Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Biology Professor Leads Award-Winning Alumni Trips


One Whitman professor can cross catching a piranha out of a rowboat off of his bucket list.

Associate Professor of Biology Delbert Hutchison, known around campus as “Hutch,” won the 2013 Faculty Award for Service this summer for his work leading alumni trips.

The Whitman College Alumni Association Faculty Award for Service is awarded annually to a faculty member who has worked to maintain strong relationships between alumni and the college. Professor Hutchison has led alumni trips for ten years, acting as both a supervisor and a source of biological knowledge.

“My job is to entertain and inform and make sure everybody has a good time,” said Hutchison.

The Alumni Association puts on multiple trips and local programs throughout the year in order to keep alumni connected to Whitman.

“It’s a big part of your life, being here,” said Hutchison.  “If we do our jobs right, when you leave here you will realize what a great education you got, and your friendships and your connections to the college will still be here. Part of that effort to maintain that connection is to give you something to do together.”

Hutchison has traveled with alumni to a variety of locations from the dense forests of the Amazon to the open planes of an African safari. Each destination has its strengths and weaknesses, so it’s hard for him to pick a favorite.

“I’m an evolutionary biologist so the Galápagos is one of my favorite places on the planet, but you know, a Safari in Africa is staggering … So not really a favorite, no. But I could go to the Galápagos 10 times,” said Hutchison.

Some of his fondest memories include listening to hyenas and lions while falling asleep in a tent guarded by a Maasai warrior, talking about human evolution around a campfire in the Serengeti and jumping into a pool fully clothed after a humid hike through the Amazonian rainforest.

On these trips, Hutchison makes lasting connections with a multitude of alumni.

“Its always a good time. There’s always cocktails after dinner, and a fire, and you sit around talking and laughing and you make friends with these people. I’ve made good friends with a lot of people and we still keep in touch,” he said.

Since the trips tend to be expensive, the alumni who sign up are typically 30 or 40 years out of Whitman. Even so, Hutchison sees strong commonalities between all alumni and current Whitman students.

“What I’ve observed is that a Whittie is a Whittie. They’re excited about life and they’re curious about things. They’re friendly, inquisitive, respectful and fun. I enjoy it thoroughly,” he said.

Hutchison also said he’s interested in getting more of the younger alumni to sign up by leading a less expensive trip.

“I’d like to explore a cheaper [budget]; instead of a luxury liner, something a little more ‘Spartan’ that younger people can afford to do,” he said.

And while graduation may still seem far away, Hutchison encourages students to remember that these alumni resources exist.

“I guess the main thing for students to realize is that someday they’ll be alumni and these opportunities will be there. Once you’re one of us you’re always one of us,” he said.

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