Willamette University, Students at the Mill Stream

College of Liberal Arts News

Panhellenic Council works to improve sorority recruitment and campus life

Out of 138 applications from 48 colleges, the Willamette Panhellenic Council will be one of the 15 Panhellenic groups from across the country to receive a National Panhellenic Conference award.

Willamette’s Panhellenic Council comprises members of all campus sororities — Alpha Chi Omega, Delta Gamma and Pi Beta Phi. The councilwomen collaborate on recruitment, philanthropy, scholarship and community building, and they also serve as unbiased resources for both affiliated and non-affiliated women.

The National Panhellenic Conference will honor the council with an Annual Biennial Progress Award for its recent work to strengthen and refocus recruitment and to increase campus presence through philanthropic service.

Within the last two years, the women have also hosted a blood drive and introduced the Rummage Sale – a fundraising effort to offer a scholarship to Greek women to offset the cost of dues. The council is also responsible for the tradition of the “Serenades” dance concert, which raises funds for Marion-Polk Food Share.

Working toward an effective balance

Sarah Sonnenfeld ’12, Panhellenic vice president of recruitment, says that the council has been working to achieve parity among the three sororities’ recruitment processes and to focus on year-round recruitment, as opposed to the traditional idea of “rush.” The Panhellenic Council also voted to open sorority houses to women during the fall semester — a move that, according to Sonnenfeld, allows interested students to more accurately evaluate the values they share with the sororities and to establish relationships with active members.

“What’s great is that, while the award was based on the previous two years of recruitment, we’re still moving forward,” she says.

This spring, the council will implement its newest change; recruitment will move from the first to the second week of spring semester to allow both women who are interested in recruitment and affiliated women to participate in the annual MLK Celebration’s many activities and service opportunities. 

Leading with values

“We’re moving toward a more values-based recruitment, emphasizing the many impressive talents, varied activities and personal values that sorority women on our campus have,” says Sonnenfeld.

In October, Panhellenic president Jessica Meyers ’12 will travel to Austin, Texas, to receive the award on behalf of the council, taking the opportunity to attend related workshops and network with other Panhellenic leaders.

“This award is a significant achievement for Willamette’s Panhellenic community,” says Meyers. “It serves as affirmation that our Panhellenic is in fact strong, thriving and headed in the correct direction for our campus.”

For more information on these and other organizations, please visit the Willamette Greek Life website.


SMASH runs Sept. 29 - Oct. 15SMASH runs Sept. 29 - Oct. 15

Willamette Theatre features SMASH

Willamette University Theatre presents “SMASH,” Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s novel “An Unsocial Socialist.” A preview performance on Sept. 29 kicks off the production, with shows Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. until Oct. 15; matinees run Oct. 2, 9 and 15 at 2 p.m.

Set in a British women’s college before World War I, “SMASH” romps its way through explorations of love, capitalism and human nature.

“SMASH” takes its title from the main character’s declaration that England has two options, “socialism or smash.” As Hatcher contends, Shaw understood that turmoil ensues from rapid, violent political change, so the play reflects Shaw’s recognition of the need for incrementalism – a series of smaller steps.   

“I chose ‘SMASH’ because there are many roles for college-age actors, and it has wonderful roles for women in particular,” says Susan Coromel, director and professor at Willamette University. “It’s also a challenge for actors because of its intricate, clever language. Student actors will gain a greater understanding of period style and an appreciation for comedy and comic timing.”

The Seattle Weekly calls the play “Cunning, intelligent, and skillful,” further noting, “The author makes you, the audience, feel just as clever as he is. Brilliant writing.”

For more information, call (503) 370-6221. To purchase tickets, visit willamette.edu/arts/theatre/performances/smash.html.


Example of fluorescent cells, courtesy of the National Institutes for Health (Creative Commons)Example of fluorescent cells, courtesy of the National Institutes for Health (Creative Commons)

Willamette University scientists’ collaboration yields NSF support


The recommendation from the National Science Foundation reflects the review panel’s “resoundingly positive support” for a grant application submitted by Willamette University scientists in biology, physics and chemistry for a laser scanning confocal microscope.  

Biology professors Emma Coddington, Jason Duncan, Barbara Stebbins-Boaz and Gary Tallman teamed up with physics professor David Altman and chemistry professor Alison Fisher to secure the powerful imaging equipment. 

“We worked with students to help select the microscope,” said Coddington. “Not only will this imaging equipment improve the research opportunities for students and faculty at Willamette, but we’d like to use the microscope to build collaborative relationships with other area colleges that would benefit from its use.”   

The NSF review panel cited close student-faculty research partnerships at Willamette, collaboration with other area colleges and demonstrated outreach efforts from participating faculty as principle reasons why the foundation awarded $526,788 to purchase the equipment.

Most of the grant’s authors participate in the Science Collaborative Research Program, which pairs students with a faculty member for research work over the summer. Through this and similar programs that partner students and faculty, Willamette undergraduates get hands-on laboratory experience that is typically reserved for graduate students in a larger research university. 

The equipment

With bright-field microscopy - typically used in a high school biology lab - visible light is passed through, or reflected from, a sample through a series of lenses to create a magnified image. 

Fluorescence microscopy is a more sensitive technique. When a certain type of molecule is excited by a particular wavelength of light, the molecule emits light at a specific, higher wavelength. By using filters to isolate the emitted light, fluorescence microscopes create a high-contrast image with very little background noise.

Thick samples may pose a challenge for fluorescence microscopy, because fluorescence outside of the plane of focus shows up as unwanted noise. The key to the laser scanning confocal microscope is the use of spatial filtering to “see” only the plane of focus, eliminating noise, increasing sensitivity and allowing imaging of thin sections of a thick sample. By collecting series of these thin sections, it’s possible to recreate a highly detailed, high-contrast, three-dimensional image.