From Too Big, to Too Small, to Just Right
by Michelle Ma
Nearly 700 students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends gathered at The Evergreen State College on April 22 for Our College, Our Future, the two-day Inauguration Celebration highlighted by George S. Bridges’ installation as the college’s sixth president.
“George, over his career, reminds me of Goldilocks,” quipped former Governor and second Evergreen President Dan Evans during his opening remarks. “He found the University of Washington too big, Whitman College too small, and Evergreen fit just right.”
After accepting gifts and ceremonial symbols from Longhouse Director Tina Kuckkahn-Miller, Board of Trustees Chair Fred Goldberg, and Vice-Chair Gretchen Sorensen ’82, Bridges took the stage. He framed his remarks by asking, “As we approach Evergreen’s 50th year, how has the uniqueness of Evergreen’s model influenced the lives of our students?” and, “What are our hopes, what are our dreams in terms of how Evergreen serves its future generations?” For Bridges’ answers and views, read his full speech or view the event video on our inauguration site.
An Alumni Showcase followed the ceremony. Among the notable Evergreen graduates from the past five decades who shared their inspiring stories were Washington Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon ’91, entrepreneur Lynda Weinman ’76, and Congressman Denny Heck ’73.
Attendees gathered that evening for an intimate screening of “Most Likely to Succeed,” a documentary showcasing an Evergreen-like education model embraced by High Tech High, a San Diego high school. With a graduation rate of 94%, it is the top high school in its district. Afterwards, the film’s executive producer Ted Dintersmith led a discussion with education experts Lynda Weinman and Wayne Au ’94, MiT ’96. Weinman co-founded the online learning company lynda.com. Au is an outspoken critic of standardized tests, a professor at UW Bothell, and a proponent of Seattle’s Opt-Out movement.
The Day of Service on April 23 was a fitting end to the celebration, with dozens of Evergreen volunteers fanning out across Thurston County, rolling up their sleeves, and grabbing shovels and rakes to assist at Capitol Land Trust, OlyEcoSystems, and Thurston County Food Bank’s school gardens.