college of liberal arts

50th anniversary of historic Everest climb

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Fifty years ago this spring, the first American mountaineers to scale the world’s tallest mountain accomplished that feat in a manner that still has the climbing world in awe today. The ascent of Mt. Everest by Willi Unsoeld and Tom Hornbein is considered one of the greatest climbing achievements in history.

A graduate of Oregon State University, Unsoeld later served on the faculty of the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Oregon State before taking a leave of absence to join the Peace Corps and embarking upon his historic trek.

It was a quest that would cost Unsoeld nine of his toes from frostbite, but cement his reputation as one of the country’s greatest climbers and give birth to a legacy of adventure-seeking that today still thrives at Oregon State University.

Josh Norris, director of the Adventure Leadership Institute for OSU’s Department of Recreational Sports, said that Unsoeld’s philosophy of life is as compelling to students today as tales of his climbing triumphs.

“When Willi was in his late 40s, he could out-climb just about anyone around even though he was missing almost all of his toes and had an artificial hip,” Norris said. “He was a strong personality and was most at home when he was in the outdoors, in touch with what he called ‘the sacred,’ or nature. His basic philosophy was that if you didn’t experience life to its fullest, you weren’t really living.”

That philosophy is what led to the Mt. Everest achievement. Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers to scale the world’s tallest peak in 1953, taking a southern route. In the subsequent decade, only one other successful climb took place, using that same route.

Ten years later, the National Geographic Society sponsored an ascent that resulted in dual attempts. Two American climbers would follow the southern route; Unsoeld and Hornbein opted to go for the western route, which was considered a near-impossible climb.

The difficulty of the route was not the only challenge; the climbers would have to carry all of their gear on their backs – no base camp, no porters, and no way back.

“They were totally going for broke,” said Norris, who has become a bit of a historian in researching OSU’s mountain climbing past. “They had no camp to retreat to, so they decided to traverse the peak. They had to make it to the top from the west and descend on a different route. That daredevil approach is why Willi joined the team – he didn’t want to try a route that someone else had already done.”

Scaling a 29,000-foot peak in the bitter cold, and carrying all of the necessary food, ropes, oxygen and other supplies on your back is almost beyond comprehension by today’s standards.

“Last year a group of climbers tried to recreate the Unsoeld-Hornbein climb,” Norris said, “and they did not succeed – even with modern equipment.”

After the successful ascent and summit on May 22, 1963, Unsoeld was hospitalized for weeks in Nepal. Oregon State president A.L. Strand sent a letter to faculty and staff seeking donations to help pay for his medical care; when he took leave from the university he lost his health insurance.

Eventually, Unsoeld returned to the United States and became a founding faculty member of Evergreen College in Washington. He died in 1979 at the age of 52, leading a group of Evergreen students on a climb of Mt. Rainier when he was buried in an avalanche.

Norris said that Unsoeld’s spirit has carried on at Oregon State. In 1988, OSU graduate Stacy Allison became the first American woman to scale Mt. Everest.

Today, the university’s Adventure Leadership Institute, which was founded in 1947 with undergraduate Unsoeld as a charter member, draws students to outdoor activities, Norris said. Some 9,500 annually participate in classes or outdoor activities, which include climbing, kayaking, hiking, cycling and other pursuits.

“It is more than just experiencing outdoor adventures,” Norris said, “the institute is about instilling the qualities of leadership and spirit that Willi Unsoeld personified.”

The OSU Adventure Club has some 200 dues-paying members who climb peaks throughout the Pacific Northwest, including Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, Smith Rocks, Mount Rainier, The Three Sisters and others. Climbing walls in Dixon Recreation Center draw some 28,000 visits a year.

Such activities are a draw for students, who are seeking meaningful experiences in college to supplement their classroom learning, Norris said.

“We have one 18-year-old freshman from the East Coast who came to OSU specifically because of the Adventure Leadership Institute,” he said. “Her latest goal is to climb Mount Jefferson in the winter, and at the same time, develop her leadership skills.

“That kind of spirit in students today would make Willi proud.”

Media Contact: 

Josh Norris, 541-737-4341

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OUS offers first study abroad program to Cuba

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Students from three campuses will travel to Cuba in June for the first official study abroad program to that country in the history of the Oregon University System (OUS).

The 15 students from Oregon State University, Portland State University and the University of Oregon will venture to Cuba in the summer after taking a class this term on Cuban Society, Culture and Politics through Film.

Michele Justice, associate director of OUS international programs, is charged with finding new study abroad opportunities in the university system.

“Making this system-wide means students from different universities can learn from each other, and it gives all students a chance to have resources and faculty to go places like this that they wouldn’t otherwise,” she said. “We have faculty across the state with expertise on Cuba, and a willingness to share this expertise.”

Dwaine Plaza and Amy Below from Oregon State are teaching the class, along with guest lecturers from the other colleges and universities. Plaza is a sociologist with expertise in migration studies and the Caribbean, and Below is an expert on Latin American politics.

“The students are experiencing Cuba through films, virtual guest lectures and through instruction by different faculty with Cuba expertise, and then they’ll be there to experience it all in person this summer,” Plaza said.

Students from the other campuses watch the class remotely when it is in session on Mondays, but congregate over several Saturdays this term to meet as a class in person.

“It’s important to us that the students bond and interact in person before they take this trip together,” Below said. “Once we get to Cuba, it’s going to be an intense learning experience.”

Each day they spend in Cuba will be built around a different theme. The students will learn about topics ranging from education, agriculture, and public health to Cuban culture and politics.

Tawny Garcia, a first-generation Cuban-American, is taking the class in part because she wants to reconnect with her roots. Garcia, a senior majoring in sociology at Oregon State, has never been to the country where her father was born.

“I am still in shock about being able to do this trip; not many Americans get to go to Cuba,” she said. “My understanding over the past couple of years is that Cuban Americans and Cubans see things differently. I plan to go there with an open mind and gain a better understanding of a part of me.”

Media Contact: 

Michele Justice, 541-737-6458

Dwaine Plaza, 541-737-5369

OSU Press publishes first biography of Ava Helen Pauling

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon native Ava Helen Pauling may be best known as the spouse of Linus Pauling, the only individual to win two unshared Nobel Prizes, but she also had a career of her own – as an activist for civil rights, peace, feminism and environmental stewardship.

Now the Oregon State University Press is publishing the first biography of this activist, who met her future husband in a classroom on campus and was a catalyst in his career as well as her own.

Written by OSU historian Mina Carson, the book provides an account of Ava Helen Pauling’s rich career and the history behind what the author calls “one of the great love stories of the 20th century.”

The book, “Ava Helen Pauling: Partner, Activist, Visionary,” is available from the OSU Press at: http://osupress.oregonstate.edu/book/ava-helen-pauling

“I first became interested in Ava Helen Pauling because of her peace and anti-nuclear testing activities,” Carson said. “I became downright intrigued when I started reading her papers in (the university’s) Special Collections and realized that based on her personal charm, as well as her status as the spouse of Linus Pauling, she was able to create a worldwide network of friends and allies in movements that reacted against the political strictures and military mobilization of the Cold War.

“Although she was a free-thinking youngster, she began her adult life as a conventional young woman determined to be a good wife and mother,” Carson added, “and matured into an articulate feminist.”

After marriage, Ava Helen Pauling found herself tugged between supporting her husband’s science career and wanting to embrace the social and political causes close to her heart. Those goals merged over time, Carson points out, shaping a more complete identity and lifting her into prominence as an influential activist.

Together the Paulings fought to limit nuclear proliferation and halt the testing worldwide of nuclear devices – an effort that garnered Linus Pauling a Nobel Peace Prize.

“Ava Helen Pauling undoubtedly was the one who inspired Linus Pauling to go beyond his science and take political stands and career risks based on moral conviction,” Carson said.

Carson, an associate professor of history at OSU, completed much of her research on Ava Helen Pauling while participating in the OSU Libraries Special Collections and Archives Research Center’s  Resident Scholar Program. She has also written a book on the American Settlement Movement, and co-authored a book on female musicians with Tisa Lewis and Susan M. Shaw, Girls Rock! Fifty Years of Women Making Music.

Carson will make a presentation on Ava Helen Pauling: Partner, Activist, Visionary to celebrate the book’s publication on Thursday, May 9, at 8 p.m. at the Oregon Historical Society, 1200 S.W. Park Avenue in Portland. The event is free and open to the public.

Media Contact: 

Micki Reaman, 541-737-4620; Mina Carson, 541-737-1259

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Antonya Nelson and Robert Boswell to give reading at OSU May 10

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Antonya Nelson and Robert Boswell will read from their work on Friday, May 10, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the rotunda of the Valley Library at Oregon State University. A book signing will follow.

Nelson is the author of four novels and six short story collections, including “Bound” (Bloomsbury, 2010). In addition to other awards, she is a recipient of National Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim fellowships.

The New York Times wrote of “Bound” that Nelson “compels you to linger, makes you take in the shimmer of the long, gray highway beside the strip malls, the promise and punishment of the steely blue sky. This America is her stage, and its characters are her people.”

Boswell’s collection of stories, “The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards,” was a finalist for the 2010 PEN USA Literary Award in fiction. He is the author of seven novels, three story collections, a play, a cyberpunk novel, and two books of nonfiction.

Kirkus Review says of Boswell’s forthcoming novel, “Tumbledown,” that it is “A book that reminds readers that the wages of sin are myriad and include the opportunity to find oneself.”

Boswell and Nelson are married and have two children. Both teach creative writing at the University of Houston, where they share the Cullen Endowed Chair in Creative Writing.

The event is part of the OSU School of Writing, Literature, and Film’s Visiting Writers Series.

Media Contact: 

Heather Brown, 719-232-1485

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Antonya Nelson

Robert Boswell

‘The Misanthrope’ opens May 9 in Corvallis

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Oregon State University Theatre will present Molière’s wild and witty comedy classic “The Misanthrope” starting May 9.

Performances are scheduled May 9-11 and May 17-18 at 7:30 p.m. and May 19 at 2 p.m. at OSU's Withycombe Hall Theater.

“The Misanthrope” is a stylish comedy of manners set in a world of fashion, gossip, and love. Within the strict social niceties of French high society, the cynical (and misanthropic) Alceste causes scandal when he refuses to play his part. Sparks fly as couples and rivals engage in verbal spars, backstabbing, and a variety of games in the name of love.

Guest director Tinamarie Ivey wanted to strike a balance between the script’s witty, poetic language and broadly expressive physical humor.

“I truly enjoy the classics, and Molière is one of my favorites,” she said. “Since ‘The Misanthrope’ is written in rhyming verse and takes place in 17th-century France, it lends itself to a very specific performance style.”

The cast features OSU students Michael Beaton as Acaste, Irene Drage as Guard, Jesslyn Gillespie as Célimène, Megan Grassl as Eliante, J. Garrett Luna as Philiante, Tucker Minnick as Clitandre, Deborah Shapiro as DuBois, and Sam Thompson as Basque. Community members Travis Bazanele (Oronte), Zach Pajak (Alceste), and Dari Lawrie (Arsinoe) also join the cast.

Tickets for the production are $12 for general admission, $10 for seniors, $8 for students/youth, and $5 for OSU students. For more information or ticket purchases, contact OSU Theatre Box Office 541-737-2784 or purchase tickets online at http://oregonstate.edu/dept/theatre/

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OSU choirs, alumni soloists to sing at Lincoln Center

NEW YORK – Three Oregon State University choirs will give a concert at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City on Sunday, May 12, and travel packages have been developed for those who wish to attend.

The OSU Chamber Choir, directed by Steven Zielke; Bella Voce, directed by Tina Bull; and the OSU Meistersingers, directed by Russell Christensen, will participate in the performance, which begins at 5 p.m. in Alice Tully Hall.

Following the performance, the Oregon State University Alumni Association is hosting a reception in Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center that will feature guest performances, food and beverages. The Alumni Association is also offering lodging and flight packages. For information, go to http://osualum.com.

In addition to performing at the Lincoln Center, the choirs will give a free public concert on Friday, May 10, at 8 p.m. at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, 405 W. 59th St.

The tour is being coordinated by the School of Arts & Communication in the College of Liberal Arts, and Music Celebrations International. Information is available at http://osunyc.com.

In the first half of the concert, the three choirs will together perform Ralph Vaughan Williams’ epic work, “Dona Nobis Pacem,” with orchestra accompaniment, and featuring two OSU alumni soloists: Mari Stoner, soprano, a 2011 graduate in vocal performance; and Nickoli Strommer, baritone, a 2010 graduate in vocal performance.

The performance will also feature an innovative multi-media creation of Oregon State music technology professor, Kevin Patton, providing an experience of sight and sound.

In the second half of the concert, the choirs will each perform individually. There will also be a special guest performance by OSU alumnus Roosevelt Credit, baritone. Credit has appeared on Broadway in the Tony Award winning productions of “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,” and Harold Prince’s revival of “Show Boat,” and has performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center.

Media Contact: 

School of Arts and Communication: music, 541-737-4061

OSU to host conference on military and diplomacy May 7

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A conference exploring American military and diplomatic history will take place at Oregon State University on Tuesday, May 7.

The American Military and Diplomatic History Conference features a keynote panel on “American Power in Historical Perspective.” It begins at 7 p.m. in LaSells Stewart Center’s Construction & Engineering Auditorium and is free and open to the public.

The panel includes:

  • Ben Mutschler, director of OSU’s School of History, Philosophy, and Religion;
  • Timothy Lynch, associate professor at the University of Melbourne and author of “After the Cold War: American Foreign Policy in a New World” (2014);
  • David Milne, senior lecturer at the University of East Anglia and author of “America's Rasputin: Walt Rostow and the Vietnam War” (2008);
  • Christopher McKnight Nichols, assistant professor at Oregon State University and author of “Promise and Peril: America at the Dawn of a Global Age” (2011).

The conference coincides with the publication and launch of “The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Military and Diplomatic History,” a major two-volume encyclopedia that will be discussed at the panel by its main editors: Lynch, Milne, and Nichols. During the panel, they will talk about the insights drawn from their study of American military and diplomatic history since the 18th century and will put American power in a global and historical perspective.

For more information on the other talks at the conference, which take place at OSU’s Memorial Union Journey Room, go to: http://oregonstate.edu/cla/shpr/american-military-and-diplomatic-history-conference

The conference is sponsored by OSU Office of International Programs, the School of History, Philosophy, and Religion, the Hundere Endowment for Religion and Culture, Oxford University Press, and the College of Liberal Arts.

Media Contact: 

Christopher Nichols, 541-737-8910

Screening of documentary film held May 2-3

CORVALLIS, Ore. — An award-winning documentary on journalist Damian Trujillo will be shown at various locations in Corvallis on Thursday, May 2, and Friday, May 3, and followed by a question and answer session with the director. 

The screenings are sponsored by several departments, schools and colleges at Oregon State University.

The film, “From the Fields: An American Journey,” chronicles the life of NBC news anchor Trujillo, who came to the United States from Mexico with his family in 1972. Trujillo worked in the agricultural fields of the Salinas Valley before becoming the first in his family to graduate from college.

Following the 30-minute documentary, director Carolyn Brown, an assistant professor of journalism at American University, will answer questions about the film. Brown says one goal in making “From the Fields” was to debunk common stereotypes about Latinos and immigrants, and to explore what it means to work, support a family and contribute to American society. For more information on the screenings, go to: http://oregonstate.edu/urm/events/education

The screening schedule is as follows:

May 2

  • 10 a.m.: Darkside Cinema, 215 S.W. 4th St., Corvallis.
  • 6:30 p.m.: Corvallis Public Library, 645 N.W. Monroe Ave. (A Q&A session will be followed by a public reception)

May 3

  • 3 p.m.: Joyce Collin Furman Hall, OSU campus, 200 S.W. 15th St.

“From the Fields” won the 2013 Gracie Award for outstanding director, and was the 2012 Orson Welles Grand Winner at the California Film Awards.

Brown’s visit is sponsored by the OSU colleges of Education and Liberal Arts, the Center for Latin@ Studies, the School of Language, Culture and Society, the College Assistant Migrant Program, Student Affairs and the Office of Equity and Inclusion.  

Media Contact: 

Celene Carillo, 541-737-2137


Kathryn Ciechanowski, 541-737-8585

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"From the Fields"

German a capella group Vocaldente returns to OSU on April 25

CORVALLIS, Ore. – German a cappella ensemble Vocaldente will visit Corvallis on Thursday, April 25, for a free concert at the Whiteside Theatre at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Vocaldente performs popular music from the past several decades in classical a cappella style, without microphones but with entertaining choreography. Its repertoire covers songs of every decade, including 1920s Charleston tunes, popular German styles from the 1950s, 1970s disco and recent pop songs and chart hits.

In addition to the concert, the group plans to do a “mobile workshop,” moving around the Oregon State University campus singing and interacting with students, starting at noon on April 25.

The event is organized by the German program in OSU’s School of Language, Culture and Society.

Media Contact: 

Sebastian Heiduschke, 541-737-3957

Essayist and pianist join on May 1 to explore words and music

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Naturalist, philosopher and essayist Kathleen Dean Moore of Oregon State University will join OSU concert pianist Rachelle McCabe in a celebration of the music of words and the words of music on Wednesday, May 1, at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library,

The free, public presentation begins at 7 p.m., with a book signing to follow. The event marks the publication of a new edition of Moore’s collection of essays, Holdfast: At Home in the Natural World.

Moore and McCabe will mix it up with Simon and Garfunkel. They’ll explore what it means to love a child through music, words, and an old lullaby. Moore will read old favorites like “Howling with Strangers” and “The Song of the Canyon Wren,” and new works about such things as the best songs to sing to bears.

The re-issue of Holdfast, which includes a new afterword by the author, is part of the OSU Press’ Northwest Reprints series. The series was established to keep classic works of fiction and nonfiction in print.

The event is supported by Grass Roots Books & Music, The Friends of the Corvallis-Benton County Library, The Spring Creek Project, and OSU Press.

More information about Holdfast is available at: http://osupress.oregonstate.edu/book/holdfast

Media Contact: 

Micki Reaman, 541-737-4620