As an early childhood education professor, Lora Whitfield was the second black woman to receive tenure at Clark. Whitfield graduated from Clark and earned her associate’s degree in early childhood education in 2002. Before returning to Clark in 2014 to teach, she worked at both the Albina Early Head Start and the Southwest Washington Child Care Consortium. Whitfield received her tenure in 2017. Whitfield died on July 9.
Following the announcement of a new faculty award created in honor of Whitfield, early childhood education professor Debi Jenkins read a poem to Clark faculty and staff at their Sept. 16 faculty meeting. Jenkins, who was a close friend to Whitfield, wrote the poem in memory of her. In the beginning of her poem, Jenkins recalls having early morning phone conversations every day to talk about what they had planned for the work day.
Women’s Studies professor Dian Ulner was another close colleague to Whitfield. “Lora was a gift to Clark College,” Ulner said. “She cared deeply about the success of her students and worked so many long, hard hours ensuring that she always gave them her best. She was an exceptional colleague…perceptive, wise, and gracious. She made me laugh a lot. She did all of her work with an unwavering equity lens. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to know Lora and call her my friend.”