valentines lecture

As Valentine’s Day draws near, college students often struggle with making plans and dealing with the stress of the holiday. Sue Lasser, designer of the event, and the honors college at Clemson took it upon themselves to make the time of year a little more special. 

The fourth annual Valentine’s Day lecture and dinner party was held on Feb. 13 for the Honors Residential College.

“We always have the same format. We have a lecturer who teaches us something and is always fun,” Lasser said. 

Despite only being open to the honors students on campus, the event has drawn a lot of interest: “We always have to turn people away unfortunately,” Lasser said. 

As part of making sure the event was as exciting as possible, the Clemson Jazz Group performed.

“I said to Jon [member of the Clemson Jazz Group], ‘Can you help me with the music?’ meaning, ‘Can you help me make a playlist?’ and he said, ‘Sure. How many musicians do you want?’ So, now we have live music,” Lasser said.

The musicians made sure to focus on the tone of the event when choosing what to perform.

“It’s based on the tone of the gig and the mood we want to set,” Ben Shealy, melodica player, said. Annie Brown, vocalist, added that “It’s about love.”

In addition to the music, the staff had to make sure the catering was appropriate for the event.

“We always have Aramark do it and they do an awesome job,” Lasser said. 

After having all of the environmental aspects set, Lasser set out to find the perfect speaker. Dr. Andrew Pyle, assistant professor in the Department of Communication, was her first choice. 

“Usually, I have to ask scouts and spies to tell me who is really beloved, but I didn’t have to with Dr. Pyle. I knew,” Lasser said.

The confidence and love Lasser had for Pyle was mutual. 

“We’ve essentially adopted them [the Lassers] as grandparents, so when she reached out… of course I said, ‘I’ll be happy to do that,’ Pyle said. 

Despite his eagerness, preparing for the event wasn’t easy for Pyle. As he began to develop the lecture, he hit a wall when it came to developing a title: “It was four solid lines of text; it was not going to work,” he said.

Lasser’s son was able to lend a hand, eventually landing on “Hey, Baby: A Valentine’s Day Lecture on Love and Communication,” which is exactly what it was. 

Pyle’s lecture focused on relational dialectics and the three core tensions at the center of most relationships: integration, certainty and expression. 

Whether it be for the subject matter itself, Pyle’s humorous and engaging delivery or a combination of it all, the students definitely responded well. 

The honors students have been able to use the lecture series as a way to build a family and a sense of tradition exclusive to them. 

“This is the first residential college on campus,” Lasser said. “So we really wanted to have some traditions.” 

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