Inside CAS

College of Arts and Sciences


Fifteen Years of Lectures to Curious Minds

Tuesday, January 31, 2017


Written by Charlotte Kornegay ’17; Photo by Jennifer Chin

For fifteen years the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNCW has held College Day. A special event, College Day permits students of all ages to spend the day hearing lectures of interesting topics given by professors at the University. Lectures have ranged from women in Buddhism to water pollution secrets, and there are few limitations to the types and topics of classes offered. Most of these students have favorite lecturers and are eager to hear from them year after year.

One lecture offered this year was from Dr. Brian Davis entitled Satellite Viewing. Davis has been at UNCW since 1982 and currently serves as a professor in the Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography. His particular interest is archaeoastronomy, which is the study of astronomical knowledge of prehistoric cultures. He has lectured at College Day for the past fifteen years. “I thought it was ideal to participate in,” Davis explained. He also believes that it is one of the best things that our school does for the community. Getting to choose his own lectures each year adds to the fun as well. 

With fifteen years of College Days under his belt, Davis’ lecture on the first College Day in 2002 was about the night sky. In 2006 at the Fifth Annual College Day, his lecture was entitled The War with Mars: The Dynamics of Planetary Orbits. Many of his past lectures have dealt with different aspects of astronomy.

On Saturday, October 29th, students of all ages gathered on UNCW’s campus to embark on their day of knowledge and learning from some familiar subjects and favorite lecturers. At 9 o’clock that morning, I met Dr. Davis in his assigned classroom to learn more on satellites myself and to find out why people continue to come back to his lectures year after year. As well as to see why people enjoy college day so much.

One curious mind that was with us in the classroom was Adrienne Ochis. “He was very enthusiastic about the subject and made it easy to understand,” Ochis told me. During the lecture she was captivated by the subject Davis had chosen and with the satellite model he provided. This was also Ochis’ fourth time attending College Day, but her first time in one of Dr. Davis’ lectures. I asked if Ochis was looking forward to future College Days, and she did not hesitate to say, “Of course!” 

Davis began watching satellites when he was just seven years old. “I believe it was about 1960 when I began watching them,” he told the class. Obviously this was a topic where he had plenty of personal experience.

But what is it that keeps him coming back year after year?

“Professors have certain responsibilities such as teaching, research, and community service,” Davis stated. With the importance of community service given in the tone of his voice, Davis told me he would always participate in College Day if given the opportunity.

“It’s one of the best things our school does for the community, maybe we should be doing even more,” Davis said. More is exactly what Davis does. OSHER gives him other opportunities to give lectures outside of College Day and the classroom. Many of these opportunities are filled with students who have attended his College Day lectures as well. His passion for the subjects and exciting personality certainly keep students wanting more.