Carleton College

Carleton College

August 31, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


Carleton College is a private liberal
arts college in the historic town of Northfield, Minnesota. The college
currently enrolls 2,042 undergraduate students, and employs 242 instructional
faculty members. Carleton is one of few liberal arts colleges that runs on the
trimester system. Founded in 1866 as Northfield College,
the college has since been renamed, often ranked among the top liberal arts
colleges, and considered one of the “Hidden Ivies”. In its 2015 edition of
national liberal arts college rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranked Carleton
tied for eighth-best overall with Haverford and Claremont McKenna and
first for undergraduate teaching. The 1,040-acre rural campus is located
next to the adjoining 880-acre Cowling Arboretum, which became part of the
campus in 1920. The school’s location in Northfield places it 40 miles from the
Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan complex. The architecture of campus
buildings ranges from Collegiate Gothic to contemporary, with the first building
built in 1872 and the most recent in 2011.
Since 2000, the institution has produced 104 National Science Graduate Fellows,
91 Fulbright Scholars, 24 NCAA Postgraduate Scholars, 21 Watson
Fellows, 13 Goldwater Scholars, and 2 Rhodes Scholars. Carleton is also one of
the largest sources of undergraduate students pursuing doctorates per one
hundred students for bachelors institutions. In 2015, the school was
designated a “Top Producer of Fulbright Awards for American Students at
Bachelors Institutions” with 4 grants awarded that year ranking it tied for
29th for undergraduate student awards. History
The school was founded on October 12, 1866, when the Minnesota Conference of
Congregational Churches unanimously accepted a resolution to locate a
college in Northfield. Two Northfield businessmen, Charles Augustus Wheaton
and Charles M. Goodsell, each donated 10 acres of land for the first campus. The
first students enrolled at the preparatory unit of Northfield College
in the fall of 1867. In 1870, the first college president, James Strong,
traveled to the East Coast to raise funds for the college. On his way from
visiting a potential donor, William Carleton of Charlestown, Massachusetts,
Strong was badly injured in a collision between his carriage and a train.
Impressed by Strong’s survival of the accident, Carleton donated $50,000 to
the fledgling institution in 1871. As a result, the Board of Trustees renamed
the school in his honor. The college graduated its first college
class in 1874, in which the first two graduates, James J. Dow and Myra A.
Brown, married each other later that year.
On September 7, 1876, the James-Younger Gang, led by outlaw Jesse James, tried
to rob the First National Bank of Northfield. Joseph Lee Heywood,
Carleton’s Treasurer, was acting cashier at the bank that day. He was shot and
killed for refusing to open the safe. Carleton later named a library fund
after Heywood. The Heywood Society is the name for a group of donors who have
named Carleton in their wills. In its early years under the presidency
of James Strong, Carleton reflected the theological conservatism of its
Minnesota Congregational founders. In 1903, modern religious influences were
introduced by William Sallmon, a Yale Divinity School graduate, who was hired
as college president. Sallmon was opposed by conservative faculty members
and alumni, and left the presidency by 1908. After Sallmon left, the trustees
hired Donald J. Cowling, another theologically liberal Yale Divinity
School graduate, as his successor. In 1916, under Cowling’s leadership,
Carleton began an official affiliation with the Minnesota Baptist Convention.
It lasted until 1928, when the Baptists severed the relationship as a result of
fundamentalist opposition to Carleton’s liberalism, including the college’s
support for teaching evolution. Non-denominational for a number of
years, in 1964 Carleton abolished its requirement for weekly attendance at
some religious or spiritual meeting. In 1927, students founded the first
student-run pub in the nation, The Cave. Located in the basement of Evans Hall,
it continues to host live music shows and other events several times each
week. In 1942, Carleton purchased land in
Stanton, about 10 miles east of campus, to use for flight training. During World
War II, several classes of male students went through air basic training at the
college. Since being sold by the college in 1944, the Stanton Airfield has been
operated for commercial use. The world premiere production of the English
translation of Bertolt Brecht’s play, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, was
performed in 1948 at Carleton’s Nourse Little Theater.
In 1963 the Reformed Druids of North America was founded by students at
Carleton, initially as a means to be excused from attendance of
then-mandatory weekly chapel service. Within a few years, the group evolved to
engage in legitimate spiritual exploration. Meetings continue to be
held in the Carleton College Cowling Arboretum.
President Bill Clinton gave the last commencement address of his
administration at Carleton, on June 10, 2000, marking the first presidential
visit to the college. The school saw an increase in applicants in 2001, with
over 4,000 applying for entry into the institution.
Academics Carleton is a small, liberal arts
college offering 39 different majors and 16 concentrations, and is accredited by
the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The academic
calendar is unusual in that it follows a trimester system not commonly seen in
institutions of higher learning, where students usually take 3 classes per
term. In order to graduate with a degree from
Carleton, students must take classes in a first year Argument & Inquiry Seminar,
a writing course, three quantitative reasoning encounters, language,
international studies, intercultural domestic studies, humanistic inquiry,
literary/artistic inquiry, arts practice, natural science, formal or
statistical reasoning, social inquiry, and physical education.
The average class size at Carleton is 17, in which 22.3% of all classes have
2-9 students, 48.6% have 10-19 students, and 19.8% have over 20-29 students, and
9.3% have 30+ students. The most popular areas of study are biology, political
science & international relations, economics, chemistry, psychology,
English, and computer science, respectively.
=Admissions=Admission to Carleton has been deemed
“most selective” by U.S. News with the most recent incoming class of 2019
admitting 20% of applicants, making the institution the most selective in
Minnesota. Barron’s 2009 Profile of American Colleges gave admission to
Carleton a rating of 1 or “most competitive” and the Carnegie
Classifications of Institutions of Higher Learning describes admissions as
“more selective, lower transfer in” based on data from 2008 to 2010.
For the Class of 2018, 218 of the 593 early decision applicants were accepted
and 1,216 of the 5,704 regular decision applicants were accepted. 1,275
applicants were offered a spot on the wait list of whom 371 accepted the spot
and 9 were ultimately admitted. The number enrolling was 521, making the
yield rate was 36.3%. Of the entering freshmen who submitted class rank, 80%
were in the top 10% of their high school classes; 96% ranked in the top quarter.
Of the 196 applied for transfer admission, 6 were admitted, and 1
enrolled. Carleton has a strong history of
enrolling students who are in the National Merit Scholarship Program,
often enrolling more than any other liberal arts college in the nation. Its
Class of 2016 included 79 National Merit Scholars.
=Rankings=Carleton consistently ranks high among
liberal arts colleges in the nation, ranking as high as 3rd in 1988 by the
U.S. News & World Report. The U.S. News & World Report high school counselor
rankings place Carleton in 15th place among liberal arts colleges, tied with
Barnard, Middlebury, Reed, and Scripps with a score of 4.4. They have also
ranked Carleton in the top 10 for 25 years since its inception and in the top
5 for 9 of those years, with its most recent 2015 ranking placing it in 8th,
tied with Haverford and Claremont McKenna. In 2001, Carleton was given an
academic reputation score of 4.5 as assigned by peer liberal arts colleges,
the 5th highest score tied with Bowdoin. The same year’s ranking placed Carleton
at 3rd for its alumni giving, 7th for faculty resources, and 8th for
graduation retention. In 2014, Washington Monthly rankings — using
criteria of social mobility, research, and service — ranked Carleton 2nd best
college in the liberal arts college category. In the 2014 Forbes magazine
ranking of American colleges, which combines liberal arts colleges and
national research universities, the college is ranked 16th. Among liberal
arts colleges only, Carleton ranked 9th. Forbes also ranks Carleton as the number
one college in its Top 25 Midwest Colleges, combining liberal arts
colleges and national universities alike.
Business Insider ranked Carleton as the 7th smartest liberal arts college based
on SAT scores — between Williams, Bowdoin, and Wellesley — and 26th
smartest college overall — tied with Johns Hopkins and ahead of Cornell.
Kiplinger’s Personal Finance places Carleton at 12th in its 2014 ranking of
best value liberal arts colleges in the “United States. Carleton was ranked 5th
in the 2015 Brookings Institution’s list of “Four-Year or Higher Colleges With
the Highest Value-Added With Respect to Mid-Career Earnings”, with Carleton
adding an estimated 43% in value, raising the predicted mid-career salary
of $76,236 to $117,700. In a 2012 study of higher education institutions,
Carleton was listed as the number one peer institution among liberal arts
colleges, followed by Oberlin and Bowdoin, as well as number one overall
followed by Princeton. Criticism of college rankings
Carleton College is part of the Annapolis Group, which has issued a
group statement asking members not to participate in ranking surveys.
President Emeritus Robert Oden stated in 2007, “We commit not to mention ‘U.S.
News’ or similar rankings in any of our new publications, since such lists
mislead the public into thinking that the complexities of American higher
education can be reduced to one number.” The school also responded to a 2003 Wall
Street Journal ranking of 50 undergraduate institutions who are
“feeder schools” to 15 elite MBA, law, and medical schools, in which Carleton
did not rank. Carleton issued a statement asserting that the school’s
“emphasis is not on sending students specifically to elite graduate schools.
Carleton is a top-notch liberal arts college first and foremost, not a
pre-professional school. Our hope is that any Carleton graduate who goes on
to graduate school finds the program that is the best fit for him or her.”
=Graduates=Among American liberal arts
institutions, Carleton College is one of the highest sources of undergraduate
students pursuing doctorates per one hundred students. It has also been
recognized for sending a large number of female students to graduate programs in
the sciences. In the 2013-2014 school year, Carleton graduates had an 18%
success rate in attaining Fulbright program grants with 6 of 33 applicants
awarded. Among liberal arts colleges, the school is a “Top Producer of
Fulbright Awards for American Students”. Of those who applied, 75% of students
are accepted to medical school and 90% to law school. 20% of students
immediately pursue postgraduate studies, yet nearly 75% of all students will
attend a graduate institution. The 15 most common graduate or professional
schools attended by Carleton students are University of Minnesota–Twin Cities,
University of Wisconsin–Madison, University of Michigan–Ann Arbor,
Harvard, University of Chicago, University of Washington, Columbia, UC
Berkeley, Northwestern, NYU, Yale, Stanford, University of Pennsylvania,
Cornell, and University of Iowa. The most commonly pursued graduate programs
are law, medicine, education, history, business administration, and chemistry.
Carleton graduates with only a bachelor’s degree have an average
mid-career salary of $117,770, making its graduates 7th highest paid among
liberal arts college graduates, and 15th overall according to self-reported data
from PayScale. Student life
=Student body=Carleton is an undergraduate-only
institution of higher learning, with enrollment typically between 2,000 to
2,100 students. The undergraduate population is 49% men and 51% women,
with a student to faculty ratio of 9:1. 24.0% of the total student population
are domestic students of color, 11.3% are among the first generation in their
family to college, and 85% of students are from out of state. Comparatively,
Northfield’s demographics for 2010 were 88.8% White, 8.4% Hispanic, 4.0% other,
3.5% Asian/Pacific Islander, 2.2% multiracial, 1.3% African American, and
0.2% Native American. International students numbered at 189
or 9.3%, with the most represented countries being China, South Korea,
Canada, India, and Japan.=Extracurricular organizations=
The school’s nearly 240 active student organizations include three theater
boards, long-form and short-form improv groups and a sketch comedy troupe, six a
cappella groups, four choirs, seven specialized instrumental ensembles, five
dance interest groups, two auditioned dance companies, a successful Mock Trial
team, a nationally competitive debate program, seven recurring student
publications, and a student-run KRLX radio station which employs more than
200 volunteers each term. In five of the last twelve years,
Carleton College students received the Best Delegation award at the World Model
United Nations competition. In the 2013-2014 academic year, the school’s
team ranked among the top 25 in the nation.
The College’s format-free student-run radio station, KRLX, founded in 1947 as
KARL, was ranked by the Princeton Review as one of the nation’s “Ten Best College
Radio Stations”. KRLX broadcasts continually when school is in session.
In 2009 two Carleton students founded the only comics magazine at Carleton,
the Carleton Comics Journal. It releases an issue once every two weeks and has
been generally well received by the Carleton community.
The school has several a cappella groups. The oldest is the all-male
Carleton Singing Knights, which has toured and recorded extensively over its
more than 50-year history. The Knights performed a version of Daft Punk’s
“Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”. Their video on YouTube has received over
4 million views. It was this cover that prompted a student to make a video for
the song, titled Daft Hands. The video became an internet sensation and has
been viewed over 53 million times on YouTube and resulted in the student’s
appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show for a reprise performance.
The Knightingales, one of the all-female groups, are the second oldest a cappella
group on campus. They performed on a special radio performance hosted by
Garrison Keillor at Dacie Moses House in 2002.
=Traditions=Carleton has numerous student
traditions. These include painting the college’s water tower. Notably, a
likeness of President Clinton was painted on the tower the night before
his commencement speech in 2000. Early the following morning, college
maintenance quickly painted over it. The administration’s view of this particular
phenomenon have changed over time. For liability-related reasons, climbing the
water tower is now considered a grave infraction.
Since 1990, Carleton students have played “Late Night Trivia”, a game show
broadcast over the college’s radio station, KRLX, during the annual Winter
Term exam period. Students compete in teams to identify songs and answer
questions. Schiller bust
A bust of Friedrich Schiller, known simply as “Schiller”, has made regular
appearances, though briefly, at large campus events. The tradition dates back
to 1956, when two students absconded with the bust from Scoville Library
during the process of vacating books from there to the new library.
“Schiller” resided in their dorm rooms for a period, only to have the bust
taken from them in turn. Possession of the bust escalated into an elaborate
competition, which took on a high degree of secrecy and strategy.
Schiller’s public appearances, accompanied with a cry of “Schiller!”,
are a tacit challenge to other students to try to capture the bust. The
currently circulating bust of Schiller was retrieved from Puebla, Mexico in the
summer of 2003. In 2006, students created an online scavenger hunt, made
up of a series of complex riddles about Carleton, which led participants to
Schiller’s hidden location. The bust was stolen from the winner of the scavenger
hunt. At commencement in 2006, the holders of the bust arranged for
Schiller to “graduate.” When his name was called at the appropriate moment,
the bust was pulled from behind the podium and prominently displayed.
In March 2010, the bust of Schiller appeared on The Colbert Report. The
appearance was organized by custodians of Schiller who contacted Peter Gwinn, a
Carleton alumnus who was a writer for the program. The bust also appeared on a
Halloween broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion on Minnesota Public Radio.
Campus The college campus was created in 1867
with the gifts of two 10-acre parcels from local businessmen Charles Goodsell
and Charles Augustus Wheaton. The 1040-acre school campus is on a hill
overlooking the Cannon River, at the northeast edge of Northfield. To the
north and east are athletic fields and the Cowling Arboretum, which were farm
fields in the early years of the college. Open land beyond the 880-acre
Arboretum is still largely devoted to agriculture. The campus and arboretum
combined comprise around 1920 acres total.
The center of campus is an open field called “the Bald Spot,” which is used
for ultimate frisbee in the warmer months and flooded to form an ice rink
for skating and broomball in the winter. Most of the campus buildings constructed
before World War II surround the Bald Spot.
=Campus buildings=Several of Carleton’s older buildings
have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Willis
Hall, the first building on campus, was constructed from 1869 to 1872.
Originally the hall contained the men’s dormitory, classrooms, library, and
chapel. The building was gutted by fire in 1879, after which it was entirely
rebuilt within the existing stone shell. The original front of the building
became the rear entrance with the construction of Severance Hall in 1928.
As new buildings were constructed, various academic departments cycled
through the building. Beginning in 1954, Willis served as the college student
union, until it was replaced in 1979 by the Sayles-Hill Student Center, a
converted gymnasium. It currently houses the Economics, Political Science, and
Educational Studies offices. The college’s clock bell tower and the main
college flagpole, along with the radio tower for KRLX, are located on the roof.
Goodsell Observatory, also on the NRHP, was constructed in 1887 and at the time
was the largest observatory in the state of Minnesota. It was named for Charles
Goodsell, who donated land for the campus. From the late 19th century to
the end of the World War II, Goodsell Observatory kept the time for every
major railroad west of the Mississippi River, including Northern Pacific
Railway, the Great Northern Railway, the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul
Railroad, and the St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Manitoba railroads. Goodsell served
as the headquarters of a state weather service from 1883 to 1886.
Scoville Hall, completed in 1896, is on the NRHP. Replaced in function by the
Gould Library in the 1950s, Scoville was adapted for use as the Cinema and Media
Studies department, the media center, and the academic support center.
Four nineteenth-century buildings have been demolished. Gridley Hall was the
main women’s dormitory for many years, and was demolished in 1967 for
construction of the Music and Drama Center. Williams Hall was the college’s
first science building; it was demolished in 1961. Seccombe House was
used for music instruction until 1914, and was located near the site of the
current Skinner Chapel. The first Observatory was replaced by Goodsell
Observatory in 1887, and the facility was demolished in 1905 to make way for
Laird Hall. Laird Hall was built for science classes
in 1905; the classical-revival building now houses the English department and
administrative offices, including the President’s office. Sayles-Hill was
built as the first school gymnasium in 1910, and converted to a student center
in 1979. The eclectic styles of the eight
buildings that made up the college in 1914, when Donald Cowling became
president, where replaced by a uniform Collegiate Gothic style for the nine
buildings erected during his tenure. Skinner Memorial Chapel, completed in
1916, is on the NRHP. Three connected western dorms were built for men: Burton
Hall, Davis Hall, and Severance Hall, and two residence halls were built for
women: Nourse Hall and Margaret Evans Hall. Evans Hall was notable for decades
for its subdivision into adjacent columns of rooms off stairwells, rather
than the more typical arrangement of floors of rooms on hallways. In the fall
of 2012, Evans was heavily refurbished to modernize the internal layout and
increase overall occupancy. Music Hall was built in 1914, and since the
construction of the Music & Drama Center in 1967 has been referred to as Old
Music Hall. Laird Stadium which stands at the site of the football and track
field, was built in 1927. Leighton Hall, originally built for the Chemistry
department, now houses academic and administrative offices, including the
business office. The Great Depression and World War II
essentially ended the construction boom for two decades. Boliou Hall was built
in 1949 in a modernist style, using yellow sandstone as a major element. It
was enlarged using a similar style and materials in the early 1990s. The
Library was built in 1956 in a similar style, but was expanded in a brick-based
style in the mid 1980s. It was renamed the Gould Memorial Library in 1995 for
former President Larry Gould. Musser and Myers Halls were built in 1958 as men’s
and women’s dorms respectively, in a bare-bones modernist brick style.
Minoru Yamasaki, most famously the architect of the original New York World
Trade Center, designed five buildings at Carleton in the 1960s. Olin Hall of
Science has a distinctive “radiator” grill work on the exterior. Goodhue and
Watson Halls were built as dormitories. Watson is the tallest building on campus
at seven floors. The West Gym and Cowling Gym were built to replace
Sayles-Hill for indoor athletic facilities, originally for men and women
respectively. Carleton built a new 80,000-square-foot
Recreation Center in 2000. A full indoor fieldhouse is located above a fitness
center, which includes a climbing wall and bouldering wall.
In the fall of 2011, the Weitz Center for Creativity opened up in a renovated
middle school. The Center includes a cinema and a live theater, and is the
new home of the Cinema and Media Studies department, and the associated recording
and production studios. It is also the home of Presentation, Event and
Production Services.=Cowling Arboretum=
The Cowling Arboretum, “the Arb”, was initially created from lands purchased
in the 1920s by President Donald J. Cowling. As the college was having
difficult financial times, it was first called “Cowling’s Folly” but later
became his legacy. After Carleton Farm was closed, its acreage was added to the
Arboretum. Since 1970 acreage has been removed from
cultivation in sections. The Arboretum has approximately 880 acres of restored
and remnant forest, Cannon River floodplain, bur oak savannah, and
tallgrass prairie. The Arboretum is divided by Minnesota Highway 19 into the
larger Lower Arb to the north and the smaller Upper Arb. Pedestrian trails are
located throughout the Arb, as well as the school’s cross-country running and
skiing courses, and a paved mixed-use bicycle/running trail in the Upper Arb.
=Sustainability=In October 2007, the Sustainable
Endowments Institute, a Cambridge, Massachusetts organization, recognized
Carleton as a leader in overall college sustainability. In the “College
Sustainability Report Card 2008”, which evaluates the 200 colleges and
universities with the largest endowments in the United States and Canada,
Carleton received the highest evaluation grade of A-, putting the college in the
category of College Sustainability Leader. The Report Card also cited
Carleton as an Endowment Sustainability Leader, along with Dartmouth and
Williams. A wind turbine located near the campus generates the equivalent of
approximately 40 percent of Carleton’s electrical energy use; it is configured
to sell this power back to the local grid for the most efficient use system
wide. Over the life of Carleton’s turbine, it is estimated that the
College will reduce CO2 by 1.5 million tons. In late 2011, Carleton installed a
second wind turbine that provides power directly to the campus, providing for an
additional 30 to 40 percent of the college’s electrical energy use.
Athletics Carleton is a member of National
Collegiate Athletic Association Division III and participates in the Minnesota
Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, re-joining the conference in 1983.
Carleton was a founding member of the MIAC in 1920, but left in 1925. The
athletic department sponsors 18 teams, ten each for men and women. All students
must take physical education or athletic classes to fulfill general education
requirements.=Club sports=
The student-run Ultimate frisbee clubs have had the most competitive success;
most notably, the school’s top men’s team, Carleton Ultimate Team, and
women’s team, Syzygy, are perennial national contenders in the USA Ultimate
College Division. CUT has qualified annually for nationals since 1989, and
won the National Championship in 2001, 2009, and 2011. Syzygy has qualified for
women’s nationals all but one year since 1987, and won the National Championship
in 2000. The other men’s Ultimate team, the Gods of Plastic, won the 2009, 2010,
and 2012 Division III National Championship tournaments, and the second
women’s Ultimate team, Eclipse, won Division III nationals in 2011.
The spring intramural softball league is known as Rotblatt, in honor of baseball
player Marvin Rotblatt. Once a year a day-long game, also known as Rotblatt,
lasts the same number of innings as the number of years since Carleton’s
founding. In 1997, Sports Illustrated honored Rotblatt in its “Best of
Everything” section with the award, “Longest Intramural Event.”
In popular culture Pamela Dean set her fantasy novel Tam
Lin at a fictional “Blackstock College”, based on Dean’s alma mater, Carleton.
Dean’s author’s note begins, “Readers acquainted with Carleton College will
find much that is familiar to them in the architecture, landscape, classes,
terminology, and general atmosphere of Blackstock.” Blackstock’s buildings were
given names that reference their counterparts at Carleton.
Carleton College is mentioned in scene five of Wendy Wasserstein’s 1988
Pulitzer-Prize winning play, The Heidi Chronicles.
As mentioned, the Schiller bust was briefly featured on the TV show The
Colbert Report on March 29, 2010. On June 2, 2010, an unknown group of
students transformed Goodsell Observatory into a giant R2D2.
Maintenance staff did not respond positively, and the decorations were
removed a few hours later, but not before students took some widely
circulated photographs and videos. A group of Carleton students set a
Guinness world record for the largest number of people spooning on June 4,
2010. Ben Wyatt from the TV series Parks and
Recreation is a fictional Carleton alumnus.
Notable alumni and faculty Notable graduates of Carleton College
include economist Thorstein Veblen, US Supreme Court Justice Pierce Butler,
research chemist Ray Wendland, US Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird,
NBC television journalist and Meet the Press host Garrick Utley, geologist
Walter Alvarez, geneticist Mary-Claire King, editor-in-chief of Politico John
F. Harris, and American journalist and television personality Jonathan
Capehart. Notable faculty have included Ian
Barbour, winner of the 1999 Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion; Laurence
McKinley Gould, Antarctic explorer; and Paul Wellstone, U.S. Senator from
Minnesota 1991–2002. Points of interest
Carleton College Cowling Arboretum Goodsell Observatory
The Cave Weitz Center for Creativity
See also List of colleges and universities in
Minnesota References
External links Official website
Carleton Athletics website