A Candid Conversation with Sally Phelps

A candid conversation with Sally Phelps about her mission on campus, how she spends her free time, and the challenges of working with Olin students.

I met with Sally Phelps in her office in the lower floor of the library. As always, her schedule was tight, but as always, she was happy to meet with me and speak for a full hour– a clearly prioritized hour of uninterrupted conversation, despite the ringing of phones and the dinging of incoming emails.

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A Candid Conversation with Charlie Nolan

Charlie Nolan was the fifth employee of Olin College and its founding Dean of Admission. Though he took three years off to help manage Admissions at Santa Clara University in California (2003-2006), he’s been an Oliner since 1999. He has been working in admissions for more than forty years, and holds a doctorate degree in higher education administration. Although he has worked at Boston College, Washington University, Babson, and other locations, he says his biggest challenge was coming to Olin and starting a school from scratch.

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A Candid Conversation with Vin Manno

The published version, cut to save space, is on top. Scroll down past the break to read the full interview.

One wall of Manno’s spacious (by Olin standards) office is covered by a sprawling bookshelf, his own mechanical engineering library. Artfully arranged on the shelves are memorabilia: models of elephants, for Jumbo, the Tufts mascot, are gifts from former students. And right next to his computer, for easy viewing, a digital picture frame scrolls through photos of his family.

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Highlights from Doctor Horrible

Congratulations to the cast, crew, and pit of Dr. Horrible for a stellar show. Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, directed by Ilana Walder-Biesanz, was so compelling that some members of the audience came to watch twice!

The stage paid good tribute to the geek-popularity of the original online production. Audience members’ favorite lines include “Did you notice that he threw you in the garbage?” and “Sometimes there’s a third, deeper level, just like the one on the surface. Like pie.” However, this production also brought extra depth to characters, as only live theater can. Brian Liebeson, in his endearingly awkward role as sidekick Moist, tap-danced and flipped around the stage during his plot-incidental but entertaining solo “Nobody Wants to be Moist”, borrowed from “Commentary: The Musical”, and his specific performance changed a bit every night.

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A Candid Conversation with Jon Adler

A candid conversation with Jon Adler about working in psychotherapy, sharing a passion for theater, and helping college students to make sense of who they are.

Every aspect of Jon’s office is intentional. It’s a welcoming space, carefully arranged not only to be a conversation space, but to help guide the themes of conversation. The Magritte on the wall, of an artist viewing an egg and painting a bird, he chose especially for this job. Other pieces are just for him; the sleeping stone swan was sculpted by his grandfather, and the painting by his grandmother makes him happy.

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A Candid Conversation with Matt Colyer

Matt Colyer has been in startups for his entire working career. That’s five years now; he graduated Olin class of ’07, and immediately started his own business. That particular startup didn’t pan out, but he’s remained a staunch startup developer ever since. He has recently launched a new company, Easel, cofounded with Ben Ogle.

Matt and Ben rolled into Yerba Buena gardens, downtown San Francisco, on bicycles. Over a chess table in the shade, Matt and Ben told me about Easel and what it’s like to live and breathe startups. Matt explained his love for working through ever-changing problems and learning on the fly.

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Do Something with Frankly Speaking

Frankly Speaking is important. It is extremely valuable to communication within the Olin community as a forum for people to bring issues to discussion. I’m worried, because as important as the paper is, Frankly Speaking doesn’t seem sustainable.

Most of Olin’s written communication takes place over email. Important issues are brought up and discussed on ThinkTank, Radical Notion, even Therapy and Sexuality. But there are two major problems with these email lists as public forums: they are self-selecting, and they are not fully developed as pieces of writing.

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Olin’s Endowment: A Guide

Olin received its initial endowment of over $400 million from the F. W. Olin Foundation, and has since been using these funds to found and grow Olin- with a vision towards Olin as the recognized leader in the transformation of undergraduate education in America and throughout the world.

As part of its plan to attract top engineering students, Olin has offered the Olin Scholarship, an eight-semester merit scholarship, to all of its students since the college’s beginning. Until 2006, this scholarship included room, board, and full tuition; until 2011, Olin students received full tuition scholarships. The initial reduction in scholarship was planned; the more recent reduction was due to a sudden value reduction on endowment investments.

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I said Skydiving
hoping to start them talking
not a one blinked their
hands on steering wheels
and books, the littlest listless
in the backwards seat the leather car
seats ‘why don’t we
put on some’ Beethoven
electric fiddle anything guitar
too spaced sounds sift out
Let me at least be Daedalus
was left behind unuttered
already on our way forward
in space at least.