Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

May 21, 2003

Whitworth Physics Department Earns Heuer Award for Outstanding Achievement
in Undergraduate Science Education

During the last 10 years the Whitworth College Physics Department has enhanced its already-high academic profile with the addition of an applied physics major for students pursuing careers in engineering, several major research grants, and a fourfold increase in physics majors since 1998. For these and other achievements, the department was recently honored with the Council of Independent Colleges' Heuer Award for Outstanding Achievement in Undergraduate Science Education. The Whitworth Physics Department will use the $10,000 award to support new physics programs and projects, including a web-accessible observatory on campus and research dealing with light-activated cancer drugs.

The Heuer Awards recognize colleges and universities for outstanding undergraduate science achievement based on their impact on students, improvements in the science program, and service to local schools through outreach. Whitworth was one of three institutions selected to receive the award from among 47 nominations drawn from 500 liberal arts colleges that maintain membership in the Council of Independent Colleges. Hendrix College, in Arkansas, and Roanoke College, in Virginia, also received 2003 Heuer Awards.

According to council president Richard Ekman, the exemplary programs in the science departments of the winning institutions "give further evidence of the view that science education in independent colleges and universities is a resource of major importance to the nation's future. The competition this year again demonstrates the signal - and disproportionate - contributions by small colleges to meeting the nation's need for more and better trained scientists and science teachers."

"The Heuer Award is a boost for Whitworth's academic reputation," says Physics Department Chair Richard Stevens. "It will foster communication between our college and other institutions of higher learning by attracting attention to some of the exciting things we have been working on."

In addition to an increase in physics majors, the Whitworth Physics Department was also recognized for its undergraduate research participation in NASA's electronic-propulsion program and the quality of the department's community-outreach programs with local schools, which have increased the number of Whitworth physics majors pursuing K-12 certification.

"Much of this award and what it represents is due to the quiet behind-the-scenes leadership of Delbert Friesen, our department chair who passed away unexpectedly last summer," says Professor of Physics Lois Kieffaber.

In addition to the Physics Department's Heuer Award, Whitworth's NOVA (NASA Opportunities for Visionary Academics) team, an interdisciplinary science group, received a Phase III Grant to attend a weeklong NOVA Workshop at the NASA Ames Research Center in California.

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.


Richard Stevens, Physics Department chair, Whitworth College, (509) 4508 or rstevens@whitworth.edu.

Julie Riddle, public information specialist, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or jriddle@whitworth.edu.

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