Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

October 6, 2005

Whitworth Receives Grant from Lilly Endowment
to Continue Successful "Discerning Vocation" Project

Whitworth College was recently awarded a $500,000 grant from Lilly Endowment to continue the college's successful project, "Discerning Vocation: Community, Context and Commitment," launched in 2001 with a $2 million endowment grant. The project includes a number of programs that allow students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members to connect their gifts and abilities with the larger needs of society.

The new grant, "Sustaining the Theological Exploration of Vocation 2005," is part of the endowment's "Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation" initiative and will support Whitworth's "Discerning Vocation" project through 2009 while administrators work to build an endowment that will sustain the project long-term.

"The endowment's goal in giving these grants is for students at religiously affiliated institutions to deepen their commitment to vocation in the context of work and congregation, community and world," says project co-director and Whitworth Dean of the Chapel Terry McGonigal. "We see our students expressing their own sense of calling in diverse ways while they are at Whitworth and after they graduate. The second grant will enable us to expand and enrich our emphasis on vocation in the context of Whitworth's emphasis on an education of the mind and heart."

In 2001 Whitworth was one of 29 colleges and universities in the country to receive five-year endowment grants totaling $55.3 million to develop programs that enable young people to draw upon the resources of religious wisdom as they consider their vocational choices, including careers in the ministry. Since 2000, 88 schools have received support from Lilly Endowment totaling $176.8 million.

"We are thrilled and delighted at the results so far," says Craig Dykstra, endowment senior vice president for religion. "These schools have integrated programs and projects that are advancing the initiative's aims: to encourage young people to explore Christian ministry as their possible life's work, to help all students draw on their faith traditions in making vocational choices, and to enhance the capacity of each school's faculty and staff to teach and mentor students effectively in these areas."

Whitworth's commitment to cultivating vocational discernment in its students is included as one of the top initiatives in the college's 2005-2010 strategic plan, which calls for the enhancement of "service learning, community engagement, and vocational discernment" through campus programs and curriculum development.

The new grant will allow Whitworth to continue providing students with opportunities to explore the theological implications of their life commitments and vocational choices.

Thus far Whitworth has used the initial grant to develop new course content related to vocation, and to create a variety of co-curricular programs that provide students with opportunities to engage in mentoring relationships with Whitworth faculty, conduct summer internships at churches, take part in service-learning projects, and experience structured reflection on the spiritual, moral and political commitments that should accompany one's vocation.

In addition, project co-directors McGonigal and Dale Soden, director of the Weyerhaeuser Center for Christian Faith and Learning, recently began collaborating with North by Northwest Productions to produce a film that explores vocational discernment.

Since the inception of Whitworth's "Discerning Vocation" project, more than 300 students have participated in the Spiritual Mentoring Program, which matches students with faculty and staff mentors. The Certification for Ministry Program, which prepares students for entry-level positions in churches and Christian organizations, has produced between 16-20 graduates. And each year 12-14 students are trained as small-group coordinators who mentor another 70 students as volunteer small-group leaders.

The grant also supports Whitworth faculty lunch discussions on the topic of vocation, as well as faculty faith/vocation reading groups. In addition, the grant has enabled the college to engage in new research initiatives and to bring high-profile speakers to campus, including education expert Parker Palmer and author Kathleen Norris.

For more information about Whitworth's "Discerning Vocation" grant, please visit http://www.whitworth.edu/Academic/Grants/LillyVocation/Index.htm.

Founded in 1937, the Lilly Endowment is an Indianapolis-based private foundation that follows its founders' wishes by supporting the causes of religion, community development and education.

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.


Dale Soden, project co-director and director of the Weyerhaeuser Center for Christian Faith and Learning, (509) 777-4433 or dsoden@whitworth.edu.

Terry McGonigal, dean of the chapel, (509) 777-4547 or tmcgonigal@whitworth.edu.

Lynn Noland, Director, Sponsored Programs, 509-777-3701or lnoland@whitworth.edu.

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

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