The clocktower of Memorial Building is viewed through fall leaves.

A culture of intellectual curiosity and academic rigor. Good-natured fun. A sense of adventure. An outdoorsy lifestyle. Whitman traditions embrace the distinctive qualities and sense of balance that characterize the campus and community.

A life of the mind

A genuine love for learning and the pursuit of knowledge across boundaries and borders is a hallmark of life at Whitman. In fact, the life of the mind begins even before students reach campus — reading a book chosen by the college president for the Summer Reading program is a tradition among incoming students, regardless of their majors. During Opening Week, new students gather with Encounters professors to discuss the chosen work. Recent selections include Reservation Blues, Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do, and The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Migration.

But it's not just reading. Talented Whitman student writers from various disciplines compete annually in Whitman's One-Act Play Contest. A panel of faculty and staff vote on student-written scripts, and the three winning plays — completely written, acted, and produced by students — are performed at Harper Joy Theatre. The Whitman Undergraduate Conference — an annual, day-long event — is yet another tradition where the entire community celebrates the scholarship and creative achievements of Whitman students.

A spirit of adventure

Whitman students constantly challenge themselves, whether it’s academics or things lighter. Simply, they know how to have fun. From long-standing traditions to spontaneous moments of celebration, this is a campus that makes it easy to embrace the extracurricular adventures, friendships, and experiences that make for a truly memorable college experience.

Spend a day on our campus and you’ll experience the spirit of Ankeny Field, the heart of Whitman’s campus, where students gather for everything from athletic practice to social events and gorgeous sunsets. Talk to some of them and you’ll discover the type of people who will debate with you about the nature of man even in the middle of a game of Frisbee Golf!

Participate in the intramural (IM) sports programs at Whitman, where the experience includes a quest to win the coveted Blue Shirt, awarded to every member of the team that wins the annual IM championship. You’ll find that faculty and staff also get involved in the quest and participate with great spirit.

You’ll also meet enthusiastic fellow adventurers — students, staff, faculty and alumni — at an unmistakable landmark on the Whitman campus, the climbing center on the South side of the Sherwood Athletic Facility. This facility, with over 7,000 square feet of climbing surface,  is open every day when school is in session.  The climbing center is one of the best college climbing walls in the nation and is the host site in late April for the annual Sweet Onion Crank rock climbing competition. Furthermore, there are two open kayak sessions offered weekly at the pool as well as several student outdoor clubs (hiking, backcountry ski, whitewater & climbing). All of these activities and many more Northwest-style adventures are sponsored by Whitman’s renowned Outdoor Program, which recently was recognized by the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education (AORE)  with the David J. Webb Program Excellence award. Only one outdoor program in the nation receives this award each year and Whitman is the smallest school to ever have ever been awarded.