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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.

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.”

Campbell

Campbell

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.

Wabash Facebook No. 1 in Nation?

Facebookcapture

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.”

Wabash Students Take In Pacers Game

PacerGroup

Patrick Bryant ‘16 – A group of 50 Wabash students traveled to Bankers Life Fieldhouse at Indianapolis Friday night to attend an Indiana Pacers game.  The group of students represented all classes and almost all living units to witness a 96-83 victory over the Miami Heat, conference finals foes of the Pacers from two and three years ago.

 

New Student Body President Andrew Powell '17 cuts down a piece of the net. Each student was able to clip a souvenir.

New Student Body President Andrew Powell ’17 cuts down a piece of the net. Each student was able to clip a souvenir.

The trip was planned and paid for by the Senior Council Activities Committee and Wabash College Student Senate, including Student Body President Patrick Bryant ’16 and committee chairman Andrew Powell ’17, who was elected Thursday to take Bryant’s role starting in 2016. 

In addition to attending the game, members of the traveling party got to cut a piece of the net down to take with them as a souvenir.

In an impromptu meeting on the court, Chris Denari ’83, television announcer for the Pacers on Fox Sports Indiana, greeted students and explained his job to them.  Despite not expecting a group from Wabash to be present, Denari proudly showed students his ring from the 1982 National Championship basketball team of which he was a part.

Campus Services Wins National Honor

The look around the campus sign changes throughout the year.

The look around the campus sign changes throughout the year.

Howard W. Hewitt – Wabash College’s campus services group, Sodexo, always does a great job making the campus beautiful. Over graduation, Big Bash, and fall football weekends our alumni frequently praise the workers for how nice the campus always looks.

Older landscaping is replaced by a newer look.

Older landscaping is replaced by a newer look.

Campus Services recently won a national honor from the Professional Grounds Management Society for its working keeping the campus looking nice. Wabash won a Green Star Honor Award in the small college and grounds category. Only seven national colleges were honored. The Green Star competition brings national recognition to grounds maintained with a ‘high degree of excellence, and complements other national landscape award programs that recognize outstanding design and construction.’

“Thanks to Tim Riley and his team for their outstanding efforts all year round,” said David Morgan, Director of Campus Services. “This is a significant national recognition of the program Tim has developed and operated for years here at Wabash.”

Riley has taken on the challenge of giving the campus a fresher look. Much of the landscaping around older campus buildings has been updated in recent years.

Riley

Riley

“Each summer we take a building with older, over-grown landscapes and completely start over,” Riley wrote in the submission for the award. “Current trends are low-growing perennials and shrubs that don’t require much pruning, watering, deadheading, or fertilization.  It has been a challenge to develop a plant palate that can be the best of the best.

“Since 2010, new landscape beds and most new turf installations are not irrigated. Expectations have been managed to allow turf to go dormant in certain areas and once landscape plantings are established, they can survive on their own. Indiana usually receives enough rain fall to allow this.”

The 43rd annual awards honored 29 grounds management programs for excellence, presenting six Grand Awards (the highest honor), 21 Honor Awards and two Merit Awards in 10 categories.

 

Campus trees require a lot of attention throughout the year.

Campus trees require a lot of attention throughout the year.

 

An Arlington Moment Just as Meaningful

Howard W. Hewitt – The weekend football trip to Virginia and Washington D.C. was rewarding in several different ways. For anyone on the trip, it was hard not to take great pride in all of the comments we heard about our students.

I was on the receiving end of one of those situations. As our plane prepared to land in D.C. Friday afternoon, the stewards and stewardesses were making their final trash pick up. I was unlucky enough to be in the very last row of seats but on the aisle. The steward leaned down to whisper something to me.

“I just have to tell you these students are more polite than most of the people we have on this plane every day,” he said.

We heard similar compliments throughout the weekend but Wabash men almost always conduct themselves in a manner which would make an alum or mother and father proud. We regularly cleaned the busses and any area that our 60-some college athletes passed through.

Sometimes it’s left to faculty, staff and administrators to do the right thing. But it’s also not hard to suggest the students also inspire our actions by their thoughtfulness and kindness.

Coach Olmstead places the vase at the RFK quote at the JFK eternal flame.

Coach Olmstead places the vase at the RFK quote at the JFK eternal flame.

Dean of Students Michael Raters shared one such story after our return. The moving photos of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier changing of the guard and our wreath laying ceremony tell a powerful story. But there was a mix-up prior to that ceremony which was just as meaningful.

When Raters and assistant football coach Olmy Olmstead went to the Tomb with four players for instructions, they discovered a vase of flowers had been delivered instead of a wreath. The guards explained that just wouldn’t do. Fortunately, the guards keep a ‘back-up’ wreath on hand which the students used instead.

So what happened to the vase of flowers? The following is Raters’ description of what happened next.

“The guards then asked Olmy to take the other bouquet and place it somewhere else in the cemetery,” Raters wrote. “I joined Olmy as he retrieved the vase and we carried it to another place that had certainly captured the students’ interest – the Kennedy family plots.  As we walked and talked about the exact site we should use, one spot seemed to make the most sense for us to represent our team, its heritage, and that of its members.

“We decided to place the bouquet on a platform next to the inscription from the impromptu speech Robert F. Kennedy gave in Indianapolis the night Martin Luther King was assassinated. We were honored to do this and were taken by how many of the people at the site stopped and stood silently as Olmy laid the vase down. For me, who grew up in an Indianapolis family which idolized the Kennedys and tries to honor the legacy of both RFK and MLK in the way we conduct our lives, it was the perfect ending to a most moving morning at Arlington.”

 

Arlington-Flowers-RFK3“What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

“So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King — yeah, it’s true — but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love — a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.”  – Robert F. Kennedy, April 4, 1968, speaking in Indianapolis and announcing the assassination of Martin Luther King.

Bryant ’16: HSC Opportunity for Engagement

Patrick Bryant ’16 – Since it was announced prior to the 2014-2015 school year, the Gentlemen’s Classic has been pitched as being more than just a football game between Wabash and Hampden-Sydney.  It was about the all-male education and how we can draw from one another and learn from one another in the education of young men.  This past weekend, Fabian House ’16, Scott Purucker ’16, and I traveled with the Little Giants football team to engage in a discussion with members of H-SC’s student leadership.  I walk away proud and thankful for all we have by what I witnessed, yet inspired that we can do better.

FBwalkoutFabian, Scott, and I met with Hampden-Sydney’s Student Body President, the chairman of their Student Senate (which is comparable to Fabian’s role), the president of their Inter-Fraternity Council, and the president of their honor court.  The notion of having an honor court has deep roots in the history of Hampden-Sydney.  Although our Gentlemen’s Rule and their Honor Code are very similar, we don’t have that sort of infrastructure here at Wabash.  I admire their student leadership for taking a stand, often times against friends and close classmates, for the sake of upholding that honor code.  That can’t be an easy task.

I spent a good majority of the first half of the game talking with Josh, the chairman of their Student Senate.  Despite having closer to 2,000 students, Josh was surprised that we have the funding dollars that we do to put towards clubs, activities, and student programming.  Some of the events he outlined at Hampden-Sydney were a formal ball that they hold for the student body, faculty, staff, and alumni, and also a large philanthropic event they put on each year.  That was two thought-provoking “gaps” for us as student leaders to consider.  The notion of having a campus-wide formal at Wabash isn’t a new one and it’s something that’s been discussed in my time as Treasurer and now President of the Student Body.

The idea of having a philanthropic event is also very interesting to me.  Our financial policy says that student funds cannot be directed to a charitable organization.  The idea is we want to subsidize costs for groups that want to “do” philanthropy, but we don’t want to allow a free-for-all in allocating funds to various organizations.  That said, I think it would be a great idea that we put our manpower and energy behind an event.  Prior to coming to Wabash, I spent four years on the Executive Committee for our high school’s Dance Marathon, raising $1 million over four years for Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.  Philanthropy is an area for growth and I come away inspired that we can do better as a student government in helping students “live humanely.”

HSC-StudentsThe weekend was a great one and the opportunity for me to interact with our D.C.-area alumni and trustees, interact with their student leadership in-person, and participate in the radio broadcast during the second half.  It was a great game day atmosphere at Hampden-Sydney, but to see the apathy of their student body to the game and their failure to wear their school color, showed me that we have a lot to be proud of and thankful for in Crawfordsville.  You can look at any photo from any game day at Wabash and find a full crowd emblazoned in scarlet.  Not so at Hampden-Sydney.  Instead lots of blue blazers with their backs turned to the game.  Wabash cares and proof can be found no further than in the crowd that supported our Little Giants this past Saturday.

Sunday was a day I won’t soon forget.  I’ve traveled twice before to Washington D.C. and twice made the trip to Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown.  Moved to tears doesn’t begin to explain it.  Without discrediting our players in anyway, I think you can ask any of them about what that Tomb means and any football game pales in comparison.

When I look back on the weekend, I was asked a number of questions by members of the H-SC community and it humbles me to think I was an ambassador for our student body.  When I explained our campus, our culture, our way of life, I quickly realized that I could sum it up my pride as a Little Giant by a lot of the actions off the playing field that I witnessed this weekend.  Everywhere we went, whether at a hotel, a restaurant, or on our flights, the behavior of our players was noticed by just about everyone who came into contact with them.  I heard countless times “please” and “thank you” and “bless you” when someone sneezed, I saw doors being held, guys pitching in and grabbing bags for one another, I saw so much of that in anticipation of and return from a 35-3 thrashing of the Tigers.  I can’t tell you if it’s a product of a single-sex education or a small school, but there’s something special here at Wabash.  Although it didn’t take a trip to Hampden-Sydney for me to realize that, it gives me a great deal of pride that the people we came in contact with at H-SC and along the way, may have a sense of what it means to be a Little Giant now too.

 

 

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.

 

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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