Archive for April, 2010

CSU Philharmonic Plays Final Concert of the Year

April 30, 2010

Dr. Fred Cohen, Conductor of the CSU Philharmonic, following October, 2009 concert

It’s your last chance this year to hear one  the finest college symphony orchestras in the world, the Columbus State University Philharmonic Orchestra. Who says it’s one of the finest?  I do.  How would I know?  Good question.  Last time I discussed it with retired CSU President Frank Brown, he agreed with me.  We couldn’t both be wrong.  Do we have ties with CSU and could that influence our opinion?  Well yes, we do have ties.  He was president for 20 years, and I got a degree there and facilitate a course about Abraham Lincoln for the Columbus Academy of Lifelong Learning ,which is a part of the CSU continuing education program.  Still, we have both listened to a lot of symphonic music over the course of our lives, and that’s a long time, so we do have some idea of when an orhestra is good. I could also point out that I was a professional musician, but that’s only because I got paid for playing, not because I was a great concert, big band, and jazz combo drummer. I was good enough to know I wasn’t anything to brag about. Still, I did get paid.

Anyway, you can judge for yourself tomorrow night, Saturday, May 1, 2010, at 7:30 at Legacy Hall, whether the CSU Philharmonic is one of the best.  After you attend, you can come back to this post, hit the comment button and let me know if you agree or disagree.   If you love symphonic music, don’t miss it.  They are playing Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony, and 3 movements from Bach’s Orchestral Suite #3 and a piece called “Nightsongs” for trumpet and strings and piano. Not only will you enjoy it, you’ll be showing your support for the outstanding , School of Music.

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A Soldier Comments on How My Lai Affects Today’s Army

April 27, 2010

This is one of the many interesting comments that have been made about  the post  An Emotional William Calley Says he is SorryI am printing it as a post, not only because it is well written, but because  of the author’s explanation of how he believes My Lai has affected  today’s Army’s efforts to make sure that American soldiers know that incidents like My Lai are “not acceptable and will never be acceptable.”  The comment was written anonymously, but I checked with an Army spokesman at Fort Benning, and he confirmed that such classes are conducted. He says that while it is not required specifically that My Lai be mentioned,  it certainly can be, and it is reasonable to assume that it was in the case of the writer who identifies himself as a soldier. 

First off, I was NOT in Vietnam but I have been to Afghanistan twice now.

The bottom line is this man is showing remorse, whether real or fake, at least he is doing that much. Nothing that he can say or do will ever justify what happened there because it can’t. He is guilty of murder just like everyone else that participated in the massacre, to include his Commanders who were hovering in helicopters watching what was going on. They will have to live with that for the rest of their lives as they have for the last 30+ years.

I would like to put this out as a side note to this article: When Abu Ghraib happened, there was the same (though less) national and international outrage. From that investigation everyone from the Commander of the Prison itself (BG Karpinski) to the Battalion Commander (LTC Jordan) was relieved of command and well investigated for parts in the scandal, not to mention the charges on a slew of other personnel from that unit who were convicted of countless crimes. I do not believe that this kind of response would have been possible if the example of My Lai was not so prevalent in the military mindset.

Before both of my deployments we have had training classes for EVERY soldier about ROE, the Geneva Convention and Ethics in Combat. These were taught by the commanders and officers of the unit and it was made extremely clear to all of the soldiers that My Lai was not acceptable and nothing like it will ever be acceptable. My Lai changed the Army and the world for the better, and it is because of My Lai that most of our soldiers are better educated and more ethical now than they have ever been before.

It was a horrible time for our country and it’s armed forces, no one can say otherwise. Many horrible things happened to our troops over there and a lot of them are still dealing with it, but just the same as if someone had done something like My Lai today, it is WRONG and there is no excuse for it.

Just my $.02

S.S.

Josh Qualifies, as Expected

April 26, 2010

Josh Mckoon, Columbus attorney and former chair of the Muscogee County Republican Party, was the first to qualify this morning in Atlanta as a Republican primary candidate for the Senate District 29 seat being vacated by Seth Harp. His news release contained this statement:

“Today represents the start of a new phase in our campaign to bring conservative reform to Atlanta. Over the last 10 months, I’ve been traveling the District and listening to you. Over the next 10 weeks between now and the Republican primary, my campaign will be offering solutions to our problems and outlining in detail my vision for conservative reform at the Capitol.  I am excited to continue to work hard to earn your support to become the next State Senator for District 29.”

I’ll have more on this. Stay tuned.

Schwob School of Music’s Kaleidoscope Was Brilliant Again

April 26, 2010

That was great!  It was wonderful!  Marvelous! Those were superlatives that filled the air following the Schwob School of Music’s annual Kaleidoscope Concert at Bill Heard Theater at the RiverCenter.  They were uttered following prolonged, thunderous applause, whistling,  and cheering as the CSU Philharmonic played the finale. 

One of the reasons for the huge hand was the fact that the audience had built up all of that applause from having to sit on its hands at the end of each triumphant performance by the school’s different musical groups and soloists.  Schwob School of Music Executive Director Fred Cohen asked the audience not to applaud until the end because the concert was designed to be seamless with one selection immediately following another one.  The ensembles and soloist were all over the theater, some on the stage, some in the orchestra pit, and some in the boxes. 

The talent this school of music possesses is phenomenal, both students and teachers.  And they come not just from all over the United States, but, also,  from other countries.  The school is attracting outstanding students and teachers, and that is due, in no small part,  to the financial and moral support it gets from Columbus area music lovers.  If you missed Kaleidoscope this year,  make sure you don’t next year. It’s a performance event you won’t forget.

Oh, we should also congratulate the production staff at the Bill Heard Theater.  Control of lighting was critical, and it was flawless.

The Tenure Controversy at CSU

April 24, 2010
Who’s right in the tenure controversy at Columbus State?  Dr. Tim Mescon’s policy of requiring more research and publishing for a teacher to achieve tenure was one of the big reasons for the no-confidence vote.  Right before the vote, he backed off on that and said for at least a year the tenure standards will remain what they were in order to be fair to those now applying for tenure.   

Are the more rigid standards a good idea?  I’ll get into that, but first let’s look at the concept of tenure. First of all, originally, the main reason for tenure was to protect a teacher’s academic freedom. When a teacher is granted tenure he or she cannot be dismissed without  cause.  In other words,  the administration will have to show cause. If it turns out that the cause is some political, philosophical, or ideological statement that the instructor made in class or in publication, then the principal of academic freedom will have been violated. That’s not considered a valid reason for dismissal by a lot of people.  A valid reason would be for a professor not to show up for class a lot, or not concentrate on the subject he or she is assigned to teach, or perhaps for horrific evaluations by students.

I have always been told that universities are supposed to present all sorts of ideas, philosophies, ideologies,  and concepts, and to provoke students to critically think about them.  That cannot be done without academic freedom. 

A retired professor friend of mine explained that the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech both have more rigid research and publishing tenure standards than Columbus State, but he said the reason for that is that they are research institutions.  In order to achieve that they have to allot more time for teachers to do research and publishing, which means they will do less teaching. 

One of the problems with this, he says, is that your most prestigious teachers are not spending a lot of time teaching.  However,  being an effective  research school gives a university more prestige.   He believes that is why Dr. Mescon wants to institute stricter tenure standards.  However,  teachers at Columbus State have to spend most of their time teaching.  In order to spend more on research and publishing their teaching loads would need to be lightened.  That’s expensive because it would require more teachers.  There is shortage of money right now as the state keeps cutting higher education budgets. 

Maybe Dr. Mescon’s idea for stricter tenure standards is not a bad one in the future, but it doesn’t appear to be a good one now, and he obviously has recognized that.

Should a University be Operated Like a Business?

April 23, 2010

DR. TIMOTHY MESCON WAS DEAN OF THE MICHAEL J. COLES COLLEGE OF BUSINESS AT KENNESAW STATE UNIVERSITY BEFORE HE BECAME PRESIDENT OF COLUMBUS STATE UNIVERSITY

A retired Columbus State University professor had an interesting observation about why he believes CSU President Tim Mescon clashed with the school’s established faculty.  He said he thinks it is a case of a business administration educator becoming a university president and thinking he could run it like a business. He said, “It’s not a business.”

Yes, it takes a lot of money to operate a university, and it costs a lot of money to go to one.  But there is a key business element missing.  Universities don’t operate for a monetary profit.   The bottom line at a university is educating people, getting them ready to earn a decent living,  and providing a broad intellectual background that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.

It appears to me that most businesses are basically not concerned with an employee’s independent thinking when it comes to company policy.  Being a “team member” is what counts, but who would want a college professor who wasn’t an independent thinker?  University students are supposed to be exposed to all sorts of philosophies and ideas, and the best teachers, some believe, are the ones who provoke students to question just about all concepts, philosophies, and ideas, and not to accept what they are told just because some authority figure tells it.  In other words,  they are encouraged to think for themselves.  Unfortunately, not all teachers are good teachers, and some don’t encourage individual thinking. If you want to get a good grade, you had better give the impression that you think the way they do.  Let’s hope they are in the minority.

Business management techniques are no doubt helpful in the financial concerns of a university,  but on the academic side,  it’s a different ball game.  That doesn’t mean a business administration specialist can’t adapt and be a good university president.  Which, according to what he says,  is Dr. Mescon’s goal.

The News is not Good for CSU President Mescon and Provost Levi

April 22, 2010

Right after I post the good news story about the great Columbus State University Schwob School of Music’s annual Kaleidoscope Concert,  I learn from Chuck Williams on the L-E website that the faculty has voted ‘no confidence” for President Tim Mescon and Provost Inessa Levi.

Chuck writes, “Mescon, who has been at the university 21 months, had 62 percent of the voting faculty express no confidence.

Levi, who has been at CSU for 10 months, had 77 percent of the voting faculty express no confidence.”

Out of 293 eligibile voters, 253 voted.

Since I am a graduate of CSU – it was Columbus College when I graduated – and I have a number of friends who are retired CSU professors, and I am a dedicated supporter of its music program, which is one of the best in the country, this is a little personal for me, as it is with a lot of Columbus folks.

The vote  cannot remove Mescon and Levi from office, only the University System Board of Regents can do that.  Chuck Leonard just reported on WTVM that Mescon’s contract is up for renewal and that he asked it not be renewed until the vote of confidence was taken.  The L-E  reports the board granted his request and didn’t renew the contract yesterday, which was the day scheduled for university president contract renewals.

Let’s hope this controversy is resolved quickly for the sake of a really fine school that is a great asset for Columbus.

Kaleidoscope is Here Again, and I’m Glad

April 22, 2010

CSU student Andy Hudson plays a clarinet solo for Rotary Club of Columbus members to promote the Kaleidoscope Concert.

 COLUMBUS, GA (CSU News Release) – Columbus State University will showcase more than 240 Schwob School of Music student and faculty musicians in one evening as CSU presents its Kaleidoscope Concert 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 24 in RiverCenter’s Bill Heard Theatre.

The concert, formerly called “Prism,” is an opportunity for the Columbus community to witness the talents of all Schwob School of Music students and ensembles in a single setting.

“The concert is unique, not only because we have participation by the entire Schwob School of Music, but also because we demonstrate to the audience that musicians are not always confined to a set space,” said Fred Cohen, Schwob School of Music director. “Our students perform on stage as well as in the audience boxes, creating the sense that the entire Heard theatre is a stage and that all audience members have a front row seat.”

The concert is further unique “as a performance of 70 minutes of non-stop music,” said Cohen. “Each musical group takes up where the one before it left off.”

The Kaleidoscope concert involves percussion ensembles, string orchestra, jazz, musical theater, chorales and more.
All of the school’s large ensembles participate, as well as a selection of award-winning soloists and chamber ensembles.

“From steel drums to string orchestra, from jazz to musical theater, from alto saxophones to zithers, there’s something for everyone,” Cohen said.

Admission is $5 and discounted for students, military personnel and seniors. CSU students, faculty and staff enter free. For more information, call 706-649-7225 or go to http://music.colstate.edu. For tickets, visit the RiverCenter Box Office or call 888-332-5200.

I attend these every year and consider them the highlight of the musical year in Columbus.  I hope to see you there Saturday.

DRASTIC STATE BUDGET CUTS ROCK THE MUSCOGEE COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT

April 19, 2010

NOT SUPPORTING PUBLIC SCHOOLS PLACES OUR COUNTRY AT RISK

 As a retired state legislator recently told me, we are losing the globalization battle because we are not supporting public education the way we should. Other developed countries are getting better outcomes in their schools. This problem is really being accented with the news that the Muscogee County School system is facing budget cuts of almost $44 million over a three-year period. This is going to cause drastic cuts in programs and personnel.

The MCSD Board of Education now has to decide what cuts in programs and services will have to be made to implement the cuts handed down by the legislature. At Monday night’s MCSD Board work session, Superintendent Susan Andrews gave the board a list of proposed cuts, which include reductions in staff, and ten fewer school days for which teachers will not be paid. 

The upcoming statehouse elections should be very interesting indeed. School teachers can greatly influence elections. Ask former governor and candidate-for-the-job-again Roy Barnes.

Will a Conservation Law and a Court Appeal Solve Atlanta’s Water Crisis?

April 19, 2010

When I visit my son, Rick, daughter-in-law, Marian, and my grandsons, Benjamin and Christopher, in Cumming, I always have the yen to take a look at the latest condition of Lake Lanier.  That’s because of the incredible drought scenes I saw in 2007.  The picture has definately changed. Rick took me for a ride across Buford Dam Saturday evening, and the lake is beautiful again.  It’s virtually full.   

Lake Lanier, Oct. 20, 2007

Lake Lanier, April 18,2010

But, the fight over drinking water withdrawal rights is far from beautiful. It’s downright ugly.  3 million people in the Atlanta area face the possible loss of their drinking water if some agreement is not reached with Florida and Alabama about who gets how much of  the water by July of 2012.  U.S. District Court Judge Paul Magnuson has ruled that Metropolitan Atlanta doesn’t have the right to continue withdrawing drinking water from the lake.  If you would like more detail on the history of Buford Dam and the lake, check out this link to Wikipedia. 

The state of Georgia is appealing Judge Magnuson’s ruling, and the legislature has just passed a conservation law to cut down on the consumption of water.  The idea in the conservation measure is to show Alabama and Florida that Georgia is willing to do something to ease the problem.  That’s the extent of what the Georgia legislature and Governor Sonny Perdue are doing to deal with this problem.  Will it be enough?  As we used to say in TV news when we ended a story like this, “Time will tell.” Well…it will.

Sidebar

 

Sen. Richard B. Russell, (D) Georgia, 1897-1971

I covered the dedication of Buford dam in 1957 for WSB Radio in Atlanta, interviewing the late and very powerful and grumpy U.S. Senator Richard B. Russell, who wasn’t very nice to me.  I shouldn’t have taken it personally because I later learned that it wasn’t just me. He didn’t like any reporters. He said they were the only people he had to talk to.  The late WSB Radio General Manager Elmo Ellis, a broadcast legend who was the station’s program manager when I was there,  told me that Russell had confessed that to him.  Russell never got married, by the way.