May 21, 2010
DePauw University, Uncommon Success

Linking liberal arts education to life’s work is the foundation for DePauw University’s mission and vision and the beginning of success for its graduates. An institution with about 2400 students, the university also strives to reach out to the surrounding community in Putnam County, Indiana.


Bringing the World to Greencastle

Some of the world’s greatest leaders and thinkers – including Mikhail Gorbachev, Benazir Bhutto, Margaret Thatcher, and Tony Blair – have come to Indiana as a result of a program created by two alumni of DePauw University. The most recent speaker was Nobel laureate F.W. de Klerk, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela for his efforts to end apartheid in South Africa and sees managing diversity as a continuing challenge for the world. 

The Ubbens with Tony Blair

In 1986, Timothy and Sharon Ubben, both 1958 graduates of DePauw, made a gift to their alma mater that they hoped would “bring the world to Greencastle” for generations of future students. The first Ubben Lecture, on November 15, 1986, featured Richard Lamm, then the governor of Colorado. Since then, 95 other individuals have visited DePauw, including Elie Wiesel, Spike Lee, Mike Krzyzewski, and Doris Kearns Goodwin. In addition to their lectures, which are free and open to the public, guests of the Ubben Series typically also visit with DePauw students and alumni, often in a classroom setting.

“Our sincere hope is that when our graduates return for their 50th reunions, one of the things they remember about their DePauw experience is the opportunities they had to hear from, and in many cases, interact with the Ubben Lecturers,” says Ken Owen, executive director of media relations at DePauw and coordinator of the Ubben Series. A key goal of the lectureship is to bring in speakers who are “of the moment,” in Owen’s words. General Wesley Clark announced his presidential bid six days before visiting DePauw. Jason Reitman’s March 15 lecture took place 8 days after he attended the Academy Awards, where his film “Up in the Air,” was nominated for 6 Oscars. While many lecture programs book speakers months in advance, the Ubben Series often locks in speakers weeks or even days before they visit DePauw. “I can’t predict what the hot issue will be in September, and if I try I stand good odds of being wrong,” Owen says. “Our goal is, first and foremost, to engage students and the DePauw community, and timeliness is an important piece of engaging an audience.”

Thoughts on Democracy and Discourse

Lee Hamilton with DePauw students

Lee Hamilton talking with DePauw students

DePauw grad Lee Hamilton (Class of 1952) recently spoke out about the level of discourse in American life and politics today. A member of Congress from Indiana for 34 years, Hamilton affirmed the right of Americans to express their opinions but also warned against threats of violence and hatred, saying “We’re better than this.”

Hamilton, who co-chaired the 9/11 Commission and Iraq Study Group, is the author of Strengthening Congress, published by Indiana University Press.

 Filling Bowls and Needs

Making bowls

Community-based Art Projects, an innovative course at DePauw taught by assistant professor of art Meredith K. Brickell, gives DePauw students an opportunity to engage with Putnam County residents through collaborative, public art.

Inspired by an Image/Render Group idea, Brickell chose Putnam County Empty Bowls: Coming Together to Combat Hunger as the course project for this semester. Her class invited community members to make a ceramic bowl as a work of art. They then invited the community to a picnic in early May for a meal served in the bowls. Participants brought donations for the Bainbridge Food Pantry & the United Way and took home their bowls.

Empty Bowls both raised awareness of the problem of hunger in the local area and brought DePauw students together with the larger community. The program also received support from the United Way of Putnam County.

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