Scub diving, taught by Greg Senn, began this weekend in the Natatorium. Later, students will dive at Blue Hole Lake in Santa Rosa. (photos courtesy of Jim Dodson)
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Music Professor Recruits in China
by Jacob Caffrey
"Talent, interest, persistence and personality are the four characteristics of a great pianist." – Dr. John Olsen
|Dr. John Olsen|
This past summer, Dr. John Olsen, professor of piano, was invited to China to offer master classes, teach piano lessons to individual students, and to judge piano competitions in three cities: Chengdu, Kunming, and Pengzhou. He joined Chen Daxin, professor and head of the piano department at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music and Antoine Bouvy, concert pianist from Paris, France in adjudicating 240 pianists in those three cities over a three-week period.
This trip was Dr. Olsen's fourth to China in the last six years. He has recruited a number of very talented students from China who have gone on to win first place in the New Mexico Young Artists Piano Competition as well as being recipients of full scholarships to prestigious graduate programs in piano performance.
Liu Xuefei, Dr. Olsen's piano student at Eastern who acts as his interpreter when he teaches in China.
Dr. Olsen began teaching Chinese students when ENMU entered an agreement with the Sichuan Conservatory of Music, known as the 1-2-1 program. This program allows students from China to study in China for one year, come to America to study for two years, and return to China to study for their final year. The students receive two undergraduate degrees from both institutions in performance.
"Talent, interest, persistence and personality are the four characteristics of a great pianist," says Dr. Olsen.
"Chinese students possess many of these qualities and often find challenging the element of personality that is essential for not sounding like every other pianist. Chinese culture encourages a sense of community and being a part of a group. This, in turn, does not always bring out the individuality in the performer…they are often pleased to sound just like every pianist making recordings today. I always find it so rewarding when a student frees himself enough to be expressive and open up emotionally to what the composer had in mind.”
|Piano faculty from the Sichuan Conservatory in China|
His other great challenge has been getting the students to think for themselves. Piano students from China tend to view their professors as something superhuman and omniscient. When Dr. Olsen asks them a question about their music, they think it is because he doesn't know the answer and they get uncomfortable. “Often when I have asked them about how they would play a certain passage, they stare at me in total quietude, hands on their lap, eyes fixed and I immediately change course.”
Even though teaching Chinese students has been a challenge, Dr. Olsen finds great satisfaction in working with them. “I have discovered so many possibilities in my own teaching through my close association with them. Their sense of discipline and commitment to music is so admirable. They often practice five to six hours a day and their example has had a positive influence to a large degree on the other music majors in the department.
|Young pianists and parents at a community school of music in Chengdu, China|
New Prof's Work Could Imact Leukemia Treatment
photo and story by Shantiana White
“I’m happy here and have made a great choice to come to ENMU."
– Dr. William Cooper
|Dr. William Cooper|
Dr. William Cooper, new assistant professor of chemistry, arrived from South Carolina.
Dr. Cooper received his B.S. in chemistry at the University of South Carolina branch campus in Aiken, S.C., and his M.S. in physical chemistry and Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C.
After seeing an ad in C&E News, he applied at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pa., to work on his post-doctorate.
This is where he met his wife of almost 10 years, Kathleen. She is a highly skilled pediatric nurse who has worked in a children’s ER for nearly 17 years. Dr. Cooper says, “My wife supports and inspires me.”
Near the end of his postdoc, Dr. Cooper’s wife had their first daughter, Anna Marie, in Bryn Mawr, Pa. After completing the postdoctoral position, Dr. Cooper and his family moved to Charleston, SC. While living in Charleston, Dr. Cooper commuted to Conway, S.C., to teach chemistry.
For five years, he taught general and organic chemistry at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, S.C.
Coastal Carolina University has about 4,000 more students than ENMU.
A chemistry set in junior high got him interested in chemistry; he wanted to try every experiment. Also, his uncle, Dr. John Palms, inspired him because Dr. Palms received his Ph.D. at the University of New Mexico and works as a nuclear physicist. No one else in Dr. Cooper’s family is a scientist.
His four brothers and a sister are involved in either business or lawyer occupations.
While living in South Carolina, Dr. Cooper and his family fostered several children. He described fostering children as “challenging; however, it is a rewarding experience. “
He and his family became completely attached to the last child they fostered, a baby boy. Peyton was two months when the family took him in and stayed with them for about nine months until he was able to return to his biological mother.
Dr. Cooper also participated in a Boxer Rescue Club and adopted a boxer named Emma, now four-years-old, from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
While interviewing at ENMU, the professor loved the environment.
He and his family drove across the country for three days and throughout the trip they saw less mountains and trees. “The landscape of the country changed,” said the tennis player.
Portales has the ”Billy the Kid's Wild West” aspect, said Dr. Cooper.
Recently, his family was living in a hotel in Portales and now has moved into their new home. Eight-year-old Anna Marie is attending Valencia Elementary School and is excited that she gets to walk a block with her mother to get there.
“I enjoy teaching the students here because the students come to class early, eager and ready to learn,” said the Charleston native. “They are good students!”
At times it has been a challenge to explain material because the material can be abstract and difficult to comprehend. The chemist wants to spark interest in chemistry and show students that chemistry is all around us and is a necessity of life.
Dr. Cooper is working on biochemistry and organic chemistry projects.
“Research is something new that I didn’t have at my last job,” said the enthusiastic researcher.
His biochemistry project is about CYP26A1 catalyzed reaction. This enzyme transforms all trans retinoic acid (ATRA, an acidic form of vitamin A) into 4-hydroxyretinoic acid. If Dr. Cooper can find new inhibitors of this enzyme then necessary levels of ATRA will remain present in the cell during treatment. In turn, if ATRA is present, then the retinoic acid receptor can not bind to the promyelocytic leukemia gene (PML, which turns on leukemia).
This research could impact the treatment of leukemia.
Graduate student Suhesh Polam and he are working together on an organic chemistry research project about Acetic Anhydride Hydrolysis and are trying to figure out the number of water molecules needed during the buffer catalyzed reaction. This has a large impact on understanding acetylation reactions.
Next week, Cooper is going to a grant writing workshop in Albuquerque to become better skilled in grant writing and learn more of how the process works.
Outside his career, this father wants to look into fostering another child, adopt another boxer from SPCA, and try mountain hiking for the first time.
“I’m happy here and have made a great choice to come to ENMU. The people here are fantastic. If there is anything that you don’t know, just ask because people here are so helpful,” said Dr. Cooper.
|Most Homecoming Photos Will Run Next Week
(photos by Wendel Sloan – except top photo)
|Tory's Retirement Party in CUB
(photos by Communication Services)
|No dogs were harmed by this "doggie cake."|
|Playwright Visits ENMU Theatre Students
(photos by Wendel Sloan)
Los Angeles playwright and former ENMU student Robert Patrick visited ENMU theatre students last Monday.
Alisa Boswell, reporter for the Portales News-Tribune, chatted with Vic and Tory II after she chatted with Mr. Patrick.
Mr. Patrick enjoyed a farewell meal at McDonald's in Portales before boarding a Greyhound bus.
|Get Your Bond C Yard Sign|
If you would like a Bond C yard sign, stop by Room 218 in the Administration Building. For more information, contact Jim Dodson at 562.2133. (photo by Wendel Sloan)