Since 1890, Whitworth has held fast to its founding mission to provide "an education of mind and heart" through rigorous intellectual inquiry guided by dedicated Christian scholars. Recognized as one of the top regional colleges and universities in the West, Whitworth University has an enrollment of about 2,500 students and offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. In recent years, Whitworth has enjoyed record levels of student enrollment and retention, the strongest financial position in the university's history, and increased external visibility.
Whitworth University's 200-acre campus of red-brick buildings and tall pines offers a beautiful, inviting and secure learning environment. More than $140 million in campus improvements have been made in recent years.
In all of its endeavors, Whitworth seeks to advance its founder's mission of equipping students to "honor God, follow Christ and serve humanity."
Our Mission Statement
Whitworth University is a private, residential, liberal arts institution affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university's mission is to provide its diverse student body an education of the mind and the heart, equipping its graduates to honor God, follow Christ, and serve humanity. This mission is carried out by a community of Christian scholars committed to excellent teaching and to the integration of faith and learning.
In 1853, George Whitworth, a minister in the Ohio Valley, convinced 15 families to join him in a wagon train heading from St. Louis to the West. Whitworth's was the only family to complete the brutal five-month journey and reach the Puget Sound area.
An ordained Presbyterian minister, Whitworth had initially set out on the Oregon Trail to follow his calling to serve as a missionary. He would go on to found at least 15 Presbyterian churches across the Pacific Northwest. He also served as president of the University of Washington and as superintendent of schools in Thurston and King counties.
In 1883, Whitworth opened Sumner Academy in the village of Sumner, in Washington Territory, under the charge that "No effort will be spared to elevate the character of the school and to make it an institution of learning of the highest grade." On Feb 20, 1890, the school's trustees signed resolutions to increase the curriculum and stature of the academy, which would be known as Whitworth College.
The catalog from 1890 defined the vision for Whitworth College: "It is intended to give both sexes a thorough course of education...ever directing them in pursuit of that learning and culture of mind and heart that make the finished scholar....While it is denominational, it does not aim to be sectarian, opening its doors to all lovers of truth and learning."
In 1899, the college had outgrown the rural community of Sumner and moved to Tacoma. Fifteen years later, Whitworth moved a final time: In September 1914, classes began in Spokane at its current campus. In 2007, after 117 years as Whitworth College, the board of trustees approved changing the school's name to Whitworth University. The change was prompted by trends in the higher-education marketplace that led the board to clarify Whitworth's standing as a four-year liberal-arts institution.
Scott McQuilkin, Ph.D., became the 19th president of Whitworth University in 2022. An alumnus and longtime employee of the university, McQuilkin earned undergraduate and graduate degrees at Whitworth and has dedicated his professional life to the university and its enduring mission.
In response to present-day opportunities and challenges, Whitworth, under McQuilkin's leadership, is implementing a strategic plan that focuses the university's work for 2023-28. The plan contains 22 objectives organized under four broad goal areas: Innovation & Learning; Human Flourishing; Financial Flourishing; and Story. Through the execution of this plan, Whitworth will hold fast to its Christ-centered identity while advancing in a host of programmatic, systematic, relational and financial ways.
As a community, we move forward together with anticipation and confidence in advancing our service to our students, our faculty and staff, our alumni and supporters, our external constituencies, and to the God in whom we have our life, breath and being.