As I write this, my colleagues are bustling up and down the halls, talking on their cells, conferring in hushed tones inside and outside their offices. All is expectation and behind-the-scenes preparation. The big 125th-anniversary celebration is under way.
Yesterday, at the President's Leadership Forum, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke to a packed house at the Spokane Convention Center. Rice also visited campus, where, before another large audience, she engaged in an hour-long conversation with Whitworth President Beck A. Taylor. Today, trustees are on campus, going about their usual (and crucial) business and, perhaps, preparing to attend Whitworth Theatre's fall production, The Drowsy Chaperone, or to cheer on the volleyball team in its match against George Fox U. Many will stay to attend the Homecoming games tomorrow afternoon (the football team takes on the powerhouse Willamette Bearcats in the Pine Bowl, and men's soccer will be home against Whitman. Go, Bucs!), and then go on to the signature event of the weekend, the 125th-anniversary celebration, at the Spokane Convention Center. President Taylor will make a big announcement; there'll be a presentation on Whitworth's past, present and future; a short film commissioned for the occasion will be shown; and all four of Whitworth's large music ensembles will perform.
In addition to all of these events, people will participate in mini-college sessions, go on campus tours, see an art exhibit by Seattle artist Chris Jordan, watch President Taylor plant the quasquicentennial tree in The Loop (I'll bet that "Q" word is new to you; it certainly was to me), visit classes, buy the 125th-anniversary book, Torchbearers, as well as Bill Robinson's new book, Matters of Mind & Heart, in the bookstore, attend the Athletics Hall of Fame Breakfast, play in or watch the alumni tennis matches, see what's up with the brand-new Whitworth Office of Community Engagement, attend meals and other gatherings with their reunion classes, rehearse and perform with the massed choir of Whitworth alumni who sang in the choir during their college careers, visit the Torchbearers exhibit in the library, attend community worship (where the massed choir will perform), have a cup of something hot and tasty at the Mind & Hearth, and head home buoyed up, tired out, and happy, as always, to be a member of the Whitworth family.
It's been a crazy few months as the folks in Hawthorne Hall and Hardwick House have pulled this epic weekend together. And the pace won't be slowing noticeably anytime soon, since this weekend also marks the launch of The Campaign for Whitworth, a $100-million drive that addresses the university's need for an enhanced, expanded music facility, seeks to build the endowment, supports annual giving and programs, and encourages outreach to others through Whitworth Serves.
As Whitworth enters its 126th year, Whitworth Today salutes the many members of the Whitworth family whose vision has never wavered, whose faith has never failed, and whose industry in the pursuit of the best for Whitworth keeps our offices hopping and our minds and hearts invested in building the university's bright future. Happy birthday, Whitworth!
My Top 10
As a Whitworth grad (Class of '93) and employee (since 1983), I remember and continue to experience a lot of great moments at Whitworth. Here's my Whitworth Top 10:
- The Miracle in the Fieldhouse, when our men's basketball team came back from a seemingly insurmountable deficit – in less than a minute – to beat George Fox University and win the Bucs' fifth conference title in a row. Incredible.
- When Physics Prof Kamesh Sankaran walks to the front of the packed Robinson Teaching Theatre at the beginning of his Core 150 guest lecture and asks the class, "How do I sound?" They generally mumble back something positive. Kamesh then says, "Do I sound as good as I look?"
- Walking around campus with my three granddaughters, ages 9, 7 and 2, and telling them all about the buildings and the green spaces – and then hearing the older two say that they want to be Whitworth students one day. (The little one's still visiting pre-schools.)
- Beating Whitman. At anything.
- Walking down the hall of my building and seeing people I've known throughout their time as Whitworth students, Whitworth graduates, and Whitworth employees. (There have to be some perks to getting old.)
- Hearing a Core 250 student talk excitedly about Leonard Oakland's Nietzsche lecture and knowing exactly why s/he is so cranked up.
- Remembering the first time Keith Beebe carefully set the stage in Core 150 for the meaning of a kairos moment, and then asked, after recounting his reaction to a horrible event when he was a kid, "What day do you think that was?" "The day Lincoln was shot!" shouted Jack Burns. (Jack is older than Keith.)
- The overflowing petunia baskets that hang along the Hello Walk all summer long.
- Having a Whitworth grad, Class of '84 — one of my favorite all-time Whitworthians — as my capo de tutti capi. It helps that he's insanely smart, that he knows a million sports anecdotes and other funny stories, and that he's incredibly kind, thoughtful and grateful for the work that my colleagues and I do.
- The fact that every time I go to the HUB, I can see my dad's name and my son's name etched into the bricks in the entryway.
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