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As she becomes chancellor

DONNA RANDALL reflects on Albion’s distinctive place in American higher education

INSIDE 16 Two Britons Rule in the ‘Sport of Kings’ 20 America’s Gun Legislation Debates 25 A River Runs Through It 28 Life Lessons in Borrowed Spaces

Vol. LXXVIII, No. 1




Features THE LONG VIEW Donna Randall talks about her six years in the Albion presidency and what’s next for her and the College.


BRITONS ON THE BLUEGRASS 16 Connie Edmonds Van Onselder, ’84, and Tom Jenkins, ’85, are an Albion daily double atop the Thoroughbred racing world. STANDOFF 20 Albion sociologist Scott Melzer traces the history of America’s gun culture and why federal gun control legislation is doomed to fail. ROLLIN’ ON THE RIVER Exploits on the Kalamazoo have been part of the Albion experience for generations.


RENTED CHAIRS Bill Ritter, ’62, reflects on life, learning . . . and borrowed spaces.




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Same Guy, Many Hats MEET INTERIM PRESIDENT MIKE FRANDSEN Mike Frandsen becomes Albion College’s interim president July 1, following President Donna Randall’s move to the chancellorship in June. He has worn many different hats since coming to Albion, a fact that gives him a unique perspective on his new role. I came to Albion in 2004 as a faculty member in economics and management. At the time, I was the one who put the “management” in economics and management. My time on the faculty was a great opportunity for me to really get to know Albion’s students. Among the outstanding students in my first classes were some who have since been recognized as “Top 10 in 10” Young Alumni Award recipients— people like Mallory Brown, ’07, Mike Thomas, ’06, Scotty Bruce, ’08, Stephanie Edwards, ’09, and Josh Fales, ’06. Beyond my teaching, a term on the faculty Budgets, Salaries, and Benefits Committee introduced me to the shared governance processes at Albion.

finance and administration, which became permanent later in 2009. At that point, I’d been at Albion for five years and was in my third job!

In 2006 I signed on as director of the Gerstacker Institute, believing the Institute was the perfect place for me to serve students by combining my background in coaching, my corporate finance experience, and my years as a faculty member, here and elsewhere. This role also gave me the opportunity to work across the campus and broaden my understanding of Albion. I had thought I was interested in moving into an administrative role, and leading the Institute confirmed it.

Albion has faced some challenges of late, but we are on the right path. We’ve made some improvements in all areas that will help us be even more successful in the future. I’m excited about the coming year—excited about working with everyone in the Albion community and helping to continue to move Albion forward and create the Albion Advantage for our students.

In early 2009, when former executive vice president Troy VanAken announced that he would be leaving Albion to take a college presidency, I approached President Randall and offered to help the College in any way I could, given my past experiences. That led to an interim assignment as vice president for



I’m grateful that I have had the opportunity to move in different directions and to work with so many different people across the organization. That has certainly benefited me in my role as vice president and will be of great help in my role as interim president. In addition to the on-campus relationships I have forged, I’ve worked closely with members of the Board of Trustees, beginning with my service on the Financial Modeling Committee in 2005-06.

Mike Frandsen, pictured with wife Sharon and daughters Janie and Kate, brings 13 years of corporate financial management experience to the interim presidency along with his higher education background.

The Presidential Search Committee, chaired by trustee Mark Newell, ’77, is now accepting nominations and applications for the Albion College presidency. The new president will be invited to begin work on or about July 1, 2014. Complete information is available at:

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Albion 24/7


proved to be a lucky number for 2013 grad Tom Dukes as he became the 13th Albion student to win a Fulbright award. Dukes heads to Germany next year to teach English to middle and high school students. Classmate Genevieve Kukurugya-Rabaut will join a similar teaching program sponsored by the French government. “I freaked out a little,” Genevieve said, when she got the news about her award. “It is such an exciting thing. This is exactly what I need at this point in my life.”


meals served this spring at Macho Taco, a student business venture created by Dennis Duncan, ’13, and operated in partnership with Albion’s dining services provider, Bon Appétit, as an alternative student eatery.




minutes of Albion College YouTube videos watched (all-time). See the latest postings at: (search on Albion College).

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of Albion graduates in the past 16 years have successfully entered employment or service, or pursued graduate or professional studies, according to annual Career Development Office surveys conducted within the first six months after graduation. For details, go to


students are pursuing FURSCA research and creative projects this summer on topics ranging from insect-borne diseases to spoken word poetry.

During a recent visit to campus, Chief Flaubert Nana from Batchingou, Cameroon presented this sculpture, created by an artist in his village, to President Donna Randall in appreciation of Albion student and faculty efforts in building new school rooms in Batchingou through the College’s Nwagni Project.


“Define your BE goals, not just your DO goals.”

—Joel Manby, ’81, president and CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment Corp., former “Undercover Boss” on CBS, author of Love Works, and the 2013 Albion College commencement speaker. See the video of the ceremony at: www.


named bricks (and room for more) in the Dow Recreation and Wellness Center’s commemorative brick walkway.

Pile it high Deli-style sandwiches and wraps for every taste

Bring on the veggies Stir-fry dishes for a healthy twist

Gimme the works Mouthwatering burgers from the made-to-order grill

Hold the anchovies Fresh pizza hot from the Italian-style oven

Foodies Take Note Baldwin’s soup-to-nuts upgrade

A restaurant-quality experience is in store for students when they return to campus in August to find expanded offerings and a stunning new décor in Lower Baldwin Dining Room. The renovation of Albion’s main student dining area began in March and includes redesigned serving areas catering to a broad range of tastes, glass walls and upscale finishes, and an array of new,

flexible seating options. Less visible but no less important are upgrades in the food prep areas that will emphasize sustainability and will result in water and energy savings. Albion College and Bon Appétit, its dining services provider, are partnering on the renovation project. Watch the renovation unfold this summer on Flickr:

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Coin of the Realm Consider it Albion College’s own version of “quantitative easing.” In the late 1880s Albion’s Commercial Department issued “currency” (printed in denominations of $1, $2, $5, and $10) for students to use as “cash capital” while they learned how to run (and keep the books for) a small business. Here’s how it worked: Merchandise, represented by cards which had a given value, was bought and sold according to supply and demand. The student “business owner” would use the currency to buy from other student merchants at the best discounts possible, and find in the teachers customers for all the goods he or she might have to sell—with the goal of posting a profit at the end. The business program also included courses in penmanship, shorthand, and typing (using “Hammond Typewriters, the best in the market”). The Commercial Department, which was separate from the College’s bachelor’s degree program, operated from 1886 to 1916. Thanks to a donation from Alby Zatkoff, ’76, this sample bill now resides in the archives, offering a unique connection to Albion’s past.

Home Opener As Albion’s 2013 Stoffer Lecturer, Susan Ford Bales will share insights on civic engagement, drawing on her experiences as an advocate for breast cancer awareness and other women’s health issues, during the College’s Opening Convocation Aug. 29. The daughter of President Gerald Ford and Betty Ford, Ford Bales and her mother helped launch National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 1984, and she has also been at the forefront in the development of several programs for women and children at the Betty Ford Center. She chaired the center’s board from 2005 to 2010. Since 1981, she has served as a trustee of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation in Grand Rapids and assists in the foundation’s work promoting public service ideals. Gerald Ford was an Albion College trustee during his years in Congress, and the College’s public service institute bears his name. The convocation is slated for 7 p.m. in Goodrich Chapel. The public is welcome to attend.

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FOLLOW THE BRITONS AT Briton sports news is at your fingertips 24/7 at, Albion College’s sports website launched earlier this year. Here are just a few of the spring semester highlights you’ll find there.

The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams, under the direction of first-year coach Jake Taber, broke school records in 18 events, and four swimmers gained All-MIAA status as event champions. Brian Fiorillo, the MIAA’s Men’s Swimming MVP, achieved honorable mention All-America status in the sprint freestyle events. Boosted by the third-best extraman unit in Division III, the men’s lacrosse team finished second as the MIAA sponsored a championship in the sport for the first time. Nine Britons achieved All-MIAA status.

Mike Schypinski was selected as the MIAA’s Most Valuable Pitcher in baseball and was voted to the Capital One Academic All-District team.

The equestrian hunt seat team was champion of its region and qualified for the IHSA Zone Championships for the first time.

Kristin Nelson’s 12th-place finish in the heptathlon earned her honorable mention All-America honors at the NCAA Division III Track and Field Championship. She was named the MIAA’s Most Valuable Field Performer after winning league titles in the long jump and triple jump. Nelson was joined on the All-MIAA team by Amanda Weaver, the league champion in the women’s 10,000-meter run, and Kylen Bradley, the league champion in the men’s triple jump.

The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee provided leadership as Briton student-athletes logged more than 2,300 hours of community service during the 2012-13 academic year.

BRINGING BACK THE BOHM The Bohm Theatre in downtown Albion will once again open its doors to Albion College moviegoers following a restoration slated for completion next year. The renovation of the theatre, built in 1929, will bring back the original décor and lighting in the auditorium and lobby, while upgrading the infrastructure with digital projection and sound equipment. The project has been spearheaded by the local Friends of the Bohm Theatre and the Albion Community Foundation. Albion College has made a $220,000 pledge to the restoration campaign. The College’s initial $100,000 gift, made possible through a community

enhancement grant to the College from the Midland-based Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation, brings the campaign closer to the $1.8-million fundraising goal for the Bohm’s interior renovation. The College’s remaining pledge will be paid out over the first three years of the Bohm’s operation, in order to provide free admission for students. The College has other ties to the Bohm Theatre project through alumni who have played key roles in moving it forward. Dick Mitchell, ’73, is the lead architect for the restoration. He says that two generations of his family attended movies at the Bohm, including his

parents, Warren, ’43, and Jane White Mitchell, ’45, who had their first date there. “It’s wonderful that the College has pledged financial support to the Bohm,” he adds. “It’s a potential common ground every night for students and full-time residents.” Also involved in the project were preservation carpenter Robin Adair, ’00, who restored the windows, and Barbara Olson Rafaill, ’72, who assisted with fund development, grant writing, and historical research. Learn more at:

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About Our New Look



We hope you enjoy this edition of Io Triumphe! with its fresh design and larger size. In a readership survey conducted earlier this year, you told us what was important to keep and what might be changed, and we listened! So you’ll find much that seems familiar (yes, class notes are still included), but also much that’s new (like the different approach to our Briton Bits section). As we continue to develop the magazine, we will offer stories that celebrate Albion’s history and traditions, some that may challenge your thinking, and others that will be just for fun. While we remain committed to producing a magazine in print, please know too that you have more ways than ever to learn about Albion today—from our monthly e-newsletter, Britonline, to the College’s website and social media. So check out these online news sources too at: We welcome your comments and suggestions! Sarah Briggs, Editor

Semester Snapshot (as seen on “Albion Today”)

Filled up on soul food favorites at the Black History Month “Taste of Blackness.” Grooved with acoustic soul artist Javier Colon, winner of NBC’s The Voice, in Goodrich Chapel. Attended a Passover dinner with a feminist twist. Shown your card-playing finesse at a campus euchre tournament.

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Blown your diet at a Global Food Festival. Enjoyed Alexander McCall Smith’s dry wit during his Isaac Symposium keynote lecture. Followed the College band’s “Symphonic Happening” at impromptu performances around town. Signed up as a research participant in a study of electronic multitasking in the classroom.

It’s always gratifying to learn about alumni doing good work, in this case preserving community heritage. And it’s especially enlightening because of the article’s focus on complementary kinds of cultural resources—vernacular architecture, industrial structures, and archaeological remains. The interplay between local and national preservation is clear; similarly, the importance of balancing private and governmental priorities, as well as solving problems pragmatically (even working with Walmart).The most valuable takeaway could be the reminder that history combines past and present. James Flack, ’59 Letters to the editor may be sent to: Office of Marketing and Communications, Albion College, 611 E. Porter St., Albion, MI 49224. E-mail: Submissions may be edited for length, style, and clarity.

Sped down the zip line during Day of Woden.

Put your hands together for the College’s Hip Hop Dance Crew, “Sonic Boom,” at its “Art of Noise” concert. Battled the invasive garlic mustard plant during a “pull” at Whitehouse Nature Center.


Do you long for your days at Albion? Here’s what you could have done on campus during spring semester 2013:

I am writing with appreciation for “Giving Voice to History” in the fall-winter 2012-13 edition.

Enrolled in a LinkedIn workshop to build your professional networks. Experienced Viennese night life through an honors class performance of live music, dancing, and games dating from 1814.

Coped during finals week with a late-night Wii workout, accompanied by pancakes, smoothies—and, of course, coffee—provided by Intercultural Affairs.

Built your mug collection with a new addition from the annual student pottery sale (presumably for all the extra coffee consumed during finals week!).

Two Minutes with . . . Rich Zera

Rich Zera was named director of enterprise technology and chief information officer at Albion in January 2013. Io Triumphe!: What brought you to Albion? Zera: I love working in higher education—I’ve been doing it since 1976. But I’ve always worked in public higher ed—at larger schools. As a capstone for my career I wanted to work at a school that was a values-based institution. A place that was small enough where I could get to know the faculty, staff, and students and where I could actually see the results of what we do in IT. Albion was primed for the technologies I enjoy examining. Let’s explore that: What are your plans for Albion? What do you hope to accomplish? Every school has its own history, its own culture, and its own set of needs. So I want to make sure whatever we come up with is a shared vision. I’ll plant some seeds of ideas, but which ones do faculty, staff, and students feel are right for Albion College? I’m still learning what the greatest needs are. We need to look at the pedagogy, the actual places where the learning occurs. What are some of the best practices that we can adopt? How should

we meet today’s and tomorrow’s challenges? For example, we must recognize we are in a bringyour-own-device world with our students, but we should also address what they are doing on those devices. How can we enable administrative systems, learning management systems, or even lecture capture in the future on any type of device? Thinking back to when you first started in higher ed IT, how have things changed and how do you see things changing in the future? In the early days, IT was primarily being used to make administration a little bit easier and more efficient. Today, it’s a “given” to use information technology for those purposes. But now, in order to really capitalize on it, how are we going to use it to prepare students for the rest of their lives? We can use our IT infrastructure to give students the tools they will use all their lives—to do research, keep current in their careers. What has impressed you about Albion since you arrived? By far the people. I have met so many faculty and staff members who truly care about the students

here. When they argue in favor of a particular program or budget item, they really have the students in mind. They take our teaching and learning mission very seriously and personally. What excites you about your role at Albion? We are at a key point in higher education nationally. There is increased competition for the best students, and students are increasingly savvy in looking at how their college choice not only fits their learning styles, but also their future goals. Innovation is being applauded, and with the close bonds between innovation and information technology, it’s easy for an IT person to be excited about the future of Albion College. Whether it’s mobile or cloud computing, distance collaboration, multimedia continual learning experiences, or other trends in the workplace of today and tomorrow, we all want Albion graduates to be proud of the experience and preparation they received here.

Reflecting on his more than 40 years in information technology, Rich Zera says the challenge today is to prepare students so they can adapt throughout their lives as technology—and the workplace—evolves.

Tell us about Rich Zera at home.

to a great wife and family coupled with having a job I truly enjoy. My outside activities emphasize things I can do with my wife, so we enjoy golfing, yard work, and gardening, and have always tried to give time and talents to the community. I try not to let technology govern all aspects of my life, but I won’t deny having a GPS that helps me keep track of wind speed and yardage on the golf course.

I’m blessed and one of the happiest people I know, due largely

Interview and photo by David Lawrence

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Long View

By Sarah Briggs

As she concludes her presidency, Donna Randall offers her take on the higher education landscape and Albion’s place in it. It was a message that made Donna Randall’s day. Senior Lauren Wysocki was e-mailing from the Michigan Governor’s Economic Summit, where she had been selected as a Young Talent panelist. Here’s what Wysocki had to say: “The Governor’s Economic Summit turned into a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I was able to give a three-minute elevator speech about my career plans to 600 of Michigan’s biggest employers! I made many contacts and have been following up all night with them! The reason why I was so successful at the summit was because of the training and professionalism that I had developed with the Gerstacker Institute and Albion.”


As Randall moves on to become Albion’s chancellor for the next year, she considers the Albion Advantage, melding liberal arts education with real-world learning opportunities, a hallmark of her presidency. And she believes Wysocki’s Albion experience epitomizes what’s possible for our students through this program. A biology major with a minor in management, Wysocki joined the Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management and laid out her plan for a career in health care administration. She gained firsthand experience in this field through a media relations internship at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago and built her entrepreneurial

know-how by creating an international business plan through a program that partners Albion students with their counterparts from a business school in France. She fed her passion for science by conducting tropical marine research along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. And she fine-tuned her leadership skills as a vice president for her sorority.

by job-shadowing, interning, talking with alumni mentors. By the time they are seniors they have compiled a resumé or portfolio that showcases all the experiences they have had. It’s an intentional process that prepares students for what lies ahead after graduation. Our program seeks to reach every student—not just a few lucky ones.”

This year’s graduating class has many other students with similarly impressive resumés that illustrate the power of blending classroom learning with practical experience. It includes a psychology major who analyzed anorexia nervosa treatment programs across the country, an English major who used her writing talents in a digital marketing internship for an online startup, and an art history major who examined the factors that make for successful gallery and museum exhibitions, informed in part by an internship in Paris.

The Albion Advantage is right for these economic times, Randall contends, adding that, today, students and their families are seeking assurance that the investment they make in a college education will lead to career success, as well as a fulfilling life.

“What’s unique about the Albion Advantage is that it’s a four-year model,” Randall notes. “It’s having students start thinking about their career in their first year. We help them evaluate their strengths and discover their talents. They take a breadth of classes, and then we hone in during the next years with more specific experiences so that they are actually trying out careers

“The Albion Advantage is a response to the needs of our students,” she says. “In the past, a liberal arts degree would have opened a lot of doors. While it still has that same value, it’s more difficult for students to get jobs and internships in today’s economy. What the Albion Advantage does is give students experience—it develops skills and capabilities. It allows them to experiment with careers in different fields before they graduate. It gives them a jump on whatever that next career move is, whether that is getting into professional school or grad school, getting a job, or getting a paid internship. Employers are looking for a demonstration that graduates can apply their learning in a real-world setting. That is the Albion Advantage.”

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Our nation needs smart, capable, ethical leaders, and we should continue to graduate students who will rise to the challenge.” Barbara Keyes, professor of psychology and director of the Institute for Healthcare Professions, notes, “Donna has stressed the value of ‘critical thought to action.’ We have now adopted this theme as a cornerstone of the Albion Advantage. And when she asked us to bring this concept to life, we responded with expanded internship options, research opportunities, and service learning projects for our students. Throughout this process, she has stressed cordiality, creative thinking, and problem solving among the various constituencies of the College.”

financial struggles within the auto industry,” she explains. “That has made it difficult for students to come to Albion and stay at Albion. Beginning in 2008, we recognized that we needed to downsize the faculty and staff to match the enrollment projections we had. We made budget cuts across the College. It was painful, but we were not alone in this. Many other higher education institutions made similar reductions in order to align revenues and expenses. What faced higher education was similar to what families and businesses were facing at that time.

Randall points to the international partnerships developed under her presidency as yet another way that Albion prepares students for life after graduation. Beyond the student exchange developed with the French business school, the College has added a sustainability studies major offered jointly with the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin, a worldwide leader in this field. This year Albion also introduced courses teamtaught by our faculty and their counterparts at liberal arts institutions in Greece and Lebanon, under the Great Lakes Colleges Association’s Global Liberal Arts Alliance.

“We all made hard choices, trying to act as prudently as we could with our resources and invest very carefully in order to move the College forward and offer a high-quality education. Our approach has been to offer outstanding value while keeping an Albion education affordable. Those priorities have consistently guided us in making all of our financial decisions.”

“Because of our involvement in the Global Liberal Arts Alliance, our students here in southern Michigan can work in project teams with students from different cultures who might have different work expectations and different ways of approaching problems. It’s terrific for our students—our education of students has to expand beyond Michigan. Nearly ninety percent of our students come from within the state. We need to prepare them to live, work, and thrive in a global economy.”

The challenges for higher education—and particularly for liberal arts colleges—will continue in the years ahead, Randall predicts. The emergence of massive open online courses (MOOCs) means that colleges like Albion must constantly underscore what makes their approach to education distinctive.

In reflecting back on her six years as president, Randall acknowledges that, along with many successes, the challenging economic times have had a significant impact on the College and its people.

“What happens at a college like Albion cannot be replicated through a MOOC,” Randall insists. “We offer a highly personalized education in small classes. A lot of learning takes place outside of the classroom too—in informal interactions between faculty and students. Our faculty become invested in students’ success, and the students appreciate that their professors know them as whole persons. You’re not going to get that when you’re among thousands of other students as you are in MOOCs. MOOCs will have a role in higher education, but I don’t think they will be a satisfactory replacement for what we do at Albion.”

“Many of our students and their families have been affected by the recession and the

The key, she says, is to discover how technology can be harnessed as effectively

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and as creatively as possible to advance both teaching and learning. “What we are doing through several initiatives led by the Great Lakes Colleges Association is taking our understanding of how students learn and using technology to enhance learning.” Randall believes that the quality of the student experience at Albion—and notably the strength of the relationships between students and faculty—continues to be exceptional. “Our faculty and coaches set the bar high for our students—as they should,” she says. “Because faculty know individual students so well, they are able to recognize when students are capable of doing better, to push them to excel and to encourage and support them in that effort. Our faculty and coaches often become mentors for our students and help guide them even past graduation.” As she has visited with alumni across the country, she has also been impressed by the depth of affection they have for Albion. “Our alumni not only have strong friendships with each other, but they truly care about the institution,” she observes. “The alumni reminisce with respect and affection for the faculty members and coaches who were part of their lives at Albion—they recognize the role these individuals played in their lives and are deeply thankful for them. When I meet with alumni, they often regale me with stories about what those faculty members did to help them grow professionally and personally.” At a campus reception honoring Randall’s presidency this spring, staff member Don Masternak reflected on her approachable leadership style. “Despite the tremendous pressures of her position, Donna has remained receptive and extremely gracious,” Masternak said. “I am especially in awe of her ability to listen and to truly hear what others say, and then to respond in a deliberate and considerate manner. Donna has inspired us with her ability to manage conflict with composure, to diffuse tension with her tremendous sense of humor, and to

Looking ahead: Facilities campaigns top Randall’s agenda as chancellor

She also intends to help Albion sustain its existing partnerships and create new ones. “The future for a small rural college is in expanding its network,” she says. “We need partnerships from the regional to the national to the international level. We open up new educational opportunities for our students by doing that. It’s also essential for our faculty to help them expand their horizons. I will seek to identify more of these opportunities for the College.” While she has yet to determine her plans once her year as chancellor concludes, Randall knows she will remain involved in higher education. “I’ve spent over 35 years in higher education,” she notes. “This is the sector that I feel passionately about. I would like to make a difference. I want to find the next major challenge, and make a significant contribution in whatever role I have.” She wholeheartedly believes Albion is on the right path with its distinctive approach to education, enabling its graduates to make a lasting impact in their home communities and in the world beyond. “I hope that Albion will continue to prepare principled and talented leaders to serve our nation. Our nation needs smart, capable, ethical leaders, and we should continue to graduate students who will rise to the challenge. That’s what Albion has done for decades and is uniquely poised to do in the years ahead.”

Phase I of the work in Stockwell Library created the Cutler Commons with its enhanced technology work spaces and the “Read Between the Grinds” café. Attention has now turned to fundraising for the project’s next phase, which will include the move of the College’s career development services into the John S. Ludington Career and Internship Center on Stockwell’s garden level and the addition of a hightech classroom and the Newell Center for Teaching and Learning.

for varsity soccer and lacrosse and the relocation of Joranko Baseball Field and Dempsey Softball Field. “We have to be competitive with the other MIAA schools,” Randall explains. “We must have facilities that will attract talented studentathletes now and into the future. Varsity athletics, intramural sports, and wellness activities are all integral parts of the student experience at Albion. Just as we have devoted significant resources to our academic facilities over the years, it’s now time to invest in our athletic facilities to reflect the same level of excellence. “Fundraising to complete these facilities projects will be a very high priority for me as chancellor.”

“The library renovation project is critical for our students,” Randall notes. “Libraries have increasingly become portals to resources that are now available worldwide. This project blends the old and the new. We are maintaining the architecture of the Stockwell building, this beautiful structure that is integral to the Quad, and yet on the inside it is becoming a 21st-century library through the introduction of new technology and support for new ways of learning.”


In her new role as chancellor, Randall will focus her efforts on fundraising for key facilities projects now under way (see related story). Gaining increased national visibility for the College will be a priority as well, and she will continue to serve on the tax policy committee for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and on the advisory committee for the Council of Independent Colleges’ Campaign for the Liberal Arts and Liberal Arts Colleges, as well as writing a monthly blog post for the Huffington Post.

During her year as Albion’s chancellor Donna Randall will focus on some unfinished business: the completion of the fundraising campaigns for the renovation of Stockwell Library and the improvements in the College’s outdoor athletic facilities. “Albion has an inviting living and learning environment,” Randall says. “We want to ensure that our students continue to have access to first-rate facilities that meet their needs for today—and more importantly, for tomorrow.”

With its central location on the Quad, the library will also function as community space, Randall adds. “I want it to be a magnet to draw students in—and to provide more opportunities for social interaction of students.” FORESITE ILLUSTRATION

unite us as one college and community with the respect she offers to everyone.”

The transformation of Albion’s outdoor athletic facilities has already begun with the installation of artificial turf and field lighting at Schmidt-Fraser Football Field and a new running surface on Isaac Track. The next phases include a new facility

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Looking back: Donna Randall recalls some of the signature moments from her six-year presidency. “A mild earthquake took place on the morning of my inauguration day, and I remember an Albion faculty member saying, ‘Albion College just inaugurated its first female president, and the earth shook.’ I just thought that was the funniest thing ever.” “The Festival of Lessons and Carols is magical. It is spectacular when the lights are turned low in Goodrich, lit candles rim the chapel, and the choir surrounds the audience performing lovely music. This event never fails to touch me.” “Painting the Rock is such a great tradition. I can see the Rock from my office window, and I check it every morning to see what new colors and messages have been put on the night before.” “Traveling to France to visit our sister-city of Noisy-le-Roi—and staying with and sharing home-cooked French meals with my host family—was an unforgettable experience.” “I love the notes I get from the parents of first-year students saying how happy they are that their son or daughter chose to come to Albion. They tell me it was the right choice, and they are thankful. That’s very cool.”

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“It’s been amazing to have the opportunity to host so many remarkable speakers and special guests—columnist Fareed Zakaria, civil rights champion Damon Keith, Iranian-American journalist Davar Ardalan, commencement speaker David Brandon, who at the time was CEO of Domino’s Pizza (and who provided pizza gift certificates for each graduate!), Holocaust survivor Miriam Winter, and Chief Nana from Cameroon—these and many others have had such an impact on our campus community.” “On football Saturdays you can watch the Kalamazoo River winding past the stadium. The water shimmers—it’s just beautiful. And, every football game, the British Eighth does a serenade for my husband, Paul, and me. It has become a tradition that is lots of fun.” “Purple and gold—I now have a whole wardrobe of it. When I came to Albion, I had one purple outfit, and now I have a closet full. Who knew that I would develop a new favorite color combination?”


Medallion given in honor of the presidents of Albion College by the family of Belle and George Dean, February 6, 1971. Spring-Summer 2013 | 15

Britons on the Bluegrass By John Perney

Keeneland Racecourse

Connie Van Onselder and Tom Jenkins are an Albion daily double atop the Thoroughbred racing world. Quick, picture Kentucky. You have three seconds. The bluegrass. The rolling hills. The fenced pastures. The horses. The birdcalls as the sun breaks through a bit of fog. Sound about right? Or was it the loud bell, the unmistakable sound of three or four dozen Thoroughbred hooves pounding the dirt, the buzz of thousands cheering? Perhaps even a mint julep and Twin Spires on Derby Day?

well-being of the Thoroughbred industry,” says Van Onselder of Keeneland’s marquee event, which in 2012 grossed nearly $220 million on sales of more than 2,500 horses, seven of which went for $1 million and up. “It is extremely important to a lot of people, which means that we have to do it at the highest level.” Upholding a proud tradition

Odds are it was one of those two settings. Kentucky is one of the few states that can conjure up a vivid image even to those who have never visited. Be it a serene morning on a horse farm or the excitement of the racing oval, the equine industry continues to be a Bluegrass State calling card.

That impact extends further, beyond livelihoods: Keeneland, Churchill Downs, the Derby—together they make up an indelible part of the Kentucky fabric, and with that comes a larger responsibility well beyond revenue streams and quarterly earnings statements.

That, of course, means it’s big business. So what are the odds that two of its leaders are Albion, economics and management, and Gerstacker Institute alumni?

“I’ve never been any place that’s been so focused on an industry or a business as it is here [in Kentucky],” says Jenkins, following up Van Onselder’s point during a recent conversation. “To a certain extent, people feel like they have an ownership stake, if you will, in the Kentucky Derby itself. You have this tradition to uphold and support, and you can’t ruin it in any way, but at the same time you have to try to progress and move forward, and build it into something even bigger than it’s been.”

Connie Edmonds Van Onselder, ’84, soon will mark one year as vice president and chief financial officer at Keeneland Racecourse, a historic track and auction operation situated on over 1,000 picturesque acres in Lexington. Tom Jenkins, ’85, is in his seventh year as vice president for marketing and IT security at Louisville’s Churchill Downs, Incorporated, the parent company of the home of the Kentucky Derby which is arguably horse racing’s grandest stage. In several ways, the two entities serve as the hub of the horse racing business— both nationally and around the world. “The September Yearling Sale, in particular, is pretty much the barometer for the health and

That speaks to Jenkins’ charge at Churchill. The Run for the Roses is also known as “the most exciting two minutes in sports,” and he helps make it even more so. For several years, Jenkins spearheaded a Derby DreamBetTM contest in which the winner received VIP treatment on Derby Day, culminating in placing a $100,000 bet on the big race. In 2010, the winner walked away with $900,000.

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A Chicago-area native, Jenkins had to get acquainted with the equine business as he was dreaming up innovative ways to promote it—a situation that actually wasn’t new to him. Except in one key respect. KEENELAND RACECOURSE AND CHURCHILL DOWNS PHOTOS

“I’ve never been at a place where people are so willing to help you learn,” he says, referencing the many nuances of the sport. “Coming from a consulting background, where I’d gone into lots of different companies in lots of different industries and had to get up to speed quickly, I never found the willingness to help that I did here.” Van Onselder—who grew up in Battle Creek and climbed the financial management ladder in Raleigh, N.C., and Lexington after graduating summa cum laude from Albion— has enjoyed a similar introductory experience at Keeneland. “This management team is absolutely fabulous,” she says. “The accounting part, the finance, that’s the same really—whether it’s the medical field, financial services, the Thoroughbred industry. But they all have their different jargon. Anything that I needed to know, I had somebody right there.” While Van Onselder may be the lone female on Keeneland’s executive team, she doesn’t focus on that fact. She’s used to being one of relatively few women in the executive ranks in finance. What’s more striking in her current role is the combination of the strong sense of tradition coupled with an openness to newcomers that she has found in the Kentuckians with whom she works. (From top) Albion Britons Connie Edmonds Van Onselder, ’84, and Tom Jenkins, ’85, balance tradition and change in their leadership roles at two of America’s greatest racecourses. Churchill Downs’ iconic Twin Spires. The horses ready to run at Churchill Downs.

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“For a lot of them, their families have been in this business for a very long time,” she explains. “They’re very welcoming, opposite of what you might think. And there’s nothing you can’t ask. It’s truly a unique industry in that sense.”

Embracing change To be sure, many of those lifers have also introduced Jenkins and Van Onselder to the challenges the “sport of kings” has faced, which, over the course of a half-century, essentially boil down to changing tastes and more entertainment options. In the end, the racing industry depends on attracting patrons—the bettors—and the recent recession was especially tough: U.S. handle, or parimutuel wagering revenue, fell 27 percent from 2007 to 2011, finally leveling off and growing 2 percent last year. In some cases, racetracks are expanding their offerings to hold onto their existing customers and to bring in new ones, and Jenkins has been a key player in that diversification at Churchill Downs. “There are three things we’ve done to grow our business,” he explains. “First, we have adjusted how we structured and conduct our races. Second, we make ‘big days’ even bigger by adding new entertainment elements into the racing environment. The expansion of the Kentucky Derby and our movement towards night racing are two excellent examples that illustrate this strategy. Finally, we have diversified beyond horse racing by opening and purchasing gaming facilities and positioning our company for online gaming, if that becomes a reality.” As Jenkins indicates, Churchill Downs’ business goes well beyond the Twin Spires: it’s a true gaming company with holdings that include four casinos, an online wagering platform (horse racing has a government exemption), and even a poker magazine. Its shares are also publicly traded (CHDN on NASDAQ). According to Jenkins, in 2012 casino gaming comprised 31 percent of Churchill’s revenue, with online race wagering making up another 25 percent.

Keeneland, with its separate racing and sales components, and—like Churchill—its lofty place in the biz, is shielded somewhat from the sport’s challenges. But its traditional setting aside (it served as the filming location for the match-race sequence in the 2003 film Seabiscuit), it isn’t standing idle: In November, Keeneland will extend its auction expertise with a sporting art sale it hopes to grow into an annual event. Van Onselder is leading the initiative and, as part of her preparation, she recently visited famed auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s in New York. “I did not know who [Sir Alfred] Munnings was,” she notes, referring to one of the world’s renowned painters of racehorses. “But now I have a Munnings behind me [in my office], because I love it.” The Albion difference: Learning never stops Both Jenkins and Van Onselder credit their alma mater for instilling in them a lifelong love of learning that has paid dividends throughout their careers. In particular, Jenkins says Albion taught him “how to think, how to communicate, how to ponder and explore.” One more recent exploration was an online behavioral economics course, taught by author and Duke University professor Dan Ariely. “Every night I spent 45 minutes doing my homework,” Jenkins says. While private colleges face a distinct challenge in today’s marketplace, given the tepid economic environment, Van Onselder is convinced that “liberal arts education is getting more and more valuable. Employers are looking for someone who can communicate. . . . [At Albion,] you’re exposed to a lot of different people and a lot of different topics. It sets you up very well for dealing with not just your profession, but for working with the people within that profession.”

And, once set up, what’s the best way for newly minted Albion graduates to make their mark? “Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” Jenkins says. “You’re not going to know the answers to everything initially.” “People love to tell you what they know,” adds Van Onselder. Curiosity and a willingness to accept advice are good traits to have, she says. She admits even vice presidents have to keep learning—especially when they’re industry newcomers. “During the very first September sale, someone bought a rather expensive horse, in the millions of dollars,” Van Onselder remembers. “And I ran into our sales director’s office and said, ‘You can’t do this . . . so-and-so bought this horse and doesn’t have credit!’ And they all just burst out laughing because the buyer was using a pseudonym for someone who has plenty of money and buys horses all the time. They were like, ‘Oh, our new VP won’t give so-and-so credit!’” Jenkins is quick to chime in: “I thought you were going to say that you accidentally raised your paddle and bought a million-dollar horse.” “No,” Van Onselder replies. “In fact, I even put my husband in the press box so that he would not . . . move. It’s like a wink—I can’t tell when some of them are bidding. But the bid spotters have been here for years and years, and they know.” These two successful Albion graduates know they’re not just executives in accounting and marketing. They’re part of something much larger. They’re part of a treasured and crystal-clear picture of Kentucky life. No photo finish on that. John Perney is director of Web and online communication at Albion College.

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Standoff Albion sociologist Scott Melzer traces the history of America’s gun culture and why federal gun control legislation is doomed to fail. Even as some states approve stricter gun controls, gun rights groups hold sway with Congress. Federal gun control legislation has stalled, and any changes in gun laws appear unlikely this year. Albion faculty member Scott Melzer, author of Gun Crusaders: The NRA’s Culture War and an astute observer of groups advocating for and against gun control, offers his insights on the current debate over gun rights in this recent interview.

Scott Melzer: Guns became a key part of our culture symbolically during the American Revolution. Guns were held up as a symbol of Americans’ freedom. Without firearms, Europeans would not have been able to establish the United States as it currently exists. In the years from the mid1700s to the late 1800s, settlers were moving westward with the frontier expansion of the United States, and this is the period when the myths and the realities begin to collide. Firearm ownership was prevalent, though not universal, as it is often portrayed. The records aren’t perfect, but our best guess is that maybe 40-60 percent of landowners owned firearms. As people moved west, certainly firearms were used against the American Indians, in range wars, and so forth, but once people landed somewhere and settled

down as ranchers or farmers, firearms became less valuable. There is this perception of Wild West shootouts happening on a daily basis—and that’s mostly myth. Actually, gun control was fairly widespread during the nineteenth century, which is not depicted at all in popular media. There were restrictions in many frontier towns on openly carrying firearms into the community. The closing of the frontier also coincided with the rise of the Industrial Revolution in America. Our society became more urbanized—there were more and more people moving to the cities for work. A common belief was that, out on the frontier, men could grow up to be tough, independent, and strong. They’d learn how to take care of themselves. But in moving to the city, the perception was that men were becoming more effeminate and more dependent on modern technologies. One of the responses in the early twentieth century was to construct mythologies about the West—with gunslingers who were independent and self-reliant.

What has been the role of popular media in creating this version of masculinity? The Wild West was pretty much a construction to sell magazines, books, and films—to create this idea of frontier masculinity— rather than a factual depiction of what took place during settlement of the frontier. In the early 1900s, pulp fiction books and magazines came on the market. By the middle of the century, films and television shows depicting the frontier had become incredibly popular. John Wayne, as he appeared in dozens of westerns, was the man Americans most admired—men wanted to be him, and women wanted to be with him. As another example, the television show, Bonanza, which also featured rugged, independent men, went on the air in 1959. This was decades after the frontier had closed. The United States was a fairly industrialized society by the



Io Triumphe!: You note in your book that there are both myths and realities about the role of guns in American history. Would you briefly review for us the origins of America’s gun culture?

Estimated number of firearms in U.S. civilian circulation National Institute of Justice

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Proponents of gun rights and gun control have pushed for legislative action at Michigan’s Capitol in recent months. turn of the twentieth century. So those films and television shows depicted this image of frontier masculinity—of men defeating the Indians and proving that they were able to take care of themselves with the help of their guns. The reality is that there wasn’t nearly as much violence as was shown in the twentieth-century westerns. How did the National Rifle Association evolve from a hunting and gun safety group to a powerful political force—even, as you put it in your book, “the most powerful single-issue lobbying group in Washington, D.C.”—for gun rights and other conservative causes. The NRA was founded in 1871 as a rifle-skills organization. Its membership increased significantly after World War II, but it remained primarily a hunting and sportsman’s organization, though it had taken a stand against gun control legislation as early as the 1930s. Gun control was not a major political issue in our country until the 1960s. Soon after the assassinations of John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy, Congress passed the first significant piece of gun control legislation in the modern era, the 1968 Gun Control Act. As the gun debate heated up, and as there was a greater outcry by Americans for gun control in the wake of these assassinations, the NRA experienced a division in its ranks.

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There was the old guard of hunters and sport-shooters who wanted to get the NRA out of politics, and there was another faction of hard-liners who said political action was needed to prevent the loss of gun rights and all other rights and freedoms. At the NRA’s 1977 national meeting, these hard-liners took over the organization, ousting the old guard, and it became the political entity that it is today. If we look at the NRA in the last 20 years, its defense of gun rights has been rooted in the fundamental values of independence, autonomy, and self-reliance. The NRA believes Americans have the right to arm themselves to protect themselves. They shouldn’t have to rely on others for protection. That thread cuts through other kinds of conservative movements as well—it’s about individual freedom. What do gun rights advocates perceive as the key threats to their way of life and their identity today? And how are they addressing those perceived threats? Starting in the 1960s, the NRA was standing in opposition to gun control advocates who were saying that the government needed to be involved to protect citizens, to curb gun rights, and reduce violence. Simultaneously, you had the rise of movements—for civil rights, women’s rights, gay and lesbian rights—demanding

rights based on group affiliation. These social movements represent the antithesis of the ideas of frontier masculinity and individual rights. The NRA’s positions align with the broader conservative movement today, and it has become an important player in that movement. The outgoing president of the NRA, David Keene, used to be chairman of the American Conservative Union and left that post to head the NRA. I think that speaks volumes about how important and how powerful the NRA is within the conservative movement. The argument that the NRA makes is that gun rights protect all of our other individual rights and freedoms. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and so forth—those are all dependent on the right to keep and bear arms, from the NRA perspective. In its view, if we lose gun rights, we could not prevent the government from literally taking over our lives through some form of authoritarianism. The NRA would prioritize the Second Amendment as the most important in the Bill of Rights—that’s even reflected in the title of the NRA’s political magazine, America’s First Freedom. Freedom is their religion. That’s why the NRA attracts such intensely committed members. The reason why the NRA is so powerful and has become such a key part of the conservative


movement is because it has so many members. There are groups that donate a lot more money to the Republican Party and conservative causes. The NRA has deep pockets—it generates $200-250 million dollars in revenue each year—but what distinguishes it from other conservative organizations is that it has 4-5 million members, many of whom are singleissue voters. If a politician votes for any form of gun control, some of these NRA members are going to vote against him or her no matter what else that person may stand for. Why are the gun control advocacy organizations so much less effective in their efforts than the NRA? If guns are symbols of freedom for those on the political right, then for the political left they are symbols of death. If we look at public polling data, there is widespread support for many of the latest gun control proposals, but that support has never been deep. The best known gun control organization today is the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. However, the Brady organization pales in comparison to the NRA in terms of financial resources, membership numbers, and political power. Lots of people support gun control, but as sympathetic as they are to the victims of gun violence, it doesn’t connect to a deeper ideology. On the gun rights side, this is their core belief—some NRA members walk around with copies of the Constitution in their wallets or purses—it’s a kind of bible for them. There isn’t anything comparable to that on the gun control side. Gun control supporters do not go to the polls to oppose politicians based on their position on guns. The passion for the cause comes primarily from those who have been victims of gun violence or have had family members who have been victims, and that’s a much smaller contingent than the gun owners. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s campaign, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, has been putting some money into recent political races, but the dollars aren’t enough. My reading is that our elected officials are hearing much more frequently from gun rights supporters than from gun control advocates.

The Brady campaign has enjoyed some membership growth in response to the Obama administration’s gun control proposals, but it’s not even close to what the NRA has experienced. Even the term “gun control” is a problem. Individual rights are a core part of American ideology—individual rights and freedoms are enshrined in the Constitution; they are part of our culture. To propose control, on the other hand, goes against our cultural values, so gun control advocates lose the contest when it comes to framing the issue. The way the debate is framed is inherently advantageous for the NRA. Americans don’t like to be restricted—we like our choices. So the gun control side has tried to move away from that language in the last 15 years to recast it in terms of ending gun violence and promoting gun safety. I think they are smart to adopt new language, but they still don’t have the kind of language that appeals to a broad base of people the way that “gun rights” does. What is the future of gun control legislation? Are there significant differences between the federal and state levels? The Obama administration laid out an explicit set of proposals, highlighted by renewing the assault weapons ban. Another proposal was a limit on high-capacity magazines, and the third piece would close what is called the “gun show loophole” to require background checks

for individual gun sales. The NRA has come out strongly against all of these proposals. At the federal level, it appears that nothing is going to happen related to guns. The bottom line is the dynamic hasn’t changed—politicians in conservative districts know that they are jeopardizing their political futures by voting for any form of gun control, especially anything the NRA opposes. At the state level, Democratic and liberalleaning states are passing gun control policies. However, as legislation banning assault weapons and on expanded background checks gets passed on the state level, you likely will see legal challenges all the way up to the Supreme Court. On the other hand, more conservative states are working on extending gun rights. We have had that discussion in Michigan’s and other states’ legislatures too about guns in schools, churches, and bars. I think we will see a continuation of this debate on the state level. Where is public opinion in general headed on this question of gun rights/gun control? If you look at individual proposals, there seems to be broad support for banning assault weapons and limiting the size of gun magazines. If you look at more generalized questions regarding gun control, there’s less support. Americans don’t want their rights restricted.

States have enacted stricter gun control legislation in 2013


States have enacted stronger gun rights protection legislation in 2013

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$18.2 million

NRA’s reported independent expenditures in the 2012 election cycle


Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence reported independent expenditures in the 2012 election cycle

$12 million

Ad spending by Mayors Against Illegal Guns in support of expanded background checks

ProPublica, CBS News

As I’ve mentioned, gun control is not a central concern for the majority of Americans—other issues, such as the economy, are far more important to them when it comes time to vote. Eventually, demographics may change the political landscape. There’s some concern among gun rights proponents that their supporters are older, on average, and also more rural. The most likely gun owner is a conservative, rural white male. As a percentage of the population, that demographic is declining. The country is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. There is some sense that, in the distant future, as we become even more urban, the gun culture will start to fade away. I think that’s a long way off if it ever comes. I expect there will be a sizeable and disproportionately influential base of gun rights activists for many years. In the wake of the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary many people thought that gun control was inevitable and the NRA’s power would diminish. A few politicians who consider themselves strong supporters of gun rights initially suggested they would be open to some forms of gun control. Months later, recognizing the political landscape hadn’t really shifted, they backtracked. I don’t think we will see restrictive gun control legislation at the federal level anytime soon. Scott Melzer, chair and associate professor of sociology at Albion, specializes in the areas of gender and social psychology, with particular interest in intimate violence, men and masculinities, and social movements. He is working on a second book, which stems from his research on men’s views on masculinity and how men respond to changing societal definitions of manhood. He has a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Riverside.

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Michigan’s response to gun violence As recent rallies at Michigan’s Capitol attest, emotions on both sides of the gun rights issue continue to run strong. And, given his role as State Senate Richardville majority leader, Randy Richardville, ’81, finds himself in the thick of the current debate over government’s role with respect to the Second Amendment. While other concerns—from the state budget to Michigan’s response to the federal health care mandate to reforms in the no-fault insurance laws—have had higher priority on the state legislative agenda, Richardville says that gun legislation will get attention this summer and into the fall. “The members of the legislature believe very strongly in public safety,” he says. “We are concerned about the safety of all of us. I believe that people do have a right to protect themselves in this country. Freedom and safety aren’t mutually exclusive, but can help to mutually reinforce each other.” Richardville says that much of the legislation under consideration at the moment addresses inconsistencies in state law regarding where a person can carry a weapon and the manner in which they can carry it. Currently, some locations, including schools, daycare centers, bars, stadiums, churches, and hospitals, do not permit concealed weapons on their premises—policies that many gun rights activists would like to see changed. Gun control advocates, on the other hand, are pushing for increased restrictions on where and how guns can be carried, particularly in public areas.

Gov. Rick Snyder has indicated he would prefer that improving mental health services—and identifying potentially violent offenders through the mental health system—would be the focus of Michigan’s efforts to curb gun violence. Richardville explains that those discussions have already begun with the establishment of the Mental Health and Wellness Commission, under the leadership of Lt. Gov. Brian Calley. “I have appointed, along with the speaker of the Michigan House, the commission members who will look at mental health concerns and how we handle mental health issues in Michigan,” he says. “When you think about some of the tragedies that have happened in other states recently, weapons are usually what’s talked about. I think it’s time that we started looking also at individuals who have committed the crimes and who may be committing crimes in the future. Mental health care and treatment, early intervention, and drug treatment programs are more important to controlling and stopping gun violence than where people are allowed to carry weapons.” The commission has begun meeting and is scheduled to report its findings to the governor by December. Richardville says their work could also inform any debates over gun legislation this fall. He believes that ultimately gun-related issues can be more effectively addressed on the state level. “I’ve always been a states’ rights proponent,” he says. “I think it’s generally better for the states to decide rather than have the federal government tell us what to do. In general, these things are best handled within the states.”

Rollin’ on the River A Kalamazoo River Scrapbook



hen I entered Albion in September 1941, it was unthinkable to my father, Peirce Lewis, ’14, that I should go without a canoe. So I not only took the usual coed requirements but also the canoe he had bought secondhand when he was in college. It had been in use at Ludington (summers) during the intervening years, and he bought a new canoe for me to have up there. It was great to have a canoe at Albion, especially during those war years when social life certainly dwindled as well as student enrollment. I kept that canoe on the lawn behind Dean Hall. When time came for my graduation in 1945, I sold the canoe to Russell Zimmerman who at the time was the canoe rental source for students. The price was $15, just what Peirce Lewis had paid for it in 1910! — Fran Lewis Stevenson, ’45


grew up in Albion and graduated from Albion College in 1971. After a two-year association with the U.S. Army, I returned to Albion, and my wife, Marilyn, and I rented an upstairs apartment in a house on Erie Street, just a few doors east of Dean Hall. We owned a canoe, and very often in the evening we would put the canoe in the old mill race, which ran directly behind our house, and we would paddle east, under the Hannah Street bridge, past the “A” Field and the Whitehouse Nature Center, and didn’t turn around until we arrived at 29 1/2 Mile Road. We will always remember those trips because of the beauty and serenity of the river, and the peace that we enjoyed on those little journeys. Albion has changed much since we moved away, but the river is still there for all to enjoy.


n the fall of 1987 we had an assignment for Dr. Gail Stratton’s biology class that involved water sampling at various points from along the banks of the Kalamazoo River, monitoring dissolved oxygen, water flow, temperature, and flora. As part of the sampling procedure, we had to work with an aquatic net for capturing microorganisms from the water at the fastest flowing part of the river. My lab mate, Susan Parker Burnell, ’89, hoisted the net into the frigid waters, lost her grip, and it went flying into the water. Sue braved the frigid waters and went in, waist high, in her waders, to retrieve it and bring it back to shore. I do not remember the water temperature, but we were both freezing by the end of the day and quickly retreated back to our Burns Street apartments, cold, wet, and tired. But in the end we got some of the best representation of the aquatic fauna inhabiting the Kalamazoo River.

— Jim Radtke, ’71


rowing up in Albion, I lived along the river as a young girl and loved to pretend where it would lead me. In time, the river led me to Albion College, where I took canoeing as one of my gym requirements. I had such a wonderful time that I encouraged each of our children to do the same when we sent them to Albion Summer Adventure. — Ruth Holland Scott, ’56

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A lasting memory indeed! Not quite the impromptu summer dip into the river to cool off, but we still talk about it! — Susan Dombrowski, ’89


y friend Russ Rottiers, ’69, bought a tiny inflatable raft with two little plastic oars from English professor Jim Cook, ’54. Russ is 6’4”, and I’m 6’1”, but we could just wedge ourselves into the tiny boat with our legs crossed in front of us. We’d have someone drive us upstream to the Bath Mills bridge, and then we’d drift downstream, spinning in the current. Russ named the boat “Spinner.” One day, we spooked a small flock of ducks that flew ahead of us and around a bend in the river. Some hunters opened up on them, and there were shotgun pellets landing all around us. We yelled to get them to stop firing. After that, we started singing at the tops of our lungs, just in case we encountered more ducks and hunters. Unfortunately, we had a limited repertoire of tasteful tunes, and eventually began booming out our somewhat larger repertoire of off-color songs. As we spun around a bend in the river just upstream from what is now the Whitehouse Nature Center, we suddenly found ourselves bow-to-bow with math professor Keith Moore and his wife, Mary Margaret, who were paddling upstream in a canoe. They were understanding, particularly when we switched to singing “America, the Beautiful.”


still recall the day that my future husband, Bill (called Sam by his TKE brothers), was carried down to the river and thrown in after he gave me his fraternity pin in the spring of 1970. I remember it better than most, perhaps, because I too was tossed in. I felt very special that day as we were driven back the two blocks to the main part of campus, Kalamazoo River water streaming down our beaming faces. Special times, special place, special friends. Life brought Bill and me back to Albion in 2004 where we found the Kalamazoo still sliding through Albion, adorning the landscape with its watery sounds, its mesmerizing current marked by rippling pools and swirls, and its aquatic scent. And when we chance upon it during daily travels, it’s impossible not to recognize its timeless quality and relish the way it links past to present, connecting Albion College students through more than 17 decades of change.

Relive your student days spent along the Kalamazoo River! Whatever you most remember about exploits on the Kalamazoo, we want to hear from you. Please send text and photos to: communications@albion. edu. Please include your name and class year with your submission. At the editor’s discretion, submissions will be posted on the Albion College Flickr page. Or use Facebook—post a photo and your memories, with your name and class year, on our Albion College wall ( Keep on rollin’!

— Barbara Olson Rafaill, ’72

— Jim Whitehouse, ’69

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Rented Chairs Bill Ritter, ’62, reflects on life, learning . . . and borrowed spaces.

Editor’s note: Bill Ritter offered the following remarks at Albion’s Baccalaureate Service May 10. A College trustee since 1980, Ritter retired from the board this spring. He was honored at Baccalaureate with the Briton Medallion in recognition of the many contributions he has made to Albion over the years. Whether it was College “visioning,” teaching a seminar as the Joe Stroud Visiting Scholar, or offering a prayer for a special occasion, he has always had something insightful to say—and this time was no different.

Forty-six years ago, my father died in a house that was but four blocks from the house into which he was born. At that point in her life, my mother’s journey had covered all of six miles. My people were not traveling people. Neither were my people college people. My father, who may have been the most wellread man I ever knew, aborted the last half of his senior year in high school by hopping a California-bound freight train. And although he probably explained it as “setting off to see the world,” what he was actually doing was running away from the world. Which may explain why, years later, he chose to stay home rather than attend my graduation from Yale. I mean, how could he face what I had just finished when it so painfully reminded him of what he had never started? My mother never went to college either, nor did any of my aunts, uncles, or cousins. Meaning that there really was no one to chart my way. It was my minister who said, “That boy is going to Albion.” So I did. Prior to which, I read no catalogs, attended no college nights, visited no campuses, and received no phone calls from recruiters. Worse yet, I grew up in the dark ages before user-friendly websites and virtual tours. I lived a mere 90 miles from Albion, but nobody ever suggested that we take a Sunday drive and check out the place where I was going to school. The day I unpacked my suitcase in room 331 of Seaton Hall was the first day I ever set eyes on this college. For all I knew, Albion was only one or two exits before the end of the earth. So how did I get to wherever it is I have gotten to? As part of my answer, I introduce a trio of conversations, all of them with academicians over a five-year period at a time when my life could have gone a very different and far less interesting way.

The first conversation was with Albert Keenan. Mr. Keenan taught literature at Mackenzie High School. And when I took his class in the eleventh grade, I marveled that the Detroit Board of Education would allow someone who was at least 85 years old to teach high school students. But they did. Ours was a class in English literature. Which was boring. And there were days when I was pretty sure Mr. Keenan was as bored as we were. Which may have been the reason he decided we should read Macbeth as a class…for several days…out loud. With each of us taking parts as they appeared, and as he assigned. Well, the time went by and the pages went by. Eventually, it seemed as if everybody in the class had been called upon to read a part but me. And it wasn’t so much that I wanted a part as that I didn’t want to be overlooked for a part. So at the end of a class I approached him, saying timidly to him: “Mr. Keenan, I have yet to be called upon. So if you need anyone else to read, I’m still unchosen.” To which he said: “Be patient, Mr. Ritter. We have bigger things in mind for you.” Which turned out to be the meatiest, juiciest role in the play. To this day, I don’t remember what he saw in me that led him to assign it to me. Nor do I remember anything else about the class or his role in it. Just that one afternoon he said: “Be patient, Mr. Ritter. We have bigger things in mind for you.” It wasn’t long after that I was called down to the principal’s office, inhabited by one Joseph Pennock—who, let the record show, was the only person who ever emerged from the womb with white hair, wearing a three-piece suit. And wouldn’t you know that the same Board of Education that allowed an 85-year-old man to teach English literature also allowed a man 10 years his senior to be a principal.

Telling me to sit down opposite him at his desk, he opened a huge book that contained student records, one page per student. In front of me…staring at me…was my record. Every class. Every grade. Decent. But far from stellar. He muttered something about how it could be better, probably should be better. But he allowed as to how that was entirely up to me. Then he flipped several pages back to the record of Rita Ponte. Which was stellar. I mean, it couldn’t have been better. “Take a look at that, Mr. Ritter,” he said. And for just a moment…on that morning…in that office… there wasn’t anybody in the eleventh grade I hated more than Rita Ponte. After which he said: “Mr. Ritter, sometime during the next year both you and Miss Ponte will be applying to college. With her record, I will be able to do something for her. With your record, there will be far less that I can do for you. But people at this school, who know you better than I do, tell me there is no reason her record can’t be your record.” And from that day forward, it was. Now advance with me to my senior year here at Albion. I am a pre-ministerial student with a major in philosophy. A new teacher joins the faculty. His name is William Gillham, and he is fresh from Princeton. I take three of his classes in one year. We hit it off. I like him. He likes me. He wants to know where I am going to seminary. I name a pair of schools that are close denominationally and geographically. He tells me “no.” He tells me I am going interdenominationally and easterly. He tells me I am going to Yale or Harvard. I tell him he is nuts. Never have I heard anything so preposterous or impossible. I am certain they will not want me there. Neither can I afford to go there. I even have doubts as to whether I would know what road to take to get there. So I apply and gain acceptance to a pair of seminaries—nice Methodist seminaries, in Ohio and Illinois—where I would have gotten a decent education. But he refuses to let up. “Just apply out East,” he says. “What can it hurt to apply?” So I do. Just to shut him up. I picture the admissions committees at Yale and Harvard laughing

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Bill Ritter receiving the Briton Medallion at Baccalaureate 2013. uproariously as they read my application before stamping my rejection. But the last laugh was his laugh when they did for me what he knew they would do for me, and gave to me what he hoped they would give to me. I not only got offers, but I got money. And three years later, my takeaway from Yale had less to do with better classes taught by better teachers, so much as my astonishing discovery that if I could cut it there, I could probably cut it anywhere, and maybe I had better open my eyes a little wider to what God might be asking of me (or getting ready to do with me). Now my story is not your story. But I have to believe that there have been people here (and maybe even prior to here) who: Pushed your buttons Scratched your itches Widened your horizons Triggered your imaginations Nudged you…prodded you Teased and tempted you Enchanted you Stretched you

So that you could see for yourself what they saw in you…for you…along with what might somehow, someway, someday, be done by you. And if in that process of assisted self-discovery, you said, “Oh, my God,” maybe you might want to think about that phrase a little bit. Speaking personally, I’m a little slow. I never seem to know, at any given time, what God is telling me to do…where God is telling me to go…or whose voice God may be using to get my attention. I only figure out such things when I see them in the rearview mirror (meaning that to whatever degree there has been a purpose and plan for my life, I “got it” only after I lived it). Did I recognize my teachers’ words of encouragement as being monumental at the time? Of course not. But they were seedplanting on the way to being life-changing.

The chairs in which we sit are not the chairs of the last, or even the next-to-last, judgment.

And those voices pushed me through the door, which is what I am now doing for you. You get to go tomorrow. But the truth is you gotta go tomorrow. You can’t stay here. Even if you’d like to, you can’t. Don’t take it personally. We like you and all that. But we need your space… your place…your room…your bed…your band uniform…your lab coat…your choir robe…your football jersey. I know it sounds a little cruel. After all, it was just five years ago that we wooed you…pursued you…and even threw major money at you…until you came. And stayed.

So let’s wrap this up and put it to bed. Tony Campolo writes:

Thank you for coming and staying. However, it really is time to go. But let me route you by way of Columbus, Ohio where I once served as a trustee at Methodist Theological Seminary. Picture Graduation Saturday in mid-May. See the faculty, students, family members, and friends seated on folding chairs in the great, green grassy quadrangle. Now watch as a scared-stiff student body president steps to the podium, having been chosen to speak a final word on behalf of the graduating seniors. He plays with his notes. He plays with the microphone. He coughs…clears his throat… then finally he says:

And then showed you the door…and maybe even shoved you through it.

The chairs in which we sit are not the chairs of the prophets and the apostles.

I am talking about people who, while teaching your classes, let you borrow their glasses.

The chairs in which we sit are not the chairs at the left hand of power or the right hand of glory.

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The chairs in which we sit are the property of the Greater Columbus Rent-All Society. Which was true. They were. Rented, I mean. As will be true of your chairs tomorrow. The All Star Rental Company in Jackson will truck them in in the morning and truck them out at night. By noon tomorrow the quadrangle will be full of chairs. By sundown, they will all be gone. Albion is a rented chair. But then, life itself is a rented chair. No occupancy is permanent. But from time to time, how good some chairs feel. And how nicely some chairs fit. And to whatever degree your chairs at Albion felt good and fit nice, I hope you are grateful.

I was in New York…now there’s a joyless place. I got on an elevator full of dead, joyless people. They were just standing there with attaché cases. And when I got on, I did my thing. I waited for the door to close. You know how people stand and look at the door or the numbers. And as soon as the door closed, I thought I might bring a little joy to the ride. So I turned and smiled at everybody. And in New York they can’t handle that. Which is why they kinda backed away from me. So I said: “Lighten up, guys. This is a tall building, so we’re going to be traveling together for quite a while. What do you say we sing?” And these suckers were so intimidated by me, they did. I mean, you shoulda been there. They were holding their attaché cases going, “You are my sunshine, my only….” I got off at the 70th floor, and this guy gets off with me. So I said: “Are you going to the same meeting I am going to?” To which he answered: “No, I just wanted to finish the song.” Members of the Class of 2013, while plans are already in place to recycle your space, trust me…we’ll be listening for your singing.


Alumni Chapters Show Briton Pride Please e-mail to let us know how and where you’d like to get involved, and we’ll put you in touch with the right person. For more information on individual chapters, visit


Albion graduates are part of a powerful network of more than 25,000 Alumni Association members from across the globe. The Alumni Engagement Office works in tandem with local chapters to help alumni stay connected to all things Albion. There are currently 10 alumni chapters extending from New England to southern California. Enthusiastic alumni are welcomed in leadership roles such as event coordination and communications. With the goal of building a community of Brits throughout the country, chapters host a variety of events and programs throughout the year designed with our diverse alumni in mind.

Albion Area Detroit Area Great Lakes Bay Northern Michigan Southwest Michigan West Michigan Chicago New England Southern California Washington, D.C.

2013 ‘Top 10 in 10’

Alumni, faculty emeriti, current students, and community friends all joined in to beautify the city of Albion’s Lloyd Park May 18, in a service project sponsored by the local alumni chapter. The group constructed a railing on a deck overlooking the river and conducted a spring clean-up.

Albion’s unique recognition of outstanding graduates, the Young Alumni “Top 10 in 10” Awards, brought a celebratory crowd to the Science Complex atrium April 19. From a hardworking professional poet to a tenure-track sociologist, a Mayo Clinic physician, and the owner of Mi Farm Market, the Top 10 in 10 again affirmed the diversity of fields—and successes— in which Albion alumni distinguish themselves. The award recognizes noteworthy and distinctive achievements made by alumni who have graduated within the past 10 years. Speaking on behalf of this year’s recipients, Kristina Jelinek, ’05, said, “Whether student-to-student, studentto-staff, or student-to-faculty, the level of relationships at Albion is unparalleled. In addition to the learning that we all engaged in while here, . . . the bonds formed at Albion are what truly made a difference while we were here and will continue to matter in our work ahead.” To learn more about the Top 10 in 10 or submit a nomination for the 2014 Young Alumni Awards, go to:

OUR 2013 HONOREES DEANNA L. BABCOCK, ’06 Personal Trainer International Sales Representative Inside-Out Sports Durham, North Carolina SCOTTY A. BRUCE, ’08 Co-Owner Mi Farm Market Ellsworth, Michigan STEPHANIE L. EDWARDS, ’09 Poet and Editor, M.F.A. Candidate Cornell University Ithaca, New York JOSH L. FALES, ’06 Founder, President, and CEO CreateMyTee Ann Arbor, Michigan KRISTINA G. JELINEK, ’05 Project Manager Office of Achievement Resources New York City Department of Education New York, New York

JESSICA L. JOANIS, ’04 Director of Residence Life Ripon College Ripon, Wisconsin MICHAEL T. LIGHT, ’07 Assistant Professor of Sociology (Fall 2013) Purdue University West Lafayette, Indiana MATTHEW R. MEUNIER, ’04 Physician/Senior Associate Consultant Family Medicine Mayo Clinic Rochester, Minnesota SARAH A. SLAMER, ’07 Assistant Director The National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children Starr Global Learning Network Albion, Michigan KRISTEN MITCHELL WOODEN, ’09 Exploration Geologist Chevron Corporation Houston, Texas

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October 11-13, 2013 Homecoming Weekend 2013 will mark several milestones for Albion College including the 40th anniversary of the Carl A. Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management and the 130th anniversary of the historic Astronomical Observatory, now home of the Prentiss M. Brown Honors Center. Join us as we celebrate all that our students and alumni accomplish while at Albion and beyond! The Homecoming festivities this year offer many ways to connect with former classmates and enjoy the campus. Highlights include the traditional Homecoming parade through the center of campus, a celebration honoring Donna Randall’s presidency, the football game vs. the Trine Thunder, and the Distinguished Alumni Award and Athletic Hall of Fame ceremonies. Many of this year’s events will be centered on the Quad including family activities, the alumni welcome tent, and the pep rally and picnic lunch, filling the campus with the excitement

32 | Albion College Io Triumphe!

of the day. The Observatory, one of the oldest structures on the Quad, will be open for touring and for looking skyward through its original Alvan Clark telescope. Reunions for classes ending in “3” and “8” (1953-2013) will take place throughout the weekend. Look for a detailed schedule of events to arrive as the weekend approaches. We look forward to welcoming all of our alumni back to celebrate our love for our alma mater, cheer on the Brits, share old memories, and create new ones for this year and beyond!

weekend highlights Friday, October 11 12 noon Distinguished Alumni Awards Ceremony and Luncheon Celebration Honoring President Donna Randall Science Complex Atrium 6 p.m. Athletic Hall of Fame Dinner and Induction Ceremony Upper Baldwin Dining Room

Saturday, October 12

11 a.m. Homecoming Parade 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Family Activities and Alumni Welcome Tent 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. Pep Rally and Lunch for Alumni, Parents, Faculty, and Students Tent on the Quad 12 noon Women’s Soccer vs. Alma College Alumni Field

9–11 a.m. 40th Anniversary Celebration, Gerstacker Institute Bobbitt Visual Arts Center

1 p.m. Football vs. Trine University Sprankle-Sprandel Stadium 2:30 p.m. Men’s Soccer vs. Calvin College Alumni Field 8 p.m. Music Department Homecoming Collage Concert Goodrich Chapel

Go to for more details on the weekend events.

2013 Class Reunions Class reunions are located in Albion, Battle Creek, Marshall, and Jackson this year. See for location details as they become available. Class of 1953 Coordinated by Albion College Class of 1958 Chairs: Jean Magatti Fought, Sue Koepfgen Dempsey Class of 1963 Chairs: James and Tamara Transue Royle Class of 1968 Coordinated by Albion College Class of 1973 Chair: Peggy Meyer Sindt

2013 Homecoming Award Recipients

Class of 1978 Coordinated by Albion College

Distinguished Alumni Awards

Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees

Class of 1983 Chairs: Elise Guidobono Guidos, Jeanne Heller Bourget, Jim Anderson

Please see for the list of 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award honorees.

Individuals Jeffrey J. Brooks, ’94 (Football) Jason M. Carriveau, ’99 (Football) Rex L. Curry, ’66 (Track) James L. DeBardelaben, ’93 (Football/Track) Elizabeth Hermiller Jackson, ’02 (Soccer) Brent E. Keller, ’93 (Baseball) David A. Middlebrook, ’66 (Track/Baseball) Brian S. Myers, ’97 (Baseball) Stacey L. Supanich, ’03 (Soccer) Edward S. Weber, ’95 (Swimming) Teams 2000-2002 Women’s Soccer 1964-1965 Men’s Track and Field

Class of 1988 Chairs: Nancy Reed O’Brien, William LeFevre, Ann-Marie Anderson Class of 1993 Chair: Ginanne Brownell Class of 1998 Chair: Amanda Cowger Davies Class of 2003 Chairs: Suzanne Saylor, Kimberly Cragnolin Solomon Class of 2008 Chair: Catherine Fontana Class of 2013 Coordinated by Albion College

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Io Triumphe! VICE PRESIDENT FOR INSTITUTIONAL ADVANCEMENT Joshua Merchant EDITOR Sarah Briggs CONTRIBUTING WRITERS John Perney, William Ritter, Bobby Lee, Jake Weber CLASS NOTES WRITER Luann Shepherd DESIGNER Katherine Mueting Hibbs MARKETING/COMMUNICATIONS John Thompson, John Perney, David Lawrence Io Triumphe! is published twice annually by the Office of Marketing and Communications.It is distributed free to alumni and friends of the College. Letters to the editor may be sent to: Office of Marketing and Communications Albion College 611 E. Porter Street Albion, MI 49224 ABOUT OUR NAME The unusual name for this publication comes from a yell written by members of the Class of 1900. The beginning words of the yell, “Io Triumphe!,” were probably borrowed from the poems of the Roman writer, Horace. In 1936, the alumni of Albion College voted to name their magazine after the yell which by then had become a College tradition. For years, Albion’s incoming students have learned these lines by heart: Io Triumphe! Io Triumphe! Haben swaben rebecca le animor Whoop te whoop te sheller de-vere De-boom de ral de-i de-pa— Hooneka henaka whack a whack A-hob dob balde bora bolde bara Con slomade hob dob rah! Al-bi-on Rah! FIND MORE ONLINE:

Connect with students, faculty, staff, and alumni through Albion College’s social media channels.

The Lux Fiat Circle continues to grow Our exceptional core of leadership donors has grown by 48% in just eight short months. Lux Fiat Circle member giving has increased by 16% as well—a compelling demonstration of the value these alumni, parents, and friends place on an Albion education. The gifts from our Lux Fiat Circle founding members have allowed our Albion College Fund and Briton Scholarship fund to continue to enhance our students’ educational experience. The Lux Fiat Circle encompasses these giving societies, each with specific member benefits: The The The The The

Briton Round Table ($1,000 – $1,834) 1835 Society ($1,835 – $2,499) President’s Society ($2,500 – $4,999) Crest Society ($5,000 – $9,999) Fleur-de-Lis Society ($10,000 and above)

We are grateful for the support we have received for our departments, our programs, and our students in our inaugural year of the Lux Fiat Circle. If you would like more information on becoming a founding member of the Lux Fiat Circle or a summary of your 2012-13 giving, please contact the Annual Giving Office at 517/629-0448 or by e-mail at

Office of Marketing and Communications


611 East Porter Street Albion, MI 49224

Exploring Sustainability Through the Centuries During a May trip to New Mexico, students in the Center for Sustainability and the Environment, including Kara Bowers (pictured), learned about arid-land agriculture at the Pueblo Bonito Great House in Chaco Canyon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They also looked at modern-day energy challenges at a coal-fired power plant and Los Alamos National Laboratory. Albion will celebrate a Year of Sustainability in 2013-14.

Io Triumphe! Spring-Summer 2013  
Io Triumphe! Spring-Summer 2013  

The Magazine for Alumni and Friends of Albion College.