Couple expands support for Whitman's community-based learning programs

Rand-Rosenberg

Overseer Rand Rosenberg ’75 became aware of Whitman’s efforts to develop courses that connect in-classroom and out-of-classroom learning during last year’s overseer meeting. He was profoundly moved by a presentation made by students from the State of the State for Washington Latinos program, a course in which students work with community partners to research issues that affect the region’s large Latino population.

“I listened to these stories and saw how compelling, articulate and passionate these kids were,” Rosenberg said, “and I was blown away by it. I thought, ‘If there is any way to support it, I want to do it.’”

That encounter inspired Rosenberg and his wife, Ellen Takayama, to direct their campaign gift to continue the State of the State for Washington Latinos program, as well as to create a new endowment for community-based learning to support similar programs. The endowment will provide resources for programming, faculty planning and community outreach, as well as building networks that link current students to alumni who work in public service or community advocacy.

“Community-based learning programs give students a chance to develop a broader perspective, to see how their Whitman education applies in the real world and how the external experiences can be brought back into the classroom.”
— Overseer Rand Rosenberg ’75

Rosenberg strongly believes in the importance of creating opportunities for students to experience the real world while contributing to worthwhile causes.

“Community-based learning programs give students a chance to develop a broader perspective, to see how their Whitman education applies in the real world and how the external experiences can be brought back into the classroom,” Rosenberg said.

Moreover, he feels that these programs are unique in that their influence extends beyond the students who participate in the program. “They share their stories with friends and others … the positive effects are multiplied.”

Rosenberg, who was raised in Seattle, came to Whitman almost by accident. He was all set to attend the University of Washington when his then-girlfriend convinced him that they should both apply to Whitman. While the girlfriend didn’t attend, Rosenberg was sold on Whitman. Rosenberg loved the tight-knit, nurturing community, where students regularly ate with their professors and got to know them well outside of the classroom. At the urging of the late economics professor David Stevens, Rosenberg went on to obtain an MBA at the University of Chicago and pursue a long and rewarding business career.

State of the State for Washington Latinos is a community-based research program that has been a part of Whitman’s curriculum since 2005. Under the leadership of Prof. Paul Apostolidis, the Judge and Mrs. Timothy A. Paul chair of political science, the program features intensive seminars taught by Whitman faculty that draw on the expertise of community professionals. The goal is to equip students with the ability to conduct reliable and practically meaningful social-scientific research and to show students how their research and critical thinking skills can positively impact their communities.

For many Whitman students, community-based learning experiences have had a major influence on their future careers. Thanks to support from alumni like Rand Rosenberg, students will continue to benefit from these valuable opportunities throughout the years.