Acting President's Newsletter

April 2024

Dear Juniata Community, 

April’s energy has a sense of purpose as our campus community revels in the traditions that connect us while looking ahead to the end of the semester and commencement and all that graduation represents. As we gather, it is a time to celebrate our connections and accomplishments.

The vibrancy of the Juniata College educational experience was on full display at the 18th annual Liberal Arts Symposium (LAS) last week. Each year, I eagerly anticipate this daylong celebration of learning, as it embodies the essence of our academic community. LAS is more than a showcase of educational excellence; it speaks to Juniata’s commitment to the liberal arts—nurturing curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking. LAS embodies the spirit of exploration and discovery that defines our college experience.

That sense of curiosity is ideally accompanied by empathy and an ability to listen. We have launched a new initiative designed to hone that skill among our students. Matthew Damschroder, vice president for student life and dean of students, and Derek James, dean of equity, diversity, and inclusion, hosted a Braver Angels Debate on campus for students, faculty, and staff to learn how to “disagree agreeably” as part of their co-taught First Year Seminar (FYS). Our students tackled the question, “Are AI platforms like ChatGPT a threat to classroom learning?” in thoughtful and engaging ways. I am grateful to David Wagner '85 for bringing this program to our attention.

Traditions old and new can be joyful as well. It was awesome to observe Isabel Kruse ’24 organize Juniata’s second mattress dominoes on the quad. In her Bailey Oratorical speech, Isabel reflected on watching the first mattress dominoes as a child and recalled the positive effect of the event on students. Watching those dominoes fall was great fun! The solar eclipse also encouraged students, faculty, staff, and the community to gather on the quad for a truly magical moment, watching everyone look up in wonder at the phenomenon happening in the sky. And days later, the magic of Physics Phun Night demonstrated how exciting science can be. Of course, experiments with fire are always a big hit! 

Science is exciting in the classroom and lab as well. We recently learned that Juniata has been awarded $551,000 through the National Institutes of Health’s R16 Grant program. This funding results from a multi-year effort by Regina Lamendella, George ’75 and Cynthia ’76 Valko Professor of Biological Sciences, and Katie Dickey '97, director of grants and foundation relations, and will provide expanded opportunities for undergraduate research.

The latest issue of Juniata magazine hit mailboxes this past week and is now available online for you to read and share. Please take a moment to scroll through this newsletter and enjoy photos from the past month. Thank you for being a part of our community and all you do for Juniata.

In the News

Grant to Fund Research on Health Threat

Juniata College has been awarded $551,000 from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) SuRE Research Awards (R16) to fund research on Clostridioides difficile infection, a costly and difficult-to-treat condition commonly known as C. diff, to be led by Regina Lamendella, George ’75 and Cynthia ’76 Valko Professor of Biological Sciences.   

Event Raises Suicide Awareness

The quad was filled with activity on April 13 for the Out of the Darkness Walk to raise awareness for suicide prevention. Hosted by the College and organized by the staff of the Glaeser Counseling Center, hundreds of walkers raised over $16,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

Men's Volleyball Ends Stellar Season

The Juniata men’s volleyball season came to an end in the Elite Eight as they faced off against Stevens Institute of Technology. This marked Juniata's fifth NCAA Tournament appearance, back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances for the second time in program history, a fifth appearance in the CVC (Continental Volleyball Conference) Tournament Final, a season-high 13 game winning streak, and the eighth consecutive winning season.

Basketball Standout Honored

Juniata men's basketball standout Chase Husted '24 was named to the College Sports Communicators Academic All-America Division III Second Team. He is the second Juniata men's basketball player to earn the honor. Husted has been a force in the classroom throughout his time at Juniata, as he has pursued a pre-med major and maintained an outstanding 3.94-grade point average.

Liberal Arts Symposium

Liberal Arts Symposium (LAS) has been an academic tradition since 2006. Known as "Mountain Day of the Mind," LAS is a day for students to present their work created in the classroom, laboratory, field, community, or studio. LAS provides the community with a unique opportunity to meet students and experience their excellent scholarship. A closer look at the day’s scholarship is available online.

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Physics Phun Night

Sponsored and presented by Juniata College’s Chapter of the Society of Physics Students, this community event combines entertainment and education and is filled with “phun” for all ages. 

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Mattress Dominoes

In 2009, Isabel Kruse ’24 watched as students brought their mattresses to the quad for an act of choreographed chaos—mattress dominoes! Isabel issued a challenge in her speech at this year’s Bailey Oratorical, calling on students to celebrate the campus community with a revival of the 15-year-old event, and 87 students responded!