The further I move away from my membership on Whitworth's Core 150 team, the more I miss students. Over the years, as my office moved further and further away from The Loop – both literally and figuratively – I could still rely on knowing 60 or so students in each incoming class. I still know when "my" freshmen graduate, when they marry, when they become parents. That will continue for a couple more years, until the graduation of the Class of 2016, but in the meantime I miss getting to know those new Whitworthians every year. One of my favorite mornings each fall semester was the Wednesday when class began: Just looking at those 240 students in Weyerhaeuser Hall's Robinson Teaching Theatre – most of them first-week frosh, most feeling pretty pumped, some on the ragged edge of terror – always made me feel the excitement of learning, the fear of not being able to keep up, the temptation to sleep in or stay up much too late as an important exam looms.
I realize how lucky I am to be at a place I love with people I love and appreciate, doing work that suits me to a "T." But not knowing students when you work at a university is like being an administrator at Butchart Gardens and never getting out among the flowers. Something essential is missing. First-world problem, right?
Well, yes. But the dilemma that faces each of us as we move further into our lives is how to stay connected to what's important about our past. Whitworth alums certainly hear from their alma mater regularly, and I'm sure that those of you who actually read every message from the halls of ivy – or maybe that should be "from the paths of pine cones" – have some sense of the fact that this remains a place that's worthy of your affection and your interest. Whitworth continues to grow and flourish, the campus becomes more beautiful with every passing year, and students are interested in disciplines of which you may never have dreamed. But they still play Ultimate in The Loop, they still vow on Day One to catch a virgin pine cone, they still stay up too late and sometimes sleep through their alarms, and – these are the important things – they still have great, great professors who know what it is to nurture a student's intellect and interests; they still make friendships that will last a lifetime and develop interests that they'll pursue long after they've graduated; they still know the thrill of being involved in Whitworth Athletics, whether as participants or as spectators, and in helping or seeing their teams win consistently; they still look forward to that sunny day in May when they'll walk across the stage at the Spokane Arena and receive that long-sought degree from a beaming president.
Those are the things we want you to remember, and reminding you is a substantial part of our goal at Whitworth Today. I hope you find that we've fulfilled that goal in this issue.
Lew Archer supervised my Senior Project class at Whitworth in the spring of 1990 (even though he'd technically retired in 1989). At Whitworth the Senior Project was akin to a thesis – that final cumulative work that sends you off in to the world.
I remember damn little of the actual class except that the sun streamed in on afternoons and it was remarkably peaceful. I do, however, remember the hours and hours of hard work I put into that paper, "Jane Austen and the Father-Daughter Relationship." I lost about 10 pounds between the time I finished and when I was supposed to present it. Of all the writing I've done in my life, that is what I am most proud of.
It's one thing to be proud of your work. It's another to have a professor who is, well, let's just say legendary, praise you as well. I've carried his words with me for over 20 years now.
Lew Archer's obituary listed his career, how he met his wife, his volunteer work and the like. That's the usual stuff of obits – I guess all it's meant to be is a quick capsule of who a person is. What we do is just that: it's what we do, not who we are. Who we are is evident in our actions and words to others, in how we inspire, comfort and sustain. I'll consider myself lucky if at the end of my life even one person will remember me the way I remember Lew Archer, as someone who gave me faith in my own abilities.
Molly (Barham) Lewis, '90
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