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Strong new class, ‘HeartShake’ mark start of 2019-20 academic year

August 21, 2019

Earlham College is welcoming another academically strong and diverse class of first-year students today as the 2019-20 academic year begins.

The Class of 2023 is comprised of outstanding scholars, athletes, and engaged leaders that contribute to Earlham’s reputation as a leading destination for a rigorous yet rewarding liberal arts education. Consider:

  • The class earned an average grade point average of 3.61 at their respective high schools;
  • Of those reporting a class rank or standardized test scores, nearly 50 percent graduated in the top 10 percent of their class and scored an average of 1220 on the SAT and 27 on the ACT; and
  • Outside of the classroom, dozens reported being inducted into the National Honor Society or earning leadership experience by participating in student government, Model United Nations activities, after-school clubs or service organizations in their communities.

“I have loved meeting this impressive group of students and I’m looking forward to learning more about their academic pursuits and plans for the future,” says Earlham President Anne Houtman. “Our newest Earlhamites are poised to add energy and knowledge to our community and will benefit from extraordinary professors and mentors who are wholeheartedly dedicated to their success.”

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With nearly 200 students arriving on campus from 29 states and 33 countries, the class reflects the geographic and racial diversity that has long made the campus a distinctive place to live and learn. About 26 percent of the incoming class is international and another 36 percent are domestic students of color. More than 35 percent of the class identifies as the first person in their family to go to college. Ten percent are legacy students and four percent are Quaker.

Tavaura Wardlow ’23 and Jennifer Shamel ’23 chose Earlham for its academic reputation, outstanding faculty mentorship and the opportunity to join an exciting NCAA Division III volleyball program. Thirty-seven percent of entering students plan to participate in intercollegiate athletics.

“I really enjoyed the atmosphere that the campus provided and I liked the fact that it was small school,” says Wardlow, a native of Round Rock Texas, a small city near Austin.

Wardlow is interested in race relations and plans to pursue coursework in English, History and Politics.

“Coming from a big high school with about 2,500 students to one of just half that size will allow me to gain more meaningful relationships with not only the students, but the teachers too,” she says. “Earlham also has an amazing volleyball program filled with players who love what they do, so I am very excited to experience the seasons to come.”

Shamel, a native of Columbiaville, Michigan, plans to pursue coursework related to pre-veterinary medicine.

“Earlham has an amazing science department, and I really liked the professors I met on my visits,” Shamel says. “The Earlham community seems very supportive of all the athletics teams and the different clubs around campus. I felt that this volleyball team was the best fit for me. The coach's views on the game and her expectations for each player were instrumental in my decision to come here.”

Hundreds benefitting from EPIC Advantage

Hundreds of Earlhamites are returning to campus this fall after participating in a robust slate of funded internships, research and international travel experiences as part of the College’s signature experiential learning initiative.

The EPIC Advantage, now in its second year, offers funding of up to $5,000 for every student to participate in at least one high-impact practice that students need to be competitive for jobs or admission into graduate school. Students will share their internship and research experiences during the fall EPIC Expo on Friday, September 20.

The initiative supported more than 300 students this past summer. A sampling of the opportunities that were offered included an opportunity to perform a new play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland, a cruise across Russia and Scandinavia to explore issues related to supply chain management, and a research experience in Tanzania to study animal behavior and conservation.

Closer to home, an interdisciplinary group of students and faculty studied the ways that language and culture relate to immigrant’s access to health care. Students gained practice conducting health inventory interviews in Spanish, learned about public policies and medical ethics, and then visited health facilities serving Latinx communities in Indianapolis.

The EPIC Advantage is a part of the Earlham Program for an Integrated Curriculum (EPIC), which encompasses the College’s distinctive approach to the liberal arts. The program touches on all academic programs, and serves students through centers devoted to entrepreneurship and innovation; global health, social justice, career and community engagement and global education.

Handshakes on The Heart

The 2019-2020 academic year began with an inaugural “HeartShake,” a new event introduced by President Anne Houtman.

On the Tuesday afternoon before the start of classes, students, faculty and staff greeted Houtman on The Heart, the social center of campus, before forming a giant chain of hand-shakers. A brief downpour moved the ceremony inside to Runyan Center, but the participants' enthusiasm wasn't dampened.

“I wanted to start a tradition to celebrate the beginning of a new academic year,” Houtman says. “A handshake is a sign of recognition and respect, and aligns nicely with our Quaker values. By gathering at the social center of campus and greeting each other, The HeartShake is a great way to emphasize the importance of community at Earlham.”

New access to HD streaming services

New streaming television services are available across campus for all students this year as part of a major internet infrastructure project that was completed this summer.

Students can now access 100-plus channels in high definition from their televisions, phones, computers and videogame consoles in virtually all areas of campus.

The College recently upgraded its infrastructure as part of a new partnership with Comcast significantly expanding bandwidth and internet dependability. Previously, cable television services were limited to lobbies in residence halls and other commons areas on campus.

“This is another way we can enhance the student experience while providing new access to local channels, premium channels like HBO, international language options and live events from virtually anywhere on campus,” says Earlham Chief Information Officer Brendan Post. “With the popularity of Netflix and Hulu many colleges and universities are getting rid of cable services altogether. This is a bonus that we can offer students as part of a significant commitment we made to our infrastructure across campus.”

— EC —

Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. We rank 7th nationally by Princeton Review for Best Classroom Experience and 22nd by U.S. News and World Report for commitment to undergraduate teaching.

Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at 765-983-1256 and


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