He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Oklahoma State University in 1959 and his master"s in pharmacology from Ohio State University in 1965.
He served as acting Surgeon General of the United States from July to September 1993. A career United States Public Health Service officer, Whitney was appointed deputy surgeon general September 1, 1992. Since 1971, he held a number of positions of increasing responsibility in the National Institutes of Health.
From 1989 to 1992, he was director of the National Institutes of Health National Center for Research Resources.
Prior to joining the Public Health Services , Whitney was director of the United States. Army training program in laboratory animal medicine and served a year in Vietnam (1970) as commander of a veterinary medical detachment. Whitney is a diplomate of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine and served as chief veterinary officer of the Public Health Service from 1985-1989.
Whitney is a member of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, initiated at Oklahoma State University.