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Dr. James A. Dervin
Photo by Benita Perry
Dr. James A. Dervin Receives Excellence
In Teaching Award
by Rebecca Jones
Dr. James Allen Dervin was recently
presented the Excellence in Teaching
Award by Wachovia Bank and Trust Com
pany at the Honor’s Day ceremonies con
ducted in the Kenneth R. Williams
Dr. Dervin is an associate professor of
English at Winston-Salem State University,
and has been so since 1976.
Dervin’s involvement in the department
has been many faceted. He currently serves
as Director of the Writing Program and also
served as acting chairman of the depart
Dervin’s formal education began at St.
Louis University where he was granted a
B.A. degree in 1956 in Philosophy and
Classics. He continued his studies in this
area, until 1957 when he received his Ph.L.
In 1959, Dervin concluded his work at St.
Louis upon the completion of his M.A. in
Dervin’s formal education then took him
to St. Mary’s where he earned an S.T.L.
degree in Theology in 1964. And as a conclu
sion to his many years of study, he received
his Ph.D. in English in 1974 at the UNC-
Dr. Dervin hails from Omaha, Nebaska,
but moved to North Carolina in 1965 to at
tend UNC-Chapel Hill. As a professor at
WSSU, he teaches many of the English
Composition courses, as well as American
Studies and The Novel. One course which he
enjoys teaching the most is Literary
Aspects of the Bible. His educational
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Sculpture Garden Enhances
background exemplifies, this particular
class involves both of his true intellectual
loves, English and Theology.
When asked about his choice of teaching
as a career, Dervin responded saying, “I
love to work with and to help people, and
besides my interest lies in my true love for
the intellectual life.”
He feels that student motivation and par
ticipation in class is utmost in establishing a
His philosophy of learning as he states,
“..it is a give and take situation....”
One way in which he enhances his classes
is by using a collection of slides which he
has developed over the years. The slides are
used to relate outside knowledge to the area
of concentration so the students may be
For his own motivation, he accredits
several past professors, one of which is
Walter Jackson Ong. Ong is both a national
and international scholar at St. Louis
University who inspired Dr. Dervin in his
Dervin continued by saying, “Ong was
demanding of himself and his students,” As
one can see from Dr. Dervin’s ac
complishments, he seems to have followed
this manner rather closely.
When I asked Dr. Dervin what he thought
ascribes him for this award of excellence,
he replied ’‘I’m a good teacher, I guess... I
hope, and I do a lot of work for my classes.”
As he continued his career he has found
that the art of teaching is to “...adjust one’s
own ideals to the ideals of the students and
to keep spreading my joy for the intellectual
by Angela M. Corbett
What is unique, creative and sometimes
utterly baffling? It’s a great work of art!
Maybe you haven’t noticed, but the WSSU
campus is becoming flattered by various
types of sculpture. Infortunately, too many
students are discouraged by the fact they
don’t understand sculpture, so they ignore
Like Martin Luther King, WSSU had a
dream to enhance the culture of the
students and community in Winston-Salem.
That dream began to materialize in 1981
when Gfordon Hanes, a former trustee of the
university and chairman of the Board at the
North Carolina Museum of Art proposed to
fund a national competition, which was con
ducted by the WSSU Art Department.
At this point the 9 month process of con
tacting sculptors, advertising, and selecting
jurors for the competition began. However,
the Art Department was seeking specifical
ly those artists in minority groups, who had
not received a lot of recognition. Prospec
tive participants were then sent information
concerning the purpose of the competition,
a picture of the garden site and a calendar
of events. The Art Department then began
waiting for entries. WTiile the hardest part
was up to the jury.
In May 1982, the jury met in Winston-
Salem to select three sculptors from about
2,000 slides. The jurors for the first competi
tion were: Selma Burke, an artist from
Bucks County, Pennsylvania; David
Driskell, former chairman of Art Depart
ment at the University of Maryland and
Richard Hunt, who has won honorary
degrees at the University of Michigan. They
decided on Mel Edwards, of New York, with
his sculpture “Southern Sunrise.”
The first competition was such as great
success that Gordon Hanes funded a second
competition in which three sculptors were
selected. The winners were Beverly
Buchanan of Georgia; Roberto Bertoia and
Tyrone Mitchell both of New York.
The competition consisted of the same
format, except they had different jurors.
Lowery Sims, assistant curator at
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York;
David Collens, director of Storm King and
Jean Feinberg, assistant curator at Zilkha
Gallery at Wesleyan University were the
jurors for the second competition.
According to Mrs. Mitizi Shewmake, a
member of the WSSU Art Department, who
worked closely with the competition “This
project has been very beneficial. It is a long
term thing in which the more scultpture we
get, the more people will come on campus to
see it. We’re contributing something unique
to the city because for so long we had to go
off campus to see art, but now WSSU is no
longer a stepchild.”
Of course this type of competition
becomes more expensive along the way, but
with the help of sponsors it was a success.
The overall estimated expense for the first
competition was $48,521. Jurors received
$500 each time they came to Winston-
Salem; artists were paid $1,000 for each
model; and winners receive $7,500 for
overseeing and installation of the work.
Each work also had a estimated price,
Tyrone Mitchell, $50,000 Beverly Buchanan,
$20,000; Mel Edwards, $50,000 and Roberto
In the future WSSU looks forward to plac
ing sculptures at various sites around cam
pus, but their next exhibition will be in front
of the new RJR building. Look for it to be
finished by next year!
Photo by Benita Perry
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