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. 

Rehearsal 

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 alumni@kzoo.edu

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. 

2022-Commencement-Speaker-Bronson-Healthcare-President-and-Chief-Executive-Officer-Bill-Manns
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. 

Parking 

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 commencement.kzoo.edu

Alumna, Professor Emerita Earns Pulitzer Prize

Pulitzer Prize recipient Diane Seuss
Kalamazoo College alumna and
Professor Emerita Diane Seuss has received
the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for “frank:
sonnets.” Photo by Gabrielle Montesanti
Book Cover for Frank:Sonnets by Diane Seuss
Diane Seuss ’78 published her fifth collection of
poetry, “frank: sonnets,” in 2021.

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.” 

Princeton Review: K Offers Value, a Chance to Make an Impact

Stetson Chapel in Fall for Best Value Colleges
The Princeton Review examined more than 650 institutions for this
year’s list and selected K among the top 209.

An independent study from the Princeton Review shows that Kalamazoo College provides one of the most outstanding returns on investment in higher education, as the education-services company profiles and recommends K in the 2022 edition of The Best Value Colleges, an annual guide to undergraduate schools.

The Princeton Review examined more than 650 institutions for this year’s list and selected K among the top 209 colleges and universities. Kalamazoo College is one of just five Michigan institutions, private or public, to be honored this year.

Colleges and universities were selected based on surveys of students and administrators that addressed academics, cost, financial aid, career services, graduation rates, student debt and alumni support. The Princeton Review also factored in data from PayScale.com surveys regarding alumni salaries and job satisfaction.

“The schools we chose as our Best Value Colleges for 2022 are a select group: they comprise only about 7% of the nation’s four-year undergraduate institutions,” said Rob Franek, editor-in-chief of The Princeton Review. “We commend their administrators, faculties, staff and alumni for all they are doing to educate their students and guide them to success in their careers. These colleges are also exceptional for the generous amount of financial aid they award to students with need and/or for their comparatively low cost of attendance.”

According to K’s profile at the Princeton Review’s website, student respondents said the College “allows students to really develop personal relationships with their peers and professors” and is “a campus run by and for the students.” Students also said the open curriculum means they have more time to explore exactly what they want to learn.

The Princeton Review doesn’t rank the Best Value Colleges from 1 to 209. However, K received a separate honor in The Best Value Colleges guide as the College was ranked No. 18 on a list of the Top 20 Private Colleges Where Students Are Making an Impact. This means K students said through surveys that their student-government opportunities, the College’s sustainability efforts and K’s on-campus student engagement are providing students with opportunities to make a difference in their community. It also means alumni have reported feeling their jobs are meaningful, according to PayScale.com surveys.

“This honor from the Princeton Review affirms through another source what we’ve long known: Kalamazoo College students are receiving exceptional value in their education,” Dean of Admission Suzanne Lepley said. “Plus, the K-Plan—our approach to the liberal arts and sciences—prepares and empowers students to make a difference in communities around K now, and around the world throughout their careers after graduation.”

The Best Value Colleges is one of more than 150 books developed by The Princeton Review and published by Penguin Random House. Others that are resources on this topic include The Best 387 Colleges, which again includes K in 2022.

College Singers Plan Spring Tour

College Singers Performing at Light Fine Arts
The Kalamazoo College Singers, seen here performing
in October 2019, will present their spring tour
this month with a concert in Bellaire and two in Traverse City.

The Kalamazoo College Singers, under the direction of Assistant Professor of Music Chris Ludwa, will present their spring tour this month with a concert in Bellaire and two in Traverse City, all on the weekend of April 29-May 1. The performances are: 

  • 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 29, at Church in the Hills, Bellaire, Michigan 
  • 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 30, at Central United Methodist Church, Traverse City, Michigan 
  • 1 p.m. Sunday, May 1, at First Congregational Church, Traverse City, Michigan 

The program is titled “More Light, More Love” and will present songs from a variety of sources and styles from the Renaissance to Aretha Franklin, including music inspired by ancient poets such as Rumi and modern composers of American Indian heritage. The music is designed to uplift, inspire and mend the hearts and minds that have been so isolated for the past several years. Some pieces include piano while others are a cappella, and audiences will enjoy music by smaller ensembles as well as soloists. Singers come from as far away as Kenya and as close as Traverse City, reflecting the College’s diverse population and vibrant study abroad emphasis. 

COVID-19 pushed the College Singers, like many ensembles, into virtual mode for the better part of a year and a half. Musically, the result was that many groups got stronger. Almost all that have returned to in-person singing are appreciating the beauty of live performances even more. The ensemble is made up of 30 singers whose majors range from music to physical science and from political science to psychology. An academic class, the College Singers seeks to foster love for a wide range of music, awareness of social justice, and a deeper appreciation for the power of communal singing.   

No tickets are needed for performances, but a free-will offering will be taken to help defray the tour bus expense for the ensemble. More specific questions can be directed to Ludwa at cludwa@kzoo.edu.  

K Announces $5 Million Gift to Support Student Access

Bob Kopecky '72
Bob Kopecky ’72

Kalamazoo College has announced a $5 million gift in support of its Brighter Light Campaign from alumnus Robert J. Kopecky ’72.

The gift will establish the Ervin J. and Violet A. Kopecky Endowed Scholarship Fund, named in honor of Kopecky’s parents, and the Robert J. Kopecky ’72 Endowed Study Abroad Fund, as well as support other study abroad funding, current-use scholarships and the Kalamazoo College Fund.

The new funding will support the College’s strategic plan, Advancing Kalamazoo College: A Strategic Vision for 2023, by providing need-based scholarships and awards to expand student access to all aspects of a Kalamazoo College education. 

“Through my life after leaving Kalamazoo College, I have had an ever-increasing appreciation for the value of liberal arts education,” said Kopecky. “I wanted to help the College make that educational opportunity available to students with limited economic resources and to ensure that all students have the opportunity to participate fully in the study abroad program, which is such an essential part of the K College experience.”

Kopecky graduated from Kalamazoo College in 1972 with a B.A. in physics. While at K he studied abroad for six months in Nairobi, Kenya, where he also had the opportunity to travel to Tanzania, Malawi and South Africa—an unforgettable experience for Kopecky. After graduating from K, Kopecky earned his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School. Kopecky has spent over 40 years practicing law at Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago, trying cases in state and federal courts and arguing appeals in the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as numerous federal appellate courts and state supreme courts. During his years at Kirkland & Ellis, Bob represented numerous pro bono clients in both criminal and civil matters. He also served for several years on the board of the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, including one year as Chair of the Board. In March 2021, he published his first book, The Season of Living Dangerously: A Fan’s Notes On Baseball’s Strangest Season.

Kopecky has been a longtime supporter of Kalamazoo College, as both a donor to the Center for International Programs and as a recent member of the Board of Trustees, where he currently serves on the Risk Review Committee. His daughter Catherine (Katie) Kopecky is a 2013 graduate of the College.

President Jorge G. Gonzalez noted that endowed funds such as these can open up transformative opportunities for students. “Our goal as an institution is for talented students to be able to choose K regardless of their financial need, and for students to be able to participate fully in all aspects of K’s experiential education,” said Gonzalez. “We could not be more grateful to Bob, whose generous gift will be opening doors for students for generations to come.”

The Brighter Light Campaign is raising $150 million to provide endowed and annual support for students, faculty and staff, curricular and co-curricular activities, athletics and campus facilities. For more information, visit the Brighter Light Campaign page: www.kzoo.edu/brighterlight 

Fulbright Again Honors K as a Top Producer

Logo Says Fulbright Student Program Top Producer 2021-22
K has six representatives from the class of 2021 in the U.S.
Student Program, placing the College among the
top-producing bachelor’s institutions.

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announced Monday that Kalamazoo College is among the top producers of Fulbright recipients for the 2021-22 academic year.

K has six representatives from the class of 2021 in the U.S. Student Program, leading to the honor for the fourth time in the past five years. K is the only college in Michigan to earn the distinction in the bachelor’s institution category.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers fellowships to graduating seniors, graduate students, young professionals and artists so they may teach English, perform research or study abroad for one academic year. Many candidates apply for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program as graduating seniors, though alumni may apply as well. Graduating seniors apply through their institution. Alumni can apply through their institution or as at-large candidates. K has one alumni representative this year from the class of 2013.

K’s representatives in 2021-22 and their host countries are:

  • Helen Pelak ’21, Australia
  • Katherine Miller-Purrenhage ’21, Germany
  • Sophia Goebel ’21, Spain
  • Molly Roberts ’21, France
  • Margaret Totten ’21, Thailand
  • Nina Szalkiewicz ’21, Austria
  • Evelyn Rosero ’13, South Korea
Fulbright recipient Katherine Miller-Purrenhage in Germany
Katherine Miller-Purrenhage studied abroad in Germany and
has returned there on a Fulbright award through the U.S.
Student Program.

“K’s consistent recognition through the renowned Fulbright program confirms that our students have the abilities required to earn these transformational global experiences,” Center for International Programs Executive Director Margaret Wiedenhoeft said. “We’re proud of these students and the terrific faculty and staff who enable them to make an impact throughout the world.”

About the Fulbright Program

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. Top-producing institutions are highlighted annually.

Since 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 380,000 participants, chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential, with opportunities to exchange ideas and contribute to solutions to shared international concerns. More than 1,900 U.S. students, artists and young professionals in more than 100 fields of study are offered Fulbright Program grants to study, teach English and conduct research abroad each year. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program operates in more than 140 countries throughout the world.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State, funded by an annual appropriation from Congress to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and supported in its implementation by the Institute of International Education.

The Fulbright Program also awards grants to U.S. scholars, teachers and faculty to conduct research and teach overseas. In addition, about 4,000 foreign Fulbright students and scholars come to the United States annually to study, lecture, conduct research and teach foreign languages.

Humanities Grant Boosts Experiential Learning Project

Portrait of Humanities Project Leader Shanna Salinas
Associate Professor of English Shanna Salinas

A major grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will provide new learning opportunities for Kalamazoo College students and faculty seeking solutions to societal problems and promote the critical role of the humanities in social justice work.

The $1.297 million three-year grant will provide funding for the College’s Humanities Integrated Locational Learning (HILL) project, which is building student coursework rooted in K’s commitment to experiential learning and social justice to address issues such as racism, border policing, economic inequities, homelessness and global warming, while examining history, how humans share land, and the dislocations that bring people to a communal space.

The project was envisioned by Associate Professor of English Shanna Salinas (Co-PI), Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership Assistant Professor of Sociology Francisco Villegas (Co-PI) and Professor of English Bruce Mills. HILL will invite K faculty to build curricula that foreground how power structures produce destabilizing dynamics and the collective response(s) of affected communities through the development of course materials, collaborative faculty-student research and community engagement, the development of program assessments and the sharing of oral histories tied to partnering projects and organizations.

Portrait of Humanities Project Leader Francisco Villegas
Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership Assistant Professor of
Sociology Francisco Villegas

Each class within the curriculum will fit into one of two cluster programs: the first focuses on hubs outside of Kalamazoo such as New Orleans, St. Louis and San Diego; the second looks within Kalamazoo with themes relevant to the city such as prison reform and abolition, and migrants and refugees. Both cluster programs will contribute to a digital humanities initiative for publishing, archiving and assessing coursework and partnerships. Each will provide opportunities for immersing students in local heritage, cultures, landscapes, opportunities and experiences.

Salinas and Villegas will co-direct the HILL initiative. The three sites outside Kalamazoo—New Orleans, St. Louis and San Diego—were chosen for their current or historical dispersion of people from their homeland, as well as dislocated communities with strong histories of social justice movements. About 15 to 20 students at a time will go to those cities to further their experiential learning. Salinas added that faculty and students will first put in research and legwork related to their collaborative partnerships with a year of concentrated work. Then, by about December 2022, they will be ready to conduct in-person learning, first in New Orleans.

Portrait of Bruce Mills
Professor of English Bruce Mills

In addition to co-directing the project, Salinas will also serve as the curriculum coordinator for New Orleans. “We hope that students will develop an understanding of place as a living entity with a storied history and people who are a part of that location,” Salinas said. “We want students to learn what it means to be a part of a particular place. We want them to contend with histories, and meet the residents and people who inhabit the spaces we study with a real sense of generosity and purpose. We want to change students’ understanding about how they approach space and operate within it.”

Villegas plans to build on his strong connections within Kalamazoo County in leading the cluster focused on issues inside Kalamazoo. As a member of an exploratory taskforce (and now advisory board chair), he helped Kalamazoo County launch a community ID program in 2018, allowing residents, including those otherwise unable to get a state ID, to obtain a county ID.

“I think the grant speaks to the Mellon Foundation seeing promise in the kind of work we are imagining,” Villegas said. “It’s encouraging that they are willing to invest so greatly in such a project. They’re also recognizing the ethics of the project. They’re trusting that we’re going to engage with cities, including our home city, with a sense of respect and with a recognition of furthering community agendas already in place rather than imposing our understandings to other spaces. Most importantly, we’re invested in thinking about how students can consider the humanities in these projects as a way of producing nuanced understandings toward addressing very big problems.”

Mills will lead the digital humanities portion of the initiative. He noted that one measure of success for participating faculty will be how HILL shows the enduring dimensions of its partnerships with the digital project playing a large role.

“When you create classes, writing projects, oral histories or collaborate on community projects, these efforts often get lost when they just go into a file or a paper or are not passed along in local memory,” Mills said. “The digital humanities hub is an essential part of this initiative because faculty, students and city partners will have a site for a collective work to be published or presented. Community members will have access to it. That means the work being done will not disappear.”

Beau Bothwell tenure
Associate Professor of Music
Beau Bothwell
Portrait of Esplencia Baptiste
Associate Professor of
Anthropology and Sociology
Espelencia Baptiste
Portrait of Christine Hahn
Professor of Art and Art History
Christine Hahn

In addition to Salinas, Villegas and Mills, Associate Professor of Music Beau Bothwell and Professor of Art and Art History Christine Hahn will be curriculum coordinators for St. Louis and San Diego respectively. The first four courses that will be offered in the HILL project are Advanced Literary Studies (Salinas, English); Missionaries to Pilgrims: Diasporic Returns (Associate Professor Espelencia Baptiste, Anthropology and Sociology); The World Through New Orleans (Bothwell, Music); and Architecture Urbanism Identity (Hahn, Art and Art History).

The Mellon Foundation’s grant to K is one of 12 being issued to liberal arts colleges as a part of the organization’s Humanities for All Times initiative, which was created to support curriculum that demonstrates real-world applications to social justice pursuits and objectives.

“Kalamazoo College’s commitment to social justice is most profoundly realized through students’ opportunities to connect the theoretical with hands-on work happening in our communities,” Kalamazoo College President Jorge G. Gonzalez said. “We’re grateful for the Mellon Foundation’s generous support, which will enable us to build on our foundation of experiential education and demonstrate to our students how the humanities have a practical role in fostering positive social change.”

The Mellon Foundation notes that humanities thought and scholarship efforts influence developments in the social world. However, there’s been a sharp decline in undergraduate humanities study and degree recipients nationwide over the past decade despite students’ marked interest in social justice issues. The initiative targets higher student participation in the humanities and social justice while building their skills in diagnosing cultural conditions that impede a just and equitable society.

“The Humanities for All Times initiative underscores that it’s not only critical to show students that the humanities improve the quality of their everyday lives, but also that they are a crucial tool in efforts to bring about meaningful progressive change in the world,” said Phillip Brian Harper, the Mellon Foundation’s higher learning program director. “We are thrilled to support this work at liberal arts colleges across the country. Given their unequivocal commitment to humanities-based knowledge, and their close ties to the local communities in which such knowledge can be put to immediate productive use, we know that these schools are perfectly positioned to take on this important work.”

Kalamazoo College Names New Vice President for Business and Finance

Chief Financial Officer: Photo says Lisa VanDeWeert Vice President for Business and Finance
Kalamazoo College has named Lisa VanDeWeert as the institution’s next
vice president for business and finance and chief financial officer (CFO).

Kalamazoo College has named Lisa VanDeWeert as the institution’s next vice president for business and finance and chief financial officer (CFO). VanDeWeert, vice president and CFO at Aquinas College, will begin her new role on February 16, 2022.

“Lisa brings significant expertise in higher education finance and business operations to K,” said Kalamazoo College President Jorge G. Gonzalez. “Her work with a wide range of colleges and non-profit institutions, her leadership experience within a small liberal arts college, and her commitment to cultivating collaborative partnerships with various stakeholders will make her a great fit at our institution.”

As Aquinas’ chief financial officer and a member of the president’s leadership cabinet, VanDeWeert is responsible for leading accounting, finance, information technology services, human resources, campus safety, physical plant, and operations such as conferencing and events and the campus bookstore. Prior to Aquinas, VanDeWeert served as a certified public accountant at Rehmann, supervising and reviewing audits in a variety of industries, including higher education and nonprofit organizations. Prior to Rehmann, VanDeWeert spent 15 years providing audit services and leading teams at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Grand Rapids.

VanDeWeert is a member of the National Association of College and University Business Officers and serves as CFO group chair for Michigan Independent Colleges and Universities (MICU). She also serves on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors for Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids. VanDeWeert holds a Bachelor of Science in accounting from State University of New York College at Oswego.

“I am excited to be joining Kalamazoo College and I’m looking forward to blending my skills and talents with those of the capable leaders and team members at K,” said VanDeWeert.

VanDeWeert was selected after a nationwide search conducted by an on-campus committee with the assistance of Storbeck Search, an executive search firm specializing in the education and non-profit sectors. Comprised of faculty, staff and trustees, the committee was chaired by Vice President for Advancement Karen Isble.

Language Programs Receive $500,000 Grant

French Among the Language Programs Taught at Kalamazoo College
Assistant Professor of French Aurelie Chatton is shown teaching a class. Language programs
at K will receive a $500,000 boost from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is awarding Kalamazoo College a $500,000 grant through the American Rescue Plan to help offset financial losses incurred as a result of the pandemic.

In total, the NEH is giving $87.8 million to 300 cultural and educational institutions, 90 of which are colleges and universities.

“The American Rescue Plan recognizes that the cultural and educational sectors are essential components of the United States economy and civic life, vital to the health and resilience of American communities,” NEH Acting Chairman Adam Wolfson said. “These new grants will provide a lifeline to the country’s colleges and universities, museums, libraries, archives, historical sites and societies, save thousands of jobs in the humanities placed at risk by the pandemic, and help bring economic recovery to cultural and educational institutions and those they serve.”

At K specifically, the grant will help fortify the College’s language programs. Enrollment in language courses has waned over the past year, in part because the pandemic affected study abroad opportunities. The money will support the hiring and retention of foreign language faculty and staff; sustain student interest in language programs; revitalize programs in Arabic, Hebrew and ancient Greek; provide faculty better opportunities for research; and bolster study abroad to ensure it remains affordable as it restarts this term.

Associate Provost Katie MacLean, who is an associate professor of Spanish, said the honor of receiving the grant underscores K’s reputation for the humanities and study abroad programs.

“Study abroad is among the most popular answers students provide when they’re asked, ‘Why did you choose K?’” MacLean said. She and Jessica Fowle—K’s director of grants, fellowships and research—submitted the grant proposal on the institution’s behalf while providing proof the emergency short-term funds would combat pandemic-related issues and add value rather than apply a temporary fix.

“As a liberal arts college, the vitality of the humanities is important to our institutional identity and languages have a symbiotic relationship with study abroad,” MacLean said. “To me, this is a lot of money for humanities programs, which shows how much of an honor this is. That’s exciting for us.”