These Christian Colleges Are Taking On Today’s Hot-Button Social Issues - Forbes

An organization of Christian colleges has shown a willingness to tackle social issues, often taking ... [+] stances that differ from those of some notorious evangelical leaders. getty A group of Christian colleges is pursuing an agenda of pressing social issues, including immigration, criminal justice, and racial/ethnic diversity. It’s an ambitious set of policies, and it’s noteworthy because the stance of these colleges is in marked contrast to the ultra-conservative narrative associated with the evangelical church’s recent embrace of the right-wing, nationalist politics of Donald Trump. The colleges are members of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), an organization comprised of about 180 institutions worldwide, with approximately 140 in the U.S. Representing 37 different Protestant denominations, CCCU schools enroll over 500,000 students. You can view the full member list here. All CCCU schools have missions defined as Christ-centered, rooted in the hi

Maryville College Concert Choir posting Christmas music videos online - Maryville Daily Times

Maryville College Concert Choir posting Christmas music videos online - Maryville Daily Times

Maryville College Concert Choir posting Christmas music videos online - Maryville Daily Times

Posted: 18 Dec 2020 08:30 PM PST

With COVID-19 precautions, there's no room for an audience this December when the Maryville College Concert Choir sings in the Clayton Center for the Arts.

The Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre normally can seat up to 1,163. Fifty-eight choir members spaced at least 13 feet apart fill the main floor and overflow onto the balcony.

Usually the college hosts "A Maryville Christmas," with not only the concert choir and ensembles but also the concert band, orchestra, jazz band and even theater students.

"It's a big kind of hometown Christmas event, but that won't be happening this year," said Stacey Wilner, the college's director of choral activities.

Instead the singers are coming into people's homes through a series of videos posted on Facebook.

The singers were working on a Christmas CD when Maryville College moved to virtual instruction and suspended nonessential activities for several days in late October because of a rise in the number of local cases of COVID-19.

Now they'll have to wrap up the recordings next semester. "We'll still have Christmas in February," Wilner said, with plans to have the CD complete by fall 2021. "We'll have them for next Christmas," she said.

COVID close down

Wilner knows exactly when the impact of COVID-19 hit: March 13, the day after the spring concert.

Plans for a spring concert tour to England and Scotland were scuttled, and Wilner along with other instructors moved lessons online.

By August the college pitched a tent outside the Clayton Center for the Arts, the open air venue designed to provide more protection as students sang at a distance and while wearing masks.

"A lot of colleges are not holding in-person rehearsals," Wilner said. "We were very appreciative of the support of the college to be able to do that."

The Clayton Center staff also helped with measuring the indoor and outdoor rehearsal spaces for distancing and setting up equipment.

Since the tent covered only about 33 singers at a time, the remaining students would rehearse in the Lambert Recital Hall.

"We didn't have the cohesive, combined rehearsals that we're used to having," Wilner said, even though at the end they would sing with some students outside of the tent.

"Every rehearsal was a new set of problems to try to work out," she explained. Chairs, music stands and equipment had to be moved in and out of the the tent. Accompanist Chase Hatmaker built a rolling cabinet for the electric keyboard.

Being outside had other complications.

"The wind would blow and music would fly," Wilner said, and sometimes she cut rehearsal short because of the heat or cold.

Traffic sounds spilled over from Lamar Alexander Parkway.

Singing with COVID-19 precautions is complicated in several ways.

Fine-tuning timing

"This has been like the very first semester of teaching all over again," said Wilner, who is in her 21st year with Maryville College.

"Singers work really hard on developing their ear and listening, and when you're 13 feet apart if you stop to listen too much you're going to be behind," she explained.

In the Nutt Theatre, with some choir members in the balcony, she said, "They are so far apart that it's really almost impossible to be completely together."

"If you waited to listen, then by the time you heard something and sang what you were supposed to do, you were anywhere from half a second to a second behind everything," explained Andrew Brittain, a junior music major from Oak Ridge.

Watching the director has been more important than ever, and Wilner is using a new tool — a lighted baton — which students said is easier to see in the theatre with the distance and relatively low light.

She selected music that was easier for the singers keep together, and they moved the keyboard and percussion instruments from the stage to the middle of the hall, surrounded by the choir members.

"It's very different than anything I'm used to," Brittain said. "It pushed us a lot as musicians."

Face mask variations affected everything from singers' breathing to how well they projected their voices.

"I still have not gotten comfortable the way that you need to breathe when you sing in a mask," said Elaina Wilson, a freshman music education major from Seymour.

"We take very deliberate breaths, so taking a deep enough breath to carry out phrases is still challenging in a mask," she explained, "but I think we did very well about staggered breathing, and breathing when the person next to us may not be breathing. Those challenges were something we've never faced before."

Eventually the students received masks specifically designed for singers. A structure holds the fabric away from the mouth so it is easier to form proper vowel shapes, and because the masks are taller they aren't pulled away when singers open their mouths wide.

With first year students, Wilner noted, "We don't even know what they look like without a mask."

The concert choir leaders worked on building relationships with a modified retreat, virtual or distanced games and assigning students to small groups they call "families."

{span}Keeping art alive {/span}Wilner sees the students' determination to sing despite the obstacles as a lesson in the human spirit and the importance of group singing in a society.

On the Maryville College campus this fall, Brittain noted, "It was one of the few places where people were consistently around other people and had a chance to interact with people they weren't living with."

"I was just so excited to get to sing," Wilson said.

"We were always able to make a beautiful sound, and that just kept me going through the semester, but at first it was challenging," she said.

"O Holy Night," one of the songs posted on video, is one of her favorites to hear. "I would always forget to sing because I was so busy listening," she said with a laugh.

In addition to the concert choir Wilson is in the Off Kilter and Lassies ensembles. "Choir has been my safe haven this semester," she said.

Her senior year of high school came to an abrupt end because of the pandemic and concert cancellations.

"I had taken for granted music being in my life the way that it had been," she said. "Being able to sing with other people is a really beautiful and vulnerable thing."

Even though Wilson confessed that she is nervous when singing solo, she said, "When you're singing all together the sense of community is incredible, and I don't think there's a lot of things on earth that bring people together the way that music does."

Maryville College already has announced that at least the first two weeks of the next semester will be all virtual.

Wilner has been working on new experiences for her students, such as online master classes with professional musicians such as Paul Phoenix, a former member of the King's Singers who now has an academy in Hong Kong. "He's willing to do a master class at midnight for him," she said, which will be noon for the Maryville College students.

She's also hopeful that they will be able to have some type of spring concert at the end of April.

Graduate School announces plans for May commencement - Purdue News Service

Posted: 18 Dec 2020 09:32 AM PST

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Purdue University Graduate School has announced plans for an in-person commencement ceremony for doctoral students at 10 a.m. May 16 in Elliott Hall of Music.

"We are so pleased to be able to offer an in-person graduation experience for graduate students and a hooding ceremony for those receiving the highest degree that the university offers," said Linda Mason, dean of the Graduate School. "We look forward to welcoming all graduate students back in Elliott Hall when it is safe to do so."  

The university previously announced that the ceremony for all undergraduate and professional candidates (Doctor of Audiology, Doctor of Nursing Practice, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Doctor of Pharmacy), and Graduate School master's degree candidates will be held in Ross-Ade Stadium at 10 a.m. May 15.

The ceremonies will be held in accordance with Protect Purdue guidelines. Any specific health and safety information will be communicated closer to the ceremony. Graduates participating in the May 15 ceremony will receive a to-be-determined number of tickets to distribute, and the Purdue Athletic Ticket Office will assist with seating in Ross-Ade. The Hall of Music will assist in ticketing for the May 16 Elliott Hall ceremony.

For more information, visit the Purdue commencement website.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today's toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 5 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at

Writer, Media contact: Jim Bush,

Source: Chris Pass,

Journalists visiting campus: Journalists should follow Protect Purdue protocols and the following guidelines:

  • Campus is open, but the number of people in spaces may be limited. We will be as accommodating as possible, but you may be asked to step out or report from another location.
  • To enable access, particularly to campus buildings, we recommend you contact the Purdue News Service media contact listed on the release to let them know the nature of the visit and where you will be visiting. A News Service representative can facilitate safe access and may escort you on campus.
  • Correctly wear face masks inside any campus building, and correctly wear face masks outdoors when social distancing of at least six feet is not possible.

Gift from Tech grad puts 100 years of music history into students' hands - News at Louisiana Tech

Posted: 18 Dec 2020 07:47 AM PST

​M.E. (Davis Smart) Miller (English Education, '70; English, '73) recently donated a treasure trove of vintage popular and classical sheet music, books, and trade magazines dating back as far as the 1860s and up through the mid-1970s to the Louisiana Tech University School of Music.

This donation of over 1,300 items is now housed in the department of University Archives and Special Collections in Prescott Memorial Library. The collection features a wide range of music genres, including ragtime, vaudeville tunes, country and western, film music, jazz and the blues, patriotic music and war songs, Broadway classics (with a particularly large collection of works by Irving Berlin), and novelty tunes, such as "Oh! I Love No One But'er My Oleomargarine" (Gaskill and Leslie, 1926). Included among the donated items are very early editions of popular tunes appropriate for this time of year, such as "White Christmas" (Irving Berlin, 1942) and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" (Gillespie and Coots, 1934).

"The importance and value of having a collection like this on our own campus can't be overstated," said Dr. Michael Austin, Founding Director of the School of Music. "Music publishing is an important part of the music industry that often gets overlooked, and this collection represents a time in history when sheet music was the music industry. If you're going to be a future leader in this business and help to determine where the music industry is going, you really need to understand where it's been and what baggage it's bringing with it."

With plans to digitize aspects of this collection, it also promises to become a valuable resource for music scholars, historians, and popular culture specialists around the world.

While most people think of modern record labels and music videos when they think of the popular music industry, its history stretches all the way back to London in the mid-1700s. In the late 19th and early 20th century, popular songs were published in New York City in a part of Midtown Manhattan called "Tin Pan Alley," so named due to the noise produced by piano players stationed outside of each publishing house simultaneously playing the latest hit tunes on old upright pianos in hopes of selling copies to passersby. Until the invention of radio, phonographs, and other music playback technology became commonplace in American homes, playing this sheet music at home was really the only way to hear music on-demand. Although there was a steep decline in sheet music publishing after World War II when Tin Pan Alley music was replaced by rock and roll, the sheet music publishing industry still sees nearly $247 million in annual global revenue.

Much of the music in the collection has important historical and social significance. Some of the songs' topics and titles reflect important issues from various points in American history; for example, the ideals of the Temperance Movement are clearly reflected in Jean le Croix's "Father Drinks No More" (1874). Other pieces in the collection feature songs from Blackface Minstrelsy and works that highlight sexist, racist, and xenophobic attitudes that were prevalent at the time they were published.

"All of this music  – the good, the bad, and the ugly – is an important part of the history of the music industry and of this country," Austin said. "There's undeniable value in presenting our students with the opportunity to see first-hand the long history of troublesome depictions in the illustrated cover of a music score or in the lyrics of a popular show tune. And being able to have our students physically hold pieces like these in their own hands has the potential to make a much greater impact than simply seeing a picture of it online or in a PowerPoint presentation. Plus, music has always reflected culture rather clearly, and learning how to recognize and contextualize harmful representations of 'others' is one of the first steps in preventing that kind of harm in the future."

Founded in 2019, the School of Music continues to build on the legacy and tradition of over 125 years of excellence in music education at Louisiana Tech University with ambitious degree programs and cutting-edge learning opportunities that prepare aspiring professional musicians, music teachers, music scholars, and music industry professionals for traditional and emerging careers in a rapidly changing world. For additional information about the School of Music, visit

First established in 1945, the department of University Archives and Special Collections located in the Prescott Memorial Library contains over 700 archival, manuscript, and special collections that demonstrate the history of Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, Lincoln Parish, and North Central Louisiana.  Materials found in our collections are free and open to the general public. For more information about the University Archives and Special Collections, visit

College Financial Aid Applications Drop in 2020 - The New York Times

Posted: 18 Dec 2020 09:25 AM PST

Many high schools have shifted to virtual learning during the pandemic, and they have also moved traditional FAFSA information events online. But the FAFSA asks for a lot of detailed information and while general advice sessions are a start, aid experts say, students often need one-on-one help to complete the form.

The pandemic and the shift to virtual learning have added to the challenge of helping students complete the form, said Nathan J. Daun-Barnett, an associate professor at the Graduate School of Education at the State University of New York at Buffalo and an expert on college access. The university partners with Say Yes Buffalo, a local nonprofit group, and area schools on a FAFSA completion project, which recruits graduate students as paid interns to work one-on-one with high school students to fill out the FAFSA and related documents.

Before the pandemic, he said, interns met individually with students at local high schools to complete the forms. Now, students are able to schedule virtual visits with 42 interns, but sometimes technology can pose challenges. There have been cases, for example, in which a student is trying to complete the FAFSA from home on a cellphone, while also talking to the intern on the same phone. "It's not an optimal way to complete the process," he said.

Counselors at Leonardo da Vinci High School in Buffalo, which has earned recognition for its efforts to have students complete the FAFSA say this year has been a challenge because their students have been learning remotely since April. But, they said, the university interns are a big help.

Cheryl Shul, one of the school's two counselors, said they normally could just pull students out of class if needed and have them work on the form. This year, she and her colleague are relying even more heavily on phone calls, reminder apps, texts and email to nudge students. "We're good at hounding them," she said.

Counselors have also had to be flexible about normal workday boundaries. Last year, Ms. Shul said, she may not have responded to a text from a student with a FAFSA question late in the evening. But this year, she usually replies, knowing that waiting until the next day may mean it's harder to reach the student.

Schools looking for ideas for reaching students can check the attainment network's website, which offers a guide for FAFSA completion.


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