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DeBrief - May 25, 2022

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DePauw’s source for staff and faculty news and announcements.

Please note: DeBrief is taking a break in June and July. Look for the next issue Aug. 10. Enjoy your summer!


Faculty and Staff News Roundup

Angela Castañeda, anthropology professor, was recently named a Wilma Gibbs Moore Fellow for the project Obstetric Racism in Indiana: How Hoosier Doulas Resist Anti-Black Racism in Birth | Fellows: Julie Johnson Searcy and Angela Castañeda. This fellowship was awarded by Indiana Humanities for humanities-based research projects that examine anti-Black racial injustice and structural racism in Indiana.


Clinical counselor Scott Hamilton was quoted May 24 by Athletic Business in “NCAA Releases Student-Athlete Well-Being Study.”


Chief information officer Carol Smith ’85 was the guest May on Higher Digital’s podcast “transformed: Digital Transformation at Liberal Arts Colleges.”

There Go Those Tigers
Leslie James at commencement

Leslie James, professor of religious studies


We asked Professor James for his reaction to DePauw’s commencement address by Jon Fortt ’98, an anchor at CNBC and a veteran journalist covering technology.


Fortt referenced James in his speech: “I especially appreciate being back at DePauw, in person, at a place where I spent four transformative years a quarter century ago. Here, on a morning in May, I sat, relieved to have finished my course of study and frankly sad to be leaving the only place outside of my parents’ house that had ever become my home.


I was sad because I'd miss the work: In a red box in my closet today I still have my essay on Ephesians 6 from Leslie James’s New Testament class freshman year...”


James responded: “It was an excellent, well-thought out and carefully crafted speech. It was the kind of address that I’ve come to expect from Jon. Among other things, I deeply appreciated its theoretical orientation. It was a classic illustration of the axiom that a DePauw education is the commencement in an experience of life-long learning; an enduring experience in which some of life’s perennial questions are addressed and revisited. Speaking as a humanities professor, Jon’s speech is a jewel for us to reflect on at this point in DePauw’s journey into the future. Speaking as someone who will listen to quite a few commencement speeches at this time of the year, the speech should be widely disseminated and made available to our incoming first year class, among others.


Finally, I deeply appreciated that Jon’s address ended with a clear challenge; one that was integral to the entire narrative. Truly, I felt honored and humbled to have the privilege to sit, as they say, at Jon's feet, and to receive wisdom and understanding from a former student and fellow-traveller on my DePauw journey.


Indeed, I was grateful for the opportunity. I’m also glad and encouraged that some of my graduating students took note of Jon’s bearing witness to me.”

Did You Know?
Scott Wilkerson at commencement

Scott Wilkerson, professor of geosciences and university marshal


How long have you been the University Marshal?

Technically, I’m finishing my second academic year being University Marshal. However, with Covid and the retirement of Fred Soster (the previous University Marshal), I’ve actually been involved in three commencements as University Marshal (although I have to admit that helping to coordinate two commencements at the same time during Spring 2021 has made it feel a bit longer!).


How does one become marshal?

Given that Fred Soster and I are both geologists (and some might point out follicularly challenged), one might assume that those are criteria. They are not, as previous University Marshals like Mark Kannowski and Mary Dixon can attest. One can be nominated (or self-nominated) for the position, and then candidates are asked to provide a paragraph expressing interest/qualifications. I had assisted Fred as a student marshal for many years, so I was relatively familiar with the position. The Vice President for Academic Affairs and the University President make the final appointment decision.


What are your responsibilities?

The University Marshal helps in planning and coordinating several formal academic events for the university, including commencement, opening convocation and presidential inaugurations. During these events, the University Marshal organizes and leads the procession of faculty, administration, staff and/or students and carries the university mace at the head of the procession. All of this work is greatly facilitated by a team of faculty assistant marshals (and many, many dedicated individuals behind the scenes).


What's you favorite moment during the ceremony in general?

I think the excitement and anticipation of the students as they line up on the stage steps before receiving their diploma.


What was a highlight from Sunday's ceremony?

Seeing Tony Robertson there in person…hands down…no contest. No matter what decisions we had to make at the spur of the moment Sunday, no matter what mini-crises developed and were solved…seeing Tony there Sunday always put a smile on my face.


Is there something we might not know about commencement?

I don’t think that most people know the sheer number of people and person hours that go into refining every detail of commencement (I certainly did not). I can’t begin to list everything that goes into the process – sprucing up and decorating the grounds, arriving at the crack of dawn to dry and label seats on Sunday, coordinating venders/venues/communications, devoting hours listening to audio recordings of student name pronunciations, addressing a deluge of email requests and questions, planning for every contingency/need that we can think of, developing plans/setups for holding commencement outdoors and indoors – and the list could go on and on. The dedication and hard work of this team to make the commencement experience as good as they can for the graduates and their families is nothing short of amazing. I dare not attempt to list individuals, for I would leave someone out. Does everything always go perfectly? Absolutely not. However, to paraphrase something that I was told Sunday, we hope that the graduates and their families leave feeling that DePauw made every effort to make this event special and memorable for them.


Retirement Celebration

Bob Leonard, vice president for finance and administration

June 14, 2:30-4 p.m., Hoover Hall, Wallace-Stewart Commons.

Contact Erin Confer-Staggers with questions.


Faculty-Staff Institute: Save the Date

August 19, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., all employees and 1-5 p.m., divisional and departmental meetings and retreats.

Students throwing their caps at commencement
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