Archive for June 2015

Hillsdale College Wins Acclaim for Charting Its Own Path

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What makes a rebel? Your hair? Clothes? Your screen saver or Apple playlist?

Maybe for some, but for decades, Hillsdale College has embodied rebellion in subtler but far more profound ways. It’s celebrated worldwide for zealously charting its own path and staying true to it, no matter the shifting tides of academia or society.

Consider: The small Michigan school proudly teaches the humanities, requiring students to read the Great Books, at a time when other colleges emphasize real-world learning and hide books by dead white men.

It’s refused to accept federal money for nearly 50 years because Hillsdale doesn’t want to be told what to do by Washington. Instead, students get an average of nearly $17,000 in gifts and loans from a privately created financial aid plan.

And Hillsdale makes zero excuses for being located in a northern town of 8,000 with few distractions.

“We think of those as advantages,” Hillsdale President Larry Arnn told The Wall Street Journal last week in a complimentary feature about him and the school.

“Because you need to come to college for the right reason. They’re not coming to our place for the beach. We like that—and manage to recruit, better and better.”

Arnn recently won the Bradley Prize, one of the highest honors among conservatives. And while the school is a bastion of conservatism whose campus includes statues of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, Hillsdale is more interested in seeking free thinkers than demagogues.

“The college is not really about that,” Arnn told The Journal.

No doubt. Hillsdale isn’t for everyone. But it’s about the right ones, the students who savor ideas and embrace its rigorous standards.

Those are values shared at Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities, where doing things differently comes naturally. They are schools where world-renowned faculty encourages taking a different approach to problems — and learning.

Academically rigorous, the schools offer small class sizes. Their faculty are experts in their field and forge lifetime bonds with students who value communities over crowds. Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates and smaller class sizes for a truly unique and affordable experience.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Unique Business Partnership Gains Attention for Michigan Independents

ShapeCorp_MCA

Business is good. But you’re at a crossroads. The company that began with five people and a dream 41 years ago now employs 2,100 and sales are approaching $1 billion.

But the terrain is shifting. The family business now serves a global market. Executives who nurtured the company are ready to retire.

Change is inevitable, but where do you turn?

If you’re the Shape Corp., you tap the minds and business savvy of professors at Albion College, Hope College and Spring Arbor University.

In a unique marriage of the real world and academics, professors from the Michigan independent colleges helped chart a path for the next generation of the Novi design, engineering company.

Albion College Professors Dr. Vicki Baker and Joy Nakfoor, Hope College Professor Dr. Peter Boumgarden and Spring Arbor University Professor Dr. K. Caleb Chan worked closely with company officials to map a plan for future leadership, as well as develop a global leadership development program.

It was a good fit. The faculty had deep, real-world business experience, running entrepreneurial ventures and consulting Fortune 500 companies.

As natural as it seems, the partnership is so unusual it will be featured and celebrated in the September/October issue of Academe, a publication of the American Association of University Professors.

“While we each bring a unique, but complementary skill set to the table, we all share a passion for solving problems and drawing on what we do best—instilling the core values of the liberal arts in our students, believing them to be relevant to the complexity of the modern business world,” Professors Baker and Boumgarden wrote in a paper about the experiment.

That sort of thinking is typical at Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities, where world-renowned faculty encourages taking a different approach to problems — and learning.

While other universities are hemmed in by orthodox views on where business school ends and practical business begins, Michigan independents chart a new path. It’s just one of many examples that separates the independents and makes them shine.

Academically rigorous, the schools offer small class sizes. Their faculty are experts in their field and forge lifetime bonds with students who value communities over crowds. Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates and smaller class sizes for a truly unique and affordable experience.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

A Capella Groups at Michigan colleges are ‘Pitch Perfect’

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Hollywood loves the Barden Bellas. So do moviegoers, making “Pitch Perfect 2” the surprise smash of the summer and sparking plans already for another sequel to the a cappella-loving misfits.

What’s not to love? There’s Fat Amy on a rowboat warbling Pat Benatar. And there’s awesome a cappella, sung from the heart with professional, awesome arrangements.

The movie has proved there’s a diehard audience for great a cappella. But that shouldn’t surprised anyone, since they have a devout following nationwide at Michigan’s independent colleges and universities.

Take Africapella, the powerful group from Calvin College of African singers like Emmanuel Gyimah. The student from Ghana says joining the group changed his life, helping him transform from a “very shy and reserved dude” and helping him make friends.

And oh yeah, the music is hot too.

Or the Euphonics of Albion College, who have released more than five studio albums, play to packed audiences and have a robust YouTube following. Little wonder: Their harmonies transform well-known pop songs and help students such as Jess Konieczny overcome stage fright

“Everybody was nervous,” she said after her first performance.

“We said a prayer, and we huddled up and got mentally focused as a group. Then I just felt ready.”

It’s tough not to smile or shake your hips watching their performances.

If a cappella isn’t your thing, Michigan independents also have active, awesome student choirs. Here’s Alma College performing “The Circle of Life.”

The groups are just of many ways you can follow your passion and chart your own path at Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities. Academically rigorous, the schools offer small class sizes. Their faculty are experts in their field and forge lifetime bonds with students who value communities over crowds. Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates and smaller class sizes for a truly unique and affordable experience.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Andrews University students make tiny homes and a big difference

Tiny houses are all the rage. After years of McMansions, itsy bitsy homes the size of sheds are suddenly in vogue, from the TV show “Tiny House Nation” to a planned community in Cleveland.

Fashion was the furthest thing from the minds of Andrews University students, though, when they constructed homes that could be used to house the needy. Traditionally, students travel to Bolivia to build houses, but this year, charity came closer to home.

“We launched it not really knowing how it was going to turn out, but the students really liked it,” said Carey Carscallen, dean of the School of Architecture, Art & Design, who organized the project involving with five graduate students.

One house — “The Shed” — remained in a warehouse, unfinished. The other, nicknamed “Bay View” is a 148 square-foot marriage of practicality and luxury. It’s small enough to fit on an 18-foot trailer, but big enough to contain two bedrooms, a complete kitchen and bathroom. A website, theshedtinyhouse.com, tracked the progress of the project, which Carscallen hopes to repeat to provide tiny homes with needy residents of nearby Benton Harbor.

The project wasn’t just cool. It made students focus on different skillsets — teamwork, design, planning, maximizing limited resources — that architecture students don’t always get to use anyway. And it made them think differently about what defines a home, Carscallen said.

Thinking differently. That’s what faculties do at Andrews University and Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities.

The schools are guided by passion and community. Class sizes are small enough so students not only know their professors, they form lifetime bonds. Professors pride themselves on working closely with students to help them forge their own path, buck conventional wisdom and find a new way.

It’s an experience that simply isn’t available at traditional universities. And despite what you may have heard, independents are often less expensive and boast higher four-year graduation rates than four-year institutions.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.