The Whitman College Magazine Online
Inside Cover

What Makes Whitman
Students Great ?

"They often achieve greatly"

At Walla Walla High School cheerleading is a varsity sport. Having a cheerleading daughter I found myself attending an end-of-the-season awards ceremony some years ago. The meeting had all the expected ambiance — much yelling and back patting, many awards both serious and funny. A girl’s junior varsity basketball coach, handing out athletic letters and speaking of one of his players, offered a comment reminding me that wisdom can be found in unusual venues. He said, “This girl has lots of potential. You know what having potential means don’t you? It means you haven’t done anything yet.”

What do I like about Whitman students? They have lots of potential. That’s probably what I like best about them. A few have actually done something already in their lives, but all have potential. This is most noticeable when I encounter those who received B’s and C’s when they were students of mine. It is most gratifying to observe their subsequent achievements, those of the “average” Whitman student.

Students who rank at the top of the class often go on to graduate school. That is, they are replicas of us, the professors, so we tend to think of them as what students should be. But those in the middle and bottom of the pack go out into life and the daily struggle. They often achieve greatly and they are the ones who make me proud.

Those of us who teach at Whitman are most fortunate. We do not have to deal with the marginal student. There is nobody here who does not have the mental acuity necessary to function at a college level. I rarely have to involve myself with remediation. This is what I like best. It is a privilege to be associated with this institution and its students.

By Professor of Physics Craig Gunsul

Recipient of the 2001 Faculty Award for Service to Alumni, Craig Gunsul has taught, mentored, and advised many generations of students during his 32 years on the Whitman faculty. Besides teaching physics, he put together the first environmental studies program here, has been involved in the first-year core program since its inception, and sponsors the one-act-play competition.
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