February 1, 2010

Volume 4, issue 23
February 1, 2010
The Fountain

Science outreach program assists middle school teachers, valued by district

Whitman’s Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science Outreach program sponsored another event on campus recently, for middle school teachers. Frank Dunnivant, associate professor of chemistry, led an entertaining and informative workshop titled "Water: That Cool Liquid!" and discussed the evolution of water on Earth, the physical properties of water and why those properties (such as hydrogen bonding) make water so unique and allow life to flourish. Following the presentation the teachers participated in hands-on activities that illustrated the properties of water, such as magnetizing a balloon next to a stream of water to illustrate the polarity of water or manipulating magnetic water molecule models to teach capillary action or the structure of ice. The science outreach program enables participating teachers to borrow these kits to use in their classes, courtesy of HHMI grant funding. The attendees for this workshop were from Garrison Middle School, Pioneer Middle School, Sager Middle School in College Place and Assumption Elementary and teach grades 6-8.

In the fall, Jim Russo, associate professor of BBMB, led a workshop on "Emerging Viruses," and Kurt Hoffman, professor of physics, is scheduled to lead a session on physics in April.

"We are fortunate to have three local colleges as partners in education, and it was a welcome opportunity for us to join Whitman in the science outreach program,” said Linda Boggs, assistant superintendent of Walla Walla Public Schools. “It brings together experts that can learn from each other, all the while knowing students will be the beneficiaries. Further, having had the opportunity to work with Program Coordinator Mary Burt last year as a science teacher for WWPS, I knew that she would help provide the best opportunities for her former colleagues."

Photos by Ami Tian ’12

Tax info for donation to Haiti relief efforts

Walter Froese, controller, reports that Congress has granted a tax break for donations given to Haiti for earthquake relief. At the donor’s option, donations made in January and February of 2010, whether by check, credit card or cell phone, can be deductible for either 2009 or 2010 taxes. You must be able to itemize for the year in question to benefit from this rule, and such donations must be made to U.S. charities. If you pay by cell phone a copy of your cell phone bill (with the charity’s name, amount and date of gift) will suffice to substantiate the donation.

Faculty Accomplishments

Kay Fenimore-Smith, associate professor of education, developed a curriculum based on the 2006 history book published by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation that teachers at the Nixyaawii Community School will use with their students. The curriculum includes lesson plans and related materials and encourages field trips to historical sites within the CTIUR homeland. Fenimore-Smith developed it in an 11-month process that included meetings with Tribal elders, teachers and a volunteer committee. It is organized into three major sections: Who We Are, Historical Impact of Non-Indians and Sovereignty.

Elyse Semerdjian, associate professor of history, has been moonlighting as a researcher for the PBS series "Faces of America." Hosted by Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., the series investigates the geneologies of famous Americans that include Yo-Yo Ma, Stephen Colbert, Malcolm Gladwell, Mario Batali, Meryl Streep and Eva Longoria Parker. Semerdjian researched the grandfather of Queen Noor (Lisa Halaby) of Jordan last summer in Damascus, Syria. The Halaby family had its origins in Aleppo, Syria, but immigrated to Damascus in the second half of the 19th century. Although little documentation was found prior to the filming of the documentary, a recent research trip to Syria gave Semerdjian an opportunity to revisit the question and unearth more information about the queen’s paternal grandmother’s side of the family. Semerdjian was able to convey those new findings to the queen in private and put her in touch with a local priest whose private archive contains more documentation about her family history. "Faces of America" will begin airing on PBS Feb. 10, 2010.

Staff Profile: Keith Raether
Director of Fellowships and Grants

  • Birthplace: Chicago
  • Education: Boston University/U. California (Riverside), B.A.; Bennington College, M.F.A.
  • Years at Whitman: 3 1/2
  • Favorite…
    • Art: Diebenkorn: “Berkeley” series
    • Book: Ondaatje: “Coming Through Slaughter”; Woolf: “To the Lighthouse”; Lopate: “The Art of the Personal Essay”; Duras: “The Lover”; Basho: “Narrow Road to the Interior”
    • Music: Coltrane (all); Lutoslawski: “Musique funebre”; Satie: “Pieces froides”; Hendrix: “Electric Ladyland”; Bob Mould: “Circle of Friends (Live at the 9:30 Club)”
    • Play: Pinter: “Betrayal”
    • Dance: Balanchine: “The Four Temperaments”
  • Favorite sculpture on campus: “Fountain of Vibrant Waters” (George Tsutakawa)
  • Best travel experience: Republic of Georgia during perestroika
  • Interests/pleasures: jazz, architecture, writing, lit criticism, Wrigley Field, Barolo (when gifted), soba noodles, Mediterranean climates, marathon training (once upon a time), the Village Vanguard.
  • Recent accomplishment: Editing a small book by my wife honoring five generations of her family.
  • What people don’t know about me: My hair was once the color of Pete Reid’s eyebrows.
  • A day in the life/on the job: To borrow from Nietzsche, ever the aim to find in one’s work the joy one found as a child at play.
  • Favorite aspect of Whitman: An episode instead. My first day at Whitman, Dr. Ball’s 46th year at the college. He greeted me at the door of his office, that eternal gleam of interest in his eyes. I extended my hand; he smiled and gave me a bear (cub) hug.
  • What I’ve learned here: The limitless application of curiosity.
  • Quote: “The moon is brighter since the barn burned.” (Basho)

Oprah Magazine features alumna

Aisha Fukushima ’09 became very well-known to many staff and faculty during her four years as a Whitman student. Now, as a Watson Fellowship recipient half-way through her world tour studying raptivism – rap + activism – the 2.4 million readers of O - The Oprah Magazine will get a glimpse of the Aisha that campus community members know so well. The February 2010 issue includes a photo and vignette, through which Aisha shares ways in which people can participate in social justice activism. Click here to see a PDF of the article.

Library painting features alumna staff member

Dona LaFran, Penrose Library administrative assistant, reports on a discovery she made recently. “Penrose Library has an oil painting by Norma Pratt of a student studying in a quiet area. Come to find out, the student is Helen Tanaka ’88, associate director of the Annual Fund, who was at the time studying at Penrose Library. The painting is a favorite of the students who study in the Fitzpatrick Room.” It also is featured on a book plate for the Ruth Simpson Phelps Endowment along with a quote by Thomas à Kempis:

“I have sought for happiness everywhere,
But I have found it nowhere
Except in a little corner
With a little book”

One-of-a-kind pennants thank alumni staff and faculty members

In an effort to recognize staff and faculty members who are Whitties, Annual Fund staff members hand-distributed a one-of-a-kind pennant that thanks them for their contributions to Whitman, both through their work and for financial gifts that they have made in addition. The e-squared “formula” on the pennant reflects educated and employed at Whitman. On the back is the text: “You are among 66 extra-special Whitman College staff and faculty members. Why? Because you were educated here and you work here, and many of you have made financial gifts! You reflect the Whitman spirit, tradition and heritage. Thank you for all you do and give. Your efforts contribute to Whitman’s mission to shape and change the lives of our 1,450 students, some of whom may someday join your ranks!”

Athletic Events – Home Games

Women’s Basketball (Sherwood Athletic Center, George Ball Court)
Friday, Feb. 12 – 8 p.m. vs. Pacific Lutheran
Saturday, Feb. 13 – 8 p.m. vs. Puget Sound
Tuesday, Feb. 16 – 6 p.m. vs. Whitworth

Men’s Basketball (Sherwood Athletic Center, George Ball Court)
Friday, Feb. 12 – 6 p.m. vs. Pacific Lutheran
Saturday, Feb. 13 – 6 p.m. vs. Puget Sound
Tuesday, Feb. 16 – 8 p.m. vs. Whitworth

Women’s Tennis (Bratton Tennis Center)
Friday, Feb. 12 – 5 p.m. vs. University of Puget Sound
Saturday, Feb. 13 – 11 a.m. vs. Pacific Lutheran University
Saturday, Feb. 13 – 3:30 p.m. vs. Lewis-Clark State

Coming Events
All free unless otherwise noted

Wednesday, 2/3
O’Donnell Lecture: San Francisco Chronicle staff writer Jonathon Curiel presents “From the Alamo to Elvis Presley: How Arab and Muslim Culture have changed America for the better.” Ashton J. and Virginia Graham O’Donnell Visiting Professorship in Global Studies Endowment. 7:30 p.m., Maxey Auditorium. Learn more here.

Thursday, 2/4
Visiting Writers Series: Featured speaker is Anthony Doerr. 7 p.m., Kimball Theatre.

Click here for events posted on the Whitman Web site.

Tuesday, 2/9
Rempel Lecture: Speaker is Sean B. Carroll, Ph.D., professor of molecular biology and genetics and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Wisconsin, addressing “Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Species.” 7:30 p.m., Maxey Auditorium. Contact x5135.

Wednesday, 2/10 – Friday, 2/14
Theatre: Annual One-Act Play Contest. Whitman students are invited to submit scripts of not more than 40 minutes in length. A committee of readers chooses three of these scripts for performance. The audience is invited to vote for its favorites, and each of the playwrights receives a cash prize. The plays are entirely student-produced. Harper Joy Theatre, Freimann Stage. Click here for details.

Thursday, 2/11
NGO Panel Discussion: Want to Change the World? Whittie alumni who have invested themselves in NGOs (non-government organizations) will share their stories. 7 p.m., Kimball Theatre, Hunter Conservatory. Click here for speaker information and event details.

Thursday, 2/11
Music: Senior Recital – the Department of Music presents Sarah Judkins on violin. 7:30 p.m., Hall of Music, Chism Recital Hall.

Save the Date

Sunday, 2/21
Music: The Department of Music presents the Whitman Symphony Winter Concert, directed by Ed Dixon, associate professor of music. 7:30 p.m., Cordiner Hall. Click here for all Whitman music events.

Saturday, 2/27
Symposium: The 2010 Global Studies Symposium focuses on “Contagion.” 1-4 p.m., Maxey Auditorium. Click here for details and speaker information.

Parting Shot
By Greg Lehman, photographer/communications officer

(L to R) Melissa Yockelson, Enrica Maffucci and Claire Stimson, all ’10, cheer in amazement as the youth jump-roping group TOPS performs at halftime of the women’s basketball game vs Lewis and Clark on Friday night.   Full size.

Whitman College
In This Issue
Science Outreach
Haiti Relief Tax info
Faculty Accomplishments
Staff Profile:
Keith Raether
Aisha in Oprah
Library Painting Surprise
One-of-a-Kind Pennants
Athletic Events
Coming Events
Parting Shot

Past issues

The Fountain is published by the Office of Communications. Send news to thefountain@whitman.edu. Photos are accepted. Submissions are due by Tuesday at 5 p.m. for the following week's issue. Director of Communications: Ruth Wardwell. Online: www.whitman.edu/fountain