November 2, 2009

Volume 4, issue 11
November 2, 2009
The Fountain

Success of Family Weekend reflects on campus community

Though the weather was certainly ominous – actually a downpour – at the start of Family Weekend 2009, held Oct. 23-25, the skies cleared and the sun showed up just in time to welcome about 780 family members to campus.

A wide array of inter-generational activities was offered, and among the favorites was the Planetarium show. It was so successful that two shows were added, reports Nancy Tavelli, associate dean of students – campus life, whose department is responsible for Family Weekend. Among other popular activities: the a capella performances, the welcome event with President Bridges, the Whitman Sampler, the faculty/parent social and Encounters parent discussion groups with Professor Rogers Miles (pictured) and other Encounters faculty.

Several new events were added this year and became instantly popular, including a book reading by Janet Cawrse Esarey '94. It was standing room only in the bookstore. There was a first-ever Quiz Bowl Showcase, and students who traveled to the Mexican border with Professor Aaron Bobrow-Strain read from their reflections on the experience.

“Family Weekend changes every year with the mix of participants and the desires of students to showcase their events,” Tavelli said. “We really focus on families spending time with their student and seeing what their life is like on campus and off. There were many first-year parents; they loved the weather and were excited to get out and see a bit more of the community – and not have to be doing move-in! They especially commented on how friendly everyone is. One said that they had not been to a campus before where so many people acknowledged them and made eye contact and said hello.”

Tavelli said that among the many campus community members who played a role in helping make Family Weekend successful, particular thanks go to Amy Bruner, assistant for residence life and housing, for working on the all the details. Also, “thanks to the faculty for attending the social, all the great students/staff/faculty who work to put on the programs and welcome parents.”

Marked increase in ILI cases on campus last week; vigilance remains critical

The Welty Health Center reports a dramatic upsurge in the number of ILI (influenza-like illness) cases on campus last week. There were 68 new cases reporting through the center, compared to a total of 35 from the start of school through Oct. 23. The new total since the semester began is 107 including 13 new cases today, Monday, Nov. 2.

Continued vigilance and adherence to guidelines that can help prevent or limit the spread of flu viruses remains imperative. All campus community members are encouraged to:

  • Bury coughs and sneezes in your sleeve.
  • Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer frequently.
  • Self-isolate if you have flu symptoms.

About the vaccine...

While getting vaccinated is among the top recommendations for preventing and spreading the flu, there is still no word on when the college can expect delivery of a supply nor how much we will get. And when it does arrive, Whitman’s supply will be used for students only. Staff and faculty will need to receive the vaccination from external providers.


In its Oct. 29 edition, Inside Higher Ed reports: “Colleges have seen a surge in the rates at which students are being diagnosed with H1N1 or similar flu illnesses, according to new data from the American College Health Association. The association has been using a national sample of 270 colleges and universities to track the spread of H1N1, and, in the last week, the rate of cases increased by 34 percent. In addition, several regions where H1N1 had appeared to be in decline – the Northeast, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and the Midwest – saw increases. Of the colleges in the survey, 97 percent reported new cases. Details on the latest data are available here.”

For another media summary of the national scene, read a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article here.

For further information about Whitman’s response to the flu situation, click here.

News about open enrollment for 2010

News from Cindy Matern, director of human resources: Great-West Healthcare, the administrator of our self-insured health plan, was purchased by Cigna in 2008. By the end of 2009, the entire payment claim system and network will change (we just saw the change of pharmacy benefits). With this impending change, the College, in consultation with the faculty and staff fringe benefits committees, decided to solicit competitive bids in 2009 from Cigna and Premera Blue Cross, the two entities that administer self-insured plans in our region and which have broad national/international networks of providers. After reviewing the provider networks, coverage, and a head-to-head comparison of costs for administration and payment of claims, a recommendation was made to accept the Premera Blue Cross proposal for 2010.

Open enrollment will begin Nov. 1. Everyone who is participating in the Great West medical/vision or dental plans must complete a new enrollment form for Premera and return it to HR by Friday, Nov. 13. All other open enrollment items must be returned to HR by Dec. 1.

Distribution of the enrollment forms and other information has started; many white envelopes were hand-delivered by the lovely witches of Mem 102 on Friday. All should arrive in campus mailboxes by Monday, Nov. 2. Q&A meetings to discuss enrollment requirements and changes will be held in Maxey Auditorium on Thursday, Nov. 5, at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. and Friday, Nov. 6 at 9 a.m. Carol Harris, manager of human resources and Cindy Matern, along with a representative from Premera and the college insurance broker (Parker Smith and Feek) will provide a short presentation and answer questions. Questions may be submitted to HR in advance of the meetings.

Wealth of photos is a click away through College Archives

Following last week’s Fountain posting of the Lakum Duckum tug-of-war photo from the College Archives comes a reminder from Michael Paulus, archivist and special collections librarian, that the ability to enjoy the wealth of such photos is just a click away through the Whitman College Digital Collections site. By using the site, “readers will get more information about photographs and perhaps discover other materials of interest,” Paulus said. For example, it’s clear from this photo that any number of interesting things took place at Lakum Duckum in the past! Click here to visit the Digital Collections site, where you can search, browse and even create a favorites list. A majority of the materials currently accessible through the site relate to the first 50 years of Whitman and the first 50 years of Walla Walla (1859-1909).

Apply now for a Sustainability Revolving Loan

The college is now accepting applications for the Sustainability Revolving Loan Fund, said Lisa Curtis ’10, campus sustainability coordinator. The $25,000 fund can be used by students, staff, and faculty for campus projects that significantly benefit Whitman's sustainability efforts by conserving resources and improving efficiency. The entire campus community is invited to apply, said Curtis. Only projects that will pay back the school's investment within five years will be considered for the grant.

No project is too small or too large. From paying someone to work on the server on weekends to replacing the bulbs in offices with compact fluorescent light bulbs, projects that can demonstrate the potential to reimburse the fund can qualify, said Curtis. Other colleges have used similar funds for a variety of projects: Union College installed motion sensors for lights; Yale University produces and sells produce; North Dakota State uses night time thermostat setbacks. “What will Whitman do?”

Applications are due Nov. 13. Click here to learn more about Whitman’s sustainability efforts. Questions? Contact Curtis at

Staff accomplishments

Bruce Jones, assistant director of admission in the New England office, has written a review of the book Declining by Degrees: Higher Education at Risk for the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). Jones opens the review with: “Although published in 2005, Declining by Degrees remains relevant as cultural and Congressional skeptics extend their critique beyond K-12 classrooms. With a new president and secretary of education courting change, is higher education in line for data-driven initiatives similar to No Child Left Behind (NCLB)?” Read the review in its entirety on the NACAC Web site.

Climb that spectacular wall!

Want to try out the new climbing wall? Brien Sheedy, director of outdoor programs, says you can! On the first Friday of each month there will be a special facilitated climb for faculty and staff, 12-1 p.m. Climbing will be under the guidance of an instructor.

“Feel free to contact me if you have questions about the wall,” Sheedy said. There are also clinics open to faculty, staff and students; spots are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Contact Sheedy at

IRIS Database

The IRIS Database, a searchable database of funding opportunities from the University of Illinois Library, is now available to the Whitman community. The Development Office maintains a subscription, but anyone can access IRIS from a networked computer on the Whitman campus.

The IRIS Database contains more than 9,000 active federal and private funding opportunities in the sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities. In addition to funding opportunities for faculty, the IRIS Database also contains fellowships and scholarships for graduate students and undergraduates. You can search IRIS by sponsor, deadline date, keyword, and other criteria. You can also view upcoming deadlines in over 25 subject areas, or use the IRIS Alert Service to receive e-mail notices of funding sources based on your own research profile.

Please feel free to contact Rachna Sinnott at if you have any questions about this database

New Walla Walla baseball team to unveil name

Members of the Whitman community are invited to attend the unveiling of the name and brand identity of the new Summer League Baseball team that will call Walla Walla home beginning summer 2010. The event takes place Thursday, Nov. 12, at 2 p.m. at Sharpstein Elementary School. For further information, contact Zachary Fraser, general manager of the team, at

Staff Profile: Pat Sorenson
Division II Assistant, Olin Hall

  • Birthplace: East Grand Forks, Minnesota (and yes, what Garrison Keillor says about Norwegians and their church smorgasbords fits us perfectly).
  • Education: I graduated from Whitman College in 1986
  • Years at Whitman: If you include the years when I was a student, I’ve been here for 27 1/2 years, so Whitman's been my home for a long time. I've had several different jobs on campus but this one is outstanding!
  • Favorite book/film/music/play/art/etc: I grew up watching old musicals and comedies with Fred Astaire, Doris Day, Rock Hudson, and Debbie Reynolds. I still love all musicals: Little Mermaid, Grease, Dirty Dancing, West Side Story, Footloose, and Evita are some of my favorites. We probably have the only music video of Peter Pan starring Mary Martin as Peter Pan. I think it was adapted from a television show and you can see the ropes when they fly. It’s crazy! I've read every book by Lorna Landvik who writes about Norwegians in Minnesota and North Dakota, and I’ve read all the John Grisham books.
  • Favorite sculpture on campus: The horse, when it’s decorated.
  • Best travel experience: Hawaii with my husband.
  • Interests/pleasures: Spending time with my family and friends, going to our favorite beach retreat, reading, and dancing in the kitchen with my soul mate.
  • Recent accomplishment: We made it through the summer and start of the school year after having moved 19+ faculty from Olin and Maxey to the renovated Olin East and to the main part of Olin Hall and dealing with all the little nuances that crop up with a renovation-such as no chalkboards in the classrooms two days before classes began. But it all worked out!
  • What people don’t know about me: I was a telephone operator in North Dakota in the 60s. We wore heavy headsets and had cords that we plugged into the telephone boards to place calls. We placed local and long distance calls for people in the outlying areas, who called us “Central,” and we placed all the long distance calls for everyone (no direct dial then). One day I placed a call to Art Linkletter but he wasn’t there so I didn’t get to say, “Mr. Linkletter, I’ve got a long distance call for you.’
  • A day in the life/on the job: Interruptions, interruptions, Interruptions.
  • Favorite aspect of Whitman: I love the closeness of the Whitman community. Nothing is more rewarding than having students, faculty, staff, and visitors come into Olin and being able to help them find a classroom or faculty member, solve a problem, direct them to an event on campus, or just talk about Whitman in general.
  • What I’ve learned here: There’s never a dull moment.
  • Quote: When you’re being run out of town, get in front of the crowd and make it look like a parade. – Author unknown.

Ryan Cocker ’71 to visit campus week of Nov. 9

As part of a week of events, alumnus and overseer Ryan Crocker ’71, former ambassador to Iraq, will present a seminar for faculty and staff on Thursday, Nov. 12, 7 p.m., titled “The U.S. Role in the World,” in which he will lead a discussion on ways the U.S. might employ various instruments of power in dealing with challenges in the Middle East. Advance registration and reading assignment are required; click here to register. This event is not open to the public.

He also will deliver a public lecture titled “From Iraq to Afghanistan: Engagement and Confrontation in the Broader Middle East,” Monday, Nov. 9, at 7:30 p.m. in Maxey Auditorium. This is open to the campus community and the general public.

Students are invited to a workshop titled “Public service versus personal conviction: What to do when they collide?” Crocker will lead the students in discussing the dilemmas that arise for public servants when policies diverge from one’s own sense of what is right.

Click here for the schedule of events.

Coming Events
All free unless otherwise noted


Monday, Nov. 2
Film and discussion: Rani Singh, visiting educator and avant-garde film producer, will present “Experimental Films of Harry Smith” at 7 p.m. in Olin 130.
Singh is a senior research associate in the department of contemporary programs and research at the Getty Research Institute and director of the Harry Smith Archives, which is dedicated to the location, preservation, and presentation of Smith's work. Her research and programming focus on the history, preservation and presentation of alternative media and avant-garde film. The Old Wierd America; Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music” is her first full-length feature documentary. x5156.


Monday, Nov. 2
Reading: Visiting Writers Reading Series presents poet Lydia Davis, who will read from her works at 7 p.m. in Kimball Theatre, Hunter Conservatory. x5156.

Tuesday, Nov. 3
Film: “The Old Weird America: Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music,” the first full-length documentary by visiting educator Rani Sing (see Nov. 2 listing above) will be shown in Maxey Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. x5156.

Wednesday, Nov. 4
Jazz concert: Whitman Jazz II Fall Concert, directed by David Glenn, Chism Recital Hall, Hall of Music, 7:30 p.m. x5232.

Thursday, Nov. 5
Lunch and lecture: "Maritime Piracy: My experiences off the Coast of Somalia," Olin 130, noon to 1 p.m., presented by Anthony Blow, O’Donnell visiting lecturer. Registration for lunch required; click here to register.

Thursday, Nov. 5
Jazz concert: Whitman Jazz I Fall Concert, directed by David Glenn, Chism Recital Hall, Hall of Music, 7:30 p.m. x5232.

Friday, Nov. 6
Piano recital: Fridays at Four recital series presents a faculty piano recital by Lee D. Thompson and Jackie Wood. 4 p.m., Chism Recital Hall, Hall of Music. x5232.

Saturday, Nov. 7
Concert: Divertimento Baroque Opera Company Concert, directed by Jackson Maberry ’10, Chism Recital Hall, Hall of Music, 7:30 p.m. x5232.

Save the dates!

Wednesday, Nov. 11, through Sunday, Nov. 15
Theatre: Harper Joy Theatre presents “Frenzy for Two, or More,” Wednesday, Nov. 11, through Sunday, Nov. 15. – A revolution ensues on the streets while a couple wages their own battle at home. Is it too hot or too cold? The Venus de Milo or the Statue of Liberty? A tortoise or a snail? Classically absurd, this farce will disturb and delight. Freimann Stage. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For reservations, call the Box Office at x5180.

Friday, Nov. 13
Concert: Wind Ensemble Fall Concert, Cordiner Hall, 7:30 p.m. x5232.

Parting Shot
By Greg Lehman, photographer/communications officer

With a little Halloween spirit, HR staff members (l-r) Carol Harris, Mary Luckstead, Cindy Matern and Margret Aquino delivered Open Enrollment packets on Friday, Oct. 30. Please see story on Open Enrollment in this edition of The Fountain.   Full size.

Whitman College
In This Issue
Family Weekend
Flu Update
Open Enrollment
Archives Access
Sustainability Revolving Loan
Staff accomplishments
Climb the Wall
IRIS Database
Baseball Team Unveiling
Staff Profile:
Pat Sorenson
Ryan Crocker ’71 to Speak
Coming Events
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: