June 23, 2008

Volume 2, issue 42
June 23, 2008
The Fountain

Team effort results in $345,000 grant to fund Global Studies Initiative

Whitman has received a $345,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to launch and develop an exciting new initiative designed to globalize the campus and the curriculum. The Global Studies Initiative, created by a team of faculty and staff members over the past two years, will allow Whitman to offer comprehensive faculty development opportunities as well as provide immediate funding for curricular innovation in global studies, said Rachna Sinnott ’93, director of foundation and corporate relations. “It will provide a solid foundation for the integration of global issues into all three divisions of Whitman’s academic programs - the social sciences, the humanities and arts, and the sciences.”

“I’m thrilled that the Mellon Foundation is supporting our initiative,” said Shampa Biswas, associate professor of politics, who has been named global studies director. “Faculty members from all three divisions have worked for more than two years to make this happen — this truly is a collective accomplishment.” Biswas noted that the generous faculty development component of the grant will provide a tremendous opportunity for faculty to exchange ideas and develop new interdisciplinary courses. “The goal is to create an intellectual environment at the college, from which to approach issues related to globalization thoughtfully and critically.”

President Bridges op-ed published in Baltimore Sun

“Why at least one liberal arts college will never change,” by President George Bridges, was published Friday, June 20, in the Baltimore Sun. In the opinion piece, President Bridges noted that “Whitman College, where I am president, is the lone remaining liberal arts college in Washington. We view this as a great honor and an abiding responsibility.” Whitman, he said, will never become a university. “We will not need to in order to thrive.” The entire op-ed can be read here.

A new Brattain Auditorium takes shape in Hall of Science

A new and updated Brattain Auditorium will greet students and faculty in the fall thanks to a $400,000 face-lift that will take it from 1984 state-of the-art to 2008 state-of-the art configuration. Brattain was well-suited for the pedagogical style of 1984 when it was built, said Andrea Dobson, associate professor of astronomy, but the new design will be more amenable to today’s teaching styles — and the orange décor, another carry-over from the 1980s, will become a thing of the past.

U.J. Sofia, professor of astronomy, said that the new configuration of seats and the addition of recessed laptops every two-to-three seats will enable the students to perform virtual labs during class, which has been shown to increase student learning. The new seats will be arranged in a curved, tiered arc, and the number of seats will be reduced from 90 seats, all looking forward, to 60 seats around curved tables. This layout is more conducive to the current style of teaching, and Sofia said he is very excited about the transformation of the teaching space. In fact, “I rearranged my sabbatical so I could teach in here this fall.”

Other changes in the science building, said Dobson, include the re-allocation of space to create several new faculty research labs — in chemistry, geology and biology — designed to meet the needs of new faculty and the increasing emphasis on opportunities for faculty-student collaborative research.

Support for these projects comes from individual donations, the recently received HHMI grant and the college’s lifecycle program.

Faculty Accomplishments

Aaron Bobrow-Strain, assistant professor of politics and author of “Intimate Enemies, Landowners, Power, and Violence in Chiapas,” presented a talk at a conference in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, in early June. The conference, sponsored by National Autonomous University of Mexico, was called “Rethinking the Mexican Revolution in Chiapas” and presented a series of talks by scholars challenging the popular notion that the Mexican Revolution had little impact on landowner-dominated Chiapas, Mexico. His talk was feature prominently in a report by one of Mexico’s leading national newspapers, La Jornada.

Nancy Forsthoefel, research specialist, and Dan Vernon, associate professor of biology, both of the biology department’s "Team Weed," will present research findings from the Vernon lab at the Plant Biology 2008 Conference in Merida, Mexico, on July 1. The annual conference, run by the American Society of Plant Biologists, is the largest international meeting of plant biochemists, molecular biologists, and physiologists. Nancy will share results of the lab's National Science Foundation-funded research on genes involved in pollen development, and Vernon will give an invited talk on genes that help coordinate the formation of chloroplasts in plant embryos. Recent Whitman graduates Thuy Dao ’07, Barbara Simeles ’08, and Nick Davis ’08 are included as co-authors on the presentations.

Susan Weiler, biology research associate, has been named senior research associate, recognizing her 20-plus years of association with Whitman and her work with the external scientific community.

Patrick Henry, Cushing Eells Professor of Philosophy and Literature emeritus, and author of “We only know men: the rescue of Jews in France during the Holocaust,” was quoted in a May 14 Christian Science Monitor article, “A Protestant Town’s ‘Conspiracy of Good’ in Vichy France.” Henry’s book, which was rated “Highly recommended” in the June issue of Choice: current reviews for academic libraries, tells the story of the rescuers of Jews in France during the Holocaust, particularly those centered in and around Le Chambon-sur-Signon. “The question of Holocaust education in France, as this article makes clear,” said Henry, “became a front page issue when the French president brought the matter to the attention of the international media.” The French education ministry is revisiting Holocaust curricula in the French classroom, according to the article, in which Henry was quoted as saying “Why would we ever want to forget the only people who remembered the Jews during the Nazi plague?” Henry has been chosen as a speaker for the 2008-2009 Inquiring Mind Program sponsored by Humanities Washington. He will present two alternating talks in Washington as he travels the state: “Madeleine Dreyfus: Righteous Jew” and “Why Learn about the rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust?”

A place to remember

Thanks to the generosity of 1958 alumna Janet Haltom-Ames the Whitman community now has a designated place to gather and remember loved ones who have passed away. A plaque affixed to a rock near the entrance to Cordiner Glen (affectionately known on campus as “Narnia”) announces: “This place of reflection honors those Whitman alumni, students, faculty and staff who have touched our lives. We remember them with thankful hearts for the spirit they shared, the relationships they fostered and the Whitman experiences they shared.” The plaque, which also includes the chorus from the Whitman Hymn, was installed near Cordiner Glen because of its beauty and tranquility, and the space it offers to modest-sized groups, said Jamie Kennedy ’96, director of planned giving. “On many campuses there is a chapel or spiritual center to honor the memory of classmates,” said Adam Kirtley, Stuart religious counselor. “I think designating this beautiful and peaceful place near Cordiner Glen is a fantastic idea. It will be widely used and greatly appreciated.”

Important message from WCTS: don't be fooled

Kevin Kelly, director, network technology, reminds us that "Phishing" e-mails are fake messages that "attempt to trick you into giving up confidential information." They have become very common and numerous, and many Whitman e-mail addresses have received a message that looks like the one below. These fake messages can appear to come from banks, eBay and PayPal, and even Whitman College, and they often use scare tactics, like the one shown below that says your account will be deleted permanently.

He cautions: "You should NEVER respond to an e-mail asking you for confidential information. WCTS would NEVER ask for your password via e-mail." At least one campus community member responded to this message, and their password was then immediately used to send out a large number of new SPAM e-mail messages.

If you responded to the fake e-mail, you MUST change your password immediately. Go to the Whitman home page, select the Web page for faculty, staff or students and click on the "Online Password Changer" link.

Below is the latest fake, phishing e-mail. Again, it was NOT sent by WCTS.

Dear WHITMAN Webmail Account Owner, This message is from WHITMAN messaging center to all WHITMAN email account owners. We are currently upgrading our data base and e-mail account center. We are deleting all unused WHITMAN email account to create more space for new accounts. To prevent your account from closing you will have to update it below so that we will know that it's a present used account.

Your Name:
Email Username :
Email Password :

Warning!!! Account owner that refuses to update his or her account within Seven days of receiving this warning will lose his or her account permanently.

Thank you for using WHITMAN Webmail!

Warning Code:VX2G99AAJ

WHITMAN Webmail Team

Another Whitman actor in “Anything Goes”

Andrew Hoffman, son of Kurt Hoffman, professor of physics, is another of the Whitman-affiliated junior thespians in this year’s Walla Walla Community College Foundation’s summer musical “Anything Goes,” staged at the Fort Walla Walla Amphitheater July 10 through July 26.

New staff member starts today

The college welcomes Kathleen McCaw, administrative assistant, admission, today.

Whitman College
In This Issue
Mellon Grant
Bridges Op-Ed
New Brattain Auditorium
Faculty Accomplishments
A Place to Remember
Don’t Be Fooled
Another Actor
New Staff Member

Past issues

The Fountain is published by the Office of Communications. Send news to Editor Lenel Parish at thefountain@whitman.edu. Photos are accepted. Submissions are due by Tuesday at 5 p.m. for the following week's issue. Editorial Assistant: Marcy Manker ’10. Director of Communications: Ruth Wardwell. Online: www.whitman.edu/fountain