August 16, 2010

Volume 4, issue 51
August 16, 2010
The Fountain

Rankings Season continues: Whitman climbs four spots on Forbes list to #16

Forbes logo

Forbes’ annual ranking of “America’s Best Colleges” has placed Whitman at No. 16 on a list of 610 colleges and universities across the nation. The ranking also brands Whitman as the top college in the state of Washington. Whitman was ranked No. 20 on last year’s list. The ranking is based, in large part, on student input, covering such dimensions as:

  • Do students enjoy their classes and overall academic experience?
  • Do graduates succeed well in their occupations after college?
  • Do most students graduate in a timely fashion, typically four years?
  • Do students incur massive debts while in school?
  • Do students succeed in distinguishing themselves academically?

Regional media coverage of the ranking can also be seen in this Puget Sound Business Journal article.

Software updates for campus computers under way; training available

MS Office logo

Whitman College Technical Services (WCTS) is in the process of installing Windows 7 and Office 2010 software on all new campus PCs. Faculty and staff with existing PCs can expect to receive Windows 7 and Office 2010 on the next computer replacement cycle, which is currently scheduled for every five years for desktops and four years for laptops. Windows 7 will be installed on all PCs in Maxey Hall and the Hall of Science computer labs.

Updating existing computers to Office 2010 will be determined on a case-by-case basis; contact the Help Desk to discuss and schedule.

To assist students, faculty and staff through the transition, WCTS is offering introductory courses on using the new software. The 45-minute training sessions, held in Olin Hall, room 180, will help familiarize new users with the software, while offering more experienced users an opportunity to discover new applications and features.

Office 2010 courses will be held on Aug. 20 and 26, at 2 p.m. Windows 7 courses will be offered on Aug. 19 at 10 a.m. (full) and 2 p.m. and Aug. 27 at 10 a.m. Space for these classes is limited, but additional training sessions will be offered throughout the year.

For more information, contact Robert Fricke in WCTS at x4980 or Ready to sign up today? Click here to register.

Another successful year for WISE WISEStudents from Whitman Institute for Summer Enrichment (WISE) experience learning with visual aids during a biology class taught by Leena Knight, assistant professor of biology (pictured above), during the three-day college immersion program.

“Across two, one-hour sessions, I worked with the students to introduce them to the brain and how it works. My goals were to first make them familiar with the anatomy of the brain, its organization and how neurons in the brain communicate with one another. In the picture, I’m passing around a brain made of jello, a great way to let kids safely interact with something that looks and feels like a human brain,” said Knight. “My second goal was to use an experiment involving goggles that shift the visual world by 15 degrees to demonstrate the incredible plasticity and adaptability of the human brain.”

Sonja Aikens, WISE coordinator, said, “I think it went very well again this year. It really is a campus wide effort. Admission put on some great workshops, the professors engaged the kids during their classes and we had wonderful support from the staff at Prentiss Dining Hall and the Conferences and Events staff.”

SF Chronicle article pays tribute to the late Ashton O’Donnell ’43


Whether attending or participating in organizing them, many campus community members have been involved with O’Donnell Lectures over the years. You may know that one of the namesakes of the endowed lectureship, Ashton “Ash” J. O’Donnell ’43, passed away July 28, 2010.

The San Francisco Chronicle has published a tribute article about O’Donnell, a physicist, diplomat and devoted Whitman supporter. The article recounts his expression about having met the two loves of his life at Whitman – physics and his wife, Virginia Graham. His remarkable career in science included working on the atomic bomb during World War II, serving as the United States senior scientific advisor to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, and, ultimately, holding several leadership roles with Bechtel Corporation. Among the many lasting contributions made by the O’Donnells is the Ashton J. and Virginia Graham O’Donnell Chair in Global Studies, which brings expert practitioners in international affairs to campus each year.

Staff and Faculty Accomplishments

Slow Eddie

Bruce Jones ’67, associate director of admission in the New England office, will be in town later this month for a book signing of his first novel, “Slow Eddie: A Cape Cod Story.” The event takes place Saturday, Aug. 28, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Book & Game. Although the novel is set on the Cape, one of the four primary characters is from Pasco, and there are passing references to Clarette’s Restaurant, Leonetti Cellar and Walla Walla. Several Whitties are included in the acknowledgments: Northwest novelist/writer Craig Lesley ’67, Jan Hunter ’67 (of Hunter Conservatory) and Victoria Lidzbarski ’05, “all of whom contributed to arriving at a final product,” Jones wrote.

WCTS staff members Barb Barlow, Brian Griffith, Rich Hinz, Kyle Singer, and Michael Quiner and Jennifer McNeil from the Registrar’s Office were among 125 professionals from more than 25 colleges and universities to attend the Northwest Datatel Users Group (NWDUG) 13th annual summer conference, held Aug. 2-3 at Linfield College. In addition to participating in panels and roundtable discussions, the Whitman staff delivered several presentations:

  • Customizing the Datatel WebAdvisor resources using java tools to make them more user friendly.
  • Whitman’s project (completed this spring) to migrate our college financial and student data to a Microsoft SQL database.
  • Using the Microsoft SQL reporting tools in higher education administration.

Dan Vernon, professor of biology, and Nancy Forsthoefel, biology research specialist, recently returned from the Plant Biology 2010 conference in Montreal, where they presented their research results supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Student Carrie Reinhart ’11 was a co-author on the presentation. Also, a paper on a second research project has been accepted for publication in the journal Planta: "PIRL1 and PIRL9, Encoding Members of a Novel Family of Plant Leucine-rich Repeat Proteins, Are Essential for Differentiation of Microspores into Pollen." This paper was co-authored by former research student Thuy Dao ’07, now getting her Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University. Both the meeting presentation and the publication include data obtained with Whitman’s new scanning electron microscope, purchased last year with a grant from the NSF. These are the first research results published from the new scanning electron microscope.

New high-tech scanner in Penrose Library

Another great reason to visit the library arrived this summer in the form of the Knowledge Imaging Center (KIC). Among functions it can perform, it: converts text-to-speech, saves scans in multiple file types (JPG, PDF, markable PDF) and features a large, 17”x24” scan area. The KIC scanning station is an environmentally friendly “green machine” – scans are saved to a USB flash drive or sent via e-mail, so there’s no paper or toner wasted.

Rootbeer Social

Rootbeer Social

All free unless otherwise noted

Looking ahead:

Thursday, Aug. 26-28
Opening Week

Saturday, Aug. 28
Faculty Panel, 2:30-3:30 p.m., Cordiner Hall: Patrick Spencer, professor of geology; Jocelyn Hendrickson, assistant professor of religion; and Jacqueline Woodfork*, assistant professor of history, will share their unique, discipline-specific perspectives on the summer reading, “Zeitoun” by Dave Eggers. This session will provide a brief introduction to the intellectual community at Whitman and serve as a springboard for the engaging book discussions to follow. *Note: On August 26, Prof. Woodfork will be interviewed about the book on KUJ radio (1420 AM). Tune in! The live interview takes place from 7:30-8:30 a.m.

Soul Rebels Saturday, Aug. 28
Special Event: Soul Rebels Brass Band, 5:30-7 p.m., Reid Campus Center Lawn: Averaging around 250 shows per year, the Soul Rebels have brought the party to stages as far away as South Africa and Europe. When Hurricane Katrina struck their hometown in 2005, the band scattered across the region. Though a few members relocated to cities in Texas, the band frequently reconvened for gigs in New Orleans, this time with a renewed purpose. Indeed, since the storm, the band has been more successful than ever, serving as an international ambassador of the New Orleans sound.

Tuesday, Aug. 31
First day of classes

Wednesday, Sept. 1
Season Tickets go on sale at HJT, look here to see the season schedule.

Are you planning a public event?
Send information about your upcoming event to Ashley Coetzee, interim media relations officer, at, or call her at x4917.

Helpful hints for highly effective event promotion:

  • Consider advertising. If your budget allows, NPR and the UB provide effect advertising opportunities.
  • Would you like a poster designed and distributed on campus?
  • Compile and provide all the information/details: who, what, when, where and why.
  • Provide appropriate photos and/or graphics as well as bios of speakers.
  • The earlier we receive your information the more time we have to assure that the promotion for your event is a success.

Parting Shot
By Greg Lehman, photographer/communications officer

parting shot

An old copper printing plate with a halftone image of a group of Whitties was literally unearthed by construction crews during the work on the Memorial clocktower last week.   Full size.

Whitman College
In This Issue
Forbes Rankings
PC Training
Ash O’Donnell
Staff and Faculty Accomplishments
Library scanner
Rootbeer Social
Coming Events
Parting Shot

Past issues

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