Whitman College

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Whitman College
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Motto {{{motto}}}
Established November 28, 1883
School type Liberal Arts and Science
President George S. Bridges
Location Walla Walla, Washington State, US
Campus {{{campus}}}
Enrollment 1,450 undergraduate
Faculty 145

Whitman College is an independent, co-educational, non-sectarian residential liberal arts and sciences undergraduate college in Walla Walla, Washington. The college is located in the heart of the city, in southeastern Walla Walla County of Washington State, two and a half hours from Spokane, four hours from Portland, and four and a half hours from Seattle by car.

Whitman College is a nationally ranked liberal arts school and is ranked as the best liberal arts school in the Pacific Northwest, according to the U.S. News & World Report college rankings. Situated on a campus surrounded by wheat fields and wineries, Whitman College offers a challenging educational experience with a 10 to 1 student to faculty ratio and few teaching assistants, allowing for direct access to faculty. The college boasts an 86% graduation rate, the highest in the Pacific Northwest and fifth highest west of the Mississippi River. Additionally, the college has the largest endowment-and-trust-funds per student ratio and the highest alumni participation in its annual fund.



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Portrait of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman

In 1836, a few miles from the current city of Walla Walla, Marcus Whitman and his wife Narcissa established a medical mission and a school to serve the Cayuse Indians and immigrants on the Oregon Trail. After Indians killed the Whitmans 1847, Rev. Cushing Eells resolved to establish a school in the Whitmans' honor. The Washington Territorial Legislature granted a charter to Whitman Seminary on December 20, 1859. On November 28, 1883, the legislature issued a new charter, changing the seminary into a four-year, degree-granting college.

From its beginning, Whitman College has prized its independence from sectarian and political control. Whitman has remained small in order to facilitate the close faculty-student interaction that is essential to exceptional higher education. 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. The installation of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter in 1919, the first for any Northwest college, marked Whitman's growing reputation.


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Whitman College Baker Faculty Center
Whitman College Johnston Wilderness Campus
Whitman College Johnston Wilderness Campus

Even though Walla Walla is located on the edge of the Eastern Washington desert, the 78 acre (316,000 m²) park-like campus includes streams, beautiful landscaping, record holding trees and numerous outdoor sculptures. Boyer Avenue divides the core campus area with most dormitories and special interest houses to the south of the avenue and academic buildings to the north between Boyer Ave. and Isaacs Ave. Academic facilities surround Ankeny Field and the field provides a social focal point for the school. College Creek meanders through the main campus forming ponds and providing habitat for water fowl.

Four women’s sororities are housed in the Prentiss Hall school dormitory and four men's fraternities are housed in fraternity houses north of Isaacs Ave. 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, many of which are used for academic and social retreats.

The outlying areas are known for natural springs, rolling wheat fields, wineries and other agricultural features.

Most dormitories date to the early 1900’s and are of classical architectural design. About 70% of the student body reside in school housing. Academic facilities are newer and of more modern design.


About 1450 undergraduate students are enrolled in Whitman College, 56% female to 44% male. School 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, waterpolo, lacrosse, dodgeball, and nationally renowned cycling and ultimate frisbee teams. Special interest housing for language program students enhance the linguistic academic experience.

The college offers approximately 40 fields of study for bachelor of arts degrees. There are also approximately 10 additional areas that offer minor studies.

Degrees are awarded after successful completion of senior comprehensive exams. These exams vary depending on primary focus of study, but commonly include a thesis with focus on major studies, a written exam, and oral exam. The oral exam consists of a board of faculty members from the student's major who, for about one hour, have the student defend the topic of their thesis. This type of oral exam is most common among psychology and politics majors. For science based majors, the oral exam is a discussion/question-answer session reviewing all material covered during the student's time at Whitman. Written exams are most often a specialized GRE subject test, with a minimum percentile set in order to pass, or a written test composed by the department.

Approximately 50 percent of Whitman graduates go on to graduate school within five years and attend some of the best graduate programs. Whitman graduates routinely win the nation's most prestigious fellowships and awards. Over the last three years Whitman has had one Rhodes Scholar and 18 Fulbright Fellowships. In the last eight years 15 Whitman graduates have won Thomas J. Watson Fellowships. For students who are interested in foreign policy, Whitman is one of 16 institutions participating in the two-year-old Woodrow Wilson Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship program. 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.

Students can take advantage of one of most loyal alumni networks in the nation through the Career Consultant Network, which includes almost 2,000 alumni who have volunteered to help students with their career search.

Among colleges with enrollments under 5,000, Whitman is in the top ten in graduates who serve in the Peace Corps.

College leadership

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


  1. John C. Coleman, Jr., Napa, CA
  2. William K. Deshler, Portland, OR
  3. Lawrence Drake, Convent Station, NJ
  4. Nancy Bell Evans, Seattle, WA (
  5. Karen E. Glover (, Seattle, WA - Chair
  6. James K. Hayner, Walla Walla, WA
  7. Richard E. Hunter, La Jolla, CA
  8. Kristine Johnson, San Francisco, CA
  9. Valerie Logan Hood, Seattle, WA
  10. Thomas H. McCracken, Seattle, WA
  11. Michael C. Murr, Rye, NY
  12. Ralph C. Rittenour, Jr., Portland, OR
  13. James L. Robart (, Seattle, WA
  14. John W. Stanton (, Bellevue, WA
  15. Peter H. van Oppen (, Mercer Island, WA
  16. Elizabeth Main Welty, Spokane, WA
  17. David W. Wyckoff, Grandview, WA


  1. Alexander J. Anderson 1882-1891
  2. James F. Eaton in 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~


  1. Terry P. Abeyta, Yakima, WA
  2. Nancy Bratton Anderson, Olympia, WA
  3. Vojislav Andjelkovic, Wilton, CT
  4. Darrell W. Baggs, Menlo Park, CA
  5. Nancy Burton, Lake Forest Park, WA - Chair
  6. John D. Cadigan, Cashmere, WA
  7. Joseph C. Davis, Potomac, MD
  8. Andrew U. Ferrari, Winchester, VA
  9. John J. Flaherty, Bellevue, WA
  10. H. Graham Gaiser, Bellevue, WA
  11. Julie A. Gaisford, Seattle, WA
  12. Lewis J. Hale, Seattle, WA
  13. Anna Hernandez, Oakland, CA
  14. Robert F. Hidaka, Glendale, AZ
  15. Kay Hodge, Boston, MA
  16. Richard A. Johnsen, Issaquah, WA
  17. Gordon Keane, Jr., Portland, OR
  18. Michelle N. Keith, Dallas, TX
  19. Fred J. Kimball, Walla Walla, WA
  20. C. Nola Kulig, Longmeadow, MA
  21. Sally Landauer, Portland, OR
  22. Leigh Ann Lucero, Seattle, WA
  23. Michael J. Mahoney, Hillsborough, CA
  24. F. James McCarthy, Walla Walla, WA
  25. Alexander C. McGregor, Pullman, WA
  26. Bradley M. McMurchie, Portland, OR
  27. Mary V. Metastasio, Seattle, WA
  28. Sarah Michelson, Walla Walla, WA
  29. Lynn Mickelson, Glen Allen, VA
  30. Esther Milnes, Chatham, NJ
  31. James R. Moore, Salt Lake City, UT
  32. William R. Neff, Greenwood Village, CO
  33. D. Peter Newland, Everett, WA
  34. Dean Allen Nichols, Woodway, WA - Chair Elect
  35. Robert V. Pennington, Darien, CT
  36. Michael W. Phillips, Rancho Santa Fe, CA
  37. Marc Pitre, Culver City, CA
  38. Wilber E. Pribilsky, Walla Walla, WA
  39. Jerry Purcell, Ph.D., Long Beach, CA
  40. Rand L. Rosenberg, Del Mar, CA
  41. Charles Rosenberry, Vashon, WA
  42. Michelle A. Rubesch, Seattle, WA
  43. Stephen P. Sander, Seattle, WA
  44. M. Denise Savoie, Palo Alto, CA
  45. Mary Jane Shea, Spokane, WA
  46. E. Michael Stipe, Hermiston, OR
  47. Norman H. Swick, Seattle, WA
  48. Denise Tabbutt, Seattle, WA
  49. John R. Valaas, Medina, WA
  50. David M. Valdez, New York, NY
  51. Tom Whittaker, Wilsonville, OR

Alumni Board

Whitman College alumni started the Alumni Association in 1895 to communicate alumni reaction about college programs back to the Alumni Office. The following individuals are current board members:

  1. Nina Beegle, Spokane, WA
  2. Linda Brewer (, San Francisco, CA
  3. Susan E. Buxton (, Boise, ID - President
  4. Theodora Geokezas, Seattle, WA
  5. Cara K. Haskey, Seattle, WA
  6. Deanna P. Laidler, Portland, OR
  7. Sara C. Lindsley, Eugene, OR
  8. Charles P. Nelson, Highlands Ranch, CO
  9. Susan Pratt, Tacoma, WA
  10. Robert E. Simison, Arlington, VA
  11. Elmer C. Wagner, Lacey, WA
  12. Sarah O. Wang, Honolulu, HI - Vice Chair
  13. Catherine Williams, Auburn, WA

Notable Whitman alumni

  1. 1920 - William O. Douglas, BA English-Economics, U.S. Supreme Court Justice
  2. 1922 - Ralph Cordiner (, BA Economics-Political Science, CEO and Chairman, General Electric, Corp.
  3. 1924 - Walter Brattain, BA Physics, Physicist, Nobel Prize Winner
  4. 1951 - Adam West, BA English, Actor, Batman
  5. 1955 - Colleen Seidelhuber Willoughby, BA Speech-Political Science, Philanthropist and founder Washington Women's Foundation (
  6. 1958 - Nagle Jackson (, BA English-French, Playwright
  7. 1965 - William Ashworth (, BA Music, Naturalist and Author
  8. 1967 - Craig Lesley (, BA English, Author
  9. 1967 - Dirk Benedict (Niewoehner), BA Dramatic Art, Battlestar Galactica and A-Team
  10. 1970 - Matthew Ames (, BA Chemistry, Director of Research, Mayo Clinic
  11. 1971 - Ryan Crocker, BA English, US Ambassador to many Middle Eastern countries
  12. 1971 - John Markoff, BA Sociology, New York Times journalist and co-author of Takedown
  13. 1972 - Karen E. Glover (, BA Philosophy, Managing Partner Preston Gates & Ellis LLP ( and Director Adaptis ( Inc.
  14. 1974 - Sarah Ball Teslik (, BA Education-History, CEO Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. (
  15. 1977 - Gregory Glenn (, BA Biology-Chemistry, Vice-President and Scientific Director Iomai Corporation (
  16. 1977 - John Stanton (, BA Political Science, Founder and CEO, Western Wireless
  17. 1980 - Mark Cohen, BA Economics, Author
  18. 1980 - Rob Manning (, BA Mathematics-Physics, Mars Pathfinder Flight System Chief Engineer Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  19. 1985 - John Zilly (, BA Philosophy, Author
  20. 1986 - Aaron Forsberg (, BA History, Author
  21. 1990 - John Fulton (, BA English, Author
  22. 1990 - Hunt Holman, BA Dramatic Art, Playwright
  23. 1991 - William Finkbeiner (, BA Anthropology, Washington State Senate majority leader 2003-present
  24. 1994 - Keith Pohs, BA Geology, Author
  25. 1997 - Dorothy M. Metcalf-Lindenburger, BA Geology, NASA Astronaut Candidate
  26. 1997 - Kathrin Ford, BA English, Poet
  27. 1998 - Shane Johnson (;nm=on;mx=20), BA Theater, Actor
  28. 2002 - Katie Wilson, BA Politics, staff in the office of United States Vice-President Dick Cheney
  29. 2003 - Cris Pace, BA English, novelist, "Destiny's Knights" 2005
  30. 2005 - Elizabeth Pearson, BA Political Philosophy, Rhodes Scholar
  31. 2005 - Ingrid Backstrom (, Internationally-ranked freeskier.

Whitman athletics

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Ankeny Field Sports Event

Whitman holds membership in the NCAA (Div. III) and the Northwest Conference. Nine varsity teams for men and nine for 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, the 'Missionaries' after Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, is a source of debate with some parties wishing a change to avoid the implied cultural imperialism. Current campaigns to change the mascot support the 'Ducks', for the many ducks residing in campus creeks and ponds, a culturally neutral mascot.

KWCW 90.5 FM

KWCW 90.5 FM is a Class A radio station owned and operated by the Associated Students of Whitman College. Each semester students, faculty, staff, and community members can sign up for a weekly 2-hour block on this free-format radio station. Disc jockeys are free to play whatever music they wish, so long as it follows Federal Communications Commission guidelines. In addition, the station has several call-in radio shows to engage listeners from the greater Walla Walla area.

"K-dub" as it is known to students, lives inside the Reid Campus Center on Whitman Campus. Broadcasting at a power of 200 watts, the station's range is approximately 15 miles (24 km).

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