Kathy Murray’s Welcome Letter

Dear Members of the Whitman Community,

It seems like such a long time since November when my appointment was announced, and I am genuinely looking forward to settling into the Whitman campus and launching our work together on July 1. I was in Walla Walla for meetings in February and back on campus in mid-April for several days. As I learn more about the College and the community, I am increasingly excited and energized by this move.

Of course, I have a great deal more to learn about the culture and ethos of the Whitman community. I plan to do a lot of listening during my first months on campus, listening to Whitman’s stories, its hopes, challenges and ideas. We need to learn to work together and develop trust so that when it is time for big projects, like strategic planning which will chart our course for the future of Whitman College, we have a solid foundation on which to build. Logistically, I also have many faces and names to learn, so I’ll count on everyone introducing themselves (often!) when I first arrive.

As we get to know each other, I expect that we will work together collaboratively. You probably know that I am a pianist. What you might not know is that I much preferred performing chamber music rather than solo performances. I loved the give and take, the complicated discussions, the experimentation –– all focused on the ultimate musical goal. Every player had to come to the experience well-prepared with their own set of musical ideas and then listen to each other, negotiate and adjust in order to create the final performance. I learned many skills in those settings that I continue to rely on today.

I get to join the Whitman community at an auspicious moment. Under the exceptional leadership of President George Bridges, you are completing the largest capital campaign in the College’s history. He will leave behind a much stronger Whitman than the one he joined 10 years ago, and all of us are the beneficiaries of that important work. George has been very generous with his time during this transition, sharing with me his passion for Whitman, and I can’t thank him enough.

This fall we will launch a national search for the College’s next provost, and by the Fall of 2016 we will be engaged in a college-wide strategic planning process. This is critical work for us to share.  Back in November, I shared with all of you that I had told the search committee that if I had the privilege of becoming the 14th President of Whitman College, I would work with the community to build the vision for the next great phase in the College’s history. I told them it would be hard work, and we wouldn’t always agree. But the opportunity to change students’ lives, to prepare them to go out and make the world a better place, that’s the most important and rewarding work I can imagine doing in my professional life, and I can’t wait to begin engaging in that work with all of you.

See you soon,

Kathy Murray