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The History of Rigby Hall

The History of Rigby Hall

black and white photo of building and courtyard with a woman leaning on a planter

Donald Rigby: Chair of Biology 

By Brooklin Painter 

Donald Rigby, a professor of biology and former dean of graduate studies, graduated from Walla Walla University in 1956. He began working as a biology professor at WWU in 1958 and remained on campus for more than 30 years. He was known as the “finest teacher at Walla Walla University” and had “a reputation as a demanding but concerned educator and friend.” [1] 

Before coming to WWU, Rigby first graduated from La Sierra College, now University, in 1950. He then enlisted in the army as a laboratory technician. After his service, Rigby acquired his master’s degree in biology at WWU in 1956. Following this, he attended the University of Arizona for two years in order to achieve his graduate studies. [2] 

 In 1958, Rigby came back to WWU to become a professor of biology. Six years later in 1964, he was appointed as chair of the biology department and remained so for a year. In 1967, Rigby withdrew from WWU to obtain his doctoral degree from Loma Linda University. When he received his degree, he came back to campus and reattained his position as chair of the biology department. In total, he was the chair for 12 years. [3] 

In 1989, Rigby was awarded alumni of the year. [4] During his time at WWU, he was additionally rewarded a teacher of the year award, the 1989 honored faculty member at alumni homecoming, and the Burlington Northern teaching award. [5] 

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On several occasions, Rigby was appointed the position of academic dean and president of WWU, but he continued to turn it down because he preferred to stay in the classroom. [6] The Life Sciences Complex was renamed Rigby in his honor on June 2, 1967 for his years of dedication at WWU. [7] 

Rigby’s wife, Donnie (Thompson) Rigby, worked at the University from 1959-1992. During her years, she became a professor of communication, speech, and drama, as well as chair of the communications department. The Rigbys both retired in 1992, ending their time at WWU. [8] 

References 

  1. Endowed Scholarships. (n.d.). Walla Walla University. https://www.wallawalla.edu/about-wwu/general-information/advancement/student-scholarships/endowed-scholarships/  
  1. Ibid
  1. Ibid
  1. Alumni of the year. (n.d.). Walla Walla University.  https://www.wallawalla.edu/alumni/wwu-alumni-association/alumni-of-the-year/  
  1. Endowed Scholarships. (n.d.). Walla Walla University. https://www.wallawalla.edu/about-wwu/general-information/advancement/student-scholarships/endowed-scholarships/ 
  1. Ibid
  1. Rigby Hall. (n.d.). WWU Archives Digital Photo Collection.  https://library.wallawalla.edu/imlib/photos.php?RollID=Bl&FrameID=8169  
  1. Endowed Scholarships. (n.d.). Walla Walla University. https://www.wallawalla.edu/about-wwu/general-information/advancement/student-scholarships/endowed-scholarships/ 
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