Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

August 20, 2004

U.S. News Rankings Lift Whitworth to #5 for Best Colleges, #2 for Best Values in West

2005 U.S. News Rankings
Whitworth College moved into the top five in U.S. News & World Report's 2005 rankings of best colleges and best values among 124 master's-level universities in the 15-state Western region of the U.S.

The magazine, which annually rates colleges on academic quality and value, ranked Whitworth in a three-way tie for fifth in its best-college ranking -- the same position the college held in the 2003 rankings and one position higher than last year. In U.S. News' latest best-values rankings, which consider both academic quality and cost, Whitworth moved up four spots from last year to the second spot, its highest position ever in the value rankings.

Whitworth President Bill Robinson says he welcomes the magazine's recognition of Whitworth's academic excellence, but he cautions students and parents against placing too much emphasis on the rankings when selecting a college.

"Of course we're pleased with our ranking in U.S. News, but I continue to feel that mission, faculty and many other factors should be more significant than rankings in a student's college-choice decision," Robinson says. "We hold an uncompromising commitment to be the best that we can be for our students, but fundamentally we are who we are, and if that places us high on the U.S. News list, that's great."

The America's Best Colleges rankings, which were posted to U.S. News & World Report's website today (Aug. 20) and will be available in newsstands on Aug. 23, are based on various indicators of an institution's quality, including academic reputation, student selectivity, freshman retention, graduation rate, financial resources and alumni giving.

Whitworth has seen an 80 percent increase in freshman applications since fall 2000 with a record total of 2,003 applications for this fall's incoming class of about 480 students. At the same time, the college has achieved and maintained all-time highs for freshman retention and graduation rates. U.S. News includes Whitworth in a list of schools with the highest graduation rates in a section of the guidebook labeled "Key criteria in judging schools." Dean of Enrollment Services Fred Pfursich credits Whitworth's strong academic reputation and distinctive educational mission for the rising number of applications. The strong retention and graduation rates are, in turn, a reflection of the college's ability to be more selective in admitting students who are academically strong and who are a good fit for Whitworth, Pfursich adds.

"As Whitworth's reputation has grown, we've attracted more and more students who are excited about our educational mission to encourage rigorous and open intellectual inquiry and the integration of faith and learning," he says. "There just aren't very many schools out there that are able to offer an education like Whitworth's."

Whitworth's #2 position in U.S. News' best-values rankings is higher than all other Pacific-Northwest schools in their respective categories. The best-values rankings are based on a formula that relates a school's academic quality to the net cost of attendance for a student receiving the average level of financial aid. Pfursich attributes Whitworth's high ranking to the college's academic quality and its commitment to providing students need-based financial aid as well as academic scholarships and grants.

"Even as we've invested in the faculty, technology and facilities that are reflected in our academic excellence and high rankings, we've remained committed to keeping a Whitworth education within financial reach of students from diverse backgrounds," Pfursich says. "More than 90 percent of our students receive some form of financial aid, including the two-thirds of our students who receive aid based on financial need."

U.S. News & World Report has published college rankings since 1983. The magazine categorizes schools by mission, and, in some cases, by region, and 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 master's-level university category in which Whitworth is listed includes schools that offer a full range of undergraduate degrees and a selection of graduate degrees.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college enrolls 2,400 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.


Bill Robinson, president, (509) 777-4665 or wrobinson@whitworth.edu.

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

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

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