Whittier College

Whittier College is a private liberal arts college in Whittier, California, United States. As of fall 2019, the college has approximately 1,700 enrolled (undergraduate and graduate) students.[3]

Whittier College
Former name
Whittier Academy (1887–1901)
MottoLatin: Lux, Poesis, Veritas, Pax, Amor Eruditionis
Motto in English
Light, Creativity, Truth, Peace, and Love of Knowledge
TypePrivate liberal arts college
Religious affiliation
Secular (historically Quaker[1])
Endowment$97.3 million (2015)[2]
PresidentLinda Oubré
Academic staff
Students1,987 (Fall 2016)
Undergraduates1,681(Fall 2017)[3]
Postgraduates76 (Fall 2017)[3]
Location, ,
CampusSuburban, 75 acres (30 ha)
Colors         Purple & Gold
AthleticsNCAA Division IIISCIAC
NicknameThe Poets
AffiliationsAnnapolis Group
Oberlin Group
MascotJohnny Poet


Whittier College is a four-year liberal arts institution. Nearly half of the student body is Latinx and students of color constitute about 70% of the College's campus population, making Whittier one of the most diverse liberal arts colleges in the country. A majority of students hail from California but the College also draws students from the Pacific Northwest, East Coast, Midwest and Hawaii as well as international students. As of 2017, there are students from at least 27 states and 14 countries.[3]

Whittier offers over 30 majors and 30 minors in 23 disciplines, and claims emphasis on interdisciplinary learning. Students may also apply for entry into the Whittier Scholars Program, in which each student, under the guidance of a faculty member, designs their own major and course of study based on individual interests and career goals. Professional internships and service projects are required or recommended as part of many academic programs. Study abroad is offered in semester- or year-long affiliated programs. There is also an optional January interim session, which is a four-week intensive "mini-semester" that typically involves fieldwork and faculty-led international travel.

Whittier College hosts a Faculty House Program, which is modeled after similar programs at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. In this program, faculty are selected as faculty-in-residence for a multi-year term, live in houses located on-campus, and create and host in their homes educational and social programs around a specific theme, such as health and society, writers and writing, alumni connections, and Spanish culture.

Additionally, the college's graduate program in education offers both credential and Master of Arts in education degree programs. Broadoaks Children's School – a private, non-profit demonstration school on the Whittier campus – serves as a learning laboratory for Whittier faculty and students, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Whittier College has approximately 80 registered, student-run organizations. The College also has Societies similar to fraternities and sororities. There are 11 societies: the Franklin Society (male), the Lancer Society (male), the Orthogonian Society (male), the William Penn Society (male), Palmer Society (female), the Ionian Society (female), the Metaphonian Society (female), the Thalian Society (female), the Athenian Society (female), the Sachsen Society (coed), and the Paragonian Society (gender neutral). Most of these societies began as literary societies.

Other campus groups include student publications, the Quaker Campus newspaper and television; the student-run radio station, KPOET Radio; Video Productions Studios; and the Whittier College Sports Network.

Alumni include: Former U.S. President Richard Nixon; actress Andrea Barber, known from the television comedy Full House and Fuller House; social media entrepreneur Cassey Ho; actor Geoff Stults; author Jessamyn West; and Susan Herrman, who was one of two white female "student Freedom Riders" who sought to desegregate interstate bus travel in the South in 1961.


Whittier College, founded in 1887, was named for the Quaker abolitionist and poet John Greenleaf Whittier.[4] Since that time, the institution has grown into a distinctive, national liberal arts college. It serves a diverse student population with unique, widely praised curricula. The College campus provides an intimate environment in which about 1,700 students live and study with more than 100 distinguished faculty. Like other excellent liberal arts colleges, Whittier encourages students to become broadly educated rather than merely trained for a specific career. It emphasizes small, interactive classes led by full-time faculty members and requires that students cultivate the analytical, critical thinking, and rhetorical skills that all liberally educated persons enjoy.

Although the College has maintained no formal affiliation with the Religious Society of Friends since the 1940s, the social values of its Quaker heritage—respect for the individual, freedom of conscience, integrity, justice, and internationalism—strongly influence its ethos. From the beginning, the same egalitarian views that placed Quakers in the forefront of the battle to abolish slavery dictated that the College open its doors to persons of both sexes as well as all races and cultures. Today, the College is a model for the nation with more than 60 percent of its undergraduates, and three of its four Rhodes Scholars, from underrepresented ethnic and international groups. This cultural diversity profoundly strengthens intellectual discourse and provides a realistic exposure to the kind of world students will enter upon graduation. Students and faculty continue a long tradition of community service, echoing the Quaker conviction that helping others is a moral obligation. International study opportunities enrich every field and major, reflecting the Quaker idea that truth transcends the boundaries of race, culture, and nation.


University rankings
Forbes[5] 344 (2016)
Liberal arts colleges
U.S. News & World Report[6] 127
Washington Monthly[7] 83

Both The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report have featured Whittier in its “Best Liberal Arts Colleges” listings, and U.S. News & World Report has consistently ranked Whittier among the top liberal arts colleges for “Ethnic Diversity.”


The Whittier College Poets compete in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) of NCAA Division III. The school has fielded sports teams for over 100 years. Its current teams include football, men's and women's basketball, cross country, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, lacrosse and water polo, women's softball and volleyball, and men's baseball and golf.

The history of the Whittier College football program began in 1907, and since the inception of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in 1915, the Poets have captured 26 conference titles. From 1957–1964, Whittier won eight straight SCIAC titles under the direction of legendary coaches George Allen (1951–56, 32-22-5), Don Coryell (1957–59), and John Godfrey (1960–1979). Their most recent championships came back-to-back in 1997 and 1998. Twenty-three Poets have earned All-American honors, the most recent coming in 2007. The football program plays out of Newman Memorial Field, which seats 7,000. Whittier maintains a century-long football rivalry with the Tigers of Occidental College; the two schools play for the shoes of 1939 All-American Myron Claxton.

The Whittier Lacrosse Program was established in 1980. That year, the Poets became a member of the Western Collegiate Lacrosse League (WCLL). From 1980 to 1999, Whittier won ten championships. As a result of their success, Whittier decided to become the first and only NCAA lacrosse program on the west coast. In 1990, they were recognized by the NCAA, but continued to compete in the WCLL. The Poets were the team to beat throughout the 1990s and it was not until 2000 when Whittier made the decision to make their mark on the national scene by leaving the WCLL and focus on being selected for the NCAA tournament. The lacrosse team has been a national contender every year since 2000 in the NCAA, as a quarter-finalist in 2003, and a semi-finalist in 2004.

The Whittier College men's water polo team has gone number 1 in the Collegiate Water Polo Association Polls (CWPA) in Division III no fewer than four times. Starting in 2004, another time in 2009, and two years in a row starting in 2013 and 2014. On the season the Poets finished 23-10 and ranked No. 1 in the country among Division III programs. Whittier shared the top honor with Redlands and was ranked No. 18 in the Men's National Collegiate Top 20 Poll – a poll that ranks all divisions of collegiate water polo.

The Whittier Cross Country team made its mark in 2016. For the first time in program history, the Whittier College Men's Cross-Country team earned a national ranking announced by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. The Purple & Gold ranked #32 out of 400 teams. T

The Whittier College Men's & Women's Swimming & Diving teams earned Academic All-American status – the women for the fourth straight year and the men for the first time, after the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) announced the programs who achieved this honor for the 2015 Fall Semester. Five hundred forty-seven swimming and diving teams representing 354 colleges and universities have been named College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Scholar All-American Teams. The awards are in recognition of teams that achieved a grade point average of 3.0 or higher during the 2015 fall semester. That is up 40 teams from the previous fall semester. The women's team finished with a 3.35 overall G.P.A. and the men had a 3.00 G.P.A.

Whittier Law School

Whittier Law School, located on a satellite campus in Costa Mesa, California,[8] started in the Hancock Park section of Los Angeles in 1966 as Beverly Law School. In 1975, Beverly College joined Whittier with the law school moving to Costa Mesa in 1997. Whittier Law School has 4,500 alumni, practicing in 48 states and 14 countries. The school has been accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) since 1978 and has been a member of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) since 1987.[9]

On April 19, 2017, the Law School announced that it would stop admitting students and begin the process of shutting down.[10]

Notable alumni

  • Alyssa Klinzing, Miss Kansas 2019, Miss USA 2019.

Notable people

  • Betty Miller Unterberger, associate professor of history from 1954–61[12]


  1. "Facts & Figures | Whittier College". www.whittier.edu.
  2. As of June 30, 2015. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2014 to FY 2015" (PDF). National Association of College and University Business Officers and Commonfund Institute. 2016.
  3. "Whittier College". Whittier College. Retrieved September 18, 2019.
  4. "John Greenleaf Whittier Society". Whittier College. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  5. "America's Top Colleges 2019". Forbes. Retrieved August 15, 2019.
  6. "Best Colleges 2020: National Liberal Arts Colleges Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
  7. "2019 Liberal Arts Rankings". Washington Monthly. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
  8. "Whittier Law School - A Southern California ABA Accredited Law School". www.law.whittier.edu.
  9. "History". www.law.whittier.edu.
  10. "Whittier Law School Won't Enroll New Students". Inside Higher Ed. April 20, 2017.
  11. "100 Notable Books of 2008". The New York Times. November 26, 2008.
  12. "Betty Miller Unterberger: Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). Texas A&M University. Retrieved October 23, 2010.

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