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Whitworth 2021

"Everything in the plan is geared toward making the Whitworth experience better for students."
Melinda Leavitt, '12

"Congratulations, Whitworth Class of 2021!" a future commencement speaker may say. "You entered the university as the most academically accomplished, service-oriented, and racially, ethnically and geographically diverse class in Whitworth's history. You raised the bar in many other areas of the university and elevated Whitworth's standing as one of the finest Christian liberal arts universities in the country.

"As Whitworth stabilized traditional undergraduate enrollment at 2,300 students and focused on enhancing the depth and quality of the student learning experience, you were challenged to discern and respond to God's call on your lives; to develop intercultural competencies to live, learn and work effectively across multiple dimensions of human diversity; and to explore intellectual frontiers in the context of a liberal arts curriculum that empowers graduates for lifelong learning, professional development and community service.

"During your time at Whitworth, 100 percent of you engaged in service learning, 75 percent completed internships, 70 percent studied abroad, and a record number engaged in research or other forms of experiential learning. You benefited from Whitworth's strong commitment to relationshipcentered learning as the student-faculty ratio dropped to 13-to-1, the rate of students living in university housing climbed to 70 percent, and the rates for freshman-sophomore retention and six-year graduation reached record highs of 90-plus percent and 80-plus percent respectively. And members of your class were among the first to pursue majors in the new College of Arts and Sciences and to participate in business programs with specialized accreditation from the demanding Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

"In the decade leading up to your graduation, a robust culture of philanthropy attracted $150 million in donations to the university, with annual alumni giving climbing 7 percent, to top the 25 percent mark. Gifts for endowed scholarships, professorships, chairs and other initiatives doubled Whitworth's endowment to $180 million. And thanks to a combination of donated and borrowed funds, you enjoyed an expanded HUB dining hall, a new residence hall, and a student intramural/ recreation facility; new performance, rehearsal and instruction space for performing arts; additional space and equipment for science majors; and an indoor athletics facility that provides a multipurpose center for university events."

This far-reaching vision for Whitworth, along with a strategic plan to support it, was approved unanimously by trustees at their April board meeting.

"Whitworth is at a crossroads that calls the university to engage its distinctive mission, its educational enterprise, and its external environment in courageous ways." Whitworth President Beck Taylor

"Trustees have joined with other members of the Whitworth community to chart an exciting course for the institution's future," says Board Chair Walt Oliver, '67. "Whitworth has been on a very positive trajectory, and we are ready to build on that success. I am confident that the Whitworth 2021: Courage at the Crossroads vision and strategic plan positions the university to provide an excellent education for our next generation of students."

At the outset of a 10-year vision and strategic plan, Whitworth finds itself at a defining moment in its history when internal and external forces present significant opportunities and challenges that call for courageous decision-making. And in many ways, Whitworth has always lived out its mission at a nexus uniting the deep resources of its Christian mission with a broad spectrum of ideas, voices and perspectives.

President Beck Taylor says the university sought to engage all of its constituents in creating a vision that is ambitious yet achievable, and that is flexible yet clear in its direction for the future. Hundreds of alumni, parents, supporters, community partners, faculty, staff and students provided input on the Whitworth 2021 plan through an online survey and through a number of community and town hall meetings.

"There is a clear consensus among our constituents that gives energy and purpose to the work ahead," Taylor says. "Whitworth is at a crossroads that calls the university to engage its distinctive mission, its educational enterprise, and its external environment in courageous ways. We must stay true to the immutable values that have guided Whitworth for 120 years while we tackle the challenges and opportunities before us. And we will."

After a decade of steady enrollment growth that contributed to an expansion in programs, faculty and facilities, the Whitworth 2021 vision and strategic plan focuses on enhancing the depth and quality of the student learning experience rather than the size and scope of the university. "Everything in the plan is geared toward making the Whitworth experience better for students," says Melinda Leavitt, '12, executive vice president-elect for the Associated Students of Whitworth University and a student representative on University Council, Whitworth's chief planning group. "Students are mostly concerned with enrollment, the overall feel of the campus, and the upcoming facilities projects.

The plan has given answers to students' questions regarding stabilizing enrollment and the building of much-needed and desired facilities."

Whitworth 2021 also calls for continuing strategic growth in programs for graduate and non-traditional adult learners, investing in new professional development and enrichment resources for faculty and staff, and expanding the university's network of constituents and supporters as Whitworth elevates its role as a resource to the church and society by engaging challenging contemporary issues with intellectual rigor through the lens of Christian faith.

"The plan is not about simply 'staying the course,' but about envisioning directions and initiatives that will invigorate the academic and intellectual life of the campus community over the next decade," says Richard Strauch, professor of music and president of the faculty for 2009-2011. "Without compromising our commitment to academic excellence, the plan proposes that we broaden our thinking and imagination with respect to reaching beyond the confines of our physical campus. The increased emphasis on, and support for, service-learning, international study opportunities, faculty scholarly production, adult learners, and graduate programs will require that we engage the community and the world in a more consistent and sustained fashion."

The Whitworth 2021 vision and strategic plan can be viewed online at www.whitworth.edu/whitworth2021.


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