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March 2002

 

Jan Rolfe: Associate Vice President for Development

A Tommy Howells American literature class at Whitman in the early 1960s provided the setting for what would become a successful partnership. In a classroom housed in the annex of “rickety Reynolds Hall,” Jan Hough met her future husband, Phil Rolfe. Both English majors and members of the class of 1964, the couple shared another Whitman connection: Phil ran on Whitman’s track team with Jan’s brother Bob, a four-time conference champion.

Recalling her college years, Jan Rolfe notes the camaraderie that Whitman alumni share. “You put a group of Whitman people together, and they have a good time.” Whether it’s reminiscing over beloved professors or comparing favorite campus trees, alumni cherish their ties to the College, she says.

A former grade school teacher, Rolfe began her Whitman career in 1980 working part-time in the alumni fund office. From 1982 to 1989 Rolfe served as director of the annual fund, and in 1989 was named associate vice president for development. Today Rolfe oversees the major gifts team of development officers who work with reunions, the parents fund, gift societies, and special fund-raising projects. Rolfe acknowledges “the stewardship of so many people” whose generosity has benefited the campus.

Huge improvements in facilities such as the recent Penrose Library renovation and the current science building project have enriched the campus, Rolfe says, but the project closest to her heart was the construction of the Bratton Tennis Center in 1995-96. An avid tennis player “forever,” she played recreationally on Ankeny’s outdoor courts during her student years, although at that time Whitman did not have a women’s tennis team.

A longtime community volunteer, Rolfe has served on numerous local boards including Campfire, YWCA, and Planned Parenthood. She is a member of the Walla Walla Symphony board. The Rolfes have a daughter, a son, and three grandchildren.

Describing her position in the development office as the “best possible job,” Rolfe finds meeting people the most enjoyable part. A smaller size college like Whitman, she notes, helps foster alumni friendships and alumni loyalty — “what terrific people we have . . . the College just keeps getting better and better.”

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