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The Lewis & Clark I Know

October 07, 2014

I am delighted to welcome my wife, Betsy Amster, as a guest columnist for this issue. Betsy spoke to the class of 1964 during Alumni Weekend, and I thought a selection of her observations from that day would be a fitting way to mark the new academic year. — Barry Glassner

 

One month into Barry’s presidency, I discovered firsthand how special the people at Lewis & Clark are.

In November 2010, Tamma Carleton B.A. ’09 was named a Rhodes Scholar. What struck me most was the story behind the story: It wasn’t Tamma’s idea to apply for the Rhodes. That impulse came from Karen Gross, associate professor of English.

Karen never had Tamma in a class, but she knew about her accomplishments. So Karen reached out to her and mentored her during the months’ long process of applications, essays, and interviews. Tamma said, “There’s no way it would have happened without her.”

Now, when our students rack up national accolades and honors, this is what comes to mind for me: “There’s no way it would have happened without our dedicated faculty.”

What I see at Lewis & Clark is what I’m sure many of you experienced here: Faculty who urge students to seize opportunities they never imagined possible. Faculty who do not restrict their influence to the confines of a classroom or the boundaries of a discipline.

This is the Lewis & Clark I’ve come to know.

And, whether or not their job brings them into daily contact with students, staff are equally dedicated.

Mark Figueroa, for example, directs institutional research and planning. But he also steps away from crunching numbers. He’s an assistant coach for the football team. And he’s been a volunteer leader with Great Expectations, helping first- generation students adjust to life at Lewis & Clark. He tells those who feel they don’t fit in, “You belong here. You are not the exception. You are the expectation.”

This culture of faculty and staff investing themselves in the lives of our students is deeply rooted and long-standing. I hear it all the time in the stories alumni tell me about their education and experiences here.

The Lewis & Clark I know is the legacy of generations of individuals—faculty, students, staff, and alumni—working together to build three schools that are greater than the sum of their many parts.

The Lewis & Clark I know is also a living institution, filled with people eager and ready to take on the complex demands and challenges of a dynamic world.

This is some of what I’ve learned during these first four years here. And like everyone who studies at Lewis & Clark, I’m proud to say, “I can’t wait to learn more.”

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