July 8th, 2008

A Colleague Passes


Recently I learned that my colleague and friend Don Wulff has passed away. It wasn’t a big surprise. Don’s heart had been failing for years. The last time I walked across campus with him he couldn’t walk and talk simultaneously. Still my heart sank and tears came.

Don advocated tirelessly for teaching and learning on a research campus. At the time of his death he directed the Center for Instructional Development and Research at the University of Washington. He worked just as tirelessly advancing the cause of faculty development as a profession. He was a scholar—thinking, writing, and pushing forward what we know about instructional change. He preferred to work with others. He participated on research teams, sometimes directing the projects. He co-wrote books and articles, edited anthologies, and collaborated on countless projects with others. He never let colleagues down and inspired others to do their best work.

Teachers and teaching are devalued in countless ways large and small. Neither are treated professionally. One way to change that is for those of us committed to college level teaching to model what it means to value teaching and treat it like a profession. Don was the consummate model of a teaching professional.

He had a lovely photo on his desk of a family property in Eastern Washington—“the place I will return to stay one day,” he told me. I hope he has found his way home. He leaves a legacy—he would be proud and pleased if we continued to build on it.

—Maryellen Weimer