November 29, 2010

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Volume 5, issue 15
November 29, 2010
The Fountain

Staff coffee recap

Coffee with the president

After opening last week’s staff coffee meeting by wishing everyone a “happy white Thanksgiving,” President Bridges acknowledged the physical plant snow removal crews who had been on the job since 4 a.m. “I know everyone is working hard and going a million miles an hour, but most of us get to do it in warm offices. So I wanted to give some extra recognition to the grounds crew; it’s cold out there!”

Among other announcements:

  • The employee holiday party will be Friday, Dec. 17, at 7:30 p.m. in Reid Campus Center, Young Ballroom.
  • Following the news that CTO Keiko Pitter will retire at the end of this fiscal year, a search committee has been launched. CFO/Treasurer Peter Harvey ’84 is chairing the committee. Applications are due Feb. 15; candidates will be on campus in March/April. Watch for announcements about opportunities for input on the candidates.
  • Alumni Relations is working on a plan to convert to a one reunion per year schedule, versus the existing four-per-year. The move was a key recommendation of the external review.

CFO Harvey discussed the budget, reporting that the college continues to face financial challenges for several reasons. The most significant factors are dramatically increased costs in financial aid for new and returning students and employee fringe benefits (including tuition exchange program and health care). The most critical aspect of the financial situation is “to balance the budget without fundamentally compromising the academic program,” Harvey said.

“I wish I had clear, certain answers,” President Bridges said. “… it’s safe to assume that costs will continue to go up. What that means to us specifically for the future, I just can’t say. The budget officers and I are working to ensure the financial strength of Whitman College regardless of the state of the economy.”

John Bogley ’85, vice president for development and college relations, reported that fundraising efforts – focused on enhancing the strength of our academic programs, providing scholarships and growing the endowment – are going well. Though typically it takes about four years to apply the benefits of new major gifts to the budget, the trustees approved a change to shorten the period to one year for some recent gifts. This provides an additional funding source for the budget.

Fringe benefits discussion

Regarding tuition exchange – The exchange program is not working for any of the member institutions and is proposed to be phased out. Current staff and faculty with children who will be high school freshmen and higher in fall 2012 would be grandfathered into the current exchange program benefit. There are no plans at this time to end or alter the tuition grant program. Both the president and CFO, however, reiterated that given the financial realities there is no certainty things can remain as they are indefinitely.

Regarding health insurance – Normally by this time open-enrollment materials have been distributed. This year’s renewal process has been slowed and complicated by the national reform; implementing mandates has shortened the time the college and fringe benefits committee has had to evaluate plans and costs. Though a memo about fringe benefits was distributed on campus last week, faculty have since raised some issues that may require a return to the drawing board so that the same options/costs can be extended to staff and faculty. At issue is the budgetary solution of adding a pre-tax employee contribution for premiums (as opposed to increasing deductibles and co-pays). The current proposal is for a 5 percent contribution, however the question of a sliding scale has been raised.

The staff and faculty fringe benefits committees will meet to consider alternatives. They will both seek feedback and input from staff and faculty prior to making final recommendations. It is expected that enrollment materials will be distributed next week (Dec. 6-10).

Staff Fringe Benefits Committee:
Jeff Donahue (physical plant/CFO); Sonia Aiken (student services); Jason Arp (alumni/communications/ development); Jennifer McNeil (registrar/dean of faculty, currently on maternity leave); David Sprunger (WCTS); Chris Tarvin (admission/financial aid).

Faculty Fringe Benefits Committee:
Jim Russo, Dan Vernon, Cynthia Croot, Keith Farrington, Bokyung Kim, and Patrick Frierson.

Staff Fringe Benefits Committee Web site offers valuable info, feedback form

As mentioned at last week’s staff coffee, the Staff Fringe Benefits Committee (SFBC) maintains a Web site designed to keep staff informed of the committee’s work. It includes a feedback/input form as well as meeting minutes and additional information.

“We’d like to hear from you, and the online form makes it very easy,” said Jeff Donahue, chair of the committee. “Feel free to send in ideas and feedback. We meet monthly, and all staff are welcome to sit in.”

Staff news briefs


Keiko Pitter, chief technology officer, has been selected for recognition at the 2011 Women of Color Empowered luncheon event, to take place in Seattle in January. Women of Color Empowered (WOC) showcases the achievements of women who are an inspiration, have broken through the glass ceilings and are doing great work bettering their communities.

“Whitman College has been most fortunate to have your leadership to envision, grow, and manage its technology for students and for the work of the college,” wrote Whitman alumna and WOC Organizing Committee member Kathy Hagiwara Purcell ’66 in a note to Pitter notifying her of her selection. “As an alumna now working in higher education, I recognize that an essential element of Whitman’s success is quality infrastructure. Much of that success and quality is due to your great work over many, many years.”

Pitter has worked at Whitman since 1998. She also has worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a navigation team member, Tektronix as a programmer/analyst, Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada, as CIS instructor/department chair and Willamette University as executive director of IT. She holds a BA in mathematics from UCLA and a master’s in computer education from the University of Nevada, Reno. Pitter has published more than 30 books (Random House and McGraw Hill) on computer applications, programming logic, Web development and the Internet. Her books have been translated into German, Hebrew, Hungarian and Turkish.

“Westies” to report on their Semester in the West

Western Epiphanies

All campus community members are invited to “Western Epiphanies,” at which students who participated in the 2010 Semester in the West program will read the prose and poetry they wrote while on the road. There are two sessions: Tuesday, Nov. 30 and Wed., Dec. 1. Both sessions take place in Maxey Auditorium and begin at 4 p.m.

“Seeing Landscapes Whole,” a collection of SITW student photography, also opens in the Stevens Gallery in Reid on Nov. 30. Both events are free and open to the public.

Coming Events
All free unless otherwise noted

Monday-Friday, 11/29-12/3
Alternative Gift Market: Shoppers dedicate their donations to their friends, family, and ultimately back to the world. With each purchase, participants receive an explanation of the cause and agency to which they are donating, as well as a free holiday card that they can give. For a list of this year’s gifts, as well as details of the market, click here. 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Reid Campus Center.

Tuesday, 11/30
Art: “Seeing Landscapes Whole,” a collection of photography from 2010 Semester in the West participants opens in the Stevens Gallery in the Reid Campus Center.

Tuesday, 11/30
Lecture: Denny Hurtado, a member of the Skokomish Indian Tribe, presents “Indian Rights and Educations,” a lecture about Washington’s tribal sovereignty curriculum project (HB 1495 WA). 7 p.m., Maxey Hall Rm. 306.

Wednesday and Thursday, 11/30-12/1
Western Epiphanies: Semester in the West students have returned to campus and will share their experiences through poetry and prose. 4 p.m., Maxey Auditorium.

Thursday, 12/2
Concert: As part of the Whitman Bookstore Open House, 15-year-old violinist, Anna Okada Burgess, who has released her first album "Spring in Brassica," a compilation of Celtic songs on violin, will perform. Her father, Jesse Burgess, accompanies her on the guitar. Most merchandise in the bookstore will be 30 percent off. Performance: 5:30 p.m., Open House: 3-7 p.m., Whitman Bookstore.

Thursday, 12/2
Lecture: Dr. Brien Garnand, assistant professor of history, and Stefan Dubois ’12 present a lecture titled “Petrographic Analysis of Punic Ceramics: A Preliminary Report from the Carthaginian Tophet.” 7:30 p.m., Olin Hall Rm. 157.

Friday, 12/3
Music: Technology in Music, a Lecture Recital presented by Pete Crawford. 4 p.m., Chism Recital Hall. For all music department events click here.

Saturday, 12/4
Art: The Sheehan Gallery presents the opening reception of the 4th Annual Juried Winter Student Art Salon. 3 p.m., Sheehan Gallery. Click here for a complete schedule of the 2010-2011 Sheehan Gallery Exhibitions.

Saturday, 12/4
Music: The Whitman College Department of Music presents a combined Fall Concert with the Whitman Chorale, conducted by Daniella Warner, and the Whitman Chamber Singers, conducted by Jeremy Mims. 7:30 p.m., Chism Recital Hall.

The Sea Harper Joy Theatre: “The Sea” by Edward Bond is set in an Edwardian coastal village, Willy Carson meets Rose, the girl to whom his drowned friend was engaged, and falls in love with her. Their romance is caught between the forces of order, in the form of a group of dotty society ladies, and chaos, personified by a mad draper anticipating an invasion of space aliens. For information and reservations call x5180 or click here.

Friday and Saturday, 12/10-12/11
Dance: Whitman Dance Theater presents “Lucid Moving,” a dance performance. This event is free and open to the public. 8 p.m., Cordiner Hall.

Click here for a listing of all events.

Parting Shot
By Greg Lehman, photographer/communications officer

Parting Shot

It’s easy to see the big beauty around campus after a snowfall, but you have to slow down and really look to see some of the hidden beauty. These blossoms, frozen and translucent, hang on beneath a blanket of snow just outside Memorial.   Full size.

Whitman College
In This Issue
Staff Coffee Recap
Staff Fringe Benefits Committee
Staff News Brief
Semester in the West Events
Coming Events
Parting Shot

Past issues

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