Barclay Endowed Scholarship Honors Retired Professor

David Barclay Endowed Scholarship in History
Professor Emeritus David Barclay, who served Kalamazoo College for 43 years, devoted his professional life to teaching, researching, and writing on European history. Alumni, current and retired faculty and staff, and friends of the College are honoring Barclay and his time at the College by establishing the David E. Barclay Endowed Scholarship in History.

Alumni, current and retired faculty and staff, and friends of the College have established the David E. Barclay Endowed Scholarship in History to honor Professor Barclay and his 43 years at the College. Professors Emeriti David Strauss and John Wickstrom were the driving forces behind the fundraising initiative to create this scholarship.

“News of the new scholarship has humbled me more than I can possibly express,” said Barclay, who retired from K as the Margaret and Roger Scholten Professor of International Studies. “I owe an incalculable debt of gratitude to so many of you who have contributed to it, and especially to my dear friends and colleagues, David Strauss and John Wickstrom. “They — along with the late Edward Moritz — played central roles in developing K’s history curriculum, and were a daily inspiration to me as teachers, scholars, and human beings.”

Strauss and Wickstrom described the purpose of the scholarship as supporting K students who demonstrate exemplary capacity for and commitment to scholarly work in the history department. Their motivation for creating the Barclay Endowed Scholarship was to both signal K’s tradition of excellence in history by undergraduates—past, present and future—and also honor Barclay’s extraordinary career in an appropriate fashion.

Barclay devoted his professional life to teaching, researching, and writing on European history. As a scholar, he achieved national and international distinction for his work in modern German history. He shared his achievements in those fields with several generations of students while working tirelessly to expand the influence of the discipline of History at K.

Collaborating with colleagues at the College, Barclay wrote a successful proposal for the Center for Western European Studies, a Title VI Undergraduate Resource Center funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The award establishing the program was the only one made to a liberal arts college and was competitively renewed every three years for 15 years. Barclay also joined students on study abroad and served as a mentor, adviser and friend to countless alumni.

Barclay received the Weimer K. Hicks Award in 2018, which honors a current or retired K employee who has provided long-term support to College programs or activities beyond the call of duty.

To celebrate the establishment of this endowed scholarship in his name, Professor Barclay will be giving a virtual K-Talk on Tuesday, April 20, at 5 p.m. The K-Talk, “Germany’s American Outpost,” will explore the relationship between Berlin and the United States during the Cold War.

If you would like to support K history students and give in honor of Professor Barclay, please make a gift online to the David E. Barclay Endowed Scholarship in History or contact Andy Miller, Executive Director of Development, at 269.337.7327 or

New Biochemistry Major Formulates Student Options

Biochemistry Professor Regina Stevens-Truss
Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Regina Stevens-Truss says the new biochemistry major at Kalamazoo College will provide an in-demand major for prospective students while better preparing current students for graduate programs.

Prospective students interested in science-based careers will have another reason to choose Kalamazoo College this fall. That’s when the Chemistry Department will offer both a chemistry and a biochemistry major. The new biochemistry major will expand the information addressed through the interdepartmental concentration currently offered at the College.

Biochemists commonly work in private industries, pharmaceutical and government labs, and higher education to increase the world’s understanding of the biological processes fundamental to life. At an undergraduate level, this field of study provides a foundation for graduate-level studies and careers in the health sciences such as medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, pharmacology and toxicology. This new major will open up these opportunities for our students as they prepare for careers beyond K.

Whatever the career path a science student follows, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Regina Stevens-Truss said, “It’s our job to help them figure out what’s next for them after K, and a biochemistry major will help in that effort.

“Some students come to us thinking they know exactly what they want to do, but then they get here and discover biochemistry is fascinating,” Stevens-Truss said. “Those are the students I’m excited for most because this new major will offer us an opportunity to open up biochemistry for them. I’m excited for our students and I’m excited for our program.”

This major will require the core courses in chemistry (general, organic, analytical and physical chemistry), as well as the chemistry senior seminar course, Professional Development for Chemists. In addition, biochemistry majors will take interdisciplinary courses in biology, mathematics and physics, and either Cell and Molecular Biology or Biophysics, depending on their long-term goals and plans. The biggest benefit will come from the program adding three new biochemistry major-required courses to the chemistry department’s curriculum: a 300-level foundations of biochemistry course, a 400-level applications of metabolism course and a comprehensive research-style lab practicum.

“Up until now, chemistry majors interested in this field had been at a disadvantage in this area,” Stevens-Truss stated. “The biochemistry course currently required for the concentration (Chem 352) is a survey of biochemistry topics—there is just not enough time to immerse oneself into the subject. Important topics such as photosynthesis, cellular signaling and genetics, and gene cloning aren’t currently addressed in that course. We hope that students are exposed to those topics by taking the required biology courses needed for the current concentration.”

However, in going from K to a graduate or post-baccalaureate program or to a job, “students need to be able to think critically about the application of these topics to real-world issues, which the new major is poised to help them do” Stevens-Truss said.

Prospective students and families are encouraged to discuss their interests in the biochemistry major and the benefits of it further when they talk to Admission representatives and chemistry and biochemistry department faculty to get additional information and for seeking more opportunities.

“Everybody has probably heard that ‘chemistry is everywhere’, but we don’t always see it,” Stevens-Truss said. “This biochemistry major will give students opportunities to see it in everyday life. That’s the excitement. This is giving us opportunities to offer students coming to K a chance to say, ‘This stuff is really cool,’ because life is cool.”

Music Advertising Starts with Wheaties, Leads to Professor’s Book

Music Advertising Book
Kalamazoo College James A. B. Stone Professor of Psychology Siu-Lan Tan explores the psychology of music advertising in a new book she co-edited titled The Oxford Handbook of Music and Advertising, published by Oxford University Press. Photo credit: Madelijn Strick 

If you know Wheaties as the breakfast of champions, that’s thanks in part to the first-ever commercial jingle, which aired through radio on Christmas Eve in 1926. Since then, advertisers have used the psychology of music, a subject appealing to Kalamazoo College’s James A. B. Stone Professor of Psychology Siu-Lan Tan, to entice you to buy their products.

Tan is a co-editor of a new, nearly 1,000-page reference book published by Oxford University Press, titled The Oxford Handbook of Music and Advertising, which explores the ties between music and advertising from their earliest connections to the present day. She said jingles grew from that first ad in 1926 beyond radio advertising to the in-person human voice and other songs that shoppers heard.

“Historically, some of the first ways people sold their wares was to use music, and people would listen out for that tune at a marketplace,” Tan said. “People would hear it and know the flowers they like are around the corner, or they might realize the pots and pans are coming up.”

That might sound like an old way of doing business until you think of all the places where you associate memorable tunes with your favorite products and technologies.

“Advertisers started off with the human voice, and just this chant or melody, and today you might listen for the familiar music of your favorite video game at the arcade,” Tan said. “The book explores fascinating research on topics like advertising jingles, music in radio and TV ads, sonic branding, sound design as part of product design, how in-store music affects shoppers, and a lot more. Even though the fads might change, there are some principles and basic foundational ideas that will continue to resonate in advertising for a long time.”

Siu-Lan Tan discusses music advertising at Kalamazoo College
James A. B. Stone Professor of Psychology Siu-Lan Tan has previously published more than 25 journal articles and chapters and two books. Her new book, however, was her first project related specifically to music advertising. Photo credit: Keith Mumma, Kalamazoo College.

Tan has published more than 25 journal articles and chapters, and two books including Psychology of Music: From Sound to Significance and The Psychology of Music in Multimedia. Her expertise was also featured in SCORE: A Film Music Documentary, and later, an associated podcast. This book, however, was Tan’s first project related to music advertising.

“I just got even more fascinated in the psychology of music and music advertising from working with this book,” she said. “I’m really constantly surprised by how many connections there are and how wide this area is. I’m excited to think of how many more ways that the psychology of music can plug into another area.”

As an editor, Tan was one of three people who invited 44 authors to collaborate on this multidisciplinary book, and made sure the book’s chapters and stories meshed well with no overlap or gaps. She also ensured the book’s themes and centralized ideas were present throughout as she and her fellow editors wrote section introductions and guided authors’ contributions on content and style. Yet ultimately, she wants the book’s success to be measured in how well readers connect with it in an engaging way for years to come.

“One of the questions that the authors brought up at the Zoom book launch party was, ‘Where else can we take this book?’ because it’s not just your standard academic book,” Tan said. “It really has a lot of applications and a wide reach. With music, multimedia and advertising, all of these sectors have a connection. I would like to see us make the book something that lives beyond just the academic sphere. I would feel the book is successful if it’s useful to many different people and is relevant for a long time.”

Two Faculty Members Earn Tenure

Santiago Salinas, the Roger F. and Harriet G. Varney Assistant Professor of Biology, has earned tenure at Kalamazoo College.

Kalamazoo College faculty members Santiago Salinas and Dwight Williams, from the biology and chemistry departments respectively, have been awarded tenure, recognizing their excellence in teaching, scholarship and service to the College.

The honor signifies the College’s confidence in the contributions the professors will make throughout their careers. Their titles have been approved by the Board of Trustees and include promotion to associate professor.

Salinas, the Roger F. and Harriet G. Varney Assistant Professor of Biology, teaches classes such as vertebrate biology and human physiology. His research interests include his work in the K Fish Lab, where he and his student collaborators study the ways fish populations cope with changes in the environment. He was born in Argentina before attending the Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific, earning his bachelor’s degree from College of the Atlantic, and receiving a Ph.D. from the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University.

Salinas then was a post-doc at the University of California-Santa Cruz and the Southwest Fisheries Science Center and was a visiting assistant professor at the University of the Pacific.

Dwight Williams Earns Tenure
Dwight Williams, the Roger F. and Harriet G. Varney Assistant Professor of Chemistry, has earned tenure at Kalamazoo College.

Williams, the Roger F. and Harriet G. Varney Assistant Professor of Chemistry, teaches classes such as organic chemistry at K. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Coastal Carolina University in 2001 and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2007 while researching immunosensor design.

Williams spent a year as a lecturer at Longwood University before becoming an assistant professor at Lynchburg College. At Lynchburg, he found a passion for the synthesis and structural characterization of natural products as potential neuroprotectants.

Williams learned more about those subjects after accepting a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral research fellowship at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical College of Virginia Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. During that fellowship, he worked in medicinal chemistry and pharmacology, where his work was published in six peer-reviewed journals.

In 2019, Williams was awarded a Fellowship for Excellence in Teaching grant from The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and Course Hero.

Poetry Professor Receives NEA Creative Writing Fellowship

Oliver Baez Bendorf Receives Creative Writing Fellowship
Kalamazoo College Assistant Professor of English Oliver Baez Bendorf is one of 35 writers receiving a 2021 National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship.

The National Endowment for the Arts today announced that Oliver Baez Bendorf, a Kalamazoo College assistant professor in the Department of English, is one of 35 writers who will receive a 2021 Creative Writing Fellowship of $25,000.

Baez Bendorf was selected from about 1,600 eligible applicants. Fellows are selected through a highly-competitive, anonymous process and are judged on the artistic excellence of the work sample they provided. The fellowships provide funding for recipients to write, revise, research and travel.

“I am honored and still in shock to have received this prestigious grant,” Baez Bendorf said. The fellowship will help fund his work on a future collection of poems, including research travel when that becomes possible again after the pandemic. He hopes to go to Hessen, Germany, to visit the Ronneburg Castle, in which his father’s ancestors took refuge from religious persecution. The castle now houses festivals and a falconry center.

Baez Bendorf is the author of two poetry collections, most recently Advantages of Being Evergreen, published in 2019. Jennifer Natalya Fink, a professor of English at George Washington University, described that book as a “wild queer reimagining of the potential of language to redress our past oppression and imagine new possibilities for gender, nature, and ecstasy.”

In 2020, Baez Bendorf received the early career achievement award from The Publishing Triangle. His work has also garnered fellowships from CantoMundo, Vermont Studio Center and Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. His poems appear in recent or forthcoming issues of American Poetry Review, Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, New England Review, Orion, Poetry, the anthology Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, and other publications.

Since joining the faculty in 2018, Baez Bendorf leads the poetry workshops at Kalamazoo College and teaches introductory creative writing classes. In fall 2020, he taught a first-year seminar he designed titled “Romance and Revolution: The Life and Times of Pablo Neruda.”

Outside the classroom, he has mentored K students in their pursuits of nature writing and literary editing. In 2019, he collaborated with colleagues across the college to host a celebrated writer on campus. A faculty research grant from the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership enabled him to participate in the New Orleans Poetry Festival, which featured his work in ecopoetics.

Baez Bendorf, who was born and raised in Iowa, holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Iowa, and a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry and Master of Arts in Library and Information Studies, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The late Conrad Hilberry, a poet and beloved Professor Emeritus of English who taught at K from 1962 until 1998, also received a Creative Writing Fellowship from the Arts Endowment in 1984.

Since 1967, the Arts Endowment has awarded more than 3,600 Creative Writing Fellowships totaling over $56 million. Many American recipients of the National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, and Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and Fiction were recipients of National Endowment for the Arts fellowships early in their careers. The full list of 2021 Creative Writing Fellows is available online.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support these 35 talented poets through Creative Writing Fellowships,” said Amy Stolls, director of literary arts at the Arts Endowment. “These fellowships often provide writers with crucial support and encouragement, and in return our nation is enriched by their artistic contributions in the years to come.”

Visit to browse bios, artist statements and writing excerpts from a sample of past Creative Writing Fellows.

Faculty Member’s New Book Examines Disability Sports in Japan

Disability Sports Book Author Dennis Frost with family and two Japanese Paralympians
Wen Chao Chen Associate Professor of East Asian Social Sciences Dennis Frost has released a new book More Than Medals: A History of the Paralympics and Disability Sports in Postwar Japan. He’s pictured here with his family and two Japanese Paralympians.

When most sports enthusiasts are thinking about the Super Bowl, a new book from a Kalamazoo College faculty member is focusing on a different kind of athletics competition and how it relates to creating a barrier-free society for those with disabilities.

Wen Chao Chen Associate Professor of East Asian Social Sciences Dennis Frost has unveiled More Than Medals: A History of the Paralympics and Disability Sports in Postwar Japan. The book addresses the histories of individuals, institutions and events that have played important roles in developing disability sports in Japan. Such events include the 1964 Paralympics in Tokyo, the Far East and South Pacific (FESPIC) Games for the Disabled, the Ōita International Wheelchair Marathon, the Nagano Winter Paralympics, and the 2021 Tokyo Summer Games.

Frost’s first book, Seeing Stars: Sports Celebrity, Identity and Body Culture in Modern Japan, traced the emergence and evolution of sports celebrity in Japan from the 17th through the 21st centuries. The new book, he said, is an outgrowth of that project.

“Before I taught at K, I was a teaching fellow at my undergraduate alma mater, Wittenberg University, where I taught a class on sports in East Asia,” Frost said. “Students were working on presenting a project about the Nagano Winter Olympics, and one asked if she could do her part of the presentation on the Paralympics. The student found a few media reports, but neither one of us was pleased with the limited information available on the Paralympics. So that was my first inspiration for this project.”

Disability sports book photo from the 2016 Oita International Wheelchair Marathon
Dennis Frost includes this photo of the Ōita International Wheelchair Marathon in his new book, More Than Medals: A History of the Paralympics and Disability Sports in Postwar Japan.

Frost’s interest piqued further when his youngest son, who was born with spina bifida, began taking an interest in sports.

“He’s played wheelchair tennis and sled hockey up in Grand Rapids, so I get to see some adaptive sports from his perspective, and then I’m doing my research more on the institutional side while talking about bigger scale events in Japan,” Frost said. “In some senses, it’s a project that has combined my personal and academic interests.”

For More Than Medals, Frost conducted interviews with athletes such as Suzaki Katsumi, who participated in the 1964 Tokyo Paralympic Games, the first event of its kind in Japan. Suzaki started training in disability sports just a few months before the Games using therapeutic hot springs baths at his rehabilitation facility in Ōita, Japan. As a result, he was surprised that the pool water at the Paralympics was so cold.

Disability Sports Book cover More Than Medals
Dennis Frost has released his new book, More Than Medals: A History of the Paralympics and Disability Sports in Postwar Japan.

Such anecdotes show that in their early history events like the Paralympics were less about competition. Even today when the focus is more on elite-level competition, the significance of the Paralympics extends well beyond the playing field. Those were ideas echoed in recent years by Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko, who recognized Japan’s aging population when discussing her city’s preparations for the Olympic Games.

“The success of the Paralympics is really the key to the success of the overall Games here,” she said. “I believe putting weight on hosting a successful Paralympics is more important than a successful Olympics.”

“Part of what I was interested in with this project is understanding how you go from a situation in the 1960s, where very few people in Japan actually knew what the Paralympics were, to a point where they’re almost mainstream in Japan,” Frost said. “In preparing for 2020, the Olympics and Paralympics were treated as a perfect pair, and everybody talked about both at the same time. In 60 years, they’ve undergone a pretty dramatic shift.”

In general, Frost’s research focuses on modern Japanese history with emphases on sports, disability, militarization, and urban development. At K, he teaches courses on premodern, modern and contemporary East Asian history with a particular focus on China, Japan and Korea. He also teaches first-year and sophomore seminars in the College’s Shared Passages Program, as well as senior seminars for the History Department and the East Asian Studies Program. More Than Medals represents a Fulbright grant and a couple of National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grants that supported the project, several working trips to Japan, months spent in Tokyo with his family, and interviews with athletes, citizens and reporters, to compare a culture more adaptive to the needs of the disabled than what we traditionally might find in the United States.

“In Japan, in recent years there’s been a lot of attention more generally even beyond the Paralympics, to how we create a society that is barrier free,” Frost said. “That’s both in terms of the actual physical structures like having curb cuts and escalators and elevators instead of stairs, and also in attitudes toward people that are different in whatever way from others. There’s a lot of discussion about that in Japan. Some of those things are happening in some places in the United States, but in Japan, I think it’s become much more widespread in recent years.”

The book is available now through Cornell University Press.

International Internships Offer Global Work in Study Abroad’s Absence

Three students who had International Internships standing in front of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership
Julia Bienstock (from left), Ella Knight and Addissyn House worked in international internships this term, writing articles for a university’s publication in Spain. One of the articles provided Spanish students with an American view of the Black Lives Matter movement.

When study abroad stayed on pause this fall, Kalamazoo College faculty and staff got creative. In a short period of time, they developed positive, educational experiences for many of the juniors who expected to spend time in another country, showing the strength of the College’s relationships with its external partners.

“Our challenge partly was to identify what students could do to engage with our international partners and folks off campus, but the question was what that would look like,” Center for International Programs Executive Director Margaret Wiedenhoeft said. “It took working with our partners to see what would be possible.”

The solution for this term was a unique set of internships offered through K’s Center for International Programs (CIP), Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD), Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) and Center for Environmental Stewardship (CES). The opportunities were designed quickly as a credit-granting class that provided work experience to 20 juniors, allowing them to build their resumes.

Five of those juniors, in fact, still had a chance to learn about another culture in working at virtual international internships with K partners overseas. Addissyn House, Ella Knight and Julia Bienstock are working with the Universidad de Extremadura in Cáceres, Spain, writing articles on current events from a U.S. perspective; and Reyna Rodriguez and Maricruz Jimenez-Mora are teaching English as a second language to people in San Jose, Costa Rica.

‘The Perfect Internship’

For House, Knight and Bienstock, this meant working virtually on a weekly basis with Gemma Delicado, an associate dean and study abroad director, on producing articles for the December issue of Vice Versa, a publication from the Universidad de Extremadura Humanities College, similar to an academic journal.

“A lot of students come to K because of study abroad,” Bienstock said. “It’s a big part of the K-Plan. It was disappointing not to study abroad. However, getting this internship opportunity was a positive thing because we’re going to have to navigate this pandemic for a while, which made the experience really powerful.”

Wiedenhoeft compared their experience to a virtual version of the integrated cultural research project (ICRP) that students would normally write while reflecting on their study abroad experience. House described it as the perfect internship for her.

“My goal was to immerse myself in Spanish, which was what I intended to do on study abroad, and I think we’ve done that to the best of our abilities,” House said. “We’re learning to read and write Spanish at a different level than what we could in school. It’s especially different because we’re online and collaborating a lot more. We can see where Gemma’s making edits, and she can explain why she makes them. I didn’t know that would come out of this experience.”

The topics the students write about include current events such as the Black Lives Matter movement, the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the U.S. presidential election, and the virtual format helps them understand such events from a Spanish perspective. The takeaway remains a cultural immersion that most interns elsewhere will never receive.

“It was disappointing not to study abroad, but this has been enriching in other ways,” Knight said. “It shows that no matter what happens, there’s hope that another opportunity will come along. I hadn’t written articles like this before for a Spanish audience and I’m learning new ways to talk about and teach culture.”

‘I See Myself in These Students’

For Rodriguez and Jimenez-Mora, an international internship meant teaching English to Costa Rican high school students.

K’s study abroad program has connections to Skills for Life, a Costa Rican government initiative targeting bilingualism among citizens for the sake of higher education and better employment. Within that program, Project Boomerang—a reference to volunteers giving back—helps high school students expand their English skills.

Rodriguez was excited for her chance to volunteer through her internship because she struggled to learn English as a child after moving to the Chicago area from Mexico.

“I came home crying because I couldn’t understand my teacher because she seemed to be speaking English so fast,” she said. “I see myself in these students. I know if they’re passionate enough, they’ll be able to succeed. I love the concept of the program because it means I’m giving back.”

Rodriguez typically teaches virtual classes of one to six students three times a week. The students have studied English for at least four years and can read it and write it well. Some even study additional languages. The program, though, provides the students with a stipend as they build their conversation skills on topics such as ice breakers, feelings, cuisine, culture and traditions.

Her fellow volunteers are from countries such as Korea, Brazil and the Netherlands. They all know at least some Spanish, and she and Jimenez-Mora speak it fluently.

“I think students really appreciate that we can speak Spanish because they’re able to ask questions in Spanish if necessary,” she said. “English can be difficult. The context you use and the conjugation can sometimes trip them up.”

Rodriguez has prior experience with teaching as a third-grade language arts assistant at El Sol Elementary in Kalamazoo through CCE. She doesn’t expect to pursue teaching professionally, although the internship has helped her build other job-related skills and she’s grateful for them.

“When I was a little girl, I always wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “As I’ve seen it growing up, teaching has been a passion. I don’t think it will be a career path, but this helps me see it will be something I pursue in my own time. Professionally, I’ve been able to communicate better with people just by learning how to say things differently. My time management has improved, and I think my creativity has improved as I’ve made my lesson plans and shifted them from elementary to high school students.”

Setbacks Create Opportunities

Although less than ideal with the pandemic, these opportunities have shown that K can channel its relationships abroad to create further opportunities for these students and others.

“It was our relationships with our international partners that really factored into our ability to develop this programming for students,” Wiedenhoeft said. “We try very seriously to nurture these relationships and these internships are the fruit of that. I think these students have demonstrated an ability to adapt to ambiguity and manage understanding how expectations can change, and can change based on a cultural perspective.”

Two Music Faculty Members Earn Community Medal of Arts

Community Medal of Arts Recipient Andrew Koehler conducting
Andrew Koehler, the Music Department chair and director of the Kalamazoo Philharmonia, will receive the Community Medal of Arts from the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo.

Two Kalamazoo College music faculty members are being honored with top awards for their contributions to the city’s arts scene.

Andrew Koehler, the Music Department chair and director of the Kalamazoo Philharmonia; and Tom Evans, a music professor and K’s director of bands, will receive the Community Medal of Arts from the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo.

Community Medal of Arts Recipient Tom Evans conducting
Tom Evans, a music professor and K’s director of bands, will receive the Community Medal of Arts from the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo.

The organization promotes and supports the arts, arts organizations, and artists throughout greater Kalamazoo.

The Community Medal of Arts recognizes artists who are leaders in their field, have significant creative activity, have received local or national acclaim, and have impacted the community through art. It encompasses all art forms, including but not limited to visual, musical, theatrical, literary, performing, multimedia, architecture and design. The organization will present their awards to Koehler and Evans at 5:30 p.m. December 1 at the Wellspring Theater during the Arts Council’s annual meeting.

Both said the award is special for them for the honor it bestows.

“When I first arrived in Kalamazoo, I confess I had little inkling about the richness, the vibrancy of this arts community,” Koehler said. “In the years since, of course, I’ve come to fully appreciate just how special Kalamazoo is in this regard, and to be recognized as part of that artistic tapestry—to have my work validated by many wonderful collaborators, to be nominated by my generous predecessor at K, Barry Ross, himself a laureate of the award—is a profound honor, one that will stay with me for the rest of my career.”

“I am honored, humbled, and especially grateful to be a recipient of this year’s Community Medal of Arts Award,” Evans said. “It is an even greater honor to be included among the previous award winners, many of whom have been colleagues and collaborators at one time or another. I’ve long believed in the importance of giving back to the communities in which we live. If each us were to give back in whatever way we can, then each of those communities would be all the richer. I would like to believe that my musical contributions to the greater Kalamazoo area have, in some small way, fulfilled that promise.”

This distinction is also special because they’re earning it at the same time, yet through their own accords.

“What I have always loved about K is that we do not silo ourselves—neither from colleagues and students in other disciplines, nor from the wonderful city with which we share our name,” Koehler said. “Each of us in K’s Music Department is engaged in a meaningful way with other artistic organizations in town. And so to share this honor with my good friend and colleague only sweetens the experience, and confirms the multi-faceted richness of the larger arts community we both love so much.”

“I must say how incredibly pleased I am to receive this award alongside my colleague and friend, Andrew Koehler,” Evans said. “I hold him in the highest regard and have the utmost degree of respect for his consummate skills as a musician, conductor, lecturer and collaborator. Receiving this award alongside Andrew adds to my already overflowing joy and gratitude.”

Koehler and Evans are among nine individuals and two organizations receiving awards from the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo this year. For a full list of the honorees and the awards, visit the council’s website.

Kits Allow Lighting Students to Shine on


After assembling, shipping and delivering several large kits, Kalamazoo College Theatre Arts Professor Lanny Potts can say, “Let there be light.”

Normally, Potts’ lighting design course, conducted each fall, would use a light lab filled with hundreds of lights and pieces of lighting equipment to guide his students. This term, though, required some quick thinking for their three projects when classes were moved online.

“We couldn’t bring the students to the light lab, so we were going to bring the light lab to the students,” Potts said.

Two students assemble lighting kits with a blue filter
Student workers helped Theatre Arts Professor Lanny Potts assemble 15 kits for his lighting design class this fall.

It took four weeks and many assistants to pack all the materials, yet he sent 15 kits containing items including seven lightbulbs, several feet of wiring, dimmers and a professional mannequin head. You can watch a video of Potts and  student workers assembling the materials through YouTube. FedEx delivered one kit to Texas and five throughout the Midwest. He personally delivered the other nine to students living locally.

“Lighting design is very unique,” Potts said. “It’s an ephemeral art form. It’s there and when the light changes, it’s gone. That’s a challenging thing to learn in isolation.” However, it’s beneficial for students to study lighting regardless of their major and where they’re doing it from, especially in the liberal arts.

“Lighting is always about problem solving,” Potts said. “I can’t think of a better thing to engage in than doing live event production or lighting design. I always end up doing something I’ve never tried before. Sometimes you ask, ‘What are the tools you have in your tool box?’ You then try some things and see what works.”

In the first project, students find an image of a painting and reproduce it at the size of a postcard. The second project involves taking 30 to 60 seconds of music without lyrics and making a video that includes light cues to that music. Finally, students use their lights to help them re-create a scene from a play through a lighting plot, similar to an architectural blueprint. In all these projects, the intensity, color, angle and distribution of light are important.

“It’s been fun,” Potts said. “I do know that by receiving these lighting kits, the students will be able to do everything we do here. They won’t have access to the hundreds of lights we have, but they will all be able to show all the things a light does.”

Potts, a professional lighting designer and consultant, has worked in international lighting and production design; national tour designs for opera and dance; and regional designs for opera, modern dance, ballet, drama and corporate events. He also earned his third Best in Lighting Design Wilde Award from in 2019 for his work in a 2018 Farmers Alley Theatre production of Bridges of Madison County in Kalamazoo.

“I absolutely love light,” he said. “How lucky am I to do something I love to do? Most of my students aren’t going to be professional lighting designers. But I feel when you learn a lot about light, it teaches you to be a keen, critical observer. And being a great observer of things around you, that’s a great life skill.”

K Recognizes Two with Lucasse, Ambrose Honors

Lucasse Honoree James Lewis
Professor of History James E. Lewis Jr. was named the recipient of the 2020-21 Lucasse Fellowship for Excellence in Scholarship, honoring his contributions in creative work, research and publication.

Kalamazoo College today awarded one faculty member and one staff member with two of the highest awards the College bestows on its employees.

Professor of History James E. Lewis Jr. was named the recipient of the 2020-21 Lucasse Fellowship for Excellence in Scholarship, honoring his contributions in creative work, research and publication; and Computer Science, Mathematics and Physics Office Coordinator Kristen Eldred was granted the W. Haydn Ambrose Prize, recognizing her outstanding service to the Kalamazoo College community.

Lewis’ scholarly record includes published essays and book reviews in addition to four authored books:

  • The American Union and the Problem of Neighborhood: The United States and the Collapse of the Spanish Empire (1998, University of North Carolina Press), which was recognized as a Choice Outstanding Book for 1999.
  • John Quincy Adams: Policymaker for the Union (2001, Rowan and Littlefield).
  • Kristen Eldred
    The Computer Science, Mathematics and Physics departments cited Kristen Eldred’s cheerful attitude, strong work ethic and creative community building in nominating her for the Ambrose Prize.

    The Louisiana Purchase: Jefferson’s Noble Bargain (2003, Thomas Jefferson Foundation), which was commissioned by the Jefferson Foundation based on Lewis’ previously published work.

  • The Burr Conspiracy: Uncovering the Story of an Early American Crisis (2017, Princeton University Press), which was recognized as a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize and long-listed for the Cundill History Prize.

Lewis has taught courses in U.S. history, Native American history, American environmental history, Revolutionary America, the American frontier and Western history, and more at K. He also is a professional member of the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians and the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic.

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

The faculty across the Computer Science, Mathematics and Physics departments cited Eldred’s cheerful attitude, strong work ethic and creative community building in her nomination for the Ambrose Prize. She works to support the Sukuma group, an organization for underrepresented students in the sciences, and Green Dot, a campus movement to stop power-based personal violence. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, she also organized a weekly teatime for faculty and students, where students and faculty could informally have non-academic discussions.

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

Congratulations to both the honorees.