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An Ode To Joy: Toutonghi’s Tribute to Banasek

September 30, 2019

It seems impossible, but the records confirm it – I was a 30-year old, barely-certified youngster when I arrived at Lewis & Clark in 2007. I was overwhelmed, professionally, and trying to answer a dozen questions that seemed to have no answer, each day. Life on and off campus was a process of adjustment; trying to figure out how to teach, how to negotiate department politics, how to parent twins. 

Through it all there was one constant. Whenever I went to the Dean’s Office, I knew that Terri would be there and would ask me a kind question – about twins (which she’d had, herself), about my writing, about my classes, or even just about my day. Terri has the gracious presence of someone who seems – when she’s talking with you – to possess limitless time, no matter how hectic the season, how impending the deadline. 

I grew to rely on her for answers to those unanswerable (and also answerable) questions, whether they were a matter of college protocol, or department psychology, or the best way to get something tricky done. She has a vast institutional memory, and we will be poorer, as a College, when she isn’t accessible at extension 7100. 

Speaking with my colleagues, it became clear that my feelings about Terri were not an outlier. 

“Terri has been in charge of the Dean’s Office for a long time,” Dr. Juan Carlos Toledano told me. “She stayed; Deans passed. She’s always been there for us, “controlling” everything —helping me with any consultation, even with things I should have known!” 
 
Said Dr. Elliott Young: “Terri always reminds me that I referred to her as the “thermonuclear option,” which means that she is really where the power lies at LC. Forget the President or the Dean… It’s Terri who holds the key to the kingdom. And she knows where the bodies are buried, so I’m waiting for the tell-all book she plans to publish in November. Stay tuned!”

Added Dr. Ben Westerveldt: “At first, I found Terri a bit intimidating – absolute efficiency and competence often is!” But then Dr. Westerveldt noted how much he came to love her signoff to her emails – “joy” – and how inspiring this simple word was, especially in times of campus crisis. 
 
Terri’s role, however, wasn’t just peacemaker or knowledge-holder, said Dr. Rachel Cole. “Terri is the one,” Dr. Cole confided, “who tells me when I’m wearing my jacket inside-out.”

As a creative writing instructor I tend to see everything in terms of metaphor. This seems, to me, then, like an apt conclusion. A jacket worn inside out – and a steady hand to guide you toward making the correction. We will miss you so much, Terri! Thank you. 

-Pauls Toutonghi
Associate Professor of English