A committee of selected Whitman community members has begun the work of finding the college’s 15th president.
The search for Whitman College’s next leader is now in full swing—after President Kathleen Murray’s February 2021 announcement that she will retire at the end of the 2021-2022 academic year. The college’s board of trustees, which is overseeing the search and transition process, announced in April that it had approved a core search committee that includes trustees Joe Davis ’80, Steve Hammond ’79, Jonathan Sposato ’89 and Julie Taylor, as well as incoming faculty chair Rebecca Hanrahan. Danielle Garbe Reser ’97 was chosen to chair the committee.
“I could not be more pleased with this selection,” Nancy Seurrier, immediate past board chair, wrote in an email to the Whitman community. “Danielle has served Whitman College for more than two decades, including 14 years of prior board service, first as a member of the Alumni Board, and most recently as vice chair of the President’s Advisory Board.”
Building the Team
The process gained momentum in the spring with the addition of several new members to the search committee. The final cohort of 17 includes two students (including senior Salma Anguiano, profiled on page 12), two staff, four faculty and nine trustees and alumni leaders. The committee also announced its partner in finding Murray’s replacement: Storbeck Search. The firm has more than a decade of experience managing executive search efforts for liberal arts colleges, including recent presidential searches for Colorado College, Carleton College and Haverford College.
Storbeck and the committee collaborated to host a series of listening sessions with various Whitman communities. “All of that feedback that we heard through the virtual listening sessions and all the hundreds of online comments we received were factored into shaping the search prospectus,” says Garbe Reser. The document, a crucial recruitment tool that outlines the community’s hopes and aspirations for both the college and its next leader, was released at the beginning of the summer and is available to view online. Advertisements for the position were placed on various search platforms and in major higher education publications.
This fall, the committee will move into the selection of candidates and finalizing the last steps of the process, says Garbe Reser. “The trustees have asked our committee to plan for the next president to start on July 1, 2022, so our ideal timeline would be to announce the selection by December of this year to allow time for transition at the start of the next calendar year.”
Although hard work and tough decisions are ahead, Garbe Reser is optimistic:
“We know how critical this decision is for the college’s future. We’re excited be able to showcase the incredible place Whitman is and for the opportunity to attract someone who’s ready to partner with and galvanize our community and move us forward into the future.”
Visit the presidential search page for progress updates.