Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

September 13, 2002

Whitworth Moves into Top Five in U.S. News' Best College Rankings

Whitworth College is tied for fifth in U.S. News & World Report's 2003 college rankings. The magazine, which annually rates colleges on academic reputation and quality, positioned Whitworth two slots higher than last year in its ranking of 126 master's-level universities in the 15-state Western region. Whitworth also maintained its #11 ranking in U.S. News & World Report's listing of best college values, which considers both academic quality and the net cost of attendance.

Whitworth President Bill Robinson says he welcomes the magazine's recognition of Whitworth's academic excellence, but he cautions students and parents against over-emphasizing the rankings when selecting a college.

"The U.S. News rankings have done a good job of measuring some important facets of Whitworth's academic quality, but the rankings will never capture the value of our mission or the richness of the relationships our students have with their professors and with each other," Robinson says. "The rankings can be a useful starting point in searching for a school that is a good overall fit for a student."

The rankings, which were posted to U.S. News & World Report's web site today (Sept. 13) and will be available in newsstands on Sept. 16, are based on various indicators of academic quality, including student selectivity, freshman retention, graduation rate, financial resources, alumni giving and academic reputation.

Whitworth's freshman retention and graduation rates have risen to record highs in recent years. Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty Tammy Reid attributes the rising numbers to Whitworth's relatively high proportion of classes with fewer than 20 students enrolled (56 percent) and to ongoing technological improvements, research opportunities and curricular initiatives that engage students with faculty and their peers. She also credits a campus-wide commitment to doing whatever it takes to challenge students and to help them succeed.

"I love seeing the data add up," she says. "Every term I read the evaluations students write of their courses, and 99 percent of them say they've had good -- sometimes life-changing -- academic experiences. Then, I see our graduation and retention rates rising to all-time highs for the college, and it tells me that what is happening course-by-course for individuals is adding up collectively for our students overall."

The word is getting out. Whitworth has seen a 62 percent increase in freshman applications since fall 2000. Coupling this with a desire to control enrollment growth in order to preserve its low student-faculty ratio (13:1), the college has become more selective in its admissions.

Dean of Enrollment Services Fred Pfursich says that increased faculty and student research, alumni achievements, presidential leadership and visibility and a string of six conference athletics championships in two years have all contributed to the growing interest in a Whitworth education. He also says that Christian colleges nationwide have experienced enrollment booms.

"Students and parents seem to be placing a higher value on colleges that have a Christian mission and are committed to helping students integrate faith into their pursuit of knowledge, meaning and truth," Pfursich says. "What makes Whitworth stand out is its dual commitment to intellectual openness and the Christian faith."

U.S. News & World Report has published college rankings since 1983 as an aid to students and parents in the college-selection process. The magazine categorizes schools by mission, and, in some cases, by region, then ranks them using a weighted composite score of up to 16 indicators of academic quality. The institutional categories used by U.S. News are based on the Carnegie Foundation's classification of higher-education institutions. The Carnegie Foundation changed its classification system in 2001, resulting in a number of categories being re-named and more than 200 institutions changing categories. Whitworth remained in the same category of institutions offering a full range of undergraduate degrees and some graduate degrees, but the category name changed from "Regional Universities" to "Universities-Master's."

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.

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.

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