Sent: Friday, March 3, 2023
Subject: Whittier College’s Legacy is in Jeopardy: A 360 Degree Pivot is Needed Now, More than Ever
Dear Whittier College Board of Trustees,
It is with a heavy heart that we write this letter. We are extremely discouraged, disappointed, and disheartened in the direction that Whittier College is taking this historic institution. In 1968, when Founders Hall burnt down, I (Lisabeth Harris) was there with my parents as we watched from afar, as a small child, I can still recall the flames exploding into the cool night air. At that point in time, what did Whittier College and its alumni and faculty do? Did they abandon the space and shut down the corridor where Founders Hall once stood, due to lack of funding for a new library? No, they raised the funds needed and built a new library, one that was bigger and better than the one before.
Whittier College has a great history of pride and resilience to keep moving forward and being productive and progressive. Whittier College is the academic foundation to some of our country’s great entrepreneurs, politicians/congressman/Senators/past U.S. Presidents, novelist, film and broadcast news producers, Judges, Former U.S. Directors of the Office of Civil Rights and Diversity, MLB Players, NFL Players, Coaches and more! My Father, Willard V. Harris, Jr. (55’), an entrepreneur, proudly played football under Coach George Allen at Whitter College, and lastly, he provided his stewardship on the Whittier College Board and financially donated until the day he died to support the longevity of this great institution.
My husband Joe and I, both Whittier College graduates (Lisabeth Harris-Marziello ’87, Joseph R. Marziello ’86) have dedicated our lives, nationwide, to help those children who are less fortunate, living in our countries most economically distressed neighborhoods. As a President-CEO team, a model that began on the food service committee at Whittier College, we have raised over $110M in nine years to rebuild dilapidated facilities in Philadelphia, PA. With 220 employees and 22 locations, we restructured a broken infrastructure and transformed a 135-year-old Boys & Girls Club into one of the best Boys & Girls Clubs in the country.
This passion, drive, and commitment to improve the lives of those around us started AT WHITTIER COLLEGE. We are prime examples of how the Whittier College education and experience transformed and shaped our lives! Whittier College did not only shape us academically, but it also developed our whole being with an additional focus on language arts, health, nutrition, art, physical activity, music, sports which enhanced our competitive edge and motivation to want to do better. Thanks to Whittier College, we entered the school as students and graduated as well-rounded adults.
If we had known the direction Whittier College would be heading down, when it was seeking a new President, to eliminate the athletic department, athletic fields and to shrink the college’s footprint instead of expanding the landscape of opportunity for students attending this historic institution, we would have thrown our hat in the ring and applied for the position.
In respect for the past, present and future…Whittier College deserves more and deserves better than to slowly chloroform this historic institution that has contributed to some of our country’s greatest thinkers and contributors to mankind.
The time for change is NOW, strengthen Whittier College, broaden its landscape, and develop future leaders with the mental, physical, and spiritual stamina to change the world.
Board of Trustees, the future of Whittier College is in your hands.
In the best interest of Whittier College,
Lisabeth and Joe Marziello
Lisabeth and Joseph Marziello
President-Chief Executive Officers
Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia