WALLA WALLA, Wash.-- Whitman College has been awarded a $300,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation of New York to support and enhance the college's environmental studies programs.

"This generous gift from the Mellon Foundation will allow us to strengthen our current Environmental Studies program while developing an innovative off-campus Semester in the West program," said Whitman president Tom Cronin.

Whitman developed one of the first programs in environmental studies among liberal arts colleges in 1972 and has seen enormous growth in the program in the past decade, said Cronin. This spring the college graduated 27 environmental studies majors, as compared to just two environmental studies graduates in 1992. "The college is committed to developing Environmental Studies as one of its signature programs because our geographic location is ideal for the study of environmental issues, including salmon depletion, toxic waste disposal, wilderness protection and rural economic development, and because the vast majority of students who choose to study at Whitman are keenly interested in issues of environmental economics and sciences," said Cronin.

"We greatly appreciate the support of the Mellon Foundation," said Cronin. "With this gift the foundation supports our commitment to take our environmental studies program from the realm of a very good program to a great program."

One of the steps the college is taking is adding a humanities component to the environmental studies curriculum, already strong in the sciences and social sciences. The college has dedicated the Arnold Endowment funds to bring environmentalist, writer and publisher Don Snow to campus for the 2001-2002 academic year as the Arnold Professor of Environmental Studies. Snow will teach courses in environmental literature and writing. Support from the Mellon grant will enable to college to fund similar courses for three additional years, giving the college time to staff this element of the program on a full- time basis. The college has also added a class in environmental thinking in the philosophy department.

The Semester in the West program is still in the planning stages but will be rigorous, integrative, and reflective of Whitman's liberal arts approach. The program would enable 15 to 20 students to travel throughout the Interior West to investigate a variety of environmental issues. The college will launch the Semester in the West during the fall of 2002.


Lenel Parish, Whitman News Service, (509) 527-51562
Email: parishlj@whitman.edu