Along with the warmer weather, flowering trees and blossoming flowers, spring brings a burst of energy just in time to push us through the countless activities that mark the end of the academic year. After this year's particularly cold, snowy winter, I am especially pleased to see these signs of renewal around us. I'm also excited this spring by the progress we're making at Whitman with our strategic plan.
I have been crisscrossing the country since January, hosting strategic planning roundtable discussions with alumni, parents and other friends of the college. And consensus is emerging around five priorities for our strategic plan.
One priority is about access and affordability. We believe that access to a Whitman education should not be determined by ability to pay. Rather, students of all socioeconomic backgrounds should be able to decide whether this is the best college for them without cost as a limiting factor. This area focuses on increasing the availability and amount of financial aid.
Another priority involves building a more diverse, inclusive and equitable community. To us, diversity includes the composition of the people, as well as the curriculum, ideas, experiences, relationships and cultural traditions, across our community. Equity provides full participation for all students, faculty and staff regarding all facilities, programs and resources of the college. And inclusion means creating a sense of belonging for all members of our community, where the climate promotes full participation in the life of the college.
Curricular innovation is another emerging priority, maintaining our focus on a rigorous liberal arts curriculum while ensuring that our students grapple with complexity, explore ambiguity and draw sustenance and critical resources from varying perspectives. Our curriculum must be structured to emphasize connections across disciplines and embrace multiple ways of thinking.
We have also focused on honoring our location in Walla Walla and southeastern Washington—the power of place. Students and faculty partner with community leaders on internships, volunteer service, community-based classes and other experiential learning opportunities. The Walla Walla Valley is a beautiful setting in which our students, faculty and staff connect with the natural environment in extraordinary ways. We believe our location is an asset.
And we have emphasized the need to connect more intentionally our exceptional undergraduate experience to life after Whitman. We believe Whitman students should graduate with the knowledge and skills to translate their education into a meaningful and satisfying life path.
The Strategic Planning Committee is developing language around each of these priorities. We shared a draft with our Board of Trustees earlier this month and are working over the summer to refine it, with the goal of receiving board approval in November. But that is not the end of the process. At that point, working groups and task forces will convene to develop tactics for implementing each of the priorities.
We continue to invite your feedback on this work by engaging with the Strategic Planning Committee.
With our strategic plan, Whitman is striving—the theme of this edition of Whitman Magazine—to do more. So is our alumni magazine. It continues to celebrate our alumni, faculty, students, staff and institution and to build pride in and encourage support for the college. This edition marks, among other changes, the introduction of an umbrella theme that spans the disciplines and that changes from issue to issue.
For instance, Juan Lubroth '79, chief veterinary officer of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, increases sustainable food and decreases animal disease. Professor of Chemistry Frank Dunnivant advances environmental causes and motivates his students through captivating stories. Echo Chamber, a music/theatre/dance piece that won a Ben Rabinowitz Award and that theatre major Lud Brito '18 conceived, defuses bitter contemporary political polarization.
Our new computer science major, new course in digital humanities, new Diversity Innovation Grants. Changes to the governing boards. Our commencement speaker, Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg '01, director of African Women in Agricultural Research and Development. The success of our men's and women's basketball teams and our swim team. Our Summer Read book, Jennine Capó Crucet's Make Your Home Among Strangers, a novel featuring the daughter of Cuban immigrants and her transition to college. All strivings.
Kathleen M. Murray