News & Updates

Ford Chapel Instrument Chimes in With New Sounds on Allegheny Campus

Junior music major Jacob Sutter drops his coat and backpack in a pew in the balcony of Ford Memorial Chapel on a chilly December morning and fires up the small keyboard in front of him. Soon the strains of the “Bell Tree Peal” are resounding across the Allegheny College campus.

That’s followed by “Be Thou My Vision,” “Scarborough Fair,” “Ode to Joy,” “Sweet and Low,” “Imagine,” “O Come O Come Emmanuel” and, of course, “Alma Mater Beatissima.”

The 100-year-old Crawford Chimes, a 14-note set of Deagan tower chimes in Ford Chapel, were refurbished in the fall of 2018, and now the sounds of music ring across campus several days a week, thanks to Sutter, who also plays the piano during religious services at the chapel.

Sutter, who is a computer science minor from Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania, has the task of playing the Crawford Chimes. “I usually play for about 15 minutes,” he says. He blends traditional hymns with modern popular music. The keys on the keyboard correspond to the 14 chimes in the belfry.

Not to be confused, the music coming from the Crawford Chimes is a sonorous complement to the Bentley Hall Carillon that sounds on the hour.

In October, Bill Pugh, a technician from Tennessee, came to Allegheny to service the chimes, which were installed in Ford Chapel in September 1918, a gift from alumni to mark the 25th year of William Crawford’s presidency. “I last serviced this historic instrument in 1997. Oh, how time flies! At that time, I reconnected the keyboard because the wires had been cut accidentally. I was unable to service all 14 strikers due to pigeon debris in the chime loft,” Pugh says.

College Chaplain Jane Ellen Nickell said Pugh was a little reluctant to return to the tower this year, but a pre-visit inspection showed there was not a mess in the tower, which cleared the way for Pugh’s work.

Pugh shares some history about the Deagan company and the chimes: “The J.C. Deagan Company of Chicago was known as the world’s finest manufacturer of tuned percussions. Tower chimes were their biggest product, and some 440 instruments were built between 1917 and 1958. They ranged in size from one to 97 chimes — a library in Minnesota and a state park in Florida, respectively. The Ford Chapel instrument is the oldest surviving system and is 100 years old. I do hope that Allegheny celebrates this milestone.”

“They are the oldest intact in the country since most have been removed or updated to electronic systems,” says Nickell. “We will be playing them several times a week and on special occasions, like our Christmas Service, Commencement, and Reunion Weekend. If Jacob doesn’t stay during the summer, I will find another student or play them myself.”

Photo Caption: The Crawford Chimes as they look from inside the Ford Chapel tower looking toward Pelletier Library (Photo by Jane Ellen Nickell)

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny College Alumnus and His Undergraduate Advisor Collaborate to Publish Book

When two people work together on a major project, it’s vital for both to feel they are on equal footing as they collaboratively develop a finished product.

Peter Capretto '10
Peter Capretto ’10

Peter Capretto is a 2010 graduate of Allegheny College with a double major in philosophy and religious studies. He later earned a master’s degree from Vanderbilt University, where he is now finishing a Ph.D. in religion.

At Allegheny, Capretto studied under the tutelage of his advisor, Professor Eric Boynton, who teaches philosophy and religious studies and is the department chair and director of interdisciplinary studies.

After more than three years of editorial work and research, they co-edited and contributed to a book, “Trauma and Transcendence: Suffering and the Limits of Theory,” which was published in August 2018 by Fordham University Press.

Within the academic writing field, Boynton explained that is unusual to have one author, who is a former student now working on a graduate-level degree at another academic institution, team up with a prior advisor from the undergraduate field.

“All collaborative work requires some negotiation of a power dynamic, especially when producing a text like this,” Capretto said. “During this process there was a lot of work done to redefine the role, to make sure we were equally participating in this process. As an undergraduate when I was Eric’s advisee, Eric took me and his students very serious intellectually. This made negotiating the power dynamic in this project far easier.”

Eric Boynton
Eric Boynton

Boynton said working with Capretto was a terrific opportunity for them to engage a topic in which they both had a passionate interest.

“For Peter, this is not his first rodeo and he has published quite a bit. He’s published more than any other graduate student working on a Ph.D. I know of,” Boynton said. “He’s already proven himself, so it wasn’t like this book project was a gift to Peter to get his foot in the door. The only mentoring role I had was that I had published other volumes in the past. It would never have occurred to me to lead him.”

Capretto explained that, when you have an advisor like Boynton who doesn’t hold back on dialogue, it makes an academic partnership more manageable and productive. But completing the book together wasn’t without some challenges.

“Yeah, we had moments of trying to make decisions and trying to negotiate things,” he said.
The book features Capretto and Boynton writing the introduction and individual chapters, plus chapters written by other scholars in the fields of philosophy, theology, psychoanalysis, and social theory who engage the limits and prospects of trauma’s transcendence.

Trauma and Transcendence book
“Trauma and Transcendence: Suffering and the Limits of Theory” was published in August 2018 by Fordham University Press.

Because the publication is an edited volume involving 11 other contributors, both Capretto and Boynton had to shepherd the work from authors across the county to blend the different kinds of approaches into a systematic whole.

At times, a reader could find the book working against itself in certain chapters as individual authors didn’t necessarily agree, Boynton said.

“It’s kind of like vectors approaching this problem of trauma from different perspectives,” he said.

Both Capretto and Boynton explained the educational environment and emphasis on collaboration offered at Allegheny provided the cornerstone for them to tackle this type of project and make it successful.

“I feel like I have been able to make this progress and improve the quality of work because of the investments and range of opportunities at Allegheny,” Capretto said. “This is kind of, in a certain sense, a self-fulfilling prophecy. A project like this is possible because of the quality of the education at a place like Allegheny, which I think is pretty rare now.”

Boynton said the project was an opportunity to work on something meaningful and also to continue a love of keeping in touch with past students.

“Apart from the book and what we got done, what was invigorating for me was the process of working collaboratively with my students, and specifically with Peter,” he said.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny Welcomes New Faculty

From a former resident of nearby Townville to a fantasy football player to a dedicated amateur chef, Allegheny’s new faculty members bring many unique backgrounds and qualities to the teaching table in the fall of 2018. Let’s meet each of them briefly:

Catherine Allgeier
Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics

Catherine AllgeierAs a visiting assistant professor of economics, Catherine Allgeier comes to Allegheny with her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Clarion University of Pennsylvania.

After graduation, she taught at a business college and then worked in the corporate world as a chief financial officer and a human resources director. “I realized that I missed the interaction with students and started teaching part-time in addition to my CFO role. I now have been teaching full-time for eight years (most recently at her alma mater) and use my corporate background to provide real-world accounting examples and experiences to my students,” says Allgeier.

“I am interested in information systems and communication, as they relate to costs and effectiveness in health-care diagnoses, such as using Watson as a diagnostic tool and the implications in not only a more timely diagnosis but also more cost effective,” she says.

She also has a green thumb. “My ‘other’ career would be in landscape and interior design,” says Allgeier. “I quit counting at 40 houseplants.”


Timothy Bianco
Assistant Professor of Economics

Tim BiancoTimothy Bianco joins Allegheny as assistant professor of economics, having taught previously at Bowling Green State University, where he also earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He also obtained a master’s degree and his doctorate from the University of Kentucky. He also has worked as an analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland for five years.

“I enjoy teaching economics and researching cutting-edge financial and monetary economics, focusing on corporate credit,” says Bianco.

Bianco and his wife, Victoria, grew up in northeast Ohio “so moving to northwest Pennsylvania has been a smooth transition. I am a Cleveland sports fanatic and I enjoy traveling to Cleveland to catch a game from time to time.

“An unusual combination is that I have been known to apply cutting-edge econometric techniques to playing fantasy football,” he says.


Paula Burleigh
Visiting Assistant Professor of Art History

Paula BurleighPaula Burleigh joins the Allegheny community as visiting assistant professor of art history and director of the Penelec, Bowman, Meghan Art Gallery. She earned her Ph.D. in art history at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

She earlier earned a master’s degree at Case Western Reserve University and a bachelor’s degree at Emory University.

“I’ve taught undergraduate courses at City University of New York Baruch College, Bard High School Early College, and at Bard College, and I’ve taught adult education courses at the Museum of Modern Art (New York) and at the Whitney Museum of American Art, where I was a teaching fellow for several years before coming to Allegheny,” says Burleigh.

Burleigh specializes in art history and visual culture of Europe and the United States, from 1945 to the present. Her research interests include visionary architecture, feminism and gender as they relate to art, and utopian/dystopian themes in art and popular visual culture.

“I love to cook, and I didn’t let a decade of tiny New York City kitchen life stop me from elaborate culinary experiments — some failed, many succeeded, all were eaten at least an hour later than I intended,” she says.


Kimberly Caldwell
Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology

Kimberly CaldwellKimberly Caldwell joins the college as a visiting assistant professor of psychology. She earned her Ph.D. in behavioral neuroscience at the University at Buffalo, “so my background is a blend of psychology and neuroscience.”

She has taught introductory psychology and biopsychology, “and I am excited to be teaching a new course this semester that I developed called ‘Ingestive Behavior,’ which will explore the neuroscience behind eating and drinking. My research interests are broadly focused on how the brain controls eating and drinking, thus the inspiration for my new class. I am particularly interested in a peptide system called ghrelin that is capable of influencing both behaviors.

“Along with behavioral neuroscience, I have always enjoyed the arts and took several art classes through high school and even a couple here at Allegheny as a member of the Gifted Program — I don’t know if they still call it that, it’s been a while since I was in high school — at Maplewood,” she says.

“This brings me to my fun fact, I grew up locally in nearby Townville and took classes at Allegheny in art and dance while in high school.”


Michael Michaelides
Assistant Professor of Economics

Michael MichaelidesMichael Michaelides joins the Economics Department as an assistant professor. He has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from the University of Essex, a master’s degree in accounting and finance from the London School of Economics, a master’s degree in economics from Virginia Tech, and a doctorate in economics from Virginia Tech.

Prior to attending Allegheny, Michaelides spent one year as a visiting assistant professor at Sweet Briar College in Virginia. His research interests include: Financial econometrics, empirical asset pricing, time series econometrics, applied econometrics, behavioral finance, volatility modeling, and financial risk forecasting.

“My research has focused on exploring the behavioral biases of investing through the quantitative application of statistical and mathematical models. Yet, my research has been so strongly influenced by the philosophy of science literature,” says Michaelides.

When not in the classroom or on a research mission, Michaelides is a Liverpool Football Club supporter.


Matthew Mitchell
Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies

Matthew MitchellRight out of college, Matthew Mitchell traveled to Japan and taught English as a foreign language for six years. He had earned a bachelor’s degree in religious studies, with a minor in chemistry, from Illinois Wesleyan University. As an undergraduate, he also found time to sing in the university choir and teach rock climbing.

Mitchell later completed an M.A. in Asian religions from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a Ph.D. from Duke University’s Graduate Program in Religion. “I spent a lot more time in my office writing than on the beach,” he said of his two years in Hawaii.

Mitchell’s teaching experience includes posts at the University of Hawaii, Duke University, the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Creighton University. And he worked at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, helping to bring Chinese students and scholars to the institution for short-term and degree programs.

Mitchell’s research interests include Asian religions — especially Japanese Buddhism, social history, and women and gender in religion. This year in the Religious Studies Department, he will be teaching a number of courses across traditions from Asian religions to Islam. He is currently studying the social, financial and legal activities of a group of Buddhist nuns in Japan’s 17th–20th centuries. “One of the biggest surprises people have is the diversity of the nuns’ activities,” he says. “Most people tend to think of nuns as cloistered, not active, and certainly not involved in gambling or lawsuits.”

Along with Japan’s importance to Mitchell’s research, the nation holds other special meaning for him: it’s where he met his wife and it’s the birthplace of his oldest daughter.


Pamela Runestad
Assistant Professor of Global Health Studies

Pamela RunestadPamela Runestad likes to know how things work.

“I found I could fold all of my interests — infectious disease, nutrition, culture, Japan, writing and narrative, and film — together through becoming a medical anthropologist,” she says. “These combinations will be at the heart of my courses in global health studies here at Allegheny.”

Runestad holds a B.A. in biology and English — with a minor in psychology — from Augustana College (now University) in South Dakota and an M.A. in Japanese language and society from the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. She also earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in medical anthropology with a focus on Japan at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu.

Her doctoral research focused on socio-cultural responses to HIV/AIDS in Japan and how those have an impact on health. Her current research project explores institutional food for pregnant and postpartum mothers in Japan.

Runestad’s life and work experiences outside of the continental U.S. give her unique perspective. “I grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and I lived in Nagano, Japan, for 10 years,” she says. “So at this point, I’ve only lived about one-quarter of my life in the ‘lower 48’ — Alaska-speak — or the ‘mainland’ — Hawaii-speak. That time was spent in South Dakota, Nebraska and North Carolina.”


Yee Mon Thu
Assistant Professor of Biology

Yee Mon ThuYee Mon Thu describes herself as “a scientist who likes to learn how the natural world works — and an amateur artist who likes to use imagination.”

Before arriving at Allegheny, Thu taught biology at her undergraduate alma mater, Grinnell College. She earned a B.A. in biology with a concentration in global development studies there before completing a Ph.D. in cancer biology at Vanderbilt University.

“I am interested in how cells maintain genome stability in the face of intrinsic and extrinsic factors that can cause DNA damage,” Thu says of her research. “I am also fascinated by the involvement of these pathways in cancer.”

When away from the classroom and laboratory, Thu enjoys visiting national parks.


Birgit Weyhe
Max Kade Writer in Residence

Birgit WehyeAs a graphic novelist, Birgit Weyhe uses both her writing and drawing to explore historical and political incidents. She’s primarily interested in migration and the definition of home and identity. In addition to authoring several books, Weyhe has a monthly page in a Berlin newspaper where she draws the “lifeline” of a person who has changed places of residence often.

Weyhe was raised in Uganda and Kenya and came back to Germany at the age of 19. “I consider all three countries as my home,” she says. After returning to Germany, she earned a master’s degree in German literature and history from the University of Hamburg and a Diplom in illustration from the University of Applied Sciences, also in Hamburg.

Since 2012, Weyhe has taught at the Universities of Hamburg, Kiel and Düsseldorf in Germany and at the National Art School in Maputo, Mozambique. She also has led workshops at the German Cultural Center (Goethe Institut) in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Finland, France and Canada.

Wehye said that she is a passionate reader. On a three-month trip to Patagonia last year, she and her husband read 15 novels to each other. “We praised the invention of eBooks,” she says. “Otherwise our backpacks would have been very heavy.”


Tarah Williams
Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science

tarah williamsTarah Williams uses survey and experimental methods to understand how social identities —partisan identities, racial identities and many more — shape individual political behavior, for better or worse. Her current research explores whether and when individuals will confront prejudice and discrimination in their daily lives.

“As a shy person, I often struggled to speak up as a student,” she says. “My job now requires me to help students find ways to participate in class, and because I needed to work to find my voice, I have become committed to helping others find theirs. Similarly, my research is concerned with how we can encourage people to speak up to confront prejudice.”

Williams earned her B.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois. Before pursuing graduate school, she worked in state government as a researcher for the Illinois Legislature. She has taught courses in politics and policy at Washington University in St. Louis, Miami University in Ohio and the University of Illinois.

Along with her teaching and research, Williams enjoys walking, cooking, musical theatre and — since arriving at Allegheny — exploring Meadville.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Nationally Known Religious Leader to Visit Allegheny

The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, retired global leader for the Metropolitan Community Churches and a renowned leader in the LGBT Christian community, will visit the Allegheny College campus in March for a 10-day residency.

Rev. Wilson, a 1972 graduate of Allegheny, will be the keynote speaker for a workshop titled “Ministry With Trans Persons” from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 10, in the Tippie Alumni Center. The workshop will focus on the subject of transgender persons becoming more visible in society and in churches and how to better provide ministry for – and with — them. The workshop is open to the public, but registration is required.

On Thursday, March 8, at 12:15 p.m., Rev. Wilson will speak on “Faith and Climate Change” in Carr Hall Room 238. On Sunday, March 11, Rev. Wilson will be the guest preacher at an 11 a.m. interdenominational service in Ford Memorial Chapel. Her sermon title is “When Thoughts and Prayers Are Not Enough: Let the Children Lead!” Both the talk and the service are free and open to the public.

The Rev. Wilson also will be co-teaching with the Rev. Dr. Jane Ellen Nickell a short course titled “Queer Folks and the Church” during her visit. “With Chaplain Jane Ellen Nickell, I will be presenting a perspective on the continuing challenge of actually welcoming queer people into our faith communities, and the rich diversity and history of the queer faith movement — not only here, but around the world,” Rev. Wilson said.

Rev. Wilson served as global leader in the Metropolitan Community Churches position from 2005 until her retirement in 2016. She was the second person, and the first woman, to serve in that role since MMC’s founding in 1968.

In 2011, President Barack Obama appointed Rev. Wilson to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and in 2012 she was the only openly gay clergy to participate in the Inaugural Prayer Service at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. In 2014, Rev. Wilson was named as one of the spokespeople for Blessed Tomorrow, a team of 21 top ecumenical and interfaith leaders in the United States to spearhead an effort to mobilize religious communities to address environmental concerns.

In May 2014, Rev. Wilson was one of four honorees to be recognized by Intersections International for her humanitarian work in the area of social justice. In honor of International Women’s Day in 2014, the Huffington Post selected Rev. Wilson as one of the 50 “powerful religious leaders … making change in the world.”

Rev. Wilson has published numerous articles and the books, including “Outing the Bible: Queer Folks, God, Jesus, and the Christian Scriptures;” “Outing the Church: 40 Years in the Queer Christian Movement;” “Our Tribe: Queer Folks, God, Jesus and the Bible;” and “I Love to Tell the Story, 100+ Stories of Justice, Inclusion and Hope.”

For more information or to register for the March 10 workshop, call (814) 332-2800 or email srl@allegheny.edu.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Krone Presents Papers at American Academy of Religion Meeting

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Director of Jewish Life Adrienne Krone recently presented two papers on her research at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion, which was held in Boston, Mass., November 17–21. She presented a paper about a beekeeping program at a Jewish organization in Canada called Shoresh entitled “Humans and the Humble Bees” and a paper about Jewish agricultural settlements in nineteenth-century North Dakota called “The Lure of a Land Based Utopia.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Olson’s Latest Book Published

Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Religious Studies Carl Olson’s latest two-volume book, “Sacred Texts Interpreted: Religious Documents Explained,” has been published by ABC-CLIO. The two volumes are collections of primary source texts from religions around the globe accompanied by Olson’s commentaries and introductions to the literature.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny Sophomore Attends Democracy Forum in Greece

It’s one thing to have classroom discussions about the challenges facing democracy.

It’s quite another to have those same discussions in the country where democracy was born.

Allegheny College sophomore Jesse Tomkiewicz was one of 23 students representing 11 different countries who participated in the Athens Democracy Forum in Athens, Greece, in September. The goal of the annual forum, hosted by The New York Times, is to bring students together from around the globe at the American College of Greece to discuss the challenges facing democracy that year. Students work together in teams to write a white paper on the chosen challenges, this year, climate change and inequality.

The different backgrounds, experiences, viewpoints and ideologies of the participants — and how those differences shaped the discussions — was eye-opening, said Tomkiewicz, a political science and philosophy double major from rural Freeport, Pennsylvania.

“It was an incredibly diverse group,” he said. “That was probably the most valuable part of the experience, talking to people from all over the world.”

Being with like-minded students interested in talking about and shaping the future of democracy — in Athens, of all places — was exhilarating, he said.

“This is about going to a place where I’m with a dream team,” of fellow participants, Tomkiewicz said. “These individuals are not just really bright; these are some of the best students I’ve been around. It was truly intellectually challenging.

“I benefitted more than anyone at the conference because I (had) never left the U.S. Here I focus on the judicial process and political theory. I had no experience in international politics. … I learned more in those nine days (in Athens) than I would have taking a semester’s worth of classes.”

The trip was one of many firsts, including Tomkiewicz’s first plane ride out of the country. He swam in the Aegean Sea, attended a speech by former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, and stood at the top of the Acropolis.

“It was enchanting being on top of the Acropolis, knowing that people like Socrates had physically been there,” he said. “I’m from a country where our history is a few centuries. We’re talking about a place that goes thousands of years back. Being in a place with that kind of history, that was really something.”

Tomkiewicz is already heavily involved in campus and local politics — he’s the vice president of Allegheny’s College Democrats and a field director for the Crawford County Democratic Party — but left the conference wanting to do more to further democracy, particularly for voters in rural places like his hometown.

“There has to be grassroots, bottom-up efforts” to address the challenges facing rural voters, Tomkiewicz said.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Olson’s Essays Published

Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Religious Studies Carl Olson’s invited essay titled “Ways of Healing and the Roles of Harmony, Purity, and Violent Rhetoric in Japanese Shinto and Shamanism,” has been published in Better Health through Spiritual Practices edited by Dean D. VonDras (Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2017, pp. 97-118). A second invited essay of Olson’s titled “The Problematic Nature of the Third Chapter of the Yoga Sutras and its Discussion of Powers” has been published by the Journal of Yoga and Physiotherapy 3/1, 2017, pp. 1-8. A third invited essay entitled “Demons, Devotees and Symbolism of Violence in Hindu Mythology” has been accepted for publication in Modern Hinduism in Text and Context edited by Lavanya Vemsani and published by Bloomsbury Publishing.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Olson Publishes Essay in ‘On Meaning and Mantras’

Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies Carl Olson’s essay “The Shadow of Kali Over the Goddess Kamaksi and Her City” has been published in “On Meaning and Mantras: Essays in Honor of Frits Staal” edited by George Thompson and Richard Payne and published in Berkeley, Calif., by the Institute of Buddhist Studies and BDK America. This volume is a memorial book dedicated to the memory of Frits Staal, a longtime professor of Sanskrit at the University of California, Berkeley. The volume contains contributions from many famous Indologists from around the globe.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Olson essay published in journal, another forthcoming in book

Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies Carl Olson‘s essay, “Place, Play, Escape, and Identity: A Reconsideration of the Thought of Yi-fu Tuan in Light of the Work of Ramanuja and Zhuangzi” has been published in the International Communication of Chinese Culture.

His essay “Violence, the Demonic, and Indian Asceticism” also has been accepted for publication in a forthcoming book, “Modern Hinduism in History and Practice,” edited by Lavanya Vemsani and to be published by Bloomsbury Publishing.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research