Photo by Julie Riddle, '92
Reid discusses her hopes for Whitworth's future and how she has been shaped by students over the years, and offers parting words of wisdom to alumni and current students.
edited by Julie Riddle, '92
Those at Whitworth who have worked alongside Tammy Reid, '60, are quick to acknowledge her unfailingly upbeat spirit and far-reaching influence.
"Tammy is willing to take risks, buoyant in temperament, and resilient in the face of difficulty," says Vice President for Student Life Kathy Storm, who considers Reid not only a colleague, but a mentor and friend. "She is the most ‘can do' person I know, and I deeply admire her strength."
Reid graduated from Whitworth in 1960 with a B.A. in English. She went on to earn a master's degree in English literature from Eastern Washington University and a Ph.D. in writing/rhetoric from Washington State University. Reid joined Whitworth in 1971, first as an adjunct in the English department, then as an instructor in the School of Education. After teaching for 17 years, she moved into administration, where she served for an additional 17 years, nine as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty. Reid returned to the classroom, with the English department, in 2005. During her tenure at Whitworth, Reid served for 15 years as a lecturer for Core 150, 250 and 350, and co-led off-campus study programs in the British Isles and San Francisco.
Professor of Communication Studies Gordon Jackson, who served previously as associate dean of the faculty when Reid was dean, describes the seven years he worked alongside Reid as a "time of plenty."
"I learned one lesson after another about solving problems, staying focused on Whitworth's mission, and always looking out for the students' interests and needs," Jackson says. "Now that I'm teaching full time again, I find that virtually every day the lessons from those seven years come back to me: on how to treat colleagues and students with care and respect, stay upbeat no matter what comes my way, and keep an eye on the big picture. Tammy's impact during that ‘time of plenty,' I know, is still felt on each of us who were blessed enough to work directly with her."
Q. What are your post-Whitworth plans?
A. Thinking about my post-Whitworth plans is like thinking ahead to making a summer reading list. My when-I-have-time list ranges from learning Italian to visiting Azerbaijan (don't worry - I know they don't speak Italian in Azerbaijan). What I'm looking forward to doing regularly is reading, writing and spending time with my six grandchildren.
Q. What are some of your favorite courses that you've taught at Whitworth?
A. I have two answers to that question: every writing course I've ever taught and the three Core courses. My research is in writing, specifically in the writing process. I think of writing as a window into the mind - which means that I get to watch students make meaning through exploring past experiences or current intellectual questions. It's all an endlessly fascinating process.
Core has shaped my life. In the 1980s, I was the first female faculty member to lecture in Core 250. I knew it'd be demanding - interdisciplinary teaching takes us out of our comfort zones - but I had no idea how much I'd learn from the content and from great colleagues. The first time they asked me, an English and education professor, if I'd prefer to lecture on Plato's epistemology or metaphysics, I had to check the dictionary to make sure I understood the terms! I've loved the sweeping views of history and ideas, and it's been important to all my teaching (and administrating) to internalize worldview concepts.
Q. What is the funniest thing that has happened while you were teaching?
A. I swallowed a slow-moving fly one September during a lecture. That was at Gonzaga University, though, but nothing else has ever seemed quite so funny!
Q. What have been the most fulfilling aspects of your Whitworth career?
A. Half of my career is in teaching and the other half is in administration, and both halves have been satisfying. Maybe the best part of teaching, aside from those great moments when the discussion goes so well, has been watching students grow and change. The contrast between freshmen and seniors never ceases to amaze me. A whole lot happens, and I've been privileged to be part of it.
Actually, administration's been surprisingly similar - there's such satisfaction in hiring faculty (I've had a hand in hiring 60-plus new faculty members) and watching them develop from assistant professors, right out of grad school, to tenured professors who shape the institution. Tammy Reid Wraps Up Wide-Ranging Career
Q. What will you miss most after you leave Whitworth?
A. Watching students and faculty grow; the enthusiasm and misgivings of September freshmen; the campanile in the late afternoon sun; watching Frisbee games in The Loop; coffee dates at Mind & Hearth; Bill Robinson's Convocation addresses; spending 24/7 with students in Oxford and San Francisco; the enthusiasm and misgivings of May seniors.
Q. What are one or two ways you have left your imprint on Whitworth?
A. I'm going to answer this question from my years in administration, since there's not been enough time to build up a departmental/ classroom legacy since I returned to teaching, in 2005.
Administrators don't accomplish anything alone, but the right push at the right time can make a difference. I'd like to think that I had a hand in supporting academic technology early on, as well as clarifying the goals of general education, strengthening faculty development, and contributing to a faculty climate in which each discipline is respected for what it contributes to student growth.
Specifically, I'm proud of co-writing the original Writing-across-the- Curriculum grant with (English Professor Emeritus) Linda Hunt; helping to revise general education goals and listing them in the catalog, so students know the "whys" and not just the "whats" of requirements; appointing the first academic administrator to focus on faculty development; participating in the design of and programming for Weyerhaeuser Hall; and saying "no" to some bad ideas and "yes" to a lot of good ones.
Q. What has changed most at Whitworth during your time here and what has changed least?
A. I was an undergrad here, so I've known Whitworth since I was an awestruck freshman. The obvious changes have been the arrival of the Internet, cell phones, and skateboards, and the departure of chalkboards. And let's not forget facilities. What a difference between holding a majority of classes in WWII barracks, and now holding classes in a remodeled Dixon Hall and a five-year-old Weyerhaeuser Hall.
The deepest things about Whitworth remain unchanged: Whitworth's mind-and-heart mission and the resulting relationships between and among students, faculty and staff. This is a community in the truest sense of the word. That was true when there were 1,000 students at Whitworth; it's true now with more than 2,000 students, though I confess to sharing the same fears my freshmen voice each year: "If Whitworth gets larger, can we keep the community [environment/relationships/intimacy] we have now?" Regardless of the university's growth, the students and faculty who come here are still attracted by Whitworth's mission and they devote their lives to living it out. Every year they have inspired me to do my best.