Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

November 27, 2001

Whitworth Receives $2 Million Grant from Lilly Endowment

Research shows that landing a good job and advancing in a career don't ultimately satisfy the deeper longing most people have for finding purpose in their work. Whitworth College has been awarded a $2 million grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc. to enhance programs helping students develop a stronger and more satisfying sense of vocation by connecting their gifts and abilities with the larger needs of society.

Whitworth is one of 28 colleges and universities in the country to receive Lilly Endowment grants totaling $55.3 million to develop programs that enable young people to draw upon the resources of religious wisdom as they consider their vocational choices, including careers in the ministry.

Whitworth President William P. Robinson believes the grant recipients have an opportunity to train a generation of young people for "life as ministry" that will transform both places of work and worship in powerful ways.

"This initiative has the potential of infusing culture with thousands of people trained to bring spiritual and social redemption to a world crying for meaning and justice," he says. "I honestly believe that the people of the Lilly Endowment can lock up their offices at the end of the day knowing that the programs they are supporting with this funding will have a huge impact on making a better world."

The Lilly Endowment grant will enable Whitworth to strengthen its longstanding commitment to preparing people for church leadership; the college already is a top feeder school to Princeton Theological Seminary and other leading seminaries. But the five-year project - "Discerning Vocation: Community, Context and Commitments" - is aimed at encouraging all students to explore the theological implications of their life commitments and vocational choices regardless of whether they pursue a career in the ministry.

Tammy Reid, vice president of academic affairs and dean of the faculty, says the project reflects Whitworth's educational mission of equipping graduates to "honor God, follow Christ and serve humanity" as well as the college's historic ties to the Presbyterian Church and its theological understanding of vocation as any occupation that is done for the glory of God and the service of humankind.

"We want to help all of our students think more deeply about their life commitments in terms of calling and vocation," Reid says. "We believe that is how they will best connect their own gifts, skills, and talents with society's greatest needs, thus creating a congruence between internal and external motivations for work that will sustain them for lifetimes of service in a variety of careers.

The grant will fund the development of new course content related to vocation as well as a variety of co-curricular programs providing expanded opportunities for students to engage in mentoring relationships and communities; internship, ministry and service-learning projects; and structured reflection on the spiritual, moral and political commitments that should accompany one's vocation. The grant will also enable the college to bring high-profile speakers to campus and to engage in new research initiatives that will solidify Whitworth's position as one of the leading Christian colleges and universities in the West.

Craig Dykstra, vice president for religion at the Lilly Endowment, praised the quality of proposals submitted by the 28 grant recipients, which included Duke University, Pepperdine University, Seattle Pacific University and Willamette University.

"It is clear that these schools thought through their missions and strengths and that they were very intentional in devising these proposals," he said. "The caliber of proposals was outstanding, and it is obvious that these schools thought seriously about how to encourage young people to consider questions of faith and commitment as they chose their careers."

Founded in 1937, the Lilly Endowment is an Indianapolis-based private family foundation that follows its founders' wishes by supporting the causes of religion, community development and education.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The college enrolls 2,100 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.


William P. Robinson, president, (509) 777-4665, or wrobinson@whitworth.edu

Tammy Reid, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty, (509) 777-3702 or treid@whitworth.edu.

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

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