Hello, Whitman. I am Dr. John Johnson (he/him/his), the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion here at Whitman College. Like our record-breaking Class of 2025, I too am new to Whitman, having arrived just two months ago. I am pleased to join a community dedicated to the academic enterprise and that believes in the transformative power of education.

Also like the Class of 2025, I bring with me to Whitman a healthy degree of excitement, anxiety and hope. I am excited by what I see as an institutional commitment to inclusion, evinced by the activities surrounding last year’s academic theme and other recent efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at the college. I am anxious about our collective capacity to thrive and respond to the demands of higher education while still reeling from a tumultuous and divisive 18 months and our ongoing struggles with pandemic fatigue, mask mandates and emergent variants. And I am filled with hope. My interactions with a range of different members of this community over the last two months have been reassuring, inspiring and portend the beautiful collaborations and DEI progress that is to come.

Guided by a philosophy of Inclusive Excellence, I believe in promoting diversity without dominance, equity without benevolence, inclusion without othering, and belonging without assimilation. This means working to create an environment where someone who is in the numerical minority would not and should not feel like their needs or concerns are less important. Creating an environment that acknowledges that the playing field is not equal and does not regard efforts to level the field as charity or generosity. Building a community where no one is degraded, diminished, ridiculed or marginalized based on their identity/identities. And a culture where no one is expected to assimilate or present themselves differently in order to be accepted.

Diversity and Inclusion are core values at Whitman and every area, unit, department and individual can contribute to making the college more inclusive in their own way. I look forward to joining you all in this necessary work. The time is now.