Patricia S.W. Epps
It was an invitation years in the making, and one that Patty Epps was proud to extend. Standing on the front steps of Franklin & Marshall's Shadek Stadium, F&M’s director of athletics and recreation opened her arms to the large Homecoming & Family Weekend crowd waiting to see the first football game in the new facility.
Epps was effusive: “Please join us inside. Shadek Stadium is now open!”
These are exciting times for Epps, who has led F&M's athletic and recreation programs since 2007. She played a central role in the planning of Shadek Stadium, the College’s new multipurpose athletic facility that will anchor an athletic district on North Campus.
“My roots at Franklin & Marshall run deep, and I believe that this is one of the finest institutions in the nation,” said Epps, who joined F&M as a tennis coach in 1978 and is the first woman to serve as the College’s director of athletics and recreation.
“I believe that we are positioned to become a model institution in Division III.”
Epps is responsible for managing the College’s 27 intercollegiate sports -- 13 for men and 14 for women. The College also sponsors 11 club sports, an intramural program, and other recreational and wellness activities. More than 600 students participate in intercollegiate athletics each year, with another 250 club sport athletes, and 1,000 intramural participants.
While she looks forward to an exciting future for Diplomat athletics, Epps remains focused on the heart and soul of the Blue and White: the students.
“My focus,” she said, “has been and always will be on the student-athletes -- to provide them with opportunities to grow individually, and to prepare for endeavors beyond their four years at the College.”
PARCHMENT AND LIGHT
Generally speaking, it’s a bad idea to look through someone else’s glasses -- a bit of conventional wisdom Franklin & Marshall Professor of Classics Shawn O’Bryhim and Associate Professor of Physics Ken Krebs have ignored. Fortunately for them, the liberal arts are all about ignoring conventional wisdom.
In late December 2015, a package arrived in Heidelberg, Germany, for O’Bryhim, on sabbatical in the old university town. It had been sent by Ken Krebs.
Inside the package was a device the professors designed to help researchers unlock secrets hidden for centuries -- the writing of medieval monks on parchments made from sheepskin or cowhide. O’Bryhim carried the device -- the “Manuscript Illuminator” -- to the library of Ruprecht-Karls University of Heidelberg to examine writing on a small selection of parchments. O’Bryhim knew what he was looking for. And, with the device -- developed in partnership with Krebs -- he now had the right pair of glasses.
In the Middle Ages, parchment made from sheepskin and cowhide was expensive.
The monks responsible for copying texts produced palimpsests -- Greek for “scraped again” -- by scraping off as much ink as possible from a parchment and writing over it.
“When I went to the library, they brought out various manuscripts and one of them had a place where the text had obviously been scraped off and written over. A researcher had examined it and said, ‘Well, I think this is what was behind it,’” O’Bryhim said. “I was able to use the device to see what was actually there and confirm his hypothesis.”
Built by F&M electronics engineer Steven Spadafore, the device is a compact, ultraviolet light table with a camera attachment. UV light has been used for years to read palimpsests, but the apparatus was large and expensive. The F&M professors’ portable tool cost less than $1,000, mostly for a lithium battery.
Big technology news comes along only so often in the world of classics scholarship, and seeing what lies beneath ancient parchments has excited and bedeviled classicists for centuries. Looking through others’ glasses may be counterproductive. Seeing the world through their eyes, however, is something else entirely.
For more about O’Bryhim and Krebs’ interdisciplinary work, read the Fall 2017 issue of Franklin & Marshall Magazine, available in print and at fandm.edu/magazine.
Is a liberal arts education worth the time and money? Alan Caniglia, Ph.D., vice president for planning, wrestles with this question -- and many more -- every week.
Caniglia has been at F&M since 1982, first as an economics professor and, for the past 18 years, in his current role, overseeing institutional research -- making sure F&M has the data to inform its decision-making. He assesses the present, plans for the future, and works with colleagues across the College to keep F&M on its upward trajectory.
He has watched the F&M student change over 35 years. In some ways, the changes have been dramatic and easily visible; in others, more subtle, but still significant.
“When I first came to F&M, the ‘co-ed question’ was only 13 years old,” Caniglia said, “and it was still evolving. Today our students are more representative of society in general. Students today have very high ambitions and dreams of being leaders at the highest possible level. Success [for them] is about finding a comfortable place from which you can lead and make a meaningful contribution to society.” Caniglia values his place as a member of the F&M community, and believes membership comes with responsibilities.
“We are in pursuit of big goals -- learning, good citizenship, being a valuable member of society,” he said. “This community is made up of distinct people who have chosen to study and work in a special place that is ultimately about making a difference.”
And the value question? Caniglia said yes, the value is there.
“We believe it’s worth it . . . Liberal arts grads -- F&M graduates -- make more money, find better jobs and have a higher quality of life. It’s about living life as an informed citizen; we value that here.”
Barometers predict approaching weather by monitoring atmospheric pressure. They may presage torrential rainfall, bitter cold, or fair sailing. A low barometer reading might unsettle you, indicating rough weather ahead. A high reading may give you some comfort. It’s a handy tool.
Susan Dicklitch-Nelson’s barometer predicts human rights -- and their absence. The first-of-its-kind Global Barometer of Gay Rights (GBGR) is a country-by-country rating system measuring the human rights of sexual minorities in 194 countries -- every country recognized by the United Nations and some that aren’t. It compiles and ranks data -- legal, political, socioeconomic and otherwise -- and assigns grades, A through F, for each country’s environment. Dicklitch-Nelson, in collaboration with Berwood Yost, director of F&M’s Center for Opinion Research, developed the tool in 2011. With critical assistance from Project and Data Specialist Scottie Thompson Buckland, they have collected and analyzed a raft of data every year since. It’s the first and only instrument of its kind, providing insight that is both longitudinal and, for each country, highly detailed.
But the picture is even bigger than that, the barometer’s readings indicative of more, according to Dicklitch-Nelson, a professor of government and chair of the government department. The rights of sexual minorities are an accurate proxy for human rights.
“How a country’s legal system and people treat LGBTQIA individuals is a litmus test of how rights-protective that regime and society truly are,” she said.
A prolific writer on human rights and democracy, Dicklitch-Nelson has served as expert witness on human rights conditions in more than 100 political asylum cases. U.S. News & World Report lists her class, Human Rights-Human Wrongs, among 10 classes that impact the outside world.
She began at F&M in 1997. Like faculty legends she has worked with including Friedrich, Gray, Karlesky, Michelak and Stephenson, she continues to break new ground in her scholarship.