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Beloit College hosts 15th annual Duffy Spring Colloquium

On Thurs, March 22, alumni, staff and students gathered in Wilson Theater on the Beloit College campus for the 15th annual Duffy Spring Colloquium. The Beloit College Duffy Community Partnerships were founded in 2003 by the philanthropist James Duffy’49.

Carol Wickersham, the director of the program, started off the night by noting that none of the community-based learning that the Duffy is involved with would be possible without the help of the community.

James Duffy himself was not able to attend, but a message from him was read aloud. He thanked everyone in attendance, stressing that “in my view, there is no better time to establish and reestablish our goals and actions. We must work together towards a renewed society.” His note went on to emphasize the importance of America’s youth in the continued improvement of our society. 

Steven Hawkins, Beloit’s 2018 Weissberg Chair (

Next, the attention was turned over to the four Duffy alumni that made up the panel. Each of them was introduced by a current Duffy scholar, including Katie Kennedy‘18, Rita Chang‘19, Henry Jacobsen‘19 and Farhan Tahir‘19. The panel consisted of Raphael Gang’06, Iris-Ann Hoover’09, Phil Mangis’05 and Ruby Jennings’10.

The panel responded to the event’s central question: “What makes a good society?” Jennings started the talk, discussing her work in consulting government agencies and the importance of detailed work to help speed the effects of government aid. Hoover went next, talking about the importance of relationships in the process of working for and with others. “Relationships, to me, make a great society,” said Hoover. “It cuts down on the white noise […] it cuts down on misinterpretation, and then you also get to see where people’s passions are.”

Mangis, a Political Science major, talked about his travels and the climate issues that threaten to change the world in “catastrophic” ways. He works with organizations that train leaders of the new age who will face these climate issues head-on in order to try and save our planet.

Gang talked about his work in education. He led the audience in a group activity in which members of the audience talked to one another about an issue they saw in society. The group was then given time to discuss solutions to these issues with each other. He explained that this method of problem solving was one of the tools he used in his line of work. “Do things with the communities you want to serve, not do things to them,” Gang said.

Stephen Hawkins, Beloit’s 2018 Weissberg Chair in International Studies, responded to the discussion. He reiterated the points that the panelists made, praising them for their work in their fields. He challenged the audience to think about why they do the work that they do, and what they could each bring to the table in order to improve society. After a few minutes of questions from the audience, the lights came up, and the crowd headed downtown to Gallery ABBA for an after-party.

The colloquium brought together community members of all ages to discuss society and the ways all of us can help facilitate positive changes throughout the world. The Duffy program continues to encourage scholars to use their education to help the world.

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