Faculty & Staff

Progress | December 2009

December 2009

By Larry Pena

Main Article Image

They had ridden together for months, but it had never occurred to any of them to formalize their bond. There was PR art director and visual arts associate professor Cliff Rusch, a veteran mountain biker who had been riding consistently since the '80s; visual arts professor Milbert Mariano, a small but athletic powerhouse and experienced trailrider; webmaster Nic Hubbard, who had been riding Angwin trails since he was a PUC student in the early 2000s; and marketing director Scott Callender, a novice rider who hadn't touched a bike from the age of 10 until the other three had taken him under their wing.

The nameless team developed in the forest trails at the edges of Napa Valley for months. It was a good time, a simple time. But it wasn't until a trip to Moab, Utah, during the spring of 2009 that the Bike Stallions were truly born. It was, in the words of Scott, "the most amazing bike trip known to man."

Scott, Nic, Milbert, and Cliff made the 16-hour trek to Utah for a four-day riding, hiking, and camping excursion during Spring Break last year. Each day they rode a different epic trail across the dramatic desert landscape, and often followed the ride with a hike to see the famous landmarks in nearby Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Evenings were spent around the fire at the camp, recuperating from the day's adventures and telling jokes. "The highlights of the trip were the rides," says Cliff. "The lowlights should not be talked about."

On the first day, the Stallions got their introduction to Moab on the Klondike Bluffs trail, a 15-mile trail rising almost 1,000 feet from start to finish. It was there that Milbert got a chance to show off his legs of steel. "On these steep hills, that everyone else is walking up, Milbert would ride them," says Nic. "I literally heard people saying, 'Holy cow, that guy's riding it!'" "We talk about his muscles and how impressive they are," adds Scott. "He's the most Stallion of any of us."

Day two took them to Porcupine Rim, a treacherous and technical downhill trail along the edge of the cliffs overlooking the Colorado River far below. It was here that newbie Scott began to really gallop. "It was out of my league. I was convinced I was going to kill myself," he says. For the first half of the trail, he would get off his bike and walk through any spots he didn't think he could handle. But halfway down, he felt a change. "I got sick of walking. So I just started riding stuff I didn't think I could ride," he says. "I was just like, 'Eh, whatever, I'm gonna go for it.' By the end of that trip my level of biking increased tenfold just by trying some of that stuff."

The third day the Stallions wrapped up at Slickrock, a trail traced over smooth rolling hills of sandstone. The trail was technical, the downhills were steep, and the wind across the barren desert was in force — the Stallions often had to hunker down and hold onto their bikes to keep from blowing away.

Each new morning was rough — after four- to six-hour rides and long hikes each day, the Stallions were in pain. "You wake up and you're sore, but after you start riding your muscles soften up a little bit and you're ready to go," says Nic. A strict regimen of high-nutrient muscle fuel helped the recovery process. "I ate a lot of potato chips," says Scott. "It was like my body just needed it."

But the crucible of Moab forged the bonds that would make the Bike Stallions a solid team — continuing to stampede through PUC's backwoods on a regular basis. Plans are in the works for a repeat trip to Utah this spring, as well as an excursion to Henry W. Coe State Park in the next few months. The team also has tentative plans to create some team apparel, possibly a uniform riding jersey. But those plans are still under discussion.

"I'm not in favor of the pink Stallion riding shorts some members are hyping," says Cliff.

Colleagues & Departments

Business Administration
Keith Neergaard attending an intensive two-day seminar at Harvard Business School in mid-November. The seminar focused on the art and craft of teaching via the case method. He also received an extensive tour through the HBS campus, and will be incorporating much of the pedagogy he learned into his Strategic Management class at PUC.

English & Visual Arts
The Dramatic Arts Society and Alexander Carpenter (visual arts) were commissioned by Spectrum to create a show entitled "This Adventist Life," a remix of the NPR show "This American Life." The show's premiere, directed by Mei Ann Teo (English), opened the Spectrum and Adventist Women annual conference in Pacific Grove, California, and will be performed on the PUC campus in the spring. Alexander also had his book review of Shaking the Gates of Hell: Faith-led Resistance to Corporate Globalization printed in a recent issue of the triannual international academic journal World Views: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology. Heather Reid (English) had a chapter titled "Female Initiation Rites and Women Visionaries: Mystical Marriage in the Middle English Translation of The Storie of Asneth” published this fall in the book Women and the Divine in Literature before 1700: Essays in memory of Margot Louis.

Enrollment & Music
Craig (enrollment) and Linda (music) Philpott "just returned from a cool photography trip to Maine and Nova Scotia. We took cool pictures of fall colors, we took cool pictures of little villages and light houses. We also stood in the freezing cold, being whipped by a cold wind, blowing cold snow while taking pictures of an ice-cold water fall — it was all very cool."

Exercise Science
Bob Paulson finished his dissertation defense on November 15 and is now Dr. Bob! He has a Ph.D. in leadership from the Andrews University School of Education, and the title of his thesis is "readiness for inter-institutional collaboration among Adventist institutions of higher education in North America: stages of change."

We are pleased to announce our new Housing Coordinator, Mark Pacini. Mark started his new responsibilities overseeing student family housing and PUC's employee housing on November 12. He can be reached at housing@puc.edu.

Psychology & History
Greg Schneider (psychology) and Paul McGraw (history) both participated in the Ellen White Project conference in Portland, Maine, in October. Greg's role was to provide critical commentary on a draft of a chapter (written by Ron Graybill of LLU) on Ellen White and the religious culture of her times, especially her early years. Greg reported on the conference to the Choir Room Sabbath School in November and used some of the new scholarship generated by the project in a talk to the Psychology and Social Work Colloquium students. Paul presented his chapter "Epilogue: The Legacy" at the conference for respondents to critique. Greg also went to Montreal in November for the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, where he presided over a panel discussion of religious schisms in various traditions, "finding with some relief that I had no occasion to discuss schisms past or present within the SDA community."

Visual Arts
Rasmussen Art Gallery is hosting "Reprise," the 2009 Howell Mountain Juried Art Exhibition (at the Rasmussen Art Gallery). Submissions are accepted through December 14, and residents of the area between Silverado Trail and Pope Valley Road can enter. If you have questions, contact Thomas Morphis in the art department.