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.