UCM Feature Stories
Curtis Brings Hollywood to the Classroom for UCM Students
University of Central Missouri students in the fall semester History of American Film course were provided with a unique opportunity for engaged learning by the instructor, UCM alumnus and Hollywood film producer Grant Curtis.
Curtis received his master's degree from UCM in 1997 and the Distinguished Recent Alumnus award in 2002. He taught the class via Skype from California, visiting campus on the first day of the semester to meet his class and returning last week to wrap up the semester.
Students benefited not only from Curtis' experience, but also the experiences of Curtis' peers in the film industry, who participated as guest speakers.
"When they asked me if I wanted to teach a class, I jumped at the chance," Curtis recalled. "This is where I grew up." His father, Dan Curtis, is chair emeritus of the Department of Communication.
"I wanted to teach them to understand the advantages they have growing up in the technology age," he said. "I also wanted to take away some of the 'myth of Hollywood' and teach them they can practice skills right here at UCM that will serve them throughout their careers."
"It was a unique experience to talk to professionals in our field," said senior Hannah Byrne. "We could ask questions about techniques utilized in Hollywood films. I feel fortunate to have had this opportunity."
Collaboration Allows UCM to Better Address Food Insecurity
Collaboration between the Campus Cupboard, the food center serving students and staff at UCM, and UCM Dining by Sodexo to continue to address food insecurity at UCM has added another dimension to UCM's culture of service.
The idea of a food recovery program was initially discussed during a sustainability meeting in February. The group proposed a pilot food recovery program which began after the students returned from spring break.
Trish Smith, UCM graduate student and manager of the Campus Cupboard, and a team of volunteers contact the campus dining centers each evening to determine if there is a food donation. Volunteers pick up the food, package, label and refrigerate it. Smith and several of her volunteers are certified as Serve Safe food handlers by the UCM nutrition program.
"We only keep the food in refrigeration for a specific numbers of days," Smith said, "but it usually doesn't last that long. It's become really popular, particularly with students who don't have a kitchen to prepare this kind of food."
The program is based on Sodexo's Stop Hunger program, which reinforces Sodexo's priority of preventing food waste and feeding the hungry.
"The UCM pilot program went well," said Janet Decker, director of resident dining for Sodexo. "We had great support from the cupboard"s volunteers in collecting the food. With the beginning of the fall semester, we have participation from all three of the dining centers on campus. The program is a win-win situation for everyone."
UCM Shares Faculty, Staff Expertise Through UCM Merit Badge University
UCM's culture of service brings together the university and the local community in a variety of ways throughout the academic year.
The UCM Merit Badge University has matched faculty and staff together with members of the community to provide Warrensburg Boy Scout Troop 400 with the expertise and guidance needed to allow the scouts to master the qualifications for more than 20 merit badges.
Merit Badge University began in 2012 as a service learning project for UCM aviation students. It has grown due to the dedication of a number of UCM faculty and staff volunteering their time and expertise. During a weekend in the spring, the annual overnight Boy Scout camp out at UCM's Max B. Swisher Skyhaven Airport provides an opportunity for scouts to obtain the aviation merit badge.
However, during that same weekend, a variety of area professionals, including more than a dozen UCM faculty and staff members, make themselves available at Skyhaven and at locations on campus, providing the experience necessary to complete a variety of merit badges.
"We've been able to work with UCM faculty and staff members on an individual basis, and the response has been great," said Warrensburg resident Jason Gilbert, committee member for Troop 400 who coordinates the event. "Without their commitment, it would be difficult for many of these scouts to find the expertise to complete many of these merit badges. It's become an important annual event."
Visitors Bring Worldly Perspectives to UCM and Local Community
UCM students are taking advantage of the opportunity to reap the benefits of studying abroad, absorbing the culture of another country and gaining a worldly perspective that enhances the value of a UCM degree.
UCM and the surrounding community recently experienced two unique worldly perspectives as Andrzej Wilk, Ph.D., a renowned political and economic scholar and journalist from Warsaw, Poland, and Eva Mozes Kor, a survivor of Auschwitz and the medical experiments of Dr. Josef Mengele, brought their experiences to campus during the last week of October.
Wilk spent the week of Oct. 24-30 speaking to classes in political science and The Honors College. He visited campus and community organizations and events, gathering information to supplement his research on American students and their perspectives on international study, while providing his own viewpoints on a variety of world political and cultural events.
Kor visited campus Friday, Oct. 28. Her visit was brief, but it left an impact on the hundreds students, faculty, staff and members of the community who heard her speak, not only about her childhood experiences in Auschwitz during World War II, but also her belief in the power of forgiveness.
Wilk and Kor had the opportunity to meet briefly following her presentation, providing a once in a lifetime opportunity for a photo. Their experiences, shared with a desire to educate current and future generations, offered a unique opportunity for UCM students to gain a worldly perspective on the effects of history on current events.
Hamilton Brings Music to a Classic Silent Film to Create the Total Experience
With the advent of motion pictures, the original movies were silent, produced without sound accompaniment. Until sound was added, live musical accompaniment was an important part of the motion picture experience.
Andrew Hamilton, a junior studying violin in the Department of Music, was intrigued by the musical scores that accompany movies and developed a class project to write an original film score.
"I've always wanted to write a film score," he said, "but I wanted to write a score for something that nothing had been written for." He chose the classic silent film, "The Great Train Robbery," a short 1903 Western film directed by Edwin S. Porter.
Hamilton received a High Impact Learning Grant from the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences to develop his project. With assistance from music faculty member Lee Hartman, Hamilton created a score for the film, using the flute, oboe, bassoon, trumpet, French horn, tuba and percussion.
The result is a 12-minute musical score that Hamilton will present at a showing of the film at 6 p.m. Nov. 14 in Hart Recital Hall. The film will first be shown without accompaniment, and then shown again with live music accompaniment.
For Hamilton, the experience reinforced his desire to follow a career creating film scores.
"It made me think about music as a supplement to the visual experience," he said. "I had an opportunity rethink and rework my own experience in studying music."
For his dedication to learning through the experience of creating an original film score, Hamilton exemplifies engaged learning.