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From a Distant Campaign Trail

Bierbauer in Cairo

CAIRO — I’ve spent the past two weeks talking politics. I do that a lot. But this was Egyptian politics. Nearly everyone I’d met in Cairo — students, professors, guides — was both excited and apprehensive about the outcome of what is considered Egypt’s first democratic election.

“I’m confused,” one student said, describing why she wanted to write about the first election in which she would vote, but was having trouble grasping 13 presidential candidates. I assured her that confusion is part of the process, that American politics can be as bewildering as Egyptian and that confusion might well be the heart of her story.

The presidential elections — a runoff will take place in June — are part of the process evolving since the Arab Spring of 2011 which overthrew the Mubarak regime in Egypt and, in varying degrees, has changed the political atmosphere in many Arab countries. Egypt has already held open parliamentary elections.

I’ve been meeting with journalism and public relations classes at MISR International University, a private endeavor of some 5000 students in the Cairo suburbs. The students have been very open and engaging about the election process, the tension between Islamist and secular parties and broader social issues facing Egypt.

In one writing class, a young woman described the threat she feels of being harassed by Egyptian men. "What if I make a scene of that guy that thinks it’s a right he has to give me dirty looks, to insult me with his words?" she wrote. I asked if this is widespread. Nearly every woman in the class quickly agreed it is. The men were sheepishly quiet.

We should not make snap judgments about other cultures. Two weeks only scratches the veneer. MIU hopes some of its students can study at USC and USC students and faculty can travel to Egypt. We’ll explore the possibilities of exchanges.

The classes in Cairo also gave me an opportunity to share a perspective on our own presidential elections. At a larger lecture, I held up my somewhat worn, pocket-sized copy of the U.S. Constitution. “This is all of it,” I said to some surprise in my audience. Including all 27 amendments of the past 225 years, it's 35 crisp pages. Many more recent national constitutions run to hundreds of pages.

Justice Stephen Breyer calls our constitution an “enabling document.” It enables Americans to shape their government and its laws with relatively little specific directions, few guidelines on how to and few on how not to. The First Amendment accounts for a lot of the what not to do, such as impinge on the cardinal freedoms Americans value.

It’s not a perfect document. But democracy, as Winston Churchill put it, is “the worst form of government, except for all others.”

I wish my new Egyptian friends well in their pursuit of democracy. It’s neither a straight nor easy path.

Charles Bierbauer

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Alumni News

Claypoole Named Executive Director of Alumni Association

Jack ClaypooleJack Claypoole, advertising and public relations ’87, has been named the executive director of the My Carolina Alumni Association. Claypoole will assume the post in July, succeeding Marcia A. Cole, who stepped down as executive director last June.

Currently the associate deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Claypoole was previously president and CEO of LRADAC, The Behavioral Health Center of the Midlands.

Alumni associations are not a new venture for Claypoole. He helped launch the College of Mass Communications and Information Studies Alumni Society in 2005 and served as its first chairman.

In recognition of his work both with the college and in his career, Claypoole was named a Distinguished Alumnus of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications in 2007.
Read more >


Padgett Honored with Amy Kay Stubbs Women of Achievement Award

Beth PadgettBeth Padgett, master’s ’92, is one of 11 women in Greenville, SC to be honored at the ninth annual Amy Kay Stubbs Women of Achievement Awards, which took place in April.

Padgett was honored in the journalism category. She has worked as editorial page editor of The Greenville News since 2000. Padgett writes editorials, is responsible for the newspaper’s opinion page and represents the newspaper in the community.

The Amy Kay Stubbs Women of Achievement Awards are given by the Greenville YWCA and honor Greenville’s brightest women in 11 categories, including healthcare, arts and media, business and education.


Cory BurkarthBurkarth Named Athletics Staff Member of the Year

Cory Burkarth, broadcast ’09, MMC ‘12, was named the USC athletic department’s Staff Member of the Year in May. The honor was voted on by all staff members in the athletic department.

Burkarth worked with the athletics department as a graduate assistant for two years before being hired as multimedia coordinator in 2011. He is responsible for making athletics videos accessible to state television stations, creating videos for the athletics website, and handling media relations for the USC equestrian team.



Ward Among Best and Brightest of Lowcountry Young Professionals

Alicia WardAlicia Ward, advertising and public relations ’96, has been selected by the South Carolina chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation as one of the best and brightest among young professionals in the Lowcountry.

Ward has worked as Marketing and Communications Director for Motley Rice in Mt. Pleasant, SC since 2004. She was nominated for the CFF award by Elizabeth Boineau of E. Boineau & Company, Ward’s first public relations employer and mentor of more than 20 years.

The honorees will be introduced at the CFF red carpet kick-off, where they will meet cystic fibrosis patients and volunteer at the MUSC Care Center. One of the honorees will be named the Lowcountry’s Finest Young Professional of the Year and will be recognized in September 2012.


College News

Forde to receive the Covert Award in Mass Communication History

Kathy FordeJournalism professor Kathy Roberts Forde will receive the 28th annual Covert Award in Mass Communication History for the best mass communication history article or essay published in 2011. Her article is "Profit and Public Interest: A Publication History of John Hersey's 'Hiroshima,'" Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 88:3 (Autumn 2011), 562-579. 

The Covert Award is sponsored by the History Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), and is named after the late Dr. Catherine Covert, an eminent historian and Journalism Professor from Syracuse University.

Dr. Forde will be presented with the award at the AEJMC conference in Chicago in August.


Arns is the Featured USC Scholar for May

Jennifer ArnsDr. Jennifer Weil Arns, associate professor in the School of Library and Information Science, was listed as a featured USC Scholar for May. Read more >

Arns’ recent research focuses on public libraries as social and economic units and the contributions they make to the health and prosperity of the communities in which they are located.

Arns is currently the principal investigator on the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian research project, Assessing the Economic Value of Public Library Collections and Services: A Review of the Literature and Meta-Analysis. She will be sharing her work with students and colleagues at the Quantitative and Qualitative Methods in Libraries International Conference to be held in Limerick, Ireland, this spring.


Konkle to receive Educator of the Year Award

Bruce KonkleVisual communications professor Bruce Konkle will receive the Scholastic Journalism Division’s David Adams Educator of the Year award during the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications conference in Chicago in August.

The David Adams Educator of the Year award recognizes a deserving division member for his or her outstanding performance in the college and university classroom, as well as in scholastic journalism workshops and conferences.

Dr. Konkle has taught journalism at both the high school and college level for several decades, joining the School of Journalism and Mass Communications faculty in 1985. In addition to his work at USC, he continues work in scholastic journalism history research and multiple efforts on behalf of high school journalism.



Save The Date

Annual Literacy Leaders Awards Ceremony
Tuesday, September 11 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
South Carolina State Library

Alumni/Student Mentor Match Night
Tuesday, September 25 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Russell House Ballroom

I-Comm Week
October 8 - 12

Gamecocks on the Green
Friday, November 9
Gibbes Green

For more information, email lambert@sc.edu





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