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Margaret Stephens Named Phi Theta Kappa Faculty Scholar

Margare Stephens
Margaret Stephens

Margaret Stephens, an associate professor of Social Science, who specializes in earth science and geography, has been selected as one of 24 Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society Faculty Scholars for 2010.

Stephens has worked with the College’s Rho Upsilon Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa since May 2008. The Faculty Scholars, all of whom serve as faculty advisors to their local Phi Theta Kappa chapters, will facilitate student discussion groups at the 2010 International Honors Institute, June 14-18 at Chapman University in Orange, Ca.

Scholars were selected for their demonstrated excellence in teaching and their applications, which showed their knowledge of the current honors study topic, "The Democratization of Information: Power, Peril and Promise."

Stephens commented, "Today’s information revolution brings with it the potential for good and for harm. Democracy is protected to the extent that there is no divide—we must ensure that all participants have access to accurate information and education enough to make sense of it."

Under Stephens’ leadership, the College’s chapter dominated the Middle States Regional Conference, winning the Five-Star Chapter Award, the highest honor possible for an individual chapter, and the Award of Achievement, which is based on total scores of awards received at the conference. Other awards received by individual members included:

Stephens, a former Peace Corps volunteer, is known as a strong advocate for student activities that encourage leadership, especially in environmental conservation. She has a B.S. in Natural Resources and Biological Science from Cornell University, an M.S. in Appropriate Technology and Energy Management for Development from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.S. in Educational Psychology with specialization in Science Education from Temple University. She has been employed at the College since 1993 when she started as a faculty science specialist in the Learning Lab.

The Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, based in Jackson, Mississippi, is the largest honor society in higher education with 1,250 chapters in the United States and its territorial possessions, Canada, Germany, the Republic of Palau, The Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the British Virgin Islands and the United Arab Emirates.

If Garbage Could Talk

Ruth Baker of Library and Learning Resources uses trash as a teaching tool.

As an undergraduate in the 1970s at the University of Arizona, Ruth Baker spent a lot of time picking through trash. No, she was not homeless. But the former Anthropology major was one of the students participating in The Garbage Project, a research project at the University of Arizona that studied American culture by way of its trash.

Between 1973 and 2005, The Garbage Project researchers picked, screened, dug through and measured more than 250,000 pounds of landfill refuse, as well as the contents of trash cans in selected neighborhoods. Through their efforts, such discarded objects as jelly donuts, half-eaten bananas, whiskey bottles and lipstick cylinders have been converted into a treasure trove of data for marketers, environmentalists, and census and consumer researchers.

Baker has long since abandoned Anthropology for Library Science. Instead of digging up bones and pot shards in hot jungles or freezing tundra, Baker is unearthing facts from the air-conditioned stacks of the College’s library.

But as a professor once told her, "Nothing you learn is ever wasted."

A few years ago, Baker’s past as a garbologist came up during a casual conversation with Margaret Stephens, an associate professor of Social Science at the College who specializes in environmental conservation and geography. The two found themselves discussing how The Garbage Project method could be used to teach research and analysis techniques to students in Stephens’ Earth Science 111 (Environmental Conservation) classes. Next thing she knew, Baker was lecturing Stephens’ class as they sorted through bags of trash that Baker and Stephens had carefully cleaned of any yucky stuff.

Students are given a recording form, similar to those used by the original Garbage Project, and asked to assign a code number to each box, can, bottle or carton based on what it once contained. They also are asked to record the type of food or product, the volume or weight capacity of the packaging and whether it is recyclable or not. Finally, they are asked to use the contents of the trash bag to create a profile of the household to which it belongs.

The process had a dramatic effect on the students, changing the way they shop and how they dispose of the resulting trash, Stephens said. "They often say, after doing this, that they have either begun to recycle or increased their recycling at home," Stephens said.

"The exercise is a fun way of engaging students in critical thinking, and it familiarizes them with different sources of information", Baker said. During their Professional Development Week seminar in January, Baker and Stephens encouraged their fellow professors to consider using similar methods as teaching tools.

Colonials are 2010 Men’s Basketball State Champs

Robert "Dondi" DeShields
Coach Robert "Dondi" DeShields receives congratulations from College Board of Trustees Chair George E. Davis.

Community College of Philadelphia’s men’s basketball team won the state championship for the third time in four years, defeating Potomac State College by a score of 97-83 in the Pennsylvania Collegiate Athletic Association (PCAA) state title game on Feb. 21.

Coach Robert "Dondi" DeShields was named PCAA coach of the year. This season, the Colonials were undefeated with a 20-0 record in the Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference (EPCC) and 34-1 overall. DeShields has compiled an amazing 280-69 overall record in his 10 seasons as head coach.

2010 Mens Basketball
Pictured are members of the 2010 men’s basketball state championship team and their coaches.

The Colonials had the home court advantage in the hard-fought game against taller and heavier players from Potomac State College of West Virginia University. "They were bigger than us by two to three inches in almost every position," said Ollie Johnson, the College’s director of Athletics.

Talent counted for more than size, however, as the Colonials’ 6-foot-4-inch freshman guard Rashaad Slappy scored 34 points and outgoing sophomore Tyrone Hill racked up 20 points and snagged 26 rebounds. Johnson described Slappy as "just an unbelievable offensive player who does everything well." After the game, Slappy celebrated the Colonials’ victory by cutting down the net and draping it around his neck.

Johnson said Hill, who is 6 feet 2 inches, played like he was 7-feet tall. "He has the ability to rebound the ball, which is a lost art," Johnson said of the junior, who played his last season in a Colonials uniform.

It was a brilliant comeback for the Colonials, who failed to make the state finals in 2009, after scoring back-to-back championships in the EPCC and the PCAA in 2007 and 2008. The consecutive championships were a historic first for the basketball team. DeShields set another precedent in 2007 when he became the first African American to be named EPCC coach of the year.