Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bill Robinson to deliver his final commencement address as Whitworth's president May 16

Robinson also to present keynote speech at graduate ceremony May 15


Whitworth President Bill Robinson, who has handed diplomas to roughly 40 percent of all living Whitworth graduates, will address graduates as president for the last time at the university's 120th undergraduate ceremony May 16. He plans to step down June 30.

Robinson will give his address, "Hanging On and Moving On," during the ceremony, which will take place at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 16, at the Spokane Arena. Roughly 480 undergraduates are expected to participate in the ceremony.

Robinson also will speak at the university's graduate commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 15, at 10 a.m. in Whitworth's Cowles Auditorium. Robinson will deliver his address, "Synchronizing Your Watch," to an audience including 112 graduates receiving master's degrees in education, teaching, counseling, business administration, international management, and theology.

Robinson's daughter, the Rev. Brenna Robinson Stanfield, '00, will offer the homily, "Great Expectations," for the baccalaureate service on Sunday at 10 a.m. in the Whitworth Fieldhouse.

Commencement Weekend events begin Friday, May 14, and will include a reception honoring continuing studies graduates, a senior communion and commissioning service, a senior reflections slideshow and showcase of senior class talent, an art exhibit, a music recital, and an English department reading featuring graduates' capstone achievements. For complete Commencement Weekend details, visit www.whitworth.edu/commencement.

During the undergraduate commencement ceremony, six students will receive President's Cup Awards for maintaining a 4.0 grade point average throughout their undergraduate education. Recipients are Peter Cleary, Rachel Dubes, Breena Hagerott, Sean McGuire, Kristin Santroch and Amanda Tufts. The Whitworth Servant Leadership Award, which honors a graduating senior who has exhibited an extraordinary commitment to serving the campus and the larger community, also will be given during the ceremony.

Robinson became Whitworth's 17th president in July 1993. He announced in September that the 2009-10 academic year would be his last at Whitworth, making him the second-longest-serving and one of the most influential presidents in the school's history. During his tenure, the number of freshman applications to Whitworth has increased 565 percent, to 6,397 for the coming fall; enrollment has grown 60 percent, to 2,781 students, while student academic profile and selectivity have steadily improved; and retention and graduation rates have reached record highs well above national averages.

More than $83 million in campus improvements have been made during Robinson's presidency, including a new center for the visual arts, a landmark general academic building, three new residence halls and several outdoor athletics facilities. In addition, the university currently is constructing a biology and chemistry building, to be named the William P. and Bonnie V. Robinson Science Hall, that will be the largest academic facility in the school's history. Meanwhile, financial support from alumni and friends has increased steadily, contributing to an increase of nearly $75 million in the university's endowment before the recent market downturn.

Known for his relational and approachable style, Robinson has devoted much of his energy to connecting in person and in writing with students, employees and friends of the university. His award-winning monthly newsletter, Of Mind & Heart, is read by more than 20,000 people inside and outside the Whitworth community and has been one of Robinson's favorite vehicles for promoting Whitworth's distinctive mission.

Before taking the helm at Whitworth, Robinson served for seven years as president of Manchester College, in Indiana. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Northern Iowa, his master's degree from Wheaton College, and his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. He also studied at Princeton Theological Seminary and Moody Bible Institute. He has done extensive speaking, writing and research on leadership and faith-related issues. He is the author of two books – Incarnate Leadership: Five Leadership Lessons from the Life of Jesus (Zondervan, 2009) and Leading People from the Middle – The Universal Mission of Mind and Heart (Executive Excellence Publishing, 2002), which was republished by IUniverse in 2009.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,700 students, offers 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts:

Beverly Kleeman, registrar, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4548 or bkleeman@whitworth.edu.

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Whitworth art professor selected as finalist for E-Merge 2010 Glass Competition

This spring, Whitworth Assistant Professor of Art Katie Creyts was selected as one of 43 finalists out of roughly 300 artists from around the globe who submitted their artwork to the E-Merge 2010 Glass Competition, sponsored by the Portland, Ore.-based company Bullseye Glass. Her chosen work, made with kiln-formed glass, is titled, You Could Be Working So Much Harder.

"This piece happened from studio 'play,'" Creyts says. "I had been working on pieces that were quite involved and taking a long time and I was feeling stressed – like I needed to produce more. This piece is a response to those feelings."

She continues, "I came upon a coloring book image of Disney animals looking at Snow White in the forest and I thought about how the animals were showing concern and distance at once – 'We're sorry you're hurting, but we don't know how to help.' This inspired me to replace Snow White with the phrase, 'You could be working so much harder.' It is ironic, a bit silly, but also anxious."

E-Merge submissions were evaluated on quality of concept and content, craftsmanship, and design. Other finalists hailed from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Creyts' submission can be viewed until the closing of the E-Merge exhibition on Saturday, June 19, at the Bullseye Gallery, in Portland.

E-Merge is a juried kiln-glass exhibition for emerging artists sponsored by Bullseye Glass Co. — a manufacturer of colored glass for art and architecture with worldwide distribution and a strong commitment to education and promoting glass art. Hosted for the first time at Bullseye Gallery, the exhibition recognizes students and early-career artists who are rising through the ranks of kiln-formed studio glass. Bullseye Glass, provides the primary material used in glass classes at Whitworth.

Creyts is no amateur in terms of glass-working. E-Merge is the 39th exhibition in which she has shown her works, and she has since participated in the Teapot Invitational, in Pittsburgh, Pa.

"Glass is an amazing artist material," Creyts says. "My work is based on the shift from fiction to reality and I feel that glass, like my work, exists somewhere in between with its ability to be a liquid and a solid. I love playing with transparency, optics, color, etc. This medium affords all of these."

Joining the Whitworth faculty in 2008, Creyts received an M.F.A. from Illinois State University and a bachelor's degree from the Tyler School of Art, in Elkins Park, Pa.. She has held several teaching positions and residencies since 1992. She specializes in glass-blowing and hot-glass sculpture, and serves as supervisor of the Whitworth Art Department's new three-dimensional art degree track.

To learn more about Creyts' work, please visit her website at http://www.katiecreyts.com/.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,700 students, offers 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts:

Katie Creyts, assistant professor of art, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4470 or kcreyts@whitworth.edu.

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.

Whitworth hosts business plan competition for area schools

Whitworth team wins second place for childcare cooperative proposal

Nine teams of students, from Whitworth University, Gonzaga University and Spokane Community College, captured a total of $42,500 in cash awards for proposals they submitted for the 2010 Inland Empire Business Plan Competition. The competition is a collaboration between Whitworth's School of Global Commerce & Management, Gonzaga's Hogan Entrepreneurial Leadership Program, and Eastern Washington University's Center for Entrepreneurial Activities. The competition is open to graduate and undergraduate students from those schools and from SCC.

This year, 46 teams submitted plans in three project categories: social-enterprise, community-based, and student-generated. Fifteen teams were chosen to present their plans during the finals, on Tuesday, April 20, in Whitworth's Weyerhaeuser Hall; the presentation was followed by an awards ceremony and reception. The top nine teams included one team from Whitworth, six from Gonzaga, and two from SCC.

Whitworth graduate students Kelsey Morgenthaler, Matt Jeffries, Greg Caster, Nan Schrag and Chelsea Chen took home $3,500 for placing second in the social-enterprise category. The team's business plan, Side-by-Side Childcare Cooperative, would be a childcare center addressing Spokane's West Central community's unmet need for affordable childcare. Its unique cooperative design would allow parents and other community "team members" to vote on organizational decisions. Childcare services would be high-quality and low-cost, since parents and other volunteers would work as mentors to childcare specialists.

Following are all of the winning teams for each category:
  • Community-based category: Good Greetings, Gonzaga (1st place); Level 1 Bar, SCC (2nd); New Timeless Woodworks, SCC (3rd)

  • Social-enterprise category: Hospitality House, Gonzaga (1st); Side-by-Side Childcare Cooperative, Whitworth (2nd); Zambia Gold, Gonzaga (3rd)

  • Student-generated category: Rent-a-Bike, Gonzaga (1st); Anderson Holdings, Gonzaga (2nd); Amebo, Gonzaga (3rd)

The plans submitted to the competition were judged by an independent panel of reviewers based on 10 criteria, including social return on investment, feasibility, scalability, funding, and quality of the operating and financial plans.

Faculty members from the Whitworth School of Global Commerce & Management assisted the Whitworth teams by providing academic and practical insight in areas including marketing, finance, e-commerce, legal issues and patents.

Major funding for the competition was provided by the Herbert B. Jones Foundation, Telect, Itron, and Avista Corp.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,700 students, offers 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts:

Dan Churchwell, lecturer, department of economics & business, Whitworth University, (509) 777-3885 or dchurchwell@whitworth.edu.

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Whitworth political science alumna reflects on internship at the Center for Justice

Holly's story appeared in an article by Tim Connor, "The Importance of Being Holly," which first appeared on the Center for Justice's website in June 2009

The first week of June was like most other weeks at the Center for Justice. We heard about new cases we're developing, got some welcome news about a grant we'd requested, and welcomed Suellen Pritchard back from her trip to see family in Kansas. We even got a remarkable piece of fan mail from a state prison.

But then Tuesday came and the voice and laughter of Holly Fauerso, '07, were missing.

Conspicuously missing. Missing like the way you'd miss the smell of croissants if you lived upstairs from a French bakery that had closed for a holiday. Missing like the way you'd miss a son or daughter, or brother or sister, leaving home with most of their belongings in tow.

In most of his public talks about the Center, Breean Beggs makes a point about what makes the Center for Justice different. It's not just what we do, it's also who gets to do so much of it. There is a conventional path to a legal career where you could, eventually, cut your chops in an important case. At the Center, young law and social work students and interns are thrown willingly into the fray of important cases all the time.

Holly's role was different. She wasn't a law student, and she wasn't looking to do a practicum in social work when we urgently recruited her in the summer of 2007 to, well, help run the place.

She was 22 at the time, and had just graduated from Whitworth where she'd studied under Julia Stronks, a distinguished professor of political science at the university. Professor Stronks sends lots of terrific young people our way, but what stood out to her about Holly, in addition to her "agile mind and terrific work ethic," is how engaged the young woman from Spokane Valley was in community involvement and social justice.

"The Center for Justice seemed to me to be a perfect place for Holly to see others committed to doing justice in the community," says Professor Stronks. "Often students think they can best serve the world by volunteering in food banks and at shelters. Holly seemed ready to make the next step and start to think through institutional ways to fight for justice for others."

In addition to basketball and track, Holly pursued community service work while she was a high school student at Valley Christian School. She got deeply involved in volunteer work, through an Explorer's program, with the Spokane Police Department. At Whitworth she was part of the Murdock Lives of Commitment project that encouraged students to explore and think about issues of citizenship and justice.

Thus, by the time Holly came to work at the Center, she'd already had remarkable learning experiences, including trips to Washington, D.C. and Indianapolis. In D.C. she'd gotten to see and hear then-Senator Barack Obama. In Indianapolis, she'd gotten to examine the economic and social justice aspects of gentrification.

But her most vivid experience, by far, was a month-long visit to South Africa during which she got to study the political and social history of the country. Her visit included home stays in the black townships created during the years of apartheid. She spent a day in Soweto and visited the Robben Island prison where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 18 of the 20 years he spent behind bars prior to becoming President of South Africa in 1994.

It was after the South Africa trip that Holly applied and interviewed with Suellen Pritchard, the Center's Community Advocacy coordinator, for an internship at the Center for Justice. The interview went very well. But before the Center could make its decision on who would fill the position, Holly got another offer to intern at a local affordable housing agency, which she accepted.

But Suellen didn't forget the interview. She'd been deeply impressed and, months later, the Center took advantage of an unusual opportunity which arose when the Spokane Neighborhood Action Programs (SNAP) found itself with an extra Americorps/Vista position. The Center asked for the position, which is limited to organizations that address poverty, and with SNAP's approval, set out to fill it.

Suellen knew the person she wanted and, this time, she wasn't going to let her slip away. The immediate problem is that time was short and Holly was in Manhattan, staying at a hostel, where she was helping friends with the offstage work on a remarkable social and musical project. It was the heralded reunion concert of the indie band Dispatch which had gotten back together for a Madison Square Garden concert – "Dispatch: Zimbabwe" – to raise money for charities working to fight disease, famine and social injustice in the failing African country that borders South Africa to the north.

So there Holly was in Manhattan, being urgently recruited on the phone by Suellen. who, as Holly and so many others can attest to, is hard to say no to. Within days, she was back in Spokane and then quickly off to Utah to begin her VISTA training. She would join the Center the following month as our Outreach Coordinator.

"Holly has an amazing energy," says Suellen, "and she had amazing energy in the community. I mean she was the perfect person for the outreach position because she's easy to talk to, and related to the clientele. She understood, without judgment."

Which is all true. And when Holly recounts her hiring and entry process from her perspective she punctuates the story with her signature laugh and an array of Holly Fauerso facial expressions in which her eyes work like the old Smother's Brothers comedy team.

A good chunk of Holly's early work was to do a community needs assessment that was and still is being used to guide the Center's community outreach and service activities. But there were also countless support tasks, primarily for Community Advocacy, that required the traits that Julia Stronks had noted about Holly: her "agile" mind and work ethic.

"Even at the housing agency," Holly says, "they'd hired me to work on marketing. I get there. I'm not working on marketing. I'm working on mortgages, or I'm helping the mortgage loan broker. So, it was the type of thing where I didn't really have the choice. So you can be upset or frustrated, or you can just go along with it. And I learned a lot about credit. I learned a lot about what to do and what not to do if, say, you're trying to buy a house and you're a little bit below the income guidelines. Different things like that, and how to work with people, and how to organize open house events so people can find out about our services."

At CFJ, two of Holly's major projects were the free legal service program, "Street Law," and the Justice Clinics where the Center goes out to community centers to serve low-income residents who need legal advice.

The pace of the work is a constant challenge, but Holly says she'd developed an appreciation for the "transformative process" of the experiences she'd worked so hard to facilitate.

"I think in some ways the essence of it is to try to look at each person as a new person, and every problem as a new problem," she observes. "The concept is to be holistic, to respect people's dignity regardless of whether we can help them. That's how I understand Community Advocacy."

Suellen and Holly shared an office back by the Center's main conference room and it was hard to miss the interplay between their two personalities. Suellen has an unmistakable velocity, and Holly a natural patience that is inherently calming.

"It just helps when we can keep each other in check," Holly told me when I asked about their obvious good chemistry. "Sometimes Suellen will get stressed out and I'll say, 'Suellen, you have the stress face. What's going on?' Or I'm saying to her, 'The world's not going to crash just because you're desk is crowded with all these clients and all their issues. You need to take a step back.' And she'll ask, 'Am I?' And I'll say, 'yeah.'"

Suellen, for her part, was dreading coming back from Kansas, knowing that Holly would have already left for Portland, Ore., where she's starting a new job this month.

"She's just been a ray of sunshine in my office, seriously," Suellen says. "She's just good karma, plain good karma. She's so willing to do the right thing and make a difference in her community and in her own world, in her family's world, in her work world. She's just willing to do the right thing."

As she was saying her goodbyes, I asked Holly what she thought her life would be like in 10 years and, of course, her first instinct was to roll her eyes and look at me as if I'd asked her to paint a picture of extraterrestrial life in the Triangulum Galaxy.

"I want to be helping people," she said, once her face came to rest. "I'm not sure how that's going to look, but I know it will be on some type of social justice issue."

Whitworth theology alum reflects on internship at the Center for Justice, time spent in Africa

Michael's story appeared as part of Tim Connor's article, "At Work in the World," which appeared in the Center for Justice's April 2010 "Justice Calling" newsletter

When he arrived to work as an intern at the Center for Justice is 2006, Michael Novasky, '07, had the classic immersion experience working with Suellen Pritchard. As she does with almost everyone who comes by to help, she threw him right into the fray.

"It grows you up in a hurry," is how Michael puts it.

"I learned a lot from it, absolutely," he says. "And what I learned at the Center for Justice, more than anything was the confidence I gained in having the experience and learning how to work with people."

By the time Michael arrived at CFJ, he'd already traveled to Africa with a contingent of other Whitworth students to learn about South African culture, history and government. He'd enjoyed it so much that he wanted to go back and as he approached graduation in 2007 he and two of his fellow Whitworthians decided to look for ways to return to South Africa to work.

"We didn't have much of a plan," Michael recalls, "It was pretty much that we wanted to do Peace Corps type work, but do it in our own way."

Their plans for South Africa unraveled but, in short order, an opportunity opened up for them in Uganda through their contact with a new Steamboat Springs, Colorado, based organization named Come Let's Dance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering African youth.

The new plan was for the three of them to go to Kampala and work with orphans and cast off children struggling to survive on the crowded streets of Uganda's capital. And they did. Much of the work for Michael was as a patient advocate for children who needed medical assistance. He would take them to hospitals, stay with them, advocate for their care, and make sure their bills got paid. It was, he says, a terrific way to get to know Ugandan youngsters and understand what their lives were like.

As per their plan, Michael's two friends from Whitworth chose to leave Uganda after a year. But he decided to stay. In simplest terms, he was enjoying the experience. Living in English -- speaking tropical Uganda was not, he found, "a huge culture shock," once he learned how to get by with less than he was used to in the states and enjoy staples like boiled plantain. He'd also made friendships among Ugandans who took time to care and look out for him. Among other things, they'd learned of his education in religious studies and invited him to visit their churches.

"I felt a lot was unfinished," he says about his decision to stay in Uganda and move from the inner city of Kampala out to a less developed (electricity, but not running water) village just on the outskirts of the city.

"I learned a lot about the value of human relationships," he says, "about the importance of dropping in and visiting people, about slowing your day down to make time to visit."

And this was also a part of the Michael Novasky that Suellen Pritchard recognized from his days working in Spokane at the Center for Justice.

"He was a very caring soul," she says. "He really was. He was never hurried about anything but a very smart, unflappable and very articulate."

And voraciously curious. One of the reasons Michael wasn't ready to leave Uganda is that "by accident," he says, he stumbled upon the literature department at Kampala's Makerere University. A religion and speech communications double-major at Whitworth, he says he was drawn to study African literature and was able to do so because the teachers at Makerere allowed him to audit their classes. This is how he was able to study novelist Ngugi wa Thiong'o, dramatist Francis Imbuga and a number of the continents poets, including Ugandan Okot p'Bitek.

For the next two years he lived on the outskirts of Kampala on a subsistence budget, studying African literature and, in general, learning about himself and the lives of the people around him.

Ask him the obvious question, "Why?" and he doesn't settle for an easy answer. Above all, he says, his experience in Uganda provided a learning experience on how to fit into a new society and, with that experience, reflect on how "I fit into my society."

"It's a hard question to answer," he says. "Inevitably some people see it as running away. Some people even cynically say 'you were running away.' The truth is that maybe there is some of that. I wasn't quite ready to engage my career path. To me it's about learning about yourself in a lot of different contexts, how you're adjusting, and how you're contributing."

Michael continued to think about the question after our interview and, a few hours later, sent me a note. He said he didn't want to be portrayed as having gone to Uganda for purely humanitarian reasons or on some exalted journey to find himself. He summed up his two "key lessons" this way:

1) The value of learning to continually, or at least periodically, challenge and question yourself…and even the people, society, or structures around you. This CAN be a healthy thing.

2) The need to build quality relationships and the skill it takes to maintain them.

"Many people may notice that this aligns with the Center's values," he added.

Whitworth journalism alumna reflects on internship at the Center for Justice, travels in Southeast Asia

Jessica's story appeared as part of Tim Connor's article, "At Work in the World," which appeared in the Center for Justice's April 2010 "Justice Calling" newsletter

For a young woman who was deeply inquisitive and who loved to write, Jessica Davis, '08, arrived at the Center for Justice in early 2006 with an awkward problem.

"I was afraid to talk to people on the phone," she remembers. "I really had a fear of it."

It's a laughing matter now because I'm on the phone with her while she's taking a short lunch break from her job as a one-woman news bureau in southern California's Coachella Valley (Palm Springs, Joshua Tree National Park). Among other things, I'm asking her what was going through her mind in May of 2008 when, only recently having overcome her fear of telephones, she defied the military government of Myanmar (Burma) to smuggle in medical supplies and smuggle out video and news photos in the wake of a natural disaster.

"I didn't realize how dangerous it was until I left [Myanmar]," she says, even though one of her vivid memories is of a Burmese soldier cocking his gun at her and a companion as they tried to circumvent a checkpoint and approach the house of dissident Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.

Suellen Pritchard leans back in her chair and smiles when asked what she remembers about meeting Jessica Davis for the first time. It was January 2006 and Davis, feeling bored and restless, wanted to do some community service. It just so happened that the university's community service coordinator–fellow Whitworth student Alise Delzell–was on her way up to the Center to scout out possible internships. So Davis hitched a ride with Delzell and became, in short order, one of the first students from Whitworth to become an intern at the Center's Community Advocacy (CA) program.

"Do you remember what she needed help with?" I ask Suellen.

"Talking to people," Suellen replies. "She was very shy. Not really withdrawn but very shy. I remember that about her, because when I found out she was working for The Whitworthian (the Whitworth University student newspaper) I was shocked. I was like, 'Jessica Davis is working for the Whitworthian? Are you serious?"

Alise Delzell, who's now the Operations Director at the Spokane affiliate of Boys and Girls Clubs of Spokane, has a similar recollection.

"She's not a wallflower," Delzell says affectionately about Davis, "she has a strong presence, but it's a quiet presence."

And so they went to work. Suellen and Jessica. In 2006, all the CA interns were packed into the fishbowl and Suellen asked her shyest intern to watch and listen as she and the others took calls. And then Suellen would ask Davis to give it a try.

"It was kind of like watching a flower bloom," Suellen says. "She was just kind of closed when she came in. And when she left, she was nothing like that. She was able to just rock on the phones. There was this remarkable change, all in one semester, and it flowed over into her Whitworth reporting as well, because I remember I was just like, 'where did this girl come from?' She was just amazing."

Suelen has vivid memories of both Davis and Delzell, who also went to work for her in the CA program. In her black binders and on her Facebook page, Pritchard now has hundreds of faces and names and stories of interns who've spent a good chunk of time not just learning the ropes in CA, but literally allowing the program to exist on such a modest budget relative to the hundreds of clients the program helps.

When Suellen became the Community Advocacy coordinator at the Center–not long before Davis and Delzell made their visit–she could only think in terms of the work the Center would be doing for our clients. What she didn't anticipate is what it would do for the interns, how the experience in the trenches of fighting for the poor, disadvantaged, and disabled would propel them to make giant strides in their personal growth.

"I never thought of that portion of it when we started Community Advocacy," she says. "At first, I was just overwhelmed. I thought 'I'm never going to be able to pull this off because I'm going to be constantly training. And, you know, what is their (the interns) level of learning going to be? Am I going to have all these personalities to cope with. I'd never been in a manager's position, or done anything like it. But Jessica was among the first students who came in and every single one of them was just amazing in their own way. For me it's been such a gift to work with all these students who are on the same mission as I am, to change the world in the same way. They want to make a difference. They love it."

As a young woman doing her internship at a law firm, Jessica Davis says her experience at the Center for Justice gave her several important lessons and one of them, a bit ironically, is that she really had no interest in becoming a lawyer.

"When I did the work for the Center for Justice," she says, "I realized that my talents weren't in the law. It helped me realize that I was going in the right direction."

The direction was toward journalism. But even that path led her to what can, for some, be a sticky dilemma in that there can be a big difference between exercising compassion and the ostensibly dispassionate practice of reporting.

Jessica doesn't see it that way, or at least not in a way that presents her with an irreconcilable conflict.

"First, I'm a human being," she says. "And as a human being I value justice. I believe journalism provides justice in ways that are similar to the Center for Justice, because we [journalists] give voice to the voiceless. We are often giving a voice to people who can't speak for themselves."

As Jessica got deeper into her studies and her work as a reporter for the student newspaper at Whitworth she says she began to realize she had "a huge hole in my education" and that she "really needed to travel abroad and challenge my world view."

For her senior year she had the opportunity to study either in Asia or Africa. She chose Asia and relocated to the University of Hong Kong where she shared her dormitory room with Chinese medical students.

"Because I was such a fast writer," she says, "I finished my course work early."

And that gave her an opportunity to do other things, including teaching English in southwest China and traveling to Malaysia and Singapore. What she discovered she enjoyed the most was her time in Muslim parts of Asia where she found the people remarkably friendly and laid back.

"I'd never been to a country where there was the call to prayer, such a change in the rhythm to time, and the remarkably different architecture. Their whole way of approaching life is so different than ours."

She decided to stay in the Far East longer than she'd originally planned, making trips, blogging and freelancing articles.

Jessica had already made arrangements to visit Myanmar on a tourist visa, to attempt some surreptitious journalism, when a category 4 typhoon, Cyclone Nargis, got to Myanmar first, striking hard in the Irrawaddy Delta region, killing thousands of Burmese people.

She found herself grounded in Bangkok, with the airport closed in Myanmar.

"I was just kind of in shock," Jessica remembers. "I was horrified about it when I learned about the number of people who'd died. I just felt I had to do something."

A major complication in visiting Myanmar, even on a good day, is that since 1962 the country has been governed by a military junta. In modern times, the regime is something of an international pariah because of its brutal human rights abuses. Since 1989, the military leadership has confined the leader of the Burmese Democracy Movement, Aung San Suu Kyi, to her home. The residence is a living shrine to those struggling, at great risk, to bring democracy back to the nation. Aung San Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.

In the wake of Cyclone Nargis, the toll of the natural disaster was exacerbated by the Myanmar regime which, having thumbed its nose at the international community for criticizing its human rights record, was determined not to show any signs of weakness by accepting foreign assistance. It told the world it could handle the tragedy on its own. There wasn't going to be any news footage of foreign relief aid being handed out to Burmese cyclone survivors.

But that wasn't going to stop her. She went to work organizing her fellow travelers waiting in Bangkok to smuggle first aid supplies into Myanmar.

"We went to a drugstore in Bangkok," she says, "and just cleaned it out, basic medical supplies. We shared them on the plane and split them among many people, in different compartments, in our clothing and spread them out to make it look like they were personal supplies."

For Davis, she had planned to wear the traditional loose, flowing clothing of the region anyway, so it just allowed her all that much more room to hide things on herself.

"I was trying not to look like a U.N. volunteer or an American tourist," she said.

She also wanted to bring things out of Myanmar. In a real sense, she was a humanitarian mission going in, and a human package of smuggled journalistic cargo, including her own photographs, coming out. She did almost all of her traveling on foot to avoid being in a car that could be searched. Her small and easily concealed Canon SD 870 camera was perfect for her photography.
"The gist of it was that I went to Burma because I was curious to learn what had happened and I still chose to go [after the Cyclone struck]," she says. "I thought that if I could get some images, then I can get out what was really going on. I felt really compelled to release the images and get those images out."

None of which surprises Suellen Pritchard.

"Oh, yeah, that's Jessica," she said when she heard about Davis's adventure. "That's the girl who left here."

The images would show that the Myanmar government was failing, miserably, to do what it said it could do, which was to address the needs of cyclone victims without outside help. But Jessica's guides also led her to Burmese nationals who wanted to smuggle out other images.

"I had a few close calls," she says. "I wound up meeting a smuggler with video of people talking about being beaten. I smuggled that out. He had interviewed monks in hiding. I mailed the videos to an advocacy organization when I got out."

She stayed a week before she had to return for a meeting in Hong Kong. Jessica says she didn't fully realize how much danger she'd put herself in until she got out, but vividly remembers being confronted at gun point when she and a British national tried to get close to the house where Aung San Suu Kyi is detained. Fortunately, she says, her British companion was able to calm the guard by speaking in Burmese while Davis held her hands out to show the guard she was submitting to his demands to leave.

As she talks about it a year and a half later, though, the memories that are the most vivid to her are from the days she spent with the Burmese people in the countryside near where the cyclone hit.

"I was struck by the generosity of the Burmese people," she says. "It was one of the most beautiful cultures I've ever experienced. They were in the midst of this horrific crisis and they were offering me food. It just blew my mind. They're so strong, that's what became apparent to me."

She confesses to being somewhat torn between her promising and successful life, now, as a busy American reporter in Southern California, and the urge to return to Burma and other places in southeast Asia where she experienced a joy and richness to life that she genuinely misses.

"I try not to think about it too much," she says, with a wistful laugh.

For now, she says, her main objective is to become a better writer, with a clear understanding that this is her gift, and the best way she can improve the world around her.

"It was really tough for me when I worked at the Center for Justice," she says about the tension between her wanting to directly pitch-in and help people, and the broader good she realizes she can do by writing about peoples' experiences.

"Helping people is really where my heart is. But my talents are in journalism. I have to focus on that because that's how I can help people."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"The Whitworthian" garners seven awards at the 2009 Region 10 Mark of Excellence Awards

Print version, website win first place in their respective divisions

Whitworth's student-run newspaper, The Whitworthian, has once again received major recognition for its work, this time earning seven awards at the 2009 Region 10 Mark of Excellence Awards, sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists.

The Whitworthian took first place for Best All-Around Non-Daily Student Newspaper, beating out runner-up Gonzaga University, and whitworthian.com received first place for Best Affiliated Website. Junior Jerod Jarvis received first place in the category of Online Opinion and Commentary.

Sophomore Aileen Benson received second place for Editorial Cartooning, as did the Editorial Board in the Editorial Writing category for its "In the Loop" column. Two reporters received awards in the category of Online In-Depth Reporting for their contributions last spring – second place for '09 alumna Jasmine Linabary's "The Women" series, and third place for junior Yong Kim's "Pornography: The Series."

"The second- and third-place finishes by Jasmine Linabary and Yong Kim in the online in-depth reporting were especially noteworthy," says James McPherson, associate professor of communication studies and adviser of The Whitworthian. "Both students did their comprehensive multimedia projects by themselves, using a wide variety of media tools. On the other hand, the winning project in the category involved the efforts of three faculty members and almost 30 students, most of whom were either law students or graduate students."

The current newspaper staff includes editor-in-chief Morgan Feddes, a junior, online editors Jerod Jarvis, a junior, and senior Danika Heatherly, as well as 15 editors and roughly 40 reporters, columnists, photographers, copy editors and graphic designers.

"Over the past few years, The Whitworthian staff has been dedicated to reporting the news we feel students need to know," says Feddes. "We've worked tirelessly to improve both our print issues and our website to ensure our readers have the most complete information possible. We have continued to expand our online presence by using many of the tools available to us on the Web. We've dedicated ourselves to accuracy and integrity, which has shaped the way we report the news."

In the category of student-run newspapers at four-year colleges and universities, The Whitworthian's seven wins were matched by the University of Washington and the University of Montana. Seattle Pacific University and Pacific Lutheran University both received five awards for their publications. The Whitworthian was nominated in 12 categories.

"These awards would also not have been possible without the support we've received from the Whitworth community," says Feddes. "The administration continually seeks to be transparent with us; ASWU supports us, not just in finances but in our continual quest to keep the campus informed as well. The faculty in the communications department has been phenomenal in their support for us, and we wouldn't be able to do what we do without their help – particularly that of our adviser, Jim McPherson. His solid support of our work and his advice have continually helped us in our success."

The Whitworthian's online edition won the 2009 Associate Collegiate Press Pacemaker Award, considered the most esteemed honor in student journalism. In both 2008 and 2007, The Whitworthian took third place in the Best All-Around Non-Daily Student Newspaper category in the Region 10 Mark of Excellence Awards. In fall 2007, the publication took third place in "Best of Show" in the four-year weekly tabloids category at the 86th annual Associated Collegiate Press/College Media Advisors National College Media Convention. In spring 2007, the newspaper won the top award in the Inland Northwest Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists 2006 Excellence in Journalism Competition. The Whitworthian won the Outstanding Achievement in Student Journalism Award in 2005.

Region 10 covers colleges and universities in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. The Society of Professional Journalists is the nation's most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. For more information about SPJ, please visit http://www.spj.org.

The Whitworthian has served as the main source of news and sports coverage for the Whitworth community since 1905 and is run entirely by students. The newspaper's print edition is produced weekly and online content is updated daily at http://www.thewhitworthian.com.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,700 students, offers 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts:

James McPherson, associate professor of communication studies and adviser of The Whitworthian, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4429 or jmcpherson@whitworth.edu.

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Government, Public Aid and Discrimination

The following editorial appeared on the syndicate PeaceVoice and has been picked up by a number of newspapers across the country.

By Julia K. Stronks, J.D., Ph.D.

On April 19, 2010, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez. At the same time, Californians wait for an opinion from a federal judge in Perry v. Schwarzenegger. Both cases involve government financial support of and recognition of minority groups. The strange thing is that in one case Christians are in the minority and the gay community wants government to withhold recognition of the group.
In the other case the gay community is in the minority and Christians want government to withhold recognition of the group. These cases highlight the need for all of us to think more carefully about whether government should be about majority rule or whether government should protect a plurality of perspectives.

In CLS, a student group at Hastings College of Law, a state school, has been denied formal recognition and funding by the law school. The school has a policy that all student groups that receive funding must be open to all students. The Christian Legal Society student group allows all students to join but limits positions of leadership to those who adhere to its mission and a lifestyle commitment—one that excludes gays. The group is allowed to exist with any policies it wants, but it will not receive funding until leadership becomes open to all students. Members of CLS say that government has violated their right of religious freedom and right to freedom of association. Their argument is that government should treat their organization the same as others.

In Perry, citizens of California have voted to change the California State Constitution so that government recognition of marriage is limited to only heterosexuals. Same-sex couples may engage in marriage ceremonies, but they will not receive government recognition or government benefits. Plaintiffs in Perry, a same-sex couple, argue that California citizens have violated the U.S. Federal Constitution’s protection of the fundamental right to marry and the Equal Protection Clause. Their argument is that government should treat their unions the same as others.

In both cases, the group is allowed to define itself according to its own identity. Same-sex partners can hold their own ceremonies. The CLS student group can hold meetings according to its own beliefs. However, in both cases government recognition of and funding of the group is at stake. In CLS, the majority is represented by the school policy. The majority says only groups that hold to a non-discrimination policy will be recognized and receive public funding. In Perry, the majority is represented by the voters of California. The majority says only marriages involving one man and one woman will be recognized and receive public benefits. In both cases, the majority is absolutely certain that it has the best interest of the community at heart. But, the minority wants to be recognized and to be treated equally, not simply allowed to exist.

The tension between gay rights and religious freedom is only just beginning to be faced by the courts. If we treat these matters as simple majority rule, litigation will never end. The self-identity of churches, schools, non-government associations, businesses and even families will be a matter of public policy debate and court battles for decades to come.

But, there is another way. If we think of government as responsible to protect different perspectives, then it seems clear that the minority groups in both of these cases should be treated similarly. Ironically, the gay community and conservative Christians have an opportunity here. They should consider banding together to argue in favor of government recognition and equitable treatment of minority views. As someone who believes in equitable treatment of both conservative Christians and the gay community, this seems to me to be common sense. Almost no one I know, however, agrees with me. The vast majority take up one side or the other. I see years of litigation ahead.

Julia Stronks has a law degree and a Ph.D. in American government and is a professor of political science at Whitworth University. She has written numerous books on faith, citizenship and law.

Note: The opinions expressed in works written by Whitworth faculty and staff do not necessarily represent the views of Whitworth University or members of its community. They are, however, symbolic of Whitworth’s commitment as a Christian university to the free exchange of ideas.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Beck Taylor appointed 18th president of Whitworth University

Respected business dean, economist to assume duties July 1

The Whitworth University Board of Trustees announces that Beck Taylor, Ph.D., has been appointed the university's next president. He will assume his duties July 1, succeeding Bill Robinson, who is stepping down after 17 years as president. Taylor currently serves as dean of the Brock School of Business at Samford University, in Birmingham, Ala.

"The Whitworth University Board of Trustees is excited to announce the appointment of Dr. Beck Taylor as Whitworth's 18th president," says Board Chair Walt Oliver. "We are confident he brings the vision, experience and clear commitment to Whitworth's mission that will move the university forward in exciting ways. This is a great day for the entire Whitworth community."

Taylor, 40, was unanimously recommended to the board by a 14-member presidential search committee including trustees, faculty and staff members, and alumni, community and student representatives. Anne Storm and Jim Singleton, members of Whitworth's board of trustees and co-chairs of the search committee, introduced Taylor at a press conference April 17 following his election at a meeting of the board the previous day.

Taylor joined Samford University as dean and professor of economics for the Brock School of Business in 2005 after serving as associate dean for research and faculty development for the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University, where he was also the W.H. Smith Professor of Economics. He earned his undergraduate degree from Baylor with majors in economics and finance, and he received his M.S. and Ph.D. in economics from Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Ind. In 2002, he was appointed a visiting scholar by Harvard University; he spent one year in residence at the Harvard Graduate School of Education pursuing research interests.

As dean, Taylor has led the rapid transformation of Samford's Brock School of Business, spearheaded by a commitment from Harry B. Brock, Jr., founder of Compass Bank, to build a $100 million endowment for the school. In addition to his fund-raising efforts, Taylor has led the Brock School to establish eight new academic programs. The Brock School's entrepreneurship program was recognized in 2010 as the nation's top emerging program by the U.S. Association for Small Business & Entrepreneurship.

As a scholar, Taylor has published studies in a variety of economics journals. Illustrating his diverse research interests, Taylor has also published articles on his research in public health and child developmental psychology. His research has been cited in testimony given before the U.S. Congress and the California State Assembly, and has also been referenced in publications such as The New York Times and The Boston Globe. Taylor currently lives in the Birmingham area with his wife of 17 years, Julie, and their three children, Zachary, Lauren, and Chloe.

Taylor says he was drawn to Whitworth's strong sense of community and to its mission to uphold both rigorous, open intellectual inquiry and a commitment to Christian conviction as complementary rather than competing values.

"Whitworth stands out as a leader among Christian universities because it is courageous in its quest to nurture the life of the mind and to engage society's important issues," Taylor says. "Whitworth navigates the world of academic inquiry and faith with real integrity. The university recognizes that the road it has chosen, which I believe to be the most exciting and inspiring way, is also fraught with complexity and difficulty. It responds by courageously embracing that challenge, and by asking itself how it can best contribute to the intellectual, spiritual, and moral development of its students."

Taylor says he is encouraged by Whitworth's current position in higher education and he is excited about its trajectory moving forward.

"So many universities, whether secular or religiously affiliated, are in a state of real identity crisis," Taylor says. "What excites me most about Whitworth's current position is that it is in a position of security and strength. My perception is that the Whitworth community isn't in an identity crisis; in fact, there is a sense of unity that is palpable. It is precisely because Whitworth operates from a position of strength and humility that the university can chart exciting and bold aspirations."

Over the past two decades, the number of freshman applications to Whitworth has increased 565 percent to 6,397 for the coming fall; enrollment has grown 60 percent, to 2,781 students, amidst steady improvements in student academic profile and selectivity. Retention and graduation rates have reached record highs well above national averages. Meanwhile, more than $80 million in campus improvements have been made, including a new center for the visual arts, a landmark general academic building, three new residence halls and several outdoor athletics facilities, along with the new biology/chemistry building that is currently under construction. Financial support from alumni and friends has increased steadily, contributing to an increase of nearly $75 million in the university's endowment before the recent market downturn.

Bill Robinson says he's confident Taylor will build on Whitworth's current momentum while holding fast to the university's distinctive mission and identity.

Robinson says, "At the beginning of the presidential search, I think the committee members looked each other in the eye and said, 'Whatever grade we might get on everything else, let's make sure we get an A+ on mission.' They did. Beck Taylor understands how a university can be faithful to its Christian calling and committed to academic excellence in exploring a wide range of ideas."

Michael Harri, student body president and a member of the search committee, says he was impressed by Taylor's vision for Whitworth and his genuine desire to get to know students and other members of the Whitworth community.

"When we talked with Dr. Taylor about Whitworth's future, it filled me with hope and excitement about how he is going to lead Whitworth," Harri says. "I believe that in 10 years I'm going to be even more proud of my alma mater because of what Whitworth is going to accomplish under his leadership. On an interpersonal level, I was impressed with the time and attention he invested to get to know the members of the search committee. This is a person who will go to great lengths to connect with students and to listen to them."

More information about Taylor and about the presidential selection process is available at www.whitworth.edu/presidentialannouncement. The presidential selection committee is grateful for the work of Academic Search, which assisted in the process of recruiting and researching candidates.

Founded as Howard College in 1841, Samford University has more than 4,600 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled annually, making it the largest private institution in Alabama. Samford offers 26 undergraduate and graduate/professional degrees in eight academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, law, nursing and pharmacy. Samford holds fast to its distinctive Christian mission exemplified in the university motto: "Nurturing persons for God, for learning, forever."

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,700 students, offers 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contact:


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

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Whitworth University trustees honor Robinsons with naming of new science building

Largest academic facility in university's history to bear name of its second longest-serving president

The Whitworth University Board of Trustees announced today that the landmark biology and chemistry building being constructed at the heart of campus will be named in honor of outgoing president Bill Robinson and his wife, Bonnie. Scheduled to open in fall 2011, the William P. and Bonnie V. Robinson Science Hall will be the largest, most expensive and, most important academic facility built by Whitworth in its 120-year history.

"It would be difficult to overstate Bill's positive impact on Whitworth; his leadership has contributed to tremendous growth and improvements on the campus as well as to a strengthened commitment to Whitworth's distinctive mission," says Board Chair Walt Oliver. "The entire Whitworth community is deeply indebted to Bill and Bonnie for all the ways they have served the university. In light of their contributions, it is appropriate for a facility that will contribute so significantly to Whitworth's mission to educate the mind and heart to be named the William P. and Bonnie V. Robinson Science Hall."

Robinson became Whitworth's 17th president in July 1993 and will be the second-longest serving president in the university's history when he steps down on June 30. During his tenure, the number of freshman applications to Whitworth has increased 565 percent to 6,397 for the coming fall; enrollment has grown 60 percent to 2,781 students while steadily improving student academic profile and selectivity; and retention and graduation rates have reached record highs well above national averages.

More than $83 million in campus improvements have been made, including a new center for the visual arts, a landmark general academic building, three new residence halls and several outdoor athletics facilities, along with the new biology/chemistry building. Financial support from alumni and friends has increased steadily, contributing to an increase of nearly $75 million in the university's endowment before the recent market downturn.

Known for his relational and approachable style, Robinson has devoted much of his energy to connecting in person and in writing with students, employees and friends of the university. His award-winning monthly newsletter, Of Mind & Heart, is read by more than 23,000 people inside and outside the Whitworth community and is one of his favorite ways to champion Whitworth's mission as well as its faculty and students.

"It is an immense honor for Bonnie and me to have a building bear our names, particularly one that is such an important reflection of Whitworth's commitment to academic excellence," Robinson says. "Knowing this facility will serve the students we love is deeply gratifying. We are very thankful to the board for recognizing us. But we know beyond any doubt that faculty, staff, donors, alumni and students have been the real heroes in Whitworth's success. Understanding our name symbolizes all of these contributions, we could not be more honored."

Whitworth broke ground in November on the new $32 million biology/chemistry building, which will be the first phase of a planned $53 million project to expand the university's science facilities.

Since 2000, Whitworth has seen a 50 percent increase in science majors, which now number more than 600 students and represent a quarter of the student body. Growth in enrollment, faculty-student research and competition for top students has created an urgent need for additional science space.

The 63,000-square-foot biology/chemistry building will house state-of-the-art laboratories, instrumentation and classrooms convertible to labs that will meet Whitworth's teaching and research needs for the next 20 years.

"I am excited about the new building because of the increased opportunities it offers for faculty-student interactions in both research and teaching laboratories," says Assistant Professor of Chemistry Kerry Breno. "Our students develop the problem-solving focus and lab skills to succeed in graduate school and industry by working with faculty in coaching/mentoring relationships; the relationships built with students in labs are strong. Therefore, I think it is entirely appropriate that the new biology/chemistry building is dedicated to Bill Robinson, who has served our campus so well by building relationships through personal interactions with all members of the community."

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,700 students, offers 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts:

Michael Le Roy, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty, Whitworth University, (509) 777-3702 or mleroy@whitworth.edu.

Scott McQuilkin, vice president for institutional advancement, Whitworth University, (509) 777-3423 or smcquilkin@whitworth.edu.

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

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Whitworth professor of East Asian history to present final Great Decisions lecture April 22


>> Listen to Podcast

Anthony Clark, an assistant professor of East Asian history at Whitworth University, will present "China's 'Great Unity': U.S.-China Relations on the New Global Horizon," on Thursday, April 22, at 7:30 p.m. in the Robinson Teaching Theatre in Weyerhaeuser Hall at Whitworth University. It will be the fifth and final lecture in the 53rd annual Great Decisions Lecture Series at Whitworth. The series features five speakers who focus on current political, cultural and economic subjects of interest to the international community. The public is invited to attend the lectures free of charge.

Clark's research centers on the history of Western conflict and accommodation in China, especially regarding Catholic missionary activities during the Ming through Qing (1368-1911) eras. He is the author of several academic and popular works, including books and articles on Chinese historiography, cultural interaction between China and the West, and his primary interest, the history of Sino-Western religious and cultural representation during China's late imperial to early modern era.

"Tony Clark is the perfect person for understanding China's relationship with the U.S., as he has a considerable depth of knowledge in Chinese and Western interactions throughout history," says Patrick Van Inwegen, assistant professor of political science at Whitworth.

Clark has worked at length with archival data from early European missions in China. He has also studied extensively in China, allowing him to make connections between historical interactions and modern-day China. In his first year at Whitworth, Clark has been the catalyst for a major academic conference on the role of Jesuit missions in China setting the pattern for future Chinese-Western religious dialogue.

Clark says his lecture will address how China's historical interactions with the West have shaped the country's current interactions with the U.S. Clark says that when the West first encountered China, Westerners saw the country as a poor and culturally backward place. Today, China has the fastest growing economy in the world and owns about half of America's debt. Three times more babies are born in China than in America, and China has three times more college students, he says.

"My lecture will center on how we can best understand China's present rise as a world superpower by understanding its historic relationship with the West," Clark says. "Nearly every major university scholar of China agrees that the future is China's. During my lecture I will seek to explain how we can better understand this imminent global shift, and how we can prepare for it."

For information on the upcoming lecture, please call (509) 777-3270. Great Decisions 2010 is sponsored by the Whitworth Political Science Department.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,700 students, offers 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts:

Barbara Brodrick, academic program assistant, political science department, Whitworth University, (509) 777-3270 or bbrodrick@whitworth.edu.

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Whitworth professor of theology releases groundbreaking new book about the gospels

James Edwards challenges long-held "Q hypothesis," asserts existence of a Hebrew gospel

Whitworth Professor of Theology James Edwards' new book, The Hebrew Gospel and the Development of the Synoptic Tradition (Eerdmans, 2009), challenges traditional views of the synoptic gospels that, until now, were generally assumed to be true. He swims against the current of scholarly opinion by proposing that there was a Hebrew Christian gospel, which served as the foundation for the gospels that followed.

"The single most important conclusion of my book is that an early Christian gospel, written in Hebrew, was widely known to the early church and was utilized by Luke in the composition of the Gospel of Luke," Edwards says. "The Gospel of Luke thus depends on two prior documents, the Hebrew Gospel and the Gospel of Mark, both known to us from antiquity."

He continues, "The Gospel of Luke does not rest upon a hypothetical 'Q' source, which is an invention of Enlightenment scholars of the 19th century that is maintained still today without viable evidence. The effect of this Hebrew gospel is to ground the entire gospel tradition in sources known to antiquity, not invented in order to undergird modern prejudices."

The "Q" source is traditionally regarded as approximately 220 mutual verses of Jesus' sayings found in Matthew and Luke but excluded from Mark, Edwards says. These verses include parables and other material, such as the Sermon on the Mount. The theory was first proposed by German philosopher and theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher in 1832, though it didn't receive the name "Q" for another 50 years. While the hypothesis is widely believed by laypeople and scholars alike, an intact copy of a "Q" gospel has never been discovered. In his research, Edwards found no concrete evidence of the Q hypothesis in primary Christian material.

Edwards sheds light on the fact that Matthew and Luke draw on the Gospel of Mark, not a hypothetical "Q" source, for a great deal of material. Matthew and Mark share 600 verses; Luke and Mark share 350. Literary criticism shows Mark to be the donor gospel. In addition to Mark, Edwards says an exceptionally strong case can be made to support the contention that Luke utilized material from the Hebrew Gospel as well.

Although scholars are unaware if a copy of the Hebrew Gospel has survived to modern times, Edwards cites 75 references to or quotations from the Hebrew Gospel that have survived in two dozen early Christian sources. The book goes on to provide further evidence in support of a widespread Hebrew gospel that was endowed with unusual authority and considered a primary source for the gospel of Luke.

Edwards' research was sparked by two incidents that occurred while he was teaching his undergraduate students at Jamestown College, in North Dakota, prior to coming to Whitworth.

"In teaching a standard New Testament course, I realized that although I had researched nearly every aspect of the course on my own, when I lectured on the Synoptic Problem (why we have four gospels instead of one; and how the four gospels are related to one another), I was simply repeating what I had been taught, rather than what I believed to be true from personal investigation," he says.

His second motivation came as a result of a 1986 study group he led in Israel, when he began to truly master the Hebrew language. This newfound understanding led him to realize that the Gospel of Luke is full of Hebraic echoes and backgrounds.

"Since this book advocates a new theory on the formation of the first three gospels, and since most scholars are conservative and don't want to end up looking foolish in the eyes of their colleagues, I anticipate that initial scholarly reviews will be cautious, waiting to see how other scholars line up, both pro and con," Edwards says.

Whitworth Professor of Theology Jerry Sittser says the serious questions about the Q hypothesis that Edwards' book raises will certainly make it controversial in scholarly circles, as many scholars have based their academic careers on the theory. He also believes Edwards' book will become a launching point for many new research projects in ancient Christianity and biblical studies.

Markus Bockmuehl, a professor of biblical and early Christian studies at the University of Oxford who reviewed the book, wrote:

"This landmark study, a decade in the making, advances a bold and fresh interpretation of gospel origins that seems sure to generate interest, debate and controversy for some time to come. This is an important and exciting work that offers students an excellent introduction to early Christian views of the gospel tradition – and it gives synoptic scholars much to chew on."

In addition, Edwards says two bloggers have written long, comprehensive reviews of his book that have been quite positive.

"They aren't saying that my theory is correct, necessarily, but they do admit that it is built on a preponderance of evidence and they say that it's an argument that the New Testament guild can't neglect."

In researching his book, Edwards says he has learned more than he could have possibly imagined. Along with having to read six languages other than English, he examined the gospels' oldest foundations. He also became intimately acquainted with German theology in the post-Enlightenment world, which he says has exerted tremendous influence on the formation of today's Western theology.

"I have been pressed to examine and confess what I personally believe about this subject rather than simply accept what other scholars say about it," he says. "I have been forced to do what I also beg and plead for my students to do: to follow the evidence where it leads, and trust that all truth is God's truth."

Edwards, a 1967 Whitworth graduate and ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA), holds a Ph.D. from Fuller Theological Seminary and an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary. He has also studied theology at the University of Zürich, in Switzerland, at the University of Tübingen, in Germany, and at Tyndale House, in Cambridge, England. Edwards joined Whitworth's faculty in 1997 after serving nearly 20 years as a professor at Jamestown College in Jamestown, N.D.

A contributing editor to Christianity Today magazine, Edwards has published numerous articles and books for scholarly and popular audiences. He is the author of Is Jesus the Only Savior? (Eerdmans, 2005), named the top book of the year on apologetics and evangelism by Christianity Today, and The Divine Intruder (NavPress, 2000). Other publications include a commentary on Hebrews in The Renovare Study Bible (HarperSanFrancisco, 2005); a commentary on Romans in New Interpreter's Study Bible (Abingdon, 2003); and a commentary on The Gospel of Mark, PNTC (Pillar New Testament Commentary) (Eerdmans, 2002). He is currently writing a full commentary on the Gospel of Luke as a means to elaborate, verse by verse, the global theory he developed in The Hebrew Gospel and the Development of the Synoptic Tradition.

The Hebrew Gospel and the Development of the Synoptic Tradition can be purchased for $36 in hardback through the Whitworth Bookstore (509-777-3277). It is also available at http://www.amazon.com/.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,700 students, offers 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts:

James R. Edwards, Bruner-Welch Endowed Professor of Theology, Whitworth University, (509) 777-3274 or jedwards@whitworth.edu.
Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Whitworth sociology professor to deliver keynote speech April 9 at international research conference

Raja S. Tanas, a Whitworth professor and department chair of sociology, has been invited to give the plenary address at the third annual International Conference on Interdisciplinary Research, to be held in Klaipeda, Lithuania.

The April 9 conference, "Responses to Cultural Homogeny: Engagement, Resistance, or Passivity," will take place at Klaipeda's LCC International University, formerly the Lithuania Christian Fund College. Tanas says participating faculty will hail from the U.S., Canada, Lithuania, Albania, Switzerland and various African countries. Students in attendance will be from all over the world, he says, including a handful from the Middle East.

During his lecture, "Responses to Cultural Homogeny: The Case of Palestine," Tanas will discuss defining moments in the history of the Middle East region, anti-Semitism in Europe, the British mandate in Palestine, and the June 1967 war between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

More specifically, Tanas will address how the outcome of the 1993 Oslo Accords, which resulted in a plan for a two-state solution, now appears to be obsolete. Rather, he argues that the obvious outcome for the present is one bi-national state, which would serve as shared homeland for Arab Palestinians and Jewish Israelis.

"This bi-national state will be a place where no one group of a particular religion, ethnicity, or national origin dominates the political organization and administration of governance," Tanas says. "Knitting the two flags of Palestine and Israel together would give rise to a third flag of a country that may be called Pal-Is or any other name."

Tanas will conclude his lecture by urging the European Union, the U.S., the U.N. and Russia to work tirelessly to bring the Palestinians and the Israelis together to work, to live, to discover, to enjoy, and to benefit from the richness of their diversity within unity.

"When we address the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, our orientation ought not to be pro-Palestinian or Pro-Israeli, but pro-justice, for God calls us to do so in Micah 6:8," Tanas says.

The verse reads: "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" (NIV).

Joining the Whitworth faculty in 1983, Tanas has carried out extensive research in the area of Middle Eastern and Islamic studies. The graduating senior class of 2010 voted him as the most influential male professor for the 2009-10 academic year. Since 2007, he has served as chair of the Whitworth sociology department. He was listed in the 1998 and 2000 editions of "Who's Who Among America's Teachers," and in 1989 he received the Burlington Northern Faculty Achievement Award. He is currently serving a five-year appointment with the Idaho Humanities Council Speakers Bureau on Middle Eastern affairs.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,700 students, offers 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts:

Raja S. Tanas, professor and department chair of sociology, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4516 or rtanas@whitworth.edu.

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.

Renowned Spokane author Jess Walter to present endowed reading April 23 at Whitworth in honor of late professor Nadine Chapman

Bestselling Spokane author Jess Walter will be Whitworth's endowed reader for the 2nd annual Nadine Chapman Endowed Reading, named in honor of the late associate professor of English at Whitworth. Walter will read from his works on Friday, April 23, at 7 p.m. in the Robinson Teaching Theatre in Weyerhaeuser Hall at Whitworth University. A book sale and reception will follow the reading. Admission is free. For more information, please call (509) 777-3253.

Whitworth invites local authors to campus each year to read their poetry, prose or creative nonfiction in memory of Chapman, who died in July 2008 after a four-year battle with ovarian cancer.

Walter is a poet and writer from the Pacific Northwest who wrote The Zero (Harper, 2006), a satire on post-9/11 profiteering that became a finalist for the National Book Award. He also is the author of Citizen Vince (Harper, 2005), which explored the emotional importance of voting and won the Edgar Award for Best Novel. Other works include Land of the Blind (Harper, 2003) and Over Tumbled Graves (Harper, 2001), which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. In addition, he wrote the nonfiction book Ruby Ridge (Harper, 1996), which was a finalist for the PEN USA literary nonfiction award in 1996.

Walter's latest book, The Financial Lives of the Poets (Harper, 2010), is a novel set in the present day that looks at the nation's bleak financial landscape through the eyes of Matthew Prior, a small-time business reporter. Prior quits his journalism job to start a website featuring poetry about finance. The venture fails, and Prior returns to the newspaper business, only to be laid off. He finds himself jobless, deeply in debt, and about to lose his home. He is then approached with an illegal moneymaking opportunity, and he jumps at the chance.

The Washington Post calls the book "A noir page-turner with powerful social commentary…full of dead-on insights into our culture." USA Today hails it as "a satire/tragedy that Franz Kafka and Kurt Vonnegut Jr. might appreciate." And The Seattle Times says it is "exquisitely written…by turns heartbreaking and deadpan funny."

Walter also writes screenplays and is the co-author of Christopher Darden's 1996 bestseller In Contempt. His essays, short fiction, criticism and journalism have been published in Details, Playboy, Newsweek, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe, among other periodicals.

The Nadine Chapman Memorial Fund was established to honor, through the annual endowed reading, Chapman's profound contributions to the Whitworth community. In her 12 years at Whitworth, Chapman inspired hundreds of students through her devoted teaching, her sensitivity, and her deep friendships. Many of her students have gone on to graduate programs in literature and creative writing and have become professional writers. Her students recall her gracefulness and her dedication to the craft of writing, and the university hopes that the endowed reading will inspire those who may not have known her to discover and share the joy she found in creative writing.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,700 students, offers 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts:

Doug Sugano, professor of English, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4212 or dsugano@whitworth.edu.

Annie Stillar, program assistant, English department, Whitworth University, (509) 777-3253 or astillar@whitworth.edu.

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Whitworth to host Africa Symposium for Spokane community April 24

Conference aims to help Spokane churches, nonprofits work more effectively in Africa



For the first time, Whitworth University's Africa Initiative will host a one-day conference on effective missions to Africa for the Spokane community on Saturday, April 24, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Spokane-area churches, nonprofits and individuals are invited to join a panel of distinguished speakers, professors and mission agencies in considering strategies for mission engagement and evaluating implications of mission work in Africa. For more information and to register, visit www.whitworth.edu/africasymposium, call (509) 777-3449, or send an e-mail to nkessler@whitworth.edu.

During the conference, seminars will be held in the Seeley-Mudd Chapel and Weyerhaeuser Hall at Whitworth. A light breakfast and lunch will be provided. Cost is $10 per person for early registration (on or before April 16) and $15 per person for late registration (April 17-21). Students will be admitted free, but they must register.

More than 100 organizations in Spokane are currently involved in missions, development work, relief aid and other efforts in Africa. Some of their main areas of concern include AIDS, education, the environment, evangelism, and indigenous leadership. The symposium will cover those topics and will address questions such as how to think strategically about making a difference in Africa, how to supply the resources and other aid that Africa really needs, and how to direct efforts that will make a lasting difference on the continent rather than simply build its dependence on the West.

"Too often, when we think of Africa, all that comes to mind is a continent in need of our help; and out of a variety of motives, Westerners are eager to respond," says John Yoder, a professor of political science at Whitworth. "During this symposium, we want to think about outreach efforts in Africa – how we can be most effective, how we can best respond to the deepest needs of Africa, and how we can work with Africans as empowered and equal partners."

During the conference, a devotional will be given by Gideon Maghina, a Lutheran bishop from Tanzania who is currently working with Radio Ministry Moshi, helping Radio Voice of the Gospel to communicate the gospel to the people of that country (update: Maghina will be unable to attend the symposium due to the cancellation of his flight from London as a result of the ash from the Icelandic volcano eruption). Larry Probus, senior vice president and C.F.O. of World Vision, will conduct a plenary session on management accountability and will share how navigating the balance between accountability and stewardship has helped spur the growth of World Vision's ministry worldwide. The conference also will feature a seminar on community transformation and microfinance by Mike Stemm, co-founder of New Covenant Foundation, a thriving nonprofit in Ethiopia; a seminar on AIDS and orphans by Dr. Mike Nash and Robin Nash, a Spokane couple who are missionaries to South Africa; a seminar on short-term missions by Bob Savage, director of Global Learning Exchange at Spokane-based Partners International; and a seminar on dependency and cross-cultural communications by Whitworth Assistant Professor of Theology Moses Pulei and Kent McDonald, a theology lecturer at Whitworth and a regional trainer for Young Life.

"So many organizations in Spokane are involved in Africa, and more than 5,000 African refugees have come to this region, so we wanted to find a way in which Whitworth can serve the community by bringing them together to talk about how they can engage more effectively both with Africans in Africa and with those who are here," says Pulei, who is a member of the Maasai tribe of East Africa. "And while we want to educate people about the ways they can help Africa, we also want them to see what Africa has to offer us. Africans have a deep sense of community and a strong commitment to sustainable living, and they have much to teach us in these areas."

Whitworth's Africa Initiative, which was established in 2005, is designed to educate Americans about Africa and to offer Whitworth's resources to Africa. The initiative brings African educational, development and religious leaders to Whitworth so that students, faculty and people in the Spokane region can gain first-hand knowledge of African perspectives. In addition, the program aims to help equip Whitworth students to become global Christians through cross-cultural visits, pastoral training, internships and other exchanges that involve travel, study and intense dialogue.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,700 students, offers 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts:

Moses Pulei, assistant professor of theology, Whitworth University, (509) 777-3385 or mpulei97@whitworth.edu.

John Yoder, professor of political science, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4432 or johnyoder@whitworth.edu.

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Nanotechnology expert to speak at annual Science & Society Series April 15 at Whitworth

The 2010 Science & Society Lecture Series at Whitworth University will feature Mehmet Sarikaya, director of the Genetically Engineered Materials Science and Engineering Center at the University of Washington. Sarikaya will present a lecture, "Science at the Nano-Scale: Nanotechnology and its Implications for Engineering and Medicine," on Thursday, April 15, at 7:30 p.m. in the Robinson Teaching Theatre in Weyerhaeuser Hall at Whitworth. Admission is free. For more information, please call (509) 777-4263.

Nanoscience is the study of materials at the nanometer scale – one billionth of a meter – to understand the phenomena of how the size of inorganic materials and their surfaces produces new and interesting functions. Implementation of these functions in engineering is called nanotechnology and medicine. Sarikaya is a professor of materials science & engineering and chemical engineering at the University of Washington. His research revolves around molecular biomimetics, an emerging field in which hybrid technologies are developed using the tools of molecular biology and nanotechnology. Proteins, through their unique and specific interactions with other macromolecules and nanoinorganics, control structures and functions of all biological hard and soft tissues in organisms.

"During my Whitworth lecture, I hope to explain fundamentals of nanotechnology and its potential practical impact in many aspects of our lives," Sarikaya says. "I also plan to address the current trends and problems associated with the safe progress of nanotechnology and the work at our research center that brings together the traditional nanotechnology and molecular biology toward more versatile and robust implementations, both in engineering systems and in medicine."

Sarikaya and his team have discovered that through engineering proteins, they can construct materials molecularly the way nature does. Joining nanomaterials with biomolecules is difficult, because most materials, such as metals and ceramics, aren't compatible with biology, Sarikaya says. Instead of using the traditional molecular linkers, which are toxic, difficult to prepare and not durable, Sarikaya's research center is working on engineering peptides that act as glue, joining nanomaterials that have desirable engineering properties with biology, where biomacromolecules are the building blocks, similar to DNA, proteins and sugars. Genetically engineered proteins can now bind to specific molecules, and these proteins can be used in the assembly of functional nanostructures to make medicine more efficient and to build stronger materials. Plus, the products of this technology are all non-toxic and biodegradable.

Sarikaya says that nanotechnology is already advancing science in a multitude of ways. For example, there are already biosensors with more sensitivity than their older counterparts, thanks to nanophotonic effects; nanomagnetic devices are able to store more data than before; nanonelectronics have miniature multifunctional devices; and molecular materials are able to withstand more and complex mechanical forces toward novel applications, such as nanotubes-based nanocomposites used in the new Boeing 787. He says advances in nanotechnology also will inevitably affect several other technological revolutions, such as in energy, information technologies, biotechnology and medicine. Some of these advancements include compact, highly efficient energy devices; highly sensitive bio- and chemical sensors; molecular- and nano-probes for multifunctional cancer detection; and nano- and molecular-composite materials for structural applications.

During his lecture, Sarikaya also will address the risks associated with nanotechnology products and procedures. For example, although they are commonly used in cosmetics, the real effects of nanoparticles such as titanium oxide and zinc oxide in skin products such as creams are not well known, he says. In addition, although they are effectively used in pharmacology, drug-carrying nanoparticles such as gold, silica, magnetite and other materials that are dispersed in the body and the environment are not yet fully tested. Sarikaya says scientists and engineers are working with experts in fields that might be affected by nanotechnology, such as toxicologists and environmentalists, to examine carefully the potential effects of nanotechnology and to devise ways to implement precautionary procedures.

Sarikaya received his Ph.D. and master's degree from the University of California, Berkeley; he earned his bachelor's degree at Middle East Technical University, in Ankara, Turkey.

The Science & Society Lecture Series was created by Whitworth trustees, faculty and administrators to increase understanding and awareness of scientific advances and issues that influence areas including public policy, law, ethics and business. The annual series features experts who address current scientific issues that are of interest to the general public.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college, which has an enrollment of 2,700 students, offers more than 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts:

Julie Shanholtzer, Speakers and Artists Series and psychology department program assistant, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4263 or jshanholtzer@whitworth.edu.

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.