Tuesday, October 01, 2019

The Top Ten Things I Didn’t Know about Houghton

I have now been on the Houghton College campus for about a month. Before coming here, I had certain vague impressions of the college. I knew it was a Christian college with a long and rich Wesleyan history. It had the reputation of being a really smart school, with professors and students of the highest academic caliber. (Parenthetically, a former board member suggested to me that Houghton “makes” people smart, whether students arrive that way or not.)

Now that I’m here, I have discovered some other spectacular things I had little or no idea about.

10. Morning Prayer and Daily Communion
Before I came, I had no idea that a group of students and others meet five days a week for morning prayer with the Dean of the Chapel, Michael Jordan (not the basketball player). Then in the late afternoon communion is available for anyone who can come. I didn’t know that! A special group known as the Immanuel Scholars also meet together regularly for spiritual formation and retreat.

9. Online Program
I didn't realize that Houghton had entered the online area. I heard about one Brain class in the online psychology major where they mail an eyeball to students for them to dissect. There's criminal justice, organizational management--all at Houghton quality taught primarily by the residential professors.

8. Woods, Ropes, Deer
To be honest, I did know that Houghton had beautiful waterfalls and woods all around it, but the beauty of western New York has blown me away. I came to work one morning and a deer was in the parking lot. Sometimes people joke about Houghton’s location but frankly this place is amazing. Houghton sits on 1300 acres… Let’s just say having somewhere to hike isn’t a problem. One of the first things I did when I arrived was go out to its new ropes course--fantastic!

7. Solar Power and Charging Station
I found about the solar field as I was researching the campus. What a great investment! It won’t take long before it pays for itself and then saves the campus greatly. Houghton takes seriously the Christian task of taking care of the environment (creation care), which is why it is one of a growing number of colleges that has a charging station for electric vehicles.

6. Beautiful Stone Buildings
I love the stone that unifies the buildings on campus. Story has it that red brick was not available during World War II, so someone had the idea of using river stone for the Luckey Administration Building. No one regrets it now. The campus is far more beautiful as a result.

5. Bagpipes on the Quad
The fact that Houghton is in the hills of western New York suggested “Highlanders” as the name for our teams. I heard that one of the men’s residence halls even has Highlander Games of a sort with log throws and everything. When new students begin their fall semester, they march around the spacious Quad behind a bagpiper and the President. Then as they come to graduation, they make another final round.

4. Epic Adventures
It is no surprise that there are opportunities in nature here, largely under the direction of Laura Alexeichik. Some students actually do a Highlander Program before they start their first semester, doing challenging hiking in upstate New York. There are opportunities not only to ride horses but to kayak, ski, and did I say, hike?

3. Cyclotron
On my first tour of the Payne science building, I joked about Houghton getting a particle accelerator. “Well, we have one,” Mark Yuly responded with a straight face. Houghton apparently has one of only two cyclotrons in the world of a certain size. The theme of the science departments here is “Doing Science.” There are no Sheldon Coopers here. They are all hands on experimentalists, and students here do science. This is actually the first year of the electrical engineering program with Mark Budnik coming on board.

2. London Honors
Before I came here, I didn’t know that Houghton has an honor’s program in which students go to London for the second semester of their freshman year with a faculty member and family. Houghton also has other travels abroad in which all students can participate. Students in the past have gone to everywhere from the Holy Land to Tanzania to Germany to eastern Europe. There is also a science honors program where freshman students tackle a different contemporary science problem each year.

1. Horses!
OK, I knew Houghton had horses, but I didn’t know how many—almost 40 horses. Some students bring their horses to college! They have equestrian summer camps, and people come from all over the United States for them—some come for a couple months. The equestrian studies program is one of the strongest programs at Houghton. Did someone say horses?

How did I not know about all these wonderful things?! Six distinctives here--spiritual formation, the arts, athletics, creation care, life calling, and a global reach.

But now the secret is out…

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