Present Indiana is Unique Learning Opportunity

Howard W. Hewitt – The Lilly-funded Present Indiana Program is one of the most unique learning opportunities on campus.

PIP funds summer internships for students to study cultural or historical aspects of Indiana. The full-time internships last eight weeks. Director of International Students and Foreign Studies Dave Clapp runs the program. I have assisted all three years.

Each student picks a topic, does research, travels, and prepares a presentation they will be asked to give 4-5 times in the fall and coming school year.

You can meet this year’s students and learn about their projects by clicking here.

Last year we planned for days for community service and ended up helping rebuild Bridgeton’s historic covered bridge. John Meara ’07 had family ties to Parke County’s bridges and did a great DVD on the bridges’ importance.

The small trips have been such an great addition we planned a couple similar ones for this year. Most of our Wabash students had not been to the Lew Wallace Study right here in Crawfordsville. So on May 24 we had lunch downtown and visited the Crawfordsville landmark. (See a photo album from the Lew Wallace visit here.)

We have a really exciting trip planned for June 7. We’re taking the young men to French Lick where they will tour the historic French Lick Springs Hotel and the recently-restored and very-recently opened West Baden Hotel.

Keep track of the summer program on the Present Indiana blog.

I know Dave would agree it’s great fun to help mentor these young men and assist them in completing their projects. While faculty have students in the classroom daily, this is one of several great Wabash programs that allows staff to work with our students as well.

Commencement: A Father’s Perspective

Steve Charles—Bill Cook ’66 is one of the finest teachers and scholars to have graduated from Wabash. (Scholar with a capital "S"—this photo of Bill was taken Sunday as he waited in the Chapel for Baccalaureate to begin and passed the time with a little "light" reading.)

The Distinguished Teaching Professor of History at SUNY at Geneseo, and an authority on the life of St. Francis of Assissi, in 2005 he was a finalist for one of the nation’s most prestigious teaching awards.

Bill is also a father—a father who on Sunday experienced the joy of seeing his son graduate from Wabash. He passed along this memory of the event. After reading it, I just had to post it here.

The Best of Both Worlds
Last Sunday I sat in the bleachers on the Green of Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana, and watched Eric Cuong Thanh Huynh receive his bachelor of arts degree in history. It was sunny but not too hot, breezy but not windy. There were no long speeches, and the graduation took a total of 75 minutes. It was the perfect day.

Let me back up a bit. Forty-one years ago, I walked across that same platform on that same Green and received my bachelor of arts degree in history. Even at that time, I imagined how wondrous it would be to see a son of mine (Wabash is a College for men) follow me across that platform. However, I dared not dream it too much. As my kids looked for colleges, Wabash did not appear to be a good fit for any of them for a variety of reasons. I had hoped that Angel would look at Wabash, but its distance from Geneseo and its lack of coeds meant that I was hoping in vain, and I did not try to make Angel fit Wabash.

When Cuong—he added the name Eric when he became a US citizen during his freshman year at Wabash—started to look at colleges, I suggested Wabash because I thought it would be a good fit. He was not interested. Hence I encouraged him to look at places that in some ways resembled Wabash, especially Hamilton College in Clinton, NY. When I asked him one last time if Wabash was worth looking into, he said ‘yes,’ and we were soon on a plane to Hoosierland. He had a good experience there and decided to apply, as did his good friend Devin Bennett, who also graduated last Sunday.

Cuong was accepted to Wabash, though I would still not quite allow myself to look ahead four years to his graduation. By the time he heard from Hamilton, it did not matter, for he had chosen Wabash. I sent him out alone to look one more time, and he came back with a fraternity pledge pin—not my fraternity but one he found as a community he wanted to be a part of.

Cuong and I drove out to Wabash together in August, 2003. He appeared pretty calm; in fact, Cuong rarely appears excited or disoriented. I had a sense he was nervous about being so far from home and nervous about being in a place with only one person he knew. A few weeks later, when I flew out for what was my first of many visits, I sat in the stands during a football game and watched him with his pledge brothers on the sidelines. Cuong was fine and had made friends.

Like most college students, Cuong had some academic successes and some disappointments. He had a pretty good first semester. In fact, he had a professor whom I had studied with during my first semester 41 years earlier; we got the same grade from him. I joked with Cuong that Professor Barnes must have grown soft in his later years, but he knew I was not serious, and Jim Barnes and I had remained in contact so I knew it was not so. If Cuong earned a B from Jim, he was going to be fine academically.

Cuong thought about majoring in English but finally decided on history. I think Cuong relied too much on cramming and last minute research, but he succeeded in fulfilling all of his graduation requirements.

Whenever I was with Cuong, be it in Crawfordsville, Geneseo, or somewhere in Europe, I got to see the effects of a fine liberal arts education on him. I saw it more clearly than he did, especially since I saw him only from time to time. It was thrilling to see him, imperfectly to be sure, derive the benefits of a first class education. He knows more than he thinks, and thinks better than he knows. Wabash had worked some of its magic on Cuong as it had on me, and I suppose that his is as indelible as mine.

So there I was at Commencement, 2007, singing every word of the College’s fight song and alma mater since I had sung them countless times during four years in the Glee Club. I saw a few alumni I knew who were now associated with the College. I chatted with Cuong’s friends and their parents. I gave a big hug to Devin Bennett. Before commencement, the College’s photographer took pictures of legacy graduates, those who had relatives who were Wabash men.

When John Kennedy received an honorary degree from Yale, he proclaimed to have the best of both worlds—a Harvard education and a Yale degree. I felt like the man who really had the best of both worlds—a Wabash degree and a son with a Wabash degree.

The tears flowed. Life just doesn’t get much better than this.

—Bill Cook ’66

Wabash Men Share Dollar/Tommy’s Memories

A long time Wabash watering hole is gone! Send us your brief memory or story and we’ll add it to this blog! E-mail to: We shot new photos just before noon today. See that photo album here.

Mark Dill, 75 – I suggest today become a local day of mourning for all Wabash alums! In the early 70’s there were a couple of bars we frequented, but Tommy’s always seemed to be everyone’s favorite. It could have been because of the service we received. Tommy was always accommodating to the Wabash crowd and I heard he had actually attended Wabash for a period of time, must have been in the 20’s or 30’s. He had a waiter named Mace. The story was that Mace suffered from shellshock in WW 1 but he could always deliver a tray full of frosty mugs of beer to your table and never spill a drop! After comps Tommy was THE place to go celebrate. My dad told me he had frequented Tommy’s back in the early 40’s when there used to be a dance hall at the back end of the building. Crawfordsville has lost a true jewel today.

Mike Thibault ’94 – When I was a Freshman, some Seniors called back to the house and asked for me and my brothers to come pick them up at Tommy’s. We drove all around downtown looking for Tommy’s, but could not find it. We finally had to ask one of the fine citizens of Crawfordsville where this place was. He smiled and said, "Right behind you". We looked back and saw the sign "Reggie and Rick’s Silver Dollar". I asked if he was certain that was the right place. He became a still as a stone, then breathed deeply so as to prevent his anger from boiling up. He then said to me, "Son, this place has ALWAYS been Tommy’s."

Eric Rowland ’86 – It seems that Tommies and the Crawfordsville Fire Department have an inseparable link in my mind.  My first experience there was during the spring semester of my sophomore year.  I was invited to Tommies to celebrate my election to the post of house manager of Beta Theta Pi.  Several of us enjoyed a few pitchers of TWR, plotted the future of the house and solved the world’s problems.  We made our way back home to find Wabash Avenue closed by fire engines, smoke billowing out of the windows of the Beta house and all of the brothers out in the front yard.  I quickly sobered myself up to address my first house manager crisis.  It turned out that the Sigs had stuck smoke bombs in the stairwells and there was no fire, but I’m sure my sober authority put the fire department at ease.

Long live Tommies!

Chris Cotton ’91 – Is it ok to fondly recall celebrating a 19th birthday in Tommy’s with Billy the Bartender? Much like bahhdges – we didn’t need no stinking IDs back then!

John Lustina ’91 – I’m sure all statutes have passed to where you shouldn’t be in any legal jeopardy.

Little Giant Faculty Take on the Marathon

Steve Charles—Professor John Zimmerman stopped by my office Friday and asked me if I knew how many Wabash faculty and staff members were running in Indy’s 500 festival Mini-Marathon over the weekend.

“I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe one, two?”

Try 12. Add two more if you count spouses and friends. And that’s just my best guess after looking over the race results page.

I like to think I have some idea about most of our professors’ avocations, but this one really took me by surprise. Twelve of our faculty and staff colleagues spent Saturday running 13.1 miles with 30,000 people in the streets of Indianapolis.

And two more—Professors Dave Timmerman and Greg Redding (left)—missed the Mini because they were competing in the Flying Pig (definitely the best name for marathon) a full marathon run through the streets of Cincinnati. That event’s results page shows the two of them finished together, having run 26 miles in 3:34:17!

Professor of Art Doug Calisch was our top finisher in Indy, running the 13 miles in 1:46:12, or a pace of about eight minutes per mile. It was the sculptor/photographer’s best time since his first mini in 1998. The older he gets, the faster he gets!

Library Assistant Bill Helling was just six minutes behind Doug, and computer science professor Dave Maharry, rhetoric professor Todd McDorman, and psychology prof Bobby Horton finished about three minutes later.

Dave Maharry tells me that running your brains out like this was “a fun day—very much like a huge circus.”

Center of Inquiry Administrative Assistant Christina Gilbert and Assistant Director of Admissions Marc Welch were four seconds apart at 1:57;33 and 1:57:37. College physician Scott Douglas and Director of Financial Aid Clint Gasaway (taking it easy this year, having not trained for the race) came in next, followed by chemistry professor Ann Taylor and our computer doc, Rod Helderman. This was Rod’s first mini-marathon, and he admits he was feeling pretty tired at the end. But he was still running when he crossed the finish line.

Anita Klein, wife of Director of Admissions Steve Klein, and Kitty Haffner, Wabash friend and supporter and wife of Herm Haffner ’77, also finished the 13 mile course in a little over 3 hours.

The average time for the race was 2:30, so most of our runners were easily in the top half of the field. But having covered that race for magazines a couple of years and watching the effort it takes, I’m impressed with anyone who finishes that thing.

And surprised at how many strong faculty and staff runners we have on campus.

And embarrassed that I’m still sitting on my butt typing this on this beautiful day, when I ought to be out getting some exercise.

Time to go home and wipe the dust off my bike.

The image of a flying pig comes to mind.


Professors Doug Calisch, Dave Maharry, Bobby Horton, and Todd McDorman got together for this photo after the race.

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.

Wabash Men Teach “One World”

Jim Amidon — A dozen men from Wabash College began their Diversity Day presentations at Hose School last Thursday with a simple question: “Do any of you know what the word diversity means?”

In the first session with kindergartners, first graders, and second graders, a smattering of hands went up with a few whispered comments. In the second session with third, fourth, and fifth graders, over 100 hands went up with one student standing to say, “Diversity means difference.”

Click here to see pictures from Diversity Day.

The Wabash students’ visit to Hose, sponsored by Character Counts! and driven by Diamond Deacon, was designed to illustrate for the young people that while there are vast cultural differences among us, we actually share more in common than people think.

Over the course of two 45-minute skits, the Wabash students talked about language, culture, traditions, holidays, sports, and music. The Hose students got to participate with questions and comments, and a few even learned how to handle a cricket bat.

Earl Rooks, a Dallas, Texas native, and Juan Carlos Venis (right), who hails from Crawfordsville, served as emcees.

Taz Ahmed, who is a rock star in his home country of Bangladesh and an award-winning chemistry student at Wabash, began the festivities playing a drum — an African drum. After a few dozen Hose students had the opportunity to bang the drum, Emmanuel Aouad, whose parents are from Ghana, Africa but live in Terre Haute, joined in playing jazz saxophone.

Venis pointed out for the students that a native of Bangladesh was playing an African drum with a native African playing an American jazz riff on the sax.

Yes, diversity means difference, but as the rhythm of the drums echoed in the Hose gymnasium, everyone stomped to the familiar beat.

Wabash men taught the Hose students to say “hello” and “how are you” in five different languages. Hose students, in turn, taught some of the Wabash guys the same phrases in Korean, German, and Japanese. No matter what the language, every greeting included a firm and respectful handshake.

Khondoker Haider brought lots of energy to the program. He also brought his cricket bat and ball, and taught the kids the difference between baseball and cricket. It was the similarities between the two sports, though, that served as the useful metaphor for the discussion of diversity.

It was great, too, when Luis Quiroga, a native of La Paz, Bolivia asked the kids if they knew how to play the game of futball. Only a couple of arms went up. But when Luis began juggling a soccer ball with his feet and head, the students learned that futball — not football — is THE international game. When asked if they played the game of soccer, almost every hand went up.

Luis and his cohorts built in some fun, as well. They invited students and teachers from the audience to participate in cricket and futball demonstrations. The teachers held their own as goalkeepers, and retiring principal John Tidd hit a couple of cricket balls out of the park!

One of the final segments of the Hose Diversity Day was a short skit, narrated by a Caleb Mast, a white basketball player from Kokomo, who read a thoughtful story about the contributions of African American people. Charles Jackson (left) acted out the scenario called “What if there were no black people?” Charles found he couldn’t dry his clothes, iron his wrinkled shirt, comb his hair, light his furnace to stay warm, or chill his food in the refrigerator. It was a special message intended to reinforce the idea that all people make powerful contributions to our society.

After the skit, Khondoker asked each student to spend some time thinking about what the term “one world” means and to draw a picture that best represents the phrase. The Wabash guys will look over the completed drawings and award prizes to the most original interpretations.

Just as they opened it, Venis and Rooks closed the session. Venis talked about the unique qualities of every individual and the need to respect people on the basis of their cultural differences. Rooks’ message was far more basic, and he got every student at Hose School united in chanting “One World! One World! One World!”

It was a pretty cool thing to see how in 45 minutes that many elementary school students could go from defining diversity as “difference” to defining diversity as “one world.”

Perhaps if we listened closely to them, those same young people could teach us a lot more than how to say hello in Japanese.

Restoring a piano, remembering a mentor

Steve Charles—Last year, the first “half” of the gift of Jill and John Failey ’72 to Wabash—a new Steinway concert piano—was debuted in Salter Hall by world-renowned pianist Andreas Klein. The blend of the Failey’s generosity and Klein’s virtuosity as he played that new Steinway just a week before students sat at the same piano for their recitals was a great moment for the Wabash music department.

Sunday’s student and alumni recital celebrating the final half of that gift—the restoration of the College’s Bosendorfer Grand Piano—was even better. (See a photo album here.)

The audience was considerably smaller, the level of playing perhaps not on par with Klein’s mastery (though I’ll confess to preferring our students and alumni—they are remarkable musicians in their own right.).

But this was virtuosity of the heart. This was a reunion of teachers and past and present students. This was the restoration of the piano my colleague Nancy Doemel calls “the best example of the way in which Wabash knits together the needs of our students and faculty with the generosity of our donors.” This was a piano worn out lovingly by those students over the past two decades, restored to better than new by piano technician Michael Sowka. The worn-out pieces replaced, the once-cracked sound board repaired but still aged with twenty years of memories—more sonorous, more resonant, and sweeter sounding than any new piano could be.

For men like John Failey and his teacher—pianist, Wabash librarian, and long-time piano teacher Diane Norton—it was, in part, a restoration of the memory of Diane’s late husband, Wabash professor of music Fred Enenbach. A gifted musician, composer, and ensemble director, Enenbach helped obtain this piano for the College in 1983. He was there when the piano arrived at the Chapel, as Nancy Doemel recalled in her fine notes for the program:

“By that time, Fred was extremely ill with cancer, but by the end of the delivery and tuning, he was seated at the Bosendorfer, his head bent over the keyboard, eyes closed, tears streaming down his cheeks, filling the Chapel with the Bosendorfer’s rich sounds.”

Last Sunday, those sounds were heard again. The piano come to life beneath the hands of current students, some of the most gifted pianists we’ve had here in years. And alumni Steve Zusack ’06 and Ken Turchi ’80 returned. A student of Norton’s who took up the piano late in life, Turchi played Aaron Copland’s “The Cat and the Mouse” (a “scherzo humoristique” and the way Ken played it, it was every bit as fun as it sounds!).

Then Failey, who under Enenbach was one of the College’s first music majors,played the final number of the recital, as Norton turned pages for him. And when he finished triumphantly this very difficult Gyorgi Ligeti piece, his teacher by his side and beaming with pride, you couldn’t help but think of Fred Enenbach, the people he loved, the lives he touched, the legacy this instrument represents, and the joy it will bring future students and audiences.

Diane Norton wrote a tribute to Enenbach in the program, which I’ve excerpted here:

“When Fred and I were married in 1972, it was apparent that he had embarked upon a strong campaign to find a wonderful piano for performances, as the instruments we had in the Chapel and Yandes Hall did not meet the needs of a growing department with an extremely active concert schedule.

“When the Development Office provided the means for procuring a fine instrument, it was a dream come true.

“Recently, our daughters Elisabeth Enenbach and Anne Enenbach Gering, reminisced about watching the unloading of the Bosendorfer on the mall in late summer 1983. Fred was in the local hospital receiving treatment. When the call came from professor Stan Malinowski that the piano had arrived, however, Fred’s physician, Sam Kirtley ’71, inserted a shunt in his arm, and the two of us dashed to campus.

“Fred played the opening notes of a Ravel duet the two of us had performed often, then we played through our favorite duet repertoire for about two hours.

“The next time I played the Bosendorfer was for Fred’s memorial concert in the Chapel in March, 1984.”


In photos: John Failey plays an encore, John Adams’ “China Gates”; Failey gets a congratulatory hug from his teacher, Diane Norton; Failey talks after the recital with fellow pianist Kyle Prifogle ’09.