The Search Committee will be in touch with the Whitman community regularly to provide updates on the search process and to share about opportunities to provide input.

Dear Whitman community,

The Blues are now dusted with snow, and the Walla Walla Valley is gearing up for end-of-year festivities. On our list of things to celebrate, we can now add the successful completion of Whitman’s presidential search!

Please save the date — Tuesday, January 11 at 4 p.m. Pacific — for the Board of Trustees’ announcement and introduction of Whitman’s 15th president. The welcome celebration will be held on Zoom so our whole community can participate together in this exciting and historic day.

Please note: Watch your email for the invitation and contact the Office of Alumni Relations at alumni@whitman.edu if you have not received the link.

The selection of our next president marks the culmination of months of community listening, vigorous recruiting, and careful vetting. The Board of Trustees charged the presidential search committee with leading a process that would engage every part of the Whitman community and that would model inclusive excellence at every stage.

Thank you for your support, engagement, and encouragement every step of the way. Your input in May and June on the opportunities and challenges facing the college shaped the prospectus we used to advertise the position in July and provided the elements of the rubric we used to evaluate candidates. You provided nominations that helped us, in partnership with Storbeck Search, recruit a deep, diverse, and talented pool of candidates.

While our search started out confidentially, I announced in early November that we were moving to a hybrid phase whereby additional small groups of campus members would have the opportunity to interact with our finalists during private visits. We could not be sure during this pandemic year if campus visits would be possible, so we were delighted that our three finalists were able to safely explore our campus and community. Thank you to all the students, staff, faculty, and administrators who took time out of their schedules to participate in these visits, help our candidates get to know Whitman even better, and provide thoughtful feedback to inform the search committee’s final deliberations.

Please join me in a special thank you to the committee members for their dedication and hard work throughout this process. It is a significant commitment of time and energy, and they — representing the diverse perspectives of students, staff, faculty, alumni, parents, and trustees and spanning five decades of college experience — have been thoughtful and careful stewards of our community’s aspirations for the future.

The presidential search committee completed its work by presenting the viable candidates and our preferred prospect to the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees was unanimous in its selection of our next president and has completed contract negotiations. Our finalist asked that we share the news in January to allow sufficient time to sequence the announcement with their current institution, and we are happy to honor that request.

The committee members and trustees look forward to introducing you to our 15th president next month. In the meantime, I wish you and your family all the best for a happy, healthy holiday season and a wonderful start to the new year.

In service,
Danielle

Danielle Garbe Reser, ’97
Trustee and Chair, Presidential Search Committee
Walla Walla, Washington

Dear Whitman community,

Since April, I have been providing periodic updates about the presidential search committee’s efforts and the charge from the Board of Trustees to lead a process that will result in the hire of our 15th president for the academic year beginning July 1, 2022.

The process that we have undertaken has been guided by the principles of inclusive excellence, a core value that we expect each committee member to uphold. In July, we invited Professor and Associate Dean for Faculty Development Helen Kim to support our efforts by serving as a diversity advocate throughout the search and attend all our sessions.

The search committee has considered a robust and diverse pool of applicants. At every step of the process, including during interviews and other evaluative efforts this fall, the committee has carefully examined our decisions and considered the diversity of our pool from a variety of perspectives, such as race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and professional experience. We have weighed each candidate’s background and experience relative to the qualities and qualifications established for the search and shared in our prospectus after feedback from our whole community.

We are particularly pleased to share the news that the next step in our process is for a select group of candidates to visit our remarkable campus and community in the weeks ahead. I shared at the outset of this process that the need for confidentiality might be a top priority for leading candidates in our search. Indeed, that is the case. These individuals hold significant positions where they are currently. We want to honor their wishes to continue to explore this exceptional opportunity with the assurances that their engagement in our search will not become widely known at their home institutions.

During these private visits we will provide opportunities for constituent groups, beyond the search committee, to engage confidentially with the candidates and provide feedback to the Presidential Search Committee. Members of the committee are thoughtfully identifying these opportunities for members of our community to engage during these visits. The insights provided by student, staff, faculty, and alumni representatives will help shape the committee’s consideration of our candidates, while still meeting the privacy wishes of our distinguished group.

At the start of one of our previous interview rounds, committee members shared what they love about Whitman. It was powerful for candidates (and wonderful for us!) to hear stories of favorite professors, amazing staff mentors, and the joy, purpose, and friendships that result from being part of the Whitman family. We can’t wait for these candidates to learn even more about all the reasons we have to celebrate our college community and to experience our beautiful campus and town in person.

I invite you to share your stories of what you love about Whitman via this Google Form, and you are welcome to send me any questions at presidentialsearch@whitman.edu. I look forward to sharing more news as the search progresses.

In service,
Danielle

Danielle Garbe Reser, ’97
Walla Walla, Washington
Chair, Presidential Search Committee
presidentialsearch@whitman.edu
https://www.whitman.edu/presidential-search

Dear Whitman community,

We started this presidential search six months ago with a charge from the Board of Trustees to lead with academic and inclusive excellence and to manage a process that results in the hire of our 15th president for the academic year beginning July 1, 2022. Today I am pleased to send you this update to let you know that not only are we where we need to be, but also exactly where we want to be.

The length of time for a search of this nature allows for robust community participation at the outset, a broad and deep recruitment period, and a thoughtful and deliberate referencing and selection process. We are in this third phase now, focused on delivering the very best results for our community. At every stage, we have ensured a diverse and talented pool of candidates, and we are holding ourselves, our process, and our candidates to the highest standards.

We are identifying candidates who understand and value Whitman’s core mission of a liberal arts education and who are motivated by opportunities to strengthen operations and to innovate in higher education. Building on Whitman’s success, the next president will be charged with realizing the goals that this community has identified through the conversations we’ve had with you this year: strengthening our academic experience, improving access and affordability, and enhancing community partnerships. The next president needs to demonstrate both their ability to meet these goals and their commitment to building an inclusive and welcoming community for all. We are looking for a leader to inspire and galvanize our college constituents and to ensure that we have, and that we support, the human and financial resources we need to deliver on our mission now and for decades to come.

Our search is in a desirable position thanks to Whitman College’s long track record of providing a superb liberal arts education in a community of teacher-scholars and dedicated staff and administrators who develop critical thinkers, creative problem solvers, and community-minded leaders who go on to live lives of purpose with a deep and lifelong love of learning. We benefit from decades of thoughtful stewardship of the College’s mission, its people, and its resources.

The skies over Walla Walla this week have been filled with colorful hot air balloons. Just as our spirits have been lifted by this beautiful sight, so, too, has our committee’s work been uplifted by the joy and fun of working together and by our gratitude for the trust and confidence that the Board of Trustees and our whole college community have placed in our team. It is a privilege to serve Whitman’s mission of transforming lives and educating students who will make a positive difference in their communities and the world.

In service,
Danielle

Danielle Garbe Reser, ’97
Walla Walla, Washington
Chair, Presidential Search Committee
presidentialsearch@whitman.edu
https://www.whitman.edu/presidential-search

Dear Whitman Community,

Walla Walla and the Whitman campus are once again abuzz with students, and even as we adjust to COVID realities, it is exciting to have this academic year underway and the community back and engaged on campus. Similarly, our search committee is abuzz and proceeding as planned as we head into our work this fall.

Over the summer we gathered feedback via our virtual listening sessions and the online survey to inform the prospectus we used to advertise the search and recruit candidates. In my last email update, which took place during our local wheat harvest, I shared how our recruitment phase was the time to “harvest” candidates and encourage as many as possible to apply. I can now report that we are in the “winnowing” phase. As we sort the proverbial wheat from the chaff, we are deeply impressed by the high quality of the candidates we have encountered through this process.

We’ve begun conversations with a number of candidates and have left these interactions feeling energized and optimistic about the possibilities ahead for the College. We are hearing from candidates in return that they admire and are strongly attracted to the quality of Whitman’s students, faculty, and staff as represented through Whitman’s remarkable outcomes and accomplishments. We have much to be proud of and to share with candidates about our liberal arts mission, our location, and our aspirations for continued academic excellence and distinction.

As chair, I am also proud to note that our search committee members are listening to each other, learning from each other, and embracing the common goal of finding the best person to become Whitman’s next president. This is a true team effort, and I am honored to lead such a diverse and talented committee. I thank the committee members for their continued commitment and service to the College.

We are all excited about what lies ahead and are proud to represent our College in this important process.

In service,
Danielle

Danielle Garbe Reser, ’97
Walla Walla, Washington
Chair, Presidential Search Committee
presidentialsearch@whitman.edu
https://www.whitman.edu/presidential-search

Dear Whitman Community,

As our college hymn celebrates, this is the time of year in Walla Walla for “wheat fields gold.” Our local wheat harvest is well underway and so, too, is the search committee in our own process of harvest. Since I wrote a few weeks ago with the news about the release of our prospectus, we have been busy bringing candidates into our pool.

Later in the process, we will need to winnow the candidate field, but in this early phase, our goal is to gather as much “wheat” or qualified nominees as possible. We invite alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents, and friends to continue sending your nominations for presidential candidates to us at WhitmanPresident@storbecksearch.com.

Yesterday the search committee gathered to review our current progress and provide initial feedback to our partners at Storbeck Search to guide their recruitment conversations. We are excited about the early interest we are seeing and the well-qualified candidates from diverse backgrounds and experiences who are considering this opportunity. We are looking forward to having very difficult decisions to make in the weeks and months ahead given the depth and talent in this pool.

This week our committee also brought in a new member to our team. In keeping with the charge to our committee to uphold inclusive excellence in our process and the college’s best practice of including diversity advocates in searches, we are honored that Helen Kim, Associate Dean for Faculty Development & Professor of Sociology, agreed to serve as a diversity advocate for our search. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with her and invite you to learn more about her and the committee members on our website.

As a committee, we have read articles and discussed ways to understand the implicit biases we all have and how to mitigate those risks throughout our process. We are each committed to being as open-minded and objective as possible through the search, and we know we will benefit tremendously from Professor Kim’s professional expertise in this field. Professor Kim will serve as an accountability partner to us, ensuring that our conversations and deliberations are held to the highest standards. She will participate fully and confidentially in every aspect of the search and will not vote on candidates to protect her role as an advocate for the process itself.

With our search now out in the field, it is gratifying to be hearing all of the positive candidate interest in serving as Whitman College’s 15th president. We recognize and appreciate the trust and confidence placed in our committee as we undertake this critical work in partnership with all of you and on behalf of this “College mid the fountains” that we love.

In service,
Danielle

Danielle Garbe Reser, ’97
Walla Walla, Washington
Chair, Presidential Search Committee
presidentialsearch@whitman.edu
https://www.whitman.edu/presidential-search

Dear Whitman Community,

I am delighted to be writing to you today to share the formal prospectus advertising the search for Whitman’s 15th president. You can find it on our presidential search website.

Thank you very much to everyone in the Whitman community for your time and generosity in sharing your insights and suggestions to inform the development of this document to advertise our search. Our search committee deeply appreciated the thoughtful engagement and feedback we received through our listening sessions with faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents and friends and the detailed comments we received via our online survey. Your support was critical to help us craft a document that reflects our community’s hopes and aspirations.

Our goal with the prospectus was to capture both what is quintessentially Whitman and the challenges and opportunities our community sees on the horizon. We emphasized our core values as an institution that deeply values the academic excellence and liberal arts curriculum our teacher-scholars offer students with support from talented and dedicated staff. We highlighted how central our location in Walla Walla is to shaping our educational offerings and the close-knit community we foster. We also identified the priorities of making a Whitman education more affordable and accessible and continuing to make the Whitman community vibrant, thriving, and welcoming to all students, staff, faculty, alumni, parents, and friends.

We invite you to share the prospectus with your networks to help us recruit our 15th president. Please continue sending nominations and encourage prospective candidates to send their application materials to our search team at WhitmanPresident@StorbeckSearch.com.

Our partners at Storbeck Search will be using the prospectus now to recruit a diverse, talented pool for our search committee to evaluate in the coming months. I will continue to share key milestones with you as the search process continues.

Together, we look forward to identifying the next visionary leader to galvanize our community as we chart a bright future together.

In service,
Danielle

Danielle Garbe Reser, ’97
Walla Walla, Washington
Chair, Presidential Search Committee
presidentialsearch@whitman.edu
https://www.whitman.edu/presidential-search

Dear Whitman Community,

I am delighted to be writing to you today to introduce the full presidential search committee.

The Board of Trustees charged our initial search committee nucleus with identifying the process to build out the full committee membership. We selected a committee structure of 17 members and asked the leadership teams of the trustees, faculty, staff, and students to partner with us in identifying their representatives to the committee.

There were far more qualified candidates than openings on the committee. Thank you to everyone who was willing to be nominated and to the teams who reviewed and selected their respective representatives: Board of Trustees Chair Nancy Serrurier, Chair of the Faculty Barry Balof with the Division Chairs, Whitman Staff Advisory Council with Chair Robert Randall, and the Associated Students of Whitman College Nominating Committee with Dean of Students/Vice President for Student Affairs Kazi Joshua. An extra special thank you to Sara Frey for her superb administrative support for our committee’s work.

We recognize as a group that we cannot represent every facet of the Whitman community, but we are incredibly proud of the diversity and breadth of experience that we bring to this team from our personal and professional lives.

  • Our 17 representatives are faculty, staff, students, alumni, and parents – and several of us represent two or more of these groups.
  • Our backgrounds include a wide range of academic disciplines, including: math and music; classics and Chinese; environmental studies and economics; geology and global studies; politics, philosophy, and physics.
  • Our Whitman experiences include: student government, athletics, Greek life, residence life, clubs, internships, fellowships, interest groups, and interest houses.
  • We span five decades of Whitman experience from the 1970s to 2020s and live in six states.
  • Our professional backgrounds include every academic division, multiple administrative departments across campus, and nonprofit, corporate, and government experiences.
  • There are 35% of us who identify as people of color or LGBTQ, and we are eight women and nine men.

In short, we are Whitman. We have our first meeting today to get to know each other and to review the tasks ahead of us. We can’t wait to get to work for Whitman.

Visit our Presidential Search Website for our biographies:

  • Danielle Garbe Reser, ’97, Trustee, Search Committee Chair
  • Joe Davis, ’80, Board of Trustees Chair-Elect
  • Salma Anguiano, Class of 2022
  • Elissa Brown, Whitman Staff Advisory Council Member, Campus Sustainability Chair
  • Brian Dott, Professor of History and Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
  • Claire Evans, ’96, Parent, Reunion Giving Officer
  • Kirsten Gable, ’01, Current President’s Advisory Board, Past Alumni Board President
  • Steve Hammond, ’79, Trustee Emeritus
  • Rebecca Hanrahan, Chair of the Faculty, Associate Professor of Philosophy
  • Kurt Hoffman, Professor of Physics
  • Peter Lewis, ’81, Trustee
  • Lauren Osborne, Associate Professor of Religion and South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
  • Aaron Perrine, ’99, President’s Advisory Board Chair
  • Akshay Shetty, ’99, Trustee
  • Jonathan Sposato, ’89, Trustee
  • Julie Taylor, Trustee, Parent
  • Christian Wallace-Bailey, Class of 2022

This committee is a volunteer role for alumni and an additional responsibility for faculty, staff, and students. I hope that you will join me in thanking all our committee members for their dedication and commitment to the college and willingness to serve as a representative of and ambassador for the entire Whitman community. I am very honored to lead this talented team.

Now that we have formed our full committee, we are moving directly into our learning and discovery phase. We hope that you will participate in this critical effort to share your aspirations for Whitman’s 15th president and our college’s future. Please refer to my May 21 email for the registration details to join one or more of our community listening sessions coming up on May 27, June 1, and June 3. Please also be sure to provide your written feedback via this online survey by next Friday, June 4 at 8 p.m. PDT.

I look forward to writing to you again later in June to let you know what we are learning, how we are training to ensure inclusive excellence at every stage of the hiring process, and how we are moving forward to identify and recruit a talented and diverse candidate pool.

In the meantime, congratulations to our newest alumni in the Class of 2021 and to the whole campus for wrapping up this historic academic year and hosting a wonderful graduation weekend. We wish everyone a restful Memorial Day weekend and a healthy and fun summer.

In service,

Danielle

Danielle Garbe Reser, ’97
Walla Walla, Washington
Chair, Presidential Search Committee
presidentialsearch@whitman.edu
Follow the search: https://www.whitman.edu/presidential-search
Send your nominations: WhitmanPresident@storbecksearch.com
Complete our survey by June 4: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WhitmanPresidentSurvey

Dear Whitman Community,

The Board of Trustees has charged our initial presidential search committee with developing a process to build out a full committee to serve for the duration of the search. We have chosen a committee structure of 17 members: 2 students, 2 staff, 4 faculty, and 9 trustees or alumni.

Today our committee notified Board of Trustees Chair Nancy Serrurier, Dean of Students Kazi Joshua (who will work in partnership with the Associated Students of Whitman College), Whitman Staff Advisory Council Chair Robert Randall, and Faculty Chair Barry Balof of our decision and requested their assistance in identifying representatives for our committee. Their deadline to complete selection is Tuesday, May 25.

We are asking all of the above stakeholders to identify representatives who:

  • Have a commitment to seeing Whitman College thrive now and in the future.
  • Possess an understanding of how the college operates, demonstrated by engagement in committees, initiatives, or leadership positions, and a desire to learn more.
  • Listen carefully, are curious, and seek to understand before making a decision and while remaining open-minded to a range of possible outcomes.
  • Participate actively in a large group with different stakeholders; are willing to engage respectfully across differences, attuned to and respectful of diverse viewpoints and experiences; and willing to raise and discuss differing views, concerns, and rationales.
  • Fairly weigh options and make decisions not only from personal or professional perspectives, but also to assure outcomes that benefit the whole college, now and in the future.
  • Serve as a representative of and an advocate for the college in interviews with prospective candidates.
  • Are available to be prepared for and attend meetings, both virtually and in-person, as long as the process requires, including during summer months.
  • Maintain confidentiality of the process, both during and after the search.

By forming a committee this large, we are striving to include perspectives from a wide range of college constituencies. Even so, we know that our members may not reflect every part of our community, so we will need your help. We will be inviting everyone in the Whitman community to share your views with us on Whitman’s presidency and the college’s future. We hope that our full committee will hear and learn from you later this summer. Please keep a look out for future emails and find our latest news on the presidential search website.

At this critical moment for Whitman, we are honored to have this opportunity to serve the college in partnership with you and all college stakeholders. We look forward to introducing our full committee to you by the end of May.

In service,

Danielle

Danielle Garbe Reser, ’97
Walla Walla, Washington
Chair, Presidential Search Committee
Whitman College
presidentialsearch@whitman.edu

Dear Whitman Community,

I am writing to share the exciting news that we have selected Storbeck Search of Diversified Search Group as our partner in our search for Whitman’s 15th president.

Storbeck Search has been a leading executive search firm serving liberal arts colleges for over a decade, including with recent presidential searches at places such as Colorado College, Carleton College, and Haverford College. They have delivered results in providing diverse and talented candidates that led to successful hires: half their placements are women and 30% are persons of color, and since 2007, 87% of their presidential placements are either still in place or served for five years or more. 

Our partners in this search are Shelly Storbeck and Jim Sirianni, who bring deep expertise and breadth of knowledge of the current higher education landscape. Our committee appreciated their shared belief in the transformative nature of a liberal arts education and the value of the Whitman experience. Shelly brings recent, firsthand knowledge of the Whitman community from her partnership in the search that led to the hires of President Murray and other cabinet members. 

You can read more about Shelly and Jim’s credentials and experience on our presidential search website. If you have a candidate nomination to share, please send your nomination to: WhitmanPresident@storbecksearch.com.

Shelly and Jim look forward to meeting with all of us in the weeks ahead during our community listening sessions, which we will be announcing in the coming days. These sessions will be important opportunities for our whole community to reflect on the future we seek for Whitman College and how we can work together, and in partnership with our next president, to realize those ambitions. 

In service,

Danielle

 

Danielle Garbe Reser, ’97
Walla Walla, Washington
Chair, Presidential Search Committee
Whitman College
presidentialsearch@whitman.edu

Dear Whitman community, 

Whitman was the best choice I almost didn’t make.  Growing up in a small town in Eastern Washington, I had dreamed from an early age of going far away for college. I knew Whitman was an excellent academic institution, but it was so close to home that I only visited because my mom made me. I am very grateful to say that my mom was right.  

I fell in love with Whitman — with the liberal arts curriculum, with the friendly campus and community, with knowing I could balance rigorous academic studies with a multitude of student activities, and with the fancy sidewalk seating at what was then Merchant’s café (now AK’s Mercado). I was able to choose Whitman thanks to the generosity of Whitman alumni and the Sherwood scholarship program and became the first person in my immediate family to finish college and to complete a master’s degree at Columbia University.

For over two decades now, I have been committed to giving back to the college to return the investment made in my education and to secure that Whitman experience for future generations. As much as I have tried to give back to the college — as an admission office employee, donor, mentor, volunteer, or board member — it keeps giving back to me. I am grateful for friendships made with generations of alumni, staff, students, parents, and faculty and look forward to forging many more in the years ahead.

Choosing a college’s president is one of the most significant responsibilities of the Board of Trustees. It is a tremendous honor to have been selected to chair our presidential search committee with the charge of leading a search that involves the whole college community. I deeply appreciate the trust and confidence that the board has placed in me at this critical time in the history of Whitman and higher education.  

The goal of our search committee is to lead a transparent, inclusive, and successful search for a leader who will build on President Murray’s accomplishments and chart a vibrant future for Whitman College. We will need to address critical questions such as how we will conduct the search, which search firm we are hiring, and who will be members of the full search committee. Our committee will be rigorous and fair in considering all our options in how we design the search, consulting with experts and the community, and making decisions that provide the best pathway to an effective hiring process. 

My commitment to our community is to communicate regularly about our progress. In the coming weeks we will announce the process for selecting members of the full search committee and our selection of a search firm. To make it easier to follow the search, please visit our presidential search website. We will build out the site throughout the search with information on the search committee, our search timeline, search events, and an archive of search communications.

I hope that you will choose to be an active participant in our search process. We will invite everyone in the Whitman community to participate in surveys and virtual listening sessions to help us identify the opportunities and challenges confronting the college and build a list of attributes and skills needed in our next president. Your feedback will shape the prospectus we develop to advertise the position later this summer.

Our committee looks forward to working with you to recruit our next president and ensure that they, too, fall in love with Whitman and choose to join us in July 2022.

In service,

Danielle

Danielle Garbe Reser ’97
Walla Walla, Washington
Chair, Presidential Search Committee
presidentialsearch@whitman.edu
Website: www.whitman.edu/presidential-search

Dear members of the Whitman community,

I am pleased to announce that the board of trustees voted last week to move forward with a presidential search process. This gives us the time needed to complete the search and have a new president start immediately following President Murray’s retirement at the end of the 2021-2022 school year. 

I am also pleased to share that the board has selected Danielle Garbe Reser ’97 to chair the search committee. I could not be more pleased with this selection. 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. She was the alumni representative on the college’s 2015-2016 strategic planning committee and started her career as an admission officer for Whitman. Danielle has also been nominated to join Whitman’s Board of Trustees, which will be voted on in May.

Danielle will bring a wealth of professional experience to the presidential search process. She is known for her principled leadership and consensus-building skills. In 2001, Danielle earned a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University through a fellowship with the State Department, and then spent nearly 14 years as a diplomat with postings around the globe and at the White House.  In 2015, Danielle returned to Walla Walla, renewing her ties to the region. She served as CEO of Sherwood Trust from 2015-2020, where she led the private foundation’s efforts to invest in community and economic development in the Walla Walla region.

The trustees also approved the nucleus of the presidential search committee, which will include trustees Joe Davis ’80, Steve Hammond ’79, Jonathan Sposato ’89 and Julie Taylor P’18, as well as incoming faculty chair Rebecca Hanrahan. The first task for this group is to evaluate and recommend the selection of a search firm that the college will partner with. This group will also recommend a final structure for the full presidential search committee. 

Once they receive this recommendation, the board of trustees will approve a final structure and work with various stakeholders to fill out the committee. As this important work of selecting our next president continues, Danielle will be in touch with the Whitman community regularly, both to provide updates on the search process and to seek your input. On behalf of the entire board of trustees, I welcome your participation in this important process.

My best,

Nancy Serrurier
Chair, Board of Trustees
Whitman College