October 7, 2003
Whitworth's Retention, Graduation Rate, Enrollment Continue to Climb
Whitworth's freshman-sophomore retention rate and six-year graduation rate - two indicators of academic quality used by outside ranking organizations - have risen this fall to levels that significantly exceed national averages. Boosted by record numbers of applications, Whitworth's freshman class and overall enrollment also edged up to all-time highs, according to official 10th-day enrollment figures.
The college is seeking to regulate growth in order to maintain academic quality and the strong faculty-student relationships that characterize a Whitworth education, but strong demand from prospective students and steadily rising retention rates continue to push enrollment, according to Dean of Enrollment Services Fred Pfursich.
"Whitworth's reputation benefits greatly from the positive educational experience that our students have because they love to tell their Whitworth story to friends, relatives, neighbors, pastors, high school teachers, coaches and counselors," Pfursich says. "My sense is that the vast majority of high-school students we recruit already have some kind of very positive connection to Whitworth through one of our current students or graduates."
Whitworth's freshman-sophomore retention rate climbed from 85.2 percent last year to a new high of 87.3 percent, significantly higher than the 77.9 percent average for schools in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and 81.4 percent for selective independent colleges nationally. Whitworth's six-year graduation rate - the percentage of an incoming freshman class to graduate within six years - also reached a record high at 71.4 percent. The average six-year graduation rate for the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities is 56.6 percent and for all selective independent colleges nationally is 66.5 percent.
"Whitworth's six-year graduation rate is really impressive and compares with the best colleges in the region," says Whitworth Registrar Gary Whisenand. "The freshman-sophomore retention rate also indicates that we're attracting excellent students and that they are enjoying their experience here."
The number of freshman applications for enrollment increased this year to 1,892, up 81 applications or 4.4 percent from last year and 67 percent since fall 1993. That led to an increase of five students in the freshman class, Whitworth's largest-ever at 438 students. The number of freshmen from underrepresented ethnic minorities increased significantly to 67 students while the college's overall enrollment of underrepresented ethnic minority students increased to 188. Pfursich says this year's increase reflects several years of strategic planning and commitment to creating a more diverse campus.
Building on strong freshman enrollments and retention rates for the past several years, Whitworth's overall enrollment climbed 92 students or 4.2 percent to 2,298 students, and the college's full-time equivalent enrollment increased 85 students or 4.4 percent to 2,028 students. The number of full-time undergraduate students increased to 1,997 students, marking the 10th consecutive year of growth.
Pfursich says students are attracted to Whitworth's unique educational mission focusing on open, rigorous intellectual inquiry and the integration of Christian faith and learning and to the college's strong academic reputation. U.S. News & World Report ranked Whitworth sixth among master's-level universities in the West in both its best colleges and best values rankings. Students and parents also are impressed with the beauty of Whitworth's 200-acre campus and its excellent facilities, Pfursich says. The college recently completed a $60.3 million campaign and has made more than $40 million in campus improvements over the past decade.
Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college enrolls about 2,200 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.
Fred Pfursich, dean of enrollment services, (509) 777-4348 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gary Whisenand, registrar, (509) 777-4313, email@example.com.
Greg Orwig, director of communications, (509) 777-4580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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