New Visiting Scholars Program enriches learning experiences for students

A new initiative through the Office of the Provost aims to bring world-class scholars to campus.

The Provost’s Visiting Scholar program launched during the spring 2022 semester and will bring three guest scholars to campus.

“The goal of the Visiting Scholars program is to enrich the learning experiences of our students by giving both our faculty and students the opportunity to engage with outside experts for a week,” said Dr. Jordan Cofer, associate provost for Transformative Learning Experiences.

Former Olympian Butch Reynold teaches a class to exercise science students.
Former Olympian Butch Reynold teaches a class to exercise science students.

Former Olympian Butch Reynolds was the first scholar to visit campus. In early February, he worked directly with students and faculty.  

“I've known Butch for a while, and his story transcends a lot,” said Dr. Daniel Czech, associate dean in the College of Health Sciences. “I think students really related to Butch growing up in Akron, Ohio, and overcoming a lot of obstacles to become the fastest man in the world.”

A former track and field star, Reynolds set the world record in 1988 for the 400-meter dash. He’s an Olympic medalist who also won a lawsuit after being falsely accused of using illegal drugs. His experiences at the Ohio State University as their football speed coach and assistant track coach at Ohio Dominican University has created a knowledge base to help exercise science student. 

Dr. Daniel Czech
Dr. Daniel Czech
“He spoke not only about exercise science but also about substance abuse in sports, as well as ethical decision making,” Czech said. “We had an inter-departmental experience scheduled, so he worked with philosophy ethics classes and exercise science classes.”

Reynolds discussed with students running injuries, running form and the best way to teach it, as well as proper strength and conditioning for speed training. He also highlighted the illegal drugs used to increase speed and endurance and cheating in sports. 

Faculty know the benefits that come from students working with scholars in their area of study. It’s not only about building knowledge in a subject, but also making personal connections.

“They were able to make some contacts, which I think is very important in the world of exercise science,” Czech said. “They also heard his story of resilience. He brought his gold medal and silver medal, and he talked about his experience and his training.” 

Reynolds works with students.
Reynolds works with students.

Along with working with students and faculty on campus, Reynolds also made a presentation at Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro to older adults about fear and presented a talk to at-risk youth in Savannah.

To apply to host a scholar, academic departments described how a visiting scholar would contribute to strengthening the mission of the program, and then also proposed activities. Priority was given to applications with an interdisciplinary component, like Reynolds.

“The interdisciplinary nature of the program means that the entire community benefits from these scholars' extended engagement.”
– Dr. Jordan Cofer

“The interdisciplinary nature of the program means that the entire community benefits from these scholars' extended engagement,” Cofer said. “With a low-residency format, it means they are spending more than one day in our community—they are getting time to really engage. We feel it embodies our liberal arts nature. 

In March, Dr. Peter Cardon, professor of Clinical Business Communication at the University of Southern California, will serve as a visiting scholar for the Department of Information Systems and Computer Science. Cardon’s specialty is in international business communication, which is both international business and international communication. These are topics applicable to students across disciplines. Cardon will also interact with students in the Honors College and the Office of International Education. 

The Department of Economics will host Dr. Douglas Walker, economist at the College of Charleston with a specialty in gambling, in April. Walker is a former Distinguished Research Award Winner and was a visiting professor at Harvard Medical School. His visit will give the GC community more insight into gambling research, while also helping economics and finance students learn more about graduate school. 

More information on the Provost’s Visiting Scholar Program is available here.