Wheaton in the news

Magazine turns to Crutcher for comments on education

When it comes to higher education, public debate these days often starts with the question of whether college is worthwhile. And the measuring stick most often used is whether graduates get jobs after commencement.

In that conversation, programs with a strong occupational focus get most of the approval from the news media and politicians.

The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine tackled the subject in a big way, devoting the issue to a collection of stories on the topic. The lead article quoted President Ronald A. Crutcher, who spoke up for the value of the liberal arts.

In the end, he said, employers largely want what schools like Wheaton already teach, although he admits “it sometimes gets lost in translation.” He pointed out that Bureau of Labor Statistics research suggests that students graduating this year will have held more than 10 different jobs by the time they’re 38. “The truth is, things are changing so rapidly that, to thrive, you have to be an agile learner,” he said. “You have to be able to think critically, and narrow training for a specific job doesn’t do that. If you’re not focusing on those other knowledge-based skills, you’re going to be doomed to entry-level jobs.”

The subject is not new to Crutcher, who is the co-chair of a national campaign championing the importance of liberal arts education and a frequent commentator on the practical power of a liberal arts education. The liberal arts, he says, drive career success as well as intellectual satisfaction and civic welfare.

Globe and Post note student’s experiment

Emerald Bresnahan ’15
Emerald Bresnahan ’15

Could there be a connection between the formation of a snowflake and the formation of a galaxy? Emerald Bresnahan ’15 posited such when she wrote a paper for her astronomy course with Professor Tim Barker. From there she developed an experiment that was chosen as one of 60 finalists (and then, one of three finalists) from more than 2,000 entries in the YouTube Space Lab competition. The contest offered two winners a chance to have their experiments performed at the International Space Station.

Bresnahan was featured in articles in the Boston Globe, Washington Post and Sun Chronicle (Attleboro, Mass.).

“In an experiment proposal she submitted to YouTube as part of its Space Lab competition, Bresnahan said that galaxies form similarly to how snowflakes form from the inside out,” the Washington Post article noted. “She believes to have found possible evidence that the hexagonal formation of a snowflake relates to other aspects of the universe—a shape that’s also seen on the north pole of Saturn.”

Bresnahan also pointed out in the article that she received excellent feedback and support from Professor Barker.

Associated Press seeks Professor Kricher’s expertise

The ongoing construction work for the historic expansion of the Panama Canal is changing evolutionary biologists’ understanding of the evolution of species in the New World. Workers recently uncovered the fossils of camels, Aguascalientia panamaensis and Aguascalientia minuta, animals with a long snout that roamed the tropical rainforests of the isthmus some 20 million years ago.

An Associated Press writer turned to Professor of Biology John Kricher as one of several experts to offer perspective on the find. The story was published by news media across the country, including ABC News, the Huffington Post, and regional news outlets from Atlanta to Seattle.

“It’s pretty unusual to find camel remains that age at that place,” said Kricher, who specializes in tropical ecology and is not affiliated with the project. “It certainly is a significant find by any measure. And it rewrites something of mammalian deep-time history.”