Spring Alumni Board Update

Greetings fellow alumni,

_MPD0911The College is never more beautiful than it is in the spring, and for that reason, I was even more pleased to be on campus for the spring meeting of your Alumni Board. I worked with the Alumni Office to coordinate our time back on campus with the Senior Research Symposium. For those of you who have not been back to Wooster for a few years, you need to get back next year at this time to experience a celebration of Wooster at its finest – a time when the talents of Wooster’s accomplished students are on full display.  Our school, which continues to distinguish itself as the premier college for mentored undergraduate research, uses the Symposium to showcase the extraordinary Independent Study research projects newly completed by the senior class. I talk more about the Symposium in my blog, below. Here is just a sampling of what we accomplished and experienced during our 3 days on campus:

Dinner with 2013 APEX Student Fellows

We kicked off the weekend with a dinner with the 2013 APEX Student Fellows and staff. If you haven’t heard about it already, APEX is a distinctive program that integrates academic and post-graduate advising, planning, and experiential learning. APEX was created to foster collaboration among academic advising, career planning, experiential learning and the learning center. To learn more about what APEX is all about and how it is benefitting today’s students, please visit www.wooster.edu/academics/apex.

I met with students Deja Moss ‘14, Daniel Cohen ’14, and Jacob Sprano ’14. Jacob will be interning with Unite For Sight in Accra, Ghana for 8 weeks. He will be volunteering with local optometrists and ophthalmologists to bring eye care to under served communities and gain hands on medical experience.

One thing the Board insists on doing each time we are back on campus is to have plenty of time to sit and talk with students. We are each energized and motivated by our time spent with these young men and women. I sometimes wonder what might have been had I had half the talent and even a quarter of the drive and commitment possessed by seemingly each and every one of the Wooster students we meet. Meeting with and sharing a meal with the APEX fellows was no different. The Board was enthusiastic in encouraging the students to keep us informed of their journeys and experiences as they embark on their internships. We want to encourage each one of you as well to be part of the Wooster Network, and be ready to offer an encouraging word and help our young alums with a contact who might be useful in assisting our alums in getting the job he or she desires. We will be working with you more in the future as we work with the College to make that Network more useful to our alumni. 

Senior Research Symposium

_3MD0743On Friday, we celebrated the accomplishments of the senior class at the Senior Research Symposium. Students, faculty, staff, parents, and the Wooster community came together to view art exhibits and research posters, as well as listen to presentations from the senior class. The passion and enthusiasm with which seniors tended to their Independent Studies was inspiring. The Senior Research Symposium is a testament to the value of a Wooster education, and the ever present collaboration of students and faculty. If you would like to read a few of the Independent Studies from the class of 2013, you may do so here.

During the closing ceremonies, fellow alumnus Dr. Drew VandeCreek ’86 presented the keynote address on the digitization of library materials, including materials drawn from collections of other institutions in collaborative projects. Heather Fitz Gibbon, Dean for Faculty Development, presented the Awards for Presenters and Digital Prizes. For more information on the Digitial I.S. Contest, and to review award recipients over the years, visit: http://digitalis.voices.wooster.edu/.

Dinner with Olivia Navarro-Farr, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology

During the dinner that followed, the Board heard from Olivia Navarro-Farr, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, on the discovery of the tomb of Lady K’abel, a seventh-century Maya queen, also known as “Kaloomte’ K’abel.” I cannot recall a more impressive lecture from a college professor. The talk, which was extremely informative and engaging, reminded me that Wooster excels at what it does because its focus is on teaching.  Wooster attracts and retains the very best precisely because of that emphasis. Dr. Navarro-Farr was attracted to Wooster because of the teaching emphasis and we are thrilled to have her as part of the Wooster faculty.

This discovery has made international news, including articles in USA Today and The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Dr. Navarro-Farr teaches introductory courses in archaeology, four-field anthropology, archeological method and theory, physical anthropology, and ritual and religion in ancient Mesoamerica. 

College Update by Alumni Trustees

On Saturday morning, President Grant Cornwell, as well as the Trustees on the Alumni Board, provided an update on the College. A few take aways:

  • Marketing: The College has improved awareness of our status as the premier college for mentored undergraduate research among Wooster parents, friends, and alumni.
  • Gault Family Learning Center: The College has a great opportunity to transform the Gault Family Learning Center into the Gault Schoolhouse Suites for seniors to move more toward independent living for upperclassmen.
  • Campus Stewardship: The College is focusing on the improvement of sustainability on campus. The conversion of our coal plant to gas will reduce the College’s carbon footprint. The iconic smokestack will come down this summer. To learn about the College’s efforts on environmental sustainability, visit www.wooster.edu/about/sustainability
  • Continuing Accreditation: As part of the College’s continuing accreditation process, members of the Higher Learning Commission visited Wooster on April 15-17. The visiting team was very impressed with Wooster, and left with the impression that Wooster is a mission-driven college. For more information and updates on the continuing accreditation process, visit http://selfstudy.spaces.wooster.edu/

Distinguished Alumni Awards

Every year, the Alumni Board’s Nominations Committee reviews nominations and selects award recipients for the Distinguished Alumni Award. The award is given each year to three alumni who bring honor to the College through their service and/or professional accomplishments. This year, Jim Clarke ’59, Ken Fischer ’66, and Diane Jorkasky ’73 will receive Distinguished Alumni Awards during Alumni Weekend, June 7-9.

clarke_jimJim Clarke ’59

Known as Tom Clarke while at Wooster, Jim majored in economics, was involved with Kappa Chi, varsity basketball, student government, and the student orientation committee. Most recently, Jim served as International Executive Partner at PriceWaterhouseCoopers before his retirement in 1999 and is a Trustee Emeritus at The College of Wooster.

Kenneth C. Fischer ‘66

kenKenneth C. Fischer is the President of the University Musical Society (UMS) at the University of Michigan. A religion major at Wooster, he is an accomplished singer and French horn player (he played in the orchestra at Wooster and sang in the concert

and Westminster choirs), playwright, actor, and author. He has served as cultural ambassador under U.S. State Department auspices to Brazil, China, Lithuania, and Mexico.

Diane Jorkasky ’73

diane2A chemistry major at Wooster who went on for her M.D. in nephrology, internal medicine, and clinical pharmacology, Jorkasky has worked for 26 years for the pharmaceutical industry helping to ensure that drugs are safe and effective. Diane is the president of a private consulting business, specializing in translations pharmacology and medicine in the development of drugs.

For more information on this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award recipients, check out the Spring 2013 edition of Wooster Magazine.

Strengthening Wooster’s Network


Alumni Board members, alumni and staff conclude a productive Alumni Board weekend.

This year’s Alumni Board has made it a priority to work closely with the College and especially with the professionals within APEX, to use the full resources of the Alumni Association to help build and strengthen the Wooster Network. Wooster is blessed with a strong and committed alumni base.  There are more than 25,000 of us literally all over the world.  We can do a better job of using this network of alumni to assist our young alumni as they enter an uncertain job market. (For that matter, we can be there as well for our more seasoned alumni as the new economy pushes some of us to develop new skills and seek out different work). We urge you to be ready to assist those Wooster alumni who reach out to you for support and we invite you to stay engaged with the College as Wooster comes to your region, as it hosts events throughout the country, and as it sponsors events on campus, including the Wooster Reunion Weekend, and the annual Homecoming weekend. And please remember to give annually to the Wooster Fund.   The Wooster Fund is vital to achieving Wooster’s mission of providing financial assistance to worthy students who might otherwise not be able to afford the quality education that Wooster provides. Your efforts and your contributions do make a difference. I promise you that!

Please feel free to reach out to me with your ideas about how we can all more fully participate in the Wooster Network. Your Board will continue to keep you informed as we focus on this meaningful project.

With gratitude for all that you do in support of our College,

David Gilliss (’80)
College of Wooster Alumni Association

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