College Raptor Rates K a Hidden Gem

A web-based organization dedicated to helping students and families find their best-fit institution of higher education, has chosen Kalamazoo College for two honors that identify the school as an excellent destination for well-rounded experiences.

College Raptor says K is one of 15 small schools to qualify as a Hidden Gem in the Great Lakes region of Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana. In addition, K is among 25 schools nationwide named a Division III Hidden Gem in athletics.

To qualify overall as a Hidden Gem, an institution must receive fewer than 5,000 applications per year, have fewer than 7,000 undergraduate students, offer at least five unique majors and maintain an acceptance rate of at least 10%. The selection recognizes K as one of the best colleges in the country based on a combination of factors including retention rates, graduation rates, student-to-faculty ratio, endowment per student, selectivity and other key metrics as reported through the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), according to the College Raptor website.

Kalamazoo College sign
College Raptor says Kalamazoo College is one of 15 small schools to qualify as a Hidden Gem in the Great Lakes. Plus, K is among 25 nationwide named a Division III athletics Hidden Gem.

As a Division III Hidden Gem, College Raptor also says K offers great opportunities for student-athletes who want a combined athletic and academic college experience, making the College a standout among the 442 schools College Raptor examined.

“For students seeking the enriching experience of a smaller college with exceptional programs, institutions like K emerge as prime options, and we are honored to spotlight them with the recognition they genuinely deserve,” College Raptor CEO William Staib said.

“A liberal arts model at a small college provides the most thorough education because it teaches students a variety of skillsets that employers desire through personal attention from faculty and staff along with a flexible curriculum and enriching co-curricular activities,” Dean of Admission Suzanne Lepley said. “We love it when other organizations confirm what a gem we are.”

Sister Pie Bakery Owner to Speak at Convocation

Lisa Ludwinski ’06, owner of Detroit’s nationally recognized bakery, Sister Pie, will deliver the keynote at Kalamazoo College’s 2023 Convocation on September 7 at 3 p.m.

Ludwinski launched Sister Pie out of her parents’ Milford, Michigan, kitchen at Thanksgiving 2012. The business grew steadily, and in April 2015, Sister Pie opened its doors in a corner shop at Kercheval Avenue and Parker Street in the historic West Village neighborhood in Detroit. Known for its seasonally influenced sweet and savory pies as well as unique cookies, the shop has been featured in The Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, Eater, Bloomberg News, The New York Times and Bon Appetit.

In 2015, Ludwinski, who earned a B.A. in theatre arts at Kalamazoo College, was named one of the best chefs in the United States in Eater’s national Young Guns contest. She has also been nominated several times for a James Beard Award and was a finalist in 2019.

The Sister Pie cookbook, published in 2018, was a 2019 Michigan Notable Award-winning book, finalist for the International Association of Culinary Professionals award, and named one of the best cookbooks of the year by the New York Times and Chicago Tribune.

Ludwinski was recognized among the 2019 Crain’s Detroit Business 40 Under 40 honorees, focused on those who target important Michigan issues such as technology, inclusivity and opportunity for all. In 2019, Sister Pie partnered with Alternatives for Girls, which serves homeless and high-risk girls and young women, both donating funds and holding baking workshops for program participants.

Ludwinski and her bakers experiment with nontraditional flavor combinations and seasonal options that promote Michigan’s varied agriculture. They consider themselves a triple bottom line business, focusing on employees, environment and the economy. The bakery also supports a Neighborhood Fund, which helps to subsidize neighborhood and senior discounts, as well as food donations for a community fridge and freezer for the West Village and Islandview neighborhoods—just one way Ludwinski and Sister Pie are helping make Detroit sweeter, one slice at a time.

Sister Pie Bakery Owner Lisa Ludwinski
Alumna Lisa Ludwinski ’06, the owner of Detroit’s Sister Pie bakery, will speak at 3 p.m. September 7 at Kalamazoo College’s Convocation.

Convocation marks the start of the academic year and formally welcomes first-year students to campus.  President Jorge G. Gonzalez, Provost Danette Ifert Johnson, Dean of Admission Suzanne Lepley and Dean of Students J. Malcolm Smith will also welcome attendees. Chaplain Elizabeth Candido ’00 will provide an invocation. All students, families, faculty and staff are invited to attend.

Convocation will be held in person on the College’s Quad and will be available to livestream.

‘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.

Money Rates K Among Nation’s Top Colleges

Money magazine released its latest appraisals of the Best Colleges in America today while again naming Kalamazoo College among the top institutions in the country.

The publication revamped its college-ranking system into a star-ratings list for 2023, evaluating 736 four-year public and private institutions—out of more than 2,400—on 26 factors that span the categories of quality of education, affordability and outcomes. K received four and a half stars on a scale ranging from two and a half to five stars.

The new approach is intended to offer a better window into the variety and diversity of high-value colleges and universities across the country, Money says in explaining its methodology. The recognition places K among 58 schools in the Midwest, regardless of public or private status, to earn four and a half or five stars.

The full list of Money’s Best Colleges in America is available at its website.

Top colleges ratings
Kalamazoo College received four and a half stars on a scale ranging from two and a half to five stars in Money magazine’s latest ratings.

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.”

Phi Beta Kappa Welcomes New K Inductees

Kalamazoo College’s Delta Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa welcomed 42 outstanding seniors into its cohort on June 7, 2023, recognizing their exceptional scholastic achievements across disciplines. With a strong commitment to fostering a love for learning, Phi Beta Kappa honors these new members for their academic ability and intellectual curiosity. 

Founded in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor society, boasting 17 U.S. Presidents, 42 U.S. Supreme Court Justices, and more than 150 Nobel Laureates among their ranks. The society’s mission is “to champion education in the liberal arts and sciences, to recognize academic excellence, and to foster freedom of thought and expression.” 

Acceptance into Phi Beta Kappa is considered one of the highest academic honors a student can receive as the society is known for its rigorous selection process that evaluates students’ achievements across the arts, natural sciences, humanities and social sciences. 

As these talented individuals embark on the next chapter of their educational and professional journeys, their Phi Beta Kappa membership will serve as a symbol of their exceptional accomplishments and dedication to the pursuit of knowledge. The Kalamazoo College community looks forward to witnessing their future contributions and the positive impact they will make in their chosen fields. 

Phi Beta Kappa logo

Join us in congratulating the following students, 

  • Hashim Akhtar of Saginaw, Michigan; biology major, psychology minor, biochemistry and molecular biology and biological physics concentrations 
  • Abigail Barnum of Byron Center, Michigan; biochemistry and German majors 
  • Eleana Basso of Evanston, Illinois; psychology and studio art majors, art history minor 
  • Natalie Call of Cody, Wyoming; biology major, psychology minor 
  • Eleanor Carr of East Lansing, Michigan; biology and computer science majors 
  • Hannah Durant of Grand Blanc, Michigan; English and mathematics majors 
  • Payton Fleming of Olivet, Michigan; business major, computer science minor 
  • Hana Frisch of Morton Grove, Illinois; biology major, anthropology and sociology minor, community and global health concentration 
  • Tristan Fuller of Whitmore Lake, Michigan; business and English majors 
  • William Fulton of Kalamazoo, Michigan; biology major, psychology minor 
  • Zoe Gurney of Ann Arbor, Michigan; economics major, Chinese and mathematics minors, community and global health concentration 
  • Lucy Hart of Evanston, Illinois; biochemistry major, psychology minor 
  • Katherine Haywood of Hastings, Michigan; biology and computer science majors 
  • Ian Hurley of Plymouth, Michigan; biology and Spanish majors 
  • Ryan Johnson of Kalamazoo, Michigan; biology major 
  • Koshiro Kuroda of Kawasaki, Japan; anthropology and sociology and music majors 
  • Claire Kvande of Memphis, Tennessee; chemistry and physics majors, French and mathematics minors 
  • Dillon Lee of Ada, Michigan; biochemistry major 
  • Thomas Lichtenberg of Farmington, Michigan; philosophy and political science majors, mathematics minor 
  • Alvaro Lopez Gutierrez of Lima, Peru; German and psychology majors 
  • Nicholas Lucking of Dexter, Michigan; psychology major, English minor 
  • Aleksandr Molchagin of Borisoglebsk, Russia; business and computer science majors 
  • Matthew Mueller of Charleston, Illinois; psychology major 
  • Erin Grace Murphy of Grosse Ile, Michigan; computer science major, music minor 
  • Alexis Nesbitt of Parchment, Michigan; biology major, psychology minor, neuroscience concentration 
  • Jenna Paterob of Melrose Park, Illinois; business and psychology majors, studio art minor 
  • Harrison Poeszat of Commerce Township, Michigan; chemistry major 
  • Ashley Rill of Rochester Hills, Michigan; biochemistry major, psychology and Spanish minors 
  • Madeline Gehl Shroeder of East Grand Rapids, Michigan; computer science and East Asian studies majors 
  • William Shaw of Kalamazoo, Michigan; computer science major, Japanese and mathematics minors 
  • Emma Sidor of St. Charles, Illinois; psychology and Spanish majors 
  • Sophia Sjogren of Chelsea, Michigan; computer science major 
  • Alex Stolberg of Charlotte, Michigan; biology major, environmental studies concentration 
  • Katelynn Stover of Troy, Michigan; psychology major 
  • Suja Thakali of Kalamazoo, Michigan; chemistry major 
  • Abhi Thaku of West Bloomfield, Michigan; chemistry major, mathematics minor 
  • Mia Flora Tucci of Richland, Michigan; chemistry and Spanish majors, psychology minor 
  • Oliver Tye of Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania; chemistry and mathematics majors 
  • Elizabeth Wang of Portage, Michigan; biochemistry major, German minor 
  • Katelyn Williams of Ada, Michigan; classical civilizations and psychology majors 
  • Tony Yazbeck of West Bloomfield, Michigan; biochemistry major, anthropology and sociology minor 
  • Nathaniel Zona of Albion, Michigan; biology major, community and global health concentration 

Six 2023-24 Heyl Scholars to Attend K This Fall

Six Kalamazoo County high school students seeking to major in STEM-related fields have earned Heyl Scholarships to attend Kalamazoo College in the 2023-24 academic year. 

The Heyl Scholarship Fund was established in 1971 through the will of Dr. Frederick Heyl and Mrs. Elsie Heyl. Frederick Heyl was the first chemist at The Upjohn Company, later becoming a vice president and the company’s first director of research. He also contributed to about 80 research papers and patents while teaching chemistry at K. He maintained a lifelong passion for science and education and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree from K in 1937.   

Since then, Heyl scholarships have enabled hundreds of high school graduates from Kalamazoo County to attend Kalamazoo College for STEM-focused majors or Western Michigan University for nursing, with renewable benefits for up to four years that cover tuition, fees, housing and a book allowance.  

This year’s K recipients of the scholarships and their high schools are:  

  • Abigail Eilertson, Gull Lake and the Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center (KAMSC) 
  • Pauline Hawkes, Kalamazoo Central
  • Jason Krawczyk, Portage Central and KAMSC 
  • Ava Schwachter, Kalamazoo Central and KAMSC 
  • Anthony Valade, Portage Northern and KAMSC 
  • Benjamin Whitsett, Loy Norrix and KAMSC 

Two other scholars, Kelcey Briggs and Riley Sackett, have graduated from Loy Norrix High School and will attend the Western Michigan University Bronson School of Nursing. 

2023-24 Heyl Scholars in a group photo
Riley Sackett (from left), Kelcey Briggs, Ava Schwachter, Jason Krawczyk, Pauline Hawkes, Abigail Eilertson, Benjamin Whitsett and Anthony Valade are this year’s Heyl Scholars. Schwachter, Krawczyk, Hawkes, Eilertson, Whitsett and Valade will attend Kalamazoo College. Sackett and Briggs will attend Western Michigan University’s Bronson School of Nursing.

Commencement Slated for Sunday

Congratulations to the class of 2023! This year’s Commencement is scheduled for 10 a.m. Sunday, June 11, on the campus Quad. Here’s what you need to know about the weekend’s events surrounding Kalamazoo College Commencement and the ceremony itself. 


Seniors are required to attend Commencement rehearsal at 4 p.m. Thursday 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 There will be a senior picnic on the Stetson Chapel patio after the rehearsal. 

Parking This Weekend

For your convenience, most of the faculty, staff and student parking lots will be open to everyone. Guests are also invited to use street parking on campus and in the surrounding neighborhoods. See the parking information page for details related to street detours, graduate and accessible drop-off, campus parking lots, street parking, campus maps and more.

Commencement 2022
The class of 2023 will celebrate Commencement at 10 a.m. Sunday on the campus Quad.

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.

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 are welcome to attend. The Baccalaureate is a public non-religious service with student and faculty speakers and musical performances beginning at 8 p.m.

Livestreams for the Senior Awards Program, Senior Music Recital and Baccalaureate will be available for those unable to attend. 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. 

Commencement Sunday

All seniors should meet at Dalton Theatre in their cap and gown no later than 9:30 a.m. Although Commencement will take place outside regardless of weather conditions, the ceremony could be delayed by up to three hours if there is heavy rain or severe weather. Communication about a delay would be sent through a K-Alert, social media and email no later than 8 a.m. Sunday. The ceremony is scheduled to last about two and a half hours.

There are no tickets or rain tickets required for the ceremony, and there is no limit to the number of guests each senior can invite to campus. Chairs will be available to accommodate family and friends on the Quad on a first-come, first-served basis. Open seating will also be available on the grass of the Upper Quad, where guests can sit in lawn chairs and blankets to view the ceremony.

Guests with a mobility challenge can find answers to frequently asked questions on our accessibility information page. An information desk will be staffed from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the atrium at Hicks Student Center. The College’s bookstore will be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Commencement Speakers

Alumnus Larry J. Bell ’80, the founder of Bell’s Brewery, Inc., and author Jaroslav Kalfař will be the ceremony’s featured speakers.

Bell majored in political science at K before founding Bell’s Brewery Inc. in 1985. Kalfař’s 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.

Bell and Kalfar both will receive honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees.

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

Commencement Author Jaroslav Kalfař
Author Jaroslav Kalfař will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters degree from K during Commencement on Sunday.
Commencement speaker Larry Bell with his wife, Shannon Bell, and President Jorge G. Gonzalez
Larry Bell ’80, the founder of Bell’s Brewery, Inc., will address the class of 2023 at Commencement on Sunday.