Strategic and Policy Initiatives
Improving Whitman’s Fiscal and Budgetary Controls – In response to the national economic crisis, President Bridges worked closely with Whitman College trustees and the senior leadership team in aggressively responded to anticipated losses in the endowment, reducing operating costs, lowering the endowment payout rate, and transitioning from a need-blind to a need-aware admissions process that reduced the overall discount rate in the entering class from 41 percent in the previous year to 32 percent in 2011.
Transforming and Enhancing Access to Courses – Early in the fall semester of 2009 President Bridges appointed a working group to review Whitman’s registration process and make recommendations for improvement. They met throughout the fall semester and created a list of recommendations that have been implemented and significantly improved and personalized the course registration process.
Creating a Whitman Visual Identity – President Bridges appointed a working group of faculty, staff and students in November 2009 to review the college’s existing logo and graphic styles and to make recommendations for changes. The charge to this working group called for creating a visual identity that would convey Whitman’s historic legacy and, by virtue of its future use by all campus units, create greater consistency and uniformity in how we represent Whitman visually.
Advancing Campus Diversity – One of the most important and ongoing initiatives launched by President Bridges was designed to increase racial, religious and other forms of diversity at Whitman. With the generous support of alumni, Whitman established the Glover Alston Center, a beautifully renovated early-20th-century home on campus that serves as a gathering place for all students who seek to understand and celebrate differences in their backgrounds, cultures, orientations and religious traditions. Since 2005, the percentage of students of color at Whitman has increased significantly, from 13 percent in 2005 to 22 percent in 2010. Whitman has also achieved substantial increases in the numbers of staff and faculty from diverse backgrounds, cultures and orientations.
Preparing for Pandemic Threats – Under President Bridges’ leadership, Whitman developed a pandemic flu preparation and response plan as part of the overall Emergency Management Plan for the college. Members of the pandemic planning team met over the course of year and produced a significant plan for responding to pandemic threats.
Support for Innovation in Teaching and Learning – Recognizing that Whitman faculty and staff have a scarcity of time and resources for developing new learning experiences for students or integrating new pedagogies into teaching, President Bridges launched a major initiative: Support for Innovation in Teaching and Learning. This program makes grants available to faculty and staff members, on a competitive basis, for pursuing new approaches to instruction and student learning.
Enhanced Support for Varsity Athletics – Acknowledging that all aspects of Whitman College must offer exceptional experiences for students, President Bridges led coaches, faculty, staff and alumni in increasing institutional and philanthropic funding for varsity athletics. Over the past five years, the operating budget of Whitman’s athletic department has more than doubled and now includes a $3 million endowment to ensure continuity in Whitman’s varsity athletic programs.
A Collaborative and Inclusive Budget Process – Created to increase feedback, participation and transparency in the college budget process the committee consists of students, staff and faculty. The committee advises the president on how best to balance the need to keep tuition affordable while also providing the college with the resources needed to continue to strengthen programs and services.
Whitman Institute for Scholastic Enrichment (WISE) – WISE provides an opportunity for local middle-school students who show academic promise and are from first-generation, minority, or low-income families to have an extended visit to Whitman and develop an action plan for going to college after high school. The program began in August 2006 and is offered each summer.
President’s Advisory Council on Diversity – Beginning in February 2006, this small, action-oriented group of students, staff and faculty developed a plan for campus conversations on diversity. The Council also offered suggestions for new diversity initiatives, track and monitor progress in increasing diversity, and assist in communicating with the campus community about priorities and events related to diversity.
Enhancing Student Engagement – Charged with a comprehensive review of student engagement at Whitman with a focus on the first-year student experience (see Announcement of Task Force), the group completed the Task Force on Student Engagement Report in March 2006. The report included a review of current practices and an extensive list of recommendations for the future. Many of these recommendations have been implemented.