New gifts support academic excellence and student access

Considerable progress has been made toward the Now Is the Time Campaign’s $150 million goal. An additional $4 million in gifts and pledges have come in since our December report, bringing the total raised to $118 million. While these numbers are impressive and indicate advancement toward our goal of ensuring the college’s long-term financial strength, this campaign is ultimately about transforming the educational experience of our students. With this in mind, we are pleased to report that the success of the campaign is increasingly evident on campus. Every gift is making a difference and helping us to build on the excellence that has been a hallmark of a Whitman education for decades. Two gifts received this quarter serve as good examples of the campaign’s impact on current students and programs. 

Visiting Writers Reading Series receives a boost from former Parents Leadership Committee members

Katrina Roberts

Members of the Parents Leadership Committee become involved with Whitman and the Now Is the Time Campaign by meeting on campus twice per year to provide advice to the college and to help choose worthy projects for support through the Parents Fund. During their student’s time at Whitman, one couple saw the impact of Parents Fund efforts for projects like scholarships and internships and wanted to make a personal gift to the campaign that would also have an immediate impact. 

Because the Visiting Writers Reading Series had a tremendous influence on their student’s experience, they decided to make a gift that would generously supplement the program over the next two years to recruit high profile writers to speak at Whitman. This year, the Visiting Writers included eight distinguished authors of poetry, fiction and nonfiction. These established and emerging writers share their work with the campus and Northwest communities, often meet with students to discuss craft and serve as an inspiration to writers and readers while prompting valuable humanitarian discussions and inquiries across cultures. Students raved about the connections they were able to make with writer Terrance Hayes, for example, who spoke intimately with them in Prof. Katrina Roberts’s advanced poetry class about “the necessity of uncertainty in the writing process” and his experience having won the National Book Award. 

Roberts, who is the VWRS director and the Mina Schwabacher professor of English/creative writing and humanities, said, “This gift is a stunningly generous affirmation of the tremendous impact literary arts events provide on our campus, and it ensures consistent visits by prominent writers, despite tough economic times. I’m truly grateful to these donors; their bestowal will impact innumerable lives in so many profound ways.” 

Greg Hickman ’77 gives to varsity athletics and the digital arts, his lifelong passions

Greg Hickman '77

Greg Hickman ’77 was a Renaissance man at Whitman College. He was a Paul Garrett Scholar, majoring in art and playing basketball (as a 6-foot-8 starter), as well as taking part in intramural sports, Phi Delta Theta fraternity, and a wide range of academic and extracurricular activities. While a student, he created the mural of Bill Cosby that was used as a stage backdrop when the comedian visited campus in 1974. With the flexibility afforded by his liberal arts education at Whitman, Greg was able to adapt his traditional training in studio art, focused on printmaking, into a career in the new medium presented by computers and digital technologies. He first went to Hollywood to design for the advertising industry, then became an expert digital artist, working for many years as a graphic designer for Microsoft and later for his own graphic design firm. 

In 2004, excited about the oppor-tunities presented by the new Fouts Center for Visual Arts at Whitman, Greg sponsored the Hickman Digital Art Classroom, a dedicated space for Whitman students to work in the medium. Since its construction, the digital art classroom has helped drive a marked increase in the number of students focusing on digital art within the visual art major and also provided the opportunity for students on campus to experiment with digital art, to promote events and lectures with high-quality posters and to gain skill in design.

Unfortunately, Greg was stricken with metastatic melanoma in 2012 and passed away on Jan. 15 this year. He wanted to make a legacy gift to the campaign and chose to add significantly to the Varsity Athletics Endowment in honor of his experience in athletics at Whitman and to further the study of digital arts with the Greg Hickman Digital Arts Endowment. The endowment will provide for supplies, equipment and other student needs in digital art for years to come. Of Greg’s generous support of the Varsity Athletics Endowment, Dean Snider, director of athletics, said, “Perhaps Whitman’s first ever ‘big man,’ Greg was smooth and graceful on the court and very well-liked by his team and classmates. Greg’s generous gift to support the athletics endowment will help ensure a quality experience for future generations of talented student-athletes. We are immensely grateful.” 

His niece, Bonnie Yocum Rough ’00, adds on behalf of the family, “Greg was proud to leave this legacy. He was enduringly grateful to Whitman for a bountiful education, as well as a vibrant circle of friends who filled his life with joy. When Greg fell ill, he was still eager to attend his Spring 2013 class reunion. I sat with him last fall as he hovered his mouse over the RSVP button online, considering whether to wait. He loved his college mightily.”

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You are invited to campus to experience first-hand the vibrant community and educational excellence being facilitated by gifts to the Now Is the Time Campaign. Students, staff and faculty are tremendously grateful for your support.