Assistant to the President

One day I noticed in the WWU campus faculty and staff newspaper that was already several days old a notice that President Ross was looking for a half-time person to fill the role of ‘Special Assistant to the President for International Programs and for community involvement.’   Applications for the position were to be submitted to the President’s Office by 5 p.m. of that same day.  I did not give much thought to applying for the position until about 2 p.m. when a faculty member of the Political Science Department knocked at my door and asked to talk to me.  He asked for a note from me endorsing him for the position.  He stated that he already had over 30 endorsements from Departmental heads and program directors.

I was appalled.  This individual was not conversant in any language other than English, had done no research overseas nor had he lived in another country for any length of time yet he aspired to be the international advisor to the President!  I informed him that I could not support his application since I, too, was applying for the position.  He was shaken and responded that he had heard no rumors to that effect.  I told him that I had just then decided to apply.  He responded that I would have a hard time getting endorsements from departmental chairs, etc, as most of them already had given him their endorsements.  I commented that I did not think this was an election, that the President would evaluate the resume of each applicant and select the person who best fits his needs.

In my hastily composed application, I pointed out to President Ross that I had been in the U.S. Diplomatic Service and had served in Colombia for two and a half years, had done geodetic surveying in Panama and Guatemala, conducted community research in Mexico and in Colombia, etc, etc, spoke Chinese Mandarin as well as Spanish and had served in Korea during the Korean War.

Addressing the issue of community involvement I pointed out that I was the first faculty in the 70 years the university had been in Bellingham to be elected to the Bellingham City Council.  But of more interest to President was the fact that I was the person who created the WWU “University Year for Action” program, the second in the nation which placed students in local community service agencies.  It turned out that President Ross was the creator of the first such project in the U.S.  Obviously he had every reason to select me over the “Full Bull” senior faculty professor who had the vote of the Departmental chairpersons.

I got the job.