K Announces Lucasse, Ambrose Recipients

Kalamazoo College announced today that one faculty member and one staff member have earned two of the highest awards the College bestows on its employees. Rosemary K. Brown Professor of Computer Science Alyce Brady received the 2023–24 Florence J. Lucasse Lectureship for Excellence in Teaching, and Custodian Laura Weber was named the recipient of the W. Haydn Ambrose Prize for Extraordinary Service to Kalamazoo College.

Brady, a co-chair of the computer science department, has served K for nearly 30 years. She teaches a variety of courses from introductory classes to advanced classes on programming languages, data structure, dynamic Internet apps and software development in a global context. Her research interests have included the application of computer science to social justice while serving as the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership Faculty Fellow from 2013–2015.

Over the past decade, Brady has supervised 72 Senior Integrated Projects and is currently guiding five more. She is also credited with championing student reflection through growth journals, applying a flipped-classroom format that started even before the pandemic, and receiving previous recognition through the Outstanding First-Year Advocate award.

A ceremony to confer the Lucasse Fellowship traditionally occurs in the spring term, where the honored faculty member speaks regarding their work.

Nominators credited Weber, a 10-year staff member in Facilities Management, for volunteering at student events such as Monte Carlo and Cafsgiving. She also hosts international students and refers to her former visitors as her “children,” while former students refer to her as their “mum.” One nominator wrote, “Her love language is inclusion.” Another said, “she treats everyone like family.”

The Ambrose Prize is named after W. Haydn Ambrose, who served K for more than 20 years in a variety of roles, including assistant to the president for church relations, dean of admission and financial aid, and vice president for development. Ambrose was known for being thoughtful in the projects he addressed and treating people with respect. In addition to a financial award, Weber has earned a crystal award to commemorate the achievement and an invitation to sit on the Prize’s selection committee for two years.

Congratulations to both of the honorees.

Lucasse Award - Alyce Brady 1
Rosemary K. Brown Professor of Computer Science Alyce Brady was awarded the 2023–24 Florence J. Lucasse Lectureship for Excellence in Teaching.
Ambrose Prize Recipient Laura Weber
Laura Weber, a 10-year staff member in Facilities Management, received the Ambrose Prize, named after W. Haydn Ambrose.

‘Best 389 Colleges’ Book Endorses K

The Princeton Review is placing Kalamazoo College among the top 15 percent of U.S. higher-education institutions for degree-seeking undergraduates by featuring K in the 2024 version of its annual guide, The Best 389 Colleges

In the book, the education services company recommends colleges from the nation’s 2,600 four-year institutions based on data it collects from administrators about their academic offerings, and surveys of students who rate and report on their experiences.  

Students lauded K through surveys as a place where they develop personal relationships with their peers and faculty at a campus run by and for the students. In addition, students can quickly find their niche upon arriving thanks to a small-school environment where “everyone is always engaged in some kind of work they truly care about,” the book says. 

The Best 389 Colleges doesn’t provide individual rankings for the schools featured. However, K earned an additional mention in the guide as the No. 16 school on a list of the Top 20 Private Colleges for Making an Impact. This means K students said that their student-government opportunities, the College’s sustainability efforts and K’s on-campus engagement are providing them with opportunities to make a difference in their community. 

“We salute Kalamazoo College for its outstanding academics and its many other impressive offerings,” said Rob Franek, the Princeton Review’s editor-in-chief and lead author of The Best 389 Colleges. “We’re delighted to recommend it as an ideal choice for students searching for their ‘best-fit’ college.” 

The printed publication is now available through the Penguin Random House website. K’s profile is available for free online along with the list of the 389 top schools

An art professor guides a student by pointing at her project best 389 colleges
According to the 2024 edition of “The Best 389 Colleges” from the Princeton Review, students gave Kalamazoo College high marks for its open curriculum. The open curriculum means “students have more time to explore exactly what they want to learn, rather than being required to take classes in which they have no interest,” the book says.

Forbes Ranks K Among Best Small Employers

If you’re job hunting and small employers are appealing to you, Forbes says Kalamazoo College should be on your radar.

The global media company that focuses on business, investing, technology, entrepreneurship, leadership and lifestyle released its inaugural list of America’s Best Small Employers this week. After crunching data from more than 10,000 employers nationwide that have between 200 and 1,000 workers, Forbes shows K at No. 253 of the top 300.

To assemble the list, Forbes teamed up with Statista, a market research firm, to examine anonymous surveys of employees using targeted panels and open participation from the public; job-related websites that gauge employer reputation, engagement, retention and benefits; and social listening text analysis through websites, blogs, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter and YouTube.

Small colleges and private schools scored particularly well in general, comprising 20% of the list. Plus, K prepares its graduates to better understand, live successfully within, and provide enlightened leadership to a richly diverse and increasingly complex world—a mission that resonates with its dedicated faculty and staff. If you’re interested in working for K, visit our “Careers at K” web pages. 

Dedicated faculty and staff such as Kalamazoo College Fund Director Laurel Palmer have helped K reach Forbes’ first list of America’s Best Small Employers.

Summer Common Reading Examines Flint Water Crisis

First-year students arriving to campus this fall are learning about front-line stories from the 2014 Flint water crisis by participating in Kalamazoo College’s Summer Reading Program.   

The group, along with some faculty and staff, is reading What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance and Hope in an American City by Mona Hanna-Attisha. The book tells how the author—along with a team of researchers, parents and community leaders—discovered that the children of Flint were being exposed to lead in their tap water and campaigned to reveal that information to the world. 

Hanna-Attisha—a pediatrician, professor and public health advocate—is the associate dean for Public Health and C. S. Mott Endowed Professor of Public Health at Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine, and the founding director of the Pediatric Public Health Initiative, a partnership between MSU and Hurley Children’s Hospital in Flint, which seeks to mitigate the water crisis and serve as a national resource for best practices. She was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World and one of USA Today’s Women of the Century for her role in uncovering the water crisis and leading recovery efforts. She also has testified before Congress and contributes to national media outlets.  

The Summer Common Reading program is a key component of K’s first-year experience efforts, which tie hands-on experiential learning, advising, first-year forums and seminars, and assistance from peer leaders and Residential Life to guide new students through their transition to college. 

Students receive a copy of the Summer Common Reading book in the mail and are asked to submit answers in response to prompts. The author of the chosen novel then commonly visits campus during orientation to participate in a community discussion and returns four years later for the class’ Commencement.  

For more on K’s first-year and Summer Reading programs, visit the first-year experience website. 

Cover of Summer Common Reading Program Book What the Eyes Don't See
“What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance and Hope in an American City” by Mona Hanna-Attisha tells how the author—along with a team of researchers, parents and community leaders—discovered that the children of Flint were being exposed to lead in their tap water.

‘Fiske Guide to Colleges’ Features K

Kalamazoo College has been a fixture in the Fiske Guide to Colleges over the years and that will continue in 2024. The global resource that profiles more than 300 of what it calls the best and most interesting colleges in the U.S., Canada and the UK, says K “opens up the world to its students—literally,” in the book’s 40th edition. 

“Kalamazoo College (also known as K) may be a small school in America’s heartland, but it pays to send the majority of students abroad during their four years, making it a launching pad to the world,” the latest guide says. “In addition to international education, the school’s K-Plan emphasizes teaching, internships and independent, faculty-guided research.” 

From an academic standpoint, the book notes that K has exceptional programs in the natural sciences with other strengths including international and area studies, community and global health, and critical ethnic studies. Popular majors include biology, chemistry, psychology and business. In addition, faculty members are rated highly for their enthusiasm and accessibility. 

But don’t forget about the quality of student life on campus. 

“K’s campus is always buzzing with social activities like movies, concerts, speakers and other events,” the book notes. “Students look forward to the Monte Carlo casino night, homecoming and the Day of Gracious Living, a spring day where, without prior warning, classes are canceled and students can choose to head to the beach, work on volunteer projects or relax on campus.” 

The Fiske Guide to Colleges, compiled by former New York Times Education Editor Edward B. Fiske, is available now

Fiske Guide to Colleges
Kalamazoo College is among more than 300 institutions of higher education in the U.S., Canada and the UK featured in the 40th edition of the “Fiske Guide to Colleges.”

K Receives $2M Grant for Dow Science Center, Electrical Infrastructure

The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation is continuing a legacy of philanthropy toward higher education and Kalamazoo College with a $2 million grant that will support K’s science facilities. 

The College’s Dow Science Center, completed in 1992, is named in recognition of another generous grant from the Dow Foundation. At the time of its completion, the 33,290-square-foot science center introduced K students to the latest technology and equipment in biology and chemistry instructional programs and offered a practical and attractive environment for teaching, learning and research. The mission of the facility continues today, and this new grant will help the College maintain the center’s excellence as it replaces the roof, retrofits the lab airflow management systems throughout the building, upgrades the fire system and installs new carpeting.

Additionally, the grant will help fund an ongoing project to modernize the College’s electrical grid. This initiative is set to be completed by August 2025, with the College actively engaging in fundraising efforts to bring it to fruition. The Dow Foundation’s support will help move this project forward, allowing the College to ensure a reliable and sustainable energy infrastructure across the entire campus.

Student works in Dow Science Center
A $2 million grant from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation will benefit students and help Kalamazoo College maintain the Dow Science Center by replacing the roof, retrofitting the lab airflow management systems throughout the building, upgrading the fire system and installing new carpeting.

For nearly four decades, the Dow Foundation’s commitment to STEM programing at K has benefitted generations of students. Its latest grant adds to its legacy, building upon previous support that funded two endowed professorships and enabled the replacement of a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer, allowing students to analyze and identify chemical compounds and structures with state-of-the-art equipment.

“We’re grateful for the Dow Foundation’s generous support, which will enable students, faculty and staff to continue pursuing science and research that benefits the world,” Kalamazoo College President Jorge G. Gonzalez said. “The College has a long history of success in the sciences and this grant shows a continued and shared optimism in the exceptional work of our students, and what they will accomplish long after they leave K.”   

The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation was established in 1936 for religious, charitable, scientific, literary or educational purposes for the public benefaction of the inhabitants of the City of Midland and the people of the State of Michigan.  

“The State of Michigan has always benefited from strength in higher education,” said Ruth Alden Doan, president and trustee of The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation. “The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation is proud to have played a role in that strength and continues to value the high performance of Kalamazoo College as a liberal arts college with excellence in chemistry and other sciences.”

Graduating Senior Earns First Sherbin Fellowship, 10 Months Abroad

A new fellowship established by alumnus Robert Sherbin ’79 and named after his father, Jerry, is giving its first Kalamazoo College graduating senior a chance to go overseas for 10 months while exploring a subject of deep personal interest.

To fulfill her fellowship, Elle Waldron ’23—a women, gender and sexuality (WGS) major—will visit a variety of feminist and gender-equity organizations to witness the tools and strategies they use to execute their work and complete their goals.

“Having this opportunity to travel and continue my education is a special way to be able to see other perspectives,” Waldron said. “It affirms that it’s possible for me to continue to follow my passions of WGS and gender equity work because people are working in those fields in their careers.”

Assuming her plans develop as proposed, she will travel to Australia, South Africa, Costa Rica and Spain beginning in late August or early September. Through that she will regularly update Sherbin, the College and the Center for International Programs (CIP) on her progress. In fall 2024, she will return to K to present her experiences to perspective fellowship applicants.

Waldron said she felt overwhelmed when she first was notified that she was selected for the fellowship.

“It felt unreal and now I’m super excited,” she said. “I think part of the excitement is being able to challenge myself and push my comfort zone. I feel like this will change the trajectory of my post-grad experience.”

Waldron was one of seven applicants and three finalists in the fellowship’s first year. The other finalists were Zoe Reyes ’23, who planned to study eco-poetry on medicinal plants in biodiversity hotspots; and Shannon Brown ’23, who proposed investigating the social status of French-based creoles in the Caribbean.

Waldron “had a lot of attention to detail with her application and showed she’s aware of how she would be perceived in places as an outsider while being amenable to how she could navigate those kinds of situations,” said Lizbeth Mendoza Pineda ’16, the Sherbin Fellowship CIP liaison and a co-chair of the fellowship’s selection committee. “She also recognizes that she’s only going to be abroad for a short amount of time, yet she’s trying to make as much of an impact and learn as much as possible, while making sure that whatever work she accomplishes is sustainable. I think that’s something that impressed the committee.”

Sherbin Fellow Elle Waldron
Elle Waldron ’23 will spend 10 months abroad is the first recipient of the Jerry Sherbin Fellowship, funded by Bob Sherbin ’79.

Sherbin participated in study abroad at K by traveling to the University of Nairobi, where he was one of just six undergrads from the U.S. and the only K student.

Later, as a senior, he received a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, an external grant through the Watson Foundation, that allowed him to create and follow through with a one-year project overseas. With that he spent a year in Central and West Africa as a Watson Fellow, conducting a sociological study of long-distance truck drivers. Sherbin said the experience was transformative and guided him toward graduate school at Northwestern University, years spent as an international journalist, and eventually, working as the vice president of corporate communications at NVIDIA, a Silicon Valley-based technology company.

Waldron had her own study abroad experience in Chiang Mai, Thailand, for six months last year.

“I was lucky to have a study abroad experience that allowed me to be comfortable in a space that I wasn’t familiar with because I was supported and had friends in the program,” Waldron said. “Because of that, I recognized my own skills and ability to adapt. With K providing that foundation, I feel I have a fantastic ability to investigate things abroad.”

Now, she hopes those investigations will yield long-term relationships with people from around the world and allow her to consult those people regularly in the future. She would also like it to help her become a better critical thinker and define feminism from a global perspective as it’s influenced by a variety of historical and cultural contexts.

“I think as a WGS major and as an individual, I’m interested in how gender and sexuality structures the world around me,” Waldron said. “But for me, getting out of academia is a bit of a leap, because I’m not sure how to apply all these things that I have learned. I want to work on projects that pursue gender equity and find out how to be the most effective. That’s why I’m interested in this project. I want to see what other new worlds women and people are creating, because I want to see them in my own career.”

K’s Banner Year Elates Faculty, NSF Fellows

Kalamazoo College STEM-related academic departments are celebrating a banner year as the overall number of current students and alumni receiving National Science Foundation (NSF) graduate research fellowships reaches four, the most since 2016.

The Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) recognizes and supports outstanding students who pursue research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions. A five-year fellowship covers three years of financial support, including an annual stipend and a cost-of-education allowance to attend an institution along with access to professional-development opportunities.

About 2,000 applicants are offered a fellowship per NSF competition in fields such as chemistry, biology, psychology, physics and math. This is the first year since 2013 that two current K students, Claire Kvande ’23 and Mallory Dolorfino ’23, have earned awards. Two alumni also have earned fellowships, Cavan Bonner ’21 and Angel Banuelos ’21.

“The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship is a highly competitive program that is only awarded to about 16% of the applicants, who represented more than 15,000 undergraduates and graduate students across all STEM fields,” Roger F. and Harriet G. Varney Assistant Professor of Chemistry Blakely Tresca said. “Approximately 2,500 awards were offered this year across all STEM fields and the vast majority of them go to students at large research universities and Ivy League schools. It is rare to see more than one or two awards at an undergraduate-focused college, particularly at a small liberal arts school like K. It is exceptional for schools in the GLCA (Great Lakes Colleges Association) to have one award in a year, and four awards is a truly outstanding accomplishment for these students.”

Claire Kvande ’23

Kvande has been a double major in physics and chemistry with minors in math and French at K. She credits faculty members such as Dow Distinguished Professor of Natural Science Jan Tobochnik and Associate Professor of Physics David Wilson, along with a wide range of courses, for preparing her to receive an NSF fellowship.

“I like the nitty gritty of sitting down and figuring out how to approach a problem within physics even though it’s often hard,” she said. “I really like work that is grounded in real-world problems and it’s part of why I’m interested in the subfield of condensed matter. There’s a lot that stands to be applied to technologies that I think could improve our world and help a lot of people.”

Kvande will attend the University of Washington this fall, where she plans to extend her Senior Integrated Project (SIP) work, which examined how charge-density waves relate to superconductivity within condensed matter.

“Superconductivity is a tantalizing physics concept,” she said. “If we could realize superconductivity at room temperature, it would allow us to do a lot with energy saving and revolutionize how we use electricity. There are schools of thought that say charge-density waves would be helpful in achieving that and others that say it would be hurtful. Since we really don’t know how superconductivity works, this is worth investigating so we can hopefully better understand this powerful phenomenon.”

NSF fellow Claire Kvande presenting her SIP
Claire Kvande ’23 will attend graduate school at the University of Washington as a National Science Foundation fellow.

Mallory Dolorfino ’23

Dolorfino, a computer science and math double major, also will attend the University of Washington, where they will pursue a doctorate in math.

“I didn’t really like math until I came to K,” Dolorfino said. “I took calculus in high school and I was just not going to take any more in college until one of my senior friends told me when I was a first-year student to take linear algebra. I took that and Calculus 3 online during the first COVID term and I just kept doing math, so I switched my major. It’s not like other subjects because you can work for hours and not get anything done. That’s frustrating at times, but it’s fun to understand it enough to prove things logically.”

Dolorfino credits several faculty members for their growth and success at K, leading to their NSF opportunity. They include Tresca, who helped students keep track of their NSF application timelines and materials; Associate Professor of Mathematics Michele Intermont, who provided letters of recommendation and application assistance for research opportunities and graduate school; and Assistant Professor of Mathematics Stephen Oloo, who provided invaluable feedback regarding their research proposal and many conversations about math.

Dolorfino remains in contact with a professor they worked with in a math-focused study abroad program in Budapest. The two of them conducted a monthlong research project in algebraic number theory, which is a foundation in applications such as encryption and bar codes. Their NSF application proposes group theory work, which is what she based some research on last summer at Texas State University. They hope their NSF work will help them become a college professor one day. “There are a lot of math institutions on the West Coast and specifically in the Northwest, so I will have really good connections there,” said Dolorfino, who agreed the award is an honor. “I was grateful for the people at K who helped me apply.”

NSF fellow Mallory Dolorfino
Mallory Dolorfino ’23 will attend graduate school at the University of Washington as an NSF fellow.

Cavan Bonner ’21

Bonner has spent the past two years working as a research staff member in industrial and organizational psychology at Purdue University. His NSF fellowship will take him to another Big Ten school.

“My area of research involves personality development and how personality changes over the lifespan,” he said. “It’s a pretty small sub field and there are only a few doctoral programs where you can study the topic with an expert. The University of Illinois is one of them.”

Bonner further hopes the fellowship will propel his career toward a tenure-track job at a research university. He said K helped prepare him well for that trajectory through a broad range of subjects, not only in psychology, but in adjacent fields such as sociology and statistics. Bonner also credits his experience working as a research assistant for Ann V. and Donald R. Parfet Distinguished Professor of Psychology Gary Gregg, and Associate Professor of Psychology Brittany Liu for training him in skills that he frequently uses in his research work after graduation. 

“I was drawn to personality psychology because it provides an integrative framework to study many of the research questions I have about human development, aging and change over time,” Bonner said. “My SIP and research assistant experiences at K helped me realize that I could address these questions from a personality perspective, but my professors also exposed me to so many other fields and perspectives that inform my research. I primarily identify as a personality and developmental psychologist, but ultimately I hope that this fellowship helps me contribute to the broader science of aging and development.”

Portrait of Cavan Bonner
Cavan Bonner ’21 will attend the University of Illinois as an NSF fellow.

Angel Banuelos ’21

Banuelos, a biology major and anthropology/sociology minor at K, is in his second year at the University of Wisconsin, where he said he studies genetics—specifically the construction of the vertebrate brain and face—under an amazing mentor, Professor Yevgenya Grinblat.

“Live beings are built by cells that are informed by DNA,” Banuelos said. “At the beginning of embryonic development, the cells split into groups. One of those groups is called the neural crest cells. Those cells go on to contribute to a whole bunch of things such as pigment cells in the skin, and cartilage and bones in the face. My project is trying to understand how neural crest cells contribute to stabilizing the very first blood vessels of the developing eye.”

Ultimately, when his graduate work is finished, he would like to steer his career towards education.

NSF fellow Angel Banuelos in the lab
Angel Banuelos ’21, a newly-named NSF fellow, is in his second year of graduate school at the University of Wisconsin.

“I would like to bring research opportunities to people who don’t have higher education experience,” Banuelos said. “I would imagine starting with programs for middle schoolers, then high schoolers and adult learners. I want to be part of research addressing community problems and conducted by the people who live there.”

Banuelos credits inspiration for his career goals to the many mentors he had at K. Natalia Carvalho-Pinto, former director of the intercultural center, and Amy Newday, who provided guidance in food and farming justice, served as role models for applying theory to meet material needs.

“In my NSF application, I described meeting community needs as a central component of my scholarship,” he said. “Natalia and Amy are people who literally fed me while I was at K. They saw the student and the human. They handed me books, handed me plates, even welcomed my family. During a very difficult transition to grad school, they were there for me. When I’m a professor, I want to be like them. I’m grateful for the growth opportunities I had at K through the Intercultural Center and food and farming.”

‘It doesn’t happen every year’

Faculty members as a whole across STEM departments are taking great pride in these K representatives earning fellowships as it speaks to the quality of students at the College and their studies, especially as the number of recipients stands out.

“At K, it is exciting when even a single student wins a fellowship, and it certainly doesn’t happen every year,” Professor of Physics Tom Askew said. “It’s special to have four in one year.”

Class Inspires Day of Fewer Cars with A Better Way to K

Kalamazoo College students, faculty and staff will take a step toward carbon neutrality while promoting healthier lifestyles and showing that sustainability matters to the campus community on Tuesday, May 16. The first A Better Way to K Day, planned through the Climate Action Plan Committee (CAP) and the Larry J. Bell ’80 Center for Environmental Stewardship, will invite anyone with business on campus to do anything other than drive on their own to K.

The idea for this event was initially brainstormed in the winter term as a “car-free day” in Professor of English Amelia Katanski’s Wheels of Change first-year seminar with input from City Planner and K alumna Christina Anderson ’98. The course explored how communities can build cycling infrastructure to better support residents.  

Carpooling, taking public transportation, walking, biking or running to get to the College all are encouraged for May 16, and participants who share social media posts with the hashtag #ABetterWaytoK will help spread awareness. Those with obstacles to these modes may still participate by spreading awareness of the day, reducing the number of car trips in a day or thinking critically about systems and what might need to change in our own lives, within K or within the community to make traveling without a car more accessible to everyone.  

“At the heart of the Kalamazoo College community is a commitment to sustainability, and our climate action plan is a commitment to achieving carbon neutrality,” Associate Vice President of Facilities Management and Chief Sustainability Officer Susan Lindemann said. “Finding alternative transportation to campus for A Better Way to K will impact both, while showing that a sustainable lifestyle is not only possible but valued and encouraged in our community.”  

Professor of English Amelia Katanski’s Wheels of Change first-year seminar traveled for a week to Copenhagen, Denmark, to see how the city, one of the world’s best for cycling infrastructure, can provide examples from which Kalamazoo can learn. That class, along with City Planner Christina Anderson ’98, initiated the idea for a climate-targeted “car-free day” on campus. That idea became A Better Way to K Day, scheduled for Tuesday, May 16.

Commuters who want to learn how to use public transportation may contact Associate Bookstore Director Richard Amundson at Richard.Amundson@kzoo.edu for information on routes and tokens. Anyone looking to organize group walks or runs to campus may contact Director of News and Social Media Andy Brown at Andrew.Brown@kzoo.edu. Plus, students who live on campus may participate in A Better Way to K by spreading awareness and finding alternate ways to their off-campus jobs and sites around town. 

Sophomore Emerson Wesselhoff is spearheading student participation through CAP. 

“Initially, I was excited, but a bit confused by the idea of A Better Way to K,” Wesselhoff said. “I already live on campus and I don’t have a car. But I am going to participate by spreading awareness about the day and the reasons why it is so important. I will continue to walk to classes and make efforts to walk or bike to my off-campus job, the climbing gym and my other favorite Kalamazoo spots.” 

Based on recent car-count data from K’s Center for Environmental Stewardship, more than 500 cars are on campus every day. By decreasing that number even slightly, the K community can drastically decrease the carbon emitted from its passenger vehicles each year.  

One day, however, will only be the start of such community efforts that aid sustainability at K. CAP is asking those who participate in A Better Way to K Day—and those who don’t—to submit their reflections of the event along with what might have helped them or prevented them from participating to enable more efforts in the future. The short survey is available at the Sustainability at K website under Share Your Experience.  

“K can help students and our community make a difference in many global issues from across the street or around the world,” Lindemann said. “A Better Way to K will be a way to show we’re taking steps toward improving our climate and environment for everyone—now and for the future.” 

Bell’s Founder, Author to Earn Honorary Degrees at Commencement

Alumnus Larry J. Bell ’80, founder of Bell’s Brewery, Inc., will be welcomed as Kalamazoo College’s 2023 Commencement speaker on Sunday, June 11.

Bell majored in political science at K before going on to found Bell’s Brewery Inc. in 1985—one of the earliest craft breweries in the Midwest. With popular and award-winning beers like Two Hearted Ale, Oberon and Hopslam, Bell’s Brewery grew into one of the largest craft breweries in the U.S., distributing to 43 states. In 2010, Bell was honored with The Brewers Association Recognition Award for his innovative brewing and dedication to the industry. He was also recognized in 2010 by Kalamazoo College with its Distinguished Achievement Award, which honors those alumni who have achieved distinction in their professional fields. Upper Hand Brewery, a sister company based in Escanaba on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, opened in 2014.

In November 2021, Bell reached an agreement with Lion, an Australian-based brewer, for the sale of Bell’s, and Bell officially retired from the helm of the company at the end of 2021. That year he was also named environmentalist of the year by the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter for his years of advocacy work, which included helping found the Great Lakes Business Network, a non-partisan business group that advocates for thriving ecosystems, economies, and communities in the Great Lakes Region. Since retirement, Bell has remained active philanthropically, making more than $14 million in donations to local organizations, including Kalamazoo College. A longtime supporter of the College, Bell has helped to fund food justice and sustainability programming, including support for The Larry J. Bell ’80 Environmental Stewardship Center in 2022. He also established a distinguished chair in American history, and in 2016, he endowed a scholarship fund for students needing financial assistance. Bell has also been a strong supporter of the arts in Kalamazoo, serving as Past Board President for the Irving S. Gilmore International Piano Festival; in 2022 he made a gift to The Gilmore to establish two awards for exceptional jazz pianists. He has also established the Larry J. Bell Library Foundation, which is developing a research library in downtown Kalamazoo to host Bell’s extensive collection of historical books and art collections. In addition to serving as the Commencement keynote speaker, Bell will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the College.

Along with Bell, author Jaroslav Kalfař will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters degree from K. His debut novel, Spaceman of Bohemia, was the Summer Common Reading book for the incoming class of 2018, and Kalfař visited campus in September of that year to discuss his book as part of new student orientation. Per K tradition, he returns to address this same class of students at their commencement.

Kalfař was born in the Czech Republic, moving to the U.S. at age 15. He earned an M.F.A. from New York University, where he was a Goldwater Fellow and a nominee for the first E.L. Doctorow Prize. In 2018, he was a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship. Spaceman of Bohemia was a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, The Arthur C. Clarke Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and a nominee for the Dublin Literary Award. The book has been published in fifteen languages. A film adaptation directed by Johan Renck, starring Adam Sandler, Carey Mulligan, and Paul Dano, is coming to Netflix in 2023. Kalfar recently released his newest novel, A Brief History of Living Forever.

Past Kalamazoo College honorary degree recipients

Commencement speaker Larry Bell with his wife, Shannon Bell, and President Jorge G. Gonzalez
Larry Bell ’80, founder of Bell’s Brewery, Inc., will be welcomed as Kalamazoo College’s 2023 Commencement speaker on Sunday, June 12.
Commencement Author Jaroslav Kalfař
Author Jaroslav Kalfař will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Kalamazoo College during Commencement on Sunday, June 12.