Honors, Philanthropy Lead to College’s Top 10 Stories of 2023

National publications continued to recognize Kalamazoo College as an outstanding institution of higher education in 2023. That reputation was furthered through the achievements of faculty, staff and academic departments, along with donors funding K’s Brighter Light Campaign. Here are the institution’s top 10 stories this year as determined by your clicks. You can also check out the top 10 stories from our students, faculty and staff, and alumni

10. College Celebrates Banner Year for NSF Fellowships 

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 reached four in 2023, 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. 

NSF fellow Angel Banuelos in the lab
Angel Banuelos ’21, an NSF fellow, is attending graduate school at the University of Wisconsin.

9. K Honors 1861 Alumnus with Distinguished Achievement Award 

A Homecoming and Reunion Weekend tradition offered a twist this year by presenting a posthumous honor during the Alumni Association Awards and Athletic Hall of Fame Ceremony. The College recognized 1861 graduate Rufus Perry, who is believed to be the first Black person to attend K, with the Distinguished Achievement Award, which celebrates graduates who have achieved distinction in their professional fields.  

A portrait of 1861 alumnus Rufus Perry
K alumni and friends recognized 1861 graduate Rufus Perry with the Distinguished Achievement Award, which celebrates graduates who have achieved distinction in their fields.

8. 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 chose K as a top school in the Great Lakes region and a top destination for athletics among Division III programs nationwide. 

Kalamazoo College sign
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%.

7. Scholarship Honors Late Professor Emeritus T. Jefferson Smith 

The life and legacy of a late professor emeritus are being honored by an anonymous donor, who established the Professor T. Jefferson Smith Memorial Scholarship. Smith taught at K for nearly three decades before retiring in 1994.  

Jeff Smith pointing at a blackboard
The late T. Jefferson Smith was a long-time beloved Kalamazoo College math professor and the driving force behind bringing change ringing and the English tower bells to Stetson Chapel.

6. Fulbright Extends U.S. Student Program Top-Producer Honors to K 

K has four representatives in the 2022-23 U.S. Student Program, leading to the top producer honors for the fifth time in the past six years. K was the only college in Michigan to earn the distinction in the bachelor’s institution category. 

Julia Bienstock ’22 earned Fulbright U.S. Student Program honors to spend a year in Spain.

5. Princeton Review Names K a Best Value College for 2023 

The Princeton Review identified K as one of its Best Value Colleges for 2023 and ranked it No. 16 among the Top 20 private colleges where students have opportunities to make an impact. 

Two students talking in front of Light Fine Arts for top 10 stories
The Princeton Review has named Kalamazoo College one of its Best Value Colleges for 2023 and ranked K No. 16 among the Top 20 Private Colleges for Making an Impact.

4. K Welcomes Rakugo Comedian, Storyteller Katsura Sunshine 

A storyteller and comedian with Broadway credits was the featured presenter at the 2023 Kafu Lecture. Katsura Sunshine is one of only a few living non-Japanese masters of rakugo, a 400-year-old tradition of comic-monologue storytelling in Japan. The event was cosponsored by K’s departments of Japanese, theatre, and anthropology-sociology, along with the Soga Japan Center at Western Michigan University. 

Rakugo master Katsura Sunshine performing at K was one of our top 10 stories
Rakugo master Katsura Sunshine performed comedy within his storytelling in the 2023 Kafu Lecture.

3. Honors Day Celebrates Student Achievements 

Recipients of prestigious scholarships, student-athletes, members of national honor societies and students who received special awards were recognized in the annual Honors Day Convocation during the College’s Family Weekend. 

Two faculty members handing an award to a student for top 10 stories of 2023
Assistant Professor of Mathematics Stephen Oloo (middle) and Professor of English Bruce Mills distribute awards to students during the 2023 Honors Convocation.

2. Money Magazine Places K Among Nation’s Top Colleges 

Money released its latest appraisals of the Best Colleges in America this summer while again naming K among the top institutions in the country. 

Two students talking on the Quad while studying for top 10 stories of 2023
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.

1. College Receives Historic $30 Million Gift 

For 190 years, Kalamazoo College has graduated generations of enlightened leaders who have made an impact on the world. In October, the College was grateful to recognize a major contribution to that effort with the announcement of a $30 million gift from an anonymous donor—the largest single gift commitment in the College’s history. 

President Jorge G. Gonzalez speaking
No. 1 of our top 10 stories: President Gonzalez announcing a $30 million gift to the College from an anonymous donor.