Nearly 650 Willamette alumni attending Reunion Weekend were among the first to hear the news. The Campaign for Willamette had hit the $100 million mark. The gift that made the difference was a check for $1.1 million presented to President M. Lee Pelton that Saturday evening from members of the Class of 1957.
“We are thrilled with this result,” Pelton said. “Members of the Class of 1957 are to be commended for this outstanding contribution. We are deeply moved by their generosity. Living Willamette alumni number fewer than 25,000. That is a relatively small community to engage in this level of fundraising. Equally important is the participation among our faculty and staff. Since the campaign began in 2002, our own campus community has donated more than $1,670,000.That’s impressive, and it speaks to the pride we all feel for this university.”
The campaign has experienced periods of unexpected intensity. In one 13-month period between April 2006 and May 2007, the University raised $25 million. The $125 campaign focuses on increasing the endowment, which stands at approximately $285 million.
Willamette’s entering class has arrived from 27 states and 17 countries. About a third come from Oregon (32 percent), more than half are women (54 percent), and the class includes 17 international students. Eighty-one students are from multicultural backgrounds.
The 522 newcomers will represent the University well. Their median GPA was 3.76 and almost half (47 percent) were in the top 10 percent of their class. There are 34 high school valedictorians among them.
Many high school AmeriCorps volunteers enrolled, attracted to Willamette’s tradition of service and outreach. The Class of 2011 also includes a state champion runner from Montana and a snowboarding instructor from Washington; the coordinator of an urban garden program in Boise, Idaho, called BUGS; and a politics major who interned with a political consulting firm and now wants to study across the street from the Capitol.
Willamette’s College of Law graduates continue to surpass their peers in Oregon State Bar examination passage. Eighty-six percent of WUCL’s May 2007 graduates who took the summer exam passed. The statewide passage rate among first-time takers was 80 percent. This marks the fifth consecutive year Willamette students have exceeded the state average.
What will be the state of environmentalism in the next 200 years? How do you conduct scientific research without “selling out” to a major corporation? Why is society so disconnected from nature? How do you encourage environmentalism on a global scale?
These are the burning questions on the minds of Willamette science students, who had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get answers from Edward O. Wilson, one of the world’s greatest living scientists, when he visited campus to deliver the Biology Centennial Lecture Sept. 13.
“We’re in a very strange situation in the 21st century,” Wilson told the students in an exclusive meeting before speaking to a sold-out crowd of 1,300 that evening in Smith Auditorium. “We have Stone Age emotions, we have medieval beliefs, and we have godlike technology. We have evolved to exploit the planet, and now we’re having trouble slowing down.”
Wilson is considered a leader in the fields of entomology, animal behavior, evolutionary psychology, island biogeography, biodiversity, environmental ethics and the philosophy of knowledge. He is the Pellegrino University Research Professor Emeritus at Harvard University, and he has won two Pulitzer Prizes for his nonfiction books The Ants and On Human Nature.
At his evening lecture, he addressed “The Future of Life,” informing the crowd about the immense biodiversity of our planet and the important task of trying to protect it. He had the same message for the students earlier. “The world needs to see that ecology and biodiversity studies are fundamental to the health of the planet,” he said.
Wilson talked about meeting with evangelical leaders, encouraging them to set aside different views regarding evolution and focusing on issues they agreed on. “I told them, ‘Let’s stop talking about issues like abortion and stem cells. Let’s do something important together, which is save the creation. See how we can combine science and religion into a single enterprise ...and accomplish something quite extraordinary.’”
Wilson also discussed his work on the Encyclopedia of Life, an online resource launched in May that will include information about every species on the planet (go to http://eol.org). “We’ve now reached an advanced state in the information age such that the idea of having everything known and available to everybody is not out of reach.”
Lisbeth Claus, interim associate dean and professor of global human resources at the Atkinson Graduate School of Management, spent two weeks in China in August to launch the HR China program for the Society for Human Resource Management. She also held a train-the-trainer program for a group of Chinese HR professionals from multinational companies.
Claus was interviewed by several members of the Chinese media, including 21st Century Business Herald, China Business, CEO & CIO and Talent Marketing News, seeking to gain a better understanding of the differences between human resources in China and in nations around the world, and finding ways to bring China’s HR practices to international standards.
Traveling to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, Claus also met with several Willamette MBA alumni and prospective students.
New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Rich will present the spring 2008 Atkinson Lecture in Smith Auditorium March 12 at 8 p.m. He will discuss the intersection of culture and politics and the way media cover politics, including the 2008 presidential election.
A former film and television critic at Time magazine and The New York Post, Rich began working for the New York Times in 1980 and over the years has served as chief drama critic, political commentator, senior writer for the New York Times Magazine, and front-page columnist for the Sunday Arts & Leisure section. His op-ed columns have been a regular feature of the Times since 1994.
Among other honors, Rich received the George Polk Award for commentary in 2005. He has written about culture and politics for many other publications and is the author of books including The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina, and his childhood memoir, Ghost Light.
While most academic buildings are devoted to a specific discipline, Ford Hall is dedicated to a philosophy: the creative integration of technology. Designed to last 100 years and offer new opportunities for collaboration, this new academic building will house Rhetoric & Media Studies, Computer Science, Mathematics, Digital Art, Film Studies and Music Technology—all advanced users of digital technology for teaching, performance, research and presentation.
Groundbreaking for Ford Hall is planned for June 2008 with an anticipated opening date in fall 2009.
Ten years ago Liz Heaston Thompson ’99 became the first woman to play and score in a college football game. The starting kicker had injured his hip, his backup was still a bit green, and the men’s soccer players were playing their own match, so Willamette’s football coach turned to the 135-pound, 5-foot-5-inch Heaston, who had been stopping by the football field to wail away on a soccer ball.
Heaston’s soccer game and the men’s football game landed on the same day, and so she rushed from a soccer victory at Linfield to the men’s football game at Willamette, where television crews and reporters lined the field. Heaston didn’t disappoint. Just short of halftime she kicked her first point, and the crowd went wild. An extra point in the fourth quarter helped secure Willamette’s 27-0 win over Linfield. Her kick through the gender barrier brought an invitation from the “Today Show” and a call from David Letterman, as well as a recent mention in USA Today on the 10th anniversary of that momentous game.
Heaston was a 1996-97 NAIA Honorable Mention All-America selection in soccer, led her team to four conference titles, and helped them reach NCAA Division III semifinals. Ten years later, with a doctorate in optometry on her resume and a husband and baby by her side, she moonlights as an assistant women’s high school soccer coach and plays in a non-competitive women’s league. She still gives a steady stream of interviews, telling women and girls, “Don’t be afraid to try anything. You can do whatever you want to do. You just have to try.”
David R. Kenagy’s long tenure at the College of Law came to a close last June, when he retired from two important positions. Kenagy had served as associate dean of administration at the law school since 1991 and as executive director of the Oregon Law Commission since 2000. He also served as interim dean of the college from 1994–96.
“David has been an MVP for three administrations and 16 years, as well as team captain for two critical years,” says College of Law Dean Symeon C. Symeonides, who conferred upon Kenagy the title of dean emeritus at Commencement. “As the last dean to benefit from his talents and wisdom, I can say that his retirement is a tremendous loss for the College of Law and Willamette University. The only consolation is that the results of his hard work and foresight will continue to benefit the school for many years to come.”
The College of Law has offered focused study in environmental and natural resources law since 1989. This summer the school formalized its offerings into a new specialized certificate program.
The Certificate Program in Sustainable Environmental, Energy and Resources Law places special emphasis on the role of the lawyer in formulating environmental and natural resources law and policy to sustain and protect our global resources. The program trains students to think about environmental issues in concrete ways and to translate broad legal theory into targeted public policy and litigation.
“At other law schools, students take classes in environmental law,” says Susan L. Smith, one of the four full-time professors teaching in the program. “At Willamette, our students help make environmental law by working directly with the legislature, state agencies, local government and key public interest groups.”
The U.S. Census Bureau has appointed Debra J. Ringold, interim dean and professor of marketing at the Atkinson Graduate School of Management, to its Advisory Committee of Professional Associations. She will serve a threeyear term, advising the bureau on ways to encourage census participation, improve data collection methodology and help the general public useand understand census data.
“I am honored to have a chance to serve the U.S. Census Bureau and the American people,” Ringold says. She will represent the American Marketing Association on the committee, along with representatives from the American Economic Association, the American Statistical Association and the Population Association of America.
Ringold’s background in integrated marketing communications and survey methodology prompted her appointment. She serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing and completed her tenure as chair of the board of directors for the American Marketing Association in July.
The new students and parents who packed Smith Auditorium—as well as the overflow crowd who watched via video feed in Hudson Hall—responded to Sir Salman Rushdie with two standing ovations and enthusiastic applause. The internationally acclaimed author spoke at Opening Convocation in late August, offering wit and insight on his formative years at boarding school and as an undergraduate.
“There are three mistakes you can make in boarding school,” Rushdie said. “Be clever, be foreign and be bad at games. I hit the trifecta.” While boarding school was not a positive experience for Rushdie, he found a much more inviting and positive experience at Cambridge University, where he attended King’s College beginning in 1965.
“University is that moment when you come away from the stricture of high school and have the first adult experience of your life. In university, you work out who you are. You experiment with yourself and try on different skins. Through this process you work out what you will be and won’t be. It is your portal to the adult world. You are a migrant, and university is where you begin to make your way.
“The thing I learned most at Cambridge was that you should be as brutal as possible toward ideas but as courteous as possible to the people who hold them. The undergraduate experience is transforming. You learn to be tolerant and open to new ideas. You learn that scholarship doesn’t seek self—it seeks the work.”
Rushdie credits his experiences at Cambridge more than he credits his history degree. He managed a good-natured tease when he said, “Throughout my life, no one has ever asked me what kind of degree I got or even if I’ve got one at all. I have to say it’s been completely useless.”
Rushdie is the author of such international best-sellers as The Satanic Verses and Midnight’s Children The former was deemed sacrilegious by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, who issued a fatwa against Rushdie in 1989. Despite this proclamation and the international controversy that followed, Rushdie went on to produce some of his most compelling work, including The Moor’s Last Sigh and The Ground Beneath Her Feet while living under the constant threat of death. His most recent novel, Shalimar the Clown, was an international best-seller and a nominee for both the Man Booker Prize and the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize.
The School of Education welcomed Rita Moore this fall as the new associate dean. Moore comes to Willamette from the University of Montana-Western, where she was an associate professor of education.
She has been an education professor for 12 years and has served in numerous positions in the field. She holds a bachelor of science in education from Missouri Southern State University, a master of science in education and an education specialist degree from Missouri State University, and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Moore’s early goals include increasing the diversity of the school’s curriculum and achieving national accreditation. “This would align our program with national teacher education standards and ensure greater quality control for what we're doing,” Moore says. “The process will make our program stronger.”
Philip Taubman, associate editor and special correspondent for the New York Times, discussed “Why We Publish Secrets” Oct. 24 in Smith Auditorium.
Taubman has written about intelligence issues and national security for more than 20 years. He has previously served as the paper’s Washington bureau chief and deputy editor of the editorial page. He also served as Moscow bureau chief from 1986–88, covering the first turbulent years of Mikhail Gorbachev’s tenure as Soviet leader. Author of Secret Empire: Eisenhower, the CIA, and the Hidden Story of America’s Space Espionage, Taubman has received two George Polk Awards for investigative reporting.
The lecture was sponsored by the Associated Students of Willamette University.
“Academically rigorous, intimate and seriously gorgeous.” This is how the Princeton Review describes Willamette University in its recently released Best 366 Colleges 2008 Edition.
The Princeton Review asked 120,000 students at the 366 top colleges to rate their schools in dozens of categories and report on their campus experiences. The 80-question survey is inclusive and covers academics, campus life, the student body, best professors, campus food, athletics and more.
“I am pleased that the Princeton Review recognizes academic rigor and strong faculty- student engagement at Willamette,” says President M. Lee Pelton. “Not only do these factors heavily influence students’ satisfaction with their undergraduate experience, when it comes to garnering national fellowships and awards and getting into top graduate programs, these strengths are critical to success.”
Willamette Academy, an academic support and college preparatory program for economically disadvantaged and ethnically diverse middle and high school students, graduated its first class in June.
The 21 high school graduates, who started the program five years ago, were honored with a special ceremony in Hudson Hall. This fall many of them headed to college campuses, including Willamette, Oregon State University, Linfield College and Western Oregon University.
Joining the academy this fall is a new executive director, Bob Casarez, who worked with underprivileged youths for about seven years at Chemeketa Community College’s TRiO Upward Bound program. He holds a bachelor’s degree in management and an MBA from George Fox University. He also served in the Oregon Air National Guard for 12 years.
Prints from women artists, ritual items from West Africa and paintings by contemporary Native American artists are among the pieces on display this winter and spring at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art:
Willamette has introduced a new car-sharing program to give students, employees and Salem-area residents another form of alternative transportation.
Flexcar, a national program, allows members to rent a car for a nominal hourly fee that includes fuel and insurance. The program is cheaper than traditional car rental and is not limited to people older than 21.
Potential users become program members and reserve vehicles online. They receive an ID card that allows them to unlock a Flexcar vehicle, parked in a designated space, and then return the vehicle to that space when finished. Two vehicles are available: a Honda Civic Hybrid parked by Kaneko Commons and a Subaru wagon on Ferry Street near downtown.
The program adds to the University’s sustainability efforts by encouraging fewer people to bring cars to campus and supporting Salem residents’ use of public transportation. “It will help us reduce our overall carbon footprint because it will change people’s behavior patterns when it comes to driving,” says Environmental Science Professor Joe Bowersox, who worked with Ross Stout of Campus Safety to bring the program to Willamette.
Flexcar is waiving its membership fee for the first year of the program. For information and reservations, visit www.flexcar.com/oncampus.