Convocations, a requirement for graduation, this year featured 9/11
and Iraq advisor and former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton.
If Robert Bowman'56, associate professor of religion, is wearing his dragon
T-shirt, he must be teaching the
Book of Revelation. It's an awesome lecture that alumni recall with a twinkle
in their eyes. Bowman retired this spring.
New faculty member Ashleigh Maxcey brings a new course to Manchester: Cognitive Neuroscience.
AS STUDENTS GRADUATE into a whirlpool of evolving technology and conflict, a liberal arts foundation is as relevant today as it was 122 years ago at the beginnings of Manchester College. Alumni write "home" often that their Manchester degree prepared them not only for their careers, but for other life paths and discoveries. At Manchester, they learned to seek out new perspectives, new horizons, new points of view, and find their role in the world.
The liberal arts aren't luxury, they are sustenance:
- to "bulk up" the brain and exercise it
- to learn critical thinking for making good decisions
- to better understand our past, our culture and our world
- to learn how to learn throughout life
"It shapes who we are as persons and helps us to see our places in the Big Scene," says Heather Schilling '90, assistant professor of education. She requires graduating education majors to write a reflective essay about how the liberal arts have shaped their lives. "Liberal arts help us to understand the natural world and what it means to be human," agrees philosophy Professor Steve Naragon '82.
"The liberal arts have been major factors in broadening my ideas and opinions of diversity," wrote Jennifer Beakas '11, who majored in early to mid-childhood education with mild interventions, for Schilling's class. Senior K-12 health and physical education major Chelsea Bower '11 wrote, "Having a liberal arts education has either made me more aware of new ideas and thoughts or has made my own beliefs and values stronger."
Like all MC students, math and pre-med majors must "experience" the arts in a formal course. It's likely their faculty advisor is a musician, has a minor in the humanities, performs in musical theatre, travels or speaks a second language. And often, those teachers take their students along for the ride, inspiring them to broaden their learning horizons.
Exercise science major Emily Ballinger '11 minored in French. Accounting major Eric Francisco '11 played bass with the College jazz combo. Pre-med majors frequently minor in Spanish.
Liberal arts colleges produce more scientists and scholars per capita than other higher education, writes chemistry Nobel Laureate Thomas Cech in Science at Liberal Arts Colleges: A Better Education.
History major John M. Schroeder '80 of southern California is group vice president of human resources and labor relations for a major chain, Ralphs Grocery Co. In re-connecting recently with former MC history Professor Carl Caldwell (1971-89), Schroeder praised his Manchester education:
"… studying history, and the other parts of a traditional liberal arts curriculum, I acquired skills I use every day. I can say from having recruited, trained and managed people with a wide variety of educational backgrounds that liberal arts graduates tend to be significantly better writers, and often clearer and more-flexible thinkers, than graduates from other disciplines."
Occasionally, Manchester graduates step into the national spotlight, such as Dan West '17, founder of Heifer International; Andrew Cordier '22, co-founder of the United Nations; and Jane Henney '69, the first woman commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Throughout their careers, all recalled and helped strengthen the liberal arts foundation of Manchester College.
The curriculum for the new School of Pharmacy also will incorporate activities, coursework and community involvement that will cultivate the future pharmacists' sense of social responsibility and informed citizenship. That's liberal arts. The College's master's degree programs in athletic training and education are infused with honing critical thinking, communication skills and discussions about ethics.
Construction begins this summer renovating Holl-Kintner Hall of Science into a tribute to the liberal arts: the Academic Center. In fall 2012, exciting new learning spaces will open for majors in philosophy, communication studies, religion and philosophy, peace studies, social work, history, psychology, sociology, English, education, modern languages and economics. Accounting, business, finance, management and marketing also will have significant space in the Academic Center. (Music and the arts remain in Otho Winger Memorial Hall.)
The Academic Center is a natural evolution for Manchester. As enrollment nears the "optimal" 1,300, the College has shared its newest, and most technologically-savvy learning spot – the Science Center – for a great many liberal arts classes. With climate control, comfortable seating, ample research and collaboration space, accessibility and a fully "wired" and "wireless" building, the Science Center is far superior to the century-old Administration Building. It's a fun place to learn.
Marcie Coulter-Kern, associate professor of psychology, is excited about the research space that will come with the Academic Center, and the proximity of faculty offices to classrooms and that research space. Psychology is a popular major at Manchester, engaging more than 90 students.
Education faculty members also are looking forward to new spaces in the Academic Center, says Schilling, especially for on-campus case studies involving children. Most education classes and all communication studies classes currently are in the 52-year-old Holl-Kintner, hastily fitted for an enrollment increase that began four years ago.
Communication Studies will get a video editing room and other space dedicated for communicating in this day, and tomorrow.
This is clearly a new era of liberal arts, says Dean Glenn Sharfman, vice president for academic affairs. The College is trying to be nimble in updating its liberal arts curriculum for the modern learner and to take good advantage of the experiential and abroad opportunities, he says.
Cross-discipline courses are added frequently and often with new faculty, like Cognitive Neuroscience that examines the biological foundations of memory, language, decision-making and thought.
Mark Angelos, professor of history, teaches more students than any other Manchester faculty member. Yes, one of the courses he teaches is required. But he is so successful in sharing his passion for things ancient, students turn to him for electives, especially his January sessions to Europe.
Political science scholar Leonard Williams takes his students to the Indiana State House, to Washington, D.C., and, in 2008, to the Iowa Caucuses to actually participate in the history of nominating the first black and first female presidential candidates.
Psychologists Rusty and Marcy Coulter-Kern take more students to conferences, where they present their graduate-level research and research posters, than any other faculty members. Keys to their success: strong research, coupled with communication, writing and speaking skills – basic liberal arts.
Kate Eisenbise, associate professor of religion, is excited about using new technology in the Academic Center for communication with practitioners of other religions around the world. Modern language faculty share similar excitement about real-time conversations with people of other cultures.
Because Eisenbise teaches required "core" courses in religion, the theologian encounters just about every student on campus – future scientists as well as future accountants, athletic trainers, lawyers, teachers and physicians."Religion is one of the basic liberal arts," notes Eisenbise. "Religion as a study provides students the ability to make connections in many parts of life and makes students well-rounded."
On the College's My Favorite Professor website, a student wrote about Robert Bowman '56, associate professor of religion: "He is able to make a 3,000-year-old text interesting. He is interesting, helpful and allows students to see old concepts in a new way. He is able to weave his faith and his academic discipline in a seamless way that allows for spiritual and academic growth." (Bowman retired this spring, after 18 years with the College.)
Everyone in the Department of Modern Languages teaches courses in other disciplines, says Professor Janina Traxler '73.
In addition to French, Traxler teaches an interdisciplinary 400-level course, Life and Death, that discusses how we give life meaning. One of her first students was pre-med major Patrick Weybright '93, who also was an accomplished musician and a "good reader of literature." For his application to Harvard Medical School, he asked Traxler for a letter of recommendation. A cum laude Harvard graduate, today Dr. Weybright practices diagnostic radiology with Lancaster Radiology Associates in Pennsylvania.
In hiring faculty, Manchester gives favor to teachers with multi-disciplinary emphases and strengths, says Traxler, who served on the search committee for a new chemistry faculty member. "We had lots of applicants who were clearly researchers. Few could persuade us that they knew what a small liberal arts school can provide. The most important question we ask is: How will this person be a part of this school? We need people who provide role models, people who will continue to grow at this school."
The Manchester potential of applicant Kathryn Davis "jumped off the page," says Traxler. "It was clear that the liberal arts are a part of her. She is a student of German and an accomplished musician."
Davis now teaches analytical chemistry and plays flute with the Manchester Symphony Orchestra. Other members of the MC faculty and staff perform with the MSO, as do about 20 students. A wide variety of majors are on the stage: Accounting, math, physics, business, environmental studies and bio-chem majors join music, political science, education, psychology, sociology and Spanish majors.
Internships, field and language study, study abroad, the honors program, individualized study … as students become intrigued, they find scores and scores of paths to pursue for the moment, for January session, and sometimes, for a lifetime. "We encourage students to be involved in volunteer opportunities – opportunities to be relevant," says Traxler. "We try to pull students in a slightly different direction, to give them something else to think about."
When Kyle Watson '10 was assigned to write about gender dynamics and the hierarchy in Milton's Paradise Lost, he felt overwhelmed. But then Stacy Erickson, assistant professor of English, helped him organize his thoughts into a strong paper. The chemistry major was so inspired, he added an English minor.
While funding is sought for the Academic Center, the College also needs other critical resources for its liberal arts offerings – for faculty development, experiences abroad, internships and experiential opportunities and for faculty hiring, notes Dean Sharfman.
"It's hard to associate big bucks with liberal arts schools unless you've the endowment of a Harvard," says Traxler. "It's a struggle. The reality is we survive on our pre-professional programs. Those of us outside the pre-professional programs do feel vulnerable."
But they also take comfort in knowing that as Manchester enters its 123rd year this August, they play a major role in ensuring that "liberal arts" remains integral to the College Vision:
The campus will be infused with a commitment to student learning in the liberal arts, along with professional preparation for work, life, and service in a global society.
BY WILLIAM A. KALLAS '12, KATHRYN MILLER '12 AND JERI KORNEGAY
Scientists can do liberal arts, too.
Here's one popular example:
SHE'S AS COMFORTABLE lecturing about Plato and Socrates as she is about isomerism and stereochemistry. Dr. Susan J. Klein, chair of the Chemistry Department, is a product and a disciple of a liberal arts education. "The advantages of working at a liberal arts college are tangible," says the scientist who professes to be "one heck of a date at an art museum."
Klein merged her chemistry degree with a minor in ancient Greek civilization at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. She chose a massive research school, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, for her doctoral studies and research. "In grad school, I was surrounded by 150 people just like me, so we only communicated 'organic chemistry,' which people think is an exclusive language. Sometimes, you just need a break from chemistry, physics and math classes." She joined the MC faculty in 1998.
Klein shares that diversity of opinion and knowledge teaching two 400-level courses for Manchester. Every other January, she leads students to London museums and historical sites to study the history, politics, social structure and religion that influenced modern scientific theory. Her course on the science and archaeology of ancient Greece focuses on Democritus, Aristotle, Plato and Socrates.
At an Honors Convocation, the teacher extolled the value of a small liberal arts school: "First is the sense of community, between students in the residence halls, between faculty and students in the classroom, between faculty in different departments. Together, the College belongs to all of us and we, in turn, each belong to Manchester College. It is both my responsibility and my privilege to play a part in shaping the future of this College."
A brief story about Life and Death, Good and Evil, Order and Chaos, Self and Society
STANLEY DEETZ '70 MAJORED in economics and business administration at Manchester. Today, the nationally recognized scholar, lecturer and author leads the Center for the Study of Conflict, Collaboration, & Creative Governance at the University of Colorado, Boulder. This is what he has to say about his "Teaching Philosophy:"
"I grew up on a small isolated dairy farm, and I admit that I had never read a book before going to college, nor saw much reason to. I went to a small liberal arts college and my whole world opened up. While I was good at math, the faculty there basically taught me to speak, to write and to read.
"I was lucky. My first-year English composition teacher came to the dorm to help me with my essays and mandatory small-group Sunday dinners at faculty homes provided a rich discussion space. 'Textbooks' were discouraged in favor of 'real' books. I went through an integrated core where there were no disciplines, only questions to direct each course: Life and Death, Good and Evil, Order and Chaos, Self and Society.
"Some days I yearn for that world, but the lessons I have carried into the various other types of institutions where I have taught have less to do with the liberal arts model than the approach to life: the commitment to a community of learning and the delight in the uniqueness of each new generation. "
An encounter with Dr. King, then … and now
ON FRIDAY, APRIL 22, 2011, I journeyed to the small town of Madison, Ind. I was to interview Mrs. Livers, who graduated from Manchester in 1970, but more importantly who had the opportunity not only to see Dr. King speak, but also have lunch with him on Feb. 1, 1968.
Mrs. Livers is currently director of King's Daughters Hospitals Foundation. I found her to be very welcoming. She seemed genuinely interested in meeting me during the e-mail correspondence. She gave me a brief tour of the clinic while she ran errands. She had an open dialogue with kitchen workers, and was very polite to staff in the halls. We were finally able to sit down and commence our interview. I was amazed at what I found: Mrs. Livers recalled the events as if they had just happened yesterday.
Initially, she struck me as a quiet woman who was rather busy. I wasn't sure how in-depth the interview would be. However, I was soon taken aback at the precision of her memory and ability to truly share the experiences. At various points, I felt like I was there with Sue in the halls of East or at lunch in the Union. Her memory was displayed best as she recalled the series of events that brought her to lunch with Dr. King. She told of friends taunting her, roller-coaster emotions she felt upon finding out she would eat with Dr. King, and her friends sharing the excitement with her. Her facial expressions displayed her emotions and brought me back to the very moment the events transpired more than 40 years ago.
Sue's responses to the questions were always in-depth as she recalled names, locations, even residence hall and meal details with great vivacity. Finally, after 52 minutes, our interview ended. However, the conversation didn't. Mrs. Livers took another hour out of her day to discuss Obama, Dr. King, Mr. Livers, racial troubles and God. She shared some knowledge from her own personal life, and challenged me to examine my life in light of her experiences.
The challenge wasn't direct, but rather was occurring within my psyche as she was speaking. She shared moments in which she was challenged personally. She discussed situations which required her to act, rather than talk. I came to receive information about a specific event, and there I was, hoping that she wouldn't stop teaching. One message that Mrs. Livers reiterated time and time again still resonates. One thing that set people like Dr. King apart from others was a simple principle: What was right … was Right. If an action is right, do it without hesitation. If it is wrong, don't do it. If it's right, it's right.
Some would call this a defining moment, and they may be correct. All I know is that I had the privilege of meeting a truly great person. I know this because I left the small, Underground Railroad town of Madison, Ind., with much more than I had come with.
BEN TAPPER '12, a political science major/Spanish minor from Hobart, Ind., recorded Sue Livers' memories of her encounter as a Manchester student with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for the College's Plowshares MLK Project. A future issue of Manchester magazine will feature the MLK Project.