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.
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.
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:
Average GPA and SAT for first-year students
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:
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.