LaxStache Madness isn't just a campaign. It's a state of mind. And mustaches. In 2017, 1,395 lacrosse players from 77 college and university teams around the U.S. grew mustaches and raised funds for the HEADstrong Foundation, which supports the families of cancer patients. The fundraisers ranged from cornhole contests to car washes and brought in $245,000, topping 2016's total of $203,000.
Teams are put in brackets—think March Madness—based on number of participants and biggest weekly fundraising gains. Unlike in real life, teams come not only from top-tier Division I and Divisions II and III but also the club league MCLA (Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association) and NCLL (National College Lacrosse League). In other words, LaxStache—whose mustache theme is just a fun incentive to participate—is a great equalizer across skill levels.
"The idea is to spark competition that would never take place on an athletic field," says Pat Colleluori, HEADstrong's chief marketing officer. "One thing we share is a love for lacrosse."
Colleluori's late brother, Nick, founded HEADstrong during his battle with cancer. A lacrosse player at Hofstra University in New York, Nick lost his hair and eyebrows during treatment but grew a mustache for the first time. He died in 2006. The LaxStache competition kicks off every Oct. 19, Nick's birthday, and concludes Nov. 28, the anniversary of Nick's death.
Now in its 10th year, the contest helps defray lodging costs for families dealing with astronomical medical bills. Funds have paid for more than 1,633 nights at Nick's House, two guest homes for those with loved ones receiving cancer treatments in the Philadelphia area.
In 2017's Final Four matchup, Division I University of Maryland beat Division III Bowdoin College in Maine. Towson University in Maryland, a Division I lacrosse powerhouse, ultimately won the bracket, raising $18,439.
"It's something we've cultivated and really made fun," Colleluori says.
St. Mary's College of Maryland coach Jason Childs beat colon cancer in 2018 even as a fellow lacrosse coach succumbed to the disease. He's become passionate about LaxStache.
"With 45 guys on a team, there's a lot of good you can do, whether raising money or working in the community," says Childs, who will shave his beard for the contest and keep his mustache. "Whatever world we're in—lacrosse or St. Mary's County—that's what we want to do." Julie Bourbon
It was partly a response to successfully completing the 7.5-year "Campaign for Santa Cruz" and partly spontaneity that prompted UC Santa Cruz to declare 2018 the Year of Alumni, says Keith Brant, vice chancellor of university relations.
With little (OK, no) budget, the campaign included a dedicated website; a "stamp" logo that proved to be a popular marketing tool; beefed-up coverage on social media; and banners on campus highlighting notable graduates. Strategically placed ads in the alumni magazine included a back cover alumni trivia contest with a prize of free admission for a guest to an alumni weekend reception.
The goal, Brant says, was to build alumni engagement and encourage departments universitywide to highlight the accomplishments of their alumni, many of whom work in the entertainment industry or in nearby Silicon Valley.
It was the first real concerted effort to do so for UC Santa Cruz, established in 1965 and one of the youngest of the nine UC System campuses. Unlike the older campuses, Brant says, UC Santa Cruz lacks deep alumni giving and engagement with its roughly 120,000 graduates, half of whom received their degree in the past 15 years.
The Year of Alumni "had payoff in terms of increasing awareness on campus of the role of alumni," Brant says. "It has generated conversation about how we engage alumni."
The website features a selection of 2018 commencement stories, Distinguished Graduate Student Alumni award recipients, and alumni working in fields from film to neutrino physics. A local artist's eye-catching caricature-like drawings depict 15 noteworthy alumni, including actress Adilah Barnes, known for the TV shows The Middle and Cold Case. Barnes took a leading role in a campus production of A Raisin in the Sun this year.
Other alumni depicted on the site include Kathryn Sullivan, the first American woman to walk in space; Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube; and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Martha Mendoza. Mendoza interviewed alumnus John Laird—one of the nation's first openly gay mayors and now California's secretary for natural resources—at a Founder's Celebration in October, an event tied to the Year of Alumni.
Brant says the advancement staff had fun with the campaign and did as much as they could do to rev up sluggish (excuse the pun) engagement on a shoestring budget. But he acknowledges that it could have been more impactful if the marketing dollars had been available.
"At a campus like ours, where we don't have Division I athletics, and it's fairly young, it's more of a challenge, so we've got to be clever," he says. "Creating short-term marketing campaigns around simple themes can attract attention in new ways." JB
With more than 3,500 nativity scenes representing more than 100 countries—from Argentina to Japan to Zimbabwe—the University of Dayton's Marian Library crèche collection is among the world's largest, even though its smallest crèche fits on the head of a nail.
The Ohio institution, founded by the Society of Mary (Marianists), has long attracted donations of religious objects (prayer cards, bottles of holy water, rosaries). In 1994, the university formalized the crèche collection. Donors often give and bequeath nativity scenes; the library purchases and commissions others and loans out hundreds annually to churches, libraries, and museums.
The tradition of recreating the manger in which Christ was believed to have been born dates to the Middle Ages, taking hold in the 17th and 18th centuries in Naples, Italy; Provence, France; modern southern Germany; and Austria. Spread by missionaries, it has become one of the most popular forms of religious art.
The Provençal Village crèche is the collection's most sprawling, including 151 santons, or little saints, painted clay figures sold in the village markets of Provence. The crèche shows the entirety of village life, including a church, vineyard, and castle, with angels suspended above. One of the largest collections of santons in the U.S., it shows, says Marian Library Director Sarah Cahalan, that nativity scenes are not just decorations; they're expressions of faith from many cultures.
"By bringing together nativities from around the world, we help people explore the intersection of faith and culture," Cahalan says, "whether they want to study it deeply or simply enjoy our annual display as part of their Christmas tradition." JB
Around the globe, college and university museums house treasures from dinosaur fossils to ancient carvings to fine art. Some museums, though, display artifacts that are a little unexpected—while telling stories that showcase an institution's alumni, faculty, or mission.
"Just as every institution of higher education is unique, so, too, are the types of museums that exist on our campuses," says Craig Hadley, vice president of communications for the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries and also the director/curator of the Richard E. Peeler Art Center Galleries at DePauw University in Indiana. Museums offer stories and community spaces that can celebrate a university's history, enhance institutional narratives, and craft new visions of what institutions can be, he says.
Wichita State University's Pizza Hut Museum in Kansas, for instance, chronicles the entrepreneurial journey of alumni Dan and Frank Carney. As students, the brothers opened a 600-square-foot pizza tavern, which would become today's empire of more than 16,500 worldwide locations. The Carneys donated memorabilia for the museum (including cookware and family photos), which opened in 2018, and their story has come to exemplify Wichita State innovation.
"Their original franchise agreements and sauce recipe were written on napkins," says Keith Pickus, vice president of Wichita State's foundation. "You come away [from the museum] thinking, ‘Wow, this idea to create a company can lead to big outcomes.'"
The museum is part of the 120-acre Innovation Campus that includes laboratories to give students hands-on, applied learning opportunities.
"One of our goals here is to infuse, as much as possible, an entrepreneurial spirit into every student," says Pickus, who notes that the museum is a key stop on campus tours. "From the beginning, we want students to think big."
Check out these other eccentric curated collections.
The Yale Collection of Musical Instruments was established in 1900 when musician, teacher, and piano maker Morris Steinert donated his collection of keyboards—including an Austrian piano dating from 1795.
The Connecticut museum is now the place to go to learn the difference between a hurdy-gurdy, sheng, lapa, and cor anglais.
What's the rarest skeleton in the world? It's a quagga, a South African zebra, and University College London's Grant Zoology Museum has one among its 68,000 zoological specimens, which also include dodos and thylacines (a carnivorous marsupial).
The museum was started in 1827 by Robert Grant, the university's first professor of zoology and comparative anatomy, who donated his library and 10,000-specimen collection.
At Temple University's Historical Dental Museum in Pennsylvania, learn about alumnus Edgar R.R. Parker—known as Painless Parker. He earned his nickname lecturing to crowds about the painlessness of dentistry with a bucket of teeth at his feet.
The museum features dental tools throughout American history, photos of student laboratories, and tales of alumni like Parker.
Get a jolt of knowledge at the University of Pavia's (Italy) museum system, where you can visit the Museo Tecnica Elettrica and learn about the history of electrical technology. Alessandro Volta, inventor of the battery, was a professor of experimental physics there for nearly 40 years. His actual research instruments are on display at Pavia's Museum for the History of the University.