Whittier Names Kristine E. Dillon '73 Interim President

June 14, 2023

Kristine DillonAlumna, board member, and higher ed expert to lead College during a search for permanent successor

June 14, 2023 (Whittier, Calif.) — Whittier College named Dr. Kristine Dillon ’73 its interim president as of July 1, 2023, elevating an alumna and trustee who has served higher education leadership for over four decades.

“Whittier College gave me the capacity to view a future larger than I could imagine,” said Dr. Dillon. “I am grateful for the opportunity to give back to my alma mater by using the leadership and professional skills I’ve gained from a career in higher education.” 

She succeeds sal johnston, the vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty, who provided leadership continuity as Whittier’s interim president at the request of the Board of Trustees following the resignation of Linda Oubré in May 2023. 

“Kristine has a proven track record as a responsible advisor to and steward of higher education institutions,” said Ronald R. Gastelum ’68, Chairman of the Board. “She specializes precisely in what Whittier needs to move forward in building a successful campus experience for our students.”

Among Dr. Dillon's initial goals are analyzing comprehensively Whittier’s financial position, enrollment numbers, and fundraising efforts and communicating to all students and parents the college’s plans for improvements this fall. Whittier’s Board of Trustees stands ready to assist Dr. Dillon’s work.

“As a fellow trustee taking on this leadership during the presidential search, I will depend on active trustee support, both in helping to solve the issues we face and in leading by example in support of gaining new resources for Whittier’s priorities as plans are approved,” said Dr. Dillon, who served on the Whittier Board from 1994 to 2012, chaired its Enrollment and Student Life Committee from 2002 to 2012, was honored by Whittier with a Service to the College Award in 2015, and rejoined the board this spring.

Vincent E. Vigil ’02, a member of the Whittier Board of Trustees and Chair of the Whittier College Alumni Association Board, called the appointment of Dr. Dillon “a win for Whittier.” 

“Kristine is going to get right down to business laying a strong foundation for a permanent president to build a bridge to a bright future for Whittier,” Vigil said. “She loves Whittier. I think our alumni, along with students, staff, and faculty, will celebrate this announcement.”

After majoring in English and graduating from Whittier in 1973, Dr. Dillon continued her studies at Claremont Graduate School, earning a master’s in education in 1977 and a Ph.D. in the economics of higher education in 1980. 

Following her academic preparation, Dr. Dillon amassed decades of experience working to support student success with senior leadership positions in higher education. Since 2019, she has served as a Senior Advisor for Huron Consulting’s higher education practice. From 2002 to 2018, Dr. Dillon was president of the Consortium on Financing Higher Education (COFHE), a group of 35 selective colleges that conducts research and policy analysis about admissions, financial aid and undergraduate education at residential liberal arts institutions. 

Previously, she was dean of academic services and student affairs at Tufts University (1998-2002) and, at the University of Southern California, a senior leader in student affairs (1985-1998).