By the Books: Alumni authors at the forefront

This story appeared in the April edition of The GēDUNK, Grove City College’s alumni magazine. Read it online here. It was updated May 11, 2022.

Grove City College graduates are launched into the world to have a transforming impact wherever they land, to become leaders who influence their communities and professional spheres for the common good.

Many alumni have become thought leaders whose writing, inspired by their own experiences, research, and passions, adds to our collective wisdom. These publications serve to encourage, entertain, challenge, and inform. It’s our privilege to spotlight some current alumni-authored works that are illuminating knowledge and ideas for people across a wide range of disciplines and stages of life.

Chuck Hildbold ’79 and his wife Cheryl (Abrams ’80) Hildbold were partners in ministry for 41 years, until Cheryl’s passing in June 2021 after a five-year battle with cancer. Chuck and their four children, two of whom are also Grove City College alumni (Charlie ’05 and Caleb ’21), realized they had a treasure trove of inspirational and devotional writings by Cheryl in the form of weekly church newsletter entries she had penned across the span of 35 years as Chuck’s faithful partner in pastoral ministry.

The idea to collect Cheryl’s writings into a devotional book was formulated not long after Cheryl’s passing and has served as a way to make sure her love of God and nurturing spirit live on. She was a stay-at-home mom who helped to raise all four of her children into godly men and women as she simultaneously taught Sunday School, sang at church, and supported Chuck in his pastoral work.

Thanks to the 2021 book of her compiled writings, Ponderings from the Pastor’s Partner, more people can now learn from Cheryl’s unique faith journey and gain a valuable understanding of the “intersection of family life and the Christian faith,” a place where Chuck hopes many will learn to be like Cheryl was, a person who valued family, loved God, and inspired others to do the same.

In recent years, people have become familiar with the terms “virtual meeting” and “Zoom fatigue,” but Karin (Hawkins ’92) Reed, an Emmy-award- winning broadcast journalist and CEO of Speaker Dynamics, began developing her expertise in the art of video communications before most of us had ever heard of Zoom.

Over the past four years, she has published three books on the subject, tackling everything from the use of video technology for business, on-camera tips and tricks for leading and participating in video calls, and managing the nuances of the now-common hybrid approach to work brought about by the pandemic.

Her subject matter is certainly timely for today’s business climate and was featured by McKinsey and Company in their “Author Talk” podcast series which covered some of the best business books of the year. Reed’s titles include On-Camera Coach: Tools and Techniques for Business Professionals in a Video-Driven World, Suddenly Virtual: Making Remote Meetings Work, and Suddenly Hybrid: Managing the Modern Meeting. As the use of video in our everyday lives expands, Reed’s authoritative expertise helps to focus the lens on successful virtual business interactions.

Another alumnus driven to write by his desire to help Christians find deeper comfort and joy in the Gospel is Jonathan Shirk ’01. An evangelical Presbyterian minister based in Lancaster County, Pa., Shirk launched a trio of resources in 2021 – a book titled Predestined for Joy: Finding Comfort in a Controversial Doctrine, and a podcast and blog both called Small Town Theologian. His book hit #1 on Amazon’s New Releases in Christian Salvation Theory earlier this year, and he’s just published a new book, The Heidelberg Catechism: True Comfort for Life & Death, co-authored with Zacharias Ursinus.

Shirk first pursued a career in corporate America for a few years, but soon felt called to attend seminary and serve in full-time ministry. His writings reflect his ecumenical and reformed convictions while providing encouragement toward the exploration of some of the tougher biblical doctrines, and assurance of the comfort they were intended to bring Christians. Learn more about Shirk and the resources he offers at

Dr. Caleb Fuller ’13, now assistant professor of Economics at Grove City College, wrote his latest book, No Free Lunch: Six Economic Lies You’ve Been Taught and Probably Believe, almost by accident. What began as lecture notes for his feature in the College’s Life of the Mind lecture series in February 2021 quickly morphed into plans for a book at the urging of a fellow economist.

No Free Lunch lays to rest common economic misconceptions and gives readers a helpful foundation in basic economic principles to live by. It was Fuller’s goal to update Henry Hazlitt’s classic book, Economics in One Lesson, for contemporary audiences, and to present it with more modern, relatable examples and up-to-date research. “Economics is deadly serious business. For many people in the modern world and throughout history, getting the economics right means the difference between life and death.” Inspired by Hazlitt and Frederic Bastiat before him, “I wanted to communicate the basic principles of economics, and what it tells us about human flourishing, to a new generation,” Fuller said.

He hopes readers will gain an important sense of humility through the study of economics, and the realization that each of us is dependent on a vast network of economic connections for survival. “Humility, coupled with curiosity, will never fail you in your study of economics. I hope my small book can provide a helpful nudge in that direction.” Fuller is considering a sequel to No Free Lunch that examines proverbs or pithy sayings from an economic perspective.

Another scholarly work by an alum, Assistant Professor of History at Taylor University Dr. Benjamin Wetzel ’09, is capturing attention because of the unique angle from which he examines the life of Theodore Roosevelt, our 26th president.

Part of the “Spiritual Lives” series published by the Oxford University Press, Theodore Roosevelt: Preaching from the Bully Pulpit traces Roosevelt’s religious journey and its impact on the America of his time. Wetzel, whose specialty is 1860s – 1920s American history, consulted Roosevelt’s personal papers to supplement his research, many of which are held at Harvard University and remain largely unpublished. The book not only delves into Roosevelt’s spiritual doctrines and practices, but also how those beliefs informed his presidency and shaped commonly held conceptions of him by his religious contemporaries.

Wetzel is careful to give credit where it is due. “When I was a student at Grove City, (Professor Emeritus) Dr. Gary Scott Smith ’72 was one of my mentors. Gary has written several books about the faith of America’s presidents and was an early advocate and guide for me in this project. So, if I am in any way carrying on Gary’s legacy, that is very humbling.” Wetzel’s second book, American Crusade: Christianity, Warfare, and National Identity, 1860-1920, will be published by Cornell University press in 2022.

Dr. Josh Mayo ’10, chair of Grove City College’s Department of English, is convinced that great texts really can make one wise, and when it comes to those writings, you can’t do much better than the Bard. “The great poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge called William Shakespeare an ‘inexhaustible mine of… wisdom and intuition.’ That way of putting things seems about right to me. Shakespeare is an indispensable voice in the Christian literary tradition,” Mayo said. “Don’t live life without him.”

That regard for Shakespeare infuses Mayo’s book Good in Every Thing: Meditations on Shakespeare, a collection of essays on some of the Bard of Avon’s greatest plays. Many readers approach the classics as opportunities to be widely read or culturally literate, Mayo said. “When we move beyond a merely academic reading of a classic, when we begin, in a sense, to allow the classic to read us, we have the chance to learn from – and not merely about – important works,” Mayo said. “I wanted to see what Shakespeare would teach me about education, imagination and the good life if I let him.”

Look for these other recent alumni titles at booksellers near you:

  • Brittany Smith ‘08 – Unplanned Grace
  • Kevin Stine ’81 - A Mother’s Perspective
  • Dr. Andy Jacks ’01 - Discipline Win: Strategies to Improve Behavior, Increase Ownership, and Give Every Student a Chance 
  • Kate (Moose '97) Lassman – Dawn Anyway
  • Dr. Monica McCoy ’90 - Child Abuse and Neglect

Alumni may share their published works with us at


By the Books: Alumni authors at the forefront

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