It was another banner year for Alma College as students gained recognition, faculty achieved distinction, the campus experienced upgrades and the academic sector moved forward in the development of a nursing program.
Initial state approval for a new four-year nursing program, major student dining renovations to Hamilton Commons, a partnership with a local investor for downtown student housing, and the recognition of two more post-graduate Fulbright scholars were among the top Alma College stories in 2013. Following is a summary:
• In November, Alma College learned that it had passed a critical hurdle in launching a four-year nursing degree program that emphasizes the development of creative problem-solving and interpersonal skills in addition to nursing fundamentals. Pending final state approval, the first class of up to 32 nursing students will enter in fall 2014.
“Nurses need a liberal arts preparation,” says Judith McKenna, director of nursing education at Alma. “Students in our program will not be taught in silos or segregated from other students. Other faculty and disciplines will influence the education of our nursing students.”
• Students were greeted in September to a new campus dining experience with more food options, updated equipment and multiple seating. The renovations to Hamilton Commons reflect current trends in college food service and increased seating capacity by nearly 25 percent.
• John Dau, a genocide survivor who leads efforts to provide medical assistance to people in Sudan, delivered the commencement address in April. More than 285 graduates participated in the ceremony in Hogan Center.
• Seniors Andrea Bouwhuis and Chelsea Duff were awarded Fulbright Scholarships to teach and study in Spain and South Korea, respectively. Twenty-four Alma College students have received Fulbright scholarships over the past 10 years. Duff also received the Barlow Trophy, Alma’s most prestigious award for a graduating senior.
• For the sixth straight year, the Corporation for National and Community Service honored Alma College for its commitment to volunteerism and service with admission to the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
• In March, more than 250 guest high school performers joined 100 Alma College students on the DeVos Performance Hall stage in Grand Rapids during “Resonance: A Celebration of the Performing Arts.” Featuring many of Alma’s top performing groups “Resonance” delighted prospective students and alumni attendance from the west Michigan area.
• Alma College entered into a leasing agreement with investor Kurt Wassenaar, owner of the historic Ammi Wright Opera House in downtown Alma. Wassenaar is transforming the building’s upper levels into residential units and support spaces for about 45 Alma College students while creating 18,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor.
• In September, Alma College exceeded 1,400 in student enrollment for the fifth consecutive year. New students totaled 415, the ninth largest entering class in Alma’s 127-year history.
• The Model United Nations team enjoyed more success in 2013. Last spring, the team captured the highest awards at the national conference in New York City for the 17th consecutive year. In October, the team was invited by the U.S. State Department to help with the preparations for the national Model UN conference in India — an “incredible honor,” according to faculty advisor Derick “Sandy” Hulme.
• Homecoming 2013 festivities included the ground breaking for a new fraternity house. The TKE house, funded by donations from TKE alumni, will provide a residence for up to 20 fraternity members and include a common room where students can meet and interact, dining room, kitchen, chapter history room and designated study area.
• Several faculty achieved distinction in 2013. Liping Bu was selected by the Council of Independent Colleges and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History to participate in a national seminar at Stanford University. A new campus art installation showcases a series of ceramic murals created by Carrie Anne Parks-Kirby. Cameron Reed published a new book on The Manhattan Project. John Davis published new research findings on high-altitude living.
• In December, Alma College launched a new website that features dynamic content and enhanced functionality and adapts responsively to mobile devices.
• In athletics, the Alma College cheer team earned a bid to nationals, which takes place April 2014 in Daytona, Fla. The wrestling team, in only its second year of intercollegiate competition, boasted one of the top academic teams in the nation in 2012-13, ranking fourth out of 89 Division III teams in overall GPA. For the 13th consecutive year, the women’s soccer team received recognition for academic excellence from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.