Whitman College President Kathy Murray Announces Plans to Retire in 2022
345 Boyer Avenue
Walla Walla, WA 99362
Dear members of the Whitman community,
I am writing today to share news that I plan to retire from Whitman a year from this June, in 2022. I let the board of trustees leadership know of my decision last fall and shared the news with the Cabinet last month.
Many of you know that this past year I signed a contract renewal that would have lasted through the 2024-2025 academic year, and had planned to retire at the end of this contract. My goal was to have prepared Whitman for financial sustainability given the changes we expected to impact the landscape for higher education in the latter part of this decade. 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.
I will spend the next sixteen months putting Whitman in the strongest position possible for a new president, with the college prepared to thrive in our new reality. Together, we will complete the work that the college has already started toward this end. The Board and I will implement the plan developed out of the financial sustainability review, reallocating the college’s resources to the places we need them most. And, I will push forward fundraising efforts that will bring new resources to Whitman, so we can invest in promising new ideas and initiatives that will strengthen us financially, keep our liberal arts mission at the core of our work, and ensure our education is relevant for students today and into the future.
We have been through a lot together these past six years and I am proud of what we have accomplished. I look forward to continuing that partnership as we meet ambitious goals over the next sixteen months.
President, Whitman College
Dear Whitman community members,
On behalf of Whitman College’s board of trustees, I am reaching out in response to President Murray’s decision to retire at the end of the 2021-2022 academic year. I believe Kathy’s retirement will be a real loss for Whitman, but I’ve trusted Kathy’s decisions and insight throughout her presidency, and trust her belief that her retirement next year is the right decision for her.
During the COVID pandemic, Kathy has shepherded Whitman through incredibly difficult times with grace, always focused on the education, safety and well-being of our students. Prior to the pandemic, her collaborative approach to leadership brought us a strategic planning process that was a model of shared governance and helped focus our work throughout her presidency. Most recently, Kathy has led Whitman’s Financial Sustainability Review process. The Board is committed to implementing the decisions that result from this process, leaving Whitman a much stronger institution for our next president.
Kathy has grown the college’s fundraising, inspiring $105 million in gifts and commitments to advance the college’s mission since the beginning of her presidency. This philanthropy allowed the college to increase financial aid by 50% during her time at Whitman, and build Cleveland Commons and Stanton Hall. This year, under her leadership, the college launched The Whitman Fund, which has expanded current use donations by more than 60% year over year. This will support the college’s greatest financial needs, including student scholarships.
Increasing Whitman’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) has also been a priority during Kathy’s presidency, during which Whitman has enrolled the most diverse student body in college history. Under her leadership, Whitman’s head of DEI was elevated to the cabinet level, the college conducted a major campus climate survey, and continues to make Whitman more welcoming by implementing a host of action items recommended by an inclusion task force that she formed this past summer.
As Kathy enters her final year as president, the board looks forward to working with her as she continues to strengthen the college’s mission and financial outlook for the years to come.
Thank you, Kathy, for all you have done and will continue to accomplish as Whitman’s president.
Chair, Board of Trustees