What’s New at Drew

The Alumni Guide to What—and Who—Is New on Campus

movinginFrom the rafters of Craig Chapel and the backstops of the ball fields to the halls of Hilltop House and the wings of the science building, every corner of campus is buzzing with newness, the happy product of a busy summer at Drew. Here, a rundown of what’s new around the Forest.

A Warm Drewish Welcome

Drew President MaryAnn Baenninger moved into Hilltop House with her husband, Ron, in July. Dr. Baenninger jumped into her work straight away, welcoming new arrivals to campus and hitting the road to meet alumni around the country.

Theological School Dean Javier Viera also arrived in July. Dean Viera was previously the executive minister at Christ Church in Manhattan and holds advanced degrees from Duke and Yale. He’ll be installed as the Theo School’s 15th dean October 16th, on the heels of the Tipple-Vosburgh Lecture and Theo School Alumni Reunion.

The gates swung wide for new faculty members. The college faculty is joined by Emily Hill (computer science), Lisa Jordan (environmental science and sustainability), and Sharri Cecile Byron (economics). We also welcome Assistant Professor of Irish History Caoimhín De Barra in the Caspersen School and Assistant Professor Gerald Liu in the Theological School.

Arts and the Common Good artist-in-residence Valerie Hegarty has an innovative art studio is inside the Dorothy Young Center, and will be creating a new body of art and meeting with students.

The first group of INTO Drew University at New York students arrived on campus from places as diverse as the Netherlands, China, and Kyrgyzstan.

More than 75 new students joined the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies along with Gail Hilliard-Nelson, director of the MAT program, and Corinn McBride, director of graduate admissions.

The new staff in the Department of Athletics include Matt Brisotti C’13, head men’s and women’s tennis coach; Andrew Kohler, assistant basketball coach; Norm Hewitt, Ryan Gibbons, and Matt Kaplon C’14, assistant baseball coaches; Danielle Waleko and Christa Romano, assistant field hockey coaches; and Cynthia Garrett, director of women’s soccer operations.

What’s New with Drew

We’ve enjoyed major progress on the large-scale renovations to the Hall of Sciences, including a revamped psychology wing, a chemistry research lab, two renovated environmental science teaching labs, and additional group project space.

Our new international relations major combines politics, economics, language study, and research, and allows students to spend a semester as interns at the United Nations.

The Semester in Communications and Media in New York City is launching this coming spring semester for juniors and seniors. Students will do on-site visits to public relations and advertising firms, take part in externships, and learn more about all aspects of communication.

The new Vivian A. Bull Academic Commons on the first floor of the Rose Library puts research and study areas, computer assistance, the student writing center, and INTO classrooms in one convenient location.

Upgrades to our athletic facilities progressed over the summer: two of the courts at the tennis complex were resurfaced, and improved backstops are coming to both the baseball and softball fields.


Upon Reflection

Potanovich2“It wasn’t until years after I graduated that I really came to appreciate what an incredible place Drew is,” reflects Rob Potanovich ’97. Looking back, he is especially grateful for the small, highly interactive classes that are the norm at Drew. “You couldn’t hide in that situation. You were expected to participate in discussions and make presentations. That has been invaluable for me in the business world, where I need to develop, share and defend my ideas every day.”

Potanovich’s wife, Susan Applegate Potanovich ’97, also traces her career beginnings back to Drew. As an economics and math double-major, she was able to secure an internship position at Exxon—at that time located just down the road in Florham Park. She was offered a full-time position after graduation that put her on a path to her current position in the energy industry.

Today, the Potanoviches are among Drew’s most loyal supporters as members of the Dendros Society, which recognizes alumni, faculty, staff and friends who have contributed, at any level, to Drew for at least five years in a row. In the Potanoviches’ case, it has been every year for the last 10 years.

Each year that the Potanoviches made their donations they were included in Drew’s alumni participation rate, which is the percentage of alumni making a gift that year. This statistic carries a lot of weight with prospective students and potential funders because it is considered an indicator of the university’s overall strength and spirit.

“Drew prepared us to go out into the world, opened doors for us and has been the source of lifelong relationships,” explains Rob. By giving back they feel they are helping build Drew’s reputation, making sure the university can stay competitive and helping students just like them. “We are continuing to invest in the place that gave us so much.”–Barbara Perkins P’09


United Methodist Annual Conferences

Annually, Drew Theological School and the Office of Theological School Advancement coordinate gatherings at many of the United Methodist annual conferences that take place throughout May and June. These gatherings, small or large, provide alumni a great opportunity to get together, reconnect, and learn about the latest news from Drew. It is also a wonderful opportunity for prospective students who may be interested in starting their theological education to share in the good community that is Drew Theological School.


The Annual Conference gatherings couldn’t happen without the help of our many alumni volunteers. We are thankful for their continued support and dedication. If you would like to volunteer at an Annual Conference this year, please contact Melissa Fuest at 973.408.3695.

Click here for the schedule of Drew gatherings at the 2012 Annual Conferences.

Keep checking this page for updates on the gatherings, or call the Office of Theological School Advancement at 973.408.3695.


U.S. Latino Social Ministries Keep Pace

Leading scholar on Latin American social movements explains that these groups “call on the collective conscience to focus on the vulnerable and the marginalized.”

The greatest strength of the country’s booming Latino community is its deeply religious faith community, which is creating a growing number of organizations to address social concerns, sociologist and author Milagros Peña told an audience at the Drew Theological School.

“Many of these Latina-Latino faith-based organizations are also moral organizations. They call on the collective conscience to focus on the vulnerable and the marginalized,” said Peña, a University of Florida professor known for her research into the impact of religion on the lives of Hispanic immigrants, especially women. On May 1 she delivered the school’s annual Frederick A. Shippey lecture, established to advance scholarship in the sociology of religion.

Hispanics comprise 16 percent of U.S. residents, a number expected to grow to 20 or 30 percent by 2050, Peña said. While ethnically and religiously diverse—belonging to Catholic, Protestant and Pentecostal congregations—they are disproportionately affected by poverty, low educational levels and unfair labor practices. They are also establishing footholds in new places. In New York City, for example, Mexicans are moving into East Harlem, historically a Puerto Rican neighborhood. Hispanics are also settling in many counties of the American South and the Midwest.

A native New Yorker whose own childhood was positively impacted by Roman Catholic nuns, many of Irish descent, Peña’s research has involved interviewing Latino pastors and lay leaders about the new social ministries. Some have organized across racial and ethnic lines, especially in the fight for affordable housing, she said. Peña pointed to Vision Urbana on New York’s Lower East Side, the Latino Pastoral Action Center in the Bronx and the Community Development Corporation of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Paterson as leading examples.

“They are not a panacea,” she said in response to a question from an audience member who said he was critical of some faith-based programming.  “I’m a sociologist and skeptical about any organization—organizations breed a lot of human dynamics. You’re always going to have abuse of power and abuse of resources. But that shouldn’t be a reason not to try.”—Mary Jo Patterson


Tragedy (and Triumph) in DoYo

On Sunday, May 5, Drew achieved a milestone: the very first opera production in our Concert Hall. Students, faculty, staff and community participants in the Choral & Vocal Studies program performed Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, the tragic love story of the Queen of Carthage and the legendary founder of ancient Rome.

This production seems to me a reflection, on many levels, of the university. As a liberal arts institution, we intentionally look at our world through multiple lenses – in this case, music, theater, dance, art, literature and history – in service of a deeper way of learning and a richer interdisciplinary experience. As a community, we came together with shared purpose – each bringing their unique aspirations and promise – and unintentionally created a celebration of Drew itself. –D. Jason Bishop, Director, Choral and Vocal Studies


Thomas H. Kean Reading Room Dedication

On Saturday, April 21, hundreds of alumni and friends gathered to dedicate the new Thomas H. Kean Reading Room & Gallery at the Drew University Library.  Last year Governor Kean announced that he was donating his personal papers and other materials to Drew so that they would be available for public study and research.  Private donations then provided almost $1M to create a facility that offers both design and technology which enhance access to and understanding of the Governor Thomas H. Kean collection.

The Governor Thomas H. Kean collection at Drew consists of records created during Kean’s two terms of office in New Jersey, from 1982-1990, including legislative briefings, speeches, photographs, correspondence, press releases and news clippings.  The collection also includes records created during Kean’s term as the tenth president of Drew University from 1990-2005.

About the collection > 

An original mural was commissioned for the new Kean Reading Room & Gallery. The mural captures two major phases of the career of Thomas H. Kean: the left side of the room-length panorama is the artist’s rendering of Mead Hall around 1836, the right side portrays the New Jersey State House from about the same period.

About the mural >

The day of celebration began with a symposium honoring the work of Governor Kean.  Edward McGlynn and Leonard Coleman, Jr. discussed Kean’s statehouse days. Professor emeritus J. Perry Leavell recalled Kean’s presidency of Drew University.  Dr. Alvin Felzenberg reflected on Kean’s leadership of the 9-11 Commission.  The grand opening of the reading room and gallery was officiated by Dr. Andrew Scrimgeour, Dean of the Libraries, and Dr. Robert Weisbuch, President of Drew University.  After cutting the ceremonial ribbon, Governor Kean expressed his appreciation to former colleagues, friends, family and state officials in attendance.  The afternoon concluded with a toast to Governor Kean in honor of his birthday which coincided with the dedication.

View more photos from the celebration >


This Day in Drew History

“New occasions teach new duties, and we are, whether we like it or not, at the beginning of a new era,” declared the newly inaugurated President of Drew University, Arlo Ayres Brown T’1907, on Thursday, October 17, 1929.  Little did he know the significance of his words.  Black Tuesday came less than two weeks later, and with it the beginning of the Great Depression.

But that October day the Drew community celebrated the annual Founder’s Day with three significant events, what Honorary President Ezra Tipple described as a “witness and festival of the Drew that was, and is.”

In 1928, brothers Leonard and Arthur Baldwin of East Orange had donated $1 million to establish a liberal arts college at Drew, along with the $500,000 needed to construct a new building.  The first highlight that day was the dedication of this brand-new Georgian style brick building, trimmed with Indiana limestone, Westminster chimes in the clock tower, and a working fireplace in the library (the present-day BC Café).

At 10:00 A.M. The Reverend Edmund Soper T’1905, President of Ohio Wesleyan University, offered an invocation to open the dedication.  Leonard Baldwin then explained the intent to establish “at the edge of this beautiful forest a school of liberal arts with the standing and character of Drew,” as he presented the classic building that would seat generations of then-unknown students.

Following the dedication, the trustees hosted a luncheon in the S.W. Bowne Hall Refectory for official delegates from 140 American colleges and universities and the second commemoration of the day.  During the meal, Arlo Brown reflected on the great legacy of Samuel Bowne at Drew, including the Great Hall where they dined, Hoyt-Bowne dormitory, S.W. Bowne Gymnasium (re-invented as the Kirby Theatre), and Bowne Gateway. Brown then presented four new Tiffany & Co. stained glass windows – representing John Wesley, Francis Asbury, Truth and Courage – given for Great Hall by Mrs. S.W. Bowne in memory of her late husband.

By 2:00 p.m. delegates, faculty and trustees were gathering for an academic procession to University Chapel and the third historic event of the day.  Leonard Baldwin, President of the Board of Trustees, presided over the inauguration of Drew’s sixth president, Arlo Ayres Brown.  Speaking on behalf of his fellow graduates, Charles W. Flint T’1906, Chancellor of Syracuse University, said that “We alumni are proud of our own Drew, of her beautiful forest and extensive buildings, of her rich history and heritage of her great scholars and teachers.”

Drew University has witnessed other economic downturns over the last nine decades, not to mention global conflicts and social revolution. In his inaugural address 83 years ago today, Ayres Brown confirmed an unwavering commitment to “standards of excellence in education” and to “producing citizens who can contribute to the larger community.” Through all the challenges and changes since 1929, Drew has stayed true to these guiding principles.–Barbara Perkins P’09

View the Dedication program

View the Inauguration program



They’ve Got Game

1867 Lounge, Ehinger Center

With their senior gift, Drew’s newest graduates give the university community a way to build bonds.

The Class of 2013 plans to bestow on Drew something that its members remember as pivotal to their own college experience: fun and games.

Renovations to what was then the University Center, now the Ehinger Center, led to pitching the building’s aging game tables, such as a battered Ping-Pong set.

Their absence was sorely felt.

Christine Felix ’13, co-chair of the senior gift committee, says the group wanted to fill that gaming void. “A lot of the people on the committee remembered back to their freshman year sitting around the Ping-Pong table,” Felix says. “That was a great place to make friends.”

To date the class has raised $10,696. Combined with a $7,500 match from trustee emerita Nancy Schaenen, the class will have more than $18,000 to purchase games for the C’80 Pub, the Space and the 1867 Lounge. Felix says the class hopes to purchase PacMan, pinball and Ping-Pong games, among others.

“This year has been quite a good year,” says Schaenen, who was instrumental in launching the senior gift program at Drew in 1983. She has partially matched every class gift over the last three decades as a way of encouraging students and giving their gifts even more impact.

The senior gift, a Drew tradition dating back 30 years, draws its staying power from the value of service to society, a notion instilled in students throughout the campus community, says Stephan Pahides ’83. Pahides helped fundraise for the first such gift, the Class of 1983 Senior Gift Award, which annually recognizes with a cash prize two juniors who demonstrate a commitment to improving campus life. This year’s recipients are Zainab Sulaiman ’14 and Neena Robertson ’14, both active in multiple student organizations.

“At graduation, many seniors are eager to discard their student identity and to take those first steps as an active participant in the larger world,” Pahides says. “What better way than to declare one’s support for Drew?”—Lynda Dexheimer



The Zuck Collection of Botanical Books

botanicalDrew Library has received a significant collection of books on botanical illustration, the gift of Lois E. Jackson C‘63. Ms. Jackson’s donation, to be called the Zuck Collection of Botanical Books, is named in honor of Florence and Robert K. Zuck, distinguished former professors of botany.

As Ms. Jackson humorously relates, she arrived at Drew with plans to major in mathematics, but was soon advised by her calculus professor to seek another area of study. Fortunately, she had also enrolled in Professor Robert Zuck’s Introduction to Botany course and there found her calling. Besides her immediate absorption in plant evolution and physiology, she discovered a native ability for executing the lab drawings that were required. Art history and studio art classes helped develop her skills and understanding of technique and mediums.

After graduating from Drew in 1963, Jackson worked at Dartmouth College as a laboratory assistant in plant taxonomy, where her drafting skills soon came to the attention of Dartmouth’s botany faculty. Eventually she was hired by the Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital in Hanover as a scientific, medical and technical illustrator. She prepared charts, microscopic slides, and illustrations of plants, animals and medical procedures, as well as creating and labeling the illustrations required for scientific and medical journal submissions. When her work took her further from botanical illustration and into medical technology, she decided to look for another position.

Her love of botanical drawing remained, though, and she was able to continue as an avocation what she had given up as a vocation. Jackson has studied with master botanical artists at the Chelsea Physic Garden in London, the New York Botanical Garden, and the British Society of Botanical Art.

As Jackson’s initial studies broadened to include an interest in the history of botanical art, she began to collect books on earlier artists and their materials and techniques. This in turn led her to the study of herbalists, plant-based medicine, economic botany, ethnobotany, garden design and ecology. She recalls that her first major purchase was the three-volume Britton and Brown Flora of Northeastern North America, which set her back almost a week’s salary in 1963. Her collection currently contains about 500 titles.

The Zuck Collection of Botanical Books encompasses historical and contemporary botanical art and illustration, plant exploration and discovery, herbals, florilegia, reference works, field guides, how-to books and technical studies. The Drew Library is grateful to Lois E. Jackson for her gift of this significant interdisciplinary resource.–Lucy Marks, Special Collections Cataloger

This story was originally published in Visions, Issue 34.

Representatives works from The Zuck Collection of Botanical Books will be on display in the Main Library from October 3rd – November 4th. 



The Tenacious Litigator

J.B. Harris ’81 took on big tobacco for a minister who’d lost a lung to cancer—and won.

jbharris-landingThere’s nothing quite like sinking your teeth into the neck of an opponent and not letting go, says J.B. Harris ’81.

The defense team for the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company learned that last year, when Harris, a personal injury attorney in Miami, represented Emmon Smith, a tall, septuagenarian reverend who started smoking at age 13 and by high school was addicted. In 1991 Smith lost a lung due to cancer and was from then on plagued with health problems.

As part of a nine-member trial team, Harris argued that the cigarette maker had marketed to African Americans like Smith, and for decades “engaged in a campaign that was nothing short of the final solution, in my opinion,” Harris said. The verdict returned in Smith’s favor for $27 million in damages, the largest award in the history of Jackson County, Fla., where Smith lived.

The small, scrappy group of Miami lawyers defeated the large, moneyed defense of the cigarette maker. “We were the team that was expected to lose,” Harris says, “and we came in there and rang their bell.”

This is his mission in life, and he does not mince words about it. At 54, Harris is dedicated to fighting the cigarette industry, he says, because it is “an industry built on death, disease and addiction.”

There was no clear indication that a political science major and lacrosse player named Jonathan B. Harris would end up in the courtroom. While at Drew, Harris thought he might become a writer; he recalls two professors, Jane Cole and Joan Steiner, who taught him how to write, and in doing so, how to think.

He became convinced that law was the right path, with some blunt advice from his mother. “She said, ‘You’re not going to be a doctor because you’re not good at science. You’re not going to be an accountant because you aren’t good at math,’” Harris recalls. “So law was the next best thing.”

But as he navigated his law education and budding career after Drew, there was a point when he considered quitting.

A landmark 2006 Florida Supreme Court decision allowed Harris and hundreds of other lawyers to represent individuals in suits against the cigarette industry, “I finally found what I wanted to do,” Harris says.

There was an orphan case that other lawyers had passed up: Emmon Smith’s.

The case wrapped in everything that Harris has found he enjoys, at a core level, about practicing law. Here was Smith, a well-respected reverend in a rural southern town, who served in the military, who had a family and lived in the home he grew up in, who lost a lung to cancer, who had an opportunity to be compensated by the industry that Harris says wronged him; and nobody but Harris would represent him. When the verdict was returned in Smith’s favor, Harris says there was elation, relief, vindication and “a sense that justice had been done.” Smith died six months later at age 80.

The verdict is being appealed—pro forma for the cigarette industry, Harris says.

He intends to try three more cases against the cigarette industry this year, and another three next year.

The opportunity to try the cases is unique in history and, Harris says, fitting for his personality.

“You can use the metaphors you want for litigation being a cage match, et cetera,” Harris says. “There’s nothing bloodier than a fight to the finish in a tobacco case.”

—Dustin Racioppi



The Opportunity of a Lifetime

Each year since graduation, we appreciate our Drew education more and more. We think about the extraordinary professors who really cared about challenging us to succeed. We recognize that opportunities like DIS, Ranger teams, and DUDS helped us grow as people and build lasting friendships. In so many ways, Drew prepared us for graduate school, for our careers and for life.

Through our work with the alumni association, we have come to realize that our education was made possible, not only by the professors and professionals at Drew, but also by the alumni who came before us. You see, the tuition that Drew takes in doesn’t cover what it spends each year to provide the kind of education we received. Think about it – we weren’t one of hundreds of students in a lecture hall. We had seminars and labs where our professors knew our names and we had a chance to participate. That kind of education is costly, but – we believe – priceless.

How, then, does Drew make ends meet? Donations from alumni, and others, to The Fund for Drew help make up that difference between tuition revenue and annual expenditures. As a result, Drew is able to offer substantial scholarship support to students. That is as true today as it was when each of us was a student. These days almost 58% of undergrads with financial need get scholarships, and another 39% of highly qualified students get merit scholarships – Drew gave a total of $27 million in aid from its own resources last year alone.

Since The Fund for Drew is so important, we hope you will consider making a gift this year. Your continued giving will make sure that the next class of students gets the same opportunity of a lifetime that we enjoyed.


R. Camper Bull C’91

President, College Alumni Association

Sigourney H. Giblin C’06

Vice President, College Alumni Association


The McAlumni Myth: French Fries, the Liberal Arts, and Drew

A Word From Kenneth Alexo Jr., Vice President for University Advancement 

BC_050113_campus_172It’s a joke I often hear when I tell people I work at Drew University. The standard version goes something like this: “An engineer looks at an idea and asks, ‘How does it work?’ An accountant looks at it and asks, ‘How much does it cost?’ And a liberal arts graduate looks at the same idea and asks, ‘You want fries with that?’”

My initial reaction to this hackneyed criticism of the liberal arts is to take pity on my interlocutors; they have obviously not had the advantage of the very education they feebly seek to denigrate. And then the teacher in me–or, what is essentially the same thing, the fundraiser–takes over. This is one of those perfect teaching moments, I tell myself, and I embrace the opportunity to show these tired, oh-so-astute critics of the liberal arts the error of their ways.

The evidence, both statistical and anecdotal, convincingly demonstrates that a liberal arts education prepares graduates for personal and professional success much better than pre-professional or vocational programs. Indeed, the data show, among other things, that alumni of liberal arts colleges and universities possess the very skills and capacities employers insist they’re looking for; that they earn more during their lifetimes; that they’re more likely to be promoted; that they can more effectively and easily master the skills of new technologies and industries; that they’re more likely to vote and be involved in their communities as citizens; and that they are, generally speaking, happier with their lives than their counterparts who did not receive a liberal arts education. (I suspect they also tell infinitely more clever jokes.)

To illustrate the point, I share with my befuddled detractors of the liberal arts that Drew has far more than its proportional share of CEOs of major corporations, research scientists, investment bankers, political and non-profit leaders, entrepreneurs, media and entertainment executives, and hedge fund managers. So much for the idea, I say, that a liberal arts education provides little in the way of practical knowledge or the skills that matter in the “real world.”

For most of the 12 years that I have had pleasure and privilege of working at Drew, I have assumed that I am just one soldier in a vast army engaged in a battle for the liberal arts–a just war, if ever there were one. In recent years, however, I have begun to question this assumption. As the attacks on the liberal arts have grown stronger and more widespread, the number of people willing to defend the “education befitting a free person” seems to be shrinking. Perhaps we have, as a society, become increasingly satisfied with college graduates who cannot write well, think critically, interpret texts, evaluate empirical claims, solve problems or tackle ethical dilemmas?

Or perhaps it’s just the Drew University regiment that has decided a liberal arts education is not worth defending. I say this because, less than 10 years ago, nearly one-half of College of Liberal Arts alumni were giving back to their alma mater, which put Drew well ahead of other private liberal arts colleges and universities such as Bucknell, Connecticut College, Skidmore, and Franklin and Marshall. Today, that number has dropped to less than one-quarter–and we trail the average alumni giving rate for our peer group of colleges by a good seven or eight percentage points.

I understand that there are many reasons for this precipitous decline in Drew’s alumni participation rate: a persistently unstable economy, mounting student debt, competition from other worthy non-profits, concerns about the rising costs of a Drew education. Nationally, alumni giving has hit an historic low, which does not bode well for the future of American higher education and its long-standing reliance on “paying it forward”–on alumni subsidizing the education of those who succeed them at their alma mater, just as their own education was subsidized by those whom they succeeded.

It nonetheless surprises me–and my colleagues in Alumni House and across campus–that so many Drew alumni have, in recent years, chosen not to give back. The negative impact of choosing not to support Drew is considerable: it suggests dissatisfaction with the liberal arts education you received, and a disinterest in making that education available to the deserving students following in your footsteps. It also entails fewer and smaller grants awarded to Drew by corporations and foundations, which refuse to support schools not supported by their own alumni. And it also brings Drew down in the rankings, as the percentage of alumni making a gift (size doesn’t matter) is used to gauge a university’s reputation.

Choosing to make a gift to Drew, on the other hand, tells a very different story. When alumni support their alma mater, it implies that their Drew experience still means something to them, that they care about the present and future value of their diploma, that they recognize the debt they owe to the generations of alumni before them who supported their education, that they are grateful for Bob Smith, Joy Phillips, Doug Simon, Kesha Moore, Bob Fenstermacher, Carlos Yordan, Gerry Smith-Wright, Perry Leavell and the countless other Drew faculty who helped shape their minds and enrich their souls. Perhaps most important, for $10 or $15–the cost of a burger and a beer at Poor Herbie’s–alumni can demonstrate their commitment to the enduring value, usefulness, and necessity of the liberal arts education they received at Drew.

By the way, the real problem with the joke about the putative “uselessness” of the liberal arts is that it ignores a basic question: Who came up with the idea in the first place? I’m not a gambler, but I bet it was neither the engineer nor the accountant, but the liberal arts grad. It may even have been a Drew alum.


The Making of a Meadow

Wildflower-2Stroll along the path from Mead Hall to Brothers College on a warm summer day and are you are likely to hear little more than a breeze in the towering oaks and the cry of a red tail hawk circling above. That’s because lawn mowers have been largely banished from the newly established Mead Meadow.

Last summer, native flowers–such as Butterfly Milkweed, Purple Coneflower and Wild Bergamot–were planted throughout a .5 acre area of the lawn. Now mowers only cut once a year, in late autumn, after the flowers have gone to seed. The deep root systems of wildflowers and native grasses naturally loosen the soil, enabling the roots of surrounding trees to better absorb oxygen and nutrients. According to Mike Kopas, executive director of Facilities, the trees in Mead Meadow are already showing improved health with new growth and increased leaf size.

Look closely and you will find that the meadow is also home to myriad forms of animal life. “A typical lawn is really a dead zone in terms of the food web,” explains Sara Webb, professor of Biology and director of Environmental Studies and Sustainability. “A meadow, on the other hand, supports all kinds of insects–including endangered pollinators–and small mammals, which then attract a variety of birds.” Webb uses projects like the meadow as teaching opportunities where students are deeply involved in the restoration and monitoring processes.

The meadow is part of Drew’s overall “Climate Action Plan” that calls for the university to become carbon-neutral by 2035. Reduced mowing is one step forward because, according to the EPA, “operating a typical gasoline-powered lawn mower for one hour produces the same amount of smog-forming hydrocarbons as driving an average car almost 200 miles under typical driving conditions.” Earlier this year, Drew received acclaim for its leadership in creating vibrant ecosystems in the midst of campus (see The Glory of Being Green), including Mead Meadow.

At first glance, the meadow may seem like nothing more than an overgrown lawn. But the playful Rudbekia and Giant Hyssop are actually signs of care–not neglect–for Drew’s campus, our own laboratory of sustainability where students learn what it means to be “green.” This commitment to the planet and its next generation of citizens has deep roots not only in the Forest, but in the meadow too.–Barbara Perkins P’09

Want to start your own meadow?

  1. Prepare the site by removing any undesirable vegetation. For example, you can dig out selected plants or till an entire plot.
  2. Spread native seed in the late fall so it experiences winter dormancy, or plant container grown perennial wildflowers in the fall or spring. Ask your local plant nursery for recommendations of flowers and grasses that are native to your area.
  3. According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, native grasses should make up 50 to 80 percent of the meadow because they discourage weeds and support wildlife.
  4. In the first year you may need to continue removing undesirable vegetation so it does not crowd out your plantings. Do not mow the area until late-blooming flowers have dropped at least half of their seeds, but leave cuttings which may contain more seeds (you can even wait until late winter to provide food and cover to wildlife).
  5. It can take three to five years for a meadow to become fully established, but then will be lower maintenance than a turf lawn and will attract birds and beneficial insects to your yard.

The Humanities at Work

Caspersen Fall

As the workplace becomes increasingly responsive to the demands of globalization and complex social transformation, the strengths of the humanities scholar—deep intellectual engagement with ideas and broad understanding of human culture and experience—are resurgent in value and relevance. The Caspersen School of Graduate Studies knows this well, as do the students, ranging from 23 to 78 years of age, who turn to Drew to reenergize lives and careers. Recognizing that “the majority of our students are accomplished professionals, seeking new options and new insights,” says Dean Robert Ready, the school has become a leader in developing “professionally relevant and intellectually rigorous programs that put the humanities to work.”

At the same time, these new academic initiatives serve to integrate the humanities into daily and civic life, putting the humanities to work for the common as well as the individual good. Here’s a sampling of three of the latest innovations at the Caspersen School.

Certificate in Conflict Resolution Arts & Letters

Designed for law-enforcement personnel and veterans in the tri-state area, while also open to others, this new certificate program brings a humanities emphasis to the growing field of conflict resolution. The curriculum integrates fieldwork with academic study in conflict resolution and mediation as well as the humanities. Course topics include ethics, religious diversity, and the sociology of gangs, providing humanities-based insights into the cultural, historical, and sociological divisions at the root of conflict. Employment is predicted to grow by 22 percent through 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with an increasing number of sectors—from business to education, from law to social services—hiring conflict-resolution specialists. Law-enforcement personnel and veterans, already skilled in analyzing and defusing tense situations among many kinds of people, are well positioned to pivot into the field.

Elementary and Disabilities Education Teaching

Building on the success of its master of arts in teaching (MAT) program in secondary education, the school will expand to elementary education as well as disabilities education certification at both levels. Pending approval by the New Jersey Department of Education, the school plans to begin matriculating students for the new programs in fall 2015 and expects MAT enrollment to more than double. Drew-educated teachers are highly valued in the marketplace for their superior knowledge and preparation; our students receive an additional nine credits of graduate-level study in their chosen subject area, surpassing state standards. “There’s no better example of the humanities at work than a well-prepared teacher stepping into the classroom to educate the next generation of learners,” says Ready, noting that the MAT program recently received a gold-standard five-year accreditation from the Teacher Education Accreditation Council.

RxPoetica Medical Humanities and Poetry

Can poetry help to reset the balance between spirit and science, between the care of the patient and the treatment of the disease? RxPoetica, a collaborative initiative between the Caspersen School and the Center for Humanism at Rutgers’ New Jersey Medical School, brings our graduate students together with medical students, medical residents, and attending physicians in the reading and writing of poetry. Exploring the human experience of illness and wellness through poetic expression helps healthcare providers to deepen empathy and affiliation with their patients, resulting in better outcomes for patients and deeper satisfaction for doctors. And, for students in our poetry and medical humanities graduate programs, RxPoetica offers an avenue for building academic portfolios while contributing meaningfully to the betterment of society. —Lori Chambers

Visit the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies to learn more about our programs in teaching, poetry, history & culture, arts & letters, medical humanities, and research ethics.


The Digital Age

Growing interest by art students results in new digital lab

Eva Alvarez ‘13 , Chinese New Year Celebration, 2012

When the fall semester began a few weeks ago, students settled in to the first dedicated digital arts lab at Drew in the Dorothy Young Center for the Arts (affectionately known as DoYo).  “We are thrilled that the new facility brings all of the art classes under one roof.” says Rebecca Soderholm, Assistant Professor of Art.  Previously, students interested in studying digital imaging, animation, video and photography worked in a PC computer lab in Brothers College.  Now they have access to state-of-the-art Macintosh computers and digital arts software such as PhotoShop, Illustrator, Premiere, and After Effects.  So do their fellow studio art students who use computers as visualization tools for painting and three-dimensional design.

“In the past, computers were their own discipline.  Now they are a fundamental tool in the arts just as in every other discipline,” explains Assistant Professor of Art, Lee Arnold.  Drew’s digital curriculum provides students with a foundation in the fine arts; however it also aims to give students practical skills.  For this reason, Arnold emphasizes, “It’s important that we provide our students with hardware and software that is the standard in advertising, entertainment and the news media.”

According to Art Department Chair, Raymond Stein, digital classes are the fastest growing part of the arts curriculum at Drew.  They represent a third of all art courses offered, but wait lists persist because the interest still surpasses the available space.  The new lab has 14 work stations, along with a green screen, animation stand, printers, enhanced networking and security. Stein is grateful that Drew made this important investment in the program and hopes that future funding will enable the digital arts lab to more fully accommodate the growing demand.

–Barbara Price


The Advocate

Irene Lawson Sterling ’69, grew up in Branchville, a rural corner of New Jersey where, she says, “There were more cows than people.” But a course in urban ministry at the Drew Theological School, taught by the late theologian Nelle K. Morton, took Sterling into the streets of Paterson and changed her life forever.

Sterling adopted Paterson as her hometown and never left, spending more than four decades there working for social change while raising a daughter with her husband, Howard Sterling T’91. For the past 20 years, as director of the nonprofit Paterson Education Fund, Sterling has been a tireless advocate for the city’s children. Now 66, she plans to retire this fall, though she has no desire to step away from the city’s civic life. “My husband and I are both very interested in nurturing local institutions,” she says.

Sterling says she plans to return to the arts, something she pursued in her 20s. After she and her husband moved to Paterson in 1969, they started a street theater ministry funded by the United Methodist Church. They also founded a regional children’s theater, and Irene produced and co-wrote plays. She says she might revive a play she wrote years ago called Children of the Mills, or maybe write a children’s book about the Great Falls. And then there’s Danforth Memorial Library and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, both in need of restoration. “They are wonderful institutions,” Sterling says, “serving some of the poorest folks in this community.”

Sterling actually majored in history at Drew. When Howard, her boyfriend and a theology student, enrolled in Morton’s urban ministry class, Sterling tagged along. She remembers the professor as a trailblazing feminist who challenged churches to become more socially active. “In the urban ministry course, she looked at social change and civil rights and took her students into Paterson,” Sterling says. “It wasn’t a place I knew, but I got hooked. I couldn’t wait to get out of the countryside.”

Sterling joined the Paterson Education Fund soon after the federal government published its 1983 report, “A Nation at Risk,” warning that schools were failing to educate students. By then her daughter was a student in the Paterson system. Today Sarah Laldee, now 36, teaches science at Paterson’s School No. 2.

The state Department of Education took over Paterson’s troubled schools in 1991 and still runs the district, and in the past three years the high school graduation rate has risen to 60 percent from 50 percent, according to Sterling. “The schools are hostage to political forces that are beyond their ability to change,” Sterling says. “No one has come from the state with a solid vision. It’s been churn, churn, churn. But 30 years ago no one expected that every kid would finish high school, never mind go to college. Since then expectations have changed radically. The new expectation is that all kids be highly educated. That’s been a hard shift, but we’ve made it.” —Mary Jo Patterson


Sneak Preview

Enter the Ehinger Center through the turreted foyer and you step into an entirely new experience of what university center means at Drew. The open floor plan, proliferation of natural light, and soothing natural tones invite you through a spacious lobby into both re-invented and newly created spaces.

Main Corridor

The transformation of the old University Center, which opened in 1959, took just over 12 months and $12.5 million. Almost $8.3 million of the cost was donated by alumni and friends of the university, including a $3 million gift from Tony and Marianne Ehinger C’80 for whom the building is now named.

The newly renovated Ehinger Center stands ready to welcome the Class of 2016 in just one week. Many of its architectural and functional elements are intended to make this a destination for students, encouraging them to gather on campus and build a stronger sense of community. For instance, the Servery includes a coffee bar and smoothie station, pizza oven and “grab & go” area; fireplaces in the Dining Hall and 1867 Lounge create a home-like atmosphere.


For the first time, student organizations, such as SGA, the Acorn, and WMNJ, have dedicated offices and meeting rooms. Commuter students now have a proper lounge where they can relax in front of a curved wall of windows looking out on the forest. Not to worry – old favorites, the Pub and The Space, are there (including the original bar top) in more functional and accessible spaces.

Student Activities

Join the Drew community on Friday, September 28 as we celebrate this new beginning and dedicate the Ehinger Center during Alumni & Family Weekend.


SAT Policy Reviewed

Cardoni_Honorstudents10_MG_6201Seven years after Drew made the SAT optional for high school seniors applying for admission, the university has reinstated the standardized exam as a requirement in the application process.

During this past academic year, an eight-person task force studied the impact of the SAT-optional policy. Outgoing CLA dean Jonathan Levin says task force members expressed strong beliefs on both sides of the debate.

“I think where the committee came together was the sense that we felt the SAT could be a valuable component of the review process,” he says, referring to identifying strong candidates, particularly in the sciences. “But we wanted to maintain the flexibility and opportunity to identify students who are coming with different kinds of strengths.”

The task force also considered that roughly 80 percent of high school seniors who applied to Drew since 2006, the year the SAT-optional policy took effect, included their SAT scores, even though they were not mandatory.

The group recommended retiring the policy, which Drew President Vivian Bull signed off on this spring. The first class to enroll under the new requirement will start in fall 2014. Students who feel their test scores don’t reflect their abilities will still be able to submit supplemental material for consideration, such as a graded paper or a portfolio.

“One thing that won’t be changing is our commitment to look at each student as an individual,” says Bull, “and evaluate them based on their entire record of achievement.” —Christopher Hann


Robert L. Fenstermacher Summer Research Fellowship

“Bob Fenstermacher wasn’t just a great teacher; he was the reason I came to Drew,” reflects Dr. David McIntyre ’86.  “During my first visit to campus he went out of his way to show me around, talk with me, and follow up with a personal note.  I didn’t get that kind of personal attention at any other school I was looking at.  And that experience continued throughout my studies and work with him, not to mention the annual physics club Christmas taco parties at Bob’s house.”

So, when Bob Fenstermacher announced his retirement in 2010, Dave McIntyre, along with Bill Clark C’91, Da Hsaun Feng C’68, Rick Fuest C’68, P’02, ‘08, and John Ollom, Robert Fisher Oxnam Professor of Science and Society emeritus, Professor of Physics emeritus, quietly got together to endow a fellowship in his honor.  The day they shared this news is one Bob says he will never forget.  “I was astonished.  I had no idea this was happening. It was such a Drew moment!”

This past summer the first Fenstermacher Summer Research Fellowship was awarded to physics major and math minor, Christopher Mascio ’13.  Chris spent six weeks in the Drew Summer Science Institute conducting research on the application of Raman spectroscopy – which uses laser to measure the molecular contents of a substance – to detect water quality, using the pond in Drew Arboretum as a test case.

Like so many others, Chris chose Drew for the small class sizes and close interaction between students and faculty.  “At Drew you can ask a question any time: in class, after class, after hours.  What’s more, you are invited to do hands-on research from day-one as a freshman.”  Chris says he is honored to have received the fellowship named for “Dr. F.” and plans to continue studying physics in graduate school. “Getting this grant makes me feel like all my hard work was worth it and I am on the right path.”

–Barbara Price


Rename Our Newsletter.

Help us rename our monthly alumni newsletter!

Vote on Facebook.





Recent Graduate Outcomes Survey

Last fall graduates from the College of Liberal Arts classes of 2000 – 2010 were invited to take part in a survey about their educational experience at Drew, specifically professional and graduate school preparation and outcomes.  Over 450 alumni participated in the survey that was conducted in partnership with EduVentures, the industry leader in higher education research. We are grateful to those who shared their information and opinions.

The survey found that alumni are successfully navigating life after Drew, reporting that they are as prepared or more prepared than peers, and are employed at a higher rate than the national average.  Key findings of the survey included:

  • 95% of respondents found a job or attended graduate school within one year of graduating from Drew.
  • 3.5% of recent Drew alumni reported being unemployed which is below the national unemployment rate of 4.4%, indicating that Drew alumni are successfully moving into professional activities post-graduation.
  • While respondents overall feel as prepared or more prepared for their job compared to peers, those with jobs related to their major stand out as feeling more prepared than peers (51%)
  • 67.3% reported that Drew helped them develop skills that matter – critical thinking, writing, problem-solving, sense of ethics, and ability to work as part of a team – very well.
  • A strong connection between alumni relations and career services is vital to providing connections among alumni (56%) and to build a robust job bank (47%), the top two services requested by alumni.

Read full report >

Alumni who completed the survey were entered in to a raffle.  Congratulations to our winners!

iPad:  Michael Schiller C’10

$50 Amazon Gift Card: Pete Cole C’02

Drew Sweatshirts:  Daniel Adler C’00, Elyse Atkinson C’08, David Kessler C’05, Ben Weisman C’06

Thank you to everyone who took part in the survey. Your feedback will shape future programs and initiatives that help prepare students for post-graduate careers and education.  The Office of Alumni and Parent Relations and the Center for Career Development will also use the survey results to develop programs that address the needs of recent graduates.  From networking opportunities through the regional Drew Clubs to professional guidance from the Career Center, services and benefits will be informed by your input.


Ready appointed Caspersen Dean

President Weisbuch recently announced that Robert Ready has been appointed Dean of the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies.  In making his announcement, Weisbuch stressed that “As the University seeks to achieve greater impact from our graduate programs, we are fortunate to have a leader of Bob’s experience, and personal and intellectual qualities.”

Ready, who is also currently the Donald R. and Winifred B. Baldwin Professor of Humanities, Professor of English, and Convener of the Arts & Letters Program, has led the graduate school as interim dean since last summer.  He first joined the Drew faculty in 1970 shortly after earning a Ph.D. at Columbia University and held the National Endowment for the Humanities Distinguished Professorship at Drew from 1996-2000.

The Caspersen School of Graduate Studies opened in 1955 and today has five degree-granting programs that Ready describes as “doing the humanities.”  Reflecting on his appointment Ready notes, “I hope that in my own way, I can work worthily in the line of the deans of the graduate school I have known in my time at Drew: Bard Thompson, Merrill Skaggs, Jim Pain, Edye Lawler, and Rich Greenwald.”


Rangers Reunited


On October 10, a record-setting crowd of 140–and 200 more via livestream–gathered for the 23rd annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony and dinner (view the event). The following day, parents, students, alumni, and friends enjoyed a  day of alumni games, varsity games, and tailgates. Ranger Reunion, and especially the Hall of Fame, is a timely reminder of the important role athletics plays in a true liberal arts education.

“There’s a direct correlation between a robust athletics program with accompanying facilities and fields and institutional pride, recruitment, and retention of students,” said Drew President MaryAnn Baenninger in her remarks at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony and dinner. “To be part of a Ranger team is a genuine experience of team and leadership. (Learn more about the Athletics Master Plan.)

The Athletic Hall of Fame, a tradition that began in 1991, recognizes and honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to Drew athletics and have brought distinction to Drew University and its athletic programs. Its newest inductees are Justin Bonura C’03, Kara (Fetter) Carola C’04, Tim Lawlor C’99, Connee Zotos, and the 1969 Men’s Soccer Team. These individuals and the many teammates, classmates, and coaches they have inspired represent the commitment they have made to each other and to Drew.

bonuraJustin Bonura arrived on campus in the summer of 1999, the beginning of the most successful era of Rangers men’s soccer. Bonura fit right into head coach Lenny Armuth’s system. The dynamic and durable midfielder played 84 games during his collegiate career at Drew. His illustrious statistical career included 24 goals and 21 assists for 69 career points. His assist mark still ranks sixth in the Rangers record book, while his goal and point totals both rank in the top 15 all-time at Drew. He was named the MAC Freedom Conference Player of the Year three consecutive years from 2000 to 2002, and earned the honor of 2002 to 2003 Drew University Male Athlete of the Year. His junior and senior postseasons also included Second Team Regional All-America accolades. An economics and business major, Bonura is now a division manager for New Jersey Lenders Corporation in Little Falls. He lives in Parsippany with his wife, Gianna, and their 2-year-old, Luca.

carolaNearly a decade after Kara (Fetter) Carola graduated, the Rangers’ field hockey and women’s lacrosse standout still serves as a gold standard of what it means to be a Division III student-athlete. Carola’s statistics reflect the kind of player she was on the field, and her magna cum laude graduation distinction and four All-American honors in two sports make her a shining example of what it means to be a Ranger. She played 81 games for head coaches Maureen Horan-Pease and Kelly Ford in field hockey and 76 games for head coach Kim Christos in women’s lacrosse. Carola still holds the Drew women’s lacrosse record for career goals with 271 and is second all-time in career points with 357. In field hockey, her 141 career points (53 goals, 35 assists) rank fourth in the Rangers record book. Overall, her outstanding athletic ability led her two programs to a combined 107-54 record and five conference championships during her time at Drew. Carola is now a licensed professional counselor. She lives in Glassboro with her husband, Dave, and their 2-year old, Samantha Ray.

lowlerFifteen years after graduation, Tim Lawlor still holds the Drew record in the 500-yard, 1,000-yard and 1,650-yard free style events, and the 200-yard and 400-yard individual medley races. He is the most decorated men’s swimmer in Drew history. A two-year captain for the Rangers, Lawlor led by quiet example and hard work. He recalls a lifelong lesson learned from head coach Pat Mead: sports are not just about playing games; dedication, hard work, and the willingness to selflessly give to teammates define who you are as a person. Lawlor works as the personal security adviser to the Chief of Naval Operations and lives with his wife, Erin, in Arlington, Virginia.

zotosConnee Zotos’ tenure as director of athletics has gone down as the most successful period in the storied Rangers’ intercollegiate athletics program. She served from 1994 to 2008 and while the list of on-field accomplishments under her watch is extensive, her administrative work to spearhead the formation of the Landmark Conference and advance that stature of women in sports is just as important and impressive. Under Zotos’ leadership, Drew won 51 conference or league championships in 10 different sports, 28 players were selected as All-Americans, 15 student-athletes were named conference Player of the Year, 39 staff members were named Coach of the Year, and her facilities hosted three NCAA Championships. Based on eight years of data, an average of 72 student-athletes were selected to Conference All-Academic teams per year during her stint as the Drew director of athletics.

Learn more about the Athletic Hall of Fame, hear the induction speeches in their entirety, and browse through the ceremony’s program.


Professor McGuinn writes to attain education reform

Political Science Professor Patrick McGuinn discusses the role of parents in education (Photo by Justin Camejo)

When not busy teaching Political Science courses, Professor Patrick McGuinn spends his time researching, writing, and speaking about educational policy reform. “Parent Power: Grass Roots Activism and K-12 Education Reform,” published in July 2012 served as the required reading for a conference in D.C with policymakers in November.

His latest article, “Parent Power: Grass Roots Activism and K-12 Education Reform,” urges parents to become a part of education reform outside of funding school parties, being a class parent, or attending their local PTA meeting.

Within his piece, McGuinn urges parents to work in unison with education reform advocacy organizations (ERAOs) and to fight for their interests and “crucial reforms.”

“Parent power is the apple pie of schooling: everyone likes it and says pleasant things about it,” reads the Foreword.

As stated in the Foreward, McGuinn’s piece examines questions such as “What are we learning from [new parental reform groups?] Where are they succeeding, and where are they struggling? Are certain types of parents more likely to become advocates? If so, who are they, and what distinguishes them?”

Parallel to these questions, McGuinn comments on three major points throughout his paper: those being, “choice does not equal activism, exit versus voice, and building capacity.”

In elaborating on these points, “Parent Power: Grass Roots Activism and K-12 Education reform,” explains, “the mere act of choosing a school does not turn parents into activists. Rather, reform groups must actively cultivate parents, building the civic skills and engagement that are necessary for participation,” as elaborated by Hess’s piece.

Additionally, the piece argues that, “parents who send their children to schools of choice have exited the traditional school system and thereby have less incentive to use their future reform discussions.”

In terms of ‘building capacity,’ McGuinn speaks of the urgency for these parent education reform groups to become larger and more powerful as soon as possible.

In addition to his piece on Parent Power, McGuinn additionally co-edited a book volume with Paul Manna from William and Mary College, entitled “Education Governance for the Twenty-First Century: Overcoming the Structural Barriers to School Reform” (December 2012). “The book volume features insights from scholars around the globe on how to improve the current education policy,” McGuinn explained.

His most recent piece, an article posted to the website for the Center for American Progress, entitled “The State of Teacher Evaluation Reform: State Education Agency Capacity and the Implementation of New-Teacher Evaluation Systems.”

The article takes a closer look at how state departments of education have began to make room for new evaluation systems. While also “[identifying] challenges and lessons that can be used to guide future reform efforts in this area,” the piece says. “The overarching theme throughout all of my work is the education policy and reform stuff in Washington. I am urging these D.C. think tanks to take a step away from the theoretical pieces of education reform and begin to consider new policies,” McGuinn explained. “It is all based on the equity piece for me.”

According to McGuinn, his passion for education reform stems from his early roots in education. After graduating with a B.A. from Franklin and Marshall College in 1993, he became a teacher before pursuing a M. Ed. and a Ph.D, in Political Science and teaching from the University of Virginia.

“My dissertation was on the No Child Left Behind Act and I have been pursuing those issues ever since,” McGuinn stated. “I’m just overall really interested in what’s going on in education,” he continued.

Parental power is “geared towards reaching the policy-makers.” And after presenting it at a conference two weeks ago, one D.C. commentator stated that “Parent Power: Grass Roots Activism and K-12 Education Reform” should have a place on every policymaker’s desk.”

“I took that as a pretty big compliment, so I guess it’s being pretty well received,” McGuinn said. “These conferences and conversations bring a lot of people together for conversations around these issues.To have my paper be the assigned reading must mean that my colleagues are finding it useful,” he elaborated.

“These are very controversial issues and the object of my papers and my research is to figure out the best mechanisms to update the policies that are already in place. And to create new ones on the ground. My goal is to figure out the best way to facilitate these plans,” McGuinn explained.

As a speaker on one of the many panels at the conference in D.C. this weekend, he defined the conference as an “Off the record conversation among progressive policy makers.”

While eager to delve more deeply into his own research and the work of others as a part of this conversation, he semi-seriously said, “What goes on in D.C must stay in D.C, it’s kind of like Vegas.”

Kimberly Ammiano

This article originally appeared in the November 30, 2012 issue of The Acorn.


Powerless in the face of the storm

I’ve seen disaster reports before, but this is the first time I’ve recognized pictures.

There, behind the reporter standing shin-deep in ocean water, is the street to my friend’s house. There’s Governor Christie, striding along the boardwalk where I spend my summers. That’s my gas station with a three-hour wait and odd-even rationing, and I know that blown-down building. That’s my Jersey Shore, filling up screens across the country.

I wasn’t home when Sandy hit. My family agreed it would be safer for me to stay in Mendham (near Morristown) at my roommate’s relatives’ house. Logically, it was the best decision—the storm was still strong, but less dangerous than it was for the coast. We didn’t lose power completely until 7:30 p.m. Monday night, and all of the trees around the house stayed up. There was hot water and enough food for 20 college students, let alone two. We could charge phones and computers at the firehouse where my roommate’s uncle worked, and there was a fireplace to keep us warm. I stayed there until Halloween. For me, those few days were the worst of the week.

Our hosts were lovely—their house was our house. But as I sat doing homework by daylight and flashlight, their battery-powered radio crackled out damage reports and their charged iPads and phones were full of pictures of home. It’s strange to see AP disaster photos of your own area. It’s stranger still to see them while you’re sitting safely somewhere else. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should have been there. All I wanted was to go home.

My parents came to get me on Wednesday. The roads were passable, and I was allergic to the Mendham house’s dog. Driving back through my neighborhood in Oakhurst, 10 minutes north of Belmar, was better than any Halloween cornfield maze. The power lines that weren’t draped across the road were looped along bushes like Christmas lights, or wrapped around the massive trees that had fallen every which way, regardless of fences, houses or streets. My family was lucky—only one tree hit our house, causing minor external damage.

The rest of my Sandy vacation was actually fun. There was no power or hot water, and I didn’t do any more homework. All three of the generators we borrowed broke down somehow. But I love an adventure, and my family isn’t the type to stay dispirited for long. Since all of us were home, we took our Christmas card picture, sitting on the tree that hit our house, with an axe, saw and chainsaw wrapped in bows. On the nights we had a generator, we gathered around a computer screen for family movie night. I learned four new card games, pet horses at my brother’s riding lesson and the food was still better than Commons. Sure, there was no power and trees down. But that only meant we could see more stars.

–Katie Yasser C’15

This article originally appeared in the Acorn on November 9, 2012.


Plugged In on Wall Street

As the iPad 2 was being released in spring 2011, Associate Professor of Economics, Marc Tomljanovich, considered the impact this technology might have on Drew’s Wall Street semester. With an iPad, he thought, students would have access to up-to-the-minute information, as well as being able to take notes and create presentations, while participating in this highly mobile program.

The Wall Street Semester has been bringing Drew students into New York’s financial district twice a week each spring semester for the past fifteen years to learn from leaders in the financial industry and visit places that are central to the U.S. economy.

Matthew Altman C’11, an alumnus of the Wall Street semester, recalls needing to have real-time economic news as a participant in the program.  “When we arrived to class each morning, student teams were expected to present on daily trends.”

That used to mean getting your hands on a hard copy of the Wall Street Journal.  But, thanks to a donation from a Drew alumnus, Wall Street Semester students were provided iPads last spring semester which enabled them to study the Wall Street Journal, and other information sources, online while riding the train to their classes in Manhattan.

Kyle Reinhardt C’12 was one of those students who found that the iPad gave him “access a world of information on the go.”  According to Reinhardt, “This is critical as the financial industry places ever increasing emphasis on information and speed.”

In addition to the Wall Street Journal app, the iPads enable students to access textbooks for this course, share ideas and information with fellow participants through Dropbox, and review sophisticated financial data through Stocktouch.

Professor Tomljanovich has observed how this technology enhances the learning process.  “For example, Dropbox added a new layer to what we are doing.  It enables students to have an on-going dialogue – anytime, anywhere – about their responses to guest speakers, assignments, and daily happenings.”

Nick Canan C’13, who participated in the pilot project, found that in the iPad was also helpful in navigating around the city. “There were definitely days we wouldn’t have gotten to where we needed to be without using Maps or Hopstop for subway routes!”

The 2013 Wall Street semester begins in just a few weeks, and students will once again be armed with iPads.  They have the option to purchase the tablets at the end of the semester.  “I think it says something about the usefulness of this tool that all the participants of the pilot project choose to buy them,” Tomljanovich reflects with a smile.

Kimberly Ammiano


People Caring about People


In March 1995, two dozen intrepid Drew students decided to spend their well-deserved spring break helping needy children in Honduras.  They found their way to El Hogar de Amor y Esperenza, a home for abandoned and orphaned boys, where they painted the schoolhouse and doted on the children.  They volunteered at Nuestras Pequeñas Rosas, one of only a few homes for girls in Honduras.  Those experiences proved so powerful that the Drew Honduras Project – now in its 18th year – is the longest running service program on campus.

The Drew Honduras Project, which began at the urging of Nathaniel Raymond ’99 and Julia Schleck ’99, continues to be a completely student-run humanitarian group. The goal was to provide funding, labor and supplies to children’s homes in Honduras.  Along the way, Drew students took on unexpected responsibilities and connected with people in ways that would not have been possible in larger humanitarian efforts.

“We were a bunch of enthusiastic, but uninformed, students trying to be helpful,” Schleck recalls of the first trip. “We quickly realized that this wasn’t a charity mission.  It was a life-changing experience for us as well as a commitment to the people and place.”

These days, about a dozen students are selected by the student-run Honduras Project board and spend an entire academic year preparing for a two week trip in May.  This includes logistics, like arranging work projects and transportation, in addition to fund-raising.  Each participant pays their own way and makes contributions to the organizations with which they work – totaling about $850 per student.  The group’s most infamous fundraiser, the Pants Auction, which raised thousands of dollars over the years, was the brainchild of Raymond, who convinced Drew faculty and national celebrities, including Kurt Vonnegut, to donate their trousers to be sold off for the cause.

Sandra Jamieson, professor of English, has been faculty advisor to the Honduras Project almost from the beginning.  She sees her role as that of advocate and observer.  “Each day in-country, we have a time of reflection.  Invariably, a student will explain what they experienced in the context of their Drew knowledge. It might be an economics major talking about the Honduran economy, or a science student about public health.”  Time and again, she has seen the trip transform students’ understanding of the world and their own place in it.

honduras-1“On the last day in Copán we visited an orphanage,” recalls Nicolette Lynch ’13 of the most recent trip to Honduras. She says that the small children, though living in squalor and deprivation, greeted them with joy and excitement.  “I cried because, despite their living conditions, these children could still smile,” Lynch says. “The time we spent playing with each one gave them the kind of attention I am pretty sure they rarely receive.”

“This experience taught me that I have the ability to help, and that sometimes the smallest things count the most,” she concluded.–Barbara Perkins P’09

Learn more about the Honduras Project.


Newark and Harlem teens attend College

For the fourth year selected students from West Side High School in Newark, Frederick Douglass Academy in Harlem, and the Union Settlement Association in East Harlem lived and studied at Drew this summer.  The Drew Summer College, directed by Professor Wendy Kolmar, brings approximately forty teens from inner city schools to get a real experience of academic and extracurricular life in college.  During the week-long program each group is introduced to subjects they may not have been exposed to before, such as archeology, psychology and theatre.  They learn skills to navigate the college process, including admissions, financial aid, research and writing skills, and career planning. They spend time with mentors, who are high-achieving current undergraduates at Drew, learning about what it means to attend a liberal arts college.

The Drew Summer College began in 2007 with a grant from the Teagle Foundation.  Since then Bank of America, Charles Hayden Foundation, Provident Bank and Prudential Foundation have all provided generous funding to sponsor one or more of the four weeks the program runs each year.

In addition to building community partnerships that help disadvantaged students pursue a life-changing education, the Summer College program also serves Drew’s purposes.  A diverse campus is a fundamental component our academic mission – to create an environment in which teachers and students are engaged in a communal process of encounters with people, places and ideas beyond one’s own background.  This kind of educational environment fosters intellectual growth and prepares our students for life in an increasingly global world. By bringing students from urban settings to campus, Drew faculty and students gain a better understanding of what it means to build an intellectual and social climate that supports diversity.  Moreover, although the program was not intended as a recruiting tool, a number of participants in the Drew Summer College have enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts.

But, it is the Drew Summer College mentors who may be the biggest beneficiaries of the program.  As they share their experiences and hear about the obstacles these high school students have overcome, the mentors become more purposeful about their own education and lives.  Says mentor Adijat Mustapha C’11 of the experience:  “Some of these kids come here so tough and defensive because of all the negative messages they have had in their lives. Sometimes it seems like you are not getting through to them.  But they are the ones crying the hardest about leaving on the last day of the program.  As a Summer College mentor I’ve learned not to make assumptions about people and not to give up in trying to connect with them.”


Moving Words

phillipsProfessor Patrick Phillips saw one of his poems displayed throughout New York City’s transit system, and another published in New York Times Magazine.

poemIt’s fair to say most poets toil in anonymity, but not Patrick Phillips, at least not last winter. That’s when Phillips, an associate professor of English, had one of his poems displayed on New York City subways, buses and taxis. The five-stanza, 10-line poem, “Heaven,” was chosen by the Poetry Society of America for the New York MTA’s Poetry in Motion program, part of an initiative that showcases poetry on public transit subways and buses in more than 20 cities nationwide. The designation earned Phillips what he calls “surely my biggest audience ever.” Phillips, who grew up in Georgia, has taught at Drew since 2007. He says he tries to teach his students to imagine some of what’s going on beneath the surface of other people’s lives. “Reading is about empathy,” he says. “That’s as good as it gets, as far as I’m concerned.” As for writing poetry, Phillips says for him the act doesn’t actually involve much writing. In fact, he says, “I find composing pretty excruciating.” He says his writing process largely involves “finding scraps and things on envelopes, files I dashed onto my hard drive and old abandoned poems. I begin my writing day with a kind of rummaging.” “Heaven” was included in Phillips’ second collection of poems, Boy, published in 2008 by the University of Georgia Press. A third collection, Elegy for a Broken Machine (Alfred A. Knopf), was published in March. As part of the Poetry in Motion program, “Heaven” also appeared on the small digital screens inside New York City taxis. “Drunken people at 2 a.m. will be trying to turn the screen off,” Phillips says, laughing. —Katharine Reece


Making a Big Difference, a Little Bit at a Time

14376639016_71bf2a8f9d_zEvery little bit counts: Cliché it may be, but Emily Litman C’99 can attest to its truth. As a high school senior, she had her heart set on Drew, but knew that her dream college was a bit of a stretch. Two days before the enrollment deadline, news of a last-minute scholarship tipped the college-of-choice calculus in favor of Drew. “Drew truly did change my life,” says Litman, now a fifth-grade teacher and ever appreciative of the generosity “that made my amazing Drew experiences possible.”

That’s why she was so taken with an idea proposed by her longtime friend Carla Brady C’99: Let’s structure our class scholarship to benefit current Drew students for whom a little help will make a big difference. Starting in 2015, thanks to the marshalling prowess of Litman, Brady, fellow classmate Steve DeLuca, and the C’99 reunion committee, the generosity of many class members was sparked, and the Class of 1999 Scholarship was successfully endowed. Starting in 2015, the C’99 Scholarship will be given to one or more continuing Drew students who, because of unforeseen financial circumstances, may not otherwise be able to complete their Drew studies. In endowing the scholarship this year in honor of their 15th reunion, the Class of 1999 becomes the 17th in Drew history to endow a class scholarship.

“This is quite a feat for a class only 15 years out of college,” says Jane Driscoll Himmelrich, director of donor relations and stewardship, “and we’re deeply grateful to the many who made this new scholarship a reality, as well as those in other classes who are doing the same.” Since the start of the One And All campaign—the first major fundraising effort for Drew in a decade, and its most ambitious to date—the number of endowed class scholarships has increased by 89 percent, with the Class of 1999 Scholarship being the most recent.

Alumni support is a big reason that Drew can be so generous with student scholarships, to the tune of $30 million a year. For many students, these college-based scholarships hold the promise that a Drew education—full-impact learning in a small-college setting—can be more than an aspiration, and often at a price tag comparable to that of a New Jersey state college.

“Drew students are doing fantastic things,” says Brady, a daily witness to their boundless energy in her role as assistant director of student activities, “but sometimes they can run into a financial problem with needing an extra class or finishing that last semester. Emily and I thought it was important to help these students finish up and become our fellow Drew alumni.”

Fittingly, the Class of 1999 pooled many smaller donations into a scholarship that will have a big impact, with Litman and Brady rallying their classmates through phone calls, social media, and personal appeals at campus events and alumni gatherings. “People feel like they can’t contribute because they can’t write a check for $10,000,” explains Litman, the recipient of the 2014 Alumni Volunteer Award. “But the important thing is not what you give but that you give. I always tell people, ‘If you can only write a check for $1, then write a check for $1.’

“So many of us received help to fund our Drew educations,” she continues, pointing, as an example, to her own sophomore-year travel-study seminar in Yemen for which she received a Drew scholarship. “I want to ensure that future generations will be just as fortunate as I was to benefit from the generosity of others.”—Lori Chambers

Stories recently featured in issues of the Gateway Messenger, Drew’s electronic monthly newsletter.