Eating at the annual Turkey Feast the week before Thanksgiving has been a tradition for more than 30 years among SIUE art faculty and students, but this year's feast also served as an introduction to a new "oven" on the premises of the Art and Design Building.
It's actually an anagama kiln and it's not for cooking turkeys.
The anagama (pronounced ah-nah-GAH-mah) kiln will be used in the ceramics area as one of only a dozen walk-in, wood-fired kilns found in this country, and very rarely on a college campus. The structure is built into a hill behind the Art and Design Building.
"We do have wood-fired kilns here but they are much smaller," says Matt Wilt, assistant professor of Art and Design in the ceramics area. "The fire source in an anagama kiln is in the front and the flames are carried through the length of the 23-foot kiln and out the flue at the back of the kiln."
Wilt explained that the kiln can hold many more pieces than other smaller kilns used in the department and its six-foot height can accommodate much larger pieces. "There's definitely an art to maintaining the temperatures in a wood-fire kiln," Wilt said. "Wood-firing goes back thousands of years to early Japanese and Korean cultures. You have to know the hot spots and the cool spots, adding wood during the three-to-five days it takes to fire the ceramic pieces."
Although the actual firing takes a few days, the entire process-including preparation of the wood, placing the pieces on shelving, the actually firing, cooling, and cleanup-can take up to four weeks. "We plan to do a firing once each semester, with the first one scheduled during Spring Semester," Wilt said. He added that the department will invite the university community as well as faculty and students from other campuses to the initial firing. "This is a great way to establish a network with other schools in the region, such as the University of Illinois, and a chance to show off our facilities at SIUE."
In addition to its uniqueness, the kiln already has provided a community spirit among the students and faculty, according to Professor Paul Dresang, head of the ceramics area. "There is a community nature about a firing as part of ceramics in general, but it's heightened further with the wood-firing process," Dresang said. "Unlike other artistic endeavors that are solitary, wood-firing in particular is a collaborative effort in which we have to rely on one another's cooperation."
Dresang also said the new kiln broadens the experience and the curriculum for art and design students. "It's a unique experience not available at many universities," he said. There's also the element of camaraderie and teamwork involved. "This project involved a collaborative effort even in its planning," he said. "First of all, Matt deserves credit for writing the EUE (Excellence in Undergraduate Education) grant for the $10,000 to get the project started," Dresang said.
"By the time we build the shelter over the top of it and put in the shelving, the cost will be close to $18,000." Additional funding was provided by the College of Arts and Sciences, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Administration, and SIUE Student Government, Dresang said.
"In addition, students and faculty in our department helped build the kiln, some of them working 12-14-hour days for nearly two weeks," Dresang said. "And, let's not forget the university's ground crews who helped us with the project. There's no way you can just 'buy' one of these kilns. It's definitely a major group effort."
The kiln itself is constructed of "super-duty" fire bricks rated at 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit, with an exterior of insulating brick, and an outer skin of insulating concrete. The optimum temperature in a firing is 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit, but that temperature must be reached gradually, at a rate of 100-200 degrees per hour. "This process must be monitored 24/7, we will be using students and faculty in six-hour shifts throughout the three-to-five days," Wilt said.
"If you don't stoke it regularly, you lose temperature fast," he said. "It's a labor-intensive process, but the results are amazing." Wilt said that ash from the burning wood lands on ceramic pieces, causing a crystalline effect and creating myriad textures and patterns. "No two pieces will be the same."
When Vera McCoy-Sulentic took over SIUE's Suzuki String Development Program in 1997, the more advanced string students would tour U.S. cities every year. But, she found that trips to Nashville or Memphis, for example, were very complicated to plan and carry out.
"I discovered that for a little more money, we could tour overseas, and have a travel company take care of all the details," she said. "I also found out that the students were even more motivated to hone their musical skills. After all, traveling to Europe is a huge goal to work toward."
In addition, McCoy-Sulentic found that the parents became more involved, which helped minimize the effort. This year's tour group, made up of 15 students, is heading for France in June. "To qualify for the trip, the student must have completed the first six Suzuki Method books," she said. "The 15 who were chosen range in age from 13-19 and auditioned last summer for this upcoming trip." She said most of the tour group students have been playing for more than 10 years in the Suzuki Strings program at SIUE.
In 1984, then-String Development Program Director John Kendall took the first tour group to Iceland. The touring program then languished for a few years, but was taken up again in 1995 by McCoy-Sulentic's predecessor, Carol Smith. Since then it has been to Sweden, Scotland, and London. The group has twice been featured as the prestigious Cedarhurst Chamber Music Series at the Mitchell Museum in Mt. Vernon.
"The tour group's repertoire includes classical, jazz, and fiddle selections," McCoy-Sulentic pointed out. "They recently recorded their second holiday CD, also featuring other SIUE Suzuki Strings ensembles. It was released last month and is available through our website: www.siue.edu/MUSIC/Suzuki or by phone: (618) 650-2839."
Allison Woerner, the tour group's director, enjoys working with the talented students. "We are able to work on difficult music, far beyond what most young people have the opportunity to perform," Woerner said. "And, besides that, they are just a very lively, fun group of kids."
Thousands of children who otherwise might not have had access to books have benefited from SIUE's annual A Book In Every Home (BIEH) campaign. The university is again sponsoring its book drive from Jan. 15 to March 31.
Literacy is one of the most critical issues facing our educational system. Studies show that children who cannot read are not likely to succeed in the classroom or in life. Recognizing that access to books is a key component to literacy, A Book in Every Home not only has placed 30,000 books in homes in St. Clair and Madison counties, it also encourages parents to read to their children.
"Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is advancing literacy at a grassroots level through the A Book in Every Home program,'" said Kay Werner, chair of the campaign. "Our goal is to place an age-appropriate book in the home of every Head Start child in Madison and St. Clair counties, as well as families served by crisis centers in those counties.
"We've also begun serving juvenile centers in those counties by donating the books we receive for older youth."
In support of the campaign's additional goal of encouraging parents to read to their children, the campaign's Curriculum Committee has made available a "flip-chart" brochure for encouraging reading and writing skills.
Werner said 5,000 brochures were printed and distributed to SIUE Head Start sites throughout St. Clair County and to sites in the Riverbend Head Start and Family Services. It also has been distributed to the SIUE Early Childhood Center, to the preschool programs at the East St. Louis Higher Education Campus, and to other literacy programs in the St. Louis area. The cost of the publication was underwritten by the St. Louis Rams Foundation, a BIEH partner. The brochure is in such demand that the campaign recently printed an additional 3,000 copies.
There are drop-off points for book donations in the St. Clair County and Madison County Head Start programs, SIUE campus sites, all public libraries in Madison and St. Clair counties, the Piece of Mind Book Store in Edwardsville, and B. Dalton Booksellers Book Store, the Borders book store in Fairview Heights, and Fresh Words bookstore in Highland.
For specific addresses and locations of these drop off points, visit the Web site: www.siue.edu/BOOKS or call (618) 650-2020 for more information.
Age-appropriate books are requested for children ages six weeks to five years old. Cash donations also will be accepted. Checks for "A Book in Every Home" should be written to the SIUE Foundation, and mailed to:
A Book in Every Home
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Edwardsville, IL 62026-1058
(In the memo part of the check, please write "A Book in Every Home.")
Jessica Robert (Carlyle) picked a perfect time to score her 1,000th point. Trailing by one point in SIUE's matchup at Missouri-St. Louis last Friday (1/2), Robert nailed a three-pointer with 26 seconds remaining to give SIUE the lead and the eventual victory.
With the bucket, she became the 16th player in school history to score 1,000 points in a career. "It is a great milestone," Coach Wendy Hedberg said. "She has been playing well and has gotten off to a great start to this season."
Despite missing the first three games of the season due to an injury suffered in the preseason, Robert leads the team and the Great Lakes Valley Conference with 31 steals and a 64.5-percent three-point field goal percentage. Her 14.0 points per game leads the team and is 14th in the conference. "Jessica has a low-key demeanor," Hedberg said. "She doesn't have a lot of highs and lows. She is a steady, consistent player."
After picking up the win at UMSL, the Cougars fell at Quincy 74-62 on Sunday (1/4). SIUE is currently 8-5 overall and is sitting in eighth-place in the GLVC with a 3-3 conference mark. SIUE will continue conference play when it travels to Lewis (7-6 overall, 4-2 GLVC) for a Thursday (1/8) matchup. The Cougars then play at Wisconsin-Parkside (6-5, 3-2 GLVC) on Saturday (1/10) afternoon.
The Cougars do not return to the Vadalabene Center until Jan. 15 when it entertains Indianapolis.
The SIUE men's basketball team will continue its four-game road trip when it travels to Lewis for a Thursday (1/8) night matchup and Wisconsin-Parkside for a Saturday (1/10) afternoon game.
SIUE has won four of its last five contests to push its overall record to 7-5. The Cougars are currently fifth in the Great Lakes Valley Conference with a 3-3 conference record.
SIUE currently ranks as the GLVC's top defense as the Cougars have allowed their opponents to only 61.4 points per game. "Our guys have played good defense the entire year, but it can still be better," Coach Marty Simmons said. "They do a good job of communicating. For us to have a chance to win, it starts on the defensive end."
SIUE's defense is sure to play a key role against Lewis, who is the third in the GLVC in scoring offense. Lewis is sitting atop the GLVC with a 12-1 overall record and a 6-0 conference mark. Monta McGhee is one of four players who average double-figures in points. He leads the team and is sixth in the GLVC with 17.8 points per game and averages 8.2 rebounds a game. "They are as good as they look on paper," Simmons said. "They have a veteran team and can score in a variety of ways. Defensively, they really get after you."
Wisconsin-Parkside has struggled so far this season, posting a 4-8 overall record and an 0-5 mark in the GLVC. Dean Pogodzinski leads UWP with 14.1 points per game. He has connected on 28-56 (.500) three-point field goals. Ron Jones (Kankakee) leads SIUE with 12.8 points per game. He has scored more than 10 points in each of SIUE's games this season. "Ron has played well this season, especially the last couple of games," Simmons said. "As a senior, we expect a lot out of him."
SIUE will return to the Vadalabene Center for a Jan. 15 matchup with Indianapolis.
The Roger Denker Open, which is hosted by Central Missouri State, is the next tournament on the slate for the SIUE wrestling team. It is the last tournament formatted meet before the Cougars open a string of seven dual meets.
"The Roger Denker Open is always a tough tournament," Coach Booker Benford said. "Many top NCAA Division I teams and NAIA powers will be there."
Historically, SIUE has found success at the Open, and Benford does not think this year will be any different. "We usually do pretty well," he said. "We've had a few guys in recent years make it to the finals. We are always in the mix."
SIUE is coming off the Midwest Classic in Indianapolis where they placed 14th out of 16 teams. Sean Tyus (Springfield) went 3-3 in the tournament at 197 pounds to earn a sixth-place finish. "We didn't do well as a team in Indianapolis, but the guys never did give up," Benford said. "We just didn't have it, but I think we'll bounce back."
Joe Rujawitz (Belleville), who wrestles in the 149-pound weight class, has posted a team-high 24 wins this season. Tyus has a 15-10 record on the season.
Sara Decker (St. Louis), a senior midfielder, has been named to the All-Great Lakes Region second team by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) and Adidas.
Decker scored four goals and added four assists while helping SIUE to a 10-7 overall record. Her three game-winning tallies were tied for the most on the team.
Earlier this post-season, Decker was named to the All-GLVC first team. It was the third time in her collegiate career she has been named first team All-GLVC, the others being the 2000 and 2002 season. She was a second-team All-GLVC choice in 2001 and was also named GLVC Freshman of the Year in 2000.
This is the first time Decker has received an All-Region accolade.
She ends her collegiate career tied for sixth on the all-time scoring list with 25 goals and 22 assists for 72 points.
SIUE men's basketball will have the chance to move its record above the .500 mark Thursday night (12/18) when it plays host to NCAA Division III Blackburn College at the Vadalabene Center. Tip-off is slated for 6 p.m.
Blackburn, which competes in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, has a 2-4 record and plays Robert Morris College on Tuesday night (12/16).
The Cougars are currently 4-4 after a win at Missouri-Rolla. SIUE held the high-scoring Miners to 35 percent shooting from the field in the 68-53 victory. "Our guys did well defensively," Coach Marty Simmons said. "Missouri-Rolla has some offensive weapons, and we did a good job guarding them."
SIUE has welcomed a balanced offensive attack this season. The Cougars boast three players averaging double-figures, led by Tyler Hackstadt's (Okawville) 13.1 points per game. Ron Jones (Kankakee) has averaged 12 points per game and has connected on a team-leading 13 three-point field goals. Calvin Sykes (Chicago) has averaged 10.9 points per game and is the team-leader in steals (10) and assists (35).
SIUE will be one of two schools representing the Great Lakes Valley Conference at the Sleep Inn Invitational this weekend in Midland, Mich. The tournament pits GLVC schools against Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference schools.
The Cougars will square off against tournament host Northwood on Friday night (12/19), then faces Ferris State on Saturday afternoon. Indianapolis is the other school involved in the tournament. "Hopefully we can get some wins and represent the conference well," Coach Wendy Hedberg said.
Northwood currently has a 3-4 overall record and plays St. Francis Tuesday night )12/16). Melissa Elliot leads the team in scoring with 14.6 points per game. Ferris State comes into the tournament with a 7-2 record and is led by preseason All-America Lucy DeMartin's 16.1 points per game.
SIUE is coming off a convincing win against Greenville to move its overall record to 5-3. Freshman Julianne McMillen (Pana) continues to lead SIUE with 121 points scored. She also leads the team with 8.8 rebounds per game. "We've only had a few games with our full squad, and we've done well under those conditions," Coach Wendy Hedberg said. "We are playing as a team more and more and that has had a big impact on our success. Everyone is very team-oriented."
The SIUE men's basketball team has learned that preseason All-American senior center Dan Lytle (Edwardsville) may be out for the season with a herniated disk.
Lytle, who transferred to SIUE from Evansville for his final year of eligibility, played in four games this season, averaging nearly 10 points a game and six rebounds per contest. "Lytle has been hurt from day one," SIUE Coach Marty Simmons said. "He did a good job trying to play hurt, but his situation progressively got worse. I'm upset no one got the chance to see him play healthy."
Dan Heimos (Waterloo), a 6-11 transfer from Nebraska, figures to be one of the candidates to fill the role in the post. Heimos is averaging five points per game and has a team-high 11 blocked shots. His 1.83 blocks per game is second in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. "When a player like Lytle goes down, it's up to the entire team to reach down and bring more production to the table," Simmons said. "One player cannot replace him."
SIUE will take to the road for a Saturday (12/13) contest at 5-0 Missouri-Rolla, who plays host to Calvary Bible on Monday night. SIUE then returns home for two more non-conference matchups before resuming GLVC play Jan. 2 at Missouri-St. Louis.
SIUE is coming off a win against Bellarmine and a loss to Kentucky Wesleyan to move its overall record to 3-4 and its GLVC mark to 2-2. The Cougars are in fifth place in the conference standings. "We have a week to prepare for the Rolla game so that will allow us to get better on the practice floor," Simmons said. "We need to shore some things up and get more consistent in our play."
Tyler Hackstadt (Okawville) leads the squad with 13.3 points per game. Ron Jones (Kankakee) follows with 11.7 points per game. Calvin Sykes (Chicago) has averaged 10.3 points per game, while registering a team-leading eight steals.
The SIUE women's basketball team will begin a four-game string of non-conference games when it plays host to Greenville College on Thursday 12/11). Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. at the Vadalabene Center.
Greenville, a Division III school out of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, comes into the contest with a 2-4 record. It plays St. Louis College of Pharmacy on Tuesday (12/9) night.
SIUE is 4-3 overall and 2-2 in Great Lakes Valley Conference action. The Cougars are coming off a one-point defeat to 11th-ranked Bellarmine and a convincing victory against Kentucky Wesleyan. "We're playing well while waiting to get players healthy," Coach Wendy Hedberg said. "We had opportunities to beat Bellarmine, and we bounced back very well against Kentucky Wesleyan."
Freshman Julianne McMillen (Pana) scored 31 points in the win against Kentucky Wesleyan. It was the most points scored by an SIUE freshman since the Cougars joined the Great Lakes Valley Conference in 1995. McMillen, who scored the 100th point of her collegiate career, also was one rebound shy of recording her third straight double-double. "She always finds ways to score," Hedberg said. "She's hard to defend one-on-one, and she is a good foul-shooter if she is fouled. Our guards are doing a good job getting her the ball."
The Cougars boast five players who are averaging double-figures in scoring. Tanya Guell (Plymouth, Wis.) leads the team at 15.6 points per game. McMillen and Jessica Robert (Carlyle) each have a 14.3 scoring average. Sarah Schweers (Chatham) and Amber Wisdom (Geneseo) are averaging 12.6 and 10.1 points per game, respectively.
SIUE's wrestling squad will have its last competition for three weeks when it travels to Missouri Baptist for a Wednesday (12/10) dual meet. The Cougars will look to improve their 5-1 dual record when they face the 9-2 Spartans.
"Missouri Baptist is tough this year," Coach Booker Benford said. "They are outstanding at each weight class."
SIUE defeated Missouri Baptist 24-15 last season at the Vadalabene Center. "We came back last year in our heavier weight classes to beat them," Benford said. "It will be a matter of butting heads to see who comes out on top."
The Cougars are coming off the Northern Iowa Open. Benford indicated Joe Rujawitz (Belleville), Matt Oliva (Bartlett) and Sean Tyus (Springfield) were close to placing in their respective weight classes.
Following the Missouri Baptist dual, the Cougars will be idle until Jan. 3-4, when they participate in the Midwest Classic in Indianapolis. "We have some guys injured, so hopefully after break we'll come back completely healthy," Benford said.