June 9, 2008

Volume 2, issue 41
June 9, 2008
The Fountain

Staff appreciated, appreciative at annual gathering

Staff Appreciation Day 2008 left staff feeling appreciated and appreciative — for President Bridges’ gift of the afternoon off. Before dispersing to enjoy the sunny afternoon, those in attendance saluted this year’s recipients of the Janice Abraham Award, given annually to staff members who have made significant contributions and provided outstanding service to Whitman.

From left, Abraham Award winners Tamara Tinhof ’08, Jim French, Marilyn Ponti, and Jerry Clifton

Jerry Clifton, senior hardware technician hired in 1997, was praised for his willingness to go out of his way to help others and his patience and understanding. He was described as one who works behind the scenes and is quiet and humble despite the fact that “Many people at Whitman consider him to be their own personal computer support person,” the president said.

Marilyn Ponti, assistant director of financial aid, hired in 1995, was lauded for her compassionate customer service when dealing with students and families making their way through the financial aid process, her numerous professional associations and her work as the “unofficial house mother for the Sigma Chis.”

Jim French, custodian hired in 1992, was described as a fantastic resource who plans ahead and is unfailingly cheerful and quick to volunteer a helping hand to others. Jim was lauded for his work with students, faculty and staff, and one of his nominators was a student who described how kind and helpful he was as she recovered from knee surgery.

Tamara Tinhof ’08, director of donor communications and relations, who was hired at Whitman in 2001 and graduated from it in 2008, was honored for her “commitment to excellence, spirit of service and enthusiasm for her work.” President Bridges also noted that, in addition to being known for helping others with projects unrelated to her assigned duties, she also assists with the English department at Wa-Hi, and is involved with her daughter’s music and theater activities.

Other highlights of the day included a delicious picnic lunch, preceded by M&M hors d’oeuvres, an introduction of new staff members and presentations of certificates to staff who have worked at the college for 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25 years. Kathy O’Leary, manager of trusts and endowment, and Kidan Tesfay, custodian, were 25-year certificate recipients.

Like to see some of the happy faces? A photo gallery is online here.

Summer College 2008 offers a liberal arts look at “Power”

Beginning today (Monday, June 9) you may see a number of “new” old faces around campus. Summer College 2008, which runs through Friday, will bring nearly 50 parents, alumni and friends to campus, said Polly Schmitz, assistant vice president for alumni relations. They will be offered an exploration of “Power” as taught from a liberal arts perspective. The temporary students will enjoy a week of intellectual challenge, lively discussion and entertaining experiences, much like the experience of Whitman students today — but without the tests! In addition to instruction by professors and fellow alumni, a field trip excursion and several social events will highlight the week. Whitman faculty and staff who’ll teach at Summer College 2008 include Kurt Hoffman, Bob Withycombe, Dana Burgess, Gaurav Majumdar, Matthew Prull, Jan Crouter, Paul Apostolidis, Jamie Kennedy and Mary Hanna. Want to know more? Click here.

Faculty Accomplishments

Kate Jackson, assistant professor of biology, was featured in a six-minute segment on NPR’s “All Things Considered” earlier this month. Jackson was interviewed by David Malakoff after her talk at the Smithsonian Institution, where she shared her research and read from her new book about snakes, Mean and Lowly Things. Jackson’s latest finds from her field work in the Congo now reside in the herpetology collection of the Smithsonian, and her book hit No. 1 on the Amazon.com best-seller list of herpetology titles. Her interview can be heard on the NPR Web site.

Associate professor of chemistry Ruth Russo “pre-retires”

Ruth Russo, associate professor of chemistry and general studies, is “pre-retiring” to a life where she will, among other things, “practice more yoga and expand my repertoire of vegetarian menus that kids will actually eat.” She joined the faculty in 1990 and says she’ll take with her the “magnificent, lavish, life-changing gift” of teaching Core, for which she will be forever grateful. “I consider it a high note to be leaving my job having never been the cause of a fire department visit,” she added, although there were those two insignificant events concerning a small brushfire on the side of the science building and a methanol flamethrower that melted long-time stockroom manager Carmen Lorenz’ lab coat.

“How I spent my summer vacation” — share your story

Last summer The Fountain offered campus community members the opportunity to share their summer vacation stories, and among responses were Pat Spencer’s trip to the Cyclades islands and Brien Sheedy’s climb of Australia’s highest peak. Maybe this summer is your turn for an exciting adventure or fascinating learning opportunity, whether to an exotic locale or to a scholarly or professional conference. Maybe you’ll participate in a service-oriented trip, lead a tour or just spend a relaxing vacation on a beach somewhere. And, on your travels, maybe you’ll run into fellow Whitman folks or meet someone who knows of Whitman. Feel free to share your “summer vacation” stories with The Fountain; and photos are encouraged. Send your story to thefountain@whitman.edu.

Whitman College
In This Issue
Staff Appreciation
Summer College
Faculty Accomplishments
Ruth Russo Retires
Summer Vacation

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