February 22, 2023
To: The Board of Trustees, President Oubré and Faculty and Staff of Whittier College
My name is Patricia (Juarez) Hill. I am an alum of Whittier College, class of 1998. I am the fifth of six family members that attended the college. I grew up on that campus, and thankfully have been able to bring my young son to attend many functions, and camps there. I coached, worked in the advancement office and was a former Purple & Gold President. I am a member of the Athenian Society, and my blood brother is an Orthogonian. I met my husband at Whittier. I tell you this, because I want you to know how much this institution means to me… and many others.
These past few months have been something that I would never have wished upon anyone. I watched as Poet students had their dreams of playing ball while still getting a good education cut on the playing fields. I learned that the Shannon Center stopped many, if not all, of their outside performances and I learned that the college was in terrible debt. I tried to keep an open mind and see what may have been happening. I spoke to former bosses and asked them to help me understand all of this. I listened at the student athlete’s town hall. I wanted to support those students, just like former Purple & Gold members supported me, on and off the playing fields. I was saddened to hear how much the student athletes that were there felt little to no connection to the President and Board Chair Santana and Trustee Brown. I left that night wondering what Coach Jacobs (may he rest in peace) would have thought listening to Mr. Brown and if Deanna Merino was the President. She answered much of what was asked that night and seemed more in tune with the students. They definitely trusted her.
Then came the alumni “town hall”. This WEBINAR was so disappointing. When alums asked to see this “3-year review” or “study” which lead to the cutting of teams, we were told by Fred Anderson that there wasn’t anything on paper. So, you don’t have any facts written down??? I hope you heard from your Orthogonian brothers because you have definitely let them and us down.
I started a Facebook group. It was open to everyone, some of your people, moles are in there, but we closed it when we had potential parents trying to join- we said no, and we became a private group. We have been accused by members of the board of being an anonymous group (which we have signed our names on documents). We have been accused of making threats to the college and the administration (which were unfounded). We have been accused of being the downfall of the college (which I think may have started way before our group did in late November) and we have been called racist. My last name may be Hill, but I am American of Mexican decent, raised in South Central LA. I am the last person to be called racist. I don’t tend to worry about comments like that from people who do not know me, but I went to school with board member Kaykas-Wolff and grew up watching board member Muller play softball at Joe Miller Field. I would think that someone would say, “Patty? A racist? Patty, trying to pull this college down? NO… that’s not something she would do, let me call her.” And yet, no call. I did reach out to board member Muller who was out of town at the time (November) she said she could speak when she got back… and again, no response.
The last couple of days have led us to even more turmoil. How and why were former trustees Cross and Groce suspended? Please tell me that as a board you were given information on WHAT the reasoning was to these suspensions? Because from the outside looking in, it looks like ageism to me. It looks like long time members of the board who gave so much philanthropically were thrown to the curb… and for what reason? They are the ones that can help with the traditions that so many on this board and administration seem to be trying to erase from this institution.
I don’t think the administration or executive board seem to understand that our group and many alums are not against what you are trying to help develop in diversity, equity and inclusion. The question, is why do we have to rid some things for others? We look for answers to questions but when we ask, members of our group are blocked in emails or are given vague answers. WE ARE NOT THE ENEMY and neither are former board members Cross, Groce and all of the former board members that have left the board but try to still communicate with you all. Are you so elite that you cannot speak to the rest of us? Or are you to scared to speak because you may look to not be loyal to the President? Please remember that YOU as the board are the ones that should be questioning the President and her numbers and asking for data. YOU are the ones that she or ANY President of this institution should be answering to. YOU should be more approachable to all of the stakeholders of this institution. We want this college to survive, to strive and to be here for our children in the future. I hope you question and talk to members of the faculty, the students and staff, dive deeper into enrollment and admissions, look into making those connections with alumni and MAYBE just maybe things would change.
If you think this is something that will pass, it will not. We were taught, mentored and raised by fine professors, and VPs of this school. There are many alums that have the expertise that you should be looking for guidance from. Maybe, just maybe if you ask, we could help. Maybe if executive board and the President didn’t dispose of us as alum, many of us would still be giving. I do hope that if nothing else, this letter, as well as all the letters you have been receiving, have you as board members, questioning what The Executive Board is telling you…and WHAT THEY ARE NOT. I hope faculty question what is going on with their Board of Trustees and administration. I hope for a better day in our POET future. Remember, if you don’t speak now, there may not be time to speak later.
Patty Hill ‘98