Lian Caspi ’13 took her photo titled “Above the Sacred Valley” in Machu Picchu, Peru, where she participated in the IFSA Butler Mendoza Universities Program. She earned first place in the “Whitties in Action” category. Caspi wrote, “In this moment, sitting in this ancient city above a sacred valley, I was able to put together the historical and cultural knowledge that I had acquired in my time abroad, but also simply take in the energy and power that Machu Picchu holds.”

Photo contest showcases students’ off-campus studies experiences

See more photos online

To view a slideshow of all off-campus studies image contest entries, go to

Off-campus study is an integral part of the Whitman experience for many students. About half of Whitman’s junior class studies abroad, returning with insights that enrich the campus community.

“The image contest helps our office to share students’ off-campus experiences with the wider Whitman community, but, more importantly, it also helps the student participants to process their cultural experiences,” said Barbara Hoffman, assistant director of off-campus studies. “I especially like how students submit not just pictures, but also a brief accompanying narrative. Together the images and the stories help all of us understand how students are transformed by studying abroad.”

Director of Outdoor Programs leads expedition to South Pole

Brien Sheedy, world-class mountaineer and director of Whitman’s Outdoor Programs, has successfully led an expedition to ski the last degree of latitude at the South Pole.

After Sheedy’s group reached the bottom of the Earth, he then flew to Vinson Base Camp and led a seven-person team to the summit of Mount Vinson, the highest point in Antarctica.

“Leading an expedition to one of the harshest places on the planet while keeping people safe and helping them realize their goals was a big challenge and it feels good to have succeeded in helping them,” said Sheedy.

“The outdoors are an amazing place to explore leadership and group dynamics which are topics that I cover in several of my classes at Whitman.”

Whitman students teach civil rights movement in Walla Walla schools

More than 50 Whitman students volunteered for Whitman Teaches the Movement. Now in its second year, the program is a partnership between the college, Walla Walla Public Schools and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project.

Equipped with lesson plans specifically tailored for second, fifth, seventh and 11th grade learning levels, teams of Whitman students visited about 40 classrooms in 10 Walla Walla schools from Jan. 22 to Feb. 1. A number of these volunteers had participated in the pilot program and were returning for their second year.

“This initiative has quickly proven to be a useful way to bridge the campus and community, to help both local school kids and our own students better understand an important period in American history,” said Noah Leavitt, assistant dean for student engagement.

Monty Python’s Eric Idle to deliver 2013 Commencement address

Eric Idle

English comedian, actor, author, singer, writer and comedic composer Eric Idle will deliver the 2013 Whitman College Commencement address and receive an honorary degree, it was announced by George Bridges, Whitman president.

Idle, whose daughter Lily Idle ’13 will be among the 380 graduates, was a member of the British surreal comedy group Monty Python. He is the playwright of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical “Spamalot,” which has been performed on three continents. Idle also is an active tweeter, and his Twitter profile identifies him as a “writer, reader, husband, father, dog owner, sillographer, guitarist and football fan.”

A 1965 graduate of Pembroke College Cambridge, Idle holds a bachelor of arts in English. From Whitman, he will receive a doctor of humane letters degree. It will be his first honorary doctorate, and the first Commencement speech he delivers.

While he has not yet released the topic of his speech, he is clear on the value of a liberal arts education. “It is vital,” he said. “We do need technology, but we also need people to become thinkers and writers. This is equally important. Whitman seems to provide an excellent education to young people.”

Whitman names new directors of alumni relations and admissions

Following national searches, Nancy Mitchell has been selected to serve as the director of alumni relations and Adam Miller has been selected to serve as director of admissions.

Mitchell began at Whitman in 1985 and has served as associate director of alumni relations since 1990. Polly Schmitz ’83, who served as director and then assistant vice president for alumni relations since 2000, is moving to the Development Office as assistant vice president for events.

“Nancy’s experience will be invaluable in forming the backdrop for creative and innovative thinking about how we engage our alumni in both new and traditional ways,” said John Bogley ’85, vice president for development and college relations.

Miller currently serves as associate dean of admission at Claremont McKenna College.

Whitman students mark National Mentoring Month

The holidays are long over, but many Whitman students are still giving – especially to the younger members of the Walla Walla community. About 130 Whitties have participated in six different mentoring programs in the past year. Together these programs form the Walla Walla Mentoring Coalition.

The programs range from YoungLives, which gives mentors the opportunity to work with young mothers and their children, to Trilogy, which links mentors with recovering substance addicts in order to make the recovery process easier.

Whitman’s outreach coordinator, Susan Prudente, said, “Mentees benefit the most from a consistent, caring, positive adult role-model staying present in their life. Listening, encouraging and simply being a friend is the starting point.”

Karah Kemmerly ’14

Whitman No. 8 among small schools on Peace Corps Top Colleges list

The Peace Corps has ranked Whitman College No. 8 among small schools that produce the highest number of Peace Corps volunteers. Since last year’s rankings were released, Whitman has gained six spots to tie with other leading institutions such as Carleton, Smith, Kenyon and Grinnell. Small schools are designated as institutions with fewer than 5,000 undergraduates.

Whitman has a long history of sending graduates into the Peace Corps, which places volunteers in disadvantaged communities around the world. More than 300 Whitman graduates have served in the Peace Corps since its inception in 1961. Sixteen Whitman alumni are currently serving overseas in the Peace Corps.

Whitman College to host TEDx event April 27

Whitman will host a TEDx event – an evening of prepared talks, demonstrations and performances on a wide range of subjects – on Saturday, April 27. TEDx is a series of independently organized, community-based events dedicated to furthering TED’s mission of “ideas worth spreading.”

“Many Whitman students engage in the world in powerful ways, reflect on this involvement, and develop insights that are well ‘worth spreading,’” said Noah Leavitt, assistant dean for student engagement. “The TEDx model is a fabulous platform for our students to demonstrate how these powerful experiences and their Whitman education offer value and inspiration to society.”

The event is open to members of the general public as well as Whitman students, staff and faculty. TED, a nonprofit group that hosts conferences around the world, introduced TEDx as a way for local communities to share in a TED-like experience through a combination of TEDTalks video, live speakers and small group discussion. The theme of TEDxWhitmanCollege is “Walla Walla and Beyond.”

Go to for more information.

Princeton Review names Whitman a 2013 Best Value College

The Princeton Review has once again named Whitman College to its list of 150 “Best Value Colleges.”

The list includes 75 public and 75 private colleges that The Princeton Review has selected for its book, “The Best Value Colleges: 2013 Edition.” It does not rank the schools beyond the top 10.

To develop its 150 Best Value Colleges, The Princeton Review analyzed more than 650 schools. According to its website, the schools “make measurable efforts to keep out-of-pocket costs reasonable and within reach while delivering an amazing college experience that’s worth every penny.”