The Whittier College Board of Trustees has voted unanimously to renew President Linda Oubré’s contract, extending her tenure an additional three years.
The Board’s action signals a strong endorsement for Oubré, who has successfully led the College through the challenging years of the pandemic, all the while achieving record-breaking fundraising and student retention levels.
The reappointment, announced by board president Miguel Santana ‘91, extends her contract from June 30, 2023, to June 30, 2026.
"Linda Oubré has demonstrated decisive leadership during an unprecedented time. Her steady management of the College contained the impact of the pandemic on the student experience and finances of the College,” said Santana. “In addition, under her leadership, the College has engaged in efforts to pursue new innovative strategies to ensure the College’s long-term sustainability and accessibility, while not sacrificing our commitment to our mission.”
From the moment she stepped onto campus as the 15th leader of Whittier College in 2018, Oubré has championed three strategic initiatives for the future of the institution: a focus on equity and inclusion in support of student success; finding new sources of revenue to invest in Whittier’s mission, making the institution financially sustainable; and aligning the College’s resources to the mission.
Efforts put into motion have already shown success, according to a recent report from the Office of Institutional Research: 2020-21 saw the best retention rate in five years. Moreover, graduation rates of men of color have seen significant improvements.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have been at the core of many of the cultural changes at Whittier College over the last four years, with discussions and training involving students, faculty, staff, and leadership at all levels. In 2021, as a way to further the College’s internal development in DEI, Whittier joined the prestigious Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance led by the University of Southern California Race and Equity Center.
Recent notable gifts to the College have been designated to support DEI and student success.
A large portion of the $12 million grant from MacKenzie Scott–the largest ever awarded to Whittier College from a single donor–has been set aside for the Success Scholarships. The Success Scholarship fund was allotted $1 million per year for five years (starting in 2021) and rewards continuing third- and fourth-year students.
Among other initiatives, this grant established the Scott Internship Program and the Bayard Rustin Fellowship. The former is designed to support student success and career development by providing on-campus professional paid student internships. The latter, the Bayard Rustin Fellowship, is a multi-year program aimed at diversifying the faculty body and creating structural change in the College's academic practices via a lens on equity.
The College also received a $1.2 million pledge in 2022 designed to support student success. This grant will fund creative writing projects, a quantitative success center, and a new summer bridge program. In January, the UniHealth Foundation awarded Whittier College $600,000 to support the creation of Whittier College’s Healthy Life Lab program which will serve to promote health and wellness on campus and launch a diverse cohort of students into health professions.
In addition to fundraising, Oubré has led the implementation of new initiatives to create new revenue streams for the College.
In March, the College officially announced the launch of LUX: a new catalog of diverse enrichment courses taught by faculty and working professionals that are open to the general public. These courses are designed for individuals who want to advance in their current careers, change paths, or just want to learn something new.
“Looking toward the future, we will continue the work of finding ways to think differently about the markets we serve, the academic programs we offer, the ways we deliver and support student learning, and our role in ensuring that a college education continues to be affordable and accessible,” said Oubré. “All of these innovative efforts will create a bright and sustainable future for Whittier College.”