2021 Commencement Information
After receiving the generous $12 mil gift from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, Whittier solicited ideas from students, faculty, staff, and alumni regarding funding priorities. Thanks to the constructive and thoughtful input, College leadership agreed to fund a slate of innovative projects and initiatives that will have a lasting and transformative impact on Whittier College.
“Whittier has a long tradition of opening doors and creating opportunities for marginalized communities,” said President Linda Oubré. “Yet so often, potential and great ideas are hampered by fiscal realities. The Scott gift has reenergized Whittier College to think big and boldly, allowing us to make significant progress toward creating a more equitable, just, and sustainable future for our students, their families, and the greater community.”
The first initiative involved distributing nearly $1mil in need-based scholarships to 194 continuing juniors and seniors whose family’s adjusted gross income is less than $50,000. An additional $5mil will be awarded in student scholarships over the next five years.
In addition, Whittier faculty, staff, and administrators have worked quickly to develop the needed plans and strategies to put other programs into place that will launch during this academic year.
With the goal of supporting student success and career development, Whittier is establishing a multi-faceted on-campus Student Internship Program. Students will have the opportunity to apply for paid positions across campus that are designed to provide a real-world professional experience, build career readiness competencies, and help students cover the cost of their education.
The College is also establishing the Bayard Rustin Faculty Fellows Program, a multi-year initiative aimed at diversifying the faculty and creating structural change to academic practices using an equity lens. The first round of the Rustin fellowship program will occur in fall 2021.
“The fellowship, named in honor of Bayard Rustin, a civil rights leader, activist, writer, Quaker, and pacifist, is an incredible opportunity for our community to act on the values of our Quaker founders, articulated by our President in the strategic plan, and specifically reinforced by the Racial Justice and Equity Action Plan,” said Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Kay Sanders.
Professor of History Laura McEnaney is leading the Our Shared History Project to unearth the untold history of Black alumni and culture at the College. Three paid student interns will be involved in all phases of this project.
The upcoming academic year will also see the full launch of the Gender Equity Center, (established in 2020) and the inauguration of the Center for Environmental Justice.
The Whittier College Scott Fund will also support programming organized by the Office of Equity and Inclusion, Title IX office, and the Counseling Center. Funds have also been allocated to increase equitable access to technology.
To maximize the impact of this generous gift, the funds will be dispersed over six years and fundraising efforts will be leveraged to grow the Whittier College Scott Fund.