edited by Julie Riddle, '92
Hunt discusses his hopes for
Whitworth's future and how he has been shaped by students over
the years, and offers parting words of wisdom to alumni and current
Photo by Julie Riddle, '92
Read Jim Hunt's
For more than 35 years, Professor of History Jim Hunt has shared his Christian faith journey and his passion for historical study with Whitworth students in campus classrooms and in locales as diverse as Washington, D.C., Tegucigalpa, New York, Managua, Berlin and Mexico City. According to Professor of History Arlin Migliazzo, Hunt has not only served the best interests of his students, he has served the wider Whitworth community with distinction via the leadership positions he has held and the committees and task forces that have benefitted from his expertise. "As a respected colleague, eminent professor, trusted mentor, and true friend, Jim's influence will continue to inspire those of us who were privileged to learn and labor alongside him, but Whitworth will not be the same after he closes his office door for the last time," Migliazzo says.
Hunt holds a B.A., an M.A. and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Washington. He joined the Whitworth History Department in 1973; since 1981, he has played an integral role as a teacher and co-leader of Whitworth's Central America Study Program. Hunt writes American biographies and has published articles on John Muir, John Quincy Adams, Frederick Douglass and Jane Addams. He has been recognized with the Burlington Northern Award for Teaching Excellence and has received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Washington Commission for the Humanities, and the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education.
Q. What are your post-Whitworth plans?
A. Linda and I will work together on her healing from her second bout with cancer. The prognosis is good. Assuming she gets well, we will spend the next years traveling, first to Europe and then most likely to India and China. I also hope to go to Argentina, Brazil and Chile. As co-founders of the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship, Linda and I will continue to work on behalf of the foundation, visiting Krista Colleagues in their places of service and helping with fund-raising. I also plan to continue writing on how travel affects young people's leadership formation and I hope to see my book on John Muir's 1,000-mile walk to the Gulf in 1867 published.
Q. What are some of your favorite courses that you've taught?
A. I very much enjoyed teaching in the Central America Study Program, the survey courses U.S. History and Ancient and Medieval Worlds, and the senior seminar, Ideas about History. I loved seeing students' eyes opened to the world and its differences and seeing people transformed by that experience. The Central America program was particularly profound in shaping students' values and worldviews. Living and serving with a Honduran family or at an orphanage can change your life. Learning about how the United States affects the lives of others gives students perspective on their own role as citizens. I was very fortunate to be part of such a dynamic and holistic approach to learning and education.
Q. What is the funniest thing that has happened while you were teaching?
A. During my role play as Jeremiah in Core 150, I broke a clay jug in prophetic "rage" and a shard drew blood from a front-row student. (Web extra: Visit www.whitworth.edu/whitworthtoday to read Hunt's account of a hilarious, harrowing bus ride with 25 Whitworth students in Central America.)
Q. What have been the most fulfilling aspects of your career at Whitworth?
A. I've loved engaging with students in the classroom and in the study abroad programs. Travel and study in Central America with a team of dedicated professors and marvelous groups of students have been particularly satisfying. Both of my daughters participated in the Central America program and developed hearts for service, as did many of the students engaged in the program; the students' faith also deepened and broadened. I began to see how significant travel experiences are for youth in their leadership formation, which has informed my historical research and writing. My classes Latin American History, Pacific Northwest History, Ancient and Medieval Worlds and even U.S. History were informed by the insights gained from the Central America program and from my own study of Spanish in Spain and Mexico, as well as by independent travel in Central America and Mexico.
Q. What has changed most at Whitworth during your time here, and what has changed least?
A. When I arrived at Whitworth in 1973, it was clear that to cut expenses, physical-plant maintenance was being deferred. Faculty pay was frozen during a time of double-digit inflation, and the endowment was just beginning. To attract students during this "stagflation," tuition was guaranteed for four years. This was a recipe for significant financial stress. Now the university has a gorgeous physical plant, faculty are better paid, the endowment has grown despite this coming year's economic challenges, and the number of excellent faculty has increased along with the quality of Whitworth's academic programs.
What has not changed is the university's mission to combine Christian faith with a liberal arts education, tempered by attention to students' vocational needs. The heart of a Whitworth education remains a curriculum informed by liberal arts through the Core program and general education curriculum. I have also appreciated Whitworth's sensible middle ground in the tension between faith and learning. I love the fact that when I came to Whitworth for an interview, I was asked about my faith as a professor, but not asked to sign a creed or sign on to a culturally defined lifestyle. This simple act allowed, and gave permission, for continued growth in both faith and learning, and that is what I want to see continued at Whitworth University.
Q. What do you think you'll miss most after you leave Whitworth?
A. I will miss interacting with students and colleagues, especially through the collaboration of team teaching. I'll also miss sharing my enthusiasm for learning in the classroom and informal conversations with colleagues about both the random and the deep stuff of life.
Q. What are one or two ways you hope to have left your imprint on Whitworth?
A. I am a strong proponent of internationalization, and I hope I have made a contribution to Whitworth becoming a more internationalized campus, especially through the Central America Study Program, the Internationalization Task Force, and the transformation of history courses from Western civilization to world civilization. The history department also has embraced a course in historiography as a requirement for the major, along with a globally oriented curriculum.
I also contributed to the identification of the library as a key goal for the first successful fund-raising campaign that Whitworth launched during its centennial celebration. A smaller item: I planted two oak trees on campus; one is named in honor of former Whitworth President Art De Jong. An old Chinese proverb, which I have updated, says that for a person to have lived well, he or she must have educated a child, planted a tree and written a book. While at Whitworth, I have done all three.