Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

February 24, 2004

Longtime Whitworth Professor Publishes Collection
of Unique Essays on Professoriate

The professoriate is fraught with the "rhetoric of distinction and intellectual elitism," says Howard Stien, Whitworth professor emeritus of biology and author of The Improbable Professor, a collection of 27 essays that reflect on Stien's 30 years as a college professor. Through his essays, Stien provides a bold look into academia with humorous and often satiric observations, and reveals both the comical and serious aspects of professorial life.

"The book is a potpourri of essays about the formulas, foibles and fantasies of academe within the autobiographical context of a professor who was ambivalent about what he wanted to be not when, but after, he grew up," Stien says. "This collection of essays will be of interest to students and professors, as well as anyone who may be ambivalent about how they have invested their lives."

Stien wrote most of the essays after his retirement from Whitworth, in 1993. He wrote the earliest essay, "The Right Not to Write," nearly 20 years ago, while others he wrote during a sabbatical, in 1992. He began editing the collection for publication in spring 2003.

"This anthology is quintessential 'Stien,' as he was known by his students: It's witty, perceptive, acerbic, funny and blunt," says Whitworth Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Gordon Jackson. "His insights make for a delightful - but not always comfortable - read for those in academe, as he dissects topics ranging from the role of deans, and how faculty can learn to manage them, to a thoughtful piece on the state of his discipline."

Stien began teaching at Whitworth in September 1965 as chairman of the biology department. After retiring in 1993, he served for one year as a sabbatical replacement at Whitworth in 1996-97.

"For future teachers and new professors, this book is a valuable but also sobering survey of the realities and fantasies of our academic existence - [it provides] a healthy dose of common sense that will greatly benefit the guild," writes Dr. Darrell L.Guder in the book's foreword. Guder is the former vice-president of academic affairs and dean of the faculty at Whitworth College and is currently serving as the Henry Winters Luce Professor of Missional and Ecumenical Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary.

The Improbable Professor was published in 2003 by Stump House Books, the publishing company Stien and his wife, Pat, Whitworth professor emeritus of theatre, formed in 2001. The book's cover art, a sketch of the author surrounded by books, was created by Whitworth professor emeritus of art Pauline Haas. Stien's daughter, Suzanne, a 1979 Whitworth alumna, formatted the book.

The book costs $12.95 and can be purchased by calling (509) 466-5449 or writing to Stump House Books, 11411 North Pinecrest Drive, Spokane, Wash., 99218.

In addition to The Improbable Professor, Stien is the author of Stump House Stories (2001), a children's book about a curious little girl and the surprising visitors who make her acquaintance. The book is based upon true stories of Stien's grandchildren and the stump house he built for them. He has also written two other sets of children's stories based on his grandchildren, Zach Tales and Who's Buggin' Abbie?


Howard Stien, Whitworth professor emeritus of biology and author of "The Improbable Professor," (509) 466-5449 or stien@whitworth.edu.

Julie Riddle, public information specialist, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 jriddle@whitworth.edu.

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