May 21

Volume 6, Issue 39 May 21, 2012
The Fountain

Whitman Celebrates 2012 Commencement

The Class of 2012 as well as about 4,000 students, faculty, staff and visiting guests gathered on Memorial lawn yesterday to celebrate Commencement on Sunday afternoon. To catch a glimpse of the day, view the 2012 Commencement Gallery with photos by Greg Lehman, photographer/communications officer.

Click here for a full summary of the weekend’s events, including links to the Commencement video and Commencement and Baccalaureate speeches.

In his comments, President Bridges acknowledged the efforts of staff and faculty, “who have worked so hard to make this celebration possible.” He also acknowledged the Walla Walla community for helping make Whitman what it is, reporting later that once again this year the same anonymous and generous local resident found him in the crowd and presented him with a $1,000 gift.

Staff coffee recap – great campaign and admission news

The recent trustee meeting, the incoming class, and the Now Is the Time Campaign were the primary agenda items at last week’s Staff Coffee. President Bridges announced that staff salary letters for 2012-13 will be distributed within the next two weeks. Merit increases based on a 3 percent pool will be effective July 1.

Calling Commencement “the happiest day of the year,” President Bridges thanked staff for contributing to what he called “an impressive, phenomenal year. I am deeply grateful for all the work you have done to help make this such a great year.”

He cited the 123 applicants for nearly 50 prestigious fellowships and grants as a major highlight, saying that the national prominence associated with students and alumni receiving such awards is significant. He credited Keith Raether and Donna Jones of the Fellowships and Grants Office for their work in supporting students.

The progress of the Now Is the Time Campaign also gives reason for celebration, and the president praised John Bogley, vice president for development and college relations, and the members of the development staff for their efforts.

Bogley provided an update – and a dose of humor. The total raised as of May 16 is $108.4 million. The campaign was launched publicly Nov. 18, 2011 with $97.6 million in commitments. As a result of campaign gifts, enhancements to Whitman already in place and happening are:

  • 100 funded internships for students this summer (last summer there were 35)
  • Senior Fund Scholarship Endowment (goal was $50,000; total raised to date is $76,000 with more than 50 percent of graduating seniors making gifts)
  • A challenge grant named for Professor Bob Carson that will provide opportunities for first-year students to participate in an Outdoor Program trip at a reduced cost.
  • A campaign is underway to fund a new professorship in honor of William O. Douglas; constitutional law and American jurisprudence are the focus of the position.

“We have seen tremendous generosity from people who fully believe in the transformative power of a Whitman liberal arts education,” Bogley said. “They are saying they want to make a difference for future generations of Whitman students. The final $42 million needed to meet our goal will have to come from people who have not yet made Whitman a philanthropic priority, but the momentum is with us. The campaign goal is $150 million, and the plan is to reach that goal by June 30, 2015.”

Kevin Dyerly, director of admission, reported that things are on target for a “hard-capped” incoming class of 400 students, with 399 confirmations on May 16. Final decisions are being made by some wait-listed students, and the deadline for transfer decisions is May 25. He also reported some preliminary demographics: 119 from Washington, 100 from California, 20 from Minnesota and a resurgence from New England (25); 42 percent male; 20 percent students of color; 3.5 percent international students.

President Bridges also announced the new trustees, elected at the May meeting: former Whitman CFO Janice Abraham, now president and CEO of United Educators Insurance and the namesake of the annual award presented to the most outstanding staff; and alumnus and Whitman parent Bill Way ’80, whose daughter Tricia ’12 is a brand new graduate. He reported that the cost of college was a major focus of discussion at the meeting, saying “It’s the larger issue we all face, and there are no answers, just important questions about how best to support this vital model of education.”

Staff Appreciation Day set for June 1

All staff are invited to participate in the annual Staff Appreciation Day event, which takes place Friday, June 1, beginning at 9:15 a.m. at Reid Campus Center.
In addition to brunch, among highlights of Staff Appreciation Day is the presentation of the Janice Abraham Awards, which recognize staff members who have made significant contributions and provided outstanding service to the college. Also, Years of Service honors will be announced as well as any staffing updates. The program will be accompanied by music from Frog Hollow Duo, featuring John St. Hilaive of the music department.

The event will conclude at about 12:15 p.m. An optional guided tour of various buildings will be offered between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. for those interested.

Faculty news brief

Mark Beck, professor of physics, has published a new text book this month titled “Quantum Mechanics: Theory and Experiment.”  It presents quantum mechanics for the junior or senior undergraduate level and is unique in that it describes not only quantum theory, but also presents five laboratories that explore modern aspects of quantum mechanics. Also, it is the only quantum mechanics text to include laboratories that can be performed by undergraduates, and the book describes quantum mechanics by starting with photon polarization as a prototypical two-dimensional quantum system, which allows for integration of the text and laboratories. It includes chapters that discuss quantum measurement, entanglement, quantum field theory and quantum information. Beck reports that about a dozen Whitman students contributed to the development of the laboratories. The book is published by Oxford University Press and is available for purchase online and soon will be available at the Whitman Bookstore.

Parting Shot
By Greg Lehman, photographer/communications officer

parting shot

Katie Lei ’12 braids the mortar board tassel of Kyle Scott ’12 as they prepared for the Commencement ceremony. Full size.

Whitman College
In This Issue
Staff Coffee
Staff Appreciation Day
Faculty news brief
Parting Shot

Past issues
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