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Knox Magazine

Fall 2017


McNair Anniversary

For 25 years, the McNair Scholars Program has been opening doors for Knox students and creating a community of knowledgeable, well-prepared scholars.

Adriana Colindres

When Lily Ibarra '01 first arrived at Knox College to begin her undergraduate studies in 1997, the notion of going to graduate school someday hadn't entered her mind. As a Chicago native, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, and the first to leave home for college, "I was simply eager to survive my day-to-day reality at school," she recently recalled.

That changed during her sophomore year, when she was accepted into the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, known more informally as the McNair Scholars Program. Now a tenured associate professor of Spanish at Dominican University, Ibarra gives much of the credit to the McNair Program at Knox. "I am certain that I would not have come to this point if I had not had McNair as part of my undergraduate experience," she said. "McNair was more than an opportunity, it was a life-changing experience. The two most crucial values that I gained from this journey are equity of educational opportunity and mentorship." 

The federally funded McNair Program awards grants to institutions of higher learning "for projects designed to provide disadvantaged college students with effective preparation for doctoral study," according to the United States Department of Education website. The program is named after Ronald E. McNair, one of the astronauts who died in 1986 when the Challenger space shuttle exploded.

The two most crucial values that I gained from this journey are equity of educational opportunity and mentorship.

Lily Ibarra '01

The overarching goal is to "diversify the academy" to include more people from underrepresented groups, said Jon Crider, director of the McNair Program at Knox. "We provide research and other scholarly activities that prepare students for obtaining a Ph.D."

The experience for Knox's McNair Scholars is multi-faceted, and it includes:

  • Designing and conducting research projects, with assistance from faculty mentors.
  • Presenting research at national conferences.
  • Having work published in the McNair Journal of Multidisciplinary Research.
  • Engaging in seminars that offer enriched academic preparation, development of research skills, and familiarization with the process of applying to and preparing for graduate school.

Knox received its first grant for the McNair Program in 1992, and the federal government awarded Knox another five-year renewal in September 2017. As of last year, there have been 233 McNair Scholars at Knox. Twenty-two of them have received Ph.D.s, 101 have earned master's degrees, and 19 have obtained professional degrees, such as in law, medicine, or dentistry. About 10 new McNair Scholars are added each year at Knox.

"We've been very successful. We've been very proud," Crider said.

McNair Scholar Malik Hamilton '19 is creating liquid crystals at room temperature as part of his research with Professor of Chemistry Thomas Clayton.
McNair Scholar Malik Hamilton '19 is creating liquid crystals at room temperature as part of his research with Professor of Chemistry Thomas Clayton.

Monica Prince '12, now the Creative Writing Fellow in Poetry at Susquehanna University, said the McNair Program "gave me more than I expected." She learned about research methods, presentation skills, and graduate school. She made good friends. And that's not all.

Going through the program "helped me learn time management, how to be self-determined in a space that will not give you deadlines. I had to create goals for myself, make sure I was always on task, and that I didn't falter when my life got in the way." Prince said. "Following Knox, I know that my work with McNair overprepared me for graduate school. My first year, I watched my peers drown in homework and personal writing, while I wrote and read and flew through my courses."

Following Knox, I know that my work with McNair overprepared me for graduate school. My first year, I watched my peers drown in homework and personal writing, while I wrote and read and flew through my courses.

Monica Prince '12

During Homecoming festivities last year, Prince and other Knox alumni returned to campus to mark the McNair Program's 25th year and to talk about how it had influenced their lives. Ibarra described the importance of working with a faculty mentor—in her case, it was Magali Roy-Féquière, associate professor of Gender and Women's Studies. 

Ibarra's research during two summers explored "the intersection of language and gender of identity in the autobiographies of Chicana women." Through the project and by building a relationship with her faculty mentor, Ibarra said she developed skills in academic writing and inquiry. More importantly, she added, "I discovered a vocabulary and experience that reflected my own and empowered me, like [writer Cherrie] Moraga, to begin to question, push and blur the boundaries of convention in my scholarship and later in my profession. In so doing, I have gained liberty of expression and given greater visibility to a complex and underrepresented identity."

Maricruz Osorio '14 also spoke at the Homecoming event and said the McNair program at Knox helped her get where she is today—in the second year of a doctoral program in political science at the University of California Riverside. She is co-author of the article, "Courted and Deported: The Salience of Immigration Issues and Avoidance of Police, Health Care, and Education Services among Latinos," which appeared in the fall 2017 edition of Aztlan: A Journal of Chicano Studies.

"It's not just that McNair gives you support within Knox," said Osorio, who plans on a career in research. "It's a fellowship across the country. I go to conferences all the time, and when I meet another McNair, it's an instant connection."

Crider said that Knox's McNair Program has numerous strengths, one being the fact that the scholars participate for three years. At other schools, McNair typically is designed as a one- or two-year program.

"We're unique in that we do three years, and I think that gives our students an advantage, in that they get to do two [summer research] projects. so they get even more research experience," Crider said. "We also give them more opportunities. We actually help pay for them to do graduate school visits, so they can go and visit a graduate school of their choice to see what that's like, do a tour, and meet with faculty."

McNair Scholar Natalie Haddad '19 (right) dissecting specimens in a lab session. Haddad is considering a career in animal sciences.
McNair Scholar Natalie Haddad '19 (right) dissecting specimens in a lab session. Haddad is considering a career in animal sciences.

Another strength is the collaborative relationship among McNair scholars, Knox staff (such as Seymour Library's research librarians), and Knox faculty, including the mentors as well as McNair Seminar Director William Hope, assistant professor of anthropology-sociology. In addition, Crider said, "The thing we really work on is creating a community where these students can talk with each other and support each other because they're all going through very similar things. Many of our scholars wind up making really good friends with their fellow scholars."

The thing we really work on is creating a community where these students can talk with each other and support each other because they’re all going through very similar things.

Jon Crider, Director of the McNair Program

Not everyone who goes through the McNair Program ends up pursuing postgraduate studies. Even so, many of the skills they develop as McNair Scholars are transferable to other aspects of their after-Knox lives. "They gain a lot of skills and confidence in being able to write, being able to research," Crider said. "Yes, the goal of the McNair Program is to create Ph.D.s, but really for us, the goal is to create opportunities for students to become academics, to truly become scholars."

The current McNair Scholars at Knox continue to excel and make great strides as they work toward their goal of attending graduate school. Consider the achievements, so far, of just three of them:

Chemistry major Malik Hamilton '19, a member of the Prairie Fire football and track & field teams, has conducted research inspired by the work of his faculty mentor, Professor of Chemistry Thomas Clayton.

"The main goal of the project is to create good liquid crystals around room temperature," Hamilton said. "I'm really interested in becoming a chemist or professor. To get ahead in those fields, summer research helps."

Natalie Haddad '19 has been researching the medicinal plant bloodroot as a possible treatment for cancer in dogs. She credits faculty mentor and Professor of Biology Judy Thorn with helping her gain experiences in laboratory research and hands-on clinical work through an internship with a Galesburg veterinarian. A biology major, she is considering attending veterinary school and/or earning a doctorate in animal sciences.

McNair Scholar Justin Bell's research was inspired by psychologist Bruce Alexander's study known to many as "Rat Park."
McNair Scholar Justin Bell's research was inspired by psychologist Bruce Alexander's study known to many as "Rat Park."

"All I know is that I want to work with animals and help them in any way that I can," Haddad said. "This research is basically allowing me to see what it'd be like to go into this field before I'm even done with undergrad, which is not something many people get to do."

Justin Bell '19, a psychology major, conducted research on how feelings of social isolation relate to drug cravings.

"My ultimate goal, and one of my reasons for joining McNair, is to attend graduate school. I'm really looking forward to having a 'Dr.' in front of my name," Bell said. "I'd like to pursue a lifelong career in research and wherever that takes me."

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Knox Magazine

Fall 2017


Creative Writing at Knox

Since its creation 50 years ago in 1967, Knox’s Program in Creative Writing has grown in both size and prestige. Creative writing is consistently one of the top majors at the College, and faculty members are widely published and awarded in their fields of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and playwriting. Its students produce award-winning work in and out of the classroom, and its alumni receive fellowships from top graduate programs and have been awarded the American Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. There’s clearly something special happening here on the prairie.

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Rita Dove even recognized this during her visit to campus last March: “The creative writing program at Knox is actually pretty phenomenal,” she told our local NPR station, Tri States Public Radio. “When I think of the number of students who’ve come through it, and the quality of their work...I don’t know if any other university can boast of having such an amazing program.”

So how should Knox Magazine celebrate the program? Well, we decided to touch upon what we consider to be three elements that are vital to the success of creative writing at Knox: Its faculty (one in particular), its students, and its alumni. And we hope that after reading the following articles you'll recognize that special something, too.

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Knox Magazine

Fall 2017


Committed to the "Creatives"

A Conversation with Robin Metz

By Sherwood Kiraly '72, Visiting Instructor in English and Theatre & Writer-in-Residence

In the fall of 1967 there was no creative writing major at Knox College, but there were two professors dedicated to helping students who wanted to write. Sam Moon, who had been at Knox since 1953, was tall and thin and radiated benign integrity. Robin Metz was an intense young man with thick dark hair, thick dark mustache, all forward motion, just arrived at Knox from Princeton and the Iowa Writers Workshop. He radiated integrity too, of a more potentially confrontational nature.

I was a new arrival as well, a freshman who thought he might want to write for actors but had no idea how to go about it. Robin wasn't my teacher then; he worked with the fiction and poetry writers, and I was one of Sam Moon's two Beginning Playwriting students. (The other, Mary Maddox '71, would later become a novelist.) But word got out quickly on the student grapevine that Robin was (1) sharp and (2) cool, in an exhilaratingly intense way.

In a climate becoming increasingly volatile, politically, racially, sexually, and culturally, he encouraged—and expected—students who thought they were committed to truth to prove it in their writing, to write with emotional honesty. He was an academic iconoclast in an incendiary time. He was political. He proselytized for writers. He held workshops outdoors. He made you work. He made you want to work. He brought with him a double-edged commitment, to writing and the students who pursued it.

Robin Metz and Sam Moon
Robin Metz and Sam Moon, co-founders of the Program in Creative Writing, circa 1983.

I can testify that the unforced aura of honesty he shared with Sam Moon provided, for a young man whose own character was half-formed, a much-needed something to shoot for. Students sometimes have a penchant for spiritual hero worship, but the two professors showed no particular desire to be gurus—Sam didn't want Moonies, or Robin Hoods. They did, however, want to elicit the best we had in us; they met us face-to-face and found out about each of us, acknowledging the different places we came from.

I got to know Robin, and I eventually attended one of his workshops inadvertently because it took place in my apartment, which I shared with one of his students. I don't remember a great deal of what my professors said while I was at Knox—that's much more a comment on my focus than on theirs—but I still recall things Robin said that day, about writing and writers, while he sat on our living room floor.

After four years I went away to Chicago and later to California. And over the ensuing decades, Robin remained at Knox, where he taught, wrote, and fought for the cause of the creative writing program with relentless, evangelical fervor, cajoling and sometimes battling with a series of presidents and deans.

Coming from a blue-collar upbringing in Pennsylvania, he had found, at Princeton and Iowa, that writers in academic settings were often treated as second-class citizens. ("In Iowa, the artists were in Quonset huts held over from WWII that weren't air-conditioned or heated, and at Princeton, Philip Roth was one of my teachers there, he never had an office, they didn't even give him an office, he'd won the National Book Award.") It was only in Robin's later years at Iowa, he says, that the writers' workshop "became so famous that the English department wanted it back."

So Robin took it upon himself—first in partnership with Sam Moon, and, after Moon's retirement in 1985, with colleagues such as Ivan Davidson and Robert Hellenga—to build, at Knox, an unprecedented undergraduate creative writing program, that would eventually include workshop courses in fiction, poetry, playwriting, screenwriting, and nonfiction, courses on single authors (including Yeats, Hemingway, Woolf, Beckett, Richard Yates—another Metz mentor and friend—Toni Morrison, Flannery O'Connor, and August Wilson), and student-group odysseys to Dublin, to Cuba, to London, to the earth from which some of that work grew.

As he proposed these increasingly audacious plans, Robin and the Knox administrators weren't always on the same page. His insistence on continued expansion of the department often met resistance or outright refusal. But his persistence, his energy, his conviction that what he was proposing was for Knox's good—how could it be bad, after all, to have the greatest undergraduate writing program in the history of the universe?—wore down and usually overcame that resistance, so that today . . .

Robin Metz
Photo by Submitted Photo

It is officially the 50th anniversary of the birth of the Knox creative writing program—a birthday chosen primarily because it coincides with Robin's arrival. In the half-century since, he has nurtured, mentored, and hectored thousands of students, in workshops and one-on-one, encouraging them to do all they're capable of, to find their personal approach to art and life.

The enthusiasm and achievements of the faculty and students have fed each other, to the point that, as Robin points out in the Knox brochure released to help celebrate the half-century milestone, "...currently, Creative Writing is the largest major at Knox... the size of the Creative Writing faculty has grown from two writers in 1967 ... to nine (widely published and awarded) writers today....Small wonder that Poets & Writers magazine (New York) featured Knox (with Oberlin and Sarah Lawrence) as one of the top three undergraduate writing programs in the nation."

Knox student writers have won so many awards, in competitions such as the Nick Adams short fiction contest and in literary magazines such as Catch, that, Robin has said, "if it were for a basketball team, banners would be flying from every building." Of even more importance, both to Robin and Knox students past and present, the department has nourished an inner soil for the development of the creative process which allows them to thrive not only in writing-allied areas after graduation, but in virtually any other career they pursue.

I left Knox in 1971, to become an editor in Chicago and, later, a writer in California, and didn't return except for a couple visits until 2010, when Robin—showing a typically Metzian willingness to gamble on his judgment of an ex-student's capabilities—got permission to bring me back to lead workshops in fiction, playwriting, and screenwriting.

Robin has nurtured, mentored, and hectored thousands of students, in workshops and one-on-one, encouraging them to do all they're capable of, to find their personal approach to art and life.

I knew, of course, that in the intervening years Robin had been gone from strength to strength as an eminent Knox professor, and I had read his stunningly powerful book Unbidden Angel, poetry dedicated to his late wife, Liz Jahnke. I knew also that with his present wife, Knox theatre department co-chair Liz Carlin Metz, he had summoned up the extra energy to found and maintain an acclaimed Chicago theatre, Vitalist, which had already presented several critically hailed plays, including his own Anung's First American Christmas.

His c.v. by then included a carpet-sized list of achievements, titles, honors, and awards as both teacher and writer, a few of which included the Rainer Maria Rilke International Poetry Prize for Unbidden Angel, the Dylan Thomas Poetry Prize, the Marshall Frankel American Fiction Prize, and both the untenured and tenured Philip Green Wright prizes for distinguished teaching. Now he was Philip Sidney Post Professor of English and director of the Program in Creative Writing.

About that program: Upon my return to Old Main, I found an English department which had grown to nearly a dozen accomplished writer-teacher-academics, each uniquely qualified for their primary form or forms, each committed, in true Metz (and Knox) tradition, to their students. I was a freshman again—intimidated again, too. Big guns everywhere.

The Gizmo offered a vintage Twilight Zone temporaldislocation effect. It looked much as it had 40-plus years before, as did the students—a few of whom resembled Michael Shain '72, Bruce Hammond '71, and Judee Settipani '71, who had been there with me the first time around. My old student friends weren't there, of course. The Knox people I'd known had all changed and gone.

Except for one, sitting at a small table across from a student, leaning forward.

I couldn't figure it. Not only was Robin Metz still there . . . he hadn't burned out! Firebrands burn out, don't they? The first president and administrators he'd battled on behalf of some imagined creative writing department were gone. So were the second and third presidents and the second and third wave of administrators. Like us, the students of the previous century—we were all puffs of smoke. But Robin Metz was leaning forward to find out what this Knox student had to say for himself.

I couldn't figure it. I had to find out how he did that.

Metz and fellow creative writing professor Monica Berlin ’95
Metz and fellow creative writing professor Monica Berlin ’95 with students at Galesburg’s town square. Photo by Peter Bailley '74

When the 50th anniversary celebration schedule was set up, it included on-campus readings from celebrated writer alumni, plus several trips for Robin, to attend alumni events and reunite with former students in Chicago, San Francisco, New York and other venues. Last December, as these scheduled events were about to begin, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He began a grueling first round of chemotherapy shortly thereafter. I assumed, upon hearing of this, that it would prevent his attending the out-of-town anniversary events. Through April, he had made them all.

Also in April, he sat down in my kitchen to reflect on the way his teaching evolved over his years at Knox, and I got a chance to ask him how he went from a firebrand to a kind of eternal flame in his fight for the "creatives." Here are some excerpts from our talk.

Q: You've been referred to as the Dumbledore of the Knox creative writing department....Is that acceptable to you?
A: I actually think of it as flattering because I loved him on the screen-

Q: It's meant to be—
A: For the record, as we speak, I have no hair except the last little fringes of my mustache, which I've decided to let fall out naturally.

Q: That was the one change in you from seeing you in the Gizmo when I was a student, talking to writing students. I came back 40 years later and everything was different-except one thing, and that was you, sitting at a table, talking to a student about their work. And the only change I could see in the 40 years was that the mustache—
A: —was white.

Q: You have such a network of student writers that have built up over the years and now you're seeing some of them on the (50th-anniversary city-visits)—
A: It's been great, it's why I'm doing it, really.... I'm so proud of them and what they've achieved and, in a lot of instances, I don't know the full range of their achievements. I get to hear that, and then I bring it back and tell my current students about it, and, in some ways, I serve as a belief bridge for contemporary students-to believe that actually by doing this study at Knox that it can go somewhere.

Q: I haven't had as much experience in other places as you have, but I did see some other students when I was in California, and it seems to me that Knox students for some reason were much more jacked up about the idea of what they were trying to do than most of the ones I'd seen...
A: I think there is something about the culture of the place, really, and all of us ... are at least partially responsible for having created that.

Q: It's good for peripheral things too. By the time I left Knox I was a really good typist, and I got a job as a temporary typist at Field Newspaper Syndicate, typing columns by Ann Landers and Roger Ebert and that crowd .... Basically I was using tools I got at Knox, not quite in the way that I was working at Knox but still with writing and writers, and I'm sure that happens with hundreds of the students....
A: We have to convey to the students that what we instruct them in is not the creative product—though that's what we seem to say: Write this great short story or play or poem or series of poems, and be so proud and happy of the product, and try to get it published. But what we're really focused on is the creative process. And when you stress that and begin to model your teaching in ways that allow for that, then there's value that's being transferred to the students and the student's way of thinking. Whether or not their product ends up being saleable and establishing them in that career, they get to be the people who, in a whole range of industries, become the creators— 

Q: The creative ones there—
A: Yeah, right, and you know there's this whole class of workers now known as the "creatives"—

Q: Oh really?
A: Yeah, it's like the buzzword of American commerce. "The creatives."

Robin Metz reading from his work.
At right: Metz reads from his award-winning poetry collection "Unbidden Angel."

Q: "We need more Creatives."
A: Yeah, and they're hired to be the problem-solvers in any range of situations—

Q: And that makes sense.
A: It does because—to use a cliché—"thinking outside the box" is what you do every time you write a poem or a story, you have to work your way through the problems involved. So this whole moral/ethical question, "Are you selling a bill of goods when you're selling someone on the arts because they imagine themselves on the big screen or the New York Times best-seller list," now you can honestly say that what you're conveying to them will be valuable and useful in their careers whether or not they remain directly in the arts.

Q: Is there anything left undone? Is there anything left for you to write? You've been busy. My experience here is that I can't write while I'm teaching, except during breaks.
A: Well, that's something of an issue for me personally in a way. I've written and published a lot but not as much as I want to, and I have such a backlog of stuff that I really want to do, both fiction and poetry... and plays! In particular, I've been dying to do this one play which is actually an adaptation of a lesser-known Hemingway novel, and I just think it'd be so great for the stage—even though I subsequently discovered that there was a perfectly dreadful film once made of it.

Q: Which one is it?
A: Garden of Eden.

Q: All right, I want to ask you something—I was trying to figure out why you didn't burn out.... I had a job at a newspaper syndicate and after 10 years I burned out. I knew everything I had to do there and from then on until I left I was just there. And I came back here, and I saw what you'd built and that you were still as committed to the individual students as ever, nothing had changed. My theory is that it's the students in a way that give it to you—
A: Sure— 


Q: —because of the nature of our work—it's emotional and it's intense, and it's exhausting, but it's also exhilarating, is that—?
A: Even if I was teaching the same literature course every year, I wouldn't teach the same book somehow. I'm always changing because just to do the same thing ... makes you more expert in it and more polished, but in some ways you grow farther and farther from the students, right? So, in our kind of work, in the workshops, you're always beginning at ground zero.

Q: And everyone is a new set of problems— 
A: Right, there's no workshop where one was ever like the next, even from one term to the next, even if you had mostly the same people it would still be different. So that's generating....

There was a big boost in my personal life when, in honor of Liz Jahnke, Liz Carlin and I decided to start this (Vitalist) theatre in her memory in Chicago, and it was great for Liz and it was great for me, and it put us in the Chicago world. The collaborative efforts of working in the theatre as opposed to our lonely writer world was exhilarating. And then I started this London course, which we do every two or three years, so there was all that world to learn about in London, and it's such a gorgeous city. So we feel at home in London and New York and Chicago and in the country and here. I'm not a Knox person that hates Galesburg, I just love the whole thing, but it's also true that I've taken it in small doses. I have all these other things to do so when I am here I'm happy for what . . . it's so easy to go to the hardware store! (laughter) I mean to go and buy nails and screws, think in Chicago what it's like if you have to go out, when we're building a set in the theatre, and I'm running all over town trying to find a parking space so I can get 10 bolts!

Q: Well, I hadn't thought of that—that you built out as well as keeping the core.
A: I think that's what kept me fresh, honestly. And then I would bring that stuff back as part of the teaching stuff here.

Q: But now Knox has built out too, in that regard.
A: Well, and once I'd done London I realized—I don't know what it was that made me start single-author courses—

Q: Oh yeah!
A: —maybe it was Virginia Woolf, but I realized that almost no literature programs anywhere (were) getting any depth for particular important authors.

Q: Shakespeare maybe—
A: Shakespeare, and there were courses in Milton and Chaucer, Knox had always had those, but contemporary, twentieth-century writers—our young people first of all hardly knew their names, much less the depth of their work. So if you had a study, just in one person's life and work, you could extrapolate from that to your own life and career, plus other writers, and you would see a dimension to it. So I started this long string of—I don't know, I probably have done 12 or so. Q: Is there anything that strikes you, looking at the way creative writing started and the way it's grown, is there anything you feel left undone, anything you'd change, and what do you feel best about? A: Well....I love it that we've just trounced the other ACM schools (in the Nick Adams short story contest)—

Robin Metz at Catch release party
Robin Metz with students at a "Catch" release party.

Q: Is there anything that strikes you, looking at the way creative writing started and the way it's grown, is there anything you feel left undone, anything you'd change, and what do you feel best about?
A: Well....I love it that we've just trounced the other ACM schools (in the Nick Adams short story contest)—

Q: Yeah, I love that little chart—(in the 50th anniversary brochure listing Knox's Nick Adams winners compared to other colleges in the ACM).
A: (laughter) And I love the other one, the Catch one too. And partly I think this goes back to the feeling, not at all so much for me personally, but that sort of class thing that I was talking about before, that the arts have been tolerated in so many institutions but they're always the first thing cut whether in high school—they can't put the band together anymore or they don't have any money for theatre—they're always expendable. And I was so determined here to find a place that was vulnerable to the idea that the arts were not expendable, that we could become central to the success of the place. And so I'm proud that we have made a space for the arts here with creative writing. But left undone—and maybe I'll still have time—I feel we are so close to being able to make part of our arts picture, film production, and I feel it's so crucial—and we should be doing animation and stuff like that....

Q: You're still a good teacher, you're still—I keep learning stuff from you, the last few years.
A: You know, what you said before about how we get from the students—it's from our friends, too. I think what actually makes great teaching is the people who are genuinely in conversation with these other people that they're talking to—who are sometimes called students, are sometimes called friends, and sometimes called wives or lovers. We're just wholly engaged with this other person, then we give them our person, then we're getting it back—

Q: —we get something back— 
A: —and you go home at 12 o'clock and that's ... exhausting but I never felt tired when I was doing it.

Q: It has to do with keeping it new, and it has to do with the people you're with.
A: And see—here's a big change: I shifted from teaching the product, teaching people to do the product, to showing them it was more important to learn the process. We're thinking, "What is creative writing about? We're teaching the creative process." And I even went and studied all this neuroscience stuff and everything about how creativity is really happening, and I was thrilled to bring that to bear. The other big change that came for me was I realized there's a profound difference between thinking of yourself as a professor and thinking of yourself as a teacher. Because as a professor, you are there to profess, and your first and primary obligation is to the world of your material-to pay honor to the accumulated tradition of this wonderful thing that you are teaching. To be a teacher is actually to take the student, where they are, and to bring them as far as you can toward this wonderful body of knowledge and understanding—but it's about them. When you're professing I would say, "Look, I'm kind of infamous for getting off subject, and if I get an idea ... it's like a white-tailed deer tail just went up, bobbing through the woods, and I'm running helter-skelter after it, and follow as best you can, and I'll see you up ahead on the ridge." I used to actually say that. Now, it's like, "Come along—if we lose sight of the deer we'll walk around this way, are you all with me? We'll catch it coming back the other way!"

English Department Colleagues on Robin Metz

I asked some English department colleagues to provide their own article on Robin in "one or two sentences." While chafing at this preposterous restriction—and in some cases, of necessity, impelled to bend it—they rose to the challenge.

"Robin's vision and his tenacious and unending faith in the arts, in language, in each new generation of writers to immerse themselves in a tradition begun long before they were, to carry forth that tradition, and to make from that tradition something new, are just a small part of what I think of when I think of this man I call one of my dearest friends, still call my mentor, have been proud and humbled to call my colleague for now 19 years. His care, his attention, his commitment and loyalty, his joie de vivre, his deep compassion—all unmatched—have influenced so many of us who now aspire toward and aim to honor him in our own work." — Monica Berlin '95, Associate Director for the Program in Creative Writing and Chair of the Department of English

"His dedication to the students, and the creative writing program, is absolute." — Natania Rosenfeld, Professor of English literature

"Robin's an artist, so he offers creative solutions to problems and, sometimes, creative problems with impossible solutions. That's one reason his students love him, that imaginative challenge he sets for them; it's also the reason he so often has unimaginative administrators hiding under their desks." — Rob Smith, John and Elaine Fellowes Distinguished Professor of English

I first formed a bond with Robin while talking to him from a phone booth in Vietri sui mare, Italy, the summer before 9/11. I wasn't sure where to go after living for a year in paradise, and he made me feel like I belonged at Knox—should return to teach there in the fall. . . . Sometimes I feel like we grew up in the same woods, either side of Cheney Creek. . . . Since that time, I have gotten to know Robin on the grounds of poetry and fatherhood. It is because of a story he once told about one of his children, who remembered talking to him through a closed door, that I keep the door open when I'm at my desk at home. Because of Robin, I believe that writing and parenting are not separate lives. Also, I believe in the near-holiness of interruptions." — Nicholas Regiacorte, Associate Professor of English

"Robin has always served as an inspiration for his colleagues, as well as for his students." — Robert Hellenga, George Appleton Lawrence Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of English; Distinguished Writer in Residence

"Robin chastised me once when I was his student. I'd tried to condense an entire lifetime into a short story, and it was too massive to constrain within the form. ‘This is the tip of an iceberg,' he said. ‘What's under the water is the size of a damn continent.' So it is with my attempt to summarize his impact on my life and the lives of so many others. He is a continent of a man." — Cyn Fitch '00, Associate Professor of English

"Once, during a particularly heated English department meeting, I lost my head and called Robin a two-pronged name ending in ‘ucker.' Even though he kept right on talking, his meditative glance in my direction acknowledged my frustration (he felt my pain!) and assured me that it would continue for yet a while longer. (I don't mean this to be in any way backhanded. I love Robin.)" — Barbara Tannert-Smith, Associate Professor of English

"Robin Metz is one of the most empathic people I've ever met, and certainly the most honest, brutally so at times. He also forever changed the course of my life. I published a short story in Catch my freshman year, and after reading it, he tracked me down. He sat down with me on the Gizmo patio and told me I needed to be a writer. And that's exactly what I did. I went from being a very troubled kid to a focused, purposeful one, and that is all due to Robin....He is also one of my favorite people in the world." — Katya Reno '99, Visiting Assistant Professor

Life with Robin is a magical roller coaster. Or maybe a tilt-a-whirl. No, wait. Life with Robin is both. Definitely both. I wouldn't have it any other way." — Liz Carlin Metz, Smith V. Brand Distinguished Professor of Theatre

Test: 6

Knox Magazine

Fall 2017


A Field Guide to Knox Student Publications

By Megan Scott '96 & Elise Goitia '18

Knox, like most colleges and universities, has a long tradition of students voicing their opinions, sharing their art, or commenting on campus news, among other endeavors, through various publication vehicles. Student newspapers, journals, and magazines were just as prevalent in the early years of our prairie college as they are today. Through the years, student publications have come and gone, some have changed names, many have won national awards, and each offers their own unique perspective on life at Knox.

Here is a guide to our current student publications.


Established: Originally established in 1922, officially became Catch in 1971

Published: Twice yearly in the fall and spring

What It Publishes: Fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, as well as journalism, visual art, drama, music and musical scores, theatrical design, and translations. True to its origins, Catch's philosophy "is to make student voices heard . . . Catch may be a drop in an ocean of arts magazines, but we believe there is magic in putting love into such little things."

How You Can Read It: Catch staff host a release party upon each issue's publication, where copies of the journal are distributed to attendees. Contact the journal directly for current or back issues (if available).

How It Is Different From Other Knox Publications: Catch is a selective magazine, seeking to represent the highest quality of work as a showcase of the best art Knox students are producing.

Awards: Catch has won numerous national and international awards in its history—it received the National Program Directors' Prize from the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) in 1983*, 1986*, 2003, and 2014. It received the Associated College Press Magazine Pacemaker Awards and Finalist Recognition in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, and 2016.

*Known as the CCLM National Collegiate Competition's First Place Award at that time.

Interesting Fact: There are many stories on how Catch got its name. One version comes from Nicholas Brockunier '69, who believes it may have originated from "the idea of catching good written work (as a fisherman or a ball player)."



Established: 2006

Published: Twice yearly since 2013

What It Publishes: Quiver's philosophy is "devoted entirely to the promotion of works of literature and art in all the genres, including humor, sci-fi and fantasy, and young adult. Knox College students, faculty, and alumni are welcome to submit anything from fiction to films to fingerpainting—if it can be uploaded to the web, you can submit it!" Josh Althoff '19, the current editor, adds: "We're always on the lookout for pieces that establish themselves as different than the norm, whether that means stories told from new perspectives or in different universes."

How You Can Read It: Quiver started as an online journal, but a print edition is currently published twice yearly. New issues are distributed at receptions celebrating the latest release, and current or back issues (where available) can be obtained by contacting the journal.

How It Is Different From Other Knox Publications: It's a magazine that focuses mainly on genre writing and art. "Knox has always been more friendly than most colleges to genre writing, and Quiver emerges as an outgrowth of that," adds Altoff.

Awards: "Nesting Instinct" by Lizz Fong, which was featured in an issue of Quiver in 2016, was submitted to and, ultimately, published in Plain China, an online anthology of some of the best undergraduate writing in the country.

Interesting Fact: Quiver was originally an online journal dedicated to humor, speculative fiction, and children's literature and was the home of three individual publications in 2006: Diminished Capacity (humor) was published in the fall; Wynken, Blynken and Nod (children's/young adult) was published in the winter; and The Third Level (sci-fi/fantasy) was published in the spring.



Cellar Door

Established: 2006

Published: Twice yearly

What It Publishes: It accepts all work, from short stories to visual art to essays to mathematical proofs. It aims to include not only student work but also that of faculty and staff, and well-known writers or artists outside of Knox (for example, Kevin Stein, the Poet Laureate of Illinois, wrote for the first issue.)

How You Can Read It: New issues are handed out at a Cellar Door release party.

How It Is Different From Other Knox Publications: Essentially a writing workshop that ends with a publication, editors accept any piece that the author is willing to revise and publishes the polished version.

Interesting Fact: The spring 2017 issue celebrated Cellar Door's 10th anniversary and included alumni work, including a piece by its founder, B.J. Hollars '07, who noted in an opening letter: "Cellar Door was always about celebrating the attempt. It was about publicly conceding that writing is hard but confirming, too, that the difficulty of our task is also the source of our joy."


Established: 1997

Published: Annually

What It Publishes: Literary criticism

How You Can Read It: You can read new issues online; a print anthology was published in 2016. The Common Room benefits from the freedom of its format, which allows the publication to link to other sites. "This is especially thrilling because it reflects the connectivity and reflexivity of literature and theory about literature," says Mary DiPrete '15, former editor-in-chief.

How It Is Different From Other Knox Publications: The Common Room remains the only journal published solely online, and its focus is primarily on scholarly writing.

Interesting Fact: Publication founders liked the specific resonance that the title carries for those individuals who know Knox's Common Room (found on the second floor of Old Main), a place where literature and ideas about literature are often shared. The name was the idea of Wendy Prellwitz '99, an English major.



The Knox Student

Established: 1878

Published: The print edition of TKS is distributed weekly on Thursday evenings on campus and is mailed to subscribers on Fridays during the academic year. The online edition is updated regularly and features online-only content, including multimedia.

What It Publishes: TKS has been student-written, student-run, and student-read since its founding. It has a long tradition of being an independent voice for students, reporting on the cultural, social and athletic life of the college.

How You Can Read It: The website is the best way to keep up with current news stories during the academic year. Print editions are distributed free of charge on campus through five kiosks on campus, as well as on the door of the Publications Office in Seymour Union and in the Hard Knox Café. 

How It Is Different From Other Knox Publications: TKS is Knox's only newspaper run entirely by students, for students.

Awards: TKS has received numerous awards from the Illinois College Press Association (ICPA), Associated College Press, and the Society of Professional Journalists in its history. Most recently, the paper received a record-breaking 20 awards from the ICPA in 2017, including a first place award for general excellence.

Interesting Fact: TKS was founded by S.S. McClure, who, after graduating from Knox in 1882, created McClure's Magazine, one of the first publications in the field of American investigative journalism (commonly referred to as "muckraking" journalism).



Since the publication of Knox's first student literary magazine, The Knoxiana, in 1851, dozens of student publications have come and gone in the College's history. For those literary history buffs out there, here is a list (in alphabetical order) of all of those publications that were once in circulation on campus:

The Adelphi Quarterly, 1860-1861 • BLADU, 1999-2005 • The Brainstorm, 1989 • Cameo, 1938 • THE COUP D'ETAT,1881-1898 • Cultural Vibes, 1995-1998 • Das Ding an Sich, 1908 • Dialogue, 1965-1967 • The Examiner Observes, 1952-1955 • The Federalist, 1896 • Folio, 2011-2016* • Freshman Follies, 1917 • Fusion, 2010-2012 • The Gadfly, 1900-1905 • The Knox Leisure Hour, 1890 & 1894 • Knox Life, 1896-1897 • The Knoxiana, 1851-1857 • The Knoxiana and Knox Collegiate, 1856-1858 • The Oak Leaf,1856-1857 • The Oak Leaf and Knoxiana,1856-1857 • The Knox Collegiate Magazine,1857-1858 • La Tour Eiffel/La Giralda, 1923-1925 • The Ladies' Garland, ca. 1858-1862 • Move Over Prince Charming, 1974 • On Politics, 1896-1897 • The Pantheon, 1869-1870, 1872-1873, 1888 • Mischmasch, 1870-1871 • Phpah-Hotep, Jr: His Book, 1909 • Prospects, 1977-1982 • The Purple Aeolus, 1914 • The Round-Up, 1 907 • Spectrum, 1983-1984 • The Students' Ark, 1862 • The Students' Farewell, 1857 • The Yellow Jacket, 1906-1912, 1914-1915, 1920, 1922-1926, ca. 1938, 1980 • The Black Damp, 1913 • The Prattlesnake, 1916 • The Scullion, 1921

*Folio is actually on hiatus for the moment. A new editorial board has been selected, and they plan to publish their next issue in the coming year.

P.S. If you'd like more information on each publication, we recommend contacting Special Collections & Archives, who graciously provided us with this fascinating list!

Test: 6

Knox Magazine

Fall 2017


“What do you do with a creative writing degree, anyway?”

It’s one of the first questions that worried parents ask. Fifty years of alumni from Knox’s Program in Creative Writing fill us in on what happens after graduation.

By Pam Chozen

To outsiders, creative writing might sound like an impractical major. At first glance, the only obvious career path it offers is becoming a published author, and even outsiders know it’s hard to get published—and even harder to earn enough money from it to keep the lights on. Otherwise, you can … teach English? Work in publishing? Outsiders see a world that needs more accountants and nurses and engineers, not poets and playwrights.

It looks different from the inside. Studying creative writing teaches students more than how to craft a beautiful poem or a memorable story. It also helps them become keener observers, awake to new ways of seeing the world and able to help others see it, too.

Since Knox’s Program in Creative Writing was established in 1967, nearly 800 students have graduated with a degree in creative writing; year after year, it tops the list of Knox’s most popular majors. Knox Magazine reached out to those alumni to ask about their lives now—the careers they have pursued, whether they are writing and publishing, and how their education informs the work they do now. Here’s what we learned from them.

1. Definitely consider going to graduate school.

Of the 149 creative writing alumni who responded to our survey, nearly 60 percent attended graduate school. (That's not unusual for any Knox alumnus/na-historically, 65 percent of Knox graduates, regardless of major, will enroll in a graduate program within five years of graduation.)

FYI: Six alumni reported that they now teach at the college level.

Graduate degrees earned by creative writing alumni

What creative writing alumni are writing, by genre







2. Probably write professionally, even if you don't always get paid for it.

About 60 percent of respondents report they have become published authors—but fewer than half of them have gotten paid for their writing. Often, the line between "paid" and "unpaid" work is a little fuzzy. How exactly do you categorize contributor's copies, the native currency of underfunded literary journals? What about online writing that builds your reputation and portfolio but doesn't actually earn you cash? What about the job in public relations or marketing that requires you to write, but not to write, well, creatively?

Are creative writing alumni getting paid to write?






It's Complicated

3. Find your own career path, and that's okay.

It turns out there are plenty of ways to be a professional writer that don't involve bringing a laptop to the neighborhood coffee shop as you work on your novel or screenplay. Few creative writing alumni describe their job as "writer," even though many actually make a living writing and publishing books, stories, or plays. Instead, their titles run the gamut from "content creator" to "publication specialist" to "editor in chief."

Even more work in fields that seem wholly unrelated to creative writing. They're teaching, practicing law, working in a wine auction house. One is a software developer; another works in aerospace manufacturing. Yet the overwhelming majority say they draw upon their creative writing education in their work.

"I remember Robin Metz telling us in our senior portfolio class that, with writing skills, we could do anything," recalls Malissa Kent Webber '07, currently communications manager at Weyerhaeuser. "That's been completely true for me. I've worked at major corporations-Amazon, Expedia, and Starbucks—and, at each one, my writing skills are what landed me the job."

Are creative writing alumni using their education now?






It's complicated

4. Keep using what you learn in workshop, whether you're a writer or not.

Honestly, learning how to exist, and speak, and contribute in a room with brilliant, creative people has been the greatest gift that the creative writing program gave me.

Jake Marcet '07

After you leave college, it's rare that anyone asks to read one of your poems or stories and then discusses it at length with you. Yet the workshop experience continues to resonate throughout the lives of creative writing alumni.

"The workshop atmosphere—being able to accept and give feedback-has been so instrumental in my professional career," says Jake Marcet '07, now a senior SEO analyst. "Honestly, learning how to exist, and speak, and contribute in a room with brilliant, creative people has been the greatest gift that the creative writing program gave me."

Paul Smith '89 is chief quality and compliance officer at Advanced Flexible Composites, a manufacturer of temperature-resistant, non-stick materials for food, aerospace, and military manufacturing—about as far from a poetry workshop as you can imagine. Still, he says, "Reading poetry really helps teach problem-solving; workshops and slams teach one to get a thick skin and embrace criticism and change."

"I could not have anticipated my career path after college," says Erin Daugherty '13. "I am a poet turned data analyst turned entrepreneur. More than anything else, the experience of the writing workshops, with their unwavering vulnerability and dependence on collaboration, taught me the importance of sincere listening. Of everything Knox taught me, this is the lesson I return to most often."

5. Feel like you are part of something special.

I feel like my adult life started when I entered Robin Metz’s Intro to Creative Writing class. I found my tribe.

Rachel Hall ’86, now an English professor herself

"The power of Knox's program was the connections we made with professors, who were working writers," says Mariah Oxford '91, a freelance writer, editor, and designer. "We
could see their struggles and successes; we could see them as people."

"I believe that I got a creative writing education at Knox that I couldn't get anywhere else," adds Tasha Coryell '10, now working as an English instructor. "I didn't love everything about Knox, but I got more attention from my professors there than I did in my graduate program, and they taught me how to be a prolific, publishing author."

"I'm routinely jealous of my past self," says Sam Martone '11, who works at website builder Squarespace. "After Knox, even in graduate school or other writer communities, it's difficult to find a space as passionate and driven and just plain thrilled about writing as Knox's creative writing department was."

Test: 6

Knox Magazine

Fall 2017


Celebrating 100 Years of Class Notes

The most enduring part of the alumni magazine is the section written by alumni themselves

Compiled by Pam Chozen

Over the last 100 years, Knox’s alumni magazine has changed its format, its frequency, and even its name. But one thing has been consistent in practically every issue: Class Notes. Collectively, these alumni submissions tell the story of the last century, from World War I to the dawn of the Internet Age. Here are a few of our favorites from the last 11 decades.


Ellen Browning Scripps Class Note

Jesse A. Crafton, Class of 1912, was dragged away from a remarkable success in Galesburg's little theatre—the Prairie Playhouse—which Jesse founded, when war was declared. He is sergeant in the 123rd Heavy Artillery Band and is now stationed at Fort Logan, Houston, Texas. -1917

Reuben J. Erickson, Class of 1911, first lieutenant in the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army, is stationed with the South Midland field ambulance British Expeditionary Forces in France. He writes: "I have been in France now five weeks and went through one of the most uncomfortable battles the English have had. All the men who did get back consider themselves lucky. I have learned what shells sound like and what dugout life is. The most picturesque experience so far was being fired at, at close range, by a Boche plane when out looking at the trenches with the colonel, who has since been killed. It is a great life! Also, rather dirty!" -1918

Franz L. Rickaby, Class of 1916, who spent the summer at Charlevoix, Michigan, took an 800 mile walk from that place to his home in Grand Forks, North Dakota. He carried no money and earned his way by playing the violin. -1919


On December 6, 1920, Congressman Edward J. King, Class of 1891, introduced in the House of Representatives a bill to provide for the independence of the Philippine Islands. The bill is now in the hands of the committee on insular affairs. –1920

Dr. Harry N. Torrey's, Class of 1900, $200,000 yacht Tamarack burned to the water's edge near Elizabeth City, North Carolina, some months ago. Dr. Torrey was on a duck-hunting expedition at the time, and no one aboard was injured. –1922

Greenwich, the winter home of Dr. Harry N. Torrey, Class of 1900, at Savannah, Georgia, was burned by flames which broke out in the early morning, completely destroying the fine old southern mansion and all of its furnishings. Dr. and Mrs. Torrey and their children are now living aboard the Torrey yacht, anchored in the Savannah harbor, whither they moved immediately after the fire. Dr. Torrey, members of his family, and the corps of servants were in the house when the fire was discovered about 3:30 o'clock in the morning. The loss is estimated at $500,000 including the house, furnishings, and Mrs. Torrey's jewels. –1923

L. Elizabeth Clark, Class of 1870, writes, "It is difficult to make the student of today understand how very different things were at Knox 55 years ago. That girls were competent to recite or compete with boys in any study was at best a morbid question. For the first two years girls recited all lessons at ‘The Sem.' (Whiting Hall)—so, you see, we did not know the boys of those years any more than if they had been going to another school." –1924

Emma Haigh Fisher, Class of 1877, has spent time since last May with her daughter in Tunghsein Peking, China. Her home in Tokyo, Japan, was destroyed by the great earthquake of September 1923. Fortunately Mrs. Fisher at the time was spending a few days in the mountains and felt the quake only a little. –1925

Although this information will seem trivial ten years from now, Roy C. Ingersoll, Class of 1908, went from Galesburg to Chicago in one hour and six minutes—by airplane, of course! -1928

Nelson Dean Jay, Class of 1905, was among the financial experts who assisted the official American delegates, Owen D. Young and J.P. Morgan, at the Reparations Conference held in Paris to fix Germany's annual payments to the Allies of the World War. –1929


Tinkering with an old Ford while he was an undergraduate helped to qualify him for the job of manufacturing the mechanical "gadgets" which furnish the background noises for radio drama, according to N. Ray Kelley '28, who presides over the National Broadcasting Company's sound effects laboratory. –1930

George H. Cameron, Class of 1912, of River Forest, Illinois, recently won $1,000 as the winner of the word building contest conducted by the makers of Dutch Master cigars. He submitted a list of 1,102 common English words made of the words "Dutch Masters." –1932

Two recent issues of the American Mathematics Monthly give credit to Elisabeth Giles '34 of Galesburg for solutions submitted to certain mathematical problems proposed last year in the pages of that magazine. –1934

After an absence of some years, Bill Senn, ex-’26, returned to Knox early in January with the intention of completing the work for his degree by June of this year. Bill has lately been playing professional football with the Chicago Bears. –1931

Toshi Yamamoto ’34 has been appointed to the consulate of the Japanese empire at Nanking, China. After graduating from Knox, Tosh entered the employ of a large importing and exporting house and later served as interpreter for the English manager of large tin mines in Japan, but in the present crisis he is one of those selected for civil government service and in that capacity has been sent to China. –1938

Harold N. Graves, Class of 1908, who is an assistant to the Secretary of the Treasury, is the government official in charge of working out plans for the decentralization of the Internal Revenue Bureau. ... Those fortunate persons who pay enough income tax to the government to get into arguments about said tax will not have to chase down to Washington when their reports are questioned, but can settle the argument at the closest divisional office. –1939


M.H. “Max” Harrison, Class of 1913, says that life is much as usual in India despite the war. Some rise in prices was suffered and there is much indignation in India against Hitler, so that many men of that country are enlisting as soldiers, some to serve in Europe. –1940

Russell Duncan Brown ’42 is Knox’s first top-flight hero of the war. Bombardier Brown has been identified as the gallant gunner who distinguished himself on the epic flight of Captain Whaless, as described in President Roosevelt’s report to the nation. Despite a wounded hand, Brown kept guns blazing from both sides of the stricken plane. He has been awarded the Order of the Purple Heart. –1942

Lt. Stanley Schrieber ’40 was killed in an airplane accident somewhere in the Pacific this month. –1943

Capt. James H. Runyon ’40 met two Knox men on a trip to Paris. On Easter Sunday he attended church there with Dean Jay, Class of 1905 and Knox trustee, of the Bank of Morgan in Paris. On another occasion he met Lt. Harold Hawkins, ex-’38, and together the Knoxians saw the big parade when the colors were given back to the French Army. –1945

Hermann Muelder ’27 is addressing groups of German prisoners of war at Fort Sheridan and Camp Grant. The lectures are part of a series started at the request of the former Nazi soldiers and are paid for by the prisoners themselves. Mr. Muelder is tracing the growth of democracy in America. –1946

Galesburg will have a new drive-in theatre this spring. It is now under construction as a projected started by Al Christiansen ’40, who plans to operate it as soon as it is completed next month. –1949

The Fifties

Among the first mail that the United States has sent by jet aircraft was a letter from Lt. Col. Max Stubbs ’40, who is stationed at Hickam Air Base in Hawaii, to his parents in Monmouth. The envelope, especially designed for the historic occasion, had on it printed “Carried by U.S. Air Force B-47 Stratojet.” –1951

When residents of Elmhurst see Charles B.Johnson ’31 going to work with an umbrella under his arm, they are sure rain is on the way. Mr. Johnson, who has been with the Chicago weather office since 1951, is chief service officer for the bureau which has hit the nail on the head 87 percent of the time in their forecasting during the past year. –1953

In addition to her teaching duties at the Indianapolis branch of Purdue University, Mary Dilworth Mendiones ’36 finds time to write successful magazine articles. In the May issue of Charm, Dr. Mendiones tells how to spend a week in New York for $50 in “New York—A Vacation Bargain.” –1954

the Body Snatchers movie poster

Walter Braden (Jack) Finney ’34 has just published a new book, The Body Snatchers, which will be available at your favorite newsstand in a Dell Publications edition for 25 cents. All readers, please note. –1955

Mary Lyon Ferry '44 is production and promotion manager with Zephyr Records in Hollywood, California, and is currently planning a tour of military installations with troupes of recording artists. –1956

Kenneth W. Freese '42 is now working in the engineering drafting department of the Liquid Rocket Plant of Aerojet General Corp. in Sacramento, California, the supplier of motive power for the second stage of Vanguard, the earth satellite to be launched as part of the International Geophysical Year. -1957

Now living at Blue Hill, Nebraska, Thomas McSpadden '18 is a "poet of the plains" as an avocation. He recently wrote eight stanzas for President Eisenhower on "The Cold War Christian" to arouse church folk to perils of communism. -1959


Mary Ann Ruzecki ’55 is a weather analyst for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Her present task is recording messages and gyrations of Tiros, the 270-pound weather-eye satellite, which circles the Earth 14 times daily. –1960

Homer “Duke” Harlan ’40 was on the instructional staff of the first U.S. Peace Corps group to go overseas. “We’ll send 20 surveyors, four civil engineers, and five geologists to Tanganyika. They put in a 66-hour week and still hang around after classes with arguments and questions. Very stimulating, and every college teacher should have it so good!” –1961

Mary Lee Patterson ’51 is in the middle of a baseball career, working on the business staff of the Kansas City Athletics. –1963

William Wedan ’49, en route home from Iran, where he had been on assignment for Morrison-Knudsen Construction Co., met a Knox student in Tokyo—Takashi Kurisaka ’64. In a city of nine million, this accidental meeting astonished all concerned. –1964

Joyce Witcraft ’64 is a digital computer programmer at U.S. Naval Supply Depot, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. She is in a group studying requisition processing for naval supplies.She writes: “I was happy to see that Knox has added a major in computer science.” –1965

C. Robert Woolsey ’63, veteran of four years of ROTC at Knox, is now also a veteran of Vietnam. After training ... he became assistant constructive engineer for the First Logistical Command and volunteered for Asian service with the 864th Engineers. He worked on projects at Cam Ranh Bay, 155 miles north of Saigon, also near Nha Trang, sometimes under attack. –1966

Robert A. Borzello ’58 is editor of the National Insider and The
Heretics, tabloid sellers on newsstands. Both papers are slanted
toward “sensational controversy,” according to the Chicago
Sun-Times, which quoted Borzello: “We’re for free expression of
all ideas … the kind of stuff you used to see in the Hearst days.
Spicy divorces. Pin-up girls. Hollywood stars … Then the daily
newspapers went respectable.” –1967

C. James Burkhart ’65 heads the mathematics staff at the newly formed Carl Sandburg Junior College, Galesburg. –1968


Joseph J. Sisco ’40, U.S. assistant secretary of state, was a key figure in the day-to-day maneuvers that led to the cease-fire negotiations between Israel and the United Arab Republic. –1970

Army Major Kenneth Townsend ’60 received his second award of the Bronze Star Medal in Vietnam in January. He is executive officer of the 7th Battalion, 8th Field Artillery, near Bien Hoa. –1971

Emmett F. Butler ’23 spoke at the annual Credit Women International Boss Night in April. His topic was “How to Confuse People without Really Trying.” –1973

G. Kirby Holland ’63 writes, "Of course we see Bob Seibert ’63, who recently became chairman (he says ‘chairperson’) of the Knox Political Science Department.” –1974

ATTENTION CLASS CORRESPONDENTS: Several of you have sent in class notes which just missed the deadline for this issue (mainly because we adhered to the deadline for the first time in recent memory). –1976

Susan Rusk Holland ’67 is president and founder of S.R. Holland, Inc., a Chicago-based executive search firm specializing in the placement of women in management. Holland has been manager of recruiting services for the past two years at Women’s Inc., the first executive search firm for women in management. –1978

Nancy Cane Beelman '58 reports, "Homecoming Saturday began with a coffee before we were ‘treated' to the event of the weekend-the 1958 Class Movie! I was quite right in thinking that we should all join forces and buy the thing to start a reunion bonfire. Ahggggs! We sat there watching the silent screen and suddenly the film broke. The projectionist announced that she was trying to fix it but that we had to understand that it was very old film...." -1979


Christine Herbes ’70 is producing for television a dramatic series on great American women. The first program, Under This Sky: Elizabeth Cady Stanton in Kansas, was broadcast in November 1979. Herbes plans to produce dramatizations based on the lives of Margaret Fuller, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Mother Jones. –1980

Barb Davis Warman ’71 wrote from Managua, Nicaragua, where she is probably doing the low crawl to her desk. Barb is working there part-time as a maternal and child health care advisor for the Agency for International Development (AID) developing programs in sex education, program management, and general family planning. –1981

Cheryl Spangler Scott ’70, Des Moines, has left Better Homes and Gardens magazine and now works for Woodsmith, a magazine for wood-workers, which was founded in her basement four years ago. –1983

Gary H. Moerke ’56 is an extra in feature films and television shows. He recently played the pilot of the Carringtons’ private jet in an episode of Dynasty and will appear in a Dr. Pepper commercial to air soon. –1984

Kathryn Calvert Bloomberg ’62 is the first female mayor of Brookfield, Wisconsin. Bloomberg has previously worked as a high school mathematics teacher and started a summer theatre camp in Massachusetts for children with acting skills. She later entered manufacturing when she came up with the idea for Shrinky Dinks, a plastic toy on which children draw and then shrink and harden in the oven. –1988

Dr. Patricia Gronemeyer Carrell ’62 received the Paul Pimsleur Award for Research in Foreign Language Education at the Annual Meeting of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) in New York City. She is associate dean of the graduate school, professor of linguistics, and professor of psychology at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. –1986

Irene Bowman Landis ’36 and husband Howard went to Mesa, Arizona, for the Cubs’ spring training and exhibition games. Irene is a “Die-Hard” and fears another year of suffering is coming to all Cubs fans. –1987

Jeff McCasland ’82 writes, “I am a government marketing consultant for Dun and Bradstreet, live about a mile from Washington, D.C. (in Takoma Park), and am a struggling standup comedian at night. I got my hair cut, and I wear suits.” –1989


Richard Hoover ’69, Los Angeles, California, is the production designer for Twin Peaks. He was also art director for the miniseries The Family of Spies and production designer for Torch Song Trilogy. –1990

Marcia Hammond Basichis ’69 is vice president of development for Spelling Television. Marcia was responsible for developing Beverly Hills 90210, as well as five new series. She resides in Sherman Oaks, California. –1992

Wendy Scherwat Ducourneau ’72 writes [following the Class of 1972’s 20th Reunion]: “Campus as a whole looks pretty good. I had forgotten the brick sidewalks, and was amazed at how difficult it can be to walk on them in heels. Most of the out-houses are gone, as well as the health center. It looks like thermal-pane windows have been installed on Old Main, and apparently some work has been done on Alumni Hall. In speaking with Owen Muelder ’63, he says it includes a new roof and some window repair— basically just enough work to keep the building from further deterioration. Renovation of Alumni is supposedly next on the list—great news for those of us who spent 90 percent of our Knox years inside its walls!” –1993

Anne Rennison Ng ’63, physics major, got an M.S. in physics at Emory, did housewifing and kid raising, and is now a “Silicon Valley nerd,” writing test programs for a small startup firm. –1994

John Podesta ’71 is leaving his post as aide and democratic operative to the Clinton administration in order to become a visiting professor at Georgetown University law school. At Georgetown, he will teach a course on congressional investigations, another on legislation, and he’ll work with Public Defender’s Office in Chicago. –1995

Jackie Crooks Murnane ’77 writes: “So here’s the deal. I agreed to become a Class Correspondent for the Knox Alumnus a long, long time ago, but after sending in my first letter, there was no publication for a long, long time. I tried not to take this personally. I mean, this is the 90s— right? I understand all that bureaucratic restructuring stuff. Unfortunately, I haven’t heard from anyone in the Class of ’77. I am also trying not to take this personally, but it cost me a whole session with my therapist. I mean, this is the 90s—right?” –1996

Scott Gibbons ’91 is involved with the music scene, having released several albums with his band, Lilith, as well as getting one track from his new post-industrial band, Orbitronik, on a compilation CD entitled Into Topographical Space, that came out in October on World Domination Records. –1997


A.T. “Tom” McMaster ’40, former Illinois state representative, was instrumental in converting Snakeden Hollow State Fish and Wildlife Area in Victoria, Illinois, from a strip mine to a state hunting and fishing preserve. Snakeden Hollow Lake was recently renamed “McMaster Lake” in his honor. –2000

Jim Dunlevey ’54 states that he has not succumbed to the use of email because (1) “he has no need for instant communication with anyone” and (2) “the absence of email saves him from becoming a cantankerous old crank that is constantly foisting his ideas on others.” –2001

Our pal Casey (do we actually need her last name?) Kremer ’73 wrote of her intentions to “kick some purple and gold butt” at the Harley Knosher Golf Outing this summer. We cannot verify whose butts were bloodied; no scorecard was ever sent in for publication. –2002

Charles Donaldson ’48 sent a brief email: “At the age of 80, if anything unusual, exciting, or for that matter, even immoral happens, I’m happy to have somewhere to brag about it.” –2004

Bob Rothe ’56 is now retired from his job as critical mass physicist at Rock Flats (Colorado) Nuclear Weapons Plant. He has just completed a book on the history of the Critical Mass Laboratory at Rocky Flats. Bob built 1,700 critical assemblies using plutonium and enriched uranium during his professional career. –2005

Donna Quasthoff Herendeen ’82 writes, “Of all the places I have gone to school, my fondest memories are of Knox. My senior picture was taken at a Green Oaks Prairie Burn. Dr. Peter Schramm, biology, introduced his students to prairie vegetation in his classes. I went on to write a thesis on a native grass at Michigan State. I have prairie plants—lead plant, switchgrass, and prairie dock—growing in my East Coast front yard just to remind me of the ‘real’ vegetation in Illinois.” –2006

Julia di Liberti ’85 writes, “I teach humanities at the College of DuPage. I have entered the curmudgeon phase of my career and spend much time lamenting the skills and capacities of today’s students while dramatically wagging my finger to anyone who will listen as I intone, ‘See, THIS is what No Child Left Behind has done.’” –2008

John (Scott) Luthy ’78 held forth as usual at the Reunion and is global products manager for Molex, Incorporated. We did not get a full explanation on why he had to change his name to John. –2009


Susan Payne Etheridge ’83 reports that “I am still in Utah, working as a pediatric cardiologist at the children’s hospital. I am part of a group of M.D.s who travel to West Africa and Central America to teach subspecialty pediatrics to general pediatricians, residents, and medical students. I am married, have two stepchildren, three dogs, and a cat. I have learned to ski adequately.” –2011

Mary Jacobson ’66: “I’ve been trying to clear my basement of nearly 50 years of saved ‘treasures,’ including every piece of paper my daughter ever touched, every Christmas and birthday card I ever received, and on and on. ... I was moving along expeditiously until I reached the Knox collection: my diploma, letters from special people, photographs, and a few term papers that earned good grades. I sat down and looked at every piece with quiet attention. I was amazed at the care taken by my professors in critiquing my papers—detailed, honest, constructive, respectful. And I looked at the photos and reread the letters and was so grateful, all over again, for having those people in my life.” –2012

Graham Troyer-Joy ’08 is doing standup comedy, writing for blogs, and developing age-related knee pain. –2014

James Sheppard ’14 currently teaches English in Austria and thinks a lot about rhubarb. –2016