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Undergraduate Admissions E-Newsletter - Fall 2008

Welcome to the Aquinas College E-Newsletter - your source for the latest news and events happening at AQ! Read on to find out what amazing things AQ faculty, staff, students and alumni are up to as well as what exciting projects are going on at Aquinas.
Aquinas Alumnus Joins NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves
College Finishes Two Major Projects
Aquinas College Listed Among 2009 USN&WR "Best Values" College
Aquinas Has Fourth Year of Record Enrollment
New Aquinas College Provost Takes Office
AQ Students Receive Summer Undergraduate Research Grants in Environmental Science
Retention Committee Introduces Freshman Common Reading Experience
Contemporary Writers Series to Explore New Territory With New Season
Grammy-Winning Maria Schneider to Visit Aquinas
Aquinas Alumnus Joins NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves
Dean Cooper '99 Named Assistant Coach for Organization
Dean Cooper, a 1999 graduate of Aquinas College, has been named assistant coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Cooper joined three other assistant coaches under the direction of head coach Randy Wittman.
Following graduation, Cooper left Aquinas for Houston where he spent the last nine years in various capacities with the Rockets organization, most recently as vice president of player personnel. His responsibilities included coordination of the team’s national and international scouting efforts.
Cooper is a native of Belding, Michigan.
College Finishes Two Major Projects
The second floor of AB Ravine Apartment Building D
The second floor of AB Ravine Apartment Building D
Aquinas College completed two significant projects that will help ease space constraints for both faculty and students.
The College finished work on the second floor of the Academic Building (AB), which used to house the library. The beautifully appointed second floor is now home to the School of management, which had been in Donnelly Center, and the School of Education, which was previously in Browne Center.
The recently completed renovations also include several large classrooms and meeting rooms, and new elevator, which will be in place by the start of the new academic year.
On the student side, a new residence hall opened for the start of the new school year. The $3.2 million apartment-style facility has 64 beds and is located next to the Ravine Apartments.
Aquinas College Listed Among 2009 USN&WR "Best Values" College
U.S. News & World Report: America's Best Colleges 2009

U.S. News & World Report (USN&WR) selected Aquinas College as one of the top 15 "Best Values" colleges among Midwest universities offering master's programs. According to the 2009 edition of USN&WR's America's Best College rankings, Aquinas was placed 13 among the top 15 in "Best Values" and ranked 55 of 67 in the "Best Universities - Master's" in the Midwest.


Placement on the "Best Values" list relates to a school's academic quality to the net cost of attendance for a student who receives the average level of need-based financial aid, according to USN&WR. Aquinas figures show that 76 percent of its students receive need-based grants, reducing their net cost of attending to $14,108.

Aquinas also is ranked 55 among 67 institutions ranked among the "Best Universities-Masters" in the Midwest. USN&WR measured 572 higher education institutions across the United States using more than a dozen key measurements in identifying its list of top schools for each region of the country in this category.
USN&WR's rankings are compiled based on an exhaustive survey of colleges and universities across the nation. Using a multitude of criteria – including student retention rate, graduation rate, student/faculty ratios, and average alumni giving – USN&WR publishes detailed rankings of the colleges each fall.
USN&WR says its rankings list is designed to provide parents and students with a starting point in the college decision-making process. It believes the information contained in the report offers the opportunity to judge the relative quality of institutions based on widely accepted indicators of excellence. Further, USN&WR encourages families to combine the information contained in the rankings with college visits and interviews in identifying the right school for college-bound students.
Aquinas Has Fourth Year of Record Enrollment
600 new freshmen and transfer students arrived on campus for fall 2008 semester.
AQ Freshmen at Project Unite 2008

For the fourth consecutive year, Aquinas College welcomed a record number of freshmen to campus when the fall semester began on Monday, Aug. 25. The 510 incoming freshmen surpass last year's record freshmen class of 440 students, while the addition of more than 75 transfer students brings the total new student enrollment to nearly 600 students. Collectively, the incoming class represents ten states and a 3.4 grade point average.


“The growth of new students is attributable to increased marketing efforts, facility enhancements and an increasing interest in Aquinas’ strong academic programs,” said Admissions Dean Tom Mikowski. Significant additions and improvements to the Aquinas campus in recent years include: the state-of-the-art Grace Hauenstein Library; an artificial turf athletic field; the recently completed renovation to the Academic Building’s second floor; and a new, 64-student apartment complex scheduled to open in August.

Additionally, the College has undertaken a multi-million dollar Science Initiative, which to date has raised more than $625,000 for new science equipment and more than $3.6 million in endowments for research and scholarships.
“Given the multi-billion dollar expansion in the medical and science facilities in Grand Rapids, it is encouraging to see that science and health areas still lead the way in terms of interest from incoming students,” said Mikowski. This fall’s record new student enrollment includes more than 50 students in the Aquinas/University of Detroit – Mercy Nursing Program. The College's investment in the health and science fields "will only serve to strengthen our commitment to prepare students for these jobs in our community," said Mikowski.
New Aquinas College Provost Takes Office
History Professor Charles Gunnoe, PhD, began his new post July 1.
AQ Provost Chad Gunnoe

Aquinas College's new provost and dean of faculty has officially taken office. Charles "Chad" Gunnoe Jr., assumed his new role as provost on July 1.

President C. Edward Balog, Ph. D. announced the appointment of Gunnoe in April 2008.


"I believe that Chad is qualified, knows the College, and has significant support amongst the faculty, staff and students, as well as the unanimous support of the Cabinet," said President Balog.

Gunnoe began teaching at Aquinas in August 1999 and has served as chair of the history department for the past six years. A native of Virginia, he earned his doctorate from the University of Virginia in 1998 after completing preliminary undergraduate and graduate work at the College of William and Mary and Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in 1986 and 1990, respectively.
AQ Students Receive Summer Undergraduate Research Grants in Environmental Science
Pierce Cedar Creek Institute Awards Two Students $3,000 Each for Project Work
Melissa Menerey and Megan Fish

Two Aquinas students, Melissa Menerey of Dimondale and Megan Fish of Conklin, (pictured at left) each received $3,000 grants to conduct research at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute. The Institute, a Biological Field Station located south of Hastings, recently awarded ten grants through the undergraduate Research Grants for the Environment (URGE) program.


The URGE program provides stipends for students conducting summer research at the Institute, along with up to a $3,000 faculty mentor stipend that can be used for equipment purchases, general expenses travel or training needed for conducting the research project. Additionally, each grant award allows for up to $4,000 in room and board expenses for the student and faculty mentor. Dr. Paul Bieneman, professor of geography is the advisor for the Aquinas students.

Menerey '10 and Fish '09 are both geography majors. The students' research involves the gathering of data that will be used to determine the relationship between elevation changes and temperature features; the relationship between elevation and associated temperatures and wind speed; and the relationship between elevation and associated temperatures and time of the day.
The Institute's Biological Field Station is one of the few independently operated Biological Field Stations in the country. It is made up of a consortium of thirteen Michigan and Indiana colleges and universities and includes: Albion College, Alma College, Aquinas College, Calvin College, Central Michigan University, Cornerstone University, Ferris State University, Grand Valley State University, Hope College, Kalamazoo College, Olivet College, Valparaiso University, and Western Michigan University. An advisory board made up of two representatives from each school oversees the consortium. This arrangement allows students research opportunities they may not have at their school, especially for the smaller schools that do not have their own research field station.
This is the fourth year of the URGE program. Since the beginning of the program the Institute has awarded over sixty grants. "We recognize the financial burdens that are placed on college students and that they need to work during the summer to save money for tuition. By providing them with a grant, hopefully it will provide the opportunity for more students to participate in the program," says Michelle Skedgell, executive director.
Retention Committee Introduces Freshman Common Reading Experience
By Paula (Bacarella) Meehan ’75, Vice President of Enrollment Management
"Mountains Beyond Mountains"

Mountains Beyond Mountains, authored by Tracy Kidder, was the unanimous choice for the freshman Common Reading Experience initiated at Aquinas by the First Year Experience subcommittee on retention.

The Summer Common Reading Experience goal is to connect to incoming students early on with the rest of the college community. We want our freshmen to see this experience as a bridge between their current life and a new one filled with an expansion of knowledge and preparation for adulthood.


After considering several books, the committee found Mountains Beyond Mountains fit the goal of helping students to find their passion and act on their convictions, much like Dr. Paul Farmer, whose story about his work in Haiti is told through this book.

When Dr. Farmer was a medical student at Harvard, he found the prevalent lack of health care facilities and the preponderance of pandemic diseases such as AIDS and tuberculosis to be a grievous act of social injustice. Dr. Farmer committed his life to making a change by founding Partners in Health.
Aquinas has its own connection to the book through its service learning opportunities at the Andre Pierre School in Borel. Through longstanding relationship, numerous alumni, faculty, staff and students have given their time to the people of this distressed country.
The Common Reading Experience aims to expose students to the scholarly endeavor of helping the people of Haiti and communicating that intellectual pursuit is an important value at Aquinas. Plans to theme various activities throughout the year are in the works, including films, a speaker series and a variety of discussion groups around the social, political and economic issues this developing country faces.
For its inaugural year, the Common Reading Experience promises to tie in with the Dominican charisms of prayer, study, community and service. Our entering freshmen will be united around this common experience and find their own passion to make all the difference in the world.
Contemporary Writers Series To Explore New Territory With New Season
By Linda Nemec-Foster '72, Contemporary Writer Series Founder
Steve Almond The Contemporary Writers Series (CSW) begins its twelfth year; and the 2008-2009 season will highlight four nationally renowned writers who reflect all the main genres in contemporary literature: creative non-fiction, poetry, memoir, short story, novel and plays.

The first speaker for the season was Steve Almond (pictured left), who is a prolific writer working in many genres. He has been a newspaper reporter and an NPR correspondent in Boston and is a winner of the Pushcart Prize for fiction and other literary awards. His books include Not That You Asked: Rants, Exploits, and Obsessions (2007), Candyfreak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America (2004) and My Life in Heavy Metal: Stories (2002). He teaches at Boston College.
On October 30, Patricia Hampl read from her work that has been awarded the 2000 National Book Critics Circle Award, a New York Times Notable Book Award, and fellowships from the NEA and the MacArthur and Guggenheim Foundations. She writes memoir and poetry in such acclaimed books as A Romantic Education (1999), I Could Tell You Stories (2000), Blue Arabesque (2006) and The Florist’s Daughter (2007). She is a Regents Professor in English at the University of Minnesota.
Karen Russell will be the Series’ next speaker on March 5, 2009. She was awarded the Transatlantic Review/Henfield Foundation Award in 2005. Russell has also been featured in The New Yorker’s debut fiction issue and New York magazine’s list of twenty-five people to watch under the age of twenty-six. Her books are St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves: Short Stories (2007) and the novel Swamplandia! (forthcoming from Knopf/Random House). She lives and writes in New York.
The last speaker of the season, Vincent Delaney, is the first playwright in the history of the CWS to be featured. He will be visiting the campus from April 1-5, and will preview a comedy, Writer 1272, at the Aquinas College Performing Arts Center. This event is also sponsored by the college’s Theater Department and its New Plays on Campus Program.
Delaney is the author of several plays which have been commissioned, developed and produced by theater companies across the U.S., including the Guthrie in Minneapolis, the Cleveland Playhouse, the Magic Theater in San Francisco, and the Orlando Shakespeare Festival. His plays include The War Party (2008), The Art of Bad Men (2007), The Robeson Tapes, and MLK and the FBI. In addition to writing, Delaney teaches young playwrights in Seattle.
Grammy-Winning Maria Schneider to Visit Aquinas
Renowned jazz composer spoke and conducted Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra October 8 & 9.
Maria Schneider

The Aquinas College Jane Hibbard Idema Women's Studies Center welcomed internationally renowned jazz composer Maria Schneider to campus for a Wednesday, October 8 lecture entitled “How Does a Woman Make Her Place in the Jazz World?” and a Thursday, October 9 Evening Concert with Maria Schneider and the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra. Both events were free and open to the public.


Maria Schneider is a multiple Grammy Award-winning composer of orchestral jazz, whose work has been called “the first truly novel approach to big jazz band composition of the new century,” according to the Los Angeles Times. “Maria Schneider’s jazz is about feeling,” writes The New York Times. “She somehow expresses compassion through tones.”

Schneider is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, where she studied composition under Bob Brookmeyer, later working as an assistant to Gil Evans on such projects as the film “The Color of Money.” In addition to her Grammy Awards, including her most recent 2008 win for Best Instrumental Composition, Schneider has been named Composer of the Year and Arranger of the Year (2004) by both the Jazz Journalists Association and the Downbeat Critics Poll. Her most recent album, Sky Blue, was additionally named Jazz Album of the Year by the Village Voice Critics Poll.
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