More After Four

People (and often their parents with, or for, them) choose to attend college for many reasons: among the most (often the most) prominent: a meaningful career. Yet that outcome is hardly automatic, says Tricia Zelaya-Leon, K’s new director of its Center for Career and Professional Development. CCPD helps each student (and alum) ensure that outcome happens for them. Exactly how is the subject of this informative lecture about recent happenings at and the exciting future of the CCPD. Mission, vision, priorities, innovations, and the many ways that the entire K community can (and must) involve itself Dr. Zelaya-Leon shares. One, among many, of the innovations is the “career studio” with its trained peer associates, which has already increased student interaction (both early and often) with the CCPD, particularly among students of color and first-generation students. Zelaya-Leon foresees the day when the CCPD is the preeminent source for career discernment, preparation, and talent development for all K students and alumni. That day may already be on the way.

K’s dedicated Career and Professional Development (CCPD) staff relies on the support of alumni to provide advice and/or resources for students conducting career development internships, senior individualized projects, and post-graduate job searches. Below are 5 ways that you can help K students!

James Baldwin’s Blues Sensibility

Looking forward for transcendence requires looking back with honesty. Essential to both: story sharing. Call that a blues sensibility. In November 1960 James Baldwin delivers a lecture in Stetson Chapel. Decades later the story of Baldwin’s visit inspires a timely story gathering. The voices are members of the Kalamazoo community recalling their experiences during the civil rights movement. The story gatherers are K students. That gathering effort—also known as “building the archive”—was a collaboration between Professor of English Bruce Mills’ senior seminar on James Baldwin and the Society for History and Racial Equity (SHARE), a local nonprofit organization founded by Donna Odom ’67. This K-Talk by those collaborators is fascinating, in part, because it’s far less lecture than it is story sharing, including, among others, stories from or about Harold Phillips, Walter Hall, Paul Collins, Robert Stavig, and, of course, James Baldwin. Mills and Odom and the other participants in this singular event show the power of storytelling to connect and celebrate diversity and to unite diverse individuals in the acts of imagining and then making a future that includes us all. The work’s neither quick nor easy, and needs that blues sensibility.


The Arc From “Being Here” to “Making ‘Here’ Home”

More black people, indigenous people, and people of color are choosing to attend K as students and work at K as faculty and staff. That’s progress in diversity, or “being here.” More progress is required in equity and inclusion, or “making ‘here’ home” for all. Home is deep and complicated. K is shaping itself into a space conducive to in-and-out-of-the-box ideas and actions that extend the arc from “being here” to “making ‘here’ home,” a place that every member of the K community considers to be their own. In this K-Talk, four members of the community describe the multitude of projects—a hard work as urgent as it is painstaking—that constitutes the march to extend the arc. These four educator-activists are D’Angelo Bailey ’05 (Advancement), Karen Isble (Advancement), Regina Stevens-Truss (Chemistry), and Rhiki Swinton (Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership). What they describe is eye-opening (in terms of need and effect) and inspiring. And a good start.

Paralympics Pioneer

Japan has been the (unlikely) prime mover in the development of the Paralympics movement, says Professor Dennis Frost, which is a surprising fact given the country’s nearly total inexperience with disability sports in the early 1960s, when it made the monumental decision to host the 1964 Paralympics in Tokyo. Since that time Japan has provided foundational contributions to the expansion of the Paralympics, including: stronger links to the Olympics; expansion of participation from a single category (spinal cord injury) to multiple categories of disability; growth in the number of largescale regional and international events; the evolution of Paralympic focus from rehabilitation to elite competition; exponential growth in media coverage; and the movement’s effect on social changes, including barrier free environments and inclusion more generally. Frost is the Wen Chao Chen Associate Professor of East Asian Social Sciences. The Paralympics movement in Japan (and the world), he says, is a complicated and imperfect success story (still being written) about the effect of large events like the Paralympic Games and (even more so) of people on the course of durable changes to society. His K-Talk is based on his recent book: More Than Medals: A History of the Paralympics and Disability Sports in Postwar Japan.

Europe Shrugs Off U.S. Influence in Wake of ‘America’s Berlin’

U.S. influence is on the wane in Europe. But Professor Emeritus David Barclay notes that this wasn’t always the case. From 1948 through the mid-1960s, the United States enormously influenced West Berlin, causing many historians to describe the western half of the city as “America’s Berlin.” Barclay, who retired from K as the Margaret and Roger Scholten Professor of International Studies, focuses on the buildings and personalities that shaped “America’s Berlin,” from Lucius Clay to Eleanor Lansing Dulles, in a special K-Talk. He also briefly considers what happened to U.S. influence after the mid-1960s. Hear from Barclay after President Jorge G. Gonzalez unveils the David E. Barclay Endowed Scholarship in History, which benefits K students who demonstrate exemplary capacity for and commitment to scholarly work in the history department.

Encountering, by Littles, the Birds of Bernard

In a sense, painter Bernard Palchick makes his viewers painters as well. How? He invites them to make the symbols of his paintings into symbolism of their own. That makes his tour of the three-artist exhibition—“Suggestion: That is the Dream”—your tour. The exhibition’s title derives from a French poet’s distinction between naming and suggestion. The former suppresses joy, the latter enables discovery, little by little. In his wide-ranging discussion Bernard shares insight about the prevalence of his bird symbolism; his work in oils, acrylics, and alcohol inks; the influences of Kalamazoo College and COVID-19 on his recent work; his approach to liminal space and landscape; and the excitement of not knowing how a painting will finish itself. He also gives a virtual tour of his condo basement art studio. Bernard is professor emeritus of art and the former vice president of advancement and acting president of Kalamazoo College. An apostle of the liberal arts, Bernard gathers spirits as diverse as Giovanni Bellini, Charles Baudelaire, and Mary Oliver to illuminate his artwork. The latter wrote the line that suggests, a little, the importance of birds to Bernard: “Wild sings the bird of the heart in the forests / of our lives.”


For more information about Bernard’s artwork, visit his website at

Bumping Up Against Ukraine

Russian historian Dr. Lewis H. Siegelbaum had an epiphany when he was considering his subject for Kalamazoo College’s annual Edward Moritz Lecture, which was this: a lifetime of research into the history of Russia and the Soviet Union does indeed provide qualification to deliver a lecture on Ukraine. Siegelbaum had, in fact, “bumped up” often against the latter in his explorations of the former. And, at the time Siegelbaum was invited to give the Moritz Lecture (December, 2019, during the first impeachment hearings of then President Donald Trump) Ukraine was very much in the news. In the informative and wide-ranging lecture that resulted from his epiphany Siegelbaum touches on the historical effects of Ukraine’s crossroads geographical location between the tides of eastern and western empires; on the Soviet Union’s 1954 “gifting” of Crimea to Ukraine and, 60 years later, the Russian Federation’s annexation of it back; on the history of Ukraine’s Jews; on the vast migrations (forced or otherwise) of Soviet peoples throughout 15 Soviet Socialist republics during the era of the USSR, and on Ukraine as a “laboratory,” so to speak, for the study of national identity formation with respect to both “other” and “self.” Siegelbaum is Jack and Margaret Sweet Professor Emeritus of History at Michigan State University where he taught Russian and European history from 1983 until 2018. The College’s History Department’s annual Edward Moritz Lecture pays tribute to the late professor Edward Moritz, who taught British and European history at Kalamazoo College from 1955 to 1988. The lecture celebrates excellence in teaching and research in the field of history. The full title of Siegelbaum’s lecture was: “Bumping Up Against Ukraine as an Historian of Russia.”

Around the Horn of Hornet Sports

Think a pandemic adversely affects athletic recruiting? Surprisingly, not so much, given a value like K. Thirteen Hornet head coaches joined Athletic Director Becky Hall to gather with alumni for a virtual round table on the state of sports at K when the pandemic has canceled or postponed all contests and practices. Nevertheless, many of these coaches are enjoying their best recruiting efforts ever. In part that is due to the fact that all K coaches share a dedication to the entirety of the student-athlete experience at Kalamazoo College. The coaches reference several elements of that experience, including outstanding academics, study abroad, the football team’s career development workshops, playing for legends (some of whom played for previous K legends), close coach-and-athlete communication that no pandemic can weaken, new facilities, getting to know student athletes outside one’s sport, community service, and supportive advising. “I am large,” wrote the poet Walt Whitman, “I contain multitudes!” K coaches respect and encourage the “multitudes” in every student athlete. That’s the reason for Hornet athletic excellence and the source of Hornet sports’ immunity to the ill effects of a pandemic.

What Was Burr Up To?

That is the question. Except, contends Professor of History James Lewis, it isn’t. There’s insufficient material for historians (or novelists and playwrights) to ever know the minds and motives of the principals in the so-called Burr Conspiracy. On the other hand, there is something that is knowable: the way Americans of the time used stories to make sense of the event. In 1807 Aaron Burr was tried (and acquitted) for supposedly trying to divide the United States into two countries. His actions in the run-up to his arrest and trial are shrouded in impenetrable mystery. “Just what was he up to?” has been the question for decades. Because it’s unknowable it uncovers much less about the early years of a fledgling republic than does a new set of questions posed by Lewis in his recent book, specifically: Why were so many Americans so worried? How did they arrive at the certainty that they knew his guilt, or innocence? In what ways are the crisis and the certainty related? Lewis’s painstaking exploration of contemporary source materials provide answers to these better questions. The way Americans of the time used stories about the conspiracy story says much about their hopes and anxieties, particularly about the very means of “American.” Could Americans be a unified people living together under this nascent republic? Lewis’s book is titled “The Burr Conspiracy: Uncovering the Story of an Early American Crisis.” Note the nuance: not uncovering the crisis; instead uncovering the stories told to make sense of contemporary fears, both conscious and subconscious.

LISTEN to a podcast on The Burr Conspiracy featuring James. E Lewis, Jr.

Forward Progress

Kalamazoo College President Jorge Gonzalez used a conversation with Midwest alumni to emphasize a fact as beautiful as it is vital: In these challenging times K is moving forward because of the entire K community. These days that community is different…and the same. Different in the matter of diversity: this year’s first-year class (2024), for example, includes 36 percent domestic students of color; 30 percent students from low-income families; and 25 percent students who are the first in their families to attend college. And yet the same in the matter of motivation: the class of 2024 (384 strong and the most diverse in K’s history) cites these reasons for choosing K: study abroad, academic reputation, and outstanding professors who teach small classes. Sound familiar? They are the very reasons students have chosen K for decades. Nor is diversity an end. Rather, it is an indispensable condition for the goal of inclusion. Gonzalez defines inclusion as the effort to make K a place where every student feels the institution belongs to them—not guests, family members! And he shares his plan to get there. In this time of pandemic, climate change, and the persistent ill effects of systemic racism on all, it requires the entire K community to move K forward. Example: the story of Marco, class of 2019 who matriculated to K from Tijuana, Mexico, and is currently a graduate student in the department of entomology at Kansas State University. The trajectory of his undergraduate education depended on, among others, K alumni and their largesse on behalf of the way financial aid opens doors; a very special K biology professor who understands the nuance of inclusion when it comes to opening the doors of summer research apprenticeships; and a K alumnus in KSU’s entomology department who opened his door to Marco and his Senior Individualized Project.