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Mac Family: A quarterly newsletter for families of Macalester students

FALL 2010

Dean's Message
Welcome Class of 2014
You're Invited: Family Fest
17th Annual International Roundtable
Opening Convocation: Dr. Paul Farmer
Fine Arts Center Expansion and Renovation
Plan Ahead for Study Abroad
Web Redesign: Parent & Families Page
Parents active in Old Main Forum
First Six Weeks: What to Expect

From the Dean of Students

jim hoppe

Every year orientation quickly transforms the campus from the relaxed mode of summer to the high energy hustle and bustle we enjoy so much. This is a time of new beginnings, as some students join the community for the first time, others return after long periods abroad, and everyone has the chance to start with a fresh slate. There must be at least 100 opportunities to get complimentary ice cream in the first week of class alone, and that's reason enough to make most of us smile.

This term is already exciting. Two weeks ago we welcomed renowned medical pioneer Dr. Paul Farmer to campus, and last week we hosted Kao Kalia Yang, author of our Common Reading selection The Late Homecomer.

This week the campus will come together for a forum we call Community Matters, to discuss communicating across differences to build a stronger community. And the 17th Annual International Roundtable, “My Sister and Brothers Keeper? Human Rights in the Era of Globalization” coincides with Family Fest.

I always look forward to visiting with parents and families, so I hope you can join us for Family Fest, October 8-10. Wherever you may be, please know there are many of us on campus working hard to ensure that your student has a great experience. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or if I can be helpful to your student.


—Jim Hoppe

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WATCH A VIDEOWelcome Class of 2014

This fall Macalester College celebrates the arrival of 545 new members to its community….This class was selected from 4,317 applicants. Of the incoming first year and transfer students, 429 have been involved in community service projects and more than a third have traveled to a different country to work on a mission or service project. More

Watch: Members of the Class of 2014 tell why they chose Macalester

family fest postcardYou're Invited: Family Fest, Friday-Sunday, October 8-10

All parents are invited back to campus Oct. 8-10 for Family Fest. Reconnect with your student, experience a bit of campus life, and enjoy the surrounding community. Activities include faculty lectures, athletic events, an update from President Brian Rosenberg, musical performances and off-campus tours.

There is no charge to attend Family Fest, but select activities do have a small fee.

Register here.

Submit a family recipe for our Family Fest Cookbook
(available to everyone online later this fall)


17th Annual International Roundtable

International Roundtable is an annual event bringing together national and international subject matter experts, students, and faculty to discuss critical global issues. The roundtable coincides with Family Fest and all parents visiting campus are invited to attend.

This year’s roundtable, My Sister’s and Brother’s Keeper? Human Rights in the Era of Globalization, focuses on identifying the main human rights concerns in this century, the primary forces responsible for these issues, and specific ideas for advancing human rights. Human rights experts from the New York School of Law, the University of Toronto, and Macalester will join students Caitlin Hannahan ’11 and Proma Sen ’11 in discussing these issues.

More information

Opening Convocation: Dr. Paul Farmer

Macalester welcomed medical anthropologist and pioneer Dr. Paul Farmer to campus for our opening convocation on Sept. 14 and bestowed upon him an honorary degree. More.

Watch convocation and Dr. Farmer’s address.

Video: Impact of the arts at Macalester
Watch a video about the impact of the arts at Macalester.

Rendering of renovated Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center

Architectural rendering of the renovated and expanded east entrance to the Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center
View more renderings

Fine arts center renovation & expansion

"The arts are vibrant, robust, and growing at Macalester, engaging students from every academic discipline," says Kathleen Murray, provost and dean of the faculty.

But don't take Provost Murray at her word; learn more about the impact of the arts at Macalester.

Or view our arts calendar and see the vibrant arts events taking place across campus this fall. From a Theatre and Dance Department production of Cabaret to the fall dance concert and from the New Music Series to student ensemble performances, there's something for everyone.

A phased renovation and expansion of the Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center underscores the vital contributions the arts make to Macalester. Phase one includes Music along with the Arts Commons and is the current focus of capital fundraising for the Step Forward campaign.

"We are uniquely poised to make a critical investment in the arts at a time when many colleges are pulling back because of the economy. By moving forward now, Macalester can enhance its fine arts programming, which is core to the liberal arts, and better serve our students," Murray explains.

Fundraising is currently at $16 million toward a $24 million goal for the first phase of this project, which includes a new gallery, the music building and concert hall, and a new arts commons gathering space. If fundraising continues on track, the college hopes to break ground in January 2011.

View architectural renderings of the renovated and expanded spaces
& learn more about the project and alumni in the arts

Old Main ForumParents Active in Old Main Forum

Old Main Forum is a periodic audio and web forum with President Rosenberg for Macalester alumni and parents. The second Old Main Forum was held Sept. 17. Nearly half of the 110 registrants were parents.

You can watch the latest Old Main Forum here.

The next Old Main Forum will be held Tuesday, Nov. 30 at noon CST and will focus on Macalester’s endowment investment strategy. Chief Investment Officer Craig Aase will be joining President Rosenberg for the discussion. You may register here

Plan Ahead for Study Abroad

New policies affect students in the class of 2013 (and beyond) who want to study abroad. Starting next academic year, there will be a single annual deadline — March 4, 2011 — for submitting study abroad proposals. This deadline will apply to all students who want to study abroad (or off-campus in the U.S.) during the 2011-12 academic year.

Students are required to declare a major before submitting a study abroad proposal. Thus, students planning to apply to study abroad will need to plan for and declare a major earlier than previously. To ensure students understand the new deadline and policies and do not miss out on study abroad, a meeting with a study abroad advisor is now mandatory.

Parents are encouraged to discuss study abroad planning with their student, particularly sophomores and juniors who want to study away next spring. All students interested in off-campus study during the 2011-12 academic year must submit the Off-Campus Study Interest Form. The deadline for first year and sophomore students is Friday, Oct. 8, 2010; the deadline for juniors applying for off-campus study in Spring 2011 is October 15, 2010.

For more information, go to the International Center website.

Web Redesign: Parent and Families Page

Macalester redesigned its website this summer to create a fresh, clean visual design and to better integrate content for prospective students throughout the site.

Key changes include:

  • More content to illustrate Macalester's academic rigor and commitment to civic engagement, internationalism, and multiculturalism.
  • New sections, About Macalester and Life at Mac, highlight Macalester's metropolitan location and its benefits to students, from internship and service opportunities, to arts and culture.
  • "Real world" elements, first-person stories, and multimedia content convey the immediacy and sense of excitement that drive the Macalester community.
  • Audience links in the top navigation help parents and families, alumni, and the campus community quickly find the content most relevant to them

Let us know what you would like to see on the Parent and Families page. Email:

To learn more about the navigation and features, see our annotated homepage.


What's Happening with Your Student:


  • Both returning and first-year students often have difficulty managing their time. In September, it’s common for students to have a false sense of comfort because papers and projects aren't due until October, and this may lead to procrastination.
  • They’re learning about opportunities to get involved with campus groups.
  • They're beginning or continuing to question their identity, pushing boundaries, and experimenting with new things. Experimenting may include challenging previous beliefs about religion or politics.
  • First-year students are learning that what worked for high school academics won’t necessarily work for college, and that a new level of work is expected. This may result in feelings of inadequacy and they may ask themselves, “Can I really make it here?”
  • Some may be experiencing roommate or other interpersonal conflicts.

What Families Can Do:

  • Listen to your student’s concerns and be reassuring. Be prepared for the “dump” phone call late at night. Students need to vent frustrations or fears, and you may be the dumping ground. In most cases, they will feel much better after having vented.
  • Encourage your student to get involved with campus groups. It’s easy to meet new people at college if students make the effort.
  • Provide them with time-management techniques or refer them to the MAX Center or the Health and Wellness Center for time management and stress-reduction information.
  • Continue conversations about alcohol use. In the first six weeks, first-year students are vulnerable to pressures to fit in, and sometimes they perceive this to mean drinking. Keep the lines of communication open and avoid being judgmental.
  • Help keep disappointments (such as not being selected for a particular activity or not connecting with old friends) in perspective. Refer him/her to support services on campus if additional support is needed.


  • They’re stressed about tests and midterms. They may have fallen behind in September because they didn't adjust or readjust to the time management skills required to be successful.
  • They may receive grades on papers and projects. This helps students to understand what professors expect. It also means that some students realize that they are no longer "top of the class," and are now getting Bs and Cs instead of As. Students may feel like a failure or lose self-esteem because they are unaccustomed to receiving lower grades.
  • They're facing competing social demands. Students who got involved in too many campus organizations may have trouble balancing the demands of the organizations with the demands of coursework.
  • As they begin to work on papers, first-year students must learn to navigate a college library system. The library is an important campus resource, but because it is different from libraries they've used in the past, it may be intimidating.
  • They are learning to manage their own money and may have trouble sticking to a budget. College presents many pressures to spend money on pizza, movies, clothes, etc., and they may run out of money sooner than expected.

What Families Can Do:

  • Be sympathetic, but try not to fix problems for your student. By letting them fix their own problems, you will demonstrate that you have confidence in them, and help them have self-confidence.
  • Help them be realistic about academic achievement in a college environment. It is common for Macalester students to experience a full point drop from their high school grade point average.
  • Direct your student to college resources for assistance with papers and assignments. There are many resources designed to help students succeed academically. You can also encourage them to meet with professors and preceptors during office hours, or to seek help from librarians or MAX Center staff who are trained to assist students with college-level work and expectations.
  • Visit during Family Fest, October 8-10 but don’t expect them to drop everything for your weekend on campus. Plan to attend some events alone.
  • Help your student to establish a budget and teach them how to stick to it. Most students have a limited understanding of money management. Continue to educate them about financial responsibility before a lack of it becomes a problem.

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