K Professor’s Book Offers New Perspectives on Sierra Leone

A new book written by Kalamazoo College Associate Professor of History Joseph Bangura promotes new perspectives on the formation and social history of Sierra Leone.

Book cover for The Temne of Sierra Leone
“The Temne of Sierra Leone: African Agency in the Making of a British Colony” promotes new perspectives on the formation and social history of Sierra Leone.

Research regarding Sierra Leone typically focuses on the roles of the Creoles and/or Krio, who were descendants of ex-slaves from Europe, North America, Jamaica and Africa living in the colony. Bangura, however, examines the roles of the indigenous Temne-speakers through the socio-economic formation, establishment and evolution of Freetown in “The Temne of Sierra Leone: African Agency in the Making of a British Colony.”

Bangura’s analysis includes market women, religious figures and community leaders, and the complex relationships they developed. He also considers key issues such as the politics of belonging, African agency and the creation of national identities.

At K, Bangura is the chair of the History Department and the director of African Studies. He has taught such courses as:

• The Politics of Sub-Saharan Africa;
• Introduction to African Studies
• Islam in Africa;
• Civilizations of Africa;
• Contemporary Africa;
• Gender Relations in Africa;
• Africa and the Atlantic Slave Trade;
• African Christianity;
• Globalization and International Politics;
• Globalization and Africa;
• War and Peace in Africa; and
• The Cold War in Africa.

Title page of book on Sierra Leone

Associate Professor of History Joesph Bangura
Associate Professor Joseph Bangura is the chair of the History Department and the director of African Studies.

Bangura earned his master’s degree and Ph.D. from Dalhousie University, and his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Sierra Leone. He co-edited two other books with Marda Mustapha, “Democratization and Human Security in Sierra Leone,” which was released in 2015; and “Sierra Leone beyond the Lome Peace Accord,” which was released in 2010.

Bangura’s professional memberships include the African Studies Association, the Africa Network, the West African Research Association and the National Social Sciences Association.

Learn more about “The Temne of Sierra Leone: African Agency in the Making of a British Colony” through its publisher, Cambridge University Press.

GLCA Appoints K Provost as its New President

The Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) has appointed Kalamazoo College Provost Mickey McDonald as its new president. McDonald will begin his position at the GLCA in July 2018.

New GLCA President Mickey McDonald
Kalamazoo College Provost Mickey McDonald will begin serving the Great Lakes Association of Colleges (GLCA) as its president in July 2018.

K President Jorge Gonzalez will consult with faculty leadership to plan for the appointment of an interim provost to serve during the 2018-19 academic year. K will also begin preparations for a national search for the provost position.

In a message to faculty and staff, President Gonzalez wrote that McDonald provided invaluable support and counsel during his presidency. “I will miss his sharp mind, insightful knowledge of the College and of higher education, unflappable personality, good humor, and friendship. Mickey’s selection for the GLCA presidency is a testament of his leadership abilities and of K’s reputation in the higher education community.”

During his nearly 10 years of service, McDonald significantly shaped Kalamazoo College’s faculty, curriculum and future. He hired approximately one-third of the tenure-track/tenured faculty currently at K, increasing faculty of color from approximately 15 percent to 25 percent, and women faculty from approximately 45 percent to 55 percent.

McDonald helped support implementation of many of the elements of the Plan for Kalamazoo College’s Future including faculty approval of new graduation requirements and other curricular innovations, and an increasing emphasis on making K more diverse and inclusive. His leadership will help shape the vision of K for the next five years as he currently serves as co-coordinator of K’s current strategic planning initiative.

With former President Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran and others, McDonald helped envision, plan and establish the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership. He also helped secure more than $3.25 million in major institutional grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (in support of the Shared Passages Program and also in support of major diversity and inclusion initiatives), the Sherman-Fairchild Foundation, Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, and the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, among others. He served as acting president of K from December 2013 through March 2014.

Higher education leadership and local community engagement are values K holds, and McDonald participated enthusiastically and frequently. Locally, he serves on the Board of Directors of Farmers Alley Theatre, and regionally, he served on the Southwest Michigan First Education Committee. He served as a member of the Advisory Board of the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education and served as facilitator for a number of leadership development programs for the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC).

K History Professor Unveils ‘Burr Conspiracy’ Book

Kalamazoo College History Professor James Lewis has released a new book through Princeton University Press about former U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr.

"The Burr Conspiracy" author James Lewis
History Professor James Lewis is the author of “The Burr Conspiracy: Uncovering the Story of an Early American Crisis.”
'The Burr Conspiracy' book cover
“The Burr Conspiracy: Uncovering the Story of an Early American Crisis” is available through many bookstores and websites.

“The Burr Conspiracy: Uncovering the Story of an Early American Crisis” explores Burr’s travels through the Trans-Appalachian West in 1805 and 1806, gathering support for a mysterious enterprise, leading to his arrest and trial on treason charges in 1807. Rumors at the time stated Burr had enticed some people with plans to liberate Spanish Mexico, others with promises of land in the Louisiana Purchase, and others with talk of building a new empire beyond the Appalachian Mountains.

The book, available through many bookstores and online sites, also examines the political and cultural forces that shaped how Americans made sense of Burr’s intentions and movements, and the crisis after his arrest including concerns about the nation’s fragile union and uncertain republic.

Lewis has taught courses in U.S. history, Native American history, American environmental history, Revolutionary America, the American frontier and Western history, the history of U.S. foreign relations, post-World War II America, American political culture, the trial in American history and a senior seminar in history at K. He is a professional member of the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians and the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic.

Lewis’s other books include:

  • “The Louisiana Purchase: Jefferson’s Noble Bargain?” (2003);
  • “John Quincy Adams: Policymaker for the Union” (2001); and
  • “The American Union and the Problem of Neighborhood: The United States and the Collapse of the Spanish Empire, 1783-1829” (1998).

Lewis earned a bachelor’s degree in government and foreign affairs from the College of William and Mary, a master’s degree in history from the American University, and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Virginia. He has been teaching at K since 2003.


Estate Gift Burnishes Legacy of Women’s Athletics Pioneer

Ada “Tish” Loveless has added to her enduring legacy as the founder of women’s athletics at Kalamazoo College.

A year after her death, a gift Loveless made to Kalamazoo College through her estate plan will fund a new endowed scholarship in the name of Marilyn Hinkle ’44, her lifelong friend who died in 2007. The scholarship will go to women studying visual arts or music – passions of Hinkle, who in addition to being an alumna was a member of K’s staff for more than 30 years.

Legacy Tish Loveless at a tennis court
A year after her death, a gift Tish Loveless made to K through her estate plan will fund a new endowed scholarship in Marilyn Hinkle’s name.

The planned gift also more than doubles the size of the existing Tish Loveless Women’s Athletic Endowment, which began with a 2007 gift from one of Loveless’ former students, Elaine Hutchcroft ’63. It supports the day-to-day operations of the College’s nine women’s athletics teams.

Loveless, who died in November 2016, served as director of women’s athletics from 1953 until she retired in 1986. Before her arrival, there were no women’s intercollegiate athletic teams at Kalamazoo College. During her tenure, she established women’s varsity teams in tennis, field hockey, archery, swimming, basketball, volleyball, soccer and cross country, as well as a number of intramurals, sometimes mastering the details of unfamiliar sports in order to provide her students with the opportunities they requested.

She was the most successful coach of women’s teams in the history of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, the oldest athletic conference in the country. Her teams won 28 league championships: 23 in tennis, four in archery and one in field hockey. Her 1986 women’s tennis squad finished third in the nation.

In 1992, Kalamazoo College inducted her into its Athletic Hall of Fame and, in 2015, dedicated the Tish Loveless Court at the Anderson Athletic Center to honor her legacy.

President Jorge G. Gonzalez said Loveless’ gift emphasizes her already hallowed place in the history of the College, and demonstrates how a planned memorial can extend that recognition to the people and things the donor most cherishes.

“Tish led the way for women at Kalamazoo College to become full participants in the athletic program, and her name will be forever remembered through the endowment that supports those teams,” he said. “Now, through her planned gift, she has also ensured that her dear friend will be remembered, as well. Generations from now, K will know, and appreciate, the legacy of Marilyn Hinkle as well as of Tish.”

For more information about how to make a gift to Kalamazoo College in your estate, please contact Senior Associate Director of Planned Giving Matthew J. Brosco at Matthew.Brosco@kzoo.edu or 269-337-7288.


K President: Congressional Plan a ‘Tax on Knowledge’

Kalamazoo College President Jorge G. Gonzalez is among the higher-education officials raising concern for a tax plan under consideration in Congress.

Kalamazoo College President Jorge G. Gonzalez on tax plan
Kalamazoo College President Jorge G. Gonzalez was interviewed Monday, Nov. 20, on Michigan Radio’s “Stateside” program.

In an interview Monday on Michigan Radio’s “Stateside” program, Gonzalez said the provisions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act currently under consideration are alarming because they could make college more expensive and less accessible for students and their families.

“It’s baffling to me that in a time when we are in the era of the knowledge economy, Congress is trying to impose a tax on knowledge,” he said.

Hear a podcast of the entire “Stateside” interview or learn more about the plan from the American Council on Education website.

BachFest Christmas! a Major Debut for New Music Director

Speaking about his ambitions for the Kalamazoo Bach Festival, new Music Director Christopher Ludwa talks about what inspires him.

New Music Director Christopher Ludwa
New Music Director Christopher Ludwa is acutely aware of the traditions that surround him as he becomes the festival’s first new director in 21 years.

Johann Sebastian Bach, the festival’s namesake? A reverence for the ancient traditions of choral music? The long history of the organization founded by Kalamazoo College Professor Henry Overly in 1946? All those things, of course. But also Steve Jobs, the late co-founder and CEO of Apple.

“Steve Jobs was brilliant at making you think you had to have his latest device,” Ludwa says. “My job is to make people feel like if they’re not going to a Bach Festival concert that they’re missing something really special.”

Sitting in his office at Light Fine Arts, where his desk shares space with a baby grand piano, Ludwa is acutely aware of the traditions that surround him as he becomes the festival’s first new director in 21 years. But as he steps into the role vacated by the retirement of K Professor Jim Turner, he says almost every tradition began with an innovation and that he hopes to establish some new ones for the community ensemble (whose numbers range from 70 to 90, depending on the performance venue and the repertoire’s needs).

The 2017 BachFest Christmas Concert on Dec. 3 in Stetson Chapel, the first major event for the chorus under Ludwa, will showcase his approach.

“Our name is Bach so we’re going to start with Bach’s ‘Magnificat,’ ” he says, referring to the master’s nearly 300-year-old composition based on the Virgin Mary’s song of praise in the Gospel of Luke. “But the second piece in the concert is going to be a Yoruba Christmas carol from Nigeria.”

The drum-driven syncopation of “Betelehemu,” the product of a collaboration between African-American music educator Wendell Whalum and Babatunde Olatunji, a Yoruba musician, contrasts with the Bach’s Baroque sonority. But Ludwa says the two pieces have much in common.

“Where I see the link is that you have completely different traditions in terms of schooling and background, and yet this common thread of the story, the story of this young mother having a birth experience that is, for her, life-changing and potentially, for humanity,” he says. “And so we show the audience the contrast between these two and we also bring them together and say, ‘Here’s the link.’ ”

Taking the chorus and its audiences on such musical explorations promises to be a Ludwa hallmark – a method he sees complementing Kalamazoo College’s multicultural approach to the liberal arts. He also speaks of enhancing the chorus’ technical mastery and educational value by establishing a structure in which K music students are mentored by the chorus’ five professional members and, in turn, mentor younger singers drawn from local high schools. “So you have this kind of layer cake of training,” he says, “that uses the talent of the professional section leaders we have to groom the students and that helps them develop their own leadership skills.”

What innovations does the future hold?

“One of the pieces that really blows my mind right now is ‘Hamilton’ ” Ludwa says, referring to the hip-hop musical that has taken Broadway by storm. “The relevance and brilliance of the way that text was set is on par with Cole Porter and Irving Berlin.”

The maestro grins.

“Obviously, it’ll be a long time before the Bach Festival does a medley of Hamilton pieces. However …”

BachFest Christmas! is scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, at Kalamazoo College’s Stetson Chapel. The Bach Festival Chorus, directed by new Music Director Christopher Ludwa, will be joined by the Western Brass Quintet and the Portage Central High School Chamber Singers. Tickets are $18 to $29 at http://kalamazoobachfestival.tix.com, with $5 admission for students with school identification. For more information, call 269.337.7407.



K Professor Releases Second Edition of ‘Psychology of Music’

Kalamazoo College Psychology Professor Siu-Lan Tan, with co-authors Peter Pfordresher and Rom Harré, has released a second edition of her 2010 book titled “Psychology of Music: From Sound to Significance.”

Psychology of Music Book Cover
The second edition of “Psychology of Music: From Sound to Significance” was released on Monday, Nov. 6.
Psychology of Music Professor Siu-Lan Tan
Psychology of Music Professor Siu-Lan Tan signs copies of her book “The Psychology of Music: From Sound to Significance.” The book’s second edition was released Nov. 6.

The new version, released Nov. 6 through Routledge Publishing, considers music from its beginning as an acoustical signal to its manifestations across cultures. As a second edition, it puts greater emphasis on linking academic learning to real-world contexts, and on compelling topics that appeal to students and their curiosity.

Chapters have been updated with about 500 new citations to reflect advances in the field. A new “Chapters in Action” section includes exercises and application assignments designed to engage students in active learning.

Tan has enjoyed teaching since 1998. Her research focuses on listeners’ perception of musical structure, graphic representations of music, and the role of music in film and other multimedia. Her other contributions to the field of psychology in music have included a book titled “The Psychology of Music in Multimedia,” published by Oxford University Press in 2013; and a film documentary released last year, “SCORE: A Film Music Documentary.”


2 K Alumni Among 40 Under 40 Honorees

Crain’s Detroit Business last week honored its 40 Under 40 honorees, and they include two Kalamazoo College alumni. They are:

  • Ed Mamou ’00, 39, who is the owner of the Root and Mabel Gray restaurants, vice president of GFL Environmental Recycling Services Inc., and vice president of Royal Oak Recycling. Mamou earned a degree in mathematics at K and later earned a master’s degree in applied math at the University of California-San Diego; and
  • Sean Mann ’03, 37, who is a former lobbyist and policy adviser in Michigan politics. Mann quit his job with Michigan Legislative Consultants in Lansing on Sept. 5 to become the full-time CEO of Detroit City FC, a semi-pro soccer club that could soon turn professional. He earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and history from K and holds a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Bristol.

Crain’s Detroit Business says all of its 40 Under 40 honorees are professionals who have made “big decisions and bold moves.” They’ve also reinvented themselves and their companies across a variety of sectors and challenges involving fields or attributes such as autonomous vehicles, educational attainment, regional transit, home mortgages and health care.

The honorees were selected by the Crain’s Detroit Business editorial team through nominations selected based on their impact and achievements in business. Read more about the honorees and hear in their own words what they think the next 40 years will hold for Michigan.



Initial Wait Leads K Student to Boren Scholarship

Boren Scholarship Winner Kimberly Yang
Kimberly Yang ’19 has received a Boren Scholarship and will study at Capital Normal University in Beijing.

“Pleasant surprise” and “final exams” rarely are uttered in the same breath even at Kalamazoo College. Yet Kimberly Yang ’19, of Grand Rapids, Mich., received welcome news around finals time this past spring.

Yang first was placed on a waiting list in mid-April after applying for a Boren Scholarship, a prestigious grant that allows students to study abroad in geographic areas, languages and fields deemed critical to U.S. national security. Then, a congratulatory email came at the end of May, sparking her plans to spend a term in Beijing this fall before returning to the U.S. in March. She has received a scholarship and will study at Capital Normal University.

Yang, an economics and political science major and Chinese minor, departs for China in less than a week. She said the trip will provide her with international experiences representing the U.S. while living abroad in a capital city.

Boren Scholarship winners commit to U.S. federal service for at least a year after they graduate. Yang said she hopes to serve in a role in environmental relations.

“With the United States pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, China ironically is the leading proponent in the effort to reverse climate change,” she said, noting how China’s urban development affects the environment. “I want to pursue a career with the environment in China, especially with the demolition and fast-paced construction the country has been witnessing.”

Yang was born in Texas, but spent most of her high school years in Shanghai. She ultimately chose K for college because its small size seemed less intimidating as she was reacclimating to the United States. Last year, Yang served as the vice president of the Asian Pacific Islander Student Association at K. She also has served the campus as a student representative to Teach for America, a professional corps of leaders who commit to teaching in low-income schools and work to increase their students’ opportunities.

Yang joins Ihechi Ezuruonye ’19, of Southfield, Mich., and Molly Brueger ’19, of Arlington, Va., as the Boren winners from K in 2017-18. Ezuruonye and Brueger will study in Japan. Boren Awards are worth up to $20,000 depending on the student’s financial need and how long the student stays overseas. The grants are funded by the federal government through the National Security Education Program.

Boren Awards are named after former U.S. Sen. David L. Boren, the principal author of the legislation that created the National Security Education Program. Boren Scholars (undergrads) and Fellows (graduate students) study in countries throughout Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America and the Middle East.


New York Times, Architectural Digest Feature Alumna Julie Mehretu

Artist Julie Mehretu
Artist and Kalamazoo College alumna Julie Mehretu is featured in the New York Times and Architectural Digest for her latest project.

A Kalamazoo College alumna is receiving attention from publications including Architectural Digest and the New York Times for her latest artwork, a commission for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Artist Julie Mehretu ’92, of New York City, has worked for the past 14 months at a deconsecrated Harlem church on two towering paintings measuring 27 feet by 32 feet that required a scissor lift to develop.

Since graduating from K with a degree in art and art history, Mehretu has become one of the leading contemporary artists in the United States. She has received international accolades for her work, with her honors including the American Art Award from the Whitney Museum of American Art and the prestigious MacArthur Fellow award.

Mehretu recently shared a testimonial of the liberal arts including her Kalamazoo College experience with the Council for Independent Colleges.

“The liberal arts experience gives you the opportunity to learn, to fail, to succeed, to really find out who you are,” she said. “When I reflect on how my artistic work has progressed, I think of those early years at Kalamazoo College. My artistic process takes both intense thought and impulse. Balancing this has taken time and evolved over the years. It happens in all kinds of different ways. I’m making all these decisions, determining one thing at a time, and not even so much determining as understanding. I think that’s what Kalamazoo College was for me: a place to begin to understand.”

The final products of her latest efforts will be on display at the San Francisco museum for more than three years beginning Sept. 2. Read more and take a sneak peek of the paintings at the New York Times and Architectural Digest websites. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art also has a news release at its website.