Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

May 5, 2008

Whitworth University Graduates to Be Honored during May 17-18 Commencement Ceremonies

Nearly 660 bachelor's and master's degree recipients will be honored in Whitworth University commencement ceremonies May 17-18. Whitworth Professor of Political Science Julia Stronks, J.D., Ph.D., will be the keynote speaker for the 118th undergraduate commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 18, at 3 p.m. at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, located at 720 W. Mallon. Stronks, whom the senior class selected as Most Influential Female Professor, will present "Citizenship in a Broken but Redeemed World."

Bill Robinson, Ph.D., completing his 15th year as Whitworth's president, will present the address for the graduate commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 17, at 10 a.m. in Cowles Memorial Auditorium on the Whitworth campus. Robinson will speak on "Leading through Sacrifice." The graduate commencement ceremony will honor the 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.

The baccalaureate service will take place on Sunday, May 18, at 10 a.m. in the Whitworth Fieldhouse. The homily, "The Thomas Option," will be presented by Assistant Professor of Theology Adam Neder, Ph.D., who was voted Most Influential Male Professor by the senior class.

Commencement weekend events begin Friday, May 16, and will include an ROTC commissioning service, a senior communion and commissioning service, an art exhibit, a music recital, and an English-department reading featuring graduates' capstone achievements. For complete commencement details, visit www.whitworth.edu/commencement.

During the undergraduate commencement ceremony, seven 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 the larger community.

Undergraduate-commencement speaker Julia Stronks, who came to Whitworth in 1994, specializes in Constitutional law, religion and politics, gender and public policy, poverty, school law and discrimination law. A graduate of Dordt College, Stronks earned her J.D. from the University of Iowa College of Law and her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. In 2003, she was honored with Dordt College's Distinguished Alumni Award. Stronks has directed both Whitworth's initiative to serve homeless youth in Spokane and the Lives of Commitment Program, funded by a $1 million grant from the M. J. Murdock Foundation. The Lives of Commitment grant funded courses, mentoring, guest lectures and other resources to help students connect their worldview convictions to the personal and professional decisions they make after graduation.

Whitworth's 2008 graduates will connect their worldview convictions to a broad range of vocational arenas, from the political – working for Senator John McCain in Washington, D.C – to the theatrical – stage-managing productions at Busch Gardens Europe. Others are pursuing master's and doctoral degrees at noted institutions in fields such as theology, public policy and physics:

  • Theology major Evan Cate, a resident of Vancouver, Wash., received a Duke Scholarship to pursue a master's in divinity degree at the university's School of Divinity. The scholarship covers full tuition and is awarded to entering students based on academic achievement and exceptional promise for ordained or diaconal ministry. This year, eight out of approximately 150 applicants received the scholarship, including 2007 Whitworth graduate David Sittser. Cate and Sittser also received full-ride scholarship offers to Princeton Theological Seminary.
  • Political-science major Jenifer Tracy, a resident of Diamond Bar, Calif., will pursue a master's degree in public policy at King's College London. Tracy was also accepted to Queen Mary University, Royal Holloway University, Birkbeck University, Exeter University, Middlesex University, and Brunel University.
  • Math and physics double major Ben Spaun, a resident of Wenatchee, Wash., interned at NASA and with Nobel laureates and landed a full scholarship for a six-year doctoral research program at Harvard. The scholarship covers two years of schooling and four of research, plus a $25,000 living stipend. Whitworth graduate Ashley Gibbs, '07, earned the same distinction last year. Both turned down similar offers from Yale.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,600 students, offers 53 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


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

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

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