Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

May 7, 2007

Last Graduates of Whitworth College to Be Honored During May 19-20 Ceremonies

More than 600 bachelor's and master's degree recipients will participate in the last Whitworth College commencement ceremonies May 19-20 as the school prepares to officially change its name to Whitworth University on July 1.

Longtime Professor of History Dale Soden, who serves as campus historian, will be the keynote speaker for the 117th undergraduate commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 20, at 3 p.m. at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. As author of Whitworth's most recently published history and its 2005-2010 strategic plan, Soden will address "The History of Whitworth College and the Future of Whitworth University." For complete commencement details, visit www.whitworth.edu/commencement.

The new name is intended to clarify, rather than change, Whitworth's core mission and identity, according to Soden. He says the "university" label best reflects an institution with Whitworth's profile of undergraduate, graduate and international programs. He also emphasized that the distinctive mind-and-heart mission, liberal-arts focus and warm, interpersonal culture for which Whitworth long has been known will endure.

"I believe George Whitworth could scarcely have imagined that the institution he founded in 1890 would become what it is today, but I also think there is much he would recognize and that would resonate with his original vision," says Soden, who specializes in intellectual and religious history in the Pacific Northwest. "I look forward to sharing how some of the enduring threads of George Whitworth’s vision are woven into both our history and our future as an institution."

Bill Robinson, completing his 14th year as Whitworth's president, will be the keynote speaker for the graduate commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 19, at 10 a.m. in Cowles Auditorium on the Whitworth campus. Robinson, who has overseen extraordinary growth in Whitworth's enrollment, capital- and financial-resource base, and academic profile, will offer remarks on "Lessons from a Beggar" based on Psalm 146 and a passage from the Gospel of John.

Dave Hillis, executive director of Tacoma's Northwest Leadership Foundation, will preach at the Baccalaureate service May 20 at 10 a.m. in the Whitworth Fieldhouse. Twelve members of the undergraduate class of 2007 are the first graduates of the Act Six Leadership and Scholarship Initiative, established in partnership between Whitworth and the NLF. The program has brought 41 promising under-represented students from urban Tacoma to Whitworth over the past four years to develop into leaders for the campus and their home community.

Act Six scholars represent six continents and speak 13 native languages. Two-thirds come from low-income families and are the first in their families to attend college. Forty of the original 41 students remain enrolled. All 11 scholars in cadre one and a scholar from cadre two are graduating – a remarkable 100-percent, four-year graduation rate that far exceeds national averages for students of any background.

During the undergraduate commencement ceremony two students will receive President's Cup Awards for maintaining a 4.0 grade point average throughout their undergraduate education, and one student will the receive the Servant Leadership Award, which honors a graduating senior who has exhibited an extraordinary commitment to serving the campus and larger community.

The graduate commencement ceremony will honor the first four graduates of Whitworth's Master of Business Administration Program, as well as graduates of the Master of International Management, Master in Teaching, and Graduate Studies in Education programs.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college, which has an enrollment of 2,500 students, offers 53 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Beverly Kleeman, registrar, (509) 777-4548 or bkleeman@whitworth.edu.

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

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