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E-Newsletter
 

Undergraduate Admissions E-Newsletter - Summer 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.
 
Actor Henry Winkler Visits AQ
Catholic Studies Added to Aquinas Curriculum
Aquinas College's New $3.25 Million Residence Hall
Physical Changes Taking Place at AQ
Lowe Mansion Celebrates 100th Anniversary
Contemporary Writers Series
Inaugural Summer Research Grants Let Students Experience Success
A Dramatic Success: Aquinas Theatre Program Shines on the Local Stage
Making A Difference: The Sustainable Business Program and its Graduates
AQ Model United Nations 2007
Spring Sports Wrap-Up
 
Actor Henry Winkler Visits Aquinas
Henry Winkler

Who would ever imagine that the “King of Cool” struggled with his self-esteem? Yet as the model for Hank Zipzer, a fourth grade boy with learning disabilities, we see that Henry Winkler did just that. Co-author of 12 Hank Zipzer novels, Winkler’s story about a child with dyslexia is very much his own. The books, which deal with serious issues, approach life with a good dose of humor and a bold sincerity.

 

Winkler has been speaking around the country about his struggles with learning disabilities and helping at a number of children’s charities. A founding member of the Children’s Action Network, Winkler is also involved with the Special Olympics, the Very Special Arts Festival and the National Committee for Arts for the Handicapped.

Winkler is the first speaker in the new Stars for Scholars series that will help raise scholarship dollars for the Aquinas Fund. The series will focus on bringing celebrities to the College in an effort to strengthen awareness of the Aquinas Fund, which brings in almost $2 million a year for scholarships. Winkler spoke to the public free of charge on March 10 in the Performing Arts Center and appeared at a dinner reception at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.
Highlighting the dinner was the announcement from Aquinas College President, C. Edward Balog, that the college would establish a scholarship in Winkler’s name. The scholarship will be awarded annually to a student in the school of education seeking certification in learning disabilities.
 
Catholic Studies Added to Aquinas Curriculum
By John C. Pinheiro, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of History and Director of Catholic Studies
Aquinas College, according to its mission statement, is “an inclusive educational community rooted in the Catholic Dominican tradition” that “provides a liberal arts education with a global perspective.” In keeping with this mission and in accordance with Ex Corde Ecclesiae’s call for Catholic colleges to share “the rich experience of the church’s own culture,” Aquinas now has a Catholic Studies minor. This will form the curricular component of a planned Catholic Studies Center.
The interdisciplinary curriculum is designed to appeal to students interested in learning more about the Catholic tradition, as historically expressed in art, literature, theology, popular piety and philosophy. Courses in the Catholic Studies program focus on those elements of Christian history, culture and thought that are critical to understanding what Catholic culture is or was, how the Church and Catholic Christianity developed over time and the interplay between faith and culture over the centuries.
The minor is composed of five required and two elective classes, making it a manageable addition to students of any major. Core classes include Catholic Writers (English), history of Christianity (History), Catholic Intellectual Tradition (Philosophy), The Catholic Vision (Theology) and Historical Perspectives on Catholic Culture (Catholic Studies). Electives will be chosen from an approved list of classes in art, music, philosophy, theology and history. The last important component is a special topics course, which will allow Aquinas Faculty or visiting scholars to teach appropriate one-time classes in Catholic Studies.
The mission of the Catholic Studies program is to expand student knowledge of the beauty and rich diversity of the Catholic tradition. Long-range goals include a one week in Rome program, coordinated with Aquinas College’s International Programs department. The vision for the program is to provide students with an educationally rich experience while establishing a Catholic Studies Center, thereby meeting the challenge issued by President Ed Balog in his inaugural address to make Aquinas “the regional center for the study of Catholicism.”
 
Aquinas College’s New $3.25 Million Residence Hall
By Dan Treul, junior, Student Writer
Aquinas College’s new $3.25 Million Residence Hall

The major project that increases housing capacity by 64 students was completed for the 2008-2009 academic year. It is designed with energy conservation and environmental protection in mind. The newest addition to Aquinas’ Ravine Apartments perfectly complements the College’s already pronounced commitment to sustainability. The college is pursuing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

 

“The layout is very functional,” said Randy MacGeorge, Director of Residence Life. The four-story apartment-style setup features single bedrooms in groups of two and four, each connected to a common living space

 
The building will be open to juniors and seniors, and to those with two or more years completed at the College. With Aquinas boasting record enrollment, MacGeorge expects the new residence hall to “take some of the crunch off.”
 
Physical Changes Taking Place at AQ
Kretschmer Recital Hall AQ Soccer Field
The new apartment isn’t the only physical change on campus. The second project is the $1.9 million renovation of the Academic Building’s second floor, which formerly housed the College library. The project, which began last summer, provides much needed space for faculty offices, meeting rooms and several classrooms.
 
The third change, which occurred late last summer, was replacement of the grass on the campus soccer field with a synthetic surface. The new artificial turf gives the College a multi-purpose field with the flexibility to allow for activities other than varsity soccer. They include the addition of men’s lacrosse in 2009 and women’s lacrosse in 2010 as well as intramurals and physical education classes.
 
Holmdene also has been undergoing some changes. President Balog had the former board room renovated to accommodate a new office while the former president’s office, a glass conservatory, is used for meetings.
 
Kretschmer Recital Hall in the Art & Music Center (AMC) got a face lift that included a new lighting system, new sound system, and a new maplewood stage floor. The changes have created an exciting new environment for music performances at AMC.
 
Next up, renovated and expanded athletics facilities. It’s an exciting time at AQ!
 
Lowe Mansion Celebrates 100th Anniversary
Centennial Celebration highlights history and architecture of Aquinas landmark
Lowe Mansion Celebrates 100th Anniversary

Aquinas College marked the 100th anniversary of the Holmdene manor house on campus this year, with a Centennial Celebration on May 17. It highlighted the history and architecture of the former Lowe family residence.

The College has initiated renovation work on portions of the 22-room, 16-fireplace mansion that currently houses the offices of the president, administrators and faculty.

 

Holmdene is on the Register of Historic Sites for both the City of Grand Rapids and the State of Michigan.

"Holmdene is the front door and centerpiece of the campus," says Lou Corsiglia, who, along with his wife Arlene, is spearheading the renovation effort. The couple established an endowment for the project in 2004.
 
The Centennial Celebration and open house offered the public an opportunity to step back in time, with tours of Holmdene and its immaculate gardens accompanied by a feature film of the estate from the 1930's. The event additionally served to promote the work of the Holmdene Heritage Society (HHS), which strives to restore and maintain the architectural integrity of the mansion, and to preserve the history of the Lowe and Blodgett families as it pertains to the Grand Rapids community at large. In addition, the HHS promotes beautification of the entire Aquinas campus and works to enhance its neighboring communities of East Grand Rapid, Eastown and southeast Grand Rapids.
 
The former estate of Edward and Susan Blodgett Lowe was purchased by the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids in 1945 when Aquinas College relocated to its present location from downtown. Holmdene served as both the administrative and academic heart of Aquinas until 1955 when the School's Academic Building was completed. >>More on the History of AQ
 
Contemporary Writers Series
Janet Kauffman Laura Kasischke
The Contemporary Writers Series (CWS) continued its eleventh season with two readings this spring that highlight two of Michigan’s most published women writers.
 
Janet Kauffman is the author of three books of short stories, three novels and four collections of poems; her work has garnered a number of awards including those from the Academy of Arts and Letters and the Associated Writers Programs.
 
Kauffman’s most recent work is very relevant to the environmental times we live in. She has collaborated with artist Nancy Chalker-Tennant on several visual/hybrid books including Another Account: A Water Project.
 
Raised in Grand Rapids, Laura Kasischke has become a nationally celebrated poet and novelist. She is the author of five books of poetry and three novels. Her work has received many honors from such prestigious places as the Poetry Society of America, the Pushcart Prize Committee and the Beatrice Hawley Award Foundation. One of her novels, The Life Before Her Eyes, was recently made into a movie titled In Bloom with actress Uma Thurman playing the lead role.
 
All readings for the Contemporary Writers Series are free and open to the public.
 
Inaugural Summer Research Grants Let Students Experience Success
By Jennifer Hess, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biology
Inaugural Summer Research Grants Let Students Experience Success

Summertime on the Aquinas campus is typically subdued, with fewer students and smaller classes. Yet this past summer, the Albertus Magnus Science Building laboratories were full of people and activity. Why? It was the first session of the Aquinas College summer campus-wide, student-driven, mentor-led undergraduate scientific research program.

 

As a result of a generous bequest by the Mohler family in 2006, five student-mentor teams were able to engage in scientific research. Following a model based on summer research programs at other primarily undergraduate institutions, the Mohler Grant provided each participating student a $3,000 stipend for ten weeks of full-time work in the summer of 2007. Each team also received $2,000 for research equipment and supplies.

 
The projects undertaken include the following:
Audrey Sanders, a senior biology major, and biology professor Dr. Tom Bahl initiated a study that examined mating behaviors of female Periplaneta Americana, the American cockroach, to determine if these behaviors were influenced by mating experience and their proximity to males. After observing three groups of females, their research showed that mating experience did not influence female sexual behavior and proximity to males did not affect female receptivity. This study might provide useful information for controlling these agricultural and public health pests.
 
Kevin Coalter, a senior biology major, and Dr. Robb Bajema, an associate biology professor, investigated the health and aquatic insect community of an Aquinas College stream during the summer of 2007. The conditions of the stream often dictate the abundance and diversity of these insects. The amount of substrate in these streams (woody debris, rocks, etc.) controls the abundance as it directly provides physical habitat space for colonization of insects. The researchers found that the campus stream is fairly healthy and hosts a wide variety of aquatic insects.
 
In other research, Jamie Fink, an Aquinas senior, and Dr. Jennifer Hess obtained IdeS and IdeZ plasmid DNA from recombinant E coli, which could then be mutated using specific DNA primers. Characterizing IdeS and IdeZ  IgGcleavage functions could have medical and veterinary applications. Jamie presented this work in October at the fall meeting of the Michigan Branch of the American Society for Microbiology and at the West Michigan Undergraduate Scientific Research Conference, held at the Van Andel Institute.
 
The research teams not only benefited intellectually and professionally by engaging in summer research, but they also met periodically to read and discuss articles from various scientific disciplines. This scientific fellowship heightened the research experience for students and faculty alike.
 
Science and mathematics faculty are looking ahead to this summer’s research opportunities with another group of inquisitive undergraduate students. Summer 2008 will also see the addition of two more research teams, thanks to a generous gift from alumnus Ted Thompson ’58, a local entrepreneur, which will bring the total number of teams to seven.
 
A Dramatic Success: Aquinas College Theatre Program Shines on the Local Stage
By Dan Treul, junior, Student Writer
AQ Performing Arts Center

The Aquinas College Theatre Program dominated the college competition at the Grand Awards held at the Meijer Majestic Theatre in downtown Grand Rapids last October.

Taking home top honors at the glamorous event were senior Chris Flowers for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical for his role in Civic Theatre’s Dreamgirls; the Aquinas/ Cornerstone collaboration The Pirates of Penzance for Outstanding College Production; and alumnus T.J. Corbett for Outstanding College Supporting Actor in last year’s Charlotte’s Web.

 

In addition, Aquinas costume shop manager Bill Dunckel was nominated for Outstanding Costume Design for his work on Circle Theatre’s Sunday in the Park with George. Aquinas students Rob Karel and David Fletcher received the prestigious Norma Brink and David and Emma Nicolette Scholarships, respectively.

 
Chris Grooms ’07, who was recently hired by Actors’ Theatre to serve as its new office manager, co-emceed the event to near constant uproarious laughter. Grooms credits Randy Wyatt, director and assistant professor of theater at Aquinas, for much of the College’s recent success.
 
“I think his goals and where he wants to take the program go far beyond anything I could have possibly imagined while I was there.” Wyatt replaced Anthony Guest as interim director of theatre at Aquinas after Guest’s departure in 2007.
 
“Aquinas is why I’m here now,” said Grooms, who believes that Guest and Wyatt have already made lasting and significant contributions to the College’s theatre program.
 
Making a Difference: The Sustainable Business Program and Its Graduates
By Laura Bennett-Kimble ’95, Contributing Writer, John Ebers ’04, Josh Miller ’06
Matt Tueth, President Balog
 
The AQ Sustainable Business (S.B.) undergraduate degree program, the first in the nation, has been up and running for more than five years, with more than 20 graduates. The S.B. major, which was designed to arm graduates with the know-how to balance economic growth with responsible environmental practices, focuses on what program leaders have identified as the “triple top line”: economic, environmental and social elements involved in successfully operating an organization.
 
Taking a businesslike approach
Based on input from the Sustainable Business Advisory committee, business leaders and a focus group of eight graduates, the department recently changed its coursework for the first time since its inception. Required classes now include introduction to communication, environmental biology, physical science, environmental chemistry, building social capital and the new sustainable business innovations lab.
 
“More businesses are recognizing the value of this approach, which provide more opportunities for our graduates,” said Matthew Tueth, Ph.D., Steelcase Foundation Professor of Sustainable Business. “We believe this isn’t a cultural fad, but a competitive advantage.”
 
Sustainability, Tueth noted, is about “intelligently redesigning how we do business.” Industries including health care and construction have made great strides, he added. “Some sectors of business recognize the value of sustainability sooner than others. Inherent in this transition is risk, and business hates risk. It’s all about being intelligent; not doing without. We used to think appropriate environmental change added cost. Now we know differently. We can even save money.”
 
AQ President C. Edward Balog, supports sustainable business concepts. In his October inaugural address, Balog talked about the three significant characteristics he’d like to see identify an Aquinas education: undergraduate research, integrity and environmental stewardship. Balog, whose gasoline-sipping hybrid car can be seen in his parking place on campus, stated, “Green is more efficient, more profitable, more equitable and more ethical. Sustainability committees are built into the joint governance agreement of the college.”
 
Making health care healthier
Because the sustainability movement is still young, some AQ graduates are finding themselves in newly created leadership positions. For example, John Ebers ’04 serves as the sustainable business officer for Metro Health Hospital, which recently constructed the Metro Health Village in Wyoming, Michigan.
 
John Ebers

Over the last three years, Ebers (pictured at left) has worked in the areas of storm water management, recycling and energy conservation. He helped establish criteria for selecting fabrics and other materials for the new facility and worked with grant writers to secure funding for a 48,500-square-foot vegetated roof that reduces storm water run-off and creates an attractive view from patient room windows. Since he’s been there, the hospital has received national awards for its healthy environment.

 

These days, Ebers is eagerly awaiting confirmation of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED ®) certification for Metro Health Village. Ebers, who interned at Metro as a student, said the hospital hired him as its first SB officer the day after he graduated. He quickly found his AQ education beneficial. “Probably the best thing was the liberal arts education,” he said. “I was exposed to so much learning at Aquinas. It definitely helped me when I came here, because now I work with different departments and am learning a lot of different things.”

 
Another AQ graduate working in health care is Josh Miller ’06, who interned under Ebers at Metro and subsequently became the first sustainability coordinator at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids. Miller works primarily at the Butterworth and Blodgett campuses and, like Ebers, works with pretty much every hospital department.
 
“I’m the one-man show in charge of sustainability at Spectrum Health,” he said, involved with waste reduction, recycling programs, green purchasing initiatives and employee training. As a student, Miller had to do a lot of presentations, particularly in Tueth’s classes, which he said has really paid off since department presentations are a significant - and welcome - part of his job. “Most people want to change,” he said. “I’m usually invited to speak rather than having to ask to.”
 
Thinking green
In the few years since the Sustainable Business degree program has been up and running, its students have made a difference, and continue to do so in methods big and small: John Ebers works to eliminate PVC in Metro Health operations, Josh Miller is figuring out how to reduce Styrofoam in Spectrum Health cafeterias, and Jessica Eimer Onan raises awareness of how the Aquinas community can reduce waste. Thinking green isn’t just a slogan. Based on what these folks have to say, it also can be a very rewarding career choice.
 
AQ Model United Nations 2007
By Roger Durham, Ph.D., Coordinator of Model U.N. and Professor of Political Science
AQ Model United Nations 2007

For the tenth year, Aquinas College students participated in a Model United Nations simulation. This year Aquinas had an amazing 53 students participate. For a school the size of Aquinas, this is remarkable. Roughly 1,300 students from more than 100 different colleges and universities from around the world attended the American Model United Nations Conference, held November 17-20 at the Chicago Sheraton.

 

This year, Aquinas students role-played delegates from France, Iceland and Sri Lanka. The students engaged in significant diplomatic process, attempting to solve many important international issues. Once again, Aquinas students were recognized for their outstanding performance.

 
Of special note, Will Eberle was awarded Outstanding Advocate: France. Acting as legal voice for the country of France, Eberle argued in front of the Model International Court of Justice in a case concerning crimes against humanity and jurisdiction in Congo. This was the only award of its kind at the conference placing Eberle among the country’s top students in this area.
 
The American Model United Nations distributes only 12 awards each year. Over the last four years, AQ students have won 16 awards of Outstanding Delegate or Outstanding Delegation, placing AQ among the top programs in the country.
 
Students at AQ spend several weeks researching and developing their country’s positions and policies. They develop specific policy statements and practice writing United Nations resolutions. Knowledge of the structures and functions of the United Nations was crucial to the success of their portrayal, as was knowledge of their country’s positions.
 
Spring Sports Wrap-up
AQ Women's Basketball AQ Men's Track
 
Men's Basketball
The 2007-08 season marked the third consecutive season that the Men's Basketball team made a trip to Point Lookout, Missouri for the Division II NAIA National Championships.  The Saints highlighted their regular season with a WHAC Conference Championship.
 
Aquinas never lost a regular season home game which proved how hard it is to win at the Aquinas College Sturrus Sports & Fitness Center.  Over the past four years, Aquinas boasts a very impressive 45-6 record when playing at home.  At the National Championships the Saints opened up first round play with a matchup against Dakota Wesleyan.  Aquinas dominated the second half after only being up one at the half, on their way to an impressive victory 91-66.  Senior guard James Telman (Grand Rapids) and sophomore forward John Lierman (Holt) proved to be too much for Dakota Wesleyan, combining for 56 points.  The second round matchup posted Aquinas against #1 ranked Bellevue.  Aquinas battled and fought throughout the entire game only to come up four points short in a 65-61 loss.
 
Through thick and thin Aquinas battled every game and worked hard for a solid 25-9 season record, setting the school record for wins.  Junior Pedja Lazic (Kentwood) was honored as an NAIA All-American as well as the WHAC Player of the Year.  Lierman was also honored with NAIA All-America status as well as WHAC All-Conference. Senior Jeff Wierzbicki was honored with a spot on the Academic All-WHAC Team.
 
Women's Basketball
The Saints posted a 25-8 record (9-5 WHAC) on their way to their second trip to the NAIA Nationals in the past three years. The postseason excitement started when Aquinas earned a #3 seed in the WHAC tournament.  With the help of a top seed loss, Aquinas found themselves hosting the tournament championship game.  By defeating Madonna 84-79 to run their winning streak to seven games, the Saints catapulted into the national tournament.
 
Aquinas entered the NAIA National Tournament in Sioux City, Iowa with a matchup against Benedictine, who proved to be too much for the Saints in a 79-57 loss.  Senior Claire Hogan (Lansing) was awarded first team All-WHAC, as well as Academic All-WHAC.  Senior Alicia McCarthy (Grand Rapids) and junior Carrie Abdo (Romulus) were awarded Academic All- WHAC.
 
Softball
The Saints softball team returned home from their Arizona spring trip with a 9-3 record while playing some of the most talented teams in the nation.  Proving that hard work and the determination to succeed was paying off, first-year head coach Crystal Laska did not miss a beat from the team's past success, earning a 31-14 record (17-7 WHAC). Aquinas made it to the NAIA Region VIII tournament in Mishawaka, Indiana where their season ended.  The softball team's season highlights included winning 14 of their last 16 games to finish off the regular season.
 
Aquinas was proud to have the WHAC Softball Player of the Year in outfielder Ashley Aspinall (Middleville).  Aspinall was also awarded All-Region and WHAC Academic All- Conference honors.  Junior first base Courtney Miles (Grand Rapids) received WHAC First Team All-Conference and All-Region accolades. Sophomore infielder Marnie Spitzley (Lansing) was also voted to the WHAC All-Conference First Team. Junior outfielder Kristi Labinski (Grand Rapids) and junior pitcher Mallory Schrauben (Portland) earned WHAC Academic All-Conference and NAIA Academic All-American status.
 
Men's Track
Success has been a trademark for the Aquinas Men's Track and Field athletes and this year was no exception.  On a cold and rainy day, Aquinas dominated the WHAC championships with a commanding victory. Next came a strong and powerful victory in the Aquinas Twilight Invitational.  Hard work, great coaching, and a positive attitude helped the men's track and field team experience major success with a trip to the NAIA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Ralph Korte Stadium in Edwardsville, Ill. on May 22-24. Freshman Rumeal McKinney (Southfield) was awarded NAIA All American status for his performance in the 200 meter dash.
 
Baseball
The 2008 Aquinas Baseball team started out their season in Florida with a 5-6 record.  Following their warm and sunny stay in Florida, came the bitter cold of northern baseball.  In the first two weeks back in Michigan, the Saints had all ten of their games cancelled.
 
Aquinas never warmed up with the weather as they finished out the regular season with a 20-29 record.  The Saints high point during the regular season was scoring 38 runs in a four-game series with Indiana Tech, taking 3 of 4 games.
 
Senior pitcher Michael "Bud" Giddings (Muskegon) and catcher Drew Oosterhouse (Grandville) were named to the WHAC All-Conference First Team. Joining the two seniors was junior designated hitter Corey Gross (Mount Pleasant). Aquinas added eight to the WHAC Academic All-Conference Team; Giddings, Chris Atkin (Beal City), Will Eberle (East Grand Rapids), Earl Clover (Grand Haven), Dan Salvati (Morley), Brandon Marrs (Cedar Springs), and Kevin Scholten (Wyoming). Senior Todd Peters (Grand Rapids) Academic All-Conference and was named the team's Champion of Character.
 
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