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James French Walters V
March 11, 1949 – October 3, 2021

“This is a tribute to Jim Walters from NSEE, introduced by long-time close colleague and friend Al Cabral."

Ah, Jim.  Thinking about his passing is sad but thinking about him makes me smile.  Jim was the friend that everyone would like to have—selfless, genuinely interested in you, and always up for whatever.  And he certainly wasn’t going to let any health issues dominate his life or take away from the things he loved--his wife Karen, his son Jamie, sailing, and experiential learning. 

Jim was a mentor (and sometimes a bit of a nudge) to many in Campus Compact, NSEE, his students at Montgomery College and volunteers in the AmeriCorps VISTA program.  He was most passionate about his groundbreaking work applying experiential learning to literacy education among disadvantaged students in the DC area.  He would get really excited talking about the success of that work impacting the lives of young people and how he would like to replicate that success on a broader level.  Jim would talk about what he did as "the work".  "You have to do the work" was one of his favorite expressions. 

Jim’s contributions to NSEE were many and meaningful.  During a particularly challenging period for the Society, Jim reached out and engaged both pioneers and those members new to the field.   That outreach strengthened NSEE and gave it sustainability.  Jim was instrumental in designing the Experiential Education Academy curriculum and taught numerous workshops over the years.  He was president of NSEE for four years.  The board was in transition when his first term finished, and he stayed on for a second term until things stabilized.  That was the depth of his commitment to our Society.  It was Jim who began referring to NSEE as a Society because he felt that term best embodied our vision and values--and the sort of relationships we should have with each other. 

The reflections that follow are true testaments to the impact that Jim has had on many in our Society and our field.  Rest easy, my friend.   

Scott Blair
It is with real sadness that I learn of the passing of Jim Walters. I joined NSEE late in its history following the 2009 Dallas conference where I first met Jim, serving as he was as NSEE President. With his first smile and handshake, he made me feel welcome and part of a well-established family of experiential educators and service-learning practitioners. Throughout the conference, he extended his kindness, insight, and humor to all those he encountered. I also liked that upon hearing the details of some interesting experiential education initiative somewhere or other, Jim's response was quite often a simple but genuine "Cool!" accompanied by a twinkle in his eye. Spontaneity and sincerity at its best. I attended his experiential academy workshops and conference speeches throughout the week and knew right away that NSEE and company such as Jim's was the place for me. I certainly recall how infectious was his enthusiasm for experiential education and NSEE's work in advancing it. He was key in getting me, and through me, our study abroad company, thoroughly seized of the need to stay connected to the NSEE community, to the NSEE Academy, and to folks like Jim Walters. I became a regular conference attendee and presenter and later led a few SIGs and joined the board. It was always a pleasure seeing Jim at each venue. It was clear that Jim loved giving his time and energy to the NSEE community and we all gained from his presence, his knowledge, and his passion for experiential education. Thank you, Jim, for all you did and all you are to us at NSEE.  Requiescat in pace.

Pam and Chalmers Brumbaugh
Our dear friend, with whom we worked on so many initiatives over the years, embodied a collegial spirit that was evident in his penchant for teamwork and collaboration. Jim was ever the scholar, ferreting out articles and research to weave into experiential formats for presentations in the Academy.  He was indeed a "voice crying in the wilderness," spreading the gospel of experiential learning and pedagogy. This, we believe, was true to his last breath. 

Haley Brust
My heart is heavy learning the news of Jim’s passing.   Jim and I met when I was NSEE’s new Executive Director.  Jim took me under his wing and taught me to love NSEE like he did.  We continued to work together to strengthen the vision of NSEE as Jim moved up through the board and into the President’s role.   Through those many years Jim and I became friends.  Here is to you, my friend, to the many smiles and laughs you shared with others, to hearing the joy in your voice when you talked about your dear wife Karen and wonderful son Jamie.  Here is to you and your beloved sailboat.  Here is to you and how you made a difference in all your students’ lives and to NSEE.   And here is to you for being a friend.   Jim, you inspired me, and I will miss you! 

Jim Colbert
I joined NSEE in 2008 looking for a professional home in experiential education and Jim Walters was a key member who engaged with me in meaningful ways. He encouraged me to present my examples of experiential education scholarship, to seek leadership roles in the Society, and to become a member of the EEA Faculty teaching Assessment 101.  My professional life was enriched through my work with Jim, and I will miss his collegiality.  

Sheri Dressler
Jim was tireless, determined and focused, all of which was admirable.  All we can do in the 2.5 billion seconds we are given (80 years) is to make a contribution the best we can and learn from it, and he certainly did that. 

We used to have many spiritual talks actually, woven among the conversations about learning.  I genuinely miss that. 

Linda Goff 
Jim was a quiet, unassuming person as I knew him at the time serving on the NSEE Board. He was very thoughtful and reflective and deeply committed to service-learning and developing standards for the academic experience on the part of all students. His work with CAS was a major contribution to the field of Experiential Education. 

Garry Hesser
Collaboration, collegiality, competency, and “cool “: these are a few words that come to mind when I think of Jim as a member of our “NSEE President emeritus club”.  His legacy that includes our embracing the CAS standards and EE Academy, and the many other gifts he brought to us, embodied my favorite Bob Sigmon quote:  “healthy people are growing and helping others to grow“.  Thank you, Jim, for being you. 

Mary King
Jim cared deeply and genuinely about community, experiential education, community college students, and how those students could empower themselves through service-learning experiences. He was passionate about that work and about working collaboratively with colleagues toward that end. Jim was a most creative servant leader whose generative capacities never ceased to amaze. NSEE and its many initiatives benefitted substantially from Jim's unique visions throughout his tenure as a Board member, President, and Academy developer.  Here’s to you, Jim ...You made a real difference!

Ron Kovach 
Jim was a dedicated servant leader to NSEE, and that commitment has served as a model to so many members. Jim was always willing to mentor others and "talk shop" far into the night. Personally, he "taught me the ropes," something for which I am deeply indebted.  

Paul Kwant
So sad to hear of Jim’s passing. He was always so encouraging to me wary on and we shared many laughs. His work in EE wasn’t in vain! My thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues. We will miss you, Jim. 

Sue Leister 
Jim was a welcoming presence in NSEE. His calm demeanor and open ear made for good conversations – I learned much from him. I so appreciated his expertise, especially his work with the CAS Standards. It’s hard to imagine NSEE without him.

Beth Odahlen
I am so sad to hear this news.  Jim was also the first person to encourage my involvement in NSEE and was always there to mentor, have discussions, and laugh with.  One of my fondest memories was the bus ride from Bryce Canyon to Zion with Jim.  We had many laughs and memories.  He will be missed 

Roseanna Ross 
Jim’s commitment to experiential learning pedagogy was unmatched.  His vision and dedication to NSEE’s mission and to the Experiential Academy were instrumental in the widespread impact of the Academy and the continued and deepening awareness of academically sound experiential learning programs.  Although Jim Walters will be sorely missed, his leadership in the field will have an enduring impact.  

Rob Shumer
I’m sorry to hear of the loss of Jim Walters. Hopefully, Jim will be remembered for his great leadership of NSEE … as president, board member, and as conference organizer.  He devoted much time and energy to making the organization stronger and helped connect people around the country to ensure that our commitment to experiential education was strengthened and supported. Remain in Perpetuity (RIP), Jim.