WALLA WALLA, Wash.-- George S. Bridges takes the helm today as Whitman College’s 13th president.

    Bridges, 54, has been a professor of sociology at the University of Washington since 1982. In 1998 he was appointed associate dean of undergraduate education, and most recently served as dean and vice provost of undergraduate education, a position he held beginning in 2002.

    Bridges, a Seattle native, succeeds Tom Cronin, who stepped down from the presidency June 30. Cronin had served as Whitman president since August 1993.

    “Besides his standing as a nationally recognized scholar in his field, Dr. Bridges is known for his passion for students, his skill and strong appreciation for teaching, and his ability to make persuasive and compelling presentations to donors,” said trustees Karen Glover and John Stanton when Bridges’ appointment was announced in November 2004.“Though new to liberal arts colleges, he leads an Honors College the size of Whitman and oversees academic programs for 25,000 undergraduates at the University of Washington. He is no stranger to undergraduate education, and we are convinced he will add his own enhancement to the story of Whitman College.”

    “The chance to lead one of the country’s leading liberal arts colleges in my home state was an opportunity that my family and I couldn’t pass up,” said Bridges in November. “We are honored by the appointment and genuinely look forward to being part of a community of fine scholars and great teaching and learning experiences for students.”

    Whitman, a college of liberal arts and sciences with about 1,450 students, has seen a 36 percent increase in applications in the past four years, with the college receiving an all-time high of nearly 2,648 applications for this year’s entering class of approximately 400.

    Whitman is supported by an endowment and outside trust total of about $300 million, giving it a measure of financial stability rare among private colleges and universities. Also setting the college apart is its particularly generous and loyal alumni. For the past 21 years, more than 50 percent of the alumni have given to the college each year, consistently placing Whitman in the top 20 colleges in the nation in percentage of alumni giving.

    Bridges earned his bachelor’s degree, cum laude and with distinction in sociology, from the University of Washington in 1972, and his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Pennsylvania in 1973 and 1979, respectively. In his career he has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, American University, the University of Maryland and Case Western Reserve University in addition to his professional experience at the University of Washington. He also served on the staff of the Attorney General of the United States in Washington, D.C., in the Office of Policy and Planning and with the Federal Justice Research Program.

    Bridges’ numerous honors and awards include the 1995 Washington Council on Crime and Delinquency’s Award for Outstanding Achievement by a Scholar and a 1996 Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of Washington, its highest teaching honor.

    As dean, Bridges oversaw the University of Washington’s Honors Program, a liberal arts college within the university. Bridges also helped develop the University of Washington’s Teaching Academy, a collection of programs that promote excellence in teaching as well as the integration of education and scholarly activities of faculty, staff and students.

     Bridges is the author or co-author of many papers, book chapters and professional presentations, including Inequality, Crime and Social Control, 1994, published with Matha Myers; “Racial Disparities in Official Assessments of Juvenile Offenders: Attributional Stereotypes as Mediating Mechanisms of Juvenile Offenders,” American Sociological Review, 1998, published with Sara Steen; and “Disproportionate Minority Confinement: The Washington Experience,” 2004, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., with Heidi Hsia and Rosalie McHale.

    Much of his research has centered on the problems of racial and ethnic minorities in the juvenile justice system. He has received numerous research grants and awards over the years including grants from the Department of Social and Health Services to study the racial composition of county juvenile courts and from the PEW Charitable Trusts as co-principal investigator on research titled “Preparing Future Faculty.”

     Bridges, his partner Kari Tupper, and their youngest children, Anna and James, are in Walla Walla and preparing for the next academic year. Anna and James will attend school this fall in Walla Walla. Tupper, who earned her doctoral degree in English from the University of Washington in 1997, served previously as senior lecturer in women studies and comparative history of ideas at the University of Washington.

CONTACT: Lenel Parish, Whitman College News Service, (509) 527-5156 Email: parishlj@whitman.edu