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A Contrast in Marketing Challenges

Howard W. Hewitt – The 11 Wabash students studying marketing during spring break week got a real contrast Wednesday and Thursday and a realistic look at opportunities and challenges businesses may face.

Thursday the group traveled to South Bend, In., and visited the College Football Hall of Fame. The Hall has been in South Bend for about five years after a long run at Kings Island, Cincinnati.

Read the students’ blog about the week long experience and see more photos here.

The students toured the beautiful facilities and met with its marketing manager to discuss the challenges. The Hall is drawing about 65,000 visitors a year with a large portion of those coming on Notre Dame home football game weekends. The challenge is to substantially grow the number of visitors on a very limited budget.

In contrast, the student’s visit to Scott Smalstig ’88 and Joseph David Advertising in Muncie was a high-energy hour and a half planning strategy for an elite island resort community. Smalstig led the students through an exercise looking at marketing strategies for the wealthy community.

The contrast and road trips added spice to a week of classroom learning. The students really got involved when taken on sight to look at challenges and opportunities within the field of marketing.

In each city, a few alums joined the students for dinner at nice restaurants to talk about their careers and days at Wabash.

It might not have been the beach, a European immersion experience, or even time at home, but clearly the 11 men had an enjoyable and educational break.

In photo: The Monon Bell rivalry is just one of several represented in the College Football Hall of Fame at South Bend.


Keeping Spring Break Work Interesting

Howard W. Hewitt – Much is made about Wabash’s overseas immersion learning trips which happen over Spring Break and later this spring. Students are in Prague studying math. Another group has an exciting trip to really soak in New York City’s culture. A political science class is studying our federal government up close and seeing the sights of our nation’s capital.

The new spring break immersion learning experience is staying closer to home and tackling some tough work. Eleven students are spending the week in Indianapolis with Ken Turchi ’80 and learning about marketing. Click here to read the student blog on the marketing experience.

To keep the topic interesting the group met with a small coffee shop owner competing against Starbucks, visited the Indiana Pacers marketing director, and attended a Pacer game.

The group will hit the road from its Indianapolis base Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday’s travel is to Muncie where a group of Wabash alums run a marketing firm. Thursday’s trip is to discuss marketing with the College Football Hall of Fame at South Bend. The students are scheduled to have dinner with small groups of alumni  in Muncie and South Bend.

While it’s not spending hours on the beach in Florida or even on the couch eating mom’s cooking, the students seem to dive in to the experience. Discussion and interaction in the classroom setting has been dynamic. But like many Wabash activities they seem to enjoy each other’s company, tackle each part of the day as a shared experience, and keep coming back for more.

That’s not unlike a typical week with regular classes on campus. This is the first year for the Marketing Immersion trip. It’s intense with an aggressive schedule. But it’s also a great complement to a student’s education – especially if they have an interest in business.

In photo: Marketing Immersion leader Ken Turchi.


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.


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.


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.


Scott Crawford: A Man With Ideas!

Susan Cantrell – To satisfy my own curiosity, as well as gather information for a profile on the Wabash Web Page, I looked forward to interviewing Scott Crawford, the new Career Services Director. He is doing a job that is so important for our students.

Our meeting was not disappointing. Crawford is full of ideas. Practically all I had to do was ask what he had in mind for the Schroeder Career Services Center and his responses came flying out. To say the Career Services operation should be multi-faceted is an understatement, if ever there was one. The people in the office have to be in contact with business, graduate schools, non-profit employers, the military and other organizations. They have to run a protocol school, an editing desk, a counseling service, and a marketing operation, both for our students and their prospective employers.

Getting students, even seniors, to consult Career Services is not always easy, but Scott Crawford has come up with an idea for this, as well as for most other challenges he and his office face. What is the one sure way to get the attention of college students? Food. And plenty of it. What is the Career Services Office sponsoring the first Sunday evening when all students are back on campus for the second semester? A chili supper.

When I heard that, I felt confident Career Services has some good days ahead.


Doing Great in New Jersey

Howard Hewitt – At times it seems like our most recent graduates are the most difficult to track. But a personal connection to Bogdan Ianev ’03 led to a fun lunch and period of catching up Dec. 26 in Indianapolis.

I was Bogdan’s "community friend" during his freshman year at Wabash back when I was editor of the Journal Review. Even though I moved after his sophomore year, we’ve always kept in touch. Ianev, a native of Sofia, Bulgaria, majored in math while at Wabash and started on a career track to become an actuary.

The community friends program is a great way for Crawfordsville residents to connect to Wabash in a unique way. Essentially, a community member adopts a student for his four years. Community friends might take a student to a ball game, shopping or just have them over for dinner. Give David Clapp a ring for more details.

Bogdan, or Bobby as his friends and family call him, was a math major and aced the first actuary test during his senior year at Wabash. He took the final exam just before the Christmas holiday. He started his career with Cigna in Hartford, Conn., before that company was purchased by Prudential. The Indianapolis Tech graduate, where he spent his senior year as an exchange student, moved to New Jersey. in the summer of 2005 to join Prudential in its office just across the Hudson River from New York City. He works in Newark.

We’ll have a full profile of Ianev on our website next week.

We actually have several new profiles to go on the site in the next few weeks. We’ll be debuting some of those on our homepage news hole beginning Jan. 2.


Midnight Munch Fills Stomachs During Finals Week

Howard Hewitt – Like so many other student-faculty events, it’s hard to tell who’s having more fun at the twice-a-year Midnight Munch – the students or the faculty/staff.

During fall and spring finals’ week, faculty and staff volunteers serve up breakfast food from 11 p.m. – 12:15 a.m. It’s a big hit with the guys! More than 300 turned out Tuesday night, according to Horace Turner’s door count.

Assistant Dean of Students Mike Raters helps coordinate the event. The faculty and staff mainly handle the serving and clean-up chores, but a few find their way to the grill to flip a few pancakes. Bon Appetit prepares most of the food.

The students are able to fuel up for a late night of studying and the faculty/staff volunteers get to enjoy each other’s company and have a little fun with the students.

It’s a great Wabash tradition! See attached photo album for more photos!

See Alumni Director Tom Runge’s take on Midnight Munch in his blog: The Grunge Report.

In photo: Math professor Mike Axtel serves up some pancakes.