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The Road Ahead

President Kathy Murray

Retirement. That sounds so final. It's a concept I heard my grandfather talk about, and then my parents, and more recently my older brothers, but not me. So many things in our lives have been changed by this pandemic. I imagine many of you, like me, have been forced to contemplate your own mortality in new ways. My mom died of breast cancer at the age I am right now, and then a year later, when I was 27, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Thankfully my disease was at a very early stage, so I do not have to worry about that threat at this point in my life. But I have thought a great deal about the stage of life my mom missed. My dad retired just before she passed away. They never had that time together. Many of you have asked why I made this decision to retire earlier than expected. It's true that the pandemic accelerated the need for our collegewide financial sustainability review, and I believe the college will be best served by pivoting to a new president once that work has been implemented. But there is also a personal side to any decision like this. Now you know. 

Once I made that decision, I was able to turn my attention to what I wanted to accomplish for Whitman before retiring. With more than a year still remaining in my presidency, there is much to be done. As more and more of us are vaccinated, I look forward to getting back on the road to visit in person with alumni and friends of the college. We need to continue building support for scholarships and financial aid, for curricular innovation, for the experience of our students on this campus and in their lives after Whitman. With the decisions about initial budget reductions made, we are able to explore exciting new initiatives that will help us to drive enrollment and revenue for the college. The faculty are exploring new curricular ideas that surfaced during our financial sustainability discussions. We are engaging the leaders of our distinctive Outdoor Program in the recruitment of prospective students to the college in ways we never have before. We are building a more comprehensive approach to health and wellness on this campus in collaboration with the offices that serve our students. We will continue our work of being an anti-racist campus including hiring a new vice president for diversity and inclusion. 

It continues to be an exciting time to be at Whitman, and I am energized by the work ahead. 

I am also heartened by the glimpse of a return to normalcy that this season has brought. We were thrilled to be able to welcome students to campus for the Spring 2021 semester—some of them for the first time. In this issue, we're excited to introduce you to several members of the class of 2024, who all shared an unusual start to their college experience. I hope their stories will inspire you to feel optimistic about Whitman's future too.


Signature of Kathleen M. Murray

Kathleen M. Murray

Published on May 25, 2021
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