December 8, 2008

Volume 3, issue 16
December 8, 2008
The Fountain

Whitman remembers Laura Ealy

The sudden passing of Custodian Laura Ealy just prior to Thanksgiving stunned the campus community. Many faculty and staff members joined her family and friends for a memorial service on campus last week that truly honored a life well-lived, albeit far too short.

Adam Kirtley, Stuart coordinator of religious and spiritual life, guided attendees through the service that Laura herself actually planned about a year ago, without any notion whatsoever that it would come to pass so soon. “We have come together with heavy hearts, seeking the comfort that comes from community,” Kirtley said. “This is a deeply tragic gathering, yet we are invited to reflect on the joy of Laura’s life.”

And there was plenty of joy in her life, including her two nephews, her family and many dear friends, passion for the Seattle Seahawks, fantasy football (she was “Rookie of the Year” in her league), playing pool (she hoped to convert a lounge in Maxey into a pool hall), nature and animals (especially the owl that hung out by Maxey), Pepsi — not Coke, helping people in all ways (especially helping them to discover themselves) and Whitman College itself.

Ealy came to Whitman in 1990. In addition to her duties in Maxey Hall, she served on the plant services Scholarship Fund Committee and took special pride in decorating the Commencement stage. She once told Whitman Magazine in an interview that she served three presidents, saw extensive renovations and met thousands of students. “I’ve been here through the grunge era and the preppy era. I’ve seen a lot of interesting things,” she said.

Ginni Delavan, assistant custodial supervisor and one of Ealy’s closest and dearest friends, eulogized her, expressing that Ealy “shared special parts of herself with everyone and never took anything for granted. She had a phrase: ‘you either get it or you don’t.’ She wanted everyone to get it, and getting it was knowing there was something bigger than ourselves. She loved helping people discover the best in themselves. She got it.”

Bill Bogard, Division I chair, described her as “real, down-to-earth, fun-loving, straight-talking and hard-working. She’s a reminder of how much of a community this place is and how much we need to rely on each other. She will be missed,” said Bogard, who added “We will have a pool room named for her!”

Provost Lori Bettison-Varga expressed condolences on behalf of the Whitman faculty and staff and read comments from President Bridges, who was out of town. “Her commitment to Whitman was steadfast. To her, Whitman was more than a workplace; it was an integral part of her identity. She was a Whittie. Laura was a force for good; there can never be enough people like Laura,” he wrote.

Whitman Winter Holiday Party is Dec. 20

President Bridges and Dr. Kari Tupper invite faculty and staff and a guest to the Annual Whitman Winter Holiday Party. Hot and cold hors d’œuvres, wine, beer, non-alcoholic punch and dessert will be served; casual or festive attire is appropriate. The party will feature live music by Vintage (starrting Professor Keith Farrington on bass guitar) at 8 and DJ Jon Loney (who doubles as Whitman’s manager of instructional multimedia services) at 10. It’s Saturday, Dec. 20, in the Young Ballroom (Reid Campus Center) from 8-11:30 p.m. Please RSVP (attending, attending with guest, unable to attend) to (x5133) by Tuesday, Dec. 16.

Coffee with the president Wednesday

The next all-staff coffee meeting with President Bridges will be Wednesday, Dec. 10, at 8:30 a.m. in Olin 130. President Bridges will give a brief update on the college budget and financial situation and take questions. Please remember to bring your own cups for beverages to support conservation efforts. No RSVP required. Please mark your calendar and invite staff who do not regularly receive e-mail.

Staff and Faculty Accomplishments

President Bridges took the lead role in writing an opinion piece by the 10 presidents of Washington’s independent colleges that was published in the Dec. 1 Seattle Times. Titled “Don’t backslide on higher education,” the piece discusses why “All of us will hurt if we backslide in our commitment to higher education. Balancing the state budget on colleges or universities, or on our students, won’t lessen the burden.” Read the piece at the Seattle Times site. The piece has also been re-published in several places, including

Bob Carson, Phillips professor of geology and environmental studies, and Don Snow, senior lecturer of environmental studies and humanities, are quoted in a Dec. 1 Tri-City Herald article titled “Book, calendar expose Columbia’s beauty.” It talks about the recently released book “Where the Great River Bends: A natural and human history of the Columbia at Wallula,” edited by Carson, who is also one of five writers. Snow wrote the book’s preface. The complete article is here.

Michele Hanford, Baker Ferguson Fitness Center director, hosted a pre-emptive Thanksgiving dinner workout for all interested students, faculty and staff on the morning of Thursday, Nov. 27. The price of admission for working on her holiday? Hanford requested a gently used coat or sweater and one or two non-perishable food items for Helpline and the Christian Aid Center. “This year’s fundraiser was a big success,” said Hanford. “I was able to fill an entire Ford Explorer, top to bottom, with winter clothes and food.” Next year she’s hoping even more of us will show up to fight off the turkey day over-indulgence. Thirty-eight people attended this year.

Machelle Hartman, lecturer in chemistry, has been appointed to the City of Walla Walla’s new Ad Hoc Sustainability Committee, which has been assembled to help provide focus for community sustainability issues needing further analysis.

Nancy Simon ’63, Garrett professor of dramatic art, recently returned from her second trip to Taiwan this year, where she conducted a workshop and presented a lecture at Changhua University. On an earlier trip she researched an article on Taiwanese theater designs that she and Shu-Chu Wei-Peng, John and Jean Henkels endowed chair of Chinese languages and literatures, will publish this winter.

Faculty Profile: Michelle Acuff
Assistant professor of art

  • Department: Art
  • Birthplace: Chicago
  • Education: BA, Augustana College; MA, MFA, The University of Iowa
  • Years at Whitman: Two
  • Courses: Sculpture, Drawing, Senior Seminar and Thesis
  • Favorite…
    • Book, film, music, play. art, etc: “The English Patient,” most anything by Jeanette Winterson, Annie Dillard, poems by Mary Oliver, Carolyn Forche, Neruda, mostly foreign films, “The West Wing,” “The Weepies,” Chris Pureka, Bach.
    • Sculpture on campus: I am falling in love with the way water moves through the Mill Creek channel behind the Fouts Center for Visual Arts — very sculptural!
  • Best travel experience: Living with a family of indigenous ceramists deep in the Amazon basin, hunting and gathering all our food.
  • Interests/pleasures: Tools, irreverence, cycling, wine tasting, vocabulary, the earth, sunsets, the Blue Mountains, poetry, breathing, the dark matter of the universe, my dog River, cognitive science.
  • Recent accomplishment: I have eaten more vegetables in the last month that all my 38 years put together.
  • What people don’t know about me: I was a young Republican.
  • Why I teach: In order to learn.
  • Favorite aspect of Whitman: Intensity of both the students and the faculty, the landscape.
  • What I’ve learned here: Some stuff about modal epistemology, that we really need each other, and to be at war with the obvious.
  • Quote: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” - R. Buckminster Fuller

Debunking Walla Walla recycling myths

According to Lina Menard, Center for Community Service coordinator, Melissa Warner, Walla Walla sustainability coordinator, would like to squash the following rumors:

  1. The curbside service will stop. FALSE.
  2. Basin Disposal Inc. (BDI) of the Tri-Cities backed out of the new recycling contract. FALSE. (BDI is the prospective contractor that will take over the curbside recycling collection program in 2009.)
  3. The material reclamation facility (MRF) in Portland is taking our recycling collection to the landfill rather than processing it. FALSE.

The recycling business is experiencing some turbulence right now, said Warner. “It’s going to be a very critical situation to watch over the next couple of months,” she said, “but rest assured that we will continue our current recycling operations as long as we are able. We are currently assessing our options for the service in the event we need to make some changes to the program.”

Coming Events
All free unless otherwise stated

Thursday, Dec. 11, through Sunday, Dec. 14
Theatre: Harper Joy Theatre presents “The Shadow” by Yevgheny Shvarts, translated by Elisaveta Fen. From Soviet Russia, this play is a darkly comic fable of innocence and corruption. A young scholar visiting a kingdom where “all they tell you in fairy tales happens every day,” longs to marry its princess but is betrayed by his own shadow. Alexander Stage. 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. For information and tickets, contact the Box Office: x5180.

Saturday, Dec. 20
Party: Staff and faculty are invited to bring a guest to the Whitman Winter Holiday Party. 8-11:30 p.m., Reid Campus Center.

Save the dates
Wednesday, Feb. 11, through Sunday, Feb. 15
Theatre: Harper Joy Theatre hosts the Annual Student One-Act Play Contest on the Freimann Stage. Students submit original scripts, and three are chosen to compete for cash prizes. The audiences are the judges. 8 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Box Office: x5180.

Parting Shot
By Greg Lehman, photographer/communications officer

As the weather cools down and the academic pressure heats up, students studying at Penrose find that warm sun rays beat fluorescent tubes every time!

Tom Bugert ’09 works on his Japanese Haiku homework near an upper floor window. Full size.

Laura Euller ’12 reviews her French on her laptop downstairs. Full size.

Lindsay Olson ponders math in the quiet of the Allen Reading Room. Full size.

Whitman College
In This Issue
Laura Ealy Memorial
Holiday Party
Coffee with the President
Staff and Faculty Accomplishments
Faculty/Staff Profile:
Michelle Acuff
Recycling Myths
Coming Events

Past issues

The Fountain is published by the Office of Communications. Send news to Editor Lenel Parish at Photos are accepted. Submissions are due by Tuesday at 5 p.m. for the following week's issue. Director of Communications: Ruth Wardwell. Online: