A Story, a Stage, a Starring Role

Richard Paige — Sometimes, it’s just meant to be, and so it was with the upcoming production of Peter and the Starcatcher.

Wabash College is the first collegiate theater company in Indiana to produce the show on campus. The rights for the play that won five Tony Awards came open this year, and Assistant Professor of Theater Jessie Mills acted fast.

“I’ve had my eye on it for a while so we scooped it up when we had the chance,” she said. “Needless to say, I thought it would be a lot of fun for our students and a big change of pace.”

Rory Willats '17 during a recent dress rehearsal.

Rory Willats ’17 during a recent dress rehearsal.

As it turns out, Mills also had someone in mind to play the boy who never grew up, one best suited to handle the ragged and chaotic style that has become this musical play’s calling card.

Rory Willats ’17 is just that guy. He is no stranger to the Wabash stage, having occupied supporting roles in more than a handful of Wabash productions, but Peter and the Starcatcher will be his first leading role.

“I really think this is a role perfectly suited to me,” Willats said, “which is not to say that this process is a walk in the park by any means. Because it’s a high-energy, physical show and because there are parts of the boy I can see in myself, it isn’t at all easy for me. It’s also the first time in my career that I’m able to wrestle with a role in a show like this.”

The curtain rises on Peter and the Starcatcher on Oct. 5, and Mills is confident that Rory will inject something new into the prequel of Peter Pan, a story which nearly everyone is familiar.

“He is perfect in the role of Peter – a character who is as boyish and optimistic as he is frightened and vulnerable,” said Mills. “Rory has done a wonderful job pulling out the depth of complexities in Peter. I’m excited for audiences to see his performance.”

A Great Little Gem

Richard Paige — Even historical footnotes are memorable.

Late in the fourth quarter of Wabash’s 59-7 win over Allegheny on Sept. 17, a 5-foot-9 sophomore running back trotted onto the field for his first collegiate game action. His first carry netted a one-yard gain.

This particular back, Austin Hoover, was a good high school player, rushing for better than 2,600 yards as a senior at Sheridan (IN) High School. He’s been a hard worker at Wabash who shows up every day hoping to make himself and his teammates a little better.

Austin Hoover '19.

Austin Hoover ’19.

“I just set my mind to help out whoever is playing,” Hoover said. “If I’m on scout team that week, I’m going to do my best to make sure they get the best looks. If I get some reps on offense, I’m going to make those count. I’m making sure everything in practice counts in one way or another to help during the game.”

Three carries later, Hoover took the ball at the Wabash 32 yard-line and burst into the clear for a 47-yard gain, helping the Little Giants to a big piece of history. His scamper was the one that broke the single-game rushing record, originally set in 1975. Wabash ended the day with a whopping 513 yards on the ground.

“There was no better guy to set the school record than Austin Hoover,” said Wabash head coach Don Morel.

So what’s it feel like break off a big run where there is nothing in front of you but turf and the end zone?

Six of the guys pictured here helped Wabash rush for 513 yards on Sept. 17. Pictured above are (l to r): Bobby Blum '19; Tyler Downing '18; Isaac Avant '20; Shamir Johnson '17; Assistant Coach/RBs Darold Hughes; Matt Penola '19; Cam Morgan '20; Austin Hoover '19; and Lamore Boudoin '20.

Six of the guys pictured here helped Wabash rush for 513 yards on Sept. 17. Pictured above are (l to r): Bobby Blum ’19; Tyler Downing ’18; Isaac Avant ’20; Shamir Johnson ’17; Assistant Coach/RBs Darold Hughes; Matt Penola ’19; Cam Morgan ’20; Austin Hoover ’19; and Lamore Boudoin ’20.

“It’s a good feeling to know that you are getting open, but there is anxiety there as well that there could be someone coming up on you,” said Hoover, who finished the game with 57 yards rushing on four carries. “My thought process was ‘I am going to score in this play. I’m going for it.’”

While he was tripped up shy of the goal line, Hoover realized his carry was the record breaker just like everyone else: when it was announced to the stadium.

“When they announced it over the P.A., I kind of put two and two together that my run put it over,” he laughed. “It’s a good feeling to know that I was a part of the record breaking. Obviously, I wouldn’t be a part of it if it wasn’t for the other five backs who contributed.”

Coach Morel was all smiles while reviewing film two days later.

“Those guys down the depth chart, they practice hard and they really play hard when they get a chance,” said Morel. “A story like Hoover’s, it’s a great little gem.”

Wirtz ’19: The Summer of the Drinking Bird

The office developed an uncanny fascination for this toy bird in June.

The office developed a slightly peculiar obsession with the drinking bird toy.

Christian Wirtz ’19 – I don’t want to give away any of the secrets hidden within the walls of Hovey Cottage. But if you’re looking for them, I would start behind the cardboard reindeer’s head in the common space.

We’re a bit quirky.

I applied for a summer position because I needed something to do; and money, I really need money. I applied for a summer position in Hovey because that’s where I do my office work for Brent Harris when I have Game Day Staff responsibilities outside of Mud Hollow, Little Giant Stadium, Chadwick Court, or Goodrich Ballpark.

Wirtz '19

Wirtz ’19

I may have needed something to do, but what I got and continue to get is professional development in an office filled to the brim with wonderful people who are great to work with.

While working with Steve Charles, I’ve had the chance to tell the story of my formative years as a young soccer player and the importance of the people I met along the way. It started off as the story of how I played soccer, it became the story of how the people I met changed my life. Steve and I both learned how divine printer intervention can lead to a new way of telling a story. But I’ve also learned how to write more concisely, which was something I have always struggled with and will, in addition, help my academic writing.

Working in the Communications Office has also exposed some of my weaknesses and has at least presented the opportunity to get better. The one that stand out most is my interview skills. I’m not good at conducting interviews; I always feel like my questions don’t make sense or that I’m going to forget to ask an important question. I get really self-conscious; it’s who I am. Richard Paige has assured me that the person I interview will be more nervous than I will.

“You know what you’re going to ask — they don’t,” he told me, “they’re just as worried about saying something stupid as you are.”

Likely the most intriguing yet frustrating project I’ve worked on is historical sports results. I started with football and now I’m working on soccer for the 50th anniversary season. Intriguing because I think it’s fun to learn about the backstory of over 100 years of Wabash athletics (and when we’ve beaten DePauw, most importantly). This has been easily one of the most frustrating projects I’ve ever done. Record-keeping, especially for soccer in the 80s is lacking. Where and when were games played? I don’t know, but I could tell you the score. So Brent Harris and I are now in the process of researching microfilm in the Crawfordsville library in hopes of finding schedules.

If I had to point at one thing and say “this is the best part of spending a summer in Hovey,” I would say that it’s my professional development. I’m working an almost full-time schedule and I’m working on a variety of different projects that (usually) engage my mind and my interests. I’ve been given the chance to give input and thoughts on recruitment pieces. Most college students wouldn’t spend the summer between their freshman and sophomore years at an ordinary school; but then, I’m not most and Wabash transcends normality.

Petty Reflects on Pat Summitt’s Impact

Howard W. Hewitt – Former Wabash College basketball Coach Mac Petty believes Pat Summit may have had an accomplishment few men coaches ever achieve. Her success forced the university to build a better and bigger arena.

Legendary Coach Pat Summitt.

Legendary Coach Pat Summitt.

Summit, 64, died Tuesday morning after a much-publicized bout with Alzheimer’s. Summitt had more wins, 1,098, during her career than any coach – men or women. She won eight national NCAA championships in 38 seasons.

Petty is a 1968 graduate from the University of Tennessee. He did not personally know Summitt, she was seven years younger. But he did have thoughts on her significant career.

“The arena where they play now was probably built because of her success, not necessarily the men,” Petty said. “The men’s program wasn’t as successful during her early times there. We played in a facility that was brand new my last two years.

“It was a nice place to play but the fans were too far away from the floor. The facility was built for indoor track also. It was called the Stokely Athletic Center. With Pat’s success and Bruce Pearl, the men’s coach at the time, the new Thompson – Boling Arena was built. They had to compete with Kentucky’s Rupp Arena.”

When Summitt first started coaching Petty was in his final tenure at Sewanee, the 1975-76 season. Petty retired from Wabash in 2011 after 35 seasons and a DIII National Championship season in 1982. He is a member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

“I wish I had gotten to meet her, ” Petty said. “She did an outstanding job.”

A private family service is planned in Knoxville. A memorial service will be held at the Thompson-Boling Arena.

House ’16 Reflects on Interesting Ride

Richard Paige –In my three years on campus, Fabian House, as much as anyone, has been the face of Wabash College. The guy, like many here, is involved in seemingly everything: resident assistant, orientation leader, vice president of the student senate, student representative to the NAWM board, member of the Little Giant cross country and track and field programs, and a tour guide for Admissions.

Between the official and more informal tours, Fabian thinks he’s led more than 500 tours over the last three and a half years. Just think of how many future Wabash men’s first impressions were shaped by Fabian. Those tours are the primary reason I think of him as the current face of the College.

Fabian House '16

Fabian House ’16

With final exams complete and Commencement a few days away, I thought it would be interesting to see how Fabian, who will teach on the east side of Indianapolis next year, felt about his time on campus and the impacts he’s had. Below are his thoughts in his own words:

“I don’t feel like I’m done. I get the feeling that all of this is another step. I’m going to be off campus. I won’t be seeing the same sights here on campus that I’ve grown used to, like the tulip tree just outside Center Hall, and in the winter, the Milligan Clock beside Baxter Hall. I’m looking forward to being an alum, to being an ambassador for Wabash in a different way. I’m not going to be giving tours per se, I’m going to miss that for sure, but I hope, as a teacher working in the Indy area, that I’ll be able to at least guide students this way and make them seriously consider an all-male institution.”

“One of the biggest things I’m going to miss is fall at Wabash. The fall months are gorgeous, the leaves change, and so that is a beautiful moment for Wabash. I’m going to miss the Monon Bell Chapel, where the seniors talk about these formative years and how important it is to keep the Bell. I’m going to miss cross country and running on a team where we try to peak and run our best when it gets cold in the fall. Defending our regional championship this past season was probably my best athletic moment at Wabash. I’m going to miss Honor Scholarship Weekend as well. It’s a big introduction to Wabash – one I had and enjoyed – and is something that we’ve made very much a campus moment. Everyone knows what Honor Scholar is all about and everyone is excited for it.”

“At the banquet, they thanked me for my three and a half years of service and said I have given over 350 official tours on campus. That doesn’t count all of the unofficial tours I’ve given. I gave my last tour last Wednesday (April 27) and it was a really cool moment because I wasn’t going to tell the folks that it was my last tour. I told my first tour that it was because I felt like I needed to let them know that it was going to be an interesting ride. My last one was really special. After the son went into class, the parents thanked me, which happens occasionally, and said, ‘you said a lot of things and answered a lot of questions that made Wabash feel like a place that he would want to go.’ I got a little tearful. It’s my last tour and I get folks telling me that I gave a tour that made Wabash seem like an accessible place for their son. That’s how I want every tour to be. It’s not how many tours you give, it’s the impact you had in that 45 minutes you are with them.”

Fall and Honor Scholarship Weekend are just two of the things House will miss about Wabash.

Fall and Honor Scholarship Weekend are just two of the things House will miss about Wabash.

“I can’t imagine myself doing anything else right out of college other than teaching (in Indianapolis for Indiana Teaching Fellows). I’m happy that I’ll be close. I’m going to know guys in the next three graduating classes – guys I gave tours to, guys that I’ve come to know through classes. I don’t think you really are finally able to call yourself an alum and fully disconnect from Wabash as a student until you are able to look at a graduating class and know that you didn’t go to class with any of them. In many ways I still feel very connected to campus and the day-to-day activities.”

“At no one point do you think that you’re done. It won’t hit me until the summer that I’m a Wabash graduate.”

Wear Blue Support Youth Services

Derek Andre ’16 – Child abuse is no joke. In 2014, twelve out of every 1000 children in Montgomery County experienced some form of abuse or neglect. That is a nearly 14 percent increase over 2013. A  group of Wabash students will try Friday to make that statistic better known.

As part National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Wabash will play host to day of awareness for child abuse and neglect. Students, staff, and faculty are encouraged to wear blue this Friday in an effort to raise awareness and to wear blue pinwheels to show solidarity with victims. The project, spearheaded by senior Ty Campbell, is the culmination of several weeks of work and conversation between Campbell and the Montgomery County Youth Services Bureau.

Pinwheels“We’re trying to promote child abuse awareness,” Campbell said. “To do that, the Youth Service Bureau in town asked members to wear blue on that day, the symbol of Child Abuse Awareness Month, and to wear blue pinwheels from their office. It got sent out in an email to some volunteers and I reached out to [Karen Branch, Youth Services Bureau Director] and said I’d like to do this and I think my fraternity would as well. We were talking and I thought I may as well try and get the other living units and fraternities involved, see if we can make this a campus-wide thing.”

Campbell’s first interaction with the Youth Services Bureau came last summer as part of an internship. He spent the summer working with the Bureau and later became involved with the YSB’s CASA program, an effort to represent children in child and family cases. The CASA program gave Campbell an insight into child abuse and neglect cases.

“When I interned, I learned about the [Court Appointed Special Advocate] program,” Campbell said. “We were at a team meeting when the CASA program got brought up and that’s how I got involved in that program. This side project is involved with CASA, a program that helps with ‘child in need of services’ cases, so the two are sort of combined.”

The Youth Services Bureau deals with child abuse and neglect cases across Montgomery County. Youth Services Bureau Direct Karen Branch hopes awareness projects can help raise knowledge about abuses children in the community face daily.

“Sometimes they are people who lack knowledge, coping skills or a support system to help them when raising a child becomes difficult,” Branch said. “It is not a justification of their actions, but pointing out that there are stress factors in family life that may contribute to the abuse and neglect that children suffer.  Factors like insufficient income, unemployment, substance abuse and domestic violence.

“To help prevent abuse we need to help reduce these risk factors in our community.  From something as simple as offering to babysit for a child whose parent is stressed and overwhelmed, to supporting services and organizations that support our families and youth, every one of us can make a difference.”



For Campbell, this project is, in many ways, the culmination of four years at Wabash. After internships, immersion experiences, classes, and more, Campbell is glad that a project dear to his heart can be his last contribution to the Wabash community.

“With going to the Peace Corps next year and the humanitarian nature of that, a lot of that was shaped through my internship last summer,” Campbell said. “A lot of what I learned about community engagement and how to use your resources correctly came through Karen, who was my boss at the Youth Services Bureau. Right now, it’s all coming together, and I’d like this to be my last big thing here.”

Wabash students, faculty, staff, and administration are encouraged to wear blue Friday in recognition of childhood abuse and neglect. There will be a photo taken at 12:10 p.m. on the Chapel steps of all members of the Wabash community who participate.

Wally Hoops Revisited

Crawfordsville is the home of basketball in the State of Indiana, having been imported here from Springfield, MA, shortly after the game’s invention. Such a lineage made the game a worthy topic of discussion at “Wally Hoops: A Slam Dunk Symposium on Basketball and the Liberal Arts,” on Feb. 19.

What follows below are some the most memorable quotes from our collection of speakers. Click here for an event photo gallery.

Mac Petty, Basketball From Beginning to Now
Speaking of Dr. James Naismith: “He went out and got two peach baskets and aren’t we lucky? The goal was to provide an athletic diversion during the harsh New England winter.”

“There were 13 original rules. Now, there are more than a hundred, but the spirit of those original 13 rules is still there. Big men have always made big changes to the game. Think Chamberlain, Kurland, George Mikan, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

“I don’t envy anyone being an official. When I started, basketball was finesse and football was a contact sport. Now, basketball is a contact sport and football is a collision sport. Maybe the Warriors and Spurs are helping to change that.”

Dr. Richard Dallinger, The Hoops Doctor Holds Court
“At the scorer’s table I was an actual game official. I took that very seriously. I had to turn off rooting for Wabash for 28 years. That was the hardest thing.”

Dr. Preston Bost, Outside the Box(score): Building a Better Basketball Team With Modern Analytics

Dr. Preston Bost spoke of basketball analytics and Charles Barkley.

Dr. Preston Bost spoke of basketball analytics and Charles Barkley.

“Analytics help you figure out the story within the game and its predictive value. The heyday of analytics of basketball began about 10 years ago. We’re still trying to figure things out. It’s kind of like watching a litter of puppies…lots of energy, but all over the place. We shouldn’t think of analytics as a magic wand. Analytics operates within certain constraints. Think of it as using technology to maximize your resources.”

“Charles Barkley is probably right to kind of slow play the analytics. It’s still such a young field.”

Mike Ricks ’87, “Hoosiers” and the Cutting Room Floor
“I read the script and I nailed it. I’d never done any acting but I took Dr. O’Rourke’s speech class.” “You never know when you’re on. You never know when you’re being interviewed. You always have to sell yourself.”

“I remember that coach (Mac Petty) was so supportive. He said, ‘You go do this life experience.’ It was one of the most boring days of my life. I would have rather been playing in the red/white scrimmage.”

Matt Tanney ’05, Learning to “Dance”: Building a Championship Culture in a Division I Basketball Program
“Why is it important to qualify for the NCAA Tournament? Not the money or exposure, but for the student-athletes and the quality of their experience.”

“Scheduling is a real challenge for us. You have to be strategic as to where and when you play people.”

“’It’s our job to make sure the student-athletes have the resources in place to be successful after graduation. It’s a process and it takes patience and perseverance.”

Joe Hakin ‘73, Basketball as a Process: The Score Will Take Care of Itself
“I haven’t lost a game in 14 years. It’s different when you are the head coach and the W/L is attached to your name.”

“Playing to your potential is an elusive goal, but a worthy one. Especially at a place like this, a liberal arts college, it is definitely worth pursuing.”

“On a liberal arts campus, it’s important to reorient students from their academic day to their athletic day. It’s tough to go from class to practice and be immediately successful.”

David Phillips H’83 and Brent Harris H’03, Wabash Basket Ball: The First 30 Years
“I consider Homer Stonebraker ’18 to be one of the greatest players at Wabash,” said Phillips. “He could shoot from anywhere.”

Of Pete Vaughan H’54, Phillips said, “He was the real deal.”

Ray Jovanovich ’84, Asia’s NBA Love Affair…From the Late 1980s to 2016 & Beyond
“I got my start at WNDY and little did I know that a few years later I’d be sitting across a dinner table with the Managing Editor at RTHK in Asia. At the time, they were expanding content in sports. I was in a very coveted position. For me, it became a love affair as well. That love affair was spurred on in 1982 with Mac Petty’s national championship team. I was fortunate to fall into this second career and it’s sort of become my no. 1 career now.”

“'(Former NBA Commissioner David) Stern understood the domestic needs for the game and saw the potential for growing the game overseas. He and his team were brilliant marketers. No one has come close to what the NBA has done in China.”

Drs. Annie Strader and Matthew Weedman, Man-Made Hoops: Artistic Responses to a Cultural Phenomenon
“No artist has complete control over the artistic interpretation of their art,” said Strader.

Talking about Higher Goals 1986 by David Hammonds, Strader said, “It’s an anti-basketball sculpture.”

Dr. Chris Carr ’82, Mental Toughness: The Role of Sport Psychology in the NBA

Dr. Chris Carr '82 delivered the event's keynote address.

Dr. Chris Carr ’82 delivered the event’s keynote address.

“Sport psychology gives athletes something they can put to good use. The strategies we teach give them the tools to equip them for the rest of their lives…We try to help athletes develop these attributes: determination, confidence, composure, and focus.”

“When I work with an athlete, I have specific strategies to deal with things that are tough or overwhelming. What gets players engaged is using those skills and attributes to their advantage.”

“We have great weight rooms and strength staffs, but how much time do we spend on the mental? It’s easy to start, but it’s hard to commit.”

“Basketball is a fascinating sport. It’s dynamic and fluid. It’s about one shot, one point, and one stop. I try to help make every team member better, including coaches.”

The faculty, staff, and alumni symposium is presented by the National Association of Wabash Men, the Indianapolis Association of Wabash Men, and the faculty and staff of Wabash College.

Basketball Legends Honor Father

Richard Paige — A medal earned, some tough love, and a connection through sports brought Indiana basketball legends Tom and Dick Van Arsdale to campus to celebrate the accomplishments of a Wabash Man.

This visit wasn’t about basketball, or even themselves. The twins were on campus to honor their father, Raymond ’23. It turns out that the man Tom and Dick knew as Dad—a math teacher and track and football coach—was also a standout athlete himself.

The elder Van Arsdale was one of this College’s first great track stars, finishing second at the 1923 NCAA Track & Field Championships at Stagg Field in Chicago, where he jumped 23 feet, 6 inches, a mark that easily would have qualified him for the 2015 NCAA DIII Championships. He helped the Little Giants finish in 11th place nationally long before the NCAA meet was separated into divisions.

Click here to view photo gallery

Dick (left) and Tom Van Arsdale pose for a photo of their father's Hall of Fame induction plaque in the Allen Center.

Dick (left) and Tom Van Arsdale pose for a photo of their father’s Hall of Fame induction plaque in the Allen Center.

To say he was fast is an understatement. Raymond once posted a time of 10.1 seconds for the 100-yard dash, only a half second off the world record at the time.

“Dad never talked about himself,” said Tom. “We knew he was fast, but he never talked about himself. We hardly knew about his athletic career except that he ran track and played football.”

Raymond was inducted into the Wabash Athletics Hall of Fame in 1984.

“He also ran in the Drake Relays back then,” said Dick. “He was good. He might have made the 1924 Olympics if he hadn’t gotten hurt playing football.”

Sometimes when you meet people, you wonder what made them successful. Suddenly, it all made sense when thinking of Tom and Dick. Not only did they inherit great natural ability from Raymond and their mother, Hilda, but the right kind of push as well. The kind that only another great athlete knows.

These two legends were here to pay homage to their father, their first coach. The guy who was tough on them, always in their ear with a piece of constructive criticism, and pushing them a little further. Their successes have ties to Wabash College. Now they were giving something back.

They delivered to the College Raymond’s runner-up medal from that 1923 NCAA meet, a letterman’s award from 1921, and a photo. After more than 90 years in the Van Arsdales’ possession, it would become a part of our trophy case.

“We had that for so many years, we thought, what are we going to do with it,” said Tom. “Dick has a son and I have a son, so we got them together and said, ‘Guys, we’re not going to give this to you because you’ll fight over it.’ We’re going to give it to Wabash College.”

“That’s good for Wabash, anyway,” said Dick, laughing. “The boys were happy about it, too.”

Runner-Up medal won by Raymond Van Arsdale '23 in the broad jump at the 1923 NCAA Track & Field Championships at Stagg Field in Chicago, IL.

Runner-Up medal won by Raymond Van Arsdale ’23 in the broad jump at the 1923 NCAA Track & Field Championships at Stagg Field in Chicago.

The Van Arsdales are living embodiments of Hoosier Hysteria. The duo led Indianapolis Manual  High School to a second-place finish in the 1961 state tournament, shared both the Trester Award and Mr. Basketball honors as high school seniors, and went on to earn all-Big Ten, All-America, and Academic All-America honors for Indiana University before graduating in 1965.

They enjoyed stellar NBA careers, each playing 12 seasons, each making three All-Star Game appearances, and combining to score more than 29,000 professional points. In fact, Dick was the first-ever draft choice of the Phoenix Suns.

As they wandered through the halls of the Allen Center on a chilly winter morning, you could tell they were happy to be here, basking in the glow of their father’s greatness.

“It does mean a lot to us. We didn’t care too much about it when we were young,” Dick said before Tom picked up the thought.

“We’re very excited to do this now for Dad. He would be very happy about this. As we get older, it means more to us. We appreciate these moments so much more.”

Wabash Facebook No. 1 in Nation?


We’re No. 1!!!!!!

Wabash College has earned a “mythical national championship” in Facebook reach and engagement. It’s a bit like college football’s national champion prior to the current playoff system.

facebook-logo-2During calendar year 2015 research says that our Facebook reach was higher than any other college in the country. Statistical analysis, with a healthy dose of probability, indicates we led the nation by a substantial margin.

We have an experienced voice engaged in college social media efforts pronouncing us king.

“We have tracked Facebook data in higher education for seven years, and have analyzed over 3,000,000 posts from 1,400 colleges and universities,” said Brad Ward, CEO of BlueFuego. BlueFuego specializes in higher education social media engagement and recruiting practices. “Prior to 2014, we were able to track data on every page in higher education, but we can now only get accurate data on pages that we have administrative access to.

Blue fuego logo“However, we do know that until 2014 no higher education institution had averaged above a 4 percent engagement for a year. Siena College, who has been a top-3 page in the nation since 2011, was the first page to surpass a 4 percent engagement average in 2014. They went on to reach 5.7 percent engagement and 103 percent reach in 2015.

Those are certainly impressive numbers. Well, it was impressive until last year. Wabash’s Facebook engagement measured 7.7 percent in 2015 with a reach per post of 202 percent.

“That is the highest we have seen in our 7 years of data collection and analysis,” Ward said. “Wabash is 40 percent higher on engagement and nearly 75 percent higher on reach per post when compared to what we once considered the best-performing Facebook pages in higher education.

“Wabash has truly set the new standard and we can say with 99 percent certainty that these numbers are the best in the nation for 2015, and absolutely the highest in Indiana and the North Coast Athletic Conference.”

So for those wondering what the statistical hocus-pocus really means? Allow Mr. Ward to explain: “Reach measures the number of people that Facebook has put content in front of, and we look at that as a percentage of the fan base.  The industry average is around 40 percent, with Wabash at 202 percent.  Engagement is the number of people liking, commenting or sharing the content.  We divide interactions by the number of fans to see what percentage of fans interact with the institution’s content.”

ZurekFBstoryDo your own test. Check out the “likes, comments and shares” on Indiana, Purdue or any of the large college’s Facebook pages and then look at Wabash’s Facebook page. For example, the most recent post is about the college’s Martin Luther King Day celebration. That post reached more than 22,000 Facebook users, had 190 likes, and 97 shares.

One of our best posts of 2015 was Mason Zurek’s late game touchdown run in the snow against Albion. That post reached nearly 118,000 Facebook users, had more than 1,700 likes, and 460 shares.

“Wabash alumni, parents, and students engage in our Facebook page more feverishly than typical web stories,” said Howard Hewitt, Wabash’s Director of Digital Media. “The football photo is a good example of our reach. The Wabash community gets a compelling photo in seconds, then express their pride in the institution by sharing the photo or information with other Facebook friends.”

Research Leads Trio to Puerto Rico

Shane Xuan ’17 – This past weekend Andrew Powell ’17, Reno Jamison ’17, and I traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to present papers for the annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association (SPSA).

Andre Powell '17.

Andre Powell ’17.

Powell’s and Jamison’s project is independent research supervised by Dr. Shamira Gelbman, an Assistant Professor of Political Science here at Wabash College. The presentation, “Mobilizing the Electorate: Evidence from the 2014 Senatorial Candidate Twitter Feeds,” analyzed over 8,000 tweets from 76 Senate candidates in the month leading up to the midterm election to examine how the political candidates used social media in 2014. They found that candidates tweeted more in competitive races, and that party affiliation was a strong indicator of the type of tweet that was used. Their research was presented as part of a panel regarding the media, public opinion, and elections.

“It was an extremely rewarding experience to have Andrew’s and my project culminate in attending the SPSA Conference,” said Jamison. “We got excellent feedback on how to improve our paper going forward. We thank Professor Gelbman for advising our research project.”

Shane Xuan '17.

Shane Xuan ’17.

My paper “Why Do Chinese Students Study Abroad: An Empirical Study on Brain Drain in Developing States” was presented in the Nationalism and Identity Politics panel. I study student emigrants from authoritarian states to understand the relationship between social mobility and regime stability, and to suggest how developing states could employ economic and political incentives in order to attract overseas talent.

I presented my paper at a graduate student panel, and was able to receive a lot of critical and insightful feedback on how to improve the paper and to incorporate it into a bigger project in the future. I have been in love with many academic books and articles in the past few years, and being able to talk to the authors at a national conference feels like realizing a dream that I have never thought about. All these experiences can help me tremendously as I move along into graduate school this September to pursue a Ph.D. in political science. Thank you Wabash.

I also would like to thank Professor Rory Truex for kindly sharing his China Policy Attitudes Survey (CPAS) dataset with him, and Professor Gelbman for her helpful comments on previous drafts.

Reno Jamison '17.

Reno Jamison ’17.

These independent projects have allowed us to develop stronger research skills as well as important insights into the professional setting of doing research in political science.

We would like to thank Division III, the Political Science department, and the Undergraduate Research Committee of Wabash College for providing the financial support that enabled us to present research at this year’s SPSA conference. Both papers also will be presented at the 16th Annual Celebration of Student Research, Scholarship, and Creative Work on Jan. 29.

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