What Makes Whitman
Students Great ?
"Very much alive --- intellectually, socially, and simply
as human beings"
As a sociologist, I should know more than most the dangers inherent
in attempting to arrive at far-reaching generalizations about any
group of people, with Whitman students being no exception to this
general rule. However, I have been teaching at the College for the
better part of a quarter century, and I do feel that there are basic
commonalities or characteristics which apply to many, if not all,
of the hundreds of students with whom I have had the pleasure of
working and interacting during my many years here. These are some
of the ones that I most appreciate.
First, Whitman students are very much alive intellectually,
socially, and simply as human beings. They express a spirit, a zest
for life, and a more-than-occasional irreverence which I find stimulating
Second, they take (most, if not all) things quite seriously
they work hard, they play hard, they think hard, and they put considerable
effort into the great majority of what they do.
Third, they are able to learn from criticism and from the mistakes
which they occasionally but inevitably make. In my time here, Ive
seen a number of faces fall upon getting back an exam or a paper
or an assignment. But, most of the time, these same students are
quite able to dust themselves off, bounce back, and give it another
shot more often than not, with much improved results.
Fourth, so many Whitman students seem to genuinely care about others,
and to have a real generosity of spirit. It is so easy, especially
at the age that most of our students are, living in a relatively
out-of-the-way setting like Whitman, to become self-absorbed, and
to only want to interpret the events of the world from the perspective
of how it affects me. In contrast, I still remember
how touched I have been at the response of my students to the births
of my daughters, or to the death of my mother several years ago,
or to the passing of a number of beloved colleagues in recent years.
These are, by and large, very caring young people. Finally, I find
the great majority of Whitman students to be, pure and simple, nice
people. Its never been a chore to have to come to work to
deal with my clientele, and, for this, I consider myself most fortunate.
By Professor of Sociology Keith Farrington
Keith Farrington came to Whitman in 1977. Recipient of a
Burlington Northern Award for outstanding teaching and scholarship
and a George Ball Award for Excellence in Advising, he holds
the Laura and Carl Peterson Chair of Social Sciences. In 1992
he was named Washington State Professor of the Year.
Senior Maya Prager won a Perry Award to collaborate with professor
Keith Farrington on his research.