Beryl Ann Pfizer

Hood, the Entertainment Industry Lose an Icon

Beryl Ann Pfizer ’49, one Hood College’s most accomplished alums and an Emmy Award-winning American television and radio pioneer, died recently.

Beryl, 87, died Feb. 12, 2016, of natural causes in Manhattan, where she lived for most of her life.

“College is like a buffer zone, an island that lies between growing up and actually being a grown-up,” Beryl once said about her time at Hood. “It’s an opportunity to learn to make choices for yourself about you. The four years I spent at Hood was a special time in my life, one on which I have looked back fondly. The extracurricular activities in which I participated—editing the student magazine, reporting for the student newspaper, working at a local radio station—helped prepare me for my career as a television news writer and producer.”

Born in Morristown, N.J., she attended Hood from 1945 to 1949 and earned a bachelor of arts degree in music. Immediately after graduation, she moved to Manhattan to begin what would be a remarkable career in radio and television. She had an exemplary career as a writer and radio and television producer with ABC, CBS and NBC and was always active in New York theater. She worked on TV shows including the popular Arthur Godfrey Show on CBS; wrote for The Home Show on NBC and helped produce The Today Show on NBC. She earned an Emmy Award and was nominated for three others throughout her career.

Beryl, who was named a Hood College Distinguished Alumna in 1988, established the Andy Rooney Scholarship at Hood in memory of her special friend. Colleagues from their days of writing for the Arthur Godfrey Show, Beryl and Rooney enjoyed a long and special friendship. Rooney, the legendary member of the “60 Minutes” team, considered himself first and foremost a writer. Students demonstrating a passion for writing are eligible for the scholarship. Beryl also endowed a scholarship for theater arts minors, and she endowed a fund for theater production and programming. She was one of three donors who supported the establishment of the Black Box Theater in the Tatem Arts Center. Her niece, Amy Koshnick, is an alumna from the Hood College Class of 2011.

See more about Beryl’s remarkable career in her obituary that appeared in the New York Times here.

Liz Hyatt

Alumna Takes on Leadership Role

A 1989 alumna of Hood College is now the executive director of the Greater Southington Chamber of Commerce in Connecticut.

Liz Hyatt graduated Hood with bachelor’s degrees in communication arts and sociology. Her first job was as a news reporter with a cable station, and she went on to become the news director there. She later worked for WBAL-TV, the NBC affiliate in Baltimore, and then at Weinberg Harris & Associates as a public relations associate.

She started her family in Maryland and moved to Southington, Conn., in 1998, where she immediately became involved in programs to benefit the area. She successfully operated fundraisers and programs for the local community and schools for 15 years. Now with four children and in charge of the chamber of commerce, she has focused on supporting her community even more.

“Since taking the job, I’ve been focused on networking with businesses and town officials and adding more value to memberships by working with the board and staff to create new promotional and marketing opportunities,” she said. “We’ve been developing a new social media plan, event planning for 2016 and launching our new website.”

Hyatt landed the job in large part because of her background in media, her organizational skills and her energy.

“I’m grateful for this opportunity to work with the chamber, the local businesses, town officials and the community to support Southington, the town my children and I call home,” she said. “The role of executive director with the chamber was tailored for me—all of my professional skills and personal strengths and values are woven into this job.”

Matthew Gaddie

Ceramics Student Commutes from Kentucky

Matthew Gaddie graduated from Hood College in 2014 with a master’s degree in ceramic arts, and he is currently working toward his master of fine arts degree in ceramic arts at Hood, all while working as a professional potter in Kentucky.

He has been an adjunct instructor at St. Catharine College in Saint Catharine, Ky., since 2010 and a full-time studio ceramic artist since 2007.

In 2010 he finished designing and building his 37-ton wood kiln and a 1,400-square-foot studio and gallery. These facilities allowed him to begin retail sales, teaching classes and conducting national workshops. In 2014 he was recognized as one of the 100 most notable wood-fired potters worldwide in a book by New York author and potter Amedeo Salamoni.

The Meadows Pottery, his studio, is located on a 315-acre farm in Bardstown, Ky. The land was purchased in 1864 by Gaddie’s stepfather’s great-great grandfather. Gaddie moved to the farm at 12 years old, and he took note of the simplicity of the land and thought about his surroundings.

Gaddie’s current work is an attempt to reflect the ebb and flow of the simple life he grew to admire as a child. The work is primarily wood-fired, functional pottery, straightforward in form and intent. Inside the frame and philosophy of practicality is the struggle to communicate the underlying connection he sees between the rural, hard-working days of his youth and the life he wants to live as a potter.

For his graduate work at Hood, he has been commuting from Kentucky several times per year to Frederick, about a 10-hour drive. He is currently working on his thesis and is expecting to complete his master of fine arts degree in May.

“It has not been easy, that is for sure, but Hood has given me everything I needed and then some,” he said. “Without question I believe the program at Hood is the future of higher arts education.”

Gaddie is grateful for the opportunities Hood has given him and the support of Joyce Michaud, professor of art and director of the MFA program, who is his MFA and thesis adviser.

Gaddie’s artistic process requires solitude and distance from people.

“I require hours of alone time in my studio without input,” he said. “When I am ready, I bring my work to Joyce, and we discuss it at length, but it has always been so valuable for me to do that on my own timeframe. Hood has been a perfect fit for me, in part, because of the distance.”

Gaddie has learned about much more than just ceramics and studio art at Hood College.

“My experience at Hood has been invaluable,” he said. “The amount of writing and preparation of professional documents far surpasses other programs I know of. I cannot count the amount of times I have applied for a commission, a grant, a job, etc., and I went into Hood files and cut and pasted what I already had on hand.”

He has received dozens of commissions, awards and grants, the most recent of which was Kentucky’s most prestigious, a commission by the Kentucky Arts Council to design and create the 2016 Governor’s Awards in the Arts.

The commission was awarded based on a series of large ceramic platters he created in 2014. The 10 new pieces will each have an individual color pallet, but will reflect the unique aesthetic for which Gaddie has become nationally recognized. The wood-fired platters will reflect quiet moments of time on the rural landscapes of Kentucky. The Governor’s Awards are the commonwealth’s most prestigious arts awards, honoring Kentucky individuals, businesses and organizations that make significant contributions to the arts in the state.

During the same time period, he will be completing a large ceramic installation at Four Roses Distillery in Cox’s Creek, Ky., which has been named American Whisky Distiller of the Year four of the past five years. He will be making a series of seven sculptures to go into their visitor center, and the pieces will be used to educate the public about the processes involved in producing bourbon.

In all his work, Gaddie tries to create unique pieces that tell the human tale of creation, struggles, successes, failures, imperfections and hopes.

“I hope that the quality of my work is subtle and simple and takes time to appreciate.”

Paulina Bustillos with Elizabeth Chung

Student Wins Volunteer Award

First-year student Paulina Bustillos has been recognized for her selfless hobby. An avid volunteer, she recently won the Wertheimer Youth in Action Award. The Community Foundation of Frederick County presents this award each year to a young person who positively impacts the community by volunteering talents and energy.

She was honored by the foundation in November, and she received a $1,000 grant to give to the nonprofit of her choice. She chose Centro Hispano de Frederick, an organization that educates people with limited English proficiency in order to promote full participation in their communities.

Bustillos has always been interested in volunteering.

“In high school I would try to help out with whatever events I could, in school or somewhere else,” she said. “I like how productive I feel when I volunteer. At the end of an event I always feel satisfied when I think that I tried my best to help others.”

She was volunteering at a food drive in an elementary school when she met Elizabeth Chung, the executive director of the Asian American Center of Frederick. They talked, and Chung offered her a scholarship with the AmeriCorps program as an intern at their Asian American Center’s office. She served as the assistant teacher for the English as a Second Language classes.

“The office was also very active in local events such as Planting Hope, the Health fair, the Latino Festival, etc., and I would help wherever I could. I would go to these events to promote our ESL classes as well as describe the services that AACF provides,” she said.

Bustillos is fluent in English and Spanish, which helped her in her internship. She is also proficient in French and has a basic understanding of American Sign Language.

“At the health fair in October, which was organized by the AACF, I was an interpreter and helped people to fill out medical forms,” she said. “The AACF provides interpreting services, assists people in enrolling in health care and informs people about the health disparities between different ethnic groups and where they should go to get medical help.”

Chung nominated Bustillos for the award because of Bustillos’ volunteerism and knack for helping others.

“The award means something new to me, almost like a turning point in my life,” she said. “I didn’t expect to get this award at all. I didn’t expect to be acknowledged for volunteering since I would describe volunteering as my hobby. It also made me feel like I’ve been doing something good, and I would like to continue to do so in the future.”

The foundation’s Wertheimer awards are named for the late Janis Miller Wertheimer, a well-known Frederick County businesswoman and prolific volunteer. The foundation presented its first youth award for volunteerism in 2012.

Majora Carter

Martin Luther King Jr. Honored with Day of Speakers, Events

A full day of events honored and celebrated the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Jan. 18.

Majora Carter and Sonia Sanchez headlined the day as the featured speakers. There was also a “Wright for Rights” campaign, and several documentaries were shown about the Civil Rights Movement.

Carter is an urban revitalization strategy consultant, real estate developer and Peabody Award winning broadcaster. She is responsible for the creation and successful implementation of numerous green-infrastructure projects, policies and job training and placement systems. Carter has continually set new standards of excellence with projects in her South Bronx community, while expanding her reach through philanthropic pursuits and business interests that have all pointed toward greater self-esteem and economic potential for low-income people everywhere.

Her list of awards and honorary degrees includes accolades from groups as diverse as Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, John Podesta’s Center for American Progress, Goldman Sachs and a MacArthur “genius” Fellowship. Carter is a board member of the U.S. Green Building Council and the Andrew Goodman Foundation.

Her talk, “Department of Home(town) Security,” was sponsored by the Hanson Lecture Series. She spoke to a packed auditorium of students, faculty, staff and community members about growing up in a poor neighborhood and how she came to transform her own community and many others by thinking outside the box.

Sanchez is a poet, playwright and activist who was one of the most important writers of the Black Arts Movement. She is a national and international lecturer on Black culture and literature, women’s liberation, peace and racial justice. She has lectured at more than 500 universities and colleges in the United States and has traveled extensively, reading her poetry in Africa, Australia, the Caribbean, Canada, Cuba, England, Europe, Nicaragua, Norway and the People’s Republic of China.

Among the honors she has received are the Robert Creeley Award, the Frost Medal, the Community Service Award from the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, the Lucretia Mott Award, the Outstanding Arts Award from the Pennsylvania Coalition of 100 Black Women, the Peace and Freedom Award from Women International League for Peace and Freedom, the Pennsylvania Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Humanities, a National Endowment for the Arts Award and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts.

Her lecture, “Push-ups for Peace: Remembering Brother Martin,” was sponsored by the Office of the Provost, and she held a book signing following the talk. She performed several of her poems and shared with the audience stories of her family and students, and the struggle for peace.

The “Write for Rights” campaign, co-sponsored by Rev. Beth O’Malley and Amnesty International, helped Hood community members write letters to support prisoners of conscience around the world. This is an annual, global campaign led by AI involving hundreds of thousands of people writing letters and sending them to government officials.

The special program not only ignited discussion among Hood students, faculty, staff and the greater community about Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, the speakers also challenged everyone to think creatively, be kind and always do our part to fulfill King’s dream.

Watch Sonia Sanchez read a poem she wrote for Martin Luther King Jr.

Watch an interview with Sonia Sanchez.

Watch an interview with Majora Carter.

GIS Mapping Peter O'Connor

Robotics Project Benefits Frederick City

Hood College’s Center for Coastal and Watershed Studies and department of computer science have collaborated on an environmental science project for the City of Frederick using robotics and geographic information systems.

“We were contacted by the City of Frederick,” said Drew Ferrier, professor of biology and director of the coastal studies program. “They wanted to know if their reservoir was filling in with sediment, so it would be unable to hold as much water as when it was built. They asked us if we had a way of taking those kinds of measurements.

“The Center for Coastal and Watershed Studies was able to collaborate with the computer science department to develop this project and allow us to take those measurements, so we can find out how much the volume has changed over the last almost 100 years.”

Together, Ferrier; George Dimitoglou, associate professor of computer science; Randy Smith, GIS specialist; and Peter O’Connor and Stephan Auderset, computer science graduate students, took on the task of mapping Fishing Creek Reservoir in Frederick to determine what its restoration needs are.

They bought a four-foot-long, fiberglass boat on eBay. Originally built to be a remote control model boat, they repurposed it, cutting holes for three compartments for equipment and adding a stand for a GPS and compass. Dimitoglou and O’Connor were primarily responsible for outfitting the boat with the technology, programming it and testing it.

The steering, motors and lithium battery are in the back compartment. The middle compartment holds the memory card and the electronics—the brains that coordinate GPS and communications. There are two computers in the compartment; one manages the movement of the boat, and one manages the observations and sensor payload. Wire storage is in the front compartment with the sonar sensor underneath, and the GPS component and compass that connect to the electronics are in a raised box at the front of the boat. Plastic covers are screwed in to seal the compartments and make them watertight. The electronics are all open source.

“The boat is an autonomous surface vehicle, which means that it has a computer and has all the brains to be able to go out in the water and, after we program a very specific route, just follow it and perform the observations,” said Dimitoglou.

The team tested the boat at Hood’s Huntsinger Aquatic Center for sensor readings and calibration and at Little Seneca Lake in Montgomery County to navigate and take observations and compare the results with the U.S. Geological Survey measurements to make sure the boat was performing accurately.

After the boat passed the tests, the team began executing the project at Fishing Creek Reservoir, a 10.5-acre pond. Dimitoglou and his team programmed the boat to travel to 90 points along the edge back and forth both directions, forming a grid path. The boat traveled at around three feet per second, taking a measurement every second. The data collection was complete after approximately four hours and 10,000 measurements.

GIS specialist Randy Smith took the data gathered by the boat and created a cartography map of the bottom of the reservoir. He then used data from the original reservoir construction drawings and was able to do the computations to determine changes in volume.

With that done, there’s only one step left in the project.

“We’re going to complete the project by writing a study,” said Dimitoglou. “We are going to give it to the city, and they will be able to decide if they need to do any kind of remediation.”

According to Ferrier, this is one of the newest and best projects that exemplifies what the Center for Coastal and Watershed Studies does. The center tries to bring together different disciplines to deal with coastal and watershed issues, whether scientific, social or historic issues.

“Our technology has a very useful niche in that this type of boat can be used in instances where municipalities need to know whether their small stormwater management ponds, for instance, are filling with sediment to the point that they need to be maintained, dredged and regenerated,” said Ferrier. “I’m hoping that those municipalities will get in touch with us. We would be happy to work with them on it.”

The current boat measures depth and water temperature, but Dimitoglou said its capabilities are expandable. For example, for future work, they are considering outfitting it with water quality sensors and even pairing the boat with drone fly-over observations.

Alpha Lambda Delta

Hood Chapter of Alpha Lambda Delta Earns Award

The Hood College chapter of the Alpha Lambda Delta honor society won the prestigious Order of the Torch Award in August for its activities during the 2014-15 academic year. This award highlights excellence in programming, internal communications, campus visibility and overall presentation of their application.

Hood’s successful chapter was involved in events that benefited Sophie and Madigan’s Playground, A Million Thanks Organization, Samaritan’s Purse, the Ronald McDonald House, Autism Speaks and Goodwill Industries.

“It’s an honor that these students were recognized for their hard work and dedication in service to others,” said Christine Malone, Hood’s chapter adviser.

Molly Masterson ’17 led the organization as president of the chapter during 2014-15.

“My time serving as president of Hood´s chapter was an amazing experience,” she said. “I was able to work with an outstanding group of my peers and a fantastic executive board. Together we were able to serve our community both in Frederick and at Hood. I´m so honored that our hard work was recognized by the national chapter and proud to say that I was able to lead our members through another year at Hood College.”

In October Logan Samuels ’17, the chapter’s secretary, was part of a panel presentation at the National Leadership Workshop in Orlando, Fla., where she presented a scrapbook of Hood’s work to other Alpha Lambda Delta chapters.

According to Malone, Hood’s chapter is fairly small with only 35 active members. The chapter is also fairly new, installed in March 2009.

“I think [the award] helps us recognize that even though we are a small chapter, these awards are still able to be achieved,” said Malone. “I think it will help us continue to be motivated to win the awards again and to strive in doing projects that honor service to others.”

This year the National Council of Alpha Lambda Delta recognized nine chapters across the nation: California University of Pennsylvania, Hood College, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Morningside College, Otterbein University, University of New Haven, University of Oklahoma, University of Texas-Pan American and Western Michigan University.

“We sincerely appreciate the work it takes to achieve the Torch award,” said Eileen Merberg, executive director of the Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society. “The students from these winning institutions demonstrated high quality programming, outstanding communication across campus and in their communities and overall excellence. It is truly impressive what the winning chapters were able to accomplish this past year.”

Alpha Lambda Delta is a national honor society that recognizes students’ academic success during their first year at a college or university. Its mission is to “encourage superior academic achievement, to promote intelligent living and a continued high standard of learning, and to assist students in recognizing and developing meaningful goals for their unique roles in society.”

Megan Rodriguez

Hood Alumna Wins Top Prize

Megan Rodriguez ’15 earned the Council on Undergraduate Research Prize by Pi Mu Epsilon, the national mathematics honor society. The prize is award to the most outstanding student research talk at the Mathematical Association of America’s annual MathFest conference. Rodriguez is the first Hood College student to win the award.

Her talk, entitled “Graph Theory Representation and Computational Complexity of Sliding Block Ice Puzzles Inspired by Legend of Zelda,” focused on winning strategies using algorithms for puzzles in video games. The research was originally for her honors thesis work, but she continued it after her project was complete and went on to present at MathFest in August.

“While I was conducting my research my senior year, I had hoped I would be able to present it at some conference after its completion,” said Rodriguez. “However, I hadn’t even considered Mathfest, let alone the 100th celebration of the Mathematical Association of America. It was very exciting to be accepted to speak at such an important conference.”

Rodriguez’ research adviser was James Parson, associate professor of mathematics, who offered general suggestions about what types of math to use and served as a sounding board for her ideas.

“It was her initiative throughout,” he said. “She was really driving the whole thing. She turned the games into real mathematical problems.”

There were approximately 2,500 registered participants at MathFest, and about 80 students from around the country presented in the Pi Mu Epsilon undergraduate research sessions.

Rodriguez was excited to present her research, but she didn’t realize the possibility of an award until her talk was over. With a topic based on video games, she wasn’t sure if there would be broad interest.

“Receiving such an award reaffirmed my belief that mathematical work in any field really is valuable and that mathematics can be applied in fun and strange new ways,” she said.

Over the summer, Rodriguez also created interactive websites where people can go try the puzzles she had studied and see her algorithms in action. The one-block version of the puzzle is here. The multiple-block, or n-block, version of the puzzle is here. To play the games for both, click the play button in the top left corner.

“There are preset puzzles to try out, and I encourage people to look through the code and try to improve it,” she said. “I only ask that they send their code to”

Rodriguez also encouraged those at her talk to go to the sites and see if they could improve her methods.

“She’s a great representative of what Hood is,” said Parson. “She’s one of the brightest students I’ve had at Hood. She has an amazing eye for detail, but she can also see the big picture.”

Rodriguez is currently enjoying her work as a software engineer at iNovex Software Solutions

“I get to apply my mathematics, web development and computer science skills all at the same time,” she said. “The atmosphere of the company is fantastic, and I feel right at home.”

CJ Blickenstaff

From the Military to College

A veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard where she served four and a half years, CJ Blickenstaff has a different perspective on her undergraduate college career than the average student.

At 32 years old, she has three children, one in pre-K, one in kindergarten and one in first grade. Her active-duty husband is stationed in Baltimore, and she is working toward her bachelor’s degree in communication arts with a concentration in digital media at Hood College. She hopes to finish her degree by 2017 before the Coast Guard transfers her family to another location.

Blickenstaff, who rose to the rank of petty officer third class before leaving active duty in 2010, has a wide range of interests within communications, and she will be looking for a job with a small company in public relations, social media or networking.

“I like to communicate both verbally and visually,” she said. “I dabble in photography. So I’m setting myself up for maybe the perfect job landing in my lap that meets everything I love to do.”

The support she has received from the military and Hood College has provided her a smooth transition into the life of a college student. With her GI Bill, other funds from Hood grants and Hood’s involvement in the yellow ribbon program—a program that supplements the GI Bill—there is no out-of-pocket cost to her.

Blickenstaff credits her experiences in life and in the military for giving her the mindset and habits to succeed even with such a busy life.

“I think I’m a more dedicated student,” she said. “Back in 2001 I graduated from high school, and I went to Stockton College in New Jersey on a scholarship. Within a month and a half, I dropped out. I wasn’t happy with where things were going. I joined the service a couple years later to get direction in life. I feel like now, as a spouse, as a parent and as an adult, I have to sit down, and I have to do it, so I do my best because I respect that it’s being paid for by something I earned, and it’s not just been given to me.”

Blickenstaff likes the Hood campus in part because she has seen a wide variety of students, and she feels welcome. As a person with years of experience in the real world, her younger classmates look to her for perspective and advice.

“I don’t feel like the students treat me differently because I’m older,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of students say it’s cool to have a mom’s perspective in the classroom. I think I’ve lost my direction enough times that I can be a good coach for bringing people back.”

Taking classes on top of being a full-time mom, Blickenstaff has a full plate.

“It’s busy, but it’s doable,” she said. “I feel like the real world is equally busy. Life is full time.”

NSF Project

New Spectrometers Boost Chemistry Lab Experience

Alex Jarnot ’17 and Angela Mansfield ’17 spent the summer working with professors Christopher Stromberg and Kevin Bennett on ways to incorporate new technology into Hood College’s chemistry curriculum.

“The goal of our summer research was to design labs around a new piece of equipment, the handheld X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, so that students would be able to have hands-on experience with it,” said Jarnot, a chemistry major. “We also designed a user manual for easy setup and troubleshooting.”

During the project, Jarnot and Mansfield designed the labs that they will be doing the next few semesters, so they will already be familiar with the theory behind X-ray fluorescence when the time comes to learn it in class.

The research is made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation, and it includes professors and students from Frederick Community College and Mount St. Mary’s University. The research includes four different spectrometers. This summer, Hood researched the XRF spectrometer, which analyzes what elements are present in a sample.

“These instruments will allow our students to do work beyond the laboratory,” said Stromberg. “Because the instruments are portable, they can be used in field studies in disciplines as diverse as art, archaeology, geology and environmental science.”

The research has given Jarnot and Mansfield unique and valuable student experience with XRF research.

“I have a better understanding of how the technique of X-ray fluorescence works,” said Mansfield, a chemistry and mathematics major. “The project has given me a look into what it would be like to conduct research. And, by using the XRF, I have experience using different instrumentation that could be beneficial to my career.”

Jarnot added: “Not many people have in-depth and hands-on experience with X-ray fluorescence.”

Jarnot was grateful for the experience he gained, noting the theory and the science behind the equipment, and the experience of working with other institutions and doing real research for the first time.

Mansfield appreciated that the experience taught her how to cope with adversity in the researching world.

“The most valuable aspects of the experience were learning that, while researching, sometimes things do not give the results you were hoping for and learning how to deal with things when they go wrong,” said Mansfield.

“Alex and Angela both took on a great deal of responsibility for the development and refining of the experiments that they developed,” said Stromberg. “We talked with them about possible ideas, but they were the ones who actually tested the ideas, improving them and transforming the raw ideas into full-fledged laboratory experiments. Along the way, they took initiative to suggest modifications and entirely new directions for the labs.”

The other three instruments being researched with this grant are a fourier transform infrared spectrometer, which uses molecular vibrations to identify the types of compounds in a sample; a Raman spectrometer, which gives additional insight into the types of compounds in a sample; and an ultraviolet and visible spectrometer, which looks at electronic transitions available in a molecule.

All four instruments will be swapped between the three institutions the next two summers, so each college will have the opportunity to develop experiments and activities for each instrument.

“The goal, of course, is to use these experiments in our courses over many years,” said Stromberg. “We will also be disseminating the experiments in journal articles, talks at conferences, and a project website.”