Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

June 20, 2000

Whitworth Leads Project to Assess Impact of College Degrees

Is a college degree worth the investment? Does a specialized education prepare graduates to succeed in the fast-changing job market? Are colleges and universities adapting to new technology, demographics and learning styles to serve today's students?

These questions have long been raised by prospective students and their parents as they consider higher education, but soaring costs and increased competition are raising the level of accountability for colleges and universities. Whitworth College, in partnership with Gonzaga University, is leading a project to help Pacific Northwest institutions develop tools to assess the quality and impact of their educational programs. The effort is funded by a $35,000 grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust with additional support from participating institutions.

"Given the large investment of time and resources made in pursuing a college degree, institutions of higher education must be more diligent than ever in assessing and explaining the return on that investment," says Whitworth Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Gordon Jackson, who is directing the project along with Wayne Powell, acting academic vice president at Gonzaga. "This project will help us provide meaningful answers to students, parents and prospective employers when we're asked what our graduates know and what they are able to accomplish with that knowledge."

The project includes a series of workshops designed to train faculty members as facilitators in developing appropriate assessment tools for their institutions. The first workshop will take place in fall of 2000 and has drawn interest from professors at 10 colleges and universities in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Barbara Walvoord, a nationally recognized authority on assessment in higher education and director of the John Kaneb Center for Teaching and learning at Notre Dame University, will lead the training.

Contacts:

Gordon Jackson, associate dean for academic affairs (509) 777-4303 or gjackson@whitworth.edu.

Greg Orwig, director of communications, (509) 777-4580 or gorwig@whitworth.edu.

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