All posts by Nick Garrett

Under new management: The Confucius Institute moving forward

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Throughout history, few philosophers have ever matched the sheer greatness of Confucius.

Today, his name – if not his message – is universally known.

No other scholar has had a more pronounced or visible effect on Chinese education than “Master Kong” – the honorific by which he was known – and his teachings, referred to collectively as Confucianism, are even regarded as gospel by some.

It’s safe to say, then, that the name “Confucius” brings with it a great many positive connotations. But what can the land of his birth teach us?

A great deal, it turns out.

In March of 2014, GRU made history by becoming the first comprehensive academic health center to be affiliated with a Confucius Institute. A nonprofit, public institute for the study of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chinese language and culture, the Confucius Institute at GRU was created in partnership with the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, one of the oldest and most notable universities in China.

One of 400 such institutions across the globe, the Confucius Institute at GRU was the first in the Western Hemisphere to focus on teaching Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Now, under the direction of Cindi Chance, that focus is being magnified.

“Probably 20 years ago, people wouldn’t have accepted even basic Traditional Chinese Medicine in this country,” she said, examining the role of TCM in Western medicine. “Now, there are a lot of doctors who practice it. Many use it to control pain instead of medication.”

It seems almost unbelievable – using ancient medicinal practices to replace modern medicines. But in the future, the transition could save lives.

“In the U.S., we have too many folks who are on the streets because they’ve become addicted to pain medicine,” she said. “Unfortunately, some of those are veterans who come back with recurring pain and get so badly addicted that they can’t hold a job or look for work.”

It’s a tragic situation. However, it is also one Chance believes can be prevented through the use of TCM.

“Chinese medicine, which includes Tai Chi by the way, is more about preventive than corrective techniques,” she said.

While some patients do choose to undergo corrective TCM procedures (using acupuncture instead of anesthetic during surgery, for example), Chance said the focus of TCM is more about preventing or relieving pain before it starts. Things like eating healthy and exercising regularly, treatments Westerners would refer to as “holistic,” all fall under the umbrella of TCM. There’s no denying the prevalence of holistic medicine among newer generations.

That’s why the Confucius Institute is working on a certificate for students taking TCM courses.

“It’s in the works, but if it’s approved, it would show up on the transcripts of students who have taken TCM classes,” said Chance. “Hopefully, students would be able to practice that as doctors, but even if they don’t, just being able to understand that way of treating patients is a tremendous asset to a health care professional’s caregiving.”

But the Confucius Institute isn’t just about TCM, Chance cautioned. Medicine, she said, was only the beginning.

“It’s much broader than that. It’s about teaching, and it’s about culture. How do you marry those two and get the work, and the benefit, that you want for the university?”

It’s a perplexing question, and one with multiple answers.

One solution is the Moon Festival.

In Chinese culture, the Moon Festival is a traditional harvest festival held every year in anticipation of the fall equinox. The tradition began in imperial China sometime between the 16th and 10th century B.C., during the Shang dynasty. Since then, the festival has spread to Taiwan and Vietnam, with similar festivals held yearly in Korea and Japan.

Though the original purpose of the Moon Festival has been lost to time, the Confucius Institute’s Moon Festival closely mirrors our own Thanksgiving. The two-hour event will feature a parade for families and friends, as well as the chance to partake in an ancient Chinese tradition – the eating of moon cakes.

“Moon cakes are traditional Chinese pastries filled with bean curd,” Chance explained. “Normally, families would come together to make moon cakes, but we’ll have some on hand.”

Chance, an expert on Chinese culture and Southern sensibilities alike, said moon pies would also be available for those who were feeling a little less adventurous – something she completely understands.

“I’ve had them,” she said, chuckling. “They aren’t for me, personally.”

This year, the Confucius Institute’s Moon Festival will coincide with Confucius Institute Day – a celebration of all 400 Confucius Institutes globally. Both events will take place on Oct. 1.

But the Moon Festival isn’t the only way Chance intends to further the Confucius Institute’s unique mission.

“We’re in talks about hosting a Chinese New Year party,” she said. “We’re also going to be bringing in Chinese entertainers over the next couple of months, along with an expert martial artist who will be with us for two weeks.”

The Confucius Institute will also host an oncologist specializing in Traditional Chinese Medicine, as well as performances from Chinese acrobats, Tai Chi masters and an operatic singing group.

Chance’s excitement about leading the Confucius Institute is palpable, but not altogether surprising. She has a long history with the world’s most populous nation.

“I’m new to the Institute, but I’m certainly not new to China,” she explained. “I started going in 1989, and I think the last time I went, last spring, was either my 15th or 16th visit.”

Chance, who lived in China for six months as a Fullbright scholar, said understanding our biggest economic competitor is a crucial part of living in today’s world – something most Americans take for granted.

“In some ways, we’re like most universities and communities,” she said. “We’re very ethnocentric; we’re not really interested in ‘going out,’ so to speak.”

In fact, that’s one of the reasons why the Hanban, the Chinese authority promoting the expansion of Chinese language and cultural understanding, puts so much emphasis on properly funding Confucius Institutes like the one at GRU. And no, that isn’t a misprint.

The Hanban directly funds Confucius Institute events.

“The Hanban is very generous about funding activities that we as an institution request,” said Chance. “We send in a budget every year saying this is what we’d like to do, so if there are other things that other faculty and programs are interested in relating to the Confucius Institute, we just need to put it in our budget.”

Chance said it’s a resource she hopes others will take advantage of moving forward.

In addition to funding Confucius institute events, the Hanban also offers opportunities for students and faculty to visit China. The cost of the entire trip, minus airfare, is covered by the Hanban, and in the case of students, these mini-scholarships can last up to two weeks or longer, depending on the circumstances.

One such group is heading to China next year.

“We’re going to be taking a group mostly of faculty and staff to China in the spring,” Chance said. “Hopefully, this will be some of the faculty and staff’s first time there. I think it’ll help us better understand China. I think it’ll help us understand our own country, too.”

Ultimately, that’s what it all comes down to, Chance said. Better understanding China to better understand ourselves.

“China isn’t a perfect country,” said Chance. “It has its faults – believe me, it has its faults – but so does our own. So does every nation. It’s about learning from those mistakes, and using that information to improve our own country and our own culture.”

To those who say otherwise, perhaps Confucius explained it best when he said:

“Don’t complain about the snow on your neighbor’s roof when your own doorstep is unclean.”

GRU alumna takes a look at Southern living in her first novel

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Anna Schaeffer, Honors Program alumna and former CURS Summer Scholar, will join us to talk about turning her Honors thesis into her first published novel on Tuesday, Oct. 6 from noon to 1 p.m. in the Quad Wall Building on the Summerville campus.

Schaeffer holds a degree in English from GRU and was a finalist in the WestBow Press New Look Writing Contest.

Her first novel, titled “All of This,” follows the story of Sadie Franklin, a young woman making the (rather difficult) transition from living in Seattle to living in rural Georgia. Schaeffer describes Franklin as being “all about independence,” a trait that makes her forced adjustment to life in fictional Pecan Creek, Georgia, all the more troubling.

“All of This” is currently available for purchase from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Copies will also be available for purchase at the event.

Attendees are also invited to the “All of This” book release party on Saturday, Oct. 10 from 1-3 p.m. at the Book Tavern. The release party will feature a reading and signing, along with giveaways and a Q&A with the author herself.

The doctor is on: Your Health with Dr. Leonard Reeves

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There’s no doubting that Dr. Leonard Reeves, associate dean of GRU’s North West Clinical Campus, is a busy man.

In addition to his role as associate dean, he also serves as a Family Medicine Doctor in Rome, balancing his time between seeing patients at Floyd Medical Center and at Redmond Regional Medical Center. He is also involved in the Rome community as a member of the Rome Rotary and currently sits on the executive committee and the Board of the Greater Rome Area Chamber of Commerce.

But Reeves has another passion outside of his love for medicine, education and community service. In his spare time, Reeves also produces a series of YouTube videos explaining complex healthcare topics in the simplest terms.

To view Reeves’ latest video, titled “Your Health – Sleepiness & Diabetes,” click here.


The Audit Connection, Fall 2015 issue available online

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The Fall 2015 issue of “The Audit Connection” is now available. Produced by the Office of Internal Audit, “The Audit Connection” is the best source for the latest information about the overall health of Georgia Regents University.

To view the latest edition of “The Audit Connection,” click here.

Below is an excerpt from the Fall 2015 edition featuring the newest OIA intern, Shannon Runger.

Audit Intern“I think the greatest thing about this internship is the inclusion of the intern in the various audits that are being handled by the office. I feel like I will get a wellrounded understanding of internal audit through this experience.” – Shannon Runger

Shannon Runger became interested in the internship after attending a student luncheon at the Office of Internal Audit. There she learned that auditing encompassed more than the stereotypical idea of searching for fraud. She became increasingly interested while attending a course taught by Prof. Steve Loflin, who has a background in audit and frequently incorporates audit policies and procedures into his accounting lectures.

Through the internship, Runger hopes to gain a better understanding of the role and benefit of internal audit for the university and health system. She was delighted to have the opportunity in May to job shadow Anthony Wagner, the executive vice president of administration and finance for Georgia Regents University, and had a chance to see how the various systems work together to achieve a common goal. The experience opened her eyes to the many employment opportunities offered by GRU.

Runger is originally from Iowa, but an enlistment with the Air Force and a position at Fort Gordon brought her to Augusta in 2005. After an eight-year military career, she decided to pursue a degree in accounting and enrolled at Augusta State University. She saw the university through the consolidation into GRU and has been impressed with the degree of professionalism and aid to students that the Hull College of Business provides. She intends to continue her studies through a master’s degree program and hopes to obtain multiple professional certifications.

Bleed for your Team: Fall Blood Update

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Fall has fallen and with it the end of the Bleed for your Team Blood Drive is fast approaching.

With only one week left to donate as much blood as they (safely) can, which team will give the most for residents of the CSRA?

When last we checked in on our college competitors, the College of Dental Medicine had edged out a slight lead over their Medical College of Georgia rivals.

Have the tables turned in favor of the Medical Masters since our last Bleed for your Team update? Or will Team Tooth prove once and for all that they are, in fact, the better bleeders?

Find out here.


Alumni BBQ tickets now on sale

Open to the public, the annual GRU Alumni Barbecue and Celebration will be held on Friday, Oct. 9, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the D. Douglas Barnard, Jr., Amphitheatre on the Summerville campus.

Alumni BBQThis year’s event, which is the culmination of the IGRU campaign, features food by local favorite, Sconyers Bar-B-Que, as well as live music, a Kid’s Zone with games and inflatables, followed by fireworks at dusk.

Food service will end at 8 p.m.

President Brooks Keel will be in attendance, so come and show your support!

Get your tickets now, and pay a discounted rate!

Buy your tickets online now at or by calling 706-737-1759.

CON Athens students take Day of Service on the road

Participants smile for the camera at “Jog Your Memory,” an important event in GRU Day of Service history.

If there were ever doubts about GRU students’ ability to lead, a group of nursing students put them to rest on Day of Service by hosting the university’s first student-led event – a 5k run for Alzheimer’s research titled “Jog Your Memory.”

But in addition to being the first student-led event in GRU Day of Service history, the 5k was also historic for another reason: those students attend classes at the College of Nursing’s campus in Athens.

Coincidentally, that’s also where the run was held.

Elizabeth Gay, the president of the Student Government Association at Athens, said the event was a truly communal effort.

“Ansley and I wanted to do something that both of our student groups could work together on,” said Gay, referring to Ansley Akin, president of the Georgia Regents Association of Nursing Students at the Athens campus. “We wanted to include the Athens community and raise money for an organization we all loved.”

Their solution? Fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Association of America.

“We chose the Alzheimer’s Association of America partly because we had recently studied geriatrics,” said Gay. “But we also chose it because [Alzheimer’s] has affected many loved ones in many peoples’ lives.”

Akin, who worked previously in an Alzheimer’s care facility, said the choice was a much more personal one for her.

“My grandmother has dementia,” she said. “I just knew it was the organization I wanted to raise awareness for.”

After getting their event approved, Akin said the planning for “Jog Your Memory” took a great deal of time. Their first order of business, however, was something very straightforward: settling on the route.

“We chose to use the University of Georgia 5k route, because it was very well-known and safe and provided us with a police escort,” said Gay. “It also helped us incorporate the Athens community.”

“Jog Your Memory” T-shirts were a huge hit with participants.

After establishing their route, Akin said her team worked tirelessly throughout the month of February to design T-shirts and write letters to sponsors.

With the basics out of the way, Gay said the team moved on to settling the finer details. Over the summer, they picked up sponsors, planned water stations, filled goodie bags and hammered out how their registration would work. They made a website for early registration and reached out to students, faculty and community members alike about participating.

Led by Gay and Akin, the SGA and GRANS student executive board ran the registration, water and gift tables on the day of the event. They also documented each participant’s running time and awarded prizes to the first six participants to finish.

The reward for their efforts was an impressive turnout: 50 participants in total, who together raised almost $1250.

Dr. Julie Behr, assistant dean for the Athens campus, said the CONAT students’ exceptional accomplishment was “not surprising.”

“This is a very active, very dedicated group of students,” she said. “They work very hard to champion GRU’s mission statement and to give back to their community here in Athens.”

In response to a question about students hosting the first student-led event at a satellite campus, she joked that the term “satellite” was subjective.

“You know the original Department of Nursing was actually founded here in 1943,” she said. “It didn’t move to Augusta until 1956, so we joke that the campus there is really the satellite.”

All joking aside, though, she said she would encourage faculty at either campus to push their students to find something that “speaks to their heart,” and to pursue that as a future Day of Service opportunity. That, she said, was the key to Gay and Akin’s success.

Elizabeth Gay and Ansley Akin (front) pose with “Jog Your Memory” participants.

In the wake of that success, Gay said she and Akin are proud of their event’s participation and are very excited to leave a legacy that they hope will continue at the Athens campus. She also said she’d like to see students at other campuses take the same initiative.

“I would definitely encourage my classmates to lead their own day of service events,” she said. “It took a lot of planning and time, but watching people cross our finish line and seeing how much we were able to give back filled my heart with so much pride and joy.”

To all of their classmates and event participants in Athens, Gay and Akin would like to say thank you.

But they also have a special message for all of her GRU classmates.

“Our students are capable of achieving so many things,” Gay said. “I think it’s important for us to remember to always use our talents to give back.”

SAMHSA grant trains students to treat substance abuse

1-in-4 adults exceed the safe drinking limits set forth by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive alcohol consumption is linked to more than 60 chronic health conditions and is responsible for nearly 80,000 deaths per year.

But alcohol isn’t the only problem.

The estimated total cost of substance abuse in the U.S. alone amounts to $600 billion annually.

It’s safe to say, then, that substance abuse is a serious problem. However, outside of psychiatry, few health professional training programs pay serious attention to the root of patients’ alcohol or drug abuse.

Dr. Aaron Johnson, associate professor in the Institute of Public and Preventive Health, is looking to change that.

With the aid of a recent grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Johnson hopes to begin training students in health professional programs to identify and address unhealthy alcohol and drug use in their patients and clients.

One of 62 training grants recently awarded nationwide, the $950,000 grant will afford for the training of more than 1,000 GRU students over the course of the next three years.

“With the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, there is a significantly greater emphasis on prevention and integrated healthcare,” said Johnson. “This training will provide [students] with a skill that addresses both of these issues.”

As a condition of the grant, SAMHSA also requires a series of short satisfaction surveys from grantees. Held immediately following graduation, and again at the 30-day and 12-month mark, the purpose of the surveys is to measure changes in student attitudes toward and confidence in working with substance use patients.

Johnson says GRU’s surveys will go above and beyond SAMHSA’s requirements.

“Once students are trained, we’ll evaluate each students’ proficiency in performing a brief intervention using a computer-based simulated patient,” he said. “That way, all students regardless of the program they are in will be evaluated using the same simulation.

The simulated patient is currently being developed by Kognito.

Johnson said he and his colleagues have also discussed the possibility of using the required surveys to conduct validity research.

“We’d like to compare the proficiency measure using the simulated patient to that of a live standardized patient and/or a preceptor’s direct observation with a real patient,” he said. “We are just beginning to develop that idea, though.”

Johnson said he hopes the training will help distinguish GRU students on both the national and international levels.

“The strongest evidence for the effectiveness of screening and brief intervention is in primary care settings,” he said. “This training enables primary care practitioner to address many alcohol and drug issues right there in the office, while also making them more knowledgeable of treatment options for patients who need formal treatment.”

Not only will the grant affect students, though. Johnson said he believes it will also help distinguish GRU from other regional academic medical centers.

“National studies of physicians and nurses have found that they receive very little in the way of instruction on addressing patients’ substance use issues,” he said. “Integrating this training into their curriculum will make GRU somewhat unique in this regard.”

Dance Dash 5k swings into Augusta on Nov. 14

Dance Dash 2014 44The second annual Dance Dash 5k swings into Augusta on Nov. 14, and supporters are already on the move. But what should you know before lacing up your running shoes?

In its own words, Dance Dash describes itself as a 5k with a twist. In a way, that’s appropriate, because at any time Dance Dash might very well involve doing “The Twist.”

The hope is that Dance Dash participants will run (or walk) to raise money for their area’s Children’s Miracle Network Hospital wearing whatever ridiculous (but appropriate) costumes they can muster. Last year, a couple of notable superheroes raced next to a troupe of pink-tutu-wearing fairies while a gaggle of overdressed Santas cheered them on from behind. And those weren’t even the most imaginative competitors.

But the real craziness begins at the stops.

Every mile of Dance Dash (or three times total in a traditional 5k), participants will have a chance to learn a new dance move or routine.

Why, you ask? Because at the end of the race, Dance Dashers will be encouraged to join a giant flash mob dance party to celebrate their achievement.

Dance Dash 2014 49While fun and entertaining, the true magic of Dance Dash is that 100 percent of all funds raised go directly toward providing the best care possible for sick children in our community. And the best part is you can start giving today.

The process is simple.

First, register for yourself or create a team with your friends and coworkers. Know a group of people you’d like to run, walk or dance with? Have an awesome costume idea you’d like to show off? Then come out and Dance Dash.

Second, share your individual or team race page on Facebook and Twitter to let your other, non-Dash Dancing friends know that you’re competing. Remind them that if they won’t join you, then the least they can do is support you. With donations. For sick children.

And lastly, join us for Dance Dash Day at 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, in front of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia in your best costume, craziest outfit and best attitude.

Individuals and teams can pick up their Dance Dash 5k packets from 3-7 p.m. on Nov. 13 or 7-9 a.m. on Nov. 14 in the CHOG lobby.

Dance Dash 2014 30From now until Oct. 10, registration is $10 off for all participants. GRU-affiliated participants can receive an additional discount by contacting Jessica Seigler at 706-446-0232 or at

Registration ends at noon on Nov. 13. To guarantee yourself an official Dance Dash T-shirt, though, you’ll need to register by 11:45 p.m. on Oct. 30.

Interested? Excited? Ready to dance to make the world a better place for children?
Then register for the second annual Dance Dash 5k by visiting

The Maxwell Theatre welcomes Victoria Vox to the stage Thursday

VicVoxThe GRU Lyceum Series is sponsoring yet another world-class act on Thursday, Sept. 24, with “When the Night Unravels – An Evening with Victoria Vox.” The concert, presented by the Department of English and Foreign Languages, runs from 7:30-9 p.m. at the Maxwell Theatre.

Vox, a Wisconsin native, is world-renowned for her unique and infectious pop-folk-jazz style and the incorporation of both French and English lyrics into her songs.

But to say she’s a talented musician is a huge understatement.

Vox wrote her first song at the age of 10. At 17, she bought a guitar and spent a year abroad in France, where she fell in love with both the instrument and the language, two staples of her current musical career. After graduating from the Berklee College of Music in 2001 with a degree in songwriting, Vox took up the ukulele in 2003, and she’s been busy changing the face of music ever since.

To date, she has held performances in the United States, Europe, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

Earlier this year, Vox was featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, and in 2009, she performed on the “Jay Leno Show.” Her music, which frequently appears in indie films, was featured on NPR’s “To the Best of Our Knowledge” in 2007.

Vintage Guitar Magazine claims, “An undercurrent of toughness, a beautiful voice, great melodies and loads of charm make [Vox’s] unique folk/pop music impossible to resist.”

Tickets for “When the Night Unravels – An Evening with Victoria Vox” are $5 for the general public and free for GRU students, faculty and staff with a valid JagCard.

For more information, contact the Maxwell Theatre Box Office at 706-667-4100.

For Students Only:

On Friday, Sept. 25, at 10 a.m., join area high school students for yet another Victoria Vox concert titled “Victoria Vox: un concert en Français.”

This concert, performed in both French and Spanish, and also presented by the Department of English and Foreign Languages, is open only to GRU and EGSC students with a valid student id. Admission is free.