Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

May 9, 2003

Whitworth to Graduate Largest Class Ever at May 18 Commencement Exercises

Accustomed to addressing 12-person jury panels, U.S. District Judge Ron Leighton will instead face the largest graduating class in Whitworth's history as keynote speaker for the college's 113th undergraduate commencement exercises. An estimated 435 graduating seniors and their families will participate in the ceremony at 3 p.m. on May 18 at the Spokane Arena. Leighton, a Whitworth alumnus and former trustee, will address "The Pursuit of Justice in a Changing World."

Whitworth President Bill Robinson will be the keynote speaker for the college's graduate commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. on May 17 in Whitworth's Cowles Memorial Auditorium. His address, "Doing Leadership: And the Word Became Flesh" will be delivered to about 115 students receiving master's degrees in education and international management. Robinson is entering his 11th year as Whitworth's 17th president and has helped lead the college to record levels of student enrollment and retention, financial strength and external visibility.

Professor of Philosophy Forrest Baird, who, along with Associate Professor of Psychology Noelle Wiersma, was voted "Most Influential Professor" by this year's graduating seniors, will speak at Whitworth's baccalaureate ceremony at 10 a.m. on May 18 in Cowles Memorial Auditorium. Baird's address, "What is Really Real?," hints at the renowned lectures he has given in Whitworth's Core 250 history of the rationalist tradition class.

A 1973 Whitworth graduate, Leighton served on Whitworth's board of trustees for 26 years before stepping down this past fall in accordance with Department of Justice ethics guidelines for federal judges. Leighton's appointment as federal judge for the Western district of Washington is the culmination of a 10-year journey that included nominations by both presidents named Bush. His initial appointment was stalled by political wrangling and the change of administrations in 1992, but he was re-nominated in January of 2002 and confirmed in November.

Leighton previously had a long and successful career as an attorney and partner with Gordon Thomas Honeywell, Malanca, Peterson and Dayheim in Tacoma and Seattle, where he focused on complex litigations in federal court. Leighton, who describes the judicial appointment as "the pinnacle of a trial lawyer's career and a great opportunity to serve," says he looks forward to addressing Whitworth's graduates about the nature of justice.

" We mostly define justice by what it isn't," he says. "We know what injustice is, but we have a difficult time defining justice. My address will be a plea for young people -- all people, really -- to be involved in some way in making the world a more just place. The courts are dealing with very challenging issues right now as we seek to keep people safe while preserving their rights. It's a delicate balance."

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


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

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

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