It has been much too long since I reported on developments at Muhlenberg (January 14, to be precise), but there is so much good news to share that I really must not delay any longer!
1. Honors – Academic and Otherwise. I could not hope to recount all those students and faculty who were recognized at Sunday’s Honors Convocation, “not if I had a ten tongues and ten mouths, not if I had voice never to be broken and a heart of bronze within me.”1 But I will single out a few members of our community who deserve super special recognition.
• Mallory Bernstein ’14 has been awarded a Fulbright for work in South Africa;
• Mel Ferrara ’15 was a Truman finalist;
• Vice President for Human Resources Anne Speck won the Chairman’s Award
• The Muhlenberg Chamber Singers won the President’s Award
• Curtis Dretsch (Theatre and Dance) gave a moving and memorable address on the
“Cooper Theory of Reciprocity”
2. New Professors. The Board of Trustees endorsed my recommendation of six faculty members for promotion from Associate Professor to Professor. Congratulations to:
• Diane Follet (Music)
• Barri Gold (English)
• Jason Kelsey (Chemistry/Environmental Science)
• Linda McGuire (Mathematics and Computer Science)
• Francine Roussel (Theatre and Dance); and
• John Sullivan (Media and Communication)
3. Other Achievements. Not all accomplishments were mentioned at Honors Convocation.
• Retiring math professor Penny Dunham has had an article selected by the Princeton University Press to be included in its annual anthology “Best Mathematical Writing” – the first time a Muhlenberg professor has been honored in this way.
• Associate Professor Jeremy Teissere, founder of Muhlenberg’s highly successful neuroscience program, has been named to the new Stanley Road Professorship, the College’s fifth endowed chair, donated by an anonymous family in response to the Muhlenberg Match program.
• Kristen Wendt '15 and Michael Schramm '14 are the winners of this year’s Library Scholar Award competition, recognizing students who have demonstrated growth in and understanding of information literacy, knowledge, and skill through independent study or research.
• Sophomore Bryson Kemp was recognized as one of six national winners of “Project Oscar” for his plans to compose film scores. He appeared onstage during the Academy Awards ceremony.
• Sophomore Felisa Wiley is one of the final four contestants on the Oxygen Network’s reality program “The Face.” You can (and should) vote for her at: http://www.oxygen.com/shows/the‐face/fan‐favorite/.
• The East Hall addition project was recognized with an Award of Distinction (First Place in permanent modular construction – commercial housing over 10,000 s.f.) at the recent 2014 Modular Building Institute convention, and also awarded Best in Show for permanent modular construction. Congratulations East! And Kudos to all who worked on bringing this project to fruition. The remaining renovations will be completed by August move‐in.
4. Robbing the Riches. The Class of 2014 has broken the 50% participation barrier in its giving to the Muhlenberg Fund’s Senior Class Connections Campaign, claiming a challenge grant from former board chair Rich Brueckner ’71 P’04 P’10 and current board chair Rich Crist ’77 P’05 P’09 (aka “the Riches”). They are now gunning for the record set by the Class of 2013 – 58% participation. Let’s hope they make it all the way to 60%. In other development news, Mule Madness was a hit, with 13 varsity teams achieving 100% participation in the Muhlenberg Fund by seniors and coaches. Thanks to Trustee Jerry Galgano for the challenge grant that helped inspire these great results.
5. Vital Statistics. As of this writing, deposits for the Class of 2018 are running ahead of this point in the process a year ago. So is the amount of financial aid required by the incoming freshman class. It’s a good thing that the endowment is at an all‐time high ($213 million reported at last weekend’s board meeting), and that alumni, parents, and friends are rising to the Muhlenberg Match challenge announced last September. Thirty‐nine new or increased endowed scholarships have been secured in response to the match.
6. Hot Summer Knights. The Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre will be staging A Chorus Line, Spamalot, and the children’s production of Gruff starting in June. Details at: http://www.muhlenberg.edu/main/academics/theatre‐dance/smt/ .
7. Who Knew… that Muhlenberg had an 11‐member Ukulele Ensemble? They performed for the Lifetime Giving Society Dinner last weekend and were fabulous.
8. Liberal Arts at Work – Muhlenberg’s Summer Business Institute. So, you’re a history major, or a philosophy major, or an English major, or a major in some other purely liberal arts field – and yet you want to get your foot in the door for a first job in business. This program is designed for you – and (this year only) at a bargain price. Thanks to the leadership of Scott Koerwer ’88 and the excellent work of colleagues in ABE, the Wescoe School, the Career Center, and others, this year Muhlenberg will offer a pilot providing “an executive‐style, non‐degree, professional development program with an immersion in business, communications, leadership, and career preparation – grounded in the Muhlenberg liberal arts curriculum.” The program will involve more than 20 faculty and staff, 5 corporate or other external site visits, 6 career sessions, connected by one business simulation that will run through all aspects of the program. Tuition is free, though participants will pay room and board. More information and application forms can be found at: http://www.muhlenberg.edu/summerbusinessinstitute/ .
9. KEY to the Festival. Muhlenberg College dancers were selected once again for the National American College Dance Festival (ACDF) at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. More than 5,000 participants attended regional ACDFA conferences across the nation this year. Over 500 dance works were blind‐reviewed by adjudicators and only 31 pieces selected for performance at the National Festival, June 5‐7, 2014. KEY, the Muhlenberg work selected, was presented at the Master Choreographer’s Concert this past February. The choreography is by guest artist Charlotte Boye‐Christensen, and was danced by Allison Berger ’14, Katharine Dougherty ’14, Gwynne Jones ’15, Krysta Parker ’16, and Annabel Williams ’14. This is the fifth time the Muhlenberg College Dance program has been selected for this honor.
10. Champs‐in‐waiting? Our 2013‐14 teams have qualified for more Centennial Conference Championship tournaments than in any other year since the current post season tournament format began in 2001. The four teams that have qualified for post‐season conference play this spring – softball, baseball, women’s lacrosse, and women’s tennis – are more than any other single season in that same period. In addition, field hockey, women's soccer, volleyball, men's basketball, and women's basketball qualified for Centennial Conference championship competition earlier in the year. Softball won the regular season conference crown and will host the tournament this weekend. Men’s and women’s track and field teams will participate in the conference championships this weekend, too. http://www.muhlenberg.edu/main/athletics/ .
11. Tonys and Nobels and Pulitzers, Oh My! Pulitzer Prize winner and American Historian Laureate Ron Chernow will give this year’s Commencement address, flanked by an all‐star cast of honorary degree recipients. For the full scoop, see:
12. The Road to Diversity. Muhlenberg’s Diversity Strategic Planning Committee (DSPC) will continue its work through the summer, assessing feedback from the Diversity Gallery Walk, refining priorities and developing a budget, and writing the plan. We hope to have a draft ready by early in the fall semester. You can track the DSPC’s progress at: http://www.muhlenberg.edu/main/aboutus/president/initiatives/diversityatmuhlenberg/
13. Save the Date – ’Berg goes back to Italy. The Alumni Office will be sponsoring another trip next April (2015) – touring the Amalfi Coast. Alumni, parents, friends – in fact, just about anybody who likes Muhlenberg – are invited. Stay tuned for specifics.
14. Not Gone Yet. As most of you know, I have announced my intention to step down from the presidency of Muhlenberg at the end of the next academic year (June 30, 2015), followed by a terminal sabbatical during which I will be available to the College leadership for advice if they need it (which, I am quite sure, they won’t). Glad that, in my waning months, I was recognized as a “NerdScholar Favorite College President” by the prestigious website “nerdwallet.” See the story at:
Pat intends to continue her teaching and research at Muhlenberg for the foreseeable future. Calypso has not yet announced her plans, but is rumored to be playing the part of “Yukon King” in the forthcoming Warner Brothers reboot of “Sergeant Preston of the Yukon.” Trustee Eric Berg is chairing the search committee for my successor. You can find the latest news about the search at: http://www.muhlenberg.edu/presidentialsearch/ .
As we wrap up classes and move into finals, then commencement, I wish everybody a happy spring!