The Blog

Stories and things of interest

BAC Gains Full Membership to NCAA Division III

Just days ago Bryn Athyn College was granted full membership to the NCAA Division III after four years of provisional membership. The process was completed a year faster than is customary, and that’s due to the fantastic work of our athletic department in meeting all the requirements and obtaining a waiver to combine the last two years of membership into one. The official press release is below. GO LIONS!


Bryn Athyn College Granted Full Membership to NCAA Division III

Bryn Athyn, Pa. – The NCAA Division III Management Council has notified Bryn Athyn College that it has successfully completed the provisional membership process and will compete as full members of the NCAA Division III starting fall 2017. As a full NCAA Division III member, the College will be eligible to compete for national championships and will have voting rights on NCAA legislation.

President Brian Blair said, “Bryn Athyn College is very pleased to gain full membership into NCAA Division III.  This membership provides our student athletes with opportunities to compete at a high level while also participating in programs that emphasize the safety, soundness, and overall character- building of the student-athlete.”

Bryn Athyn made quick work of the membership process, completing the standard five-year process in just four. The robust and exciting growth of the athletic program has infused the campus community with extra energy and school pride, as the 150 student-athletes at the college eagerly await a fully competitive upcoming year in the North Eastern Athletic Conference.

Athletic Director and Vice President of Business Development at Bryn Athyn College, Matt Kennedy, said, “This news from the NCAA marks a new day for Bryn Athyn College and our athletic programs. We are now a full NCAA Division III member, which provides our student-athletes with the opportunity to play the sport they love while working towards obtaining a degree. I would like to thank President Blair and the administration for their support and trust over the past four years of this incredible journey through the NCAA provisional process.”

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Professor Bryntesson’s Adventures in the Florida Wilds

While on sabbatical this spring, Professor Fredrik (Figge) Bryntesson, Ph.D., took two trips to Florida to study the Ivory-billed Woodpecker–the largest woodpecker to have lived in the United States.  Due to habitat destruction and hunting, the number of Ivory-bills dwindled in the early 1900s and the last definitely known population disappeared in the 1940s. Some now fear that the species could be extinct. However, there have been a number of reports of Ivory-bills throughout its historic range in the Southeastern US since the 1940s to the present.

Bryntesson and Chuck Hunter, Southeast Regional Refuge Biologist for the National Wildlife Refuge System, US Fish and Wildlife Service in Atlanta, are working on developing a comprehensive understanding of the historical status of this bird (Photo, left: Ivory-bill specimens at the Florida Museum of Natural History). To do so, they are gathering information from the published literature, and, importantly, from the unpublished archival documents such as field notes, correspondence, memos, and reports on the subject. It is clear from archival documents that there are many more reports of Ivory-bills than have been published, and archival information also provides us with very important insights such as the views and thoughts about Ivory-bills held by many ornithologists and Ivory-bill searchers. Therefore, the archival sources significantly add to our understanding of the historical status of Ivory-bills (Photo, right: researching in the archives).

In May, Hunter and Bryntesson journeyed to northwestern Florida and visited multiple areas where sightings of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers have been reported. The Dead Lakes, and the Chipola, Apalachicola, Aucilla, Wacissa, and Wakulla Rivers provide the type of swampy surroundings where Ivory-bills have historically been seen (Photos below, left to right: Dead Lakes, Wacissa, and Wakulla rivers).


While investigating these habitats, they were able to spot a range of interesting wildlife, and though they were mostly on the lookout for birds, they also saw a couple of alligators (Photo, right: American Alligator. Photos below, left to right: Great Egret, Pileated Woodpecker, Purple Gallinule, Red-shouldered Hawk).

Bryntesson’s interest in the Ivory-billed Woodpecker dates back to 2005 when it was announced that the bird had been reported in Arkansas. This announcement was big news because many people thought that the bird was extinct. Hunter’s interest goes back much further. He said, “For me personally it all goes back to childhood, when at age ten I thought I had seen an Ivory-bill near my house and I found out how to contact the local Audubon Society chapter.” Professionally, he started focusing on the Ivory-billed Woodpecker as part of his job with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1989. He has been the general go-to for evaluating reports and other odds and ends for this species ever since.  Hunter said, “This became nearly a full-time effort with the 2004-2005 Arkansas reports and I, among other things, assisted in planning and implementing searches across the Southeast with various state and federal agencies, and other private parties.  Alas, by 2010, nothing better than the original reports emerged, but there were many reasonably credible reports from a variety of folks with noted levels of expertise.  That however, has led to no resolution of whether or not the species continues to persist.”

Bryntesson and Hunter at the County Record in Blountstown, Florida. Photo by Robert Turner.

During the trip, Bryntesson and Hunter worked to gather and analyze more information about Ivory-bill reports.  The two spent much time in several archives reviewing notes, records, and publications on historic Ivory-billed Woodpecker sightings. They found a wealth of useful information, mostly about Ivory-bill reports between the 1930s and 1960s, including material about the Chipola River Wildlife Sanctuary, which was a refuge for ivory-bills managed by the National Audubon Society between 1950 and 1952.  Figge says, “The published literature contains relatively brief descriptions of, or references to, the reports of Ivory-bills in the area in the early 1950s, and the subsequent establishment and closure of the Chipola River Wildlife Sanctuary, but there is no comprehensive account published. The purpose of our research is to produce a detailed account of these historic events.”

So the mystery continues, and Bryntesson and Hunter work to tell the story. Bryntesson said, “Working out this type of history is like solving a giant jig-saw puzzle. Every now and then we find new pieces to add. Recently, we have found many important documents in archives. These items provide us with a better understanding of the history of the searches themselves, and the evidence that has been amassed.”

This spring, Bryntesson and Hunter presented a poster on their Chipola River Wildlife Sanctuary research at a scientific conference at Stockton University. Bryntesson gave a talk at the Tall Timbers Research Station in Florida, and an article was published about their research in The County Record of Blountstown, Florida.  Bryntesson related one of his favorite parts of this work: “One thing that I really like about researching the historic status of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is that it is not just about the bird, it is about people too. The searchers have been, and are, incredibly dedicated and it is fascinating to learn about their findings and thoughts, as well as their passion and enthusiasm for finding the bird.”

The gallery below includes pictures from the research trips in Florida. Click on each picture to enlarge. Photo credits: All photos taken by Fredrik Bryntesson unless otherwise noted.

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FeelGood Raffle Extravaganza

FeelGood is raffling off ten amazing baskets to anyone who is smart enough to buy tickets! These baskets are filled with a range of exciting things, from tasty treats to gift cards. Sponsors such as Jules Thin Crust, Allways Cafe, Huntingdon Valley Crossfit, the Trenton Thunder, and All Aboard Cafe have generously donated to the cause, and the BAC FeelGood chapter is excited to give these prizes to the lucky winners on Tuesday evening, May 23rd.

Buy your tickets online or in person at the Bounty Farmers Market on Saturday, May 20th, or at the Residence Life BBQ on Tuesday, May 23rd, where the drawing will take place (you do not have to be present at the raffle drawing in order to win).

When you buy a raffle ticket, what does your money go toward? Ending poverty and hunger on a global scale through an inspiring and community-building mechanism called FeelGood!

FeelGood is a youth-led movement turning students’ college years into a time of effective global action. On campuses across the country, students run a successful social enterprise—a grilled cheese deli— to raise money and build public support for the end of extreme hunger and poverty. In the process students gain critical business, leadership, and teamwork skills that serve them throughout their lives.

Chloe Kund, co-founder of the FeelGood BAC chapter, is proud to say that to date $19,000 has been raised on the BAC campus. An avid supporter of the FeelGood initiative, Chloe has been a student volunteer, a counselor at the FeelGood summer conference, and for the past two years she has served as a FeelGood “changemaker ignitor.” Years ago Chloe fell in love with the FeelGood mission and didn’t want to stop being a part of it after graduating in 2014. She says, “It’s something that fuels me– it’s a very bright spot in my life that connects me to a movement I believe in.” Chloe will be serving as the BAC “changemaker ignitor” next year as well, helping more students help others.

Maia Wyncoll is the marketing and PR chair for the BAC FeelGood chapter. She volunteers her time and talent because she wants to make a difference. She says, “It’s easy to get caught up in the mentality that as a college student I can’t make an impression on the world…but FeelGood has helped me see that each person can have a good impact, and as a team working toward a common goal we can have an incredible impact.” Maia’s work with FeelGood has brought her out of her comfort zone and helped  her make good friends both on the BAC campus and across the US and Canada through the FeelGood network. She’s also found an internship through this experience that she is very excited about!

To learn more about FeelGood, go here.  Remember to buy your raffle tickets!

 

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BAC Goes to the MA-ESA Annual Conference

On Saturday, April 22, a group of Bryn Athyn College professors and students traveled to Stockton University for the annual conference of the mid-Atlantic chapter of the Ecological Society of America (MA-ESA). Five posters from Bryn Athyn College were presented, setting a BAC record for most posters presented at a single conference. Professors Fredrik Bryntesson, Ph.D., Eugene Potapov, Ph.D., and Ed Higgins, M.D., led the group at the conference, and were joined by alumnus Michael Rodgers (BS ’13), and current students Justin Ball, Derek Buss, Elizabeth Snyder, and Eric Rossi.

This was the tenth consecutive year that the deer study has presented posters at the MA-ESA conference, providing many BAC students with the opportunity to experience academic presentation in a recognized public forum. In addition to the professors and students in attendance this year, there were six more authors on the papers that were presented: current students Laura Clymer and Ryan Landels, alumnus Joe Kadelock (BS ’16), alumnus and lab instructor Grace McMackin (BS ’12), and two Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust employees, Brad Nyholm and Kevin Roth, who is also an alumnus (BS ’15).

 

Professor Bryntesson says the deer study has enabled investigators to learn many new features of suburban white-tailed deer movement and behavior, and this knowledge is useful for deer management. He adds, “Presenting work at scientific conferences, or being co-authors on publications, is unusual for undergraduate students, and is excellent for their education, experience, and resumes.”

Learn more about the Bryn Athyn College Deer Study.

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President’s Corner

Each month President Blair will be posting on the blog to recap what’s been going on and talk about what’s on the horizon. Here’s his first post, covering the month of April and looking ahead to May!


April has been a busy month at Bryn Athyn College. The academic year is steaming ahead toward completion, and excitement is building toward graduation. A number of events have punctuated the calendar recently, including the Long Night Against Procrastination (LNAP), the first annual Parents and Family Day, NCAA Division III week, the Academic Achievement Awards, and Diversity Day.

I am proud of the hard work our students put in throughout the year, but it’s especially fun to see the community of learning that is formed in the library during LNAP. Over the three LNAPs this year, 922 scholarly hours were logged by our students, and many personal academic goals were reached.

Parents and Family Day was held on April 8, and saw about 65 guests enjoying the event which included a welcome brunch, tours of campus, Cairnwood Estate, and Glencairn, an opportunity to cheer on the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams, and a BBQ on the terrace where the local band Hillbillies of Cohesion played a delightful set.

NCAA Division III Week gave our athletic teams the opportunity to volunteer in different ways throughout the community. The soccer, lacrosse, and basketball teams all offered clinics or helped out at the Bryn Athyn Church Elementary School practices. The Student Athlete Advisory Committee also got the student body to participate in making a mural for suicide awareness. Colorful handprints symbolized the willingness to lend a hand to those in need.

The Academic Achievement Awards are always an important moment to recognize the often-quiet work of scholars. Those on the dean’s list were honored, as were recipients of scholarships and grants connected to particular majors or initiatives. One new award was given this year to the winners of the Career Olympics. Team Djibouti was honored with gold medals and a cash prize for their excellent work creating resumes, LinkedIn profiles, attending a networking/interviewing event, and making a video for prospective employers.

Diversity Day was held indoors due to inclement weather, but that didn’t dampen anybody’s spirits! “Simple Gifts,” a talented string duo, played a variety of instruments from a range of cultural traditions while students, faculty, and staff roamed the Great Hall and sampled delicious cuisines from around the world.

It’s been a great month, and I look forward to seeing you all at upcoming events like the BAC Carnival on Saturday, April 29th; the Senior Capstone Project Presentations on May 10; the FeelGood Run and the Spring Dance Concert on Saturday, May 13; and graduation on the weekend of May 26.

Best,

President Blair

 

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Lessons From the Dutch Masters: Original Paintings by Martha Gyllenhaal

The Friends of the Swedenborg Library are pleased to announce a new exhibit of paintings by Martha Gyllenhaal, opening on Sunday, April 23.

Dr. Gyllenhaal, head of the Fine Arts Area of Bryn Athyn College, is an art historian and painter who integrates humanities and the fine arts in her teaching. She enjoys using the art collections in Glencairn Museum to enhance her classes.

An opening reception with a talk by the artist will be held at the Swedenborg Library on Sunday, April 23, from 3:00pm-5:00pm.  All are welcome.

The paintings will be on display in the Library through June 30, 2017.

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Warm Up America!

Over the past three months, students, faculty, staff, and library-goers have been knitting colorful squares to be assembled into an afghan for the charity project Warm Up America! Andi Sibley, reference and user services librarian at the Swedenborg Library, heard about the project and liked the way they encourage local involvement.

Sibley says, “Warm Up America! encourages communities to come together to knit and crochet and then donate their products to local hospitals, shelters, or charities, so we are giving it to the Bryn Athyn Cares refugee group. We love that we are able to do this fun project and give it to a local family.”

Tykah Echols, a student at Bryn Athyn College, works at the library and knitted four panels for the afghan. She says, “I had almost forgotten how much I love to knit when the knitting table appeared at the library and I got an excuse to do it again!” She has been knitting since she was about five years old, having learned by watching her mom knit for hours on end. Tykah says, “It was so wonderful rediscovering this craft that I have enjoyed all my life. Plus, the final product is not only useful, but beautiful too!”

This project was such a hit that it will likely return next winter. Sibley says that librarians are always interested in finding ways in the library to offer creative outlets for stress relief, like the coloring table that is set up on the main floor. Other ideas have come up, like doing a lego table or board games and tech toys. She adds, “Yarn arts seemed like an easy way to get started, have fun, and be creative.”

While students, staff, and other library guests benefit from the stress relief of crafting, the refugee family receiving the blanket will have a warm reminder of the goodwill and support from their local community.

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