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Mark Christel Named Librarian of the College

Mark ChristelMark Christel, director of libraries at the College of Wooster in Ohio, will be the next Samuel R. and Marie-Louise Rosenthal Librarian of Grinnell College. He was selected through a national search and will begin his new position on Aug. 1.

"Mark Christel brings an impressive record of leadership and innovation to the Grinnell College Libraries," said Michael Latham, vice president for academic affairs and dean of Grinnell College. "His experience in promoting student and faculty research, interdisciplinary digital initiatives, external grants and collaborations, facilities design and strategic planning makes him well suited to this role. I am confident that he will provide outstanding leadership for the Grinnell College Libraries, and I am grateful to members of the search committee for their efforts."

Christel has served with distinction in positions of increasing responsibility over the past 22 years at Hope College, Vassar College and the College of Wooster. Since joining Wooster as Director of Libraries in 2008, Christel built close collaborations with faculty to support student learning, carefully stewarded collections, and championed emerging technologies to promote open access and scholarship. 

He is a committed advocate for the application of digital technologies in teaching and research. He also was the lead author of two Mellon Foundation grants awarded to the Five Colleges of Ohio and has served on the steering committee for the Institute for Liberal Arts Digital Scholarship. 

"I am so honored to be joining Grinnell and its exceptional library staff," Christel said. "Grinnell’s foundational commitment to undergraduate research and teaching creates an exciting context for exploring the traditional and evolving facilities, services and collections offered by contemporary academic libraries.  

"I look forward to many engaging conversations about what the libraries are and might become, and then working with key campus partners and my colleagues within the libraries to achieve that vision over the coming years."

Christel succeeds Julia Bauder, who was named interim director of Grinnell's libraries last October after Richard Fyffe, Samuel R. and Marie-Louise Rosenthal Librarian of the College and associate professor, began permanent medical leave. He died on Nov. 5, 2015, due to complications from ALS.

"It is very humbling," Christel said, "to follow in the footsteps of Richard Fyffe, a friend and colleague whom I greatly admired."

An award-winning librarian, Fyfe made vital contributions to many national partnerships and consortia. He also was an eloquent advocate for libraries' central role in fulfilling the educational mission at Grinnell and other liberal arts colleges.

In announcing Christel's appointment, Latham said, "I want to thank Julia Bauder for her great commitment and dedication in serving as interim director of the libraries. At a time when Grinnell sought to recover from the loss of Richard Fyffe, she brought great energy and vision to a challenging task, and she excelled at it. We are all in her debt."

Audition for Grinnell Singers! Fall 2016

New Grinnell Singers Auditions

Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, Room 152

  • Monday, August 22, 3:30–5 p.m.
  • Tuesday, August 23, 3:30–5 p.m.
  • Wednesday, August 24, 7–8 p.m.

Sign up for an audition

Returning Singer Auditions

Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, Room 152

  • Thursday, August 25, 4:15–6 p.m.; 7–9 p.m.
  • Friday, August 26, 4:15–6 p.m.

All returning students are required to complete an individual audition. We need to complete these auditions for returning students before the callbacks on Saturday, so we will need the cooperation of the returning students in fitting in all of these individual appointments on the Thursday and Friday of the first week of the semester.

Sign up for an audition

Callback Group Auditions

Sebring-Lewis Hall , Saturday, August 27

  • Altos, 10–11 a.m.
  • Sopranos, 11 a.m.–noon
  • Basses, 1–2 p.m.
  • Tenors, 2–3 p.m.

For the Audition

Please fill out the information sheet provided online prior to the audition.

The ten-minute individual audition will consist of:

  • Singing one of the two sight-reading selections. You will have the opportunity to practice the two pieces ahead of time. The two pieces are “Sainte-Chapell” by Eric Whitcare (mm. 1—32), and “Ave Verum Corpus” by William Byrd (mm. 1—22).
  • Singing back short melodies played on the piano (testing tonal memory).
  • Testing your range using a simple pattern, such as 1-5-4-3-2-1 on "ee" and "ah" vowels. The pattern will move up and down by half steps.

Optionally, you may sing a prepared piece up to three minutes long. It is helpful to hear how you sound when you're singing a piece that you know well. Any style is acceptable — whatever allows you to show your musical and vocal personality. Again, this is optional; it is perfectly ok if you don't have a prepared piece.

Generall Historie of Plantes

The Herball, or, Generall Historie of Plantes, gathered by English surgeon and botanist John Gerarde, is a lushly illustrated guide to botany and herbal medicine. Special Collections is home to a rare first edition printing of the Herball, published by John Norton in 1597. This 419-year-old book is remarkably intact; however abrasions on the cover and minor stains and tears throughout demonstrate that this book was frequently consulted. In fact, Gerarde’s Herball was the most widely circulated book on plants published in English in the 17th century.

The first edition of the Herball consists of 1,484 pages divided into three books: “The First Booke of the Historie of Plants, Containing Grasses, Rushes, Corne, Flags, Bulbose, or Onion-rooted Plants,” “The Second Booke… Containing the description, place, time, names, nature, and vertues of all sorts of herbs for meate, medicine, or sweete smelling use, etc.,” and “The Third Booke… Containing… Trees, Shrubs, Bushes, Fruit-bearing plants, Rosins, Gums, Roses, Heath, Mosses: Some Indian plants, and other rare plants not remembered in the Proeme to the first booke. Also Mushrooms, Corall, and their several kindes, etc.”

The Herball was published more than a century prior to Linnaean taxonomy; therefore, the plants discussed within the book are not organized according to rank-based classification. Instead, Gerarde arranged the plants using a classification system based on differences of leaf structure. The back of the Herball contains multiple indices, including a table of the “Nature, Vertue, and Dangers of all the Herbes, Trees, and Plants, of the which are spoken in this present Herball.

Gerarde’s prose combines naturalistic description and Elizabethan folklore. For example, Gerarde writes that Tragopogon, pictured on these pages, is commonly known as “Go to bed at noone,” “for it shutteth it selfe at twelve of the clocke, and sheweth non his face open until the next daies sunne do make it flower anew” (595). The author’s description of the medicinal uses for Tragopogon is equally poetic. He writes that the root of Tragopogon “warmeth the stomacke, prevaileth greatly in consumptions, and strengthneth those that have been sicke of a long lingering disease” (596).

Although the Herball bears Gerarde’s name, most of the book is a translation of a renowned herbal published by Dutch scholar Rembert Dodoen in 1554. Furthermore, Gerarde did not translate the entire book himself; he took over the translation project from Robert Priest, a member of the London College of Physicians who died before the book was published. Additionally, almost all of the eighteen hundred woodcuts in the Herball were taken from the Eicones Plantarum of Jacobus Theodorus, published in 1590, which were in turn reproductions from other earlier works. Though Gerarde was the superintendent of the gardens of the adviser to Queen Elizabeth, his knowledge of botany fell short and he paired many plant descriptions with the wrong illustrations. A second edition of the Herball, corrected and expanded to around 1,700 pages by London apothecary Thomas Johnson, was published in 1633, two decades after Gerarde’s death.

Gerarde is often credited with contributing original entries about plants from his own garden, including plants from the New World that were considered rare and exotic at the time. Notably, Gerarde’s Herball contains the first English description of the potato. Gerarde obtained a Virginian potato plant for his own garden through his contacts with explorers Walter Raleigh and Francis Drake. The illustration included with his entry, which is one of the only original woodcuts in the Herball, was the first depiction of the potato many English people had ever encountered.

We encourage anyone with an interest to drop by Special Collections and take a look at this book in person.  Special Collections and Archives is open to the public 1:30-5:00pm Monday through Friday and mornings by appointment. Additional information about the Herball can be found on the websites for the University of Virginia Historical Collections at the Claude Moore Heath Sciences Library and on the Encyclopaedia Romana published in affiliation with the University of Chicago.

http://exhibits.hsl.virginia.edu/herbs/herball/

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/aconite/gerard.html#anchor5371

 

Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program Loan Repayment

Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows who have entered a Ph.D. program in a Mellon designated field within 39 months of graduation from Grinnell are eligible for up to $10,000 in loan repayment benefits. For each year of full-time graduate study, one-eighth of your undergraduate debt (up to $1,250) can be paid by the Mellon Foundation through Grinnell College. Students who complete their doctorate are eligible for an additional $5,000 in loan repayment.

Lopatto to be Honored for Excellence in Science Education

David Lopatto headshotDavid Lopatto, the Samuel R. and Marie-Louise Rosenthal professor of natural science and mathematics, professor of psychology, and inaugural director of the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment, will receive the 2016 Bruce Alberts Award for Excellence in Science Education.

The American Society for Cell Biology selected Lopatto for the award for his leadership in assessing the benefits of undergraduate research experiences. The award is named after former ASCB president Bruce Alberts.

“It is significant that professional scientific organizations are recognizing work in science education,” Lopatto says. “Understanding the student experience and the best practices for science learning are essential for inspiring the next generation of scientists and science teachers.”

Central to Lopatto’s research and national impact have been several survey instruments that capture student self-reported feedback and enable analysis of the impact of experiences on student self-perceived gains in knowledge, skills, and confidence in research.

The Survey of Undergraduate Research Experiences (SURE) was developed by Lopatto in 2004 and was the first instrument available to faculty and program directors for assessing the impact of research programs. It was quickly adopted by faculty for use in diverse applications.

Since the introduction of the SURE (now in its third iteration), Lopatto has directed the development of related instruments, including measures of perceived student impacts of classroom-based Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) research; interdisciplinary STEM curricula; and research in non-STEM areas. These assessment tools are now used by over 150 institutions with more than 10,000 students annually.

Possibly the most significant impact of Lopatto’s work has been in establishing standardized faculty practice for assessment, which has laid the groundwork for development of new approaches and tools for student outcomes assessment.

Progress in the past decade has advanced assessment practice in STEM communities, and the conversation has expanded to include education researchers, cognitive scientists, and evaluation scholars, all of whom now inform practical understanding of student learning in STEM. These interactions not only advance assessment practice but also have led to new scholarship including discipline-based education research.

As noted by one of Lopatto’s nominators, Cynthia Bauerle at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, “These developments continue to motivate improvements in faculty practice initiated originally by the efforts of early researchers like Dr. Lopatto, who recognized the importance of assessment practice as a driver for improved teaching, for achieving a more ‘scientific teaching.’“

Lopatto will accept the award on Dec. 4 at the ASCB annual meeting in San Francisco.

Slavic Coffeehouse and Maslenitsa

Two students joke around while serving the long line of patrons at the Slavic coffee houseA longstanding tradition in the Russian department, our annual Slavic Coffeehouse and Maslenitsa this year was a tremendous success, thanks to the leadership of Russian House and our Russian majors, as well as all of our Slavic and Russian-speaking international students.

A huge crowd of students, faculty, staff, and community members enjoyed Russian favorites like bliny, borscht, and pirozhki, as well as Czech, Polish, Serb, and Uzbek dishes, all prepared by students.

Maslenitsa, a traditional Orthodox holiday, is Russia’s version of Mardi Gras, during which we customarily burn a chuchelo (scarecrow) of winter. This year’s fire was spectacular, with flames leaping high against a dark blue sky. Charlie Eddy ’16 treated us to a rendition of Russian bard Vladimir Vysotsky’s “Он не вернулся из боя” [“He didn't return from battle”].

Woman licks finger while holding plateful of foodThe Slavic Coffeehouse and Maslenitsa were held in Bucksbaum Center for the Arts this year, where guests enjoyed the wonderful exhibit in Falconer Gallery, “Siberia: In the Eyes of Russian Photographers.”

This event was part of our exciting extracurricular programming in the department, which also included a visit by Eric Greene ‘85, director of the Office of Russian Affairs in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, and former Russian ambassador John Byerle, as well as a book talk by Anya Von Bremzen, author of Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking, a Memoir of Food and Longing

All photos courtesy of Michaela (Misha) Gelnarova ’18.

Former Grinnell College Librarian Christopher McKee to Receive Knox Medal

Christopher McKee, Samuel R. and Marie Rosenthal professor emeritus and former librarian of Grinnell College, has received the prestigious Commodore Dudley W. Knox Medal for Continuing Lifetime Achievement in the field of naval history.

The award, established in 2013 by the Naval Historical Foundation, honors an individual for a lifetime body of work in the field of U.S. naval history.

McKee is the 11th individual to receive this honor. The medal will be formally presented at the conclusion of the North American Society for Oceanic History conference to be held May 11-14 in Portland, Maine. Nominations for the 2017 Knox Medal may be submitted through the foundation’s website.  

Born in Brooklyn, New York, McKee graduated from the University of St. Thomas in Houston and completed his master's degree in library science at the University of Michigan. He joined the Grinnell College faculty in 1972, serving as a librarian, historian and educator.

Currently a scholar-in-residence at the Newberry Library in Chicago, McKee also held the Secretary of the Navy Research Chair at the Naval Historical Center from 1990 to 1991 and was a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the Newberry Library from 1978 to 1979.  

McKee has made major contributions to naval history with his three books. His first publication, "Edward Preble: A Naval Biography, 1761-1807," published first in 1972, was republished in 1996 by the Naval Institute Press as part of its "Classics of Naval Literature" series.

His second work, "A Gentlemanly and Honorable Profession: The Creation of the U.S. Naval Officer Corps, 1794-1815," was published in 1991. It received numerous honors, including the prestigious John Lyman Book Award from the North American Society for Oceanic History, and the Samuel Eliot Morison Award from the USS Constitution Museum. 

McKee then moved into the study of enlisted sailors, which led to his 2002 book, titled "Sober Men and True: Sailor Lives in the Royal Navy, 1900-1945."

He is working on a manuscript with the tentative title of "Ungentle Goodnights: Life in a Home for Elderly Naval Sailors and Marines, 1831-1895," a social history based on the lives of the first 541 enlisted beneficiaries admitted to the United States Naval Home in Philadelphia.

 

Voyage en Chine

Voyage en Chine is J. Castera’s 1805 translation of John Barrow’s original book, Voyage in China, published one year prior. The French edition is split into three volumes with an accompanying atlas to the text. Special Collections has only this atlas portion containing twenty-two plates. These plates contain a collection of charts and illustrations of Chinese culture and society from Barrow’s journey through the Qing Empire. Unfortunately, the copy has been damaged and is missing a handful of pages.

Barrow was private secretary to English Ambassador of China, Lord Macartney, during their 1792 envoy to China. During this time period, Great Britain was attempting to establish trade relations with China, which the envoy failed to procure during its trip. Another part of the envoy’s mission, however, was to get more information about the Chinese empire, including their military strength. Simultaneously a survey of Chinese culture, and an assessment of Chinese capabilities, Voyage en Chine represents the deep fascination and suspicion Westerners held for the Far East, prior to imperialistic war campaigns that took place later on in the 1800s — these campaigns include the Opium Wars pursued by Great Britain during the 1840s and 1850s.

Voyage en Chine begins with illustrations of a rice mill, a handful of Chinese characters, and a depiction of Qing currency. A variety of instruments and even musical scores are also recorded. This book contains depictions of Chinese society and culture, but it also catalogues Chinese artillery weapons and architecture. It is regrettable that the text volumes are not available, but the detailed plates still indicate the seriousness with which these studies of the East were conducted.

We encourage anyone with an interest to drop by Special Collections and take a look at this book in person.  Special Collections and Archives is open to the public 1:30-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and mornings by appointment.

Webster Earns Goldwater Honorable Mention

Lillian Webster ’17Lillian Webster ’17 has received an honorable mention from the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. Majoring in mathematics and statistics, Webster is one of 256 honorable mentions, chosen from 1,150 applicants nationwide.

For her application, Webster, a resident of University City, Missouri, submitted a paper titled "Subword Complexes in Coexeter Groups." Last summer, she completed a Research Experience for Undergraduates focusing on algebraic combinatorics at the University of Minnesota, and her research resulted in a talk at the Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics in January 2016.

"Lillian has amazing creative insight, and is equally adept at working with both abstract concepts and detailed technical arguments," said Joseph Mileti, associate professor of mathematics at Grinnell. "She also communicates her ideas with a clarity and elegance rivaling most graduate students."

An active member of the Grinnell community, Webster is also a student in the Grinnell Careers in Education Professions Program. She has stage managed several productions for Dance Ensemble/ACTivate, including "Snow White Retracted" and "Once Upon a Time Splintered." In addition, she is a mentor for advanced mathematics courses. Webster spent the fall 2015 semester in Hungary as a participant in the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program.

After graduating from Grinnell in May 2017, Webster plans to pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics, focusing on either algebra or combinatorics, and go on to teach at a college or university.

Congress established the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship Program to encourage excellence in science and mathematics for American undergraduate students with excellent academic records and outstanding potential. Winners receive up to $7,500 toward tuition and other expenses for the academic year. Grinnell College students are frequent recipients of Goldwater honors, with six students being named Goldwater Scholars and six students receiving honorable mentions since 2010.