September 17, 2019

Witness Tree, Memorial Hall, and more news in brief

A new college website, combined reunion and homecoming, faculty accomplishments, office changes, and athletics updates.

Witness Tree

Arborists cutting down the Witness Tree outside of the President's House. Arborists cutting down the Witness Tree outside of the President's House. Credit: Photo by: Susan Kasten

A basswood tree that towered over the President’s House—so long that it most likely co-existed with eight of the nine Beloit College presidents who have resided there—had to be removed in May. When arborists examined the tree, which was suspected to be hollow, they discovered extensive decay to its inner core. Located in the backyard just beyond the porch, the tree stood at least a couple of stories higher than the two-story President’s House, built in 1851. Arborists estimated its age as roughly 125 years old. The Biermans kept a cross-section in the yard for a conversation piece.

Memorial Hall

Memorial Hall, shown in the 1870s, observed a 150-year milestone on July 14, 2019. Credit: Photo from: Beloit College Archives

Memorial Hall, shown in the 1870s, observed a 150-year milestone on July 14. That day, in 1869, the Gothic limestone building (now the Logan Museum of Anthropology) was dedicated after being built to house Beloit’s fledgling library and museum collections and to honor Beloiters who served in the U.S. Civil War. More than 400 students served in the Union armed forces, and at least 46 died. Their names and the names of Beloit citizens who perished are etched in stone in the building’s foyer.

News in Brief

Beloit’s completely redesigned website,, debuted in August. The new site is more visually sophisticated, better organized and accessible, and makes stronger connections between programs and information. Research shows that prospective students are most interested in seeking information about academic majors, admissions, and residential life options, in that order.

The Buccaneer football season got underway this fall under the leadership of new head football coach Ted Soenksen. A 2006 graduate of Lake Forest College, Soenksen spent six seasons on the Lake Forest football coaching staff, serving as the team’s offensive coordinator and offensive line coach before finishing as associate head coach for the 2018 season.

The Wisconsin Archeological Society recently honored archaeologist Bill Green, director emeritus of the Logan Museum, with its Increase A. Lapham Research Medal. The honor recognizes significant contributions to Wisconsin archaeology and anthropology and is named for a renowned Wisconsin antiquarian. Green retired in December after an 18-year tenure at Beloit.

Associate Professor of Geology Jay Zambito was awarded a $70,000 grant from the American Chemical Society’s Petroleum Research Fund. Zambito is the first Beloit College faculty member to receive this highly competitive grant, which funds a three-year project focused on using biomarkers to test the impact of forest evolution on the organic matter composition of marine black shales.

In the fall of 2020, Beloit’s Reunion Weekend will combine with Homecoming and Family & Friends Weekend. The exact fall 2020 date is to be determined. Weekend events are open to all alumni, with class-specific reunion celebrations for class years ending in a 5 or a 0. Check the winter edition of this magazine and your alumni e-newsletters for additional details.

In May, the Beloit College women’s and men’s track and field teams captured 15 podium spots, including seven first places at the 2019 Midwest Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Schneider Stadium in De Pere, Wis.

Beloit’s Center for Collections Care offered five courses over summer that drew 32 participants from 26 institutions to campus. The program, now in its second year, takes advantage of the Logan and Wright Museums, College Archives, and natural history and historic costume collections to provide hands-on learning for museum, library, archive, and conservation professionals and emerging professionals.

The college’s Liberal Arts in Practice Center has changed its name to the Career and Community Engagement Center to more clearly communicate its purpose. The curricular requirement that students get hands-on experiences as undergraduates retains the “Liberal Arts in Practice” name.

Three Beloit students and a group of Upward Bound (high school) students worked with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Kristin Labby over summer to find new antibiotics from bacteria that live in the soil. Professor Labby is trained to teach within a worldwide initiative that is building a “Tiny Earth” database. This spring, Labby is expanding this work by designing a course on next-generation antimicrobials.

In addition to bringing the Powerhouse online this fall, the college is improving its athletic facilities overall, including an upgrade to the weight room located in the Sports Center. Improvements completed this summer include a new layout with state-of-the-art equipment designed for larger teams of student athletes and groups to train safely and efficiently.

Also In This Issue

  • Shivangi Ambardar’21, center, relishes the peace and quiet of Beloit in the summer.

    Reasons to Love Beloit in Summer

  • The Damnation Army Band’s impromptu performance in the fall of 1968.

    One day, unexpectedly, a band appeared

  • Brooke Popkin worked as an EMT and firefighter for the South Beloit (Ill.) Fire Department.

    Work with Purpose

  • Anton Cross’20

    Following the Music in Summer


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