Updates on the Whittier College Board of Trustees

May 17, 2023

Dear Poet community,

I hope you were all able to enjoy the final weeks leading up to Commencement and are ready to embrace the period of rest, reflection, and rejuvenation that summer represents – especially after such an eventful year.

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Ron Gastelum, and the Board of Trustees has asked me to be the new Chair of the Board. My classmates from the graduating class of 1968 will hopefully remember me. (I was elected as their Senior Class President.) Over the years since graduation, I have stayed close to the College, serving for a time on the Board of Trustees until I took on the responsibility of the CEO and General Manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. I am retired now, and like most of us alums, I have been closely monitoring the events of the past five years at the College.

I am moving quickly to understand the concerns expressed by many on a range of topics vital to the College’s future. I will be soliciting the informed views and well-intentioned suggestions of the many who have perspectives that not only myself, but the entire Board, should hear in what I hope will be a renewed spirit of collaboration.

With all of that in mind, I am excited to announce some upcoming changes to the composition of the Board of Trustees.

First, I would like to join my colleagues in thanking Kenya Williams (JD ‘10) for her exemplary leadership as Interim Chair these past months. Kenya will retain her role as a board member that she has had since 2016.

We will also welcome back my classmate Richard I. Gilchrist ’68, P’06 ’07, who formerly held the status of Trustee Emeritus, as a full-time member of the Board. In addition, we are honored to have newly elected board members: Dr. Raquel Torres-Retana ’91, Tiffany Dean ‘97 and Lila Wiggs Laviano ‘03.

We are also in the process of bringing Kristine Dillon ‘73 back to the Board. She is highly respected for her knowledge and experience in Board management and participation that will be invaluable as we move forward.

Beyond the Board, as many of you already know, Dr. sal johnston will be stepping into the role of Interim President. I am energized about our collaboration as we collectively identify traits and values the College needs in its next president.

Also, we will begin the process of building out the profile for the next leader of Whittier College. While we will discuss and announce the plan for the search later this summer, I am planning to begin the process of conducting a series of meetings with our alumni, faculty, staff, and students to gather your input and hear your desires for our next president.

I will continue to keep you informed on developments at the Board level as we move forward to start our new chapter at Whittier.

Best regards,

Ron Gastelum ‘68
Chair, Board of Trustees
Whittier College