2014 Year in Review: Achievements and News

The past year was marked by faculty and student achievements, and a college-wide emphasis on the liberal arts leading to lifetime success.

The Year 2014 saw impressive achievements by faculty and students, including a Professor of the Year and a Thomas J. Watson Fellow. The year was distinguished by community service, a commitment to sustainability and an overall emphasis on rigorous academics and career development, carrying forward the legacy of the late President Bobby Fong.

January 2014 saw the College’s first externship program with 17 students shadowing alumni and learning more about career options. The program was so successful that 37 externships are planned for 2015. Taking the Liberal Arts Plus mindset a step farther, the U-Imagine Center for Integrative and Entrepreneurial Studies was launched.

In Feburary Ursinus was selected as one of 14 national Peace Corps Preparatory Program sites to prepare students for international service. The Theater, Dance and Music departments collaborated for the first time to produce a large scale musical that brought many community members to the Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center. The Centennial Conference wrestling championship trophy came to Ursinus for the 11th time and second straight season.

Senior Codey Young was named a Thomas J. Watson Fellow in March, one of only 43 students across the country to receive this award for creative research around the world. Ursinus students had the opportunity to act as extras when an ABC television pilot was filmed in Olin Auditorium. 

The first U-Innovate competition was launched in April and 15 business plans competed for prize money. Students Aubrey Paris, Samir Shah and Evan Lord won first place for their global infectious disease database. The Richard T. Schellhase Essay Prize in Ethics led by Professor Kelly Sorensen presented first place to senior Sophie Zander. The Advancement Office and Biology and Environmental Studies departments dedicated the Robert and Shurley Knaefler Whittaker Environmental Research Station in Trappe, Pa. A major conference, Emerging and Persistent Infectious Diseases: Focus on Pandemic Preparedness, was held by the Center for Science and Common Good and the Institute for Science and Global Policy. Ursinus students were the first undergraduates in the U.S. to be part of this collaborative model.

Commencement speaker Zainab Hawa Bangura inspired a standing ovation at  the141st Commencement as 360 students graduated in May in the Floy Lewis Bakes Field House. The United Nations secretary-general’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict spoke of her childhood in Sierra Leone and drew attention from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The Ursinus Summer Fellows presented the fruits of eight weeks of intense research in July in an impressive symposium. Professor Deborah Feairheller of Health, Exercise and Physiology was featured in national media for her study promoting heart health for firefighters who carry heavy gear into fires.

We welcomed the Class of 2018 in August. The 497 students represent 28 states, and include competitive mathematicians, community service volunteers, team captains, musicians and published authors. The diverse group includes 28 percent of students of color, and 23 percent of students who are first generation college students.

On September 8, President Bobby Fong tragically died of an apparent heart attack. A national figure in higher education, he led the campus in creating Transformative Education, a seven-year strategic plan for the College, and the establishment of two interdisciplinary centers: the Center for Science and the Common Good, and the U-Imagine Center for Integrative and Entrepreneurial Studies. His transformative leadership emphasizing academic rigor and lifetime success carries forward. 

Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs Lucien “Terry” Winegar was named Interim President in October, and a Presidential search process was initiated by the Board of Trustees. Professor of Biology Peter Small was named Interim Dean. A revamped Homecoming with new reunion events drew an unprecedented number of alumni to campus. Assistant Professor of Biology and Neuroscience Carlita Favero was named a National Role Model by Minority Access.

November brought a new visual identity for Ursinus College, with a logo that reflects the character of Ursinus. The College launched a new web site that conveys the personal and intellectual achievements of its students. Professor of Environmental Studies Richard Wallace was named the Pennsylvania Professor of the Year by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. His blend of academic and applied learning teaches students to be lifelong problem solvers. We mourned the death of the Hon. Joseph Melrose ’66, former Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Professor Politics and International Relations.

In December, Professor of Biology Rebecca Kohn was named Associate Dean. She played a key role in many academic initiatives at Ursinus. The Berman Museum of Art was featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer as a “serious destination for contemporary art.”

For more information on faculty and student achievement, and an overview of the Fiscal Year 2013-14, see the Ursinus College 2014 Annual Report.