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Faculty President's Message

“With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 

I’m writing this letter having just come from sharing a meal with a group of colleagues and recent retirees. It was a wonderful experience of connecting through singing songs, recounting periods of both joyful and difficult times at Whitworth, and catching up on future plans. There was so much laughter that my stomach still hurts. Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to attend a liturgy of lament arranged by colleagues. Occasionally, as we participated in the silence and the singing and the mourning the door behind us would creak open, footsteps would approach, and another colleague would join in as we connected in our lament. I was, again, filled with gratitude that as fellow Christ followers, we get to share in each other’s pain and in each other’s joy.

As I welcome you all to the 2023-24 academic year, I am aware that this letter finds us all in different seasons in our journey. Some of us are brand new, still orienting to Spokane and Whitworth. Others of us have to make an effort to recount exactly how many years ago we joined this Whitworth body. And yet, we have been brought together, from such diverse lives and circumstances, to share in enacting Whitworth’s mission, now. I’m reminded of a line from the Paul Simon song Gumboots: “I was walking down the street, when I thought I heard this voice say, ‘Say, ain't we walking down the same street together on the very same day?’”

As Whitworth has grown and expanded our programming, it could be natural to see our differences as a means for division. It may, at times, feel like we are on very different streets on very different days. In his letter to the church in Corinth, Paul the Apostle (not Paul Simon) reminds us that, though we are different parts, whether hand or foot, head or ear, we belong to the one Body of Christ. I believe the analogy holds up on a smaller scale as well. At Whitworth, we may hold different schedules, serve different populations of students, and may even serve in primarily different locations. Yet, those differences allow us to unite in our shared commitment to provide Whitworth’s diverse student body an education of the mind and the heart, equipping graduates to honor God, follow Christ and serve humanity. We are one faculty body. And together with our fellow staff members and administration, we form one Whitworth body.

I would contend that the more that we can share experiences, the more we will viscerally know we are connected. One of the first occasions we will have to come together as a community will be on Wednesday, Aug. 30, at 10:45 a.m. at President Scott McQuilkin’s State of the University address. Attend! Stay for the sponsored faculty/staff kickoff lunch. This is the perfect opportunity for all Whitworth employees to join together and orient toward the coming year. We will follow that up the next day, at 11:15 a.m., as we gather at Big Barn Brewing for our Faculty Retreat.

I am genuinely excited for this upcoming year! I know that we have both joyful and difficult times ahead. I am grateful that we will get to encounter them together.

– Mark