In a statement to the Whitman College community on Feb. 22, 2021, Kathleen M. Murray, the college’s 14th president, announced her plans to retire at the end of the 2021-2022 school year.
“We have been through a lot together these past six years and I am proud of what we have accomplished,” Murray wrote. “I look forward to continuing that partnership as we meet ambitious goals over the next sixteen months.”
Murray originally intended to keep her contract, renewed in the past year, through the 2024-2025 academic year—particularly to help Whitman prepare financially with the declining population of 18-year-olds anticipated to affect higher education enrollment.
In Murray’s letter to the community, she noted that “COVID has accelerated so many things including the timeline for our financial sustainability work, which must be accomplished over the course of this year and next. I am making my announcement at this time to give our board of trustees time to conduct a thorough search for Whitman’s next president before my departure.”
Murray’s announcement was accompanied by a statement from Nancy Serrurier, the chair of Whitman’s board of trustees. Serrurier praised Murray’s steady guidance through the pandemic and “collaborative approach to leadership” throughout her presidency.
“Kathy has shepherded Whitman through incredibly difficult times with grace, always focused on the education, safety and well-being of our students,” Serrurier wrote. She emphasized Murray’s and the board’s commitment to the recent financial sustainability review process and “leaving Whitman a much stronger institution for our next president.”
Serrurier also noted that during her time at Whitman, Murray has helped significantly grow the college’s fundraising—inspiring $105 million in gifts, increasing financial aid for students with need and overseeing the building of Cleveland Commons and Stanton Hall.