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After 40 successful years of the McKelvy House Scholars program, Lafayette will experiment with a second off-campus intellectual community.

Named for its Reeder Street residence, the Reeder Scholars program borrows its basic structure from McKelvy – holding dinner discussions once or twice each week and organizing activities both on and off campus – but its students are determined that the program have its own distinguishing characteristics.

The group invites the campus to a discussion of “Offensiveness and Media” 9 p.m. Tuesday in the back room of Gilbert’s. Ice cream, fruit, and other food will be served at the event, which will examine “how the artists (con and otherwise) of our era direct their messages to the public through different types of media and how that affects their success,” according to Ben Doremus ’07 (Hopkinton, Mass.).

Located in a former fraternity house next to the McKelvy property, the Reeder Street location can house 11 students and is full for the coming academic year. The Reeder Scholars are Tomas Bielskis ’07 (Siauliai, Lithuania), Megan Conway ’06 (North Caldwell, N.J.), Bryan Culbertson ’07 (Ormond Beach, Fla.), Doremus, Matthew Ide ’08 (Durham, Conn.), Chris Jacoby ’07 (Madison, N.J.), Caitlin Kelly ’08 (Cutchogue, N.Y.), Lia Mandaglio ’08 (Annandale, N.J.), Danielle Schreier ’07 (New York, N.Y.), and Sergey Toshinskiy ’08 (Obninsk Kaluga Regio, Russia).

Reeder and McKelvy will share adviser Chawne Kimber, assistant professor of mathematics. She pushed for the Reeder residence after receiving an overwhelming response for the few available McKelvy positions. Wanting to give more students a chance to participate in an intellectually stimulating residence experience, she requested a second location from the Office of Residence Life.

“I had some ideas and knew there would be some energetic students who would want to be pioneers,” she explains.

Doremus, a former McKelvy resident, will serve as resident adviser (RA). He hopes that the one-year Reeder experiment will inspire students as McKelvy has done in the past.

“I wanted to find a way to bring the intellectual experience I found there [at McKelvy] to the rest of campus,” says the electrical and computer engineering major. “This is a chance for us to create something completely new, something which nobody has preconceived notions about. This is the most exciting chance I’ve had to make a lasting impact on the Lafayette community.”

Kimber is certain that Doremus is the right choice for RA at Reeder House; she is giving him full responsibility for organizing events and leading the group.

“He’s a fantastic discussant and has great instincts for all sorts of programming – intellectual and social,” she says. “I’ve given him my full confidence, and I intend to serve the program gently behind the scenes.”

She notes that the students will bear most of the responsibility for convincing the College that Reeder deserves to be a permanent fixture with allocated residential space and funding. The key is to sustain high-quality programming, and Kimber believes that they are equal to the task.

Doremus notes that the Reeder residents are “wonderfully eclectic,” including musicians, engineers, artists, athletes, political activists, and computer enthusiasts. They have been meeting since last semester to become acquainted with one another and to strategize for the coming year.

Reeder residents are excited about the prospect of producing a magazine in which each student will make a contribution. Doremus is already planning a comic strip for the project. The Reeder publication will mirror the McKelvy Papers, a booklet comprised of articles on subjects of the residents’ choosing.

Reeder is starting with a smaller pot of money for events than McKelvy’s $15,000 activity budget, but Kimber believes this provides an opportunity for residents to be more creative. The dean of students oversees McKelvy programming, but Reeder students will be free to choose their own. Once residents identify a topic, they may apply to academic departments, off-campus nonprofits, or even government agencies for funding.

“We’re looking at the broad topic of community engagement,” she says. “The main goal is not to be a McKelvy clone, but for the students in the house to gradually develop an identity of their own.”

For Conway, a double major in art and music, Reeder’s appeal lies in the intellectual atmosphere that each student will help to enrich and maintain.

“I’m looking forward to living in a house with nine other students of similar scholarly interest,” she says.

Bielskis, a mathematics-economics major, likes the fact that its residents will essentially shape Reeder’s future. He is eager to make the new intellectual group a lasting campus institution.

“I am looking forward to working with a group of outstanding people and to starting a living group program that can possibly continue running even when we leave Lafayette,” he says.

A computer science major and Trustee Scholar, Culbertson has attended McKelvy discussions, which are open to all students, since his first year and wants Reeder to create a similar presence on campus.

“I am looking forward to establishing the traditions of a hopefully long-term organization,” he says. “I am especially excited about bringing that same level of energy to Reeder House.”

Reeder’s potential for personal growth and status as an upstart residence group attracted Jacoby, an electrical and computer engineering major.

“It will be a great challenge – academically, intellectually, and socially,” he says. “Facing and overcoming such a challenge has a high potential for great personal growth. That community, that intellectual and social interaction, is very important today in a society where a great deal of communication happens over instant messaging or email.”

One feature that appealed to Kelly was the unlimited potential of the loosely defined program. She looks forward to her first chance at publication in the group’s magazine and notes that it is important for Reeder House to distinguish itself from McKelvy.

“This is the first time this has been done, so we have an excellent opportunity to really establish ourselves,” the biology major says. “The whole thing is very experimental, so we can make Reeder whatever we want and try out some of our ideas. I look forward to creating a different kind of off-campus scholar house experience. I’m not sure what we will do to make ourselves different from McKelvy, but I’m sure we will have a lot of fun figuring it out.”

Mandaglio, a psychology major, looks forward to shaping Reeder’s activities and participating in discussions with students from diverse academic and personal backgrounds.

“I see each conversation as an opportunity for me to grow and to appreciate all opinions and ideas,” she says. “Furthermore, because we are the first generation of Reeder Scholars, I anticipate setting precedents for future members and establishing the program as an invaluable contribution, both academically and socially, to the Lafayette campus.”

An art major, Schreier appreciates the community dynamic and says that the enthusiasm of the planning meetings indicates that the residents are eager to get Reeder off the ground.

“Every member of the house was hand-selected,” she says. “We are all passionate, motivated individuals who have accomplished great things. This semester will be no exception.”

Toshinskiy, a biology major and Simon Scholar, predicts spirited discussions with students from various backgrounds and viewpoints.

“I am ready to embrace the impact, both intellectual and personal, they are going to have on me and also to be part of their evolution,” he says.

Conway performed EXCEL Scholars research on renowned Philadelphia artist Paul Keene with Curlee Raven Holton, professor and head of art, and studied art history in Italy for four weeks through Lafayette’s Summer Abroad Program. She serves as musical director for the female a capella group Cadence and also is a member of the a capella group Soulfege, Flute Ensemble, Pep Band, and Arts Society.

Bielskis completed EXCEL research on how rhetoric is used to polarize issues in American politics. He has coauthored several books in his native language and wrote a four-part article series for Lithuania’s second largest daily newspaper. He is a member of International Students Association and a writing associate.

Doremus is a member of the Clarinet Quartet, Lafayette Environmental Awareness and Protection (LEAP), Social Gaming Network, and Ultimate Frisbee Club.

Culbertson collaborated as an EXCEL Scholar with Chun Wai Liew, assistant professor of computer science, on programming genetic algorithms used to optimize fish models in the study of vertebrate evolution. At this year’s Honors Convocation, he received the James P. Schwar Prize for excellence in computer science. He is a member of Lafayette Christian Fellowship, Martial Arts Club, and Ultimate Frisbee Club.

An avid musician, Jacoby participates in College Choir, Jazz Ensemble, Brass Ensemble, and Guitar Ensemble. He is a member of Students for Social Justice, Association of Lafayette Feminists (ALF), and Haven, a group that promotes substance-free living. He is webmaster for LEAP, competes on the varsity fencing team’s foil squad, and is a sound assistant at the Williams Center for the Arts.

Kelly received the Rexroth Prize in German at this year’s Honors Convocation for language studies. She is a member of Biology Club, ALF, and College Choir. She serves as a German language tutor and student host, representing Lafayette at accepted student receptions and hosting overnight visits for prospective students.

Mandaglio was student co-editor of Keys to College Studying, a book helping college students master study skills and college life. She completed two externships, shadowing partners in New York and New Jersey law firms. She is a psychology tutor and an advocate for Safe House, a division of Women’s Crisis Services of Flemington, N.J.

Schreier will begin EXCEL research this semester with Ed Kerns, Eugene H. Clapp II ’36 Professor of Art. She is a member of College Choir, LEAP, the equestrian team, and Best Buddies, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing opportunities for one-to-one friendships and integrated employment. As a member of the Community-Based Teaching Program, Schreier taught art to high school students, and she volunteers at the SPCA Animal Shelter. Her artwork was featured on the Polaroid Corporation’s website.

Toshinskiy completed neuroscience research at Emory University this past summer through the Lafayette Alumni Research Network and plans on doing EXCEL research in neuroscience this fall. He volunteers in local hospitals and adult daycare facilities as part of the Landis Community Outreach Center. He is a member of Photography Club, a peer counselor, a teaching assistant for human physiology, and general manager of Lafayette’s radio station, WJRH-FM.

A recipient of several teaching awards and fellowships, Kimber has shared her research in publications and given presentations throughout the United States. She is a seminar director for the Summer Undergraduate Mathematical Sciences Research Institute funded by the National Science Foundation and National Security Agency.

Selected from among Lafayette’s top applicants, Trustee Scholars like Culbertson have distinguished themselves through exceptional academic achievement in high school. They receive from Lafayette an annual minimum scholarship of $7,500 ($8,000 effective with the Class of 2009) or a grant in the full amount of their demonstrated need if the need is more than $7,500.

Categorized in: Academic News