Whittier College is a residential four-year liberal arts institution that prepares students from diverse backgrounds to excel in a complex global society. Through challenging, interactive courses, taught by accomplished professors, students learn to make connections across disciplines, understand cultural perspectives, and integrate learning with practical application. Inspired by our Quaker heritage, a Whittier education equips students to be active citizens and effective communicators who embrace diversity and act with integrity.
Named for renowned 19th century poet John Greenleaf Whittier, our College is located in the hills overlooking metropolitan Los Angeles and coastal Southern California. The College was founded by members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in 1887, but has been non-sectarian since the 1940s. Nonetheless, principles associated with the Friends - freedom of conscience, integrity, internationalism, listening to others, and building consensus - strongly influence the College’s ethos today.
Our campus has a friendly tone and there is respect here for people of all backgrounds and nationalities. Whittier has a long-standing commitment to a diverse student body and faculty, and the acceptance of difference that it thereby seeks to engender.
Whittier College’s values - rooted in a distinguished history - echo throughout our campus. They characterize the four tenets of our liberal arts education: community, communication, cultural perspectives, and connections. And, they are reflected in our small classes and through our focus on active and collaborative learning. At Whittier, regardless of major, you will gain a breadth and depth of knowledge, build critical thinking and writing skills, and connect theory to real world applications. You will gain awareness of your unique talents and find mentors among our distinguished faculty and loyal alumni to help you begin the path to your own career.
You will accomplish all of this on a campus named for poet John Greenleaf Whittier, who is known as much for his fiery abolitionist spirit and concern for social justice as for his poetry. You will take pride in being called a “Poet” yourself.
When you contemplate how you will spend your years at Whittier and what you want to achieve afterward, consider this: Whittier has educated writers and artists, scientists and bankers, lawyers and teachers, and even a president of the United States. Within this catalog and on our friendly campus you will find the way to open doors to the opportunities you seek. Explore our rich offerings, and dream.
Sharon D. Herzberger, Ph.D., President
A college with a long and distinguished past has traditions that connect each new student with those who came before. The most important Whittier College traditions are those that mark both the initiation of new students into the College and the successful completion of their course of study.
The President’s Convocation, held on the first evening that new students arrive, formally inducts new Poets into the Whittier College community. This impressive ceremony begins with students marching through a corridor of faculty in full academic regalia and concludes with the igniting of candles to symbolize sharing the Light of Learning. Commencement, held in Memorial Stadium, marks the conclusion of our students’ academic journey at Whittier, but by no means the end to their association with the College. Beginning with a moment of silence in the tradition of Friends, the ceremony reaches its peak as graduates receive their diplomas against a backdrop of international flags representing our students’ home countries.
Between these two important rituals are a host of traditions and events that build Poet Pride. These range from the never-ending painting of The Rock, to Homecoming, Sportsfest, and Spring Sing. Celebrations of the diverse cultures represented by students and faculty include the annual Tardeada, Asian Night, and events remembering Martin Luther King. Many of our traditions revolve around food, such as Late Night Breakfast before fall exams begin. And, of course we yell “Fear the Poet” at sporting events and other occasions to show our school spirit.
Past Presidents of Whittier College
Charles E. Tebbetts, A.B.; Ph.B.; A.M.; D.D. (1901-1907)
Thomas E. Newlin, B.S.; A.M.; Ph.M.; LL.D.; D.D. (1907-1915)
Absolom Rosenberger, A.B.; LL.B.; LL.D.; D.D. (1915-1918)
Harry N. Wright, Ph.D. (1918-1923)
Walter F. Dexter, A.B.; M.A.; Ed.D.; LL.D. (1923-1934)
Herbert E. Harris, Ph.D.; Litt.D. (Acting President 1933-1934)
William O. Mendenhall, Ph.D.; D.D. (1934-1943)
William C. Jones, A.B.; M.B.A.; Ph.D.; LL.D.; L.H.D. (1943-1951)
Paul S. Smith, A.B.; M.A.; Ph.D.; L.H.D.; LL.D. (1951-1969)
Frederick M. Binder, B.A.; M.A.; Ph.D.; LL.D.; Litt.D.; L.H.D.; Ped.H. (1970-1975)
W. Roy Newson, B.A.; M.A.; Ph.D.; L.H.D. (1975-1979)
Eugene S. Mills, A.B.; M.A.; Ph.D.; LL.D.; L.H.D.; LL.D. (1979-1989)
James L. Ash, Jr., B.A.; M.A.; M.Th.; Ph.D. (1989-1999)
Katherine Haley Will, B.A.; A.M.; Ph.D. (1999-2004)
Janice A. Legoza, B.A.; M.P.A (Interim President 2004-2005)