September 15, 2008

Volume 3, issue 4
September 15, 2008
The Fountain

Radio segment spotlights Whitman College

Whitman College was front and center recently on “Countdown to College,” a weekly one-hour radio show that broadcasts three times per weekend in the greater Boston area on WNSH AM 1570 and is archived on the internet. The show is aimed at college-bound high school students and their parents and is intended to help answer important questions about preparing for college and the admissions process. Bob Withycombe, professor of rhetoric, took to the airwaves on Whitman’s behalf and did a live, 11-minute interview that gave the target audience a sense of the Whitman campus culture and academic rigor. To hear and/or share the interview with others, click here.

Fouts Center dedicated

The Fouts Center for Visual Arts’ dedication Friday (Sept. 12) was picture perfect. In the shadow of the college’s new state-of-the-art building, donors, artists and members of the Walla Walla and Whitman communities celebrated the many participants “who made the dream come true,” in the words of President Bridges. Tim '70 and Peter van Oppen '74, the sons of Elizabeth “Betty” Fouts van Oppen '40, after whom the center is named, remembered the dedicated Whitman alumna with fondness, speaking of her lifelong passion for the college and its many alumni, her friends. Associate Professor of Art Charles Timm-Ballard was credited by President Bridges for being the driving force of the center’s creation. Rachel Stein ’09, spoke on behalf of art majors, saying, “Simply having the Fouts Center for Visual Arts, with all the work and dedication that went into its creation, offers a spirit of creativity… I feel extremely privileged to be able to experience the Fouts Center for Visual Arts during my senior year of college.”

Board Chair Jim Robart ’69 educates students about law school

James “Jim” Robart ’69, a federal district judge and chair of the Whitman College Board of Trustees, met with about 30 students last week to answer questions about law school and career possibilities that ranged from “Should I go to law school?” to what grades, scores, volunteer work and internships look good to law school admission offices. Extending himself beyond his role as board chair, Robart offered to meet with students to “stir up interest in law school,” although he also urged them to be sure they really want a career in law before they invest the time and money.

“There is no group more enthusiastic than first-year law students,” he said. “You’re in love with the law, but three years later you have to find a job.” Whitman is a good launching pad for students who do want to pursue a career in law. Robart went from Whitman to Georgetown University law school. “I was incredibly well prepared by this place to be there,” he said. “I was incredibly better prepared than classmates who came out of the Ivy League.”

Summer Study Abroad enrollment sets records

This summer a record number of Whitman students headed for academic study on four continents — 56 Whitties studied abroad, twice the usual summer participation rate, reports Susan Brick, director of international programs. Ten studied in Ecuador in the inaugural year of the Whitman Summer Ethnographic Field School in the Andean mountain village of Cañar, co-directed by anthropology professors Jason Pribilsky and Suzanne Morrissey. While training in anthropological field methods, the students undertook their own research on topics as far ranging as traditional medicine, changes in agriculture as a result of immigration, and midwifery. Highlights of the trip included living with indigenous families, taking a Quichua language class, and backpacking a portion of the Inca Trail.

  Click for a gallery of photos from summer 2008 study abroad

This summer also marked the fifth year of the Whitman Summer Studies in China program with a record 16 students of Mandarin plunging into conversational Chinese with intensive language classes at our partner school, Yunnan University in Kunming, China. To augment their language studies, the students explored Beijing, Shanghai and the Jiangnan delta, and Yunnan Province, examining Chinese history and ethnic minority issues with history professor Brian Dott and Chinese language professor Zhao Wencui.

Covering a third continent, six Whitman students joined Lecturer Kari Tupper in Prague for the University of Washington's CHID (Comparative History of Ideas) program. The program focused most intensively on historical and political transitions in Central and Eastern Europe between World War II and the present day. Subjects included Czech economic development, art and architecture, and the role of writers during and after the socialist period, one of the topics addressed in Tupper’s course, “Memory and Communism: Comparative Perspectives in Literature.”

Another 24 Whitties studied in Chile, France, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain and Uganda. Such summer programming at Whitman is possible thanks to generous funding from the President's Innovation in Teaching and Learning Grant and the David Deal China Exchange Endowment.

Faculty Accomplishments

Nicole Simek, assistant professor of foreign languages and literatures (French), recently edited a feature on French Caribbean literature in translation that appeared in the July/August issue of American Book Review. Focusing on trans-American dialogue, facilitated in part by the increasing availability of French Caribbean work in translation, the feature includes an article on the concept of trans-American performance by Alberto Galindo, assistant professor of foreign languages and literatures (Spanish). American Book Review's Web site is here.

Zahi Zalloua, assistant professor of foreign languages and literatures (French) and general studies, recently completed two very different projects. The first, “Esprit généreux, esprit pantagruélicque: Essays by His Students In Honor of François Rigolot” (Droz 2008), appeared in print this summer. The volume, co-edited with Reinier Leushuis of Florida State University, comprises 15 essays by Renaissance scholars and includes an article by Zalloua on humanism and mourning. In June, Zalloua traveled to Ohio State University, where he participated in a six-week seminar on narrative theory sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

ASWC Programming Committee welcomes collaboration

Rachel Stein ’09, ASWC programming committee chair, invites faculty and staff to consider collaborating with ASWC if you have a speaker, film or activity you would like to book but need some advice or financial assistance. Events such as the “Divided We Fall” film showing last week and the Salmon Rushdie lecture last year are examples of collaborations between the ASWC Programming Committee and faculty and staff. Stein can be reached at

New work-family resources available to Whitman community

On behalf of the Infant Care Working Group that met last year, Michelle Janning, associate professor of sociology, announces work-family resources now available to members of the Whitman community:

Coming Events
All free unless otherwise stated

Monday, Sept. 15
Lecture: “Militarism and Tibetan Autonomy in Khams in Republican China” presented by Professor Peng Wenbin, University of British Columbia and Southwest University for Nationalities (Chengdul). 7 p.m., Olin 130.

Tuesday, Sept. 16
“From Where I Stand” Panel discussion: “The Presidential Race 2008,” the first in a series of panel discussions that will focus on interdisciplinary discussions of viewpoints about race and ethnicity as they relate to current issues, will take place at noon in Memorial 316. Panel members are: Lori Bettison-Varga, provost and dean of the faculty; Shampa Biswas, associate professor of politics and director of global studies program; Nicole Simek, assistant professor of Foreign Languages and Literatures (French) and general studies.

Iuliano lecture
Wednesday, Sept. 17
Lecture: “Unraveling the Ancient Scrolls of Herculaneum” presented by Dr. Ed Iuliano, chairman and medical director of radiology at Kadlec Medical Center, Richland, who will talk about the cutting edge process (currently being experimented with) at Kadlec that uses proton-induced X-ray emission (PIXE) to decipher ancient scrolls. 5 p.m., Kimball Auditorium.

Thursday, Sept. 18
Lecture: “America’s Gods and Politics” presented by Wade Clark Roof, University of California, Santa Barbara. 7:30 p.m., Olin 130.

Friday, Sept. 19
Recital: Fridays at Four music series presents “Girls with Phones; variations with soprano, alto and tenor saxophones” featuring Kalla Vaura and Hilary White. 4 p.m., Kimball Auditorium.

Friday, Sept. 19, and Sunday, Sept. 21
Film: Cinema Arts Series presents “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring.” 7:30 p.m., Kimball Auditorium.

Tuesday, Sept. 23
Lecture: Visiting artist lecture will be presented by Professor Harrell Fletcher, who was a participant in the 2004 Whitney Biennial. 4 p.m. in Olin 130. Contact Amber Broel at for more information.

Tuesday, Sept. 23
Roundtable discussion: "Women, Law, and Politics" will be presented by Gender Studies. 7:30 p.m., Olin Hall faculty lounge.

Saturday, Sept. 27, and Sunday, Sept. 28
Theater: Harper Joy Theatre presents "The Instant Play Festival!" at 8 p.m. both evenings. There will be seven instant plays each evening, written and rehearsed just 24 hours before presentation. Call the Box Office at x5180 for more information, reservations and tickets.

Monday, Sept. 29
Symposium: Women’s Leadership Symposium will feature inspirational talks by women who have taken on leadership roles in their communities. Sponsored by Colleen S. Willoughby ’55 and the Whitman College Career Center. 4 p.m., Reid Campus Center, Young Ballroom.

Monday, Sept. 29
Lecture: “Humans Have Prevented the Start of an Ice Age” will be presented by William Ruddiman, a palaeoclimatologist and professor emeritus at the University of Virginia. Ruddiman has stirred some controversy with his “early anthropocene” hypothesis, the idea that global warming did not begin in the 18th century due to the burning of coal and other fossil fuels, but dates back 8,000 years and was triggered by our early agrarian ancestors’ intense farming activities. He has written a number of books, including “Plows, Plagues and Petroleum: How Humans Took Control of Climate.” 8 p.m., Maxey Auditorium.

Whitman College
In This Issue
Radio Segment
Fouts Center
Jim Robart Visit
Summer Study Abroad
Faculty Accomplishmnets
ASWC Activities
Parents Web Page<
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: