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Lasting Legacies

Q&As with recent retirees who touched generations of L&C students

Sandi Bottemiller

Director of Housing and Orientation
Years of Service: 42

Credit: Robert M Reynolds

What was your path to Lewis & Clark?

My father had a 27-year career as the registrar at Lewis & Clark, so I grew up professionally with my dad at the same institution.

What positions have you held over the years? How has your role evolved?

My first job in 1977 was a clerical position in campus safety, which at the time was called the security office. We had a director of campus safety and a couple of officers during the day, but the nights were covered by students who had rooms in the campus safety office. I only lasted about six months. I knew it wasn’t the right role for me.

An opening came up in housing, so really, for my entire career, I’ve had the housing piece. It suited me because it’s very detailed. I love getting in the weeds of things and strategizing how to solve a problem or how to make a process more efficient.

My job changed a lot over the years. At one point, I was the scheduler for all of Templeton. I had this huge book … as events changed, I was erasing and rewriting … it was long before we had anything automated. And then for probably 10 or 12 years, I had responsibility for summer conferencing. Then I had responsibility for New Student Orientation, Family Weekend, and Parent’s Preview … it was really too much. But for the last six or seven years, I’ve focused on housing, New Student Orientation, and Parent’s Preview. It’s just been great. It’s still a crazy ride. But it’s a little more manageable.

What are you most proud of?

I’d have to say New Student Orientation and Parents Preview. I’ve basically built those programs. Another experience that I absolutely loved was being able to be part of the design build for Holmes Hall. That was such an amazing experience. I got to be on the ground floor and work with architects, contractors, and our own people. They were all really gracious and helped me understand the process.

What are the biggest changes you’ve observed in residence life?

In terms of residence life, I don’t know that so much has changed. We are still looking at individual students and what they need. Students need the basics … they need food, they need shelter. But mostly they need to feel like they belong somewhere. That’s become our tagline: “You belong here.” And we really believe that.

For fun: Most memorable prank involving a residence hall?

Somebody went through Copeland and Platt-Howard and stole all of the toothbrushes they could find from the bathrooms. Then they stuck them “brush up” in the grass between Templeton and the Manor House. The students whose toothbrushes got stolen were not very happy, but I have to say, we got a lot of laughs out of it.

As you think about the arc of your career, what has been the most rewarding?

For me, so much of it has been about relationship and connection. I’ve learned so much from my colleagues and from our students. We have some incredible students here. They’re bright, they’re articulate, they’re very committed, and they’re really authentic. They’re looking for ways to make a mark on this place. That’s really exciting.

What’s next for you?

My husband, Jeff, and I have been RVers for about 30 years. After he retires, we’re going to do a cross-country RV trip and take six or eight weeks to see more of the country. There are also some volunteer things that I’d like to do … maybe here at the college or at my grandkids’ schools.

Jane Hunter

Professor of History
Years of Service: 29

Jane Hunter Credit: Steve Hambuchen

What was your path to Lewis & Clark?

I taught at Colby College through tenure before traveling across the country from Portland to Portland to check out another small liberal arts college in an exciting city. I knew two things about Lewis & Clark at the time. One was that a women’s history pioneer, Nancy Grey Osterud, had taught here, and the other was that people active in the movement “Beyond War,” liked to send their children here. Like many others before and after, I fell in the love with the beauty of the campus (a rainbow emerged across Mount Hood during my visit), and the students in my teaching presentation were wonderful—curious, informed, ready to talk. It was an easy sell.

What have been your favorite courses to teach? 

I’ve loved teaching a full range of U.S. social and cultural history courses at different times, but most recently have enjoyed teaching two courses with lots of first-year students in them—a 20th-century U.S. history survey course: United States: From Empire to Superpower, 1898-2000 and a section of E&D, “New York City in Two Movements: Enacting Greenwich Village 1913 and Meeting the Harlem Renaissance 1917-1934”. Both classes have a component of role-playing, the latter in the format of a “game” that pits adversaries in an actual historical conflict. Students take on the personas of historical figures, read their works and attempt to inhabit them as they vie for the support of contemporaries. Because history explores activities of the past, I think students can imagine that it was all pre-determined, that it had to happen the way it did. This game shows them the many ways that historical contingency tipped the scales producing outcomes that are quite at odds with what could have happened.

What have you enjoyed most about your work?

So many parts of it. I really love the collaborations that I’ve been part of—in my department, with folks from all over campus, in the dean’s office, and especially with students in the classroom, writing honors theses and in advising. The college has a communitarian ethos that I honor and admire—such a great regenerating group of people! As an historian, I love doing research—love much less the process of writing, though of course the two go together.

What’s changed the most during your time here? What hasn’t changed?

I know that Lewis & Clark aspires to be a diverse community that is welcoming for people from all kinds of backgrounds. That’s been a constant commitment from my early days at the college—and indeed from the college’s first days on Palatine Hill. I do think there has been progress, with the addition of an Ethnic Studies minor, and a special emphasis on faculty and staff hiring—however far there is to go. Especially enriching is the mix of American students from widely different class and ethnic backgrounds with international students, many from the United World Colleges, who bring international perspectives to the campus conversation about difference.

What’s something people might not know about you?

Hmmm. I grew up in a big, combined family in Hanover, N.H.—eight of us kids from the time I was 11. My husband Joel has six siblings. Our large extended family makes for substantial family reunions at Thanksgiving at our house in Portland. Although I started out with parents with ancestry from the British Isles, we now count (between next-of-kin and their partners) Eastern European, French, Finnish, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, South Asian, Australian, Salvadoran, Dutch, and Filipino tentacles to our shared family.

What is your favorite place on campus?

I love the Art Deco fountains, and the outdoor swimming pool, the estate gardens, the view of all of those from Watzek and from the Manor House. When our family ended our cross-country drive from Maine to Palatine Hill in July of 1990 (daughters then aged 2 and 6) we celebrated at the estate swimming pool, memorable.

What are you most proud of?

The history department, my students, my two books, programs I’ve helped launched, honestly, the college as a whole! I think Lewis & Clark has been competing above its weight (err endowment) for years—an extraordinary teaching and researching faculty, in a beautiful location with curious, open, smart and generous students.

What’s next for you?

I have a China writing project that I’m in the midst of—a follow-up to an earlier book on American women missionaries in China. I’m now reading family correspondence on the early life of a missionary daughter who converted from her parents’ Methodism to communism, and with her husband spent her life in Beijing. (She’s now 103.) I owe one angle to Lewis & Clark—the special identity challenges and opportunities experienced by the children of sojourners—known here as TCKs. I’m also thrilled to be awaiting a first grandchild, due to my eldest daughter and her partner in the Bay area in July.

Deborah Lycan

Professor of Biochemistry/ Molecular Biology
Years of Service: 32

Deborah Lycan Credit: Steve Hambuchen

What was your path to Lewis & Clark?

I was at Harvard Medical School doing a post-doctoral fellowship at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute when I realized I wanted more from my career. I had attended a liberal arts college an as undergraduate and when I saw the job ad for an assistant professor at L&C, I thought it sounded like a good match. L&C clearly needed someone with my training, although I think it took a little convincing- the ad was for an embryologist so I had to convince them that they didn’t need an embryologist, but that they did need someone who could teach modern Developmental Biology, and Molecular Biology as well, courses not yet in the catalog. That seemed like a tall order in a job interview, so I was delighted to get the job. I feel so lucky that I took that fork in the road. It turned out that the mix of research and teaching here were the perfect fit for me.

What have been your favorite courses to teach?

Oh, I loved all the courses I developed—Molecular, Developmental, Biology 200 and Human Genes & Disease. I loved inventing new courses, new ways of teaching. But Molecular was my flagship course and I re-invented it many times over my time here. I especially loved teaching the lab. In the last 10 years, I developed a new project for lab each August, so that students could experience working on a question whose answer was truly unknown. The lab turned out to be the best way for students to experience what it means to “think like a scientist” and I have watched so many students mature intellectually as a result of that course. It was fun to nurture that growth.

What have you enjoyed most about your work?

Most of it, actually. I loved advising. It is such a pleasure to work with young people just leaving home and starting to ask themselves what kind of life they wanted to craft, what kind of person they wanted to be. I loved teaching students how to read the primary literature-the journals where scientists publish their actual data. The first encounters are difficult, but also where students realize that science is not facts, but interpretation of data-guesses, models, and creative imagination. Finally, I especially loved mentoring students in my own research lab. Research is so transformative for students-it changes them from passive learners into investigators, into creators of questions of their own. It was to recreate that experience for all students that I began to develop the open-ended and investigative labs first in Biology 200 and then in Molecular. Those labs changed my relationship with the students-from one in which I knew all the right answers, to one in which we had to think together about how best to analyze the data.

What’s changed the most during your time here? What hasn’t changed?

The engagement of undergraduates in research. There was almost no extramural funding for student-faculty research in the sciences when I came here and the vibrant program we have today has required vision and commitment by many people. It has required hiring new faculty who love research, and who could garner extramural grant support. It required institutional support and external institutional grants. The payoff was this: all that engagement with the doing of science eventually changed the way we taught it. Today science teaching here is nothing like the lecture-based model I grew up with. What hasn’t changed? Well, we still do all that work in the same building that five different college presidents have vowed to replace. I am still hopeful.

What’s something people might not know about you?

That I love Shakespeare, and the Oregon Symphony? Probably they do know that I love the wilderness here in Oregon and am still an avid backpacker.

What is your favorite place on campus?

I have always loved that little sun pocket on the south corner of the Dovecote. It attracts hummingbirds in the early spring. It was my favorite place for lunch, on any day the sun came out.

What are you most proud of?

Being the mother of two happy daughters. But I suppose you mean professionally—of my time at Lewis & Clark? Professionally, I guess I am most proud of the BCMB (Biochemistry & Molecular Biology) program, which I nurtured and developed like my daughters. Janis Lochner and I started this interdisciplinary program when I was just in my second year here at L&C. I played a major role in the development of our curriculum, I mentored many BCMB theses, and was chair of the program multiple times. The BCMB program built bridges between Biology and Chemistry, departments that barely talked to one another when I first came here. We were the corridor through which ideas about teaching and research percolated between biology, chemistry and physics. We attracted excellent students, and successfully trained them for entrance to the best medical and graduate schools in the country. Our students have done well, and that is something of which I am very proud.

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