August 31, 2009

Volume 4, issue 2
August 31, 2009
The Fountain

Convocation sets the tone for Whitman academics, community

Enthusiastic first-years, families, friends, faculty and staff celebrated Convocation last Friday in Cordiner Hall, where President Bridges officially opened the 2009-2010 academic year, the college’s 127th.

The event included the Convocation Address by Elizabeth Vandiver, Clement Biddle Penrose associate professor of Latin and classics, and a talk by Nadim N. Damluji ’10, president of the Associated Students of Whitman College (ASWC). Both speakers, in their own ways, spoke to that which helps define the Whitman experience.

Tim Kaufman-Osborn, provost and dean of the faculty, introduced Vandiver as “one of Whitman’s finest,” describing her as the model teacher-scholar, a master instructor and engaged scholar “who is able to present complex material with utter clarity, neither dumbing down the material or making it inaccessible.”

Elizabeth Vandiver

With her address, “Transforming Traditions,” Vandiver took the audience on a journey from the fate of Achilles in Greek antiquity, to the fate of British soldiers in World War I fox holes. She discussed the transformation of traditions that happens with each generation. And to the class of 2013, she said. “You – who will be the doctors, scientists, lawyers, inventors, teachers, explorers, philosophers and theologians of the 2020s, the 2030s, and the 2040s – will transform American tradition and culture by what you choose to value, how you chose to speak, write and especially, think, throughout your years.” Vandiver received a standing ovation, led by her faculty colleagues.

Nadim Damluji ’10

Damluji used the image of “mediocre” hip-hop artist Asher Roth’s “I Love College” lyrics describing late night parties, drugs and alcohol to show stark contrast to what life at Whitman can and should be. “I challenge you all to throw out the preconceived notions of college life that many, including Asher Roth, have recycled in popular culture….” Click here to read Damluji’s address, titled “Practice Makes Perfect: The Everyday Application of Theory.”

In turning over the class to faculty, Tony Cabasco, dean of admission and financial aid, reported that nearly half of the applicants submitted their materials within 48 hours of the deadline. He asked the faculty to not look at the class as procrastinators, but rather to know they “can always count on these students to come through in the end.”

President Bridges implored students to “seek courses and programs of study that utterly disrupt and disorient your intellectual habits and routine lines of reasoning” and to “engage and embrace your education at Whitman with all of the energy and excitement that you would bring to a voyage of discovery.”

Click here for the Convocation site, including text of speeches. Later this week, a video will be posted. Please check back.

Staff breakfast launches new academic year

President Bridges hosted the 2009-10 staff breakfast on the Reid Campus Center side lawn last Tuesday, Aug. 25. He thanked the staff for helping the college weather last year’s economics difficulties and invited them to celebrate the beginning of yet another year of Whitman College and its mission. The college, he noted, is as strong as ever, with an increase in applications, a strong first-year enrollment, and a talented staff and faculty. Click to read his remarks.

Tim Kaufman-Osborn, new provost and dean of the faculty, thanked the staff for welcoming him into their ranks. Peter Harvey, treasurer and chief financial officer, presented an impromptu budget report in which he commended the “phenomenal” job the staff and faculty have done in controlling costs last year. Savings of nearly $1 million made it possible to balance last year’s budget.

Introductions of new staff members, many of whom have been chronicled in The Fountain, were made. Check The Fountain’s “Comings and goings” to keep pace with the new staff hires as well as name and title changes.

Move-in a smooth operation, thanks to many

Olivia Nelson ’13 and dad, Dave, head into Jewett on move-in day.

Barbara Maxwell, associate dean of students: programs and activities, reports that move-in activities were very smooth and offers thanks and appreciation to all members of the campus community who helped, in a variety of ways.

“Everything I have heard has been positive and complimentary regarding our efforts,” she says. “The move-in of Jewett and Lyman residents was especially efficient and slick! The airport shuttle crew provided warm greetings and got everyone back to their residence halls for check-in. The folks working at Reid helped make more than 350 ID cards and issued about 450 mailbox numbers and combinations. Your combined efforts have left parents and students with an outstanding first-day impression of the college. I hope you had fun meeting and greeting parents and students. As always, if you have thoughts or ideas for making improvements for next year I would love to hear from you. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to help out!”

“Giant Paperclip” sculpture comes home

Asunder since Jan. 4, 2008, when a ferocious windstorm ripped through campus, the sculpture titled “Joined Together, Let No Man Split Asunder” – now there’s some irony! – has returned to campus. Affectionately called “The Giant Paperclip,” it returns to a new home, in the Sherwood entry plaza. Crews installed the 14-foot, 1,650-pound, aluminum alloy sculpture on Wednesday, Aug. 26, using fork lifts, scaffolding, furniture dollies and sheer muscle.

The piece is the work of Ed Humphreys, professor of art, emeritus, who taught at Whitman from 1973 to 1997. It had been located between Mem and Penrose, amidst giant trees that led to its demise. Left in pieces on the ground, the broken art went to The Walla Walla Foundry for repair, where steps included casting the lower 180-degree elbows, welding them together then welding them onto the sculpture, and then straightening the whole sculpture, according to Dave Anderson, director of operations for the foundry. The process took six months and 280 hours, not including casting the parts. The project gave some students some experience as the parts were sand cast by the University of Montana Student Sculpture Association.

If you notice the piece looking shinier than you remember it, you’re right. The sculpture was cleaned up to its original finish and will over time darken. Read here about what happened when Mother Nature split it asunder.

Sculpture split asunder, Jan. 2008

Temporary Staff/Faculty Directory available online via portals

The temporary Fall 2009 Staff and Faculty Directory is posted on the Whitman Web site in PDF format, available on the Staff, Faculty and Current Students portals or via this link.

Please take a minute to check your listing in the temporary directory. If you find errors, please e-mail Mary – with corrections. That will help make the comprehensive directory as accurate and up-to-date as possible.

Also remember that the People Search tool on the Web is updated constantly and provides an easy to use and access references.

Alumna’s art featured in Memorial Hall exhibit

Detail from Amahra Leaman’s 2009 painting “Arabeth”

“Arabesque,” an exhibit of works by artist Amahra Leaman ’04 currently on display on all three floors of Memorial, will run through Oct. 5. There will be an opening reception for the artist Friday, Sept. 4, at 4 p.m. on the third floor of Mem. The exhibit highlights the points in Leaman’s trajectory since graduating with a bachelor of fine arts in studio art. Included are watercolors, photographs, oil and mixed media paintings, light boxes, and a meandering installation. Lehman, who works at the Walla Walla Foundry, has shown her work in local galleries, and maintains a studio in downtown Walla Walla.

Comings and goings

Whitman welcomes Mark J. Michaud Jr., assistant baseball coach; Maranda M. Norton, data entry assistant, admission; Claudia L. Ness, interim director of the health center; and Rebecca T. Thorpe (formerly Rebecca Sickels), general merchandise buyer, book store. The college bids farewell to Ellen Collette, director of the health center; and Claudia Jones, consultant, support services, technology services.

Save the dates

Monday, Sept. 21
Lecture: “An Evening with Thomas Mullen,” author of “The Last Town on Earth,” the 2009 summer reading assignment for incoming first-years (and interested members of the Whitman and Walla Walla communities.) This event, at 7:30 p.m. in Cordiner Hall, will be followed by a book signing. Call x5134 for more information.

Tuesday, Sept. 22
O’Donnell Lecture: “What in the world is so funny?” – a look at global issues through the eyes of Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Joel Pett, O’Donnell visiting professor, will be presented at 7 p.m. in Maxey Hall. Call x5895 for more information.

Saturday, Sept. 26, and Sunday, Sept. 27
Theatre: The Instant Play Festival, seven plays on Saturday (8 p.m.) and Sunday (2 p.m.), will be presented in Harper Joy Theatre. After three weeks of workshops with professional playwrights Adam Rapp, Sheri Wilner and Kristen Kosmas, students will receive a theme in the evening, and write a play for rehearsal the following afternoon and performance that night. Alexander Stage. For information and tickets, call the Box Office at x5180.

Parting Shot
By Greg Lehman, photographer/communications officer

There’s much to do in getting ready for the opening of the new school year. Phillip Schmatt, student worker with the plant services, did his part by blasting clean with high pressure water the namesake for this publication: the “Fountain of Vibrant Waters.” Full size.

Whitman College
In This Issue
Staff Breakfast
Moving In
Return of the Giant Paperclip
Temporary Directory
“Arabesque” exhibit in Mem
Comings and goings
Save the Dates
Parting Shot

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: