Whittier College logo.

Dear Whittier College Community,

We joined the Whittier College Board of Trustees because we believe in a Liberal Arts education and embrace the College’s values of diversity, justice, equity, community, belonging, discovery, innovation, and respect.

As we look into and beyond the current academic year, we are each vested and committed to enabling student success in the classroom, co-curricular activities, and as alumni in the professional world. Together with President Linda Oubré, her administrative team, and the faculty, we have reaffirmed graduation rates as our most important indicator, especially for first-generation college students who have always been the hallmark of Whittier College.

While we all share a commitment to student success, your Board respects the responsibility of the Executive team and staff to reconcile the College’s competing priorities while moving toward a more sustainable future. Each member of your Board of Trustees is committed to supporting this work through active engagement with the College. We are also committed to transparency and establishing policies to strengthen the College and to proudly represent Whittier in our respective professional communities.

We should all celebrate the College’s many accomplishments, especially the fact that the College’s yield is the highest it has been in five years, first year retention is also the best in five years, and this year’s new student enrollment increased by 16% from 2020.

Our shared work and values were recently affirmed through the support of McKenzie Scott. She joins thousands of alumni, community members, and foundations whose support results in critical financial aid, making Whittier College accessible to all students. It is our collective responsibility to share our talents, time, and treasure, and protect Whittier College from threats to the institution.

It is important to highlight the critical role of the faculty in setting curricula and advocating for resources that strengthen the educational experience of our students. We are grateful for the quality of instruction and mentorship you bestow to our students. Your work is at the center of our success.

A very special thank you to Linda Oubré, our Whittier College President, for her advancement of our values, recognizing that fulfilling our mission requires inclusive leadership. She has the full support of every single member of the Board of Trustees.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen and participated in many honest and respectful discussions on how to best advance our shared values and purpose within our limited resources. We want to encourage the continued sharing of ideas on how to adapt our model to a society and economy of the future, always protecting our values while giving us permission to be bold.

On behalf of each of us, please accept a heartfelt thank you. Thank you for the important role each of you play in making the Whittier College community a truly special place for learning and growth.

Whittier College Board of Trustees, September 2021

 

Miguel A. Santana ’91, Chair
Richard Lichtenstein P’16, Secretary
James R. Parks, Treasurer
Harold E. Allen ’84
Fred D. Anderson ’66
Michael L. Brown ’79
Christopher T. Cross ’62
Barbara (Ondrasik) Groce ’57
Carey (Baker) Halio ’95
Helen Newton Hartung P’13
Yukiyasu Hayashi P’10
Jascha Kaykas-Wolff ’98
Matthew J. Knight

Alan H. Lund ’71
Meghan Morrissey P’16
Shveta Mujumdar
Leda (Mintzer) Muller ’88
Anne O’Donnell P’18
Bharat Patel P’16
Francisco C. Rodriguez
Yvonne Romero da Silva
Vincent E. Vigil ’02
Stephanie Wiggins ’92
Kenya L. Williams WLS’10
Tim Yamauchi
Robert Zemsky ’62

Author

In collaboration by Quaker Campus staff members.
  1. Board Experience
    September 17, 2021

    As a board member for another institution (this situation was pointed out to me), I hope Whittier does better than this.

    A true testament to your trust will be when you each donate your next gift. My guess is that some of you signed this letter because you believe in the president, but then there are 30, 40 or 50% of you that are afraid to be called racists and you’re looking for a way out of your duties short of resigning.

    If you really believe in the president and the well-being of the college, then do more than write a letter. Erase the college’s debt. That’s a little over a million (on average) for each of you. Otherwise you are just enablers of less-than-good practices.

    At this point, you probably know the likely future that awaits Linda Oubre and Whittier College. Financial and governance will receive further scrutiny. Personnel decisions will continue to be questioned. Political capital gets spent. Each of you walk on egg shells and your loyalty is questioned.

    Then it gets worse from there. The serious donors trickle away. Whittier gets removed from estate plans and the donor pyramid shrinks. Benchmarks go unmet and acts of desperation and accusations become more common. Then the employees and faculty and students really begin to feel the drain of decreasing resources, lowering morale. It’s a vicious cycle.

    Being a president is more than happening to be of a certain race, gender or class. It’s more than just a job–it’s about sustaining a community. And while your letter is a sign of loyalty to Linda, I am more concerned about your greater loyalty to everyone else that gives to and works and learns at Whittier. Nepotism is just a fact at this point and it calls into question the good jugement of leadership–including, now, yours.

    Good luck Whittier! I hope I am wrong, but people I know are no longer donating and Whittier is a small intimate community.

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