Archive for October, 2010


Widener@Twitter: Blackhawks Land on Campus

October 28, 2010

In addition to Widener’s web site, this blog and Facebook pages, you can keep tabs on campus happenings with Widener’s vibrant Twitter feed.  Interesting activities occur all the time, such as two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters touching down behind Old Main this afternoon to take 20 ROTC cadets to Fort Dix where they will spend the weekend undergoing training exercises.  Click here to see a complete slideshow by John Martins.   I’ve added Widener’s Twitter feed to the righthand column of this blog, so please feel free to check it out.


A Memento of Recording History on Permanent View at Widener University’s Wolfgram Library

October 26, 2010

The next time you take the front stairwell in Widener’s Wolfgram Library, pause to look straight up over your head.  There you’ll see The Little Nipper Window installed in 1971.   As noted in the entertainment timeline feature in the new Widener Magazine, “The 14-foot window is one of the four original stained-glass windows depicting Nipper, the mascot of the Victor Talking Machine Company (later RCA) removed in 1967 from the RCA Tower in Camden.” 

There’s more to the story than the magazine could hold.  According to an article on The Gloucester County Times web site,, “The window was one of four executed in 1915 by Nicola D’Ascenzo, one of the most important stained-glass artists of his day. His works include the chapel windows at West Point Chapel, St. John the Divine Church in New York and, closer to home, the mosaic frieze on Camden’s Cooper Library — now the Walt Whitman Arts Center.

“All four windows were removed to make way for a more modern logo; one went to the Smithsonian Institution, another to Penn State University and a third to Widener University. The fourth Nipper window, built in nine sections, was packed into three crates and stored in a Cherry Hill warehouse.”

Readers of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Weekend Section on Friday noticed the Little Nipper image gracing a cover story about CamdenThat picture shows a replica of the original windows, now hanging in the refurbished RCA Building 17.  For more on the building renovation, read this excellent story by Hoag Levins on


A Man of Few Demerits: Cecil B. DeMille at PMC

October 21, 2010

The iconic Hollywood director Cecil B. DeMille graces the cover of the fall Widener Magazine and is featured in a lead article I wrote.   I very much enjoyed digging through the archives in Widener’s Wolfgram Library, scouring the Pennsylvania Military College records in search of DeMille’s footprints.

One of the most intriguing items I found that we didn’t have room to print is the record of a demerit DeMille earned on Sept. 26, 1896, for missing an assembly.  I searched through all of the books for his time here from 1896-98 and he was rarely cited.   That’s probably why he finished fourth in his class one year.  Below is a scan of the “List of Cadets Undergoing Punishment.”  DeMille’s name is fourth from the top (you can click on the image to enlarge it.)

I started the article with well-known references to DeMille, including the classic line by Gloria Swanson summoning DeMille at the end Sunset Boulevard.   The final three minutes of the movie is on, a clip including her famous words.  If you haven’t seen the Billy Wilder film, it’s an all-time classic I highly recommend.  It also includes a cameo of DeMille playing himself.  — Sam Starnes, Editor


News That Didn’t Fit: Photos and a Video Clip for Widener Magazine’s Entertainment Timeline

October 18, 2010

The most challenging part of editing Widener Magazine is cutting some of the wonderful material I come across that I don’t have room to fit in print, such as the shots below of the late radio and television actor Burt Mustin, a 1903 alumnus of Pennsylvania Military College.   Mustin’s familiar face appears in the new fall magazine feature “A Timeline of Famous and Influential Faces” — the issue was printed last week and on the way to readers as I write this.

Mustin played on the PMC hockey team — here he is front and center. (Click image to enlarge.)

He also played baseball — here he is on the far right in the second row.

For more Mustin photographs, visit his section in the Wolfgram Memorial Library Digital Collection or check out the Burt Mustin Fan Club page on Facebook.   I also found the clip below of him appearing on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson in March 1976, shortly after his 92nd birthday.  He died in 1977, but his estate each year continues to make a donation to the university.


That’s Entertainment — Fall Magazine Highlights Widener and PMC’s Many Hollywood Connections

October 14, 2010

The fall Widener Magazine has rolled off the presses and is making its way to our readership.  The new issue highlights the many alumni and former students who have made a name for themselves in the world of entertainment.

Standouts span 111 years, stretching all the way back to Cecil B. DeMille, a Pennsylvania Military College cadet from 1896-1898, to 2007 graduate Danny Corey, a rising young filmmaker who works in television.

Please post your comments and letters to the editor here on the Widener Magazine blog.  I hope to hear from you. — Sam Starnes, Editor


An Update from Down on the Farm — Widener Alumnus Dr. John Dorsey Reports from Alabama

October 13, 2010

While I’m awaiting the new fall issue of the magazine any minute — I’m told they are shipping from our printer and dropping in the mail as I write this — I wanted to give you an update on our cover story from fall 2009.    Dr. John Dorsey ’00, a graduate of Widener’s MD/MBA program and founder of Project Horseshoe Farm in Greensboro, Ala., provided the excerpt below from the dynamic community organization’s recent newsletter.  Thanks for the update, Dr. Dorsey! — Sam Starnes, Editor

It has been a busy summer here in Greensboro.

All of us have hit the ground running, juggling our responsibilities of volunteering at our housing program for women with mental disorders, fundraising for the organization, preparing for the start of our math tutoring programs, and engaging with the local community.

The Housing Program, which began last December, had a very successful first summer. We have already welcomed seven residents in the program, and three have “graduated” to more independent living. It is a bittersweet process to see residents leave for completely independent housing; we are happy to see that the companionship we have provided has helped them become healthy and strong, but it still feels like losing a friend.
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Billy “White Shoes” Johnson: Widener Player’s “Funky Chicken” Dance Inspired NFL Celebrations

October 8, 2010

Johnson Celebrates a Widener Touchdown

I grew up in rural Georgia watching the Atlanta Falcons on Sundays, so when I started at Widener more than a year ago it sparked memories to see the red helmet and jersey of Billy “White Shoes” Johnson displayed in the university’s Wellness Center.   Johnson,  a lightning fast receiver and return man extraordinaire, starred for the Falcons from 1982-1987, and ultimately served 14 seasons in pro football.  The ESPN video below ranks him as the third greatest returner of all time.   I vividly remember his touchdown celebration known as the Funky Chicken — one commentator called it “The greatest celebratory dance in the history of the NFL.”  The dance, in fact, originated in a Widener uniform. The Sacramento Bee wrote that his first performance followed a touchdown against Drexel in 1971.

If  any alumni or other Widener fans from Johnson’s years at Widener recall his touchdown celebrations,  please post your memories below in the comments field.  And enjoy the video — it includes the Funky Chicken at the 2:35 mark.  — Sam Starnes, Editor