Resources for Writing Faculty Faith Essay
Dear Prospective Whitworth Applicants:
Thank you for taking the time to inquire about Whitworth. We recognize that prospective faculty who are not well acquainted with Christian higher education may find it difficult to contemplate writing an essay that describes one's personal faith for an application process. We ask you to write such an essay because when we hire new faculty we expect that they be able to articulate a clear Christian commitment, but we do not ask faculty to sign a doctrinal statement. To do so would limit the rich mix of denominational and theological diversity that Whitworth has enjoyed since its founding. We see Whitworth as one of the relatively few remaining higher education institutions where protestant mainliners, evangelicals, Anabaptists, Catholics, and Orthodox faculty can engage one another on the widest variety of important intellectual and social issues. I'd like to tell you a bit more about Whitworth and refer you to several resources on our website that describe Whitworth's mission and identity more fully. These may help you to write the personal faith essay for our application.
A host of questions are likely to cross the mind of any applicant for a position at Whitworth. Will I be free to pursue controversial ideas? Will my particular expression of the Christian faith be respected? Will I be forced into a narrow set of religious doctrines? Is Whitworth's faith commitment merely nominal and historic, or is it a vital part of Whitworth's community today? These are good questions and you may be surprised by the unusual and challenging ways in which Whitworth answers them. Our president, Beck Taylor, describes Whitworth as a Christian university that "seeks to balance a rigorous and open academic culture with clear commitments to the centrality of Jesus Christ and the authority of scripture." President Taylor celebrates Whitworth's commitments to nurture the life of the mind and engage society's most important issues simultaneously.
Review of our faculty handbook will attest that Whitworth does not take an institutional stand on controversial social and political issues. This leaves members of our faculty free to engage the issues from their varied intellectual and theological perspectives and to model constructive dialogue for our students.
But don't just take my word for it. Before you write your essay and submit your application take a look at our eclectic lineup of speakers and artists peruse our faculty's scholarly accomplishments, and investigate the rest of our website. The Chronicle of Higher Education published a 2008 article that describes well the role of the personal faith essay in Whitworth's approach to faculty hiring. We are by no means perfect, but I am sure that you will find a rich, engaging intellectual community committed to walking the narrow ridge.
Whitworth University Provost and Executive Vice President