Work Continues on Hollett Little Giant Stadium

Kyle Bender ’12 – Work continues at Hollett Little Giant Stadium as dump trucks haul away loads of sod stripped from the playing surface. The field is expected to be completely dirt by the end of the week as a full crew works to remain on schedule for the completion of the field for the fall football season. 
The next step will be to form the dirt to sub-grade level, where it will be sloped at 1% grade from the center of the field in all directions. On Monday, the crew will begin pouring concrete within the inside oval of the track to form a drain that small trenches throughout the field will lead rainwater to. 
Project manager Mike Strolle said that the next two weeks will mostly consist of concrete work, as proper drainage is an important aspect of creating a successful FieldTurf playing surface. He did mention that dry weather is tremendously vital during this time when so much dirt is exposed, as rainstorms can create a huge mud hole and slow progress considerably. 
Once the concrete drains are completed, a foot of gravel will be spread across the construction site that will also aid in the draining process.
We were able to catch up with Athletic Director Tom Bambrey and Head Football Coach Erik Raeburn, who were able to give more insight on the project:


Athletics Fields Construction Underway

Kyle Bender ’12– A $6.2 million project to upgrade the football, baseball, soccer, and intramural facilities at Wabash College is underway.

The project, announced in March by President Patrick White, shows the continued commitment by Wabash College to provide first-class facilities not only for its students in the classroom, but also for those looking to stay physically fit through collegiate, intramural, and recreational sports. Read about President White’s announcement and see renderings of the final projects here.
Mud Hollow, where baseball has been played for 50 consecutive years, will soon become the new playing field for the Wabash soccer team with synthetic turf, permanent seating, a press box, and restrooms. The Hollow will also have two additional fields to be used for practice for the football team, as well as intramural sports.
Baseball will compete next season in the grassy lot on the southwest side of the Allen Center. Formerly the site of practice football fields, the baseball stadium will include permanent seating, batting cages, bullpens, a press box, a concession and restroom complex, and new scoreboard.
Finally, the playing surface at Byron P. Hollett Little Giant Stadium will be upgraded from grass to synthetic turf. 
The first phase of the project began Monday, as concrete was poured to build a bridge for bulldozers and heavy equipment to safely cross the J Owen Huntsman Outdoor Track. The machinery will be used to start plowing up the football field in preparation for the new turf field. The removal of sod will begin Monday, weather permitting.
Project manager Mike Stolle said multiple layers will be added to the base of the field before turf is finally set, including sand, gravel and rubber. The improvements to the football field will be completed by August 1, just in time for Coach Erik Raeburn and the Little Giants to begin the 2010 campaign.
Construction of the baseball stadium is set to begin in several weeks and run through the fall. 
Check back as Athletic Director Tom Bambrey, coaches, and students speak about how the project will impact Wabash College. We also plan to show pictures and video of the work being done throughout the summer.

(In photos: Top Left – Workers finish pouring cement, Bottom Right – natural grass at the football field for the last time)

A Generous Mind

Jim Amidon — I didn’t exactly know what to expect when I met Will Shortz Saturday night in Ball Theater.
Given the breadth of his intellect, I expected Shortz might be aloof or even snooty. After all, he does edit the world’s best-known puzzle, the New York Times crossword. And he did appear in a guest spot on the TV show How I Met Your Mother a week ago and actually played a snooty person.
He was anything but snooty in person. He was as genuine, kind, and approachable.
The Crawfordsville High School graduate returned to his hometown to receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree during the 172nd Commencement Ceremonies at Wabash College.
Typically, the College’s honorary degree recipients attend a luncheon in their honor then sit on the platform to receive their accolades — along with the Wabash graduating class.
This year, President Pat White, and his wife, Chris, had a terrific idea. They asked Shortz, who has published over 500 puzzle books, to do a public event on campus Saturday night. The idea was to welcome him home and engage in some word play. See a few pictures here.
After a few minutes talking about his childhood and his family (his sister from New Richmond was with us, as was his brother from Los Angeles), Shortz answered at least a dozen questions from the lively crowd.
After the Q&A, Shortz did what he does best: he entertained the crowd with his wit and wisdom, words and word games. Just as he does in his “Puzzlemaster” role every Sunday morning on NPR’s Weekend Edition radio program, Shortz quizzed us in a fun and exciting audience participation event.
It felt like we were on a game show — all 325 of us!
He split the crowd into two halves — the Ben Hur team and the Lew Wallace team. He chose captains (Stephen Morillo and Fred Johnson), whose task it was to tally answers as he quizzed the lot of us.
When teams got answers correct, they got to participate in a white board game of Wheel of Fortune (made more difficult since we could not buy vowels).
I think my team lost, though we did win one of the four games (worth four points!).
A nearly equal mix of people from this community, college faculty and staff, and graduates, trustees, and parents hooted and hollered, shouted out answers, and celebrated Will Shortz’s lively intellect and challenging word games.
I don’t remember attending an event when every single person with whom I spoke had such a great time and left in such a good mood.
In his witty and unassuming style, Will Shortz made us all feel like we were smart problem solvers and master gamesmen — even those of us who struggle with an “easy” Monday crossword or even word searches! But believe me, there were some excellent problem solvers in attendance.
Bill Cook, a religion professor at Wabash and who also received an honorary degree at Commencement, correctly solved one perfectly perplexing puzzle.
Patrick Taylor knocked our socks off — literally — when he guessed the answer “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick” with only the letter “n” showing on the white board.
Think about that one for a minute. There were 23 spaces on a white board with only the “n” showing and Taylor blurted out the answer.
One answer was local — “Interstate Seventy-Four.” The answer that ended the evening was, “Th, th, th, that’s all folks!”
When the games had been played and it was time to go, nobody wanted to leave. Seriously.
Shortz handed out copies of his books to the best problem solvers, signed autographs, and chatted with people for probably 40 minutes before he could even make his way to the lobby for the reception.
Once he arrived at the reception, he was mobbed for at least another hour.
Shortz once said that “crosswords are for everybody,” suggesting that anyone willing to stretch his or her mind to the fullest could find some level of perfection by solving a difficult puzzle.
Maybe that’s why I was particularly struck by how gentle Will Shortz was with those of us who do not possess either his intellect or ability to quickly solve word games. He graciously talked with young children and aging adults. He welcomed us into his world and challenged us to challenge ourselves.
It was a joy to celebrate his life and achievements in such grand fashion. And as he has lived the life of a liberally educated man — a model for the students of Wabash — he has a Wabash diploma to his credit.
Try friendly, kind, generous, and gentle. Not exactly what I first imagined, but precisely what I’d expect of someone from these parts.
Read an article about Will Shortz visit in The Paper of Montgomery County.

Building Music

Kim Johnson – During the last week of classes I sat in on the Music 202 final presentations. Music 202 (Instruments and Cultures) gives students an opportunity to learn about a wide variety of musical instruments and their cultural significance. Then, as a final project, the students construct an instrument of their own.
I enjoy seeing the presentations and hearing the students play their instruments but what struck me this year more than in years past is the impact building these instruments had on the students.
No doubt many of the students took this class because they needed a “fine arts credit” and this one looked fun. There were multiple students who confessed in their presentations to have had no prior music background and to know nothing about playing a musical instrument – and from hearing them play their musical instruments I would agree with their self-assessment.
And I’m not saying that to make fun of the students or say that their presentations were not good. I know enough about music that I probably could have plucked out “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on the thumb piano or come up with a couple different chords on the ukulele but I would not have had the patience or creativity these men had in building their instruments.
But what I loved about this group of guys was the ownership they took in building their instruments. For example, Steven Apostolidis ’12 chose to make a Greek Kemence similar to the one his father plays. It’s part of his Greek heritage. Looking at his completed piece and hearing about the work that went into it, I know he did not take the easy route on this project just to get the credit and move on.
Another example: Alex Orton ’13 who hand-crafted a ukulele. He admitted to not knowing how to play much on it but he worked hard on the fine details of his piece so it would be a good display piece that he could hang on his wall.
Or, William Powers ’12 enjoyed making his first didgeridoo so much that he made a second one that is smaller and more portable – and useable! He took it to one of the spring baseball games to make a little “music” in support of his fellow Little Giants on the field.
Whether taken to simply fulfill a distribution requirement or a major/minor course, perhaps one of these men discovered a love for music, history, or organology that will lead to a new hobby or even a new career. Creativity, self-discovery, and individuality – all part of the joy of becoming a liberally educated individual.
Photos: above right – Music 202, Spring 2010; bottom left – Apostolidis ’12 with his Kemence.

It’s All About Getting the Details Right for Big Bash

Howard W. Hewitt – Academia has a committee for just about, well, everything. So two years ago I suggested ‘why not a committee on wine?’

Bon Appetit General Manager Mary Jo Arthur agreed. The occasion was selecting palatable wines for Big Bash, the College’s annual reunion weekend. We met, we chose wines, and had a great time. And, we were rewarded a few weeks later when many alums noticed extra effort went into the wine selection.
We repeated the grueling process Monday afternoon in Trippet Hall for Big Bash 2010. Chef Jordan Hall, Catering Manager Kecia Tatman, Arthur, Director of Alumni Affairs Tom Runge, and the resident newspaper/blog wine writer settled in for an hour and a half to sample more than a half dozen each of red and white wines.
The distributor brought a nice selection. The challenge is actually twofold. First, we have to find wines we think will be palatable to the broadest possible audience. Second, we’re not buying high end wines to serve 500-600 people so the challenge is to find the best wine at the best price.
Several of the others insisted they were not big wine drinkers nor experts, but sticking to the advice that it just matters what tastes good, we reached almost unanimous agreement.
We picked an Australian Shiraz for dinner Saturday night and a nice medium-bodied Chardonnay. For Friday dinner, we selected a typical Sauvignon Blanc and something really different for the red. We picked an Argentinian Bonarda. The grape was widely grown in Argentina before the explosive growth of Malbec wines. Bonarda is similar with a little more smoke and earthiness to the flavor. But it’s a smooth, full-flavored wine.
So why the wine geekiness ? Couldn’t we just set out some Merlot and Chardonnay? Sure, Arthur could order the troops to serve up the least expensive and easiest buy swill. But she takes her job seriously when it comes to pleasing student and alumni palates.
So the reconvening of the (try not to snicker here) Wabash College Wine Committee has done it’s part to make a great event even greater.

Midnight Munch Tradition Remains Wabash Favorite

Howard W. Hewitt – It’s hard to say any Wabash tradition stands out above all others. But it’s also hard to match the fun, camaraderie, and high spirits of Midnight Munch.

What can be more fun than bacon at 11:30 on a Tuesday night?

For a number of years Wabash faculty and staff serve a full breakfast, cooked up by Bon Appetit, to students in the midst of finals week.

See photo album here. See video below of President Patrick White and Alumni Director Tom Runge talking about the fun of Midnight Munch.

Nearly 380 students made their way through the long lines by midnight Tuesday. The laugher, good humor, and fun minimized anyone’s wait for the bacon, eggs, pancakes, and juice.

It’s a way for faculty and staff to show they care about each Wabash man and to help them through a tough final week of classes before summer recess. Frankly, it’s usually very difficult to tell just who is having more fun – the students or the servers!


A Special Night for Day

Jim Amidon — Wabash College held its annual “Awards Chapel” last Thursday night. I’ve attended well over a dozen of them during my time at the College, and each year it’s a remarkable event.
It’s also pretty formal. Students who will receive prestigious academic awards are invited to attend by the Dean of the College, as are their parents. Faculty and staff presenters sit on stage, while a crowd of about 500 lines the pews.
President Pat White welcomes everyone to the Chapel. Last Thursday, he even joked a bit about how formal the event is — and inefficient. He said it would be far easier to simply email congratulations to the award winners and post their names on the website.
“But that’s not Wabash,” he said.
And so began the evening. Department by department, faculty came to the lectern to announce the awards they were giving, what makes the awards special, and the names of the winners. The crowd applauded the students as their names were called and again after they had their photographs taken.
As President White announced at the start, the process continued — inefficiently — for the next two hours. It’s the inefficiency that makes it a wonderful and genuinely Wabash event.
We take the time to provide background about the awards that are presented; to talk for a moment about the person whose name is on the award; and we celebrate each student, one by one, for his accomplishments — applauding twice and capturing photos of each student.
Awards Chapel is yet another in a long line of wonderfully inefficient Wabash traditions that I love so much.
I also love the presentation of the penultimate award of the evening. Just prior to Dean Mike Raters’ presentation of the Mackintosh Fellows, Dean of the College Gary Phillips takes to the lectern to announce the winner of the McLain-McTurnan-Arnold Award for Excellence in Teaching.
At a College like Wabash that so values excellence in teaching, receiving the MMA Award is a very, very big deal. It’s akin to picking the MVP of the All-Star game.
In keeping with tradition, Dean Phillips kept the crowd waiting until the very end of his citation to reveal this year’s recipient, referring to him as “our winner” throughout his presentation. Dean Phillips then announced that long-time Professor of Classics Joseph Day is this year’s winner of the McLain-McTurnan-Arnold Excellence in Teaching Award.
“Our winner enjoys the reputation of being a superb lecturer, able to turn a phrase, focus an argument, and condense in a most succinct way the central meaning, the nub, of a text or event or cultural moment,” Dean Phillips said when he announced the award. “One graduating senior, who is not a major in our winner’s department, confided to me in his senior exit interview that he so enjoyed our winner’s lectures that he would walk over to Detchon on the way to his Hays Hall lab just to stand in hallway outside the classroom and listen.”
I regret never having Joe Day for a classics course. I’ve had the honor of listening to him lecture a few times over the years — either invited lectures or just eavesdropping while taking photographs. He is an amazing scholar and captivating teacher. He is worthy of the award as this year’s “MVP” of our All-Star teaching faculty.
Professor Day has a long and illustrious resume that includes several books, journal articles, and original research on Greek epigrams.
“As described by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the epigram is, ‘A dwarfish whole; its body brevity, and wit its soul,’” Dean Phillips said. “For those of us familiar with our winner’s manner — whether in faculty or committee meeting, in colloquia or Ides talks, in candidate job talk or casual conversation on the mall — we see an alignment of scholarly interest and personal style: brevity, witty soul, and, of course, the omnipresent bow tie.”
I think Dean Phillips captured perfectly what makes Joe Day “the epitome of the Wabash teacher/scholar,” as he put it.
In his 27 years on campus and here in Crawfordsville, Professor Day has demanded the very best from his students. Most Wabash students want their professors to be tough and critical, bringing out their true intellectual potential. Joe Day does that as well as anyone, and does so with sophistication and exacting detail.
For an archeologist and scholar of classical civilization, it is in the details where one finds meaning. As Dean Phillips said so eloquently of Professor Day, “Attention to details instills a habit of mind that opens students up to the unexpected, to the bigger questions.”
Awards Chapel couldn’t have finished on a higher note. There — at an event introduced as both celebratory and inefficient — we honored an excellent teacher for his outstanding and, yes, inefficient teaching style, which for nearly three decades has brought out the very best in his students.