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Spring 2006 | Volume 29, Number 2 | Campus

From Academics to Athletics, Weter Legacy Lives On

Goodbye to An SPU legend

On April 20, the Seattle Pacific University Winifred E. Weter Annual Faculty Award Lecture — providing faculty with a public platform to present “scholarship informed by a Christian worldview” — marks its 31st year with Associate Professor of Graduate Psychology Margaret Diddams lecturing on Martin Buber’s classic work, I and Thou.

Funded by Emeritus Professor Ross Shaw and his wife, Barbara, the lecture was named in honor of one of Seattle Pacific’s legendary professors, Winifred Weter, soon after her 1975 retirement. Thirty-one years later, SPU said goodbye to that remarkable woman. Weter died in her sleep on January 3, 2006, at the age of 96.

Though women with doctorates were rare in 1933, Weter earned a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. She didn’t consider herself a trailblazer, though. “I can’t feel liberated because I’ve never felt oppressed,” she once said about her many achievements.

In 1935, Weter joined the faculty of Seattle Pacific College, where she taught Greek, Latin, and physical education. One of the few Seattle Pacific faculty members at the time with a doctorate, she later admitted, “A young lady with a brand new, unused Ph.D. was pretty special.” As the College’s first female coach, Weter also led women’s athletics for 13 years.

When the Seattle Pacific women’s basketball team made it to the NCAA Division II Final Four in 2005, they visited the nonagenarian, the University’s very first women’s basketball coach. “The players were inspired by it,” SPU President Philip Eaton told The Seattle Times. “They thought it was very cool they could do this, reach across those years.”

Weter served at Seattle Pacific for a total of 40 years. At her retirement, the Board of Trustees noted that her love for classical languages and literature “inspired a similar love and enthusiasm in thousands of students.” When the Weter Lecture was established in her honor, she began a long tradition of attendance. “She attended every one until 2001 or 2002,” says William Woodward, professor of history and two-time Weter lecturer. After each lecture, she’d stand to say a few words. “Fairly frequently,” Woodward recalls, “she’d make a point of saying there ought to be more women lecturers.”

Weter would have been pleased, then, to hear Diddams in the April 20 Weter Lecture discuss how businesses, through reward and social structure changes, can reclaim their “souls.” She will relate these topics to Martin Buber’s ideas about the ways human beings treat one another and conduct themselves in the world. “It’s a privilege to be part of a tradition that recognizes the scholarship and personal excellence of Winifred Weter,” says Diddams. The lecture will be held in Demaray Hall 150 at 7:30 p.m.


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