Spotlight on Research

Dr. Brett Fadem, associate professor of physics, has been awarded his second NSF-RUI grant for undergraduate research in experimental nuclear physics. The grant, entitled, “RUI: Antiquarks and Ultra-Relativisitic Heavy Ions at Muhlenberg College” is for $162,000.

Dr. Brett Fadem, associate professor of physics, discusses a poster with a student

Dr. Brett Fadem, associate professor of physics, discusses a poster with a student

This grant allows the physics department to maintain its research program that involves the College in advanced and innovative research at Brookhaven National Laboratory with the PHENIX collaboration. Muhlenberg was named a member institution of the PHENIX collaboration in the summer of 2007. PHENIX has engineered, built, operated, and analyzed data from the Relativistic Ion Collider. Each summer, Muhlenberg undergraduate students have been able to work directly with the scientists on this project. Because of Fadem’s recent grant, students will continue forward with this research.

Fadem and three students involved with the PHENIX collaboration attended this year’s American Physical Society Division of Nuclear Physics Fall meeting, held in Newport Beach, California. Fadem gave a talk entitled “Transverse Energy at RHIC in the forward/backward direction with the PHENIX MuonPiston Calorimeter” while Benjamin Schweid ‘13, MariAnne Skolnik ‘14, and Chris Zumberge ‘14 presented posters at the Conference Experience for Undergraduates poster session (for which all three earned conference scholarships).

The College’s physics department has established a dedication to student and faculty research. The major aims to educate all graduates in efficiently conducting research in the physical sciences and disseminating their findings and results. Students and faculty continue to experiment with novel concepts, use cutting edge technology and information, and present these studies at conferences nationwide.

Kipa Retires after 46 Years at ‘Berg

by Liz Fonseca ’13, Presidential Assistant, Public Relations

Dr. Albert Kipa has had quite the career. As an expert in Germano- Slavic literary and cultural relations, he has lectured in cities across the world including Freiburg, Mainz, Munich, Prague, Rome, Kiev, Lviv, Moscow and Warsaw. However, the most rewarding city in which Kipa has lectured is much closer to home – Allentown, where, over the last five decades, Kipa has taught and mentored thousands of Muhlenberg students.

Albert Kipa Kipa retired this past spring from his position as Professor Laureate of German and Russian and J. & F. Saeger Professor of Comparative Literature in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures (LLC) after 46 consecutive years of service to the College.

Kipa was born in Kiev, Ukraine and immigrated to New York with his family at age 11. He received his B.A. in German and Russian from the City College of New York, and just five days after receiving this degree, he began teaching at his alma mater, confirming his love of teaching languages and literature. Soon after, he began an assistantship at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned his Ph.D. in Germano-Slavic literary relations in 1972.

Kipa accepted a position teaching at Muhlenberg in 1966, knowing it was the right place. For him, it was located perfectly between New York and Philadelphia, and he appreciated that ‘Berg’s size allowed him to maintain close relationships with students, which he insists have been the backbone of his career, saying they underwent “an exploration of the world together.”

It was also crucial to him that the College champion the liberal arts. Kipa says, “The liberal arts experience provides you with a foundation in what it means to be human.”

His Russian, German and English literature courses “encouraged students to see literature as art, as a significant reflection of life and as an imaginative extension of its possibilities” while through his language courses he tried to “opened up their eyes to a broader perception of the world.”

The versatility and breadth of Kipa’s remarkable career makes any attempt at a complete list of achievements impossible. He has received the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award as well as a huge number of prestigious national and international awards, including the Fulbright and Ukraine’s presidential “Order of Merit.” He served on a National Advisory Council to the newly created U.S. Department of Education from 1980 to 1982 and has acted as author or editor for an extensive number of books, articles and reviews.

At Muhlenberg, Kipa served as the LLC department head for 12 years. In addition to that, he says it feels as if he has devoted time to “every imaginable committee on campus,” even acting as the faculty advisor to the ice hockey club for five years “because my sons (’98 and ‘01) were ice hockey fanatics.”

When asked what he will miss about ‘Berg, Kipa says, “The most important part of the job was interacting with students and colleagues. I am going to miss those daily interactions, but the relationships I have with everyone will remain.”

Looking forward, Kipa says, “In some respects, I want to cut back on the broad range of activities I was involved with,” but he laughingly points out that “retirement is not as if you’re exiled,” as some students and faculty members seem to believe when they see him on campus now. Kipa will continue his scholarly work and is excited to travel more and spend time with his wife of 46 years, Oksana. He will also continue to serve as the President for the Ukrainian Academy of the Arts and Sciences in the US.

At his retirement dinner last May, Kipa was deeply touched when he was presented with a video montage of faculty members, staff and students wishing him well and recalling his years at Muhlenberg.

In his farewell message, Provost John Ramsay said, “Professor Al Kipa has been one of Muhlenberg College’s most renowned, most respected teacher-scholars…He is also one of our wisest colleagues. He is a thoughtful man about the big issues of both the faculty and of the College at large. He has always expressed himself in conversations and disagreements about the direction of the College in very civil tones…He was always the most enjoyable and thoughtful companion and conversationalist.”

This is only one short message among dozens from members of the Muhlenberg community, thanking Kipa for being a mentor, a role model and a friend. Thinking of the video, Kipa smilingly states, “I had a lot of good friends at the College that expressed kind words. I realized why I never thought of retiring before.”

Election Fever Sweeps ‘Berg

All semester long, ‘Berg examined the issues and implications of the 2012 presidential race with “Democracy and the 2012 Election,” the fifth nonpartisan election series coordinated by Muhlenberg’s department of political science since 1992.

Students Host a Voter Registration Table

Students Host a Voter Registration Table

Cosponsored by a number of other departments on campus, the goal of the series is to offer the Muhlenberg and wider community an opportunity to examine critical issues linked to the 2012 presidential election.

Through public talks, panel discussions, political plays and an election night party, the campus community gathered together to watch as campaigns unfolded, strategies played out and a winner was announced.

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor of Muhlenberg magazine: Your efforts to keep alumni abreast of the state of the College through the newsletter has fostered, in my case, a work of art. Funny story, this.

Last year the Spring 2011 newsletter touted the marvels of neuroscience. In particular there was reference to this endeavor’s potential for perhaps finding a key to human consciousness. I was wowed. The interdisciplinary approach to looking at consciousness from both a mechanistic and a behavioral perspective set me to furiously thinking. The quote from John McGinnis regarding computer analogies that juxtaposes robust comparison to creative fantasy (love that term) jump started the brain activity labeled imagination.

Lo and behold what should happen with this onslaught of mental stimulation nestled in the alumni newsletter but a creative fantasy. Out of the old brain popped a project I call Head Case. At the core of this project is a doggerel monolog – Head Case: An A to Z Fantasy that is the voice over for a video animation of the same name. The other components of the project include: a group of assemblages – Head Case Quartet; and a portfolio of pixelgraphs – Head Case Alphabet. Recently completed after over a year of work it is now posted on my website, to which I cordially invite you to visit.

Muhlenberg was the provider of an education that enabled me to thrive. The education was not one that prepared me to assume a role within the world of professions but one that gave me the tools of perception upon which to build my thoughts on a foundation recognizing both ones individuality and ones role in the community of humankind. The interdisciplinary approach recognizes and fosters the frame of mind that our survival, dependent as it is upon our awareness of our being, is not so simple as to be reduced to the brilliance of insight from any one discipline’s perspective. We are a chorus of disciplines each contributing a voice to our species’s and to our planet’s song. By all appearances the college is a nurturing and a broad visioned choirmaster.

Respectfully submitted, David Deakin ’69

The Big “D”

President Randy HelmQuadrupeds make lousy pets. Elephants trample people and smash the furniture; crocodiles bite off arms and legs; cows cannot be housebroken; rhinoceroses gore people. And don’t even get me started on the problems a pet giraffe can cause. So, sorry dog and cat lovers: you are part of the problem, not the solution.

I jest, of course, but with a point. If you accept the current media coverage of higher education in America, here’s the story you’ve been told:

College is unaffordable; high costs are attributable to bloated administrations and lazy faculty; students don’t learn anything and most never graduate; whether they graduate or not, they leave with staggering debt burdens of $100,000 or more; if they do graduate, they can’t get jobs; and it doesn’t matter anyway because soon all education will be online and mostly free and so most colleges are doomed to extinction. I’m sure it’s just an oversight, but reporters have not – at least to my knowledge – mentioned the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the spread of bubonic plague, or Visigoth invasions as part of this alarming tale.

We’re talking about the future of our young people here and the future of one of the greatest systems of higher education that the world has ever known. So let’s get serious. Cost and access are a realistic concern. So is academic rigor. There are some common sense measures of whether colleges and universities are doing a good job. Graduation rates are one legitimate measure. Another is the cost-benefit ratio: do graduates improve their lifetime earning capacity? Is their debt-load upon graduation reasonable given the expected return on investment? Those aren’t the only important questions, but they’re a good place to start.

Once you start looking at such measures, you are in a position to separate the dogs from the elephants; in other words, you can focus on “the big D” – “differentiation.”

Let’s take the new, mostly online, for-profit universities that are (supposedly) going to sweep away quaint little traditional schools like Muhlenberg. Their four-year graduation rates “boast” a dismal national average of 20.4 percent. What about low-cost public institutions? The national average for graduation within four years is slightly better, 31.3 percent (source). And finally, what about Muhlenberg? Our four-year graduation rate is in a totally different ballpark: 81 percent – higher if you add in an extra semester. So, if the point of going to college is to actually get a college degree, which is the best bet? Could it be more obvious?

But what about debt? Muhlenberg’s not cheap, you know! No, we’re not. But we’re still a bargain compared to the alternatives. If you were lucky enough to be among the small minority actually completing a four-year degree at a for-profit institution, your average debt would likely exceed $28,000 – and that’s true for 65% of for-profit graduates (source). Even if you didn’t finish your degree, you would still, on average, be stuck with more than $10,000 in student loans to pay off. At Muhlenberg, 42 percent of our students graduated last year with no debt at all; the average debt for those who did borrow was $23,000 – about the cost of an economy car. Unlike an economy car, however, a Muhlenberg degree will not depreciate in value, won’t guzzle gas, won’t raise your insurance rates and won’t break down.

Okay, so you have a vastly better chance of completing a college degree at Muhlenberg than the for-profit or public institutions, and the debt load – while significant – is nowhere near the six-figures we’ve been reading about in the press. Iin fact, less than one half of one percent of college graduates leave with six-figure debt (David Feldman, “Newsflash: College is a Bargain” New York Daily News, June 3, 2012). Still, is it worth it? Well, The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce thinks so. It reports that, when it comes to median life-time earnings, a bachelor’s degree will give you a 74 percent pay bump over a high school diploma ($2,268,000 vs. $1,304,000). If you take that bachelor’s degree and go on to earn a professional degree, as many Muhlenberg alumni do, the bump is more like 180 percent – $3,648,000 vs. $1,304,000 (source).

But that data reflects past decades right? College graduates aren’t getting jobs any more, are they? Well, I can’t speak for other institutions, but Muhlenberg graduates certainly are. Every year we conduct a survey of the most recent graduating class to see how they are faring in the job market. We get a response rate of 90 percent or better every year, so we’re pretty confident in our results. And every year the results are pretty consistent: one year out, around 95 percent of our recent grads are either employed or in graduate or professional school. If you’re still skeptical, compare Muhlenberg graduates’ salary statistics on We stack up pretty well against the likes of Colby, Trinity, Franklin & Marshall, Gettysburg, Wellesley, Vassar and many others (source).

Okay, so what about administrative bloat? Isn’t that a problem at ‘Berg? Well…actually, we’re pretty lean. Based on IPEDs (the “Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System” maintained by the federal government), Muhlenberg’s managerial staff is about one-third that of the average of a comparison group of schools like Dickinson, Bucknell, Ursinus, Gettysburg, Skidmore, Franklin and Marshall and others. Our support staff is about two-thirds the comparison group’s average. Our faculty still teach six courses a year (in addition to advising, mentoring, committee work, and research), compared to a four or five course load at many of our peers.

Why don’t we read about these facts in the national media? Well, for one thing, they are not sensational enough to get readers’ attention. And, for another, of some 4,000 institutions of higher education in the United States, only about 3 percent are small, private, residential liberal arts colleges like Muhlenberg. We’re good, in fact we’re superb, but we’re not typical.

By now, if you are a true believer in the life-changing power of the liberal arts, you may be disgusted by all this talk of return on investment. I empathize. Life is not all about work, nor can a life’s value be measured in dollars and cents.

The liberal arts equip our graduates to live their lives to the fullest, to be inspired by the arts, to comprehend mankind’s history, to appreciate diverse cultures, to create, to explore, to develop new knowledge. The stem-cell researcher who still plays the trumpet; the investment banker who coaches kids in the Special Olympics; the physician who collects contemporary paintings; the businessman who supports the opera; the accountant who immerses herself in literature; the lawyer who serves on the board of the local homeless shelter; the pastor, the social worker, the teacher and many, many others. These and about twenty thousand more Muhlenberg alumni can testify that what we do on this campus changes lives for the better, and enriches society along the way.

The numbers simply confirm what our hearts already knew. We need not apologize. We have a great story to tell – and all of us who love Muhlenberg have an obligation to tell it.

Peyton R. Helm President, Muhlenberg College

News from the Front: College Admissions in the 21st Century

As I write this, we are in the home stretch of one admissions cycle, and at the front end of another. Our acceptance letters and financial aid packages are in the mail to high school seniors, and we are already hosting dozens of high school juniors each day for tours, interviews and information sessions.

That’s the pattern in college admissions these days, where the cycles increasingly overlap. Juniors are out looking even as seniors are in final decision-making mode. And ambitious tenth graders are often out to get an early looksee at a few college campuses, and already using online resources to begin exploring colleges.

It’s a multi-layered, sometimes chaotic scene in college admissions currently. Add a financial aid system nationwide that increasingly resembles the wild west, with no single set of rules, and lots of institutions doing whatever they feel they must to gain advantage at the top end, or simply to get a class at the bottom end, and the potential for student and parent confusion is huge.

It doesn’t get a lot clearer on the college side. What used to be viewed as the “higher education marketplace” has now fractured into many “micro-markets.” About 40% of college-going students are now starting at two-year community colleges. Another 39% are starting a four-year public universities and colleges. About 7% are attending for-profit institutions. Which leaves about 14% of the market for private higher education—and that is a market share that is distributing itself across a market segment that stretches from ultra-wealthy, uber-selective elites all the way to tiny, struggling privates whose future may be in doubt.

The good news for Muhlenberg in the midst of this fractured, brutally competitive marketplace is that we experienced another record admissions year in the most recent cycle, breaking the 5,000 application barrier for the first time in our history. What matters for colleges like Muhlenberg is the ability to communicate value—and it has to be value that prospective students and parents care about— and then to consistently live up to the value that has been communicated.

Happily for us, many of the things Muhlenberg is good at are also things that the marketplace cares about. For example, the deep sense of community and connection on campus is something that students and parents often comment about, and something that can tip the balance of a college decision. Likewise, our emphasis on excellent teaching and on intense, collaborative student-faculty relationships makes a difference for many students. Finally, our curricular embrace of both the classical liberal arts and sciences together with a number of strong pre-professional programs is something that is especially attractive in this economic climate.

There are particular academic strengths as well, from theatre arts and dance to biology and pre-health, and from psychology and neuroscience to business or English. Our very real strength across a broad academic waterfront is important in the competitive climate in which we find ourselves. Co-curricular strengths, such as strong Jewish life, strong Catholic life, six acapella singing groups, our own strong student EMT group, the Muhlenberg-Jefferson School project, and many other facets of campus life also speak to a wide array of important student interests.

Life is likely to get even more complicated for both prospective college students, and the colleges they are considering, as we move deeper into the 21st century. The economics of higher education is difficult for all involved, and some predict the center cannot hold. The marketplace will continue to splinter into smaller and more highly specialized segments.

Students will be challenged to make sense of the choices facing them, and how to pay for whatever they choose. Colleges will be challenged to clearly outline their own value and to live up to that value every day in order to continue to earn their place in a competitive world in which they are under increasing scrutiny.

For Muhlenberg, one of the goals must be to really know ourselves, to understand the world in which we live and compete, and to understand why students choose us and what they value most about us. We must also continue to strengthen our value proposition, and to live up to our own values of community, connection, excellent teaching, active learning, and powerful outcomes every day. Muhlenberg has carved out an important niche in a demanding world. We do some things very well that the world cares about and will support.

Our progress on the admissions front is both a product of the College’s performance and a reflection of our sense of ourselves and our ability to deliver for our students. It’s important work—for the future of our college and the future of our students—and there are miles to go before we sleep!

In Memoriam


John K. Heyl P’72, DHL’06 died on March 12, 2011 at the age of 104. A former Trustee of the College from 1950-1959, he is survived by sons, John II and Anthony ’72; and daughters, Frances M. Heyl, and Mary Elizabeth Bauer. He was predeceased by his wife, Florence.


Milton “Mickey” Weiner died on March 14, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Virginia; daughter, Karen Weiner Stollar ’67; and son, Richard.


Richard H. Rauch died on March 2, 2012. He is survived by his daughter, Rebecca Angelo. He was predeceased by his wife, Beatrice.


William J. Marks died on July 27, 2011. He is survived by his sons, William and Jay. He was predeceased by his wife, Eleanor.


Rev. Dr. Franklin L. Jensen died on February 15, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Miriam; and daughters, Anne Sabbatine and Kristin Slack. He was predeceased by his first wife, Evelyn.

Dr. Byron E. Kern died on January 12, 2012. He is survived by his children, Cheryl Kern Thomas and Douglas Kern.

Dr. William J. Kuhns died on April 20, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Gloria; daughters, Rosemary Rontino, Ann Shea and Jennifer Kesselman; sons, Bill, Jr., Ron, Edward and Michael; and step-children Paul, Joanne, Tim and Susan. He was a Circle of 1848 member.


Woodrow W. Guth died on April 18, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Kathryn; and step-son, E. Dale Layos. He was predeceased by his brother, Gerald ’39.


Rev. Elwood W. Reitz, P’68, P’72 died on January 13, 2012. He is survived by his wife, Delphine; daughters, Doris Ann Gross ’68, Carol Jean Reitz ’72; and Marybeth Schneider. He is the brother of the late Rev. Phares O. Reitz ’36.


Willard H. Gehman died on June 7, 2011. He is survived by his daughter, Jayne Moggio and Sue Mitch. He was predeceased by his wife, Claire.


Dr. John C. Kistenmacher, Jr. died on November 22, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Mildred; and children, Susan, John and Stephen.


Dr. Joseph J. Miller died on April 14, 2011.

Donald A. Workman died on November 21, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Betty; son, Terry; and daughter, Brenda Workman Hetrick.


Dr. Donald A. Brobst died on July 3, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Marie; and daughter, Alice.

Robert Krimmel died on January 23, 2012. He is survived by his wife, Rose; sons, Robert, Jr. and Richard; and daughter, Rosemary Borsky.

Fredrick R. Pauly died on June 12, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Judy; daughters, Nancy Foy, Kathy Baker, Diane Jones, Kathleen Broom and Virginia Collins; and son, Don Westfall.


Harvey H. Bleiler died on May 29, 2011. He is survived by his daughter, Allyson Carrizo; sons, Bob and Jim; and brother, Paul ’44.

David S. Kerr died on November 12, 2011. He is survived by his daughters, Joanne Nixon and Beth Horomanski; and son, David. He was predeceased by his wife, Emily.

Dr. Jacob C. Neupauer died on April 14, 2011. He is survived by by his daughter, Jeanette Parra. He was predeceased by his wife, Catherine.

Titus W. Trupe died on November 20, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Mary Ann; and daughters, Mandy Bass, Alison Kiss, Amy Trupe-Lou and Sara Cloherty ’92.


Richard A. Clauser died on June 19, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Mary; stepson, Jerry Walker; and stepdaughter, Diane Chaffins.

Leroy W. Fegley died on November 29, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Doris; son, Roy; and daughter, Cathy Lambert.

David K. Hoffman died on November 22, 2011.

Frederick L. Mahler died on April 5, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Mary; sons, Douglas and Jeffrey; and daughter, Susan Mahler Ruff.

James L. Weirbach died on January 18, 2012. He is survived by his wife, Annabel; and sons, Stephen ’76 and Mark.


Sisto J. Averno died on March 26, 2012. He is survived by his wife, Margaret; and children, Kimberly Noppenberger, Dina Averno, Sisto Averno and Gia Muth.

Dr. Warren T. Burns died on February 6, 2012. He is survived by his wife, Geraldine; children, Tom Burns, John Burns, Rick Douglas and Lorene Clark. He was predeceased by his first wife, Helen.

Donald W. Donschietz died on March 23, 2012. He is survived by his sons, Michael, John and Richard. He was predeceased by his wife, Betty Lou.

Roger E. Homm died on November 29, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Harriet; son, Brian; and daughters, Cindy Argiro and Suzanne Siekierka.

Dr. Robert A. Kolb, Jr. died on April 3, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Janice; daughters, June Hudson, Laurel Kuhl, Barbara Egan, Jessica Drakely and Janna VanDorick; and son, George.

Ralph E. Lichtenwalner died on May 14, 2011. He is survived by his brothers, Earl ’50 and Richard ’53.

Dr. William A. Lybrand died on November 28, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Drew Conger; daughter, Karen Shimada; sons, (Gary) Steven and Jeffrey; step-son, Mark Conger; step-daughters, Sarah Holt and Kate Kelly; and former wife, Lois Blevins.

Eugene F. Neyhart died on June 28, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Jacqueline.

Joseph W. Ott died on March 21, 2011. He is survived by four nieces and four nephews.

Dr. Charles A. Parker died on February 13, 2012. He is survived by his wife, Miriam; daughters, Donna Parker Jaspers, Linda Clark, Carole Prozor; and son, James.

Edward Schwob died on December 10, 2010.

Edgar W. Tappen, Jr.GP ’04 died on December 7, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Joyce; and daughters, Diane Stammel P’04 and Janine Woodrome. Among his six grandchildren is Andrew Stammel ’04.

Donald F. Warmkessel died on August 23, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Janice; and children, Donna, Dawn, David, Diane and Bill.


Rudolph R. Draudin died on December 10, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Eileen; and daughter, Nancy Hafers.

Dr. Charles M. Friedman died on December 31, 2010. He is survived by his wife, Sandra; and children; Deborah, Bernard and Jennifer.

Melvin Roth died on January 28, 2012. He is survived by his wife, Joan; sons, Michael, Jeffrey and Douglas; and daughter, Jennifer Roth.

Rev. Richard H. Schaefer died on April 29, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Ruth: daughter, Susan Stull; and son, Peter.

Steven Voros died on March 20, 2012. He is survived by his son, David; and daughters, Stephanie Sellers and Cecile Paules. He was predeceased by his wife, Theresa.


Thomas G. Hummel died on June 18, 2011.

Walter H. Kirschman died on April 7, 2011. He is survived by his six children. He was predeceased by his wife, Linda; and infant son, Clifford. He is also survived by his brother, John ’48; and nieces, Jane Kirschman ’80 and Donna Kirschman ’81.

Clyde B. Kohl died on January 12, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Louise.

Dr. Edwin L. Rothfeld died on June 15, 2011. He is survived by his daughters, Jane Rothfeld-Brunst and Laura Rothfeld Bond P’14; and son, Samuel. He is also survived by his brother, Donald ’59; and grandson, Leighton Bond ’14.

Rev. Robert J. Wittlinger died on January 25, 2012. He is survived by his wife, Velma; sons, Richard and Robert; and daughters, Cindy Bailey, Renee Keifer, Rhonda Siegfried and Ruth Brajkovich.


Clyde Mart died on October 1, 2011. He is survived by his son, Eric; and daughter, Vivian Gatta. He was predeceased by his wife, Maureen; and daughter, Lisa.

Charles D. Snelling ’53 died on March 29, 2012. He is survived by his daughters; Adrienne Sullivan, Marjorie Snelling Caldwell, Elizabeth Snelling, and Leslie Snelling Bober; and son, Jonathan. He was predeceased by his wife, Adrienne.

Rev. Robert J. Wilde died on March 17, 2012. He was predeceased by his wife, Louise.


La Verne R. Gaugler died on April 9, 2011. He is survived by his son, Eric; and daughter, Terri Ann Meyers.

Richard J. Havir died on March 12, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Rose; and sons, Richard and Thomas. He is the brother-in law of Wallace Ely ’58.

Charles R. Staley died on March 10, 2011. He is survived by his wife. He was predeceased by his daughter, Carolyn Baines.

Donald A. Zeledon died on May 14, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Glenda; children, Dana Frances Shill and Donald Jr.; and step-children, Regina Burns, and Brad and Rick Mouer.


Verne A. Bray died on April 1, 2012. He is survived by his wife, Emma; daughter, Carol Palmer; and sons, Robert and Glenn.

Howard M. Frank died on November 6, 2010.

Allan D. Mulford died on May 8, 2011. He is survived by his partner, Glenn Miller.

Virgil C. Scott died on February 27, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Barbara; daughter, Sandra Kawczynski; and sons, Christopher and Stephen.


Michael J. Egan died on January 20, 2012. He is survived by his wife, Susan; son, Michael; daughter, Alicia Kelly; stepsons, David and Peter White; and stepdaughter, Karen Salon.

Ronald S. Treichler died on January 7, 2012. He is survived by his brother, Samuel.


William Nelson Holst died on May 23, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Maggi; son, Svend; and daughter, Amelia.

Rev. Karl A. Schneider died on February 7, 2012. He is survived by his daughter, Christy Schneider; and former wife, Carolyn Schneider.


Edward Perkins died on February 2, 2011.

Harry T. Simpson ’59 died on November 7, 2011. He is survived by his daughter, Elizabeth.


Gregory J. Kloiber died on May 16, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Rosemary; daughter, Valerie Koehler; and sons, Gregory, Kevin and Jeffrey.

C. Carlton Read died on March 19, 2012. He is survived by his wife, Debra; and sons, Charles, John and William.


Douglas T. Monk died on July 3, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Jean; son, Thomas; and daughter, Kathryn.


Stanford E. Robbins died on April 12, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Linda; and cousin, Robert Robbins.

John Superka died on January 17, 2012. He is survived by his wife, Sandy; sons, Brad and Matt; step-daughter, Lori Gasiorowski; and step-son, Doug Perdick. He was predeceased by his first wife, Patricia.


Fred R. Haverly died on April 14, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Shari; son, Robert; daughter, Amy Haverly Clark; and step-children, Lisa Schlonski, Tracy R. Miller and Shannon L. Mescall.


John S. Miers died on February 8, 2012. He is survived by his daughter, Carrie LaCoe. He was the twin brother of Jim Miers ’65. He was predeceased by his son, Matthew, and by Susan Miers, and his father, Charles ’30.

Robert Steven Opp died on November 21, 2011. He is survived by his son, James Stephen.


Paul “Roger” Byer died on March 10, 2011. He is survived by his sons, Eric and Jeff.

David L. Darr died on January 25, 2012. He is survived by his wife, Paula; step-children Lauren and Kristen; and sister, Nancy.

James G. Gallagher died on October 31, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Jo Ann; and sons, Thomas and James Gallagher, and Jeremy, Keith and Joshua Colston. He was predeceased by his first wife, Joan.

John E. Gross, Jr. died on February 7, 2012. He is survived by his wife, Joanne; his father, a sister and brothers.

Grace A. Schenck died on October 31, 2010.


Thomas S. Curt died on November 30, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Barbara.

Cynthia L. Harrison died on April 26, 2011.


Dr. Lewis C. Trusheim died on March 18, 2012. He is survived by his wife, Pamela; daughter, Kelly: and brother, Frank ’56.


Andrew L. Wienszczak died in July 7, 2011. He is survived by his father, Joseph. He was predeceased by his mother, Rita and brother, John.


James L. Figuli died on May 10, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Diane; daughters, Elizabeth Page and Susan Figuli; and son, Christopher.

Vincent R. Palmere died on July 22, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Gail; daughters, Cassie Palmere and Corinne Sparling; and mother, Ruth Palmere.


Patricia A. Barwick Caporale died on February 26, 2011. She is survived by her daughter, Alyson Caporale.

Joel E. Holstein died on November 21, 2011.


Dr. Denise A. Conover-Rinehimer died on December 10, 2011. She is survived by her husband, Charles; and brother, Brian.


Jeffrey L. Zotter died on December 23, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Mary Elizabeth; and step-children, Matthew DeWitt Holland and Sarah Elizabeth Holland.


Darryl V. Yothers died on November 26, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Stephanie (Marchak) ’77; son, Jordan; and daughter, Amber.


Leslie R. Beatty died on January 7, 2012. He is survived by his wife, Whitney (Bromleigh) ’84; and daughter, Casey.


James K. Rowland died on May 22, 2011. He is survived by his wife, Mimi MacNichol Rowland; mother, Patricia; and brother, Christopher.


William H. Nunziata died on February 2, 2012.


Paul J. Pellicano, Jr. died on August 17, 2011. He is survived by his children, Jack and Francesca; and parents, Elaine and Paul Pellicano.


Kimberly A. Chernosky died on March 27, 2011. She is survived by her husband, Kevin Wasser; and step children, Jeremy and Kyle Wasser and Samantha Roshannon.

David M. Darlington died on May 31, 2011. He is survived by his parents, and Barbara; and brother, Stephen.


Suzanne M. (Cadden) Christman died on February 19, 2012. She is survived by her husband, Lewis; and daughter, Olivia.


Lisa M. Kern died on April 24, 2011. She is survived by her companion, Chris Detrixhe; parents, Joseph and Gloria (Gulkewicz) Kern ’70; and sister, Amy Keeler ’99.

Special Note


The College mourns the loss of Wayne R. Keck ’44, P’67, GP’91, GP’94, former Chair of the Board of Trustees. He served on the board from 1975 to 1994. He was a Life Trustee of the College and was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999. He received an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from the College in 1994, and received the Alumni Achievement Award for Service to the College in 1984. He was a founding member of the Cardinal & Gray Society and a Charter Member of the Circle of 1848.

Class Notes


Carl Metzger has written a book, You Don’t Have to Live Alone, which is now available on Kindle, Nook and print (at It is a companionship book for seniors. He lives with his wife Linda in New York City. The couple has six children and 12 grandchildren. For more information on Carl, visit


Jon A. Thoenebe has retired from the Defense Contract Audit Agency after 20 years of service. Jon and his wife Joan now live at Ann’s Choice retirement community in Warminster, PA. They have two children and five grandchildren.


Betty Lewis Kasperski writes, “My first novel was just published, Severed Yet Whole, a story of courage, love and faith. It is an inspirational work geared towards those facing challenges, physical and personal. The website is: Check it out and post a comment. Reviews have been great and sales too, but there is always room for more!”


Rob Loeffler M.D. was given two awards this March: one as the “Man of Valor” award by the Samuel’s House Foundation as a humanitarian for his work in Key West, Fla. and Haiti, and a second as a leading physician in the world by the International Assoc. of Orthopedic Surgeons (IAO). Prior to practicing in Key West, he was a professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine at the University of Colorado Medical Center in Denver, CO.


Stewart Abrams and Jackie (Weisman) Bernstein were engaged on a Southern Carribean cruise on March 10. Abrams writes, “As we have noted before, Jackie and I met on Sunday, August 24, 1975, at a party thrown by Hans Peckmann ’55 for incoming freshmen. My future roommate Steve Walker remembers my saying after meeting and speaking to Jackie, ‘If I could get to know that girl up at school, it could be one heck of a four years.’ It’s been a bit more than that but we now have marital plans for August 24, 2012, which will be the 37th anniversary of when we first met. I conclude by saying simply – she was and is very worth the wait.” • Rudy Favocci P’12 writes, “On March 3, 2012, alumni from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Virginia and North Carolina gathered for their 14th almost-annual Holiday Dinner. Present were our hosts Paul Silverman ’78 and Denise Heier Silverman, along with Rich Romeo, Mike Haynes, Andy Wolfe ’81, Mark Schwartz P ’09, Lauren Anderson, Bob Wiener, Jon Lucas ’81, Nancy Hamlin Bennett, Mitch Goldblatt, John Crow ’81, Sam Stovall ’77, Natalie Culp Hand ’78, Chelsea Stettler ’13 and Amy Stettler ’09.”


Catherine Donovan was promoted to the federal government’s Senior Executive Service in December 2011. She now serves as Counsel, Office of Naval Research, Office of the General Counsel, Department of the Navy.


Oliver Baer’s book of poetry, Baer Soul, came out in March 2011. A CD of his poetry set to music called Gathering Souls will be released later in 2012. He is still helping to produce Broadway theatre while trying to do poetry readings at open mics in the East Village.


Jennifer Stulberger Bucich writes, “On December 4, 2011, Robert Bucich ’87 and I were married. We met in the summer of 1987 when I was on my way to Muhlenberg and he had just graduated. I was wearing a Muhlenberg sweatshirt. He approached me and we started a friendship that lasted on and off for years. We both married and had children only to meet up again years later while getting divorced. We have been together ever since. We really believe we were meant to be together.”

Pamela (Loftus) Marthins and Todd Marthins are proud to announce the birth of a baby boy, Ryan Thomas. He was born on November 13, 2011, and weighed 8 lbs, 4 oz. Ryan joins his big sisters Abby (10), Katie (8), Julie (7), Megan (5) and Olivia (4), and his big brother Lucas (2).


Holli Harvey and Henry (Harry) Dudlek are happy to announce their marriage on September 10, 2011, in Middletown, Del. Alumni in attendance included Leigh (Harnish) Gable, Kathy Iacono and Meredith Mitstifer. Holli received her M.Ed in Student Affairs Practice in Higher Education from the University of Delaware in 1997 and is an Assistant Director in the Office of Student Conduct at the University of Delaware. Harry is an electrician at the University of Delaware. They reside in Middletown, Del.


Marc Weinstein is now working in casting on ABC’s upcoming reality shows Duets and The Glass House and the highly rated show Shark Tank.


Nicole Carp and Frank Baldino are happy to announce their marriage on October 3, 2009, in New Jersey. Among the guests were Matron of Honor Lynne (Weiner) Wilkins, Allison (Cornish) Perrucci, Stephanie (Kelly) Imhof, Alexis (Tenedine) Kasowitz and Adam Kasowitz


Brett Coplin and Jennifer (Harrison) Coplin are proud to announce the birth of a baby boy, Andrew Joseph Coplin. He was born on March 5, 2011 in Valley Hospital Ridgewood, N.J. Big sister Riley is very excited to have a little brother. Everyone is doing well, and the family is enjoying their new home in Mahwah, N.J.

Georgette (Weaver) Fitzpatrick and husband, Brad, celebrate the birth of their daughter, Brynn Morgan. She was born on July 27 at Holy Cross Hospital in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Brynn weighed 6 lbs, 1 oz, measured 18 3/4 inches and surprised the blessed parents a few weeks early!

Robyn (Spivak) Dinallo, Kevin Dinallo ’97 and big sisters Jordana and Lyla welcome with love Kenzy Jade Dinallo. Our third Mini Mule was born on November 1, 2010, and weighed in at 6lbs. 11 oz. The Dinallo trio is looking forward to a family trip to the ’Berg!


Jennifer Mendelsohn Esq. is pleased to announce the formation of her new solo law practice in Fair Lawn, N.J. Jennifer’s general practice is devoted to helping all different clients in connection with various needs inclusive of, but not limited to, personal injury (automobile accidents, dog bites, slips and falls), medical malpractice, LBT Law, traffic ticket defense, debt collections and most civil litigation. Referrals from other ’Berg alumni and friends, family are appreciated!

Deirdre Macrino Varga is currently a kindergarten teacher at Village Elementary School in Holmdel, N.J. Lynn Carannante Saporito ’92 recently attended her daughter’s back-to-school night at the very same Village Elementary School. During Deirdre’s presentation to the parents Lynn was delighted when Deirdre mentioned that she graduated from Muhlenberg College – she then felt 100% sure her daughter Julia was in great hands.


Rachel (Scheiner) Karp and Michael Karp are happy to announce their marriage on October 3, 2010, in Cinnaminson, N,J. They currently reside in Mount Laurel, N.J. Alumni in attendance were Rachel Silberman ’05, Scott Chester ’03, Erica Heyer ’00, Jessica (Neff) Brennan, Lori (Haynes) Spinder and Bonnie (Goodman) Hartman ’02.

Since May 2011, Andrew Kent has been working with USAID in Haiti as Program Officer. He writes, “With my wife, Elizabeth, I moved to Port-au-Prince to lead the Haiti Program Office within USAID’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA). I am monitoring humanitarian assistance programs related to the January 2010 earthquake, promoting emergency preparedness programs with the Government of Haiti, and developing humanitarian policies on assistance to displaced people.”

Andrew Leber and his wife had a baby girl, Sydney Addison, on December 16, 2011.


Joy Chen and Paul Tilton are proud to announce the birth of a baby girl, Sydney Rose Tilton. She was born on May 2, 2011, in Philadelphia, Pa., and weighed 9 lbs, 7 oz.

Jacqueline (Getman) Fishman writes, “I am so happy to announce that on September 30, 2011, my husband Michael and I had a beautiful baby girl, Madison Alexis Fishman. Madison weighed 6 lbs, 11 oz and was 20 inches long. She was born at Morristown Memorial Hospital in Morristown, N.J.”

David and Melissa (Leahy) McDonough welcomed Patrick David and Norah Catherine on June 23, 2011. Patrick weighed 5 lbs, 2 oz and Norah weighed 4 lbs, 5 oz. Everyone is healthy and doing well!


Stephen Sam-fong Chen writes, “I graduated in May 2008 with a Medical Degree (M.D.) from Drexel University College of Medicine. I just finished my internal medicine residency at Los Angeles County – University Southern California Medical Center as of June 30, 2011. I attained my board certification in internal medicine with the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) on August 17, 2011. Since August 2011, I have started working as a physician/hospitalist with the Bright Health Physicians medical group at Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital in Whittier, California.”

In April 2011, Alice McGrail began a new position as an account supervisor at Cooney/Waters Group, a mid size public relations agency in New York City. In March 2012, her team earned two Mercury Excellence Awards for an unbranded chronic pain awareness campaign with actress Jennifer Grey. Alice resides in Hoboken, N.J.

Lauren (Stephens) Scarfo and her husband Matthew are proud to announce the birth of their first child, Madaline Elizabeth Scarfo. She was born January 23, 2012, in Morristown, N.J. She weighed 7 lbs, 13 oz. The family is so excited, and Lauren and baby Maddie are doing well.

Luke S. Tomanelli has joined FaegreBD Consulting as an Assistant Vice President on the energy and environment practice team based in Washington, D.C.


Meghan (Horner) Callow and Gregory Callow ’04 are happy to announce their marriage on May 7, 2011, in Long Valley, N.J. They currently reside in Morris Plains, N.J. Alumni in attendance were Leo Adams ’04, Shannon Burke, Jaclyn (Barone) Caputo ’04, Phil Caputo ’03, Matt Geffken ’04, Shira (Roemer) Greenbaum, Christa (Carlstrand) Kachline, Kris Kachline, Jon Kerber ’04, Dan Kerber ’02, Dustin Laws ’04, Joe Levey ’04, Russ Miller ’04, Jason Miller ’04, Jeff Raup ’04, Brian Richardi ’04, Sun (Lee) Semel, Scott Semel ’04, Regina Simone ’04, Shannon Solheim, Larisa Yarmchuk, and Geoff Zodda ’04.

Danielle (Bovelle) Jackson and Richard Jackson are happy to announce their marriage on July 16, 2011, in East Northport, N.Y. They currently reside in Newburgh, N.Y. Alumni in attendance were Lauren Bovelle ’07, Allison Thomas, Adrienne Wheeler, Jessica Rodriguez ’06, Valena David ’07, Jason Spencer and Amanda (Zappile) Morsch. Danielle and Rick were honored to share their special day with so many family and friends!

Sun Lee and Scott Semel ’04 tied the knot at the Wainwright House in Rye, N.Y., on August 27, 2011. Alumni in attendance included Leo Adams ’04 as the Best Man, Andrea Johnson as the Maid of Honor, Rebecca (Levy) and Brad Levitt ’04, Stephanie Krauss ’04, Russell Miller ’04, Jason Miller ’04, Andrew Bagby ’04, Laura (Mozlin) Sprow, Shannon Solheim, Katherine Parry, Shannon Burke, Jennifer Rogers, Meghan (Horner) and Gregory Callow ’04, Joseph Levy ’04, Jonathan Kerber ’04, Mike Hogentogler ’04, Matt Geffken ’04, Charlotte (Adams) and Max Bertz ’06, Julie (Goldstein) ’04 and Stephen Marks ’03, Mackenzie (O’Loughlin) ’06 and Justin Saverine ’05. The newlyweds reside in Greenwich Conn.


Lari Luckenbill and Geoff Zinberg, DMD ’07 are happy to announce their engagement in August 2011. They met at Muhlenberg in the winter of 2004. They are planning an October 2012 wedding in Rehoboth Beach, Del.


After studying theater at Muhlenberg, Rachel Bass moved to New York City in 2007 to pursue her acting career. She booked work for Internet sites such as and Soon casting directors and agents began suggesting she get into the voice over industry. After developing a relationship with a company called Music Works, Inc, which specializes in building brands through audio and video production, Bass is now the voice of seven companies based from New York to Texas.

Halley Cianfarini played a role in the musical Chicago, which was presented at the Little Theater on the Square, in Sullivan, Ill., about four hours from Chicago. She played “June,” a part of the chorus, who, in the “Cell Block Tango” is the one who says, “…he ran into my knife; he ran into my knife ten times!”. She was offered the role of “ChaCha” in Grease for performances in June-July at the Arizona Broadway Theater in Peoria, AZ.

Jillian (Hodge) Kittle and David Kittle are happy to announce their marriage on November 5, 2011 in Somerset, N.J. They currently reside in Howell, N.J. Many Delta Zeta alumni attended the event. The couple honeymooned in beautiful Hawaii.


Kevin Graham and Alissa Constantinople are happy to announce their engagement on November 6, 2011. They both currently live and work in New York City and plan to wed in April 2013.

We want to hear from you!

Reunion Chair and Class Fund Chair volunteers serve as liaisons between the College and your class. If you would like to get more involved with the College or your class, are interested in helping plan your upcoming reunion, or have relocated and are looking for other Muhlenberg alumni in the region – let us know. Please be in touch with your respective class liaison(s) (names and email addresses are below) and share with them your accomplishments, successes and other important life moments. We’ll be sure to include your updates as part of Class Notes in the next edition of the magazine.

Chili & Lidic

For the last four years, Muhlenberg basketball fans were fortunate to watch the talents of two of the top student-athletes ever to come through Memorial Hall.

Alexandra Chili and Spencer Liddic are extraordinary basketball players. Both were three-time first-team All-Centennial Conference picks and finalists for the Jostens Trophy (the Division III player of the year) and reached the record-breaking milestones of 2,000 points (Chili) and 1,000 rebounds (Liddic). Both led their teams to the CC championship game in 2012.

Both also are outstanding students and active participants in the Muhlenberg community. To have two such individuals playing the same sport at the same college in the same class year is extremely rare. We may not see the likes of this duo again for a long time!

Here is a brief summary of their accomplishments as student-athletes:

Muhlenberg’s student-centered polling institute has built an impressive reputation

Since the fall of 2001, Muhlenberg has run a polling institute that rivals some of the nation’s most prestigious public research centers. The Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion adheres to the high standards set by the American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), training all institute personnel to follow the rigorous practices of quality scientific research. Under the direction of institute director Dr. Christopher P. Borick, associate professor of political science, the polling institute has built an impressive reputation, upholding long-standing partnerships with governmental, media, and research organizations.

Student Centered from the Start

While Borick is at the helm of it all, he’s the first to say it’s all about the students. And in fact, that is what makes Muhlenberg’s polling institute unique. While other schools run such programs, their involvement in outside polling work has allowed them to drift into a separate entity. But at Muhlenberg, it’s remained embedded into the core of the institution, says Borick. “The Institute has become a cornerstone of my courses,” he explains. “Courses are intertwined with work at the Institute. And as is the nature of Muhlenberg as a whole, the institute remains about the students. When we developed our mission we decided that it would always be a student-centered enterprise. It’s not just a polling institute with the college name on it. It is largely student run with them handling almost every aspect of the operation.”

That means that students manage the lab, handle the calling, help with data analysis and even manage payroll. Regardless of whether students pursue a career in research or political science, they are learning real world skills that are applicable to any future endeavors. A number of past staff members have gone on to careers in academics, research and industry. But Borick says that while most students aren’t doing public opinion as the main focus of their career, their work at the polling institute has paid off in terms of management and business skills.

For Sarah Niebler ’04, a political science and philosophy double major, her experience at the polling institute has strongly paid off and helped shape her decision to pursue academic political science as a career. Following Muhlenberg, Niebler got her master’s at Lehigh in the Community Fellows program and took a job in Nashville as a research assistant doing public health research. Now she’s finishing up her Ph.D. in political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She’s soon headed back to Nashville to do a one-year postdoc at Vanderbilt University in the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions. Niebler says that her time spent working at the institute helped her realize that researching politics via public opinion polls could be a career.

“Working at the polling institute helped me gain the statistical and quantitative research skills necessary to pursue a Ph.D. in the field of political science,” continues Niebler. “Students and faculty are so lucky to have the polling institute on campus as it allows both groups to conduct research in a way that many larger colleges and universities don’t even have access to.”

Work at the polling institute has also led current student Michael Wiener ’12, a history major and art history minor, to pursue a future career in research. Having begun as a caller at the polling center in 2009, during his junior year Wiener was invited to join the staff of managers that help oversee the calling center. “We deal with time cards, training employees, making sure student workers keep up their productivity, and daily troubleshooting,” Wiener explains.

After working as a manager for a year, Wiener was asked by Borick to become a research analyst, a position normally given to a Lehigh graduate student. Wiener says the student is expected to work approximately 15 hours a week for Borick and helps develop survey instruments as well as compiling, analyzing, and assisting Borick in the publication of the results. It has been these experiences that have led Wiener to choose pursuit of a research career.

“I have a great enjoyment for research and am looking for a job next year either continuing the type of research I’ve learned at the polling institute or combining it with my history research for a job that requires both quantitative and qualitative results,” says Wiener.

Finding a Niche

From its inception, one of the key goals of the polling institute was to find a niche. Borick says that the effort was to not just “repeat the same polls others were already doing but to instead do research that could really make a contribution.” That contribution has always been focused on bettering students’ education and their understanding of public opinion and research—but also about helping those in government and non-profits to do their jobs better by the provision of comprehensive data. Over the years, the polling institute has continued to meet that goal. One of the ways it has managed to carve out a niche has been with a focus on public opinion and environmental policy.

“We focus our national polls in this area, especially on issues related to climate change,” explains Borick. “We’ve partnered with the Brookings Institution [a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington D.C.] as a means of releasing our findings and for some of that work have received national attention.”

The value behind the research performed is something that the institute puts an emphasis on. “We realize we’re not going to be all things to all people,” admits Borick. “We’re not the Pew Research Center and we’re not Gallup. We recognize that we’re not a huge entity that can poll all matters all the time. So what we do poll, we want to be the best at. That’s why we focus our efforts on Pennsylvania politics and policy and our national research on climate and energy matters.”

Though the 2004 elections positioned ‘Berg’s Institute of Public Opinion as a media darling, it was the 2008 election where the organization’s popularity exploded. Polls were quoted extensively, and Borick became a go-to guy for the media once it became clear that Pennsylvania – and the Lehigh Valley, in particular – were areas crucial to the Presidential race. Because of Muhlenberg’s geography and the Institute’s reputation, the College was fortunate enough to host amazing politicians on the campaign trail: former President Bill Clinton, campaigning for his wife, Hillary; as well as future President Barack Obama and future Vice President Joe Biden.

The institute has also continuously found ways to plug into other scholarly endeavors being undertaken by the college and its students.

Borick says that they’re always trying to connect the research at the institute to what’s going on around campus and to give students and faculty opportunities for involvement. For instance, the institute has worked with Hillel as well as students of the Dana honors program. Students and professors have even had the opportunity to get a question or two of their own onto a survey in order to help facilitate some of their personal research. “The idea that we can merge what we’re doing at the institute with the academic mission of our students and operations has always been a priority,” says Borick. “We’re always looking for ways to branch out and connect with the college as a whole.”

Building a Name

While the institute’s research has continually shown up in print and television media, Borick says it was the 2004 presidential election cycle where the center really proved itself as what he calls a “real player in public opinion research.”

“The 2004 presidential election was the first time we had the chance to go big time,” says Borick. “We wanted to make sure we got it right and we worked very hard. When Pennsylvania became a crucial state in that election, I can remember a moment when CBS News came down to our lab to talk to us and the Washington Post showed up on campus to hear our results—and it was on the front page of the paper. That was a neat moment for us. Thanks to the work of a lot of good people, we nailed the election. We said a two-point win in Pennsylvania for John Kerry and low and behold we were right. It showed how our hard work paid off.”

Niebler was one of the students involved in research work during the election. She helped organize several large survey projects including a real-time debate evaluation project where people were brought to campus to watch one of the presidential debates between Bush and Kerry. After each debate question and set of responses by the candidates, the participants were surveyed about how they thought the candidate performed.

“I also helped coordinate the exit poll after the 2004 general election,” adds Niebler. “We sent Muhlenberg students all over precincts in Lehigh County and had them complete surveys with voters on their way out of the polling station. In doing this, we had some really early data about how different demographic groups voted in the election.”

More recently, senior Sarah Ochocki ’12, says she found the exit polls during the 2008 election very exciting. In fact, she says that a number of the surveys she’s been involved in have been interesting. “We’ve done surveys on gambling, quality of life, natural gas drilling, and lots of other subjects that affect the Lehigh Valley,” says Ochocki. “It’s very interesting to hear what people have to say on certain issues and just as interesting to hear the crazy stories they have to tell. My co-workers and I have spent many hours speaking to people who are living through the ‘Second Depression’ of their lifetime or who are fighting to keep their immigrant same-sex partner in the country – or even who work in a Senator’s office and have witnessed corruption first hand.”

The idea that we can merge what we’re doing at the institute with the academic mission of our students “and operations has always been a priority.” -Chris Borick  

Ochocki, who is a theatre major and philosophy minor got involved with the polling institute when an upperclassman told her it was a great place for a non-work student job. She had no experience in political science but decided to give it a try. She credits the experience for making her increasingly up to date on current events. “I never used to watch the news or read the papers, but since I started working at the polling center I have a newfound understanding of how important it is to keep abreast of current events,” she says. “I have enjoyed becoming more involved in the political scene and getting to know what is going on in our country and across the world.

College students tend to remove themselves from the political sphere with the mindset that they don’t matter or that nothing they can do changes anything and that’s just not true. Twenty-somethings are a huge demographic in the voting pool and in the world of activism our participation can make all the difference.”