February 19, 2016 : By Liberty University News Service
Liberty University’s School of Communication & Creative Arts partnered with Liberty’s Center for Apologetics & Cultural Engagement to host the 12th Annual Ann Wharton Lecture Series Banquet, held on the third floor club level of Williams Stadium on Thursday, Feb. 18.
The event, established in 2005 originally for the communication graduate program, was named after Ann Wharton, who taught journalism courses for 16 years at Liberty, retiring in 1999.
Wharton founded The Liberty Champion, Liberty’s student-run newspaper. She was influential in creating Liberty’s School of Communication & Creative Arts and implementing new technology in the journalism program.
In conjunction with this year’s banquet, Wharton’s work is being displayed in a special exhibit in the Liberty University Art Gallery now through March 10. The gallery features original manuscripts and photographs by Wharton as well as a timeline of her life and accomplishments.
Wharton attended the banquet and said she was honored to be recognized by students and faculty members (many of whom were her former colleagues) even years after her retirement.
“Having this lecture series named after me was such a wonderful honor. Our work here is more than just teaching school,” Wharton said. “We are training students how to go out and be professional in their fields. And seeing the art gallery was a special project. It was just mind boggling for me to see.”
Thursday’s banquet drew about 250 faculty members and students. The keynote speaker, Dr. Craig Detweiler, director of Pepperdine University’s Center for Entertainment, Media, and Culture, addressed the topic of discovering God in pop culture.
“If the culture at large says, ‘I cannot see God in Scripture, but I can feel God when I see this film or listen to this song,’ we can help connect that lived experience to God as revealed in Scripture,” Detweiler said. “As communicators, it is our job to stand as cultural translators.”
Jeremy Ng, a senior studying strategic communication, found Detweiler’s lecture inspiring and relevant to his field of study.
“The examples Dr. Detweiler showed helped hit home to me the subtle ways we can tell the message of Christ. I think for creative people, that is an opportunity, a challenge to us, to just think outside the box and incorporate Christ in all the things that we do,” Ng said.
Rebecca Foss, a sophomore studying cinematic arts, agreed.
“This has really inspired me in my field, and I love how he took pop culture, even secular, and showed how we can see God work through those and bring people to Christ even through them,” Foss said.
Norman Mintle, dean of the School of Communication & Creative Arts, said that in Dr. Detweiler, Liberty has found not only a media arts colleague, but a friend and fellow artist who fully understands the divine mandate Liberty feels to prepare students.
“In all of the myriad art forms we teach — academically, professionally, and spiritually — storytellers always seem to be leaders in culture. Our graduates are being prepared to engage, influence, and actually change culture through their callings within the media arts.”