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Professors Mary Hanna and Jack Metzger retire

From articles by Kristin Gettelman, '01,
The Whitman College Pioneer, September 30, 1999

When psychology professor Jack Metzger came to Whitman in 1969, he expected to be here five or six years before returning to his beloved Colorado. Thirty years later, Metzger is still in Walla Walla, educating Whitman students in experimental psychology, developmental psychology, and physiological and cognitive psychology.

After this semester, however, Metzger and his wife will return to the Colorado Springs area. They have a mountain cabin near Cripple Creek, where they have spent every summer since Metzger came to Whitman.

Metzger initially learned of Whitman while on a graduate fellowship at Colorado State University. One of his professors, Dick Suinn, had taught at Whitman and encouraged him to apply. "I wanted an institution that emphasized teaching but was not high-pressure publish or perish," Metzger said.

He accepted a position in the psychology department. "Since then, the quality of the students has improved," Metzger commented. "As a faculty member, you can capitalize on that." Many of the senior theses he's seeing now are master's level work and are being presented at professional conferences, he noted. "[The students] are moving farther and faster." He said that interacting with students is what he will miss most.

Metzger said that his most memorable moments, in addition to receiving the Fluno Award for Outstanding Teaching in 1994, have been when "students give me feedback after they've left about how I've affected their lives." After moving to Colorado, Metzger plans to slowly phase out of teaching by teaching a few courses at Colorado College.

"Teaching is still fun," he said.


After 17 years of entertaining Whitman politics students with her wry political humor, professor Mary Hanna is retiring. "I really believe you should go out on the top of your game," Hanna remarked.

She came to Whitman in 1983 after teaching at Cornell, State University of New York at Binghampton, and the University of Texas at San Antonio. "My classes just kept getting larger and larger," she said. "It was frustrating because I never got to know any of the students except for those one or two with chutzpah."

While teaching at the University of Texas, Hanna accepted an additional position teaching one class at Trinity University, where her class was considerably smaller. "I thought that meant I was a failure, but I found that I really liked it."

One day after feeling particularly overwhelmed with a University of Texas class, she marched over to the library and searched through the ads in the Chronicle of Higher Education. She found that Whitman had an opening for a politics professor and applied for the job.

In her first years, she taught urban politics, which has evolved into the federalism course, which Hanna says has been the most challenging of courses for her to teach. "I've taught it consistently and changed it consistently, but I never did it to my satisfaction." She has continued to teach Introduction to American Politics, which is one of her favorite courses along with Media and Politics and The Policy Making Process.

One of her fondest memories of the Whitman community is the generous support she received from both faculty and students when her husband died in the spring of 1990.

After retirement, Hanna plans to stay in Walla Walla but is undecided as to whether she will sell her Boyer Street home, where she often has held classes and meetings with students. Travel is also in her plans. "I'd like to pick up and go move somewhere for a month," she said. "I'd also like to continue writing."

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