HR Buzz: Spotlight on Chemistry and Biochemistry

We now turn our attention to our first featured academic unit!

Number of unit members: 11 members

Member with longest time at K: Jeff Bartz, who has been here since 1997.

A surprising fact: The Chemistry department has been meeting for Zoom Happy Hour every Friday since March 2020. (They did skip Christmas Day.)

Describe your unit in three words: Fun, Dedicated, Student-Centered.

Message for K community: Chemistry is Everywhere!

Chemistry colleagues in costume
Chemistry colleagues
Chemistry colleagues and students

HR Buzz: Things to do in Kalamazoo

The Kalamazoo Area offers so much to do. Check out a few Pure Michigan ideas – maybe one of these will sound particularly familiar. Add your favorite thing to do in the Kalamazoo area in the comments.

Find Peace and Quiet at the Lillian Anderson Arboretum
The Lillian Anderson Arboretum, affiliated with Kalamazoo College, comprises 140 acres of marsh, meadow, pine plantation and second-growth deciduous forest. Established in the 1990s, the arboretum provides a quiet space for hiking and enjoying the great outdoors.

Discover Science and History at Kalamazoo Valley Museum
Equal parts science, history and children’s museum, the Kalamazoo Valley Museum showcases this region’s contributions to the world. See the many items originally manufactured in Kalamazoo and southwest Michigan. The interactive “Science in Motion” gallery focuses on human health, optics and magnetism while the “Children’s Landscape” features miniature play areas: an old-fashioned store, a 1950s-era ice cream shop and a modern television station.

View 20th-Century Art at Kalamazoo Institute of Arts 
The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts prides itself on its 20th-century American painting and sculpture collection. The museum displays works by Andy Warhol, Dale Chihuly and Deborah Butterfield, among many others. You’ll also find a fine collection of African-American works as well as European prints, photography and contemporary ceramics. 

Learn About Aviation at the Air Zoo
Air transportation is the focus at Kalamazoo’s Air Zoo. The main exhibition hall houses rare planes like a replica Wright flyer, school bus-yellow biplanes and a brilliant red barnstormer. Restored World War II-era Hellcats, Bearcats and Wildcats suggest where the Air Zoo’s name came from. And the world’s only remaining Blackbird stealth plane sits among the aircraft. Visit the Air Zoo’s East Wing to see spacecraft: a prototype moon buggy, a circa 1970s command module and a replica Space Shuttle. Kids enjoy amusement park-style attractions such as a hot air balloon-themed Ferris wheel and flight simulators. 
Relax at Bronson Park
Kalamazoo’s oldest green space, Bronson Park sits in the heart of the city. Enjoy the 3 ½-acre park’s statues, fountains and flower beds. Relax with a picnic lunch. And catch city events like outdoor concerts and the Christmas tree-lighting ceremony.

Explore the Kalamazoo Nature Center
Farther out of town, nature lovers explore the forest and wetland habitats of the Kalamazoo Nature Center. A popular place to unplug since the Victorian era, the 1,100-acre Nature Center sits on Kalamazoo’s north side and can easily be explored by way of its trails. Hard-packed gravel and boardwalk footpaths lead through hardwood forest, across a tall grass prairie, past a pond and through swaths of native wildflowers. Take time for the Interpretive Center, which houses interactive science displays, and the Hummingbird Butterfly Garden.
Check Out Vintage and Rare Automobiles at the Gilmore Car Museum
The Gilmore Car Museum sits in the tiny village of Hickory Corners, northeast of Kalamazoo. But don’t let the museum’s location fool you. This collection ranks as one of the top five automobile museums in the U.S. More than 300 beautifully-restored and rare vehicles fill a dozen buildings spread across a 90-acre campus, including Model A’s and Pierce-Arrows, Duesenbergs and Studebakers, antique trucks and muscle cars. There are even displays of vintage motorcycles, tin toy cars and elaborate hood ornaments. 

city of Kalamazoo

HR Buzz: Spotlight on Admission

The Office of Admission has 17 members, but… the ENTIRE campus is on the Admission team.

Of the entire Office of Admission, Suzanne Lepley has the longest time at K with 22 years.

The Admission team describes itself as Oozing Hornet Pride!

Surprising Facts

Our Assistant Director, Marcus Johnson, is a Veteran having served active duty in Iraq.

We have more fur-babies than human babies among the team.

Operation Manager, Teresa Fiocchi, is an award-winning chef.

The Admission office typically (pre-COVID) hosts close to 800 visitors in a year.

Admission Staff

Three times per year, the Admission team hosts 100 students in the residence halls overnight for our Visit the Zoo program.

In 2019, we traveled to 37 states and 17 countries for recruitment.

Message for K Community

We absolutely cannot do this work alone! Every member of the College community is a member of the recruitment team. If a family is on a tour and they hear friendly chatter and laughter and see smiles as they walk around campus, they are more likely to choose K. A simple “hello” can make the difference in a student coming here or going elsewhere. Especially right now! The weeks leading up to May 1 (the national deadline for choosing a college) are the most critical in our work.

Admission Staff
Admission Staff
Admission Staff

HR Buzz: Gardening Tips

Growing a garden is a great way to gain access to tasty and delicious fruits and vegetables while enjoying some time outdoors. Here are some gardening tips as we enter into the growing season.

Do you have some tips to share? If so, please be invited to share your tips in the comment section.

Location, location, location

Starting a garden is all about finding the right site. Place your garden where you will see it regularly (out of sight, out of mind applies to gardening). That way, you will be much more likely to spend time in it.

Follow the sun

Pay attention to how sunlight plays through your yard before choosing a spot for your garden. Most edible plants, including many vegetables, herbs, and fruits, need at least 6 hours of sun to thrive.

Discover your zone

Knowing the USDA’s hardiness zone can help one choose the best plants. Simply put, it describes the coldest place a plant can grow. Southwest Michigan is in Zone 6. Find more hardiness zones.

Know the frost dates

Planting too early (or late) in the season can harm your garden. The median date range for the last spring frost in our region is May 1-15. The median first fall frost in our region is October 1-15.

Consider containers

When space is at a premium, look to containers. You can grow many plants in pots, including vegetables, herbs, flowers, berries, and shrubs. When gardening in containers, use a pot that is large enough for the plant that it is hosting.

Start with great soil

When starting a garden, one of the top pieces of advice is to invest in soil that is nutrient-rich and well-drained. If planting in a raised bed, consider using soil designed for raised bed growing.

Choose the right plants

It is important to select plants that match your growing conditions. This means putting sun-loving plants into a sunny spot, choosing heat-tolerant plants in warm climates, and giving ground-gobbling vines like pumpkins and melons ample elbow room (or a trellis to climb).

Plants get thirsty too

The best way to tell if plants need watering is to push a finger an inch down into the soil (that is about one knuckle deep). If it is dry, it is time to water.

Add some mulch

Apply a layer of mulch that is 2 to 3 inches deep around each plant. This will help reduce weeds by blocking out the sun, and reduce moisture loss through evaporation, so you have to water less.

Feed plants regularly

We’ve already talked about the importance of starting with great soil, but that soil works best in concert with regular boosts of high-quality nutrition for your plants. In other words, amazing soil + top-notch plant food = super garden success! So, a month after planting, begin feeding your garden with plant food. Be sure to follow label directions.

vegetable garden

HR Buzz: Spotlight on the Library

​ Number of unit members: 14

Member with longest time at K: Robin Rank (Librarian at K since 1999, K class of 1984)

Before coming to K, library staff members have held jobs as:

  • ​a high school ESL teacher in Japan
  • a worker in a factory that made the insides of Harley Davidsons
  • a futon assembler
  • an office assistant in a Newborn Special Care Unit
  • a doctor’s office receptionist
  • a librarian in a library for the blind and physically handicapped
  • a worker in a bronze casting foundry
  • also all manner of retail establishments, restaurants, libraries, and corporations

Collectively, the library staff have 113 years of working in the library at K!

If your favorite food is cheese or chocolate, you will fit in well here. Other favorite foods include eggplant, soup, potatoes, and pickles.

In college, library staff members majored in music, art, history, economics, English, mathematics, and linguistics; and minored in French, English, Religion, Russian Area Studies, and Women Studies​.

We have one former water skiing jump champion, several pranksters, athletes, musicians, artists, and world travelers.

Eight of us are from Michigan (three from Kalamazoo!), two from Illinois, one from Indiana, one from Ohio, and one from Utah!

When we’re not at the library, we like to play bagpipes, water ski, play hockey, watch hockey, follow cats on social media, swim, read (yes, really), play poker, work on genealogy, play with our pets (collectively 6 dogs and 15 cats), collect vintage office supplies, go thrift shopping (pre-pandemic), enjoy the great outdoors. We like to dress as each other for Halloween.

Dream careers include the “one we have” (since we’re clearly living the dream), entomologist, panda keeper, celebrity pet owner, travel writer, absurdly wealthy philanthropist, taste tester for new recipes, carpenter, vintage picker, and archaeologist.

Library Staff

Our vision is an empowered community. Our mission is to inform, educate, and inspire. Our core values are communication, collaboration, empathy, integrity, fun, and smart working (efficiently and effectively).

Springing into warmer weather

The snow is melted and scarves are put aside. After months of low temperatures and dark skies, isn’t it delightful to celebrate spring again?

For many people, this wonderful season of new life is a real morale booster. The arrival of spring means more light, and for most of us, possibly a more cheerful mood. Here are a few suggestions on ways to take advantage of spring sunshine.

  • Grab a sandwich and water. Enjoy them at your favorite outdoor resting spot.
  • Consider planting a garden. Bonus: Fresh and tasty fruits and vegetables.
  • Take a brisk walk.

While you are outdoors, why not plan some tasks to ready your home for the warmer months with some spring cleaning? Before you get started, make plan so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by taking on too much—know that you don’t need to do everything in one day or even in one weekend.

  • Scrub Walls, Baseboards and Outlets
    Scrub all the walls — in the bathroom, kitchen, bedrooms and living areas — with a sponge or brush and mild soap and water. This includes baseboards and outlets. Make sure to completely dry outlet covers before replacing.
  • Replace Filters
    Replace all filters including water, range hood and air vent filters. Filters should be replaced every 3-6 months depending on the type of filter you have.
  • Clean Faucets and Showerheads
    Unscrew the faucet aerators, sink sprayers and showerheads, and soak them in equal parts vinegar and water solution. Let them soak for an hour, then rinse with warm water.
  • Clean Out the Dryer Vent
    A clogged dryer vent can be a fire hazard. To clean it, disconnect the vent from the back of the machine and use a dryer vent brush to remove lint. Outside your house, remove the dryer vent cover and use the brush to remove lint from the other end of the vent line. Make sure the vent cover flap moves freely.
  • De-Clutter for Spring!
    Spring is the perfect time to pare down the clutter that’s been accumulating in your home. Before you get started, make a room-by-room plan so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by the prospect of de-cluttering your entire home—know that you don’t need to do everything in one day or even in one weekend.
  • Test Smoke Alarms
    Test smoke alarms and CO detectors and change out batteries as needed. It only takes a few minutes and can save lives.

HR Buzz: Did you know?

Did you know that there are plenty of resources located on the Employee Relations page of the HR site? These resources are intended to support each of us as a whole person, both inside and outside of the workplace.

Examples of available resources include:

  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The EAP is a free, confidential service available to help with life’s matters including child/elder care, financial services, wills and directives, and access to counseling services.
  • Paid time off. Information about vacation, bereavement, holidays, and more. By the way, the 2021-22 holiday calendar is posted.
  • Ambrose Prize. Submit a nomination for a staff colleague for this prestigious award. Nominations are accepted through Friday, April 2.
  • Family and Life. Explore the region, locate childcare resources, and other items of possible interest.

If you have a resource suggestion for our colleagues, please contact Renee Boelcke at

HR Buzz: Spotlight on Human Resources

Kalamazoo College is comprised of many dedicated and talented people. Each month, HR Buzz will focus on a group of our colleagues in an effort to learn more about the brilliant, wonderful individuals with whom we work. Kicking things off, we will focus on the Office of Human Resources.

Number of unit members: Three – Jenn Williams, Miasha Wilson, Renee Boelcke

Member with longest service
Jenn has the most time at K while Miasha has the most time in K’s Office of Human Resources.

Surprising facts
Jenn: My first degree was in drafting and design.  I still love to design, build and repurpose things in my free time!
Miasha: I don’t have a favorite color. I love them all equally.
Renee: I find great joy in creative socks – the more unexpected, the better. My Fruit Loop socks are my favorite!

How would you describe your unit in three words?
Miasha: Approachable, Knowledgeable, Discreet
Jenn: Caring, Understanding, Supportive
Renee: Creative, Dedicated, Thoughtful

Message for K community:
Renee: I look forward to the day when we can see each other in person and celebrate the amazing accomplishments that we collectively achieved.
Jenn: My message to my K community is a message of H.O.P.E. after what we’ve endured the last year!  I wish you all a future of Happiness, Optimism, Positivity, and Enthusiasm! Be well and see you all soon!
Miasha: Stay Safe! Looking forward to see you all soon.

Human Resources

State of Michigan offers free education

If you (or someone you know) is age 25 or older, and thinking about going back to school to pursue an associate’s degree or a skills certificate, now might be the time!

The State of Michigan is offering free tuition at in-district community colleges to those who qualify.

Visit Michigan Reconnect to find a list of eligible colleges, to apply, and more. The online application process is relatively short and award results are typically provided immediately after submission.

Check out the Michigan Reconnect FAQ page or contact the Customer Care Center at 517-636-7000 with questions.