After The Week That Was
I am very happy to be writing you this note. It's been a great week here at Juniata, and not just because of the kind of fall weather that leaf-watching tourists live for.
It's been the kind of week that says more than I or you or anyone ever could about what Juniata is all about. And because you know better than most what giving your time or your abilities or your financial gifts can do, I wanted to share with you a few things. Some of it you may have heard, but taken together they reiterate one very moving fact:
We all have a part in creating a very powerful Juniata community.
Click a plus sign to see the result of each day!
On Monday, a longtime supporter of Juniata arrived in my office with a check for $1 million. Part of it fulfilled a pledge for a previous gift, part of it prolonged a research program for students, and part of it established a new endowment. Because this person would rather not have too much publicity, I am purposely withholding some information. But he did say this: he noted the momentum gathering in support of the College, and the example of others doing what they can, and decided to give more than we expected, to establish that new endowment.
From researching an invasive species called "Tree of Heaven" that seems like a tree from hell to landscapers and homeowners to preparing a retrospective of a spunky, largely-unknown, feminist abstractionist (Minna Citron), four faculty and five student researchers dared to go where no Juniata researchers have gone before in the summer of 2011 thanks to this anonymous donor's generosity.
On Tuesday, we received advance notice that Kiplinger's, the personal finance magazine, ranked Juniata at #65 in their top 100 for "Best Value among Liberal Arts Colleges." It was our debut on the list. Now, while the magazine says its methodology made use of Peterson's/Nelnet databases and their own reporting, I can't help suspect that our community had some impact. For the last year, alumni, parents and friends of Juniata have been voting (and voting and voting) on their Reader's Choice Poll, to put Juniata at the top of the list with three times the number of votes of the number 2 college. If I were a journalist, that might make me want to look into the college that inspired such loyalty--not to mention persistence.
Rankings on the Rise
Alas, Juniata's 2011 ranking in U.S. News fell to 102, but we are still 83rd in Washington Monthly. College Prowler.com rated us No. 6 in America's Healthiest Colleges and Universities.
On Wednesday, I sat in the audience at an event held at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., a celebration sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research. I was there because of our student, Katrina Shughrue '11, who was one of only three students invited to present. Katie's presentation preceded an address by the Director of the National Science Foundation. Her research--on how to quickly identify conflict minerals from war-torn nations--was the clear hit (and not just in my biased opinion), and has since earned her, among other things, a job offer and a call from a senator.
Following in Shughrue's Shoes
Following her speech, Shughrue co-authored a paper with Juniata chemist Richard Hark and received an award from the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh. She then joined fellow alumna Alyssa Kress '10 as a chemical analyst at Environmental Standards, Inc. Kress and Shughrue's covalent employment bond was helped along by Juniata alum Lester Dupes '87. Kress and Shughrue were also the first to receive Juniata-II-VI Foundation scholarships based on their internships with A3 Technologies in Aberdeen, Md. In the summer of 2011, three new students found research projects thanks to funds from the II-VI Foundation. One student was Katie Houston '12, who analyzed portrait miniatures at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Meanwhile, Benjamin Tansi '14 and Rebecca Weih '13 researched conflict minerals at a lab on campus.
On Thursday, in another show of community influence, we learned that Founders Hall won the 2010 People's Choice Award in the AIA Pittsburgh's annual architectural design awards. Ours was one of five buildings nominated in the Historic Preservation category, and once again, our supporters turned out and voted. It was our community who won that award.
Thursday Morning: Building Awards Brick By Brick
Turns out that honors are just another brick in Founders' walls. Founders won a bronze category Brick in Architecture award from the Brick Industry Association. And, Founders Architect Baird Dixon reports that Juniata's hallowed hall was one of five Green Star Design Award winners this year from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Also on Thursday, we were pleased to congratulate one of our employees, Jessica Maxon '09, who received a Gold Presidential Volunteer Service Award. The President's Council on Service and Civic Participation recognizes the valuable contributions volunteers make in our communities and encourages more people to serve. The President's Volunteer Service Award recognizes individuals, families, and groups that have achieved a certain standard--measured by the number of hours of service over a 12-month period or cumulative hours earned over the course of a lifetime. The Gold Award is their highest honor.
Thursday Eve: Serving Sensational Statistics
Standing two notches above Founders on the medal podium, Jess Maxon '09 is poised to capture another gold award in 2011 after exceeding 1,700 hours of community service. The Juniata Community Service Office reports that 44 student volunteers recorded 2,561 hours of service in the 2009-10 academic year while 2010-11 saw a 109 percent increase in the number of volunteers and an 85 percent increase in service hours. This academic year, 12 Juniata students will serve as AmeriCorps members, serving at least 300 hours each.