the supply of sunlight to the algae that are growing on the bottom of the stream and make it difficult for organisms to find each other for food and mating purposes.”

Despite all there is to say about biodiversity, it still seems difficult to connect with people enough to get them to care. After all, change only occurs when people and governments want it to happen. Dr. Duncan thinks this problem can be answered in two ways.

For many people, including myself, we feel that it’s a moral obligation to share this planet with other species; this is their home just as much as it is for us," Duncan said. We've [also] got a strong body of evidence illustrating the connection between biodiversity levels in our ecosystems and how well those ecosystems provide what are called ecological services for us.”

He further explained that ecological services include clean water and air, good soil to raise crops with, and natural materials like fibers and fuels to harvest. This is important to us, as humans, because Duncan believes that our economy would crumble if our ecosystems stopped providing these ecological services on which we depend. To get this message out to the public, Dr. Duncan wrote Southern Wonder. His journey of writing started with the classes he taught at BSC.

“I started to weave Alabama’s biodiversity into my courses, [and] it involved me reading a lot of different books and talking to a lot of different experts about why we have so much biodiversity in this state," Duncan said. "There was no one source that could pull it all together.”

On his first sabbatical, he set out to be that one source, and the message ended up being a lot larger than he had initially thought.

“The more I learned, the more I realized that people needed a chapter about each of the different sections of the state, a chapter about rivers, a chapter about evolution, a chapter about geology, and so forth," Duncan said. "I wrote it for people with a high school education or better to have a reference they could go to that introduces them to what a great state this is in terms of biodiversity and why that’s important."

Dr. Duncan's effort to make people aware of our state’s treasures never really ends. On October 11th, he published an article on Al.com with James McClintock and E.O. Wilson, two prominent figures in popular science. The topic was Amendment 2, a funding measure for our state parks that will be on the upcoming election ballot. Among southern states, Alabama ranks last in number of state parks, and without this kind of lasting support and preservation, our biodiversity would be lost.

Feature photo via Dr. Scot Duncan


Never Trump

Why I'm With Her and Why You Should Be Too

By now, most voters have heard the misogynistic remarks Donald Trump made in the video released by NBC and the numerous credible allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault that have been leveled against him since that video’s release. Even if you are willing to overlook Trump’s evident lack of basic morality, though you should not, the argument for his candidacy is weak at best. Trump has done more to undermine American democracy and damage international security than any presidential candidate in our history.

In the second debate, Trump threatened to jail his political opponent, should he win the election, which is behavior more characteristic of a dictator than a presidential nominee. Trump has whined that the presidential election, in addition to the Emmys, is “rigged” against him. He has also warned his supporters to watch for voter fraud, even though there have only been 31 verified cases of voter fraud out of the last billion votes cast in America. These false claims threaten the peaceful transfer of power that our democracy has enjoyed for the last 240 years and undermines the electorate’s faith in the legitimacy of our elections.

A Trump presidency would also threaten America’s security. He has indicated that he would allow countries like Saudi Arabia to acquire nuclear weapons, and his loose approach to nuclear proliferation would exponentially increase the risk of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons and put us at risk of nuclear war. Trump’s desire to withdraw from international trade agreements, if implemented, will increase the prices of imported goods. He has even suggested abandoning our NATO allies to Russian aggression and has invited Russia to commit espionage against the United States. Trump’s business entanglements in the Middle East, Asia and Russia would make it impossible for him to conduct his presidency without unprecedented conflicts of interest, which we do not even know about because Trump will not release his tax returns.

It is easy for voters to make character judgements. They reflect negatively on both major party candidates. Hillary Clinton is a flawed candidate, but her shortcomings are not disqualifying like those of Donald Trump. She is easily the most experienced and qualified candidate to ever seek the presidency, and her detailed policy proposals will benefit nearly every American. Her plan to make public college tuition free for middle class Americans and to allow college graduates to refinance their federal loans should be one of the most important voting issues for millennials. In this election, we should not vote on the basis of the candidates’ personalities but in favor of the policies that will positively impact our lives. The contrast between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on questions of morality, temperament and policy could not be clearer. That is why I’m with her.

Limousine Liberalism

The Case Against Hillary Clinton

If Americans elect Hillary Clinton as President, they will make history—for Mrs. Clinton represents a nearly unprecedented level of corruption, incompetence and arrogant liberalism.

Secretary Clinton and her husband represent a form of sneering cultural liberalism that aggravate millions of Americans who turn to populism to channel their anger. She proudly looks down her nose at millions of ordinary Americans and labels them a “basket of deplorables” for wanting to uphold traditional values. Mrs. Clinton’s disdain for average citizens manifests itself in a plan for a top-down bureaucratic state. Hillary’s vision for America mimics her own lifestyle—she seems to envision a nation run by a tiny intellectual elite in urban D.C. and New York. She yearns for a nation ruled by parasitic oligarchs who made their wealth off the public teat—just as she and her husband did.

The Clintons left the White House “dead broke.” Within a few years, they boasted a collective net worth of $111 million. While some of this came from their popular memoirs, much came from the speaking circuit—on which Secretary Clinton sold her political soul. For $225,000 a speech, Mrs. Clinton developed different “public and private” positions on issues such as banking and trade. Based on her comments to Goldman Sachs, the agenda of the likely next President of the United States is for sale. She has put the future of our nation on the auction block for the triangle of greed—an unholy alliance between Big Banks, Big Labor and Big Government.

Her fans point to Hillary’s lengthy record of public service as a rejoinder to these arguments. Yet aside from making her uniquely unsuited to lead a nation hungering for fresh ideas, her record exposes her lack of accomplishment. Americans may remember her time as First Lady for her failed health care plan that empowered bureaucrats over families. She spent her time as Senator focused on running for President, not passing legislation. And she bears the ignominious title of perhaps the least accomplished, least successful Secretary of State in the post-Cold War era. Her time in that position saw the rise of ISIS, the expansion of revanchist Russia and the disastrous overthrow of Libya’s Gaddafi. When asked what her greatest accomplishment was, Secretary Clinton points to flying thousands of miles. To paraphrase Carly Fiorina, traveling is an activity, not an accomplishment.

Yes, if the American people elect Hillary Clinton President, it will be a historic moment. They will hand the forces of corrupt limousine liberalism and tired leftist internationalism an unprecedented victory.

Sitting Down With President Linda Flaherty-Goldsmith

Her Story and What's Coming Up Next On the Hilltop

On June 10th, Birmingham-Southern College put out a press release stating that its 14th president, Dr. Ed Leonard, had stepped down after just a year of leading the college. This news was shocking, and the circumstances of Dr. Leonard’s departure were equally dubious. The release only stated that he had left for “personal reasons.”  Even more shocking was the new face that had appeared almost from nowhere. Linda Flaherty-Goldsmith: Birmingham-Southern College’s 15th president and first female one at that. Questions loaded with wonder and suspicion came flooding through the Hilltop. Who is this woman? What happened behind the scenes? What’s going to change? As college students, we are intelligent consumers of information who want answers. But there is room for excitement too. Our college has a new leader, and she is one with many years of fascinating experiences to draw on while leading our college. Exciting new changes are already happening, and there are more to come. So I sat down to talk with President Flaherty-Goldsmith, or Miz President as she likes to be called, to learn more about who she is and what her vision is for Birmingham-Southern College.

Henry: Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where are you from?

Pres. Flaherty-Goldsmith: I'm originally from Pontotoc, Mississippi. But I left there when I was seventeen years old. I've lived in all four corners of the USA and in Mexico. I'm a native of the South, and I keep coming back to the South, but I venture to other areas.

Henry: Now I understand you've published a book. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

Pres. Flaherty-Goldsmith: Yeah. Well this book is about growing up as a poor white person in the rural South during the pre-Civil Rights period. I initially wrote just one short story about some of the activities we had when I was growing up. The reason that we were poor was that my father abandoned us. He left my mom to raise all of the kids. We were taught from a very early age that poverty was temporary for us. But we were very poor. We picked cotton to buy our clothes in the fall. I chopped cotton in the spring to buy my summer clothes. I worked on Saturdays in my uncle’s drug store ten miles away from the time I was nine years old. He was not poor. We grew out of our poverty. But because we did work our way out of it, my son and our nephews and nieces didn't really know how their parents had grown up. They had grown up in middle to upper income families. So I wrote this one story about the way we grew up. I had one nephew who said, “Oh my goodness! This is wonderful. I understand my dad.” This other nephew who read it said, “Please Aunt Linda, write more. We want to know about our family.” So I ended up writing a collection of short stories. They're all true, but they're also written in a way that I think is kind of engaging, comical, and sometimes sad. It's about people that I knew and about what it was really like to grow up poor. The other reason I wanted to write it was because most of the things you read about the pre-Civil Rights South would lead you to believe that only the African-Americans were poor and that the other people were living and having them as servants. It occurred to me that people don't know that side of Mississippi or the South. They only know what they've read about. Two classes: the rich white and the poor African-Americans. It's just not true. A majority of them, whites in the rural South at that time, were also poor. There were a few landowners who had a great deal of money, but most of the people didn't have a lot of money. So it was for a couple of reasons that I wrote the book. 

Henry: One question that feels very appropriate to ask a college president. What was college like for you?

Pres. Flaherty-Goldsmith: Probably quite different than it is for you. I would have loved to have attended a college like Birmingham-Southern College. I would've flourished here, but at the time that I was going to college, I had to work full-time and go to school at lunch, at night, and on weekends. So going to college for me was balancing three classes a semester with a full-time job. I went to the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, then UAB for my MBA.

Henry: Under ideal circumstances, where would you like BSC to be at the end of your tenure?

Pres. Flaherty-Goldsmith: I think you know that a big part of what I see for BSC is us being more involved in the West End. There are ways that we can be enriched by the community and that they can be enriched by us. I would also like to see us have at least 1600 students on campus, and I would like to see us have more transfers from two-year colleges. I would very, very much like for us to have some new initiatives that we are promoting. I'm really excited about what we're doing in terms of the new creative and applied computing, which they're working through the curricular processing to implement for next fall. I also think that we need to do more innovative things that meet the needs of students going out into the workforce in addition to all the wonderful liberal arts elements that we already provide. That's pretty much what I would like to see. Of course I would like to see us have an endowment of about $150 million dollars. I'd like for us to offer more scholarships. I guess what I really want is for the Birmingham community to visit the Hilltop a lot more often because, once you come to Birmingham-Southern, you're impressed. You can really see that it changes lives and forms lives of significance. I want to make Birmingham-Southern College more visible to a lot more people.

Henry: Tell me more about the creative and applied computing program. What else are we looking to create or expand?

Pres. Flaherty-Goldsmith: Well, last year, the provost had visioning sessions with her faculty to find out what they thought were the things we should be doing in the future. Now that's really the right approach is to go through your faculty and vision. That's how they came up with creative and applied computing. We're also expanding our Urban Environmental Studies program as a result of those. This is all assuming all these things pass curriculum review. We're also creating a Distinction in Public Health. Now the creative and applied computing is something you would use no matter what you're major is. That's really the future way of using computing, whether you're an artist or musician or whatever, and that's what they're really going to be focusing on: how it applies to a liberal arts background. It readies you for using that whatever your profession.

Henry: There’s an attitude on this campus that Birmingham-Southern has problems that it will never fix. The big example is the Caf. What are your plans or thoughts on attitudes like that and working to change them?

Pres. Flaherty-Goldsmith: We are in the process now. Our contract is ending with Aramark, and we have formed a small committee to evaluate food service and decide what we're going to do with it. We're looking at all the concerns that have been expressed as we make the change. I can't tell you what we're going to do because we just put the committee together and are starting to look at it. I've been here eight weeks, and there are a lot of things to do. We're moving as rapidly as we can, but I have a great senior team to work with. You can also be sure that David Eberhardt and Ben Newhouse make clear to us that we need to have a better foodservice.

Henry: Do you have any idea how long you're going to be staying at Birmingham-Southern College?

Pres. Flaherty-Goldsmith: As long as they need me.