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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.

Film Has Linebacker Wearing Many Hats

Six months of work boiled down to 23 minutes.

“Reaping Words,” the film that A.J. Clark ’16 wrote, produced, directed and starred in, represents six months of eye-opening work for his THE 498 Senior Seminar. “Over the summer, I knew that I wanted to do a film,” he said. “I spent June and July trying to come up with ideas. It was overwhelming to get this thing off the ground, develop characters, and think about it constantly.”

Clark was a key cog in the Little Giants' defense this season.

Clark was a key cog in the Little Giants’ defense this season.

For the average budding filmmaker, such an undertaking might be all consuming, but for Clark, who is an honorable mention all-conference linebacker on the 12-1 Wabash football team that advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA DIII playoffs, much of “Reaping Words” was produced in between his gridiron obligations.

Click Here for a Link to Clark’s Film

The idea to build a screenplay came to him in July. He wrote about 70 percent of the script during football training camp. By the Wittenberg game (Clark references weeks by the opponent faced), the script was completed and following an abbreviated preproduction period – a month of work in a week, Clark says – shooting started in October. The film’s final scene was shot during Monon Bell Week, and he edited in spurts during the Little Giants’ playoff run.

To pull this off, Clark had a dedicated crew of five to assist, but spent much of his time planning shots and editing the script as he went along, essentially leaving only Friday and Saturday nights to rehearse his lines before shooting most Sundays.

He points to the final scene where he and his on-screen mom (played by his real-life mom, Terra McMillian) talk on a bench in the Arboretum. It was shot during Fall Break, so no other students were around. But the schedule had to be kept. Clark lined up the shots, got the cameras and audio rolling, and often ran into position to deliver his lines. Scene ends, reset the cameras, and repeat.

“Wearing so many hats at the same time was pretty difficult,” said the product of Higley, AZ, “especially when trying to act because I was also a director, producer, and writer. If a line doesn’t work, or I have to find this prop, that affected my acting performance.”

While Clark’s original goal for the project was to produce something for his acting portfolio – he’s appeared on the Wabash stage multiple times as well – he never lost sight of the inspiration for the project. The struggle represented in the film mirrors his efforts to get his film made while fulfilling his obligations as a student and teammate.

A.J. and his mom, Terra McMillian, starred in "Reaping Words."

A.J. and his mom, Terra McMillian, starred in “Reaping Words.”

“That struggle was the inspiration,” he said. “The drive comes from your heart, from your passion, and the idea came from the struggle in trying to establish myself. I want to act and would love to direct.”

Clark says that “Reaping Words” has taught him the value of collaboration.

“I feel good about this project,” he said. “I learned how important other people are in the production. I now appreciate all of the roles like cinematographer, lighting director, props, and producers. I have an idea how massive the effort is in films. The list of credits in a regular movie makes so much more sense.

“If you have a vision, you definitely want to foster it, but it’s good to let others share in that.”

The Spirit of Caleb Mills

Richard Paige — His name weaves through our history all the way back to the moment where the original trustees knelt in the snow and founded this institution. The tradition we hold most dear – the bell that rings students in on Freshman Saturday and out on Commencement – had its beginnings with him. He, of course, is Caleb Mills.

For many, Mills simply is the name we attach to the spirit that flows through this place. How are we to know our first professor, a man who last taught in 1876 and passed away in 1879? Who can bring that spirit to life?

Chuck Beemer can. A lawyer, noted Civil War scholar, and the author of two books, Beemer is also Caleb Mills’ great-great grandson.

Beemer was born in Montgomery County and graduated from Crawfordsville High School in 1958. He earned his undergraduate degree from Colorado College, has a master’s from Wisconsin, and a law degree from North Carolina.

Chuck Beemer, the great-great grandson of Caleb Mills.

Chuck Beemer, the great-great grandson of Caleb Mills.

While on campus recently to discuss his latest book, “My Greatest Quarrel with Fortune: Major General Lew Wallace in the West, 1861–1862”, I sat down with him to talk about his legacy, his great-great grandfather, and coming home.

Are you more aware of your great-great grandfather when you come back to campus?
To be honest, I feel a sense of that while I’m on campus, but I feel a sense of it quite often. Mom (Julia Beemer) felt a very close kinship to Caleb Mills. She obviously didn’t know him, but I’ve heard the name Caleb Mills since I was yeah-high to a Fig Newton. I remember real early on that I was asked to make a presentation to the local grade school PTA meeting. Dad insisted that I say something about being the great-great grandson of Caleb Mills. It really bothered me to do it. Frankly, it sounded like I was bragging or trying to achieve a special status. The audience responded to it almost like it was an everyday commonplace thing. I think the name Caleb Mills is a very well-known name in Crawfordsville.

How much do you know of Dr. Mills and his accomplishments?
I’m very proud of the fact that he was the first professor here. Dad always used to talk about how they came across the mountains and knelt in the snow. So that image has been with me for a long, long time. I’m proud of the fact that he was superintendent of education, and I read someplace that he did so much to advance the cause of free public education that he became known as the Father of the Free Public School System in Indiana. That’s always meant quite a bit to me.

How much did his influence have on you becoming a Civil War historian or lawyer?
I’m not sure of any per se, more like an atmosphere. It was absolutely expected that my older brother and I would go to college. I desperately wanted to come to Wabash, but dad felt that getting away from home was an integral part of the educational process. He really kiboshed the idea; certainly nothing to do with Wabash, he recognized it as a great school. I’ve always been a fun loving guy and simultaneously somebody who has a strong sense of the need for education both in your personal and professional life. I think it was kind of an unspoken, unidentifiable, pervasive type of influence.

What do you know of him as a person?
I have read a lot of his (Caleb’s) letters to his son when Benjamin Marshall was in command of a company of black U.S. troops during the Occupation of Vicksburg in 1864. (He was a) Terribly, terribly, terribly strict disciplinarian, even with his son…very formal. There is no evidence of pleasantries. Very straight forward. Benjamin Marshall is quite like him in return letters, but you can see a little emotionalism creep in. As much as I revere and respect Caleb Mills, I don’t think I would have liked for him to have been my father. (laughs loudly) It would not have been easy.

Did those letters help to humanize him for you?
Absolutely. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for him as a man, even more so for what he accomplished. I would love to go back in time and sit and talk to him for however long. I don’t know how he’d relate to the PGA Tour or NBA basketball, but he must have been a man of immense character and I could tell he was a man of immense persuasion.

Does the campus still feel like home for you?
Still does. It never changes. Crawfordsville doesn’t change much either. It had been 40 years since I’d left, and I was struck by how much had not changed. The people of Crawfordsville have always been very warm and friendly. My relationship with the college has always been quite, quite solid. I follow the football and basketball teams closely. I did not go to Wabash, but I can assure you that Wabash is and will always be a strong part of me. I’m extremely pleased whenever I read something about Wabash because it’s always good news.

How meaningful is it to you that Caleb Mills, and his bell and mace, are still central to who we are?
When we got the Wabash Magazine a month or so ago, one of the first pictures at commencement had the faculty marshal carrying the cane. I showed it to (his wife) Nancy and said, “Your great-great grandfather-in-law is in that picture.” All she sees are guys in caps and gowns. She asked, “What are you talking about?” I said, “He’s right there in front. There is his cane. The spirit of Caleb Mills is in that picture.” Things like that mean a lot to me.

Immersed in Art and Baseball

Richard Paige — We talk a great deal here about the impact of immersion trips. In the next few days alone, Wabash men will be traipsing across the globe, including destinations like Italy and South Africa.

Rhetoric professor Todd McDorman immersed his Baseball and the American Identity freshman tutorial class in the charming hamlet known as Cooperstown, NY, and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in mid-October.

I was curious how such a trip might influence a group of guys — baseball fans — a good number of them baseball players, too. It’s not like the guys headed to Rome can actually define themselves as gladiators. Would it make an impact, or be brushed off like that of a bad-hop ground ball?

Eilshemius’ “Van Courtland Park”

Eilshemius’ “Van Courtland Park”

Bryce Bridgewater ’19 is one of 13 who made the trip. The class impacted him long before the group made it to Cooperstown.

“I’m a baseball player and I love the sport,” he said. “I didn’t think I’d ever be given an opportunity like that to learn and analyze different aspects of the game; how baseball and America have grown up together and shaped history. It wasn’t what I expected. The game and America are best friends.”

Each had a research project on how a particular subject is presented and influenced by its presentation in Hall of Fame.

Bridgewater threw himself a curve. For a guy who had been to one art museum previously, he chose art and baseball simply because it was different. He spent four hours in the exhibit.

Andy Worhol's "Tom Seaver" also was a favorite.

Andy Warhol’s “Tom Seaver” also was a favorite.

“It was hard at times not to be a fan,” said the right-handed pitcher from Indianapolis. “You get caught up in it, but you have to remember that you are being a critic. It took some time to step back and make those connections.”

He noticed that each work of art had its own interpretation of the game. He started to see the game from a different perspective.

“It gave me a chance to see what the game looked like in different eras and how it’s changed,” Bridgewater said. “The game my grandpa knew and the game my dad knew is different than the game I know.”

One piece resonated strongly with Bridgewater. Louis M. Eilshemius’ “Van Courtland Park” shows the game in its infancy. It reminded him of what made him fall in love with the game. “It was like playing a pick-up game in the backyard with friends,” he said.

The experience opened his eyes to the impact that art has on any subject.

"Phil Niekro" by LaVern Brock was constructed completely of baseball cards.

“Phil Niekro” by LaVern Brock was constructed completely of baseball cards.

“I didn’t think that a painting could have told me about the connections or the importance,” he said. “The art, the artifacts, the exhibit, the town itself that all opened my eyes. Art is more than just a painting, there is a story behind it. If I went back to that art museum, I might feel differently now.”

The experience allowed him to draw parallels between pitching and painting. Whether it’s attacking the hitters or the canvas, it’s the approach that is unique.

“Every athlete’s or artist’s approach is different,” Bridgewater concluded. “They might be inspired by something completely different. It’s all interpretation. That’s why I think art and baseball are fascinating. You might get similar results, but the process is so much different.”

Medieval History Made Fun

Richard Paige — If only every idea that crossed your desk could be as whimsical.

Professor of History Stephen Morillo got an out-of-the-blue e-mail from a high school student named Greyson Beights, who asked if Morillo could write a 200-word description of the Battle of Hastings.

That whimsy eventually became Medieval Lego, a book that pairs real historians’ summaries of events like the Battle of Hastings, the chartering of Oxford University, and the signing of the Magna Carta with Lego bricks.

I don’t think there could there be a better way to make any subject appealing to children than to mix in Lego constructions.

Professor Morillo's contributions inside Medieval Lego.

Professor Morillo’s contributions can be found inside Medieval Lego.

“It’s an interesting, almost noble thought to make Medieval history interesting to kids by building Lego set pieces of famous battles or sieges,” Morillo said. “Greyson did it right. He got good builders and made good Lego constructions. He made it reliable and respectable by getting in touch with some big-name Medieval historians like Robert Bartlett and Steven Isaac.”

Two-hundred words on the Battle of Hastings. Would he do it?

“I’m thinking I could do that in my sleep,” said Morillo. “Sure, I’ll take part. So I sent him my stuff.”

Some 15 months later, a copy of Medieval Lego arrived in Morillo’s office. The finished product was impressive. Plus, the Battle of Hastings landed on the cover.

“It was a damn good idea,” Morillo said. “He makes some real connections here.”

I asked Morillo if this particular publication would leap to the top of his C.V. “Yes, I think it will,” he laughed. “It’s the most recent thing, so, of course, it goes right to the top.”

One Play, One Memorable Tackle

Richard Paige — So many things have to come together for any single play in football to work. When they do, it can lead to a very special moment.

Sixty-seven seconds remained in the Little Giants’ 55-7 win at Wooster last weekend when special happened.

“If you would have seen the way the guys on the sideline reacted, you would have thought that we won the national championship,” offensive coordinator Don Morel said. “That’s as much fun as I’ve had in 25 years of coaching.”

Ethan Shultz '19

Ethan Shultz ’19

Ethan Shultz is a freshman outside linebacker. He stands 5-foot-6, weighs 152 pounds, and is diabetic. For him to even be on the team is borderline miraculous.

He’s a member of the scout team defense, which means each week he and 10 other teammates mimic the opponent’s defense to give the starters a chance to simulate what they might face on Saturday.

It’s a thankless job because scout teamers spend more time learning the opposing D than they do their own.

Coaches notice. And they noticed Shultz, who sticks his nose in there every day and plays to the best of his ability on each play. He does everything asked of him.

Shultz grew up in Danville, Ohio, roughly 30 miles from the Wooster campus, and as a reward for his hard work, earned a spot on the Little Giants’ travel team. That’s as much as any freshman could hope for.

Late in the game with the Little Giants cruising, Shultz’s teammates began chanting his name. They wanted him to get a chance to play. The coaches started to talk. Could we get him on the field?

“Something crazy had to happen for us to get him in the game,” said assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Olmy Olmstead. “We’re on defense and we need something to get him in on the kickoff squad.”

A few plays later, A.J. Clark ’16 intercepted a pass and returned it 58 yards for a score. Crazy just happened and Coach Erik Raeburn green lighted the decision to put him in.

Shultz trotted on to the field for the ensuing kick-off. With the ball on its way, he sprinted down the field wearing No. 58, and he made the tackle. The Little Giant sideline erupted.

“It felt great to make that tackle on my first collegiate play,” Shultz explained. “It felt as all the hard work I’ve put in on scout team finally came to fruition.”

This isn’t a Rudy experience, that’s fairytale. Moments like Shultz’s happen far more often in college sports than Hollywood ever lets on. What’s truly memorable about Ethan’s performance is that in the singular moment – seven seconds in total – he got an opportunity and made the most of it. The hard work, the practices, the focus, the dedication. He. Made. The. Tackle.

Coaches love when their guys rise and meet the moment. Ethan Shultz did exactly that.

“I’m not sure how much Ethan Schultz is going to get in there and play in the future, but I can promise you that if he continues to perform like he does on our scout team, you are going to want that guy in your organization.

“He absolutely earned it,” Olmstead said. “He deserved every second of that moment.”

Seven seconds, three frames, one memorable tackle.

Seven seconds, three frames, one memorable tackle.

3D Printing Fosters Lasting Connection

Wabash Summer Research: In Our Own Words is a multimedia piece that uses the voices of Wabash College students to describe still photographs of their summer research work in the biology, chemistry, physics, and 3D printing laboratories on campus. The piece includes photographs by Grace Vaught with editing done by Austin Myers ’16.

 

A 3D printer helped bring a 1,500-year-old mathematics text to life.

While working on a manuscript of his own, assistant professor of mathematics Colin McKinney was perusing a text written in the late fifth century A.D. by Eutocius that described in great detail how to construct a device that would solve a basic geometry problem.

According to McKinney, Eutocius was very detailed in his descriptions of the mesolabe, right down to its dovetail-shaped groves.

“The text that describes this instrument is very clear in the language of how to construct it,” McKinney said. “For a mathematical text, that is kind of interesting.”

Sufficiently intrigued, McKinney was faced with a choice. He could spend the better part of a weekend carving it out of wood or he could 3D print it, “and that seemed much easier,” he laughed.

Professor McKinney's mesolabe both as a work in progress (top) and completed.

Professor McKinney’s mesolabe both as a work in progress (top) and completed.

Using Eutocius’ descriptions, McKinney designed the piece in an hour or two and used the Wabash 3D Printing and Fabrication Center to pint it. From inspiration to prototype took the better part of an afternoon.

“The advantage of 3D printing is you can try something and make modifications quickly,” McKinney said. “If I’m making this out of wood and discovered it wouldn’t work, that would have been an entire weekend gone. It really accelerates the rate at which you can try different things.”

The extruded plastic output also solidified a connection to the text that was unexpected. McKinney got a qualitative response to a very quantitative problem.

“That’s the awesome part,” he explained. “It’s real math history and to be able to make something that’s described in a text just totally changes that text. To be able to say here is the 21st century version of that fourth century device really brings it to life in a way the text in itself doesn’t.”

What began as work on a research paper soon grew into something bigger.

“To be able to get this thing prototyped quickly meant that I could keep making progress on that paper,” McKinney said. “I knew it would work in a geometric sense because I could prove that, but it’s totally different to put this on a piece of paper and, bam, those are the links right there that I need.”

The success McKinney enjoyed in crafting the mesolabe with the 3D printer has led him to attempt to produce more complicated devices. It’s also spawned a second paper.

The Value of a Mentor

Richard Paige — While the College celebrates the teaching and artistic accomplishments of Doug Calisch this weekend with the opening of 35 Retro in the Eric Dean Gallery, I was interested in the role than a mentor plays in the development of an artist.

So I reached out to Joe Trumpey ’88 via e-mail and asked him this: how important or meaningful is a mentor to a developing artist?

His reply was better than I could have hoped, and captures so many of the qualities that make Doug worth celebrating.

Joe Trumpey '88.

Joe Trumpey ’88.

“Doug Calisch was just the mentor I needed to launch my creative life. He is a calm, patient, and caring man. It was that demeanor that swayed me into a dual major. As a freshman I was a biology major thinking about an art minor. Getting to know Doug in 3-D design as a freshman, I realized that “making stuff” was an important part of who I am. I saw that creative quality in Doug and his work. He gently encouraged me to complete a dual major. He was not high pressure. Just an idea. Just there. Listening to me. Paying attention to me. Talking with me. Caring for me. Holding me accountable. Challenging me. How could I refuse? I valued those qualities then and still today. I learned a lot about being an educator from Doug and still strive to be the calm, attentive mentor that he was to me and countless others.”

Now an associate professor of art at the University of Michigan, Trumpey also relayed a story that brought things full circle for him.

“I was the student representative on Doug’s tenure review committee. Once he successfully achieved the tenure he deserved, he went on sabbatical and began building the home he designed. I spent a good part of that summer working in a bio lab on a research project during the day and spent nights and weekends helping Doug and Laura build their home. Twenty-three years later, after I achieved tenure at the University of Michigan, I began building my own home. Doug and Laura’s son, Sam, contacted me interested in green building. Sam came to Michigan and lived with us for more than a month working hard in building our home. It was a fulfilling and beautiful thing.”

Indeed.

Student-Professor Continuum

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

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

Marc Hudson

Marc Hudson

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

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

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

David Polley

David Polley

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

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

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

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

‘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.”


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