Kalamazoo College is gaining global repute among some of the top institutions in higher education with Money magazine’s recent lists of the best colleges of 2022.
Money ranks K 19th among the country’s liberal arts and sciences colleges and 50th in the Midwest regardless of public or private status. K is the only liberal arts and sciences institution in Michigan to reach either of the top 50 lists.
Money’s methodology focused on graduation rates to score more than 600 colleges in quality, affordability and outcomes with those data points aggregating the net price of a degree, loan-repayment rates, median earnings and some value-added calculations that measure a school’s actual performance against its predicted performance.
The end result, its editor says, is an analysis students and families can rely on to make their best personal choice while ensuring value and positive employment outcomes.
“This year’s Best Colleges list is a new take on our long-standing commitment to helping families make a smart college choice,” Money Executive Editor Mike Ayers said. “We changed things up so more students could use this list to make educated choices about investing in their future.”
The K-Plan, K’s approach to a high-quality education in the liberal arts and sciences, offers well-rounded academics, international and intercultural experiences such as study abroad, a hands-on education through civic engagement and service learning, and independent scholarship, resulting in that excellent value and opportunities for graduates to accomplish more throughout their lives.
“These recognitions are a great honor for K because they prove students can rely on us to provide an excellent education and a terrific value for their investment regardless of the program they choose,” Dean of Admission Suzanne Lepley said. “Their success as students positions them as graduates for great outcomes throughout their careers and beyond.”
Lila Lazarus ’84, an award-winning journalist, producer and motivational speaker, will be the keynote speaker for Kalamazoo College’s 2022 Convocation on September 8 at 3 p.m. on the Quad.
A broadcast journalist for over three decades, Lazarus has anchored the news in Michigan, Maryland and Massachusetts and covered stories around the world. She runs a production company, Lila Productions, and recently appeared in several Netflix series, including “Manhunt: Deadly Games” and “Mindhunter.” Her professional accomplishments include covering Nelson Mandela’s inauguration in South Africa and receiving multiple Emmy Awards, the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Award and two Clarion Awards. She was a recipient of the 2014 Telly Award for Social Responsibility. Most recently, she was inducted into the Silver Circle of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for her contribution to Michigan media.
Never afraid of a challenge, Lazarus swam the Straits of Mackinac to raise money and awareness for Mentor Michigan. Each fall, she climbs from one end of the Grand Canyon to the other and back again. For her athletic accomplishments, she was appointed to the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and speaks across the country on the importance of adding courage and adventure to your life. An avid motorcyclist, she was named Michigan’s Ambassador of Motorcycle Safety. Extremely active in community and charitable organizations, Lazarus serves on multiple boards and is President of Kids Kicking Cancer.
Lazarus graduated from Kalamazoo College, University of Michigan, University of Massachusetts and the University of Bonn in Germany. She holds two master’s degrees in political science and journalism, and speaks five languages. The College looks forward to welcoming Lazarus back to her alma mater, where she double majored in political science and German.
Convocation marks the start to the 2022-23 academic year and formally welcomes first-year students to campus. President Jorge G. Gonzalez, Provost Danette Ifert Johnson, Dean of Admission Susanne Lepley and Dean of Students J. Malcolm Smith will also address attendees. Chaplain Elizabeth Candido ’00 will provide an invocation. All students, families, faculty and staff are invited to attend.
Kalamazoo College has once again been nationally recognized by the Princeton Review in its popular guide, The Best 388 Colleges. The 2023 edition of the book will feature Kalamazoo College among the top 14 percent of colleges and universities in the country and will be available to purchase on August 23.
The Best 388 Colleges, released annually by the Princeton Review, chooses colleges from the nation’s 2,700 institutions based on data it collects from administrators about their academic offerings, and surveys of its students who rate and report on their experiences.
“We salute Kalamazoo College for its outstanding academics and we are genuinely pleased to recommend it to prospective applicants searching for their ‘best-fit’ college,” said Rob Franek, the Princeton Review’s editor-in-chief and lead author of The Best 388 Colleges.
The book won’t rank colleges individually, however, it gives K faculty high marks—95 out of 99—for student accessibility. Students in surveys for the Princeton Review say their professors “present challenging information and generally work to achieve camaraderie with students.” Furthermore, faculty “definitely understand that classes may be difficult and really, truly want to help students learn the best they can.” Professors also view students “as equals and peers and are open to listening to everyone’s ideas in classes.”
In K’s academic profile, The Best 388 Colleges lauds the K-Plan, the College’s approach to an education in the liberal arts and sciences, for an open curriculum in which “students have more time to explore exactly what they want to learn.” That approach allows each student to find their niche quickly in a small-school environment and helps everyone find campus and community activities they care about, the book says.
“K’s inclusion in The Best 388 Colleges is based on how students rate their experiences in classrooms and labs, with their professors, in community engagement and in their extracurricular activities including athletics,” Dean of Admission Suzanne Lepley said. “The idea that K is repeatedly honored year after year through the publication reflects the opportunities available to our students and the quality education they receive.”
Kalamazoo College again is featured in a global guide to institutions of higher education that has been trusted by students, families and guidance counselors for nearly 40 years, the Fiske Guide to Colleges.
Edward B. Fiske was the New York Times education editor for 17 years. During that time, he thought college-bound students needed better information in selecting a college or university. He wrote the Fiske Guide to Colleges to help them and updated it annually with an editorial team.
The guide now includes a selective, subjective and systematic look at more than 300 colleges and universities in the United States, Canada and the UK along with indexes that break down schools by state; academic, social and quality-of-life ratings; financial aid availability and acceptance rates.
In the 2023 version, available now, the publication says K students “pursue a liberal arts curriculum that includes language proficiency, a first-year writing seminar, sophomore and senior seminars, as well as a senior individualized project—directed research, a creative piece, or a traditional thesis—basically anything that caps off each student’s education in some meaningful way.”
In addition to senior integrated projects promoting independent scholarship opportunities, the guide praises other tenets of the K-Plan, the College’s integrated approach to an excellent education, including:
Academic excellence. The flexibility and rigor of K’s curriculum provides students with a customized academic experience. According to the guide, professors rate highly for their enthusiasm and accessibility while giving students the individual attention they need.
Experiential education. Students connect classroom learning with real-world experience by completing career development internships or externships, participating in civic engagement and service-learning projects, and getting involved in social justice leadership work.
International and intercultural experience. Students choose from 56 study abroad programs in 29 countries across six continents. The guide quotes a biology major as saying, “Kalamazoo College does study abroad so well that it seems ridiculous not to take advantage of this opportunity. They make it financially accessible and ensure that you won’t fall behind by going abroad.”
“K’s academic terms may be fast-paced and the workload demanding, but students are given the flexibility to pursue their interests through individualized projects and off-campus exploration,” the publication says. “The result is a student body defined by open-minded, global citizens.”
A generous leadership gift from Kalamazoo College alumnus Robert Sherbin ’79 will open the door to independent exploration outside the United States for Kalamazoo College graduates.
Sherbin has established the Jerry Sherbin Fellowship, named in honor of his father, which each year will provide one K senior with a stipend to pursue an academic year post-graduation, independently exploring a subject of deep personal interest outside the United States. Applicants will be assessed based on their proposal’s creativity and personal significance, their passion for the subject, and how the work may shape their future plans. The first fellowship abroad will be awarded in spring 2023.
“The College’s K-Plan emphasizes international study and engagement, so this fellowship wonderfully complements a student’s K education,” said Provost Danette Ifert Johnson. “It provides yet another avenue for students to pursue a project of personal interest in a deep and meaningful way prior to starting their graduate study or career. We are grateful to Bob for creating this opportunity for current and future generations of students.”
While an English major at K, Sherbin studied abroad at the University of Nairobi, one of only six American undergrads—and the only K student—there at that time. As a senior, Sherbin applied for a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, an external grant through the Watson Foundation that provides the opportunity to design and execute a one-year project overseas. Before attending graduate school at Northwestern, Sherbin spent a year in Central and West Africa as a Watson Fellow, conducting a sociological study of long-distance truck drivers. This opportunity was transformative, helping guide Sherbin’s path to becoming an international journalist and later, a global corporate communications executive. Today he is the vice president of corporate communications at NVIDIA, a technology company based in Silicon Valley.
Sherbin said, “The Watson Fellowship was the most formative experience of my life. I’d not taken an intro to sociology class. My French was appalling. And I didn’t know a soul within thousands of miles, when aerograms were the WhatsApp of the age. But K had given me the tools to learn and sparked my passion to figure out the rest. It’s my hope that this fellowship will enable students to widen their perspectives, taking them from Dewaters to Danang, from the Upjohn Library steps to the Russian steppes and beyond, and discover ways to make a difference before they head into the rest of their lives.”
K is included in the 2022–23 Colleges of Distinction online guide, which lauds schools for going beyond what typically drives rankings to offer a personalized education catered to students’ interests. It spotlights K through the K-Plan, the College’s framework for exceptional academics within the liberal arts and sciences.
“When we focus all of our attention on how schools stack up against one another, we lose track of what really matters: the students themselves,” Colleges of Distinction Founder Wes Creel said. “Every student has individual needs and their own environment in which they’re most likely to thrive. We want to extend our praise to the schools that prioritize and cater to students’ goals.”
High school guidance counselors, college administrators and the Colleges of Distinction selection team nominate excellent schools for inclusion before each institution is vetted to determine its quality through its support for students in all aspects of their lives. Colleges of Distinction judges its nominees on their teaching quality, student engagement, community engagement and outcomes through a selection process that includes in-depth research and detailed interviews with the schools and stakeholders.
K received accolades in each area along with honors for its undergraduate programs in science, math and technology; health and medicine; arts and humanities; multidisciplinary studies and social science.
“We pride ourselves on being an institution that prioritizes hands-on student experiences inside and outside the classroom to reflect a well-rounded education through independent scholarship, study abroad opportunities, civic engagement, career development and more,” Dean of Admission Suzanne Lepley said. “When students enroll at K, they should feel confident we will do everything we can in their four years to set them up for success for the rest of their lives. This recognition from Colleges of Distinction confirms that.”
K is also recognized among the top Colleges of Distinction in terms of equity and inclusion as it caters to the unique needs of their students regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender or ability.
“A great undergraduate experience is more than just graduating and getting your first job,” the Colleges of Distinction website says. “Colleges of Distinction graduates are prepared for anything. They are strong writers, speakers and thinkers because their professors have encouraged and challenged them one-on-one. They have meaningful professional experience from internships and advanced research, and they know how to work together with people different than themselves because they have been active on campus, traveled abroad and pursued service opportunities. In other words, when you graduate from a College of Distinction you will be equipped to find better solutions in the workplace, your community and the world at large.”
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, which required many colleges and universities to offer a women’s athletics program equivalent to any offered for men. Historically, however, many women’s teams have struggled to achieve the same level of funding as men’s teams at K, as at other colleges, said Becky Hall, director of athletics at K.
“Achieving more equity between our women’s and men’s sports programs has been a need and a goal at K as long as I’ve been here, and a gift like this goes a long way toward making that a reality,” Hall said.
Getman hopes creating this fund will inspire others to recognize and address inequities women face in athletics and beyond.
It’s an issue with personal meaning for Getman, who has three daughters, as well as four granddaughters who have been active in high school athletic programs. While one granddaughter went on to play tennis at Smith College, a women’s college, the other three have not participated in college athletics.
Recently, one of his granddaughters received several offers to play softball at smaller colleges, yet at every college and university she visited, the women’s programs fell short of the men’s. She saw discrepancies between locker rooms, field maintenance, seating and more. Ultimately, she decided not to play softball when she heads off to college in the fall.
“Watching her apply to various schools and evaluate their athletic programs and women’s softball, and then, for various reasons, giving that up, taking a pass on playing in college, is the backdrop to this gift,” Getman said. “The College may have the best intentions of equity, but it may take a long time to get there. If alumni come along and help, maybe that’s what it takes.”
Getman said that in watching his granddaughter play in the high school softball district finals recently, he was struck by how the players are athletes above all. Equity in athletics, he feels, can help promote equality in all areas.
Getman said he trusts the athletic department at K to be good stewards of the endowment. He knows the needs are great and hopes other supporters will come forward to contribute.
One of the first plans for the endowment is to add Hornets vinyl wall wraps to the women’s locker rooms to make them more personalized and welcoming, Hall said, and more on par with the men’s locker rooms.
“We plan in the future to use this fund to support and enhance equity in our women’s athletic programs’ operating budgets,” Hall said. “We also hope to fund additional staffing in the future to benefit our women’s teams.”
Getman has been a previous supporter of the Athletic Field Complex and the Fitness and Wellness Center. In his time at K, he studied English and worked for The Index selling advertising.
“In my first two or three weeks, I came to the uncomfortable conclusion that everybody on campus knew more than I did,” Getman said. “Living in that milieu, or society, was very exciting, meeting with people, discussing ideas and discovering new concepts. It was always stimulating and a fun place to be.”
At that time, Getman joked, the best English students wrote for The Index, the next-best took photographs, and he fell into the third category, those who ended up selling advertising.
“I wore a steady path down to the walking mall and got to know all the secretaries on each floor in the Gilmore building,” Getman said. “There was a jewelry store where I said, ‘Well look, the College is where guys propose—of course you want your name out there.’ And they placed an ad.”
Following his time at Kalamazoo College, Getman returned to his family’s business, guiding its evolution from building equipment that transported concrete that aided in the construction of the Mackinac Bridge to becoming a leading, worldwide supplier of safe and efficient mining equipment. He has led the Getman Corporation in multiple capacities for four decades, including his current role of chairman of the board.
“We are grateful to Dana Getman and to all our donors for their generosity and support,” Hall said. “Our goal is to continue to raise the bar, to make them proud, and to work hard every day to impact the student-athletes in our women’s programs in a positive way. Our coaches know the responsibility and power they hold, and they hold it with a lot of pride, a lot of passion, emotion and enthusiasm.”
If you would like to contribute to the Getman Endowment for Equity in Women’s Athletics fund and support women’s athletics, please make a gift online.
Eight Kalamazoo County high school students seeking to major in STEM-related fields have earned Heyl Scholarships to attend Kalamazoo College in the 2022-23 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 recipients of the scholarships, their high schools and their prospective majors are:
Michael Ankley, Kalamazoo Central, physics.
Annaliese Bol, Loy Norrix, biology.
Olivia Cannizzaro, Vicksburg and Kalamazoo Area Math and Science Center (KAMSC), 3+2 engineering.
Lillian Daniels, Loy Norrix, biology.
Devi DeYoung, Hackett Catholic Prep and KAMSC, physics or biology.
Alyssa Park, Portage Central and KAMSC, computer science.
Brigid Roth, Kalamazoo Central and KAMSC, biology.
Anoushka Soares, Portage Central and KAMSC, biology.
A ninth Heyl scholar this year, Abigail Houtrouw, has graduated from Kalamazoo Central and KAMSC. She will attend the Western Michigan University Bronson School of Nursing.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.kzoo.edu.
Kalamazoo College alumna, Professor Emerita and former writer-in-residence Diane Seuss ’78 is celebrating more recognition for her latest poetry collection, and this honor is the most prestigious yet.
Seuss was granted a 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry on Monday for frank: sonnets, a collection of poems that discuss topics including addiction, disease, poverty and death. The collection previously received the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry Collection, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry and the LA Times Book Prize for poetry.
The Pulitzer Prize committee described frank: sonnets as “a virtuosic collection that inventively expands the sonnet form to confront the messy contradictions of contemporary America, including the beauty and the difficulty of working-class life in the Rust Belt.”
“This is nothing that I would ever, ever, ever have expected of life,” Seuss said of the honor in an MLive interview. “It’s hard to feel these things beyond kind of shock and awe.”
In previous honors, Seuss received the John Updike Award in 2021 from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The biennial award recognizes a mid-career writer who demonstrates consistent excellence. Seuss also joined a prestigious group of scholars and artists who have received grants from the Guggenheim Foundation as a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow. The fellowship helps honorees slate blocks of time during which they explore their creative freedom. The Foundation receives about 3,000 applications each year and awards about 175 fellowships.
Seuss retired from K in 2016, the year she was a Pulitzer finalist for Four-Legged Girl (Greywolf Press, 2015), a poetry collection the Pulitzer committee described as “a richly improvisational poetry collection that leads readers through a gallery of incisive and beguiling portraits and landscapes.” Her other collections include Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl (Graywolf Press, 2018), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the LA Times Poetry Prize; Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open (University of Massachusetts Press, 2010), which received the Juniper Prize; and It Blows You Hollow (New Issues Press, 1999).
“For me and others like me, people in the margins for whatever reason, such recognition is an encouragement,” Seuss said of her recent success in a Kalamazoo College news story last month. “It’s saying, your work has worth. It makes all the difference to be seen and heard and acknowledged.”