Former Whitehead College established U of R commitment to working professionals


Michael McKay ’77 was just a few credits shy of a bachelor’s degree in 1976, and he had been trying to complete his degree for nine years. “I would get close to completing a class only to drop it because of a schedule change,” says McKay, who was a police officer in Orange County at the time. “I had attended almost every school in Southern California trying to find the necessary classes to finish. When University of Redlands made the public service management program available in 1976, I jumped on it. Not only would I get to finish, but the classes were held at the police department in an adjacent city, so they were convenient.”

Forty years ago, Whitehead College was founded at the University of Redlands specifically to meet the needs of students like McKay—working professionals who wanted to complete an undergraduate degree or earn a master’s. Among the first of its kind in the U.S., the College provided accelerated programs with classes offered during the evening hours on the main campus and at locations across Southern California.

“Whitehead College offered a variety of courses and programs through the decades, including education, liberal studies and business,” says G. Keith Roberts, the interim H. Jess and Donna Colton Senecal Endowed Dean’s Chair in Business, who started teaching business law and ethics as an adjunct professor at Whitehead in 1994.

Whitehead College was eventually superseded by the University of Redlands’ School of Education, founded in 2000, and School of Business, launched in 2001. However, the University’s commitment to working professionals has only grown, with extensive programs serving students who have lives busy with work and family.

Provost Kathy Ogren notes that, in acknowledging the 40th anniversary of the founding of Whitehead College, “We are celebrating being pioneers in adapting, evolving and serving our region well. That means outreach to a highly diverse area with learners who have a lot of different needs. And, given the current educational climate, I think that’s a noble calling.”

Now retired, McKay moved to the East Coast after graduating and earned several more degrees, including a master’s in criminal justice administration, a bachelor’s in Biblical Studies, a Master of Divinity and a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies. “I will forever be indebted to the University of Redlands for the creation of such an innovative off-campus program,” says McKay. “It changed my life to a large degree, and I am eternally grateful.”

Refer a working professional

Bulldog BobbleheadThe University has launched the Whitehead Anniversary Referral Project to help reach working professionals who would like to start or finish a degree or program at the School of Business or School of Education. When a student you refer enrolls by June 30, 2017, you will receive a Super Thurber bobblehead thank you gift. For more information, please contact the enrollment team at 909-748-8060 or email A nomination form is available at


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