Whitworth President's Report 2012-13

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Goal 2: Strengthen intellectual vitality across all contexts of teaching
and learning


President's Message
Whitworth 2021 Vision


Strengthen student-faculty interaction
and the rich learning that occurs within community and relationship, by achieving and maintaining a 13-to-1 student-faculty ratio.

KPI 2.1.3: Achieve and maintain freshman-to-sophomore retention rates of at least 90 percent.

During the 2009-10 academic year, a retention task force was established to review Whitworth's current retention efforts, identify best practices, and set goals for freshman-to-sophomore retention.

Whitworth has initiated a multi-pronged program designed to build class identity among incoming freshmen. The program features class advisors, class meetings at the start of each academic year, and activities that convey important class-specific information. First-year students also have access to the Student Success Team, individual success coaches, and a majors fair to provide them with information about majors and to encourage them to meet with faculty from different departments.

Freshman-to-sophomore retention rates are among the most effective measures of student satisfaction. Whitworth's retention rate is currently stronger than those of most colleges and universities. Among 29 comparison schools, the median retention rate is 83 percent. Since 2002, Whitworth has seen retention rates between 84 percent and 89.1 percent. A 90 percent retention rate would represent even greater effectiveness in all aspects of university life and a strong sense of student expectations and university goals.

Freshman-to-sophomore rentention
Goal: 90.0%
Baseline: 85.4%
Current/Past Performance & Goal
(2012 cohort)

Develop and progressively implement a vision for 21st-century teaching and learning that enhances academic rigor and educational outcomes.

KPI 2.2.2a: Achieve first-year and senior measures for active and collaborative learning that are in the 75th percentile for all schools included in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).

The Whitworth Student Investment Group was founded in April 2012 by enterprising undergraduates in the Whitworth School of Global Commerce & Management. The students designed a proposal and presented it to the board of trustees, which generously agreed to provide the group with approximately $100,000 that the students manage in equities and exchange-traded funds.

The investment group now numbers about 40 members representing a variety of majors. The students meet each week to discuss current economic news, stock pitches and portfolio allocation. All returns from their investments are kept in the Whitworth endowment.

The group's mission is "to provide students with real-life investing scenarios by actively participating in the trade of securities; to give students the tools to gain exposure to markets and the investing world; and to allow students to influence the management of Whitworth's financial resources and future."


KPI 2.2.4: Position Whitworth consistently among the top five schools in U.S. News' ranking of regional universities in the West.

For the 14th consecutive year, Whitworth maintained its position as one of the top 10 best regional universities in U.S. News & World Report's annual rankings.

Whitworth is No. 9 in the overall rankings, and is No. 4 in U.S. News' "Best Values." These rankings are based on academic quality and the average scholarship/financial aid award.

U.S. News has published its rankings annually since 1983; the 2014 rankings are available on the magazine's website (www.usnews.com) and in the 2014 edition of the magazine's Best Colleges guidebook.

U.S. News has consistently ranked Whitworth among the best regional universities and best values in the Western U.S. Whitworth also was listed at No. 38 in Kiplinger's 2012-13 rankings of best values among all private universities in the U.S.; was designated "Best in the West" in The Princeton Review's 2014 Best Colleges: Region by Region guide; and was ranked among the top 10 private schools in the Pacific Northwest in Forbes' latest America's Top Colleges rankings.

Promote compelling opportunities for advanced collaborative learning, creative expression, in-depth research, cross-cultural engagement, leadership development, and other enriching learning activities to attract and retain high-achieving students.

2.3.2a: Increase from 22 percent to 33 percent the number of incoming freshman students who have SAT scores of 1870 or higher and/or high school GPAs of 3.75 or higher.

Two years after enacting Whitworth 2021, the university is halfway toward its goal of increasing to 33 percent the number of honors-level incoming freshman students. Of the 593 members of the 2013 freshman class, 27.8 percent have SAT scores of at least 1870 and high school GPAs of at least 3.75.

"High-achieving students tend to submit the most applications and have the most offers of admission, so continuing to attract more of them to Whitworth is a significant challenge," says Vice President for Admissions & Financial Aid Greg Orwig, '91. "I'm confident that more and more bright students are seeking the kind of experience Whitworth offers, and that our students, faculty and staff are our best ambassadors."

The Whitworth Admissions Office staff is meeting the challenge through implementing multiple new strategies, many of which feature the university's ambassadors:

  • Current students in the George F. Whitworth Honors Program are participating in recruiting activities and events for prospective honors students.

  • Whitworth faculty members are engaging in more direct outreach to high-achieving prospective students during the recruitment process.

  • Faculty leaders in Whitworth's popular pre-med, forensics, study-abroad and honors programs are speaking to high school seniors taking part in Honors Colloquium, a weekend event in which students admitted with honors compete for two full-tuition scholarships.

  • Admissions counselors, during their travels, are making more one-on-one contacts with high-achieving prospective students who are likely to enroll at Whitworth.

Percentage of first-year students with SAT of 1870 and GPA of 3.75
Goal: 33.0% or greater
Baseline: 22.0%
Current/Past Performance & Goal
(FA cohort)

Average GPA and SAT for first-year students
Goal: GPA 3.75/SAT 1870
Past Performance (fall cohorts)

Expand support for faculty scholarship to enrich teaching, to model intellectual engagement for students, and to elevate further Whitworth's academic profile.

KPI 2.4.1: Increase from 80 percent to 95 percent the number of faculty members who, in the previous three years, have produced intellectual contributions that were publicly disseminated or subject to peer review.

In order to encourage faculty scholarship and to increase the percentage of faculty who engage in research and writing, the university has undertaken a number of new programs, which include the following:

  • The Reid Writing Retreat: A week each summer at a local camp/lodge where faculty can focus on their writing projects.

  • Writing groups: Last year, several faculty members began a small grass-roots writing program; they met regularly to share their scholarly projects, encouraging and supporting each other. Academic affairs is offering financial support to additional groups during the 2013-14 academic year.

  • Grant-writing workshops: These provide support for grant-writing through the office of sponsored programs as a regular part of the faculty development program.

  • Summer workshops: These vary in topic. The Vocation of the Christian Professor Program focuses primarily on pedagogy, but plans are under way to include background in faith & learning issues that will equip faculty to make contributions specifically in that area.

  • Summer stipends: The Weyerhaeuser Center and the Faculty Research and Development Committee award numerous summer grants and stipends to encourage scholarship projects. The Weyerhaeuser Center also offers regular scholarship colloquia at which faculty members share the results of their scholarship.

  • The Office of Sponsored Programs awards summer grants for scholarly/research activity.

  • The Faculty Travel Fund supports conference attendance and presentations by faculty.

  • The Faculty Research and Development Committee plans each semester's Faculty Development Day programs; some are focused on scholarship.

  • Faculty may apply for sabbaticals and minisabbaticals (during Jan Term).

  • A booklet featuring the scholarly work of each faculty member is compiled and distributed to the campus community each year
Sustain and enhance intercollegiate athletics as a nationally recognized NCAA Division III program committed to academic and competitive excellence.

KPI 2.7.2: Annually, win the McIroy-Lewis All-Sports Trophy for the best overall athletics program in the Northwest Conference.

In May 2013, Whitworth was honored – for the sixth consecutive year – with the Northwest Conference's McIlroy-Lewis Trophy, given to the conference school with the best overall athletics program. The Pirates have now won the award seven times since 2005. Whitworth earned six conference championships in 2013-14 – in men's soccer, men's basketball, women's and men's swimming, men's golf, and men's track and field. Interim Director of Athletics Melinda Larson, '92, says of this tangible proof of Whitworth's continuing success in athletics, "We are honored to have won this trophy so consistently against top-notch conference competition." Larson credits the Pirates' success to "each of our 20 teams, all of our 425 student-athletes, a department that provides excellent coaching and care, and strong support from the staff, the faculty, and the campus community."


To review additional KPIs related to Goal 2, click here.