Jessica Hoffman ’13

Last October Jessica was accepted into Western Michigan University’s graduate program for counseling psychology. Jessica is a first generation college student who now is the first in her family to attend graduate school. “Her time at K was a  key chapter in this story,” wrote her friend and mentor, John Fink, professor emeritus of mathematics and computer science. At K Jessica majored in French and studied abroad in Claremont-Ferrand, France.

Alice Lynette (Spath) Blanchard

Alice, who went by her middle name of Lynette, died on March 13, 2014. She taught flute for 30 years at Kalamazoo College. At an early age, she became a flutist with the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra, rapidly advancing to first chair. She graduated from the School of Music at the University of Michigan in 1943. During her college summers she taught flute at the renowned Interlochen Music Camp. In 1943 she married Raywood Helmer Blanchard, who after his military service as a pilot in the Army Air Corps, enjoyed a career as an international patent attorney. Lynette served as principle flutist with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra for 25 years. When the couple retired to McAllen, Texas, she was the first chair flutist and president of the McAllen Town Band. She was an avid golfer and active in the Methodist Church. You could find her playing the piano for her Sunday school class on any Sunday when she wasn’t fishing with her son in Rockport, Texas.

Gail Griffin, Professor Emerita of English

Gail joined two other Kalamazoo writers in a recent issue of the journal Quarter Past Eight. It was the first time that longtime colleagues and fellow writers Gail and Di Seuss ’78 appeared in print together. Di is Writer-in-Residence and a professor in the English department. The two colleagues were joined in print by Hadley Moore ’99, a short story of whose appeared in that issue of the journal. Di’s piece won the journal’s Short Prose Contest. Gail’s two pieces were both finalists.

In other “English” news, Gail may have retired, but she keeps a close eye on K graduates in the arts. She sent us the following note:

Lisa Kron ’83 is almost sure to win the Tony Award for the book associated with the Broadway hit Fun Home, and possibly share the Tony for lyrics as well. Joe Tracz ’04 was just nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award (off-Broadway) for the musical The Lightning Thief. David France ’81, of course, received an Oscar nomination for his documentary film How to Survive a Plague, and it’s being turned into a series on F/X. It’s interesting to me that Lisa was a theatre arts major, Joe an English major, and David a political science major. And then there’s Jordan Klepper ’01 (a math major!) of The Daily Show fame and Steven Yeun ’05 (psychology) who plays Glen on the The Walking Dead. What a crop of media stars from K! And the breadth of their liberal arts journeys is incredible.”

Péter Érdi, the Luce Professor of Complex System Studies

Péter has been named editor-in-chief of Cognitive Systems Research, a journal that covers the study of cognitive systems and processes both natural (organic) and artificial (robotic). Péter has taught at K since 2002 in the departments of physics and psychology. He also directs the College’s Center for Complex System Studies. Additionally, he is co-director of the Budapest Semester in Cognitive Science, a study abroad program mostly, but not exclusively, for North American students, including students from K. Péter was head of the department of biophysics at the KFKI Research Institute for Particle and Nuclear Physics in Budapest from 1993 to 2011. He has degrees in chemistry and chemical cybernetics.

Terry Nelson, former assistant professor of psychology

Terry died on November 14, 2016. He grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota and earned his B.A. from Hamline University. He earned his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Minnesota (1968) and then taught in the psychology department at K from 1968 to 1972. Terry returned to the Twin Cities where he began a private practice in psychology. He is survived by his wife, Connie, four sons and nine grandchildren.

Jon Reeves, Director of Technical Theatre

Jon, who in addition to his duties as K’s director of technical theatre serves as Dalton Theatre manager, was honored with a 2015 Community Medal of Arts Award by the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo. The award recognizes “an artist who is a leader in their field, has a significant body of creative activity, who has received local and/or national acclaim, and has impacted our community through art.” Congratulations, Jon!


Siu-Lan Tan, Professor of Psychology

NYU/Steinhardt is celebrating its 125th anniversary by inviting speakers from around the world to participate in year-round events. One of those speakers will be Siu-Lan. In March she will give a short talk titled “Why Movies Move Us: The Psychology and Neuroscience of Film Music.” She also will be one of a four-member panel that will discuss the topic with the audience. In addition to Siu-Lan (a psychologist), the panel includes a film composer, a neuroscientist and a music theorist.

Gerald Poggi, assistant professor of classics

Gerald Poggi (left) in Cairo, Egypt

Gerald Poggi (left) in Cairo, Egypt

Jerry died unexpectedly of an apparent heart attack on September 28, 2016, in Cairo, Egypt. He taught in the classics department at Kalamazoo College from 1966 to 1970.

Jerry was born in New York City and attended Regis High School in Manhattan. He graduated from Iona College (New Rochelle, New York) and accepted a fellowship in Latin and Greek from the University of Chicago in 1965 where he earned a master’s degree.

After his four years teaching at K he returned to the University of Chicago to work in administration. He and his partner, Bill (who died in 1992), left Chicago and went to the West Coast where Jerry entered the corporate world as an executive with Hughes Aircraft. Jerry also earned a Ph.D in comparative literature from the University of Southern California.

Jerry and Bill moved to Milwaukee where Jerry worked with Miller Brewing. His last position was with the State of Maryland  as a personnel director. He retired at the age of 62 and moved to Cairo, visiting the United States for several months each year. Jerry is survived by his partner, Ashraf, and his brother, Gregory, who is a professor at the University of Michigan.