Prior to the November election, The Chronicle of Higher Education invited nine college leaders, including President Lee Pelton, to submit a letter to the next U.S. president. In the published article, Pelton wrote that accessibility and affordability are critical issues. Increases in college applications will come largely from members of underrepresented groups, necessitating greater flexibility in institutional mission and assessment practices, and more investment in higher education, beginning with community colleges. In our knowledge economy, Pelton wrote, it’s important to ensure that students from lower income backgrounds are not priced out of a college education.
“Sweep the ideologues out of the Department of Education,” Pelton wrote. A cookie cutter approach to all of higher education fails to recognize the significant differences that exist in sectors — such as liberal arts, big land-grant public universities and community colleges. This approach does not sustain educational excellence and has created a huge regulatory system that is redundant and not useful to measure. “Let us do our job and stop treating higher education as if it were some kind of regulated utility company,” he wrote. “Higher education is more than a commodity; it is a social good.”
Pelton also advocated incentives for public schools and colleges to work together in a more coordinated and seamless manner. An overarching goal, he wrote, must be to fix the healthcare system, so more dollars can flow toward educating U.S. citizens.
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The Atkinson Graduate School of Management’s MBA for Professionals and Executive Development Center (EDC) celebrated three years at the Pearl District location. The event, “Business Savvy and the Creative Economy,” celebrated the Atkinson School’s commitment to innovative thinking and cross-functional learning, and featured a performance by the BodyVox dance ensemble.
The event attracted more than 100 people, including students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends from the business and arts communities. BodyVox, a fellow Pearl District resident and nationally renowned dance company, performed a number of vignettes in the center of the classroom space.
Since the MBA for Professionals program launched in 2005, more than 150 students have enrolled in the program, which expanded to include Salem cohorts in 2006. The Portland Center is now busy four nights per week with MBA students and often welcomes EDC programs during the day and on weekends.
Scottish bagpipes played and the Mill Stream was aglow with floating candles as 542 new undergraduate students celebrated the beginning of their Willamette experience in August. The new class, which includes 51 transfer students, comes from 25 states and 12 countries, and 57 percent are women. Twelve percent are the first in their families to attend college, and 15 percent are multicultural or international students. They represent Willamette well. Their median high school GPA was 3.77, with a median SAT score of 1850.
International students make up 39 percent of Atkinson’s Early Career MBA Class. They come from Bangladesh, India, China, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Peru, Japan and elsewhere. The 76 new students have the highest GMAT scores of any incoming class in the business school’s history. The MBA for Professionals Program has approximately 40 new students — half in Portland and half in Salem.
More than half of the new law class comes from outside Oregon. A diverse group, the 161 JD candidates speak 14 languages and represent 42 undergraduate majors.
The School of Education has 91 new students, with 71 attending full time.
Seattle Metropolitan magazine gave Willamette the fifth spot in its college rankings — behind Whitman College, the University of Portland, Reed College and Gonzaga University. “Willamette is the oldest university in the Northwest, but that doesn’t mean it’s old school,” the magazine said. Classes are rigorous without being competitive, the roster includes impressive alumni and the school has outdoorsy charm. An article about Kaneko Commons asks, “When did dorm life become the high life?” The hall is “not only the poshest spot for Willamette University students to call home (on an already posh campus), it’s also the most eco-friendly... The place is so sought after, about 40 students camped out for days just to register for a spot.” The article praised the “commons” concept, chic furnishings, Japanese-themed cafe, green construction and wireless technology.
Willamette was also featured in an article about “slacklining,” the student fad of walking a tightrope hung between two trees.
Paul Krugman, who won the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, will deliver the spring Atkinson Lecture Jan. 30.
Krugman is a professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton University and a columnist for The New York Times. He received the Nobel Prize for his analysis of trade patterns and location of economic activity. He is wellknown in academia for his work in international economics, including trade theory, economic geography and international finance.
The Oregon Writing Project (OWP) was recognized for its partnership with the McMinnville School District at the All-District Welcome Assembly in August. This collaborative professional teacher development program includes a yearlong institute in which teachers write together as a community, share best practices in the teaching of writing and use of writing to learn, and study strategies for improving student writing.
This is the third year the OWP at Willamette has been supported by McMinnville School District Superintendent Maryalice Russell and Director of School Improvement Mike Loretz. The institute is funded collaboratively by the National Writing Project, Willamette University and the McMinnville School District.
This summer Willamette University College of Law graduates surpassed their peers in Oregon State Bar examination passage for the sixth consecutive year.
Among Willamette’s first-time takers, 89.2 percent passed the July 2008 examination. The state passage rate for all first-time takers was 81.4 percent. Willamette’s 2008 passage rate for first-time takers was the highest since 1995 (90.7 percent) and almost three points higher than last year (86.4 percent).
This year’s overall passage rate for Willamette’s first-timer takers and repeaters was 83.1 percent — the school’s highest overall passage rate since 1995 (88.6 percent).
Although Willamette’s average passage rate for the first five years of the decade was below the state average (70.3 percent vs. 75.4 percent), the school’s average passage rate increased to 83.8 percent in the last five-year period (see chart). Willamette’s passage rate increased by 13.5 percentage points during the fiveyear period, while the state average rose by less than three points.
As the country prepared to choose a new president this fall, Willamette students and faculty didn’t hesitate to join in and discuss the action.
Students, both Republican and Democrat, brought local candidates to campus, canvassed, served as campaign interns and worked phone banks. Mathematics Assistant Professor Peter Otto led an interdisciplinary class, “Elections 2008,” to explore multiple facets of the election. His students heard from computer scientists about electronic voting machines, from a historian about election systems in other countries, and from business professors about campaign finance, among other topics.
Several prominent campus visitors put the election into perspective. The Center for Religion, Law and Democracy hosted Washington Post syndicated columnist E.J. Dionne in September to discuss the relationship of religion and politics in the election. In October the center brought Professor Dwight Hopkins of the University of Chicago Divinity School to campus to address black liberation theology and the impact of race and religion in the election.
Alice Rivlin, founding director of the Congressional Budget Office and a former U.S. Cabinet official, also visited in October to discuss economic challenges facing the new president. Her lecture was sponsored by Peter and Bonnie Kremer, both Class of 1962, who established an endowed chair in economics at Willamette in 2004.
Sustainability, organizational effectiveness and leadership are the topics slated for discussion in 2009 through Willamette’s Executive Development Center (EDC) at the Atkinson Graduate School of Management. Anne Murray Allen, appointed director of the EDC in 2008, brings experience in line management, process development, organizational effectiveness and knowledge and information management.
As part of the EDC portfolio, the Atkinson School will offer the Certificate in Public Management to a ninth cohort. This popular program has attracted hundreds of public managers in a format accommodating working professionals.
“We’re delighted to continue offering our popular EDC programs, especially as we continually refine the curriculum to meet the needs of managers across industries, sectors and functions,” Allen says. “It is also exciting to expand our portfolio with new programs.”
One such program is the Certificate in Sustainable Enterprise, geared toward sustainability practices and value creation in the environmental, financial and social realms. The EDC is also partnering with the Oregon Bankers Association on an Executive Leadership in Banking program to be launched in March, and planning is underway for a Certificate in Organizational Performance.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined President Lee Pelton and College of Law Dean Symeon Symeonides in cutting the ribbon at the dedication of the new Oregon Civic Justice Center in September. That evening Ginsburg was awarded an honorary degree prior to delivering the fall Atkinson Lecture.
The Oregon Civic Justice Center is located in the recently renovated Carnegie Building, at the corner of State and Winter streets, which once was Salem’s first public library. The center houses the Clinical Law Program; the Center for Law and Government; the Center for Religion, Law and Democracy; the Center for Dispute Resolution; the Willamette Law Review; and the Oregon Law Commission.
In the nation’s largest survey to date, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) recognized Willamette University as first in the nation for engagement in sustainability activities. NWF’s Campus Environment 2008: A National Report Card on Sustainability in Higher Education surveyed 1,068 participating colleges and universities to create its rankings.
According to NWF, “Willamette is committed to energy efficiency and conservation, greener transportation, environmentally friendly landscaping practices, as well as to orienting personnel and faculty to the sustainability goals of the campus.”
“I am perhaps proudest that Willamette’s sustainability achievements were largely student-initiated,” says President M. Lee Pelton. “These are students whose passion, leadership and creativity transformed our campus culture. They inspire and motivate others on this campus and beyond.”
David Orr, author of Earth in Mind, Ecological Literacy, The Last Refuge, and Design on the Edge, called the NWF report card “the gold standard for charting the sustainability movement in higher education.” The NWF created the report card in partnership with Princeton Survey Research Associates International.
Each year the Sustainability Council awards mini-grants to fund innovative ideas across campus. This year the Travel Office will create a fund to offset carbon emissions for University-related air travel. Professors will incorporate sustainability applications into calculus classes, teach solar energy workshops for middle school girls and document Zena Forest in photographs. Students will host a “Call to Action” workshop in Portland, start a composting program for food services in Putnam University Center, design a hot water switch for faucets that will conserve energy, establish additional bike parking at the business and law buildings, create a “Street Fleet” long-term bike rental program, attend a smartgrowth conference and share the findings with Willamette and the community, and create more sustainable infrastructure for the annual Wulapalooza celebration.
“ People at Willamette take their motto and mission seriously and genuinely try to walk the talk,” says Judy Walton, executive director of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, in remarks last year. “I’ve rarely seen so much honest engagement and reflection on the issue of sustainability. It’s a sincere commitment, not just lip service. The university takes time to make sure its efforts are deep and thoughtful.”
A 2009 report card from the Sustainable Endowments Institute gave Willamette University an “A” for its sustainability efforts in food and recycling, green building and investment priorities. Willamette’s overall score of a “B” was higher than any other small liberal arts college in the Pacific Northwest. The College Sustainability Report Card evaluates sustainability initiatives from the 300 colleges with the largest endowments in the U.S. and Canada.
To learn more about sustainability at Willamette, visit willamette.edu/ about/sustainability/
Willamette’s physical footprint has just increased — by 305 acres. The University purchased land at Zena Forest to establish a research station where faculty and students can conduct field experiments and outdoor labs.
The forest, located 15 miles west of Salem, is the largest contiguous block of forestland in the Eola Hills and one of the last remnants of undeveloped land in this part of the valley. Willamette’s parcel has been managed for wildlife habitat and conservation values under its former owner, the Trust for Public Lands, and lies adjacent to a 1,156-acre parcel managed for sustainable forestry and conservation. It features upland prairie and oak savannah, Douglas fir and ponderosa forest, ash groves, wetlands and riparian areas, and several streams.
“Willamette University Forest at Zena provides opportunities to advance Willamette’s core educational purposes by enhancing our teaching, research and practical commitment to sustainability,” says Joe Bowersox, director of the Center for Sustainable Communities. Onsite classes and research will allow students a closer look at astronomy, plant ecology, wildlife, hydrology, ecological restoration, sustainable forestry and agriculture, climate change, geology and GIS mapping.
The property also provides opportunities for service learning about restoration ecology, and students have begun to invest sweat equity by removing non-native, invasive plants. One student volunteer said, “This place already feels like home.” Seventeen miles of trails are available for Bearcat cross-country teams. A 2,000-square-foot building on the property, with an easement allowing Willamette to increase its size to 5,500 square feet, could eventually be converted to a state-of-the-art conference and retreat center. The land will continue to be managed for conservation values and sustainable forestry.
“Zena is an amazing, inspiring place,” says President Pelton. “Future generations of Willamette students will probably become artists, foresters, archaeologists and writers because of their experiences at Zena. Local school kids will get to enjoy classes amidst restored prairie and oak savannah. It’s truly an investment in Willamette’s future as well as that of our region.”
The 2008 BetterBricks Awards, which celebrate champions in the Northwest for green building, honored two Willamette administrators. Gary Grimm, manager of maintenance and operations, and Jan Gardner, project manager, were award finalists for their efforts to reduce Willamette’s energy consumption and for recycling materials in renovation and construction projects for five campus buildings.
“Jan and Gary have been sincere and gifted advocates for high-performance buildings on campus,” according to BetterBricks. “Since 2004, they have promoted sustainable design not only for economic and environmental benefits, but as a learning opportunity for Willamette University’s students.”
Under Grimm and Gardner’s leadership, Willamette’s average electrical energy consumption for buildings larger than 5,000 square feet is 10.75 kWh per square foot a year, significantly below the national average of 19.6 kWh per square foot a year. The two also helped the University reuse more than 95 percent of the materials resulting from the demolition of existing buildings and salvaged about 75 percent for facilities remodeling projects.