March 2 was a cool but sunny Friday, and typical in many ways: Students were busily wrapping up their week of study and activities, excitedly planning their weekend events. Members of the community were enjoying French dip sandwiches, a Friday favorite, in the HUB, and our theatre students were anxiously anticipating opening night of their spring production of Arthur Miller's All My Sons. Also on the calendar that day was a faculty-staff gathering where we celebrated the release of Professor of Mathematics Lyle Cochran's highly acclaimed calculus textbook. (During the celebration, we all shared our favorite jokes about derivatives.) As is the case on most spring Fridays, dozens of prospective students and their parents were scheduled to be on campus for a "Why Whitworth?" orientation, and our admissions personnel were grateful that the sun was shining; they tell me that a bright sky makes recruiting students from California and Hawaii a bit easier. Perhaps the biggest event in the minds of many was the first round of the NCAA Div. III basketball tournament, in which our men would play against McMurry University (Texas). That afternoon we would stream the live game from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, in Texas, to a packed house in Robinson Teaching Theatre, where fans would enjoy pizza, popcorn and soda and cheer our beloved Bucs to victory. It was a busy and exciting day, but it was also a pretty standard Friday on the Whitworth campus. I was glad not to be traveling so that I could take it all in!
That March Friday might have turned into a fairly typical end-of-the-week day had it not been for one very important and unexpected event: The day before, the Whitworth team had won the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl. Whitworth was a national champion for the first time since the baseball team won the 1960 NAIA title! Our team, coached by Mike Ingram (Communication Studies and Academic Affairs) and Keith Wyma (Philosophy), beat out teams from colleges and universities such as Wake Forest, Loyola Chicago, U.C. Santa Cruz, Dartmouth, and Georgetown before claiming the title with a win over Clemson, a former champion. By doing so, Whitworth became the first small school, and the first Christian school, to win the National Ethics Bowl title since the competition began, in 1995.
So on this now-not-so-typical Friday, an impromptu welcoming party was dispatched at about noon to the university's front entrance to surprise our victorious students and faculty coaches with a Whitworth hello. As the van carrying the team from the airport slowly made its way to campus, hundreds of students, staff and faculty gathered at the main entrance to cheer and celebrate the team. And as the team's van, carrying Jesse Javana, '12, Krister Johnson, '13, Bridger Landle, '12, Max Nelsen, '13, and Sarah Sauter, '15, turned into the Loop Road, a huge cheer went up across campus. Our champions were welcomed home as if they were rock stars. Hugs and high-fives were exchanged, and roommates and strangers alike expressed their appreciation to these "fabulous five" debaters who represented themselves and Whitworth wonderfully well. I was so proud of our students and our community.
Not every Friday is as eventful as March 2, but we do celebrate the academic achievements of our students and faculty each and every day. This academic year has been filled with accomplishments, great and small, that point to the importance of the academic mission at Whitworth. Here are just a handful:
- Thanks in part to the priceless contributions of longtime Fulbright Advisor John Yoder (Political Science), Whitworth was once again named a top producer of Fulbright Scholars.
- Junior Micah Spaun, '13, was awarded the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship for excellence in science.
- Whitworth's fourth endowed faculty position, the Margo Long Chair in Gifted Education, was created with a generous $3 million gift from two of Whitworth's dearest friends (see the story on Page 14 of the News section).
- Many of our graduates were accepted to prestigious graduate programs, and our physics department announced placements in programs at Columbia, Carnegie Mellon, Princeton, Cal Tech, and Johns Hopkins.
- Whitworth was selected as one of 40 national sites to host a traveling exhibition honoring the King James Bible's 400th anniversary.
- Whitworth was named a second-best value in the West in the latest U.S. News rankings, which reflect both academic quality and affordability.
- Whitworth's School of Education was reaccredited by the National Council for the Accreditation for Teacher Education. The SOE was recognized for meeting every standard; NCATE cited no areas for improvement.
Thank you for supporting Whitworth's academic mission. And as always, please keep Whitworth in your prayers.