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Glossary of Terms
Diversity: Whitworth's commitment to diversity is rooted in the biblical mandate to love, respect and honor the fullness of God's human creation. The term "diversity" points to the presence and participation of people who differ across multiple dimensions of real and socially constructed expressions of human experience. Presence and participation also incorporate thoughts, customs, perspectives, methods of problem-solving, and ways of negotiating the environment that enrich the educational process.
Ecumenical: As noted in the "Evangelical" definition below, this term is subject to many and varied interpretations, yet Whitworth has been enriched throughout its history by a strong ecumenical current. This influence is reflected in the university's embrace of faculty and staff, from many orthodox Christian faith traditions, who share a commitment to the centrality of Christ and the authority of scripture. We believe the education of our students is strengthened by a denominationally heterogeneous faculty, staff and board of trustees who unite around Whitworth's mission.
Endowed chairs/professorships:These are prominent positions that can be used to recognize or recruit distinguished scholars (e.g. Whitworth's Lindaman Chair Julia Stronks and Bruner-Welch Chair Jim Edwards). These positions are funded by restricted endowments that cover compensation for the individual holding the chair and, in most cases, for research and scholarship. In today's dollars, it would take approximately $1.5 million to fund an endowed professorship and approximately $3 million to fund an endowed chair at Whitworth.
Evangelical: While this term has been understood differently over time and across different aspects of contemporary culture, Whitworth understands "evangelical" to describe Christians who embrace the authority of scripture and its call to experience and share the saving work of Jesus Christ. Whitworth has always benefitted from a strong evangelical influence that is most clearly reflected in the university's practice of hiring only employees who profess to have an active, personal relationship with Christ and belief in the authority of scripture.
Freshman-sophomore retention rate: Retention refers to the percentage of a first-year fall cohort that returns for the sophomore year. This measure reflects, in part, the academic strength of incoming students and the effectiveness of first-year programming. It accounts for 5 percent of the U.S. News formula for ranking regional universities. Whitworth's freshman-sophomore retention rate for fall 2010 was 85.4 percent, well above national averages.
Inclusive: Because we desire to honor God in our community life, we seek to root both the theory and practice of inclusive community in the nature and character of the Triune God -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- whose very being expresses the beauty of diversity-in-community. We seek the active, intentional, and ongoing inclusion of diversity -- in people, in the curriculum, in the co-curriculum, and in communities -- intellectual, social, cultural, and geographical.
Intercultural competency: Intercultural competency involves the knowledge, motivation and skills to interact effectively and appropriately with members of different cultures, either in the United States or elsewhere.
Interdisciplinary: An interdisciplinary field crosses traditional boundaries between academic disciplines or schools of thought to address new and emerging challenges. The epidemiology of AIDS or the dynamics of climate change, for example, require the insights and resources of multiple disciplines. In his October 2010 inaugural address, President Taylor identified interdisciplinary studies as a significant area of opportunity for Whitworth.
Justice: Whitworth links justice to the biblical paradigm of shalom. Noted Christian philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff describes shalom justice as a biblical vision for human flourishing in which people find delight in right relationships with God, with one another, with creation and with themselves. The mandate for Christian colleges, Wolterstorff argues, is to equip their students to be agents and celebrators of Shalom in the world and to be petitioners and mourners of Shalom's absence.
LEED Certification: Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification provides building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.
Liberal arts: Whitworth understands the term "
liberal arts" to describe both content and form for education. The content of the liberal arts traditionally has included study of literature, languages, philosophy, history, math and science; these subjects are included in the general education requirements that all Whitworth students complete to graduate. The form of a liberal arts education is one that develops in students the ability to think critically, reason coherently and communicate clearly -- capacities that equip graduates to flourish for the long term in professional roles but also as citizens and human beings.
National Survey of Student Engagement: This survey obtains information from scores of colleges and universities nationwide about student participation in programs and activities that institutions provide for their learning and personal development. The results provide an estimate of how undergraduates spend their time and what they gain from attending college. Survey items on the NSSE represent empirically confirmed "good practices" in undergraduate education -- reflecting behaviors by students and institutions that are associated with desired outcomes of college. Whitworth administers the survey on a biennial basis.
Reformed: Churches tracing their origin to the influence of Protestant reformers John Calvin and John Knox commonly describe themselves as "theologically reformed." Our affiliation with the Presbyterian Church puts us solidly in the Reformed camp. Reformed denominations place strong emphasis on God's sovereignty and transcendence, while also urging their members to participate in God's redemption of creation from within culture. This relationship to culture lies at the heart of John Calvin's encouragement for Christians to nourish a "life of the mind in service to God." Whitworth reflects the Presbyterian Church's historic commitment to this value.
Six-year graduation rates: This refers to the percentage of an incoming cohort of first-time students who graduate within six years. While the majority of students at Whitworth graduate within four years, the six-year graduation rate is the measure used for federal reporting and for most rankings. This measure reflects, in part, the academic ability of the students, the quality of advising and other institutional support systems for students, and the availability of classes. It accounts for 20 percent of the U.S. News formula for ranking regional universities, making it the second most influential variable in the formula. In 2010, Whitworth's six-year graduation rate for the fall 2004 cohort was a record high of 79.3 percent.
Specialized accreditation: Whitworth is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, which certifies that the university meets certain standards of quality in its academic programs and is equipped to fulfill its mission. In addition, organizations within certain academic disciplines offer specialized accreditation to certify a department or school meets identified standards of quality in its educational programs and outcomes within the field. Whitworth's athletic training education program, music department and School of Education currently have specialized accreditation.
Student-faculty ratio: The student-faculty ratio measures faculty resources allocated to student learning and achievement; this calculation is important to external rating agencies such as U.S. News and internally as a measure of the university's commitment to student-faculty interaction. U.S. News uses a different method for calculating student-faculty ratio than the method used internally. U.S. News includes certain coaches and administrators with faculty standing as well as some adjunct instructors, yielding a 13-to-1 ratio for fall 2010; many of these individuals are excluded from the internal calculation, which yielded a 19.5-to-1 ratio in fall 2010.
Sustainability: Sustainable activities are those that that reflect a commitment to intergenerational equity. Whitworth's sustainability commitments center around financial strategies that ensure the university's long-term economic health and ability to carry out its mission as well as environmental and resource management practices that reflect our call to be good stewards of God's creation.
Terminal degrees: A terminal degree is the highest academic degree in a given field of study. An earned academic (or research) doctorate such as a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is considered the terminal degree in most academic fields of study in some countries. However, professional doctorates may be considered terminal degrees within the professional degree track even though they are prerequisites for research degrees. Not all terminal degrees are doctorates. For instance, the terminal academic degree in the practice of the arts (as opposed to art theory or history) is usually the M.F.A. (Master of Fine Arts).
Traditional undergraduates: This is a shorthand description for full-time matriculated day students. For the most part, these are students who enter college directly from high school or transfer from a community college to complete a bachelor's degree. These students generally live on or near campus, take a full-time class load and are enrolled in the ";day" program as opposed to the Continuing Studies evening/weekend program for adult learners.
Underrepresented populations: "Underrepresentation" is meant to describe the extent to which the proportion of certain racial/ethnic groups relative to the total campus population fails to mirror their proportion in the broader U.S. population. For the purpose of this plan, the term "underrepresented populations" refers to members of Whitworth University's student body, faculty, staff, administration, and trustees who self-identify with real and socially constructed human dimensions of race and ethnicity, including American/Alaskan Native, African American, Hispanic or Latino/Latina, Asian American, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander American, and biracial or multiracial.
U.S. News ranking: U.S. News' annual America's Best Colleges rankings are based on various indicators of an institution's quality, including academic reputation, faculty resources, student selectivity, freshman retention, graduation rate, financial resources and alumni giving. Schools are ranked in four categories: national universities, national liberal arts colleges, regional universities and regional baccalaureate colleges. The latter two categories are divided into four regions of the United States. Whitworth is included in the West Region of the regional universities category, which includes 115 schools in 17 Western states. Whitworth has been ranked among the top 10 schools in this category for 13 consecutive years and was No. 9 in the 2013 rankings.
Vocation: Whitworth's understanding of vocation is anchored in a Reformed theological understanding of God's call on all individuals to use their gifts to advance the kingdom -- a concept that has been articulated in compelling ways by theologians ranging from John Calvin to Frederick Buechner. It also is captured well by cable-TV pioneer and social entrepreneur Bob Buford's challenge for people to define success in terms of significance in uniting their capacities with their convictions to make a difference in the world. Supported by $2.5 million in grants from the Lilly Endowment and gifts from other donors, Whitworth has undertaken major initiatives to support students, faculty, staff and alumni in exploring how they can use their unique gifts, skills, passions, purposes and convictions to pursue a calling that encompasses work (in any profession), family, church, local community and global community.
Worldview: This refers to a framework of assumptions, ideas and beliefs through which an individual interprets the world and interacts with it. Whitworth's Core/Worldview Studies Program equips students to explore the religious and philosophical ideas and beliefs that inform and challenge the Judeo-Christian and rationalist worldviews that have shaped Western civilization. The three-course Core sequence focuses on questions of metaphysics (What is really real?), epistemology (How do I know what is real?) and ethics/politics (How do I know what is right?).