Willamette University, Students at the Mill Stream

WU News

DeniseDirector's Corner

Every time an academic year comes to a close, there is a sense of emptiness and a little bewilderment on campus. What do we do? Where do we go? There’s no one around.  

It’s reminiscent of walking in to the gym the morning after prom. Bits of glitter and streamers litter the floor. Forgotten corsages and spilled punch on the bleachers. Silence.  A lot of silence. After all the energy and excitement leading up to commencement, that’s kind of how it feels around here for the first week or so.

This year I’m feeling it a little more than usual because there are also several faculty and staff members moving on. These are people instrumental to our student lives: Jim Hanson, Bob Hawkinson, Gordie James and my advisor as an English major, Carol Long, among others. They all have had an impact in shaping this place.  

My first thought was, “How will we continue without these icons?!”  Then I realized that every student, from 1842 to 2009, has felt that way about someone at Willamette. There are alumni before me who feel that their faculty made this place, yet these are names I didn’t know as a student. And as we welcome a new batch of faculty this fall, I realize they will be the mentors, teachers and advisors who are the foundation for the next generation of graduates. It’s a nice tradition to have.

So during these quiet days, I say thank you to those faculty and staff who put the life into Willamette for all of us who come through her doors. I hope you’ll take a minute to reflect on who that was for you.


Denise Callahan '95, MBA'00
Senior Director of Alumni Relations