When Jeff learns about a new "ultimate blow off class" at Greendale, he finds Professor Whitman teaching the course. An unorthodox educator with a zest for life and a flair for the dramatic, he tries to inspire all of his students to follow a similar philosophy. His first appearance was in the Season One episode "Introduction to Film" and he was last seen in the season finale "Pascal's Triangle Revisited". He is portrayed by actor John Michael Higgins.
Although Jeff immediately assumed Professor Whitman's accounting class would be easy, it turns out not to be the case. In order to pass the class, the professor insists his students attempt to follow his philosophy of living in the moment and seizing the day. He tells Jeff that he believes he is only there in his class to coast. Whitman warns him that if he doesn't make a real effort to "seize the day," he will fail him. Jeff becomes frustrated when his various attempts at completing his "assignment" are dismissed as insincere. After Jeff helps Britta out with her problem with Abed and his father, she returns the favor by helping him pass Whitman's class. When she sees the professor on the quad, she asks Jeff to kiss her which he does enthusiastically. An impressed Whitman observes the entire exchange and declares that Jeff has passed the class, moments before deciding to spontaneously climb a tree
He is next seen in the episode Debate 109, acting as the coach for Greendale's Debate Team. Along with Dean Pelton and Annie, he makes a request of Jeff. Annie's debate partner got sick, and the three of them believed he would make an excellent replacement for the upcoming debate competition against City College, particularly against its star debater Jeremy Simmons. Jeff is unresponsive to his pleas but ends up agreeing after he is offered a faculty parking spot by the Dean. Later in the school's gymnasium, Jeff joins the Greendale debate team where the competition is being held. When it's Jeff's turn to rebut Jeremy Simmons' argument, Whitman offers him some disturbing advice. Jeff decides to eschew the rules of the debate in favor of delivering a rousing monologue that gets the crowd cheering and singing. Professor Whitman, along with Annie and the Dean, express some concern over his approach, and their fears are justified after Jeff receives a zero for his argument. Still reeling from their poor showing, Whitman is angered when the Greendale basketball team interrupts the contest. Claiming that the team has the gym for the next few hours for practice, Dean Pelton reschedules the debate for tomorrow.
The next day, Pelton and Whitman are surprised to find that Jeff has actually prepared for the competition after he delivers a very persuasive argument. The debate becomes heated as Annie and Jeff successfully counter every one of Simmons' arguments. Acting as debate proctor, Professor Whitman becomes engrossed by the spirited contest on display. During a brief interlude, he compliments Jeff for his impeccable preparation. The Dean excitedly informs them that Greendale is ahead by several points. Simmons is then forced to use a desperate gambit to win. Whitman, along with everyone else in attendance, is shocked when he sees Simmons sacrifice his body to make his last argument. However, a quick-thinking Annie makes an equally compelling rebuttal that negates Simmons' argument completely and secures the victory for Greendale. Afterwards, Whitman can be seen celebrating the school's big win with Dean Pelton and other Greendale students. His final appearance was in the episode "Pascal's Triangle Revisited". He greets Jeff on the last day of school while jumping over a sprinkler and holding an ice cream cone. He is later seen attending the Tranny Dance and along with a crowd of students witnesses Britta and Slater publicly declare their love for Jeff. Whitman suggests to Jeff that he choose Britta, which sparks an intense debate among the crowd. When Jeff can't decide which one to choose, his indecision elicits boos from the crowd and earns him a raspberry from Professor Whitman.
“Death, so called, is a thing that makes men weep and yet a third of life is spent in sleep? Open your books to page 37. Now throw them away. Throw them away! The motto of this class is Carpe Diem, SEIZE...THE..DAY! No tests, no papers. You want an "A"? Live...in...THE MOMENT.”— Professor Whitman
“Why are you here?”— Professor Whitman
“To get a degree in business degree so I can sell bake goods and whatnot over the internet.”— Shirley
“WHY ARE YOU HERE!?”— Professor Whitman
“Because I wasted fifteen years of my life on a man who left me with nothing but stretch marks and a foggy memory of two bland orgasms and now it's time to get what's mine!”— Shirley
“Day seized!”— Professor Whitman
“Jeffrey, as the debate coach I am offering you the opportunity to drink from the cup of life instead of romancing your nether regions in front of the E! Channel.”— Professor Whitman
“By Zeus! What sort of jackassery is this? We're in the middle of a championship debate!”— Professor Whitman