New Furniture Delivered

Just in time for Big Bash, many of the public areas of campus received a facelift that included fresh paint, new seating, display cases, and tables.

A generous donation from an alum brought east coast interior designer Sarah Kennedy Dolce from shea dolce interiors to campus earlier in the year and again last week to unload and set the semi-trailer full of new furniture.

Dolce collaborated largely with First-Lady Chris White to identify spaces on campus that could benefit from new décor. All of the furniture came from Chaddock, in Morgantown, North Carolina, one of the few American made furniture companies remaining.

Among the buildings to receive new furniture the Fine Arts Center, Trippet Hall, Center Hall, Detchon, Lilly Library, Baxter Hall, and Caleb Mills House.

To see photos of the furniture installation click here.

Wabash Always Fights?!

Classics Professor Matt Sears took his Classics 113/History 210 class to the battlefield as part of their study of ancient warfare. Sears enlisted the help of Physics Professor Martin Madsen who advises the Western Martial Arts Club. Click here to view more photos.

Matthew Sears – The Western Martial Arts Club is more or less a historical battle re-enactment troop. Usually they fight with medieval weapons, but this semester I thought it would be a good idea if we coordinated the activities of the club with my course on Ancient Greek and Roman Warfare.

Accordingly, the members of the club made 26 shields out of wood that more or less the approximate dimensions of Roman legionary shields (the rectangular shaped ones). The more oval shaped pieces can stand in for Greek shields as well. The metal poles are the same dimensions as Greek spears, while the wooden clubs are roughly equivalent to Roman swords.

Today, we tried several experiments. We imagined how a Roman soldier would fight against other Roman soldiers (sword against sword), how Greeks would fight against Greeks (spear against spear), and how Romans would fight against Greeks (sword against spear).

We tried to figure out what men in the rear ranks would have done during an engagement, which of course differed depending on whether they had a sword or long spear. We also had a horde of unarmored barbarians, equipped with all sorts of weapons, charge against disciplined Roman soldiers forming a wall of shields.

Literary and artistic accounts of ancient battles can hardly convey the feeling of actual fighting, and thus it is often difficult for scholars to sort out just how ancient battles played out. Modern films, too, often depict glamorous Hollywood-style fighting that probably bears little resemblance to ancient combat. The aim for today was to try our hand at a little bit of experimental archaeology, leading to a more nuanced understanding of what we have been discussing all semester based on texts and images.

Science Teachers Recognized

The Admissions Office and Wabash College Science faculty partnered to host its firstScience Teacher Recognition Program.

Students in science courses were invited to nominate teachers who had a profound influence on their high school science careers. Those teachers received a letter inviting them to come to campus for a recognition lunch and to learn more about the science curriculum at Wabash. Faculty members hope that these teachers, in turn, will refer good students to the College.

Sixteen teachers from across Indiana (and one from Illinois) had the opportunity to sit in on multiple science classes, tour the biology and chemistry facilities in Hays Hall, the physics and math facilities in Goodrich Hall, and the neuroscience facilities in Baxter Hall, along with touring the rest of campus.

At the recognition lunch the students were reunited with their high school teachers and enjoyed conversation and networking. Each teacher present received a small gift from the College honoring their work and influence on science students.

The afternoon session included a panel discussion with faculty and staff about pre-health professions, the dual degree engineering program, graduate school, summer internships, and off-campus opportunities. The teachers had the chance to ask questions about science and liberal arts, unique science opportunities at Wabash, and which students might be a good fit for the College.

A local teacher from Crawfordsville High School was happy to be part of the program. “Getting the letter of recognition was enough for me. The day today has just been icing on the cake. Even though I live in Crawfordsville, this is my first time on campus.”

The science faculty and Admissions Office hope to partner again next year for a similar program.


Under a Shady Tree

I wandered around campus today attempting to find something “new” to photograph in the splendid Fall color we’re experiencing right now (see here). However I was feeling rather uninspired.

I have a particular route I tend to follow when I go out on these photography excursions (perhaps that’s part of my problem) that begins going out the back door of Kane House toward MXIBS and the Allen Center then through the south side of campus to Fine Arts, north on Grant Avenue, through the arboretum, then finally through the mall.

As I approached the arboretum and looked across the colorful trees a song from one of my two-year-old daughter’s favorite artists, Laurie Berkner, came to mind – Under the Shady Tree. So there I was, near the end of my trek, uninspired, and now singing “Under the shady tree, you and me… lying under a shady tree, you and me… do, do, do, do.”

I remembered my first official trip through the arboretum three years ago just a few weeks after I started at Wabash. There was a young man “studying” (sound asleep) under one of many quiet giants shuffling in the breeze. I shot a couple photos of him and moved on. But today I thought back about that day and wondered how many other young men had studied under that shady tree.

I just finished a project that will be hitting mailboxes shortly before the Bell Game in November. It’s an exciting announcement about The Bachelor. During the design phase of the piece I spent a lot of time searching for just the right clip of The Bachelor to include as part of the artwork.

In putting that piece together, I met several young men from generations ago through their writing as they developed their voices, their passions, and their perspectives under those trees.

Then I started having an “if these trees could talk” sort of moment thinking about all the young men turned older who have made up the face of this campus – doctors, lawyers, politicians, business owners, pastors, fathers, husbands, and friends who “grew up” under the protection and guidance of the “shady tree” that is Wabash.

To the untrained eye, they just look like leaves set to change color and fall to the ground, only to be replaced in the spring with a new greener leaf to take on the charge of providing shade. I see professors who go to great lengths to challenge young minds to be better and think bigger. I see staff that go out of their way to nurture and guide. I see coaches who care more about character than points in the paint or third-down conversions. I see alumni who lead by example with their gifts and their time so the next generation of men among the trees can learn from the best to be the best.

They don’t disappear in the Fall. They aren’t replaced. They may no longer be with us on campus physically but they’ll always be part of the soil that gives the new leaves life. Part of the network that works together to provide the shade this year, next year, and for many to come.

Hmmm… all that from a few yellow leaves and a simple song.

I guess my walk on this beautiful Fall day wasn’t so uninspiring after all.

From Gray To Green

Brent Harris - Nearly half of the final base layer is in place on the football field. We should see the field change from gray stone to a mix of brown sand and stone, then to green FieldTurf toward the end of this week or the early portion of next week. View the latest photos from the project here. Tom Runge shot a few photos this morning as well, click here.

We will have more photos when the first pieces of turf are ready to be put into place.

The track and field areas surrounding the field have also had finishing touches put in place. Drainage grates in the long jump and triple jump pits are ready to catch the sand after the first Little Giant athlete to makes his mark. Concrete for the pole vault runways have settled and await Wabash outdoor record-holder Matt Knox ’13 to clear the bar.

The upgrades are not limited to the field. The steel support for the new scoreboard is in place. The modules will be added over the next two weeks. New 25-second clocks will also be installed this week.

Just west of the football, behind the Knowling Fieldhouse, work on the baseball stadium continues. The final storm drains have been placed in trenches. The crew is ready to strip the topsoil off the old practice field. Once that is completed, concrete molds for the walls and dugouts will be put in place. It’s hard to believe that in eight months the 2011 Little Giant baseball team will take the field against Wilmington College for the opening game at the new ballpark.

The Midnight Munch Tradition

The end of the semester at Wabash brings many certainties… final examinations, lots of time in front of the computer, plenty of research time in the library, and a midnight snack on Tuesday evening to provide a break from what can seem to be endless studying.

A record number of Wabash faculty and staff (numbering over 30 strong) gathered to join the crew from the Bon Appétit food service group on campus to serve the traditional Midnight Munch. A total of 230 students braved the cold and gathered in the Sparks Center around 11 p.m. to enjoy plates full of eggs, sausage, bacon, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, and even some fruits and pastries. 

View photos from the Midnight Munch here.

For many — both students and servers — the night is not about the food. It’s about the fellowship. Discussions of classes, winter break plans over the holidays, and the successes and struggles of the fall semester took place in the serving line and at each table. For some it was their final meal on campus before heading home for a well-deserved break and some final holiday shopping. For others, it was a quick repast before heading back to the library to go back to work on those last few pages of a paper due in few short hours.

Wabash Trio Uses Sports to Provide Assistance

Rich Blastic ’82 found himself in an interesting position at the start of the year. As a new member of the school board for the Calvary Christian School in Highland, Indiana, he realized the school would need some assistance in fund raising. Already located in region of Indiana that has seen layoffs, closings, and tough economic times, Blastic turned to familiar territory — sports.

Blastic got together with two former teammates who have kept their hands in the professional sports world. One of his best friends, Dr. Chris Carr ’82, came up with the idea of hosting a sports clinic at the school. Carr was headed to lunch with another former teammate the very day he and Blastic discussed the idea. That teammate was Pete Metzelaars ’82. Carr’s experience as a sports psychologist working with various groups from the US Olympic Ski Team and the Kansas City Royals and Oklahoma City Thunder to Ohio State and other college and professional athletes would be joined by Metzelaars’ knowledge and time spent as a 16-year NFL veteran player and current NFL coach in Indianapolis.

Metzelaars jumped on board from the moment he heard about the plan for a sports clinic.

"The hardest part was finding a date that would work for everyone," Metzelaars said. His duties as the offensive quality control and assistant offensive line coach for the Indianapolis Colts have increased since the shakeup in the coaching staff with Tom Moore and Howard Mudd. Carr, "One we got the date set, I’ve just been looking forward to helping Rich with the school. They are in a tough situation with the economy the way it is, and I just wanted to help."

Blastic and the rest of the group set aside time on May 30 to conduct the sports clinic.

"Chris is going to speak to the kids, coaches, and parents in attendance about the mental training and psychological strength and skills that go into athletics. We’ll follow that up with Pete sharing his experience as a player. With so many negatives out there in sports, it will be nice to present a positive view of athletics."

If the early word is any indication of how the event will be received, the school should see a major boost in its support.

"The community businesses have really embraced this event," Blastic said. "With two quality gentlemen like Chris and Pete willing to help, it was nice to be able to call the business in the area and hear the owners say they would be happy to be involved. 

"We’ve been able to have businesses provide 10 free tickets to the event for over 20 schools in the area. That means 200 young athletes who might not have had the opportunity to attend based on their home finances. And the money for those tickets goes to Calvary Christian School."

With event on the horizon, Metzelaars was excited for the opportunity to assist.

"The main goal is to help the school," the former Wabash tight end said. "We get an opportunity to use sports and athletics to help kids. We’ll be giving some thoughts, tips, and pointers on a lot of athletic fronts, but we’ll also be providing life lessons and sharing ways to be successful in whatever area these young people choose."

Photo – Pete Metzelaars working during the Indianapolis Colts’ training camp. Metzelaars will join former Wabash teammates Rich Blastic and Chris Carr at a sports clinic Saturday, May 30 at 4 p.m. to benefit the Calvary Christian School in Highland, Indiana. Photo courtesy of the Indianapolis Star.

A Whale of a Good Time

I can always tell when the semester is coming to a close — the call for volunteers for the Midnight Munch emanates †from the Dean of Students Office at Wabash. Faculty and staff from all over campus gather in the Great Hall of the Sparks Center to feed up the students pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon, and that Hoosier staple of biscuits and gravy. The meal provides a nice late night study break, but it has always been more than that.

My first experience with the Midnight Munch came about 3-1/2 years ago when Edie Simms, Associate Dean of Students at the time, was putting the event together. I learned from her†that while the food brought the students out for the evening, the chance to talk and take a short break from studying†was even more important. The young men would smile as you handed them a plate of food, enjoying the event, the atmosphere, and the fellowship with everyone involved.

Mike Raters ’85 heads up the Munch now in his role as the Associate Dean. When that email asking for help comes, I jump at the chance to spend another night behind the serving line.

Wonder if it really is fun to work the Munch? You can start by checking out some of the photos Chip Timmons posted in the Admissions blog, The Scarlet Banter. Or you need look no further than last night at the griddle where President Pat and Chris White prepared the first batch†of pancakes. Chris kept the proud tradition of "practically perfect pancakes" alive as silver dollar-sized flapjacks stacked up in the serving trays, awaiting the arrival of the students. As the evening progressed, the challenges began. Raters and Pat White started making various designs with the batter, including one pizza-sized pancake.

Near the end of the evening the two temporary fry cooks began molding the batter into a new shape — a whale. Raters carefully sculpted the mouth and and eye while President White formed the rest of the body and tail. A few minutes into the project came the big test. Would it stay together when it was flipped over on the grill?

Not a problem for these two Iron Chefs! Moments later one giant whale pancake was ready to be devoured. Matvey Toropov ’09 won the honors, eventually finding a plate big enough to hold the giant creation. Twenty minutes later Toropov left to head back to the books after enjoying his special meal.

It always seem like such a simple thing, just standing in line and tossing some eggs onto a plate. But every year I’m reminded it’s not about the food. As the spring 2007 Munch came near an end, one student came back to the head of the line. Chemistry professor Lon Porter asked him if he was back for a second round.

"No," the student replied. "I wanted to thank each of you for coming out to do this. I’ve had so much fun tonight, now I feel like I can go back to my room and finish my review work for my final exams."

Photos – (top left) Another "practically perfect pancake" comes off the griddle, courtesy of Chris White.

(Middle right) President Pat White and whale-cake.

(Bottom right) Toropov chats with Athletic Trainer Mark Colston after finishing his pancake.

Summer Fun!

Brent Harris, June 28 — Ah summer! A time to relax, spend short days in the office and longer days on the golf course. That’s what many people think the summer is like around the Wabash athletics offices during the months of May, June, and July before things get hectic once again in August for the fall sports.

But there has been a flurry of activity the past few weeks, and it will continue into the early weeks of July. Summer sports camps have kept the Allen Athletics and Recreation center packed with high school students and their parents since early June.

If you walked into the Bowerman Lobby two weeks ago you would have worked your way through a group of swimming campers getting their dorm keys and saying goodbye to their parents. Just past the swimmers, participants in the sold-out Bishop-Dullaghan Football Skills Camp were picking up their camp equipment before heading off to their rooms. Earlier in the week I had a chance to catch up with former Little Giant football player Vaino Grayam ’55 while his grandson registered for the Wabash wrestling camp.

The summer camp season will conclude with a wrestling team camp that begins Monday July 10. In addition to a staff consisting of Wabash head coach Brian Anderson, Fresno State assistant Kevin Lake, Dakota Wesleyan head coach Josh Hardman, 2004 Olympic silver medalist and three-time NCAA national champion Stephen Abas will work with high school teams on their wrestling skills. Teams can still sign up for the camp by contacting Coach Anderson.

As the final seven weeks of summer come to a close, it won’t be long before football, soccer, and cross country athletes begin their return to campus to get ready for the 2006-07 season. That still leaves some time to find that fairway on the golf course.

Know The Mountain

By Brent Harris

"Know where the mountain is at all times."

That’s a phrase the Wabash golf team may never forget after playing a round at the exclusive and historic Desert Forest Golf Course in Carefree, Arizona. You see, the course is located near the base of the Black Mountain. Every grain of grass on the greens goes toward the mountain. So even if the putt looks uphill, find the mountain. That’s the way the ball will break.

It was a tough lesson to learn. After spending nine holes with senior Elliot Vice and junior JP Manalo and their course member host Bill McRea, I raced ahead to join seniors Aaron Selby and Jonathan McDowell and freshman Jordan Vice. Every time they reached the green, they would remind each other, "where’s the mountain. Know the mountain."

Another thing to know is the weather. The Phoenix area was in the midst of a 140-day drought, one of the longest in the region’s history. That’s come to an end.The team played in 50-degree weather, but was surprised when the light rain that started late in the round turned to hail, then light snow. Twenty minutes later the sun came out and no remnants of the snow could be found. Welcome to the great Southwest.

After the round the group gathered with Wabash alum Dick Hurckes ’56, who hosted the team at the course for day. They talked about the course, playing the ball off the desert surrounding the course, overseeding the golf course (Wabash players say yes with the other popular phrase of the day being, "overseed." I think love of the course and the history of its development may win out in the end), and, of course, Wabash College.

They even took a moment to pose for a picture taken by a DePauw alumnus who is also a member of the club who took a moment to joke with the team and talk about his memories of the rivalry between the two schools.

Photos – (top) Freshman Jordan Vice tees off with the Black Mountain clearly in view.

(middle) Hail gathers on the practice green near the club house.

(bottom) The golf team with alum Dick Hurckes in the clubhouse after the round.