September 25, 2001
Whitworth Sets New Records for Enrollment, Retention, Graduation Rates
Despite efforts to curb the enrollment growth of recent years, Whitworth College has more students this fall than at any time in the college's 111-year history, according to 10th-day enrollment figures released Tuesday.
Boosted by a record incoming freshman class of 427 students, Whitworth's total enrollment climbed from 2,026 students in fall 2000 to 2,107 this year, while the full-time equivalent enrollment grew from 1,737 to 1,815. Both are new records for the college. The college also set high-water marks for freshman-sophomore retention (86 percent) and for six-year graduation rates (68 percent) - both well above national averages.
"Student interest in the college has never been higher, and student success at the college, as measured by retention and graduation rates, has never been higher," says Whitworth Registrar Gary Whisenand. "We have excellent students taught by a first-rate faculty. Our campus is in great shape and only getting better. Even the athletics program is as strong across the board as it's been in decades. These are banner years at Whitworth."
With enrollment at capacity levels for the past six years, college officials sought to hold the line on growth this year. However, a 42-percent increase in applications and a lower-than-expected summer attrition rate for students who made spring enrollment deposits boosted the headcount to new heights. Whisenand says the campus is able to accommodate the swell of students, but he looks forward to the new Boppell Residence Hall opening in October and to a $6.5-million academic building for which the college is planning to break ground next summer.
Fred Pfursich, dean of enrollment services at Whitworth, credits the enrollment growth to the college's steady investments in academic programs and facilities - investments that are attracting growing numbers of high-achieving students. The college has made more than $30 million in campus improvements over the past eight years, including a new student union building, new athletics facilities, renovated classroom and science buildings and the new residence hall. The college also has made significant investments in classroom technology, library holdings, faculty scholarship and student research in the sciences.
In addition to booming enrollments, Whitworth's freshman-sophomore retention rate has risen steadily from 76 percent for the 1992 fall cohort of freshman students to 86 percent for the fall 2000 group. Similarly, the six-year graduation rate has climbed from 58 percent for the fall 1992 freshman cohort to 68 percent for the fall 1995 group. Both trends demonstrate that Whitworth's students are setting new standards for academic quality as well as quantity, according to Whisenand.
"The two most important factors for retention and graduation rates," Whisenand says, "are the academic caliber of incoming students and the quality of academic advising. Both are excellent at Whitworth."
Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The college enrolls about 2,100 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.
Gary Whisenand, registrar, (509) 777-4313, email@example.com.
Greg Orwig, director of communications, (509) 777-4580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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