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Lee Ann Chaney

Lee Anne Chaney

Associate Professor of Biology
Years of Service: 41

What brought you to Whitworth, and what kept you here?

When I was considering places to teach, I was intrigued by the [Whitworth] catalog, which of course had to be viewed in hardcopy at the time, in the library at the university where I was a Ph.D. student. It presented Whitworth as an institution that clearly emphasized the centrality of Christ, a strong academic program, and an expectation that students would take responsibility for their own decisions and actions. I had been a student at a church-related school with a lot of rules and at a school with no obvious Christian position. I was interested to see if the school Whitworth claimed to be really existed. When I interviewed, I was convinced the school was serious about this combination, so I took the job. I have stayed at Whitworth because those same priorities are still at the heart of the institution.

What is one unforgettable moment you experienced in a class?

One spring a frustrated student nailed his textbook to a pine tree outside of Johnston. Some years later, he came back to visit and shared what he’d done with his life since college.

What is one unexpected thing a student has taught you?

One student who was very quiet and shy as a first-year student gained confidence enough to serve in the Peace Corps in Africa, teaching young people about science and math. The transformation taught me to look for the potential and to never put students into boxes in terms of what they might accomplish.

Have you changed since coming to Whitworth?

Compared to my first years of teaching, I am more inclined now to push students to learn for themselves and to focus on the big picture of what they are learning. I hope I am more comfortable with ideas that are really different from my own. I have learned from colleagues to think about faith and learning from new perspectives.

What parting advice would you offer current students and lifelong learners alike?

Consistent, focused effort will really help you learn, and working on new material, ideas or skills with others can be rewarding and effective.

What is one Whitworth experience, value or memory that you'll carry with you into retirement?

Wonderful relationships with students and colleagues will go with me into the coming years, as will memories of amazing organisms I got to use in teaching.

What do you look forward to in retirement?

I look forward to being able to take time to watch plants change as the seasons turn.