Faculty Award for Service
The Whitman College Alumni Association Faculty Award for Service is given yearly to a faculty member who has distinguished himself/herself in service to the Alumni Association. Although this service may take any number of forms, the underlying theme involves strengthening and maintaining ties between the College and its alumni. Examples of service include participation in alumni gatherings, both on and off campus, and assistance in the planning/implementation of alumni events.
2012 Faculty Award for Service Recipient
Don Snow, senior lecturer of environmental humanities and general studies, said he was “astonished and delighted, in that order” to receive the Faculty Award for Service, which recognizes his dedication to strengthening the ties between the college and alumni.
Snow, a prolific author whose essays, stories and other writings have been published extensively, delights in leading alumni expeditions from Montana to Idaho to the San Juan Islands to Mount Rainier.
“It doesn’t take a whole lot to seduce me into an alumni trip,” he said. “Give me a paddle, a pair of boots – I’ll go anywhere.”
Snow joined the Whitman faculty in 2001 as a visiting professor of creative writing. He was drawn to the college after he gave a lecture here on the mythological meanings of salmon to Northwest fishing tribes. At the time, he was teaching at the University of Montana and running the magazine Northern Lights in Missoula.
“I knew virtually nothing about the college,” he said. “The lecture was really well-attended, which impressed me. Then afterward, two students came up to the podium to continue the discussion. When we parted ways a half-hour later, I knew I wanted to teach here.”
A Utah native who grew up hiking, hunting and fishing in the forests of western Pennsylvania, Colorado and Wyoming, he said the alumni trips inspire his writing outside the confines of the classroom.
“The outdoor trips for me are key,” he said. “The outdoors always enliven my imagination. Say, a Lewis and Clark trail trip – like the first alumni trip I ever did with Whitman. I get out there along the Missouri River, talking with the alumni about Lewis and Clark’s encounters with the Mandan, the Shoshone, the Blackfeet, and it’s like I’m right there in camp with Meriwether and William. People have to stop me from trying to kill a beaver.”
As for the alumni, he says he loves spending time with them during the trips and hearing their stories.
“I’ve done alumni trips for other colleges and universities, and I can tell you honestly that no other alumni are like the Whitman people,” he said. “Our folks are fit, funny and feisty – ready to go, still interested in the world. Intrepid.”
Reflecting on his time at Whitman, Snow said the college has been a wonderful place for him and his family, including daughter Tenly Snow ’06. He said he was speechless when he received this award for his work with alumni.
“It’s nearly impossible to express the gratitude and joy that come with this kind of recognition. Since I really can’t, I just go quiet. That’s rare for me.”