Collaboration is one of the great experiences in higher education, and Kalamazoo College’s Learning Commons empowers it. By hiring students who have distinguished themselves in academics or library research, the Commons allows students to share their strengths and benefit from peers.
“That feeling of being shoulder to shoulder is one of the most valuable things we provide,” Learning Commons Director Bela Agosa said. “Learning isn’t meant to be a solo activity. Otherwise, we wouldn’t come to a college.”
Despite a term in distance learning, away from the Learning Commons’ physical location in the library, that collaboration continues. When students need assistance this spring, they meet securely online with Learning Commons peer consultants through any computer or mobile device with an up-to-date browser. And Agosa wants students to have confidence in that experience.
“It’s still the same people,” Agosa said of the Learning Commons peer consultants. “Distance learning has imposed some restrictions. But overall, we still provide the same great service. Our consultants are committed and worked hard over spring break to learn the new system. It showed me that the Learning Commons would be up to par this term.”
Examples of services available through the Learning Commons include:
The Writing Center: Peer writing consultants examine a student’s assignment to offer observations and suggestions and guide students through the process of clarifying and strengthening their ideas.
English as a Second Language assistance: International students and students who have English as a second language may receive consultations on any assignments or activities related to their academic experience.
The Math-Physics Center: Students may receive assistance with a variety of specific classes or just generally in math or physics. Even students who aren’t necessarily stuck and just appreciate collaboration can benefit from reaching out.
Research Consultant Center: Reference librarians are available for individual consultations to help students find the ideal resources they need for their daily assignments and research.
The Center for New Media Design: Assistants help students throughout their design processes through creating and designing presentations, posters, flyers, illustrations, infographics, photographs and brochures.
“Our aims as a Writing Center have not changed,” Agosa said. “The way we approach our services has not changed. We’re still here as a sounding board for writers and we still support students with math, physics and more. Our peer consultants are very dedicated and we believe in the work they do.”
Writing Center and English as a Second Language appointments are available by logging in at kzoo.mywconline.com. Learn how to make a Math-Physics Center appointment at its website. Email the reference librarians at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance from the Research Consultant Center. For assistance from the Center for New Media Design, email Graphic/Multimedia Designer Kathryn Lightcap at email@example.com.
Current events are providing an additional reason to engage with Kalamazoo College’s library during National Library Week, April 19-25.
Thanks to College Archivist Lisa Murphy and her colleagues, members of the K community have an opportunity to document this unique time in our history by recording their COVID-19 pandemic-related stories and experiences in the College’s collections. Students, faculty, staff and alumni are eligible to participate.
“The COVID-19 pandemic will forever define the year 2020,” College Archivist Lisa Murphy said. “Fifty years from now Kalamazoo College students and other researchers will want to know what it was like to be a student during this time. How did they cope with the sudden switch to online learning? Was social distancing difficult? Were they scared? What did they do for fun if they were confined indoors? This pandemic has already changed lives and capturing these stories now will help to document how not just the college, but the world, has transformed.”
When their submissions are made, participants will have the option to remain anonymous or to make their work available for research or publication after a certain time period has elapsed. Read the Archives website for information about how to participate.
In regards to other services, students, faculty and staff are commending the library and its staffers for continuing to connect them with reference materials and resources through the term in distance learning.
“We curate online resources for our students, faculty and staff so they don’t have to rely on an overwhelming amount of information,” Library Director Stacy Nowicki said. “The easiest thing is to Google the information you need. But we can help you determine what the best resources are that aren’t going to show up in Google. “And sometimes the resources we pay for aren’t as intuitive, but they are more authoritative. We can teach people how to use the technology and add depth to their experience when they do research or prepare for class.”
If you’re not sure where to begin with your projects or assignments, the online Research Guides can help you get started. Check out the A to Z List of Databases if you know what specific resource you want to use.
Reference librarians can help students and faculty find the ideal resources they need for their daily assignments and research. They’re available for individual consultations through email, web calls and virtual chats in teams. Sign up for an appointment with them at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a specific question, submit through the ask a librarian online form.
If you’re looking for a specific book or journal, easy online resources are at your fingertips. Find journals online through the BrowZineYou can also access online journals and thousands of ebooks through Library OneSearch.
Interlibrary Loan (ILL) supplements the library’s resources by providing materials not available on campus. Through ILL, students, faculty and staff may obtain materials such as books, chapters, and journal articles that are not available in the library collection. To request materials through Interlibrary Loan, complete and submit a request form in the Interlibrary Loan system.
For further summaries of available library services, check out the guide for faculty and the guide for students online. The guides will be updated as more services and resources become available.
a postage stamp-sized New Testament (above left) presented to Augusta Todd, wife of Rare Book Room namesake Albert M. Todd, sometime in the early 20th century. Records indicate the book was one of five that was produced in Vienna by the famed Zaehnsdorf book bindery. Copies also were given to British Queens Alexandra and Mary;
the “Bird Book,” (above right) a quirky California production about which little is known;
this 14th century illuminated psalter, or Book of Psalms, written on uterine vellum, the cured skin of an unborn calf;
an original 20-volume edition of Charles Dickens’ novel “Little Dorrit,” printed in pamphlet form as it was sold on the streets of 1850s London. Replete with illustrations and ads, this serialization was sold on the streets of London at a price of 1 shilling for each monthly edition from 1855 to 1857. The Rare Book Room also has a similar edition of Dickens’ “Bleak House;”
this incunabulum, or early printed book, of Livy’s history of Rome, dating from 1470, when the Gutenberg press was a relatively new innovation;
a manuscript leaf of an undetermined age from a Quran that appears to be hundreds of years old;
this reproduction of the Chinese New Year picture scroll, or nihua, “Welcome Spring,” was a gift to Kalamazoo College by the parents of Mengyang Chen ’11 upon her graduation;
this leaf from a Latin Bible produced in France in 1240 that might be the oldest item in the collection; and
this parchment Antiphony of the Common of the Saints was designed to allow an entire choir to see it simultaneously. Bearing the stamp of a library in Rome, its date is unknown. It is the largest book in the Rare Book Room collection.
Hours for the Rare Book Room, 326 ULC, are currently 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday, 8:30 a.m. to noon Wednesday and 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday. To access the collection, or to get your own tour of its holdings, contact Rare Book Room manager Mallory Heslinger at 269-337-5762 or email@example.com. And keep an eye out for an upcoming spring display at the library, curated by College Archivist Lisa Murphy ’99. Titled “Murderous Plots and Rivalries During the time of Mary Queen of Scots,” it promises to be a “Game of Thrones”-like exhibition of Gothic illustrations and artifacts, drawn from the Rare Book Room collection.
Kalamazoo College’s ‘Learning Commons’ had its grand opening on Thursday, April 9. The Learning Commons is located on the first floor of Upjohn Library and is all about students helping other students raise their academic achievement.
Amy Newday, director of the Writing Center and one of several collaborators in the development of the Learning Commons said, “We are trying to move away from ‘cubicle’ style studying. Students actually learn and perform much better when they study in pairs or groups. With the Learning Commons, the end goal is to create a mobile physical space for intellectual collaboration.”
The Learning Commons offers peer assistance in math, physics, writing, science, and library research. Its five centers include the Writing Center, English as a Second Language, the Biology & Chemistry Center, the Math-Physics Center, and the Research Consultant Center. Learn more at the Learning Commons website.
Got Art? Kalamazoo College will host THREE stops on the monthly downtown Kalamazoo Art Hop, Friday Feb. 6. Each stop is open 5-8 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership
205 Monroe St. Stranger Land is a site-specific project by artist Nayda Collazo-Llorens. This text-based piece is the first to be commissioned for the new Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership building. See the new building and talk with the artist about her methods and inspiration for the piece.
Kalamazoo College Community Art Studio
Park Trades Center
326 W. Kalamazoo Ave. / Suite 312 (3rd Floor) SIP Selections features select digital, video, and other media by senior K art majors from their Senior Individualized Projects. Meet the artists, discuss their work, and check out the K community studio in the Park Trades Center.
PETALS & PAWS
A.M Todd Rare Book Room
150 Thompson St. Petals & Paws features select flora and fauna resources from K’s permanent collection of art, books and more.
The Petals & Paws exhibit remains open thru March 12 (Mon, Tue, Thu – 1-3 p.m.)
It’s time for me to start living, which means a visit to the Upjohn Library’s rare book room. Detroit Free Press Staff Writer Zlati Meyer makes it a priority to discover and visit interesting locations on the campuses of Michigan’s colleges and universities. She often writes about these must-sees in her column “You haven’t lived here until:” The November 3 column’s feature is none other than K’s A.M. Todd Rare Book Room and its curator Paul Smithson ’68. Because I’ve visited the rare book room, one could say I do “live” in Kalamazoo, but perhaps that purchase is more precarious than I thought. After all, there are many artifacts about which I had no knowledge until reading Meyer’s column–the hand-lettered “Raven,” Pope’s Homer, and the discovery of oxygen, to name just a few. Time to reinvigorate my lease on life; a rare book visit! Stat! The collection is open 1 PM to 3 PM, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, or by appointment with Paul. The current exhibit–“What the Dickens? Victorian England in the A.M. Todd Rare Book Room Collection”–continues through November 26.
K on the Art Hop
October 4, 2013 / 5-8 p.m.
“What the Dickens: Victorian England in the A.M. Todd Rare Book Room” A.M. Todd Rare Book Room
Upjohn Library Commons — 3rd Floor
England was an incredibly rich and diverse society during the reign of Queen Victoria. Authors of the era included Charles Dickens, the Brownings, Oscar Wilde, and John Ruskin. Artists such as James McNeill Whistler, William Blake, William Morris, and Aubrey Beardsley all were creating works in very different styles. Charles Darwin completed his voyage on the H.M.S. Beagle and began to develop controversial theories on evolution. Phrenology, physiognomy, and séances all were popular. It also was an era of collecting, following the age of exploration. Travelers were covering the globe to bring back to England rare and exotic plants and animals. Examples of these various aspects of the Victorian Era are included in the “What the Dickens: Victorian England in the A.M. Todd Rare Book Room.”
Can′t attend Art Hop? “What the Dickens” exhibit remains on display through Nov. 26 (closed Nov. 4-17), Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, 1-3 p.m. or by appointment. Call Paul Smithson, 269-337-7147.
Kalamazoo College has FOUR stops on tonight’s monthly Art Hop around downtown Kalamazoo. William Morris & Kelmscott: Works by the 19thCentury British Artist, writer, textile designer, and founder of Kelmscott Press. In the A.M. Todd Rare Book Room, Upjohn Library – 3rd Floor, on the K campus, 5-8 pm.
Fear into Fire: Reclaiming Black Male Identity through the Art of Tattooing. Presented by the Black Arts & Cultural Center and Kalamazoo College’s Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership. Epic Center, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall – 2nd> Floor Atrium, 5-8 pm.
Paths Revisited: Paintings by Bernard Palchick, Professor of Art, Emeritus. Funded with support from the Kalamazoo Artistic Development Initiative and the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo. Epic Center, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall – Suite 203, 5-8 pm.
Untold Stories: Works by six K seniors from Professor Sarah Lindley’s Advanced Studio course (Annie Belle, Lizz Caputo, Hannah Knoll, Annie Swanson-Nystrom, Katherine Smith, and Elizabeth Yang). Park Trades Center, 326 W. Kalamazoo Ave., Studio 209-L, 6-9 pm.
A memorial service to celebrate the life of Wen Chao Chen, one of Kalamazoo College’s most beloved professors and administrators, will be held Sunday Sept. 23 at 2:00 p.m. in Stetson Chapel on the Kalamazoo College campus. Speakers will include Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran, Timothy Light, Jack Hopkins, Joe Fugate, Milt Rohwer, and Alice Chen. A reception in the Hicks Student Center will follow.
Dr. Chen died Aug. 13 at age 92. During his 36-year career with the College, he served as professor of political science, librarian, director of academic services, dean of special services, vice president, acting president, and executive director of the L. Lee Stryker Center. He also held leadership roles in the Kalamazoo community, provided sage advice to many, possessed unfailingly good humor, and played a mean pinball.
Read more about Dr. Chen on the K website. Below are some special memories about this very special man. Leave your comments on K Facebook and at the Langeland Funeral Home online guest book.
Dr. Wen Chao Chen was an extraordinarily loving person. He especially loved Kalamazoo College and the Kalamazoo community. He worked tirelessly for decades to help make each the best it could be. Dr. Chen had a brilliant mind and a gift for bringing people together. He often said he felt fortunate to be embraced by the community, but the people who continue to be touched by his legacy know just how much his life enriched all of ours.
President, Kalamazoo College
When I first got to K, I went to see every current and retired faculty member. I had scheduled two hours for each. When I was through about thirty minutes with Chen, I cancelled the rest of my appointments. I found him fascinating in spades. He gave me a copy of his autobiography that I took home. I could not put it down: from his childhood in China, to receiving his degrees from America, to his coming to Kalamazoo, to his trying to get a haircut and being told that the shop was closing, to his returning to the shop the next morning to find that the barber was “out to lunch.” From that time on, his wife, Lilia, cut his hair. He was devoted to Kalamazoo College. I considered it an honor to know him. And he provided an example for everyone else to emulate.
James F. Jones, Jr.
President and Trinity College Professor in the Humanities
President, Kalamazoo College, 1996 – 2004
Dr. Chen played a vital role in the early years of my presidency, as I reduced the number of vice presidents and he became the vice president of everything. He had two sayings that I remember well. First was, “President responsible for money and students; faculty and staff do all the rest.” Second comment was that I should always wear the white hat, and he the black hat (an academic version of good cop-bad cop). He will be sorely missed by all of us who knew and worked with him.
David W. Breneman
Newton and Rita Meyers Professor in Economics of Education, University of Virginia
President, Kalamazoo College, 1983 – 1989
When President Jones was ending his tenure as president of K, and I was about to begin my role as acting president, Chen invited us to lunch and presented us with gifts. Jimmy’s was a very elegant farewell gift. Mine was three small refrigerator magnets each about the size of a walnut. They were replicas of warrior masks used in Chinese opera. He noted my puzzled expression as I unwrapped the last one, and then explained these masks would help me ward off the “evil spirits of bad administration.” They were red, yellow, and green, and with a twinkle in his eye he explained the power of each one. I kept them in the president’s desk for that year, looked at them frequently, and often asked what Chen would recommend at that moment. They worked. In the Provost’s Conference Room in Mandelle Hall hangs “Prexie’s Zodiac,” one of my paintings. In it, two of those masks are blown up to life size. They are there as a tribute to Chen—for his valuable guidance to many, his love of K, and his love for all those that make it a jewel. I miss him.
Professor of Art, Emeritus
Acting President, Kalamazoo College, 2004 – 2005
I am one of many whom Chen mentored and whose career he fostered. His remarkable empathy extended to an instinctive knowledge of where the people whom he encountered were in their lives and how to relate to them. His insights were always remarkable and accurate, and his advice invariably wise. He had a unique talent to be fully present in dealing with individuals and also with groups of people. We in Kalamazoo have indeed been blessed by his presence over these 62 years.
Acting President, Kalamazoo College, 1989 – 1990
Dr. Chen was a humble and incredibly effective leader who was fearless and selfless in bringing sometimes contentious constituencies together – on campus or in the community – to find ways to collaborate. His kind, gentle, wise, persistent, caring, and wickedly funny manner defused tensions, minimized differences, led to creative partnerships, and served as an example to everyone blessed with the chance to work with him.
Phil Carra ’69
Kalamazoo College Trustee, Emeritus
I will miss Dr. Chen’s quiet, wise counsel and jovial laugh, both of which I have appreciated in my work with the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music (MFSM). This organization was created largely through his vision: he saw a need to increase community interaction and worked to bring community leaders together to help create MFSM. It is yet another example of his ability to make significant connections, even in his retirement. Perhaps the jovial laugh is my strongest impression of Dr. Chen: I remember it also from when I was a child—he always spent a little time entertaining us kids before joining the adults at parties. We are so lucky to have had him with us in Kalamazoo for so long.
Dr. Elizabeth Start
Executive Director, Michigan Festival of Sacred Music
I never was able to bring myself to call Dr. Chen, “Chen,” as all the faculty did. I just couldn’t do it (and still can’t). One day, Dr. Chen said to me, “You really know you are old when your colleagues call you ‘doctor.’” At the time, Dr. Chen was probably in his mid-50s. He was extremely supportive of me and, I’m sure, other young faculty.
Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, Emerita
Chen liked to play the pinball machines. There was a time when we had some of these machines in the game room and it was not uncommon to see Chen in there testing his skills. But he would also visit off-campus establishments and play. The story circulated on campus that on one such occasion when he was playing off-campus a group of students entered the place and to their amazement found the venerable Dr. Chen merrily banging away on a machine – and of course winning.
Professor of German Language and Literature and Director of Foreign Study, Emeritus
I recognize and thoroughly appreciate Chen’s importance to Kalamazoo College and the community. But for me, he was my valued professor and faculty advisor who became my indispensable mentor and counselor for an entire career. Perhaps my fondest recollections of student life at K were the regular meetings of political science majors and faculty members in Chen’s conference room at the library. The discussions he facilitated were undoubtedly the most valuable and enjoyable of my academic experience and that of many peers. After K, he continued to support, prod, and challenge. Two years into my first position, he asked “Are you comfortable in your job?” My response was that I was. His response was, “Time to find new a one!”
Milt Rohwer ’66
Senior Fellow, Center for Michigan
Former President, Frey Foundation
One part of Dr. Chen was shaped by traditional Chinese culture from the 30s-40s; another part was very much tuned into our contemporary U.S. world. Beginning in 1950, he and Elton Ham were colleagues at the College and at the City of Kalamazoo. After Elton died in 1975, Chen said to me “if you ever need or want to work, come and see me.” I did, and worked for and with him from 1978 to 1992 at the L. Lee Stryker Center on various projects: the Business-Academia Dialogue, (a luncheon meeting with area business people, students, and faculty), the Kalamazoo Forum, Council of Governments, a personnel directors monthly luncheon, to name a few. Chen had been conducting a seminar titled Management Development for Women, and one day in the early 80s said: “Caroline, go find out what those women want.” So, I talked to about a dozen women in small business, banks, newspapers, The Upjohn Co., academia, nonprofits. I asked “How did you get where you are, what help did you have, what help could you have used, and what help could you use now?” Thus, the Kalamazoo Network and various courses at the Stryker Center were launched. Chen was a master small “p” politician. His forward looking, community orientation and awareness were a great asset to Kalamazoo College. He was unique.
Caroline R. Ham ’48
City Commissioner and Mayor (1981-83) City of Kalamazoo
Dr. Chen, a deeply humble yet wise man, demonstrated his brilliance daily throughout our community, as he skillfully brought people together even though they would have disparate points of view, political perspectives, and organizational allegiances. Throughout my local career in higher education and community philanthropy, I continually marveled at how Chen could lead community citizens to find a strategic path to solving local problems when all the time he had thoughtfully and perhaps intuitively already conceived of “the way.” This remarkable man remains a Kalamazoo icon. He is clearly beloved by all those he touched, revered by those he personally affected by his focused and visionary example, remembered as a true community servant leader, and loved for his personal sensitivities and humane approach to all peoples. We’ll forever miss Chen and his leadership!
Former Academic Vice President and President (1975-83), Nazareth College
Assistant Director and President, The Kalamazoo Community Foundation (1983-2008)
As a member of Dr. Chen’s home department (Political Science), I was always able to witness up close his love of the liberal arts and of Kalamazoo College. He and I also shared another academic experience: his Ph.D. was from St. Louis University and mine was from Washington University in St. Louis; we would frequently compare notes about our St. Louis activities. Of all my many memories of Dr. Chen, perhaps the most vivid occurred the night that I arrived on campus for my interview as a candidate for a faculty position at Kalamazoo College. He spent the entire evening with me, giving a detailed description of the College and of the Kalamazoo community (including where I would buy my furniture if I came to this city). It was the beginning of a close friendship that would last fifty years.
Donald C. Flesche
Professor of Political Science, Emeritus
Throughout the many years that I worked with Dr. Chen, I came to know him as a man of wisdom, integrity and humility. I especially remember his courageous willingness to speak truth to power when issues of discrimination occurred. He was, of course, widely respected as an outstanding administrator and teacher, but he also served quietly and effectively as tutor and counselor to a host of students and young colleagues, I among them.
Eleanor Pinkham ’48
Director of Libraries and Media Services, Emerita
I was so fortunate to have Dr. Chen as my advisor during my four years at K. No one knew more about the college than Dr. Chen, or could have been more generous with his time despite his very busy schedule. He did not limit his advice to what courses to take, but also gave me advice about life that I appreciate even more today than I did at the time! He was one of the first people to get me interested in a business career. Stepping back from my individual experience, I am in awe of the contributions he made to the college and the community in his many roles.
Gene Bissell ’76
Kalamazoo College Trustee
Dr.Chen was indeed my savior. Not only did I work for him in the library for three years, but he made it possible for me to graduate with my class in the spring of l960. I had more than enough credits, but they did not seem to fall in the right categories. (I thought they did.) He attended the meeting in which it was decided who would graduate on time and who would not. My name came up as a “would not graduate on time” student. He told me about this situation and that he would represent me at the next meeting, which he did handily. Needless to say, I graduated on time, thanks to Dr. Chen.
Ellie (Helfen) Miller ’60
Wen-Chao Chen was the contact person responsible for my joining the faculty some 44 years ago. It was he, along with Paul Collins, who convinced me that K would be a good fit for me, considering my uniqueness. From my interview on, this talented, unique, quiet gentleman appeared to have made it his business to see to it that my being here was a positive experience for the College and me. I thanked him for his personal efforts and he, in his humorous way, said years later, that until I arrived he was the “only colored person on the faculty!”
Chen was a man who practiced what he preached, and I do not mourn his passing; I cherish his memory.
Romeo Eldridge Phillips
Professor Education and Music, Emeritus
It’s not high tech. It’s not “trendy.” It is large – with the height spanning two stories and featuring large windows streaming an abundance of natural light. The Yehle Reading Room in Kalamazoo College’s Upjohn Library Commons is rightly called a “Space of Great Character” in an article in Psychology Today.
Writer Ann Sloan Devlin encourages the development of spaces that promote concentration and creativity and wrote how such spaces are becoming rare in newer college and university buildings. She cited the Yehle Reading Room and a similar space at Connecticut College as “precisely the kinds of spaces that students today need to encourage thinking.”
Let’s hear it for meditative space—and time, part of the More in Four that is Kalamazoo College.