Western Michigan University Magazine, Fall/Winter 2019-2020

Western Michigan University Magazine, Fall/Winter 2019-2020
FALL/WINTER
                                            2019-20




PEACE
Dr. Rudolf Siebert:
From unwilling German soldier
to catalyst for civility

Also inside
Think Big initiative moves to action
Western Michigan University Magazine, Fall/Winter 2019-2020
WINDOWS TO
THE FUTURE
Student housing is getting a facelift on campus. Construction
crews are making great progress on the Arcadia Flats project,
which will welcome its first residents in fall 2020. This is the
first building project underway in the transformation of the
University's Hilltop Village neighborhood.

Learn more at wmich.edu/capitalprojects/hilltopvillage.




                                                                   1
Western Michigan University Magazine, Fall/Winter 2019-2020
WINDOWS TO
THE FUTURE
Student housing is getting a facelift on campus. Construction
crews are making great progress on the Arcadia Flats project,
which will welcome its first residents in fall 2020. This is the
first building project underway in the transformation of the
University's Hilltop Village neighborhood.

Learn more at wmich.edu/capitalprojects/hilltopvillage.




                                                                   1
Western Michigan University Magazine, Fall/Winter 2019-2020
CONTENTS
                                  8. Finding Common Ground
EXECUTIVE EDITOR
Paula M. Davis
                                      Over Dr. Rudolf Siebert’s long
                                      teaching tenure, the recently
CONTRIBUTING                          retired 92-year-old religion professor’s
EDITORIAL STAFF                       work has focused on pursuing civility
Erin Flynn                            across difference—a passion that
Deanne Puca
Teresa Ventimiglia                    began in his youth as an unwilling
                                      German soldier.
ART DIRECTOR
Kim C. Nelson
                                  12. WMU—A Place to Become
CREATIVE TEAM                         The University’s Think Big initiative has
Mark Bugnaski                         led to a reimagined brand with big
Madeleine Fojtik, M.A. ‘12            promise for students.
Debbi Kreps, B.S. ‘88
Shelli Osterhout
                                  14. Protecting Pedestrians
PRODUCTION STAFF                      One professor is on a quest to improve
Bradley Horstman

CONTRIBUTING
PHOTOGRAPHERS
                                      safety for those of us who cross
                                      the street.                                 STEPPING UP
                                                                                  Hayley Midea, a dance major, won the prestigious
Jennifer Clements                 16. A Pioneer of Pride                          Maggie Allesee Choreography Award. Her original
Sydney Fernandez
Allen Kee, ESPN Images
                                      WMU’s LBGT office—one of the                piece, “Dear Larry,” was inspired by her cousin,
Tyler Williams                        nation’s earliest—marks three               a survivor of sports doctor Larry Nassar's abuse.
                                      decades of inclusion.                       Midea set her cousin's court testimony to music and
QUESTIONS OR                                                                      choreographed a powerful performance to take a
COMMENTS?                                                                         stand against sexual assault.
Contact Paula M. Davis at         19. Driving Driverless Technology
paula.davis@wmich.edu                 Students are helping lead cutting-edge
                                      automation research.
UPDATES
For address changes,
please send updated               20. Learning and Leading
information to                        As “global leaders,” a student
alumni-donor-update@                  group is using its skills to
wmich.edu.
                                      help refugees.

                                  22. Bridging Barriers
W Magazine is owned                   A students’ trip to the U.S.-Mexico
by Western Michigan
University, 1903 W.
                                      border helped build understanding.
Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo,
MI 49008-5433. Views              26. From Heartbreak to Hope
expressed in the magazine             An alumnus who escaped civil war as a
are not necessarily those
of the University. WMU
                                      youth says his college education also
is an equal opportunity/              offered a “new dawn … of life.”
affirmative action
institution and a member
of the Association of
Public and Land-Grant             4. University News
Universities as well as the
Council for Advancement           27. Expert Insights
and Support of Education.
                                  28. Alumni Profile
                                  30. Classnotes
                                  31. In Print
                                  32. In Memoriam




      2          wmich.edu/magazine                                                                                                     3
Western Michigan University Magazine, Fall/Winter 2019-2020
CONTENTS
                                  8. Finding Common Ground
EXECUTIVE EDITOR
Paula M. Davis
                                      Over Dr. Rudolf Siebert’s long
                                      teaching tenure, the recently
CONTRIBUTING                          retired 92-year-old religion professor’s
EDITORIAL STAFF                       work has focused on pursuing civility
Erin Flynn                            across difference—a passion that
Deanne Puca
Teresa Ventimiglia                    began in his youth as an unwilling
                                      German soldier.
ART DIRECTOR
Kim C. Nelson
                                  12. WMU—A Place to Become
CREATIVE TEAM                         The University’s Think Big initiative has
Mark Bugnaski                         led to a reimagined brand with big
Madeleine Fojtik, M.A. ‘12            promise for students.
Debbi Kreps, B.S. ‘88
Shelli Osterhout
                                  14. Protecting Pedestrians
PRODUCTION STAFF                      One professor is on a quest to improve
Bradley Horstman

CONTRIBUTING
PHOTOGRAPHERS
                                      safety for those of us who cross
                                      the street.                                 STEPPING UP
                                                                                  Hayley Midea, a dance major, won the prestigious
Jennifer Clements                 16. A Pioneer of Pride                          Maggie Allesee Choreography Award. Her original
Sydney Fernandez
Allen Kee, ESPN Images
                                      WMU’s LBGT office—one of the                piece, “Dear Larry,” was inspired by her cousin,
Tyler Williams                        nation’s earliest—marks three               a survivor of sports doctor Larry Nassar's abuse.
                                      decades of inclusion.                       Midea set her cousin's court testimony to music and
QUESTIONS OR                                                                      choreographed a powerful performance to take a
COMMENTS?                                                                         stand against sexual assault.
Contact Paula M. Davis at         19. Driving Driverless Technology
paula.davis@wmich.edu                 Students are helping lead cutting-edge
                                      automation research.
UPDATES
For address changes,
please send updated               20. Learning and Leading
information to                        As “global leaders,” a student
alumni-donor-update@                  group is using its skills to
wmich.edu.
                                      help refugees.

                                  22. Bridging Barriers
W Magazine is owned                   A students’ trip to the U.S.-Mexico
by Western Michigan
University, 1903 W.
                                      border helped build understanding.
Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo,
MI 49008-5433. Views              26. From Heartbreak to Hope
expressed in the magazine             An alumnus who escaped civil war as a
are not necessarily those
of the University. WMU
                                      youth says his college education also
is an equal opportunity/              offered a “new dawn … of life.”
affirmative action
institution and a member
of the Association of
Public and Land-Grant             4. University News
Universities as well as the
Council for Advancement           27. Expert Insights
and Support of Education.
                                  28. Alumni Profile
                                  30. Classnotes
                                  31. In Print
                                  32. In Memoriam




      2          wmich.edu/magazine                                                                                                     3
Western Michigan University Magazine, Fall/Winter 2019-2020
University News

                                                                                             Giving Day
                                                                                             2019 garnered
                                                                                             more than $1.5M
                                                                                             Generous donors from as far from
                                                                                             campus as Australia and from 46 states
                                                                                             came together on the University’s
                                                                                             third Giving Day to raise more than                                                                                                          Dr. Ann Chapleau    Dr. Jennifer Harrison Dr. Bridget Weller
                                                                                             $1.5 million. The Universitywide
                                                                                             effort was led by the WMU Alumni
                                                                                             Association, which was recently                                                                                                              Team secures $1.35M
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          federal grant to battle
                                                                                             reinstated by the school’s Office of
                                                                                             University Advancement.
                            DEAR FRIENDS,
Increasingly, our focus at WMU is                By building on our existing strengths
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          the opioid epidemic
on helping our students grasp their              while flexibly reimagining our future,                                                                                                                                                   A major funding boost will give students hands-on
purpose and passion in life on a                 WMU is positioned to prepare students                                                                                                                                                    experience in combating the opioid epidemic that is
parallel track with helping them build           to face the challenges of a world that is                                                                                                                                                ravaging communities across Michigan.
skills for the world of work.                    changing at a breathtaking pace. That’s                                                        Mechanical engineer graduates Kelsey Pitschel, left, and Erika Mallery received their     The $1.35 million grant from the Health Resources and
                                                 the goal of our Think Big initiative, a                                                        undergraduate degrees in 2016 and master's degrees in 2017. Pitschel is a mechnical       Services Administration supports the Michigan Youth
To be sure, our graduates find that the                                                                                                         designer in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Mallery is a senior mechanical engineer in Oklahoma
                                                 bold plan enabling us to become even                                                                                                                                                     Prevention and Recovery from Opioid Use Disorders—
skills they develop at WMU quickly lead                                                                                                         City, Oklahoma.
                                                 better at helping bright, inquisitive                                                                                                                                                    MY-PROUD—program at WMU.
to jobs in their chosen fields; our 91%
                                                 students use their innate curiosity
post-graduation success rate attests
to this fact. But a Bronco’s potential far
                                                 to expand their horizons and create
                                                 their futures. Read more about this
                                                                                                                                                NSF initiative aims to                                                                    “This grant presents WMU with an opportunity to make
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          far-reaching impacts through health care workforce
exceeds a single job after graduation.
Broncos are preparing for a lifetime
of meaning and of great impact, both
                                                 on page 12.
                                                 Across this campus, we are proving
                                                                                             “Giving is just the tool,” said Kristen DeVries,
                                                                                             vice president for University Advancement.
                                                                                                                                                boost women in STEM fields                                                                expansion in the state,” says Dr. Ron Cisler, dean of the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          College of Health and Human Services, who calls this a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          critical time to address the opioid epidemic in Michigan.
                                                                                             “It’s the impact that we care about. Giving        WMU is leading the charge in diversifying science, technology, engineering
personally and professionally.                   that WMU is a place for students to                                                            and math fields.
                                                                                             magnifies our ability to transform the lives                                                                                                 “Our students will participate in hands-on educational
                                                 become. We don’t expect freshmen                                                                                                                                                         experiences that will guide them throughout their
Recently, College Gazette picked up                                                          of our students so they can transform the          The University, in collaboration with three other research institutions, was
                                                 to know their life’s passion. But we do                                                                                                                                                  professional lives, while also meeting an immediate,
on what makes this place so special,                                                         communities where they live, all around the        awarded a three-year, $996,000 ADVANCE grant from the National Science
                                                 aim for our graduates to walk across        globe. What philanthropy is doing at WMU                                                                                                     crucial need for families in our region."
calling WMU one of the top “hidden                                                                                                              Foundation to develop strategies to increase the number of female STEM
                                                 the stage knowing their purpose and         is way beyond campus impact. Gifts made
gems” in the nation. Once upon a time,                                                                                                          faculty across the country.                                                               Dr. Ann Chapleau, associate professor of occupational
                                                 how the degree I place in their hands       on WMU Giving Day will positively impact
it may have been enough for us to be                                                                                                                                                                                                      therapy, Dr. Jennifer Harrison, associate professor of
                                                 will make it possible. With a solid         students for decades to come.”                     “It is so exciting,” says Dr. Carla Koretsky, dean of the College of Arts and
great and let people discover this on                                                                                                                                                                                                     social work, and Dr. Bridget Weller, assistant professor
                                                 disciplinary backing, we give students                                                         Sciences. “I think it is something that can really create such significant,
their own. But those days are gone.                                                          The one-day giving campaign on Oct. 9                                                                                                        of social work, created MY-PROUD to enhance
                                                 the space to imagine their futures                                                             systemic, institutional change at Western Michigan University and other
Today, we must be great and make                 and the guidance to develop critical        surpassed last year’s efforts by more than         institutions like it.”                                                                    interdisciplinary education for social work and
sure everyone knows how great we are.            thinking skills. We bring the experience    391% and is helping the University refocus                                                                                                   occupational therapy students and to expand the
As legendary football coach Paul “Bear”                                                      its fundraising strategy.                          Koretsky and other WMU faculty will be working with lead institution Iowa State           number of professionals available to serve rural and
                                                 and wisdom, and they bring the drive
Bryant said, “It ain’t braggin’ if it’s true.”                                                                                                  University, as well as Michigan Technological University and North Dakota State           medically underserved communities.
                                                 to develop their abilities, unleash their   “This campaign is about … the impact we
WMU has the programs and, more                                                                                                                  University, to focus on challenges facing women of color and women with
                                                 creativity, and get an education that       can have regionally, statewide, nationwide                                                                                                   U.S. Rep. Fred Upton advocated for the funding,
                                                                                                                                                family responsibilities.
importantly, the people to effectively           empowers them to make a difference          and globally; whether it’s working to solve                                                                                                  emphasizing that opioid and substance abuse touches
compete for the dwindling population             in the world.                               the opioid crisis or fostering job creation        The project will examine a number of strategies, including developing and                 every community.
of high school graduates in Michigan                                                         in Kalamazoo,” DeVries said.                       implementing training programs for campus leaders; training and developing
                                                 We hope you’re thinking big, too,                                                              campus advocates and allies; and developing mentor communities to support                 “We have all seen the horrendous impact caused
by offering a flexible and innovative
                                                 and are as excited about what’s to          In all, WMU Giving Day had 2,190 donors who        female faculty members.                                                                   by the opioid epidemic,” says Upton. “We can all be
educational experience that prepares
                                                 come as I am.                               contributed to more than 330 of the 2,000                                                                                                    encouraged that Western Michigan University is showing
students for the jobs of today and for                                                                                                          The goal is to begin implementing some of the strategies this year. Evaluators
                                                                                             funds available to give to at the University.                                                                                                commitment to address this epidemic and that they will
the jobs of the future.                                                                                                                         both within and outside of the universities will collect and analyze data to              be given more resources to do so.” ■
                                                                                             Learn more about WMU’s third Giving                determine which actions are having the most impact and have the potential to
                                                 Edward Montgomery, Ph.D.                    Day results at wmualumni.org/                      be successfully implemented at other institutions. ■
                                                 President                                   givingday. ■


4         wmich.edu/magazine                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            News             5
Western Michigan University Magazine, Fall/Winter 2019-2020
University News

                                                                                             Giving Day
                                                                                             2019 garnered
                                                                                             more than $1.5M
                                                                                             Generous donors from as far from
                                                                                             campus as Australia and from 46 states
                                                                                             came together on the University’s
                                                                                             third Giving Day to raise more than                                                                                                          Dr. Ann Chapleau    Dr. Jennifer Harrison Dr. Bridget Weller
                                                                                             $1.5 million. The Universitywide
                                                                                             effort was led by the WMU Alumni
                                                                                             Association, which was recently                                                                                                              Team secures $1.35M
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          federal grant to battle
                                                                                             reinstated by the school’s Office of
                                                                                             University Advancement.
                            DEAR FRIENDS,
Increasingly, our focus at WMU is                By building on our existing strengths
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          the opioid epidemic
on helping our students grasp their              while flexibly reimagining our future,                                                                                                                                                   A major funding boost will give students hands-on
purpose and passion in life on a                 WMU is positioned to prepare students                                                                                                                                                    experience in combating the opioid epidemic that is
parallel track with helping them build           to face the challenges of a world that is                                                                                                                                                ravaging communities across Michigan.
skills for the world of work.                    changing at a breathtaking pace. That’s                                                        Mechanical engineer graduates Kelsey Pitschel, left, and Erika Mallery received their     The $1.35 million grant from the Health Resources and
                                                 the goal of our Think Big initiative, a                                                        undergraduate degrees in 2016 and master's degrees in 2017. Pitschel is a mechnical       Services Administration supports the Michigan Youth
To be sure, our graduates find that the                                                                                                         designer in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Mallery is a senior mechanical engineer in Oklahoma
                                                 bold plan enabling us to become even                                                                                                                                                     Prevention and Recovery from Opioid Use Disorders—
skills they develop at WMU quickly lead                                                                                                         City, Oklahoma.
                                                 better at helping bright, inquisitive                                                                                                                                                    MY-PROUD—program at WMU.
to jobs in their chosen fields; our 91%
                                                 students use their innate curiosity
post-graduation success rate attests
to this fact. But a Bronco’s potential far
                                                 to expand their horizons and create
                                                 their futures. Read more about this
                                                                                                                                                NSF initiative aims to                                                                    “This grant presents WMU with an opportunity to make
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          far-reaching impacts through health care workforce
exceeds a single job after graduation.
Broncos are preparing for a lifetime
of meaning and of great impact, both
                                                 on page 12.
                                                 Across this campus, we are proving
                                                                                             “Giving is just the tool,” said Kristen DeVries,
                                                                                             vice president for University Advancement.
                                                                                                                                                boost women in STEM fields                                                                expansion in the state,” says Dr. Ron Cisler, dean of the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          College of Health and Human Services, who calls this a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          critical time to address the opioid epidemic in Michigan.
                                                                                             “It’s the impact that we care about. Giving        WMU is leading the charge in diversifying science, technology, engineering
personally and professionally.                   that WMU is a place for students to                                                            and math fields.
                                                                                             magnifies our ability to transform the lives                                                                                                 “Our students will participate in hands-on educational
                                                 become. We don’t expect freshmen                                                                                                                                                         experiences that will guide them throughout their
Recently, College Gazette picked up                                                          of our students so they can transform the          The University, in collaboration with three other research institutions, was
                                                 to know their life’s passion. But we do                                                                                                                                                  professional lives, while also meeting an immediate,
on what makes this place so special,                                                         communities where they live, all around the        awarded a three-year, $996,000 ADVANCE grant from the National Science
                                                 aim for our graduates to walk across        globe. What philanthropy is doing at WMU                                                                                                     crucial need for families in our region."
calling WMU one of the top “hidden                                                                                                              Foundation to develop strategies to increase the number of female STEM
                                                 the stage knowing their purpose and         is way beyond campus impact. Gifts made
gems” in the nation. Once upon a time,                                                                                                          faculty across the country.                                                               Dr. Ann Chapleau, associate professor of occupational
                                                 how the degree I place in their hands       on WMU Giving Day will positively impact
it may have been enough for us to be                                                                                                                                                                                                      therapy, Dr. Jennifer Harrison, associate professor of
                                                 will make it possible. With a solid         students for decades to come.”                     “It is so exciting,” says Dr. Carla Koretsky, dean of the College of Arts and
great and let people discover this on                                                                                                                                                                                                     social work, and Dr. Bridget Weller, assistant professor
                                                 disciplinary backing, we give students                                                         Sciences. “I think it is something that can really create such significant,
their own. But those days are gone.                                                          The one-day giving campaign on Oct. 9                                                                                                        of social work, created MY-PROUD to enhance
                                                 the space to imagine their futures                                                             systemic, institutional change at Western Michigan University and other
Today, we must be great and make                 and the guidance to develop critical        surpassed last year’s efforts by more than         institutions like it.”                                                                    interdisciplinary education for social work and
sure everyone knows how great we are.            thinking skills. We bring the experience    391% and is helping the University refocus                                                                                                   occupational therapy students and to expand the
As legendary football coach Paul “Bear”                                                      its fundraising strategy.                          Koretsky and other WMU faculty will be working with lead institution Iowa State           number of professionals available to serve rural and
                                                 and wisdom, and they bring the drive
Bryant said, “It ain’t braggin’ if it’s true.”                                                                                                  University, as well as Michigan Technological University and North Dakota State           medically underserved communities.
                                                 to develop their abilities, unleash their   “This campaign is about … the impact we
WMU has the programs and, more                                                                                                                  University, to focus on challenges facing women of color and women with
                                                 creativity, and get an education that       can have regionally, statewide, nationwide                                                                                                   U.S. Rep. Fred Upton advocated for the funding,
                                                                                                                                                family responsibilities.
importantly, the people to effectively           empowers them to make a difference          and globally; whether it’s working to solve                                                                                                  emphasizing that opioid and substance abuse touches
compete for the dwindling population             in the world.                               the opioid crisis or fostering job creation        The project will examine a number of strategies, including developing and                 every community.
of high school graduates in Michigan                                                         in Kalamazoo,” DeVries said.                       implementing training programs for campus leaders; training and developing
                                                 We hope you’re thinking big, too,                                                              campus advocates and allies; and developing mentor communities to support                 “We have all seen the horrendous impact caused
by offering a flexible and innovative
                                                 and are as excited about what’s to          In all, WMU Giving Day had 2,190 donors who        female faculty members.                                                                   by the opioid epidemic,” says Upton. “We can all be
educational experience that prepares
                                                 come as I am.                               contributed to more than 330 of the 2,000                                                                                                    encouraged that Western Michigan University is showing
students for the jobs of today and for                                                                                                          The goal is to begin implementing some of the strategies this year. Evaluators
                                                                                             funds available to give to at the University.                                                                                                commitment to address this epidemic and that they will
the jobs of the future.                                                                                                                         both within and outside of the universities will collect and analyze data to              be given more resources to do so.” ■
                                                                                             Learn more about WMU’s third Giving                determine which actions are having the most impact and have the potential to
                                                 Edward Montgomery, Ph.D.                    Day results at wmualumni.org/                      be successfully implemented at other institutions. ■
                                                 President                                   givingday. ■


4         wmich.edu/magazine                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            News             5
University News

                                                                                                                                                                                                       #1
Geography                                                                                                                                          Hidden gem.
professor                                                                                                                                          Innovation leader.                                                                 #1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                IN EARNINGS BY
                                                                                                                                                                                                   #1 HIDDEN GEM               GRADUATES FROM

recognized                                                                                                                                         WMU is garnering national accolades for its
                                                                                                                                                                                                 PUBLIC UNIVERSITY
                                                                                                                                                                                                   —College Gazette
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               ALL BACKGROUNDS
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                —Washington Monthly*



for watershed                                                                                                                                      programs propelling students to success.
                                                                                                                                                   Whether it’s the University’s commitment
hydrology work                                                                                                                                     to student experiences, dedication to                                2019:
Helping protect water resources and                                                                                                                                                                                    A YEAR OF
predict potential contamination issues                                                                                                             sustainability or emphasis on embracing                            ACCOLADES
is important work, and it’s earned a                                                                                                               diversity, Broncos are earning high praise.
geography professor recognition among
the nation’s leading scientists.
                  The American                  Jon Wassink poses with the Wuerffel Trophy during the Home Depot College Football Awards                                                                              BEST PUBLIC UNIVERSITY
                  Association for the           Red Carpet Show.                                                                                                                                                      IN MICHIGAN FOR MOVING
                  Advancement of                                                                                                                                                                                      UP IN THE WORLD.
                  Sciences has named                                                                                                                                                                                  —U.S. News & World Report
                  Dr. Chansheng He a
                  2019 AAAS Fellow,
                                                Bronco footballer scores accolades                                                                                                                                    TOP U.S. SALES SCHOOL
                  citing his distinguished
                  contributions to the
                                                for impact off the field                                                                                                                                              —Study.com

                  field of watershed            Bronco quarterback Jon Wassink has been honored with the Wuerffel Trophy, college                                                                                     TOP 10 INTEGRATED SUPPLY
Dr. Chansheng He                                football’s premier community service award. Named for Heisman Trophy-winning                                                                                          MANAGEMENT PROGRAM
                  hydrology, particularly
                                                quarterback Danny Wuerffel, it’s given to one college football player every year who best                                                                             —Gartner
using models and spatial technology to
study the dynamics of water and nonpoint        combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2019 SILVER AWARD
source pollution.                               “What he has done serving others off the field, along with his work in the classroom and on                                                                           —STARS
The hydrological models He has developed        the playing field, represents what the Wuerffel Trophy is all about,” Wuerffel says.
with his collaborators have been                “It’s always something I’ve tried to take very seriously,” says Wassink, who earned a bachelor’s                                                                      HIGHER EDUCATION
successfully applied to over 40 watersheds                                                                                                                                                                            EXCELLENCE IN
                                                degree in accountancy in the spring and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in the field,
in the Great Lakes basin, as well as                                                                                                                                                                                  DIVERSITY HONOREE
                                                carrying a 3.95 GPA. “I’ve always tried to work hard in school and give back to the community.
watersheds in China and other countries.                                                                                                                                                                              —INSIGHT into Diversity Magazine
                                                That’s just the way that I was raised and what I believe in.”
“This is a wonderful and well-deserved          Wassink volunteers with his teammates at organizations like Ministry with Community                                                                                   INNOVATIVE PROGRAM AWARD
recognition of Chansheng’s outstanding          and mentors youth through the Bronco Buddies program at Tree of Life School. He also                                                                                  —NASPA Region IV-East
scholarship,” says Dr. Carla Koretsky, dean     completed a spring break mission trip to the Dominican Republic in 2016, helping build a
of the College of Arts and Sciences.            basketball court and repair fences in a small village.                                                                                                                TOP COMMUNICATION
More than 400 members of the AAAS                                                                                                                                                                                     MASTER’S DEGREE PROGRAM
                                                He credits the coaching staff with encouraging him and his teammates to use their                                                                                     IN MICHIGAN
have earned the lifetime distinction of         influence for good.                                                                                                                                                   —Journal of the Association for
AAAS Fellow, in honor of their invaluable
                                                “They really push us to give back and also take academics very seriously.”                                                                                              Communication Administration
contributions to science and technology.
The newly elected fellows represent             Along with the Wuerffel Trophy, Wassink was also a finalist for the Willam V. Campbell                                                                                MICHIGAN TEACHER OF
sections ranging from neuroscience and          Trophy—considered the academic Heisman—and the Senior CLASS Award, which recognizes                                                                                   THE YEAR
psychology to social, economic and              athletes in their final year of eligibility who demonstrate excellence in four areas: community,                                                                      —WMU alumna Cara Lougheed
political sciences. Beginning in 1874,          classroom, character and competition.
thousands of scientists have been elected,                                                                                                                                                                            EXCELLENCE IN PILOT
including Maria Mitchell, Margaret Mead         “Jon maximizes everything he does. He’s a joy to have on the team,” says head football
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      TRAINING
and Thomas Edison.                              coach Tim Lester. “He’s making a difference with teachers and in the community and is a joy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      —National Air Transportation
                                                to have around.”
He and other fellows will receive an official                                                                                                                                                                          Association
certificate and a gold-and-blue rosette pin     He’s not the only Bronco earning big praise this year. Senior running back LeVante Bellamy
at the annual AAAS meeting in Seattle           was voted 2019 Mid-American Conference Vern Smith Leadership award winner as well as the
in February. ■                                  league’s most valuable player and offensive player of the year. ■


6        wmich.edu/magazine                                                                                                                                                                                                                  News       7
University News

                                                                                                                                                                                                       #1
Geography                                                                                                                                          Hidden gem.
professor                                                                                                                                          Innovation leader.                                                                 #1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                IN EARNINGS BY
                                                                                                                                                                                                   #1 HIDDEN GEM               GRADUATES FROM

recognized                                                                                                                                         WMU is garnering national accolades for its
                                                                                                                                                                                                 PUBLIC UNIVERSITY
                                                                                                                                                                                                   —College Gazette
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               ALL BACKGROUNDS
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                —Washington Monthly*



for watershed                                                                                                                                      programs propelling students to success.
                                                                                                                                                   Whether it’s the University’s commitment
hydrology work                                                                                                                                     to student experiences, dedication to                                2019:
Helping protect water resources and                                                                                                                                                                                    A YEAR OF
predict potential contamination issues                                                                                                             sustainability or emphasis on embracing                            ACCOLADES
is important work, and it’s earned a                                                                                                               diversity, Broncos are earning high praise.
geography professor recognition among
the nation’s leading scientists.
                  The American                  Jon Wassink poses with the Wuerffel Trophy during the Home Depot College Football Awards                                                                              BEST PUBLIC UNIVERSITY
                  Association for the           Red Carpet Show.                                                                                                                                                      IN MICHIGAN FOR MOVING
                  Advancement of                                                                                                                                                                                      UP IN THE WORLD.
                  Sciences has named                                                                                                                                                                                  —U.S. News & World Report
                  Dr. Chansheng He a
                  2019 AAAS Fellow,
                                                Bronco footballer scores accolades                                                                                                                                    TOP U.S. SALES SCHOOL
                  citing his distinguished
                  contributions to the
                                                for impact off the field                                                                                                                                              —Study.com

                  field of watershed            Bronco quarterback Jon Wassink has been honored with the Wuerffel Trophy, college                                                                                     TOP 10 INTEGRATED SUPPLY
Dr. Chansheng He                                football’s premier community service award. Named for Heisman Trophy-winning                                                                                          MANAGEMENT PROGRAM
                  hydrology, particularly
                                                quarterback Danny Wuerffel, it’s given to one college football player every year who best                                                                             —Gartner
using models and spatial technology to
study the dynamics of water and nonpoint        combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2019 SILVER AWARD
source pollution.                               “What he has done serving others off the field, along with his work in the classroom and on                                                                           —STARS
The hydrological models He has developed        the playing field, represents what the Wuerffel Trophy is all about,” Wuerffel says.
with his collaborators have been                “It’s always something I’ve tried to take very seriously,” says Wassink, who earned a bachelor’s                                                                      HIGHER EDUCATION
successfully applied to over 40 watersheds                                                                                                                                                                            EXCELLENCE IN
                                                degree in accountancy in the spring and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in the field,
in the Great Lakes basin, as well as                                                                                                                                                                                  DIVERSITY HONOREE
                                                carrying a 3.95 GPA. “I’ve always tried to work hard in school and give back to the community.
watersheds in China and other countries.                                                                                                                                                                              —INSIGHT into Diversity Magazine
                                                That’s just the way that I was raised and what I believe in.”
“This is a wonderful and well-deserved          Wassink volunteers with his teammates at organizations like Ministry with Community                                                                                   INNOVATIVE PROGRAM AWARD
recognition of Chansheng’s outstanding          and mentors youth through the Bronco Buddies program at Tree of Life School. He also                                                                                  —NASPA Region IV-East
scholarship,” says Dr. Carla Koretsky, dean     completed a spring break mission trip to the Dominican Republic in 2016, helping build a
of the College of Arts and Sciences.            basketball court and repair fences in a small village.                                                                                                                TOP COMMUNICATION
More than 400 members of the AAAS                                                                                                                                                                                     MASTER’S DEGREE PROGRAM
                                                He credits the coaching staff with encouraging him and his teammates to use their                                                                                     IN MICHIGAN
have earned the lifetime distinction of         influence for good.                                                                                                                                                   —Journal of the Association for
AAAS Fellow, in honor of their invaluable
                                                “They really push us to give back and also take academics very seriously.”                                                                                              Communication Administration
contributions to science and technology.
The newly elected fellows represent             Along with the Wuerffel Trophy, Wassink was also a finalist for the Willam V. Campbell                                                                                MICHIGAN TEACHER OF
sections ranging from neuroscience and          Trophy—considered the academic Heisman—and the Senior CLASS Award, which recognizes                                                                                   THE YEAR
psychology to social, economic and              athletes in their final year of eligibility who demonstrate excellence in four areas: community,                                                                      —WMU alumna Cara Lougheed
political sciences. Beginning in 1874,          classroom, character and competition.
thousands of scientists have been elected,                                                                                                                                                                            EXCELLENCE IN PILOT
including Maria Mitchell, Margaret Mead         “Jon maximizes everything he does. He’s a joy to have on the team,” says head football
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      TRAINING
and Thomas Edison.                              coach Tim Lester. “He’s making a difference with teachers and in the community and is a joy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      —National Air Transportation
                                                to have around.”
He and other fellows will receive an official                                                                                                                                                                          Association
certificate and a gold-and-blue rosette pin     He’s not the only Bronco earning big praise this year. Senior running back LeVante Bellamy
at the annual AAAS meeting in Seattle           was voted 2019 Mid-American Conference Vern Smith Leadership award winner as well as the
in February. ■                                  league’s most valuable player and offensive player of the year. ■


6        wmich.edu/magazine                                                                                                                                                                                                                  News       7
Living History
                                                                                                                      Learn more at
                                                                                                                      wmich.edu/magazine




      Finding                                                                                                                                 1943


                                                                                                                                              At 15, Siebert was
                                                                                                                                                                      1944

                                                                                                                                                                      At 17, with no
                                                                                                                                                                      more German
                                                                                                                                                                                            1945

                                                                                                                                                                                            Prisoner of war—
                                                                                                                                                                                            After surrendering
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1946

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Democratic
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Mission—Siebert
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1962

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Return to the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        U.S.—Siebert
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1965

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hired at WMU,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Siebert moves to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 1970

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 In 1970, he was
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 selected as an




    Common Ground
                                                                                                                                              drafted into the
                                                                                                                                              German Air Force        airplanes flying,     to American           began studying        first taught at St.   Kalamazoo with     Outstanding
                                                                                                                                              to defend Frankfurt     Siebert trained       officers, Siebert     economics and         Agnes College and     his wife and six   Educator of America
                                                                                                                                              and other German        to become a           was transported       political science     Loyola College        children.          for his contributions
                                                                                                                                              cities.                 lieutenant to         to Worms and          with American         in Baltimore,                            to the advancement
                                                                                                                                                                      fight on the          then Marseille by     professors.           Maryland.                                of higher education
                                                                                                                                              He initially refused    eastern front.        railway car.                                                                         and services to the
                                                                                                                                              to go, but an officer                                               Identified as anti-                                            community, and in
                                                                                                                                              showed up at his        After training,       He then boarded       fascist, he was                                                this same year
                                                                                                                                              house and escorted      he fought Patton’s    a ship and, after a   trained and sent                                               he received the
                                                                                                                                              him to the airport      tank army             stop in Northern      back to Germany in                                             WMU Alumni
                                                                                                                                              at gunpoint.            marching              Africa, eventually    an effort to spread                                            Association Teaching
                                                                                                                                                                      towards Berlin.       arrived at Camp       democracy there                                                Excellence Award.
                                                                                                                                                                                            Allen in Norfolk,     after the war.
                                                                                                                                                                                            Virginia.
    In our politically polarized reality, civil   “His life’s work has been trying to bring                       “She was carrying two
    conversations may seem like a utopian         people together and talk through their                          suitcases and kept
    fantasy. Dr. Rudolf Siebert, professor        problems, and to come to some sort of                           stopping. I thought, as
    emeritus of comparative religion,             common understanding and agreement                              a good Catholic boy, I
    is looking for the light at the end of        so they can proceed forward in a                                had to help her,” recalls
    the tunnel.                                   peaceful manner that makes for a                                Siebert, who loaded
                                                  better world for everybody,” says Dr.                           the suitcases onto                                  Illuminating a
                                                  Stephen Covell, chair of the Department                         his bike and walked
                                                  of Comparative Religion.                      Siebert           alongside her, noticing
                                                                                                                                                                      path to civility
    “Our political discourse                                                                    the yellow star on her coat. “She said                                Recently retired professor
                                                  LIVING HISTORY                                police had been to her house and told                                 Dr. Rudolf Siebert sits in his
    has really declined in                                                                                                                                            study, which is lined with
                                                  Siebert’s unique perspective was forged       her to carry everything she could to the                              hundreds of books that he’s
    the world. What we want                       as a child. Growing up in Frankfurt,          basement of my school.                                                either collected or written over
    to do is see it come to a                     Germany, he was just 6 years old when         “We rolled down to the air shelter
                                                                                                                                                                      the past several decades.
                                                  Hitler came to power.
    level where people can                                                                      where already hundreds of Jews had
                                                  “The antagonism between the religious         been collected to be transported east.
    quietly and rationally talk
                                                  and the secular was there from the            The police had told her she would be
    about these things.”                          beginning. On one side there was the          brought to a nice village, free from the
                                                  religious people, and on the other side       bustle of the city, and she would have
                                                  there was the fascist state,” Siebert says.   a nice place to live out her life. We did
                                                  “They were in continual conflict with         not know that they were going to death
    A pioneer in the critical theory of           each other. So the critical theory grew       camps.”
    religion, Siebert—who retired in August       out of this fundamental experience.”          An SS man at the school scolded
    after 54 years at the University—has
                                                  “His biography is inseparable from his        Siebert for helping the woman, whom
    spent decades working to bridge the
                                                  teaching or from his philosophy,” says        he was forbidden to talk to because
    ideological divide.
                                                  Dustin Byrd, an alumnus who considers         of her Jewish faith. But all he could
    “There’s tension. We have all of these        Siebert a mentor. “He learned at a            see was a woman who looked like his
    culture wars, whether it’s stem cell          very early age what power was, what           grandmother.
    research or abortion or whatever,” Siebert    corruption was, what racism was.”             Siebert knew what was happening
    says. “These culture wars come from that
                                                  An encounter with an elderly woman on         wasn’t right.
    split between secular and religious, and
                                                  a walk to elementary school as a boy          “(Upstairs) at the school they read Plato
    they go deeper and deeper.”
                                                  still haunts him.                             in Greek and read the Torah in Hebrew,
                                                                                                and teaching was highly humanistic,”



8      wmich.edu/magazine                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Finding Common Ground                  9
Living History
                                                                                                                      Learn more at
                                                                                                                      wmich.edu/magazine




      Finding                                                                                                                                 1943


                                                                                                                                              At 15, Siebert was
                                                                                                                                                                      1944

                                                                                                                                                                      At 17, with no
                                                                                                                                                                      more German
                                                                                                                                                                                            1945

                                                                                                                                                                                            Prisoner of war—
                                                                                                                                                                                            After surrendering
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1946

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Democratic
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Mission—Siebert
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1962

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Return to the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        U.S.—Siebert
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1965

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hired at WMU,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Siebert moves to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 1970

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 In 1970, he was
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 selected as an




    Common Ground
                                                                                                                                              drafted into the
                                                                                                                                              German Air Force        airplanes flying,     to American           began studying        first taught at St.   Kalamazoo with     Outstanding
                                                                                                                                              to defend Frankfurt     Siebert trained       officers, Siebert     economics and         Agnes College and     his wife and six   Educator of America
                                                                                                                                              and other German        to become a           was transported       political science     Loyola College        children.          for his contributions
                                                                                                                                              cities.                 lieutenant to         to Worms and          with American         in Baltimore,                            to the advancement
                                                                                                                                                                      fight on the          then Marseille by     professors.           Maryland.                                of higher education
                                                                                                                                              He initially refused    eastern front.        railway car.                                                                         and services to the
                                                                                                                                              to go, but an officer                                               Identified as anti-                                            community, and in
                                                                                                                                              showed up at his        After training,       He then boarded       fascist, he was                                                this same year
                                                                                                                                              house and escorted      he fought Patton’s    a ship and, after a   trained and sent                                               he received the
                                                                                                                                              him to the airport      tank army             stop in Northern      back to Germany in                                             WMU Alumni
                                                                                                                                              at gunpoint.            marching              Africa, eventually    an effort to spread                                            Association Teaching
                                                                                                                                                                      towards Berlin.       arrived at Camp       democracy there                                                Excellence Award.
                                                                                                                                                                                            Allen in Norfolk,     after the war.
                                                                                                                                                                                            Virginia.
    In our politically polarized reality, civil   “His life’s work has been trying to bring                       “She was carrying two
    conversations may seem like a utopian         people together and talk through their                          suitcases and kept
    fantasy. Dr. Rudolf Siebert, professor        problems, and to come to some sort of                           stopping. I thought, as
    emeritus of comparative religion,             common understanding and agreement                              a good Catholic boy, I
    is looking for the light at the end of        so they can proceed forward in a                                had to help her,” recalls
    the tunnel.                                   peaceful manner that makes for a                                Siebert, who loaded
                                                  better world for everybody,” says Dr.                           the suitcases onto                                  Illuminating a
                                                  Stephen Covell, chair of the Department                         his bike and walked
                                                  of Comparative Religion.                      Siebert           alongside her, noticing
                                                                                                                                                                      path to civility
    “Our political discourse                                                                    the yellow star on her coat. “She said                                Recently retired professor
                                                  LIVING HISTORY                                police had been to her house and told                                 Dr. Rudolf Siebert sits in his
    has really declined in                                                                                                                                            study, which is lined with
                                                  Siebert’s unique perspective was forged       her to carry everything she could to the                              hundreds of books that he’s
    the world. What we want                       as a child. Growing up in Frankfurt,          basement of my school.                                                either collected or written over
    to do is see it come to a                     Germany, he was just 6 years old when         “We rolled down to the air shelter
                                                                                                                                                                      the past several decades.
                                                  Hitler came to power.
    level where people can                                                                      where already hundreds of Jews had
                                                  “The antagonism between the religious         been collected to be transported east.
    quietly and rationally talk
                                                  and the secular was there from the            The police had told her she would be
    about these things.”                          beginning. On one side there was the          brought to a nice village, free from the
                                                  religious people, and on the other side       bustle of the city, and she would have
                                                  there was the fascist state,” Siebert says.   a nice place to live out her life. We did
                                                  “They were in continual conflict with         not know that they were going to death
    A pioneer in the critical theory of           each other. So the critical theory grew       camps.”
    religion, Siebert—who retired in August       out of this fundamental experience.”          An SS man at the school scolded
    after 54 years at the University—has
                                                  “His biography is inseparable from his        Siebert for helping the woman, whom
    spent decades working to bridge the
                                                  teaching or from his philosophy,” says        he was forbidden to talk to because
    ideological divide.
                                                  Dustin Byrd, an alumnus who considers         of her Jewish faith. But all he could
    “There’s tension. We have all of these        Siebert a mentor. “He learned at a            see was a woman who looked like his
    culture wars, whether it’s stem cell          very early age what power was, what           grandmother.
    research or abortion or whatever,” Siebert    corruption was, what racism was.”             Siebert knew what was happening
    says. “These culture wars come from that
                                                  An encounter with an elderly woman on         wasn’t right.
    split between secular and religious, and
                                                  a walk to elementary school as a boy          “(Upstairs) at the school they read Plato
    they go deeper and deeper.”
                                                  still haunts him.                             in Greek and read the Torah in Hebrew,
                                                                                                and teaching was highly humanistic,”



8      wmich.edu/magazine                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Finding Common Ground                  9
says Siebert, “but down in the basement             Siebert was among about 20,000 captured           help them network, co-publishing books and
                          Captured German soldiers at the
                                                            there was this degradation of human                 troops deemed unsympathetic to the Nazi           editing volumes with them.
                          end of WWII, National Archives.   beings and people sitting and waiting for           cause who were trained and sent back to
                                                                                                                                                                  “He did a lot,” says Covell. “For him,
                                                            the gas chambers.”                                  Germany to spread democratic ideals.
                                                                                                                                                                  it’s not about him. It’s about something
                                                            As a member of the Catholic youth                   “I taught in the German school system,            much bigger.”
                                                            movement, Siebert spoke against fascism but         taught for working class people in the trade
                                                                                                                                                                  Siebert has also hosted a weekly lunch
                                                            was ultimately drafted and—after refusing the       schools, taught in university,” says Siebert,
                                                                                                                                                                  for decades, inviting students, friends and
                                                            order—forced to join the German Air Force at        who also continued his own education,
                                                                                                                                                                  family to come for fellowship and discussion.
                                                            gunpoint in World War II, at the age of 15. He      obtaining master’s and doctoral degrees
                                                                                                                                                                  He even built an addition onto his house
                                                            justified his service with the obligation he felt   while also moving forward the critical theory
                                                                                                                                                                  for students to live in while they studied
                                                            to protect the innocent people in his city from     of religion.
                                                                                                                                                                  with him.
                                                            airstrikes by allied forces.
                                                                                                                “He’s well known around the world for what
                                                                                                                                                                  “Knowing you’ve got a faculty member that’s
                                                            “You have to make ethical decisions,”               he’s done,” says Byrd. “He took what (the
                                                                                                                                                                  going the extra mile and is really supportive
                                                            says Siebert. “You know so little of the            Frankfurt School) began, their critical
                                                                                                                                                                  and wants to see you succeed and taking
                                                            circumstance in which you make this                 analysis of religion, and developed it well
                                                                                                                                                                  those extra efforts is something students
                                                            decision, and that is scary in a certain sense      beyond what they had done. He opened up
                                                                                                                                                                  really thrive on,” Covell says.
                                                            that one knows so little when one has to            the doors to understanding religion from a
                                                            make such big decisions.”                           critical, philosophical perspective.”             THE FUTURE
                                                            A TURNING POINT                                     A NEW MISSION                                     Some argue the work Siebert’s done is more
                                                                                                                                                                  important now than ever.
                                                            Eventually taken as a prisoner of war on            In the early 1960s, a social theorist involved
                                                            Easter Sunday 1945, the theme of religion is        with the Frankfurt School—which had
                                                            indelibly woven into the fabric of Siebert’s        moved back to Germany after the war—
                                                            life story. While being transferred between         made a grim observation.                             “Part of what critical theory
                                                            prison camps, a gesture of kindness forever
                                                                                                                “Maybe this whole hellish thing that we had          is trying to do is to bring two
                                                            changed him.
                                                                                                                in Europe, this fascism, could happen in the         sides of these antagonisms
                                                            “We were stowed in an animal car through            United States,” Siebert says. “I had worked in
                                                            Alsace-Lorraine, and I became unconscious           Germany as much as possible, so I decided            together in discourse so that
                                                            because I hadn’t eaten or drank anything            with my wife and family that we would come           they can come to understand
                                                            in days and was hit by a stone thrown from          back here because we wanted to fight it.”
                                                            outside,” remembers Siebert. “A Protestant
                                                                                                                                                                     each other’s position,” says
                                                                                                                So, the family moved to Baltimore, Maryland,
                                                            minister gave me his last water, and that
                                                                                                                where Siebert taught with Jesuits. Through
                                                                                                                                                                     Byrd. “By understanding each
                                                            woke me up again. I became an ecumenical                                                                 other’s position, they can lay
                                                                                                                his work there, he was connected with
                                                            person for the rest of my life.”
                                                                                                                a Jesuit at WMU interested in starting a             a foundation not for unity of
                                                            Siebert traveled with other prisoners of war        religion department.
                                                            to Africa and was eventually brought to                                                                  opinion, but for a friendly
                                                                                                                Siebert came to WMU in 1965. During
                                                            Camp Allen in Norfolk, Virginia. Along with
                                                                                                                his tenure, he helped found WMU’s                    living together.”
                                                            tens of thousands of others, he was tried to
                                                                                                                chapter of the American Association of
                                                            determine his role in the war.
                                                                                                                University Professors, directed the Center
                                                            “The Frankfurt School, which was an institute       for Humanistic Future Studies, founded            In order to continue his work, and to
                                                            for social research at Columbia University,         two international conferences and wrote           ensure WMU remains a driving force in
                                                            argued there were Germans who had not               dozens of books and articles. He also taught      advancing the field, the Department of
                                                            been Nazis, and maybe one could get help            thousands of students.                            Comparative Religion is looking into the
                                                            and train them in order to transform the                                                              possibility of creating an endowed position
                                                                                                                “He really teaches his students how to think
                                                            fascist state into a liberal state,” Siebert                                                          in Siebert’s name.
                                                                                                                critically about the world,” says Byrd. “It
                                                            says. “As members of the Catholic youth
                                                                                                                begins with thinking critically about religion,   “He’s such an important person in the field,
                                                            movement, we had helped Jewish people
                                                                                                                but then it expands into politics, economics,     and he’s influenced so many disciplines,”
                                                            by hiding them in the basement and
                                                                                                                philosophy, law and all these other things.”      Byrd says. “It’s imperative that Western finds
                                                            (secretly) spread the letter of a bishop who
                                                            was protesting concentration camps and              Siebert’s investment in his students              a way to continue his legacy.” ■
                                                            saturation bombing.”                                extended far beyond the classroom—inviting
                                                                                                                students to international conferences to



10   wmich.edu/magazine                                                                                                                                                  Finding Common Ground                  11
says Siebert, “but down in the basement             Siebert was among about 20,000 captured           help them network, co-publishing books and
                          Captured German soldiers at the
                                                            there was this degradation of human                 troops deemed unsympathetic to the Nazi           editing volumes with them.
                          end of WWII, National Archives.   beings and people sitting and waiting for           cause who were trained and sent back to
                                                                                                                                                                  “He did a lot,” says Covell. “For him,
                                                            the gas chambers.”                                  Germany to spread democratic ideals.
                                                                                                                                                                  it’s not about him. It’s about something
                                                            As a member of the Catholic youth                   “I taught in the German school system,            much bigger.”
                                                            movement, Siebert spoke against fascism but         taught for working class people in the trade
                                                                                                                                                                  Siebert has also hosted a weekly lunch
                                                            was ultimately drafted and—after refusing the       schools, taught in university,” says Siebert,
                                                                                                                                                                  for decades, inviting students, friends and
                                                            order—forced to join the German Air Force at        who also continued his own education,
                                                                                                                                                                  family to come for fellowship and discussion.
                                                            gunpoint in World War II, at the age of 15. He      obtaining master’s and doctoral degrees
                                                                                                                                                                  He even built an addition onto his house
                                                            justified his service with the obligation he felt   while also moving forward the critical theory
                                                                                                                                                                  for students to live in while they studied
                                                            to protect the innocent people in his city from     of religion.
                                                                                                                                                                  with him.
                                                            airstrikes by allied forces.
                                                                                                                “He’s well known around the world for what
                                                                                                                                                                  “Knowing you’ve got a faculty member that’s
                                                            “You have to make ethical decisions,”               he’s done,” says Byrd. “He took what (the
                                                                                                                                                                  going the extra mile and is really supportive
                                                            says Siebert. “You know so little of the            Frankfurt School) began, their critical
                                                                                                                                                                  and wants to see you succeed and taking
                                                            circumstance in which you make this                 analysis of religion, and developed it well
                                                                                                                                                                  those extra efforts is something students
                                                            decision, and that is scary in a certain sense      beyond what they had done. He opened up
                                                                                                                                                                  really thrive on,” Covell says.
                                                            that one knows so little when one has to            the doors to understanding religion from a
                                                            make such big decisions.”                           critical, philosophical perspective.”             THE FUTURE
                                                            A TURNING POINT                                     A NEW MISSION                                     Some argue the work Siebert’s done is more
                                                                                                                                                                  important now than ever.
                                                            Eventually taken as a prisoner of war on            In the early 1960s, a social theorist involved
                                                            Easter Sunday 1945, the theme of religion is        with the Frankfurt School—which had
                                                            indelibly woven into the fabric of Siebert’s        moved back to Germany after the war—
                                                            life story. While being transferred between         made a grim observation.                             “Part of what critical theory
                                                            prison camps, a gesture of kindness forever
                                                                                                                “Maybe this whole hellish thing that we had          is trying to do is to bring two
                                                            changed him.
                                                                                                                in Europe, this fascism, could happen in the         sides of these antagonisms
                                                            “We were stowed in an animal car through            United States,” Siebert says. “I had worked in
                                                            Alsace-Lorraine, and I became unconscious           Germany as much as possible, so I decided            together in discourse so that
                                                            because I hadn’t eaten or drank anything            with my wife and family that we would come           they can come to understand
                                                            in days and was hit by a stone thrown from          back here because we wanted to fight it.”
                                                            outside,” remembers Siebert. “A Protestant
                                                                                                                                                                     each other’s position,” says
                                                                                                                So, the family moved to Baltimore, Maryland,
                                                            minister gave me his last water, and that
                                                                                                                where Siebert taught with Jesuits. Through
                                                                                                                                                                     Byrd. “By understanding each
                                                            woke me up again. I became an ecumenical                                                                 other’s position, they can lay
                                                                                                                his work there, he was connected with
                                                            person for the rest of my life.”
                                                                                                                a Jesuit at WMU interested in starting a             a foundation not for unity of
                                                            Siebert traveled with other prisoners of war        religion department.
                                                            to Africa and was eventually brought to                                                                  opinion, but for a friendly
                                                                                                                Siebert came to WMU in 1965. During
                                                            Camp Allen in Norfolk, Virginia. Along with
                                                                                                                his tenure, he helped found WMU’s                    living together.”
                                                            tens of thousands of others, he was tried to
                                                                                                                chapter of the American Association of
                                                            determine his role in the war.
                                                                                                                University Professors, directed the Center
                                                            “The Frankfurt School, which was an institute       for Humanistic Future Studies, founded            In order to continue his work, and to
                                                            for social research at Columbia University,         two international conferences and wrote           ensure WMU remains a driving force in
                                                            argued there were Germans who had not               dozens of books and articles. He also taught      advancing the field, the Department of
                                                            been Nazis, and maybe one could get help            thousands of students.                            Comparative Religion is looking into the
                                                            and train them in order to transform the                                                              possibility of creating an endowed position
                                                                                                                “He really teaches his students how to think
                                                            fascist state into a liberal state,” Siebert                                                          in Siebert’s name.
                                                                                                                critically about the world,” says Byrd. “It
                                                            says. “As members of the Catholic youth
                                                                                                                begins with thinking critically about religion,   “He’s such an important person in the field,
                                                            movement, we had helped Jewish people
                                                                                                                but then it expands into politics, economics,     and he’s influenced so many disciplines,”
                                                            by hiding them in the basement and
                                                                                                                philosophy, law and all these other things.”      Byrd says. “It’s imperative that Western finds
                                                            (secretly) spread the letter of a bishop who
                                                            was protesting concentration camps and              Siebert’s investment in his students              a way to continue his legacy.” ■
                                                            saturation bombing.”                                extended far beyond the classroom—inviting
                                                                                                                students to international conferences to



10   wmich.edu/magazine                                                                                                                                                  Finding Common Ground                  11
THINK BIG
                                                                              “Our enrollment is perfectly correlated with    values: a WMU student journey will focus on     specific needs.
                                                                              this trend,” Proudfoot says. “We must do        purpose, career and well-being, all rooted
                                                                                                                                                                              Another concept expected to launch in
                                                                              something different, and we must become         in a foundation of flexibility.

                          INITIATIVE SHIFTS
                                                                                                                                                                              fall 2020 is One WMU. It will consolidate
                                                                              more competitive, and break free of
                                                                                                                              The University plans to differentiate itself    centralized career counseling and advising
                                                                              demographics being our destiny.”
                                                                                                                              by making student mental, physical and          to provide resources to students who


                             FROM THOUGHT
                                                                              On top of that, the funding structure has       academic well-being its top priorities.         have not declared a major or who are
                                                                              dramatically changed for Michigan’s public      It also aims to increase career                              transitioning between majors.
                                                                              universities. Decades ago, about three          preparedness by ensuring that

                                  TO ACTION
                                                                                                                                                                                                   “I changed my major
                                                                              quarters of funding came from the state.        students get an opportunity
                                                                                                                                                                                                       in college my senior
                                                                              Today, only about a quarter of a public         every year to have an
                                                                                                                                                                                                         year,” says Herhold.
                                                                              university’s budget is supported by the         experience they can add
                                                                                                                                                                                                           “I wasn’t student
                                                                              state—the rest comes from tuition and fees.     to their resume.
                                 Western Michigan University is not           Along with that rising financial burden,        Now that they have
                                                                                                                                                                                                             teaching until my
                                                                                                                                                                                                              senior year, so I
                                 a place to go, it’s a place to become.       students are facing a career future that’s      direction and the                                                               wasn’t really in
                                 That’s the mantra emerging from the          changing faster than ever before. According     "Big Idea" is taking                                                             the classroom
                                 Think Big initiative, which is reimagining   to a study by the Brookings Institution,        shape, University                                                                figuring out if
                                 the University’s brand and its promise       25% of jobs in the United States are            leaders are beginning                                                           I liked it. I also
                                 to students.                                 threatened by automation, and 85% of the        to create plans to put                                                         had an outside
                                 “I love the fact that we’re trying to        jobs that will be available in 2030 don’t       big aspirations                                                               job at a museum.
                                 differentiate ourselves,” says Claire        even exist yet.                                 into action.                                                                Those two
                                 Herhold, a doctoral candidate                                                                                                                                          components helped
                                                                                “A lifetime of change is coming               “This part, about what
                                 studying public history.                                                                                                                                           me realize I didn’t
                                                                                                                              we can do if we realize
                                 That differentiation isn’t just about
                                                                                for our students, and we need                 this promise, is incredible,” says
                                                                                                                                                                                              want to be in classroom
                                                                                to prepare them,” says Provost                                                                          education. It would have saved a
                                 exploring new concepts, says Tony                                                            President Edward Montgomery. “It can offer
                                                                                                                                                                              lot of heartache if I would have had those
                                 Proudfoot, vice president for marketing        Jennifer Bott, highlighting                   us the kind of hope and vision for where
                                                                                                                                                                              in-classroom or field experiences early on.”
                                 and strategic communications. WMU,                                                           we want to go as a University that keeps
                                                                                the benefits of a liberal arts                                                                One WMU could also involve the creation of
                                 like institutions across the country,                                                        the things that make Western special and
                                 is facing a stark trilogy of challenges:       education in making students                  builds on them and delivers them across         “meta-majors” so that students can explore
                                 changing demographics, the rising              better critical thinkers and                  the educational experience.                     a broader field of study without being
                                 cost of tuition and the changing                                                                                                             locked into a specific major early on.
                                                                                problem solvers and more                      “We will become that rare university that
                                 nature of work.                                                                                                                              “One of the things that is very important
                                                                                effective communicators. “We                  is a high-quality research institution that
                                                                                                                              cares about its students and its teaching,      to this effort is the acknowledgment
                                 THE CHALLENGES                                 have the ability to prepare our               about their experience and their growth,        that exploratory is not a sign of lack of
                                 Nationwide, the number of public high          students to constantly adapt.”                and prepares them for the rest of               preparation,” says Bott. “Our students are
                                 school graduates is on the decline. That                                                     their lives.”                                   uncertain (about their major) and their
                                 challenge is even more pronounced                                                                                                            parents are increasingly okay with that. We
                                 in Michigan, where high school
                                                                              THE METHOD
                                                                                                                              TAKING ACTION                                   need to celebrate that so students can find
                                 graduate rates are expected to slide         The five-phase Think Big process has been
                                                                              far-reaching and intensive, enlisting the       There are some plans that are already           their passion without having to extend their
                                 14% through the year 2031—nearly                                                             being developed and implemented in              time here.”
                                 triple the national average.                 expertise and experience of students,
                                                                              faculty, staff, alumni, community members       alignment with Think Big.
                                                                                                                                                                              WHAT'S NEXT
                                                                              and other WMU stakeholders. More than           In fall 2020, the Counseling Services at
                                                                              6,000 people have participated in various                                                       Now in the fifth and final phase of the
                                                                                                                              Sindecuse Health Center will introduce
                                                                              town hall sessions, design groups and                                                           Think Big initiative comes the work of
                                                                                                                              a stepped-care model to better address
                                                                              surveys since November 2018.                                                                    developing the creative platform to launch
                                  “Western has prepared me to follow my                                                       increasing student mental health needs.
                                  dreams by giving me a well-rounded                                                                                                          the brand. In this phase, the Think Big
                                  training in all aspects of musical          “This is not our work, this is your work,”      “The good news is the stigma of going to        team will put the finishing touches on the
                                  theatre, as well as making sure I am        says Proudfoot, who is leading the initiative   the counselor is no longer real; students are   Big Idea by responding to feedback from
                                  prepared for the business side of           alongside Dr. Jennifer Bott, provost and        fully utilizing our counseling center,” says
                                  performing.”
                                                                                                                                                                              town halls and expert reviews, and begin
                                                                              vice president for academic affairs, and Dr.    Anderson. “We just need to make sure that       implementation and promotion. Phase 5
                                  Kobe Brown                                  Diane Anderson, vice president for student      we get students the resources they need.”       and the Think Big initiative will conclude
                                  Theatre major                               affairs. “We are just the facilitators.”                                                        with the brand launch at the start of the
                                                                                                                              Counseling Services will add four intake
                                                                              Throughout the process, participants            counselors to connect students with             next school year. ■
                                                                              have distilled more than 300 ideas to create    the most effective and least resource-
                                                                              a shared vision that encompasses four core      intensive intervention available for their

12   wmich.edu/magazine                                                                                                                                                              WMU—A Place to Become                         13
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