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Whitman College

Whitman College is a private liberal arts college located in Walla Walla, Washington. Initially founded as a seminary by a territorial legislative charter in 1859, the school became a four year degree granting institution in 1883.


345 Boyer Ave
Walla Walla
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Navy Blue And Maize

College History


In 1859, soon after the United States military declared that the land east of the Cascade Mountains was open for settlement by American pioneers, Cushing Eells traveled from the Willamette Valley to Waiilatpu, near present-day Walla Walla, where 12 years earlier, Christian missionaries Dr. Marcus Whitman and Narcissa Whitman, along with 12 others were killed by a group of Cayuse Indians during the Whitman Massacre. While at the site, Eells became determined to establish a �monument� to his former missionary colleagues in the form of a school for pioneer boys and girls. Eells obtained a charter for Whitman Seminary, a pre-collegiate school, from the territorial legislature. From the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, he acquired the Whitman mission site. Eells soon moved to the site with his family and began working to establish Whitman Seminary. Despite Eells�s desire to locate Whitman Seminary at the Whitman mission site, local pressure and resources provided a way for the school to open in the burgeoning town of Walla Walla. In 1866, Walla Walla�s wealthiest citizen, Dorsey Baker, donated land near his house to the east of downtown. A two-story wood-frame building was quickly erected and classes began later that year. The school�s first principal, local Congregational minister Peasly B. Chamberlin, resigned within a year and Cushing Eells was called upon to serve as principal, which he did until 1869. After Eells�s resignation in 1869, the school struggled�and often failed�to attract students, pay teachers, and stay open for each term. From seminary to college Whitman's trustees decided in 1882 that while their institution could not continue as a prep school, it might survive as the area's only college. Alexander Jay Anderson, the former president of the Territorial University (now the University of Washington), came to turn the institution into a college and become its president. After modeling the institution after New England liberal arts colleges, Anderson opened the school on September 4, 1882 (Marcus Whitman's birthday) with an enrollment of 60 students and three senior faculty (Anderson, his wife and son). In 1883, the school received a collegiate charter and began expanding with aid from the Congregational American College and Education Society. Financial turmoil and new leadership Despite local support for Whitman College and help from the Congregational community, financial troubles set in for the school. After losing favor with some of the school's supporters, Anderson left Whitman in 1891 to be replaced by Reverend James Francis Eaton. The continuing recession of the 1890s increased the institution's financial worries and lost Eaton his backing, leading to his resignation in 1894. Reverend Stephen Penrose, an area Congregational minister and former trustee, became president of the college and brought the school back to solvency by establishing Whitman's endowment with the aid of D. K. Pearsons, a Chicago philanthropist. By popularizing Marcus Whitman's life and accomplishments (including the suspect claim that the missionary had been pivotal in the annexation by the United States of Oregon Territory), Penrose was able to gain support and resources for the college. Under his leadership, the faculty was strengthened and the first masonry buildings, Billings Hall and the Whitman Memorial Building, were constructed. End of religious affiliation In 1907, Penrose began a plan called "Greater Whitman" which sought to transform the college into an advanced technical and science center. To aid fundraising, Penrose abandoned affiliation with the Congregational Church, and became unaffiliated with any denomination. The prep school was closed and fraternities and sororities were introduced to the campus. Ultimately, this program was unable to raise enough capital; in 1912, the plan was abandoned and Whitman College returned to being a small liberal arts institution, albeit with increased focus on co-curricular activities. Penrose iterated the school's purpose "to be a small college, with a limited number of students to whom it will give the finest quality of education�. In 1920 Phi Beta Kappa installed a chapter, the first for a Northwest college, and Whitman had its first alum Rhodes Scholar. World War II During World War II, Whitman was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a Navy commission.

College Specialty


Whitman College is committed to providing an excellent, well-rounded liberal arts and sciences undergraduate education. It is an independent, nonsectarian, and residential college. Whitman offers an ideal setting for rigorous learning and scholarship and encourages creativity, character, and responsibility. Through the study of humanities, arts, and social and natural sciences, Whitman's students develop capacities to analyze, interpret, criticize, communicate, and engage. A concentration on basic disciplines, in combination with a supportive residential life program that encourages personal and social development, is intended to foster intellectual vitality, confidence, leadership, and the flexibility to succeed in a changing technological, multicultural world.



Otto Harbach, MA, lyricist and librettist of about 50 musical comedies, including Rose Marie and The Desert Song. 1908 - David Crockett Graham, BA, missionary, archeologist, anthropologist, field collector for Smithsonian. 1919 - Frances Penrose Owen, BA Greek, honored for her extensive public service in Seattle, first woman Regent of Washington State University 1920 � William O. Douglas, BA English-Economics, U.S. Supreme Court Justice. 1921 - Wallace R. Brode, BA, chemist, absorption spectra of dyes. 1922 � Ralph Cordiner, BA Economics-Political Science, CEO and Chairman, General Electric, Corp.(1958�1963); President (1950�1958) 1924 � Walter Brattain, BA Physics, physicist, co-inventor of the transistor, Nobel Prize winner. 1924 � Vladimir Rojansky, physicist, author and educator. 1933 � Gordon Wright, BA, historian. 1934 � Bernard Berelson, BA English, behavioral scientist known for work on communication and mass media. 1935 � Al Ullman, U.S. congressman for 24 years. 1941 � Lucile Lomen, first woman to serve as a law clerk for a Supreme Court justice. � Jack Fearey, attended three years, television pioneer at KING-TV, director of the Seattle Center, established the Bumbershoot and the Northwest Folklife Festival. 1944 - Dan Fenno Henderson, founder of the University of Washington Asian law program 1951 � Adam West, BA English, actor, Batman, Family Guy. 1955 � Al Swift, attended two years, Washington Congressman. 1959 � Diane Middlebrook, attended, biographer of Anne Sexton. 1960 � Douglas Cole, BA Art History, historian specializing in art and Pacific Northwest cultural history. 1960 � David R. Nygren, particle physicist, inventor of the Time projection chamber. � Pat Thibaudeau, BA Psychology, former Washington State Senator. 1963 � W. Michael Gillette, BA, Oregon Supreme Court Justice. 1964 � Walt Minnick, BA, Idaho Congressman. 1965 - Webb Miller, BA, Computational Biology Pioneer. Time 100, 2009: Scientists and Thinkers 1965 � Ben Kerkvliet, author and educator in the fields of comparative politics, Southeast Asia and Asian studies. � Morten Lauridsen, attended two years; composer, recipient National Medal of Arts; Distinguished Professor of Composition, USC Thornton School of Music 1967 � Dirk Benedict (Niewoehner), BA Dramatic Art, Battlestar Galactica and The A-Team. 1970 - Stephen A. Hayner, BA English Literature, president of Columbia Theological Seminary, former president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. � Kathryn Shaw, BA Dramatic Art, artistic director of Studio 58 in Vancouver, British Columbia. 1971 � Ryan Crocker, BA English, current U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan and former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Lebanon, Kuwait, Syria, and Pakistan. � John Markoff, BA Sociology, New York Times journalist and co-author of Takedown. � Jack Rasmussen, BA Art, Director and Curator of the American University Museum. � Ben Westlund, BA Education/History, former Oregon State Treasurer. Deceased 2010 while in office. 1973 � Torey Hayden, BA, Biology/Chemistry, child psychologist, special education teacher, university lecturer and author. 1974 � Marlin Eller, BA Mathematics, programmer and software developer, co-author of Barbarians Led by Bill Gates 1977 � John W. Stanton, BA Political Science, Founder and CEO, Western Wireless. � Rick Stevenson, BA History, film writer, director and producer. 1982 - Keely Stauter-Halsted, BA History, Hejna Chair in the History of Poland at the University of Illinois at Chicago 1985 � Steve McConnell, software engineering author, Code Complete � Lance Norris, BA Dramatic Art, Mystic River. 1992 � Annee Hartzell, BA Politics, Teacher of the blind, 2009 National Federation of the Blind's teacher of the year. 1997 � Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, BA Geology, NASA Astronaut. 2000 � Ingrid Backstrom, BA Geology, professional skier. 2002 � Anomie Belle, BA Sociology, professional musician. 2004 � Holly Brooks, BA Sociology, Environmental Studies, Winter Olympian in Nordic skiing.



117 acres (0.47�km2)