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‘This Is a Moment of High Stakes’

Celebrating the Installation of Whitman’s 15th President, Dr. Sarah R. Bolton

By Margie McDevitt Reece ’93

Photography by Kim Fetrow ’96 of Kim Fetrow Photography

President Sarah Bolton speaks at their installation.

On Friday, April 28, 2023, a beautiful spring day in Walla Walla, the Whitman College community and guests, from near and far, came together to officially welcome Whitman’s 15th President, Dr. Sarah Bolton.

“THIS IS A MOMENT of high stakes and it is a moment where our actions matter. We are called on to ask how our college can make the most impact for good—both for our students and for the world that sorely needs them.”
—Sarah R. Bolton, Whitman College’s 15th President

Bolton’s Presidential Installation was held in Cordiner Hall. In attendance, along with higher education dignitaries and guests of the President, were three former Whitman College presidents, Kathleen Murray (14th, 2015–2022), George Bridges, (13th, 2005–2015) and Robert Skotheim (10th, 1975–1988).

At the podium, Bolton was honored by representatives of the Whitman alumni, faculty, staff and students, as well as local leaders. The ceremony began with a special welcome from officials from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR), General Council Chairman Lindsey X. Watchman and E. Thomas Morning Owl, CTUIR General Council Interpreter.

In 10 Short Years ...

As various speakers praised Bolton’s own energy and leadership, the President focused much of her address on students—current and those soon to choose Whitman.

“In 10 short years, Whitman will reach the 150th anniversary of its founding as a college,” Bolton said. “The class that graduates that year—in 2033—is already in 6th grade. Their world is changing fast and has been dramatically altered by historic events within their brief lifetimes.”

Bolton asked the crowd to consider what it will mean to meet Whitman’s mission for these students.

“This historic moment calls on us to ask how our college can make the most impact for good—for our students and for the world that needs them. ... How will they view their futures? What can we do, as a college, to be part of preparing them to seize the opportunities and meet the needs in their changing world? We need to ask these questions honestly and urgently, being willing to be surprised at what we learn.”

Boldly, Wisely & With Deep Humanity 

With both resolve and urgency, Bolton shared aspirations for the future leaders Whitman must produce in a changing world—through the power of a liberal arts education.

“We will need collaborative leaders with a global perspective, people who hold a broad understanding of history and science, of human experience and artistic expression, of justice and injustice, and of research and discovery. We need those leaders in every field of work to innovate and find new solutions to big challenges—boldly, wisely and with deep humanity—to create strong and just schools, towns, businesses, cultural centers and faith communities, to dismantle racism, to strengthen access to health care, to create urgently needed science, to preserve and restore our environment.”

Welcoming Thought Leaders on Higher Education

On Saturday, April 29, 2023, following Dr. Sarah Bolton’s Installation as Whitman College’s 15th president, more events were held, including a panel discussion, “Higher Education in a Changing World.”

Panel members from left: Dr. Wayne Webster, Dr. Adam Falk, Dr. Shirley M. Collado, Dr. Ivonne García, Dr. Sean Decatur and Dr. Sarah Bolton, who moderated the discussion. Learn more about the panelists.

Published on Aug 18, 2023
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