On June 18, 2021, Harvard Business Review published a case on Linda Oubré at Whittier College written by Harvard Business School faculty Debora L. Spar and student Haley P. Brown
The case follows President Linda Oubré (HBS MBA Class of 1984) as she seeks to move Whittier College towards a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive campus. In 2020, the student body of Whittier, a private liberal arts college in Los Angeles County, California, is slowly evolving to represent the growing diversity of the surrounding area. Roughly 70 percent of Whittier students are non-white, and 59 percent are female. The college’s leadership, however, remains largely white and male. Oubré, who had spent most of her previous career in business, was selected as the college’s president in 2018-the first black woman to serve in that role. Almost immediately upon stepping into the role, Oubré set her sights on diversifying the college’s staff, administration, and board of trustees; in 2020, the racial reckoning that swept across the United States only heightened the urgency of her task. Oubré knows that sweeping change is needed at Whittier. But change, of course, is hard. How can she continue to push for diversity among faculty, staff, board members, and students? And how can she galvanize support among all of the college’s many constituents?