Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

April 29, 2009

Noted Historian, Bestselling Author Ron White to Speak at 119th Commencement May 17

Ron White, author of three bestselling books on Abraham Lincoln, including his latest, A. Lincoln: A Biography, will return to Whitworth University, where he once taught, to address graduates at the 119th undergraduate ceremony.

White will give his address, "Let's Stand Up!" during the ceremony, which will take place at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 17, at the Spokane Arena. Nearly 510 undergraduates are expected to participate in the ceremony.

Whitworth President Bill Robinson will speak at the university's graduate commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 16, at 10 a.m. in Whitworth's Cowles Auditorium. Robinson will deliver his address, "Casting out the Demons," to an audience including 102 graduates receiving master's degrees in education, teaching, counseling, business administration, and international management.

Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Kathy Storm will offer the homily, "What Do You Love?" for the baccalaureate service on Sunday at 10 a.m. in the Whitworth Fieldhouse. Storm will address the ways in which Fenton Duvall and Clem Simpson, both long-serving professors who passed away during this school year, oriented Whitworth toward both Christ-centeredness and intellectual curiosity.

Commencement weekend events begin Friday, May 15, and will include an ROTC commissioning service, a reception honoring continuing studies graduates, a senior communion and commissioning service, a senior reflections slideshow and showcase of senior class talent, 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, nine students will receive President's Cup Awards for maintaining a 4.0 grade point average throughout their undergraduate education. Recipients will include Rachel Anderson, Eric Brewer, Melissa Garner, Allison Geeslin, Kathryn Hartung, Brent Knight, Abraham Spung, Kelly Vincent, and Larissa Zeiler. A Servant Leadership Award, which honors a graduating senior who has exhibited an extraordinary commitment to serving the campus and the larger community, also will be given during the ceremony.

Undergraduate commencement speaker Ron White's latest book, A. Lincoln: A Biography (Random House, 2009), is a New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times bestseller, as well as the main selection of The History Book Club for January 2009. His 2005 book, The Eloquent President: A Portrait of Lincoln Through His Words, was a Los Angeles Times bestseller and a selection of the History Book Club and the Book-of-the-Month Club, which  called it "a book unlike any other you have read on our 16th president." White's 2002 book, Lincoln's Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural, was honored as a New York Times Notable Book of 2002, and a Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle bestseller.

White has lectured on Abraham Lincoln at the White House, the Library of Congress, the Gettysburg battlefield, and at hundreds of universities, civic organizations and conventions. He also has been interviewed on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. He graduated from and has taught at UCLA and Princeton Theological Seminary, and he earned his Ph.D. in religion and history from Princeton University. He also has taught at Whitworth, Colorado College, and San Francisco Seminary, where he served as dean and professor of American religious history. He is currently a fellow at the Huntington Library and a visiting professor of history at UCLA.

Whitworth's 2009 graduates will head in many different directions after commencement. Some will use their education degrees to teach in foreign countries, while others plan to attend prestigious graduate schools in fields such as physics, philosophy, engineering, theology, and English.

  • Seniors Kendra Hamilton and Amy Whisenand have been awarded Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grants to teach English as a foreign language in Malaysia and Germany, respectively. Hamilton, a resident of Broomfield, Colo., is an international business and economics major and a leadership studies minor who hopes to pursue a master's degree in international management. Whisenand, a Spokane native, is a philosophy major with minors in English, German, music and theology. Her long-term career goals include teaching history of philosophy and Greek in an institute of higher education.

  • Physics major John Hauck, a Spokane resident, has received a full scholarship to pursue a graduate degree in physical chemistry at Notre Dame University.

  • Physics major Carissa Humrickhouse, a resident of Selah, Wash., has received a full scholarship to pursue a master's degree in nuclear engineering at Texas A&M University. She plans to obtain a Ph.D. in that field as well.

  • Sarah Tunall, a speech communication major from Hillsboro, Ore., plans to attend Wesley Theological Seminary, in Washington, D.C., to earn a Master of Divinity degree, and then to be ordained in the United Methodist Church.

  • Sarah Thomson, a theatre and music double-major from Walla Walla, will work as a music director for the Walla Walla Community College Children's Theatre.

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.

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.

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