Washington State Magazine

Spring 2011 cover

Spring 2011

In This Issue...


Outside In—Architecture of the Pacific Northwest :: Architecture in the Pacific Northwest has always had to contend with the environment. The results are enchanting. by Hannelore Sudermann

The Song Is You—An instinct for music :: What is music good for, anyway? by Eric Sorensen

Back in the Earth—Putting ancestors to rest, or destroying the past? :: Over the last two decades, tribes have been invoking the Native American Graves Protection and Recovery Act to reclaim remains of their ancestors from museum and research collections across the country. But what if those remains are 10,000 years old? by Tim Steury


The Strength of Moral Capital :: For people living on the margins of U.S. society, struggling with both poverty and job loss, there is still a desire to conceive of themselves as inheritors of some version of the American Dream. by Jennifer Sherman


{ WEB EXCLUSIVEVideo: Gary Brinson gives advice for investors in the 2010s }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVEVideo: The EcoWell story }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVEGalleries: Paintings of Washington pioneers by Worth D. Griffin and a selection of Griffin’s sketches and other artwork }


:: FIRST WORDS: Nature Boy reads on

:: SPORTS: Run to greatness

:: IN SEASON: Dungeness crab


:: SPORTS: Hit or be hit

:: LAST WORDS: Canjo

{ WEB EXCLUSIVEVideo: How to clean a crab }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVEVideo: John Elwood plays the Cougar Fight Song and other music on the canjo }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVEGallery: John Elwood’s canjos and studio :: Photographs by Zach Mazur }


{ WEB EXCLUSIVEGallery: Images from Kim Fay’s book Communion: A Culinary Journey through Vietnam :: Photographs by Julie Fay Ashborn }

Cover photo: Architect Rex Hohlbein ’81 sits with clients Jim and Ann in an open sliding window of their home in Clyde Hill. by Michael Mathers.

{ WEB EXCLUSIVEStory: About the cover: The Hinoki House by Michael Mathers }

WSU Alumni Association News
Robert Williams '79. Shelly Hanks


Robert Williams '79. Shelly Hanks

True to his school long after graduating

© Washington State University

Robert Williams ’79, a banking executive, is the current president of the WSU Alumni Association. He started volunteering with the University in the 1980s by joining the advisory board for the College of Business and later found his way to the Alumni Association. He is also on the Board of Trustees for the WSU Foundation. Recently, Williams met with WSM’s Hannelore Sudermann to talk about his time as a student and what he enjoys about volunteering with the Alumni Association.

Why did you choose WSU? In high school, I was a four year track and field letterman. At that time, WSU had one of the best track and fi eld programs in the country. I came here because I was going to be on an athletic scholarship as well as an academic one.

Was there any adjustment moving from an urban west side to a rural Pullman? A little. But I thought it was just part of growing up and going to school. It was really quite cool. I learned how to drive in the snow. I saw wheat fields. It was this formative part of who I am. My parents drove over and dropped me off at Streit Hall. I have a son in school here now and I had that same experience of coming over and dropping him off. I felt a little sorry for him, leaving him here in a tiny dorm room.

Who were some of your greatest influences here? My coach John Chaplin was the type of person people either love or hate. He was a very expressive individual, and known internationally for his coaching. Through him, I was exposed to athletes from Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Venezuela, and Scotland. It was a real growth experience. He also taught me that you earn what you get. You earn respect from your actions and behaviors.

Anyone else? Wallis Friel was my business law professor. I really loved that class. If I wasn’t a banker, I would probably be a lawyer.

What made you reconnect with WSU? It was probably 10 years after I graduated. George Hubman ’65, asked me to get involved. He thought I would be a good fi t for the national board of advisors for the College of Business. I think I sat on that board through probably four different deans.

From that experience, I got involved with the Alumni Association, particularly the African American Alumni Chapter. I have Tony Hudson ’75 to thank for that. He was the Black Student Union president at WSU in the early 1970s. He was always a leader for African American student issues. When the University was seeking to diversify its alumni outreach in the 1980s, Tony got involved. He asked me and Jeff Bruce ’80 to become offi cers in the first alliance.

What is the biggest change you’ve seen in the Alumni Association? There’s even more organized focus on our mission—increasing membership, alumni outreach, and engaging more alumni. We’re running more effectively. I would say, it’s the lightning focus of engagement and how we execute that engagement.

What do you get out of volunteering here? I get to meet wonderful people who are alumni of Washington State all over the world. I get personal growth out of it. I’m serving on boards with so many interesting and accomplished individuals. I get so much out of that. It’s selfish, really.

What do you tell alumni who want to be involved? There are many ways to give back. You can reach out to high school students, get them thinking about WSU. You can support scholarships. And, of course, you can become a card-carrying member of the Alumni Association.

You graduated some years ago... Ouch. Do you have to say it like that? I just realized that in 2029 I’ll be a Golden Grad.

For a complete list of officers and more information about the WSUAA visit www.alumni.wsu.edu or call 1-800-258-6978.

Categories: Business, Alumni | Tags: Volunteer, Alumni Association

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