Whitman College announces a new president

A message from the Board of Trustees

On behalf of the Board of Trustees it is my great pleasure to announce that Dr. Kathleen Murray, Provost, Dean of the Faculty, Professor of Music, and former Acting President of Macalester College, will become Whitman's 14th President on July 1, 2015. The Board voted unanimously to appoint Kathy after having received the same endorsement from the Presidential Search Committee.

The Search Committee began its work by developing a set of principles in consultation with all College constituencies. These principles, summarized in the Presidential Prospectus, guided our selection process. Over the intervening 8 months, the Committee reviewed the applications of more than 100 candidates. The College's strong position allowed us to attract an extraordinarily impressive pool. A series of in-depth interviews and personal interactions culminated with the selection of Kathy.

From the beginning it was clear to the committee that a leading priority would be to find a President with a deep background in the liberal arts as well as the ability to articulate the power of the type of education offered at Whitman. We also sought a candidate able to lead the college in the development of a new strategic plan and with the experience necessary to turn that plan into reality through both their management abilities and fund raising prowess. Kathy stood out from a pool that included leaders from some of the nation's best colleges and universities. Kathy, is described by a peer as a "calm, good listener [who is] able to clearly and respectfully articulate her views." In Kathy, the Committee found the person with the experience and vision to lead Whitman forward as we build on the success of the last ten years. We also found a person with great warmth, intelligence, and a sense of humor.

At Macalester, Kathy was responsible for the academic program of one of America's finest liberal arts colleges. She also directed the planning for Macalester's new $70 million Fine Arts Center and played a key role in the development of the College's new strategic plan.  As a testament to her leadership skills, Macalester's Board of Trustees selected Kathy to serve as Acting President of the College during the fall of 2013. Away from Macalester, Kathy serves as the Vice Chair of the American Conference of Academic Deans and on the Board of Directors for Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth.

Kathy, as a first generation college student, graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Music (Piano Performance) from Illinois Wesleyan University. She received a Master of Music from Bowling Green State University and a Doctor of Music (Piano Performance and Pedagogy) from Northwestern University. Kathy began her academic career at Lawrence University (a selective liberal arts college and conservatory of music, enrolling approximately 1350 students), where she moved from Department Chair to Dean of the Conservatory of Music to Dean of the Faculty.  Before being appointed as Provost and Dean of the Faculty at Macalester in 2008, Kathy served for three years as the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Birmingham-Southern College. She is also a 2004 graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education's Institute for Educational Management.

The campus owes a debt of gratitude to all the members of the Search Committee and, in particular, to Co-Chairs Nancy Serrurier and Janice Abraham. The Trustees, Overseers, faculty, staff, and students on the committee, along with our search consultants from Storbeck-Pimentel, worked tirelessly and collegially to find the next great leader of Whitman.  I also want to thank President George Bridges. Our ability to attract such an outstanding pool of candidates is a testament to his hard work and leadership since assuming the Presidency in 2005.

Kathy and her partner Bridget Reischl are excited to join the Whitman and Walla Walla communities. Please join me in welcoming them.

Sincerely,

Brad McMurchie '84
Chair of the Board of Trustees