Some know A.D. Carson ’04 as an academic athletic coach and English teacher for Springfield (Ill.)Public Schools. But Carson is also known as performance artist “Aydee the Great,” a self-described rapper, educator and poet. That persona has released the multi-media novel “Cold,” a combination of hip-hop, poetry and prose. It has been released alongside two audio editions: “Cold” and “Cold World,” volumes one and two.
The art of the novel comes through in the manner with which Carson combines the different genres, layering them upon each other on physical and rhetorical levels.
“I knew I wanted this to be more than an album, a book or a collection of poetry,” says Carson, “and when I had all these things sitting out in front of me, I realized they are all interdependent and had to work together.”
The story is told through the eyes of Dr. Nicole Campbell, a fictional young African-American professor newly arrived at a university strikingly similar to Millikin.
The fictional college’s coffee shop is called Common Grounds, the words inscribed by the entrance of the main building are “Who Am I? How Can I Know? What Should I Do?” and Carson makes a note of the cobbled street connecting campus to the historical downtown district.
While visiting Common Grounds, Campbell is moved by a student’s poetry. This student is “Aydee the Great.”
“Hip-hop relies on traditional literary techniques,” says Carson. “One is the idea of the everyman. The ‘I’ in hip-hop represents the individual listening to this song. People feel these rappers are speaking to them at that specific moment in their lives.”
Carson uses the idea of the “I” as a vehicle to connect the rhetoric of hip-hop with that of literature and blur the line between the two.
“I thought if I could insert myself into the story and make an everyman character, the reader would be forced to take the ‘I’ and embody it as well,” says Carson.
Rather than a combination of these separate art forms and his life, Carson views “Cold” as a singular evolution of each.
“It’s a natural progression for me,” he says, “because my life has been so informed by hip-hop culture. When I hear personification or conceit, I think Common Sense, the rapper. When someone speaks of storytelling, I think Slick Rick.”
Carson, a Decatur native, dropped out of Eastern Illinois University before finishing his undergraduate degree at the Big Blue, majoring in education and creative writing.
At Millikin, Carson found the avenue of creativity he had been seeking. “At Millikin,” he says, “I was embraced as a multi-faceted individual who strived to be creative.”
Carson’s book and CDs are available from Amazon.com. MP3s of the audio content are also available from iTunes.
Carson began giving serious thought to some of the issues approached in “Cold” with fellow students and faculty. “What does it mean to be educated, to get a degree?” he asks. “Do you lose credibility in the hood because you have letters behind your name now?”
Carson says his time at Millikin was vital to the creation of “Cold,” and he cites Gwendolyn Brooks, Pulitzer Prize recipient and poet laureate of Illinois, as his writing inspiration.
“I met Gwendolyn Brooks when I was a kid of 15,” Carson says. “I told her I wanted to be a poet and she said, ‘You’re already a poet. Now your obligation is to write.’ I believe that was one of the moments when I began to consider myself a serious writer,” he says.
“Before I wrote this book, I visited the Gwendolyn Brooks State Library and someone said to me, ‘It won’t be long before you’ll be reading your own book here.’ I feel it’s really great to get that encouragement.”
Hall of Famers honored at men’s basketball opening game, from left: Wayne Dunning ’83, Leon Gobczynski ’75, Mark Kreke ’80, Gary Jackson ’81, Eric Smith ’96.
This fall, Head Men’s Basketball Coach Matt Nadelhoffer began a new annual tradition of honoring men’s basketball players who had been inducted into the Millikin Athletic Hall of Fame. Honorees included:
- Wayne Dunning ’83, three-time all CCIW first teamer
- Leon Gobczynski ’75, Millikin’s alltime leading scorer
- Gary Jackson ’81, two-time all conference honoree
- Mark Kreke ’80, two-time all conference honoree
- Eric Smith ’96, twice named to CCIW all-conference first team
Jesse Price ’69, Millikin’s all-time leading rebounder and second alltime leading scorer, not pictured, was unable to attend that evening but was honored at a later game (see Price at Homecoming on page 27).
Senior lineman Dustin Moore
Graduates from Millikin’s Tabor School of Business are traditionally known for accepting jobs at corporations like Archer Daniels Midland, Caterpillar or State Farm. However, senior finance major and Big Blue offensive lineman Dustin Moore might find himself employed by the National Football League.
Moore, a Decatur native and Maroa-Forsyth graduate, has been contacted by NFL scouts for the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Jets during his Millikin athletic career.
At 6’6” and 280 pounds, Moore started all 20 games (primarily at right tackle) after transferring to MU from Truman State University. He believes his greatest asset to the team was his experience at the college level, a major factor in his selection as a co-captain of the 2011 team.
“[From a playing standpoint] on the field, it’s more or less about knowing what it takes to win and what work you have to put in to be a good team,” he says.
Moore understands what it takes to win and be successful. In high school, he was a member of Maroa-Forsyth’s 2006 Class 2A state football championship team, and played on the 2006-07 squad that won the Class A state basketball tournament.
According to MU Head Football Coach Patrick Etherton, Moore’s presence as a leader had just as large an impact on the team as his physical ability during games.
“He led by example and did a great job,” Etherton says. “He did everything the way it should be done, both on and off the field.”
In addition to garnering the interest of NFL teams, Moore’s dedication to academics earned him a spot on the 2010 CCIW Academic All Conference team.
From a physical standpoint, the No. 75 uniform was hard to miss on Saturday afternoons. Although his physical stature is evident, NFL scouts have also taken interest in his athleticism.
“As big as he is, he moves around very well,” Etherton says. “One thing that attracted the most attention is his speed ... he can flat out run. He’s athletic, has great feet and is agile for his size. I think that’s what impressed a lot of people.”
Moore didn’t always believe that playing college football was in his future. However, his father was a driving force, sending him to camps in high school and supporting his high school efforts. All that effort eventually generated collegiate and more recently, NFL interest.
“Coach Etherton called me last spring and said that a scout from the Jets wanted to talk to me. He had me run a 40-yard dash, measured my height and weight, and told me that I had the athletic ability to play in the NFL,” Moore said. “He said that I needed to get my strength up and people would be back after the season was over.”
The information taken on Moore was entered into a database accessible to all NFL teams. This fall, a scout from the Baltimore Ravens saw Moore’s data and visited Millikin. Since football is a game of detailed preparation and discipline, the scout from Baltimore tested Moore’s mental ability to process the game.
“[The Ravens scout] had me watch film with him and go over the playbook,” Moore said.
While playing in the NFL isn’t a career path Moore has set in stone, he doesn’t rule out playing some sort of professional football should the NFL situation not evolve.
“I could see myself playing semi-professional football, arena football or maybe going to Canada, but that’s just an option,” he said. “With my finance degree here, I was looking into going into financial advising or financial planning. I might just pursue something like that if football doesn’t work out.”
The 1969-70 members of FSO, many of whom participated in the 1970 lockout of the SUB.
In November 1968, The Decaturian campus newspaper announced the formation of a new student group, For Soul Only (FSO). From the start, FSO set its goals: “the unifying of Black students, the pursuit of Black education and cultural enrichment, the orientation of new Black students, the protection of Black students from discrimination, the service to the Black Decatur community, and the observance of Black Holidays.” The members of FSO were active and vocal in pursuing their goals, sponsoring events such as “Black Emphasis Week” for the campus and Decatur community. Members were also frequent contributors of news, poetry and opinion pieces to The Dec and wrote a regular Dec column called “The Soul Spot” from 1969 through early 1971.
The group also held one of the most visible examples of student activism on the Millikin campus. On the evening of Friday, April 24, 1970, the FSO members locked themselves in the lower level of the then University Center (also known as the SUB, or Student Union Building). The lockout came after FSO’s request for a black culture house had been turned down by the university. The group used signs to cover the glass doors and windows with messages, including “No Black House No SUB – FSO.”
The students held their ground into the next day, despite being told they were in violation of a student handbook policy preventing “disruption of the normal operating function of the university, including interference with free use of corridors and entrances to rooms and buildings.” Negotiations with a group of Millikin adminstrators, local ministers and community officials were held the next morning. Faced with the possibility of an injunction against the group for interfering with the use of a campus building, FSO members dispersed that afternoon, following an agreement to discuss their request with a diverse group of university representatives within a few days. Those closed meetings were held April 30.
In 1971, members of For Soul Only, a student group, opened a black culture center in the lower level of the Old Gym.
By May 8, The Decaturian reported that the executive committee of the university’s board of trustees had approved FSO’s request for a black culture house, but original plans to have the house open by September 1970 were delayed. Tensions rose again when it was discovered that renovations to bring Mercer Hall (the planned location for the house) up to current building codes were cost prohibitive. The Sept. 25 Dec reported on a forum held in Albert Taylor Hall to relate the lack of progress on the black culture house to a crowd of 100, mainly students. Feelings ran high; at one point the FSO members read a statement of protest and most of them left the meeting.
University officials offered the lower part of the Old Gym to FSO for its meeting space, which was accepted by the membership that fall. The Old Gym had the advantages of being a more centralized campus location and less expensive to rehabilitate. FSO accepted this offer, and its members even assisted with renovations, which were mostly complete by April 1971, a year after the protest.
In the 1971 Millidek, FSO was quoted as looking forward to the culture center acting as a “focal point at Millikin and in Decatur for furthering communication” and noted that “...The campus awaits the construction of the Center and the rebirth of political activity.”
For Soul Only changed in name to the Black Emphasis Association in the 1980s and finally the Black Student Union in the 1990s, the name still held today. Since its somewhat tumultuous beginning, this student group has continued to thrive as one of many student organizations promoting diversity and cultural awareness on campus.
Four alumni began serving terms on the Millikin board of trustees last summer.
Gregory Griffin '79
Gregory Griffin '79 of Jacksonville, Fla., is a project lifecycle manager for the global business services division of IBM. He has worked for the company for 30 years in various positions. An active community volunteer, he also serves as the local IBM Corps community service coordinator. Griffin previously retired as a master sergeant after serving in the U.S. Air Force and the Florida Air National Guard.
C. Thomas Harrington '70
C. Thomas Harrington '70 of Franklin, Tenn., is chief operating officer and chief financial officer of the Tennessee Bun Co., one of the most automated bakeries in the world, serving more than 35 million dozen buns annually. A certified public accountant, Harrington established and ran Thomas Harrington & Co. accounting firm from 1982 until its eventual sale in 1997. Harrington also is past chairman of the board of directors and current finance committee chairman of Rocketown, a Nashville faith-based organization serving the needs of at-risk teenagers.
Dr. Randall Rentfro '78
Dr. Randall Rentfro '78 of Palmetto, Fla., is associate professor of accounting at University of Tampa. He began his faculty career at Millikin as assistant professor of accounting, serving in various roles, including director of institutional research and assessment as well as chair of the accounting and management information systems departments. Prior to joining the University of Tampa, Rentfro also taught at Nova Southeastern University and Florida Atlantic University.
Dr. Phyllis Warkentin '70
Dr. Phyllis Warkentin '70 of Omaha, Neb., is professor of pathology and pediatrics at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), specializing in blood and marrow stem cell transplantation, transfusion medicine, and cellular therapy product collection and processing. She also serves as medical director of the biologics production facility and the unrelated hematopoietic stem cell donor program at UNMC.
Warkentin also serves as medical director and a founding member of the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT), the standardsetting organization responsible for the inspection and voluntary accreditation of blood and bone marrow transplant programs in North America and cord blood banks internationally. She also serves on the board of directors and medical advisory board of the Midwest region, American Red Cross Blood Services.
Educator and social justice advocate Jonathan Kozel will speak on campus Thursday, March 29, at 7 p.m. in Kirkland Fine Arts Center.
Kozol has devoted nearly 50 years to the issues facing public education and to the challenge of providing equal opportunity within public schools to every child. Currently, he is the most widely read and highly honored education writer in America and was called “today’s most eloquent spokesman for America’s disenfranchised” by The Chicago Sun-Times.
His first book, “Death at an Early Age,” a description of his first year as a teacher, was published in 1967 and received the 1968 National Book Award in Science, Philosophy, and Religion. Regarded as a classic by educators, it has sold more than two million copies in the U.S. and Europe.
Among his other nationally award-winning major works are “Rachel and Her Children,” a study of homeless mothers and their children; “Savage Inequalities”; and “Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation.”
Kozol has spent the past two years working with members of Congress and advisers to President Barack Obama to reduce the punitive aspects of No Child Left Behind while increasing the incentives and rewards that encourage urban districts.
The annual James W. Moore Lecture was established in 1991 to honor the late James W. Moore of Decatur. Moore’s children, Madeline and James “Mac” Moore, created an endowed fund to present speakers on campus who represent “innovative or progressive political or artistic views.”
Bradley is the author of “Flags of Our Fathers,” which was made into a motion picture directed by Clint Eastwood.
New York best-selling author James Bradley will speak on campus Tuesday, April 17, at 7:30 p.m. in Kirkland Fine Arts Center.
A professional motivational speaker and writer and producer of corporate films, Bradley is also author of the New York Times No. 1 best-selling book “Flags of Our Fathers,” which was adapted for a Clint Eastwood-directed film in 2007. “Flags of Our Fathers” is about the six men who raised the American flag on Iwo Jima. He also wrote “Flyboys,” a story about eight naval aviators who were beheaded on the island next to Iwo Jima, and “The Imperial Cruise,” an in-depth exploration of Theodore Roosevelt’s foreign policy.
Bradley has lived in more than 40 countries and run companies in the U.S., Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy. Additionally, he is president of the James Bradley Peace Foundation, which is dedicated to fostering understanding between America and Asia and providing scholarships to American students studying in Japan and China.
Bradley’s appearance is the 2012 T.W. Samuels Lecture. The lecture series was created in 1977 in honor of attorney T.W. Samuels, senior partner in the Decatur law firm of Samuels, Miller, Schroeder, Jackson and Sly. Samuels was active in Decatur community affairs until his death in 1989 at age 103. Samuels’ sons, William J. Samuels of Menlo Park, Calif., and the late Dr. Thomas W. Samuels Jr., created an endowment fund to finance the series in recognition of their father. The endowment is used to bring great thinkers and speakers to Millikin for the purpose of community enrichment.
Creating a new Exercise Science and Sport Pavilion out of the existing West Towne Square will result in a larger facility built for significantly less than building an addition on the north end of Griswold Physical Education Center.
A change in plans has resulted from the generosity of two Decatur families.
In May 2010, as part of the announcement of Millikin’s “Transform MU” capital campaign, plans were announced to build an addition to the north end of Griswold Physical Education Center. The addition was planned to house the academic programs related to the four majors within the exercise science and sport department.
However, the focus for those plans shifted from Griswold to West Towne Square near campus in recent months following discussions among Millikin and the Demirjian and Romano families. The families jointly own the West Towne facility, and offered to make a gift to Millikin in the form of a bargain sale gift.
What Is Exercise Science and Sport?
This relatively new field is the result of an increased nationwide focus on the scientific connection between physical activity and better health, the growth of the fitness and sport industry, and the quest for improved athletic performance. Millikin’s department of exercise science and sport offers the choice of one of four areas of study:
- Health, Fitness and Recreation
- Sport Management
- Athletic Training
- Physical Education
The result? Millikin has the opportunity to create and equip its exercise science and sport pavilion for $5.77 million, about $8 million less than the cost of building the Griswold addition. The space allocated for the pavilion in West Towne Square is 34,000 square feet and almost an exact fit to original architect plans for the Griswold construction, with a gain of 12,000 square feet over the previous plan. West Towne also currently houses Pipe Dreams, Millikin’s student-run theatre company, as well as the Student Programming and Entertainment Center (SPEC).
“This is a natural extension of the Millikin campus,” says Vice President for Alumni and Development Peg Smith Luy ’75. “We are grateful to the Demirjian and Romano families for this innovative gift and purchase plan that will allow us to better serve the students who need the appropriate facilities and equipment to perform their learning in one of Millikin’s fastest growing programs. An additional benefit is that this provides an opportunity to leave the focus of Griswold strictly on athletics.”
Currently, many of the nearly 200 students within the four exercise science and sport majors already have classes in five locations across campus due to space limitations in Griswold.
Key to the progress of the new facility is raising the funding to acquire, renovate and equip the pavilion before the end of 2012. Toward that goal, Luy’s staff has worked hard to get the word out, and to date, more than $2 million has already been donated. Naming opportunities range from various pieces of equipment starting as low as $100 up to $1.02 million for the large physical conditioning learning center on the first floor (see diagram, left).
Once complete funding is obtained, it will take approximately six months to make renovations to West Towne and open the new pavilion.