Whittier College Releases Racial Justice & Equity Action Plan

August 5, 2020

Whittier College leadership has announced a strategic action plan to address racial justice and equity.

Dear Whittier College Community:

As the Executive Leadership of Whittier College, we recognize that we must transform our culture and create new opportunities for Black students, faculty, staff, and alumni to find a true sense of belonging at the College. Over the last two years, there has been a concerted effort to bring issues of equity and inclusion to the forefront at Whittier, but we acknowledge that more must be done.

This is a time for action. In order to achieve real transformation, we will embark on a strategic imperative for racial equity. As a community, we will address the institutional culture that permits incidents of bias, harassment, and microaggressions to go unchecked. Moreover, we will examine the impact of white privilege on our campus and begin to dismantle the assumptions and practices that maintain this system at Whittier College.

This plan for racial equity and justice will include actions and commitments at the institutional level, within all divisions on campus—academics, student life, athletics, finance, and advancement, and among all of our students, faculty, and staff.

As a College committed to racial justice and equity, we also serve those beyond our campus. We are a role model for the communities we serve. Our work reaches into communities in Los Angeles and the greater Southern California region that surrounds Whittier, and we should strive to set the example.

Addressing issues of racial justice and equity often elicits strong feelings and responses. If you have questions, concerns, or comments, please give us your feedback.


  • Address recruitment and retention of Black Board of Trustee members, executive leadership, faculty, staff, coaches, and students. This work includes:
    • Expanding recruitment activities and criteria to value diverse backgrounds and develop diverse pipelines of candidates.
    • Evaluating appointment and personnel processes.
    • Improving mentoring processes and programs.
    • Increasing data collection and analysis regarding inclusion and equity for Black students, staff, faculty, and institutional leadership. We will meaningfully engage with students in this process.
  • Create the position of Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion within the Academic Affairs Division. This individual will:
    • Work with the existing Inclusion and Diversity Committee.
    • Advocate for the structural changes necessary to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within Academic Affairs.
    • Lead Academic Affairs responses to bias reports.
    • Lead efforts in evaluating, modifying, and implementing policy and practices and augmenting faculty development.
  • Change Institutional Culture. This work includes:
    • Strengthen bias response structures
      • Amplify ways to report bias incidents by members of the College community.     
      • Create an institutional repository for collecting bias incident reports.
      • Develop meaningful methods of holding faculty, staff, and students accountable when they commit acts of racial bias.
      • Increase racial equity and justice training and oversight of student groups, including Societies.
    • Complete a comprehensive review of Campus Safety policy and procedures.
    • Expand mental health support and resources for Black students.
    • Complete a climate study of both Athletics and Societies, focusing on the experiences of Black students participating in these activities.
    • Partner with the USC Race and Equity Center initiative for liberal arts colleges. Participate in the Center’s equity training and climate assessment programs.
    • Highlight equity and inclusion resources by making them easily accessible on a specific section of the College website.
  • Improve and expand communication and partnerships with alumni, parents, and external audiences. This work includes: 
    • Institutionally supported alumni affinity groups will partner with departments on campus including the Office of Alumni Relations, Office of Equity and Inclusion, Career Center, Office of Student Engagement, Athletics, and Academics.
    • Continue to ensure that all Whittier College marketing material (digital and print) and overall branding reflects the true identity and diversity of the College.
    • Expand fundraising efforts to support Black students, including, but not limited to:
      • Cultural and educational programming for Black students
      • Scholarships aimed at new and current Black students
      • Increasing the emergency fund


  • Increased focus on the intellectual contributions of Black people and traditions. This work includes:
    • Evaluate the current College curriculum to ensure the inclusion of Black voices.
    • Develop an institutional plan for community engagement, especially Black communities in Southern California, utilizing the strengths and knowledge of local Black alumni.
    • Undertake a Whittier College history project, examining the Quaker founding of the institution and its influence on racial equity and social justice at the College.
    • Increase budget for Africana and Black Studies Minor.
    • Develop a speaker/entertainment series highlighting expressions of Blackness in Southern California.
    • Increase focus on faculty development, especially regarding implicit bias that impacts Black students and other students of color.

The Whittier College ethos promotes the building of a strong community of scholars, dedicated to pursuing knowledge that will be used to strengthen that community and to improve our global society. This starts at home, on our campus. The College will actively participate in challenging any forms of anti-Blackness that impacts our students. Institutional changes will be made. We will better educate and support our Black students. We will communicate regularly, via the College website, email, social media, and community meetings, on the progress of our work. We commit ourselves to fulfilling the anti-racist values within the Whittier College ethos.

Linda Oubré, Ed.D., MBA
President and Professor of Business Administration

Timothy Anderson
Vice President for Advancement & Strategic Partnerships

Ana Lilia Barraza
Associate Vice President, Marketing and Communications

Rock Carter '89
Executive Director of Athletics

James Dunkelman
Vice President for Finance and Administration

Irene Gallardo
Executive Assistant to the President

sal johnston, Ph.D.
Vice President for Academic Affairs & Dean of Faculty

Cynthia Joseph
Associate Vice President, Human Resources & Organizational Development

Shawn McCown
Associate Vice President of Business Services & Controller

dAve iAn pAddy, Ph.D.
Chair, Faculty Executive Council Professor of English

Falone Serna
Vice President for Enrollment

Bruce Smith, Ph.D.
Vice President and Dean of Students

Eva Sevcikova '03
Associate Vice President, Development