Monday, November 30, 2015

BW Grad with Cleveland Roots Radiates Broadway Star Power

(photo courtesy of
At 24, recent BW alumnus Chris McCarrell '13 has found his way into the bright lights of Broadway, now performing as Marius in the revival of Les Misérables. As a hot young talent on the Great White Way, McCarrell is featured in a charming, "Broadway Buzz" feature article, video and photo shoot.

McCarrell made his Broadway debut almost immediately after his graduation from Baldwin Wallace and he's optimistic about the future, expressing his ambition, in the interview, to have a role in the creation of a new show within the next five years. His goal for 50 years from now? Working as a director or manager of a theater company.

McCarrell's performance resume also includes a turn in the NBC TV Peter Pan Live broadcast as one of the Lost Boys. In his time at BW, McCarrell performed in Pippin, Sweeney Todd, and Next to Normal.

For the current holiday season, McCarrell will headline "Christmas Carols with Chris McCarrell" at New York's "54 Below" on Monday, Dec. 7,  and he's tracked a solo for the 2015 “Broadway’s Carols for a Cure, Volume 17”, a 2-disc, annual CD of original and traditional holiday music to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Earlier this fall, McCarrell released, 'Now You're Here' a duet with Katie Rose Clarke, to benefit the same cause.

Although he's loving life in New York, McCarrell takes pride in his Northeast Ohio roots, telling,  “I grew up south of Cleveland. Went to college west of Cleveland. I’m an all-around Clevelander."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Professor Calls for More Faculty to Teach About Race

Baldwin Wallace associate professor and director of Leadership in Higher Education, Ken Schneck, is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, posting thought-provoking commentary on a multitude of topics such as LGBTQ rights and the faculty response to sexual assault on campuses. His latest article titled, "Dear White Professors: You Must Teach a Course on Race," encourages faculty members not to shy away from leading campus dialogue on race.

Schneck takes on the reasons why some white professors, who make up 80% of full-time college professors in higher education, avoid teaching about race and urges them to incorporate courses on race into their disciplines.

He counters the argument that race isn't relevant in certain subjects with, "You teach in economics, nursing, musical theatre, education, political science or any other discipline out there? Race is there. It's always there. Not teaching about the intersection doesn't make it go away."

Schneck acknowledges the trepidation that some professors might feel --that class discussions may sometimes become heated, that the students in a given class may not be diverse, and that a white professor might inadvertently say something problematic. In response, he argues that professors can create a safe, respectful place for student opinions from the first day, can teach an all-white class to openly confront white privilege, and can "own" their mistakes and constantly challenge their assumptions and opinions.

The article concludes with Schneck saying, "I will never claim that I have all the answers. I will never assert that I am culturally competent (which is a process, not a status). I will never put forth that I don't have white privilege....Most of all, what I will do is continue to push my faculty colleagues to add more courses that explore how race affects everything that we do."

Schneck is also the producer and host of This Show is So Gay, a nationally-recognized radio show which encourages people to discuss LGBTQ topics in unique ways. He also was a recent guest on WCPN, Cleveland's NPR station, to discuss National Coming Out Week for The Sound of Ideas program.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

BW Music Theatre Students to Hit the Stage at Nighttown

The BW Music Theatre Class of 2017 prepares to dazzle audiences at Nighttown
One important ingredient in developing Broadway-ready talent in the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music's Music Theatre program involves live performance opportunities for students on and off campus. Playhouse Square and Beck Center feature BW students in full productions, while smaller venues, like Nighttown, showcase BW's stars-in-the-making in a more intimate setting.

After debuting "Gold Standards" to packed houses here on campus, BW Music Theatre juniors will take the concert featuring selections from The Music Man, Brigadoon and Oklahoma to Nighttown on Wednesday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. Tickets for the December 9 performance can be purchased online.

Nighttown will host Senior Cabaret Night on March 28, 2016, and the dining and entertainment destination will also feature BW Music Theatre students on May 2, 2016, for a performance of the senior showcase, a selection of standards performed by sophomores.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Physics Professor Guides Innovation Workshop in Mexico City

Peter Hoekje, Associate Professor of Physics, recently traveled to Mexico City to participate in Semanai, a week-long event for students and teachers to experience learning in a fresh way. Semanai is hosted by a large private system of about 30 colleges known as Tecnologico de Monterrey.

Hoekje (middle) assists as technical adviser during Semanai
(Photo Courtesy of Tecnológico de Monterrey Facebook)
For the week's music production program, Dr. Hoekje was invited to give a workshop in musical instrument acoustics, and to serve as technical adviser and judge in a design competition.

Hoekje mentored 30 students from various majors such as music production, industrial design, mechatronics, and biomechanical engineering. Working in teams of five over the course of four days, the groups were tasked with creating n original design or prototype of a toy, digital interface, or musical instrument.

Among the complex creations that resulted: a musical interface, labeled the "liszt," which used different finger placements on sensors on the controller to play musical sequences.

During Semanai, Hoekje said, "The students are really enjoying the challenge, the opportunity to learn new things, and the experience of working in groups of people with different backgrounds." Hoekje hopes to do something similar at Baldwin Wallace.

Alpha Phi Takes Philanthropy to Heart

Several BW student leaders were "arrested" by the sisters of Alpha Phi for their "Cardiac Arrest" philanthropy event. Friends of those "locked up" could "bail out" their friends by donating to The Alpha Phi Foundation, which benefits women's heart health and scholarships to Alpha Phi sisters nationwide.

"This event is important to us," Lauren Schneider '16, Vice President of Marketing for Alpha Phi, said, "because it allows us to create awareness about a serious health issue and donate money to a cause that is so important to our chapter."

Attendees could also "pie" a sister for a donation, and there was pizza and cornhole just for fun.

"My favorite part of Cardiac Arrest is getting other fraternities, sororities, and sports teams involved," Schneider said. "It is always awesome to see so many other organizations on campus come together to help up support the philanthropy that means so much to us."

The event made over $900 to support The Alpha Phi Foundation. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

BW Film Major Shines a Light on Mission Guatemala

Elise Bigley shows kids the videos she took of
them and their school
Film and international studies major Elise Bigley '16 spent six weeks at an internship in Panajachel, Guatemala where she helped create films for Mission Guatemala, a new BW partner for service-learning and study abroad.

Mission Guatemala works to help "meet the basic needs and improve the quality of life of under-served and impoverished Guatemalan peoples through health, education and nutrition initiatives and missionary service."

"I am very excited to give back by documenting their accomplishments," Bigley says on her study abroad blog.

Bigley was joined by eight BW faculty and staff members during her second week in Guatemala. They were laying a foundation for the expanded relationship between BW and Mission Guatemala.

"The people are incredible and have such a vibrant culture and history. Beautiful scenery, delicious coffee, and gorgeous rural and urban settings are just a some of the notable characteristics. The experience pushed me out of my comfort zone, but still supported me in a way that has me dying to go back."

Bigley is currently working on the largest film from her internship, but has created a short informational video including footage she gathered that encourages others to study abroad in Guatemala.

Bigley's internship was facilitated through the BW Honors Program, which is working with Explorations/Study Abroad to create more opportunities for students in the future. An Honors faculty led program is planned for May 2016.

Conservatory of Music Students, Faculty Play Violins of Hope

The BW Conservatory of Music has embraced, amplified and been inspired by Amnon Weinstein's effort to bring the voices of those lost in the Holocaust back to life. Over the past two decades Weinstein has worked to restore violins that survived the Holocaust. Now, 19 of the restored instruments are featured in an exhibition known as Violins of Hope that runs until Jan. 3, 2016 at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage.

Student and faculty musicians from BW's Conservatory of Music are plugged into two events that use some of these restored violins.

On Oct. 25, members of the BW Symphony Orchestra performed Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins, Strings and Continuo in D minor, BWV 1043. The Orchestra was conducted by Octavio Más-Arocas and featured faculty soloists Julian Ross and Barton Samuel Rotberg.

Students toured the exhibit following the performance, a profoundly moving and "eye opening" experience for junior music performance major Therese West '17.
Maltz Museum Education & Public Programs Director, Jeffery Allen,
leads BW students through the Violins of Hope Exhibition.

"As we went through the museum and heard all of the stories about each violin it was difficult to wrap your head around what that instrument and it's owner had been through," West says. "Some of the stories they told us were heartbreaking. Some of the musicians played their instrument to find relief and others played to stay alive. It was amazing to hear how music helped so many people persevere through such a horrible time. "

Dr Julian Ross
 "Violins of Hope is a tangible reminder of catastrophic tragedy, yet also confirmation of the resiliency of Jewish cultural and religious life," Dr. Ross says. "Thinking of some of the genuinely heroic people who created the tradition of Jewish violinists is profoundly humbling."

Ross will be featured again on Wednesday, Nov. 18 in a lecture/performance called The Mystery of the Violin. He will be performing with fellow BW Conservatory professor Robert Mayerovich on piano. This event will take place at 7 p.m. at the Maltz Museum.

Ross explained that since the 16th century, violin music has not only been a large part of Jewish cultural and social life, but a way to overcome repression. "I've also come to understand how fortunate and blessed I have been, to live in a time and place where I can study and perform, and have wonderful students who love music. The generations who came before me struggled to make this possible, and I pray that I honor them with the work that I do."

In a Cleveland Scene interview, museum director Ellen Rudolph shares her enthusiasm for the performances associated with the exhibit, saying, “It’s an amazing opportunity to bring those voices to life and connect with those who are lost.”

Friday, November 6, 2015

Zeta Tau Alpha Races to Success at Philanthropy Event

Members of the Baldwin Wallace community could be seen racing down the sidewalks of Berea for a good cause this fall as the sisters of Zeta Tau Alpha held their annual Race for the Ribbon philanthropy event supporting Breast Cancer Education and Awareness.

"The event itself allows us to raise money for our foundation, which supports educational programming, survivor recognition, and other awareness events," said Savanah Craig '18, Philanthropy Director of Zeta Tau Alpha.
In addition to the race, participants could also "pie" the presidents of various BW student organizations with shaving cream. Overall, the event raised about $1,800 for the cause.

"When we start sharing the race with people, it gives us an opportunity to put breast health on their radar and help share tips for risk reduction and prevention," Craig noted. "After months of planning it was really great to see everyone enjoying themselves and supporting a cause that is so dear to each of us."

MBA Grad Appointed Chief of Staff

BW MBA grad Laura Gronowski '93  has been appointed chief of staff for the nonprofit, Center for Health Affairs, as well as business affiliate CHAMPS Healthcare.

Photo courtesy: 
The Center of Health Affairs
According to a news release, Gronowski will oversee three business lines of CHAMPS Healthcare along with the member services operations and internal operations for The Center, reporting directly to CEO Bill Ryan.

Ryan describes Gronowski as "an innovative leader with a client-centric vision and a proven ability to effectively collaborate and drive strong business results."

With more than 25 years of experience in healthcare purchasing and supply chain management, more than 13 years at CHAMPS, Gronowski said, “This has always been a place I felt encouraged to challenge myself professionally and think outside the box to grow our business. I am excited to continue on that course in my new role.”

Prior to her recent appointment, Gronowski served as Senior Vice President of CHAMPS and is credited with playing a role in increasing the company's revenue and expanding geographical sales area. Before joining CHAMPS, Gronowski gained experience in multiple Northeast Ohio hospitals. She's also a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Economics Professor is Respected Resource for The Plain Dealer

In addition to her role as professor and chair of the Economics Department at BW, Veronica Kalich also contributes regularly to The Plain Dealer, serving as one of the newspaper's respected analysts on the Ohio workplace.

Most recently, Kalich has contributed to a series of articles focused primarily on the unemployment picture in Ohio, specifically stories that delve into the ups and downs of monthly jobs reports losses, the middle class, and the state's recovery from "the great recession."

Kalich has served as a valued source for Plain Dealer reporter, Olivera Perkins, who says she trusts Kalich's analyses "because she always cites the source of her data." Perkins has found that readers trust her as well, noting that, "Since Professor Kalich doesn’t take a political viewpoint, it is difficult for a reader to question her objectivity."

Perkins added, "Because she has a varied background, having worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, as well as in academia, Dr. Kalich is able to explain and add perspective and context to economic issues in ways that are accessible to most Plain Dealer readers."

BW Faculty and Students In the Center of the Political Process

The BW contingent that worked election night at WEWS-TV, left to right, Dr. Tom Sutton with students, Brianna Johnson, Austin Nagy, Nikita Martin, Aziz Ahmad, Simone Malone.
In the run-up to this week's election day, BW faculty and students were active in the political process as media commentators, survey analysts and election night tabulators. But with the 2016 presidential election on the horizon, and the Republican National Convention coming to Cleveland next July, they may just be getting warmed up.

BW political science professor Thomas Sutton, who regularly appears on WEWS TV as the Cleveland ABC affiliate's political analyst, was joined by a team of students on election night, who worked to tabulate results for the station. At BW, those students and others get to pick the brains of professors who are in the thick of analyzing politics and government for the media.

BW Pubic Opinion Poll and Questions About "What’s Next?"
Leading into the election, results from a BW Community Institute Research (CRI) poll, which included questions sampling Northeast Ohio public opinion on a marijuana legalization ballot issue, landed on the front page of The Plain Dealer, with insights from CRI associate director and political science professor, Dr. Lauren Copeland.

The poll was tested by students before it went into the field. Sutton, who is CRI's director, and Copeland also fielded poll questions from WEWS-TV 5, WOIO-TV 19/43 and WKSU/NPR Radio. After the issue was voted down, Sutton helped WEWS viewers understand what's next for Ohio's medical marijuana legalization movement.

Dr. Lauren Copeland (left) with the Fox 8 Morning News anchor team
Parsing Presidential Politics
Both BW professors have been called on to provide expert commentary on the ongoing presidential primary races, as well.

Sutton was tapped by both WEWS-TV and WAKR radio to dissect Ohio Governor's John Kasich's struggling campaign, while Copeland appeared live on WJW-TV's popular morning show to preview the first GOP debate showdown that took place in Cleveland, and later talked with WOIO-TV 19/43.

The pair also contributed to a series of Cleveland Jewish News pieces on the presidential race, one asking, "Was Democratic debate more liberal than usual?," another focusing on the politics of gun control, and another delving into the money already raised in the campaigns.

The Broader Election and Government Issues
Sutton also is a frequent guest on WAKR Radio's The Jasen Sokol Show where he has recently given listeners perspectives on issues like the new U.S. Speaker of the House

Dr. Barb Palmer surrounded by Running Start interns in Washington, D.C.
And a third BW political science professor, Dr Barb Palmer, continues her work on women in politics, raising awareness of the uphill climb for female candidates at conferences, through organizations like Running Start, and in the media such as this appearance on Vermont Public Radio.

Palmer recently spoke to a group of young women in Washington, D.C., who are participating in the Running Start Star Fellows Program which includes an internship with a female member of Congress.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Grad Launches Company to Support Homeless Veterans in LA

Justin Groza '04
"I hate veteran homelessness," Justin Groza '04, says simply. Groza's ten year military experience and desire to help others has spurred the launch of Logos, a business aiming to employ homeless veterans in a sustainable way. 

Groza was very involved  in campus activities during his time at BW as a brother of Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity, a member of the varsity soccer team and manager of the Student Activities Center. After graduating with a degree in Business Administration, Groza enlisted in the United States Army and became a commissioned officer. Following his military service, Groza continued his education at Budapesti Corvinus Egyetem in Budapest, where he earned an MBA.

Image from Groza's Logos crowd-funding campaign
After earning his master's degree, Groza developed and refined the concept for Logos and moved to Los Angeles. He recently launched a a crowd-funding campaign to support his idea and to educate the public about the prevalence of homeless veterans and the importance of long-term employment.
"I'm extremely proud of the project and have received excellent feedback from social workers at the VA and Salvation Army offices in Los Angeles," says Groza.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Alumna Reinvents Career, Creates Nonprofit for College Search

Nichelle McCall
Baldwin Wallace graduate and BOLD Guidance CEO, Nichelle McCall, has been featured in Inc Magazine as a "Woman Tech Founder to Watch," Crain's Cleveland 40 Under 40, and this fall, in a Plain Dealer article highlighting "career reinvention." But just 5 years she was wrestling with unemployment.

After a series of jobs following graduation, McCall took a fellowship in New York and Washington D.C. with the promise of a full-time post with a Cleveland nonprofit when she returned home. Instead, the organization went in a different direction at the end of her fellowship, and McCall found herself unemployed at age 27.

It was a turning point for McCall, who decided to become a consultant, rather than labeling herself unemployed. McCall noted to the Plain Dealer that, "What I learned is that a job is not secure. At any time someone can decide that they want to go in another direction or that your services are no longer needed. At least with entrepreneurship, even if something doesn't work out that I'm working on, I can always create something new."

She consulted with schools and nonprofits, forming college access programs. Within two years, she found herself making more money than ever before, and added a technology-based product in order to continue growing.

In 2012, McCall launched "Bold Guidance," a software company that not only makes the college admissions process easier and more accessible by walking parents and students step-by-step through the process, but also caters to colleges by supporting marketing strategies for enrollment.
Bold Guidance's CEO and President Nichelle McCall
-Photo Courtesy of The Plain Dealer

The Plain Dealer acknowledged the steep hill McCall climbed to make her business a success. "Women represent just 8 percent of venture-backed companies in the country, but for black women, the number shrinks dramatically to .2 percent. McCall has raised $500,000 in the last two years for her company, 'Bold Guidance.'"

In regards to her time working college admissions at Baldwin Wallace, McCall is quoted as saying, "that's when the seed was planted for wanting to make a difference for underprivileged students."

BW Grad Takes Fast Track to Financial Career

Ashley Lenzar '15 offers a lesson in the potential power of an internship to supercharge a career. Following her graduation earlier this year, Lenzar quickly landed a job as a financial services assistant at Glass Financial Advisors, the same company that mentored her in a summer internship.

In the finance profession, only one in 20 advisors is under the age of 30; so when Lenzar, 24, saw the opportunity to get in on the professional level at a young age she went for it. The story of her internship is featured in Financial Advisor magazine, as she sets out to make a name for herself in the world of finance.

Lenzar told Financial Advisor that she had the opportunity to tag along with her father to an Edward Jones advisory meeting around five years ago and was intrigued by the profession. Fast-forward to 2015, with a liberal arts education, a major in accounting and finance as well as a professional internship, she was the perfect fit for the job.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Theatre Grad Dives into Directing

Alumna Lindsey Augusta Mercer is quickly making a name for herself in the world of theatre after graduating in 2013 with a BA in theatre, music, and history, cum laude.
Photo credit: Mikki Schaffner Photography

For the past two years, Mercer has been living in the Greater Cincinnati area where her directorial life began to bloom, beginning with gigs at New Edgecliff Theatre and Diogenes Theatre Company. Mercer continued her streak of success at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, where she started as assistant to the artistic director in 2014. She staged CSC's touring production of A Midsummer Night's Dream for their Shakespeare in the Park program.

Photo credit: Queen City Queer
Theatre Collective website

In November of 2014, Mercer co-founded the Queen City Queer Theatre Collective with Linnea Jean Bond. Their mission, as described on the QCQTC website, is "to celebrate and share queer experiences while challenging theatre convention. We embrace “queer” as a verb, and a liberating way to work free of creative prejudice." Mercer regularly works as producing artistic director here, working on staged readings.

Her most recent endeavor is at the Falcon Theatre, where she will be directing two one acts known as "The Mystery Plays". The shows open November 6th. In an interview with Cincy Magazine, Mercer says, "It’s a great atmosphere for creating plays," with directors supporting her unique directorial choices.

She will also be playing the role of Amiens in CSC's production of "As You Like It", which runs November 20-December 12.