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Student-Professor Continuum

Richard Paige — For those who live the cyclical life of academia, commencement isn’t unlike the yard of bricks at IMS, a finish line to yet another year.

Certainly, all professors enjoy some aspect of the proceedings when optimism is in abundance and the possibilities are endless.

Marc Hudson

Marc Hudson

For Dan Rogers, Professor of Modern Languages, there is a joy in the connections made with students and families, and the shared sense of accomplishment that is celebrated. From meeting parents on Freshman Saturday to seeing them again at Commencement, it’s nice to play a role in that progression.

“When you teach a freshman tutorial, you meet students and their families at the very beginning of their college career,” Rogers said. “It’s always wonderful to see them again at graduation and share in the collective joy of their accomplishments. Some of the most heartfelt moments I’ve experienced as a Wabash professor happen with those families right after commencement.”

Two Wabash professors also found themselves in the same shoes as the 229 graduates, as Marc Hudson and David Polley were retiring after nearly 60 combined years in Wabash classrooms and labs.

David Polley

David Polley

A Buddhist thought came to mind for Hudson, a Professor of English, when asked what’s next.

“Each moment is a new moment, whether we are graduating from college or retiring from teaching after 28 years,” he said. “Each moment is brand new, has never been lived, never been experienced before, so I’m going to live my future in that spirit.”

When asked a similar question, Polley, a Professor of Biology, conjured up this thought.

“Like the graduates, I feel the same sense of relief, and a little bit of surprise,” he laughed. “I didn’t have any different feelings getting ready, it’s just part of a continuum.”

Liberal Arts Action: Classical Warfare

IMG_2878 Students in Professor Bronwen Wickkiser’s course Paideia: Citizen, Soldier and Poet in Classical Greece took to the Mall to try their hand at hoplite warfare.  Success on the ancient battlefield depended upon each solider working in unison with his comrades, organized into tight rows called phalanxes.  In classical Athens and Sparta, as well as other city-states, hoplite warfare was essential to the polis.  Each citizen was required to fight, and the use of phalanx warfare reinforced the idea that each citizen was as integral to the well-being of his city as the guy next to him.

The poet Tyrtaeus (7th century BCE) puts it best:
“Let each man, closing with the enemy, fighting hand-to-hand with long spear or sword, wound and take him, and setting foot against foot, and resting shield against shield, crest against crest, helmet against helmet, let him fight his man chest to chest, grasping the hilt of his sword or of his long spear.  … A common good is this for the whole polis when a man holds firm among the fighters, unflinchingly.”

In order to get a feel for this type of warfare, Wabash students armed themselves with shields, spears, and swords, formed into two opposing armies (Athenians vs. Spartans) and advanced against each other, experimenting with various maneuvers.

IMG_2883Lessons learned: how difficult it is to move with heavy armor (students wore backpacks full of books to approximate the typical weight—65 lbs.—of hoplite armor), how useful a spear can be at farther range vs. a sword at closer range, and even the sounds of ancient battle, including marching songs (paeans) that armies used when advancing against the enemy.   One student commented that the hardest part of the experience is the discipline necessary to stay in line and not break rank.

Click here to see more photos from the battlefield.

What Wabash Is All About

“People often ask me what Wabash is all about,” said Professor Emeritus of Classics John Fischer H’70 to guests gathered Sunday in the Sparks Center Great Hall for the Honorary Degree Luncheon.

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Fischer at the podium during Saturday’s reception given in his honor in Detchon Hall.

That’s the same John Fischer celebrated Saturday by Professor Jeremy Hartnett (at a reception hosted by Fischer’s Lambda Chi sons and brothers) for his “generosity, genuineness, zest for life, and devotion to students and friends.”

The same John Fischer who brought the word “feckless” into the Wabash lexicon, and whose honorary degree includes that very word, praising the “jubilant humanity” he “modeled and cultivated as a colleague, professor, and motivator—no, caretaker—of the feckless.”

“’Feckless’ is just such an appropriate marker for your approach to students,” Hartnett said in honoring his mentor. “You didn’t view us as though we were flawed, but just as if we were in need of a bit more oomph and direction. To be called ‘feckless’ by you sent a clear message: Get off your rear end, face the task in front of you, and get to it. It’s a word that warms my heart when I hear a rookie faculty member use it even today, since it means that Fischerian spirit, so central to good work at Wabash, lives on.

“You modeled being a professor at Wabash that we strive to imitate: engaged with and deeply committed to our students, but also calling them on their bullshit.”

So when John Fischer talks about what Wabash is all about, we’re wise to listen.

“I have yet to come up with the perfect word,” Fischer said, “but what I do use is ‘intimacy.’

“That ‘intimacy’ seems to be at the very heart of what we are all about and what I think of when I contemplate my years here. The key to it all is the relationship between professor and student, advisor and advisee, the open and not shut office door.

“I recall my advisees with great pleasure and think about all of the things we talked about whether in my office, in the Scarlet Inn, in a fraternity or dorm, or in my home. We talked about everything… One becomes friends with current and former students. I have had the great good luck to be part of many of my former students’ lives.

Dan Degryse ’83 greets his former advisor and teacher.

Dan Degryse ’83 greets his former advisor and teacher.

“Teaching here was great fun and I learned how to teach from my colleagues, the remarkable Jack Charles and Ted Bedrick. The combination of their mentoring and my classes with first-rate students made me a better teacher. I also learned other things outside of the classroom about the Midwest, soccer (my involvement with the beginnings of soccer here was a different education—I could not be prouder of my own players back then and their successful contemporary descendants). I also learned about the Monon Bell which resides, I am happy to say, where it belongs.

“The genuine openness of the Midwest and, more importantly, its native, bright students was a gigantic discovery for me and watching these students come to the College, find their footing, and move on is still something I regard with pleasure and delight. I was involved for some years with the off-campus study program and it was simply fun to help our students to find somewhere they could augment their education. It was a sheer pleasure to behold the energy and life such an experience would add to a young man’s time at Wabash.

“I also was advisor to the Lambda Chis, which was fun, interesting, and challenging. I enjoyed the relationships formed there and was happy to watch young men come in their first year and emerge four years later with firm sense of self and sound bond with the College and the fraternity.

“Thus, I taught and was educated myself in numerous ways during my four decades here. I reveled in amiable colleagues and bright eager students.

“I hope that “intimacy” and that bond is never diminished here: it’s what makes a Wabash education so powerful.”

 

‘I Want to Work For David Letterman’

Richard Paige — For Ryan Smith ’03, it was just a thought one day on the way to class.

“I want to work for David Letterman.”

Smith, an Emmy Award-winning field producer for CBS News, has done that and more. Not only did he serve as a page for a year with the “Late Show with David Letterman” after receiving his master’s degree at Columbia University, but he was also part of a large team that prepped last night’s 90-minute special, “David Letterman: A Life on Television,” which aired on CBS.

The journey into television has been an amazing experience for Smith.

“When I was at Wabash, I had no bigger hero than Letterman,” he said. “He was the reason I went into television. I applied and was lucky enough to become a page for the Late Show. I’m very, very fortunate because at Wabash and at CBS, I’ve been able to stand on the shoulders of giants and live out those dreams.”

Ryan Smith '03 is one of the lucky few to sit at David Letterman's legendary desk at the Ed Sullivan Theater.

Ryan Smith ’03 is one of the lucky few to sit at David Letterman’s desk at the Ed Sullivan Theater.

Working on the “Late Show” helped Smith learn how a television show is produced, connect daily with audience members, and get a sense of what needed to be accomplished. Those skills translated well when working with the senior staff at CBS News in getting a show to air.

“It was fascinating to watch others do their jobs,” said Smith, who majored in political science with a Classics minor. “When I moved over to CBS news, I still had that sense of what needed to be done.”

Smith credits the expectations that his Wabash professors had for him as one of the reasons he’s felt comfortable in television news. The mindset of accepting new challenges; that no day or story is quite the same.

“I was so lucky to have professors that challenged me,” said Smith. “I was always driven to deliver for them. I owe so much to the team at Wabash who always expected the most out of me, therefore, I began to expect the most out of myself. I’m able to meet changing demands head on because of those expectations.”

As Letterman’s late night career comes to a close after more than three decades, Smith is proud that his television experiences – both with the legendary host and CBS News – have come full circle on the Letterman retrospective.

“Having been at CBS News for almost a decade and to circle back to where it started for me, I almost couldn’t believe it,” he concluded. “I had the opportunity to be a part of a great team and pay respect to a living legend. I am very fortunate to have learned from the best and to work with the best.”

Bravely Dreamed and Steadily Accomplished

A fantastic result in a debut performance

The Anh Pham, a Wabash College freshman from Hanoi, Vietnam, won the gold medal at the U.S. Midwest “Chinese Bridge” Speech Contest, April 18, on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.

The Anh Pham '18

The Anh Pham ’18

Pham’s winning speech, titled, “How to be a Real Man,” discussed three main points: being respectful, being responsible, and never shying away from love. In the talent portion of the program, he wished all prosperity and peace to all by drawing a Rock’s Peony with traditional Chinese painting techniques – a simple brush dipped in ink – in only three minutes.

“Participating in the Midwest ‘Chinese Bridge’ Speech Contest was a greatly rewarding experience for me,” said Pham. “Thanks to this participation, my Chinese speaking skills have significantly improved. I was a bit overwhelmed when I was awarded the gold medal.”

It marked the first time a Wabash student had participated in the competition.

Now in its 14th year, the U.S. Midwest “Chinese Bridge” Speech Contest promotes Chinese language and culture education in the Midwest and strengthens exchanges between college-level Chinese programs in the region. All non-native undergraduate and graduate students of Chinese language in the Midwest and Great Lakes areas are eligible to participate.

The winning effort was a culmination of work by Pham and I-Ting Chiu, Visiting Instructor of Chinese. After spending time researching topics and integrating ideas, Pham and Chiu settled down to a rough draft in early April, using the last two weeks to rehearse and sharpen Pham’s delivery skills.

“We taped his performance and pointed out his weaknesses,” explained Chiu. “His pronunciation and stage manner were significantly improved through those practices within this short time. It’s accumulation. There is no shortcut in language learning, only practice makes perfect.”

Pham’s victory was especially rewarding for Chiu as well.

“I’m proud that we had dreamed bravely and accomplished steadily,” said Chiu. “As his instructor, it was a great pleasure to help him to win. That enthusiasm in learning and the great improvements he displayed are the best encouragements to teaching.”

Pham drew this during the talent portion of the contest.

Pham drew this during the talent portion of the contest.

The competition was a learning experience in itself for Pham, opening new perspectives on language acquisition.

“It was also a wonderful opportunity to learn more about how other students are learning Chinese, and how our pathways to learning Chinese differ,” Pham said. “I feel truly thankful for the tremendous support from Professor Chiu, who helped me polish my speech and greatly improve my pronunciations.”

Grand Ideas Mentor German

We have all heard it before – the Wabash alumni network is an influential group of men across the globe ready to offer advice, internships, and personal mentoring. Is it true or just marketing hype?

Jacob German ’11, an associate in the Governmental Services and Public Finance Department of Barnes & Thornburg LLP offers his insight into Wabash, Law School, and the alumni who have helped him get there.

How have Wabash alumni influenced and mentored you in your young career?

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Bob Grand ’78 and Jacob German ’11

Bob Grand ’78 has been a fantastic friend and mentor for almost a decade. Kyle ’11, his son, is my pledge brother. Bob always came back around campus and the Beta house, offering advice and opportunities to eager students. Even though Bob’s world moves a million miles a minute from coast to coast, he still took the time to discuss with me the pros and cons of law school and the changing dynamic of the law practice. Bob guided me through the difficult waters of the current legal market, helping me realize the intersection of my passion (government/politics) with a niche of a legal practice.

For years, Scott Himsel ’85 challenged me to an intellectual duel on the nuances of Supreme Court decisions and policy determinations. He is the best at taking a stand on one side of the argument, possibly even agreeing with your point of view, and then completely turning your argument against you. In that moment you realize he has taken you exactly where you did not want to go – the weeds, alone. But it really is a fascinating mental exercise. The great thing about his class is that he cares as much about the students as he does about teaching the students. He is our law advisor – law  school, legal profession, applications, letters of recommendation, bar applications, etc. He’s our guy, in our corner.

David Shane ’70 played football with my dad at Wabash nearly 40 years ago. Dave has been a legal professional in Indianapolis for a long time; he sat with me, and strategized about what firms to apply to, what other jobs to look at, what area of the law would I enjoy and excel. He took me under his wing and made sure I had all the information while trying to make my way as a lawyer. He helped me reach out to people all over the city. Without him, I would not have made half of my connections.

Nelson Alexander ’90 took the time to meet with me. I am not sure if he would remember our 20-minute conversation three years ago. But, it made a tremendous impact on me. Every person needs someone in their life to be completely, bare bones, honest with them. Nelson was that to me. He discussed the legal marketplace in a way I had never heard it described. He discussed the number of opportunities in firms around Indianapolis. He was very frank. It helped me see the complete picture.

I worked for Jeff Been ’81 at the Legal Aid Society of Louisville. He takes Wabash guys interested in the law, puts them to work, and allows them to interact with clients. I also worked for Greg Miller ’83 at his law firm. He allowed me to meet clients, research, and help with his law practice. That was the first time I think I fully grasped the volume of work in a legal practice.

I mention all of these experiences to say this – I am a big believer in picking your own board of directors. Pick people around you who you trust and who are “for you.” But, that is not what networking and mentoring are all about. We, as students and rising professionals, need to have people in our life who take us under their wing, or tell us the real truth about the legal profession, or throw us in the deep end and let us work, and finally be our friend when things are tough. My professional life would not be the same without each and every one of these guys and many, many others.

How many Wabash alumni do you work with in your current position?

I work primarily with three Wabash alumni. Jeff Qualkinbush ’88 is our department administrator. I work on a daily basis for Brian Burdick ’91 and Bob Grand. Brian is the Indianapolis managing partner and Bob is the firm managing partner. Both are practicing governmental service attorneys.

Jacob German '11

Jacob German ’11

How did Wabash prepare you for law school and your current position?

Wabash engrained a deep sense of time management. Law school is unique because nothing really matters until the final exam; however, if you don’t continue to work and read and interpret all semester, there is no way to succeed on the final. Wabash demanded a masterful grasp of reading and writing, not only persuasively but effectively. My job requires a high attention to detail. We use details to form the foundation of arguments, which persuades our different audiences.

What advice do you have for a student considering Wabash?

Wabash College is unique. Be it the all-male institution, our campus involvement, our alumni network, our competitiveness, our swagger. It’s just different. Wabash is not for everyone. We want the do-ers, the guys who are involved, passionate students. Wabash is not some place you go for a passive education. You are one of 900. You matter.

What I tell a student is jump. Come test yourself. Try, on a small scale initially, to remove yourself from safe harbors. Your life will be better because of it. The more you put yourself out there and make that connection, the better you are the next time and the next time. People think certain people are better in interviews than others or are better at networking than others. The difference between people who are good and who aren’t is practice. The people who take the leap and put themselves in those situations grow and mature and find success. That’s why I encourage students to come to Wabash. It forces you to leap.

What’s your number one tip for networking?

Diversity is good. Far too many people confine themselves to comfortable groups. Branch out. Our biggest asset in the beginning of our professional careers are alumni who are older than we are. They know the game and who keeps score. But, don’t forget about your peers. Stay in touch. We are the next group in line to take over, and if you stay in touch with your peer group, they will be the decision-makers of tomorrow.

The Statehouse Door Opens

Richard Paige — In an effort to get an up-close look at politics at the state level, 32 Wabash students spent Tuesday at the Indiana Statehouse interacting with legislators and lobbyists as part of Independent Colleges of Indiana’s “Lobby Day.”

Interested students, all from Indiana private colleges and universities, are invited to attend one of three such sessions during the year. Joining the Wabash crew were representatives from six other institutions.

Many of the Wallies in attendance were from Professor Shamira Gelbman’s PSC111 class “Introduction to American Politics,” and this was their first exposure to state government.

“It humanizes the process and gives it some impact,” said Anthony Repay ’17. “It’s good for a senator or representative to put a face on something as broad as funding for education and nice for us to see the people behind those decisions.”

An introductory meeting at the Indiana Historical Society set the tone for the day. There, ICI staff members explained the two-fold purpose of Lobby Day. First, it’s a chance for students to introduce and interact with state senators and representatives. Secondly, through such contacts and hand-written notes, it lets the students actively lobby those legislators on the topic of educational funding.

Michael Lumpkin '18 listens to lobbyist Kip Tew at the Indiana Statehouse.

Michael Lumpkin ’18 listens to lobbyist Kip Tew at the Indiana Statehouse.

Founded in 1948, the ICI purpose is to advance the interest of students both at the Statehouse in Indianapolis and in Washington, D.C. The organization represents more than 100,000 students on 31 campuses throughout the state with a goal of creating citizens that contribute to society.

“To see the building and see the work that goes on in the statehouse has great value,” said associate professor of rhetoric Todd McDorman. “To think about the way in which education is funded, and how so many of the students at Wabash attend, at least in part, based upon state aid, grants, and scholarships, has great value as well.”

While at the Statehouse, the students were able to tour building, including both the senate and house chambers and committee rooms, and talk with legislators and lobbyists. In fact, the group was able to speak directly with lobbyists Kip Tew and Michael Biberstine ’00, as well as state senator Randy Head (R-18) ’91.

The day concluded a meeting with Kelly Mitchell, Indiana State Treasurer. Mitchell, who was elected to the office in November, talked about her job responsibilities, Indiana’s conventioning process, and the rigors of running for political office.

The impacts of the day weren’t lost on Brian Hayhurst ’16. “It’s something that you don’t get in the classroom, a real eye-opening experience. I’m a math major, but I do really enjoy learning how the system works. That’s not just something for a political science major, everyone gets to experience that in their lives.”

Lents ’95: Defining Chicago’s Fine Dining

Chef Thomas Lents '95 in the kitchen of Sixteen at Trump Tower.

Chef Thomas Lents ’95 in the kitchen of Sixteen at Trump Tower.

Howard Hewitt – There’s fine dining then there is Michelin-starred fine dining. A meal that can best be described as a Cirque du Soleil for the palate comes in 17 plates, matching wine, and impeccable service. It’s delivered on the sixteenth floor of Chicago’s Trump Tower by Executive Chef Thomas Lents ’95.

Grilled lobster on rice with uni and coffee, served with sparkling saké.

Grilled lobster on rice with uni and coffee, served with sparkling saké.

Lents is executive chef at Sixteen in the newest Windy City Landmark wearing the badges of culinary excellence – two Michelin stars and a top-rating of five stars from the Forbes Travel Guide. And oh, he’s also nominated for a 2015 James Beard Award for Great Lakes Region Best Chef. For non foodies, a James Beard nomination is often compared to an Academy Award.

The Philosophy major and former TKE said in a Wednesday interview his job is about creating the story for the high-end meal. He made it clear that visitors need to leave with more than just a great meal and a big check. The Sixteen chef serves his customers through story-telling and a fusion of dining expectations from the past, present and future. If there was ever a liberal arts approach to dining, it sits in the dining room with the fabulous view along the Chicago River. Its neighbor is city landmark the Wrigley Building.

Lents’ background is impressive in Europe and several of the United States’ top restaurants. He joined Sixteen as executive chef after a stint at 3-Michelin-star Joel Robuchon’s Las Vegas restaurant. Lents served as Chef de Cuisine – the first American-born chef to hold that position for the legendary French chef.

The dining experience – and it is an experience more than just supper – leaves one gasping for the right words. The Winter menu includes a snack starter of four small bites, an appetizer, a first and second course, a main course, then four transitions (think palate cleanser) before dessert. It’s magically paired with wine, beer, and even Sake’ by Sommelier Dan Pilkey.

On Wednesday two of us tasted 17 plates with delicacies like peppered mackerel, cuttlefish, King crab, langoustine, cipollini onion salad, sweet breads, foie gras, monkfish, venison, and much more – much, much more. Seriously.

Sixteen is an experience. The meal, and its cost, is once-in-a-lifetime for most of us not named Trump. It’s food porn. It’s way over the top with world-class service. It’s one heck of a story about a Wabash man from Kellogg, Michigan, telling stories with fine cuisine.

Lents’ story, the food, and some great photography will be featured in the next issue of Wabash Magazine.

 

Alumni Enrich Student Learning

Fresh off preparing a meal for Wabash trustees, Cuoco Pasta Founder Mark Shreve ’04 taught students how to make pasta during an impromptu session in Professor Rick Warner's kitchen.

Fresh off preparing a meal for Wabash trustees, Cuoco Pasta Founder Mark Shreve ’04 taught students how to make pasta during an impromptu session in Professor Rick Warner’s kitchen last week.

Steve Charles—The connections between alumni and students set Wabash apart from most colleges, and grads enrich learning here in many ways.

Often that learning takes place during an internship at an alum’s workplace. But when alumni return to campus, we get a close-up look at the real-world perspective they offer students, not to mention the variety and liveliness of those interactions.

Last week I photographed the visits of two of those alumni: Mark Shreve ’04 and Frank Buerger ’73. Take a look at “Never a Job” and “Learning Happens Everywhere Here” at Wabash Magazine Online.

Students Make Conference Presentation

Miller, Bleisch, Bode

Miller, Bleisch, Bode

NEW ORLEANS, La. – This past weekend we (Joshua Bleisch ’16, Nathan Bode ’16, and Dylan Miller ’16) traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana for the annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association (SPSA) to present the results of an independent research project we have been working on with Dr. Shamira Gelbman for the past year. The project, entitled “Activism in the Digital Age: Evidence from Freedom Indiana’s Twitter Feed,” looks at the way the coalition group Freedom Indiana used Twitter to mobilize its followers to take political action. While at the conference, we attended a handful of panel discussions on a variety of topics, ranging from judicial politics to the implications of the Affordable Care Act on reproductive rights. We also met other political scientists who research the use of Twitter by political organizations and politicians.

We presented our research as part of a panel regarding the development of interest group networks. Our presentation went well and garnered great questions and discussion among the audience and panel members. From the discussion, we were able to identify potential areas for development and improvement in our research. If the opportunity presents itself, we now have a good grasp of where we would like to take this research in the future.

This independent study has allowed us to develop stronger research skills as well as an interesting insight into the life of academia, especially political science. We would like to thank Dr. Gelbman for her mentorship and allowing us to be co-authors on this project. We would also like to thank the Hadley Fund, Division III, the Political Science Department, and the Undergraduate Research Committee of Wabash College for providing the financial support that enabled us to present our research at this conference.


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