ASST. CAMPUS LIFE EDITOR
As the Fall semester winds down, students begin to think of how they have grown and changed over the past few months. They might even think of all of their firsts that happened this Fall — their first time living on campus, first love, first time writing a 20 page paper. However, students are not the only ones experiencing firsts at Whittier College; as this was President Linda Oubré’s first semester as Whittier College’s president.
President Oubré was chosen to be the fifteenth President of Whittier College, after President Sharon Herzberger, Whittier College’s president from 2005 – 18, retired. President Oubré’s résumé is extremely impressive, including being the former Dean of the College of Business at San Francisco State University, the Executive Director of Business Development and Chief Diversity Officer at University of California Davis, and so much more. She is also a first generation college graduate and woman of color. For more on President Oubré’s appointment process, visit the quakercampus.org.
President Oubré began her position as President here on July 1, while most of us were enjoying the break. Most of her presidential tasks started in the Fall, as she got to know our community at the same time as the new incoming students were. President Linda Oubré said, “In the past five months I have attended athletic games, visited classes, and have participated in many other events with opportunities to connect with the College community.” President Oubré had her first event getting to know students during the summer before the semester even began with a Welcome Open House in Mendenhall on July 3.
Since then, President Oubré has had several office hours for students to get to know her, ask questions, and/or raise concerns. Third-year Haily McCord attended President Oubre’s office hours and said, “ I was really nervous to meet with her… as soon as we started talking that feeling went away. She was very easy going and willing to talk about anything, she made me feel very comfortable.” McCord followed this with, “You can tell that she’s interested in what the students have going on and she’s always willing to stop and chat.” Not everyone has had the chance to meet her though. First-year Yolanda Oregel said, “I have not gone to her office hours, but I wish I did. I would like to go in the future. It would be nice to get to know her.”
She has hosted dinners that are open for students in her home as a way to get to know the students outside of an office that can feel intimidating. While talking about the dinners, President Oubré said, “During our conversations, we talk about my journey and what lies ahead for the students as they graduate. I love the questions the students ask me.”
President Oubré held a series of “Courageous Conversations” about race, religion, and politics. She even emailed students after a series of violent hate-fueled acts terrorized our country in October, offering support, encouragement, ways to get help, and announcing a gathering at the rock to honor and support the victims. Third-year Alexander Jelloian said, “I like that she makes herself available to students.”
If this semester is a reflection of how the rest of President Oubré’s time at Whittier will be, then I am sure that we are in good caring hands. President Oubré stated that she has “thoroughly enjoyed each and every connection [she] has made with the Poet community,” the President continued by saying that she is focused on “three strategic initiatives: a focus on equity and inclusion in support of student success, finding new ways of generating revenue for the campus, and realigning our resources and the organization around the College’s mission.” Make sure to check your email for announcements about upcoming office hours and other chances to meet her. Her official inauguration will be on Feb. 23, 2019 at 4 p.m. (location TBD).