Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

May 3, 2004

Noted Author Gus Lee to Speak to Record Graduating Class
at Whitworth Commencement

Gus Lee, whose award-winning books describe his family's journey from hide-bound, pre-communist China to a relatively free but sometimes forbidding America, will share his story with the largest graduating class in Whitworth College history during the school's 114th commencement ceremony. Lee will speak about "Embracing Tomorrow with Moral Courage" to more than 460 graduates, including his daughter, at 3 p.m., May 16, in the Spokane Arena.

Whitworth President Bill Robinson will be the keynote speaker for the college's graduate commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. on May 15 in Whitworth's Cowles Memorial Auditorium. His address, "Seeking and Dwelling" will be delivered to about 100 graduates receiving master's degrees in education and international management. Robinson is in his 11th year as Whitworth's 17th president and has helped lead the college to record levels of student enrollment and retention, financial strength and external visibility.

Professor of Communication Studies Ron Pyle, who along with Associate Professor of Psychology Noelle Wiersma was voted Most Influential Professor by the graduating class, will speak on "Who do You Think You Are?" at Whitworth's baccalaureate ceremony at 10 a.m. on May 16 in the Whitworth Fieldhouse.

A significant number of Whitworth's graduating seniors have been awarded selective fellowships at top graduate schools, including half of this year's physics graduates. Caleb Hug, who double-majored in computer science and applied physics and won a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship for his senior year at Whitworth, will attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Ben McDonald, also a computer science and applied physics double-major, will attend Vanderbilt University; Brian Woodburn, who double-majored in math and physics, will attend the University of California Berkeley; and Seth Hubbert, a physics major, will attend the University of Massachusetts.

"Whitworth has made a strong commitment to improving on the high quality of its math and science programs," says Richard Stevens, associate professor and department chair in physics. "A number of new facilities, including a new observatory in physics, a new IR spectrometer in chemistry, and a computer-science lab funded by the National Science Foundation have enabled the college to offer access to research opportunities for our students. However, it is the aptitude and motivation of our students themselves that enable them to succeed."

Lee was Whitworth's Ada Redmond Reader in October 2002. While on campus, he visited classes and read from his most recent book, Chasing Hepburn: A Memoir of Shanghai, Hollywood and a Chinese Family's Fight for Freedom (Harmony Books, 2003). The book, lauded by Publisher's Weekly as "a rewarding, ambitious memoir...that resonates with vibrant detail and effective dialogue," opens in 1909 with Lee's grandfather rescuing Lee's mother from the Chinese foot-binding ritual. It then follows the family's break with Chinese tradition and search in America for the independence and freedom epitomized by their screen idol, Katharine Hepburn.

Lee's first novel, China Boy (Dutton, 1991), which is based on his childhood, was a Literary Guild selection, a New York Times Best Novel for 1991 and an American Library Association Best for the Last 50 Years; it is currently in its 15th printing. Lee's other books include Honor and Duty (Knopf, 1994), a Book of the Month Club selection and a Chicago Tribune Best 10 Novels of 1994; Tiger's Tail (Knopf, 1996), which was optioned for a film by Twentieth Century Fox; and No Physical Evidence (Ballantine, 1998), which won an Independent Publisher Book Award.

Prior to becoming a full-time author in 1993, Lee had notable careers in law and the military. He attended West Point and served in the U.S. Army as a drill sergeant and paratrooper. Lee earned B.A. and J.D. degrees from the University of California at Davis, where he also served as assistant dean of students for the Educational Opportunity Program and project coordinator of the Asian American Studies Program.

After receiving his law degree in 1976, he re-joined the U.S. Army and served as defense counsel and command judge advocate. After concluding his military service, Lee returned to California where he worked as an attorney and legal educator. He has served as a corporate vice president, senior executive for the State Bar of California, and deputy directory of the California District Attorneys Association.

He has provided leadership consulting to corporations including Bank of America, Kaiser Permanente, MCI and Lucent; has addressed the National Conference of Supreme Court Justices; and is an adjunct staff member for the Center for Creative Leadership. Lee resides with his family in Colorado.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college enrolls 2,200 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.


Gary Whisenand, registrar, (509) 777-4313 or gwhisenand@whitworth.edu.

Greg Orwig, director of communications, (509) 777-4580 or gorwig@whitworth.edu.

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