Commencement Returns to Campus Quad on Sunday

A female graduate wears a graduation cap that says Lux Esto during last year's commencement
Commencement for the Class of 2022 is at 10 a.m. Sunday, June 12, on the campus Quad.

For the first time since 2019, Kalamazoo College’s Commencement is returning to the campus Quad at 10 a.m. Sunday, June 12, with more than 350 students receiving their bachelor’s degrees. Here’s what you need to know about the weekend’s events surrounding Commencement and the ceremony itself. 


Seniors are required to attend Commencement rehearsal at 4 p.m. Thursday, June 9, at Dalton Theatre. Faculty and staff will provide graduating seniors with pertinent information including what to do during an intricate line-up and processional. Students who need to be excused from rehearsal should contact the Office of Alumni Engagement in advance at

Commencement Saturday 

Receptions for individual departments help families meet professors and see individual projects from selected seniors. Consult the department schedules for information on the time and location for each event. 

The day’s remaining events—including the Senior Awards Program, the Senior Music Recital and the Baccalaureate—will take place at Stetson Chapel. A livestream will be available for each of those events for those who can’t attend in person. 

Seniors receiving awards will get an invitation from the Provost’s Office after finals to attend the Senior Awards Program, which begins at 2:30 p.m. Contact the Office of the Provost by email if you have questions about the event. The Senior Music Recital is a public concert at 4:30 p.m. featuring performances by graduating seniors who have been involved in music. All seniors and guests are invited to attend. The Baccalaureate is a public non-religious service with student and faculty speakers and musical performances beginning at 8 p.m. 

An information desk will be staffed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the atrium at Hicks Student Center. The College’s bookstore will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Bronson Healthcare President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Manns

Before the Ceremony on Sunday 

Commencement will take place rain or shine on the Quad. However, if there’s heavy rain showers or severe weather, the ceremony may be delayed by up to two hours. Communication about a delay would be sent through K alerts, social media and email no later than 8 a.m. on Sunday. Seniors should arrive no later than 9:30 a.m. Sunday at Dalton Theatre with their caps and gowns. No tickets or rain tickets are required for the ceremony, which will last about two and a half hours. The information desk and College bookstore at Hicks Students Center will open at 8 a.m. 


A limited number of handicapped parking spaces will be available on campus streets and in parking lots. Handicapped spaces are reserved for vehicles with a state-issued permit. With a limited number of spaces, a designated drop-off area will be available on Campus Drive, accessible from Academy Street, in front of Hoben Hall. Families may drop off guests for barrier-free access to the Quad and then find parking elsewhere on campus. 

All faculty, staff and student parking lots will be open for public use. Street parking on campus and in surrounding neighborhoods will also be available. Please observe any posted street-parking restrictions and avoid driving or parking on sidewalks or lawns, or next to a building entrance. A printable campus parking map is available. 

Class of 2022 Commencement Speaker Reyna Rodriguez
Reyna Rodriguez ’22

Keynote speaker 

Bronson Healthcare President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Manns will address the class of 2022 and receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. Manns oversees all Bronson services from primary care to critical care across more than 100 locations. 

Before joining Bronson, Manns was the president of St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Ann Arbor and St. Joseph Mercy Livingston from 2018–2020, the president of Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Campus in Grand Rapids from 2013–2018, the Alameda Health System chief operating officer (Oakland, California) from 2005–2013, and Ascension Providence Hospital (Southfield, Michigan) chief operations officer and executive vice president from 1996–2005. 

Class speaker 

Reyna Rodriguez, a chemistry major and psychology minor, has worked for two years as a Civic Engagement Scholar at El Sol Elementary School in Kalamazoo through the Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Center for Civic Engagement. El Sol functions like a magnet school and offers instruction in English and Spanish while accepting students from all areas of Kalamazoo Public Schools. Through El Sol, Rodriguez has recruited, educated, interviewed and submitted background checks on K students, coordinated their schedules with El Sol, and participated in and led structured reflections to help literacy and math tutors along with classroom assistants. 

COVID-19 protocols 

Given the high vaccination rates between our students, faculty and staff and the low community-spread level in Kalamazoo, K will not require vaccinations to attend Commencement activities and masks are optional, although not required, throughout the weekend. Unvaccinated guests are strongly encouraged to receive a COVID-19 test before arriving. Those who are ill should refrain from attending. 

More information 

The Office of Alumni Engagement maintains a website that offers more details regarding Commencement including a list of frequently asked questions, dining and lodging information, and ceremony accommodations. For more information, visit the site at

Thompson Lecture Spotlights ‘Jesus and John Wayne’ Author

Thompson Lecture Speaker Kristin Kobes Du Mez
Best-selling author and Calvin University Professor
Kristin Kobes Du Mez will speak Tuesday, May 10,
at Kalamazoo College’s Thompson Lecture.

The public is invited to hear from a New York Times best-selling author and professor of history and gender studies at Calvin University at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the religion department’s annual Thompson Lecture at Kalamazoo College. 

Kristin Kobes Du Mez will speak about her latest book, Jesus and John Wayne and the White Evangelical Reckoning in the Olmsted Room at Mandelle Hall. The book is an account of the past 75 years of white evangelicalism, which shows how American evangelicals have worked to replace the Jesus of the Gospels with an idol of rugged masculinity and Christian nationalism. The talk will further explore the recent history of evangelicalism and politics, and examine divisions within the evangelical movement while reflecting on what it could mean for the future. 

Du Mez earned a Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame and her research focuses on the intersection of gender, religion and politics. She has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, NBC News, Religion News Service, and Christianity Today. She has been interviewed on NPR, CBS and the BBC among other outlets.  

The Paul Lamont Thompson Memorial Lecture was established by a gift from the sons and daughters-in-law of Paul Lamont and Ruth Peel Thompson. Serving as president from 1938 to 1949, Thompson played a crucial role in K’s development during the Depression and World War II by emphasizing high academic standards and selectivity in the student body, enhancing the reputation of the College as a quality institution of the liberal arts. He also founded the College’s annual fund and pension plan, ensuring K’s financial integrity.  

For more on the lecture and its history, visit the religion department’s website

Bronson Senior Executive to Address Class of 2022

Bronson Healthcare President and Chief Executive
Officer Bill Manns will address the class of 2022 and
receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters
at 10 a.m. Sunday, June 12.

The senior executive of the largest employer and leading healthcare system in southwest Michigan will serve as the keynote speaker at Kalamazoo College’s commencement ceremony in June.

Bronson Healthcare President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Manns will address the class of 2022 and receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at 10 a.m. Sunday, June 12, as the ceremony returns to the campus Quad. Manns oversees all Bronson services from primary care to critical care across more than 100 locations.

Before joining Bronson, Manns was the president of St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Ann Arbor and St. Joseph Mercy Livingston from 2018–2020, the president of Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Campus in Grand Rapids from 2013–2018, the Alameda Health System chief operating officer (Oakland, California) from 2005–2013, and Ascension Providence Hospital (Southfield, Michigan) chief operations officer and executive vice president from 1996–2005.

His professional memberships have included the National Association of Healthcare Executives, the American College of Healthcare Executives, and an appointment by the Governor of Michigan to the state’s Public Health Advisory Council. Modern Healthcare magazine named Manns to its Top 25 Innovators list in 2021, recognizing his innovative approach to engaging leaders and physicians in counteracting the negative financial impact created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Manns has served on the boards of several organizations across Michigan, including Bronson Health Foundation, Cascade Engineering, First National Bank of Michigan, Gilmore Car Museum, Michigan Health and Hospital Association (MHA), MHA Service Corporation, Aquinas College, Southwest Michigan First and Western Michigan University Homer Stryker, M.D. School of Medicine. He has two degrees from the University of Michigan, a bachelor’s degree in organizational psychology and a master’s degree in health services administration.

Find more information about commencement including a full schedule of events at our website.

Lecture to Address Sustainable Energy Systems

Luis M Campos to discuss sustainable energy systems
Columbia University Associate Professor of Chemistry Luis M. Campos

An associate professor of chemistry at Columbia University will speak at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 5, at Kalamazoo College’s Dalton Theatre about his research involving the creation of new materials that could reduce our carbon footprint and build sustainable energy systems.

Luis M. Campos’ talk, sponsored by the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department, is titled “Organic Materials Design for Next-Generation Energy Systems” and serves as the 2022 Tourtellotte Lecture. The lecture is open to the public. K visitors must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccinations including boosters, if eligible, at the door and in the form at A dessert reception will follow at 8 p.m.

Campos grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico, until age 11 when he moved to Los Angeles. He received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from California State University, Dominguez Hills in 2001, and a Ph.D. from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2006. At UCLA, he was awarded the National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship, the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship, and the Saul and Silvia Winstein Award for his graduate research in solid-state photochemistry.

Later working in materials chemistry, Campos went to the University of California, Santa Barbara as a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow. At Columbia, his group researches physical macromolecular chemistry. To date, he has co-authored more than 100 articles, has 13 patents and has been honored with several awards.

For more information about Campos and his research, visit the Campos Research Group website.

Jewish Studies Lecture Slated for Wednesday

San Francisco State University Assistant Professor Rachel B. Gross

A religious studies scholar and finalist for the 2021 National Jewish Book Award in American Jewish studies will visit Kalamazoo College at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 4, in the Olmsted Room.  

Rachel B. Gross, an assistant professor and the John and Marcia Goldman chair in American Jewish studies at San Francisco State University, will deliver a lecture titled “Feeling Jewish: Nostalgia and American Jewish Religion.” The talk, sponsored by K’s Jewish studies program, will delve into the nostalgia on American Jewish material culture, foodways, education and naming practices. Her presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer discussion with the audience. 

Gross studies 20th and 21st century American Jews and is the author of Beyond the Synagogue: Jewish Nostalgia as Religious Practice. She received an honorable mention in the 2021 Saul Viener Book Prize, given by the American Jewish Historical Society, and is currently working on a religious biography of 20th century immigration writer Mary Antin. 

The event is free and open to the public, though, visiting attendees must register in advance and provide proof of COVID-19 vaccinations and a booster, if eligible, at the door. To register or watch the livestream, visit the event’s page at our website.  

For more information, contact Professor of History and Religion Jeffrey Haus at 269.337.5789 or

Support Sexual Violence Survivors on National Denim Day

Clothesline Project for National Denim Day
People who have been touched by sexual violence are invited to participate in the Clothesline Project by
decorating a t-shirt on the Quad between 6:15 and 7 p.m. on National Denim Day.
“Clothesline Project” by Lorianne DiSabato is marked with the license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
View a copy of this Creative Commons license.

Kalamazoo College students, faculty and staff are invited to participate in National Denim Day on Wednesday, April 27, to support survivors of sexual assault and sexual violence.

The Office of Sexual Violence Prevention and Advocacy will provide information from the Kalamazoo YWCA, the College’s Counseling Center, Planned Parenthood and the Sexual Peer Educator Alliance at Kalamazoo College (SPEAK), in addition to resources on victim services and Title IX, from 6:15 to 7 p.m. on the Quad. At that time, people who have been touched by sexual violence are invited to participate in the Clothesline Project by decorating a t-shirt. The t-shirts become visual displays of expression and bearing witness.

Then, hear stories of survivorship from gender-based violence through survivors and allies in a Take Back the Night Speakout. Anyone interested can join the rally at the Quad, and throughout the day, Instagram users are encouraged to share pictures of themselves wearing denim using #DenimDayatK and by following SPEAK’s account @kc_s.p.e.a.k.

The events are sponsored by the Office of Sexual Violence Prevention and Advocacy. Learn more about its efforts during April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, at

Denim Day started in 1999 when Patricia Giggans, a Los Angeles-based activist and executive director of Peace Over Violence, responded to an Italian Supreme Court decision that overturned a rape conviction. The court ruled that an 18-year-old woman who brought rape charges against a 45-year-old driving instructor must have consented to the assault because her jeans were tight. In other words, it was assumed that the assailant could not have removed her jeans without her help.

The absurdity of the decision prompted women in the Italian Parliament to wear jeans the next day to stand in solidarity with the survivor. Although the ruling was ultimately overturned, the annual Denim Day campaign has continued to raise awareness of sexual assault and violence.

For more on National Denim Day, visit the Peace Over Violence website.

State’s Chief Medical Executive Slated for Weber Lecture

William Weber Lecture speaker Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian
The public is invited to hear from
Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian ’99 through
Zoom at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 12,
in the 2022 William Weber Lecture.

Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian ’99 is the chief medical executive for the State of Michigan, where she provides overall medical guidance as a cabinet member of the governor. The public is invited to hear from her at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 12, in the 2022 William Weber Lecture, delivered through Zoom and presented by the Department of Political Science

For the past year, Bagdasarian has served the State of Michigan in the role of senior public health physician with the Department of Health and Human Services, where she oversaw the COVID-19 testing strategy for the state and helped bring rapid testing technologies to vulnerable populations. Since early 2020, she has served as a consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO), providing technical guidance on outbreak preparedness and COVID-19. When the pandemic first emerged, Bagdasarian was working as an infectious disease physician and epidemiologist at National University Hospital in Singapore, where her job involved outbreak response, surveilling infections and contact tracing for contagious illnesses. The title of her lecture will be “The Future of Public Health: Regaining Public Trust.” 

The William Weber Lecture in Government and Society was founded by Bill Weber, a 1939 graduate of Kalamazoo College. In addition to this lectureship, Weber founded the William Weber Chair in Political Science at K. Previous speakers in this series have included civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson, Chief U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen, political commentator Van Jones and author Tamara Draut. 

Attend on Tuesday through this link. Meeting ID: 852 3599 7454, passcode: kzoo. 

‘Marcus’ Auditions Offer Opportunity for Students of Color

Marcus auditions with Assistant Professor of Theatre Quincy Thomas
Assistant Professor Quincy Thomas talks about what it
means to take part in art that reflects and celebrates
your experiences, and how the theatre department is
working to create a safe space for all students.

Spring break is just around the corner and will be quickly followed by casting for the last show in the Festival Playhouse at Kalamazoo College’s 58th season, themed “Black is Beautiful: An Ode to Black Life, Love and Strength.”  

Auditions for Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, March 29 and 30. Ten students of Color are needed to tell this coming-of-age story of a young gay man in the Louisiana projects days before Hurricane Katrina strikes. 

Assistant Professor Quincy Thomas talks about Marcus, what it means to take part in art that reflects and celebrates your experiences, and how the theatre department is working to create a safe space for all students. 

Q: What can you tell me about the play Marcus and playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney? 

This play is really powerful. It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s about sexual identity and personal identity and tradition and family. McCraney’s voice is so multidimensional and new and fresh and he is very much about poetry, the beauty of the voice and music, lyricism. He does all of this to create a space for voices that have historically been silenced or pushed to the margins. This is the story of a young boy right before Hurricane Katrina, and his community and the way that shifts, and his own sexual identity and personal identity. It’s a story many Black men have dealt with, particularly figuring out your identity in our country. But it’s a story many people have not heard or do not know because it’s not a traditional Eurocentric story. For me as a Black man and as a father, the story of young men coming of age in our country is so important. 

Q: What do you know about director Anthony Hamilton? 

I know he has connections to the Kalamazoo arts community. He is another one of those young, bright voices. I believe he’s going to be able to capture the nuance and the poetic power of this piece. He will not only do this story justice, but also teach our community that is predominantly white about these kinds of stories.  

Q: What is important about this story? Why is this a story that needs to be told here? 

On a broader platform, Black stories need to be told. Art is the way we look at the world and the culture we’re in. If you want to know what’s important to a community, all you have to do is look at the art they create. When you do not see yourself in those things, that tells you that you are not important to that culture. Traditionally, theatre has been a white pastime, it’s been very Eurocentric. Despite the progress we’ve made, and how far we’ve come, theatre is still very, very white. Without the presence of Black people and people of Color in an artistic culture, not only are you saying something to the people who are absent, you’re saying something to the people who consume that art about who is important. 

Black people need to see themselves on stage. It’s also important to non-Black audiences being able to see the world and culture without stereotypes. There are still so many aspects of the Black experience that people don’t know, that people have never seen and that shapes the ways in which Black people are perceived and interacted with in the world. 

Specifically, this is an important story to tell on a college campus because it’s the coming-of-age story of a person trying to figure out who they are and what it means to be a man. The kind of people we need to be, who we want to be, the things we might be afraid to embrace because of cultural pressure. Those are things students are grappling with. Who am I now? I’m not the person I was. Who am I becoming?  

We don’t have a shortage of coming-of-age stories. There are a lot of these stories about white people. Where are those beautiful stories about Black joy and heritage and history and legacy?  Where are those stories that tell a Black person, this is who you are, this is your past; you may need to challenge that, you may need to muddy that, you may need to change that. Who do you need to be for your community and for yourself? 

Q: What is the value of telling Black stories in the context of theatre? 

One of the challenges to any theatre right now that wants to do diversity, equity and inclusion work is that we have to remember that it is not work people are used to seeing, particularly in a sustained fashion. We all need to create a new culture where people of every race, color and creed say, this is theatre for everyone. We are not at the place yet where Black actors trust that those shows are going to be handled in the right way, cast in the right way, not told from a Eurocentric lens. We have to establish trust in our community so that BIPOC [Black, Indigenous and people of Color] actors, BIPOC crew, BIPOC stage managers feel welcome. That has not happened yet. We need to continue telling those stories whether we have trouble casting them or not. That is anti-racism work and that doesn’t stop. As a Black artist, there have been plenty of times where I haven’t auditioned because I know that I’m going to read to a bunch of white directors, words written by a white person, for a role intended for a white person. If I’m being cast for diversity clout, I may not go. If I feel like they just want me because it’s February, I’m not interested in that. It’s not enough to just do a play. We have to create a culture.  

I wholeheartedly believe the K theatre arts department has the desire to make change happen. That means we’re going to have moments like this. This is the season of Black joy. We need more than a season, but the cool thing is, when we sit down and talk about the future, next year, we’re talking about shows about people of Color. We’re going to continue to do shows about people of Color. We’re going to tell those stories. We’re going to do it beyond a season of Black joy. And that is the work that needs to be done. We’re not just interested in putting non-white actors on stage. We also want to get more BIPOC designers, BIPOC crew, BIPOC costume designers. If you’re a Black woman in a play, who’s doing your hair? Who knows how to light you? Skin tones are different, being lit on stage is different. These are things a lot of people don’t consider, what it means to put a Black body on stage. This department is looking to understand all those things. 

We are committed to creating change and theatre that is proactive and for everybody. 

Q: What do you see as the value of the experience for students? 

It is more than getting up on stage and saying lines. Experiential learning is very important at K and the things you learn when you’re involved in a production translate to all kinds of different jobs. Public speaking, textual analysis, team building, communication, time management are all valuable lessons learned in a production process. If you are a student of Color, you more than likely have not had that many opportunities to create art that looks like you, to partake in art that speaks to who you are. Anytime you get to create art, it’s a privilege. So rarely do students of Color get an opportunity to create art for them, art that talks about their world, their trauma, their pain, to go through the process that enables you to give the world a view into the culture and community that is a part of your life and is your identity. When you’re in college, you may or may not have that opportunity. After college, the opportunity to do that kind of work dwindles dramatically. An opportunity to have a voice, to be heard, to have that voice guided by a fantastic director who understands Black art. The opportunity as a person of Color to be able to tell your story, showcase your identity, while being directed by a person who has walked a version of that walk, that is an opportunity you may never have again in your entire life. That is an opportunity you jump at, particularly if you care about creating art that makes a difference. 

Q: In your experience, why don’t many Black students get involved in theatre at K? 

I believe it is wholly, singularly about trust. People of Color in theatre, unless they’re coming from a historically Black institution, all have horror stories about the way they’ve been treated in costume shops, in makeup chairs, while their hair is getting done. A lot of university theatre departments will talk a big game and not follow up. For Black students in my experience, reluctance to audition generally comes down to, “I would love to do that play but I don’t want to be mistreated.” 

I personally will do everything in my power to ensure they are supported and feel safe. I can’t speak to how it was before, but I personally am committed to doing the work to ensure that Black artists are safe in our spaces. And if something happens that they are not, it will be handled. If students speak up, report, they will be supported. We can’t get the work done if students are being mistreated. 

Q: What would you say to Black students about this opportunity? 

I know this has happened to you, I understand the fear that you have in doing the thing, but I promise you that we’ll keep you safe. You will have a voice. This is a collaborative process.  

We can have all the great intentions in the world, but if we are not creating the space, then students can’t fill the space. I’m committed to creating spaces for these students that are better than they’ve been for me. There’s not a reality where I’m going to allow any student to be mistreated in our department. It’s personal for me. They have my word, and if something goes down, I would involve myself. You have to protect these students, and traditionally, education has not done a very good job of it. It’s not students’ responsibility to create safe spaces. It’s our responsibility. 

Q: Why should Black students audition for this show? 

There’s a risk. There’s a gamble in auditioning. It’s not easy work, but when you are an artist of Color and you actually get to do the thing … when you have a story about people of Color and you have artists of Color and directors of Color, that personally affects you, changes you. You come out the other end of that process a person who understands their own world and the larger world in a better way. Theatre is the world through a particular lens. When that lens looks like you, there is something remarkably empowering about that. When there are people dedicated to telling important stories about people like you, that is healing, affirming, life changing, even if you only do one show. There are shared languages, shared moments, moments of trauma only the cast and director you are with are going to understand. You will come out the other end of it feeling empowered, feeling you have been heard, your voice matters. 

Feeling you’re not just screaming into the void is very important. It is a wholly valuable experience. It’s never going to be a perfect experience, because there isn’t any such thing, but it is going to be invaluable.  

Auditions for Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet

  • Written by playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney 
  • Directed by Anthony Hamilton 
  • Festival Playhouse at Kalamazoo College (at the back of the Light Fine Arts building, near Dow) 
  • Casting 10 students of Color 
  • Tuesday and Wednesday, March 29 and 30, at 7 p.m. Please arrive by 6:45 to fill out an audition form. 
  • Callbacks will be Thursday, March 31, and the show will run May 12-15. 
  • No experience or preparation necessary. 
  • Visit to learn more.

International Percussion Concert to Feature Ugandan Musician

International Percussion Musician and Instructor Samuel Nalangira
Samuel Nalangira, a native of Uganda, will
perform with K’s International Percussion
ensemble at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 9,
at Dalton Theatre.

Take a break from the last week of winter classes with an International Percussion ensemble concert. 

The performance is at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 9, at the Dalton Theatre, Light Fine Arts Building. Tickets are $5 for adults, $2 for children and free for K students. The ensemble will feature East African and Taiko drumming as well as guest instructor and percussionist Samuel Nalangira. 

A native of Uganda, East Africa, Nalangira is a folk/world musician, dancer and choreographer, according to his website. He has been performing since childhood and teaching since the age of 15. Nalangira has performed and led workshops at universities, schools, community centers and festivals across the United States, Canada, Asia and Europe. 

Wednesday’s performance will include new ensemble pieces and Nalangira’s Ugandan arrangements of traditional drum songs. 

Masks and proof of vaccination are required. For more information on this and other Department of Music events, visit