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Undergraduate Admissions E-Newsletter - Fall 2009

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 College Announces $6 Million Fieldhouse Renovation Project
AQ Steps Up As First College in West Michigan to Sponsor Entire Habitat Home
First Year Students Join Together on Community Projects
AQ Theatre Dominates Local Award Nominations
Aquinas School of Education Launches New Partnership: "College for Kids"
Travels Abroad
2009 Common Reading Experience: The Kite Runner
AQ Alumnus Hikes in Father's Memory
Visit Campus: 2009-2010 AQDays
Pedja Lazic: First Team All-American For Men's Basketball

Aquinas College Announces $6M Fieldhouse Renovation Project

Rendering of the Fieldhouse Renovation Aquinas College announced plans on August 26, 2009, to begin a $6 million Fieldhouse renovation project designed to benefit the College's athletic program and general wellness of the campus community as well as aid in student recruitment and retention.

The project will feature a new fitness center, a new competition court for basketball and volleyball with seating for 2,000, new main floor locker rooms, three classrooms, a conference room, hospitality room and offices for both faculty and staff. In addition, the project will provide the facility requirements necessary for recertification of the College's Athletic Training Education program.
The Fieldhouse renovation project is important for the College from several perspectives, according to President Ed Balog.
"It contributes to our academic program by providing more classroom space for athletic training along with our Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER) majors," Balog said. "It provides us with a competition facility that is comparable to our peer institutions and one that is equal in quality to our athletic programs. And it also provides a fitness center that will benefit the entire campus community."
Athletic Director Terry Bocian says the project is important now.
"It will meet the national standards for our athletic training program, it will give us flexibility in scheduling of classes, practices, and events, and we will have a versatile facility that will fit the needs of the entire AQ community," Bocian concluded.
In recent years, Aquinas has completed a new student housing apartment building, new library and new performing arts center. Officials believe the athletic department project was the next logical step. The renovation project also is designed to meet the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, incorporating geothermal heating technology as well as solar collectors.
The 44,000 square foot Fieldhouse was built in 1969 and initially served 100 student-athletes playing in eight varsity sports. Today, more than 400 student-athletes are involved in 21 varsity sports. And while the College offers just nine intramural sports for the campus community, participation in those areas has nearly tripled during the same period.
The 10-month-long project began in September with an expected completion by early next summer.
The $5.5 million Phase Two segment of the AQ Sports and Fitness Center campaign, a 69,690 square foot multipurpose center, will be added to the west side of the existing Fieldhouse. The expansion will include a 200-meter NCAA certified track; off-season practice areas for baseball, softball, soccer and lacrosse; courts for intramural basketball, volleyball, cheerleading and dance and spectator seating for 300. The College hopes to begin work on the second phase of the campaign during the 2011 academic year.
>>More Information About This Exciting Project

AQ Steps Up As First College in West Michigan to Sponsor Entire Habitat Home

Habitat for Humanity AQ Volunteers

Aquinas College has added another first to its list of achievements. This inclusive educational community made academic history in 2003 when it became the first institution in the United States to offer an undergraduate degree in sustainable business. The curriculum is affiliated with the Center for Sustainability (C4S) at Aquinas College, which is dedicated to the development and advancement of organizations and communities who promote economic viability, natural world kinship, and social responsibility.


Aquinas College will further advance its commitment to sustainability and social responsibility by partnering with Habitat for Humanity of Kent County to underwrite and complete a LEED for Homes® Certified “Total Gut Rehab” home in southwest Grand Rapids. Total gut rehab construction is a

process of totally rebuilding the home while maintaining the original structural components. In the case of this home, the rehab will undergo the strict LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) for Homes® certification process. In 2007, Habitat Kent committed to building all of its homes to LEED for Homes® standards, and in 2008, they received a Gold Rating for their first Total Gut Rehab Habitat home. Habitat Kent has since built more single family LEED for Homes® Certified buildings than any other residential builder in the Midwest.
Greg McAleenan, vice president for Institutional Advancement, says the collaboration is an important one for the College.
"Aquinas College is thrilled to partner with Habitat for Humanity of Kent County on this project, since it embodies tenets of the Aquinas mission - leadership and service. By building with Habitat," McAleenan adds, "we are engaging our faculty, students, staff, and alumni in service to others. The project also is helping to democratize green building by bringing energy efficient practices to those who may be facing the decision ’heat, or food?”
The partnership officially kicked off on Earth Day in April with a blue jean collection drive, resulting in 731 lbs of blue jeans collected from Aquinas students and the surrounding community. The rehabbed home will contain insulation made out of recycled blue jeans. The product, UltraTouch Insulation, has been donated by Aquinas College Alumni Bob Joslin '69 and daughter, Tierra ’07, of L&D Adhesives, to be used in the home.
Aquinas College volunteers will be responsible for completing the Habitat home reconstruction project. Volunteers will work alongside Habitat homebuyer family, Matthew Riak and Achol Kuir. Matthew is a Lutheran minister who is a former “Lost Boy” of Sudan. He now ministers to a community of approximately 200 Sudanese. Habitat homebuyers invest 300-500 hours of sweat equity into building Habitat homes prior to assuming responsibility for their 25-year, zero-percent interest mortgages. Since its founding in 1983, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County has built 265 simple, decent affordable homes in Kent and Eastern Ottawa Counties.
Rehab construction will be completed in November. Prior to salvaging reusable materials for resale at Habitat’s two Kent County ReStores, Aquinas College will raise the remaining funds for the project and are already more than halfway to their goal.

First Year Students Join Together on Community Projects

Project Unite 2009: Love Where You Live
Project Unite 2009

Aquinas College's traditional freshmen project, Project Unite, as been redesigned to focus on the importance of teamwork, community, and service. Along with the students, Aquinas faculty and staff spread out to the twelve areas selected to benefit from the students' volunteer efforts. Community organizations and businesses partnered with Aquinas this year in order to assist the area with repairs and clean-up in the neighborhoods.


Aquinas alumna Elissa Sangalli Hillary, Executive Director of Local First, spoke at the soccer field to the volunteers about community service before they headed out to their various service projects. Approximately 20 students were assigned to each project.

The 2009 total of new students (including freshmen, transfers and nursing students) is 543, the second largest total of new students. The total number of freshmen and transfers is 486, encompassing the third largest freshmen class in Aquinas history. Aquinas received a record number of applications for admission this year.

AQ Theatre Dominates Local Award Nominations

AQ Theater: Writer 1272 The Aquinas College Theatre Program collected ten 2009 Grand Award nominations for its 2008-2009 productions. The Grand Awards are given for excellence in local community and collegiate theatre. Aquinas' ten are out of a possible eighteen given to area collegiate work.

Two of Aquinas' four mainstage shows from last year, the musical farce Forbidden Broadway and the Contemporary Writer's Series-sponsored production Writer 1272, were nominated for Best Collegiate Production. The directors of both shows, Mary Rademacher and AQ Theatre Program Director Randy Wyatt, respectively, were nominated for Best Director.
In addition, Aquinas completely shut out all competitors in the Best Supporting Actor category, taking all three nominations with sophomore Joshua Devitt for his turn as the murdered father Don Sixto in Esperanza Rising, sophomore Duncan McCargar for his dual roles as the equally neurotic Jonas and Jasper in Writer 1272, and senior Rob Karel for his deft satires of Mandy Pantinkin and Carol Channing in Forbidden Broadway.
Actresses received their fair share of nominations as well. Senior Chelsea Kaye received a Best Lead Actress nod for her role as the envious sister Faith in Writer 1272. Sophomore Chelsea Pummill rounds out the nominations from Writer 1272 for her Best Supporting Actress turn as the quirky and dessert-obsessed mother Charlotte, and junior Anna Ferris also scored in the Best Supporting category for playing the fiery Mexicana protestor in Esperanza Rising.
"The program isn't just growing, it's exploding," said Wyatt. "There's excitement and momentum over here like you wouldn't believe. Our audiences for last season were some of the largest we've seen yet."
The strong showing with nominations coupled with the newly formed Children's Theatre tour that performed Brave Little Tailor for hundreds of children last fall has resulted in a higher community profile for the seven year old program. "We're eager to do it all again this year," said Wyatt.
The Grand Awards are sponsored by the Grand Foundation and raise funds for the Combined Theatre Scholarships. The awards will be presented in a gala ceremony October 4 at the Aquinas Performing Arts Center.
Full list of AQ nominations:
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress: Chelsea Pummill - Writer 1272
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress: Anna Ferris - Esperanza Rising
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor: Duncan Mccargar - Writer 1272
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor: Rob Karel - Forbidden Broadway
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor: Josh Devitt - Esperanza Rising
  • Outstanding Lead Actress: Chelsea Kaye - Writer 1272
  • Outstanding Director Of A Production: Randy Wyatt - Writer 1272
  • Outstanding Director Of A Production: Mary Rademacher - Forbidden Broadway
  • Outstanding Production: Forbidden Broadway
  • Outstanding Production: Writer 1272

Aquinas School of Education Launches New Partnership: "College for Kids"

In June, the Aquinas College School of Education and neighboring St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic School formed an official partnership designed to strengthen academic programs and advance the mission of each school. The school administrations adopted a statement of intent that, in their shared Catholic identity, outlines an innovative and collaborative effort to provide educational programs that are designed to encourage academically talented students and diverse learners to reach their potential. Each organization will provide personnel and the space necessary to make the collaboration a success.


Nanette Clatterbuck, Dean of the School of Education, and Dave Faber, principal of St. Thomas School met throughout this past year, both individually and with their respective staffs on the partnership idea. As a result, several initiatives were identified and prioritized for implementation.


The first of many collaborative efforts is a summer program called College for Kids, which took place on the Aquinas campus. The idea began to gel last April when Clatterbuck, Faber and Amy Zakrajsek, Academically Talented Enrichment teacher at St. Thomas, sat down to talk about opportunities.

Tim Bennett, Associate Professor of Education, conducts one of the summer science classes at Aquinas.

Tim Bennett (left), Associate Professor of Education, conducts one of the summer

science classes at Aquinas.

“We believe that with our combined talents at both schools, we will be able to bring enrichment opportunities to students which will expand and enhance their school experience, thus enriching their lives as well,” said Zakrajsek, who was named director for College for Kids.
St. Thomas school parents were surveyed about what they would like to see offered and when. As a result, the group developed 18 summer classes for students in grades first through ninth. The courses included a writer’s workshop, computer classes, digital photography, hand son science, art, sign language, Improv theater, habitat adventure, languages, Grand Rapids history, movie making and cooking.
Word of the new initiative quickly spread throughout the area, prompting parents from the neighboring East Grand Rapids school district to inquire about using the program as well.
Throughout the summer, students from a number of area elementary schools utilized the campus as they searched for specimens to observe under a microscope for the science class, learned Chinese words for objects they saw at Aquinas, and read under the campuses legendary trees during Book Club.
Eleven people from St. Thomas community and seven faculty and staff from Aquinas participated in teaching these courses.
Next, the group will explore the possibility of offering after-school classes to students in the community.

Travels Abroad

Travels Abroad

Lorraine Straw, Ph.D., professor of psychology, and Kathy Kremer, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology, traveled to Central Europe with the nine students enrolled in their course, European Roots of Psychology and Sociology during the last semester of the 2008-2009 school year. The course explored the intellectual awakening in Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries that led to the development of the academic disciplines that we know today as sociology and psychology.


“European Roots of Psychology and Sociology” is a new course developed by Straw and Kremer. Using a Faculty Development Grant in 2008, they travelled to Central Europe to meet with scholars familiar with the origins of their disciplines to learn more about this history and to develop the course.

The course began with a spring semester class that covered the history of intellectual thought and the development of the two disciplines. Sociology and psychology are interrelated and share 19th-century
Students then travelled with the two professors to Central Europe from May 11-25, where they participated in programs and lectures presented by European academics and experts. Some of these programs were at Heidelberg University, the University of Frankfurt, the University of Berlin, the lab of Wilhelm Wundt in Leipzig, Karl Marx Haus and Study Centre in Trier, the Museum of Communism in Prague and the Freud Museum and University Medical Museum in Vienna.

2009 Common Reading Experience: The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner

Following the success of last year’s common reading experience featuring Mountains Beyond Mountains, Aquinas College has announced The Kite Runner as the selection for this year’s campus-wide reading initiative. The program, led by Student Activities Director Heather Hall, is aimed particularly at incoming freshmen and provides a framework for discussion and activities during fall orientation.

The debut of internationally renowned author Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner is the story of the powerful friendship of two boys in Afghanistan, and the violence and sectarianism that threatens to destroy everything.


“Loyalty and blood are the ties that bind their stories into one of the most lyrical, moving and unexpected books this year,” wrote the Denver Post in a 2003 review. The book has been praised by such literary masters as Isabel Allende for its unflinching examination of “love, honor, guilt, fear, and redemption,” and was deliberately selected as a thought-provoking and socially conscious complement to the Dominican values of Aquinas College.


AQ Alumnus Hikes in Father's Memory

Ben Richardson (far left) presents a check to the American Cancer Society

Following the loss of his father to cancer in May 2008, Aquinas alumnus Ben Richardson created an opportunity for himself to both honor his father’s legacy and help others who are battling the disease. While attending to his studies and before graduating magna cum laude in May, Richardson was also hard at work preparing for a fundraising hike on the Appalachian Trail to benefit individuals with cancer.


Ben’s father, Ray Richardson, was a man who stressed an appreciation of the outdoors as well as the importance of philanthropy. Before being diagnosed with cancer in 2007, Ray had planned a backpacking trip with Ben as a college graduation gift. After his father’s death, Richardson decided to hike the Appalachian Trail, a trail whose considerable distance symbolizes the depth of memories Richardson has of his father. Richardson decided to hike the trail not only to remember his father but also to raise money to help others who are dealing with cancer.

PennyBen is the organization created by Richardson, his friends and his family to raise funds to benefit the American Cancer Society’s Support Programs and Services. These programs serve as important resources for people with cancer, helping to assist them in dealing with the high financial costs of treatment. PennyBen scheduled a number of fundraising events during the past year, largely on the Aquinas campus, to raise money and awareness about Richardson’s journey and goals. A Penny Fest Auction was held May 1. The auction was aimed at raising funds through donations to Hike to Heal that had teams hiking from Aquinas to the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge in downtown Grand Rapids.
On May 13, the one-year anniversary of his father’s death and four days after his own graduation, Richardson set out on a journey that will take him along the 2,178-mile Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine as part of his own healing process.
“Physically, I will not be able to hike with him, but spiritually he will be present as I embark on PennyBen,” Richardson wrote in a letter posted on PennyBen.com.
Following the hike, Richardson plans to return to Grand Rapids to explore career options with area non-profit organizations.

Visit Campus: 2009-2010 AQDays

Fall 2009
  • AQDay - Friday, November 6
  • Science, Math and Nursing AQDay - Friday, November 13
  • AQDay - Friday, November 20
  • Leadership AQDay - Friday, December 4
Spring 2010
  • Athletic AQDay - Saturday, January 23
  • Fine Arts AQDay - Friday, March 19
  • AQDay - Friday, April 16
Club AQ: Overnight Visit opportunity for Accepted Students only
  • Sunday, January 17 - Monday, January 18
  • Sunday, March 21 - Monday, March 22
  • Sunday, April 18 - Monday, April 19

Pedja Lazic: First Team All-American For Men's Basketball

Pedja Lazic '09
Pedja Lazic (left) is presented with the WHAC Player of the Year award
by AQ Athletic Director Terry Bocian

Pedja Lazic, ’09, who moved from Bosnia with his family in 1997, finished his Aquinas basketball career with honors that reflect his impressive on-court statistics. Lazic was named the WHAC Player of the Year and was awarded 3rd team honors on the NAIA All-American team after his junior year (2007-2008). On the season, he averaged 14.2 points on 56 percent field-goal shooting and recorded 7.1 rebounds per game. Lazic stepped up his game during his senior year, as he was once again named the WHAC Player of the Year. He was also named to the first team All- American squad, a first for any Aquinas men’s basketball player. Lazic averaged 16.9 points, 9.4 rebounds and shot 57 percent from the field for his senior year. He finished his career as the fifth most prolific scorer and ranks second on the all-time rebound list for Aquinas.


Coach Hammer notes the importance of Lazic for the basketball program. “He’s been great for our program as a student-athlete and an ambassador. When other college coaches look back, they’ll say they made a mistake by overlooking Pedja, and that was to our benefit.”


Lazic earned his degree in business and sports management and plans to compete professionally overseas.

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