The Difference Alumni Make: A Student’s Short List

Steve Charles—Senior Will Hoffman’s speech at Saturday’s Celebrating Leadership Luncheon got straight to the point about how essential giving by alumni, parents, friends, faculty, and staff is to every student who attends Wabash. 
Of course, as Will points out in his talk, he is a triplet—so getting right to the crux of the matter is perhaps a practical necessity.
In fact, Will arrived at the Celebrating Leadership Luncheon fresh off the successful completion of the first Wabash-St. Mary’s Homecoming Community Service Day, which Will co-organized with his sister, Jenny, a student at St. Mary’s.
I thought you might like to read Will’s short talk, and what he found out when he emailed his fellow members of Beta Theta Pi and the Sphinx Club, as well as teammates on the rugby team, and asked how their lives at the College had been "impacted by support from alumni and friends."
You can see a photo album from the luncheon here. (Some good baby shots there, too—don’t miss Joe Klen with his son, Connor, or the newest member of the Castanias family, Ella-Anne.)
And here are Will’s remarks:
"When the members of the Advancement staff asked me to do this talk, I emailed members of Beta Theta Pi, The Sphinx Club, and the rugby team asking how support from alumni and friends has impacted them in their time at Wabash. 
"Of the 120 classmates involved in these groups, I received 65 e-mail responses telling me how alumni and friend support has affected them in their time here at Wabash.  Here are just a few stories:
"Students for Sustainability President Will Logan traveled to Costa Rica for a zoology and conservation study last summer;
"Senior baseball captain Nate Schrader had an internship in Indianapolis along with 30 other students who participated in the Small Business Internship fund this past summer;
"Samar Kawak will be the first Wabash student to study in Dubai this coming spring;
"20 students travel each fall break to New York for a Corporate site and networking trip to meet and shadow alumni;
"Junior Jake Ezell, member of Lambda Chi is currently traveling in Europe studying on a scholarship that allows him to go as many places and see as much art as he can:
"A networking externship and employer visit site for students to Washington D.C. each spring break;
"197 suits, shirts, ties, dress pants, and shoes that have been donated that are available for students for the SuitYourself program in Career Services;
"Senior Sphinx Club member John Dewart has studied in the Amazon Rain Forest, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and most recently Western Europe;
"380 alumni that have joined the online Alumni/Student Networking System with new alumni participants joining each week."
"These names and stories are just a small sampling of how your gifts impact Wabash men every day.  Thank you for participating in the Annual Fund and giving gifts to the college to help make all of these opportunities and many more possible for the students of this college. 
"My story is not much different than the rest of the students I have already mentioned:
"Growing up as a triplet, money has always been tight in my family. With three of us in a private school all the way through high school, college really didn’t help the budget at all. My sister attends Saint Mary’s College in South Bend and my brother decided to attend Miami of Ohio.  Without the help of Alumni and friends of the college, it would be near impossible for me to attend Wabash. 
"People often focus on the monetary aspect of support to the college.  After freshman year, I really began to see support from alumni in different ways; most importantly, through their time. From coming back to mentor young students and giving talks on different topics, to volunteering their time to drive to campus and participate in events in Career Services, to even just coming back for Big Bash each summer to support the college, alumni are always active in what is going on at this special place.
"Most recently, I have seen this strong support with my internship this past summer. I interned for John Reuter, Class of 1980 at Raymond James and Associates in Indianapolis. What amazed me most was not the generosity and willingness to help out a fellow Wabash man from Mr. Reuter, but it was how many Wabash connections he still stayed in touch with and used on a daily basis. 
"Yes, this school may be small, but I believe the support of our alumni and friends is stronger than any other college.
"These examples and stories represent only a handful of students who have had their Wabash career impacted by gifts to the college. There are hundreds of other students at this school who benefit daily from this support and take advantage of the great alumni network that Wabash has.
"I hope these stories illustrate why your investment in the students of Wabash College is worth it."

Lawyers and Students Discuss the Future of the Law


Steve Charles—I was talking with a campus visitor Saturday morning and mentioned that I was on my way to photograph the 2009 Wabash College Lawyer’s Reunion, and that the turnout had been even better than we’d expected.
“How do you get so many lawyers to come back to college?” the visitor asked. It sounded like a set-up for a joke, but I resisted the temptation find the gag line (and attorney David Kendall ’66 had used up all the lawyer jokes during his keynote address at the previous night’s dinner).

Instead, I mentioned the hard work and years it had taken for those organizing it to put this together; I told him about the ICLEF sessions, and the panel the day before featuring Kendall, Greg Castanias ’87, Seamus Boyce, and Indiana Solicitor General Tom Fisher ’91, all who had argued or contributed to arguments before the Supreme Court.

The visitor was surprised that such folks came from this “small” campus, and was impressed when I told him I was on my way to photograph a similarly accomplished group about to spend almost two hours with our students. 
See a photo album from the session here.
He would have been even more impressed had he attended that session. The enthusiasm for the work, for encouraging the next generation of their profession, was like few exchanges I’ve seen between alumni and students here. And I’ve seen some excellent ones.

In fact, such excellence is the norm.

What set this one apart for me though—beside the fact that the questions and informal conversation kept going long after the event was over, and beside Professor Scott Himsel’s thoughtful and well-paced moderating of the panel—was the passion. To a man, these guys love their work (though not always the job, one alum admitted.) And you could see that as they reached out to this next generation.
I’ll put this all together in a more organized, reader-friendly form for the "Back on Campus" section in the next Wabash Magazine. For now, let me share a few of the quotes I scribbled down as these attorneys—and students were talking:
Bob Wright ’87 of Dean-Webster, Wright, & Kite LLP in Indianapolis, shared a hilarious “Perry Mason “ moment, then offered this advice to students fresh out of law school and looking for their first job: "It’s like meeting a bear in the woods—you don’t have to beat the bear, just the guy next to you.

"If you graduate from law school and pass the bar, you’re a lawyer. And people need lawyers. You can help a lot of people early on; the money will eventually come in if you do the work."

Northern Kentucky University Chase College of Law Professor Roger Billings ’59 offered this on the same topic to the "90% of law students who aren’t in the top 10% of their classes": "Sometimes you have to find a way in the back door. What do you do? Look at niches. Add a CPA to your law degree, or internationalize—learn a second language, particularly chinese or spanish.

"Find a niche and make yourself an expert in one of those."
Scott Himsel ’85, who teaches constitutional law at the College and is a partner at Baker & Daniels in Indianapolis, added, "the fun is learning the odd niche. These specialities are so much fun.
"The law is about teaching and learning—being the best student you can be, then figuring out how to teach it—to your client, to the court, and to the jury."
Nelson Alexander of Frost Brown Todd LLC warned that "a lack of mentoring is undermining the education of young laywers—and that’s got to change.”
Rick Cavanaugh ’76 described his work as associate counsel for Duke Energy, most recently the rapid-development of wind energy farms. 
And Steve Bowen ’68, partner at Latham & Watkins in Chicago and chairman of the College’s Board of Trustees, added this advice to current students:
"If you do nothing else, learn to write. The inability to do so is the most frequent shortcoming I see in young lawyers. Enjoy your liberal arts education to the fullest. You’ll find that the law is just another liberal art. But learn to write.
"Pick the best law school you can get into, but also realize that in 20 years, all that doesn’t matter. A lot of legal education is self-education, you have to do the work—great lawyers come from everywhere.
"Clients hire individuals, not firms; but the practice of law is teamwork. Our firm wouldn’t be worth a damn without the team.
"You need to learn a lot of things about the law to do the one thing you’re going to specialize in. You get really good at something, then 20 years down the road your client will ask your opinion about something outside that speciality .’I don’t specialize in that’ is not the right answer in that situation! Over time, you develop a relationship, become more involved in your client’s problems and legal needs, and they’ll come to you with those. That’s when you know you’re practicing law.”
Most of the students stayed long after the “formal” discussion was over, their chance to ask their own personal questions. One student I talked with said his conversation with Roger Billings had both clarified the direction he wished to pursue and reaffirmed his desire to practice the law. Others were still in conversation as I left for Homecoming Chapel.
I’ve known several of these alumni for a while, but I’ve never had the opportunity to watch them practice their trade, much less reach out to and teach our students. If practicing law is, as Scott Himsel says, "about teaching and learning," these guys are among the best.


Sharing Dinner Table with A Legal Great

Wabash senior Patrick McAlister has been editor of the Bachelor and an active campus leader. Friday night he sat at the Lawyer’s reunion dinner with David Kendall ’66 and wrote about the experience:

McAlister – I’ve been to a lot of dinners in Detchon Hall. As a senior, I don’t think a semester’s passed without spending an evening conversing with faculty, students and alums over the meal prepared by Bon Appetit. While I’ve never had an unpleasant time, most of the dinners are hardly memorable. Friday night was a striking exception.

This weekend Wabash hosted its first ever Lawyer’s Reunion. Wabash men in the legal field from all across the country descended on Crawfordsville to discuss contemporary issues in the law, catch up with old friends and watch the Little Giants pummel Kenyon.
Friday night, those who made the trip for the reunion had a dinner in Deutchon. I, along with a few other current students, joined them. I expected a similar dining experience to the ones I’ve had before. That couldn’t have been farther from the truth.
I had the good fortune of sitting at a table with renowned attorney David Kendall ‘66, Wabash Constitutional Law Professor Scott Himsel ‘85, President White, National Association of Wabash Men president Jim Dimos ‘83 and two other current Wabash students. I was even more fortunate that the night’s conversation focused in on constitutional law. We talked about cases, interesting books written about the subject and personalities of the justices.
It goes without saying that both Dimos’ and Himsel’s knowledge of the legal field on a constitutional scale would have made for excellent dinner conversation by itself. They knew Constitutional Law and understood how the Supreme Court justices’ personalities that shaped the law.
Kendall, however, knew personally how the law was shaped and how the individual justices shaped the law. He clerked for Justice Byron White, and had anecdotes about his time in the clerkship. He shaped Constitutional law as an advocate for inmates on death row. So, when one of us brought up a recent book on the court or discussed the personalities of some of the justices, Kendall had a personal story that connected directly to the conversation. He had actually been there.
That dinner in Detchon reflected everything I love about this College well. It was a substantive conversation about a topic all at the table were deeply interested in. As an undergraduate, I had direct access to alumni in Himsel and Dimos who were well versed in a subject I care about. They were willing to talk to a lowly undergraduate about it. In David Kendall, I also had the great fortune of meeting one of the men who shaped the subject directly. They cared about what I had to say and responded to my questions and comments with equal weight to what else was being discussed. No other place provides you with that level of respect.
Where else but Wabash do things like this happen?  

Keon Gilbert ’01: Finding His Calling in Public Health

Steve Charles—Keon Gilbert ’01 was three weeks into classes for his doctorate in public health at the University of Pittsburgh in 2004 when he experienced… well, it’s better the way he tells it:

“I had this ‘aha’ moment. I realized, this is exactly what I want to do—what we’re talking about in class, what people in public health do. This is exactly IT!”

Five years later, Keon returned to the Wabash campus last Friday to deliver the biology department’s first Cole Lecture Series of the year, "The Souls of Black Men: A Multi-Method Approach to Understanding Social Capital and the Health of Black Men."

Dr. Gilbert told faculty and students about Brother’s Keeper, his post-doctoral research and one of several community-based research projects he is involved with. Funded by the National Centers for Minority Health Disparities and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the project is working with four black churches to explore whether sermon, scripture, prayer, and song in those churches affects the outcomes of cardiovascular disease in African American men, a population which has the highest mortality rate from cardiovascular disease in the nation. 

The study is also creating a lay-health advisor intervention to build a social support network of men to encourage African American men to seek help in managing and controlling heart disease.

The community-based research model is a perfect fit for Keon. Unlike randomized sampling or other “drive-by research,” community-based research sees the people being studied and their communities as partners in the work and seeks to improve their quality of life—it’s an approach that embraces research, education, and action.

Listening to him speak, I marveled at how Keon’s many interests when he was a student at Wabash have converged in his vocation. So at an afternoon reception in his honor in Hays Science Hall, I asked him to reflect on what he calls “a very non-traditional path” to his calling.

Like many Wabash biology majors, Keon had planned to become a medical doctor. It was the dream of his childhood, and in his junior year of high school, he’d even assisted in supervised medical research, of sorts, studying disparities in the treatment of African American amputees when compared to white patients. When he looks back on it now, he realizes the seed of his public health work were planted even then.

In his junior year at Wabash, Keon faced a decision that would prove crucial to his calling—whether to study abroad in Australia for the semester, or stay on campus to prepare for MCATs and focus on his GPA for medical school. He credits Professor David Polley for the advice that not only enriched his college education, but led him eventually to public health.

“Dr. Polley said that he thought if I didn’t go, I might regret it the rest of my life,” Keon told me.
We had talked with Keon later that year for an article in Wabash Magazine. Here’s what he had to say about the experience in 2001:

“I spent last year in Australia, where the indigenous population was only given citizenship in 1967; they are still, in many ways, second-class citizens, as African Americans were in the 1960s in America. That gave me new appreciation for why it’s so important for me to be politically and socially active—to understand ourselves and project that to others, so that they will understand and respect who we are. You can’t take that for granted.”

That same year, Keon had another one of those “aha” moments as he finished his Wabash degree.
“I began to struggle with the question of whether medicine was the right path for me. But I didn’t know what else to do. Ever since I was five years old, I’d wanted to be a doctor. I’d structured my life around that.

“But with my experience in Australia, and being involved in some controversies here at Wabash, I realized that I was interested in systems, in bureaucracies, and how they can be changed. I still felt it was important to treat people for disease, but I began to understand that I was most interested in knowing how and why people got sick, particularly how and why certain diseases—like heart attack and stroke—the faces of those diseases are the faces of black people.”

Later that year, Keon made a rare decision for a biology major—to pursue a joint master’s degree in African American studies and public affairs.
“I came from a background in biology, and the other candidates were likely all from the arts or cultural studies,” Keon said. He recalled the ways his professors and advisors, including professors Warren Rosenberg and Peter Frederick, as well as Visiting Professor of History Lori Pierce, encouraged him.

“They said that I had a certain set of skills I’d gained as a bio major—being  able think critically and analytically, to write that way as well—and that I needed to play up those strengths.”

Keon was not only accepted at both Indiana University and Columbia; he became the first to graduate from IU with such a degree.

But once he got it, he wasn’t sure what to do with it. His options seemed few, and the most obvious—pursuing a PhD in African American studies—didn’t satisfy his desire to make changes in the system or intervene to improve people’s health.

A chance encounter with a recent arrival at IU clarified his path.

“I was in my last year of my master’s program, sitting at a brunch sponsored by one of the chancellors, and a new faculty member, an African American woman in the public health field, came to sit at the table. She asked me what I was interested in, and I told her I was interested in rural African American health issues. She was amazed to find an African American man interested in health issues, and when she found out I was uncertain about what I was going to next, she urged me to consider public health. Listening to my interests, she asked me, almost in disbelief, why I hadn’t considered public health in the first place.”

After reading about the program at the University of Pittsburgh, Keon asked himself the same question. That eureka moment and the realization that “this is it” followed soon after he joined the program. Now, having completed his DrPH at Pittsburgh, Keon also has earned a two-year Kellogg Health Fellowship, which seeks to develop leaders in “the effort to reduce and eliminate health disparities and to secure equal access to the conditions and services essential for achieving healthy communities.”

On Friday, Keon smiled as he told one student, “For the first time in my life, I’m actually finished with school.” Now he’ll be teaching others, continuing to learn about the causes of disease and of disparities within the health care system, and seeking ways to change and improve that system and the quality of people’s lives. 

“More and more I see how my experiences at Wabash, in and out of the classroom, and my experiences at IU and at the University of Pittsburgh are finally coming together,” Keon said. “This is it. This is my moment.”

Bench Painting Honors Hispanic Heritage Month

Steve Charles—Not even a week after The Bachelor published a front page article about the tradition of painting the Senior Bench, that landmark received the most artful treatment I’ve seen on it in my 13 years here.
Freshman Ryan Lutz was a member of the team with Unidos por Sangre, the Latino Organization at Wabash, that painted the bench, and he blogs about it here.
Kelvin Burzon painted the memorable Inca warrior on the back of the College landmark, and he had this to say about the project he completed along with art majors Aaron Cantu ’11 and Juan Diaz ’10 to mark Hispanic Heritage Month:
I designed the bench in collaboration with Victor Nava ’10. It’s inspired by Heritage Month and the richness in color and symbols found in the Latin culture.

"Since Unidor por Sangre means United in Blood, we decided to do the illustration of an Inca, or a native indian, holding a heart, with the blood to represent our

See a photo album with details from the Unidos por Sangre’s version of the Senior Bench here.

Video Cameras in Physics Class?

Jim Amidon — Twenty-five years ago, I took a physics class at Wabash College from Professor Vern Easterling. Vern was an excellent teacher — is an excellent teacher — but I way underperformed in that class. I tried to get my head around the numbers and symbols and forces I could not see. But I just didn’t get it; the physics didn’t sink in. My heart wasn’t in it.
When it was all over, I think Professor Easterling took pity on me and gave me something like a C+ in the course. I was ashamed.
I wish I could do it all over again this fall. I really wish I could break out my flip-flops and baseball cap, and get up early for physics class. And I’m not kidding.
Imagine a physics class without a three-inch thick textbook. Seriously, try to imagine a college-level physics course that includes no textbook.
It’s happening at Wabash right now. About 40 guys are taking an entry-level physics course for non-majors and they didn’t have to buy a textbook.
What’s next, hot dogs without buns?
The course is the brainchild of Assistant Professor Martin Madsen, who with guidance from his department chair, Dennis Krause, has designed a physics class modeled after the hit television show Mythbusters.
After spending three years on campus, Madsen started thinking about the Wabash environment and the ways Wabash guys learn. He knew that for non-majors, physics could be a challenge or, dare I say, boring. He set out to design an exciting course that would include freshmen through seniors applying their best critical thinking skills to solve problems using a Mythbusters format.
“Some of the stuff they do on Mythbusters is real science, and it’s engaging, it’s fun, and it’s exciting,” Madsen says. “What if we were to do science like they do science, where we present to the students a big picture myth and just let them loose?”
As he talked to me about the class last year, he hooked me right away when he said the students wouldn’t be buying textbooks. Instead, he told me, they’d be purchasing inexpensive video cameras — the kind you see in stores for around $100 (which, by the way, is about the cost of a college physics book these days).
“We want a visual communication of the science,” the professor says. “The students have to have a good grasp of what’s happening in order to turn around and teach it to others. The video cameras become the tools for taking data in the labs and then communicating that data back out.”
It’s a fascinating concept and I’m eager to watch the series unfold this fall. Yes, the “series” will be available on the Wabash website through the College’s YouTube channel.
Here’s how it works:
Professor Madsen divides the students into groups of four per team. He then throws a problem or myth at the teams, and off they go to do research into the physics, math, and common sense that will help them conduct experiments to “test” the myths and solve the problems. Their textbook is the Internet; their lab notebooks are video cameras; their homework assignments are well-edited videos that show how each team attempted to test the myth.
The myths the students must tackle involve force, gravity, mass, math, and all things physics. The experiments also look like a lot of fun.
“The 19th century model of someone lecturing to a room full of students just doesn’t fit the 21st century, it doesn’t fit the technology, it doesn’t fit the information age, it doesn’t fit the students now or our culture,” said Madsen.
I watched a short video clip from a “lab” session last week. Two students dressed in football helmets and shoulder pads are riding on carts with boxes and pop bottles attached, and barreling head-on into one another.
Translation: Two large students (mass) moving at a specified speed (velocity) striking each other (force) as the cameras from various angles (including helmet-cam) captured the entire event.
(Perhaps my male readers will recall their childhood days of taking painstakingly constructed plastic model cars and crashing them together just to see the resulting collision. Bam!)
After the first week, Professor Madsen had students coming in with big smiles saying how much they had thought about the problem all week and how excited they were to get started in lab.
Madsen acknowledges the support he’s had in developing the course, and knows he wouldn’t have the opportunity at any other school.
“Being Wabash College where the attitude of the administration and the department is “let’s try it, let’s see what happens. It just makes this kind of class possible.”
Note: The Physics 105 course will be documented on the Wabash YouTube channel and available at The students have done introductory videos to date, and will soon begin posting videos of their experiments. Check back often.

Wabash Getting Up to Speed on New Media

Howard W. Hewitt – Social media isn’t a new term. Blogging, Facebook, and social networking may be foreign to many people but the concept of individual journals dates back years. It’s just that publication is now instant with the internet.

What’s happening across the country and around the world is really nothing short of a revolution.
For instance:
If Facebook was a country, it would be the fourth largest in the world. Boston College did not issue e-mail addresses to its freshmen this fall. The startling numbers indicate a seismic shift in the way we communicate.
If you have four minutes to spare, watch the fascinating YouTube video at the bottom of this page. Or, click the icon on the right and you can go to our Wabash YouTube page and check it out.
Student bloggers have told the “real” story of Wabash, student-to-student, as an effective recruiting tool. We’ve learned about the world as our students study abroad, participate in immersion learning trips, or go fly fishing in Montana.
We’ve actually had Facebook pages for a couple of years. The current king of social networking sites is just four years old. Check out our Wabash page by clicking the icon at left.
Or, check out the College alumni page – that icon – over there, on the right ->
One line keeps coming back to me from an August seminar on social media and higher education. I’m paraphrasing – ‘For years people sought out news, now news finds people. For years, high school students looked for a college, now colleges look for students.’
If you buy the basic concept you’ll quickly realize a passive approach to communication no longer works with this generation of incoming college freshmen or the next.
It’s a fundamental change in the way young people communicate. Wabash students, as others across the country, have to be reminded to check their email. They’re communicating largely via text messages or perhaps Facebook.
For those at the College charged with marketing and recruiting the new students, this is not an insignificant challenge. The glossy brochure is no longer enough. And to rely only on printed material might be foolish.
You will now find links to six different social mediums across our website with established Wabash College branding and content. We’re going to use students in many of these efforts to present the content in a peer-to-peer manner.
Our student bloggers are going to get more prominent play on our pages as we emphasize student voices.
The College has strong participation on Linked In – a business-oriented social networking site. We have two sites! The Alumni site has more than 1100 members. Check it out by clicking on the icon at right. Career Services has a Linked In page that’s much newer.
We’ll be writing more about social networking and how we’re using it throughout the year. Social networking may or may not be a communications revolution, but ignoring it is a communications blunder.

Running Wild

Steve Charles—I was interviewing Professor Greg Redding ’88 this week about running his first 100-miler over the summer—the Bighorn Mountain Wild and Scenic Trail Run. One hundred miles of being pushed to his absolute limits on mountain trails between 4,000 and 9,000 feet in elevation. Running day and night, through summer heat and banks of snow. He’s writing about the experience for Wabash Magazine’s upcoming issue on men’s health.
After hearing some of the agonizing and ecstatic details of Greg’s run (and his unforgettable description of turning off his headlamp during the moonless night and running the trail with the shimmering Milky Way stretching across the sky above him), I asked him why he does this—why all the hours of training, the pain, why he’s chosen a sport that is, as he admits, the exercise used for punishment in other sports?
I’ll let him answer that question himself in the piece he’s writing, but I noticed a book in Greg’s office—Why We Run: A Natural History, by Bernd Heinrich—and found these two quotes that offer food for thought.
The first is from the late Jim Fixx: “As runners, I think we reach directly across the endless chain of history. We are reasserting, as modern man seldom does, our kinship with ancient man, and even with the wild beasts that preceded him.”
The second is from Heinrich himself, who concludes a chapter on the connection between today’s runners and our ancestors with this: “There is nothing quite so gentle, deep, and irrational as our running—and nothing quite so savage, and so wild.”
Greg trains on the trails of Shades State Park, which is one of the places Jim Amidon and I shot video and photographed the Wabash Cross Country team in late August as they began their summer training camp. (See photo albums here, here, and here.)

I asked Wabash Cross Country Coach Roger Busch, whose training camps are known for their cross training (how many cross country training camps include a canoe race?) what he was hoping to accomplish when he gathered the team together at Camp Talitha this year.

“The main reason for camp is team chemistry,” Roger said. “As corny as it may sound, being trustworthy to one another as individuals goes a long way in a sport that is demanding physically like distance running. The better you know someone the more likely you are to run for them and the good of the team.”
“Having a common goal and the passion to pursue it as a unit is something most people struggle with in life, and the sooner our young men can come to terms with sacrifices beyond their own personal pride, I believe the better off they will be as people who are ready to contribute to the world.”
So how did this year’s camp go?
“This is the best year so far for camp,” Roger said. “I believe the guys care more about one another than in the past. They are "hanging out" more together outside of practice, and I think that’s because of the one-on-one time at camp. I talk to them often about passion and emotion instead of simply going through the motions, the checklists, and I feel like it is slowly sinking in!”
Even President White is running these days. He completed the four-mile alumni cross country meet last weekend after an invigorating summer spent, in part, hiking in the Grand Teton Mountains of Wyoming. In his Chapel Speech yesterday he recalled encountering there a bear “as big as a Volkswagen, maybe bigger.” His reaction to that encounter provides yet another, perhaps more Darwinian answer to the question of why we run.
“He was maybe 10 yards in front of us walking across the trail from the lake,” Pat said. “I looked at him, he looked at me, and then I found my legs.”
Was he still carrying the image of the bear with him as motivation as he crossed the finish line last weekend? Jim Fixx wrote of kinship with “the wild beasts the preceded us” as one motivation for running. How much more so those that follow?

In photos: Seth Einterz powers up the trail during training camp at Camp Talitha; Cross Country Coach Roger Busch ’96 lead his team through a workout.

Blogging Has Become An Important Voice

Howard W. Hewitt – The start of the school year means many things including selection of our student bloggers. It took awhile four years ago to convince everyone that it was a good idea to allow students to write unfiltered about their Wabash experience.

But we stuck our toe into social media three years ago with really great success. Each year incoming freshmen are surveyed about the College’s marketing and we learn that the large majority read the blogs and many read them regularly. We learned that as high school students the young men really appreciated the honest student perspective.
Daniel King ’10 was in that first blogging class and still writes. I guess that will make him our first blogger graduate. During freshman orientation week this year, we selected four freshmen to document their experiences for 2009-2010.
Associate Director of Admissions Chip Timmons and I have gone through this process each year. Frankly, the first few years we spent considerable time making sure we had the right balance of fraternity and non-fraternity and so on. And while we seek a balance in such things, we’ve found it more important to find three to four students who will simply do a great job of documenting their freshman experience.
How popular are the student blogs? This year 60 of the incoming freshmen expressed initial interest in the blogging positions. That number boiled down to a dozen resumes, five finalists, and then the four young men we’ve selected.
Ryan Lutz is a freshman from Sacramento, California. Ryan popped his head into my office very early last fall with his family to talk about journalism and writing. He also is a wrestler and made initial contact with Coach Brian Anderson on his own. He is embracing Wabash, its traditions and culture. Just read his blog! Ryan lives in Cole Hall.
Jim Martin continues our student pipeline out of Wisconsin. Jim is one of those lucky freshmen in David Hadley’s Fly fishing tutorial. The Kappa Sigma pledge is excited about Moot Court and community service. We liked his writing and desire to share with others his Wabash experience.
Michael Carper, a FIJI pledge, is from Indianapolis and our first blogger with experience. He was a contributing blogger for the Indianapolis Star. Michael is a bit of a reserved young man but one with a flair for writing. He is serious about nutrition and jogs each morning before heading off to class.
Tyler Swaim is following in his father’s footsteps as a Wabash man and a TKE. Tyler can be spotted wearing his cap and a smile. His easy-going spirit intrigued us. Tyler is interested in Biology and Theatre.
We got to know each of the young men even better this week as Kim Johnson put them through the paces of a photo shoot for new blog pages we’ll debut soon. Media Services Specialist Adam Bowen and his student assistants helped us do video biographies of each blogger.
Our lineup does extend beyond freshmen with Andre Adeyemi ’12 writing about his second year at Wabash. Jake Ezell is a junior studying abroad and has already posted some great entries as he explores Europe on his way to Greece. King is updating his blog as mentioned above. And, senior quarterback Matt Hudson writes about football and life as a Wabash student.
For years we’ve said “Wabash men speak for themselves,” and that no one explains the College better than our own students. Our blogs have made that possible in an honest, unfiltered way that is appropriate for Wabash men.
We train them and we trust them. They are our voice.

Some of Kim Johnson’s great shots from our photo shoot with each of the guys. Top to bottom, Ryan Lutz, Jim Martin, Michael Carper and Tyler Swaim.

An Unexpected Day Should be Expected

Kim Johnson – In our staff meeting Monday morning we were discussing the weeks events and what we would be able to cover. When Jim Amidon mentioned the group coming from FAESA (University of Espírito Santo) in Brazil I volunteered to cover it since I’d spent a little time in Brazil through a former job. I have a friend that lives in Brazil and thought “wouldn’t that be funny if she were part of this group coming to Wabash but surely I would have heard from her if she was going to be on campus.”
I got out my notes yesterday morning so I could make sure I was on time for everything and that I knew as much about the event as I could before going in to the first class about fell off my chair when I saw my friend Stella’s name mentioned in one of the e-mails!
Stella and I met 17 years ago in high school (although she doesn’t like when I say 17 years ago) when she was a foreign exchange student and living with one of my best friends. What I didn’t know until yesterday is that her American father, Don Russell ’72, is a Wabash alum.
Stella, uh-hem I mean, Professor Santana, is the head of the Law Clinic at FAESA as well as a professor of environmental law. She contacted Tom Wilson ’77 at IU School of Law in Indianapolis about bringing a few of her students to IU to learn about the US legal system. As they learned more about each other they decided to include Wabash as part of the trip – to the benefit of all involved!
As I watched the students interact with the group from FAESA, it reminded me of when I took a group of college students to Rio (and connected with Stella) to teach and learn there. The Wabash students were excited to hear the Brazilians speak Portuguese – it really is a beautiful sounding language. And they were anxious to try out phrases they knew and learn more – just as the Brazilian students wanted to hear the Americans speak and then try out their English when we were in Rio.
What I loved about the day yesterday was, of course, the opportunity to see my friend that I hadn’t seen in a couple years. But it also reminded me that however “small” the world seems there is a lot of culture and diversity that we just can’t learn from reading a book. And Wabash goes out of its way to bring opportunities to its students to interact with as many different cultures and people as possible.
It may be a speaker, panel, or musical ensemble. It may be an immersion trip. It may be a month in Ecuador. But whatever the event, the faculty, staff, and alumni have gone to great lengths to make sure the students will learn from the opportunity and be able to share a little something of themselves too.
It certainly wasn’t the day I thought I was going to have when I first sat down at my desk yesterday morning. Indeed it was better. Even the seemingly usual days become a day of learning and opportunity for me when I take advantage of all the College has to offer.