The Gordon Scribner Award was created to honor Gordon Scribner '42, former dean of students and director of alumni, upon his retirement. The award is given by the Alumni Association to persons who have made a major contribution of volunteer time and effort to Whitman College over an extended period of time and possess the ability to inspire. Any alumnus/alumna or friend of the College is eligible for this award. There are no restrictions regarding board involvement.
2007 Gordon Scribner Award for
Distinguished Service Recipient
Since graduating with an art history degree in 1971, Mary Jane Corliss Shea has served Whitman as an overseer and regional vice chair, a member of Whitman's Development Committee, Career Counseling Network, and as a class representative. What she loves most, however, is serving as an advocate for Whitman when she can recommend a potential student to the college.
"That is the best legacy I can imagine," she says.
In one of many letters penned to her classmates she noted, "I feel that Whitman College and the people I met there aided and equipped me to change and grow." Shea has lived a life true to the liberal arts education Whitman provides, and her career and volunteer list are all about helping others.
A retired educator and Child Life Specialist at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Shea spent her career "helping children and their families with the stress of hospitalization through education, play and emotional support." In 1995 she was the recipient of Sacred Heart's Patient Teaching Excellence Award.
Having received her first taste of being a community volunteer when she worked with special needs adults in a sheltered workshop not far from campus during college, Shea says, "Every year since, like so many other Whitties, I have devoted a significant amount of time for the good of my community."
Her volunteer activities have included serving as chair of the annual Children's Hospital Fair at Sacred Heart and as a trustee of the Eastern Washington State Historical Society (now known as the Museum of Arts and Culture or The MAC). She is an active member of the Spokane Symphony Associates; has served on the board of the Spokane Guild's School for Neurologically Handicapped Children; and volunteers at The Barton School, where she teaches English as a second language.
In addition, Shea's family sponsored Whitman Night at the Spokane Symphony in 1993, 1996 and 1997; and she organized the 1992 Spokane "Theater on the Road," which involved securing theater space for a Harper Joy Theatre production for alumni and prospective students in the area.