Tag Archives: UGA

Scholarship of Engagement — Prof. Conrad Fink “Guest Blog” (Part I)

23 Mar


It’s been five years since my favorite professor and UGA legend Conrad Fink passed away. I recently rediscovered a Fall 1998 issue of the University of Georgia Research Report. (Not sure why I have it — I arrived in Athens for my graduate studies in 2001 — but I’m really glad I do.) Inside are Fink’s poignant and prescient remarks about academe’s obligation to engage the general public and major trends in higher education and communications that very few at the time had fully considered. Only Fink could make a research journal that engaging! In the tidy package are the timeless themes of caring, giving and sharing and how truly meaningful work must include those things.

Does the scholar truly have an obligation to relate learning to the general public? Let me ask you: Do scholars have a responsibility to shine light in dark corners? To help good triumph over evil? To assist reason in the eternal war against chaos?

Yes, scholars do have a responsibility to interact with the public — and I personally question that proposition no more than I would question whether I have a responsibility to dart into traffic and pull a child to safety. I question the proposition no more than I question whether a physician has a responsibility to heal.

And I don’t mean scholars should sit demurely on the sidelines, waiting to be asked to the dance. I favor aggressive scholarship of engagement, as it was termed by the late Ernest Boyer, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

But why do I feel so strongly about this?

It probably has something to do with my Methodist upbringing. I think that anyone — not just scholars, but anyone — who possesses something of value is obliged to share that in some way with humankind. Scholars are uniquely positioned to fulfill this moral obligation when they possess something of value: facts, revelations, insights, thoughtful reflection. Pull the child from the traffic, assist humankind’s search for truth and progress. Both are moral obligations and both require active effort by scholars that go beyond simply sharing with other scholars in the tight little world of academe.

To Be Continued


Dawg Days: Pigskin Panel Predicts UGA Season

2 Sep

The #18 Georgia Bulldogs kick off the season and the Kirby Smart coaching era on Saturday against the #22-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels. BLeeve Blog summoned its first ever pigskin panel to forecast the Dawgs’ season.


Jim Powell, the Voice of the Braves, learned the radio ropes while at UGA.

“A couple of early road tests may prove problematic for the Dawgs, but once those hurdles are cleared I think the team will get better and better even though the 10-2opponents may be tougher. [Freshman QB Jacob] Eason will soon be on the field with the arm to spread the defense and a running game which will carry the day. Cross your fingers about the defensive line, which is very talented but extremely thin. I won’t be surprised if this team is in the SEC Championship Game.”

pigskin panel_KG




Before covering the New Orleans Saints, Bradley Handwerger reported on UGA athletics for the Red & Black, the student daily newspaper in Athens.

“There are too many question marks for the Bulldogs to legitimately pull off what Florida did a year ago and stun the SEC East in a new coach’s first season in charge. Who will the QB be and if it’s Jacob Eason, how long will it take to 8-4get acclimated? How far along is Nick Chubb truly in his rehabilitation and can he even possibly return to form within one year of a devastating physical injury? Will the defense take to Kirby Smart’s style in Year 1 and can it even do so in spite of returning fewer than 3 starters in the front 7? UGA will lose four games but will contend in all of them.”

pigskin panel_JG
Neal Freeman is head of LakePoint Sports, the premier sports vacation destination just northwest of Atlanta that will be home to more than 6 million annual visitors and more than 40 sports.

Neal Freeman is head of LakePoint Sports, a 40-sport destination northwest of Atlanta that will welcome 6 million-plus  annual visitors.

“I am going to stay conservative and predict 8-4. Although I am big supporter (yet loved Mark Richt), it is still tough to successfully implement new systems given the8-4 number of practices the NCAA has limited teams to these days. I went to the UGA Spring game and Eason looks like Stafford 2.0 already to me. Exciting future with Kirby leading the program.”

STATS OF THE WEEK: Just the Way the Ball Bounces

25 Sep


The number of 4th quarter comebacks by the Falcons’ Matt Ryan — most by any NFL QB since the start of the 2008 season — after he led Atlanta back from a 10-point deficit to a 24-20 win against the New York Giants on Sunday. As dearly departed Yogi Berra famously said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”


The number of consecutive starts not including a win for Atlanta Braves starting pitcher  Shelby Miller after a “quality start” but another loss versus the Mets on Monday. The Braves’ only All-Star — yes, that is correct — hasn’t won a game since May 17th, when coincidentally he came within one out of a no-hitter against the Marlins. In 19 of the 23 games, Miller has given up four or fewer earned runs.


The number of passes completed by Georgia QB Greyson Lambert in the Bulldogs’ conference home opener. Out of 25 attempts! The former UVa. signal-caller set the NCAA single-game record for pass completion percentage (96) against the not-so Gamecocks of South Carolina.

My Top 5 Writing Assignments

28 Jun

5. HALL PASS: Coming two years after their Super Bowl campaign and not long before the Michael Vick Era (at least the good part of it), the Atlanta Falcons’ 2000 season was nothing to write home about. But the writing I did at home games that year for the organization’s PR staff was certainly quite memorable. My feature story on defensive tackle Travis Hall ran in the game-day program and on the team website.

4. NOTHING LIKE THE FIRST TIME: My first ever journalism assignment had me interviewing my golfing hero and the 1987 Masters champion. Larry “I Can’t Believe” Mize pulled off a miraculous, sudden-death, 140-foot chip-in to beat Greg Norman that year, one of the greatest shots in golf history. On top of the unmatched drama, the Cinderella story (he was an Augusta, Ga., native who actually manned one of the Masters scoreboards in his younger days) and his Ga. Tech ties, Mize performed his heroics during a time when my love for golf was really beginning to blossom. He instantly became my favorite player. I will say this: his nerves during that epic Masters playoff were far sturdier than mine when I called him for that March 2000 interview.

3. DON’T FORGET TO RECYCLE: During my grad school days at the University of Georgia, I was paid to play and profile The Georgia Club for the Columbus, Ga., Golf Guide. As if free golf and fun work weren’t satisfying enough, I then got paid again for the piece, after only minor modifications, by a local magazine! (Just a few years later, The Georgia Club would become the venue for our traditional guys golf outing the day before my UGA Chapel wedding.)

2. MIXING BUSINESS & PLEASURE IN VEGAS: In March 2005, I convinced my boss to fly me out to Las Vegas for a roundup of stories for my western-focused real estate magazine (including this piece on the $1.5 billion Cosmopolitan Resort & Casino, which opened in December 2010.) Not coincidentally, my good buddy/college classmate and the fellas flew in on the second night for his bachelor party. After cruising around town from one interview to the next in a sporty red rental (while blasting Sinatra), I switched gears and cruised the Strip with the boys during a fun-filled, March Madness-themed Sin City soiree. Airfare covered.

After I told Hammerin' Hank that I was born the same year he broke Babe Ruth's home run record, he responded with "That was a pretty good year."

After I told Hammerin’ Hank that I was born just a few months after he broke Babe Ruth’s home run record, he said, “That was a pretty good year.”

1. A HANKERIN’ FOR THE BEST: My first assignment for the Atlanta Braves magazine ChopTalk involved interviewing Hank Aaron! One on one in his office overlooking Turner Field! The true home run king and baseball legend was so relaxed and genuine that my interviewing nerves were soon calmed. I remember thinking: I should be paying for this incredible experience, not the other way around! As the years go by since that rarest of assignments in early 2009, it seems more and more unreal that I got that very unique opportunity with Hammerin’ Hank.


19 Jan

According to the Red & Black student newspaper, Fink owned and used three typewriters. He also jumped out of a plane on his 79th birthday.

The University of Georgia community and journalism world in general lost a luminary and legend this past weekend when Professor Conrad Fink succumbed to cancer at the age of 80.

Whether slogging around the jungles of Vietnam as an AP reporter or inspiring (and often times scaring) multiple generations of journalism students, Fink made a huge impact on so many lives and a distinct mark on an entire profession. The man with the unforgettable eyebrows was truly an American original.

Ironically, words will never do him justice, but, as friends and disciples from AP headquarters to Room 234 at Grady College in Athens react this week to the sad news, it doesn’t take long to find salutes such as “what a loss for the planet” and “Fink taught me more than any man in my life save my father.”

Fink was, hands down, the most unique professor I ever had. His gruff, sergeant way of holding class (e.g., calling out students by their last names) combined with some well-timed tenderness here and there really endeared himself to so many. In his fall 2002 opinion-writing class, the professor singled out a column I wrote about Martha Burke and the Masters tournament in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. This “alleged student” swelled with pride. Of course, I was quite familiar with his red-ink wrath as well.

“I still have my red papers from Professor Fink’s 1996 class,” wrote Angela Croce Shipp on an online UGA j-school networking-turned-memorial page. “Shouting my last name out, making my papers bleed … all because he loved me enough to challenge my work,” added Russ Mills.

The story my big-bodied football coach told his players in the late ‘80s comes to mind. You’re handed the keys to a Porsche on your 16th birthday and when it’s gone after a year you miss it, but not as much as had the same thing occurred with the Ford or Chevy you labored three long, hard summers to buy. Working hard and overcoming challenges to reach your goals bring a whole different level of appreciation. Fink didn’t give you anything; he made you earn it and you were better off in the end where you couldn’t help but respect and appreciate the man.

Fink was fun, too. Oh, the entertainment he provided! The professor said about my current neighbor and, back then, photo editor at the student newspaper: “Don’t trust Owens over there — he looks at the world with one eye closed.” He’d always ask this preppy, prima donna, know-it-all undergrad in our class, “So, [her last name], what do they think about this back at the country club?” An editor friend, whose office was next to mine for many a year and who, like Fink, is not known for mincing words had this to say, “He was made to break whiny j-school students with a single grunt and hard stare. The world is a lesser place now.”

One day the semester after his class I was with a fellow Grady College classmate and poked my head into his office to ask him a question. Fink, who began teaching newspaper classes at UGA in 1983, barked this rejecting response: “Sorry, Lee, you’re off the payroll now.”

The wise and wonderful professor is off the clock now and no longer has to fight for truth. He’s basking in its eternal light.


3 Jan

Happy Birthday to my fellow Roswellian, former UGA j-schooler, life-long Braves fan and all-around nice guy!

Does coming home to score a childhood dream job — and one of only 30 like it in the country — sound too good to be true? Well, let’s just say the Voice of the Braves, Jim Powell, always had a sporting chance. Our native son and soundtrack to summer gives you the truth from the booth and his take on some things outside of America’s and Atlanta’s pastime.

Jim Powell literally landed his dream job in 2009 when he returned to Atlanta from Milwaukee to be the radio play-by-play announcer for the Braves, his childhood, hometown team. As BLeeveBlog found out though, the views of the 25-year broadcasting veteran, former University of Georgia student and father of three daughters aren’t limited to just what happens between the white lines inside the ballpark.

Dawgs vs. Jackets

Of course, the man who attended UGA, met his wife in journalism school there and learned the radio ropes in Athens is going to favor the Bulldogs over their hated in-state rival, but the fair-minded broadcaster with the mellifluous voice isn’t likely to bark about it. After all, the rivalry hits closer to home than you might think.

“To be politically correct, both my parents went to Tech,” said Powell, whose brother-in-law also matriculated there. “We naturally have both sides covered. We root for Tech unless they’re playing Georgia.”

Dogs or Cats?

Both. With the newest acquisition — a cat named, of all things, Georgia — the Powell household is now only two animals short of a baseball-sized pet squad. For those of you scoring at home, the family’s cats outnumber the canines 5 to 2. Georgia has joined Opie, Simon, Missy and Spooky for a favored feline fivesome.

“Our daughters [Allie, Sabrina and Julia] just love the cats. We’re all big animal lovers,” Powell said. “My college cat, which lived into its 20s, just died a [few] years ago. If one of the girls turns out to not be squeamish, we could have a veterinarian on our hands, but that’s a big if.”

Jack and Mojo are the Powell family’s dogs.

Golf vs. Tennis and Radio vs. TV

Braves fans are no strangers to golf talk coming from the broadcast booth or amongst the team’s starting pitchers. Broadcasters and Braves hurlers, especially the staff stalwarts from the 1990s, certainly know where the prime golf courses are when the team’s on the road. But much fewer know of the Powells’ competitiveness and prowess on the tennis court, where wife Emmy has won a doubles championship at the highest level of the T2Tennis league.

“[Broadcast partner] Don Sutton loves his golf. I’m sure he did play with those guys — Glavine, Maddux and Smoltz,” Powell said. “He’s played so much golf he doesn’t talk much about it. He tells me when he loses money to the TV guys and I’ve got an issue with that. You know, we’ve got a certain standard on the radio side, so when he gets on the bus to go to the stadium and he tells me they got into his pocket that day, he and I have to have a little chat. None of those TV guys dare play tennis or I’d be in their pockets.”

Caller IDs Best Broadcast Moments in Braves and MLB history

It’s forever fodder for fans debating the best teams, players and plays in the game’s history. What about the best broadcast calls though? A man with many memorable moments behind the mic himself voiced his opinion.

“I think when Sid Bream slid in [in Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS] and Skip Caray screamed, ‘Braves win! Braves win! Braves win!'” There’s nothing that any Braves fan can compare with that,” Powell said. “There have been other very good calls, but that was just the [top] moment… As for best baseball calls of all-time for me, particularly of the ones that I heard live would be the Kirk Gibson homerun [for the Dodgers in the 1988 World Series]. The ‘I cannot believe what I just saw’ [line by Jack Buck] was just a fantastic call. Vince Scully’s [radio] call of that was also great.”

Which Hall of Fame Partner does Powell most like behind the Mic?

Powell not only fulfilled his childhood dream by returning to Atlanta to call Braves games, he also went from one Hall of Fame broadcast partner to another — Radio Hall of Famer and legendary funnyman Bob Uecker in Milwaukee to MLB Hall of Famer and pitching great Sutton back in his hometown. As for playing careers, there’s no comparison between the lifetime .200 hitting catcher and the 324-game winning pitcher, but how do they stack up as broadcast partners?

“Occasionally, I’ll kidnap [my daughters] throughout the season and bring them to the games,” Powell said. “They’ll hang in the booth. Ueck was great with the kids, and Don is also very family-oriented, loves kids and he’s got a school-aged daughter [as well].”

“I was pleasantly surprised and pleased with how easily Don and I were able to form chemistry and work together and really enjoy baseball. He and I are different in many ways, including generational, but we love baseball and we love families. With that, we built the fabric of our relationship. He was really good to work with. I was just anxious as I’m sure Don was. He sacrificed a lot to get back here to this job. His actions speak volumes.”

Added Powell’s wife, Emmy, “Of course when Jim worked with Bob [Uecker], it was nothing but one funny thing after the other.”

Luck vs. Design

Powell, the 1998 Wisconsin Sportscaster of the Year, likes to quote legendary baseball man, Branch Rickey, when discussing the twists, turns and occasional favorable bounce in a career path… or in life in general. “Luck is the residue of design,” affirmed the baseball visionary and executive, who signed Jackie Robinson to his first professional contract in 1945. How do those two things relate to the Voice of the Braves?

“I always told Emmy I could end up selling insurance or who knows what because there are only 30 jobs [in the major leagues], there’s only 30 booths. I wasn’t a huge believer in fate and all that. I tend to believe you make your own breaks. People who want to give too much credit to fate also give themselves an excuse to not do everything to take care of their own end. If you believe too much of the ‘whatever happens happens,’ then you don’t do the design that helps get you the residue of luck. Having said all that, after all the dominos fell in [early 2009], it’s almost unthinkable to me that’d we be in this position. To get one Major League job was like we won the lottery. What are the odds that you win the lottery? One in 80 gazillion?!? Now what are the odds that you get another job but it’s the Braves job? I mean that was my childhood [dream]. I give all the credit to a higher power. We’ve been blessed.”

Powell points at his first prime-time moment at a Braves game... as a kid decades ago at old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.