Sharon D. Herzberger, Ph.D.
Sharon D. Herzberger became Whittier College's 14th president in July 2005.
During President Herzberger’s tenure, the College has focused on student success and career exploration. To this end, a number of key programs have been launched or expanded:
The “Backpack to Briefcase” series and “Lessons on Leadership” program were started to bring leaders in business, government, and not-for-profit organizations – many of whom are Whittier College alumni and parents – to campus to help students network with professionals and learn about their secrets to success. The new Poet Ambassadors program will connect students with young alumni and focus on the skills for career entry.
The number of students enrolled in travel study courses has doubled, with a goal to double the number once again by 2018. Students learn much as they travel with faculty mentors to study in such locations as Argentina, Chile, China, Cuba, Denmark, England, Greece, and Rome, and they return to campus having a new perspective on their world.
Through an expanded fellowship program and thanks to the generosity of many foundations and individual donors, talented students have the opportunity to engage in special study opportunities on campus and around the world. Notably, the Richard M. Nixon '34 Fellowship prepares exceptional students for informed citizenship and public service. Whittier’s inclusion in the prestigious Mellon-Mays Fellowship Program prepares five students each year for careers as professors. The Roberts and Yao Yuan Sze Fellowships promote student research in the sciences and allied health areas, while the Peterson and Intex Fellowships help students prepare for careers in business.
Whittier faculty’s long and deep commitment to applied learning has flourished under the Center for Engagement with Communities, which provides opportunities for students to learn alongside professionals in corporations, government and social service agencies, and other non-profit organizations, taking full advantage of Whittier’s location in Southern California.
Under President Herzberger’s leadership, the College has grown in size and in diversity. Among Whittier’s students, no racial or ethnic group holds a majority and first generation college students mix with students whose family members have long achieved a college degree. During class discussions, through clubs and organizations, and in informal conversation, students learn with and from peers representing different religions, national origins, and political viewpoints. Whittier truly is a model for a diverse nation.
Capital projects during the President’s tenure include a dramatic expansion of the Campus Center, the refurbishment of historic Hoover Hall and upgraded media-ready classrooms. The new Science & Learning Center provides the campus with its largest academic building, modern laboratories and classrooms, and collaborative study areas used by students day and night. The Center’s construction also has enabled the expansion of Whittier’s science and allied health curriculum. The enhanced athletic facilities – including the renovation of the Graham Athletics Center and the Lillian Slade Aquatics Center – has fostered a thriving intramural program and helped the College attract over 450 Poet athletes, fielding 22 intercollegiate teams. Landscape changes to the campus are reducing water use and maintenance, while converting to a Mediterranean plant palette that adds beauty and celebrates Whittier’s purple and gold colors.
President Herzberger began her academic career teaching psychology at Northwestern University before moving to Trinity College in 1980, where she held numerous administrative posts and founded the Consortium on High Achievement and Success (CHAS). President Herzberger has authored many articles and two books in the field of social psychology. She earned her B.A. from Pennsylvania State University and her master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Illinois.
President Herzberger resides in the College's Wardman House, in the hills overlooking the campus, with her husband David, professor and head of the Hispanic Studies Department at the University of California, Riverside. The Herzbergers have two sons, Ben and Jeff, and a daughter-in-law, Amanda, and are proud grandparents of Norah, Whittier Class of 2031.