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This spring, the Graduate School reinstated the 60 Second Program Video Competition, granting students the opportunity to showcase the highlights of life within their graduate programs. The Graduate School collaborated with the Addlestone Library to utilize their expertise through online tutorials and an exploratory workshop, navigating the user-friendly iMovie software. Armed with only a smartphone or tablet, students were able to give the audience a firsthand look inside their respective classrooms, laboratories – or in some cases – even beaches.

Check out the full video of this year’s winner, MS Marine Biology student, Zachary Proux, online here!

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Eliza Bower says the changes she’s seen since her Freshman year at the College of Charleston – increased development, population, and traffic – are extensive. Charleston is not the only city facing these issues, and Eliza sees the college’s new Master’s program, Community Planning, Policy and Design (CPAD), as the perfect foundation to study potential solutions.

After graduating from the college’s Historic Preservation and Community Planning program in 2015, Eliza moved home to Baltimore for a gap year, or two, before grad school. She returned to the South in the fall of 2017 as one of the first graduate students accepted into the CPAD program, and says she was drawn to the program because of its small size, familiar location, and reputable professors. Interested in the “social issues” of developing cities, she wanted to study urban planning in a historic setting. “I’m interested in affordable, urban housing and how to make the urban fabric more cohesive and fluid in order to create a more diverse community.”

In between classes, research, and waiting tables, Eliza works as an intern at the Office of Sustainability, where she is researching different modes of transportation within the college community. Her Master’s thesis will examine the infrastructure for college commuters, and the development of systems that allow for safer biking and walking, and easier commutes to campus.

The college’s seventh annual Sustainability Week kicks off on Monday, April 9, and culminates with a street fair on Friday the 13. Eliza is working to build an “upcycled” outdoor living space on George street for the street fair in order to “give the street back to the students and community.” A variety of activities and events will take place throughout the week including a social justice coffee hour with a panel of experts, food trucks, and performances in the Cistern featuring music, poetry, and art. Eliza has been slowly collecting materials for her project including discarded packing pallets and industrial materials. “I’ve been dumpster diving,” she laughs.

Halfway through her first year in the CPAD program, Eliza has enjoyed getting feedback from experts in the field including Allen Davis, the Director of Civic Design for the city of Charleston. In February, Eliza traveled to Florida with her colleagues and CPAD Director, Dr. R. Grant Gilmore III, to the Seaside Prize conference, which honors leaders in contemporary urban development and education. Looking ahead, Eliza says she is looking forward to continuing her research and completing her Masters in the spring of 2019.

(Article provided by: Amy Mercer, Program Administrator/Intern Coordinator, HPCP and CPAD Programs)


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Spring 2018 Graduate Alumni Panel and Networking Reception

Posted by: Michelle McGrew | April 9, 2018 | No Comment |

A big round of thanks to the local alumni that participated in last Friday’s second Alumni Panel and Networking Reception!

  • Erin Aylor, MA Communication (’15)
  • Shelley Dearhart, MS Environmental Studies (’14)
  • Sarah Fichera, MPA (’17)
  • Betsey Geier, MA English (’14)
  • Jamie Mansbridge, MA History (’17)
  • Caitlyn Mayer, MS Environmental Studies (’17)
  • Michael Owens, MA English (’12)

Students were able to hear firsthand how to make the most of their graduate career and jump-start into the job market post-graduation. Email gradstud@cofc.edu if interested in serving as a panelist for future events!


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12th Annual Graduate Student Poster Session Winners

Posted by: Michelle McGrew | March 12, 2018 | No Comment |

Every year our graduate students participate in the Annual Graduate Student Poster Session, highlighting their impressive research activities, internship experiences, and creative portfolios from the academic year.

Please join us in congratulating the winners of the 2018 competition!

First Place – Zachary Lane (MS Marine Biology): Feeding Behavior, Cirral Morphology, and Filtration Limits of the Sea Turtle Commensal, Chelonibia testudinaria

Second Place – Rachel Wiser (MS Environmental Studies): Willingness to Pay for Wedding Flowers

People’s Choice Award – Ellie Smith (MA Communication): “Living Out Loud is Not Easy:” A Reproductive Justice Approach to Health Disparities Across the Lifespan

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Since 1994, the Graduate School of the University of Charleston, SC and the Université de Versailles-Saint Quentin have fostered an exchange program for graduate students to teach in Paris for a year while completing independent research for their respective programs. Check out the most recent blog post below from current Master’s of Public Administration and Versailles Fellowship student, Emma Cregg, as she rounds out her first semester in France!

The first month or so was definitely an adjustment with a steep learning curve, but I am loving the experience of navigating daily life in a foreign country. So many aspects of my daily routine have changed to adjust with Parisian culture, and I have realized how many of our habits aren’t right or wrong… just cultural. This experience is allowing me to think critically about what in my routine is important and healthy, and what is simply a learned action. Some things are simple, like buying less (and therefore wasting less) food because rather than carrying it from my car to the kitchen, I carry it from the store, across town, and up 7 flights of stairs. Others have been more complex, such as my views on capitalism or the validity of worker’s unions after living in a city that goes on strike for something every other week (ok, that’s not precisely accurate, but pretty close). This has been a way to expand my own world view, and sort of discover my personal “best practices.” As an MPA student interested in pursuing a public service career in local planning and/or administration, I’m really enjoying the process of seeing how my new sense of “place” is impacting my daily life, and learning from those around me. On a lighter note, I mean, its Paris! Beautiful places, people, food (and the lack of guilt from trying it ALL, as I’ve never walked more in my life). On the best day, Paris is magical and makes you feel like its all going to happen, whatever “it” is 🙂

Teaching English to French college students at the Université de Versailles has kept me on my toes! Being the “sole” representative of American culture, media, and politics has been a challenge, and made for great dialogue and thought-provoking conversation. This experience is also valuable to me, with future aspirations in academia. Although I do not plan to teach English, learning to navigate lesson-planning, grading, class schedules, and students, all while conducting my independent thesis research, is proving challenging but rewarding. 

My research combines my interest in local governance with my passion for refugee relief work. My thesis research focuses on the question: what challenges do local administrators face when translating national refugee policy into a framework for facilitating refugee integration within their own host communities, and does their level of proprietorship throughout the process impact integrative efficacy? I am actually comparing U.S. refugee policy with that of the United Kingdom, an easy train ride from my home here in Paris. I am headed to the UK in a week to conduct my first round of interviews with local administrators in Preston and Sheffield, leading “Sanctuary Cities” in the UK, regarding their experience translating national refugee policy into practical plans of implementation within their own communities. I will then be comparing their responses with those from local administrators back in my hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee. 

As I am wrapping up my first semester of teaching, I am grateful to be here, and looking forward to another semester of teaching, researching, and further expanding my world view… not to mention continuing to live off of great cheese, bread, and wine!




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Alumni Spotlight: Caitlyn Mayer, M.S. Environmental Studies ’16

Posted by: Michelle McGrew | November 22, 2017 | No Comment |

Caitlyn Mayer (EVSS ’16) knows a thing or two about quality – most notably, water quality.

So it’s no surprise she is one of the contributing founders to one of the few local oyster farms within the Charleston peninsula, Charleston Oyster Farm. After finishing her research on enhancing water quality in the ACE Basin, SC through the M.S. Environmental Studies program, Caitlyn decided to apply those skills to break into the lucrative and renowned Charleston hospitality industry.

Similar to the popular “farm-to-table”  concept cultivated by several local restaurants, Charleston Oyster Farm abides by the “marsh-to-table” approach, delivering fresh oysters to your dock, doorstep, or establishment. Their mission centers around promoting ecosystem awareness and decreasing harsh environmental stressors, while continuing to distribute a quality product fundamental to culture of the Lowcountry. Caitlyn and her crew use off-bottom cages, allowing oysters to brine at low tide for maximum flavor and preventing little unmentionables (i.e. barnacles or algae) from attaching to their shells – thus creating a cleaner and easier cut for oyster shuckers. These cages simultaneously provide a protective haven for small aquatic species; the plentiful ecosystem and the abundance of fare to choose from encourages larger animals to relocate to the area as a direct result.

You can get your first taste of their salty Stono Selects and Mosquito Fleet Petites this Friday, November 24th, from 5-7pm at the Holy City Shuck Fest, located at Holy City Brewing. Oyster singles/select beer parings will be available as you learn about the local mariculture industry and oyster farming in the Lowcountry. Family, friends, little ones, and furry pals are welcome! Additional event information can be found through Facebook of the Charleston Oyster Farm website.

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Global Entrepreneurship Week Comes to CofC

Posted by: McCrayCC | November 14, 2017 | No Comment |

They may be self-starters, trailblazers and pioneers in their respective industries, but just because entrepreneurs are forging their own paths doesn’t mean they have to do it alone. Especially not during Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW).

Nov. 13 through Nov. 19, 2017,  millions of entrepreneurs from 160 countries across the world connect through the spirit of entrepreneurship to celebrate innovators and job creators who bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare. With activities on the local, national and global scale, GEW creates opportunities for entrepreneurs to connect and collaborate with one another – and with potential mentors and investors – giving them a sense of support and guidance as they take that next step in their entrepreneurial journeys.

For many entrepreneurs, that journey starts at the College of Charleston. And, this year, the Center for Entrepreneurship in the College’s School of Business is joining the GEW initiative with a week of networking events for students, faculty and the community at large. With events featuring CofC economics faculty, the School of Business’ social entrepreneur-in-residence, as well as experts in the real estate, water and development fields, GEW at the College is packed full of opportunities for entrepreneurs at any stage of their journey.

Here is rundown of the GEW events at the College of Charleston:

“Regional Economic Development in Charleston” – Tuesday, Nov. 14, 5:30–6:30 p.m. in Room 207 of the Tate Center, 5 Liberty St. 

This panel discussion on the regional economic development of the peninsula and the greater Charleston area features economics professor and director of the Office of Economic Analysis Frank Hefner, economics professor and founding director of the Center for Public Choice and Market Process Peter Calcagno and executive director of Charleston County Economic Development Steve Dykes. The Center for Public Choice and Market Process is a co-sponsor of this event. A light reception will follow. More info and RSVP here.

“Skin in the Game: A Discussion Race and Entrepreneurship in America” – Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2–3:15 p.m. in the Wells Fargo Auditorium, Beatty Center, 5 Liberty St.

This year’s George G. Spaulding Series Distinguished Speaker Stephen Gilchrist, chairman of the South Carolina African American Chamber of Commerce, will lead a discussion on race and entrepreneurship. Gilchrist has long worked in public policy, economic reform and educational choice, and he is also the president and CEO of GSL Distributors, a logistics and distribution company. Highlighting the obstacles facing many minority small business owners, Gilchrist’s talk will include his personal journey as a minority entrepreneur and small business advocate. Part of the College of Charleston Center for Entrepreneurship’s George G. Spaulding Distinguished Executive Speaker Seriesthis event does require an RSVP.

Business of Water Special Guest Luncheon – Friday, Nov. 17, 12–1:30 p.m.

South Carolina Ports Authority permit manager Mark Messersmith, impact investing expert and School of Business social entrepreneur-in-residence, Stuart Williams and chief of the Vessel Security Division at the United States Coast Guard, Marine Safety Center, Lt. J.B. Zorn will come together for a lively discussion on water and its impact on local, national and international communities from an economic and social perspective. This event is by invitation only.

under: Charleston, Diversity, Events, Graduate Student Association, Jobs & Careers, Networking, Professional Development

The Big Thirst Author Charles Fishman to Visit CofC

Posted by: McCrayCC | November 6, 2017 | No Comment |

As part of The College Reads! program, the College of Charleston will present an evening with The New York Timesbestselling author Charles Fishman on November 7, 2017.  The lecture will be held in the Sottile Theatre starting at 7 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public.

Fishman’s book, The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water, is The College Reads! selection for the 2017-2018 academic year. In the book, Fishman explores humanity’s relationship with water, from a sewage tank to the bottling facilities of San Pellegrino in Italy.

The College Today posed four questions to Fishman prior to his CofC visit:

How have water issues changed since you first published The Big Thirst in 2011? 

Three big things have happened since The Big Thirst came out.

First of all, water issues have gotten more dramatic, more urgent, more obvious. In California, the worst drought in settled history occurred. In Flint, the worst collapse of a city water system in the U.S. in 100 years took place. In Houston and Florida and Puerto Rico, storms were a reminder that too much water is as dangerous a problem as too little water.

Second, more people are paying attention and more cities are taking water seriously. California had a terrible drought, but the state survived. Indeed, it thrived — growing faster and creating more jobs through the drought than almost anywhere else in the U.S. And despite no rain for years, the price of strawberries and carrots in the rest of the country didn’t rise. That’s because California had been getting ready for the drought with smart practices for 25 years. It showed. The drought was bad. But the drought wasn’t crippling. The lead-tainted water in Flint was the water story that probably got more attention than any in the last 20 years — and rightfully so. Lots of attention was paid to the condition of city water systems, and of the lingering lead contamination around the country. But the typical person in Flint, today, still hasn’t had their water problem solved. So it’s also clear that a lot of noise and promises from elected officials don’t always translate into action.

The third thing that has changed is that we are doing much better, as a nation. Water use in the United States, today, is lower than it was in 1970. Not per capita — total. We’ve increased the population of the US by 50 percent — 105 million people — and reduced our total water use. We’ve quadrupled the size of the economy, and reduced our water use. That’s simply amazing. Every gallon of water we use today does four times the “work” a gallon of water did in 1970. So the effort at smarter water use is paying off. Just imagine if we had to use four times the water we do now — everywhere in the country — to create the economy we have. That would be crippling. 

How do you see the current political climate (both on the state and national level) impacting the future of clean water?

For the moment, there is no “politics” of water. There’s not a Republican or Democratic position on water issues. That’s good.

At the federal level, the Trump Administration and the EPA under Scott Pruitt are loosening protections on water as quickly as they can. That will let companies pollute more than they have been allowed to,  and it may lead to the destruction of wetlands that provide all kinds of value to communities and the environment.

But in the larger picture of both time and popular opinion, two things are clear.

First, Americans like their water and their air cleaner, and everywhere in the country, the water today is cleaner than it was when the Clean Water Act was passed 40 years ago. Every river, every lake, every bay is cleaner — and we appreciate that.

And most companies take water stewardship more seriously than they ever have — both in terms of their impact on water, and on how much they use. Not every company, not everywhere. But the general consensus is that we can run a vibrant, creative, fast-moving economy and also keep water and air clean. No one looks at a river or lake and thinks, “I wish that were dirtier.”

At the local and state level, water issues are dealt with much more straightforwardly than at the federal level: States have state-wide water management plans, cities and counties face having to supply water, and realize how important water is to attracting new residents and new business.

The same kind of consensus is taking hold about rising sea levels and the impact of climate change. In the cities where rising sea levels and more dramatic storms are happening — Boston, New York, Norfolk, Charleston, Miami Beach — no one argues about the “reality” of climate change. City officials and residents are busy trying to fix their cities so they can adapt to water in places they never expected it.

The cutting-edge concept in the world of water is “resilience” — how do I create a community that has enough water for its residents, its work, its farms. How do I create a community that can cope with both drought and with storms, without significant damage — that can handle all kinds of water situations, and keep going. Resilience is what states, counties, and cities are trying for. It doesn’t happen instantly, but it’s the right way of thinking about almost every water issue.

Do you think that cities are serious about repairing and modernizing the existing water infrastructure?


Do you think that climate change is impacting the way people think about water?

I’m going to answer these two questions together.

Cities are very serious about upgrading their water infrastructure, and nothing is giving that task more urgency than climate change.

In California, cities are trying to develop plans for “water independence” — how do we secure water supplies so when the next drought comes, we have some cushion — we can recycle our water, we can tap stormwater when it falls and use it.

On the east coast, a half-dozen cities are working hard to understand the impact on their land of rising sea-levels and more serious storms — changing everything from building codes (don’t put critical air conditioning, elevator, and electrical equipment in the basement, or even on the first floor) to zoning. Cities from Charleston to Houston to Nashville are buying homes and businesses in areas that have only recently started to flood, and restoring those areas to their previous, natural state — to give flood waters a place to go without doing damage.

The problem isn’t awareness or political will. Everyone would rather have a modern water pipe, everyone would rather have a sophisticated flood management system. The problem is money. Those kinds of projects require significant spending, and as is often the case with water, people think water “work” should be cheap, or free. A single pipe in Washington D.C., to store stormwater so it can be disposed of safely, is costing $1 billion. That’s in a city of fewer than a million people, for a pipe that is really just a big drain — it doesn’t get us any new water, yet it’s costing $1,000 per person! Finding a way to pay for water systems continues to be a real challenge.

One key is to talk about why we need to spend money on water, and what that spending gets us: Cleaner rivers, and homes and businesses that are safe from flooding and storms. A big storm, as we’ve seen, can do $10 billion, or $100 billion, worth of water damage in 48 hours.

under: Academics, Diversity, Events, Networking, Professional Development

We are so proud of our awesome alum Dr. Cherisse Jones- Branch’97  who was one of the first recipients of the  Vaughn Endowed Professorships at Arkansas State University.

The professorships have been created through the generosity of an estate gift from James E. and Wanda Lee Vaughn of Jonesboro, formerly of Delaplaine.

Inducted in 1999 into the university’s Legacy Society for donors of planned gifts, the Vaughns strongly believed in the importance of higher education and its potential to positively impact young peoples’ lives. Among the initiatives their legacy will provide at A-State will be three endowed professorships.  Earnings from each endowment will be available to the selected professors to conduct research, create special learning opportunities for students, and support other facets of their academic pursuits.

Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch’97

Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch

A gift of $250,000 establishes the Vaughn Professorship in the College of Liberal Arts and Communication.  The first recipient is Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch, professor of history.

Branch, a faculty member at A-State since 2003, was named Research Professor of the Month at A-State in February.  She completed her bachelor and master’s at the University of Charleston and Ph.D. at Ohio State University.  She wrote Crossing the Line: Women’s Interracial Activism in South Carolina during and after World War II, which was published by University Press of Florida.

“I look at this as an opportunity to increase research into understudied subjects in Arkansas history, namely women’s history, rural history and Arkansas in general,” Jones-Branch commented.  “I also want to make sure I am involved with producing the next generation of historians.  That’s a critical part of what I do and I take it very seriously.  I want students to know this is a very valuable career.  I want to be one of these people who help students realize all that’s possible about being a historian, about valuing history, about unearthing and mining resources to tell these wonderful stories.

A Word from Dr. Branch:

Hi, I’m Dr. Cherrise Jones-Branch. I graduated from the College of Charleston with my Bachelor of Arts in 1994 and Masters Degree in 1997. Both of my degrees are in history. During my time at the College of Charleston, I had the pleasure of working with Drs. Amy T. McCandless, Alpha Bah, Bernard Powers, W. Marvin Dulaney, Stuart Knee, and other distinguished history faculty members. I found myself at the College of Charleston in 1991 after I returned from being deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1990. Although I was born and raised in Charleston and had even attempted elementary school downtown, I had not spent much time at the College. As a veteran, I was not sure where I fit in. What I quickly discovered was that I did not have to.

During my time at the College of Charleston, I took an array of courses in Women’s, African, African- American, and World history.  In one of the courses I remember fondly I studied Elizabethan England. My experiences in this course later led to a study abroad to England where I visited such royal historic sites as the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, and Hever Palace. While partaking of this wonderful journey led by Drs. Nan Morrison and Amy T. McCandless, I saw Shakespearean plays, the Globe and took exciting weekend trips to Wales and Scotland.

So what am I doing now? I’m so glad you asked that question! I am currently associate professor of history at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro ( about an hour away from Memphis, TN), where I teach U.S. Women’s Civil Rights, and African American history. I most recently published Crossing the Line: Women’s Interracial Activism in South Carolina during and after World War II (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2014), and is co-editor of Arkansas Women: Their Lives and Times (Athens: University of Georgia Press, (forthcoming 2018.  Her current research project is  “Better Living by Their Own Bootstraps”: Rural Black Women’s Activism in Arkansas, 1913-1965.


Congratulations Dr. Cherisse Jones Branch! WE ARE SO PROUD OF YOU!




under: History, Professional Development, Tips on Applying to Grad School, Travel

The Princeton Review Names CofC Top ‘Green School’

Posted by: McCrayCC | September 22, 2017 | No Comment |

The College of Charleston has been named one of the top “Green Schools” in the nation by The Princeton Review. The announcement was made on Sept. 20, 2017, by the editors of The Princeton Review in their Guide to 375 Green Colleges: 2017 Edition publication.

The Princeton Review praised the College of Charleston’s Office of Sustainability in the report. Launched in 2009, The Office of Sustainability is a hub for sustainability and sustainable development with a focus on applied research, experiential learning, operational management, and public engagement on campus and in the greater Charleston community.

‘Throughout its existence, the Office of Sustainability has been focused on important initiatives, including the installation of water-bottle refill stations around campus, localized food purchases for the dining halls, bicycle ride-share programs and a garden apprenticeship program,” according to the publication.

The Princeton Review says it chose the most environmentally friendly colleges based on scores the company tallied this summer for 629 colleges using data from a survey of school administrators.

The survey asked about each school’s sustainability policies, practices and programs. Practices that got high marks included buying local or organic food, green building practices, sustainability-focused undergrad degrees and having campus sustainability officers.

This is the fifth year in a row that the College has made this list.

For more information on the Office of Sustainability contact:

Dr. P. Brian Fisher, Office Director

284-B King Street, Room 206




under: Charleston, Diversity, Prospective Students

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