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The Importance of Discomfort

“Don’t let your desire to be known as a good guy in front of others get in the way of taking part in the bigger conversation.”

Liz Plank, For the Love of Men

Why do I think the way I do?

Why do I act the way I do?

Why do I hold certain beliefs?

What do I believe about myself?

Those are some of the questions award-winning journalist and author Liz Plank told the students in Wabash Professor of Rhetoric Jennifer Abbott’s Gender 101 class to ask themselves on a frequent basis.

“And then ask yourself, how do these things help you?” Plank said. “Sometimes, our thoughts are actually reverberations of what we’ve been told—by parents, caretakers, friends, and even society. But it’s important to be able to disconnect from the thoughts of others in order to see who you really are.” 

Plank was virtually brought to Wabash as part of the President’s Distinguished Speaker Series. The above exercise, which she calls “mindful masculinity,” is a large focus of her recent book, For the Love of Men.  

Plank describes mindful masculinity as a way for men to get in touch with the intentions behind their thoughts and actions. By encouraging them to look inward, they align themselves with their best selves—with the ways that make them good men—instead of the selves that are shaped by society and the thoughts of others regarding what it means to be a man. 

“The result is that men become aware of the reasons they do the things they do,” she explained. “Intentional masculinity is the cure for toxic masculinity.”

It’s not an easy exercise. In fact, there’s a lot of discomfort that comes from the process. 

But recognizing that discomfort, she said, is vital to understanding sexism and its impacts.

“It’s not easy to change the way you’ve been socialized,” Plank said. “Men don’t need to feel like they’re perfect in order to be part of this (feminist) movement. That discomfort is not a sign that you’re at the wrong place; it’s a sign you’re at the right place.” 

But where can men start? 

As Andrew Freck ’21 asked Plank, “How does mindful masculinity become externalized?”

One of the first steps is acknowledging the systemic problem, she answered. Then acknowledge that there are things you might not know about or fully understand. 

“Don’t let your desire to be known as a good guy in front of others get in the way of taking part in the bigger conversation,” she said.

“We have all grown up in a patriarchal society with sexist tendencies,” she continued. “Acknowledge it, exhale, and ask, ‘So what I can I do to change it?’”

That includes having deliberate friendships with people who are different from themselves, which, Plank said, is one of the best and most satisfying parts of being an activist. 

She also encouraged students to become comrades as well as an allies.

A male ally of the feminist movement might share with women how terrible sexism is, a comrade will address it with other men.

“It might feel scary. It might be really hard. And it will probably be uncomfortable,” Plank said. “But that’s where impact happens.”


Reunited After Nearly 30 Years

Last semester, Wabash’s Advancement Office received an unexpected letter from a woman in Hamilton, Montana. It was addressed to “whomever can help” and contained photos of a 1970 class ring.

“I have a class ring from your College, ‘Class of 70,’” the note from Delores Meuchel stated. “The initials G.A.J. are engraved on the inside …  I would like to return it to the owner.”

Aaron Selby ’06, director of annual giving and advancement services, got to work and began tracking down the ring’s owner. He examined the attached photos and noticed Delta Tau Delta’s letters featured. From there, Selby used the Wabash Alumni Directory to look up members of the Class of 1970 who had those initials and were brothers of the fraternity.

It took 28 years, but Greg Jackson ’70 was reunited with his Wabash class ring.

“This search quickly identified one person and I reached out to Gregory A. Jackson of Helena, Montana, to see if this was his ring,” Selby recalled. “After talking with Greg by phone, he informed me that he believed this was his class ring and was amazed.”

Jackson’s ring had been missing for 28 years.

“Anytime I would open a box or go through things again, I would look to see if I might somehow find it, but it never surfaced,” Jackson said of the ring, which went missing after a separation and move. “It has a special meaning to me and I was heartbroken when it disappeared.

“Over the years I always held out the hope that maybe it would show up.”

And it’s a good thing Jackson never lost that hope.

Selby put Jackson in contact with Meuchel, who lived about 150 miles away.

Meuchel told Jackson that she had purchased a “box of junk” from a garage sale in Elliston, Montana, about 20 miles from Helena. The box was full of aluminum cans, pull tabs and a ring.

“She was mildly intrigued and put it in a jewelry box where it sat for a couple of years,” Jackson said. “She was going through the jewelry box fairly recently and thought maybe she could see who the ring belonged to.”

The ring was eventually mailed and returned back to Jackson around Thanksgiving.

“It’s crazy to think that my ring made a journey around the state of Montana and back to me after all this time,” the Wabash alumnus said.

Jackson, who works as an attorney, said he’s thankful for Meuchel taking the time to track him down and for the College officials who helped facilitate the reunion.

“Graduating from Wabash is a big deal,” Jackson said. “To have that piece of my life back is just absolutely phenomenal. I can’t express enough appreciation.”


History is Still Present

The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.”

Malcolm X, 1962

Can you have an elephant in a Zoom room? 

On Sept. 23, students in BKT Assistant Professor of History Sabrina Thomas’ class, “Malcolm, Martin, and Mandela,” were in a virtual class discussion with Clint Smith, critically-acclaimed poet and writer for The Atlantic.

It’s 12:15 p.m. 

Introductions are made, and the conversation begins. But Smith and many of the students were anxiously waiting for 1:15 p.m.

“In one hour, we’re going to find out what the grand jury decided in regards to Breonna Taylor,” Smith said. “But none of what’s happening right now is new.”

It’s 12:20 p.m.

Smith explains that the narrative surrounding the relationship between the police and Black Americans—between the entire criminal legal system and Black Americans—is something both Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X spoke about in the 1950s and 1960s. 

Among the most horrific things said to Black Americans back then, Smith said, were statements like:

This is your fault.

If you were just this kind of person…

If you just behaved this way…

“For Martin and Malcolm, even though they had fundamentally different dispositions, different approaches, and very different journeys, they both understood the danger of egregious claims like that.”

It’s 12:50 p.m.

Smith mentions that slavery was abolished in 1865—less than 200 years ago. The math is right, but it seems impossible. At the height of the Civil Rights Movement, it hadn’t even been 100 years since African Americans’ ancestors were enslaved—not even two generations. 

Apartheid in South Africa began in 1948, and negotiations to end the discriminatory system didn’t begin until the late 1990s. Nelson Mandela became president in 1994—only 26 years ago. 

“So many of the stories we tell ourselves happened a long time ago, weren’t that long ago,” Smith said.

One of the internal conflicts students share that they’re facing is figuring out where they fit—are they more like Malcolm, Martin or Mandela? 

Smith said he felt that same conflict when he was beginning to read their work and understand their philosophies. Then he realized he didn’t have to choose.

“It ends up being an overly-simplistic, binary conception of who these men were. I think you can say, ‘I appreciate this about what Martin was saying, this about what Malcolm was saying, and this about what Mandela was saying.’

“What I appreciate about all three of them is their immense and remarkable capacity for growth and evolution. More than anything, those are the lessons I carry from them. None of us should be static in our understanding of the world or how we engage with the world.”

It’s 1:05 p.m.

Smith shares that he was in his first week of graduate school at Harvard University when Michael Brown was fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. That incident, he said, changed his entire postgraduate experience.

“I started teaching and working in prisons,” Smith said. “All of the classes I took were to give me more language to better understand what I was seeing. I mean, much like what you guys are doing now. These classes, these books, these thinkers you are learning from are giving you a language to help you make sense of everything happening around you.”

It’s 1:10 p.m.

The conversation with Smith is over, but the class will reconvene in 10 minutes to debrief.

It’s 1:15 p.m.

A Jefferson County Circuit Judge reads the decision from the grand jury. One officer is indicted on three counts of wanton endangerment, but no officers faced charges related to Taylor’s death. 

Among the social media posts of heartbreak and outrage are comments that seem far too familiar.

What did you expect?

This is what happens when…

If only she hadn’t…

It’s 1:25 p.m.

Nothing specific about Breonna Taylor is spoken, but they know. The questions come quickly: How do we get people to understand? How do we talk about racism with people who may not agree with what we’re saying?

“History is still present,” one student said. “Maybe I should describe how certain things from the past still have influence today. Maybe that will make the past not seem so distant.”

“Knowledge is power,” another said. “He (Smith) made me think about small things I could be doing. Am I encouraging my friends back home to vote? And when conversations do happen, I really want to stop and ask myself if I understand what they’re saying. If I do, then I want to respond with facts. I want to be able to respond without seeming like I’m jumping on them. A lot of people don’t want to feel horrible about themselves, and I just want to educate them and share the knowledge that I have.” 

It’s 3 p.m.

Smith writes on Twitter: “For people who knew Breonna personally, it must feel like a double helix of grief. Mourning the small moments of love that have been stripped away from you and a recognition that what happened to Breonna is part of a much broader structural problem in our social and political systems. This is the grief that so many Black Americans experience in moments like these. The mourning of a person that we’ve lost … and the mourning over a system that allows these deaths to keep happening.”


Poetry as an Entry Point

Richard Paige — Words seem to come easy to Clint Smith, especially when he finds his rhythm and words simply flow. That cadence produces an easy connection between speaker and listener, one that serves both well as the poet, historian, and journalist gives voice to a story that screams to be heard.

Smith made a virtual visit to campus Wednesday night as part of the President’s Distinguished Speaker Series, delivering a compelling hour-long talk – “Why Black Lives Matter” – and Q&A session for those assembled on Zoom.

Poet, historian, and journalist Clint Smith.

He mentioned early on that poems are an entry point to conversation, and used four of his poems to establish a message and open a dialogue. The key point, perhaps, echoed in the words from his poem, “How to Raise a Black Son in America.”

“When we say that Black lives matter, it’s not because others don’t. It’s simply because we must affirm that our lives are worthy of existing without fear when so many things tell us that we are not.”

Much of the conversation was rooted in American history – all 400 years of it –and driven home by this thought. “We are the annoying pre-teen of the world,” he said.

The imagery of his poetry, thoughtful and clear, force us to lean into the messiness, as he suggested, of the contradictions of the American experience. Whether it be a poem addressed to five of the U.S. presidents who owned slaves, musings on the New Deal, or thoughts on reconciling slavery served as an affirmation that Black lives, indeed, matter.

His thoughts of access and how his poetry can serve as an equalizer were intriguing. He claimed that his idea of fun was reading a 700-page book with a bag of hot Cheetos at his side. Others might not have that luxury, so he explained, “I’m always thinking ‘can I turn this into a poem?’ to capture the essence” of the book for someone who might not have the means to tackle it.

He admitted to being a disillusioned English major as a freshman, where the works of poets like Keats, and Yeats, Frost and Whitman didn’t resonate.

On an internship in New York City, he had an epiphany, discovering the Nuyorican Poets Café, a small and legendary spot on the lower east side of Manhattan that completely changed his understanding of what poetry could be. To hear him describe the people behind the mic that night – young, black, brown, disabled, and queer – offered a world different than what was presented to him on campus in North Carolina.

“I put all of the pressure of what literature was or all of the pressure of what poetry had to be on to these texts,” he started. “I left that night thinking, ‘I don’t know what this is, but I want to do it.’”

He returned from NYC and wrote “many bad poems for many years.” But he threw himself into those words through poetry slams, open mics, and readings, and soon discovered an ability to return to Keats and Yeats and Frost and Whitman with a different appreciation. There wasn’t pressure. Smith could respect the work for what it is.

“Poetry gave me a different entry point into literature that I hadn’t had before,” he says. “Poetry isn’t a bunch of dead white guys, it’s a robust, dynamic space that young people of color are very much a part.”

He implored students to read as much as possible. “Your job is to read books and discuss them and to think about them,” he says. “Read as much as you can. Find people, build community.”

Smith’s story is a liberal arts story, one that isn’t dissimilar to those found at Wabash.


Artists are Adaptable

 

Richard Paige — I’ve wrestled for a while with the idea of properly recognizing the 2020 senior art majors.

At the time of the semester where each of these eight guys – Cameron Coates, Marlon Lewis, Devan Luckey, Zach McMann, David Ortega, Bill Polen, Jonathon Stephens, and John Wallace – was most likely gearing up for that final creative push to an exhibition that traditionally opens in mid-April, the COVID-19 pandemic reached our campus and made the real virtual.

To think about the normal disruptions most of us faced was enough, but what about this group? Not only were they trying to finish academic careers, but also preparing for the first large and public display of their work.

Your first gallery show is a memorable one. Those stark white walls are often as inspirational as they are intimidating, and kudos to this group for the perseverance and resiliency to finish their collections under unanticipated circumstances. All did so away from campus.

“I have great empathy for our students and this unprecedented situation they experienced this past spring,” said Annie Strader, Associate Professor of Art. “Their show was just three weeks away when we went virtual. Most of the actual work was close to finished, but those last few weeks are critical when finalizing the work.”

The first words I saw from an artist in this group were from Lewis. “Still total trash” is what he wrote. Honestly, I wasn’t supposed to see the words that were struck through in an editing bubble as he tried to find the right phrase for his artist statement.

Then it hits me as I see the exchanges back and forth while he tried ideas and asked a lot of questions of himself. It couldn’t have been easy to answer those questions when so much chaos swirled outside of their newfound work spaces.

“Artists are adaptable,” said Strader, “and creative problem solving is part of our curriculum. Our students did adapt and demonstrated outstanding resilience and patience during what was undoubtedly a tough time to pivot to new and unexpected ways of working. Navigating such tricky terrain, (fellow art professor) Dr. Weedman and I have continued to work with the students for the last few months to prepare for a physical exhibit and the expected celebration of their work.”

We keep our fingers crossed that at some point this Fall the 2020 Senior Art Exhibition can open for the entire campus to enjoy. Until then, here is a quick look at each art major, a snippet of their artist statement, and a thumbnail of their work.

Cameron Coates:  Rust embodies the passage of time and the toll of nature. I use macrophotography to capture how rust transforms otherwise common, mundane objects into fields of captivatingly rich colors and textures. I use the lens of my camera to magnify the way man made materials are completely taken over by nature as they fade into neglect. I look for a focus that might relate to a human, animal, face, or relatable object. The intent is to find aesthetic minutiae that go unnoticed.

Marlon Lewis:  I work with environments to challenge the perception of the realities being witnessed and referenced. I create experiences. I create environment. I create art. I have two desires whose roots I can trace to my earliest memories. The first seeks the knowledge and understanding of this world. The second is to aid a clearer understanding about what is discoverable and possible. My interest in Bronze is its relationship to the earth and nature as in an inorganic material. My interest in dried orange peels are their organic nature. My interest in 3-D prints is the maker capabilities the machine grants to each owner almost immediately.

Devan Luckey: I enjoy making things with my own hands. Things that have a form in the 3-dimensional world are more interesting for me to create than those limited to two dimensions. Right now, I make hands. It’s developed into an obsession. It stems from the idea that hands are, in some way, the embodiment of what we do. Many of our activities are carried out by our hands, both the good and the bad, whether it is healing or stealing, fixing or destroying, hands are at the forefront of our actions.

Zach McMann: Dreams are a way to access the subconscious mind and communicate with it. The succession of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that our minds conjure during sleep have complex meanings that I record and use to create my work. This photo series explores my anxieties and how they manifest in dreams and the subconscious. As I was avoiding the ghostly figure, I tried to understand who it was I was avoiding. Although I could not figure out who, I realized that I was running away from something, not someone. Something like the anxiety I had from school, work, and my own pressure to be better.

David Ortega:  My work uses and disrupts symbols and signs to question the ways they can be used to disguise and mask emotions. In photographs I use paper bags painted with self-created symbols to evoke the tension and the mechanicalness that societal expectations/norms impose. Specific color pallets and symbols are selected to communicate emotions without relying on facial or verbal cues. I urge an anxiety to develop within the color schemes that will translate into the viewers subconscious. The implicit reactions to the different color schemes are more important than understanding the images’ message.

Bill Polen:  I use the camera to capture the world’s underlying psychological phenomena through my eyes. More specifically, I use the camera to investigate conformity. I believe that new approaches, such as this piece, must be used in order to create perception that could lead to a better understanding of why we do the things we do as a society. I think of my artwork as an experiment. I choose to take my photographs in high traffic areas where I know people will be present in order to participate in my investigation; areas such as workout centers, cafeterias, and fraternities.

Jonathon Stephens: I like to make things with my hands because it’s like meditation for me. I’m able to take time out of my day and stop thinking about everything that is going on and just create and block all of that out. Making something you pictured in your head, creating it from the ground up with your hands, is nothing like any other subject or field of study or work. There’s no other field that you can do what you want, and not be wrong or mess something up. Art is whatever you can imagine and execute.

John Wallace: I collect knick-knacks and old household objects. The objects intuitively interest me and exude inspiration for artistic ideas. Once I bring them to the studio, it is not until I begin manipulating and arranging these found objects that I find their purpose and place in my work. The creation of these wooden structures always begins with a loose concept of what I wish to build, building the structure I have in mind with new or scrap wood immediately at my disposal, and accepting the errors I make along the way. This process is based in my acceptance of chance errors and successes as being integral parts of the final product.


Creating a Virtual Memphis

Richard Paige — Much of this semester has been about adjustments, and through those adjustments the virtual becomes real.

Like a handful of other classes, Michele Pittard’s EDU330 Urban Education class was supposed to include an immersion component. In May, the group had Memphis, Tennessee, as a destination to bring a semester’s worth of lessons to life.

Instead, Pittard altered the syllabus on the fly and has scheduled virtual meetings with nearly as many people as the students were supposed to meet on their trip. She now refers to this section of the class as “Virtual Memphis.”

If the class can’t go to Memphis, Pittard is bringing Memphis to the class.

The first guest was Daniel Connolly, an award-winning reporter for the Commercial Appeal, Memphis’ daily newspaper. Connolly spent five years chronicling the story of Isaias Ramos, a high-achieving Memphis teenager and an undocumented immigrant, in a book he wrote entitled, “The Book of Isaias: A Child of Hispanic Immigrants Seeks His Own America.

The text was a key part of recent discussions and served as a bridge to where the class was headed.

“Daniel kicked it off in a very nice way,” Pittard said. “To be able to bring people to the students in this way is huge.”

Pittard and Connolly led the students on a discussion that touched on immigration and education policies, student resources, socioeconomics, and the benefits of building strong relationships with students.

“It’s important for future teachers to understand that dynamic and to understand, too, that they can play a real role in guiding students from different backgrounds to a good educational outcome,” Connolly said. “It’s very important to have that relationship with kids.”

With the book fresh in their minds, there was plenty of back-and-forth between professor, reporter, and the nine students about the subject matter, including talk of identity and barriers.

“Identity can fuel a desire for success, especially the kids in the book who go to college,” wrote Nikko Morris ’21 in the class chat. “To be able to say they are college-educated Mexican immigrants in the U.S. for some people can be a powerful statement to make.”

While this class is essential to the understanding of the complexities facing urban schools, the impact of a missed immersion trip looms large. “It takes out the guts of the class, which is disappointing,” said Pittard, “but to bring people like Daniel in helps put the meat back on the bones of the class. I’m just delighted that we could start this.”


The Full Circle

Richard Paige — There were flashes during the opening reception for “Noli Me Tangere: Lamentations,” where artist Kelvin Burzon ’12 sought moments of quick reflection. In between questions or comments from patrons, or well wishes from friends, I could see him contemplating something deeper.

The Eric Dean Gallery is a place he loves dearly. Kelvin says he spent hundreds of hours in it as an undergraduate. Now, his art is featured on its walls through April 10.

“I never thought I’d be back this soon,” he begins. “It’s a big thing. I don’t think I’ve processed the full circle that it has become.”

He was introduced to photography – his chosen medium – while a freshman at Wabash. Seeking an art class as a balance to a planned major in biology or chemistry, his cousin had signed up for a photography class taught by Professor Kristen Wilkens, so Kelvin did too.

Kelvin Burzon ’12.

That 8 a.m. course changed his entire perspective.

“I ended up loving the romance of the darkroom,” he says. “It brought out darker themes and the immediacy of what photography does. I’d never been exposed to what photography was and what it could do.”

There are multiple layers to his art. There is the photography, but Kelvin also constructs the intricate wood frames and altars that display his art. The process isn’t complete until it can live on its own on gallery walls.

“You don’t know until you see it on a wall,” he says. “It not a file; it’s no longer a Photoshop document; it’s no longer a thought. The wood comes together with the photograph and it’s lit up on a wall by itself with room to breathe. That’s when I know (it’s ready).” With the art presented telling much of his life’s story over the past eight years, I asked Kelvin if he was ready to let it go. He smiles broadly and says, “Yeah, your artwork is your baby. The easy part is that it’s in a place where I know it will be respected and looked at thoughtfully – somewhere I’m familiar and feels like home.”


Not Just Good Enough

Richard Paige — December 4 was a big day for the students in Professor Shamira Gelbman’s 2020 Census course. Final exams didn’t begin for five more days, but these projects had a bigger purpose.

The students were producing posters, brochures, infographics and a video, all of which can be downloaded from a website and disseminated to help educate the Montgomery County community and encourage participation in the 2020 Census.

December 4 was the day those materials were presented to the public in a discussion and Q&A session at Fusion 54. Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton ’00 was one of the community partners in attendance, as well as representatives from the U.S. Census Bureau, Montgomery County Health Department, League of Women Voters, Pam’s Promise, the Montgomery County Public Library, and the Carnegie Museum.

Tyler Ramsey ’21.

Gelbman noted the class forced the students into a different way of thinking.

“For materials going out to the public, you really have to get it right, not just good enough,” she said.  “That’s an interesting aspect of this class. It’s been exciting to have a class produce things that will be used in a real way.”

After presenting his materials, Tyler Ramsey ’21 noted how the census itself presented a steep learning curve. Students had to quickly understand government functions and how the census affects them.

“It was a cool idea and concept for us to contribute,” he said. “We got hands on in creating these materials and were able to apply what we’ve learned. It’s nice to know we could make an impact on our community.”

As the students and Gelbman addressed questions about access and implementation from attendees, it was apparent that the semester-long process had impacted the students as well.

Zach Titus ’21.

“When I was analyzing things, I wouldn’t think in my point of view, I would think in others’ points of view, what the community might think of this,” said Zach Titus ’21. “I thought we were going to learn census history and what might happen in the future. I didn’t think we would be engaged in the community. It was surprising and rewarding at the same time.”


“We All Benefit From It”

Richard Paige — The Ides of August, the vehicle for Wabash professors to share their creative and research efforts with colleagues across disciplines, brings out the best in our classroom leaders.

Witness two biology professors – Bradley Carlson and Heidi Walsh – who found different, and wildly successful, ways to engage students.

Entertaining the idea to search online museum databases to check the demographics of wildlife populations, Carlson thought of a project that might suit his Advanced Ecology students. Usually, his research centers on turtles, so he is attuned to sex ratios, how those differ among climates, and whether the ratios change over time.

Bradley Carlson.

“Why would I focus on one species when there are hundreds?” he realized. “I can’t do that. I don’t have the time.”

What he did have was students in his BIO 313 class who wanted to engage in real research, collect data, and use analytical tools. Work like this would allow the students to see the results, good or bad, play out in real time, unlike simply watching a presentation or reading a paper.

“They don’t see how we don’t know what is going to come of this at all,” Carlson said. “A lot of work has to go into what looks like a simple result. There are some simple figures there, but each of the students knows that they had to put in hours in curating this data. They got to see the whole process.”

Each of the students contributed something to the finished product, and three of them – Christian Gosser ’20, William Robinson ’19, and Charles Mettler ’18 – wanted to pursue it further. The resulting paper, “Reptile Sex Ratios in Museum Collections are Associated With Climate Change and Phylogeny,” was presented by Carlson and colleagues from Yale and Berkeley at the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists this summer.

“It was a fun project to do and we all benefit from it,” Carlson said.

For Walsh, it would require an almost superhuman effort for her Organismal Physiology students to teach concepts to middle schoolers. Well, maybe superhero is more like it.

Heidi Walsh.

Walsh and her students used superhero attributes – imagine flying like Superman, having the strength of Thor, or the lightning-quick reflexes of Wonder Woman – to force her students to think about the concepts differently. About a month of lab work is dedicated to the project where students build lesson plans that explain concepts, set up experiments, and collect and graph data all through the prism of superheroes.

“It was really cool to see them work through showing concepts in a hands-on way to kids of this age group,” Walsh said. “They had a lot of fun with it, so it was rewarding. The best part is that they are amazingly creative with how they illustrate these things.”

Imagine using different sized tubes to represent blood flow or using a Nerf gun to facilitate an experiment in reaction time. According to Walsh, one memorable teaching aid required creating Thor’s Hammer with a five-gallon bucket, some quick-dry cement, and a squeeze ball attached to the handle to measure how much force was applied when the kids tried to lift it.

“Our students just light up, not just when designing activities, but in interacting with the kids,” she said. “They are really, really good. They’ve never done this before, and they don’t know how good they could be until they do it.”


A Legacy and Expectations

Richard Paige — Confirmed to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Damon R. Leichty ’94 endured quite a wait in his elevation to the bench.

Leichty was nominated for the position by President Donald Trump in July 2018. His senate confirmation – by an 85-10 vote – came nearly a year later. Such appointments are often the result of stellar accomplishments as a lawyer.

“Damon is a very good lawyer,” said Bob Grand ’78, a Partner with Barnes & Thornburg LLP. “He is always prepared and well spoken. This is an extraordinary honor and one bestowed on very few Americans.”

Damon R. Leichty ’94.

A lawyer at Barnes & Thornburg since 2000, Leichty specializes in commercial and product litigation. Most recently, he served as the managing partner at B&T’s South Bend, Indiana, office and also was an adjunct professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School.

After graduating summa cum laude from Wabash College with a B.A. in English, Leichty earned his J.D., cum laude, from Indiana University Maurer School of Law, where he won the school’s Sherman Minton Moot Court competition and served as a law journal editor. He also earned a master’s degree studying literature and law at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

Leichty’s path from Wabash to the U.S. District Court also gave a recent graduate a sense of the possibilities that lie ahead.

“Soon-to-be Judge Leichty’s appointment reinforces the fact that Wabash College produces incredibly successful and prominent lawyers and judges year in and year out,” said Erich Lange ’19. “The success of those alumni who have entered the legal field speaks for itself, and showcases to young men considering a profession in the law that they should seriously consider Wabash.”

The confirmation also gave Lange, winner of the College’s 2019 Junior Pack Medal which is given annually to a student who exhibits special promise in the law, something to shoot for when he begins postgraduate studies at Georgetown University Law School this fall.

“I understand and appreciate the legacy my fellow alumni have worked so hard to build,” he said. “I will strive to live up to those expectations.”



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