Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

April 26, 2002

Community, College Supporters Surprise Whitworth President Bill Robinson with $1.3 Million for New Academic Building

Accustomed to surprising people with his quick wit and informal leadership style, Whitworth President Bill Robinson was on the receiving end Thursday night when friends and supporters surprised him with $1.3 million in gifts in his honor for the college's new academic building.

In recognition of the indelible mark Robinson has left on the college and in the community, a 230-seat auditorium to be used for classes and public lectures will be named the William P. Robinson Teaching Theatre.

"It would be hard to find a better investment than Bill Robinson and what he is doing to make this old world a better place," wrote former Washington Water Power CEO Wendell J. Satre and his wife, Jessie, in a note accompanying their gift for the project. "Bill Robinson influences the lives of many, and his influence and teaching are multiplied many times by those whom he has taught and trained going out into the world."

A group of Spokane area business leaders joined Whitworth trustees and administrators in organizing the effort to recognize Robinson for his strong leadership on campus and in the community since his 1993 arrival in Spokane. Under Robinson's leadership, Whitworth is enjoying record levels of student enrollment and retention, the strongest financial position in the college's history and increased external visibility. Robinson also has been active in the community as immediate past chairman of the Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, co-founder of the chamber's Higher Education Leadership Group and co-chair of the Mayor's Opportunity Council on Prosperity.

"Whitworth College's reputation in being a partner in the Spokane community has never been higher, and it is because of the concerted effort of Bill Robinson," said Ray Lawton, chairman of Lawton Printing, Inc., who helped lead the community fundraising effort along with WestCoast Hospitality Corp. President and CEO Don Barbieri, Wendle Motors President Chud Wendle and Telect President and CEO Wayne Williams. "It is truly a blessing to have you here at Whitworth as well as in our community," Lawton stated in announcing the project to a grateful and slightly flabbergasted Robinson Thursday night.

The William P. Robinson Teaching Theatre will be the cornerstone of Whitworth's new academic building – to be named Weyerhaeuser Hall in honor of longtime Whitworth trustee C. Davis Weyerhaeuser and his wife, Annette. The 30,000-square-foot building will provide much-needed classroom and office space to accommodate the college's enrollment growth, which has been driven largely by record retention rates over the past decade. The facility will house Whitworth's new School of Global Commerce and Management and the departments of Politics & History and Sociology. The building also will house the Weyerhaeuser Center for Christian Faith & Learning and the Regional Resource and Research Center, which will provide vital contact points between the campus and the larger community. All of these programs will rely on state-of-the-art technology to facilitate learning, information sharing and communication funded by a recent grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The $6.9 million building project is the top capital priority in Whitworth's $50 million Faith in the Future Campaign. With the $1.3 million commitment for the Robinson Teaching Theatre, $5.3 million has been raised for the academic building project. Construction will begin as soon as fund-raising is completed, with the building tentatively scheduled to open its doors in fall 2003 or spring 2004.

"Members of the Spokane and Whitworth communities were eager to step forward to commit to this project because they recognize Bill Robinson's extraordinary leadership and his deep commitment to students," said Tammy Reid, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty. "I can't imagine a better tribute to Bill Robinson and his legacy than to put his name on a facility that will be the setting of student learning and community engagement for years to come."

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.


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

Kristi Burns, vice president for institutional advancement, (509) 777-3243 or kburns@whitworth.edu.

Stacey Kamm Smith, associate vice president for institutional advancement, (509) 777-4388 or skammsmith@whitworth.edu.

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

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