Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

September 23, 2002

Whitworth Raises Bar on Enrollment, Graduation Rates

Boosted by a steep rise in applications and consistently high retention rates, Whitworth College has enrolled more students this fall than at any time in the college's 112-year history, according to 10th-day enrollment figures released today.

With a record-high freshman class of 433 students, Whitworth's total enrollment climbed from 2,107 students in fall of 2001 to 2,206 this fall. The full-time enrollment grew from 1,815 students to 1,943. Both are new records despite efforts by the college to control growth in order to preserve its low student-faculty ratio of 13/1.

Whitworth also set high-water marks for its six-year graduation rate (70 percent) while matching last year's record-high freshman-sophomore retention rate (85 percent). The six-year graduation rate is the proportion of incoming first-time, full-time freshman students who graduate within six years. The freshman-sophomore retention rate is the proportion of incoming freshmen who return the following fall. Both calculations are used by outside ranking agencies to measure academic quality.

"Graduation rates and retention rates really reflect the academic strength and overall satisfaction of students as well as the ability of an institution to provide the courses, advising and services students need to be successful," says Whitworth Registrar Gary Whisenand. "Whitworth's graduation and retention rates have been climbing steadily for a decade and now are among the highest in the Northwest."

The large incoming freshman class was fueled by a surge in the number of students applying to Whitworth. The college received 1,811 freshman applications for enrollment this fall, up 13 percent over last year and up 60 percent over the last decade. In contrast to many other private, liberal arts colleges, Whitworth also is attracting a relatively even balance of male and female students. This fall's freshman class is 46 percent male, compared with about 40 percent at many comparable schools nationwide.

While Whitworth doesn't offer preferential treatment to male applicants in its admissions decisions, Dean of Enrollment Services Fred Pfursich attributes the increased interest from males to heightened visibility for Whitworth's computer science, engineering and other science programs, particularly for faculty and student research, and to the college's recent string of six conference athletic championships. The college fields 18 intercollegiate sports teams in the NCAA Division III.

"It's clear that a growing number of students, male as well as female, are attracted to Whitworth's strong academic reputation and to our unique mission," Pfursich says. "There just aren't very many schools out there that offer an education characterized by both intellectual openness and Christian commitment and that also can offer a wide range of research opportunities, athletics, ministries and other activities as well as the small size and individual attention available to Whitworth students."

Parents and students are also impressed with the beauty of Whitworth's campus and facilities, according to Pfursich. The college recently completed a $50 million fundraising campaign that included renovations to the science center, auditorium and a main classroom building as well as completion of a new student center, suite-style residence hall, fitness center and athletics complex. Plans are under way for construction of a 30,000-square-foot academic building to house the new School of Global Commerce and Management, the departments of Politics & History and Sociology, the Weyerhaeuser Center for Christian Faith & Learning, and a community resource and learning center.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The college enrolls about 2,200 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.


Gary Whisenand, registrar, (509) 777-4313, gwhisenand@whitworth.edu.

Fred Pfursich, dean of enrollment services, (509) 777-4348 or fpfursich@whitworth.edu.

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

Related Links

Whitworth Press Release Index