This story appears in the March edition of The GeDUNK, Grove City College Alumni Magazine. Read the entire issue online here.
Harbison Chapel’s glorious Teaching Window presents images of great scholars and scientists, men and women of faith and learning who pushed the boundaries of philosophy and science and then shared what they discovered. Rendered in stunning color and minute detail, Moses, Aristotle, Galileo, Newton, and others, join the Gospel writers around the window’s central focus, the risen Christ above and, across three window panels, the earthly Jesus, delivering the enduring lecture known as the Sermon on the Mount.
The stained glass tableau reveals mankind’s quest for knowledge, the obligation to share it, and a recognition of the ultimate source of all wisdom. It is a declaration, an inspiration, and a reminder of the College’s central charge: To educate and prepare young men and women for lives of achievement and service.
Academic excellence is the existential quality that draws students, attracts great faculty and builds the College’s reputation as one of America’s best liberal arts and sciences colleges.
Students come to study all kinds of different things – accounting, engineering, music, biology, entrepreneurship, nursing, or any one of the more than 60 programs of study now offered – but the academic program ensures that they leave with something in common: a capacity for understanding fostered by the College’s focus on the foundational elements of a classical education, the liberal arts. Here they are introduced to the great ideas, events, personalities, and achievements that shape civilization and the objective, universal truth that directs it. They graduate with an education that will serve them well as they continue lives of meaning, purpose, and service.
“Grove City College is a teaching college,” Dr. Paul C. Kemeny, dean of the Calderwood School of Arts and Letters said. “What happens in the classroom is really the raison d'être of this school.”
Dr. Peter Frank ’95, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, said it all begins and ends with students. “The College attracts students who want to dive in and grapple with ideas and engage the process and not just passively go through college,” he said.
The numbers bear that out: a majority of incoming freshmen are in the top five percent of their class, with more than two dozen valedictorians; their average SAT score is 1251 with a mean grade point average of 3.68. The numbers are just as impressive coming out: 41 percent of the Class of 2019 graduated with cum laude, magna cum laude or summa cum laude honors and 14 percent are currently pursuing graduate degrees.
The caliber of students has a match in the faculty of Christian scholars and scientists assembled to curate their undergraduate education. Building on a tradition that includes legendary professors like Herbert Harmon, a pioneer in the field of radio in the early 20th century (see story on page 30), Hans Sennholz, who championed the free market ethos echoed by Ronald Reagan, and dozens of other titans of the classroom, today’s faculty similarly instructs, inspires and collaborates with students.
The work they do in the labs and lecture halls has an impact on campus and beyond in scientific circles and society, where their ideas and research answer some questions and lead to others. While Grove City College is a teaching college – and requires all faculty to teach a full course load and maintain regular office hours – faculty are active scholars in the sciences and the humanities. They are doing groundbreaking research in the sciences and humanities, turning out a steady stream of peer-reviewed articles, books and texts, more often than not with the assistance of students as part of their regular coursework. As much as this work expands knowledge and deepens understanding in the disciplines, those students are the primary beneficiaries.
“Research and scholarship have many benefits to students. Scholarly activities build problem-solving skills and apply information learned in class in new ways and lead to a deeper understanding of the discipline,” Michael Jackson, professor of Mathematics, said. “Outside scholarship and research informs good teaching,” Kemeny added.
Grove City College’s emphasis on scholarship and research also expands student horizons, according to Dr. Anna Wargula ’11, who teaches ocean engineering at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
“Research as an undergrad is what got me where I am,” she said. “Going to a liberal arts school allowed me to learn about both English and engineering, and I loved both. I thought engineering was just about finding and using the right equations and the arts is where I could be creative. But I realized that through engineering, I can tell a story that’s never been told before.”