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Today@YHC September 2011

YHC to Establish Homecoming Tradition This Fall

During Alumni Weekend in July, Young Harris College Alumni Association President Rufus Brown, ’60, announced that the Young Harris College Alumni Association will now offer two major alumni events each year, moving away from a single, summer event. Homecoming 2011 will be held Friday-Saturday, Nov. 11-12, 2011, and Alumni Weekend 2012 will be held Friday-Sunday, April 20-22, 2012.

The YHC Alumni Association’s Alumni Board voted this past year to adopt a new alumni events schedule after reviewing comments that were received and issues that arose over the last several years related to the Alumni Weekend date in late July. Concerns included hot weather, student and faculty participation, availability and affordability of local area accommodations and students' desire to have a traditional fall Homecoming.

“In a sense, we are returning the title of ‘Homecoming’ to the students who desire to establish a traditional fall event centered around our revived intercollegiate basketball program,” Brown said.

The Homecoming weekend will feature a student-led pep rally and bonfire on Friday night and a campus-wide pre-game celebratory picnic lunch on Saturday. Additional campus activities throughout the weekend will be announced soon.

“We are extremely excited about Homecoming 2011," Director of Athletics Randy Dunn said. "The event will provide our students, faculty, staff and alumni with many great activities leading up to our women’s and men's basketball teams taking the court for their home opener on Saturday afternoon.”

The women’s basketball team will take on Reinhardt University on Saturday, Nov. 12, at 2 p.m. and the men’s basketball team will play Bryan College at 4 p.m. in the YHC Recreation and Fitness Center. The Office of Alumni Services will host a special reception for all former basketball alumni, and an Alumni Spirit Challenge will also be held during the basketball games. Any Greek or social alumni group who would like to compete for the Spirit Award should contact the Office of Alumni Services for group seating.

Alumni are encouraged to register for Homecoming 2011 by contacting the Office of Alumni Services at (706) 379-5334 or before Friday, Nov. 4.  For more information or to register online, visit

Save the Date for Alumni Weekend 2012April 20-22

Alumni Weekend 2012 will include a springtime lineup of many special events including the familiar Lunch on the Lawn, milestone class reunions and various athletics and cultural campus activities including Mountain Lions baseball games, the annual student art exhibition and the Theatre Young Harris season finale Sweet Charity. Alumni Weekend will also feature the new Half Century Club Dinner as well as the Annual Alumni Awards Ceremony on Friday night. This event is open to all alumni and will honor the Class of 1962 during their 50th reunion as well as all other alumni who have celebrated a 50th reunion.

Save the date for April 20-22 and look for more details at

Alumni Spotlight: Juli Sibley

On a lark, Juli Sibley, ’79, accepted an invitation to visit Young Harris with her friend, Anne, on a chilly Friday afternoon in January 1975. Anne had heard that Young Harris College had “the best art department in the state” from a professional portrait artist based in Marietta, which led to the impromptu road trip. After looking around the campus and chatting with Ezra Sellers, Ph.D., ’41, who led the art department at the time and happened to be refilling slides in a classroom, the friends headed back south.

“What I remember the most about that afternoon was gazing out the back windshield, still in sight of the College, when I saw large snowflakes begin to fall. I had this feeling come over me that I would return again,” Sibley said. “Anne used to tell me I dressed like I was living out my dreams—my favorite outfit at the time, as I recall, was a mini culotte skirt with a rainbow, blue sky and star pattern.  What I didn’t realize then was that I was already in the process of creating the life of my dreams.”

While at YHC, Sibley became serious about becoming a professional artist and knew that she would need to be able to draw to accomplish this goal. She relied on her strong imagination and design skills while working tirelessly to improve her drawing ability. During her studies, all art students were required to keep a sketchbook and complete seven sketches each week in addition to regular assignments.  

“When Ezra walked into the room on Monday, your sketchbook had better be in the stack on his desk. If not, you were in for some unpleasantness. He did not have patience for those who didn’t do the work, and he had a built in ‘slack-o-meter’ that instantly recognized if you did a rush job on Sunday night or between parties,” Sibley recalled. “He really paid attention to our progress.  What I didn't know at the time was that I was in the process of becoming a disciplined artist—even though it probably didn't look like it!”

In 1982, Sibley discovered a new passion—teaching—when she was asked to take over a children’s class at the LaGrange Art Association (now LaGrange Museum). She also steadily acquired freelance projects while working part-time for Milliken, one of the largest privately held textile and chemical manufacturers in the world.

“Learning their top-of-the-line computer program for putting designs in the system was exciting since we were in a leading-edge position in the carpet and rug industry,” Sibley said. “I was offered a full salary and title, but I turned it down because I wasn't getting to use my design skills to create new patterns.”

Instead, Sibley moved to Cullowhee, N.C., to finish graduate school in 1986, where she was the only student in the art department who was awarded both an out-of-state tuition waiver and graduate assistantship. While shifting her artistic focus from landscape watercolors to fibers, Sibley continued to satiate her passion for teaching by instructing classes at a nearby community college.

A visit to Young Harris College during Spring Fest in 1989 led to Sibley’s return to the “Enchanted Valley.” During the event, she bumped into Dr. Sellers’ son, David, ’70, who mentioned that he was trying to help a friend sell a 100-year-old farmhouse.

“That's how I moved back to Young Harris—on an owner-financed, ‘she's a good person’ credit check!” said Sibley, who continues to paint, print, ski, hike and even twirl fire in the north Georgia mountains she has called home for more than two decades.

Sibley’s first book Kitchen Table Magic Vol. 1, features basic painting and dying techniques using earth-friendly materials. It is currently available on CD, and she plans to introduce a second volume before the end of the year. She will hold book signings in Georgia and North Carolina later this year for her latest book, All That Matters, which features art and reflections on nature.  

Young Harris has proven to be an ideal location for Sibley to share her love for the arts with others through teaching. She is celebrating her 25th year as a faculty member at the John C. Campbell Folk School and has been on the faculty for the Institute for Continuing Learning (ICL) at YHC for 20 years.

“I’m grateful to my teachers and all those who believed in me. I haven’t missed my calling as a dyed-in-the-wool artist,” Sibley said. “I am also grateful for the blessing of living in a place I love, surrounded by people who love me, doing work with great delight and with great love.”             

Visit Sibley’s blog, Art From the Wilds, to check out her latest artwork and find out about special events including gallery shows and book signings.

5 Questions for... Dr. Steve Harvey


Young Harris College Professor of English Steve Harvey, Ph.D., has taught creative writing courses at YHC since 1976 and previously served as dean of the humanities division.  He is the author of three collections of personal essays:  A Geometry of Lilies, Lost in Translation and Bound for Shady Grove. Find out about the chance meeting that brought Dr. Harvey to Young Harris, how life in the classroom has changed—and stayed the same—at YHC during the last 35 years, and what it’s like to have a hand in shaping a four-year institution.

What are you up to these days?

I still spend most of my time writing and teaching. I devote my morning to the writing desk putting in a couple of hours or more each day on the task. It is a form of meditation, I think, and I simply don’t feel right if I miss a day, but after I’m done with that I’m ready to talk to someone, so I teach and meet students in the afternoons.  I am also a founding faculty member of the Ashland M.F.A. in creative writing at Ashland University in Ohio, so I spend some weekend mornings reading those manuscripts and teaching online. I have big travel plans this year, which include going to Ecuador with my wife, Barbara, over Christmas to visit my daughter, Alice, who is in the Peace Corps there, and a trip to Chicago for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Convention where I am scheduled to do a reading. And I still sing and play banjo, guitar and ukulele for the folk group Butternut Creek and Friends. In fact, we kicked off this year with a concert on campus celebrating the work of the Hiwasee River Watershed Coalition with two other faculty bands. In all, it is a busy and happy schedule.

What brought you to YHC, and what is it about the College that made you want to serve on the faculty for 35 years and counting?

I came to Young Harris College because I met the poet Bettie Sellers, the head of the English department at the time, while at a writers conference at Emory University. She urged me to apply for the job, and I still consider it one of the most fortuitous moments in a lucky life. Unfortunately, I am given to sleep walking, and one night during the conference I found myself in my pajamas on the motel balcony! I suspect that I would not have gotten the job if Bettie had caught me, but I woke up before anyone noticed and slipped unseen back into my room.

One reason I stayed at YHC was that the College allowed me to write by scheduling my classes in the afternoons. Without that block of morning time I probably would not have been able to write my books.  I did not always want to stay at the College. For a number of years I got antsy and yearned to teach at a four-year school, but in the end, I found it just too hard to leave. Fortunately, YHC changed by going four-year as if to grant my wish, and I have been able to teach students at all levels, making YHC a great place for me both as a writer and a teacher.

What are some of your fondest memories of your time working at Young Harris College and living in the “Enchanted Valley”?

Well, there are so many. Once, the English department—which at that time consisted of Bettie, Janice Moore, Leon Lee, '55, and myself—went to a conference. We all gathered in one of the motel rooms where Bettie and Janice started reading poetry aloud and raised such a literary ruckus that the police knocked on our door to issue a stern warning. Recently we had an alumni reading that included Meg Franklin, ’00, Jeremy Collins, ’97, and Rosemary Royston, ’89, as a way to kick off the creative writing program at YHC, and that was a proud night for me since they had all been in my classes. Once, one of my students wrote a fine essay about becoming pregnant, and the class—in honor of her and the essay—threw a baby shower right in the classroom! Finally, there was the day in my composition class that I was reading aloud a passage from E. B. White’s lovely essay “Once More to the Lake” and realized, ‘Hey, I can do that’ and on the spot decided to begin writing personal essays, which I have been publishing ever since.

Another school year just started at YHC. What is the difference in how you prepare to teach a class today compared to 35 years ago?

I tell my students that my ideal class is a campfire in the woods where we all sit in a circle around the dying flames telling ghost stories to get through the night. One person has the flashlight and shines it under his or her face to tell part of the story and then passes it on to another person to tell the next part, so that by the time the story is done we have all had our say and are scared to death!  Why do we tell these stories? To fortify ourselves for the darkness all about us. I know that technology has a place in teaching, and I teach online and use the SMART Board to supplement my class, especially when I have students write about art, but I still sense a hunger in young people for in-depth, face-to-face conversations about what they read and what they care about, and no school is a better setting for that than Young Harris.

In Echoes, you expressed your excitement at seeing YHC become a four-year institution. What has the experience been like of watching the College grow and what do you hope the future holds for YHC?

YHC becoming a baccalaureate college has been a real bonus for me.  I am proud of the program and the young faculty that we have assembled in the English department. It was a privilege to have a hand in shaping the curriculum and an honor to serve on the hiring committees. I’m sure that we have one of the finest and most congenial teaching faculties in English in the country, and those scholars are a joy to work with every day. I also enjoy watching our majors mature over the entire four years of college. I just spoke to Megan Gribble, ’11, one of our English majors who graduated last year. I taught her composition when she was fresh out of high school and now she is a mature young lady. Being able to witness that transformation is a privilege for any teacher. What I hope for in the future is that we can achieve a high level of excellence in publication as well as teaching as we grow, but still keep the academic atmosphere intimate and friendly. In short, I hope that we marry the best of the old and the new so that YHC can become a premier liberal arts college in the mountains.

I graduated from Young Harris College in the spring of 1987. At that time, I dearly wished that YHC had been a four-year school so that I would not have had to leave such an enchanted place.  It broke my heart to leave a college where I had felt success in academics, friendships and leadership. Moving on to a bigger college meant being a really small fish in an ocean. Today’s students are so fortunate to have the opportunity to continue their education with a variety of bachelor’s degrees and stay at Young Harris.

My name is Dr. Barbara Marshall Williford and I am a dentist in Smyrna. My husband, Mike, and I have three amazing children, Sarah, 14, Mark, 12, and Ben, 9. We live in Marietta and are active members of Mt. Bethel Methodist Church. Our lives are filled with a variety of sports, band/chorus concerts, Scouts and beach vacations. We have been blessed in so many ways and life is good.

My decision to go to YHC was influenced by my older brothers, Kurt, ’77, and Scott, ’82. Kurt was president of the Upsilon Delta Sigma (“Sig”) fraternity and met his wife, Kim Stehman Marshall, ’77, at The Little Store during the first week of school. Kurt and Kim have now been married 28 years. Scott was president of Quantrek Club and a member of Spat Club. I couldn’t resist following in their footsteps. I was the president of the Alpha Iota (“AI”) sorority and a member of the choir and ensemble groups. I loved going to chapel to hear Rev. Whitley, ’68, and I had an awesome experience on the European tour with Dr. Hale.

I am currently serving on the YHC Alumni Board. This is a great honor for me. The Alumni Board is filled with energetic people with a passion for the future of Young Harris College. They are eager to give back to the school with service, innovative ideas and financial support. The best part of being on the board is getting to hear updates from YHC President Cathy Cox about all of the fast-moving progress of the College.

It’s amazing getting to see the new energy-efficient residence hall, the creation of upperclassmen apartment-style housing and a basketball arena that is out of this world! Please consider visiting YHC for upcoming Alumni Weekends and Homecomings. I know you will be thrilled at seeing the transformation of our great alma mater.   

My daughter, Sarah, is showing an interest in attending Young Harris College. Maybe I’ll have a future of enjoying YHC all over again through her eyes. GO MOUNTAIN LIONS!


Barbara Williford, ’87

Board of Associates Kicks Off Local Scholarship Campaign

During the 2011-2012 academic year, more than $2.6 million will be awarded to more than 230 local students attending Young Harris College from Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Towns and Union counties in Georgia and Cherokee and Clay counties in North Carolina. Gifts made by organizations and individuals to the College’s Local Scholarship Campaign make much of this scholarship assistance possible.

Later this month, the Young Harris College Board of Associates will kick off the 2011-2012 Local Scholarship Campaign, an annual effort to raise critical scholarship funding for the many local students from these seven nearby counties.

Students like Sarah Pinson, a junior math major from Pickens County, and Austin Arrowood, a sophomore business and public policy major from Towns County, benefit from the scholarship money raised.

“I am very thankful for my hometown support—both emotional and financial. The scholarships I was awarded made my dream of attending the college of my choice come true,” Pinson said.

Arrowood added, “The local scholarships I received did more than just help me financially, they pushed me to do better. College is an investment, maybe even a gamble. When you start gambling with other people’s money, it drives you to never sit down and to always push forward.”

Established in 1991, the YHC Board of Associates is a group of local business and civic leaders who act as ambassadors for the College and serve as a sounding board for their communities. The following members of the Board of Associates will begin their 2011-2012 campaign on Wednesday, Sept. 14:

Angie Kelley- Chair
Piedmont Heart Institute
Blairsville, GA and Murphy, NC

Matthew Akins
Blue Ridge Mountain EMC
Young Harris, GA  

Julia Barnett
Fannin Regional Hospital
Blue Ridge, GA  

Scott Chastain
Appalachia Land Surveying
Ellijay, GA  

Herman Clark
Clark & Clark, Attorneys at Law, PC
Ellijay, GA  

Sheila Cody
Nantahala Bank & Trust Company
Hayesville, NC  

Judy Fullerton
Civic Leader
Hiawassee, GA  

Robert “Bob” Head ‘59
Head Westgate Corporation
Blairsville, GA  

Charles Jenkins
Civic Leader
Blairsville, GA

Kim Johnson
First Citizens Bank
Murphy, NC  

Rob Kaser
Mercier Orchards
Blue Ridge, GA  

Britt McAfee, ‘91
J. Britt McAfee Law Firm, LLC
Blairsville, GA  

W.C. Nelson, ‘63
Nelson Tractor Company
Blairsville, GA  

Donnie Parker
Parker’s Clothing
Blue Ridge, GA  

Julie Payne
Citizens South Bank
Hiawassee, GA  

Donna Reece
Piedmont Mountainside Hospital
Jasper, GA  

Hugh Rogers, ‘91
McCaysville Drug Center
McCaysville, GA  

David Slack
Branch Banking & Trust Co.
Blue Ridge, GA and Murphy, NC
Darrin Sparks
Cadence Bank
Blairsville, GA  

Tony Stewart
Blairsville, GA  

Jamie Tallent
United Community Bank
Ellijay, GA

Michael Thompson, ‘72
Civic Leader
Blairsville, GA  

Holly Tiger
Anderson’s Store and Tiger’s of Hayesville
Hiawassee, GA and Hayesville, NC

Jane Wilson, ‘95
Civic Leader
Young Harris, GA

Faculty Notables

YHC President Cathy Cox received the Traditions of Excellence Award from the State Bar of Georgia’s General Practice and Trial Section during the State Bar’s annual meeting in June 2011. The award is presented annually to a Georgia attorney with 20 or more years of outstanding achievement as a general practitioner who has made significant contributions to the practice of law, has a record of community service, and has a personal commitment to excellence.

 “Blood Mountain” by Professor of English Dr. Steve Harvey, was selected as a notable essay in The Best American Essays, a yearly anthology edited by Robert Atwan. 

Associate Professor of English Janice Moore recently had two poems, titled “Lesson” and “Nostalgia for the Phone Booth,” accepted for publication by The Journal of Kentucky Studies. In addition, two of Moore’s poems, titled “The Donor” and “November,” were accepted for publication by Southern Poetry Review.  Moore was awarded first place for her poem, “Photos from a Distant State,” in the Georgia Poetry Society’s annual competition and read her poem at the organization’s quarterly meeting held at Kennesaw State University, July 23.

Instructor of Religion Adam Neal recently earned his second master’s degree, a master of arts in theological studies, from Liberty University. Neal was also accepted into Liberty’s Ph.D. program in theology and apologetics and began his studies this fall.

Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dean of the Facultyand Associate Professor of Communication Studies Dr. Ron Roach presented a paper at the Eighth Triennial Conference of the Kenneth Burke Society hosted by the Department of English and the Pearce Center for Professional Communication at Clemson University, May 26-29.

A number of Young Harris College faculty shared their expertise with our local community during the summer, teaching courses for the Institute for Continuing Learning (ICL), including Professor of English, Director of the Academic Success Center, and Director of the Writing Center Louisa Franklin (“Blame it on Cupid, A Troublemaker in Literature”), Associate Professor of Biology Brenda Hull (“Great Smokey Mountain National Park – its past, present and future”), Assistant Professor of Physics Dr. Arunava Roy (“Introduction to Telescopes”), Professor of Music and Director of Choral and Vocal Activities Jeff Bauman (“The Evolution of Popular Music”), Instructor of Physical Geography Dr. Baishali Ray (“Introduction to Google Earth and Arcview GIS”), Dean of the Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Professor of Political Science Dr. Lee March (“1968: The Year that Changed the World”), Assistant Professor of History Dr. Natalia Starostina (“Hitler: Myths and Historical Interpretations”), Chairof the Department of MusicandAssociate Professor of Music Dr. Sandy Calloway (“The History of German Art Song”), Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Linda Jones (“Great Names in Biology”), Vice President for Planning and Assessment, Chief of Staff and Instructor of English Rosemary Royston (“Let’s Laugh – an examination of humor in writing”) and Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Dr. Eric Dickman (“Responding to Religious Diversity”).