Thursday, January 30, 2014

Notes From Under the Oaks | January 2014

By Martha Calus-McLain '03 | Director of Alumni Relations

A sketch of the earliest building on the Forest Grove
As I look ahead to 2014, only two weeks gone and the rest full of possibility, I have many resolutions. Among them is a hope to acknowledge people who make a difference. This week I am thinking about the great teachers I had throughout my education.
Over the past six months my husband has been reading the Little Housebooks to our daughter, who is completely enthralled with them. I recently overheard them reading a passage describing conditions in the one-room school house where Laura is teaching in negative forty degree weather.
“At half past three they were all so cold that she thought of dismissing school early. The mile that Martha and Charles must walk, worried her. On the other hand, she should not cut short the pupils' opportunity for learning, and this was not a blizzard.”
This passage brought to mind the spirit of the pioneers who founded Pacific in 1849 in the face of immense adversity.
It makes me think of the students who were so deeply committed to their education they found time for it among the competing responsibilities of frontier life.
It reminds me of the courage of teachers, both in 1882 when they commanded one room school houses throughout the west and today when they risk, and sometimes sacrifice, their lives to save the children in their care.
I shared this passage when I welcomed a dozen new students into our special ed program earlier this week. In a few years, these students will be alumni who spend their days dedicated to the success of young people. Based on the reactions of the students it was clear the passion and dedication Laura conveyed in her memoirs is still true of aspiring teachers.
Last night we hosted the Student Teacher Alumni Reception on the Forest Grove campus. During the evening we got to hear teachers speak earnestly and candidly about their experiences. Again, the passion and dedication was evident.
I hope none of our alumni are teaching kids who have to walk a mile in negative forty degrees, but I’m sure these alumni have a few stories of their own to share.
I’d love to hear from alumni who are teachers. What inspires you? Do you have a great story to share about students who walked a metaphorical cold mile for their education?
I’d also love to hear from alumni about the teachers who helped them. Who was your favorite teacher at Pacific, before or after? How did they inspire you? Did you ever walk a cold mile for your education?
Send us your stories and as always don’t hesitate to contact us if we can be of assistance.
Best wishes,
Martha Calus-McLain '03
Director of Alumni Relations

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Alumnus advises students to quit smoking

By Marshall "Preacher" Brown '69
Brown with this trachyostoma patch.
While at Pacific for Homecoming 2013, I read your September 19th Index editorial a “Proposed ban on smoking on campus.” 
Your analogy to being “at home” at Pacific doesn’t ring true. “At home” you do not live in proximity to hundreds of unreleated people.
“At home” young people are subject to many seemingly arbitrary rules, among which almost certainly is “no smoking.”
Very few, if that many, college-aged smokers are “painfully aware” of the health risks they take by smoking. If they were, would they smoke? Smoking vs. drinking is a false comparison. Unless done alcoholically, the effects of drinking seldom linger more than a day; smoking almost inevitably becomes a long-term drug addiction and habit. Finally, even if smokers abide by location rules, friends and others still have to put up with “tobacco stink.”
I do not understand why a young person today would take up smoking. When I started, there were whispers about cancer (that went unheeded by “immortal youth”) and absurd claims smoking would stunt your growth; cigarettes in Oregon in 1965 were 22 cents a pack, less by the carton! Today, so much more is widely known about smoking’s serious, long term damage to health; at three dollars or more per pack, smoking’s up-front cost is obscenely expensive.
After a 20-plus year habit, I quit smoking in 1988. In 2002, I was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer, and in October 2003, lost my larynx, thyroid gland and several lymph nodes, and I’m a lucky one: I’m still alive. I remember asking my oncologist why, if I had quit smoking 14 years earlier, cancer showed up now. “Cancer is very patient,” was all he said.
Hopefully, student smokers at Pacific have a habit far more easily broken than later in life. The proposed ban on smoking on campus is, I feel an opportunity for those who smoke to do the best thing they perhaps will ever do for themselves. Quit smoking. Seriously!
Brown '69 was Editor of The Pacific Index in 1968. This piece was originally submitted as a Letter to the Editor in November 2013After a tour of duty in the Air Force, Brown worked in IT for 32 years and is now retired and living just north of Seattle. Pre-cancer, Brown was an avid rec cyclist -- he created Cascade Bicycle Club's "Ride Around Washington."

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

History: Pause, think and remember

By Callie Vandewiele '08 

Almost three quarters of a century ago, 72 years on December 7th to be exact, the course of the history of the United States of America dramatically shifted and forever changed.  

At 7:48am, Hawaiian time, Japanese planes flying low over the US naval base on Oahu.  The ensuing attack, which took the men below by complete surprise, would result in 8 ships being sunk, with nearly a dozen more damaged, over 300 aircraft lost, and the deaths of 2,402 Americans.  Most of them military personnel. 

For a nation burned by World War I, and dedicated to leaving the world’s problems, to the world, the bombing of Pearl Harbour was a rude awakening.  An unwanted and costly notice that sometimes the world’s problems belonged to the whole world, and not just to one nation or region.  In bombing Pearl Harbour, the Japanese central command hoped to permanently cripple the United States military in the Pacific--and by doing so to limit US involvement in the escalating war.

In a world before twitter, instant updates, death tolls reported in online news sources, or even common color photography, the US government and population had put it’s whole might behind the war effort before all the families of the killed servicemen had even been properly notified.  A behemoth of an economic engine, shifted overnight, and with it the destiny of the United States.  The next five years would cost the nation dearly in both money and blood.  And yet at the end of the war, in 1946, the United States stood at the edge of the world stage as both the strongest military and economic force in the world.

It’s easy to take a minute to pause and think about soldiers on Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day, and there was a time when WWII veterans were common.  Most men that most of us knew.  Not anymore.  As each year rolls by those surviving veterans get a little older and little fewer in number.  The people whose sons and brothers and fathers and husbands were on the USS Arizona or the USS California aren’t all around to light candles each year anymore. 

December 7th is bit by bit turning into just another day.  Just another point in history that we’re supposed to memorize to pass an exam sometime in the 10th grade.  Just another war that the United States fought and won. 

But December 7th is not just another day.  And the war that it launched pushed the United States into a position of world dominance (wanted or not at the time).  Our history, we learned, will be marked with moments when we as a nation get to choose our response, and in choosing our response, choosing our future.

The greatest generation woke up to newspaper headlines about ships sinking in the Pacific.  The millennials awoke to live news coverage of buildings falling down in Manhattan.  We cannot say which crises our grandchildren will face---or whether they will come in the sickening thud of sudden attacks, or the slow rise of global temperatures.  What we can ask of ourselves and of them, is to always remember.  To pause and reflect on the anniversaries of the days that the world shifted and changed.  To read the stories of the heros and the families.

To know the heavy burden of what choices we as a people make when faced with tragedies beyond comprehension.  To know that when we define the cost of an American life, we are valuing it in comparison to the cost of other, non-American, lives, and that the decisions we make can alter the world in good, bad and unknown ways.

So when December 7th rolls around, take a pause.  Think, and remember.

Sources include the US Navy Museum Website ( and USHistory.Org

Vandewiele '08 originally wrote this piece for the Beaverton-Valley Times in December 2013.