All posts by Rosalie Richards

Stetson Students Tour DeLand Utility, Learn about Safe Drinking Water | Stetson Today

Stetson students listen as city Lab Tech II, Larissa McCoy, explains the testing requirements for the municipal water supply on Thursday, April 13.

Stetson University students toured the city of DeLand’s water facilities on Thursday, April 13, and learned about the extensive testing and monitoring to ensure safe drinking water for the campus and rest of the city.

The students from a Foundation of Environmental Health Sciences class visited the Utilities Department and learned how the city uses deep wells to pump water from the Floridan Aquifer, treats and filters it, and then monitors it continuously as it’s piped throughout the city.

“Five million gallons of water a day — every day,” said John Stanberry, DeLand Water Production superintendent. “We take a lot of pride in keeping our community in water. … Nobody ever realizes what goes into it, day in and day out. We basically run 24/7.”

The tour came after a class project on water quality testing by Nicole Porther, Ph.D., a visiting assistant professor of public health. Porther said her students used test strips for their project, and not sophisticated instruments like what they saw in the city’s testing lab on Thursday.

Follow-up tests by the city of DeLand and an independent laboratory found the water is safe for drinking at Stetson, and meets all state and federal requirements.

“We really are subject to a lot of environmental regulation,” explained Keith Riger, director of DeLand’s Public Services.

Larissa McCoy, city Lab Tech II, went through the lengthy list of required tests and showed students a large binder filled with some of the regulations on tests, duplicate tests and the proper calibration of the city’s lab equipment.

Nicole Porther, Ph.D., talks to students in her class, including Catie Hessler (in green shirt), during a tour of the DeLand Utilities Department. Keith Riger, director of DeLand’s Public Services, listens in the back.

“It gets complicated,” she added.

The students and professor Porther said the tour was informative. “It was nice to see how much they value quality control, which I knew, and that is very important,” Porther said.

Stetson senior Anna Miner said, as a public health major, she was very interested in a discussion about adding fluoride to municipal water supplies, which has been shown to reduce tooth decay in children.

“They did it specifically to help children’s teeth and I think that’s a really nice touch,” said Miner, who will attend graduate school at Tulane University in the fall. “It shows it’s not just science. It’s actually caring about the community.”

Posted on April 14, 2017 at Stetson Today

Website Helps International Students Find Jobs

Lou Paris stood before 24 students in his International Business class at Stetson University, sprinkling real-life experiences with textbook theories.

Stetson Visiting Lecturer Lou Paris talks to students in his class in the Stetson School of Business Administration.

“It’s hard these days to distinguish between business and international business,” he said, drawing on his many years of living abroad, first as a child in his native Venezuela and later in Canada, the United States and Europe.

But while large businesses and corporations are becoming more inclusionary, he pointed out that distinct cultural differences still exist between countries that are reflected in the dress, food, music, attitudes and lifestyles of the people.

“Every country is ethnocentric to some degree. You hold your culture to be superior, no matter how large or small the country is,” he told a class that included students from China, Sweden and Germany, although most were Americans. “I challenge you to go outside your comfort zone.”

Paris, now a U.S. citizen, has practiced what he preaches as an entrepreneur and visiting lecturer in Stetson’s School of Business Administration, where he graduated in 2001 and received an M.B.A. in 2007.

In recent years, he developed a website, called Konkeros.com, that places international students in jobs with U.S. companies (Stetson University was the first implementer of this technology). He also heads an International Students Club at Stetson that usually meets once or twice a month to discuss all aspects of living and working in America. Business leaders often are invited to speak to the group.

Now, Stetson has developed a plan to build on his efforts and provide more help for international students to start careers in a competitive global market.

Rosalie Richards, Ph.D., associate provost for Faculty Development at Stetson.

“Lou identified a demand by our international students and unselfishly volunteered his time and talent to this important work,” said Rosalie Richards, Ph.D., associate provost for Faculty Development. “As a result, he has inspired the University to formalize his efforts. We have developed a comprehensive plan to boost international student engagement, talent development, and career success and thus, provide an excellent return on investment for these students and their families.”

When Stetson’s plan is fully funded, she said, it will provide a full-time advocate who will continue to develop relationships with potential employers.

“The program will include internship support and the continued use of Konkeros.com will be a strong component. We also anticipate sharing what we learn because at Stetson, what’s good for international students is good for all students,” Richards added.

STUDENTS FROM 55 COUNTRIES
Last year, 185 undergraduate students at Stetson came from outside the United States, making up 6 percent of the student body. They were from 55 countries, according to Stetson’s Office of Institutional Research.

Paris said many of them major in International Business.

“They all know I was an international student,” he said. “Their questions can range from, ‘What do I do with a speeding ticket to I need a job to stay in the U.S.?’ ”

And that one question led to the idea of developing the website listing “tens of thousands” of employers, so foreign students could connect with companies that hire graduates with diverse cultural backgrounds.

“I asked the students what they needed to (find) a job. Their most common wish was to know what companies were hiring international students. So I didn’t waste time. I built a database,” he said. “I created something that no one else does by ranking companies by the best to least likely to hire students in the fields they majored in.”

Traditional job fairs were intimidating for some students, he said. One Venezuelan student broke down crying in Paris’ office, after she was unable to make even the most basic connection.

“I was very upset. She was so bright, but got no chance. I thought there was a need to help navigate the madness,” Paris said. “That was the catalyst for the site.”

SAVING STUDENTS TIME
Lucas Diniz, 24, graduated from Stetson last May with a degree in finance. Thanks to the Konkeros website and Paris, he quickly found a job at Product Quest Manufacturing in Daytona Beach. He’s a market research analyst working mainly on over-the-counter generic brands for stores like CVS.

“It saved time by narrowing down the companies that actually hire international students. When you just look for a job on your own, there can be a lot of wasted energy, where you go out on interviews only to hear they don’t hire international students,” Diniz said. “Lou (Paris) and Konkeros helped me select jobs where there was the most probability of getting hired.”

Paris said international students often feel like underdogs with no family or friends in the area to lean on for support. But on the flip side, that often builds character.

“They are tested more at a younger age in the ways of the world. They are more mature. They want to stay for the opportunities, or because their country is in shambles like in Venezuela, or they simply like the American way of life,” said Paris, whose father had owned a construction company in Venezuela when he was growing up.

Paris said he expects other colleges throughout the state and country in the near future to offer Konkeros as word spreads of its success.

“My goal is to get this in the hands of all international students in the United States. That would be incredible,” he said. “It’s the foundation for colleges to build upon. It can help them with admissions, attracting more international students by showing them that they can achieve their goals, and stay and work in the U.S.”

March 30, 2017 in Stetson Today

Moral Combat and the War on Violent Video Games

Chris Ferguson, Ph.D., is at it again.

Ferguson, a professor of psychology, has written more than 100 book chapters and journal articles as part of his research on the effects of violent video games. Notably, he also has participated in talks given by former Vice President Joe Biden’s task force on gun control following the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, as well as in hearings for the Institute of Medicine on the role of media violence in gun violence a year later.

Now, he has co-authored “Moral Combat – Why the War on Violent Video Games is Wrong,” collaborating with Patrick M. Markey, Ph.D., a professor of psychology and director of the Interpersonal Research Laboratory at Villanova University.

The 256-page book, published by BenBella Books Inc., will be released Tuesday, March 21.

The book’s promotional materials begin: “‘Boom! Headshot!’ In family rooms all across America, millions of children and teenagers are enjoying violent video games. Popular games like Call of Duty, Halo and Grand Theft Auto place players in elaborate fictional worlds – often with a gun in their hands.

“The media and the government are quick to point fingers when it comes to young perpetrators of violence,” the materials continue. “If it becomes apparent that school shooters, for instance, may have enjoyed violent games at some point—well, those games were clearly the culprit or at least a warning sign, right? But the problem with this conclusion is that it’s not based on facts. Here’s what they’re not telling you: Only a small minority of school shooters played violent video games.”

“Moral Combat” contends that the media and commentators aren’t giving you the whole story, and the authors believe it’s time for a new conversation about these games and their role in children’s lives. Ferguson and Markey explore how video games, including those considered violent, actually have a positive social impact for today’s youth, and they offer a comprehensive overview of their history, culture and scientific research.

One finding: Countries in which video games are extremely popular have lower levels of homicides and violent assaults than countries in which people play fewer video games. Another finding: Contrary to the stereotype of video gamers as introverts who isolate themselves in their parents’ basements, more than 70 percent of gamers play with friends.

Ferguson and Markey, on the frontline of the violent video game debate for years, write to “debunk the stark picture media, politicians and other personalities tend to paint in order to sway public opinion about the impact of gaming.”

March 24, 2017 in Stetson Today

Inside Out

As Stetson University readies to open its doors to the 14th annual Florida Collegiate Pride Coalition Conference March 31-April 2, a core group of dedicated students continues to work for greater understanding and tolerance of sexual orientation among their peers and the larger community.

Medorie Petersen-Woodburn, chair of the FCPC conference student planning committee, is leading a handful of students to bring hundreds of people from Florida and across the Southeast to Stetson for the conference. With the theme, Inside Out, students hope to open a frank conversation about mental health, education and holistic wellness for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning community.

In addition, with Stetson being the first private liberal arts institution to host the event, they are looking at the conference as an opportunity to showcase the university.

Medorie Petersen-Woodburn, chair of the FCPC conference student planning committee (left), meets with Stetson’s Lindsey Graves, assistant director of interfaith initiatives.

For one, organizers believe the Pulse nightclub shooting in June 2016 – an attack that targeted the LGBT community that left 49 dead – will play a prominent role in discussions.

“This conference is very important on Stetson campus because we have a very strong diversity inclusion initiative,” said Petersen-Woodburn, 20, a social science major. “You can’t be diverse and inclusive if you don’t have these conversations.”

The FCPC annual conferences began in 2003 as a way for the LGBTQ+ community to grow and network. Each year, the conference has been hosted at large universities across the state, including the University of Florida and the University of South Florida.

The three-day schedule is filled with events focused on helping mental health professionals better understand the issues that affect the LGBTQ+ community. The event features workshops about counseling on topics that include helping LGBTQ+ couples build biological families, substance abuse and a session titled, “What it is like to be trans and still be with your spouse.”

The keynote speaker is John Super, Ph.D., a University of Florida clinical assistant professor of counselor education who played a role in providing mental health counseling in the Orlando area in the days after the Pulse shooting. Pulse owner Barbara Poma is another speaker.

Conference attendees will watch Disney’s Inside Out, an animated film that puts faces and personalities to emotions. Other events include a vigil for Pulse victims.

Bek Luke, a double major in psychology and philosophy, has been working alongside Petersen-Woodburn to make sure the conference runs smoothly. His job is to sign up sponsors, help with volunteers, and communicate with speakers and entertainers. A senior, he said the conference is important to him as a transgender man because it underscores how the larger LGBT community cares.

“Being trans, I want to do as much for my community as I can,” he said.

According to Lamerial McRae, Ph.D., a member of the faculty (Brown Scholar Visiting Teacher-Scholar Fellow , Department of Counselor Education) and staff conference planning committee, the students involved in the planning are developing skills beyond classroom learning. At the same time, McRae added, Stetson is sending a signal to the larger community of acceptance and healing, especially in light of the Pulse attack.

“I don’t think anyone went unaffected by Pulse,” she said.

Students in McRae’s Multicultural Counseling class created posters and research that will be presented at the conference. One of those students, Payton Montague, a graduate student in the counseling program, said it’s important to reach out to the LGBT community on all levels. Montague and another student, Stacey Stanford, will be presenting their project, “Same-sex parenting: from the inside out.”

“All parents need help these days,” Montague said.

The conference, Petersen-Woodburn commented, is a way for the local LGBT community to reach out and show there is “a community of people who are similar to you but not the same.”

“Now more than ever, you can’t hide the fact that there’s homophobia and discrimination on all levels. And you can’t hide the fact that there is oppression on every level,” said Petersen-Woodburn.
“Especially after Pulse, there’s been this outcry of confusion, of hurt, but also this sense of how can I help? What can I do? What is my role in someone else’s life? How do I learn about people who are different from me and how can I help them? I think this conference is a way to get people who are hurt together to understand what it is to look at someone who might share one part of you but not every part.”

March 24, 2017 in Stetson Today

Independent Lab Finds Safe Drinking Water at Stetson

At the request of Stetson University, the city of DeLand and an independent certified laboratory tested the water in four buildings on campus and found the water is safe for drinking, and meets all state and federal requirements.

The city of DeLand collected water samples this month from Davis Hall, Flagler Hall, Sage Science Center and University Hall, including from water fountains and bathroom sinks, and sent the samples to the independent Pace Analytical Services’ laboratory. Those tests showed the samples meet all standards for safe drinking water, said Keith Riger, director of DeLand’s Public Services.

The testing over Spring Break came after tests conducted in late February by students in a Public Health class.

“We take our water quality very seriously,” said Riger, also the city engineer. “My children drink the (DeLand city) water and my grandchildren drink the water. I think people should feel comfortable that their water is safe to drink.”

State and federal laws require utilities, like DeLand’s water division, to routinely test the water. Those tests occur daily, weekly, monthly, annually and every three years depending on what substance is being checked, he said. The city issues an Annual Water Quality Report, available online, that explains the testing and provides the data.

“We are pleased to report that our system had no violations and are proud that your drinking water meets or exceeds all Federal and State requirements,” according to DeLand’s 2015 Annual Consumer Report on the Quality of Our Drinking Water, the last report available.

The independent testing by the Pace Analytical Services’ laboratory used highly sensitive and sophisticated instruments that detect parameters, such as minerals, to the “parts per billion,” which means a few miniscule molecules in a glass of water, Riger explained. Pace laboratories are accredited by the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program, which was started by the federal Environmental Protection Agency to ensure national standards for water quality testing.

“We have a lot of regulatory oversight,” Riger said.
Nicole Porther, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor of public health, said students in her Foundation of Environmental Health Sciences class used “simple and more rudimentary semi-quantitative testing” that was “not as precise,” based on time constraints and limited resources.

Nicole Porther, Ph.D.

I explained (to the class) that you will need to do further testing with sensitive equipment,” she said, referring to tests by an independent accredited laboratory, such as Pace Analytical Services. “I did inform the students of the results (from the lab) and they were relieved.”

Her class now is planning to tour the city of DeLand’s water division to learn about all the state and federal regulations on municipal water supplies, the standards for safe drinking water, and how sophisticated instruments test water quality. The tour is tentatively set for April 6.

“We want this to be a learning experience and we also want our students to have real trust in the outcome through transparency,” said Clay Henderson, executive director of Stetson’s Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience, as well as an attorney and environmental activist.

“Upon learning about the student tests, Stetson’s administrators “did absolutely the right thing,” he said. “They immediately informed the city and samples were taken to an independent lab for testing,” Henderson said, adding he has “complete confidence” in the results by the independent lab.

Henderson is organizing a public forum for Riger, Porther, one of her students and Stetson Associate Professor Song Gao, Ph.D., an environmental chemist, to explore the issue, as well as discuss overall water issues. No date has yet been set.

“We think this is something that the students will benefit from in terms of the rigor that the city has to meet as the water provider, regulated by the state,” said Al Allen, Stetson’s associate vice president for Facilities Management.

In addition to the city of DeLand’s ongoing water testing, Allen said Stetson also will begin periodically testing the water in buildings on campus to ensure it meets all state and federal regulations for safe drinking water.

Added professor Porther, “We have to make this known to the entire campus that we do not have anything to worry about and that our water is routinely tested by the City of DeLand to ensure the safety of our Stetson community. The University also will test periodically as an added safeguard.”

March 10, 2017 in Stetson Today

WORLD Class Lunch & Learn Recap: March 2017

Faculty Insight: Faculty participants each discussed their preliminary ideas for potential study abroad programs. Dr. Phillip Lucas kicked off the discussion by describing his experience designing his upcoming faculty-led study abroad program in Camino de Santiago, Spain. He provided his background in religious studies and pilgrimages and explained the process of being nominated for a WORLD Class Travel Award to participate in a CIEE International Faculty Development Seminar on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage.  This experience laid the ground work for preparing him to work with CIEE and WORLD to develop a Faculty-Led Study Abroad program for students.  Lucas explained that by working with CIEE and WORLD on the logistics of the program, he was free to concentrate on the integrity of the academic program. He also described his experience recruiting students for the program and strongly recommended that new faculty work with an international provider to develop their programs.

 How to Develop New Programs:  Brent Spencer, international learning program coordinator at WORLD, led a discussion on the Nuts and Bolts of developing a new faculty-led study abroad program.  Most participants at the lunch & learn were new to study abroad program development.  A robust discussion with questions and answers followed including conversation on how to find good providers for program logistics, different models for structuring faculty-led study abroad, timeline and steps for developing a new program, risk management, how to find financing to keep programs affordable for students, student scholarship resources, and resources WORLD provides for faculty and students throughout the process.

Participants were encouraged to make an appointment to meet with Brent Spencer to discuss their specific ideas for programs for next year.

Spotlight: Five Minutes With … Resche Hines

Resche Hines is sssistant vcie president of institutional research & effectiveness at Stetson University.

Tell us about your job at Stetson University.

My job is the one job that works with every entity on campus from the Cabinet, the Board of Trustees, Deans, Faculty, facilities, and the Help Desk in IT. Institutional Research and Effectiveness historically is the unit on campus that handled many of the institutional reporting requirements. We are responsible for the federal and state requirements. We do all the reporting to the college guides, from U.S. News & World Report, and Princeton Review. It has often been stated that we are the official data source for the University. I get the honor of leading the most talented and professional office of institutional Research in the country working daily with Patti Sanders (Research Associate) and Angela Henderson (Director of Institutional Research). The Register’s office also reports to me, led by the best Register in the nation Robert Berwick. Here at Stetson we do a great variety of projects. For instance, I recently had a meeting with Dr. Wendy Libby and interim Provost Dr. Noel Painter about the key performance indicators that we report up to the Board. We have been doing a lot of analysis around some targeted groups to help us reach our institutional retention and graduation goals. I like to say no two days are the same.

 A primary focus for Institutional Research and Effectiveness is to understand how to disseminate data in a more meaningful way. We have recognized the need to find a more scalable, user-friendly solution that could empower the university’s faculty and staff to conduct their own data-driven investigations and engage students and alumni with the most up-to-date information. For my area, that meant implementing interactive data visualization tools that helped draw smarter insights from the institution’s data. 

I see the role of Institutional Research evolving. On this campus and across Higher Education, we’re the one place that has a view of how everything connects across the University. Institutional Research develops educational tools to inform various stakeholders within and outside of the institution about the critical drivers of effectiveness and success. Our role is to align those drivers with best practices to move the institution forward.

How long have you worked here?

Dr. Resche Hines

This is going into my fourth year. Before my wife Chanell and I moved to the area, we were in Chicago and, as much as I love Chicago, the cost of living for a family of five had gotten to the point where literally my wife was working to pay for day care. My wife and I had just had our third son. We had three boys under five. We decided let’s be strategic about where we move. I was looking for a good place to come with a strong reputation and that would be close enough to home – I grew up in Tampa – but also far enough away that we could get some help but also continue to establish ourselves as well. When Stetson came up, instantly I knew it was a good fit for me.

What do you like most about your work?

I like the variety in what I get to do. I get to work with a lot of broad constituencies on campus, so I get a good breadth of how a university functions. We get a deep perspective on the data so I’m aware of the underlying assumptions about a lot of what’s going on. I like the fact that we can use the data to help influence the decisions of the institution based on what’s actually happening with the data.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned while working at Stetson?

Interestingly, I think the most important thing I’ve learned working at Stetson is that context is important. Stetson was the first private college I worked for, and, as far as context, there are similarities between publics and privates. I’ve worked in Illinois and Michigan. There is something unique about a private tuition-driven revenue college, grounded in the liberal learning experience. For instance, my last place of employment, Chicago State University (CSU) on the Southside of Chicago, was a commuter school with a significant non-traditional aged population and Stetson is a residential school. As a commuter school, a contextual driver for CSU was how the institution could better engage students to connect with the university to enhance their college experience. Specifically, move the view of campus for students from a place where students not only came to class but also saw the institution as a place where they do their homework and could integrate the campus into their lives and stay at the institution.

The context for understanding engagement at Stetson is different and designed for traditional 18- to 24-year-olds who may be from out of state. One of the primary drivers is to understand how do you engage students from all walks of life to see Stetson as their home and not get homesick? The context of each situation leads to a different understanding of those populations.

Where would you like to see Stetson in 10 years?

Stetson University has the DNA to be, I would argue, the premier mid-size institution in the South. I would like to see us reach that potential. Stetson is a very good place. I think we have the ability to be great over the next decade. It would take being intentional about how we communicate with each other and being intentional about how we share our story so that Stetson isn’t the best kept secret. When you ask someone about Stetson, they generally have the feeling that it’s a good place. So you don’t have to build up the reputation with the public. We just need to do some little things internally to ensure that we push ourselves from being a very good to a great school.

I know Stetson can be that place. We have the history. We have top-notch academic programs (undergraduate and graduate) and the Law School. We have a strong brand recognition and that will help to project the institution to where we could be the institution. We need to pick three to five areas that we’re best at, and put a stake in the ground and say this is who we are. It’s not that we don’t do all the other things well, but this is what we’re best at. For instance, we have data that shows 50 percent of our Music School graduates have gone on to graduate school over the last five years. They’re going to really strong places – the University of Michigan, Johns Hopkins University, the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, the top music schools around the country. That’s a distinction for us as an institution and we need to do better to communicate that story. For us, it’s a recruiting tool. Why would they want to invest with us? This is the return on your investment.

 Bio
Hometown: Tampa
Education: B.S. in psychology and M.S. in community psychology from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, and Ph.D. in Education Administration from Michigan State University.
Family: Married to Chanell, a project manager at DaVita Labs in DeLand who earned her M.B.A. from Stetson last year. They have three sons, 7, 6 and 3.

posted at Stetson Today: January 20, 2017

Spring 2017 Staff Writing Workshops

Don’t forget: Our colleagues at the Writing Center are once again offering a three-session Writing Workshop that is open to all staff members. The one-hour sessions will be offered from 10 – 11 a.m. on March 15, 22, and 29 in the East Room of the duPont-Ball Library.

Topics include professional writing, developing an online presence, and the process of revision. Please see the attached flier for more details. Based on the great feedback received about last year’s workshop, this is clearly a great opportunity.

Please talk with your supervisor if you are interested in attending. No RSVP is required.

Drew Macan,, associate vice president for human resources