Big Bash – 2022

Big Bash is just around the corner, and we hope you can join us for our Psychology Department Reception for alumni, which will be held during Big Bash, on Saturday, June 4th, from 2:30-4pm in Baxter Hall, room 312. If you will be back on campus for a reunion or just to catch up with fellow alums, faculty and staff, we hope that you will be able to drop in!

And, we are hoping to post updates from alumni who have reunions this year (5, 10, 15 years, etc.). Even if you will not be back for Big Bash, send us a short update on where life has taken you since Wabash, and we will post it below (photos are welcome, but not necessary!).  Updates can be directed to Dr. Neil Schmitzer-Torbert:

Class of 1962 – 60 year reunion

Duncan Thomas – I had picked Psychology (Poli Sci minor) as one would pick up a good book on a long winter’s night – I was just interested in human behavior, especially voting behavior and political decision-making. It certainly helped me with understanding people which, of course, stood me in good stead in the sales and marketing activities in which I engaged during my working life. After graduation, I attended the American Institute for Foreign Trade in Phoenix, AZ. Now I believe it’s called the Thunderbird Graduate School of International Business. That launched me on an international business career during which I spent over 20 years living and working in Latin America. I worked for the Dana Corporation, a manufacturer of engine and drive train components then later a medical products company. Between active employment and as an independent consultant, my career spanned 58 years. Now I’m in the grandkids mode and loving it.

Class of 1972 – 50 year reunion

Steve Brammell – I was a psychology major at Wabash during the period from 1968 through 1972. Spelt, Lawrie, Bankhart, and Lovell were my professors. I also took many other courses in various disciplines, especially English. After graduation I decided to take a year or two before applying to grad school, which would have been in Clinical Psychology, I suppose. I moved back to my hometown of Michigan City and got a fantastic job, especially for a newbie, as a social worker/daily living skills coordinator at a facility where various clients with mental and physical disabilities were paid to do ‘piece-work’ provided by local industries. My salary was very good, and they most likely would have paid for any further education. After a year I bought an open ended ‘student’ ticket to Europe and began my odyssey. I traveled for over a year, including a stint on an Israeli kibbutz right after the Yom Kippur War of 1973 and also a strange journey through Morocco and the Sahara. Upon my return, when I finally ran out of money, I moved to Austin, Texas where I was a psych tech in a “State Mental Hospital” which I left after I was required to, along with the other male staff, corral a large male patient who was acting out and refusing to take his meds. I am a big guy and had to help hold him down while he received ECT (electro shock therapy ala One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest). I quit the next day and began working for the U. of Texas library system. I am a writer and during my Austin stint I was a member of the Austin Poets Theater, giving public performances (slams these days), and publishing my poems in local literary journals. I then moved to Yellow Springs, Ohio, where I worked as a patient services coordinator for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and also the Green Country Transit providing government funded country wide transport for county citizens. I then moved to Birmingham, Alabama and began my career as a freelance writer, doing technical/medical writing for companies and institutions — a high paying endeavor I might add. I also wrote for magazines and newspapers, which does not pay well but boosts the ego. After 12 years I moved back to Michigan City to help my father after my mother died and had a major career change, getting into the restaurant business then helping a chef friend open her first fine dining restaurant where I was the manager and wine director. I loved working in the culinary world which led to many unexpected experiences and pleasures. I have been in the wine trade for the past 11 years, selling wine for a top end wine store in Indianapolis, where I now live with my wife. I just published my first book of short stories, Red Mountain Cut, by Finishing Line Press (which is available in the Wabash College Bookstore) and will have another book coming out later this year. I am nearly finished with a long work of historical fiction centered in the Lake Michigan region. I am looking forward to the Bash. I hope I get to stop in and say hello.

Gordon Goodwin ’72 – Van Gogh Yoursef at the Lume exhibit at Newfields in Indianapolis

Gordon Goodwin – I’ve been retired since 2014.  My wife and I moved back to Indianapolis (or Carmel these days) from the Fort Lee, Virginia area in 2015 to our old farmhouse near 96th and Keystone (!)  My career with the Army had its ups and downs, but I went for the joy that was in it, and I think the 30+ years was about right.  (I started with the Army at White Sands Missile Range, NM in 1983…..following completion of a Ph.D. at IU).  My wife, a retired special education teacher, keeps me very busy in the extensive gardens on our 2 acres.  Retirement works fairly well for me.  Hobbies include swimming and working out on a regular basis.  I like fishing; pre-Wabash my dad took me fishing over on Sugar Creek.  These days, I go infrequently, but I’m trying to introduce the sport to my grandson….well, step-grandson.

Class of 1977 – 45 year reunion

Daniel R. Rizzardini MBA, MSCP, LCPC – I graduated from Wabash in 1977, and spent 40 years as a capitalist working in the world of “Big Biz.”  Late in life my profligate profiteering ways changed to those of a humble humanist. I returned to school to earn a masters in clinical psychology.  Now, I practice therapy for couples, families, and adult males in the northern suburbs of Chicago.  I find the work to be exhilarating and most satisfying.  I use my Wabash education every day to assist my patients with the unique and varied challenges they experience.  I must confess that my late 70’s psychology education was steeped in behaviorism.  Whereas behaviorism is much utilized today, it is a small part of the therapeutic toolkit I need to bring to the couch. I am grateful to my professors Dr. Lovell, Drs. Bankhart, Dr. Spelt, et. al. for planting the seeds of healing which took several decades to blossom.

Ray with grandson, Liam, on his birthday

Raymond (Ray) Swisher is the Deputy Group Director for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.  He retired from the U.S. Navy as a Captain, Medical Service Corps, and as the Executive Officer, Naval Hospital, Great Lakes, IL.  He has been on faculty at Rush University, where he has taught several courses to Masters degree students in the Health Systems Management Department.  Ray has been in faithful service to ACHE, serving as ACHE Regent for Metropolitan Chicago, 2 tenures as the elected President of the Chicago Health Executives Forum, and as the Chair on several ACHE committees.  He is equally active in the larger community, where he is a USO volunteer at Chicago’s O’Hare airport and on the Board of Advisors to “The Boulevard”, a Chicago-based housing organization providing alternative lodging and meals to the homeless following hospital discharge.

Class of 1987 – 35 year reunion

Ken Ogorek ’87

Ken Ogorek – I currently work for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis, in the field of religious education.  My work involves a combination of theology, educational psychology and administration.  The psych major I experienced at Wabash has certainly been helpful over the years—and still is.  I feel very blessed to have spent over 25 years working in a field allowing me to put an excellent liberal arts education—and my faith—to a use that’s helpful to many folks.  Having tried a few types of jobs in my 20s, earning an M.A. during those years as well, I happily inhabit a niche where I imagine I’ll stay until retirement in a few years, God willing.

Class of 2012 – 10 year reunion

Olufemi Oluyedun ’12

Olufemi A. Oluyedun – After graduating from Wabash in 2012, I attended Michigan State University where I completed my Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Sport and Exercise Psychology. While in graduate school I assisted with an NIH-funded project examining physical activity as a means of reducing symptoms of ADHD in young children, while also teaching a full course load. This prepared me well for my current role as an Assistant Professor of Kinesiology at Hope College (tenure-track), a small liberal arts institution located in Holland, Michigan. I teach a range of courses which include: Sport and Exercise Psychology, Motor Development, Research Methods, Human Metabolism, Adaptive Physical Activity, Writing in Exercise Science, Health Dynamics, and Special Topics: Research. Related to scholarship, my primary research interests are in the areas of youth development, peer relationships, self-perceptions, and motivation. Specifically, I study how peer relationships play a role in an athlete’s commitment to sport. On a personal note, my fiancé Cassandra and I will be getting married in October (2022), and we recently purchased a home in the East Grand Rapids area.

Class of 2017 – 5 year reunion

Zack King – After Wabash, I completed the two year Orr Fellowship based out of Indianapolis. I worked for a company that created personality assessments. After the fellowship I joined a smaller family-owned Industrial Solutions company named the Robert Dietrick Company where we specialize in loading dock and warehouse safety equipment. I have been there ever since and am a member of the sales team. In both of these opportunities since graduation, I often find myself drawing from the experience and education I was fortunate to gain from Wabash and our Psychology department. Whether it be thinking through Human Factors when finding solutions for our customers or using the scientific method to ensure our products meet and exceed expectations, the Psych department has equipped me with a skill set I am grateful for. Personally, my girlfriend Mallory and I just bought our first house in Broadripple and love living in Indianapolis with our Standard Poodle, Elliott. 

2020 Research Symposium

Each year, senior Psychology majors complete a Capstone research project, in which they design and execute a research study in collaboration with one of the Psychology department faculty. In a typical year, seniors would present their work on campus in a poster session, held in the afternoon after classes, and which would be followed by a keynote lecture by a returning Psychology alum.

This year, with programming disrupted by the pandemic, our senior Psychology majors have worked intensely to complete their research projects (in many cases moving data collection to online formats, finding ways to access the necessary statistical software off-campus, and dealing with other logistical hurdles), and their efforts will be showcased today in our first virtual symposium, on Tuesday, April 28th, starting at 4pm EST. We will be using Zoom to host talks by each of our senior majors, and a link to the Zoom session will be distributed to campus by email.

If you would like to attend the virtual symposium, please contact Dr. Neil Schmitzer-Torbert (, and we can provide you with information for accessing the meeting.

4:00pmWelcome and Introduction: Dr. Karen Gunther
4:10pmInvestigation of Dispositional Optimism, Not Expectancy, as a Predictor of Placebo Analgesia
Hunter Jones
Adviser: Dr. Karen Gunther
4:25pmIntroduction: Dr. Robert Horton
4:30pmAn Investigation of Conformity: Normative Influences in Social Media
Bill Polen
Adviser: Dr. Robert Horton
4:45pmImpact of Regulatory Focus and Victim Imagery on Donation Intention
Miles Barilla
Adviser: Dr. Robert Horton
5:00pmAn Analysis of Narcissistic Coaching and Its Effects on Player State of Mind
Isaac Avant
Adviser: Dr. Robert Horton
5:15pmPerceived Coaching Style and its Correlation with an Athlete’s Motivation and Team Cohesion
Nathan Melchi
Adviser: Dr. Robert Horton
5:40pmIntroduction: Dr. Eric Olofson
5:55pmChild Temperament as a Predictor of Parental Challenging Behavior
J.R. Hill
Adviser: Dr. Eric Olofson
6:10pmThe Effects of Autonomy Support and Sensitivity on Child Exploration
Ethan Kanzler
Adviser: Dr. Eric Olofson
6:25pmIntroduction: Dr. Preston Bost
6:30pmThe Effect of Organizational Conspiracy Theories on Management Transparency
Luke Podgorny
Adviser: Dr. Preston Bost
6:45pmA Positive Patient-Provider Relationship: The Missing Link to Improving Adherence?
Abraham Kiesel
Adviser: Dr. Preston Bost
7:00pmIntroduction: Dr. Neil Schmitzer-Torbert
7:05pmLoneliness Disrupts Naturalistic Decision-Making
Thach “Ben” Huynh
Adviser: Dr. Neil Schmitzer-Torbert
7:20pmClosing remarks: Dr. Karen Gunther

(Train your) Brain Day 2014

The 6th annual Brain Day will be held at the Carnegie Museum in Crawfordsville on Saturday, July 12th from 1-4pm. This year’s theme is “Train Your Brain!”

Prof. Karen Gunther demonstrates the Rubber Hand Illusion at Brain Day 2010.

With the rise in popularity of “brain-training games” (think of the Lumosity commercials!), you may wonder: can you really change your brain? Well, brain-training games may not be worth your money, but your brain does change every day.

Join us on Brain Day for some simple demonstrations of how your brain adapts when the world changes (in prism-goggles cornhole), train your brain using biofeedback and using the Star Wars Force Trainer, and get tips on how to keep your brain healthy, and much more!

Since 2009, Wabash faculty and students have partnered with the Carnegie Museum to lead an afternoon of brain-related activities for all ages. Like Brain Awareness Week, which is organized by the Society for Neuroscience, Brain Day is intended to demonstrate basic principles of brain function, and to help us all better appreciate and care for our brains.

Wabash Psychology Department Intern Romeo Amao ’13 shows Dr. Keith Baird ’56 and his grandson, Nicholas Johnson, one of the sheep brain samples at Brain Day 2010

This year, three faculty from the Wabash College Psychology Department will lead Brain Day (Karen Gunther, Teresa Aubele-Futch and Neil Schmitzer-Torbert), who will be assisted by several Wabash students.

Prof. Neil Schmitzer-Torbert points out structures in a sheep brain at Brain Day 2010.

We hope that you can join us for another “brainy” years!

Summer psych in Hawaii: Reid ’15

Before starting his work this summer as a Sales Research Assistant Intern at Avangate, Jackson Reid ’15 took in the annual SIOP (Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology) conference in Oahu, Hawaii. The three-day conference included sessions on leadership, big data, high potential talent, self-determination theory, and more. Jackson wrote that his main reason for attending was to determine if he was interested in pursuing graduate study in Industrial and Organizational Psychology after Wabash, and whether he wanted to pursue a Master’s or PhD. After his discussions with many successful IO psychologists from all fields, which included former Presidents of SIOP and big name researchers, he has decided to pursue a PhD in IO psychology.

Save the date: Big Bash 2014

Mark Rain (’73) and Nestor Matthews (Dennison University) at the Big Bash 2013 Psychology Reception

Coming to Big Bash this year? If so, please join us for our annual Psychology Department Reception (2-4pm) on Saturday, June 7th.

Due to summer construction, the second and third floors of Baxter Hall will be closed. So, the department has moved to temporary office space in Hays Hall. And, we will be moving the reception to Hays Hall (Room 206, on the north side of the building).

We always enjoy this chance to catch up with our recent alumni, as well as share stories with alums who were here before many of our current faculty members came to Wabash. We hope to see you there!

The full reunion schedule for Big Bash if available here:

Schmitzer-Torbert awarded Daniel F. Evans Chair

Prof. Schmitzer-Torbert at Brain Day in 2010.

Last week. Dr. Neil Schmitzer-Torbert was named the Daniel F. Evans Associate Professor in the Social Sciences. Daniel F. Evans ’43 was a longtime Trustee and Treasurer, and served as the College CEO in 1992-3.

The Evans chair was established by the Board of Trustees in 1994, and is awarded to a Wabash faculty member every three years. The award “recognizes an individual whose teaching and scholarship are admirable and effective, and whose intellectual leadership promises to affect the quality of instruction in his or her discipline and across the College.”  Previous Psychology faculty who have held the Evans chair are Profs. Robert Horton (2008-11) and Charles Blaich (1999-2002).

Prof. Schmitzer-Torbert received his bachelor’s degree from Knox College in 2000, and completed his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Minnesota in 2005. He joined the Wabash faculty in 2006, and received tenure in 2011. He teaches in the department’s Introduction to Psychology and Research Methods & Statistics courses, as well as the department’s offerings in neuroscience (Introduction to Neuroscience, Behavioral Neuroscience).  This fall, he will be travelling to Montreal with his Behavioral Neuroscience students to conduct research with a colleague at McGill University.

Prof. Olofoson receives award

Earlier this month, Dr. Eric Olofson received the good news that he had earned tenure at Wabash College.  This week, we were happy to hear that he has been named the 2014-15 McLain-McTurnan-Arnold Research Scholar at Wabash!  The award provides for a semester of sabbatical support, which Prof. Olofson will use to to develop his work on the “The Science of Fatherhood.”

During his sabbatical in the 2014-15 academic year, Prof. Olofson will be researching a new book which reviews the empirical research on the effects of fathering on children. The work comes out of Prof. Olofson’s course, Fatherhood, and will aim to translate the research on fathers’ effects on children, and children’s effects on fathers, for a popular audience.