Comings and Goings (aka Hello Spring, Goodbye Winter)

It’s been an interesting couple of months.

Admission related events, application reading, and general office work aside, the last two months have seen the Whitman College Office of Admission going through some pretty big changes. What sort of changes? Put simply, the physical kind. Instead of staffing changes, instead of changes in policy or other less tangible elements, we were faced with a level of change quantifiable as somewhere between “disastrous” and “really, really unlucky.”

Here’s the story: shortly after the start of the new year, students still on break, application reading really picking up in full, Penrose House, the home of the Whitman Office of Admission was struck by incredibly severe water damage. At around 3 AM on Saturday, January 3rd, a pipe burst in our attic, resulting in a deluge of water. The downpour lasted somewhere in the range of 30 minutes before it was noticed by monitoring systems on campus, and the water in our office was shut off. Thankfully, this was a very short window of time – how much damage could 30 minutes worth of water do to an office?

A lot.

Holes in the ceiling panels...

Holes in the ceiling panels…

Protecting from fumes and the scent of moisture setting in...

Protecting from fumes and the scent of moisture setting in…

Who know we had hardwood beneath that carpet?

Who know we had hardwood beneath that carpet?

Walls falling apart...

Walls falling apart…

This was surprisingly the least of some of the damage, though a chunk fell out right after taking this photo.

This was surprisingly the least of some of the damage, though a chunk fell out right after taking this photo.

Goodbye reception desk.

Goodbye reception desk.

Conference rooms make for good impromptu storage spaces.

Conference rooms make for good impromptu storage spaces.

The damage done was enough to wreck the ceilings of most of the offices on the second floor, utterly destroy the carpet throughout most of the building, wreck the walls so severely that the water was leaking to outside the building, and damage the floors enough that entire sections needed to be ripped up and replaced. That’s not even touching the basement, which was enough of a nightmare that I couldn’t even remember to take pictures – there were several inches of standing water at one point, meaning that there was really no way on earth anyone could work down there except for those of us in the office who are amphibious (hint: none of us are).

The overall result of this was that since early January, the Office of Admission has been working out of the lovely Baker Center, as well as an office on campus which was thankfully vacant due to a recent office transition of another department. What’s it been like? In one word: weird. The past few months have been an exercise in flexibility and commitment to the job. Without a typical office situation and without a consistent structure, the job has been difficult at times, and we’ve worried about the impact this might have on visitors. Worse, what does this mean for the next incoming class? How will it impact our ability to get decisions out on time?

The answer, thankfully, was not at all! We released decisions today at 3 PM, and will be sending out packets in the mail as early as Monday of next week! We’re super excited to reach this major milestone, and look forward to the work in the coming months, interacting with potential members of the incoming class, as well as beginning to interact with the first visiting high school juniors who will make up the class of 2020 (yikes!).

On the other side of things, we’ve officially moved back into our old digs at Penrose House, and what better time to announce the return of our lovely office home than on this, the first day of spring! Everything thankfully feels very much the same – we didn’t build an entirely new building, after all, just replaced some damaged items – with the added twist that comes with returning home after weeks away. There are many boxes left to unpack…

MANY boxes to unpack.

MANY boxes to unpack.

Plus some still missing furniture.

Plus some still missing furniture.

And plenty of lamps who need to find a home.

And plenty of lamps who need to find a home.

…But with the return of the warm weather and the feeling of homecoming pervading the air, it’s hard to be upset about a little bit of extra work.

The view outside of my office is once again turning spectacular.

The view outside of my office is once again turning spectacular.

Be on the lookout next week for a post detailing our mailing process, with plenty of pictures of the work involved in stuffing packets! Until then, may your spring be filled with blossoms and your weather perfectly pristine.

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