Advice from the Expert: Talking Heads

Establish a Skype ID. Remember, professionalism wins the day here. Use a proper name, not a nickname. Once you have your Skype ID set, you’ll need to accept the invitation from the interviewer before the call. If you don’t have a webcam on your computer, buy one. 

Test the technology. You want to make sure you’ll have a strong connection and that the volume is set appropriately. And have a plan in place should you lose your connection.

Set the stage. Think about distractions for the interviewer, which could include lighting, doors, and ceiling fans. If possible, have someone fill in for you in the space you’ve designated to see how it looks. And please, make sure that space is not the bed or the couch.

Stay focused. Phone interviews allow you to multitask; Skype interviews do not! Remember to share your good news with friends and family—this is a subtle way to let them know that you’ll be unavailable during the Skype interview. Remember that pets and small children could add a new dimension to your interview, but one you don’t want. Close your door, mute your phone, and give your dog a bone.

Dress the part. Remember this is an interview, but one conducted via a webcam. You’ll be in front of a screen, and you’ll be given the “once over” with regard to your hair, makeup, and dress. Think professional: Stay away from patterned shirts and busy accessories. Channel your mother and remember to sit up straight.

Look at the camera when talking, not at your notes. This is also the time to pay attention to your interviewer and his or her body language. The advantage of the Skype interview over a phone interview is that you’ll be able to pick up on cues from your interviewer.

Practice, practice, practice. The more prepared you are, the smoother the interview. Remember to do your homework and know why you want the position in this particular organization, as well as what value you’ll add. The candidate who is poised, engaging, and interested in the position is the one who will advance to the next level of the interview process.

New Council

Whitney Adams ’07
National Clubs Chair
Adams is the owner of Bella Bridesmaid in Baltimore, Md. Before joining the nationwide, female-owned franchise, she spent five years in Washington, D.C., working in commercial real estate and serving as a member and president of the board of the Denison Club of D.C. Adams was a co-governor for her class and served on the first reunion committee of the Class of 2007. She continues to be involved with the college by working with the DART program and with the Office of Alumni Relations.

Jeryl Hayes ’04
Hayes lives in Washington, D.C., and serves as vice chair for the Women’s Information Network. She recently completed the
Law Students for Reproductive Justice Fellowship Program at the Black Women’s Health Imperative. She received a law degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 2011 and a master of laws from American University’s Washington College of Law in 2012.  At Washington University, Hayes served on the executive boards of the Student Bar Association and the Women’s Law Caucus, in addition to serving as the student body president. Prior to law school, she worked for Citizen Schools in Boston, Mass., and as an admissions counselor for the Culver Academies in Culver, Ind. While at Denison, Hayes served as co-governor of the Denison Campus Governance Association, was a member of Ladies’ Night Out (Denison’s all-female a cappella group), and worked as a resident assistant and a senior student interviewer for the admissions office. These days Hayes spends her freetime with her competitive karaoke team as part of District Karaoke.

David Kaiser ’99
At Denison, Kaiser was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity and spent his junior year studying abroad in Vienna. After earning a B.A. in history, Kaiser moved to Barcelona to teach English and to be near his girlfriend (now wife) Kate Thompson Kaiser ’99, who was living in Toulouse. Since 2001, Kaiser has been a Denison Club volunteer in San Diego, Calif., and then in Lexington, Ky. In 2007, he earned a law degree from the University of San Diego School of Law. Currently, he is an attorney specializing in healthcare litigation in the Lexington office of a Miami-based firm, Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer. The Kaisers have three young children, who keep them on their toes and smiling.

Molly Mulligan ’08
National DART Chair
Mulligan serves as admissions operations specialist for the Executive M.B.A. Program at Washington University in St. Louis, where she also is pursuing her M.B.A. with a concentration in marketing and healthcare. Mulligan is a registered yoga teacher and teaches twice a week. When not in class or working, she serves as a DART member for Denison and volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri. Mulligan was a member of Delta Gamma sorority at Denison and currently serves as an advisor for the Delta Gamma chapter at Washington University. She lives in St. Louis. 

Jane Gravenhorst Soderberg ’83
National Annual Fund Chair
Soderberg received an M.B.A. from the University of Southern California. She worked as a management consultant in real estate finance in Los Angeles, and while there, served on the boards of the Junior League of Los Angeles and the City of Manhattan Beach Hometown Fair. After moving to Colorado in 1998, she joined the executive board of the Colorado Children’s Campaign and became president of its guild, Circle of Friends. Soderberg also has served as chair of the Parks, Trails, and Recreation Commission of the City of Cherry Hills Village and is a founding board member of the Cherry Hills Land Preserve. She now sits on Denison’s Parent Council for Admissions, Denison’s Parents Leadership Committee, and the Class of 1983 Reunion Committee. Soderberg is married to Lars Soderberg ’81, and she has three sons, Lars Soderberg III ’16, and twins, Anders and Brad, who are seniors at the Kent Denver School.

Once Upon a Time…

ASPOpener_heroOne inauguration stands apart—that of Avery Shaw on Oct. 21, 1927. For that celebration, Denison librarian Annie Mary McNeil devised a pageant titled “The Heritage,” which was performed on the South Plaza. Hundreds sat on the grassy hillside below Doane to hear the University orchestra’s overture, and then to see more than 100 students in elaborate costumes act out three “episodes.” They depicted the heritage of Wisdom and Truth being handed down through the Great Ages of Man.

Here are a few words from Annie McNeil’s prologue, recalling a fine October inaugural day more than 80 years ago:

“Here on this hill, which in the morning glow
Urges achievement high in thought and deed,
Whose sober beauty in the evening light
Makes old men wish for years and what has been,
While young hearts dream
and think the thoughts of youth –
Here, good friends, we greet you, who have come
To pay just honor to a leader new,
A princely gentleman and guide of youth . . . .
This place our stage, these trees
and slopes touched with
The hand of red October, and this sky,
Our only scenery magnificent.”

Danielle Furey ’91: Outrunning MS

First_Person_HeroIn April, Danielle Furey ’91 completed the grueling Marathon des Sables, widely considered the toughest footrace on Earth. Over the course of seven days, she covered 156 miles of rocky terrain in the Sahara Desert, all while carrying necessary supplies—from food to clothing to a snakebite kit. She spoke with Denison Magazine about her reason for running the race, the desert critters that gravitate toward warm sleeping bags at night, and the reason she would do it all again.

One of the catalysts for running the race was my recent multiple sclerosis diagnosis. When you get a diagnosis like that, all the worst things go through your mind. Am I going to end up in a wheelchair? Am I going to end up crippled? Signing up for the race erased all those fears for me.

The craziest thing in my pack was probably a snakebite kit. I never used it, but when I was running at night, I saw a lot of things scurrying on the ground. We were continually warned never to leave our sleeping bags open, because scorpions and snakes look for warmth at night. It’s not uncommon for runners to get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and come back to find a scorpion in their sleeping bag.

On day two, we faced some very steep terrain. There were at least five miles of mountains with gradients of 25 percent or more—so there was no running about it, we were literally on hands and knees pulling ourselves up the mountain. There was a sheer rock face, and we had to get a foothold and pull ourselves up. I wasn’t really tall enough. So when this British guy came up behind me, I said, “I honestly don’t think I can do it.” He never even gave me a chance to say anything, he just put his hands on my butt and pushed me over—just threw me over this rock. There’s more camaraderie than competitiveness in this race.

On the third day, I could barely move. I walked most of the day. I think it was 22 miles. I ran a little bit, but basically it was like a death march. When I got back to the camp, I called my husband and said, “There is no way I can get up tomorrow and run 47 miles. I don’t know how I’m going to do it. Take away the intense heat, take away the really rough terrain, take away the pack on my back—there’s no way. I think this is it for me.” I expected him to say, “It’s okay, honey, don’t worry, just drop out and get a plane back.” It shocked me to hear him say the opposite: “There is no way you are quitting. You will get up tomorrow, and you will run 50 miles. You’ve never not finished anything in your whole life.”

The next day, I ran 47 miles in 17 hours. Finishing that long trek was really better than crossing the finish line. If I did that—if I ran almost 50 miles on bloodied and blistered feet through extremely difficult terrain in 120-degree heat with 16 pounds on my back—there’s really nothing I can’t do. I used to say that a lot, but now I really believe it. And my kids say it all the time: “If mommy can run in the desert, you can do that.”

I’ve secured a spot in the 2014 Marathon des Sables. I just feel like I have unfinished business in that desert.

(For more on Furey’s experience, visit her blog at

Let’s Get Physical

In the new Varsity D room of the expanded and renovated Mitchell Center is a jersey—No. 8. It’s there as a tribute to Lou Mitchell ’57, a Denison Hall of Famer and former trustee, who died last year before the completion of the athletics center that bears his name. In April, athletes, alumni, and members of the Mitchell family waved pennants that read “Lou’s Team” at the official dedication of the building, which includes the new Trumbull Aquatics Center (named for lead donors Scott Trumbull ’70 and his wife Margy). But even then, the building wasn’t quite done.

The last detail to fall into place was the Crown Fitness Center (named for donor Janet Crown ’85), which opened in August and stands where the old Gregory pool once stood. The 8,000-square-foot center offers more than 100 pieces of equipment, including treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, rowers, climbers, strength equipment, and free weights. It also boasts something called a “body weight jungle.” We’re not exactly sure what that means, but we’re totally going to try it.

Now, That’s Love

On June 30, Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies Jill Gillespie and Denison Librarian Roger Kosson got married. Beyond their love for each other, the couple has a passion for public radio. And Kosson’s vows showed it. When their wedding day came around, Kosson stood before family and friends to profess his love in a way only an NPR fan could. Kosson, it seems, would rather be with Gillespie than “have a bagel with Peter Sagel” or “strawberry jello with Bob Mondello.” And on he went—so much so that NPR picked up on the story and posted portions of Kosson’s vows on one of its blogs. “Congratulations to Kosson and Gillespie on their wedding,” wrote Matthew Butler. “We are sure a relationship built on common interest such as public radio is bound to be wonderful.”

After declaring that his love for Gillespie far surpassed his passion for certain movies, singers, and restaurants, Kosson had this to say:

I love you more than I’d like to have:
A bagel with Peter Sagal
Sushi with Yuki Noguchi
Tabouli with Neda Ulaby
A samosa with Maria Hinojosa
Veggie lo mein with Renee Montaigne
A Greek Eats gyro with Ari Shapiro
A Don’s Hamburg with Susan Stamberg
Cincinnati chili five-way with Don Gonyea
A Zingermans reuben with Jeffrey Toobin
A fresca with Mike Pesca
Mint iced tea with Peter Overby
Salt water taffy with Ina Jaffe
Whit’s ice cream with Diane Rehm
Strawberry jello with Bob Mondello
And a chocolate malt with Chana Joffe-Walt.
I love you more than I’d like to have an Italian meal of:
Pasta fazooli with David Bianculli
Ravioli with Sylvia Poggioli
And a cannoli with Jim Zarroli.

Now, we’re just wondering when Kosson will be offered a job teaching poetry.

From the Archives

In 1832 he was 25, and taking a chance—as well as a $300 cut in pay—to join his former colleague John Pratt at a new educational startup in Ohio. Pratt was the first principal of the Granville Literary and Theological Institution, later named Granville College and then Denison University. Resources were thin, and Pratt desperately needed a teacher for the 60 young men expected in the next term.

Carter arrived in Granville in time to find the first college building burned to the ground before it had even been put to use. Over the next quarter of a century, Pratt and Carter were the institution’s two indispensable pillars, sometimes more like a pair of comrades-in-arms than teachers. Carter’s load included teaching mathematics, natural philosophy, astronomy, languages, and all of the instruction in chemistry and geology. He also served as the college’s treasurer, struggling to make ends meet through periods of perilous debt.

For two decades, Carter carried the onerous weight of this fledgling college’s teaching and fiscal management, and it seems he also carried its daily mail. His daughter, Sarah Carter Hallam, donated this vividly striped carpet and leather mailbag to Denison’s archives in 1926. The college campus in Carter’s time stood on a farm south of town, so his appointed rounds would have meant that long muddy mile crossing Raccoon Creek, carrying the daily post to and from the village through rain, snow, sleet, and hail with this colorful satchel on his shoulder.

Meet the Innkeeper

This seemed to be welcome news to alumni, who promptly took to social media and TheDEN news site to applaud the decision—some for the for-profit venture (“Tremendous strategic move,” read one comment); some for saving a Granville landmark (“Love that porch”); and some for preserving the site of personal nostalgia (“It’s where I got my Figi pin”). A few even offered some interesting promotional strategies: “So iced teas in Denison mugs?” And one alumnus crossed his fingers: “Superb!! New senior housing options.”

The board of trustees had actually been researching options related to the historic property since it was listed for sale and then placed in receivership last year. The board’s goal was not necessarily to procure the inn for Denison, but instead to make sure that this local property would be saved and revived. To that end, the college worked with other prospective buyers along the way. Urban Restorations LLC, a Columbus-based business, was seriously considering the purchase of the inn, and when that firm bowed out, Denison stepped up to commit to the purchase.

“The Granville Inn’s facilities and functions are vital both to the village and to the college,” said Seth Patton, vice president for finance and management at Denison. “We feel fortunate to be able to act on this opportunity to invest in our remarkable community and in this iconic property.”

The inn will remain on the village tax rolls and will continue to be operated in its current use. It will be managed by a separate entity hired by Denison.

“Denison certainly did not plan to become an innkeeper,” said Patton, “but because of the strong ties and shared interests between Denison and Granville, we are committed to this project. The goal is to enhance the Granville Inn, making it a vital and successful business. Weighed against all others, there may be more attractive investment opportunities from a purely financial perspective, but few that are more important to Granville and Denison.”

As for senior housing options? Sorry, Ankur Gupta ’05, That’s not in the grand plan.

Judgment Day

Long before John Cleland took the bench for the highest-profile criminal case of his career, there were hints of the circus to come.

This was late 2011, shortly after Cleland—a senior judge in the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas—accepted the task of overseeing the child sex abuse trial of former Penn State Assistant Football Coach Jerry Sandusky. Cleland drove the two hours from his home in rural northwest Pennsylvania to Bellefonte, the county seat and geographic center of the state, to meet the courthouse staff. As he made the rounds, the court administrator asked if Cleland might like to drop in on a planning meeting that was just under way.

“And there was this great group of people,” Cleland recalls—court officials, state and local police, the fire chief, reps from statewide media associations. Introductions were made, and then the president of the state broadcasters’ association looked at the judge and posed a question. “We’ve got 32 satellite trucks coming,” he said. “Where would you like us to park them?”
Bemused by the request, not to mention entirely unfamiliar with parking options in the small, hilly, Victorian-era downtown, Cleland wondered why the question was being put to him. “Judge,” came the reply, “somebody has to decide these questions. If you don’t do it, it’s going to be chaos.”

Chaos is not Cleland’s style. In nearly three decades on the bench, he has built a reputation as a firm but amiable arbiter—and, as much as such a thing can be accurately measured, quite possibly the most respected judge in the state. It’s a reputation reflected in his selection to handle the Sandusky case, which—for all the media attention it attracted and the emotions it roiled in the local community—resembled anything but a circus when Cleland’s court was in session.

It’s mid-April, a year and a half later, and Cleland sits now in the living room of the restored 1880s farmhouse he shares with Julie, his wife of 44 years. Steady morning showers have drenched the tree-covered hills of rural Kane, Pa.; you can almost see the land recovering its verdant springtime hue. Kane is Cleland’s hometown, and with the exception of college, law school in D.C., and two years clerking for a federal judge in Pittsburgh, he has lived here his entire life.

The case that brought him some measure of fame has only recently loosened its grip on his world. “Last year was pretty much entirely devoted to Sandusky,” he says. “I didn’t get my last opinion written until February. I just hauled the stuff to the garage the other day.” A return to the routine of custody cases and malpractice suits awaits, as does a more reasonable commute.

Cleland hasn’t previously spoken about the Sandusky trial, and he is cautious as he discusses it now; one gets the sense he weighs his words on the subject as carefully as he weighed the evidence during the trial. It’s not hard to imagine why this thoughtful, deliberate approach made Cleland the obvious choice to handle the Sandusky case after all the eligible local judges—in a county where the local university has massive economic and social reach—recused themselves to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest. “They chose a judge who could focus on the important aspects of the criminal case, be very businesslike about it, and take care of what needed to be done,” says Erik Ross, an attorney who clerked for Cleland out of law school and is now a partner in Cleland’s former firm in Kane. “I thought he was the perfect choice.”

How WDUB’s “Sapphire Steve” Carell Earned his Radio Chops

Plenty of ’80s-era Denison alums can tell you how well they remember their college encounters with funnyman Steve Carell ’84. But Doug McKenney ’81 had the opposite experience when he was name-checked by Carell on national television. He knew Steve Carell, the famed actor, and he knew he mentored a guy named Steve at WDUB, but he never knew they were one and the same.

During a March appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Carell regaled the audience with tales of his Denison days, sharing details about his stint as a WDUB DJ during his freshman year. He recalled going on the air for the first time and giving himself the handle “Sapphire Steve” in mock deference to his assigned radio mentor, “Diamond Doug” McKenney.

When McKenney saw the interview on television, he couldn’t have been more astonished. “I could replay that whole scene in my memory,” he says. “And even though I knew I had mentored Sapphire Steve, I didn’t know it was Steve Carell until I saw that clip.”
McKenney says that Carell got just one tiny detail wrong—though he couldn’t possibly have known about it. “The ‘diamond’ in ‘Diamond Doug’ had nothing to do with the gem, it was for the baseball diamond,” says McKenney, who played third base for the Big Red.

McKenney remembers the young Carell fondly. “He was bright, he was talky, and he was a lot of fun to work with,” he says. “He really got it.”

He adds that he’d love to reconnect with his one-time protégé. “I’ve watched every episode of The Office and have seen a couple of his movies,” he says. “And holy cow, that was Sapphire Steve.”

The Homestead’s New Home

If residents of the Homestead wanted to plug anything in last year, they had to rely on only a few outlets in the community center, known as “Cabin Bob,” where energy is needed to keep the refrigerator running. The minimal electricity edict was a purposeful decision back in the ’70s when the Homestead was built as an experiment in sustainable living, but times, they are a-changin’.

“Doing work on a computer is an unavoidable necessity as a student these days,” says Ryan Culligan ’14, a current Homie. So when the Homestead residents built their new cabin this summer, they chose to include some power outlets, but it was not a decision they made lightly. They worried, for example, about the possible effects of enabling more technology use. What if someone decided to plug in a toaster oven? Or a halogen lamp? Or a television? They were wary, not just of environmental impact, but also of the potential consequences for the sense of community they’ve worked so hard to develop.

So far, though, the change has been a welcome one. Since residents know they can do work on a computer at the Homestead, they return home earlier in the evening and actually end up spending more time with one another. “People are spending the whole night in the new cabin and working together,” Culligan says. “It’s really helped the community out in a lot of ways that aren’t readily apparent.”

This is a community that began building its own house together last March, and more or less finished by mid-August. “No one had true construction experience before,” Culligan says with a laugh. “We had a lot of things that we had to improvise—but not as many as we have had in the past, because we actually had people helping us out.” People like local contractor and former Homestead resident Richard Downs ’77, as well as architects and others who could provide expert advice to a group used to employing creative approaches to a broad range of problems. Once they have drawn up plans, they worked with architects, who reinterpreted their proposals to make sure everything was in line with building and safety codes. (Previous Homestead cabins were designated “experimental” buildings, but the newest addition required an official building permit. “Everything out here is held up to the same standard as anything on Denison’s campus,” says Culligan.)

Walking through the spacious new cabin, which sleeps nine, Culligan says, “It’s crazy how much the place has changed in the past year and a half.” And it’s not just more power to fire up computers and charge cell phones. For the first time in the Homestead’s 36-year history, residents have access to such luxuries as a shower and an indoor bathroom. “We wanted to maintain the community feel and the open space, but at the same time we needed to modernize,” explains Culligan.

The amenities may have changed, but the mission and values have not; great care was taken to ensure that the new accommodations are as sustainable as possible. Over the summer, students built a system that converts waste from the new toilet into compost. In consultation with Bob Jude, Denison’s heating and cooling specialist, they chose to use concrete floors. Since concrete has a high thermal mass, it absorbs heat during the day, but re-radiates it at night, which helps prevent wild temperature swings.

After all these changes, what now? “The Homestead has historically been pretty separate from campus, but I feel like in the next five years it’s going to re-establish—or establish for the first time—a true academic connection,” says Culligan, a Homestead legacy (his mom, Susan Boyle Culligan ’85, was a Homie, too). For residents, there’s already a strong connection between living and learning: Every year, they take a one-credit seminar that affords them the opportunity to work closely with faculty on issues related to the mission of the Homestead. Around the dinner table, they’ve explored sustainable living, not just with environmental studies professors, but with faculty ranging from English Professor Linda Krumholz to President Adam Weinberg. “I feel like there’s a pretty big interest in the Homestead coming from higher-level staff and administrators,” Culligan says, expressing hope that this interest will raise awareness of the unique hands-on learning opportunities the Homestead makes available amidst growing interest in fields like sustainability and renewable energy.

Reflections on the First Few Months

In my first few months, I have been impressed with the health of Denison. We have outstanding students, committed faculty, talented staff, a beautiful campus, an exciting curriculum, and a healthy balance sheet. We should all be proud of Denison.

Our strength comes from the kinds of people who choose Denison and the enduring relationships that are formed on this hill. Simply put, Denison is all about the people, and there is a DNA to a Denison person. It starts with our faculty who mentor in the deepest sense of the word. They engage our students in their offices, laboratories, stages, studios, and throughout the community. If one ranked colleges by the commitment of a faculty to its students, Denison would be at the very top of the list.

Of course, at Denison mentorship goes way beyond the academic context. It takes place in athletics, arts performances and exhibitions, student organizations, work-study jobs, and residential halls. It happens peer-to-peer, as students create a community and then challenge each other to find ways to contribute.

This is a formidable moment for higher education. Our financial model is being questioned for its cost and return on investment. Technology, internationalization, and research on the science of learning are opening up new opportunities and possibilities. We also find ourselves being challenged on the civic front by local communities that need us to do more. Denison is positioned to lead the way in helping the larger higher education community deal with current challenges and opportunities.

As I listen to our faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and students, I believe we must address these concerns by taking a few focused steps to raise our visibility, deepen student learning, and ensure the post-college success of our students.

First, we need to raise our visibility. There is a Midwestern humility to Denison that I love. But we need to take care that our humility does not get in the way of letting the higher education community know just how strong and interesting we are.

Second, we need to deepen student learning. During my initial weeks at Denison, I have been struck by the energy, creativity, and passions of our faculty. At Denison, every interaction matters. Our faculty are exploring ideas for creating even more mentorship moments by expanding on our strengths in undergraduate research, team teaching, project-based work, off-campus excursions, and other forms of active learning.

Another exciting development involves our innovative residential education model. We are creating an entrepreneurial campus culture, where students are challenged to become problem-solvers and architects of their own Denison experience. A college campus should be a series of “design studios” or spaces where students come together to invent and remix knowledge and approaches. This is happening at Denison as we capture all the learning that takes place in student organizations, athletic teams, arts organizations, and residential halls.

Finally, we need to ensure that our students succeed after they leave Denison by helping their transition into professions and careers. Our students are smart, multitalented, engaged, passionate, and socially adept. They should do well in a competitive job market, but we must do more to help them. Across the four years, we need to help students ask questions about the lives they want to lead, and how careers fit into those lives. We must challenge and sharpen our students’ skills. We need to use the time between semesters for internships, externships, and profession-specific seminars. And we should continually build runways for our students into their chosen professions.

We need to do all of this while paying careful attention to changes in the external environment and refining our financial model accordingly. Some of these challenges will come as expense pressure, including rising costs of information technology, governmental regulation, and healthcare. Other challenges will come from revenue constraints, including price-conscious families and the effect of uncertain financial markets on Denison’s endowment.

I love our mission statement, which reads, “Our purpose is to inspire and educate our students to become autonomous thinkers, discerning moral agents and active citizens of a democratic society.” But most of all, I love the way we live and build upon our mission statement every day.

Home Life

Monomoy Place welcomes a new president and his family this year, and in an unusual alignment of stars, this year marks its bicentennial, its sesquicentennial, or its 113th birthday, depending on how you tell its story. Measuring the age of Monomoy is a little like trying to affix a starting date to the building of Rome—there are several significant years in its development, but it didn’t sprout forth fully formed at any one time.

The house on the corner of Broadway and Rose Street, as Mulberry Street was first named, has always held the two adjoining parcels of land facing Broadway on the plot set down by the founders of Granville in 1804. A young physician, William Samuel Richards, purchased the pair of empty lots from the early settlers in 1813, exactly 200 years ago, for $80.

Dr. Richards built a prominent frame house on the corner lot, where Monomoy stands, and there he raised his six children and met with his patients. It was a simple frame structure in the Connecticut Valley vernacular style commonly used in early Granville. The house passed out of the Richards family in 1861. It was owned briefly by a music teacher, John Fassett, and then two years later by another physician, Dr. Alfred Follett, who had been living in nearby Johnstown with his wife and three children.

The house underwent a transformation after the Folletts purchased it in 1863, and that year is most frequently used to mark the birth of Monomoy Place. It’s not clear whether the house was completely torn down or left at least partly in place but substantially renovated. Given the economic impact of the Civil War, it would have been practical to preserve and reuse parts of the original house, including its foundation. A tour of the present cellar strongly suggests that the original footprint of Richards’ house was left in place, and the front of Monomoy sits on that house’s original stones. But more telling, perhaps, is a letter from a neighbor named Caroline Pritchard who had grown up with the Richards children. She wrote of the Richards family, “They lived in a large, old fashioned house whose timbers were oak, and when sold to be rebuilt were found to be solid as when first put in.” 

Follett’s house was a showplace, ornamented in the popular Italianate style with wooden brackets along the eaves and the elaborate window casings that still remain. It was given a straight porch across the front, and a side entrance and porch on Rose Street, probably for his medical practice. The slate roof was hipped, with dormers and a central gable.

When Dr. Follett died in 1897, his wife Lucinda inherited the house. His adult daughter Sally was living there too, with her husband of 13 years, John Sutphin Jones. Jones was the son of Welsh immigrants, a man with great ambition and talent for business. He had been working as a train conductor when he married Sally in 1884. They moved to Wisconsin and then Chicago as Jones pursued his business in coal, but when he became embroiled in an eight-year lawsuit against the colossal New York Coal and Rail Consortium, he and Sally moved back to Granville and in with her parents. A year after his father-in-law died, J.S. Jones won the protracted lawsuit, bringing him a tidy sum of $700,000, likely the basis for his sizeable fortune in years to come.

Although Monomoy still belonged to his mother-in-law, J.S. Jones gave the place a substantial makeover to reflect his new financial status. He added a much higher roof and a staircase to accommodate a third-floor ballroom. A curved Queen Anne style front porch, a solarium to the west, and a large paneled dining room with two hearths were among the many expansive changes we recognize today. Grand parties were held at the house and documented in the local society columns. It was during this time, the early 1900s, that the house was first referred to as “Monomoy Place,” after a strip of land on the coast of Cape Cod near Chatham, named for the Monomoick branch of the Wampanaog Algonquins. The carved cylindrical stone by the front porch steps still stands as a remnant of J.S. Jones’s monumental upgrade.

Monomoy Place still belonged to his mother-in-law, and Jones wanted an estate of his own, so he began work on Bryn Du, a mile east of the village, in 1905. Jones and Sally lived at Bryn Du from then on, while Lucinda Follett and her staff stayed at Monomoy until her death in 1909. When his wife Sally died the following spring, Monomoy came to John Sutphin Jones through her estate.

The house appears to have been well maintained but little used during the next few years, until two of Jones’s sisters started living there during the teens and twenties. Margaret “Maggie” Jones Halderman, a widow, and Mary Ann “Molly” Jones, a spinster, occupied the house until their deaths, thanks to their brother’s largesse. J.S. Jones died in 1927, and his will left the house to Maggie’s use until she died, after which a trust would establish Monomoy as “a home for elderly indigent ladies.” However, in the years between his death and Maggie’s in 1932, the Depression likely depleted the funds intended for what J.S. called the “old ladies’ home,” and it never came to be.

That’s how Denison came to acquire the property, in August 1935, for $18,000. Monomoy Place was immediately put to use as a “temporary” freshman girls’ dormitory that fall, a purpose it served for the next 25 years. Denison renamed the house “Shepardson Hall,” but the name never took, probably due to the “Monomoy Place” stone beside the big front porch. The lovely old porch where young women sat with their dates through the war years was removed in the early 1950s, replaced by the simple portico we see today. 

By 1961, Denison women had all been moved to the East Quad, and Monomoy served for four years as the Alpha Tau Omega house until that fraternity built its own house uphill. Then it became housing for non-fraternity men (the “Moy Boys”) until the 1970s, when women students moved in and enjoyed the relaxed bohemian atmosphere. Maintenance had long been deferred, and the elegant old house started to tilt in the direction of seediness and disrepair. Denison locked the doors after the spring of 1976, and Monomoy sat empty for the next three years, awaiting almost certain demolition.

President Robert Good and his wife Nancy arrived in Granville the summer Monomoy was shuttered. Finding the house they inherited from the previous administration inadequate for the kind of community interaction they envisioned, Mrs. Good set her sights on rescuing Monomoy, and the president put his clout behind her. He wrote of the dilapidated house in 1978, “It is both campus and residential. It is both town and gown. It makes magnificent use of the green expanse of the lower campus, yet is in the center of Granville’s finest residential street. One day—some day—the President of Denison should live on that corner, whether in Monomoy or another house. It simply could not be more ideal.” Eventually, the Goods convinced most of the trustees to support the project, and Monomoy Place found yet another incarnation as home to the past three decades of Denison presidents and their families.

Bluffs for a Better World

The daily news is filled with tales of those who seek to deceive, from Lance Armstrong’s doping scandal to the political resurrection of the Appalachian Trail-hiking former guv Mark Sanford to Harvard’s academic cheating scandal. And most would agree these deceptions are no good; they’re simply lies rooted in a desire for folks to get what they want—and get it now.

But is deception ever a good thing? Well, yes, says Mark Moller, dean of first-year students and associate professor of philosophy. His example: If you let a friend into your house, and a killer soon follows and asks if your friend is there, what would you say? “Can you lie to save the life of another person?” Moller asks. “We need to think about intentions and the consequences,” he says.

Certainly not all deception has such high stakes. We love the red herrings in mystery novels and the optical illusions that scramble our brains. The fact is that disregarding the rules—or rewriting them entirely—can have all sorts of interesting and even positive results. And it happens all the time: Parents, animals, and the tiniest cells in our bodies are using deception to make the world a more interesting, vibrant, and sometimes magical place.

So … Who’s The New Guy?

When Adam Weinberg answers the door of his Brattleboro, Vt., home in the spring of 2013, he isn’t wearing any shoes, just black socks and his version of business attire: a shirt, suit pants, and no tie—rarely ever a tie—as he stands in his doorway to usher me into his small kitchen, hands in his pockets. Seated in a corner on the floor is daughter Abigail, wearing a fluffy skirt and leggings coupled with a Denison hoodie.

She’s playing blissfully with a dollhouse, while Anne Weinberg moves around the kitchen alternating between stirring the soup and talking about the marketing and communications field that she’ll soon be leaving.

There is no pretension here in this modest home tucked into a quiet neighborhood in the Vermont mountains. No pretension from a guy who has studied at Bowdoin, Cambridge, and Northwestern; who is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and of the Higher Education Working Group on Global Issues; who is a former vice president and dean at Colgate and at this moment is still the president and CEO of World Learning, one of the nation’s premier international education, exchange, and development organizations.

There is no pretension from the man who is about to become Denison’s 20th president.

In fact, everything about the Weinbergs is quite simple. Their home. The food—homemade soup, salad, and bread—that the Weinbergs serve for supper. Those black socks. Here’s the way Daniel Yalowitz, a family friend and dean of World Learning’s SIT Graduate Institute, would explain it to me later: “What you see is what you get.”

And what you get is a soft-spoken family man who rises every Saturday and Sunday at 5:30 a.m. to get some reading and writing and thought dealt with before the rest of his family members make their way downstairs for breakfast. You get a guy who decided to give yoga and meditation a try when the Weinbergs moved north several years ago—it is Vermont after all—with no intention of ever actually telling anyone about it. You also get a man who describes himself as “radically transparent” and who enjoys a little shake-up now and again. “I have many personality quirks,” says Weinberg, “but I am not conflict-averse. The best ideas arise from clashing views.”

Weinberg, in fact, is a sociologist and a big believer in confronting complex global and social issues—especially the controversial or complicated ones. In Weinberg’s world, you slap those issues right on the dinner table and welcome the conversation and tension that they spur. Some of the best life-learning comes from these moments, he says, and it’s our best bet, as he puts it later, “to reach across difference.”

Halfway through dinner, Abigail does some reaching of her own when she asks me, “Are you Jewish or Christian?”

There is no parental shushing. No flushed cheeks or embarrassed laughter from the heads of the table.

“Uh. Christian.”

“Okay,” she says, “you’re on mom’s side of the family.”

It’s early April, and Anne explains that Abigail has had a lot of questions recently as the family has made its way through Easter and Passover. And with that, dinner rolls on.

Anne, Abigail, Nathan—the Weinberg’s 16-year-old son—and I discuss the family, their lives in Vermont, and what they might expect in Granville. Nathan is looking for an after-school job in the village, and he’s preparing for a trip to Alaska before the big move. Abigail is ready to get into the great big home on Broadway—she’s already chosen her bedroom. We also talk about the Weinberg’s eldest, Margaret, who is off studying at NYU. “She said something interesting to me,” says Adam. “She said that being raised in our household was like having an 18-year liberal arts experience.”

Soon after dinner ends, and the kids have excused themselves to do something other than talk about their new life in Ohio, Abigail emerges with a broken toy that needs Dad’s touch. Weinberg moves from a conversation about big ideas in academe to his daughter without flinching. In this moment, he is solely Abigail’s dad working on Abigail’s toy. With it fixed, he promptly picks up where he left off without a single “um” or “Where was I?”—a phrase that nearly every other parent I know employs at least 5,476 times in any given 24-hour period.

There is no doubt that this guy is focused.

Talk of the Walk

There’s not much to Granville, Mass., when you roll up on it. In fact, the sign that announces you’ve arrived can actually take you by surprise. The sign sits about halfway up a New England mountain—and there’s not a home or business in sight for several miles. Even when you enter Granville, Mass., proper, you see that homes and businesses have a lot of breathing room. There’s the library, the Granville Country Store with baked macaroni and cheese and locally baked bread, and Maple Corner Farm, where they serve pancakes every Saturday and Sunday. There’s Starry Nights Stables, the West Granville Congregational Church, a mechanic, and the Old Meeting House, built in 1802, that apparently was the spot where residents once gathered to discuss big business—like, for example, the formation of a company of families that would head west 700 miles and establish a new Granville in Ohio.

After a visit last spring with Denison’s new president, Adam Weinberg, at his then-home in Brattleboro, Vt. (see page 18), I decided to swing by the motherland. I found a quiet town that had yet to let winter go—snow covered most of the surrounding forest of pines and rocky terrain, and more than a handful of residents had yet to take down their Christmas decorations, even though it was early April. Granville, Mass., is the kind of town that isn’t in any rush. It’s the kind of town in which the pastor at the church is also in charge of ambulance service, and where there’s never a lack of maple syrup.

When I stopped at the Granville Town Hall, I met Doug Roberts, the highway superintendent, who offered me a grand tour of town from the front seat of his pickup. He was a burly guy, wicked smart, as they say, who had lived in Granville most of his life—he was born there, left for a while, but came back to raise his kids. His Granville roots go way back. Turns out that there were a number of Robertses who were original settlers of Granville, Mass. Doug Roberts is a New England gentleman who assured me that black bears are really just black labs. But he’s also a casual straight-talker, not thinking twice about swearing in front of strangers and telling a town’s secrets. He knows the town’s history, and he knows its folklore—which could be fact, too, he supposed, but who can say for sure?

In the course of about an hour, we stopped by the historic home of early settler John Rose; the local cemetery to see the grave of Rev. Timothy Mather Cooley, who was born in Granville, educated at Yale, and returned to his birthplace to lead the Granville Congregational Church; the historical room in the town library; and the Old Meeting House, that Roberts—who is also in charge of the town’s buildings—had been working to renovate. He also showed me the obelisk that marks the point from which the Granville, Ohio, settlers set off back in 1805. When we got back to the town offices, Roberts started digging about in a back room, hunting down photos and old maps for me—much to the chagrin of one of his colleagues, who reprimanded him when he suggested he hand over the office’s only copy of one particular document. “You can’t give her that!” she scolded.

What was so wonderful about Roberts was his pride in this place—one of those spots that others might skip entirely on their way to the airport or to Boston or to Brattleboro for that matter. It was a lot like Utopia, Ohio, the town we highlight in this issue’s opening pages—full of characters and rich stories that rarely reach past the town’s limits.

Granville, Mass., of course, also reminded me of our own Granville, but not because the towns bear much resemblance to one another. Instead, the folks in places like Granville, Mass., Granville, Ohio, and Utopia, Ohio, seem content to stay, or at least come back after checking out the world for a while. I like to think that they do it because there’s comfort in places where everyone knows everyone else. There’s comfort in villages where people know who they are, and where they’ve come from. There’s comfort in towns where residents have no desire to leave, because they’re exactly where they want to be.

In working on this issue of the magazine, I thought a lot about how we strive to create our own personal utopias, always looking for something else—the better job, the bigger house, the perfect partner. In the process, we miss out on the here and now. Look, I know this is not some grand new idea, but the folks in towns like Granville, Mass., and Utopia, Ohio, can remind us to look around every once in a while and take pleasure in our own histories, in telling our town’s story, and in thinks like maple syrup, weekend pancakes, and summers spent fishing in the Ohio River.

Imagine All the People

It’s 7:30 p.m. on June 14, and Belkis Elgin ’02 is walking up the stairs to Gezi Park, a leafy public space in the middle of Istanbul, Turkey, a city she has called home for most of her life. For two weeks, the spot has been occupied by protesters: at first, a small crowd angered by the government’s plans to replace the park with a shopping mall; now, a group swelled to thousands, voicing various long-simmering frustrations with the government. The day before, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had offered a final warning to the protesters, promising that he would soon “clean the square.”

Tonight, though, Elgin sees riot police sitting idly on both sides of the square, resting in chairs, sipping tea. A few days ago, they made an ultimately unsuccessful bid to take back the park with the aid of water cannons, rubber bullets, and tear gas. Most of the protesters and members of the press milling about now are wearing helmets, in part a reaction to news that at least one protester had been killed after being struck in the head by a tear gas canister—the fourth protest-related death in two weeks. Estimates have the number injured in protests across Turkey at nearly 8,000.

During the prime minister’s 10-year rule, opposition movements have criticized him for perceived injustices ranging from infringements on democratic rights to increasingly theocratic tendencies. Recently, for example, a law was pushed by the ruling party to restrict the sale and advertising of alcohol, a substance that is forbidden by Islamic law. Before that, Erdogan riled up secular opponents with support for a law that made infidelity a crime. While the prime minister’s term isn’t up for another two years, a round of local and national elections is a mere nine months away, and some suspect that holding his ground here against the protesters could help secure his position and mobilize the base.

Elgin had been hoping something like the protests would happen. The bans, the lack of transparency—it all made her uncomfortable, angry. She wondered how long people could take it. But still, she never expected this.

The park is so thick with tents that no soil or grass is visible. A recent rain washed away the traces of gas, which Elgin has experienced only in small amounts—though visiting the area even hours after a gas attack can leave her voice cracked and “sounding like a cartoon character.” When you take a direct hit, her fellow protesters have told her, you can’t open your eyes, you can’t breathe. Everything burns. It feels like you are dying. “Then you feel the courage,” they told her.

There is no violence tonight, though the protesters are prepared. Vendors sell gas masks and goggles. A stand called the “Revolution Market” doles out free food, water, and a pepper-spray salve passed down from veteran activists in Greece. The market’s shelves are typically stocked via social media: A list of items needed by protesters is posted on Facebook, and supporters oblige. Elgin often brings supplies on her lunch break from her job as a film program assistant at the Museum of Modern Art, a 15-minute walk from the park.

More often, though, Elgin comes after work. There is a joke circulating among her friends about how most of the protesters are now like Clark Kent during the day, then they shed the suit and tie to protest at night. The crowd comes in all ages, but Elgin sees a majority in their 20s. That, she thinks, is how a movement can grow up and become real. Even now, if the protesters are forced to leave, she thinks, it will turn into something new and something positive. A new generation has already woken up. More Denison graduates living and working in Turkey are involved in the movement as well, including Katie Johnson ’02, who has been posting images and commentary on her Facebook page.

As the night wears on, there are chants and protest songs. During candlelight vigils, names of the dead are shouted out. At 9 p.m., like every night since the start of the protests, a din rises through the city, with residents honking their horns or banging on pans on their balconies in a show of solidarity.

At 11p.m., Elgin starts to leave. She has work tomorrow, but has stayed late, hoping to see her “new hero,” German pianist Davide Martello, who has been known to show up with a grand piano to play for the protesters. Elgin particularly had wanted to hear his version of John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

It’s a song with a message she really admires.

For 18 days protesters held their ground in Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, protesting against their government. On June 15, on the very evening that Belkis Elgin ’02 was interviewed for this story, riot police were finally able to clear the park after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for an end to the occupation. Protests have now taken a new form, says Elgin, as groups conduct public forums in local parks.