Year-In-Review: Alma’s Top Stories in 2017

Advances in academic discovery, community outreach, campus construction and student achievement highlight Alma College news in 2017.

Nursing Simulation Lab Nursing Simulation LabNursing accreditation, the roll-out of a new scholarship program for Gratiot County students, national recognition as a “college that creates futures” and faculty research discoveries were among the top Alma College stories in 2017.

Alma’s undergraduate nursing program, launched in 2014, achieved full accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education sooner than expected. The program’s first graduates passed the National Council of Licensure Examination — a requirement in order to be a registered nurse in the State of Michigan — at a higher rate than the national average.

“Receiving accreditation is a crucial achievement that assures the public that our students are enrolled in a credible program that meets high standards,” said Judith McKenna, nursing education director.

A distinction of Alma’s nursing program is its affiliation agreement with MidMichigan Medical Center-Gratiot in Alma, which provides clinical laboratory space for Alma’s nursing students. The simulation lab with high-fidelity mannequins allows for hands-on training and gives students opportunities to work on nursing skills.

Scholarships, Profiles, Philanthropy

The Alma College Community Engagement (ACE) Scholarship was created as a result of collaborative conversations with community education leaders. The program will award full tuition scholarships to up to 10 community-engaged Gratiot County students.

President Abernathy responds to the news media at the Alma College Community Engagement Scholarship launch. President Abernathy responds to the news media at the Alma College Community Engagement Scholarship launch.“These are the students that Alma College covets — active, engaged students who want to make a difference in their home communities,” said President Jeff Abernathy. “This is a win-win program for both our community and Alma College.”

The Princeton Review recognized Alma College for its “superb academics” and experiential learning opportunities in the book, Colleges That Create Futures: 50 Schools that Launch Careers by Going Beyond the Classroom.

In its profile on Alma College, the publication praised the college for its on-time graduation pledge, Venture and Posey Global funding for off-campus experiences, Model United Nations success, STEM education and research, faculty support for student success and supportive alumni network.

For the second year in a row, Alma College achieved a record for philanthropic support, raising nearly $19 million in gifts and pledges during 2016-17. Included in the overall fundraising total was a record $1.605 million for the annual giving program.

Academic Discovery, Teaching and Learning

Faculty research earned significant national coverage during 2017.

Alex Montoye in his lab. Alex Montoye in his lab.Alex Montoye analyzed the effectiveness of digital fitness devices to monitor physical activity. He warned that the devices are not perfect, and that there are some things they can’t measure. His research was reported in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Kiplinger’s Magazine.

Elizabeth Cameron warned that employees who post disparaging comments on social media may be at risk for workplace discipline. Her study on recent National Labor Relations Board decisions involving social media cases received a Distinguished Paper Award from the Midwest Academy of Legal Studies in Business.

Maurie Luetkemeier conducted the first known study to document changes in sweating function associated with tattooing. His research, published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise and cited in the New York Times, Time Health, Runner’s World and other publications, rang an alarm for potential health risks for heavily tattooed individuals.

Liping Bu Liping BuLiping Bu examined Public Health and the Modernization of China in a new book published in 2017. She argued that public health campaigns were an essential element in creating a modern, strong Chinese nation.

Cameron Reed examined the wartime history of Los Alamos, N.M., in an article published in Physics Today. Reed is the author of three books and numerous articles on the development of atomic bombs during the Manhattan Project of World War II,

Extraordinary Student Achievement

Two-time Academic All-American Kaitlyn Arnold successfully merged distance running and academics during her extraordinary college career. She was awarded the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship — only the 12th student-athlete from Alma College ever to receive the award.

Cameron Spitzfaden was the 2017 recipient of the Barlow Trophy. The double major in physics and mathematics, with a minor in theatre and dance, balanced interests in science research and dance performance.

First-year student Nathanial Haut won an entrepreneurial innovation award from the Michigan Colleges Alliance for optimizing farm irrigation techniques. He was awarded a $7,500 scholarship.

The Model United Nations team continued its national dominance by capturing the highest awards at the National Model UN Conference for the 21st consecutive year.

Laureano Thomas-Sanchez Laureano Thomas-SanchezLaureano Thomas-Sanchez won acclaim at several national bagpiping contests, landing him in elite company as one of the top amateur solo competitors in North America.

Physical Campus Enhancements

Campus improvement and renovation projects totaling more than $6 million were launched on the Alma College campus during 2017.

“As the college grows and invests in campus improvements, the entire Alma community benefits,” said President Abernathy. “I’m pleased that all of this summer’s contracted work is being done by Michigan companies, and that we have spent more than $1 million with local contractors.”

Work in the Dow Science Center focused on the conversion of an open-air courtyard to new academic space for science instruction and research, while renovations to the main lobby and west wing of Gelston Hall, Alma’s oldest student residence, were completed in August.

Construction of the Zeta Sigma Scholar House was completed in time for fall occupancy; the residence for up to 16 students was dedicated at homecoming. Also at homecoming, the TKEs dedicated their house in memory of Dr. Eugene Pattison ’56, who served 40 years as TKE advisor.

Zeta Sigma ribbon-cutting Zeta Sigma ribbon-cuttingIn December, Alma College assumed ownership of the Wright Opera Block development in downtown Alma. The college plans to develop the property’s ground level as retail space and the second and third floors as student apartment housing.

Notable Speakers

In January, national activist Jessica Pierce delivered the keynote address for Martin Luther King Jr. Week, headlining a week of campus activities that focused on the history of the Civil Rights Movement.

Kim Taylor, commencement speaker Kim Taylor, commencement speakerIn March, feminist author Kate Harding, known for her no-nonsense examination of sexual violence in modern America, decried “the rise of rape culture” in her keynote address for Women’s Month.

Also in March, author and social commentator Robert P. Jones discussed “The End of White Christian America” using data to explain societal shifts in religion, culture and politics that affected the 2016 presidential election.

In April, Detroit business leader Gary Torgow, chairman of the Chemical Financial Corporation, delivered the annual Honors Day keynote address. He discussed “leadership through community building” and efforts to revitalize Detroit neighborhoods.

Also in April, Kim Taylor, a 1983 graduate of Alma College and a senior executive with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, delivered the 2017 commencement address.

In November, Army veteran Eric Fair discussed the role he played in “enhanced interrogation” in Iraq and the effect it had on his life.

Excelling in Athletics

The cheer and STUNT teams excelled at the national level in 2017. The cheer team finished first in its division at the National Cheerleaders Association College Nationals in Daytona Beach, while the STUNT team posted the program’s best finish at the College STUNT Nationals in April. USA Cheer named Alma’s Dominique Burke as the 2017 College STUNT Athlete of the Year.

Athletics Hall of Fame Athletics Hall of FameIn April, four individuals and one team were inducted in the Athletics Hall of Fame, bringing the total number of inductions to 214 since the 1971 founding of Alma’s Hall of Fame.

The softball team ended the 2017 season in the regional round of the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year after winning the MIAA regular season and conference tournament. The Scots finished the season ranked 21st nationally in the NCAA. Senior Morgan Stratton was named a Third-Team All-American by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.

Story published on December 08, 2017