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Fall 2017: From the Editor


I call it “Timing the Hi.” The nervous freshman coming my way in front of Lilly Library was struggling to get the hang of this essential Wabash skill.

It works like this:

1. When you see someone approaching you don’t know well—we’ll call him the Greetee—casually glance at the ground or around the mall or pull out your phone and pretend to be doing something important;

2. With your peripheral vision, note the Greetee’s distance and approximate speed;

3. Using that information, estimate the moment the Greetee will be about eight feet from you;

4. At precisely that instant, raise your head and smile as if you just noticed him or her, offering spontaneously the friendly greeting of your choice. If you know the person, feel free to raise your chin as if bathing in the glow of his or her countenance.

Timing is everything. 

Too soon and you and the Greetee either stare at one another for an uncomfortable 15 seconds or you are stuck face to face in a conversation for which neither of you is prepared. 

Too late and the Greetee hears you just as you’ve walked past and may feel compelled to stop and turn around, breaking the cardinal rule of Timing the Hi: “Just keep walking.”

Playing chicken is sometimes an option—you can hold out to see if the Greetee will speak first, handing you the more comfortable role of respondent. But if you’re a freshman, you can’t count on that. 

Can you guess where on the Wabash campus you’ll find each of these Ws? Look for the answers at WM Online.

With the exception of some nervous eye darts as he approached me, this earnest freshman executed the maneuver well, though his greeting of “How you doin’?” gave me the option of replying with “Good. How about you?” which threw off his timing and left his answer trailing off with a Doppler effect.

After a day of dozens of such encounters, he must have been wondering, Am I going to have to say hello to everyone on this campus?

In four years, he might. 

And, as the old Wabash recruiting materials said, it will be “Worth It.”

my most recent example: Monday, September 25, 2017.

I was tired, running behind schedule, and dreading the video interview that I had volunteered to conduct. An unusually warm September had bumped the temperature above 90, and the room air conditioner in my Forest Hall office was blowing hot air. On my way out the door I passed Scott Thompson of Campus Services, who said he’d tested the A/C and would try to get me a new one. Will probably arrive in time for the first frost, I thought to myself as I trudged to the library and the interview. 

In the interview we were trying to get at the sources of the trust and accountability that form the core of Wabash relationships. So I asked senior Kaz Koehring to tell me about his mentor, NAWM President Rob Shook ’83. Rob had helped Kaz get an internship at IBM, but they had met years earlier when Rob was visiting campus and stopped by to sit in with the Glee Club.

“He comes and sings with us, which is awesome,” Kaz said. “We just started chatting on stage and then sang together and stayed in touch after that. Rob has helped me in so many ways, but we talk about anything. We talk about life. It’s a great friendship.”

When I asked Rob to describe the rewards of working with Kaz, he said, “I don't know anybody who is getting more out of their Wabash education than Kaz is, nor do I know many people who are more appreciative of the things that Wabash provides them.”

Then he turned to Kaz and said, “I’m a better Wabash alumnus. I'm a better Lambda Chi brother. I’m a better Glee Club member, and I am a better man for knowing you.”

I was feeling a little better as I walked to the Scarlet Inn to buy lunch for a student who wanted to talk about writing. Aaron Webb ’20 spent the summer working at a camp for kids. When I challenged him to introduce WM readers to them, he accepted with heartening enthusiasm and promised to have a draft for me to read in a week. 

As Aaron left I turned around to see Professor Emeritus Marc Hudson eating lunch a couple of booths down. I stopped to say hi, and what began as my apology for a typo I’d printed in one of his poems became Marc’s reinvigorating proclamation about the power of words to remember the people we love.

Excited now to edit this issue, I stepped into my office to find a new A/C in the window, the temperature a comfortable 78 degrees. I couldn’t find Scott’s campus email address to thank him, but crossing campus a few minutes later I saw him driving toward Trippet Hall. He stuck his head out the truck window and asked if the new A/C was doing the job. I reached into the truck and shook his hand perhaps more enthusiastically than the moment warranted. 

But I was moved by the generosity of this campus’s human scale and gratitude for the five people who transformed my day. Encounters like these are the norm here, even more so for students. Four years in such a place makes believers in the power of the face to face, and in the relationships of trust and accountability it engenders. 

It’s a thriving if challenging ecology Rob Shook calls “a crucible where friendships like this can be formed.”

Jason Bridges ’98 calls it “the X-factor that’s harder to get in a bigger, co-ed school.”

“There’s a camaraderie you can’t get elsewhere. That’s why Wabash has an amazing alumni network.”

The Princeton Review proclaimed the connections between Wabash graduates and students the #1 Alumni Network in the nation, but it’s more of a fellowship of friends. We call it “the ‘W’ Factor,” and you’ll find it in many forms and places in this edition. 

Thanks for reading. 


Editor |

“There’s a camaraderie you can’t get elsewhere. That’s why Wabash has an amazing alumni network.”

—Jason Bridges ’98