Wardman House SOLD

Editor’s note, May 30, 2023: Whittier College announced the sale of Wardman House to Rodolfo Lopez and Monica Varela. Read the College’s announcement.


Whittier College’s Wardman House: Why it’s a ‘jewel’ and why it’s for sale

by Lisa Jacobs and Christina Merino

Published April 19, 2023

April 12, 2023

Editor’s Note: The .pdf shared above was sent by Whittier College to alumni on April 12, 2023, two weeks after the announcement posted below was written. You can see the work of the PR firm in the revisions. The draft below was shared with the Save Whittier College coalition on March 31st after two planned distributions were postponed by the college. Since there would never be a good time to distribute news of their ill-advised and irresponsible plans, we agreed to help get the news out. The photos were not part of the document shared with us.

Dear Alumni,

We write with some heavy news regarding the future of Wardman House. As of this week, the property has been listed for sale at $5 million, with showings by permission. We are not listing it on the residential MLS but rather via luxury and international networks through our partner, Berkshire Hathaway. We estimate about a six to nine month marketing and viewing time prior to sale.

We know this is an unwelcome announcement for many, and we understand and appreciate the sentiment and traditions associated with Wardman House. Before going into our reasons for this sale, we would like to take a moment to acknowledge the love, affinity and nostalgia that many of our alumni have for Wardman House. We know it holds special symbolic value for many Poets, and that it represents an important part of our history. We want to thank the alumni who have shared their recollections of Wardman House. We know it will always hold a place in our hearts.

However, we must move on from where we were to where we are going. The need for a president’s house is no longer what it once was in campus life. More importantly, higher education as a whole has experienced great disruption due to changing demographics, issues of college affordability, and technological shifts, providing new opportunities for access to new markets. Student markets are changing, and Whittier College is in a strong position to capitalize on these changes as we build a sustainable business model. To be sustainable, all colleges must learn to adapt, to meet students where they are, and to put the evolving needs of students first. This is key to our mission of student success.

Recognizing that the Wardman House has been a gathering place for our faculty, students, alumni, and donors, we have identified equally beautiful spaces on our core campus that will continue to be used as a showcase. The Science Learning Center, a revitalized Mendenhall, and the Shannon Center will continue to be available for gatherings and events. Because these are on the main campus, they are more appropriate and less costly options for these activities.

The proceeds from the sale of Wardman House will be reinvested in areas of the campus that are more central to the student experience, such as core campus facilities, academic programs and employee compensation. This is not a decision the College has entered into lightly, but after deep consideration of our financial options and how best to support current and future students.

While our endowment has grown in the past decade and our assets and fundraising remain strong, the College took on significant debt in 2014 with substantial restrictions that reduced our flexibility. This debt was collateralized by campus real estate assets. In December 2022, we renegotiated with the bank and received a waiver of the debt covenant for one year. We also paid down the debt by $10 million. But we still have a ways to go, and we are having to make some painstaking choices to get there.

Our financial plan calls for leveraging our strong liquidity and asset value while allowing us to decrease our debt and invest in our future, keeping student success at the forefront of everything we do. We must ensure that we are using our resources in support of this mission, and in November, the Board of Trustees approved a resolution to do just that through measures such as this sale of Wardman House, which has high maintenance costs and no practical purpose for today’s students that cannot be reimagined.

We know this sale may not be easy or popular. But it’s the right thing to do for the College’s financial sustainability. Despite the many rich memories of Wardman House, this is the right move for the College’s future.

Please reach out with questions and concerns.

Best regards,

Alan Lund ’71, Chair, Debt/Asset Valuation Committee
Linda Oubré, President

Related content:
Letter from Elizabeth Durr ’19

18 responses to “Wardman House SOLD”

  1. How dare you. Single handedly destroying this college. You must go.

  2. More failure on part of out President Oubre. All that rhetoric from her that the college was financially intact. My brother and sister-in- law went to Whittier College, too. My sister-in-law’s grandparents were the Wardman’s . She has wonderful memories of visiting the house with her siblings playing in the tower and looking at the views . Now it is my task to give her this information.

  3. This is ridiculous. Are you promoting that $5,00,000 is going to end our financial problems? When we are trying to salvage Whittier by selling part of our heritage is truly unforgivable.Wardman House represents Whittier and it is a travesty to throw what Wardman represents away. Is this your progressive plan to save Whittier?

    Is your next move making Whittier a Junior College?

  4. Thomas Patrick-Joseph Hanks Avatar
    Thomas Patrick-Joseph Hanks

    I used to work for the college president as a caretaker and gardener. Unless it has significantly deteriorated I feel it is worth more than $5,000,000. If we must sell Wardman House, why not sell it for what it’s worth.

  5. What’s next, selling the football field? Then the dorms? Then the rest of the campus, piece by piece? Perhaps they can ask the faculty to sell their organs to raise funds. Anything, I suppose, but firing the person responsible for the ruin of the college.

  6. Do not forget to add the dinners for the Anniversary Years for the alumni at the Wardman House. These events fortify the backbone of Whittier College and have been a souce of additional continuing Whittier College revenue. I have summond the spirits of my Mother ’35, Step Father ’37, Uncles ’37, 39, Aunt ’37 and several once removed relatives, all Whittier College graduates that have attended their graduation year festivities at the historic Wardman House.

    This current Whittier College management insanity must be STOPPED.

    Increase publicity, gather campus allies and alumni and continue public information dissemination. Past history is the spine and pathway for succesful future generations. The above all believe that this is the practical course to resolve this situation……… Jim Olson ’59 and Marge Millikan Olson ’61 and the family of Whittier College spirit.

  7. Penny Carns Fraumeni Avatar
    Penny Carns Fraumeni

    This letter is simply a joke! This President is destroying every tradition that our beloved college has had for so many of us as alumni and financial supporters. The fact that you wrote this ridiculous letter is beneath you as a Board of Trustee member. You and her both need to resign so we can get back to some sense of sanity and respect for our college.

  8. Ruth Shannon and Hubert Perry are sobbing as they spin in their graves.

  9. Lynne Klein Therriault Avatar
    Lynne Klein Therriault

    I agree with Mr Hanks. The house is worth much more than the listing price. However, to Whittier it is PRICELESS and should not be sold. Once gone it can never be recovered. Since President Oubré doesn’t want to live there doesn’t mean future presidents won’t.

  10. The president has no feelings towards Whittier College. She is a very cold woman. She only cares about herself.

  11. Karen Garrett Avatar
    Karen Garrett

    As Alumna (‘86) and grand niece of Aubrey & Bonnie Wardman, this is very disappointing to me.

  12. Another slap in the face to the alumni. She didn’t want to live there so might as well sell. Where will Nate live?

  13. Dr Gregory Jenkins Avatar
    Dr Gregory Jenkins

    Shame on you and everyone responsible for this, horrible idea. Who came up with this boneheaded idea? I know a specific someone had to pitch this to all of you.

  14. Whittier College Alumni. Instead of weeping and gnashing teeth, organize and raise the 5 mill. I did not attend but my now deceased sister , Joanne Gire, graduated in 1956.
    Growing up in Whittier and retired in Australia, I will donate. Contact the Nixon Library. Get creative and take action!!!

  15. Miranda Fonseca Avatar
    Miranda Fonseca

    As a very new alumna (‘19), I am incredibly disappointed with the president and her coldness toward the great Whittier College traditions. I suppose in the future I will be stripped of anniversary dinners at the Wardman House and seeing friends and reminiscing on our senior year tradition of visiting the House. I cannot stress enough how irresponsible this seems when we have already lost the Law School and now the Wardman House? Last I remember, Whittier College is always going to be firstly and formally a liberal arts college. Don’t forget the roots of an established college because they branch out farther than you imagine. Take action and don’t back down!!

  16. This is an abject joke. The president is a clown and at this rate Whittier college will be gone in 10 years. From all the dinners and great times at Wardman to all the memories on the football team, there are no words to express my anger with this moron president. I’m an alum from 04’, the scholars program, and the football team. This is beyond upsetting.

  17. This is astonishing to me. The Wardman House is one of the most remarkable amenities associated with Whittier College. Selling this property is one of the most shortsighted things the college could do. I lived in Whittier for years and was always impressed with the property. It has tremendous value that goes far beyond the measly $5M sale value. The $5M won’t go far in alleviating the college’s financial issues but it will further erode the appeal of the college. What a foolish decision! I can only imagine how this will further contribute to the demise of this once great school.

  18. Melinda Woodward Avatar
    Melinda Woodward

    This is beyond ridiculous! The Wardman House should never be sold as it belongs to the Whittier College, therefore if ever the college sells then the Wardman House will be part of that sell, BUT NOT on its own!
    President Oubre and Alan Lund should RESIGN IMMEDIATELY so we can get Whittier College back on track with people who care about the college! This whole think smells of something fishy and I will bet it is fishy!
    It’s not just the Wardman House it’s EVERYTHING! and Oubre and Lund need to go!
    There has got to be a way to get them both GONE!

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