Parents’ questions about Whitman answered

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As a Whitman parent, especially if your Whittie is a first-year, you probably have many questions, not all of which your son or daughter can answer. To help inform you, The Pioneer asked current parents what questions they have about Whitman, and here we report on the most frequently discussed topics.

How you can help your son or daughter

If you feel that your child needs academic help it is important to remain supportive but not overly involved.

“I think the most important thing parents can do is continue to support their students from their end and allow the faculty and staff to support their students from our end,” said Juli Dunn, director of academic resources, via e-mail.

Whitman has many resources for academic help, including professors’ office hours, Student Academic Advisers, group and individual tutoring and the Academic Resource Center.

“In terms of academic assistance, encouraging their son or daughter to make use of existing campus resources is paramount,” said Dunn.

However, as she points out, there is a fine line between telling your child to take advantage of these resources and calling the Academic Resource Center, a professor or SA.

“If parents are checking up on their son or daughter, it makes the job of the instructor or the student affairs personnel more challenging and the journey for their son or daughter less meaningful,” said Dunn.

The economy and Whitman

According to Peter Harvey, treasurer and chief financial officer, Whitman’s income is currently down because of falling short-term interest rates and expenses have increased, due mainly to increased financial aid for some students. Whitman’s endowment is down 20 percent, which Harvey explained is in the middle of the range when compared to other colleges.

“The current economic downturn has had modest effects on Whitman,” Harvey said via e-mail.

Some of the ways Whitman has responded to the decrease in income, include postponing certain building or ground maintenance projects, filling some vacant staff positions with visiting professors instead of tenure track professors or leaving some vacant staff positions unfilled and reducing operating budgets for food and staff travel, Harvey said.

What does the budget look like in the future?

“I expect that budget issues will be challenging through 2013, and there likely will be little money available for new initiatives,” Harvey said. “However, we will continue to deliver a liberal arts education of the highest quality and I believe that most students will notice little or no effects in the years ahead from changes we have made.”

Recycling, sustainability and food

“The college began recycling in earnest about 20 years ago and as the time has changed so too have we evolved in the materials re-used or recycled,” said Bob Biles, college recycling coordinator, via e-mail.

Whitman has recycled entire buildings in the past, said Biles, and also recycles lumber, concrete, old chemicals, batteries, other electronics and, of course, normal materials such as paper, plastic, glass, tin and aluminum. Residents of the Environmental Studies Interest House pick up the recyclables from the residence halls every Sunday.

Whitman received an overall grade of B- for sustainability from greenreportcard.org, a Web site that has in-depth sustainability profiles for hundreds of colleges in the United States and Canada.

This grade is broken down into nine categories, one of which is recycling and food. In this category, Whitman received an A grade. Efforts towards sustainability are demonstrated by dining halls’ commitment to serving no tropical fruit: such as bananas, mangos and pineapple: during lunch or dinner. The dining halls also compost preconsumer food scraps, although they do not compost postconsumer food scraps.

The Whitman dining halls have committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2010. And they try to purchase local food. The dining survey in Whitman’s green report card says, “Our first choice is to purchase seasonal, regional and organic ingredients from a 150-mile radius of each restaurant.”

Graduate school assistance

The Student Engagement Center offers students assistance when it comes to jobs, internships and graduate school. Graduate school advising is always available by appointment in the Student Engagement Center in Reid Campus Center, room 219.

The Annual Whitman College Graduate School Fair will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 27, from noon to 3 p.m. in the Reid Campus Center Ballroom. This fair offers a major source of information on graduate schools, in addition to various graduate school representatives who visit Whitman to recruit.

The Student Engagement Center also provides a graduate school guide at http://www.whitman.edu/content/career_center/students/information-on-graduate-schools under Student Engagement Center Publications.