Tag Archives: featured

Step Afrika! performs at the Maxwell Theatre Sep. 22

“Step Afrika!,” the first professional dance company dedicated to the tradition of stepping, returns to the Maxwell Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 22 for a night of percussive dance.

Since their last sold-out performance in 2007, they’ve been on Broadway and the show has been completely revamped.

According to Kelly Thomas, director of the Maxwell Theatre, the show is not only bigger and better. It’s more educational as well.

“You won’t just see a step show when you come to ‘Step Afrika!,’” he said. “You’ll learn about step as well.”

The brainchild of founder C. Brian Williams, a graduate of Howard University who learned to step as a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, “Step Afrika!” performs at more than 50 colleges and universities every year.

Arriving a day early, the company will participate in a series of workshops put on by Student Life and Engagement, helping students prepare for a student step show on Nov. 20.

Tickets are free for GRU students with a valid JagCard, $5 for staff, students and children, $10 for alumni and military and $15 for the general public. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or online here.

Sign-up ending soon for Day of Service 2015

Day of Service:

Reminder: The last day to sign up for Day of Service 2015 is Thursday, Sept. 10.

Join a growing Georgia Regents University tradition by lending a helping hand to our CSRA community.

Kristin Gordon, volunteer coordinator for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Augusta, Inc., said GRU volunteer help last year was an invaluable service.

“Last year, GRU helped us do our spring cleaning inside and outside of the house including the yard and all the leaves that came with it,” she said. “Maintaining the house is very important but hard to do when we are trying to take care of the families staying with us at the same time.”

Now, with an even larger facility, the RMHC (and many other local groups) need our help more than ever.

“GRU group giving their time and helping hands lifted a huge weight off our shoulders and brought ease to our minds,” said Gordon. “This year we are very excited to have your help again, especially because the new Ronald McDonald House is much larger and there is a lot more ground to cover!”

But if the chance to lend a hand wasn’t incentive enough, those who participate in Day of Service activities and present their Day of Service volunteer wristbands will be admitted free to the GRU musical event of the season:

Jazz at the G:

GPB Augusta, in cooperation with Georgia Regents University Department of Music, Garden City Jazz, The Greater Augusta Arts Council, NBC26TV and The Maxwell Theatre, is launching the second year of Jazz At The G, a series of jazz concerts held on GRU’s Summerville Campus.

The first concert of the season is and outdoor event at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, at the D. Douglas Barnard Jr. Amphitheatre. Wycliffe Gordon, The Mike Frost Band featuring Lauren Meccia, and The Travis Shaw Trio are scheduled to perform. Additionally, a contingent from the GRU Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Rob Foster, is scheduled to perform.

Jazz trombonist Gordon rarely performs with the group of versatile musicians that will join him on stage for this performance. With more players and instruments on stage, this ensemble allows him to ‘stretch out’ and bring a new energy and improvisation to the presentation,” said GPB-Augusta Station Manager Drew Dawson. “It is Wycliffe Gordon cutting loose and having fun with some incredibly talented musicians, while bringing the audience along for the ride.”

Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets, lawn chairs and picnic baskets for the grass-covered terraces of the Barnard Amphitheatre. In the event of inclement weather, the concert will be moved indoors to the ballroom in the Jaguar Student Activity Center.

Additional Jazz At The G concerts are scheduled through Spring 2016 at both the Barnard Amphitheatre and Maxwell Theatre.

Admission to is $10 for the general public; $5 for active military, students with a school ID, children under 13, and GRU faculty and staff with a JAG Card; and free for GRU students with a valid JAG Card. A portion of the proceeds fund scholarships for GRU music students. Tickets are available at the Maxwell Theatre box office and online at gru.edu/maxwelltheatre.

“We are excited to bring a second season of Jazz At The G to fans of this truly American art form,” Dawson said. “Our goal is to make the campus a welcoming destination for local jazz aficionados while providing expanded opportunities for GRU music students to showcase their talents and share the stage with local, regional and nationally known jazz greats.  And there’s really no better venue than the Barnard Amphitheater. It’s an emerald jewel in the heart of Summerville. Our hope is that by continuing this series of concerts, our neighbors in Summerville and our friends across the CSRA will discover another opportunity to enjoy the creative output of artists in this area.”

There is no charge to park on GRU’s Summerville campus for this event.  The campus is designated as a tobacco-free and alcohol-free zone. For more information, see gru.edu/maxwelltheatre or #JazzAtTheG on Twitter.

Eager to help?

Ready to jam?

Then don’t delay! Sign up for Day of Service 2015 today.

IGRU: Community Giving

We started off strong, but let’s keep the momentum going!

This year’s IGRU kickoff events brought in more than $250,000, which is up 20 percent from last year’s first-day total, but we’re not done yet.

Come join us for a “sweet treat” to celebrate our success so far, this Friday, September 11 from 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Summerville campus, main entrance
  • Heath Sciences campus, corner of 15th and Harper Streets and the J. Harold Harrison M.D. Education Commons lawn

Still need motivation? How about a new video to really drive the message home?


Provost Perspective: Professional Activity Capture Tool

If you’re a faculty member or someone assisting an academic department, you’ve probably heard about the impending rollout of the Professional Activity Capture Tool (PACT), an online information management system that gives us a single database for faculty information.

I realize just how often we ask faculty for the same information, and while the reasons for asking are certainly important, we understand how disruptive these requests can be to your already busy schedules. With PACT, we are now able to have a single source of information on faculty that will help us, and you, produce reports for the annual review process, promotion and tenure review and accreditation while also providing a faculty database that can be used by both internal and external audiences.

One tool with several uses meeting multiple needs.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this tool, which comes to us from Digital Measures, is our ability to customize the information fields. Each college and department has its own individual needs, and our ability to tailor the information ensures that we can be responsive to everyone – faculty, departments and the university as a whole.

Teams have already begun working with people at the department level, and training will continue throughout October. While I understand why there might be some skepticism that one tool can handle all these different aspects of reporting, and maybe even a little frustration that we’re kicking this off during the hectic early days of the semester, please understand that the ultimate goal is to take work off your plates, giving you more time to do the things you need to do for your students, your research and your professional development.

Once the information is inputted, only routine updates will be required.

The best way to understand how PACT can help you is to learn more about it, so I’m including a list of resources, which you can also find at the Institutional Effectiveness web page.

Click here to view my short video highlighting the benefits of PACT, here to access the full training manual, or here for a quick reference guide.

As always, I thank you for all you do to make this university a place we can all be proud of.

Press On gives $2.5M to fund pediatric cancer research, treatment at GRU

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Press On, a donor-advised fund of The Community Foundation for the CSRA that is pushing for a cure for childhood cancer, is giving $2.5 million to fund translational pediatric cancer research and cutting-edge treatment alternatives at the GRU Cancer Center. The announcement took place during a news conference Thursday at the GRU Alumni Center.

“We are building the infrastructure in Augusta that can serve communities that don’t necessarily have the ability to travel for treatment,” said Stephen Chance, who co-founded Press On with his wife Erin.

The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 10,000 children under age 15 will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Pediatric cancer research, however, is underfunded because less than 1 percent of people with cancer are children.

“When you hear there are no curative options for your child, it stops you in your tracks,” said Tara Simkins, who runs Press On with her husband Turner and with the Chances. “What options can we create for our children? That’s been the driver behind Press On. ”

The $2.5-million gift will fund the development of the Press On Translational Pediatric Oncology Program at the GRU Cancer Center to boost the discovery and deployment of new treatment alternatives for childhood cancers. This grant was made possible with the long-term commitment of Tony and Jeannie Loop and the JANUS Research Group.

“Children are our future, and we have to help them,” Jeannie Loop said. “JANUS is looking forward to working with Dr. Samir Khleif, director of the GRU Cancer Center, and Press On to help children everywhere.”

“The Chance and Simkins families have seen firsthand the traumatic physical and emotional effect cancer can have on children. I can’t thank them and the Loop family enough for making the Press On Translational Pediatric Oncology Program a reality and for ‘pressing on’ in partnering with us on innovative research,” Dr. Khleif said. “Their generosity and devotion will positively impact the lives of our youngest patients for years to come.”

Press On was founded by Stephen and Erin Chance in 2006, when their son Patrick was diagnosed with neuroblastoma — a rare type of cancer that affects nerve cells. After a long and courageous battle, Patrick died in 2012.

In 2009, Turner and Tara Simkins joined Press On after their son Brennan was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, or AML, a fast-growing blood cancer. Following years of care and an unprecedented four bone marrow transplants, Brennan is in remission.

Press On is a field of interest fund under The Community Foundation for the Central Savannah River Area‘s nonprofit umbrella. Press On invests in medical research focused on novel and less toxic therapies for neuroblastoma and AML, two deadly pediatric cancers.

For more information on what Press On is and how to donate money to the cause, visit cancer.gru.edu/presson.


GReport Summer Vaycay Contest winner

Tyler Schumann was the winner of the GReport Summer Vaycay Contest.

Throughout June, the junior from Hephzibah explored Jackson Hole, Wyoming and the surrounding National Parks as part of a mission trip.

Tyler’s photo of Grand Teton was chosen the best of the best. It appeared as this week’s GReport email header and it will remain as the GReport website header until Wednesday.

Here’s the full photo:

photo contest winner


Lyceum Series begins Sept. 22

The 2015-16 GRU Lyceum Series brings artistry, creativity and a whole lot of history to the Maxwell Theatre, with four shows that are guaranteed to please.

First up, on Sept. 22, is Step Afrika!, a nationally known step company that traces the popular, percussive dance back to its traditions in African and modern dance.

“You won’t just see a step show when you come to see Step Afrika!, you’ll learn about step as well,” said Maxwell Theatre Director Kelly Thomas.

Coming exactly a month later is the world-famous Vienna Boys Choir.

“When you think children’s choir, this is the choir you think of,” Thomas said.

Featuring young singers from over 20 countries, the Vienna Boys Choir performs in front of more than a half million people every year. Not only that, but the choir is old. Really, really old.

“They don’t just sing Mozart’s music,” Thomas said. “They were around to work with Mozart.”

In conjunction with the GRU Opera and American Musical Theater Institute, the third Lyceum Series event this year will bring “The Marriage of Figaro,” a full opera featuring professional baritone Mark Diamond, to the stage on Feb. 12.

“Starting last year, we wanted to find a way to more directly connect the Lyceum Series with the students, and part of that was a decision to not just link up the professionals with the students outside of the performance, but to actually link up the professionals with the students on stage,” Thomas said. “And this year, instead of inserting the students into the professional’s performance, we’re inserting the professional into the students’ performance.”

The final event of the Lyceum season will occur on March 4, when the Peking Acrobats wow audience members with a daredevil program presented in coordination with the Confucius Institute.

“For people who have been coming to Lyceum Series for a long time, they’ve probably seen different acrobat shows,” Thomas said. “This is the biggest acrobat show we’ve ever done.”

Company members were featured in “Oceans 11,” and their Human Stair Stack set a world record.

The price structure for this year’s events remains unchanged from last year, though Step Afrika! and the Peking Acrobats will have options that will allow audience members on the thrust stage.

Tickets are free for GRU students, $5 for staff, students and children, $10 for alumni and military and $15 for the general public. They can be purchased at the box office or online here.

“You gotta be at Jazz at the G”

At GRU, we’re a multi-talented bunch.

We’re okay golfers, for one. Sometimes, our professors and our researchers receive national – even international – attention, both for their knowledge and their opinions. Occasionally, we even dabble in saving lives.

But if there’s one thing we know how to do, it’s jam.

Don’t believe us? We’ll prove it.

To celebrate Day of Service volunteers, Saturday, Sept. 12 also marks the return of “Jazz at the G” – GRU’s one-of-a-kind Jazz extravaganza. This year, things kick off at 6 p.m. at the D. Douglas Barnard Jr. Amphitheatre on the Summerville Campus, an outdoor setting that’s sure to be cool even in the Georgia heat.

Last year’s season wrap-up was a world class show, but this season promises to be even better.

WycliffeHeadlining Jazz at the G season two is none other than Wycliffe Gordon, who is beginning his 2nd year as “Artist in Residence” at GRU’s department of music.

In the words of GRU’s own Drew Dawson, Station Manager of GPB-Augusta, “with a group of wildly talented musicians, Wycliffe Gordon is going to stretch out, ignoring musical boundaries to bring  a new kind of energy and improvisation to the presentation. This is Wycliffe Gordon cutting loose, having fun  and bringing the audience along for the ride.”

FemaleArtistIn addition to what’s sure to be an out-of-this-world performance by Gordon, attendees of the Jazz at the G season two kick-off concert can also expect stellar performances from both The Mike Frost Band and guest vocalist/jazz saxophonist Lauren Meccia, as well as the introspective and ever-intriguing Travis Shadow Trio.

GRUEnsemble“Jazz at the G” also includes a performance by a contingent of student musicians from The GRU Jazz Ensemble, led by Dr. Rob Foster.

Tickets are now on sale at the Maxwell Theatre Box Office. Admission is $10 for the general public, $5 for children, students and active military and absolutely free for GRU students, faculty and staff with a valid JagCard.

Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets, lawn chairs and picnic baskets, as seating is located on the grass covered terraces of the amphitheater. In the event of inclement weather, the concert will be moved to the Jaguar Student Activities Center Ballroom, located adjacent to original venue.

There is no charge to park on GRU’s Summerville Campus for this event. Also, as a reminder, the campus is a designated tobacco-and-alcohol free zone.

“We are excited to bring a second season of ‘Jazz At The G’ to fans of this  truly American art form on GRU’s Summerville Campus,” said Dawson.  “Our goal is to make the campus a welcoming destination for local jazz aficionados while providing expanded opportunities for GRU Music students to showcase their talents and share the stage with local, regional and nationally known jazz greats.”

Eager to stay in the loop? Use the #JazzAtTheG hashtag to stay up to date with all future Jazz at the G happenings.

Still not sold on our jamming credentials? Then trust some words of wisdom from Gordon himself.

“You gotta be at ‘Jazz at the G.’”

Karin Gillespie writes and writes… and writes

Karin GillespieKarin Gillespie has quite a few writing achievements to her name.

For one thing, she writes a popular book column, “By the Book,” for the Augusta Chronicle. If that wasn’t enough local exposure, she’s also a humor columnist for Augusta Magazine. She writes book reviews for the Washington Post, and in 2014, her essay, “A Master’s in Chick Lit,” was featured in the New York Times. She’s even published a book or two of her own.

Actually, scratch that. She’s written five.

But it’s that last accolade that’s truly noteworthy. Not because Gillespie has published five books – a feat that would be incredible on its own– but because in September, she’ll have published six.

Needless to say, Gillespie knows a thing or two about putting pen to paper.

But she also knows a thing or two about living. That’s the focus of her latest novel, “Girl Meets Class.”

Prior to writing, Gillespie had another challenging career. Now a part-time instructor in the Department of English and Foreign Languages, she previously spent 10 years teaching at an inner-city high school. She said the experience was “the hardest challenge” of her life.

“I taught slow learners and children with behavioral disorders,” she said. “It was hard, seeing all those social problems on a daily basis. You know, a good day there was a day when someone wasn’t throwing a chair at me.”

Flashing her signature smile, she added, “Thankfully, nobody here throws chairs.”

She said “Girl Meets Class” is partially based on her experiences as a high school teacher.

“It isn’t autobiographical, though,” she cautions. “It isn’t about me.”

That’s probably a good thing. The story poses a unique question: What happens when a spoiled Southern belle takes a job teaching at an inner-city high school? The answer is both hilarious and insightful, but, again, 100 percent nonbiographical. In fact, there are very few – if any – similarities between Gillespie and Toni Lee Wells, the alcoholic socialite-turned-teacher around whom her novel revolves. Other than their shared teaching misadventures, of course.

Gillespie said she decided to write “Girl Meets Class” precisely because teaching underprivileged children was one of the hardest experiences of her life. Also, she added, because her friends hounded her relentlessly to do so.

“When are you going to write about that?” she said. “That’s all I ever heard.”

Though the stories she tells are almost entirely fictional, Gillespie’s career actually began with nonfiction. She said the switch was an easy one to make, though she continues to produce book reviews and columns on a regular basis.

“I’d always loved fiction, though,” she said. “I always wanted to try it, so I made the transition.”

And that transition came faster than she thought.

While attending the Sandhills Writers Conference in the early 1980s, she met Robert Bosch, the Conference’s visiting writer. After reading her first fiction manuscript, Bosch made her an offer she couldn’t refuse.

“He read my manuscript and liked it,” she said. “In fact, he liked it so much he said if I finished it within a year, he’d put me in touch with his agent.”

She did, and Bosch did. Unfortunately, though, his agent rejected her work.

“They specialized in different stuff,” she explained. “But I was still published within a year. I realize I was very, very lucky.”

It’s worth noting that Gillespie attended the Sandhills Writers Conference as an undergraduate, because in addition to being a national best-selling author, she is also a GRU alumna. Gillespie graduated with her B.A. in Psychology in 1982 from then-Augusta College and has been an avowed lover of writing and academia ever since.

Ultimately, Gillespie said she’s enjoyed the move from teaching high school to being a college professor. But like all meaningful journeys, it, too, had its own set of challenges.

Gillespie had written and published five novels by the time Simon & Schuster declined renewing her option in 2008. Faced with a lull of publishing activity during one of the worst recessions in American history, Gillespie did what any sensible writer would do.

She went back to school.

The experience taught her a great deal about writing, but also a great deal about herself and her style. Her essay, “A Master’s in Chick Lit,” details her journey from unashamed first-year student to confident writer. [Read the full essay here].

“I went back to get my M.F.A. because I loved teaching and because I missed it,” she said. “Writing and teaching are two aspects I love, and when you’re passionate about something, you just want to infect people with it, you know?”

That’s what she says she strives to do in her classes: infect students with a love of writing.

Her students seem receptive to it, too. They are determined, something Gillespie said she both admires and respects about them. They take their writing very seriously and understand the chances of publication are slim. Still, they carry on strong.

“About 90 percent of them want to tackle the novel, which is laudable,” she said. “The window of publication gets smaller ever year, but it’s doable. And you don’t have to know anyone to make it. Take it from me.”

“Girl Meets Class” is Gillespie’s first novel published by Henery Press, an up-and-coming publisher based out of Dallas. Fans and new readers alike can expect the new title to drop on Sept. 8.