Former Public Library Finds New Life
From left:Chair of the Beloit College Board of Trustees James Sanger, businesswoman and donor Diane Hendricks, City Manager Larry Arft, and Interim President Dick Niemiec’65 in front of the College’s newest educational facility in downtown Beloit.
A landmark building in Beloit’s downtown has come to the College. The 48,000 square-foot former public library structure and its complete renovation are the gift of businesswoman Diane Hendricks and her husband, the late Ken Hendricks, who served as a College trustee for a decade. It is one of the largest gifts the College has ever received.
The building, at the corner of Grand Avenue and Pleasant Street, is expected to be ready for use by the College as an educational facility by the fall of 2010. The renovation of the interior is still in the design phase, but music and dance will have a major presence in the center, along with other educational activities. Construction is expected to begin in the fall on the building, which will prominently feature the Hendricks name.
“We have completed another one of Ken’s dreams,” Diane Hendricks said at a public announcement and press conference held in June. She added that it took from seven to eight years to see the building through to its new future as a Beloit College facility. Ken Hendricks passed away in 2007.
The former public library became available after the Hendricks Group assumed sole ownership of what had once been the Beloit Mall and began to transform it into a community resource center now known as the Eclipse Center. The city was able to purchase the former J.C. Penney’s department store at the center’s south end and move the public library into improved and enlarged facilities at the Eclipse Center last spring. As part of the agreement, the city transferred ownership of the original downtown library to Diane and Ken Hendricks, who in turn gave it to the College.
“The Hendricks family has once again expressed confidence in the future of Beloit—both the city and the College,” notes James Sanger, chair of the Beloit College board of trustees.
At the public announcement, Interim College President Dick Niemiec thanked Diane Hendricks and her associates for their generosity and flexibility in bringing the project to fruition.
“The Hendricks Center is a superb example of the generosity, cooperation, and unified vision that has helped to build and sustain Beloit,” he said. “It will join the new Center for the Sciences as a defining element of Beloit College’s 21st-century campus.”
TRIO Staffer Awarded the First Behling Prize
The late Bill Behling, director of food services for the College for more than two decades, had a gregarious demeanor that endeared him to all.
Widely known as the “Food Dude,” he had the habit of tossing ice cream sandwiches and chocolate bars to diners at Commons and taking groups of students out to the movies, his treat.
Behling’s legacy of caring for students lives on through the Bill Behling Prize—an award that honors a College staff member whose service to students reflects the same devotion and spirit that Behling brought to his work.
Kristin Frey, operations coordinator for the College’s TRIO Department, was presented with the first Bill Behling Prize at a staff recognition event in May. The TRIO Department houses all three of Beloit’s federally funded programs and the state- and College-funded Help Yourself Program for area youth. Frey joined the College staff in 2000.
In accepting the award, Frey paid tribute to the memory of the man it honors. “I don’t think there has ever been a more loved person on campus than Bill,” she said. “To be given the Bill Behling Prize is the greatest compliment a person could hope to receive.”
College Gears up for President Bierman’s Arrival
Executive Secretary to the President Louise Denk, left, speaks with Scott and Melody Bierman in the President’s House, shortly after Beloit’s 11th president was introduced to the Beloit community.
After meeting with a group of Beloit alumni in London at the end of June, 11th College President Scott Bierman and his wife, Melody, were scheduled to arrive on campus in mid-July to begin their tenure as Beloit’s first family.
The London reception was Bierman’s first official Beloit College alumni event. The gathering, held in the city where he was finishing up his final duties as dean of Carleton College, was hosted by Barbara Smith’97 and attended by 15 alumni residents of London. “The conversation was lively,” recounts Bierman. “Everyone was generous with their comments and praise for their Beloit experiences.”
Bierman says he looks forward to meeting alumni at other points around the country and the globe, in addition to welcoming them back to campus.
This summer, the Biermans are moving into the historic President’s House at the corner of Chapin and College Streets. The house, built in 1850-1851 for Beloit’s first president, Aaron Lucius Chapin, has provided a home for Beloit College presidents and their families since 1937, when it was given to the College by Chapin’s daughter.
As the beginning of the academic school year draws closer, planning has begun in earnest for the first installation of a new Beloit College president in nearly a decade. The inauguration of Scott Bierman is set to take place at 11 a.m. in Eaton Chapel on Friday, Sept. 25.
Learning by Doing
When the 15 students in Journalism 225: Magazine Feature Writing entered the chilly classroom in WAC’s basement at the beginning of the spring semester, most knew next to nothing about magazines. They had no idea that by the time they left on the last day, they would have spent countless minutes, hours, and even days handling every aspect of creating and producing a publication of their own.
The first half of the course—taught by visiting faculty member and alumna Heather Lee Schroeder’95—was based in reading and class discussion. By early March, the class was ready to stop talking and start doing.
The magazine’s intent was to focus on the Beloit College English department. In the letter from the editors, appearing on one of the magazine’s first pages, Kit Gallagher’09 and Nicole Inman’09 tell readers that the purpose of the magazine is “… to reflect the voices and words of the College’s English community.”
Once the magazine’s mission was established, all that was left to do was brainstorm article ideas, write the articles, edit them, design the look of the magazine, lay out the pages, sell ads, host an open mike night to promote the magazine’s image, and plan the all-important launch party.
“Uppercase was one of the more stressful projects I’ve had in my life,” says Mary Keister’11, one of the magazine’s art directors. “It was difficult to not only keep tabs on the writing I submitted to the magazine, but also to work with and lead a design team to put the magazine together as a whole.”
The magazine’s business team sold ads to area businesses such as Bushel & Peck’s Local Market, Pleasant St. Coffeehouse, the Angel Museum, and Associated Bank. The project received additional financial backing from alumnus Kent Sidel’72, a supporter of the College’s journalism program.
The editorial team selected which stories would be run in the magazine and whipped them into shape, and the design team pulled an all-day layout marathon to get each page ready to go off to the printer. And somehow, each student in the class found the time to write two reported stories to be considered for publication.
“Uppercase required the kind of work I’d always seen in movies about college, but had never experienced myself,” says Amelia Buzzell’10. “I fondly remember spending 14 straight hours working on the magazine with my classmates. Things got a little silly at times and it was quite an ordeal, but the final product was worth it.”
Stanley, Palmer Recognized for Teaching and Innovation
|Dobson Endowed Professor of Physics Paul Stanley
A gift for making learning fun characterizes Paul Stanley’s teaching style. The professor of physics and astronomy and holder of the Dobson Endowed Professorship in Physics is admired by many who turned out for a recent ceremony in which he was awarded the James R. Underkofler Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award.
A member of Beloit’s faculty since 2002, he teaches classes in general and computational physics, the physics of music, and mathematical methods for physicists. Stanley takes an informal approach to explaining challenging concepts. One student remarked that he “… always presents difficult material creatively but still rigorously, and without losing the emphasis on what is important.”
Upon receiving the award, Stanley shared a few thoughts. “My hope is that students of today remember, in the years ahead, the vibrancy and excitement of science, the puzzle and pleasures of physics, and the marvel of the liberal arts,” he said.
The Underkofler Award is funded by the Alliant Energy Foundation and administered by the Wisconsin Foundation for Independent Colleges. Each year, five faculty members at qualifying independent colleges are selected for the award in recognition of their outstanding performance and excellence in undergraduate teaching. The award honors James R. Underkofler, past president and chairman of the Wisconsin Power and Light Company.
At the same ceremony, Warren Bruce Palmer, an associate professor of economics and management, was honored with the Phee Boon Kang’73 Prize for Innovation in Teaching with Technology.
|Associate Professor of Economics and Management Warren Palmer
Palmer, who joined the faculty in 1992, has helped advance the integration of technology into the teaching of economics at Beloit. He is a longtime contributor to and user of online teaching tools developed by Aplia.com, a groundbreaking software company founded by noted Stanford economist Paul Romer. “Warren provides students with the cutting-edge tools needed to be competitive in the job market,” says colleague Jeff Adams, Allen-Bradley Professor of Economics and chair of the economics and management department.
Palmer teaches introductory economics, accounting, finance, energy and environmental economics, and a course on the development of the Chinese economy. He contributed a chapter to the textbook China: A Global Studies Handbook (2004/2009).
In addition, Palmer designed and built a computer laboratory that serves the departments of economics and management and sociology. He also serves on the advisory committee for the College’s Information Services and Resources division.
The Kang Prize is named for Beloit College trustee Phee Boon Kang’73, who co-founded the Allard Institute, Inc., a consulting firm. He is president of its Asian operations.
Art Robson Retires from Teaching
|Classics Professor Art Robson
When Professor of Classics Art Robson arrived in Beloit in 1966, he was struck by the friendliness of the local community and the warm reception from faculty and staff. In the years that followed, he also grew to appreciate the students he came to know. “They’ve kept me young, in desirable ways,” he says.
Over the spring semester leading up to his retirement in May, Robson’s classes took on a gentle poignancy after more than four decades of teaching.
“I often said to myself, ‘Okay, Art, be at your best today, because this is the last time you are going to teach this,’” he says.
A graduate of John Carroll University with advanced degrees from Ohio State University, Robson maintained his interest in the languages and civilizations of antiquity, while also delving into medieval studies and the history of film.
“The classics are by nature interdisciplinary,” he explains. “At Beloit, focusing on the connections between disciplines is a routine way of thinking and operating. The structure of the institution is compatible with the way the classics are approached and understood.”
A past chair of the classics department, Robson has published a Latin textbook and a Web site commentary on Euripides’ Electra. He has edited two books, contributed to several anthologies, and written numerous essays and articles. He is working on an anthology that offers a fresh perspective on the literature of the Middle Ages.
He looks forward to spending more time with his family in retirement, including his wife, Shin Yong Robson, an adjunct associate professor of Chinese at Beloit. But he is in no hurry to fill up the blank spaces on his calendar. In fact, he is taking cues from former colleagues on that matter.
“I started asking other Beloit College professors at their retirement parties what they were going to do,” Robson says. “My favorite answer was one I got a few years ago—‘Well, I’ve got a lot of time to think about that!’”
Two funds are being established at Beloit in Robson’s honor. The first is the Art Robson Greek Prize—a complement to the two existing departmental prizes for Latin and classical studies—which will recognize student excellence in ancient Greek. A second fund will support the classics department’s honor society in its efforts to help defray costs for student field trips and visits to conferences. A gift may be made in Robson’s honor by going to
A Ducky Graduation
Rescuing a family of mallard ducks is not the kind of thing you expect to be doing at your daughter’s college graduation. Yet Kent and Roxanne Bayle, parents of Laura Bayle’09, found that Beloit presented all of them with an unexpected challenge during Commencement weekend.
After spotting a female mallard fly out of a tree hollow near Haven and Wood Halls, the Bayle family soon noticed 11 tiny ducklings following her lead by essentially free-falling about 25 feet from the nest to the ground. All landed safely, but when the mother duck started her march toward the Rock River—the ducklings following in formation—she found the Beloit College Sports Center in her path. The mother successfully crossed over the first of three large drainage grates near the building, and the ducklings followed, falling through the open spaces and landing into a dry basin several feet below the ground. Several of Laura’s classmates helped remove the grate to rescue the fallen ducklings, while Kent Bayle played the pied piper, clapping and whistling to the mother duck to direct her away from two more grates.
Then came the four-lane Highway 51, all that stood between the Rock River and the brood of ducks. Kent and Roxanne Bayle stopped traffic while Laura urged the ducklings along and helped several scale a curb. Once across, the mallard family scrambled onto the rocks and hopped into the swiftly moving river.
The Bayle family cheered as their adopted family of ducks found a quiet eddy downstream. Roxanne reflected that it was “a fitting educational conclusion for our summa cum laude graduate.”
Students Offer Many Thanks
|Students surround Dick’65 and Joan Niemiec at a farewell event held in
April in the Moore Lounge.
In the middle of writing term papers and studying for finals, a group of students found time to host a special reception to honor Dick’65 and Joan Niemiec last April. The popular first couple, who occupied the President’s House between Beloit’s tenth and eleventh presidents this past year, had already been feted in more traditional ways, including over a dinner hosted by the board of trustees.
With help from the President’s Office staff, the students offered their own well-attended send-off, inviting the entire College community to attend the reception in the Moore Lounge.
At the event, Alex Catalan’10, president of Beloit’s student government and one of the organizers, said that the Niemiecs’ visibility on campus and their willingness to engage with the College community had made a positive impression on students.
“Dick took the leadership of Beloit College to new levels,” Catalan says. “He learned swiftly and engaged this campus intellectually like I have never seen before. This past year has been truly fantastic and an incredible journey.”
Catalan read a list of observations he and a group of students made after considering the Niemiecs’ involvement at Beloit. Among them were sightings of one or both of the Niemiecs having dinner in Commons and attending plays, athletic events, lectures, dances, and even the Mr. Beloit contest. The list was comprehensive and sometimes humorous, with Dick Niemiec’s participation in dunk tanks, attendance at Sophomore Retreat, student symposia, move-in day, and his appearance behind the bar at the C-Haus being duly noted with equal appreciation.
“Whenever I see Dick Niemiec, I just want to come up and give him a hug,” one student added to the list of observations.
Students presented the Niemiecs with a framed photograph of campus in appreciation of their service.
Davies Moves into the Dean’s Office
|Professor of Political Science Ann Davies has
been tapped to serve as vice president for
academic affairs and dean of the College.
The new fiscal year marked the beginning of new leadership in the Office of Academic Affairs. Ann Davies, the Edwin F. Wilde, Jr. Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science, is serving as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College for the next two years. Her appointment was announced by president-elect Scott Bierman in April, following the spring meeting of the board of trustees.
Bierman described Davies as “an exemplar of what it means to be a teacher/scholar.” She has served on a range of committees and task forces since joining the faculty in 1997.
Prior to her appointment, Davies taught classes in political theory and public law, and served as a pre-law advisor and contributor to the legal studies program. In 2005, she received the James R. Underkofler Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award. Davies was named the Wilde Professor in 2008, in recognition of her outstanding teaching, scholarship, and service to Beloit.
A graduate of Kenyon College, Davies holds a master’s degree and a doctorate from the University of Chicago. Her research interests include liberal political thought and its reflection in modern U.S. jurisprudence.
Davies’ appointment followed a spring announcement by Lynn Franken, dean of the College since 2005, that she would step down at the end of the 2008-09 academic year. An English scholar with a doctorate from the University of Texas-Austin, Franken will join the faculty in the department of English at Beloit.