Summer 1997

Alumni News


Bodkin, Rooney Receive Alumni Association Awards

During May commencement exercises, the JMU Alumni Association recognized professors Norlyn L. Bodkin and John Patrick Rooney for their outstanding teaching and service. Bodkin received the association's 1997 James Madison Distinguished Service Award, and Rooney received the 1997 James Madison Distinguished Faculty Award.

The service award honors Bodkin's 33 years of teaching and his leadership and dedication to developing JMU's educational facilities. Bodkin is professor of biology and director of the JMU Arboretum.

Arboretum Director Norlyn Bodkin (left) and JMU Alimni Board of Directors President Hugh Lantz.

The arboretum serves botanical research, education and horticultural display for both JMU and the surrounding community. "It benefits a broad segment of the population - students, professionals in the botanical sciences, area gardeners and the general public," according to President Ronald E. Carrier.

Opened under Bodkin's direction in 1985, the JMU Arboretum consists of "37 acres of pristine woodlands which have been carefully and selectively cleared and 88 other acres which have been left in a natural state," says Martha Powell, head of JMU's biology department. "Dr. Bodkin," she notes, "assisted by one full-time assistant and one volunteer, serves as the developer, maintainer and educator of the facility."

The idea for the arboretum arose quite naturally out of Bodkin's teaching philosophy, which emphasizes the importance of experiential, hands-on learning. Throughout his career at JMU, Bodkin has led students out of the classroom and into the fields, woods and mountain habitats of the region to study its plant life. He has also led botanical trips to the Galapagos Islands, upper Amazon rain forests and Ireland.

Among the many research projects Bodkin has conducted with his students and colleagues, one resulted in the discovery and naming of a new variety of trillium. This rare wildflower, for which Bodkin and a colleague drew national acclaim, is known as Shenandoah Wake-Robin.

Director of JMU's bands, Pat Rooney

In addition to his work on behalf of the JMU Arboretum, Bodkin developed the biology department's herbarium, which contains nearly 15,000 specimen sheets of plants of Virginia. He also assisted in establishing the Shenandoah Valley Botanical Resource Center, a small library containing diverse botanical and horticultural books, slides, videos and computer programs.

The faculty award honors Rooney's 15 years of teaching and leadership in developing the university's music curriculum and diverse band program, which includes the nationally acclaimed Marching Royal Dukes. Rooney is a music professor and director of JMU's bands.

The alumni association received letters nominating Rooney for the award from many of his former students, current and former JMU faculty members and the director of the U.S. Air Force Band, among others, according to C. William Rice, a JMU professor of music. Rice notes that the letters from Rooney's former students emphasized his dedication to teaching and his ability to inspire his students to excel.

One striking indication of Rooney's talent for inspiring his students is the Marching Royal Dukes, who have already garnered national attention and will soon be featured internationally. This December, Rooney will take the Marching Royal Dukes to Monaco to perform in the closing ceremony of the principality's year-long celebration of the 700th anniversary of the Grimaldi Dynasty. The band was selected by Monaco's anniversary planners to represent the United States as the premier exhibition band.

Last January, the band, consisting of nearly 400 JMU students, marched in President Clinton's second inaugural parade. The band also received the 1994 Sudler trophy, often referred to as the Heisman trophy of marching bands.

Under Rooney's leadership, JMU has also been the yearly host for the Parade of Champions, which has grown into one of the largest competitions for high school bands in the country.

Both Bodkin and Rooney will receive $1,500 each. The alumni association stipulates that the money be applied toward professional development and to offset depart- mental expenses. Each year, the JMU Alumni Association seeks award nominations from among JMU alumni, faculty and staff members, students and the local community.

JMU's Heavy Hitter

New head basketball coach Sherman Dillard was introduced as JMU's "heavy hitter" on the Camden Yards field in April when the Baltimore Orioles defeated the Boston Red Sox. The sell-out crowd included 475 members of six JMU alumni chapters. The Richmond, Metro Washington, Charlottesville, Tidewater and Shenandoah Valley chapters also gathered with Dillard for pre-game festivities hosted by the Baltimore/Annapolis chapter.
Listening All Over Again

"What's that sound?" Arva Priola ('73) asked her husband one spring. "Oh, that's the birds," he responded. Now she can distinguish water running, a dog barking and, most importantly, her children's voices. She can also use the telephone despite being "medically deaf," after receiving a cochlear implant in 1993.

The implant, which does not restore perfect hearing, is an array of 22 electrodes that transmit electronic impulses to the auditory nerve. Each electrode, programmed individually after implanting, registers a specific tonal frequency from high to low. Although the procedure is not new, Priola explains, the technology keeps improving it, with varying results for each person.

Priola first experienced hearing loss during her sophomore year at JMU, when she was a varsity basketball and lacrosse player. As the condition worsened, she remained silent about it, a typical response, she says. By 1989, impending deafness forced her to leave her teaching career.

The implant's success, however, has brought her back to a new career, at Fredericksburg's Disability Resource Center, as an outreach specialist and advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing. As such, she now realizes her initial silence in the face of encroaching silence was a mistake. She now urges people with hearing loss to speak out on their own behalf for assistance, solutions and understanding.

Bronze Cleo Winner

"I'm a Flame compositor," says Cari Chadwick ('92), which means she is a special effects artist, not an arsonist. Last year her "flaming" contributed to the creation of an award- winning AT&T commercial.

Compositing, explains Chadwick, enables special effects artists using computers to "integrate" - or composite - several different video scenes of live action, animation and other imagery into one fluid scene. "Flame," Chadwick says, happens to be a specific software for compositors working with video.

The award-winning commercial she worked on as part of a team at Tape House Digital in New York City depicts a paddleball - attached to its elastic string, careening through a quick sequence of urban and rural scenes. These special effects gained the commercial a Bronze Cleo, a third-place award in the Academy Awards of advertising, in the Visual Effects category for television last year.

Another JMU art major, Tim Crean ('93), has joined the dizzying career field, which figures in 60 to 70 percent of commercials, with Tape House Digital.

Caddie Link In golf, Mike Granuzzo ('92) has found a whole new round of work. Caddie Master Enterprises Inc., the only business of its kind in the United States, manages, trains and payrolls caddies at country clubs around the country.

Granuzzo, a marketing major who caddied during the summers while attending JMU, got the idea for his business when he noticed a disparity in the quality of caddie service at country clubs - including some of the best. Figuring he could do better, in 1993 Granuzzo put his iron in the fire when he struck his first contract with a club in suburban Washington, D.C.

Today, with the assistance of operations manager Dan Costello ('92), the Fairfax, Va.-based Caddie Master has expanded into Houston, New Jersey, North Carolina and Georgia.

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