I'm writing this month's Mind & Heart just a few steps from our nation's capitol. I've been here for several days meeting with policymakers concerning federal support for higher education and President Obama's newest ideas surrounding affordability and accessibility – ideas outlined in his State of the Union speech and in a subsequent speech at the University of Michigan last week. I applaud the president's commitment to engaging higher education leaders on issues that influence affordability: There is no question in my mind that one of the most important investments a person can make in the future is a college education, and we should work to ensure that this opportunity is available to the broadest possible cross-section of students. In all candor, I'm also a bit nervous about the president's call to link federal financial aid dollars to campuses that have demonstrated some yet-to-be-defined progress on certain indicators of cost, value and learning outcomes. Higher education institutions like Whitworth, whose students receive millions of dollars of subsidy from American taxpayers, should be held accountable. But one-size-fits-all policy prescriptions are not the way to go, in my opinion. They will inevitably fail to recognize the incredible diversity of America's colleges and universities; they may also fail to regard the different contexts within which those institutions compete.
The good news is that Whitworth would undoubtedly pass the test, even if such federal scorecards were created. In terms of Whitworth's "value proposition," many external publications extol the quality-price combination that Whitworth embodies. The latest U.S. News ranks Whitworth as the second-best value among its Western peers. Next year, we've budgeted more than $30 million in institutional financial aid for our students, an increase of about 11 percent over this year. About one-third of our total gross revenue is currently being allocated back to parents and students. And in terms of accountability, Whitworth's student-learning outcomes rank among the best in the country, and not just on academic subjects. Our students continually score well in measures that focus on public service, for example. And in terms of transparency, the university's new 10-year vision and strategic plan, Whitworth 2021, includes more than 150 indicators of student and institutional success, measures we are tracking and will report to you on a regular basis. So, regardless of any federal efforts to regulate how independent institutions like Whitworth operate, I stand ready to work with the president and with my higher education colleagues to ensure that all students can share in the American dream. Whitworth will be a leader.
Last semester, Matt Silvers (Health Sciences) took 20 students to the annual meeting of the Western Society for Kinesiology and Wellness, in Reno. Each student presented at the student session, and five students – Maddy Himmel, '13, Danielle Kym, '12, Teagan Norton, '13, Keith Parker, '12, and Joy Shufeldt, '13 – received Outstanding Presentation awards.
In Jan Term 2011, Fred Johnson (English) taught Visual Narratives. In that class, Hannah Charlton, '14, created an outstanding short comic as a course project. She and Fred submitted her piece to the Journal for Undergraduate Multimedia Projects at the University of Texas at Austin, and it was published last month. See the journal at jump.dwrl.utexas.edu/content/hcv3.1.
Here are just a few examples of the varied ways in which students learn about their academic disciplines by participating in professional internships: Elorm Atisu, '12, coordinated campaign logistics for Spokane School District's United Way campaign. He says that the most fulfilling part of his internship was working with special-needs students to get them involved in the campaign.
Faculty just back from fall sabbaticals include Nancy Bunker (Library), who is completing research for her book on the Reverend May C. Jones, one of the first ordained women in the Pacific Northwest, and Barb Sanders (Education), whose work examines and engages in academic support and intervention for first-generation college students.
In summer 2011, 12 faculty members committed to write articles for publication as part of our Faculty Faith and Scholarship Program, and just look at the results! Jenny Brown (French) wrote "Ni Avec Toi, Ni Sans Toi: The Desecration of the Grail in Julien Gracq," which was accepted by Literature and Theology; Nate Moyer, '04, (Mathematics) wrote "Connecting Mathematics Students to Philosophy and Faith," which was accepted to the Journal of the Association of Christians in the Mathematical Sciences; Kathryn Picanco (Education) wrote "The Power of Reflective Collaboration to Explore Personal Belief Systems in Teacher Preparation Courses" for the International Christian Community for Teacher Education Journal; and Adrian Teo (Psychology) wrote "Male and Female He Created Them" for the Journal of Psychology and Christianity. We are grateful to the Servant's Heart Foundation for its generous support of faith-and-learning integration at Whitworth.
Eric Sartell, '94, (SGCM) recently published an article, "Contributing Factors to Economic Growth in Developing Countries: An Empirical Examination of Klein's Shock Doctrine," in the International Journal of Humanities and Social Science.
+ The Arts
For the second year in a row, the Music Educators Association has honored the Whitworth Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Dan Keberle (Music), by inviting them to present a special performance at the Washington Music Educators All-State Conference, in Yakima, on Feb. 17. Last year the band performed at the Music Educators' All-Northwest Conference.
Last month, Scott Miller and Christopher Stanichar presented the Northwest premiere of a new work for tenor and piano by Stanichar (Augustana College, S.D.). The song cycle, which uses the text of Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven, featured Miller (the tenor) and Stanichar (the composer/pianist). Vic Bobb (English) presented a pre-performance lecture on Poe and this very famous poem. A sample of the piece and an interview with the composer can be heard on a podcast at the website for radio station KPBX, 91.1 FM.
Vocal arts at Whitworth will present a concert, Music for Valentine's Day (a couple of days early) in Whitworth Community Presbyterian Church's Quall Hall on Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. Come join the choir, the women's choir, the men's chorus and the chamber singers for a light and informal (and free!) program of music for Valentine's Day. I'm taking my valentine!
+ Student Life
Jan Term is always a busy time for Whitworth students. Several were programmers and mentors for "BELIEF," a two-day conference that encourages local secondary students to consider higher education as a post-high-school option. Basketball games in the fieldhouse are favorite Jan Term activities, and our teams continue to make us proud to be Pirates. Buses hauled eager snowshoe-ers, skiers and snowboarders to the hills on the weekends, and comic Matthew Jackson and student bands delighted the Jan Term crowd. MLK Day events included a unity march through downtown Spokane and a celebration in the HUB later that evening.
+ Alumni & Parents
Register today for regional On the Road events. Join Whitworthians in Portland (Forrest Baird, Philosophy), Feb. 25; in Denver (Kathy Storm and Dick Mandeville, Student Life), March 3; in Los Angeles (Leonard Oakland, English), March 10; in the Bay Area (Ron Pyle, Communication Studies), March 17; and in Seattle (Julia Stronks, Political Science), March 31. To register, visit www.whitworth.edu/ontheroad today.
February is Heritage Month. This year we celebrate the 122nd anniversary of Whitworth's founding with many special events and programs; see www.whitworth.edu/heritagemonth for details. Our theme is "Whitworth in the '70s" (a great time for Whitworth but a tragic decade for hair and clothing styles), and on Feb. 9, Glen Hiemstra, '71, and Dave Brown, '75, will reflect on their friendship and their perspectives on the late Christian futurist Ed Lindaman, Whitworth's president from 1970-80. The Leonard A. Oakland Film Festival, Feb. 16-18, will feature several '70s movies this year. And EWU history professor J. William T. Youngs will speak Wed., Feb. 22, about Spokane's Expo '74 transformation.
I know you'll forgive my excitement about the opening night of the LAO Film Festival, which will feature the premiere of What Poor Child Is This?, a documentary about child poverty in the U.S. My friend T.N. Mohan is the film's director, and I served as its executive producer. What Poor Child Is This? features an array of national voices and seeks to address the issues faced by children in poverty, offering ideas for positive change. I'm proud of the project, and I would love to share it with you. For more festival details, visit www.whitworth.edu/oaklandfestival.
We encourage you alums to submit nominations for the 2012 Whitworth Alumni Awards, given to deserving graduates nominated by their peers and decided upon by a committee of alumni. Categories include Distinguished Alumni; Service to Whitworth; Mind & Heart; and Recent Alumni. For more information, please visit www.whitworth.edu/alumni/awards, and submit your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org by Feb. 21.
Come enjoy dessert with us prior to the March 10 Whitworth Theatre production of Arthur Miller's All My Sons. Guest director Susan Hardie will introduce you to this powerful condemnation of greed and moral irresponsibility. The dessert and conversation begin at 6:45 p.m.; the performance follows at 8. Reserve your spot at www.whitworth.edu/alumnievents, or call 509.777.3799.
Secure your lodging soon for Commencement Weekend, May 11-13, when members of the classes of 1952 and 1962, and all alumni from 1961 and earlier, are invited to join us on campus. The Class of 1952 will be honored at a reunion luncheon, and the Class of 1962 will enjoy a reunion dinner and program. For available hotels, visit www.whitworth.edu/reunions or e-mail email@example.com, or call 509.777.3799.
+ Admissions & Financial Aid
Our March 1 application deadline is approaching fast. The applicant pool looks very strong, so please encourage potential Whitworthians to apply soon through our website: www.whitworth.edu/apply.
Students who have been admitted need to submit their enrollment deposits ASAP. We accept deposits through May 1, but housing selection and course registration are tied to the date on which the deposit is received.
We are preparing to host 90-plus students for the first of four Honors Colloquium weekends. About 100 prospective freshmen admitted with honors are invited to each event to compete for two full-tuition scholarships. Despite the intense schedule and the high stakes, I'm impressed by how much fun the students have. Sadly, our great associate director of admissions, Lara Ramsay, '06, who coordinated these events for several years, left us recently to take a position at WSU, where she plans to work on her Ph.D. We'll miss Lara, but we thank her for her great work, and we wish her the best.
The financial aid office is beginning to review files for new freshmen and transfer students for the 2012-13 academic year. New students who have filed their FAFSAs by the March 1 deadline will begin receiving their financial aid awards in March. Continuing students who meet the May 1 priority deadline for filing the FAFSA (www.fafsa.gov) will receive their financial aid awards electronically, beginning in May and June. Academic scholarships are automatically renewed.
Some Whitworthians for life found their mates right here. Check out the alumni page on the university website to view a fun video of two such alums. And if you're among these lucky "We met at Whitworth!" couples, we hope you'll consider making a gift to help us with alumni participation. Your one gift counts for two alumni gifts, and in order to meet our giving goal we need 1,700 more alumni donations by June 30.
The indoor track and field season began with a meet at WSU. The team has already seen standout performances from Chibron Tomeo, '14, who cleared 14'-11" in the pole vault to break the Whitworth record, and Christina Dobbins, '14, who was two-tenths of a second off the school record in the 60-meter hurdles.
The swimming teams just keep winning, baby. Both are 4-0 in NWC dual meets this season. Wesley Walton, '15, has broken through in his first season, leading the men's team in total event victories over the last month. He excels in the backstroke, butterfly and individual medley events. Abby Pavelko, '13, has led the Pirate women with individual victories in the distance freestyle events and the 400 I.M.
Our men's basketball team is 16-3 overall and 9-1 in the NWC, sitting in first place just past the halfway point of the NWC schedule. The Pirates, under new head coach Matt Logie, are currently ranked No. 10 in the country. Post Felix Friedt, '12, leads the league in rebounding average and double-doubles, and the big fella ranks second in scoring average.
Women's basketball is 8-11 overall and 4-6 in the NWC. Lexi Belcher, '12, is having an All-NWC type of season: She leads the team in scoring average and ranks among the league's leaders in field-goal percentage, three-point percentage and free-throw percentage. Very impressive!
The Taylor family's second year in Spokane has afforded us more opportunities to enjoy the beautiful scenery and outdoor activities in the area. One of my favorite episodes of The Simpsons has Homer buying Marge a bowling ball (engraved with Homer's name, no less) for her birthday. Julie and I have sometimes bought each other gifts that have been a bit self-serving, too. For my latest birthday, Julie generously gave me a wonderful new mountain bike. Now, you have to understand that I'm not a mountain biker, and Julie has enjoyed getting into the sport in recent months. So I wasn't surprised when I learned that she also bought herself a great new bike (for my birthday). Motives aside, it's been fun to ride with her this winter, a winter that's seen less snowfall than usual, or so they tell me. We really do live in a wonderful part of the world. Spokane's marketing tagline is "Near Nature, Near Perfect." I think they nailed it. As always, please keep Whitworth in your prayers.