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Alma College
Almacollege logomark.png
Established 1886
Type Private
President Saundra J. Tracy
Faculty 82
Undergraduates 1,336 full-time
48 part-time [1]
Location Alma, Michigan, United States
Campus small town, 125 acres (0.51 km2)
Colors Maroon and Cream
Nickname Scots
Mascot Scotty
Affiliations Presbyterian

Alma College is a private, liberal arts college located in Alma, Michigan. The enrollment is approximately 1,400 students, and the college is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The college's current president, Dr. Saundra J Tracy, will be retiring effective June 2010. [2]

Alma College offers four degrees (Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Music, and Bachelor of Fine Arts) in 28 majors. Academic programs that typically produce the most graduates are business administration, biology, psychology, exercise and health science, and education. Students are encouraged to participate in service learning and study abroad opportunities designed to enhance classroom learning.

The College's stated mission is "to prepare graduates who think critically, serve generously, lead purposefully and live responsibly as stewards of the world they bequeath to future generations." Alma College was one of 81 schools in the United States selected in 2005 as a "College with a Conscience: 81 Great Schools with Outstanding Community Involvement" by The Princeton Review and Campus Compact.



The College was founded by Michigan Presbyterians in 1886, and received funding from lumber magnate Ammi Wright, for whom Wright Hall on campus and Wright Avenue in the city of Alma are named. At one point the mascot was the Fighting Presbyterians, but according to most sources, it just wasn't very intimidating. While still maintaining a close relationship with the Presbyterian Church, Alma College offers an environment that welcomes students of all religious backgrounds.



In January 1997, then-president of Alma College, Alan Stone, asked 480 colleges to boycott the U.S. News and World Report Rankings due to the peer assessment survey which counts for 25% of a college's ranking. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, in 1996, Alma College surveyed 158 colleges about the rankings. The result of the survey indicated that "84 percent of the respondents admitted that they were unfamiliar with some of the institutions they had been asked to rank. Almost 44 per cent indicated that they 'tended to leave responses for unfamiliar schools blank.' " Stone stated, "this makes me wonder just how many votes are being considered for each school's academic-reputation ranking." [3], [4] After a June 2007 meeting of the Annapolis Group, Alma college joined others who would be boycotting the rankings. According to a June 22, 2007 article for the The Morning Sun:

President Dr. Saundra Tracy said she agreed with a majority of her peers at a meeting this week to stop participating in the personality assessment portion of the annual college rankings published by U.S. News and World Report. A consensus was taken at the end of an annual meeting of the Annapolis Group, an association of liberal arts colleges. Tracy supported the action and criticized the magazine‘s unscientific process to rate the popularity and reputation of a school based on what presidents, provosts and admission deans say in a survey. [5]


Alma utilizes a 4-4-1 academic calendar with 14-week terms in the fall and winter and a four-week term in May. Incoming freshmen and transfer students arrive a week earlier than returning students in late August for "Preterm," which comprises activities designed to introduce new Scots to campus life and a one-credit class that acclimates new students to academic life. The intensive Spring Term in May provides an opportunity for innovative course patterns, travel classes, research and internships during an ideal season.

Alma's small size affords its students a variety of opportunities not commonly available at larger universities. For example, Alma is one of the few colleges of its size to offer a real cadaver laboratory for pre-med students, giving them an advantage in the medical school application process. Many students are able to write a senior thesis, or create a senior project in the arts, working one-on-one with recognized scholars in their fields to create original research. These efforts are underwritten with several grants available to students for undergraduate research, such as the Currie Summer Scholar program, offering $2500 each summer to one returning junior or senior student each in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences to pursue a topic in-depth.

Recently, the College has formed a Nationally Competitive Scholarship Committee, designed to help juniors and seniors apply for funding opportunities for graduate and professional school. This has produced winners of the Fulbright, Gates-Cambridge, Truman, and Udall Scholarships, as well as finalists for the Marshall and Rhodes Scholarships.

In the 2005-2006 school year, the College introduced several new leadership programs. These programs—the Posey Global Fellowships and the Center for Responsible Leadership—were generously funded by alumni with the goal of furthering students' awareness of ethical leadership and service in an increasingly global economy and political landscape. In addition, an Honors Program was begun with the specific intention of preparing candidates for application to Phi Beta Kappa, a liberal arts honorary.


Alma College is located in a small-town setting, the city of Alma having slightly less than 10,000 residents. The campus is built with a red brick motif, centered around a large square (McIntyre Mall), and its admittedly small skyline dominated by the Dunning Memorial Chapel, as it is tradition not to build any structure on campus higher than the spire of the Chapel. The majority of buildings are located on North Campus, that is, the area north of Superior Street. These include the major dormitory residences, as well as the academic and student life buildings. South Campus is home to suite-style residences ("New Dorms," so named because they were built later in the 1960s than residences in North Campus) as well as the new environmentally-friendly apartment-style Wright Hall, inaugurated in 2005 and the second residence of its name, the former being demolished in 1976. South Campus is also home to "Fraternity Row" (Center Street) and "Sorority Row" (Superior Street) as well as several other themed houses. Over 50 percent of the buildings on Alma's campus were built under the long tenure (1956-1980) of Robert D. Swanson, after whom the main academic building is named. Recent additions to the campus include the Alan J. Stone Recreation Center in 2001, the Oscar E. Remick Heritage Center in 2003, Colina Library Wing in 2006,[6] and the current construction of the new Hogan Physical Education Center which will be completed in 2010.[7]

In addition to the main campus, the College also owns a 180-acre (0.73 km2) ecological research area containing woodlands, a willow marsh, a sphangnum bog, and a glacial kettle lake, with a full research facility and a bird observatory, located in Vestaburg, about 15 miles (24 km) to the west of Alma.

Scottish Heritage

In more than 100 years since its founding, Alma has stayed true to its roots by keeping its Scottish heritage alive. Today, Alma features a marching band clad in Kilts, a Scottish dance troupe, and even its own official tartan. Each year, the College hosts the Alma Highland Festival and Games which feature traditional Scottish games and revelry.


Alma College athletic teams, nicknamed the Scots, are part of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) - Division III. Generally, more than a third of Alma's students participate in sports. The college offers nine men's and nine women's varsity athletic programs.


  • In 2006 Alma College quarterback Josh Brehm was named the recipient of the Gagliardi Trophy, the highest individual honor in NCAA Division III football.
  • In 1992 Alma's women's basketball team earned the NCAA Division III championship.

Performing Arts

More than a third of all Alma students take part in at least one performance each year. The College offers majors in theatre, dance and music, but students of all majors may join in productions. The Heritage Center for the Performing Arts is the region's premiere performing arts facility. It houses the Theatre and Dance Department and serves as the performance venue for the College's eight music ensembles. It features a 500-seat concert hall for large performances, an intimate 190-seat theatre, and a dance studio.

Greek Life

Alma College is home to six social men's fraternities, five social women's sororities, and numerous honorary and professional fraternities. The six fraternities are Tau Kappa Epsilon, Sigma Chi, Theta Chi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Phi Mu Alpha, and Zeta Sigma (Alma's local fraternity). The social sororities at Alma are Alpha Gamma Delta, Alpha Xi Delta, Gamma Phi Beta, Kappa Iota (Alma's local sorority), and Phi Sigma Sigma.

The Greek organizations provide most of the campus fundraisers, including Sigma Alpha Epsilon book drive, Sigma Alpha Epsilon Alma Pals peewee football coaching, soup kitchen, and pledge can drive, Sigma Chi Derby Days, Zeta Sigma can drive, and the Phi Sigma Sigma Greek God competition.

Other organizations include Sigma Alpha Iota, the women's music fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, the co-ed National Service Fraternity—one of the largest organizations on campus, and a women's Christian sorority, Sigma Alpha Omega, which was formed in the Winter Term of 2006. These are not social Greek organizations and are not under jurisdiction of the Greek Judicial, the Inter-Fraternal Council (IFC), or the Pan-Hellenic Council.

Notable alumni

  • George Allen, NFL coach
  • Bob Devaney, NCAA football
  • Jim Daniels, Poet
  • Frank Knox, Former Secretary of the Navy, Republican vice presidential candidate
  • Jim Northrup, MLB player (Detroit Tigers)
  • Tim Bailey, Professor, Sociology and Psychology Scholar
  • Paul Portney, economist and President of Resources for the Future
  • James Mcintrye, philanthropic entrepreneur
  • Dan Scripps, Representative to the MI State House of Representatives
  • Gary Peters, U.S. House of Representatives


Notable faculty

  • David L. Clark, Ph.D., Charles A. Dana Professor of Biology
  • Nicholas J. Dixon, Ph.D., Dykstra Professor of Philosophy
  • Edward Lorenz, Ph.D., Reid-Knox Professor of History
  • Scott Messing, Ph.D., Charles A. Dana Professor of Music
  • Will Nichols, Ph.D., Secrest Professor of Music
  • William W. Palmer, Ph.D., Charles A. Dana Professor of English
  • Carol Slater, Ph.D., Charles A. Dana Professor of Psychology
  • Ute Stargardt, Ph.D., Charles A. Dana Professor of English

External links


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