Recent Posts


Net Gains

Andrew Geison was walking across the spongy turf of Langhorst Field, lacrosse stick in hand, bound for the Elmhurst College crest painted at midfield. Geison, the College’s first lacrosse coach, has been making this walk a lot in recent months, usually alongside high-school lacrosse players visiting the College. This is where Geison makes his recruiting pitch. “I tell them, ‘This is where it’s all going to happen.’”

Geison was hired in August to launch the College’s newest varsity sport. But for now, he is a coach without a team, tasked with assembling a roster of athletes ready to take the field next March as the first Elmhurst College lacrosse squad. “I tell them they have an opportunity to come here and build a tradition.”

Geison is persuasive, but he knows there is a hole in his recruiting pitch. One of the challenges of trying to build a lacrosse program from scratch is that so many other lacrosse coaches are trying to do the very same thing at the very same time. This year alone, at least a dozen colleges will begin fielding NCCA Division III lacrosse teams for the first time.
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Off the Map

The newest addition to Rich Schultz’s Daniels Hall office is a wall map of the United States that occupies a place of honor above Schultz’s desk.

“Look at the attention to detail,” Schultz, an associate professor in the department of geography and geosciences, proudly told a visitor who asked about the map last week. “Look at the shading. It’s the kind of work you don’t see anymore.”

The map, created by cartographer David Imus, is a throwback to an artisanal tradition of painstakingly plotted maps that treat the smallest details—elevations, forestation, the density of urban areas—with great care. Schultz is not the only one who has taken note. One reviewer called Imus’ map “masterful … the greatest paper map of the United States you’ll ever see,” and it won last year’s “Best of Show” award at the competition of the Cartography and Geographic Society.

There is just one problem with the map. Fewer and fewer people have any idea how to read it, or any map.
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Electoral College

Rae Nelson was not going to miss this show.

Nelson, a senior from Ithaca, New York, confesses to an oversized interest in American politics. “I love elections,” she said in the Founders Lounge of the Frick Center on the final Friday before spring break. So as some of her classmates made their early exit from campus, Nelson staked out a spot and settled in. The presidential primary campaign was coming to Elmhurst. Spring break could wait.

Nelson was there to hear New Jersey Governor Chris Christie make his pitch for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney at a Romney campaign rally. Christie’s appearance at the College was part of a perfect storm of campaign events that had consumed the Chicago area on Friday. Romney, Rick Santorum and President Barack Obama all had come to the city or suburbs to raise money or rally supporters. For fans of politics it made for a kind of political March Madness. Nelson wanted a courtside seat.
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Healing the Zombies

For someone who had just finished facing down a zombie horde, Chris Quinn seemed remarkably calm.

Quinn, a senior from Elmhurst, was one of 24 nursing students who had spent Tuesday morning in Memorial Hall helping victims of the zombie flu. Some of his patients displayed such gruesome symptoms—deathly pallor, eyes ringed in deep purple, the occasional facial scab—that it would have been easy to forget that these zombies were really students from the College’s Mill Theatre in costumes and cosmetics, and that their zombie flu symptoms were invented as a role-playing lesson for future nurses in how to handle real-life epidemics.
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Understanding America’s Creeds


Elmhurst has been celebrating the lives and legacies of two of its greatest graduates—the brothers Reinhold and H. Richard Niebuhr, who graduated in 1910 and 1912, respectively, and who went on to hugely influential careers at the intersection of theology and public life. Last year, the College brought an all-star collection of scholars and writers to campus to examine Reinhold Niebuhr’s powerful impact. This year, it’s Richard’s turn. Martin Marty, America’s foremost historian of religion in American life, visited campus to deliver a “centennial appreciation” of H. Richard Niebuhr’s work. Marty is a professor emeritus at the University of Chicago and his honors include a National Book Award and the National Humanities Medal. In this edition of the Quick Studies podcast series, he says that Richard Niebuhr’s work forever changed the way we think about faith’s place in society.


Wild Weather


Elmhurst and the rest of the Chicago area have been enjoying historically warm weather this winter. At the same time, Europe has been suffering through brutal cold that has killed hundreds. So are these just weather anomalies? Or is extreme weather becoming the new normal? In this edition of the Quick Studies podcast series, Heidi Cullen, a senior research scientist at the science and media organization Climate Central, says that climate change is making our world steadily warmer–and in the process, creating more fuel for storms and weather extremes.

days of possibilities 3

Back in Time

Walking into the Mill Theatre last week for a rehearsal of the play Days of Possibilities was a little like stepping into a time machine.

There was the peace-sign shaped stage. There was the soundtrack courtesy of Hendrix and the Beatles and Dylan. There were the frequent mentions of LSD and SDS. And everywhere there were college students arguing earnestly about the best way to change the world.

The ‘60s had returned.
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The Making of a Scientist

For most science majors, the presentation that Pat Brambert is set to deliver at the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research in Utah next month would be the highlight of a semester. For Brambert, it’s just a warm-up.

Brambert, a junior from Bloomingdale, has spent much of the last year working with Assistant Professor Stacey Raimondi on investigations into the genetic triggers that make cancer cells grow more aggressively. He was selected to present his findings at the annual NCUR meeting in late March, a showcase for the nation’s top undergraduate researchers.

But that’s just the first of two high-profile appointments Brambert has on his calendar for that week. After finishing his presentation in Utah, he will hustle back across country to offer his work at the prestigious American Association of Cancer Research conference in Chicago, a stage even more impressive than the NCUR conference.
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New Media For
a 2000-Year-Old Message


Father Robert Barron uses new media to tell a 2000-year-old story.

Barron is a Catholic priest of the Chicago archdiocese, and he preaches from an extraordinary pulpit. His podcasts, tweets, online videos and 10-part television series Catholicism, which ran on many PBS affiliates last year, are part of his mission “to reach out to the culture” to communicate his faith’s message. Barron has been called a successor to the pioneering mid-20th century Catholic televangelist Bishop Fulton Sheen. But in this edition of the Quick Studies podcast series, Barron acknowledges that he is working in the midst of the greatest crisis in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States.


Courtroom Dramas

In a meeting room in the Frick Center, Elizabeth Romano was casting an icy stare at Joey Carrillo, asking him one more time to tell her the truth about what really happened that fateful night at Chuggy’s Bar.

Romano and Carrillo are members of Elmhurst’s mock trial team, and Chuggy’s is the fictitious nightspot at the heart of the criminal case they and hundreds of other collegiate teams are trying this year. In mock trial competitions, students and their teams earn points for convincingly simulating the roles of attorneys or witnesses in an ersatz courtroom trial. So in this early-morning practice session, Romano was playing a prosecuting attorney; Carrillo, a defendant charged with murder after the death of a passenger in the car he crashed following a long night of drinking at Chuggy’s. Romano’s mission was to punch holes in his account of the night.

“Did you turn on your radar detector even before you started your car for your drive home that night?” Romano’s prosecutor character asked at one point. And when Carrillo, seated in front of her, hesitated, she asked again: “Did you know you were going to drive recklessly that night?”

Romano, Carrillo and the other members of the mock-trial team have been grilling each other like this since August. That’s when they began preparing to try this year’s case, the details of which are laid out in a 300-page black binder supplied by the American Mock Trial Association. Every mock trial team in the nation gets the same black binder, and mastering the evidence and the statements between its covers is one of the basic tasks for competitors. But that’s the easy part. The real challenge has less to do with knowing your facts than with convincing everyone else in a courtroom that you know your facts.
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Quick Studies is a journal and podcast series about life at Elmhurst College. It is written and hosted by journalist Andrew Santella, who covers the College for its award-winning magazine, Prospect.

Send him your feedback and ideas at