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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.

“Hey, Wabash!”

Richard Paige – We talk often of connections at Wabash, and I’m still caught off guard at times at how the shared experience of being a Wabash man makes for seemingly instant friendships.

I had lunch with Larry Haugh ’66 and Jeff Callane ‘94 while spending New Year’s in Burlington, Vt., and enjoyed an easygoing conversation that lasted more than 90 minutes over pizza not too far from the shores of Lake Champlain.

Math majors each and Indiana natives, Haugh and Callane took slightly different routes to Burlington.

Haugh, a Kappa Sig, is professor emeritus of statistics at the University of Vermont, having retired as department head in 2006. As he said, “I loved every part of my job, but it had too many parts between the teaching, administration, and research. There were times when I needed more sleep.”

Larry Haugh (left) and Jeff Callane on St. Paul Street in Burlington, VT.

Larry Haugh (left) and Jeff Callane on St. Paul Street in Burlington, VT.

Callane, a Sigma Chi, followed his other brother, James ’92, to Crawfordsville to play tennis for George Davis (“Holy cow, there is a Callane who can volley,” is what Davis is reported to have said upon seeing the younger Callane play for the first time). He’s now an account executive for Aon, the global insurance and risk management provider.

Separated by 28 years at Wabash, these two had never met, but you wouldn’t know it by the warmth of the conversation. They talked over the top of each other, finished thoughts, cajoled, and laughed…all the things that friends do when talking.

Having two guys at the table gave me the opportunity to present the Wabash Q&A to multiple people for the first time. Their conversation is below. I hope their conversation reads as engagingly as it came off in real time.

 

Me: What’s your favorite Wabash tradition?

JC: Oh man, I’d have to say…

LH: Definitely not the singing.

JC: You mean Chapel Sing? It is the most ingrained.

LH: That’s emphasized at Big Bash. Do you ever go back? They recreate the Chapel Sing, so that’s funny. Did they have the greased pole climb when you where there? Some of the traditions die out. Pan-Hel was a big tradition and party, so I assume that’s still going strong. Fraternities and living units used to put a lot of work into that with decorations and inviting your dates to campus. It was a big weekend. Otherwise, it’s just going back to the fraternity where I lived and seeing how that’s changed.

JC: Homecoming was always interesting, too.

 

Me: Life is full of successes and failures. To this point, what is your favorite mistake?

LH: I hate these kinds of questions. I’m a math major.

JC: (laughs) Maybe I should have gone to class a bit more often.

 

 Me: If you could cook one meal, what would it be?

LH: Any breakfast for me.

JC: Hands down, it has to be Elsie Burgers. Elsie was our cook at the Sig house. Oh, the Elsie Burgers.

 

Me: If you could give your 10-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?

LH: I do have an almost 10-year-old grandson and I would tell him to try a lot of different things and enjoy the trying of them. He’s doing that pretty well now.

JC: I would have to say, in the entire life sense, to be polite. Say “please and thank you”. “Please” and “thank you” go a long way. Do your best.

LH: That’s something we’ve worked on quite a bit with our grandson.

 

Me: Do either of you have a personal credo, and if so, what is it?

LH: Closest to that would be a saying that’s been passed down in my family, “Be yourself.” It was on a big log that used to hang in my grandfather’s cabin.

JC: I remember one thing – this isn’t mine – my first boss always said, “Hurry up and get it done, but take your time and do it right.” The M.O. that I’ve tried to live by my entire life works out like this: If you come in early, you’re going to stay late. If you come in late, you are going to leave early.

 

Me: If in your dreams you could have created one great piece of art, what would it be?

LH: I can only say what I like because I’m not an artist. I’ve always liked metal sculptures…

JC: Having the opportunity to study in Salzburg my junior year and getting a chance to go through museums in Germany, Paris, and Amsterdam, I can’t say there is any one that stuck with me. You know, Bob Ross, the old landscape painter – a little tree likes to live here – I’ve kind of tried a little oil on canvas. I’m not very good. It would be a personal landscape.

 

Me: If a picture is worth a thousand words, what are you doing in that picture?

JC: Oh man, I’ve got a huge grin, standing at the top of one of these mountains getting ready to ski down with my kids.

LH: That’s appropriate for me, too. I just love doing things with the family. Anything with the family is enjoyable.

JC: A big smile. When you see a smile like that, it’s infectious.

 

Me: If you could wish for one thing in your future, what would it be?

LH: I’ve been lucky to be healthy for this long, so I’d like to see that continue…to be able to actively travel.

JC: With an almost 13-year-old and a 10-year-old, I really just want to see them happy and successful with whatever they choose to do. Maybe there is a Wabash future for my son, Jack.

Speaking of connections, here is one more.

Callane and his family first moved to Burlington about three years ago. He was wearing a Wabash sweatshirt to one of his son’s tee-ball games when the coach approached him and asked about the sweatshirt. Callane wondered how the coach knew of Wabash. “I work with a Wabash grad,” was the reply.

Sometime later, Callane was with his daughter, Neeve, at her sixth-grade open house at Colchester Middle School when someone shouted, “Hey, Wabash,” as he passed by.

That’s when he met John Upchurch ’97, a teacher at the school.

“I stopped cold in my tracks,” Callane explained. “I meet John and realize that we were on campus the same time, and got to talking about the Phi Delts and the Sigs. It really took us back to campus. I got chills just talking about it.”

Callane and Upchurch since have gotten together frequently for Monon Bell viewings and such.

“Had I not been wearing that sweatshirt, it might have taken a lot longer to make the connection,” said Callane.

To bring this connection full circle, Neeve is now a student in Upchurch’s class.

10 Promising Trends of 2014

Steve Charles—As the editor of a quarterly journal, I tend to view the year’s significant events as being connected to larger trends and to the history of the College.

2014 had more than its share of those promising connections. Here are 10 I noticed as I gathered stories for Wabash Magazine this year:

burnett lores A Rhodes and Three FulbrightsJacob Burnett ’15 being selected our first Rhodes scholar since Jeremy Robinson ’04 coincided with Susan Albrecht’s first year in the newly created post of graduate fellowship advisor. Correlation does not prove causation, but for the past several years faculty and staff—from Professor Eric Olofson and his Graduate Fellowships Committee to Albrecht’s work this year—have become more intentional and focused on helping students obtain graduate fellowships. A Rhodes scholar and a record three Fulbrights—Adam Barnes ’14, Patrick Stroud ’14, and Sebastian Garren ’14—all in one year. That’s a promising trend.

riley pelton happy for winGolden Age of Wabash Sports—I had the pleasure of photographing the soccer team’s stunning 1-0 win over nationally second-ranked Kenyon in October, and that win led to a record-breaking season for regional Division III Coach of the Year Chris Keller’s Little Giants. For me it could be a metaphor for the entire fall sports season. A conference championship and play-off appearances for football, regional championship for cross-country, strong individual athletes in all sports, and honors and national respect for the coaches. And all built off the momentum of last spring’s NCAC track and field titles.

Wabash SID Brent Harris says it was the best fall sports season in Wabash history. Even tossed around the term “the Golden Age of Wabash Sports.” And he should know.

“That Floor Was Like a Fraternity”—That’s how Jim McQuillin ’72 describes the second floor of Wolcott Hall during his Wabash days, when he was mentored by fellow Wolcott residents Bill Placher ’70 and David Blix: “We were a brotherhood, and as tight a group as you could imagine.”

Those words came to mind last May when President Greg Hess announced the construction of new independent housing, due to open Fall 2015. Pair that with a new fund established by Clay and Amy Robbins that will support student-centered events on campus, then factor in programs that find increasing numbers of students doing their “student jobs” in businesses and organizations in Crawfordsville. It seems the quality and breadth of student life at Wabash is improving all around.

Matthew Deleget & David Diaoloreshoto by Rossana MartinezA Great Year for Wabash Artists—Matthew Deleget ’94 earned one of the art world’s great honors when he was invited to exhibit at the 2014 Whitney Biennial in New York City. Nathaniel Mary Quinn ’00 exhibited “Past/Present” at the Pace Gallery in London and earned critical praise and much notice both in and outside of the art world. (Read the Huffington Post and Brooklyn Reader articles.) Not bad for an art department that used to be housed in the Yandes basement!

All this in a year of transition for the art department. Filmmaker and painter Damon Mohl brings his own awards to his rookie year as a professor at Wabash, Professor Elizabeth Morton returns from sabbatical with more curating opportunities for Wabash students, and Professor Doug Calisch will celebrate his final year at Wabash with a retrospective of over 30 years of work next fall.

And while we’re talking fine arts, Professor Mike Abbott directed what may be the most remarkable theatrical collaboration I’ve seen in 20 years—a staging of Guys and Dolls that brought together music and theater departments as well as the campus and Crawfordsville. Contrast that raucous musical with Professor Jessie Mills innovative and well-received (as in standing ovations every night) production of the dialogue-free play Stage Lights. Just two of many reminders of the gift Wabash theater is to the College and the local community.

Then there was songwriter Dan Couch ’89, whose second hit with Kip Moore, “Hey Pretty Girl” went platinum in 2014, even as the songwriting duo was pioneering new musical territory for Moore’s second album.

Any prospective students out there interested in a Fine Arts Scholarship? They should be.

An English Department in Transition—Agata Szczeszak-Brewer delivered a remarkable and challenging LaFollette Lecture, Eric Freeze published a book of essays titled Hemingway on a Bike, Jill Lamberton taught the College’s first course in audio rhetoric, and Marc Hudson published more of his acclaimed poetry (an interview with him will be published in the Silk Road Review later this month).

Professor Emeritus Bert Stern was named an honorary alumnus and published his  “long simmering promise”—the biography of Wabash alumnus and pioneering American in China Robert Winter. Tobey Herzog’s final class before retirement was a wonderful template for others to share the works that fired their own passion for scholarship and teaching.

But Professor Emeritus Tom Campbell died in July. His class on the personal essay was the forerunner to our courses on writing creative non-fiction. I was remembering how Tom had returned to campus after his retirement for one of Eric Freeze’s readings, ever the supportive colleague. I know he believed the non-fiction writing courses were in good hands. But it is the man we miss.

Professor Hudson retires this year; Warren Rosenberg soon after.  The “old guard” made certain through recent hirings that the department will always be a great one, in the tradition of Don Baker and Walt Fertig, who preceded them. I wish I could be an English major here today!

But Stern, Campbell, Herring, Hudson, Herzog, and Rosenberg—those were vintage years.

Standing Really T.A.L.L.— 430 on 4/30,the Wabash Day of Giving in April, raised more than $465,000 in 24 hours thanks to social media and the tremendous response of alumni, students, and faculty and staff. (Many of those donors were first time givers.) The Annual Fund ended the fiscal year with its second highest total in Wabash history, and fundraising journals took notice.

President Hess had listed “expanding the culture of philanthropy at Wabash” as one of his first four objectives leading Wabash forward. Associate Dean for College Advancement Joe Klen’s creative experiment paid off (and no matter what they’ll tell you now, plenty of people doubted it on 4/29). It will be interesting to see what’s next.

Like a Phoenix Rising—When I arrived at Wabash 20 years ago the College was rumored to be considering dropping the speech department. Look at that department (the Department of Rhetoric) now! It has hosted Brigance Colloquia and other national conferences. Professor Todd McDorman delivered the 2013 LaFollette Lecture. And led by chair Jennifer Abbott, faculty and students have led conversations in Crawfordsville and other communities to address and work to resolve previously intractable problems. Assistant Professor 
of Rhetoric Sara Drury, inspired by Wabash legend W. Norwood Brigance, is director of the Wabash Democracy and Public Discourse initiative, which last fall hosted the first Public Discourse Summit with keynote speaker David Kendall ’66.

Classics, a department that took a hit during the Great Recession, is experiencing a similar resurgence. The 2014 Suovetaurilia turned the once insular department picnic into a reenactment of an ancient feast and a tasty celebration of learning for nearly 250 guests at Goodrich Ballpark between double-headers. One goal, as Assistant Professor Bronwen Wickkiser puts it, is “to make the ancient world more accessible for students, and to experience what the senses teach us about life in the ancient world.” Chair Jeremy Hartnett ’96, a former student of Professor Emeritus John Fisher H’70, as well as of David Kubiak and Leslie and Joe Day, is working on research with faculty from other departments, showing the innately interdisciplinary reach of the Classics.  And after retirement, the Days have stayed on to help teach courses and bring their expertise to the  curriculum. It’s quite a legacy!

“Doing Science” as a Way to LearnDean of the College Scott Feller was a newly arrived chemistry professor when I first interviewed him in the mid-90s. His Goodrich Hall office was packed with computers (parallel processors he used to create the “Little Giant Supercomputer”) and students. That day there were two in a space the size of a large closet, both working with Scott on his National Science Foundation-funded molecular modeling research.

Scott believes that students learn best by “doing science” alongside their teachers, that their questioning of assumptions and conventional wisdom can benefit high-level scholarship and research. He believes that sort of teaching and learning is worth the extra time required to include them in the work.

That model became the seed for the first Celebration of Student Research, Scholarship, and Creative Work (which he put together with Charlie Blaich) and has become a template for teaching across the sciences and social sciences, particularly in psychology. It’s reached the humanities, as well. It’s the way I wish I’d been taught in college.

Scott is also a hobby farmer and was hired at Wabash by another farmer, then-Dean of the College Mauri Ditzler ’75. Mauri thought it was no coincidence that so many scientists came from farming backgrounds. As boys, they had to learn to solve problems creatively and with limited resources—perfect training for a young scientist.

Scott being named Dean was an affirmation of both his collaborative way of teaching and his way of solving problems. And added another farmer to the list of Wabash deans!

Four to Watch—President Hess calls them “liberal arts plus”—four initiatives in which students apply and enrich their liberal arts education. I’ve been watching two of them—Global Health and Democracy and Public Discourse—since their inception. I’ve seen the conviction, passion, and teaching ability behind them. I’ve seen the difference they can make in the world. Knowing the people involved with the other two—Innovation, Business, and Entrepreneurship and Digital Arts and Human Values—I’m confident these initiatives will be equally transformative.

They will also give the world focused and tangible way to see and experience what a liberal arts education can do. Keep an eye on these four and your opportunity to be involved. I’m really looking forward to telling these stories.

“Taking Them Farther”—This one’s more personal to me, but it stands for something bigger. In September I took my grandson, Myca, to watch the Cole Lectures given by class of 2012 classmate Pete Guiden and Patrick Garrett in September. Patrick is Myca’s dad.

Patrick grew up in Crawfordsville but had never set foot on campus prior to his application to Wabash. He earned a spot on the waiting list but had to attend Indiana State for a year to prove he was Wabash worthy. Once here he thrived, thanks to his talents, his own determined effort, and the caring and skillful teaching of professors like Amanda Ingram, David Polley, and Jane Hardy. Now he’s working on his PhD at the University of Miami in Ohio; he returned to Wabash for the Cole Lecture to present his research.

Patrick’s visit reminded me of something I heard from Professor Emeritus Raymond Williams H’68 years ago in Center 216. He spoke of recruiting students with less than stellar academic records and “taking them farther” than any other college could. This College, he said, is particularly good at that.

I took that in faith when I first heard it from Raymond, but I’ve witnessed it as fact many times since, and none more profoundly than last September. I know what it means to Patrick, I know what it means for Myca.

When Wabash “takes a student farther,” we take a family, even a community, farther, too.

That, more anything else we do, makes me look forward to our work in 2015.


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