#AskKathy video series offers opportunity to meet incoming president

Allie Donahue

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This week the Whitman Office of Communications began releasing the first videos in a series titled #AskKathy. In the series, Whitman’s incoming president, Dr. Kathleen Murray, answers questions submitted by students, faculty, staff, alumni and Walla Walla community members via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag “AskKathy.” Some questions were also submitted anonymously via a GoogleDoc that the Office of Communications emailed to the whole campus. The questions, said Chief Communications Officer Michelle Ma, “ranged from silly to serious.”

The videos each correspond to a single question and are being released one at time on social media. They are an effort by the Office of Communications to introduce Murray to the community and to build excitement for her arrival.

Dr. Murray was on campus filming parts of the video series. Photo contributed by Michelle Ma from Whitman Communications.

Dr. Murray was on campus filming parts of the video series. Photo contributed by Michelle Ma from Whitman Communications.

“It seems to me that the #AskKathy campaign is designed for the Whitman community to get to know Kathy Murray as a person. They know the name of the person who is going to be leading the college, but they don’t really know who she is,” said junior Jack Percival, who will be ASWC president during the first year of Murray’s presidency.

Murray culled through about 10 pages of 12-point font to choose 25 questions to answer during a filming session on Monday, April 13.

“I don’t speak that often ‘on camera,’ so I was a little bit nervous,” said Murray in an email.

She answered some questions unrelated to her position as president.

“I tried to answer some that were more playful and might allow people to get to know me a bit better,” she wrote.

“What do you think of water parks?” was one question she chose. She also gave her opinion on sweet onions, commented on this year’s Super Bowl and revealed that she is a Green Bay Packers fan.

But Murray answered tough questions too. She spoke about the suspension of the Whitman Debate Team and about Whitman’s divestment campaign.

“I also tried to answer some serious, substantive questions,” she wrote.

“We want to express to everyone –– faculty, staff, alumni –– that’s she’s been briefed on some of the hard questions of Whitman … that she recognizes there’s a lot of work to do,” said Ma.

Murray was on campus from Sunday, April 12 to Tuesday, April 14. She may return to campus once more before she begins her service as president on July 1.

“There is a possibility of a quick trip out in early June,” she wrote.

The Office of Communications may film more clips during that visit, according to Ma.

During her recent visit, Murray met with Percival at the Colville Street Patisserie. For Percival the meeting was a promising first step in what he hopes will be a highly communicative relationship.

In November, Murray expressed to The Pioneer that she plans to take student input very seriously as she develops plans for Whitman’s future. In her email she expressed how she plans to achieve that goal.

“We will have student representation on the Strategic Planning Committee, and we will have student fora for ideas and feedback,” she wrote.

Percival believes that Murray will follow through on her promise to be attentive to student voices.

“She’s an amazing listener,” he said. “It’s one of the best skills that a leader can have.”

Ma echoed his sentiments.

“I don’t think she is going to make quick and fast decisions,” said Ma. “She wants to spend time getting to know the campus and getting to know our wants, needs and history. I think that’s the right approach.”

For now, though, it’s time to listen to Murray. Search #AskKathy on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to catch the videos as they are released.

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