Whitman College Plans Search for New Leader

President George Bridges will conclude his 10-year term of service upon completion of Whitman's major fundraising campaign.

Media Contact:
Michelle Ma
Chief Communications Officer
(509) 527-5768
mamk@whitman.edu

(Washington State)—On February 27, 2014, Whitman College President, George Bridges, announced his decision to conclude his service in the College's top leadership position on June 30, 2015. 

Bridges came to Whitman College in 2005 from the University of Washington and during his tenure the College has made many significant advances in its facilities, academic, and co-curricular programs. Whitman has significantly increased the number of tenure track faculty positions and the racial and ethnic diversity of the student body, launched the Global Studies Initiative, created programs to advance innovation in teaching and learning, dramatically increased student involvement in faculty research, and begun planning a new major in computer science. To support students' experiences in service and aid them in transitioning to the workforce upon graduation, Whitman also created the Student Engagement Center under Bridges' leadership. The Center is dedicated to providing students with active career counseling, access to funded internships and opportunities to network with employers and Whitman alumni in major metropolitan areas across the country. Over the past ten years the College has also completed major capital projects, which have included: establishing a center to advance dialogue among students, faculty and staff on diversity and intercultural issues; constructing new buildings dedicated to art, fitness, and student health/wellness; and completing major renovations of its theatre, science facilities, administrative offices, and varsity athletic venues.

"Serving as Whitman's president has been a tremendous honor," Bridges said. "I have greatly admired the alumni, friends, faculty, staff and students who make this an extraordinary institution that thrives in an era of rapid societal change. Together we will continue raising the College's aspirations through the remainder of my tenure and beyond. Our financial strength, academic rigor, student life, and varsity athletics programs have improved significantly in recent years, and I am confident that comparable advances will proceed at Whitman in the years to come," he continued.

One of President Bridges' most notable initiatives is the endowment campaign that was launched under his leadership in November 2011. The $150 million campaign will conclude in June 2015, serving as a celebratory bookend for his time at the College. The current value of the College's endowment exceeds $500 million.

"We are on track to successfully reach our campaign goal, and as the campaign's end marks a new beginning for Whitman, it also serves as an opportunity to begin a new chapter in the life of our family, particularly for my wife, Kari, and me," Bridges stated. They are considering various options and are currently undecided about future plans; taking a sabbatical, keeping their home in the mountains outside Walla Walla, and maintaining close ties with the College and the community are on their list of personal, immediate goals.

On behalf of the Whitman College Board of Trustees, Board Chair Peter van Oppen shared, "We are enormously grateful for the singular and successful leadership George has provided, and will continue to provide, at Whitman. The College has accomplished the goals we set for his presidency along with many others, all of which we are quite proud. The timing of his announcement is with Whitman's best interests in mind as it allows us-the Trustees and the College leadership-to plan for an orderly, seamless transition at the conclusion of an expectedly lengthy presidential search process."

According to van Oppen, the College is in the preliminary planning stages of a presidential search and details regarding that process will be available as soon as participating governing board members, faculty, staff and student representatives are identified.

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About Dr. George Bridges-A nationally recognized scholar and educator, Dr. George Bridges has served as President of Whitman College since July 1, 2005. Prior to establishing a notable career in higher education, he worked as a social scientist in the staff office of the Attorney General of the United States, where he undertook research and testified before Congress, federal agencies and national commissions on subjects pertaining to federal legal policy and, later in his career, on the disparate treatment of racial and ethnic minorities in the administration of criminal justice. He has held faculty appointments at American University, University of Maryland, Case Western Reserve University, and the University of Washington, where he received numerous awards for teaching excellence and served as Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education.

About Whitman College-Founded in 1882, Whitman College is a highly selective private, independent, co-educational, non-sectarian residential liberal arts and sciences undergraduate college located in Walla Walla, Washington. the College is home to approximately 1,500 undergraduate students exploring forty-five departmental majors that lead to a Bachelor of Arts degree. Whitman College students develop capacities to analyze, interpret, criticize, communicate, and engage, and a concentration on basic disciplines, in combination with a supportive residential life program, fosters intellectual vitality, confidence, leadership, and the flexibility to succeed in a changing technological, multicultural world.