During the course of the twentieth century, Whitman College passed through periods of struggle but emerged as a premier liberal arts college.
The college was again in a precarious financial position but believed that it had found an ideal successor to Penrose in Rudolf Alexander Clemen (1893-1969), a Congregational minister with an impressive background in academia and business.
Clemen commissioned an institutional study and immediately began making changes -- reorganizing the college’s administration and making improvements to its physical plant.
Following its 25th year as a college, in 1907, a plan called Greater Whitman was launched.
This ambitious plan, which looked more to Massachusetts Institute of Technology than to Williams College for inspiration, sought to expand Whitman’s curriculum and transform the school into a regional center for advanced technical training.
Whitman College began as Whitman Seminary, a pre-collegiate academy for pioneer boys and girls.
Cushing Eells (1810-1893) obtained the first charter for the school in 1859, to memorialize his missionary colleagues Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, who had been killed in 1847.From the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, he acquired the Whitman mission site.Eells soon moved to the site with his family and began working to establish Whitman Seminary.Bratton restored the relationships that Clemen had damaged; when Bratton retired, in 1942, he was celebrated for his success at managing internal affairs.In the midst of the crisis of World War II, Whitman selected Rollins College Dean Winslow Samuel Anderson (d. Anticipating the enrollment challenges facing the college, Anderson, with the help of Whitman’s most influential alumnus, Supreme Court Justice William O.The next year a new charter was obtained for Whitman College and a second building, College Hall, was built for the school.Through the Congregational American College and Education Society, a Boston organization that helped remote Congregational colleges gain financial assistance, Whitman College received money and books from the East.As its enrollment, faculty, and facilities grew, local support came for the school as well.But financial and governance troubles persisted, and despite his many successes Anderson fell out of favor with some of the school’s supporters. After a promising start, his successor, Congregational minister James Francis Eaton, also encountered financial troubles in a worsening economy, fell out of favor with nearly everyone, and resigned in 1894. Pearsons, Penrose established the college’s endowment, built the college’s first masonry buildings -- the Whitman Memorial Building and Billings Hall (both completed by 1900) -- and strengthened the college’s faculty.Despite Eells’s desire to locate Whitman Seminary at the Whitman mission site and his donation of more than half of the site’s land to the school, local pressure and resources provided a way for the school to open in Walla Walla, a town that had began to take form in late 1859.In 1866, Walla Walla’s wealthiest denizen, merchant Dorsey Syng Baker (1823-1888), donated land near his home.