Highlanders in the News: Week of Feb. 27

Every week, our Highlanders are using their education to do extraordinary things. Here, we’ll highlight some notable mentions from local, regional, national and international news media. Whether our students, alumni, faculty and staff are featured as subject matter experts in high-profile stories or simply helping make the world a better place, we’ll feature their stories.

Michael O’Donnell ’10, with his black Labrador retriever, Ripken.

Good dog, Bat Dog

Technically, Ripken the Bat Dog is not a Highlander.

He’s only 6 years old, after all – still well below college age – and, also, he’s a black Labrador retriever.

But Ripken does happen to be close personal friends and housemates with a Radford graduate, Michael O’Donnell ’10, of Raleigh, North Carolina, and for the purposes of this column, the busy young canine has most definitely been in the news of late.

Since last April, Ripken has been the official Bat Dog for the Durham Bulls, happily retrieving discarded lumber for the minor league baseball team’s hitters. On Feb. 24, he was at the center of a news story by WCNC-TV in Charlotte, North Carolina, which touted his appearances all that weekend at that city’s Park Expo and Conference Center.

With a GoPro camera often affixed to his back, the young black Lab is also the tee retriever for NC State Football and the “spokesdog” for Sit Means Sit Dog Training, whose locations O’Donnell owns and operates in both Charlotte and in Apex, North Carolina.

Earlier this month, Ripken brought his skills to yet another sport when he starred in a short video about his efforts to deliver the game puck for the 2023 National Hockey League Stadium Series in Raleigh, North Carolina.

All this attention might soon become old hat for Ripken, who’s already faced some fairly bright lights with his customary high spirits; he popped up on CBS last August for a colorful segment introduced by evening news anchor Nora O’Donnell (no relation to Michael).

The Bat Dog was also profiled at length in a 2020 story in Main and Broad magazine and, like any ambitious companion animal, has an active presence on social media, including Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

"It's crazy that it's blown up to what it has," O'Donnell told WCNC of his dog’s expanding duties.

He also voiced Ripken’s plans for expanding his profile across still more sports platforms.

"We're hoping the Carolina Panthers will give us a shout and give us a chance to fetch some tees on the football field. That's our next goal. And we're always setting lofty goals."

Jamie McDaniel, Ph.D.

Past time

Jamie McDaniel, Ph.D., is an associate professor of English whose classes have covered topics as modern as zombies, gaming and world cinema, but he’s also looked far deeper into the past in his writings and courses on the Victorian era and its literature.

That latter mode recently made him a natural fit for a Q&A with the Nineteenth Century Studies Association (NCSA), an organization that explores world cultures of the 1800s and such fields as art, architecture, literature, politics, religion, science and other forces that shaped that period.

McDaniel’s chat with the NCSA ran online on Jan. 24 and found him answering seven rapid-fire questions about the 19th century. Among other topics covered, he reveals his favorite film set during that period; the one work of art from the day he’d like to hang in his home; and the historical and fictional characters he’d most like to bring into the here and now.

He also talks about the challenges of conveying a particular era that existed long before the present day.

“I’ve found that many students enter the classroom with certain ingrained beliefs about the 19th century,” McDaniel explained, but added that once they’ve examined it a little more closely, “students learn that the grand narratives they’ve encountered in popular culture or in other educational venues don’t necessarily reflect reality.”

Mar 2, 2023
Neil Harvey