Linfield had many achievements over the past year, hosting exhibits, conferences and lectures, and advancing our strategic plan to secure the college’s future. Faculty and students excelled, winning awards and honors for research and scholarly works. Here is just a small sampling of the numerous accomplishments recorded throughout the year.
Each summer, after the students have gone home and we’ve taken a breather, I meet with all of the college vice presidents at our cabinet retreat to reflect on the past year and plan for the next. Surrounded by spreadsheets and reports, outlines and documents, we take advantage of the less rigorous summer schedule to celebrate accomplishments, consider upcoming challenges and strategize without interruption.
The 2015 retreat marked the halfway point in the strategic plan we adopted three years ago. I am proud to report that our ambitious plan, perhaps the most elaborate in college history, has been successful so far.
We’ve endowed three new faculty chairs, remodeled several buildings, strengthened regional partnerships, doubled multicultural enrollment, improved athletic fields, appointed a college committee on diversity, created five new pre-freshman programs, increased student internships by 40 percent, added new positions in sustainability and environmental studies, enrolled 40 percent more transfer students, broadened Online and Continuing Education offerings, and established a number of wine education programs and projects. This list is far from comprehensive, and we could not have done it without the work and support of the entire Linfield community, including our friends and alumni.
Of course, there is always more to be done. It's a six-year plan; we’re only halfway through and we still have a lot of tasks on our list.
In addition, we are now addressing several additional goals. Linfield’s science programs are superb but our facilities are dated and insufficient to meet student demand. Simply put, we must renovate our current buildings and add a new one. This is a very high priority, and you will be hearing about it again.
We must also invest in our students and faculty by increasing the college's endowment. Last May I reconnected with an old friend and colleague who is now the vice president for academic affairs at one of America's top private colleges. We shared our dreams for our respective institutions. And then she asked me, "How big is Linfield's endowment, Tom? If you want to serve needy students and hire talented faculty, you can’t rely on tuition − it takes endowment."
Linfield’s endowment has grown; last year it topped $100 million for the first time. That happened for two reasons: first, many of our friends and alumni contributed to it, either with outright gifts or through their estate plans. And second, our Board's investment committee, with the help of a talented investment consultant (and Linfield alumna), made brilliant decisions: our return on investment is in the top 5 percent of all small college endowments over the last decade. But even though $100 million is a lot of money, it’s a much smaller endowment than the colleges with which we compete. The largest endowment of a Northwest Conference institution is five times the size of Linfield's.
Linfield is accustomed to doing more with less. It's one of the important lessons we teach and learn. But think of how much more we can accomplish once we renovate and expand our science facilities. Think of how many more needy students we can serve if we increase our scholarship support. And think of how important it is to replace the remarkable professors who have retired - or are about to retire. We must recruit, hire and support great teacher-scholars who will transform the lives of future students - it's fundamental to our identity and mission.
There are other things on the "to-do" list for the next three years of our strategic plan. But none are more important. We’ve come a long way, and in many respects we’re more than halfway there, but I now ask you to help us complete our plan - complete our dream - for Linfield College.
– Thomas L. Hellie, PresidentDownload a printable PDF of this page
Our greatest resource is our people – their stories reflect the power of a small college.
Students, faculty and staff forge deep relationships. Faculty challenge students to pursue their dreams and passions by helping them find answers to academic questions and by refining their goals. Students build collaborative, cross disciplinary relationships with peers. Staff members at all levels aid students through workstudy, support programs or just by lending their expertise and compassion. Our alumni reach back to mentor students by providing career advice, networking and through their philanthropic support. Everyone is invested in the success of all our students.
There are countless stories at Linfield College. Here are just five.
Before enrolling at Linfield, Gabriela Gonzalez ’16 was shy and insecure, with little confidence.
With the support of professors like Brian Winkenweder and Hillary Crane, along with numerous staff and administrators, she is now self-assured, articulate and passionate about education, leadership and community service.
As a first-generation high school graduate and college student from an impoverished family, the cost of her education is on Gonzalez’s shoulders. Without financial support, including an endowed scholarship, work study and other jobs, Linfield may have been out of her reach.
Gonzalez, an anthropology major and creative writing minor, has thrived at Linfield, taking full advantage of everything available including collaborative research, community service, residence life and study abroad.
The semester she spent in New Zealand was one of the best experiences of her life, she said, noting that the opportunity increased her confidence, independence and self reliance, as well as exposed her to students from around the world. She became fascinated and involved with the Maori way of life and culture, and established a deep relationship with a Maori family, who shared their customs and traditions including a traditional hangi (steaming food in a pit with heated rocks) and New Zealand Easter.
"Scholarships give me a bit of room to breathe and they supplement the money I earn during the school year," she said. “I am not the only Linfield student in great need, but the thing to remember is that no matter our financial situation, Linfield students have the potential to succeed. We deeply appreciate the rigorous education Linfield provides. With only a little help, those of us in need will go so much farther in life than anyone could have presumed."
No longer shy or insecure, Gonzalez plans to pursue master’s and doctoral degrees. "I want to be a professor in the future so I can help the next generations believe in themselves and succeed in their own lives," she said.
Last fall, Victoria Wood ’18 arrived at Linfield College one week before orientation and, along with a small group of other first-year and transfer students, took part in an introduction to hands-on science research – physics, biology, chemistry and math – better known as iFOCUS.
A year later, she’s conducting collaborative research with Brian Gilbert, professor of chemistry, on silver and gold nanoparticles for chemical and biological sensing.
A grant of $100,000 from the Hearst Foundations, Inc. supports iFOCUS, a week-long exploration that engages first-year students in a variety of natural science disciplines that may lead to careers in scientific fields. It also makes possible year-round programming, including student-led learning communities and a seminar series.
Thanks to the success of iFOCUS, a second similar program focused on arts and humanities is now offered. Like Wood, other science and arts students are combining hands-on practical knowledge and career skills to explore their interests and strengthen their educations.
A $100,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation established Arts and Humanities in Action (AHA), an interdisciplinary program increasing the number of students engaged in arts and humanities learning activities while connecting the skills developed in those disciplines with future careers.
Similar to iFOCUS, AHA includes a week-long lab prior to orientation. Through field trips and projects, students explore a variety of disciplines – visual arts, theatre, creative writing, music, history, philosophy and more. They are mentored by faculty and learn about careers relating to humanities and arts. They may also become part of AHA learning communities during the academic year, take an arts and humanities career development course, and participate in a guided internship program focused on careers for arts and humanities majors.
Beyond providing experiential skills and career advice, both programs are cultivating undergraduates who are passionate and engaged in their interests, be it the sciences or the arts.
Biology professors Anne Kruchten and Jeremy Weisz and their students have collected vast amounts of data to help identify microorganisms in a local vineyard.
But that’s only part of the work. Without some knowledge of statistics and computer science to help analyze the results, their work would be meaningless.
It’s increasingly important for students to be prepared to address problems in the biomedical, physical and environmental sciences from a wide variety of scientific perspectives. Science is not just individual silos of biology, chemistry, physics, math and computer science. Complex problems spill into a variety of areas and Linfield students are exploring scientific research from an interdisciplinary perspective, by creating and expanding learning communities.
The learning communities are an extension of Linfield’s innovative iFOCUS interdisciplinary science boot camp for first-year and transfer students. The first learning community was piloted in 2013 and led by three iFOCUS participants who recruited 10 other students. They worked with biology Professor Catherine Reinke, using genomics to identify and annotate a gene that is important for Reinke’s research. The students gained leadership skills and genuine research experience at the same time, while deepening their scientific knowledge and understanding.
That learning community continues, along with the “micro hunter” group that includes nine students and one mentor exploring the microorganisms in the local vineyard. Three others that were active during the 2014-15 academic year include:
It’s been five years since Professor Jennifer Heath (left) spent a year absorbed in solar energy research at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colo., and the experience continues to impact her research and teaching.
Heath, professor of physics, came away from the sabbatical with a rejuvenated approach to research, cutting-edge lab techniques and plans for her students.
"Many of our current projects are tied to work I did at NREL," Heath said. "In my classes, I’m incorporating concepts, skills and software that students will need to be successful in industry or a government lab."
Heath remains connected with NREL scientists, taking on parts of larger projects and collaborating on research papers. Justin Davis '15, who worked with Heath on research resulting from her sabbatical, is doing a summer internship at NREL before beginning a doctoral program in molecular engineering at the University of Washington.
Sabbatical experiences like Heath’s are paying dividends for faculty as well as their students in labs and classrooms across the campus.
John Sagers, professor of history, spent spring semester working on two books. He said sabbaticals enable him to provide up-to-date information to students and also model lifelong learning.
"It is essential to take time away once in a while to read and reflect on recent developments in my field," said Sagers, whose East Asian history teaching centers on understanding Japan. "Sabbaticals are invaluable to stay current in your field and make a meaningful contribution to the scholarly community."
A past sabbatical, during which Sagers spent two months at Rikkyo University in Tokyo, strengthened his teaching, and yielded two academic articles, collaborative research with students, and invitations to speak at several conferences.
Both Sagers and Heath agree the time away for professional enrichment and reflection is vital. "When you're teaching with a demanding schedule, there’s no time to think about hard questions," said Heath. "There’s this huge body of knowledge that you want to contribute to and that your students need to understand that relates to jobs, graduate schools and research in really complicated ways. It’s critical to be part of it."
Generous gifts from alumni, parents and friends support faculty like Heath and Sagers as they broaden their scholarship, transform their teaching and enhance students’ experiences.
As an economist, Professor Jeff Summers has long understood the value of incentives to improve outcomes. But the concept has come alive for him since being named the Dave Hansen Endowed Chair in Economics.
The three-year endowed appointment supports a faculty member to pursue professional work and research with students. For Summers, the position has reinvigorated his career.
"My appointment to an endowed professorship has enriched my scholarship and impacted my teaching, both in and out of the classroom," he said. "It has provided me with the incentive to work harder."
After 22 years at Linfield, Summers admits his productivity had slowed. He had published and presented several articles, worked collaboratively with students, and served as associate dean of faculty, but he said he wasn’t thinking about teaching and involving students in his research as he once had.
"Then I was appointed to the position and I knew it was time to get to work," said Summers, who developed a multi-year plan to engage students in his research. He has designed two new classes, "The Economics Detective" and "The Economics of Higher Education" working with two students - Alison Hinten '16 and Levi Altringer '15, who will serve as peer instructors for the classes. He plans to give a faculty lecture about the economics of higher education in the coming year and hopes to write a textbook on the subject. His paper with Altringer, "Is College Pricing Power Pro-Cyclical?" has been accepted for publication.
Endowed professorships promote faculty productivity at any stage of their careers, Summers said. They provide release time for young faculty to work on research for tenure, and they enable more established faculty to reimagine the ways they teach so course work remains fresh.
As a result of the new endowment, Professor Brittany Teahan has been added to the department as a fourth full-time faculty member (along with Randy Grant and Erik Schuck). Teahan’s is the first new economics position to be added since 2006.
Ultimately, the generosity of Linfield donors honors Hansen, professor emeritus and longtime dean of students, who retired from Linfield in 2012.
"I can think of very few people who have given as much to Linfield as Dave Hansen has," said Summers. "It’s an honor to be named to the Dave Hansen Chair."