Bill Dreshler, '64
There were several professors who especially made a difference to me. Professor Hutchings pushed me to think incisively and also to use deductive and inductive reasoning and logic to solve problems. George Ball was a real-life role model. His course Religions of the World was a great mind expander and opened my eyes to a wider world.
It was of immense value professionally later on when I had to deal with various cultures in the conduct of international business.
When I was at Whitman there were only about 800 students — and I'm sure the environment is the same now even though the student body has grown some. It is a campus where it's very easy to find opportunities to develop leadership skills — in your living group, student government, intramural sports, and a variety of other campus activities.
I also learned about passion and commitment at Whitman. By passion I mean a deep-seated excitement about an idea, thing, group, people — an enthusiasm to go beyond the bare minimum required. I think of George Ball rooting at a tennis match, a freshman English teacher passionate about an idea. To really succeed you have to have passion about what you're doing. It's easy to go through the motions, but you have to genuinely live the motions.
The Whitman environment taught me what commitment means, that when you sign on for something you're good for the long haul, not just when it benefits you or when it makes a good bullet point on your resume. It is your commitment that sustains you through the difficult moments, but it allows you to prosper in the end. For me, it's a marathon as opposed to a sprint. Finally, I've never been in a situation where my Whitman background didn't serve me well.
— Bill Deshler, '64
E C Company
Bill Deshler, '64, is chair and CEO of E C Company, one of the largest and
most respected electrical contractors and power products distributors in the United States. A diversified, multi-division organization, E C Company employs about 1,500 people in areas of operation that include advanced technology, commercial and industrial construction, communications services, and industrial power systems.
After earning an M.B.A. at Stanford University in 1966, Deshler started out with a job at Boeing and then worked in various management positions with Lamb-Weston, Inc., in Portland. He was senior vice president of Amfac Foods in Portland and president and CEO of Pacific Pearl Sea-foods in Seattle. He served as president and CEO of Jonah Foods, Inc., Bellevue, before joining E C Company in 1985.
Deshler is a member of the Whitman College Board of Trustees.