Willamette University

Tidbits & Briefs

Red light! Green light!

Red light! Green light!

WU went for the (Guinness) record books the week fall classes began. President Thorsett called the shots as more than 1,000 students, staff and alumni dashed and froze their way across the Quad. Hilarity and school spirit resulted.

At press time, we are awaiting official confirmation of the record from Guinness. More images and a video of the event can be seen online.

50 years ago...


“Some were so visibly shaken by the news flashes that a student, yet unaware of the events of the previous minutes, on entering the Cat Cavern at 11 a.m., saw terribly frightened expressions and people whispering in hushed voices, and immediately concluded that the bomb had been dropped.” 

— The Collegian Dec. 6, 1963

The “bomb,” of course, was John F. Kennedy’s assassination, which took place 50 years ago this November. Cal McConnel, Willamette’s chaplain at the time, observed appropriately that the event “sent the nation to its knees.”

Within the first week, The Collegian had received a carefully crafted letter from Gary Mansavage ’63, who was in Washington, D.C. for those first haze-filled days after the event. He had taken photos of JFK and “John-John” just two weeks earlier at Arlington National Cemetery during Veteran’s Day.

WU Grad Writes From DC

Dear Editor:

The sound is that of muffled drums, ringing hoofbeats, and a rumbling caisson. A veer strange yet awesome noise leaving one empty inside and at the same time searching for a means of expressing sorrow to fellow man. Such was the experience I encountered this day while mingling amount the crowd viewing a solemn procession–a procession ultimately escorting a man to his final resting place.

Exactly two weeks earlier, I has witnessed this individual proudly smile from his place on a podium in the direction of his young son who sat in a front corner of the amphitheater. The date was Veteran's Day and the place was Arlington Cemetery. I was one of those persons who hastened to the front of that famous open-air structure before formalities started in order to take a picture of the eminent figure on the platform. In so doing, I contemplated that these prints would be a source of even greater personal sentiment in future years.

Yes, he was a father as well as a leader. But where, I asked myself, did the unquestionable magnetic force of his personality lie? In order to answer this question today, one must confront those dignitaries who journeyed so far to pay their respects, or one must endeavor to search the souls of those people seen weeping on the streets of the capital city.

Perhaps the answer might lie within the men, women, and children who lined the blocks of this metropolis in the waning hours of the 24th and early hours of the 25th awaiting an opportunity to view the worldly remains of a man as physically represented by a flag draped casket. After talking with friends who had waited 71/2 hours to enter the Capitol Rotunda, it was agreed that we were actually taking part in the outcome of a momentous crisis, but one, by the grace of God, that should never befall us again. Although this is the eve of a new day, may we be ever mindful of what has happened and its implications on every citizen.

I hope my words do not appear to be written in an idealistic vein, nor is there any intent of expression political partisanship. The impressions above have been formed while watching a city and its reaction to a tragedy – a tragedy even more meaningful to the people within its municipal boundaries because of a fellow inhabitant who represented, in theory, all Americans. Though in past times the populous of our federal core of government has been tainted by rough and self-centered characteristics, it stood united this day in final tribute to not just a man, but a President.

Gary Mansavage.

AGSM's Lifelong Learners

The architects of the MBA program

The architects of the Willamette MBA program have provided two  interesting ways for alumni to keep their skills up-to-date. Charge the laptop.

MBA for Life: Real Courses, Real Grades

Over the summer, AGSM unveiled MBA for Life, a program that allows graduated students to re-enroll — free of tuition, though limited fees for books, etc., might apply — in full AGSM courses at either the Salem or Portland locations.

The idea is to enable working professionals to “update, refresh and recharge” their MBAs, as needed, for the rest of their lives.

The program requires alumni to commit to all the rules of regular students. Enrollees are expected to complete all coursework for grading (no casual auditing here), and grades are incorporated into students’ existing GPAs.

Let’s hear it for incentives.

Alumni Book Club: No, Not Harry Potter

AGSM alumni remain eligible to join a popular alumni-only book club, launched in 2012, focusing on key industry works. Designed as a series of virtual sessions led by notable management authors, the book club asks readers to vote on reading options for the year (two in fall, two in spring) and join online discussions and conference calls with the author(s) at a later date.

Past books have included Lisa Bodell’s “Kill the Company,” which urges managers to rid their organizations of entrenched behaviors and processes before getting too excited about innovating; and Robert Pozen’s “Extreme Productivity,” which, as its title suggests, promises new organizational skills and tips for forming the right kinds of habits.

Be productive and learn more at willamette.edu/mba.

Our Quirky History

Think you know this place? Give this quiz a try. If you’re like us, at least one of these will stump you.

  1. Who introduced WU’s bearcat mascot during a pep talk, saying: “A cornered cat will fight savagely and the bear is a symbol of strength; put the two together and you have a ferocious animal, the ‘Bearcat.’”
  2. Gatke Hall, formerly the Salem post office building, cost the university $750 in 1937 ($12,000 today). But how much did it cost to move the building to its current position on State Street?
  3. What book was banned from the library, presumably for obscenity, by Henry Kohler, professor of English, in 1939?
  4. The flag of what country was raised over Waller Hall in 1960 after two swastikas were found in Baxter Hall?
  5. Evelyn Welsh ’37 was the granddaughter of a rather famous man. Who was he?
  6. In what year were electric lights first used in campus buildings?
  7. When did Belknap Hall become a co-ed dorm, making it the first on campus?
  8. Why did two students from the “Save Our Squirrels Committee” meet with Gov. Tom McCall (1967–75) and present a petition with 450 signatures?
  9. What was a writer for The Collegian arguing for when he wrote, in 1912, “Light up the pill and the pipe, and puff.”
  10. In 1998, what did junior Liz Heaston ’99 become the first woman ever to do?

See Answer Key

We Need Your Help

President Knopf's Cuneiform Tablets

Some readers will recall the story of President Carl Knopf (1941–42) and his missing cuneiform tablets. Others might be intrigued to hear of his tenure and trials.

Knopf served Willamette only briefly, leaving at the request of the Board of Trustees after what was, at times, a rocky presidency. Most notably, he created a stir for his stance as a conscientious objector at a time when most Americans were focused on World War II and Willamette sought to affirm its public stance in favor of the war effort. He departed quietly and calmly, but under political strain and personal duress. He died shortly after, still a fairly young man. (For more, see The Scene, Spring 1991)

Here, though, we ask for your help. Knopf was a world-renowned scholar and archaeologist, and rumors persist that he brought to Willamette several pieces of a cuneiform tablet collection dating from ancient times — only to have them go missing after his departure. The tablets have still not been found.

Do you, or anyone you know, have any information on their whereabouts? Ever heard any rumors? Had any hunches? If so, write us or email scene@willamette.edu. We, along with the folks at the archives and the Center for Ancient Studies and Archaeology, will be interested to hear from you.

Look for more on Knopf in a future edition of The Scene. (It gets even more interesting.)