August 6, 2012

Volume 6, Issue 50 August 6, 2012
The Fountain

Honoring and remembering the life of Dave Holden Logo

Over the weekend, members of the Whitman community began to hear the crushing news that Dave Holden, sports information director, suffered a fatal heart attack on Friday, Aug. 3.

Holden came to Whitman in 1989 as a news services officer, working in the Communications Office. In 1994, sports information responsibilities were added to his position, and in 2006 Whitman made the SID position full-time. Dave transitioned to the athletics department and continued to contribute sports news to Whitman Magazine.

Prior to Whitman, he was an editor, journalist and photographer for the Milton-Freewater Valley Herald and the Hermiston Herald and later served as a marketing and public relations officer for a hospital. He graduated from the University of Washington with a double major in journalism and political science, and through the course of his journalism career earned 20 reporting, editorial and photography awards in state and national competitions.

In addition to his love of sports – especially baseball – Holden was known for his quiet and brilliant sense of humor and his wonderful writing style and story-telling abilities. He filled his office with mementos and memorabilia reflective of baseball and journalism, including antique baseball gloves and a typewriter.

The Whitman community is invited to join the Holden family – wife Janice; children Dusty, Adam and Emily; and extended family – at a remembrance event Tuesday, Aug. 7 at Borleske Stadium at 7:05 p.m., to be led by Adam Kirtley, Stuart Coordinator of Religious and Spiritual Life. A reception will follow in Sherwood Center Hall of Fame Foyer.

About Dave, Athletic Director Dean Snider says: “This is shocking news to all of us here at the college and especially those of us in SSRA who knew and appreciated him so much. Dave loved his work. He loved watching our students compete and loved telling their stories. A better man I do not know. He will be greatly missed… incalculably so. In times of grief a community supports one another. I know you join with me and all our Whitman athletic community to support the Holden family by keeping them in your thoughts and prayers.” Logo

Should you wish to send a written note or expression of support, email for the mailing address or send an email note to Snider at and he will forward them to the family.

Or, feel free to post a sentiment on the Remembering Dave Holden Facebook page.

Memorial gifts should be directed to the Blue Mountain Babe Ruth Baseball Improvement Fund, for construction costs of a new baseball field. Send donations to Bruce Mason at 54055 Summers Lane, Milton-Freewater, OR 97862.

Whitman among top 50 U.S. colleges and universities according to Forbes Logo

Forbes Magazine has ranked Whitman College No. 44 in its annual list of America’s top 650 colleges. Whitman is ranked among the top 21 liberal arts colleges and 4th among liberal arts colleges in the West, behind only Pomona, Claremont McKenna, and Colorado College. The rankings are based on five general categories: post graduate success (32.5%), student satisfaction (27.5%), debt (17.5%), four-year graduation rate (11.25%) and competitive awards (11.25%). The last category rewards schools whose students win prestigious scholarships and fellowships like the Rhodes, Marshall and Fulbright or go on to earn a Ph.D.

“Many national publications recognize Whitman as a leader among colleges given its long history of academic excellence,” says President Bridges. “While neither this ranking nor others drive the decisions we make, it is gratifying to learn that a respected publication like Forbes recognizes how capably Whitman prepares students for civic and professional leadership.”

Read the full story HERE.

Prof. Kate Jackson earns NSF grant

NSF Logo

The National Science Foundation has awarded Kate Jackson, assistant professor of biology, a $159,968 grant to support her study of the amphibians and reptiles of Central Africa. Her project is titled, “Collaborative Research: Biotic Inventory of the Amphibians, Reptiles and Associated Parasites of the Central African Lowland Forests.” The project is a collaboration between Whitman and the University of Texas El Paso and the Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles and Groupe d’Etude et de Recherche en Diversité Biologique, which are located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo.

Jackson recently launched the first-ever online database of Western and Central African snakes, which identifies sub-Saharan species down to the genus level and will serve as a powerful tool for local doctors treating snakebites.

“The goal of this project is to shed new light on the most poorly known animal groups—amphibians, reptiles and their endoparasites—in one of the most poorly known regions in the world, the lowland forests of Central Africa,” she says.

Read the full story HERE.

President Bridges named to Washington State Academy of Sciences

President Bridges has been elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences, an organization established to advise the state on science policy. He will join 35 other newly-elected members from around the state for an induction ceremony held in Seattle in September. The recent election brings the total number of active academy members to 184. Founded in 2005, the academy not only provides expert scientific and engineering analysis to inform public policy-making, but also works to increase the role and visibility of science in the State of Washington.

“I am deeply honored to join this group and represent Whitman College,” Bridges says. “Its membership includes some of the nation’s leading scientists, scholars and academic leaders.”

Individuals are elected on the virtue of their distinguished and ongoing scholarly achievements. Other inductees represent a range of academic disciplines and include faculty members and academic leaders at the University of Washington, Washington State University, Western Washington University, and Princeton University, among others.

Read the full story HERE..

Faculty news briefs

Michelle Acuff work - field of sunflowers in front of nuclear power plant

Michelle Acuff, assistant professor of art, recently returned from a 10-day residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Auvillar, France, where she continued her work looking at the contradictions and complexities of our global environmental situation. “It was a tremendous experience in which I lived and worked with two other American poets and a French painter in a small village in the south of France,” she says. “I made a few images there that to me explore a kind of ‘contemporary sublime.’” To view more of Acuff’s work, visit her blog, Parched & Sated.

Nancy ForsthoefelNancy Forsthoefel

Nancy Forsthoefel, research associate and adjunct instructor of biology, and Dan Vernon, professor of biology, recently returned from Vienna, Austria, where they each gave presentations at the 23rd International Conference on Arabidopsis Research (ICAR). ICAR is an annual meeting of more than 800 plan biologists who work on Arabidopsis, a small weed that serves as the main model species for plant genome research worldwide.  Both presentations focused on Arabidopsis PIRL genes, a family of genes discovered in the Vernon/Forsthoefel lab at Whitman. Forsthoefel’s featured her work with genetically modified plants expressing altered versions of the PIRL9 gene, and Vernon’s focused on three PIRL genes that function in the formation of pollen. Recent graduates Carrie Reinhart ’11 (Biology) and Lauren Brougham ’12 (Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology) were coauthors on Vernon’s presentation.

Enjoy end of summer ice cream social!

Ice Cream Social

All faculty and staff are invited to an ice cream social, hosted by President Bridges. It takes place Friday, Aug. 17 at 3 p.m. on the Baker Faculty Center Side Lawn. Come prepared to make your own ice cream sundae!

Parting Shot
By Greg Lehman, photographer/communications officer

parting shot

Monica Simmons ’14 tends to some brussel sprouts last week as part of her internship at Welcome Table Farm south of Walla Walla. Full size.

Whitman College
In This Issue
Dave Holden
Forbes Ranking
NSF Grant
Washington State Academy of Sciences
Faculty News Briefs
Ice Cream Social
Parting Shot

Past issues
The Fountain

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