Brian Griffith

Remarks by Brian Griffith
June 3, 2011

Welcome to our annual staff appreciation brunch. Please continue to enjoy your food as we get underway.

I have a couple quick housekeeping items for you. Don’t forget that as soon as we are done here, all nonessential personnel get the rest of the day off, so I’m going to talk as fast as humanly possible. (I bet you’ve never wanted so badly to be considered non-essential.) Second, make sure you go back for seconds, especially on the bacon. I think we all know that the bacon (or vegetarian sausage, if that’s your thing) is why we’re all here today, so please don’t be shy about going back for more. If there is any bacon left at the end of our event, I will be extremely disappointed.

I need to clear the air this morning. Somebody made a huge mistake on the invitation and claimed that I would be entertaining. I had an inspiring and heartwarming speech prepared. My mother would have been proud. Instead, I have to be entertaining. Unfortunately, I can’t sing or dance. I don’t know hardly any jokes. (Did you hear the one about the two faculty members who walked in to a meeting about fringe benefits? Me either.) Just so you know, I was told by Cindy Matern, head of HR, that I have a free pass today. I can say anything I want. Let’s see how long it takes security to get up here and haul me away.

We’ve had quite a year, haven’t we, George? But you know what? We’ve stuck with it. We as a college have exhibited a steadfast determination. Never wavering in our mission as we grow tomorrow’s leaders. Always exhibiting that laid bac, unpretentious…

A survey of incoming students was conducted recently, and I am quite happy to announce that the award for least pretentious admissions officer goes to Josh Ian Smith. In fact, Josh is wearing the official Unpretentious Uniform for Admissions Officers today. Josh, why don’t you stand up and let everybody get a good look at it. Nothing says “unpretentious” like goldenrod corduroy.

Except maybe for this new clothing line from our very own bookstore. I am extremely excited to introduce to you today: Official Whitman College Unpretentious Gear. <slide> we’ve got the t-Shirt – do you see the logo on there? I think we have a photo of that blown up<slide>, there it is; <slide> and the sweatpants, of course. That’s available starting today, in our very own Whitman College Bookstore.

But really, we are an unpretentious bunch. We just like to have fun, don’t we? Especially our leaders. Did you know that every one of the budget officers has at least 5 affectionate nicknames that they are known by on campus? I called around to all the different departments and asked them what they call their budget officer. I think these nicknames really showcase the approachability that our great leaders demonstrate.

Peter Harvey

  • The Harve
  • P Harve
  • The Pharve – Incidentally, he will be retiring this year. Scratch that, he will not be retiring this year.
  • Vote For Pedro
  • Cosby
  • P Money Cash

John Bogley

  • JB
  • The Boges
  • J.Boggs
  • Boggle
  • Captain Jack
  • 1 Over Par
  • The Admiral
  • Boots

Timothy Kaufman-Osborn

  • TKO (song clip)
  • PDF
  • Timmy the Knife
  • Tim Timminy
  • Turn your head and Kaufman
  • The Boxer
  • Socks

Tony Cabasco

  • Tabasco
  • Mr. T
  • Big T
  • Copa Cabasco
  • Tone Loc
  • Tony, Tony, Tony
  • T-Pain
  • T-Bone
  • A Flock of Seagulls (back when he had hair)
  • JT

Chuck Cleaveland

  • Chuckles
  • The Cleave
  • Chaz
  • Chickery
  • The Chickers
  • Chuck Nut
  • Self Proclaimed Emperor of Greece
  • Margaritaville

Keiko Pitter

  • KP
  • The Cakes
  • Fireball
  • Dean of The Internet
  • Speed Demon
  • Big K
  • KoKo
  • Boss
  • Please Don’t Fire Me

George Bridges

  • Jorge Puentes
  • Bowtie Brawler
  • Bowtie Bandit
  • Georgie Porgie
  • GSB
  • Columbia River George
  • El Capitan
  • Louie

How about a big round of applause for our wonderfully approachable and unpretentious budget officers. (And Keiko, I was serious. Please don’t fire me.)

I’d like to be just a little bit serious, if I may. I’ve worked at Whitman College for 3 years now. That is, admittedly, a short time, however it is long enough for me to be truly impressed with the caliber of staff we have here. When I heard Whitman described as a school that “runs like butter,” I remember being just a little incredulous. “Do they not know what goes on around here? If it runs like butter, then why are we working so hard?” But really, that description of Whitman is 100% attributable to the hard work that you all put in throughout the year. And I believe it quite appropriately represents the fruits of your labor. You should all feel very proud of yourselves. As you listen to more speakers, hear other individuals called out for their years of service and we honor retirees, don’t forget that we are here today to celebrate you. And that we get the rest of the day off. What a country.

I’m going to take just a moment now to introduce the members of the Personal Advisory Committee (PAC for short). PAC is responsible for putting on this groovy shindig every year. PAC is a great committee to be on. While the fringe benefits committee toils over exact verbiage and complex financial calculations, we pretty much sit around, drink margaritas, decide how much bacon to have at the annual staff appreciation brunch and what sort of party to throw next. I would highly encourage you to become a member of PAC at some point in your Whitman career. Talk to your resident, unpretentious budget officer if you would like to get involved.

PAC Committee:

  • Representing John Bogley’s area, Development, Alumni Relations and Communications: Shannon Shearer
  • Representing Peter Harvey’s area, College Finances, Property and non-academic personnel: Cheryl Stone
  • Representing Chuck Cleaveland’s area, Student Services: Marie Metheny
  • Representing Tony Cabasco’s area, Admission and Financial Aid: Serena Aufderhar
  • Representing Keiko Pitter’s area, Information Technology Services: I am Brian Griffith
  • And a big round of applause for the Head of HR, Cindy Matern, who makes sure we all show up and contribute.

At this time it is my pleasure to introduce to you, Paul Dennis and the dulcet tones of your very own … Whitmannaires.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, we are incredibly honored to have as our keynote speaker. He has a PHD from Princeton. He’s written several books, numerous articles, and given lectures at many prestigious schools across the globe. The man who when confronted with an angry parent demanding to speak to somebody no lower than a dean said, “Madam, I assure you, there is no one lower than the dean of faculty.” Please give a warm welcome to Whitman College’s Provost and Dean of Faculty, Mr. Timothy Kaufman-Osborne!


Thank you, Socks … It is with great privilege that I introduce our next guest, who is truly an extraordinary man. When he goes to the zoo, he’s allowed to pet the animals. He once had an awkward moment, just to see how it feels. If he were to punch you in the face, you would have to fight off the irresistible urge to thank him. He bowls overhand. Sharks have a week dedicated to him. His mother has a tattoo on her arm that reads “Son”. He has single-handedly brought back the bowtie. Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of Whitman College, George Bridges!