June 4, 2012

Volume 6, Issue 41 June 4, 2012
The Fountain

Honors, awards announced at Staff Appreciation Day

abraham award winners 2012
2012 Janice Abraham Award winners Pat Sorenson ’86 and Travis Congleton.

At Friday’s Staff Appreciation Day, Brian Griffith, WCTS system administrator/ developer, reprised his role as emcee, joking that this year he planned to be “just offensive enough not to be asked back” again. During his comic routine, Griffith got creative with the name of the Now Is the Time Campaign, suggested a new line of $500-apiece “pretentious” brand t-shirts, and referred to The Fountain as Whitman’s “hard-hitting weekly newsletter.” See his full comments here.

In his remarks, President Bridges acknowledged the hard work of staff members whose daily contributions are so integral to Whitman’s success as an institution: “Each of you consistently goes above and beyond expectations to provide a positive experience for our students.” He also departed from tradition by delivering a “Raptitude of Gratitude” dedicated to Whitman’s staff. An excerpt:

I thank you all for giving to this cause we call our own
Each of us is Whitman and we make it feel like home
To all of you I bow in humble gratitude
You make this school exceptional with your love and attitude.

The rap was well-received by attendees and provided great spirit for the occasion, with staff members overheard still chatting about the presidential performance Monday morning. Bridges also expressed his gratitude to staff for creating a culture of caring on campus, “an almost family-like web of interconnections and support that students and faculty rely on.”

The Janice Abraham Award is presented annually to Whitman staff members who have made significant contributions and provided outstanding service to the college. It honors and celebrates staff members who go above and beyond job expectations, bring forward creative and innovative ideas, promote the philosophy of customer service and contribute to the overall excellence of Whitman. The 2012 recipients are: Pat Sorenson ’86, Division II Assistant, Arts & Humanities, who has been at Whitman for 31 years, and Travis Congleton, publications designer, who has been at Whitman for six years.

In announcing Sorenson’s award, Bridges read, “She has a gift for finding personal connections with people and it is her small gestures that make the largest impact.” He also shared a quote from a nomination letter by a Whitman parent: “Five years ago we visited Whitman for the first time. We parked across the street so Olin Hall was the first building we entered. Pat was the first person at Whitman we talked to. She asked what kinds of things my daughter was interested in, and my daughter mentioned English and Spanish. Within a few minutes, she had called down people from the English and Spanish departments to speak with us, and by the time we finished talking with her my daughter had made up her mind to come to Whitman.”

Nominations for Congleton included these comments: “He goes out of his way to help staff, faculty and students with their needs. He juggles and adjusts his schedule and priority tasks to accommodate theirs, frequently helping with 11th hour projects and last minute changes. He is creative, inventive, mindful that his work will help lead to a desired outcome for the college or a program as opposed to being a showcase for his own professional talent. He is in the office, always early and ready to work and display a positive attitude. He applies critical thinking and asks questions to ensure clarity. He serves the needs of his clients through professionalism, excellence and ability. He is gracious and displays grace under pressure, even when something goes awry.”

Click here for a list of past Janice Abraham Award recipients

Also recognized at the event were this year’s list of retiring staff members and years of service award recipients.


  • Maureen Vollendorff, administrative assistant for admission
  • Anita Swan, residence life custodian
  • Pat Bender, administrative assistant for ASWC
  • Rich Jacks, associate dean of students: health and wellness
  • Judy Arbanas, manager of student accounts
  • Carol Harris, manager of human resources

30 and 35 years of service:

  • Chuck Cleveland, dean of students
  • Ginny Matthews, administrative assistant for the Welty Center
  • Alazar Yehdego, physics technician and lab coordinator
  • Kathleen Ruggeri, nurse, Welty Center
  • Clare Carson, associate dean of students: academic support services


Staff and faculty news briefs

leavitt kim

Helen Kim, associate professor of sociology, and husband Noah Leavitt, assistant dean for student engagement, have contributed a chapter to the forthcoming book “Sustaining Faith Traditions: Race, Ethnicity, and Religion among the Latino and Asian American Second Generation.” The book explores Will Herberg’s theory of 50 years ago that future immigrants to the United States would identify themselves based on their religion rather than their race, ethnicity, language or culture. In the book, the authors highlight ways in which race, ethnicity and religion continue to intersect for new Americans today. Publication is scheduled for July through New York University Press.

ALSO – Kim was recently quoted in an article in The Global News Service of the Jewish People about Koreans living in Israel. She noted the “massive evangelical presence in Korea” as a motivating factor behind Korean identification with Israel, and explained that Jewish people are often seen by Koreans as examples of a successful group who have withstood “the worst of all storms for close to 6,000 years.”

leavitt kim

Nohemy Solórzano-Thompson, associate professor of Spanish, recently returned from two conference trips: one for the Society for the Study of Gloria Anzaldúa (SSGA) in San Antonio, Texas, and another for the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) in San Francisco. The SSGA conference is dedicated to the critical examination of the theories and writings of the late Chicana author Gloria Anzaldúa, and Solórzano-Thompson also attended a memorial celebration at Anzaldúa’s family grave site on the anniversary of the author's death. At the conference, she chaired and moderated a special panel on the pedagogical praxis of Anzaldúa’s theories about Chicana identity. Solórzano-Thompson later met with Dr. Josie Mendez-Negrete, UTSA Mexican-American Studies Professor and Editor of the peer-reviewed journal “Chicana/Latina Studies,” which is affiliated with the professional organization Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social (MALCS), of which Solórzano-Thompson is an active member. After the LASA conference, the largest international organization devoted to the study of Latin America, Solórzano-Thompson began her term as co-chair of the LASA Mexico Section, a subunit of members who research and teach Mexican studies. She will be serving with Mexico City-based sociologist María Eugenia Valdés Vega until June 2013.

Pictured: Solórzano-Thompson and Mendez-Negrete wearing their 2012 SSGA conference t-shirts. Photo courtesy of George Negrete, Professor of Chemistry at UTSA.

Staff Changes and Transitions

leavitt kim

Effective May 17 – Joelle Chavre is now director of client services, and is responsible for (but not limited to) providing the leadership and oversight of the WCTS Helpdesk, working with the team to ensure high quality and responsive service, assessing the services the team provides, and overseeing the computer lifecycle replacement program for all faculty and staff computers.

Whitman Recycling Center no longer accepting glass

As of June 1, the City of Walla Walla is no longer accepting recycled glass. As a result, the Whitman College Recycling Center will not be able to process any glass, reports Bob Biles, landscape supervisor and recycling coordinator. “Please dispose of glass in your own trash at home as we will now have to pay the landfill fee for the disposal of any glass that comes to the recycle center.”

Parting Shot
By Greg Lehman, photographer/communications officer

parting shot

The tulips outside Reid Campus Center retained a certain beauty even as their petals warped and drooped last week. Full size.

Whitman College
In This Issue
Staff Appreciation Day
Staff and Faculty News Brief
Staff Changes and Transitions
Recycling Center
Parting Shot

Past issues
The Fountain

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. Editor: Gillian Frew. Managing Editor: Ruth Wardwell. Online: www.whitman.edu/fountain