• bible sitting next to a teapot

    Whitman Mission

    National Historic Site Washington

The Amdor Years (1980-1987): Structure and Accomplishments

 

Introduction

Perhaps more than any previous administration, 1980-1987 marked a time when major projects were undertaken in all areas of the park. Superintendent Amdor aggressively attacked problems and was personally involved in each decision. Unlike the past two administrations, interpretation was not the primary focus. Instead, Superintendent Amdor turned his attention toward the somewhat neglected maintenance and administrative divisions in order to improve their operation. To achieve this goal, Amdor stressed efficiency, productivity, and management skills. Before examining this changing emphasis, the 1980-1987 administrative structure deserves note.

 

Administrative Structure

Each administration increased its staff and 1980-1987 was no exception. From six permanent employees in 1980 to nine by 1987, the permanent positions include superintendent, supervisory park ranger, maintenance worker (leader), laborer, administrative technician, clerk typist, park ranger, permanent-part-time park ranger, and a subject-to-furlough park ranger. Assisted by seasonal rangers, maintenance workers, Youth Conservation Corps enrollees and volunteers, this enlarged staff was particularly useful in 1986 when the 150th anniversary of the Whitman Party's arrival in the Walla Walla valley increased visitation and mission-sponsored events.

Daniel J. Tobin replaced Ed Hummel as regional director in July 1980. In 1985, William J. Briggle became acting regional director until Charles Odegaard transferred from the Midwest Region in 1987.

Robert C. Amdor replaced Stan Kowalkowski as superintendent in July 1980. His first superintendent assignment, Amdor worked in the National Park Service for fifteen years prior to transferring to Whitman Mission. Previous assignments included Mammoth Cave National Park, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, the Golden Spike National Historic Site, Fort Vancouver, Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas. In February 1987, after seven years at the Whitman Mission, Amdor was promoted and transferred to the position of Management Programs Analyst, Western Regional Office, in San Francisco, California.

 

Principal Accomplishments: 1980-1987

By Superintendent Amdor's own admission, "there were no pressing challenges" [166] when he arrived at the mission in 1980. Partly because Whitman Mission is, as Amdor describes, "a 'teenee' spot without a whole lot of pressing issues," [167] he and his staff had to analyze and evaluate the entire operation. This opportunity to involve himself with all the programs was "one of the real benefits" for Amdor:

It's a unique experience being superintendent of a little area because you end up being involved in so much of the day to day decisions. Maybe that's part of the thrill of it all, you're really involved in all the issues. [168]

Amdor took full advantage of this "hands-on" opportunity and quickly emphasized productivity in all three divisions. This results-oriented push was partly due to Amdor's own style and partly a result of the 1980 budget cuts.

Reduced funds forced each National Park Service superintendent to prioritize programs and to postpone or even eliminate those of lower priority. [169] For the Whitman Mission, this prioritizing resulted in a new maintenance program, additional building construction, and a documented management system. As for Superintendent Weldon, maintenance was Amdor's biggest concern, therefore, an overview of maintenance accomplishments follows.

 

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