summer 2008 Edition
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Beaton and Team Win Senior Tennis Championship

Russ Beaton ’60, economics faculty emeritus, and six other members of the Courthouse Athletic Club 7.0 Super Senior Tennis Team captured the U.S. Tennis Association National Championship in May. The team was shut out in the championships last year, but took the title with a 2-1 victory over the Caribbean team in the finals.

Bearcats Abroad!

Beaton taught economics at Willamette from 1982–98 and served as tennis coach as well. He led the team to the NAIA District II championships from 1986–94. His teams or individual players qualified for the NAIA post-season tournament 13 of his 17 years coaching tennis. Beaton himself was a standout on the Bearcats golf team, earning All-Conference honors three of his four seasons. He was inducted into the Willamette Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005.

Pictured above: Members of the Courthouse team include (l–r) Larry Stuart, Dan Barram, Jim Feeney, Hans Witzenberg, Russ Beaton, Rich Reiner, Tim Catlin, Richard Lewis and Dean Goettsch (not pictured). Readers may recognize Barram, who leads Young Life Bible studies on campus.

Reunion Weekend 2008
September 19–21

If your class year ends in an 8 or a 3, it’s time to make plans to come back to campus. Reunion Weekend 2008 is just around the corner, and a great line-up of fun-filled events has been planned for all of you.

Visit your class page online at for more information and to register.

Each of these classes will enjoy special events:

  • Class of 1998 — 10 year reuClass of 1998 — 10 year reunion
  • Class of 1988 — 20 year reunion
  • Class of 1983 — 25 year reunion
  • Class of 1978 — 30 year reunion
  • Class of 1973 — 35 year reunion
  • Class of 1968 — 40 year reunion
  • Class of 1963 — 45 year reunion
  • Class of 1958 — 50 year reunion
  • The Jason Lee Society — 50 years (+)
  • Class Gatherings on Friday night
  • QuadFest picnic on Saturday, with children’s area and live music
  • Football game, wine reception and Greek Open Houses on Saturday
  • “Celebrate Willamette!” awards dinner on Saturday night

Questions? Visit or contact the Alumni Office at 800-551-6794 or

journey: 2009 alumni abroad

Willamette’s new Passport to Learning program is off to a great start. More than 100 alumni and friends enjoyed our trips to the Caribbean and Brazil or have already signed up for our cruise to the Greek Isles and our annual trip to the Ashland Shakespeare Festival.

Wonders of the Galapagos Islands
Jan. 30–Feb. 7, 2009 (plus optional trip to Peru)

Galapagos Islands

Join us for the journey of a lifetime to the Galapagos Islands, and discover a region unmatched in its beauty and for its role in the history of natural science. With virtually no natural predators on the islands, the abundant wildlife is fearless and accepts human observers at a close range not possible elsewhere on Earth. Excursions are led by a highly qualified team of certified naturalists, whose knowledge and enthusiasm will enhance your understanding and enjoyment of this fascinating natural realm. Our itinerary also includes time in mainland Ecuador, allowing you to browse the colorful Andean market of Otavalo, explore the magnificent colonial section of Quito (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and visit a traditional Incan village. And we are pleased to offer a six-night option to continue your trip in Peru’s legendary “lost city” of Machu Picchu and the historic cities of Lima and Cuzco.

Paris and Normandy
April 25–May 3, 2009


What could be better than Paris in springtime? Explore the historic beaches of Normandy and enjoy five days cruising the Seine. Pre- and/or post-trip stays in Paris are available to extend your journey. Join Senior Director of Alumni Relations Jim Booth for this special opportunity to enjoy the art, culture and landscape of northern France.

Aegean Adventures
June 12–24, 2009


Experience the eastern Mediterranean from Dubrovnik, Croatia, to Istanbul, Turkey, with the Greek Isles and Athens in between. Our itinerary for this stunning region will fulfill the dreams of many alumni and friends. College of Law Dean Symeon Symeonides, a native of Greece, will join us, sharing personal knowledge and insights that will enhance your travel experience. CLE lectures are available for law alumni and optional for undergraduate alumni.

For details on any of these trips, contact Jim Booth at 503-370-6746 or All trips are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

answering your career questions

By Stacey Lane, Associate Director of Alumni & Career Networking


Stacey Lane

I want to brag a bit: I have the best job in the world, working with smart, talented people by connecting them to the career resources they need. I also have a unique bird’s-eye view of career and hiring trends. Over the past few months, I’ve talked with quite a few alumni and 2008 grads — all with the same question: I haven’t had to look for a job in a few years. What do I need to do to be successful?

The elements of a successful job search remain timeless — from networking to interviewing skills — but the specifics change as trends evolve. Here are my top five suggestions to help ensure your job search is successful:

1. Interests and exposure:
Opportunities exist at almost every intersection of interests, skills and experience. Take green living, land-use planning and business development. One intersection would be marketing and business development for a green architectural firm that wants to expand its land-use planning division. That’s a real life example of how a liberal arts graduate discovered one of her intersections. Increase your exposure to what others are doing, stay on top of trends, and follow your natural interests to discover options that leverage your experience in new ways.

2. Social networking:
If you’re not using LinkedIn or other professional networking sites, you’re missing an opportunity to expand your network across industries and professions. Connecting with former colleagues can provide you with invaluable career research information, recommendations and new career options.

3. Brand yourself:
You’ve been a professional for a while and know more about the world of work, but we’re in a very cyclical job market now. This means more jobs are created from subtle changes rather than drastic shifts. The good news is that your experience can likely be used outside your current field or position. So determine your distinctive skills and experience, then start researching related fields and professions to determine niches or specialties. This can be challenging to do on your own. Get an outside perspective if necessary.

4. Market yourself:
Your resume is a first impression and a powerful marketing tool. If you’ve been out of the market for a few years, make sure your resume is updated in today’s style (keywords, targeted and relevant). This is particularly true if you’re not getting past the resume submission phase of your job search. Check that you’re showing quantifiable results, then edit to include only relevant information. If this still doesn’t improve your results, get some outside advice.

5. Build momentum:
The hardest part of a new job search is just getting started. Start with one step, like building your LinkedIn profile, and go from there. If that’s not your style, start with face-to-face networking instead. You don’t have to have all the pieces together before you get started. It’s often an organic process, one that unfolds with unexpected twists and turns. Trust that the process will yield results — you’re in the company of many other alumni with career challenges. Who knows, your job search story might someday inspire other liberal arts graduates.

If you have a career-related question, drop me a note, and I’ll do my best to address it in a future column.

Best advice?

If you’re searching for a new job, you’ve undoubtedly heard more than your share of career advice — network, have a professional write your resume, practice your interview skills with a friend, etc. Whether you graduated 10 years ago or three months ago, you’ve probably heard something that made a difference.

So, what’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? Write and tell us, and we’ll publish your submissions in an upcoming Career Network article.

you’re doing what with your degree?

2008 Award Winners

In April, the Career Network held an event in Portland that shined a light (literally) on the fascinating and unexpected career paths Willamette undergraduate alumni have taken. After reviewing the nominees for the 2008 You’re Doing What with Your Degree Awards, the Career Network honored these six alumni at the event. For those of you still wondering what to do with that French degree, read on for inspiration.

Rob Aragon ’99 parlayed an art degree, along with retail experience and snowboard instructing, into a career as manager and buyer for Exit Real World, a company created by Melissa Samiee MBA’93 as a master’s thesis. Aragon manages four Portland-area locations, as well as the website, for the specialty snowboarding and skateboarding store.

Minda (Hedges) Seibert ’94, MBA’08 majored in business economics and minored in art before joining the Peace Corps and teaching high school economics in the Solomon Islands. She continued her international career doing humanitarian aid work with International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps in hot spots such as Kosovo, East Timor, Iraq and Kuwait. She earned her MBA from Willamette this year.

Charlie Wolff ’01, MBA’08 was a French major with minors in Spanish, economics and physics. Intrigued by a career with perks like independence, flexibility and potential, Charlie went into real estate, became a broker, and is now an entrepreneur. He earned his MBA from Willamette this year, and he also trains ski instructors on the side.

“Treat every client as if they were your mother.”
— Charlie Wolff ’01, MBA’08

Kelsey Bunker ’78, who graduated with a biology degree at age 19, considered medical school but decided on law school instead. After practicing law for a few years, she took a workshop on ancient Toltec wisdom and spent six months in Spain with her three children. The Toltec training has been an asset in her latest business venture as co-owner of the swanky ’60s Jupiter Hotel in Portland, which played host to our event.

Justin Klure ’98, MBA’03, an environmental studies graduate, is at the forefront of the movement to bring wave energy to Oregon — likely the first state in the nation to utilize this new technology. Justin worked for the Department of Energy for about 10 years before starting his own consulting firm. He also served as executive director of Oregon Wave Energy Trust, but now spends most of his time consulting on wave energy.

“Gain knowledge, then experience. Stay focused on your objectives and, most important, be patient for the right opportunity.”
— Justin Klure ’98, MBA’03

Lisa Tran ’95, a double major in English and politics, earned a master’s degree in English literature at Mills College, then decided to try life on the other side of the classroom by teaching English in Vietnam with Volunteers in Asia. Returning to the States, Lisa spent three years with Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement and now is an optician in Portland. She recently appeared in her first bilingual commercial on Vietnamese cable television.

“Always be open to the opportunities that arise, and never fear jumping into the unknown.”
— Lisa Tran ’95

2008 alumni award citations

Each September during Reunion Weekend, Willamette honors and celebrates outstanding alumni for their achievements and devotion to the University. Here’s a look at those who will be honored this year.

George Hoyt ’58

Lestle J. Sparks Medallion 2008

George Hoyt ’58

George Hoyt ’58 was in Salem recently, meeting with Debra Ringold, dean of the Atkinson Graduate School of Management. He was back the next week, meeting with classmates on the 50th Reunion Committee. Hoyt always makes himself available when it comes to helping Willamette.

His dedication is being recognized this year with lifetime status on the Willamette Board of Trustees as well as the Lestle J. Sparks Medallion, the University’s highest honor for those whose lifetime loyalty and service reflect the ideals of one its most devoted alumni, Lestle J. Sparks, Class of 1919.

Hoyt’s involvement with the University ramped up 12 years ago, after he retired from a successful career in publishing. The economics major began his publishing career as an advertising salesman at the Tigard Times, in a suburb of Portland. “After three years,” he recalls, “I decided there were a whole bunch of answers I didn’t know. So I went to the University of Oregon to get an MBA. What I found out is there aren’t any fixed answers, so I was satisfied and moved forward.”

After returning to Portland, Hoyt became general manager of The Times publications and was involved in all aspects of the publishing and printing business. From there his career path led him to become president and publisher of Pioneer Press in Chicago, vice president and publisher of the Washington Star in Washington, D.C., production director of Time Inc. in New York, and president and chief operating officer of Lesher Communications in the Bay Area. He retired from the San Gabriel Newspapers in Southern California.

Since settling down on 11 acres boasting woods, rhododendrons and ferns in Sandy, Ore., Hoyt has devoted his time to service. In addition to his many Willamette commitments, he is involved in a number of civic organizations, including the Portland Police Bureau’s Sunshine Division, the Sandy River Basin Watershed Council and area libraries.

Tara (Wilson) Graham ’98

Young Alumni Leadership Award

Tara (Wilson) Graham ’98

Tara (Wilson) Graham ’98 grew up in Nevada and didn’t travel much until after graduation. Then she took a job in the Willamette admissions office and traveled around the country recruiting students. That’s how she caught the travel bug, but rather than becoming a tourist, she joined the Peace Corps and ventured to Tanzania, where she soon came to embrace the culture and learn from it.

“I used to think that I didn’t need very much to be happy,” says Graham. “But it wasn’t until my Peace Corps experience that I had to live that.” She recalls one Christmas overseas with a couple who was working to find housing for a group of orphaned boys they had found living in a filthy warehouse. “It was the simplest Christmas ever, but it was a demonstration of how amazing spending time with people can be.”

After two years teaching advanced-level chemistry in the small village of Mzumbe, Graham decided to extend her tour to build on her community work on HIV/ AIDS prevention. She moved to the city of Dar es Salaam, working part time as a school health volunteer leader. She also worked with non-governmental organizations on a radio show, a magazine and a television show focused on educating youth about behaviors that could lead to contracting HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Back in the States, Graham worked at an inner-city school in Los Angeles while waiting to hear about acceptance to graduate school. After working with people who had so little and who were grateful for their education, it was difficult for Graham to work with American school children who took education for granted. “I didn’t lecture my kids about how lucky they were,” say Graham, “but I would share my experience so they could come to conclusions on their own.”

Graham earned her master of public health degree from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in 2006. She continues to work with communities in the U.S. to identify needs and find solutions. “I feel very strongly about working with younger children and women to improve their lives,” she says. “Empowering them will make the whole community better.”

Robert Schaefer ’52, JD’55

Distinguished Alumni Citation 2008

Robert Schaefer ’52, JD’55

Most people plan to retire, but Robert Schaefer ’52, JD’55 has no intention of doing so. Schaefer’s father and grandfather were both attorneys in Vancouver, Wash., where he was born; his grandfather and uncle were superior court judges there. His family invested strongly in the community, and he follows in that tradition. “I enjoy what I’m doing,” says Schaefer, himself an attorney with a wide range of specialties. “It keeps me involved with my community and state. It’s the relationships a person has in the community and church that help us all find ways to make a difference.”

One of Schaefer’s many contributions was his public service in the Washington State Legislature. After serving six years, he was elected to serve as Speaker of the House from 1965-67, the youngest representative in Washington to serve his party in that position. His experience as a deputy prosecutor and as a legislator enabled his involvement with the major expansion of Vancouver to the east, as well as with the industrial expansion from the 1960s through the 1990s. His current practice involves major corporations in Clark County.

In addition to his economic development and business practice, Schaefer has contributed to the education of children in his community and in more than 40 states. In 1972 he helped found HOSTS (Help One Student to Succeed), an organization that has tutored more than 1 million U.S. students in reading and math. Schaefer was also instrumental in bringing the Washington State University campus to Vancouver in the 1980s. “Education is the foundation for the success of any community,” he explains. “There are two important things in life: Have a strong faith in God, and get a good education.” The third, he adds, is to have a good spouse and partner, like his own wife, Sally Jo (Grimm) Schaefer ’55, who received an Alumni Citation in 2005.

Schaefer’s faith drives him to give back to his community with devotion, or, as he says, “For those who are given much, much is expected. The good Lord has been very good to me and my family,” he continues, “and we all feel we have an obligation to give something back.”

Suzy Platt ’58

Distinguished Alumni Citation 2008

Suzy Platt ’58

Suzy Platt ’58 is always on the move. Her father worked for Atkinson Construction, the company that built Baxter Hall in the 1940s, which is what brought Platt and her family to Salem when she was in the fifth grade. “I was around the campus from time to time, and I just decided at the age of 10 that I would go to WU — and never changed my mind.” Platt’s family had moved at least 10 times before that job brought them to Salem, and there were five more moves before she returned to enroll at Willamette.

Platt earned a degree in English, then took her love of reading to the University of California Berkeley to work on a master of library science degree. She was selected for the Library of Congress recruit program and soon took a position as a reference librarian. “There were times on Saturday afternoons when I was the only librarian on duty in the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress — heady stuff when you’re 24 years old,” she recalls.

She worked for the Library of Congress for four years before heading to Pakistan, where she worked at a community library in a village built for U.S. and British supervisors of a dam construction project. Being on the same schedule as the schools, she spent summers traveling and visited 28 countries, seeing the Great Pyramids, the Black Forest and the Tiger Tops of Nepal.

Platt eventually returned to the Library of Congress and was selected editor for a book of quotations, Respectfully Quoted, on file at the Library of Congress or requested by members of Congress. Six librarians worked to verify quotes and sources, and Platt spent a year and a half editing the book. She continues to work on this project in her retirement, adding quotes to the online book, available at “It’s very gratifying to know that people do use it and like it,” she says.

Retirement has not slowed her down. She lives with and cares for her 94-year-old mother, who travels with her to California every year.

Robert C. Seeger ’62

Distinguished Alumni Citation 2008

Robert C. Seeger ’62

Although the overall survival rate for children with cancer has improved from 15 percent to 80 percent during the past 40 years, more than 3,000 children still die of cancer every year. Dr. Robert Seeger ’62 has committed his life to reducing that number. “Three thousand doesn’t sound like a lot, but if it’s your child, it’s like 100 percent. Three thousand children dying is too many,” says Seeger, director of the Cancer Research Program at the Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, one of the leading pediatric cancer research programs in the U.S.

Seeger grew up in Salem and developed an interest in biology at Willamette before attending the University of Oregon Medical School. He was drawn to working with children and trained in pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Medical School. After studying immunology at the National Institutes of Health, he completed a fellowship at University College London, where he began his life’s work in cancer research.

Upon returning to the U.S., he joined the pediatrics faculty at the University of California Los Angeles. He became a top international researcher of neuroblastoma, one of the most common and deadly tumors in children. In 1985 he discovered a specific cancer gene in neuroblastomas that could predict survival — a medical breakthrough vital to the future of personalized medicine for cancer patients. In 1989 Seeger moved to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the University of Southern California, where he led research that improved the survival for children with high-risk neuroblastoma from 15 percent to 45 percent.

Seeger has published 141 peer-reviewed papers, and he received the H. Russell Smith Award for Innovation in Pediatric Biomedical Research in 2001. Since 2000, he has headed a multi-investigator neuroblastoma program funded by the National Cancer Institute in which “gene chips” and other new technologies are used to better understand the disease, and new therapies are being developed for clinical testing in their nationwide New Approaches to Neuroblastoma Therapy consortium ( “It’s constantly a challenge to try to do better,” Seeger says. “It’s tremendously satisfying to see patients who were apparently doomed but now are surviving and doing well. That’s what keeps pushing you.”

Marlene Anderson ’68

Distinguished Alumni Citation 2008

Marlene Anderson ’68

In a world of seemingly insurmountable ills, Marlene Anderson ’68 is changing things one person at a time. A biology major, Anderson began her career teaching high school science. When her husband went back to school in Ann Arbor, Mich., she took a position as a research associate at the University of Michigan Dental Research Institute — a time she remembers as a highlight of her career. “It was total academia, and I had a lot of fun writing papers and teaching,” she recalls. “My research was in tissue culture — that would make Grant Thorsett happy.”

Two years later, Anderson realized that while she loved science, she really wanted to work with people. She completed a master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan in 1979 and spent the next 20 years in Portland, working at private mental health agencies — work some social workers consider “time in the trenches.” But Anderson has a philanthropic approach to her career. “There are so many people in desperate need of help,” she says. “Even in private practice, I have some people I don’t charge so those who need help can get it.” In 2001, Anderson went on a safari to pursue her interest in birding. Along the delta on the Sabaki River in Kenya, she met Baya, a young boy who carried her bags. “We made a great connection,” she remembers, “and I wanted to know more about this child.” Through the one computer with Internet access in Baya’s village, Anderson learned of the devastation there caused by HIV/ AIDS. She soon returned to the village and began teaching families and groups of villagers how to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. She partnered with villager Francis Kahindi Mwaduna of Masheheni, Kenya, to start the Imani Project, and for the past seven years Anderson has taken volunteers from around the world to help Africans develop programs to bring HIV/AIDS education to rural villages. “The African people are so inspiring,” she says. “If I can keep one person from getting AIDS, then I will have accomplished what I set out to do.”

the conversation of art


Gwenn Seemel ’03 doesn’t believe in playing it safe. She took the risk to pursue her dream of a career as an independent artist. “I want to do work that matters,” she says. “I want to think art is vital.”

She also takes chances with her craft. The Portland-based portrait artist believes the vitality of art stems from its ability to generate conversation and act as a catalyst for change, and she thinks the local art scene could use a little shaking up. “There’s a trend — at least in Portland — toward safe art,” Seemel explains. “The work doesn’t challenge the viewer in any way. It’s simply decorative or maybe it helps them to emote, but it certainly doesn’t ask them to rethink their way of looking at the world. And that’s what art must do, especially in the United States. We live in a nation that protects our freedom of speech, and that makes it all the more unfortunate when we censor ourselves. I’m not calling for art that provokes without cause, but art that starts a conversation.”

Seemel is most passionate about folk art because “it accepts the general public’s one criterion when viewing art. All that people — including me — demand of artists is craft. It seems to me that the best way to cause revolution is to present a challenging topic in a well-crafted way. Even if the viewer doesn’t agree with the message, the skill that went into the making of art ... should inspire deference on some level, and it might even cause the viewer to think again about what the artist is saying.”

For Seemel, art is an expression of democracy. It is expression by and for the people. And in her new series, “Apple Pie,” she draws on what she calls the “super genre” of allegorical rethink their concepts of what it means to be American. “Faces and stories are meant to be together,” she says, and these portraits combine iconic American images with the faces of those Americans who were here first, those who were brought here against their will, those who chose to come here, those who have been here for many generations. Her “Amazigh Gothic” features an Algerian-American father and daughter, while the subject of “Raha the Riveter” is a childhood friend of German and Iranian descent.

Seemel’s self-portrait in the series, “Liberty,” is a tribute to her mother, a native of France, who immigrated to Canada in her 20s and married Seemel’s father, an American living in Montreal. “I have my father to thank for my American citizenship,” Seemel says, “but I have my mother to thank for knowing how lucky that makes me.” Noting that both she and Lady Liberty have their origins in France, Seemel says this particular work challenged her own concept of citizenship. “It’s clear the French culture is not mine, but I could choose it instead of the U.S. at any time. With the help of [fluency in] the language, I could become almost fully French instead of American. My transitional status allows me to choose where and, to some degree, whom to be.

“I’ve chosen the United States. My intimate knowledge of another country helps me to appreciate the U.S., even when it disappoints me. In a way, it makes me more American than someone whose family has been here for generations. The United States is, originally, a nation of choosers. For everyone except those of Native American or African origins, early on, our ancestors chose to be here.”

Seemel chooses to create art that generates a conversation, be it about life, love, art or democracy. “Maybe,” she says, in her explanation of this portrait, “all the U.S. needs now is for every one of us to actively choose it again.”

“Apple Pie” will be on display at the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center in Portland from Aug. 28 to Sept. 20. Visit Seemel’s website at