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Whitman College
Established December 20, 1859
Type Private liberal arts college
Endowment $391.3 million[1]
Chairman John W. Stanton
President George S. Bridges
Faculty 145
Undergraduates 1,450
Location Walla Walla, Washington, U.S.
46°04′14″N 118°19′44″W / 46.0706922°N 118.3288535°W / 46.0706922; -118.3288535
Campus 117 Acres
Colors Blue and Maize

Whitman College is a co-educational, non-sectarian residential undergraduate liberal arts college in Walla Walla, Washington. Its mission statement, retrieved from the Web in December of 2009, reads, "Whitman College is committed to providing an excellent, well-rounded liberal arts and sciences undergraduate education. It is an independent, nonsectarian, and residential college. Whitman offers an ideal setting for rigorous learning and scholarship and encourages creativity, character, and responsibility. Through the study of humanities, arts, and social and natural sciences, Whitman’s students develop capacities to analyze, interpret, criticize, communicate, and engage. A concentration on basic disciplines, in combination with a supportive residential life program that encourages personal and social development, is intended to foster intellectual vitality, confidence, leadership, and the flexibility to succeed in a changing technological, multicultural world."



In 1836, the missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Whitman established a medical mission and a school a few miles from the modern-day city of Walla Walla to serve the Cayuse Indians and immigrants on the Oregon Trail. After the Whitmans were killed in the 1847 Whitman Massacre, the Rev. Cushing Eells resolved to establish a school in their honor. The Washington Territorial Legislature granted a charter to Whitman Seminary on December 20, 1859. On November 28, 1883, the legislature amended the charter, changing the name to Whitman College and the school to a four-year, degree-granting college. The modern-day Whitman College has no religious affiliation.

In 1913, Whitman became the first college or university in the nation to require undergraduate students to complete comprehensive oral and written examinations in their major fields. Many individual majors also require an extensive project in the form of either a written or multimedia thesis or a presentation or recital. In 1920, a Phi Beta Kappa Chapter was installed, the second for any college in the Pacific Northwest.[2]


The campus includes streams, record-holding trees[citation needed] and numerous outdoor sculptures. It is built around Ankeny Field, which provides structure to the architectural layout, but also serves as a popular social destination on warm days.[citation needed] College Creek (a segment of Mill Creek) meanders through the main campus, forming ponds (most notably Lakum Duckum) and providing a habitat for Whitman's many ducks and an occasional pair of white geese.

About 70% of the student body resides in school housing. Two of eight residence halls date to the early 1900s and several residence buildings are of neoclassical architectural design. There are eleven "Interest House" residences which are mostly of Victorian and classical design. Academic facilities are newer and of more modern design.

Three women's sororities (Kappa Alpha Theta, Delta Gamma, and Kappa Kappa Gamma) are housed in the Prentiss Hall school residence hall and four men's fraternities (Sigma Chi, Beta Theta Pi, Phi Delta Theta, and Tau Kappa Epsilon) are housed in fraternity houses north of Isaacs Avenue. Downtown Walla Walla is a few blocks to the west of the campus. The college also has other land holdings outside the main campus area, one of which — the Johnson Wilderness Campus — is used for academic and social retreats.

"Styx" (2002), by Deborah Butterfield, sits on Ankeny Field.
A view toward the Quad from the steps of Penrose Library.
Entrance to Penrose Library.
Olin Hall (Humaninites).
Maxey Hall (Social Sciences)
Hunter Conservatory (Musical arts).
An artificial pond on Mill Creek
A corner of Ankeny Field, Lyman House to the left.


The Memorial Building, built in 1899, houses administrative offices.

About 1450 undergraduate students are enrolled in Whitman College, 56% female to 44% male. Greek life is notable in the high percentage of students, around 33%, in fraternities and sororities. There are many student activities, many of which focus on student activism and social improvement. Many students also choose to participate in varsity, club, and intramural sports such as rugby union, waterpolo, lacrosse, dodgeball, and nationally renowned cycling and Ultimate teams. Special interest housing for foreign language program students is also available.

The college offers 42 fields of study for Bachelor of Arts degrees. There are also approximately 10 additional areas that offer solely minor studies.

Degrees are awarded after successful completion of senior "comprehensive exams." These exams vary depending on primary focus of study, but commonly include some combination of i) a senior thesis, ii) written examination, and iii) oral examination. The oral examination is either a defense of the student's senior thesis, or is one or multiple exams of material the student is expected to have learned during their major study administered by faculty. The written exam is either a GRE subject test or a test composed by the department.

University rankings (overall)

Forbes[3] 20
USNWR Liberal Arts[4] 36
WM Liberal Arts[5] 13

For students who are interested in foreign policy, Whitman is one of 16 institutions participating in the two-year-old Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship program.[6][7] The State Department pays for fellows to obtain their master's degree at the university of their choice in return for three years of service as a Foreign Service Officer. Whitman has a number of alumni who serve in foreign affairs.

Students can take advantage of one of the most loyal alumni networks in the nation through the Career Consultant Network, which includes many alumni.[citation needed]

Whitman's Speech and Debate Program is active in policy (CEDA-NDT) and parliamentary (NPDA-NPTE) debate as well as individual events. Each year, 24 to 30 students participate fully in the program. Students travel to tournaments throughout the west coast as well as nationally.[8] Whitman students Adam Symonds and Jessica Clarke won the CEDA National Championship in 1999.[9]

Whitman also offers combined programs in conjunction with several prestigious institutions throughout the United States:[10]

Whitman offers a "Semester in the West" program. Semester in the West is a field study program in environmental studies, focusing on ecological, social, and political issues confronting the American West. For a full semester, 20 accepted students will travel the West, focusing on various issues.

Whitman is listed in Loren Pope's book Colleges That Change Lives.


Whitman holds membership in the NCAA's Northwest Conference (Division III) and fields nine varsity teams each for men and women. More than 70 percent of the student body participates in intramural sports; more than 20 percent participate in a varsity sport.

Whitman's official mascot, named the 'Fighting Missionary' after Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, is a source of debate, with some parties wishing to change it in order to avoid the implied cultural imperialism. Current campaigns to change the mascot support the 'Duck', named for the many ducks residing in campus creeks and ponds, as a culturally neutral mascot. Others are in favor of keeping the unique mascot, which inspired the innuendo-laden cheer "Missionaries, Missionaries, We're On Top!".[citation needed]

KWCW 90.5 FM

KWCW 90.5 FM is a Class A radio station owned and operated by the Whitman Students' union, the Associated Students of Whitman College.

"K-dub" as it is known to students, lives inside the Reid Campus Center on Whitman Campus. Broadcasting at a power of 160 watts, the station's range is approximately 15 miles (24 km).

College leadership

Whitman College is governed by Trustees in conjunction with a college President, Overseers and Alumni Board.

Admission Office building at Whitman College in the summer of 2009.

List of Presidents

  1. Alexander J. Anderson, 1882–1891
  2. James F. Eaton, 1891–1894
  3. Stephen B. L. Penrose, 1894–1934
  4. Rudolf A. Clemen, 1934–1936
  5. Walter Andrew Bratton, 1936–1942
  6. Winslow S. Anderson, 1942–1948
  7. Chester C. Maxey, 1948–1959
  8. Louis B. Perry, 1959–1967
  9. Donald Sheehan, 1968–1974
  10. Robert Allen Skotheim, 1975–1988
  11. David Evans Maxwell, 1989–1993
  12. Thomas E. Cronin, 1993–2005
  13. George S. Bridges, 2005–

Alumni Board

Whitman College alumni started the Alumni Association in 1895 to communicate alumni reaction about college programs back to the Alumni Office. The board is currently chaired by Linda Brewer, San Francisco, with Ryan Hagemann, Portland, as vice chair[citation needed].

Notable Whitman alumni

Further reading

External links



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