Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman Fundraiser Campaign “Upward Together” Kicks off

The Whitman community gathered to celebrate the launch of the “Upward Together” campaign. Photo by Sailor Harris. 

This week, Whitman College announced a goal to raise 200 million dollars in funds through their new “Upward Together” campaign. Oct. 13 was the official date when alumni from across the country joined current Whitman students and staff for the launch of the fundraising campaign.

Upward Together is Whitman’s first new campaign to launch from campus in at least 60 years; other significant fundraising projects in that time include Now is the Time, which ran from 2008-2015 and The Campaign for Whitman, which ran throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

To celebrate the launch, the college hosted a panel of five Whitman graduates who spoke to the impact of a liberal arts education on their work experience and lives more broadly.

The panel was followed by a ‘community celebration’ on Ankeny field, featuring the Whitman Jazz Ensemble and food trucks.

Whitman Jazz Ensemble takes the stage at the community celebration. Photo by Sailor Harris.

This campaign strives to advance new academic programs, such as the recently developed Brain, Behavior and Cognition major. Whitman aims to foster a “vibrant campus community,” further diversity, equity and inclusion agendas and aid recent graduates in navigating their career options and post-Whitman experience.  

A significant piece of the campaign involves increasing on-campus housing for juniors and seniors. In April, the College announced its intention to establish a new housing complex behind Reid Campus Center. Whitman Trustee Nancy Serrurier described the importance of this initiative.

“The pandemic showed us that students living and supporting one another in community is more important than ever at Whitman. We were delighted to invest in this vision and to help honor a dear friend and true pillar of the college, Peter Harvey,” said Serrurier.

The college raised 138 million dollars as of Oct. 16, reaching three-quarters of its 200 million dollar campaign goal.  More than 13,500 donors contributed as of Oct. 16, according to the College.


Steve Setchell is the head of Alumni Relations at Whitman; Setchell said the campaign has been in the works for the past six years. 

“The campaign leadership, or quiet phase, began in Fiscal Year 2018, so we have completed our sixth year of fundraising,” said Setchell. 

Many campus departments including Alumni Relations and Communications have worked together on this campaign and the finer details. Gina Ohnstad is the Vice President of Communications at Whitman; her role means that she has worked closely on the Upward Together launch. 

“I am charged with driving the strategic vision and branding for all communications at Whitman focusing on everything from student recruitment to alumni engagement to internal communications,” Ohnstad said.

She said that her and her colleague’s jobs include a diverse array of planning and publication.

“We work on the college website, internal communications like Whitman Today, Whitman’s social media accounts, print and digital pieces for the Office of Admission, alumni communications, college video and photography and printing and mailing,” Ohnstad said.

The Office of Communications collaborated with Setchell and his team to advertise the campaign, including the website, campus branding and signage. 

Whitman College President Sarah Bolton said priorities regarding the money raised is very important. 

“The very top priority is financial aid — scholarships for students. Making college accessible and affordable for students from across the US and around the world — regardless of their family’s financial circumstances — is extremely important,” Bolton said. 

The campaign is helping raise money for all incoming students from in-state to have their full financial needs met adequately for the first time ever. According to Bolton, Whitman is always working on scholarships to help grow its reach to prospective students.

“There are students who can’t come to Whitman because the cost is too high, and so we want to keep growing our scholarships so that we can promise any student who is admitted that they will be able to make it work financially,” Bolton said.

Another priority Bolton highlighted was advancing diversity, equity and inclusion. 

“[It’s critical to] make sure that all students have access to every part of the Whitman experience, through educational programs, and through fellowships to increase the diversity of the faculty,” Bolton said.

Upward Together will be following up the campaign launch with regional events through at least Jan. 11, 2024, culminating with a reception in Washington D.C.


Editor’s Note: An earlier edition of this article incorrectly identified Upward Together as the first campaign in 60 years; the article has been corrected to include two previous campaigns.

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