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    For a few days in late May, a St. Andrews University alumna was creating a stir nationally with her grammatical critique of a White House letter.  Yvonne Mason, class of 1978, and similar to what she had done for 17 years as a high school English teacher, took purple pen to paper, circled mistakes, wrote notes, highlighted redundancies and generally “graded” the letter for its syntax and rhetorical style.

   And then, she mailed it back to the White House.  It went viral, and Ms. Mason began to be interviewed by the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and more.

   The real story began when Ms. Mason wrote President Trump in February after the Parkland, FL, high school shooting.  She was quoted, according to the Washington Post: “I wrote urging the president to meet with every single family of a victim individually.  And to hear what they had to say and to assure them that something was going to be done about gun control in this country.  I didn’t expect to hear back.  After I mailed it, it was over for me.  I had expressed my opinion.”  She insists that whoever wrote the letter didn’t need a new job, maybe just a new stylebook.

   However, the White House letter that sparked the editing did not refer to any of the content or requests in Ms. Mason’s letter and was probably written by someone at the White House, “who was trained to mimic the president’s writing style such as a speechwriter.”

   Regardless, her teaching and composition skills took over, the letter was scrutinized and sent back with a photo taken of the letter that would end up on her Facebook page.

   Without repeating the various media reporting, St. Andrews director of communications contacted Ms. Mason (now retired from teaching and living in Atlanta) and asked her to respond to questions.  These are her answers.

  • Now that you are "in the news," any changes or how you have to deal with people/media?

I've had to change my Facebook privacy settings to make them more narrow, but I didn’t block anyone until over the past weekend.  It was getting a little scary.  Someone called for Atlantans to protest in front of our house.

  • Any follow up from the WH, etc.?

Nope! LOL, I don’t expect any follow up.

  • Is there a learning experience evolving from this--once you did it ... results ... ?

Several people would ask me if I’d do it again, and I would. The learning experience is that people will attack you personally while calling you down for attacking someone they admire.

And I’d do it to more than just the president.  The point is that it was a formal letter from a nationally important figure.

  • Was it intended to be political?

I just joked about it constantly.  It was most certainly political, but I’d do it for a Democrat, too. South Carolina (where I am still registered to vote) has no major politicians to correct.

  • Are you still in the media drama?

I am not.  I did an interview with a South American international television station two weeks after the media storm, but I think people are now rushing to trash the Eagles for not loving America as much as a man who doesn’t know the words to “God Bless America,” or have enough sense to just not start singing.

  • Threats?  Love letters?

No direct threats, but implications of what “should” happen to me if I were this disrespectful.  Lots of people shared and complimented me, but no proposals of marriage!  My favorite epithet was “old hippie hag.”  A woman from New Delhi messaged to tell me I was a badass.  I loved it!

  • Most surprising aspect of the entire story?

The most surprising aspect was that it was a story at all.  I posted it on my FB page knowing that my friends would get a kick out of it.  Someone asked to share it and the rest is media history.

  • Any role that St. Andrews played?

St. Andrews made me brave and confident in my intellectual capabilities and thinking skills.  I am forever grateful for my experience there.  My daughter Margaret Tate is also a St. Andrews alum, class of 2008.

  • Additional ideas/thoughts/points you would like to contribute?

Not really.  It was fun being on CNN and everyone was very nice.  I was surprised at how passionate people were about how awful I am.  And to all of them, I WOULD have done the same with a letter from Barack Obama had the occasion arisen.—30—


SAU photographer’s photos selected for architectural publication

   St. Andrews University photographer and logistics director Rooney Coffman’s photographs of St. Andrews campus have been selected for a forthcoming publication in “The Cultural Landscape Foundation and Pioneers of American Landscape Design” (an in-depth multimedia library chronicling the lives of significant landscape architects and educators).

   Mr. Coffman’s photographs display buildings and grounds that are credited to the architect Lewis Clarke who is the “original master planner” of St. Andrews campus, an Englishman who was at North Carolina State University School of Design and a faculty member from 1952 to 1968, then operated his landscape architecture firm, Lewis Clarke Associates, from 1968 to 1980.  He was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects and retired in 2000.  

   Mr. Clarke worked with Charlotte architects A.G. Odell Jr. and Associates to create the design for the 225-acre campus that required a total transformation of what had been agricultural and wooded acreage.  Although Mr. Clarke was initially afraid that the oaks would become too large for the academic site, he eventually concurred.  Today, those oaks planted in 1968 fill the area between the James L. Morgan Liberal Arts Building and Vardell.

   The campus property encompasses a west administrative and academic campus and an east residential and recreation complex linked by a landscaped causeway that spans Lake Ansley C. Moore that was engineered as part of the site plan.  The campus contains a cohesive collection of Modernist buildings that display a functionalistic approach in their form.  New mid-twentieth-century building materials and technology allowed for structures that employed concrete, steel and glass in innovative ways.  The campus plan garnered national attention.  In January 1960, Progressive Architecture magazine. awarded A. G. Odell Jr. and Associates an Education Division citation for the design.

   In 2016, St. Andrews was added to the National Historic Register for its architecture and landscape.  Being recognized as a National Historic Place helps to preserve and protect the original design of the campus and its historical significance. 

   Mr. Clarke is now 91 and is being honored with a designation of being a Pioneer with the prestigious Cultural Landscape Foundation.  Mr. Clarke’s master planning work in North Carolina includes the Research Triangle Institute in Durham, the North Carolina Zoological Park in Asheboro and the Fayetteville Street Pedestrian Mall in Raleigh.

   The Foundation’s request of Mr. Coffman was to provide specific photos apropos to the campus that could be used to affirm Mr. Clarke’s design to be shown in the award documents and included in this national publication.

   Mr. Coffman, who just completed his 50th year of work at St. Andrews, provided six photographs to meet the specifications;  three were selected with the response being “exquisite.”  They include an aerial shot of the campus, Lake Ansley Moore and the Tower, Lake Ansley Moore and Belk.

   In addition to the publication, the Cultural Landscape website features the dominant landscape photo of Lake Ansley and the Tower.

   St. Andrews’ history began in 1896 with the founding of Flora Macdonald College in Red Springs, NC, merged with Webber International University (FL) in 2011 and became St. Andrews University.

   Mr. Coffman’s photographs can be seen on the St. Andrews website at




   When Kaitlin Griego came to St. Andrews University five years to begin working as an athletic trainer, she knew amid all of her training how to tape and assess injury, but it was another evolving task that recently gained attention at a symposium for athletic trainers:  working with international student-athletes, specifically the SAU men’s soccer team.

   In other words, as she says, “I had to learn so much more than I knew about patience, about describing body parts such as there are no words for toes in some Spanish speaking countries as well as insurance problems.”

   For five years, Ms. Griego has been developing her thoughts and experiences and sharing them with the other four SAU athletic trainers, particularly about international student-athletes, and then decided to wrote a proposal to share her learning at the District 3 Mid-Atlantic Association Athletic Training Association.  That annual symposium was held May 18-20 in Ocean City, MD.  

   In an hour-long presentation covering 25 pages of a power point titled “Working with International Students: How to Communicate and Build Affective Relationships,” she discussed multiple points of how she has learned to in a more caring and improved manner provide a quality of athletic training care that is often done without either her or the athlete speaking the same language.  To the point:  for the 2017- 2018 season, 49 student-athletes were playing soccer and of those, 38 were internationals.  Sixteen were from Spain and Brazil, plus Venezuela and Bolivia.

   All, she said, had a basic grasp of English but only a few were readily bilingual, and she doesn’t speak Spanish.

   Attempting to treat injuries for her became a daily challenge.  For instance, trying to describe head injuries lacked specific words or detailing other body parts, she would point and then try to understand their facial expressions.  “I hit a wall sometimes trying to figure out what was wrong or what they were trying to explain.”  Even with the help of teammates who could translate, Ms. Griego struggled.

   Now, five years later, she is more routinely adapting to those first-year students and is much more confident in how she manages treatment.  Her initial contact with them is to be welcoming and accepting, realizing they don’t understand and when injured, they want help but aren’t sure how to ask for or accept it.  In fact, other than immediate trips to the emergency room, possible surgery for knees, etc., many of the internationals want to go home to their physicians and hospitals.

   Her presentation covered developing trust, overcoming language barriers and cultural differences, considering that she counts 25 different countries and athletes in her time at St. Andrews.

   Additionally, she has to be cognizant of not only treatments, but also visa issues, insurance and most obvious, no parents who will be here to assist when an injury happens.

   Most of the athletes only played in clubs with minimal athletic trainer accessibility other than what is called “physio.”  Thus, her relationship with the student is more dependent on having to be patient, have empathy and most importantly, she says, “to learn about their family and culture which they want to talk about.”

   Even a trip to the physician can be complicated, trying to interpret what is being said, how treatments are to be accomplished and how insurance works. “I have become at times more of a care giver and then a better athletic trainer.

   Her professional and academic portfolio includes Hofstra University with a B.S. in athletic training, an MBA from Webber International University in international business.  She is a nationally certified athletic trainer, an NC state licensed athletic trainer, Basic Life Support Certified by the American Red Cross, Mental Health First Aid Certified, International Critical Incident Stress Foundation Trained Responder by the National Athletic Training Association ATS Care program.

   Now that she has shared her work at SAU with a larger audience of athletic trainers from all sorts of settings other than universities, Ms. Griego is planning to more fully develop her presentation and apply for a national symposium next year.—30—

SAU Prepares for a Busy Summer

23 May 2018, 2:46 pm Written by

   Nat King Cole in his 1963 hit urged listeners to “roll out those lazy, crazy days of summer, those days of soda and pretzels and beer.”  But not on St. Andrews University’s campus where the students may be gone, but an energized and focused agenda is beginning to take place.

   Between the admissions department and coaches in the athletic department, about 10 sports camps and multiple admissions events will eventually bring in as many as 500 students, athletes and their parents to Laurinburg beginning in June.

   Admissions has developed what they call FAB Days—Financial, Advising, Business.  Two sessions in June and two in July will accommodate about 200 incoming first-year students as they complete necessary forms and arrangements including registration for their initial classes in the fall semester.  The idea, both for students and their parents, is to ease the transition process and initiate a “fabulous start” to their college career.

   Each FAB day (June 8, 22;  July 13, 20) also features an open house for tours, etc.  In addition to the scheduled admissions events, drop-ins and “those on the way to the beach” will arrive on campus with visitors and tours almost every day.

   According to Teresa Wilson, Director of Admissions, “Summer visits for families and potential students are prolific after July 4.  Visits pick up and we welcome families from across the U.S. almost daily to our campus.  The importance of sharing not only what St. Andrews can offer, but the beauty and accessibility of the surrounding area such as Scotland County is important as we make that first impression.”

   When they meet with incoming students and families, each is given a portfolio containing information about Laurinburg including restaurants, hotels, shopping areas and even vehicle maintenance.

   Admissions is a vital aspect of the campus during the summer while on the other side of the lakes, athletic coaches are preparing for camps—lots of them.  Sports campers, families and even their coaches are here to see what is happening.  Wrestling, girls and boys basketball, boys soccer, volleyball and softball dominate with as many as 300 or more participating.

   Joe Baranik, SAU Wrestling coach, anticipates about 60 young wrestlers signing up for his camp (July 8-12), coming from North and South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Florida.  He says, “It is a great way to show off St. Andrews and Laurinburg plus a great recruiting tool for us introduce future wrestlers to our program.”

   Womens’ basketball runs three camps (June 10-13, 14-15, 22-23) for many levels and skills, perhaps with as many as 100 girls attending.  Coach Kelsey Long says, “We want our camps to be a community outreach opportunity for our athletes and the university.  We recruit high quality, high character and strong academic kids and though our campus we are able to show the community and campers the type of team we have at SAU and for us to see potential talent from the surrounding areas.”

   Men’s basketball coach Randy Hernandez is expecting 10 teams each bringing their coaches and eight to 10 players from each of those schools including Scotland County, Fayetteville, Lumberton and Raleigh where they integrate skills and team competition.   He says, “The impact to our university will be to explore our location which many parents and students may not know about.”

   Add to that a girls’ volleyball camp (June 18-21), boys’ soccer camp with (June 12-15) and girls’ softball (June 27-28) and the campus is bustling with activity with incoming students and young athletes from around and outside North Carolina and numerous locations with stopovers in Laurinburg.

   Probably hot but clearly not lazy days at St. Andrews will keep the admissions and coaching staff busy as they continue to attract future students and their families to experience what St. Andrews affirms is a “traditionally different” university in the heart of Scotland County.

Staff Appreciation Day

14 May 2018, 11:33 am Written by

St. Andrews recognized staff and faculty years of service during a reception and recognition held May 11 in the Hagan Atrium and Choral Room.

President Paul Baldasare greeted a packed room filled with staff and faculty who attended to honor individual achievements that ranged from 10 to 50 years of service to the university.

Led by Dr. Edna Ann Loftus who planned the event, all recipients received a plaque along with a narrative detailing each person’s accomplishments.  She was assisted in the presentations by Glenn Batten, Mary McDonald, Paul Baldasare and John Knesel.

Ten years of service recipients were Mr. Randy Hernandez and Dr. Teresa Reynolds.  Fifteen years of service recipients were Dr. Joe Bunting, Dr. Rona Leach-McLeod and Mr. Tom. Waage. Twenty years of service recipients were Mr. Glenn Batten, Professor Jackie Dwelle, Mr. Stevan Hernandez and Professor Jim Miles.  A 50-year award went to Mr. Rooney Coffman.  

The admissions department initiated a pineapple plant for hospitality to staff who demonstrated significant time to their department for greeting and working with families and students who were visiting St. Andrews.  Those included John Knesel, Peggy McElveen, Steven Harris, Stephanie McDavid and Melinda McCoy.—30—​

View the embedded image gallery online at:


Conner Smith, a graduating senior from Gastonia, NC, won the 2018 Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) National Championship Horse Show Team Open Western Horsemanship and earned the AQHA High Point Western Rider.  His St.

Andrews team went on to finish fourth in national competition against schools including Ohio State University, Middle Tennessee State University and the first place team from the University of Findlay (OH).

Results were released on May 8.  The competition was held at the Pennsylvania Farm Complex in Harrisburg, PA.  St. Andrew’s Hunter Seat Team finished 10th in the nationals at the same location with the winning team from Skidmore College (NY) and teams from Stanford University, Boston University and Purdue.

Smith’s St. Andrews coach Carla Wennberg fought back tears of excitement and pride in her student whom she described as a leader for the team.  He went from the Intermediate division to Open under her tutelage, but she credits other trainers for helping to develop the talented rider.
“He’s put a lot of effort in with other trainers to help him with reining,” Wennberg said. “I can’t take all that credit.  We’ve had some great horses for him to learn on and a real special horse named Puddy.  We all have a great connection and we respect each other and he works hard.”

“You know I just took what Carla always says, ‘You can never wait, you just have to start from where you are and learn from what happens as the days pass and build from that,’” Smith said. “Consistency is key, so just working toward consistency and correctness was how I ended up on top.”
Smith complimented Jade, the horse he drew on the final day of competition, and described her as sensitive, very correct and a good mover.  “She was a lot of fun.  She was great on the rail, excellent on the pattern, very smooth and I was able to show off a lot of different maneuvers throughout the pattern,” he said.
Smith has been a member of the IHSA for four years and this is his second trip to Nationals.  In his sophomore year, he placed third in Team Advanced Horsemanship.
After graduation, Smith has a job in Charlotte with a company that does search engine optimization and web design.  “I guarantee you he will stay in the horse industry as a competitor,” Wennberg said.—30

(Photos by

View the embedded image gallery online at:

Graduation - May 2018

7 May 2018, 3:44 pm Written by

Baccalaureate and graduation took central position on St. Andrews University’s campus as they held their 121st Commencement on Sunday, May 6, on the DeTamble Library Terrace for 115 graduates in the class of 2018 with degrees covering the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science and Master of Business Administration.

The weekend began Saturday with Baccalaureate in Harris Courts in the Physical Education Center.  The speaker, the Rev. W. Robert Martin III, a 1986 graduate of St. Andrews, recently returned to Laurinburg to serve as the Pastor for Laurinburg Presbyterian Church.  His sermon, “The Galilee Directive—Out to the Margins” focused on looking forward: “What journey will you now take, degree in hand, so as to change not only you but the world you will inhabit?  And as you answer these questions, never forget, and never fear, that Jesus goes out ahead of each you into the Galilees you will find and, hopefully confront—for it is there that he awaits the power and the promise of your presence! Be on your way—and as it has done for me, may such a journey change you some so that you might change the lives of others!”

As is the tradition for Commencement, graduates gathered on the residence side of the campus, led by the St. Andrews Pipe Band and the faculty who then walked across the causeway between the two lakes.  Family and friends then greeted them as they entered the terrace that is next to DeTamble Library.

After opening remarks by Dr. David Herr ’91, the University Marshal and Chair of the Liberal Arts Division, St. Andrews University President Paul Baldasare Jr. ’77 welcomed those attending, noting especially the parents who began this journey four years ago with the opening convocation that was held in Harris Courts for what was the beginning week for the class of 2018.

St. Andrews Board of Trustee Chairman Joe Strickler (Winter Haven, FL) spoke followed by the two senior class speakers who were nominated and chosen by their peers.  Linda Diane Widmer (Vass, NC) represented St. Andrews at Sandhills and Wendy Alexandra Varisco (Covington, LA) spoke for the St. Andrews campus.  Miss Widmer closed with: "I followed my heart and pursued a degree in education ... Teachers make a difference every single day, and I am so happy to be a part of that impact. So, whatever you decide to go out and do, make sure it makes you happy!"

Miss Varisco said, “Use every tool in your toolbox that St. Andrews has given you to face new challenges.  Remember what this university has taught you: don’t be afraid to embrace being different, because the school you went to certainly was.”

The Class of 1991 Distinguished Faculty Award was presented by Dr. Edna Ann Loftus, Interim Vice President and Dean for Academic Affairs, to Professor of English Betsy Dendy for her teaching, campus-wide work, constant student assistance and especially for her involvement with the SAU Gender Justice Club.

President Baldasare announced The Algernon Sydney and Mary Mildred Sullivan Award given to graduating senior Tariq Jean-Claude Getrouw (Suriname) who began an international aquatics program teaching children how to swim.  The award recognizes the spiritual qualities of the recipient as reflected in their selfless gift of time and energy in the service of others. 

The Rev. Dr. James L Morgan Jr. from Laurinburg and Laurel Hill was the commencement speaker.  He graduated from Wake Forest University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology, and from Columbia Theological Seminary where he earned a Doctor of Ministry degree.  He currently serves as President and CEO of The Morgan Company, a closely held investment firm in Laurel Hill, NC, that has its roots as a former textile manufacturing company (Morgan-Jones, Inc. 1872-1974).  He is the CEO and Founder of King Fisher Society, an ordained Presbyterian minister (PCUSA) and a jazz pianist.

            His message to graduates focused on vocation:  “You all will probably live a very long time and the rate of change in your life will likely increase exponentially.  But there will always be this one constant:  if you dare to try to find your Vocation, with a big V—that work you are called to that meets the world’s deep hunger, this long life you are about to live will be fulfilling and full of deep gladness.  The world’s needs will change, but your deep gladness will not.  You may discover more gifts, more ways of following your path and connecting to your world, but that basic sense of being called to use your gifts will always be there.”

St. Andrews University Choir with Choir Master Ed Williams and Sean Moore, accompanist, provided choral selections and closed the service with “A Parting Blessing” and the singing of the Alma Mater.—30—


(Rev. Martin’s sermon, Dr. Morgan’s speech and Wendy Varisco’s senior class speech are available below as pdfs.)


Rev. Martin's Sermon

Dr. Morgan's Commencement Speech

Varisco's Senior Class Speech

View the embedded image gallery online at:



21st Century Class - Zack Garst

25 April 2018, 12:19 pm Written by

St. Andrews alum Zack Garst ‘10 spoke to the 21st Century Management class on April 20 about his career for the Department of the Army as well as his job as a real estate investor in the Northern Virginia and Washington, DC area.   He talked with the class about how he began his career with the Federal Government during his breaks from college and how he started investing in real estate at the age of 22, following in his father’s footsteps.  The main message he wanted to give to the class is how important it is to start setting goals for yourself and to make sure you have a plan in order to attain those goals in the future. —Laura Gallucci  

Baccalaureate and Commencement

24 April 2018, 9:37 am Written by


     St. Andrews University announces their Baccalaureate and Commencement services for May 5 and 6. Baccalaureate will be held in Harris Courts at 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 5.  The speaker is the Rev. W. Robert Martin III, St. Andrews Class of 1986.  He has recently returned to Laurinburg to become the Pastor of Laurinburg Presbyterian Church after serving as Senior Pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Palo Alto, CA, for the past 15 years.  He holds a Master of Divinity degree from San Francisco Theological Seminary.

     St. Andrews choir and students will also participate in the service. 

     On Sunday morning at 9 a.m., the 121st annual commencement will take place on the DeTamble Library Terrace.  The Rev. Dr. James L. Morgan Jr. is the commencement speaker.  He currently serves as President and CEO of The Morgan Company, an investment firm in Laurel Hill, NC, that has its roots as a former textile manufacturing company (Morgan-Jones, Inc. 1872-1974).  Jim is the Chairman of The Morgan Foundation of Laurel Hill, Inc., a philanthropic family foundation.  He is an ordained Presbyterian minister.

     St. Andrews University President Paul Baldasare ’77 will confer degrees to approximately 115 students for their Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science and Master of Business Administration diplomas.—