May 27, 2008

Volume 2, issue 39
May 27, 2008
The Fountain

Seattle Times publishes president’s opinion, “The Value of Higher Education”

President George Bridges wrote an opinion piece titled “The Value of Higher Education” that appeared in The Seattle Times on May 22, 2008. The piece is a response to the steady flow of opinions and articles that discuss college costs yet fail to incorporate a critical dimension of the debate: the value derived from those costs. Click here to read the piece.

For your viewing pleasure: Commencement photo gallery

Whitman’s team of staff and student photographers, including Sarah Abdurrahman, Chris Bishop ’79 and Andrew Propp ’10, along with freelancers Matt Zimmerman ’04 and Kathy Farrell Guizar ’95, had Commencement 2008 well covered. Feel free to browse a small sample of the joy and rapture that they captured in this online photo gallery.

Editor’s Note: For Sarah Abdurrahman, Commencement was her final assignment and last day at Whitman. Sadly for the college but happily for her, she left to get married and move to Massachusetts, where her husband (as of Sunday, May 25) will attend a master’s program in architecture at Harvard University. Filling the communications officer/photographer position effective May 27 is Greg Lehman. You may recognize the name from the U-B, where Lehman worked for 18 years as a photojournalist before opening his own photography business.

More faculty promotions

Provost and Dean of the Faculty Lori Bettison-Varga announced the following additional faculty promotions, effective with the 2008-09 academic year:

  • Jackie Wood (left) to senior lecturer of music
  • Deberah Simon (right) to senior lecturer of chemistry

“Please join me in congratulating Jackie and Deberah on this recognition of their accomplishments and in celebrating their many contributions to Whitman College,” Bettison-Varga said.

Faculty accomplishments

Theresa DiPasquale, associate professor of English, has written Refiguring the Sacred Feminine: The Poems of John Donne, Aemilia Lanyer and John Milton (Duquesne University Press, forthcoming). This is the second book for DiPasquale, whose research focuses on literature of the English Renaissance with particular attention to the religious functions of poetry, issues of gender and the theme of love, both sacred and profane. Her first book, Literature and Sacrament: The Sacred and the Secular in John Donne (Duquesne University Press, 1999), won the John Donne Society Award for Distinguished Publication in 2000. In Refiguring the Sacred Feminine, DiPasquale demonstrates how 17th-century English poets John Donne, Aemilia Lanyer and John Milton revised, reformed and renewed the Judeo-Christian tradition of the sacred feminine and explores the concept of the feminine as a reflection of the divine.

Dr. Ball celebrates 93rd birthday with Whitman family

Dr. George Ball, Weyerhaeuser Professor of Biblical Literature, Emeritus, celebrated his 93rd birthday last Friday (May 23) surrounded by a few dozen of his many Whitman friends. In an impromptu birthday speech, he recounted his first experiences at Whitman, reaffirming his decision 48 years ago to move to Walla Walla with his family. “I’ve never regretted it,” he said. “It’s the best move I ever made.” The offer that former President Lou Perry made to Ball — to teach religion at a school where religion was not being taught — was “too good to turn down.” “I was allowed to do what almost no professor is allowed — to teach what I wanted to teach the way I wanted to teach it,” Ball said.

Family graduation: two in one weekend

Marilyn Ponti, assistant director of financial aid, and her family had a busy weekend May 17-18. Son Bryan Ponti ’08 graduated from Whitman on Sunday with a degree in sociology; his older brother Mark graduated from Boise State University the same weekend. “It was such a wonderful day to see Bryan graduate,” said Ponti. “I am so proud of him for being such an outstanding person and for all of his hard work. He is continuing on to Gonzaga Law School in the fall.”

Community invited to join first-years in summer read

Lori Bettison-Varga, provost and dean of the faculty, invites the Whitman and Walla Walla communities to join the college’s tradition of summer reading for first-year students. This year’s choice, The Complete Persepolis, was recommended by Zahi Zalloua, assistant professor of foreign languages and literatures (French). An autobiographical novel by Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis tells the story of a young Iranian girl growing up in Tehran during and after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, her high-school years spent away from home and her final return to, and departure from, Iran. The book has been compared to Maus, a book that transformed the popular comic book into the “graphic novel,” and has won praise for its story and its artwork. Recently made into a movie, Persepolis won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007.

Whitman will again invite area libraries, higher-education institutions and local groups to collaborate on a series of reading events. Shampa Biswas, associate professor of politics, will coordinate a faculty panel presentation on Saturday, Aug. 30, which will feature Kendra Golden, associate professor of biology; Elyse Semerdjian, assistant professor of history; and Zalloua. Copies of Persepolis are available at the Whitman Bookstore. If you have a book recommendation for next year, please contact Jed Schwendiman, associate to the president, at

Whitman College
In This Issue
Value of Higher Education
Commencement Gallery
Faculty Promotions
Faculty Accomplishments
Dr. Ball: 93 Years
Family Graduation
Summer Reading

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. Editorial Assistant: Marcy Manker ’10. Director of Communications: Ruth Wardwell. Online: