Beloit College Magazine

Beloit College Magazine

Summer 2014 (July 2014)

We Are the 3 Percent

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July 2014

From the PresidentPlease use a No. 2 pencil to circle  your answer. You will have 30 seconds to complete this.

  • YES   NO   Did you have at least one experience at Beloit that excited you intellectually?
  • YES   NO   Was there at least one faculty or staff member who actually cared about you?
  • YES  NO   Was there at least one faculty or staff member who was encouraging of your future?
  • YES  NO   During your time at the college, did you have to complete at least one significant project (i.e. semester length)?
  • YES   NO   During your college career, did you have to apply your education in non-classroom settings at least once?
  • YES  NO   And, finally, during your Beloit career, did you participate in significant extracurricular activities?

Put your pencil down while I compile your score and compare it with your fellow Beloiters. There we have it. 100 percent. You scored 100 percent. And your fellow alumni? Well, let’s see. Yes, 100 percent as well.

Congratulations. Unanimously perfect. You did wonderfully. And Beloit College? Even more so.

You see, these six questions are asked by Gallup and Purdue University in a highly touted study led by the Lumina Foundation, designed to answer the “value question.” The value question is THE question today; it preoccupies college presidents, U.S. presidents, and worried parents across the nation. Are there, they wonder, breadcrumbs that lead from lives of great purpose and well-being back to baccalaureate origins?

A person, presumably, who answers “yes” to all of these questions received a very valuable education indeed. And if this seems like a low bar, well, think again.

A college graduate able to answer “yes” to these six questions is far more likely to have found meaning in their work; to have found relationships in their life with people of substance and purpose and caring; to have found pathways to comfort and material stability; and to have found a local community that they care about and that cares about them.

It turns out that nationally only 3 percent of college graduates are able to say “yes” to all six questions, including only 3 percent of college graduates at private, exclusive not-for-profit colleges. Three percent versus 100 percent.

Your experience at Beloit was gloriously different. You know that. Three percent versus 100 percent.

But let’s be honest. Occasionally, you wonder. State U. has brand sparkle. And those peer institutions that Beloit is so often compared with, they’re fine places, too. But, there is still the question of how to explain 3 percent elsewhere versus 100 percent at Beloit.

I am guessing the answer includes Tom McBride, Marion Fass, Brock Spencer, Natalie Gummer, and many others. Carol Wickersham and Bill Flanagan. And probably Coach DeGeorge, Bill Conover, and Cecil Youngblood are statistically significant. And what about Milt Feder, Bob Irrmann, and Marion Stocking?

Did they care about you and your success and your future? Think about your field term or study abroad, your internship, capstone project, or Liberal Arts in Practice experience. Isn’t it likely the 3 percent versus 100 percent is explained there?

Now, mix in those life-changing, page-turning courses you completed—in the sciences and the humanities; the arts and the economics of social change.

And don’t forget Ultimate. Or improv. Don’t forget Sigma Chi, or Kappa Delta, or Music House. Remember the life-defining skills you earned on the field at Strong or on the court in Flood.

Because you are able to answer “yes” to these six questions, and you are among the 3 percent of college graduates who could do so, you are well over 500 percent more likely to live the type of life you want to live. To live a life of purposeful consequence. To be happy and fulfilled.

Of the 30,000 college graduates who took the Gallup-Purdue survey, only 3 percent could say so much.

Three percent versus 100 percent. How great is that?

From here at Chapin’s desk,

-President Scott Bierman


  • July 25 2014 at 11:06 am
    Rich Reaves

    There was a generation of us for Donald Summers would need to be included with the likes of Marion Stocking.

  • July 25 2014 at 11:59 am
    andy hiller

    these questions make me think of dr robert ray, an english professor in the 1960's who changed minds and lives.

  • July 25 2014 at 12:18 pm
    Yoon Hang Kim MD Class of 1991

    Also Roc Ordman...Larry White... and Jerry Gustafson... I benefited from Liberal Arts Curriculum - took psychology course and entrepreneurship courses to fulfill my requirement. Because of exceptional teaching by Larry and Jerry, I ended up pursuing graduate school related to Health Psychology and ended up teaching as an adjunct professor in psychology in addition to my private practice - where I have benefited so much from Jerry's course... I would not have taken those classes except for the foresight of Beloit College requiring a liberal arts education. GO BELOIT!

  • July 25 2014 at 12:31 pm
    Judith Siess

    and Andrew Whiteford, Dan Schroeder, and Bob Salzer. Class of 1969, and PROUD of it! Go Turtles!

  • July 25 2014 at 1:47 pm
    Claire Knox

    Not just yes, but emphatically yes!  As a University professor I work hard every day to try to emulate Don Summers, Denny Moore, Allen Patriquin (still have a paper he gave me feedback on and I share the story with my students sometimes).  The list is long - off the top of my head I can't remember all the names, but I still remember their guidance, instruction, encouragement, and expectation that I would think carefully and deeply and work at it! Neither my masters nor my Ph.D. shaped my thinking in the ways that my experiences at Beloit did - courses, field term, projects, performances, study abroad - all of it. If I have half the impact on my students that Donald Summers and Allen Patriquin had on me, I will have achieved something worthwhile. Thank you Beloit!

  • July 25 2014 at 5:57 pm
    Jim Simon '69

    Beloit College was one of the transformative experiences in my life.  It changed my world. 

    I was a teacher and sports official and retired six years ago.  The love of learning fills my days with excitement.  The love of exercise [which I got as a football bench warmer] remains with me 45 years after my last wind sprint.  Although I am not rich, I am able to enjoy every minute of every day.  

  • July 25 2014 at 9:06 pm
    Steve Raap

    Bink Noll taught me how to write poetry, even though he pitied the tree that gave its life so I could scribble down my first poem on paper in his class. Alan Perlis provided the solid critique my writing needed as it developed in his class. Dennis Moore really listened and read and reacted unsparingly to my writing, whether good or bad. The Stockings? Always patient, always there, always.  1973-1975. Four years of classes in 24 months. I wouldn't trade those two years for any four-year school on the planet.

  • July 26 2014 at 10:44 am
    marianna mayer fuchs

    Lee Alexander was my Advisor and Department Head.  He had the ability to make the course material come to life, and made me feel that I had more ability than I knew.  Also Dr. Brown got me through Chemistry despite my lack of any knack for it.  Thanks to him and my field term, I ended up getting a Nursing degree and career.  All of it changed my life.

  • July 28 2014 at 11:45 pm
    Tom Moran 1964

    Don't forget Bill Knapton, Don McMasters, Ed Fuller, and Joe Barrell

  • August 19 2014 at 6:36 pm
    Chris Koy '85

    This list has to be a really long one: Alf Harrer, William Kolb, Gary Cook, Scott Crom, John Wyatt, Harry Davis, John Rosenwald and Tom Freeman, besides the many others already mentioned.  Thanks Beloit!!!

  • March 17 2015 at 10:11 pm
    Al Hannah
    How could we have forgotten to include Hank Woodard, Geology professor par excellence?
  • August 1 2016 at 10:09 am
    Bob Norris'66

    Among the remarkable Beloit professors are Brock Spencer and Pablo Toral. All though I never had a class with Brock he has been a source of inspiration for 51 years. When our son (Class of 92) died Brock was there to provide much needed support. Throughout the years he was much more than a chemistry professor who helped reshape how chemistry is taught in colleges. He was a source of inspiration to many students outside the chemistry department. He has remained a close friend and contact for me at the college, introduced me to former math Professor Phil Straffin who I have hiked many places with and called to my attention that Professor Chris Wheeler with whom I do social justice work was a Beloit College Professor. In the last few years I have returned to attend student symposiums and participate in classes of Brock Spencer, Sylvia Lopez, Pablo Toral and others. (You should too.) I was pleased but not surprised to learn that Pablo received the James R. Underkofler Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award. Very fitting that he was nominated by his students. There is something special about his rapport with students and the way he engages students to present and review material. His classes are truly a model for college classes.

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