Steve Charles—Ten Wabash men with eight different majors work at one of Indiana’s fastest growing and most innovative companies. That says a lot for the agility of a liberal arts education in today’s high-tech world.
So does the company’s Web site: “We’re endlessly curious about the future of technology and the connections it can make for people and businesses. We create engaging technology solutions that pull from the human experience. Our love of art, music, and design may sit behind the scenes, but it is present in all we do.”
And that’s what I thought I’d write about after returning from a photo shoot at Apparatus in Indianapolis, the aforementioned company. Wabash Director of Communications and Marketing and lead photographer Kim Johnson and I had a great time getting the photo of the company’s founder and CEO Kelly Pfledderer ’96 (German major), Ben Frame ’03 (music), Chris Rozzi ’90 (art), Aman Brar ’99 (economics major, religion minor), Michael Carper ’13 (classics), Brad Vest ’11 (physics), Matt Vest ’08 (psychology), Eric Borgert ’97 (English), Michael Tucker ’93 (English), and Sam Spoerle ’13 (psychology). Joining them was Apparatus artist-in-residence and Wabash Professor of Art Emeritus Greg Huebner H’77, whose paintings grace the company’s headquarters, the ingeniously renovated former WFYI TV studios at 1401 N. Meridian. Pfledderer said more than once: “It’s the paintings that make it.”
The whole building seemed a metaphor for technology informed and driven by the connections a liberal arts education reveals, those criss-crossing synapses Wabash students develop.
All this is featured in a story by Evan West ’99 for the Fall 2013 issue of Wabash Magazine in production right now and mailing in December.
But I returned to campus just in time to catch the last minutes of a talk by Jim Kirchhoffer ’55 in the College’s “Callings” series. Now a Franciscan monk, Jim has had four or five careers, depending on how you count them: as an Episcopal priest, an insurance agent and investment broker, a school bus driver, a psychotherapist, and a writer. 80 years lived wholeheartedly and vulnerably. A conversation with the man is a gift in itself.
Jim recalled words that the late Professor Jack Charles H’52 gave him during his senior year at Wabash almost 60 years ago: “If all you’ve learned here is where you need to go to find out what you need to know, these four years will be worth it.” That “endless curiosity” and pursuit of understanding has been liberal arts education’s gift to Jim throughout his life, just as it’s been for those 10 men at Apparatus.
Wabash alums are fond of saying, “at Wabash, I learned how to think.” But I believe it goes deeper. There’s a confidence that no skill is unlearnable, no problem is insurmountable; there’s self-awareness and empathy for others and their cultures, a joy in learning and a way of seeing that has opened the world to these men and so many other Wabash alumni I’ve interviewed over the years. We honored a bunch of them at Alumni Chapel on Saturday.
But to see that gift in action Friday in the course of a few hours in the lives of young men and in the lifetime of a wise octogenarian was great joy.