|Homecoming part Deux - Awards, Football, Saki, and a drunk Mortician
||[Feb. 26th, 2008|10:02 pm]
A Name By Any Other Would Just Be Uncivilized.
|[||Tags|||||homecoming 2007, update||]|
|||||You Know I'm No Good-Amy Winehouse-Back to Black||]|
So after the first night of Homecoming goodness, I woke up early to head to dear old Tusculum for a great honor. I was chosen to give an award to Wess duBrisk. Wess was my undergraduate advisor and media professor. But he was also a great friend and mentor to whom I will forever look up to. I nominated him for the "Living Faculty Award," and really no one deserved it more than Wess. Wess had no idea that he was getting the award - he thought his wife, Marilyn was getting an award. So the surprise was a great treat for me. I almost had tears when I was describing his career at Tusculum, his 20+ years of service to the school and its students, and his character.
This year’s honoree has been many things throughout his life: a commercial photographer, film director, radio announcer, the “morning voice of the American Armed Forces Radio and Television Services” in both Thailand and Greece, a TV newscaster, a journalist, a sportscaster, an actor, a singer, a devoted husband, co-star with his talented wife of a popular children’s television program in Portugtal, and most importantly in the context of today’s award, an innovative, personable and dedicated Associate Professor at Tusculum College for 22 years. Before he came to Tusculum, from which he is now retired, he served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force as a Radio and Television Specialist with the Department of Defense.
The honoree has throughout his life placed a high value on education. Due to his extensive travels, he studied throughout his Air Force career at institutions including Butler University, University of Maryland, University of Chicago and Laverne University. After retiring from the Air Force, he directed a film in Greece for the Greek Orthodox Church and was in great demand as a commercial photographer in Athens. On returning to America, he completed his M.A. from Texas Tech University.
This year’s honoree held the Fowler Dugger Endowed Chair of the Humanities at Tusculum College prior to his retirement in the fall of 2005. While at Tusculum, he established a successful Mass Communications major. In the 1980s he scrounged materials to build an on-campus radio station. In 1994 he designed the Mass Communications suite in Niswonger Commons, which remains the home of the present-day broadcasting program. Besides his many media courses, this year’s honoree taught photography, he served on multiple committees, headed the Humanities Division and was involved in many campus projects.
Many of you have probably figured out by now that this year’s Living Faculty Award honoree could be only one person: Wess duBrisk. But before we call Wess up here to accept his honor, let me tell you a little more about him. In a drive to gain wider recognition for the College, Wess established a Tusculum College Video Festival that successfully targeted independent high school and college video makers. The festival ran for three years and was cancelled only when Wess’s heavy teaching load made it impossible to go on. During his years at Tusculum, Wess endeared himself to student, staff and faculty with his ready sense of humor and friendly outgoing personality. Outspoken at times, he was always willing to stand up for what he believed was right – a trait that won him respect even from those who sometimes disagreed with him.
Now retired, Wess continues to stay involved with college and community. A talented actor, he supports Theatre-at-Tusculum and is a dedicated Arts Outreach volunteer. Wess sings with the Tusculum College Community Chorus and the Johnson City Civic Chorale. He serves on the East Tennessee Arts Council, is a member of the Exchange Club and has several photography projects in progress.
Wess cares about others. He recently devoted a weekend to serving as a volunteer judge in an “Excellence in Craft” contest for an organization of outdoor writers and broadcasters simply because a Tusculum staff member asked him for his help. And one of the joys of Wess’s life is hearing from past Mass Com graduates and taking pride in their accomplishments.
Whatever he does, Wess is always true to the phrase he used to sign off on his radio shows in Southeast Asia during the Viet Nam Conflict… “Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, do it well, and above all – keep smiling!”
It is my pleasure to present to Wess duBrisk the 2007 National Living Faculty Award presented by the Tusculum College Alumni Association.
After that, Rhi and I made our way to the football field to meet up with Ryan, Bro Slocum, Erin, Barbie and her kids, and Noah. Barbie's children are the coolest ever. They are such calm and chill children. Taiyou, her son, is the ring bearer in our wedding. I'm hoping his cool will rub off on my acting-up prone niece...
The football game was alright. It was hot, and the TC Pioneers were doing a pretty decent job. We soon retreated to one of the arch ways under the press box to chill in the shade and catch up. At one point, I picked up Taiyou and walked over to the rail to watch the game. I tried to explain the game to him, but I'm not sure I did that well of a job, but he was interested in the game itself.
Between Greeneville and Knoxville, things are fuzzy...but once we got to Knoxville, things got interesting! I met up with MK and we went to meet the rest of the gang at a Japanese place. Someone had the great idea to order a round or two of Saki. Now, Saki is usually server warm and is somewhat tasteless (to me anyways..) It's almost like vodka - and will make you fall on your ass, much like vodka can do. Justin was probably the most inebriated out of all of us. At least, if he wasn't at that point, he was later.
We made our way back to Bro Slocum's place where many drinks were consumed, much fun was made at Jeffers expense, and strange cinematic treasures were unearthed from both Zach's school work and YouTube.
The best part of homecoming every year is just that - coming home. Many of us lived and worked at Tusculum for four years (some of us longer). And when homecoming comes around, if luck has it, we get to come back and relive the good ol' days. When we drank to the wee hours, we got in trouble for stupid shit, we bonded, and we learned something. I hope that for many years to come, we will be able to make the trek to Greeneville and for a moment - be those stupid college students again.