Whittier College News Release

For Immediate Release - September 15, 1998
Media Contact
Reference: 98/99: 12


Ash's Term as Whittier's Twelfth President Will End at Conclusion of Academic Year

Dr. James L. Ash, Jr. announced today that he will step down as the twelfth president of Whittier College, effective no later than June 30, 1999. Ash made the announcement in a letter to the Whittier College Board of Trustees and at a meeting of the college faculty.

"In 1989, I came to Whittier with a mandate from the Board of Trustees to reverse the fortunes of an institution whose future was uncertain," Ash said in his announcement. "In reviewing the successful efforts that we have launched together in the past nine years, I have come to the conclusion that by the end of this, my tenth year, I will have accomplished what the Board brought me to Whittier to do."

When Ash accepted the Whittier presidency in 1989, after 12 years at the University of Miami as a faculty member and administrator, the institution faced serious challenges. The college, which had been undercapitalized throughout its 100-year history, was experiencing enrollment shortfalls and retrenchment.

During Ash's administration, the college's fortunes have improved dramatically. In the past nine years, Whittier's undergraduate applicant pool has doubled, the undergraduate student body has grown by 35 percent, and the college's endowment has more than tripled. Nine consecutive years of budget surpluses have greatly increased liquidity and financial stability. More than $25 million has been spent on capital improvements to the undergraduate campus, including the establishment of an Oxford University-style resident Faculty Master program. Whittier Law School, located on a separate campus, saw such dramatic growth that in 1997, it moved from Los Angeles to a $21-million, 15-acre campus in Costa Mesa. It is the only law school in Orange County with full accreditation by the American Bar Association and membership in the American Association of Law Schools.

Gifts to the college have risen from an average of $5 million per year in the late 1980s to more than $13 million in each of the last two fiscal years. In 1996, the college launched "Endowing the Tradition: The Campaign for Whittier College," the most ambitious fund-raising effort in the institution's history. Just two years into the five-year, $70-million capital campaign, the college has secured approximately $50 million in gifts and pledges.

"Whittier will be able to search for a new president from a position of considerable fiscal strength and stability," said Ash in his announcement. "I am announcing my decision early in the year for two reasons. First, I want to give the institution enough time to conduct a careful, national search for my successor and identify a new leader in time to arrange a smooth and seamless transition. And second, this announcement will allow me and my wife, Pat, to examine other professional opportunities openly and candidly."

A published scholar and historian, Ash received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, specializing in American social, religious and intellectual movements of the 19th and 20th centuries. He has served on several U.S. Department of Education panels. In 1994 and again in 1997, U.S. Secretary of Education William Riley appointed him to three-year terms on the seven-member Jacob Javits Fellowship Board, the policy-making body that guides the annual appointment of Javits Fellows, the nation¹s preeminent graduate awards in the humanities and social sciences.

Located 18 miles east of Los Angeles, Whittier College is an independent, four-year college offering traditional liberal arts majors and strong pre-professional programs taught in the context of the liberal arts. Whittier Law School, which is accredited by the American Bar Association and the Association of American Law Schools, is located on a separate campus in Costa Mesa.

Whittier College Office of Communications
13406 Philadelphia » P.O. Box 634 » Whittier, CA 90608-0634
Tel: (562) 907-4213 » Fax: (562) 907-4927