President Murray: Connecting communities, creating solutions
Whitman College has long been a place that values community: our close-knit campus community, our commitment to the Walla Walla community and our belief in creating sustainable, mutually beneficial connections with communities across the globe.
Examples abound among our notable alumni. From Ryan Crocker ’71, a career ambassador within the U.S. Foreign Service and a 2009 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, to Aisha Fukushima ’09, a singer, speaker and educator who founded RAPtivism, a global hip-hop project to promote social justice, Whitties continue to make a positive contribution in their extended communities.
This edition of Whitman Magazine celebrates the power of these values. It charts the many ways that our alumni, students and faculty members are building community connections to advance worthwhile causes and make our world a better place.
For instance, Lisa Curtis ’10, cofounder of Kuli Kuli, promotes sustainable farming by harvesting the nutritious leaves of the Moringa tree, an idea that sprouted after she came across it as a Peace Corps volunteer in a village in Niger. Assistant Professor of Sociology Alissa Cordner authored a new book that helps us understand the environmental health risks of flame retardant chemicals. And last summer, six current Whitman students helped New York City-based sculptor Jacob Hashimoto (whose father taught English here) install his When Nothing Ends, Nothing Remains in Penrose Library. Mercer Hanau ’18, an art major, said, “Being part of such a large-scale project gave me a sense of community and hope.”
This issue also discusses other examples of inspiration rooted in community connections. Ashifi Gogo ’05 started the company Sproxil in 2009 to combat counterfeit consumer products, especially medicine, in developing countries. Assistant Professor of Anthropology Rachel George examines the ways in which language choices inform Serbian political identity. And last fall, the women of Kappa Kappa Gamma raised a record-breaking $50,000 through the 15th annual Mr. Whitman pageant to support a new mental health professional position for The Health Center at Lincoln High School, the only alternative high school in Walla Walla.
Strong communities large and small are a critical part of what makes our world thrive. Whitman students, faculty, staff and alumni embrace and celebrate this in everything they do.
Kathleen M. Murray