Colakovic Recital Brings Down The House

Brent Harris – Sunday afternoon in Salter Hall senior George Colakovic†presented his senior piano recital, complete with four friends from his hometown of Munster, Indiana to complete a jazz quintet. The five-piece band had the Hall swinging with Take Five, Moment’s Notice, and Well You Needn’t. George softened the mood with the sad and seductive I Remember Clifford.

One of the top moments of the recital came when Colakovic sang and performed an original tune, The Way I Feel. While he described it as more of a pop tune than jazz, the blues and jazz influence that permeated the rest of the selections could certainly be found in this song, as well.

What completed the event were some of people in the audience. You see, George played basketball for the Little Giants for one season before heading to New York as a junior for a semester. When he returned, he decided to concentrate on music and give up varsity hoops. But you could find him three rows behind the Wabash bench at nearly every home game, cheering on his former teammates. Sunday, those teammates were in the audience returning the favor, cheering every song the same way George applauded every time they scored a basket.

Now if George remembers the noon basketball games against me when he becomes a top-selling jazz pianist in a few years, maybe I can find a way to the front row of his first sold-out concert!

Photos – Colakovic at the piano.

(bottom right) Colakovic with jazz piano master Phil DeGreg.

Popovich Nearly a Little Giant

Howard W. Hewitt – Gregg Popovich, coach of the 3-time NBA champion San Antonio, nearly became a Little Giant in 1966. Popovich graduated from Merrillville High School but was not heavily recruited. He ended up playing basketball at the Air Force Academy.

He was featured in the Feb. 24 edition of the Indianapolis Star‘s Five Questions feature.

The first question was if he was recruited by any Indiana colleges:

"The only college I visited was Wabash. I actually pledged a fraternity on my visit there. I loved it down there. Nobody had recruited me; I was just going to go there and major in pre-med and try to play basketball."

He went on to explain the Academy had recruited friends of his to play football and then he looked into the Air Force.

He had a so-so career as a player but got his first head coaching job at Division III Pomona-Pitzer in 1979.

His Spurs have won three world championships since Popovich became coach in 1995.

A Chapel Talk With a Little Fire!

Howard W. Hewitt – Lon Porter wasted little time Thursday morning proving not every Chapel talk has to be ideologically driven or necessarily all that serious. 

Don’t misunderstand; he had a point to make to the student gathering. But the BKT Asst. Prof. of Chemistry used plenty of humor to entertain while encouraging students to embrace their education. 

The title of his talk, maybe the longest in Chapel history, summed it up best: “Well, I’m one of those fortunate people who like my job, Sir: Further Ramblings of a Wabash Chemistry Pledge. An ‘almost’ explosion free presentation by Lon Porter.” 

Oh yes, there was an explosion as you can see in the accompanying photo. But that was just part of the pyrotechnics. Porter used still images and video clips from television and movies to illustrate the influences he felt while growing up.

 Porter talked about the unique times at Wabash as a new president, dean, librarian and other positions are being filled. He noted that weeks before spring break everyone is tired. “We all have that in common,” he said to students, including faculty and staff. 

He talked about how much he enjoyed his job because of his students and relationship with other faculty and staff. 

He reflected on growing up in Texas and an array of humorous childhood memories. He described his journey to becoming a Professor. He remembered being forced into an Honors School at the University of Houston which became his introduction to liberal arts. 

“If they had not forced that on me, I wouldn’t be the person I am today,” he said. He talked about his family’s influence and his marriage to Visiting Instructor of Biology, Maureen McColgin. 

He encouraged the students to not just pass the tests and engage themselves in labs but to “think about what you take away from your class work. 

Porter spoke to Chapel in his first year at Wabash and referred to it as one of the highlights of his career. He admitted he wanted to try the small explosion then, but also feared burning the Chapel might be a bad career move. 

On top of everything else, he delighted the students by sharing it was not only a privilege to give his second Chapel talk but he was doing it on his 29th birthday.

It’s That Time of Year

Jim Amidon — It’s a very special time of the year at Wabash College. Even though winter made a furious return over the weekend, our eyes are on spring. There’s a certain kind of excitement that builds as February transitions to March. It’s a time when we get our first opportunity to see the future of the college.

While walking across campus last Friday, I saw a handful of guys in high school letter jackets. Most Wabash students don’t wear their high school coats once they get here, so what I was seeing was recruiting season moving into full swing. Over the weekend we welcomed a swarm of high school men for a multicultural recruitment program. Today more than 100 students who are ranked in the top 20 percent of their graduating classes are on campus for yet another visit program.

After this, it’s Honor Scholarship Weekend, Fine Arts Fellowship Weekend, and Lilly Scholarship Weekend.

Over the course of the next six weeks or so, we’ll host more than 500 prospective students. If history holds, about half of them will enroll next August.

The college’s future lies in these students. They are our future valedictorians, newspaper editors, and starting linebackers. They are society’s future lawyers, doctors, teachers, and businessmen.

So when I see a family being led around campus by an Admissions tour guide, I pay special attention. When I spy a high school student wearing a letter jacket, I try to see where he’s from, in what sport he’s earned letters, and how big he is. If I see someone who looks lost, I make sure to approach him to see if I can help.

The whole campus joins in this experience. Faculty and staff will welcome guests at receptions, open houses, and special programs throughout the day today and on into the spring. Alumni are making phone calls to prospective students in their area or whose interests are similar. Faculty open their doors to invite prospective students into their classes and offices. Admissions counselors and coaches are working the phones and email lines nearly round the clock. Students lead tours, host meals, and give up their beds to our prospective students.

Perhaps it’s because the recruitment process is so collaborative at Wabash that brings excitement to late winter. Dean of Admissions Steve Klein and President Andy Ford have long held the “we’re in this together” approach to recruitment.

It takes a college to recruit a freshman class.

And I think that’s why so many students who visit campus end up enrolling here. Typically we will enroll about half of the men who step foot on campus. Maybe they see that a college for men really isn’t a cloistered monastery. But I prefer to think that it’s good old Hoosier hospitality at work; a genuine desire to be at our best when we have guests on campus.

At Wabash, we don’t approach recruitment as a chore; we enjoy the opportunity to meet students and their families. When they leave, they so often tell us they had a wonderful experience.

It’s a community effort.

The word “uncertainty” comes to mind when I think about young men pondering college choices. They wonder whether they’ll be able to compete in class and in athletics; whether they’ll make friends; whether they’ll feel comfortable.

When they see the tight bonds of Wabash men and feel the overwhelming sense of community here, they begin to see themselves walking across the mall to attend class, lifting weights in the Allen Center, or singing a solo in Salter Concert Hall.

I’ve seen that look a thousand times — the look of a high school student standing on campus and suddenly realizing Wabash is for him. Every Wabash alumnus I know can tell you the precise moment they made the decision to attend Wabash. And it typically happens on a campus visit like the one we’re hosting today or similar programs in the coming weeks.

I’m excited about seeing those letter jackets and wide eyes today. And I’m even more anxious to catch a glimpse of a young man standing alone on the mall and staring at the Chapel or Center Hall. He’ll be pondering his future and hopefully seeing himself as a Wabash man.

Alumni to Student – One-on-One Help!

Howard W. Hewitt – So much is written and said about Wabash College’s alumni-to-student connections that sometimes we overlook the smaller ones. Such connections happen nearly every day. Sometimes we know about them, and sometimes we instigate such meetings. 

The college has the Alumni Discussion Series, which continued this week with Steve Woods ’93, and continues to develop a long-term program connecting students and alumni. 

But Wednesday night one of those smaller meetings took place that has just as profound an impact for Wabash College. 

Todd Vogel ’04, arguably the best photographer the school has ever produced, was back on campus to help a freshman. Vogel is in medical school at Purdue and will be moving to Indianapolis next school year to continue his medical education. 

Vogel was a chemistry major at Wabash and active photographer for the Bachelor and yearbook. Many of his photos hang across campus. If you’ve ever noticed the great sports shots in the coaches’ offices in the Allen Center, you’ve seen Vogel’s work.

Todd came down Wednesday night to pass on his expertise. He spent part of the afternoon and an exciting evening of basketball with Steve Abbott ’09. Abbott is a freshman with a budding interest in photography. He has shown a keen eye but needed a hand with the technical aspect of the Board of Publications’ photography equipment. 

Todd came down despite a rigorous academic schedule and gave Steve several hours that would have costs a couple hundred bucks from a professional. 

That connection is what we hope students like Abbott remember – that an alum came to help him in an area of expertise the College does not teach. Undoubtedly, one day Abbott may get his turn to help a freshman or young photographer. Steve’s effort with the Bachelor thus far has hinted at a high probability he’ll get the chance some day. 

Thanks guys! 

In photo: Vogel, on right, looks at images with Abbott.

Tim Lake: ‘Build on the Courage’

“Lift every voice and sing

Till earth and heaven ring,

Ring with the harmonies of Liberty …" 

Professor Tim Lake opened his Thursday Chapel talk with the opening stanza of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” perhaps better known as the Negro National Anthem.

Lake recited, from memory, much of the song composed at the turn of the century by James Weldon Johnson to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. He used the song as a foundation for his remarks about America’s racial past and as a challenge to Wabash students reflecting on their future.

He talked of how the Capitol Rotunda was built by slaves and how the great statue atop the Rotunda was transported and reassembled by slaves. He recalled how President Bill Clinton honored civil rights icon Rosa Parks in 1999 with a Congressional Medal of Honor. The president opened the proceeding that day by having the Negro National Anthem played.

Lake added Clinton sang all three verses without a copy and added with a sly grin that many supposed Clinton to be the only white man in America who would know all three verses.

But Lake, in a soaring and at times dramatic style, ended with a challenge to the students who had gathered for the Thursday morning ritual. 

“As we stand on the cusp of a new day in the life of Wabash College, I want to remind us of the courage and the legacy of courage and that you are the inheritors of that courage,” Lake said. The courage he referred to was of the history of black men and women like Rosa Parks, Johnson, and slaves who built some of the nation’s most patriotic symbols despite the odds against them.

He urged students to look at the names of soldiers who died in the Civil War on the great plaque on front of Center Hall. He asked them to go into the President’s Office and see the painting of Abraham Lincoln depicting the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. And then to go over beyond the Lilly Library and look at the name of Malcolm X inscribed on the Malcolm X Institute.

He reminded them “of the veterans, the Great Emancipator, and of a black shining prince – all who were willing to give their lives for freedom.”

“And that’s your legacy,” the future MXI leader said. “Claim the legacy for your own and let us try to create a world of peace.”

– Howard W. Hewitt, Public Affairs.

Cheap Date Night

Jim Amidon — The other day I was flipping around to various radio stations and stumbled on the Bob and Tom Show. They were just starting one of their live “adver-mercials” when I tuned in. You know what I mean: they occasionally pretend to just sit around and talk about the neatest, latest, greatest product to come on the market. And after every person chimes in about how great it is, Tom Griswold usually makes the final sales pitch and gives you an 800 number or web address.

They started the “adver-mercial” that I heard by saying, “Okay, guys. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and we know that it’s just another chance for you to screw up.”

They proceeded to talk about how guys could simply pick up the phone, give somebody a credit card number, and be “off the hook” for Valentine’s Day. They were selling mail order roses, I guess, and the deal was that a guy wouldn’t have to put in any effort and still be able to shower his significant other with a couple dozen fresh roses.

I have a better idea. But guys (and gals), it will require a little effort and it does involve Wabash College. Call it “Cheap Date Night” or “Dinner and a Show” or just “Amidon’s Crazy Idea,” I don’t care.

On Monday, February 13, and Tuesday, Valentine’s Day, Wabash will host The Acting Company, a highly regarded, traveling theater troupe that has been honored with a Tony Award for excellence in theater. We’re talking seriously good theater!

On Monday, the company will present Shakespeare’s Macbeth. On Tuesday, they’ll perform an adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers. Both shows begin at 8:00 p.m. in Ball Theater in the Wabash Fine Arts Center.

So here’s your plan (and imagine that like Bob and Tom, I’m just sitting in your living room giving you this great idea): Get a dinner reservation at one of our terrific local restaurants for, say, 6:00 p.m. Have a wonderful meal and make your way over to Wabash about 7:45. Pick up your tickets to the show and enjoy a couple hours of incredible theater. Go home for dessert and a glass of your favorite wine and you’ll have the perfect evening.

Whether you choose Monday or Tuesday, your date will be blown over by your romantic plan.

I call it “Cheap Date Night” because if you were to catch The Acting Company in Chicago it would cost you about $50 per ticket. At Wabash, both shows —†Macbeth and The Three Musketeers —†are absolutely free.

You do, however, have to reserve your free tickets. Give Eileen Bowen a call over at the Box Office (361-6411) to reserve your free seats. You can also email her at If you don’t pick up your tickets in advance, get there a little early. All unclaimed tickets are released to the public about 10 minutes prior to curtain.

So, for the cost of your dinner out, you can have a lovely, memorable Valentine’s Day (or Pre-Valentine’s Day) evening.

Now, the cynical reader might question a show like Macbeth. I’ll admit that it isn’t exactly what I’d call a romantic show, but it is my favorite of Shakespeare’s works because of the dark complexities of the characters. As for The Three Musketeers, just imagine a bunch of good-looking, well-trained actors and their thrusting sword fights.

You can’t go wrong, whichever play you choose.

If you think about it, “Cheap Date Night” really does beat mail order roses, right?

Our Boss, And Designated Emergency Fill-in

Howard W. Hewitt – When the Sphinx Club Chapel Talk chairman runs out of ideas, when someone cancels, or last minute changes occur – who is he going to call?

That call is often placed to the College’s Director of Public Affairs, Jim Amidon ’87. In the spirit of full disclosure, Amidon – is also our boss here at FYI!

Jim’s self-effacing remarks about being the emergency fill-in got the students chuckling as he embarked on a carefully crafted speech about Wabash traditions, our out-going president and welcoming our new president.

But who would have expected less? The College often turns to Jim for the “emergency fill” role in a number of capacities. What’s amazing is he always delivers. Jim occupies a unique roll at the College. I hope the young men picked up on that role Thursday morning.

He is not just a Wabash graduate but someone who has dedicated much of his life to the College. He began his post Wabash career immediately as Director of Sports Information. Then in the mid 90s he took over the College’s Public Affairs.

With his writing and marketing skills he could be working in the private sector, and most likely make more money doing so. But he’s become one of the College’s most-public faces through his passion – a passion fired by the students who attend Wabash.

He urged those students to protect their fraternity system. He pleaded with freshman to set a high standard for next year’s pledge classes. He urged all of the students to become active participants in reflecting on the changes at Wabash during their tenure, under Andy Ford’s leadership. Then he asked them to think about how they will answer President-Elect Patrick White’s questions this fall when he is learning about Wabash.

Sure, Jim is our boss and we enjoy working for him in Kane House. But Wabash seldom has a more passionate and articulate spokesman whether its to the media, in the chapel or just as a last minute fill-in.