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Mind & Heart Newsletter: September 2018

An update from Whitworth University President Beck A. Taylor

We're off to the races! Whitworth's 129th academic year has begun with all of the energy and enthusiasm you would expect after welcoming the largest first-year class in the university's history. New first-time undergraduate students and transfers hail from 27 states and 15 countries. A record 27 international students have joined us, and an encouraging 35 percent of first-year students are members of historically underrepresented racial and ethnic populations. More students than ever before, 35 percent, are the first in their families to attend college, and this year's freshmen represent the most economically diverse class ever. I'm so grateful for all of our new and returning students and their families, as well as our largest-ever graduate student cohort, for choosing Whitworth. What an encouragement for all of us who pray for and support Whitworth's mind-and-heart mission.

Why is the wind in our sails? Perhaps it's the external affirmation the university regularly receives. Once again, U.S. News & World Report ranked Whitworth in its top-10 regional universities in the West (No. 8), in its top-5 best values (No. 5), and among the very best in undergraduate education (No. 2). Or perhaps it's because Whitworth once again earned the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, recognizing Whitworth's long-standing commitment to serving all students, regardless of background or experience. I'm sure Whitworth's award-winning faculty and challenging academic programs play a vital role in drawing students to Whitworth, as does the university's dominant athletics program, one of the best in NCAA Division III, and winner of the coveted Northwest Conference all-sports trophy for a record-setting 11 consecutive years. Or perhaps it's our beautiful campus with new academic buildings and places for students to find community and feel at home. I'm sure it's all of these things and more. But the most important ingredient in Whitworth's success is the university's unwavering commitment to integrating Christian faith and learning in compelling and relevant ways, always seeking to honor God, follow Christ and serve humanity with our efforts. My high school football coach taught me that when teams do the basics well, like blocking and tackling, good things happen. For Whitworth, building upon the university's Christ-centered mission is the basic thing we must get right, and then all else follows, by God's grace. We thank God for the wind in our sails as it propels us to new horizons.


Whitworth's new Master of Science in Athletic Training Program achieved full accreditation, and the first cohort of students started this summer.

The Federal Bureau of Land Management announced a $10,000 cooperative agreement with Grant Casady (Biology) for research on raptor deterrence to protect sage-grouse in the Columbia Basin.

Steve Zemke (Engineering & Physics) presented at the American Society for Engineering Education meeting. His paper titled "Case Study of a Blind Student Learning Engineering Graphics" won a Professional Interest Council award.

Lisa Laurier (School of Education) received the YWCA Spokane's 2018 Women of Achievement Education Award, joining several other Whitworthians who have won the recognition in recent years.

Jann Leppien (School of Education) was honored with the Gifted Education Milestone Award from the Association for the Gifted.

Aaron Dyszelski (Theatre) won a 2018 Footlights People's Choice Award for Outstanding Set Design for Zombies from the Beyond at the Skylight Music Theatre in Milwaukee.

The theology department has relocated to the newly expanded chapel and is excited to work alongside campus ministries and the Office of Church Engagement. The Whitworth community is especially grateful to Barney and Joyce Beeksma and their extended family whose generosity made this possible, and we are committed to fulfilling Barney's call that we "Keep Christ at the center!" All are welcome to the dedication ceremony on Oct. 11 at 3:15 p.m. and the open house on Oct. 13 from 12:30-1:30 p.m.

Robin Pickering (Health Sciences) has been appointed the new director of Whitworth's Women's & Gender Studies Program.

The Arts

The work of alumnus Ben Frank Moss '59, a nationally renowned landscape painter, is on display at Whitworth's Bryan Oliver Gallery. Ben Frank Moss: The Whitworth Collection runs through Nov. 2. This exhibit features a portion of a donation of nearly 300 works covering 40 years of productivity and worth $1.3 million, generously gifted to Whitworth by Ben and his wife, Jean.

Whitworth Theatre presents The Spitfire Grill, a heartwarming musical for the whole family about a rural town and second chances. The show runs Oct. 12, 13, 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 14 and 21 at 2 p.m. Adults $15; seniors (62-plus) and non-Whitworth students $12; Whitworth students $5 with valid I.D. Tickets: or 509.777.4374.

Student Life

Student activities and residence life facilitated another successful year of orientation and Traditiation for new students. Students learned about their residence halls and got connected to the Whitworth community. Ballard and McMillan Halls took home the coveted Mock Rock trophy, which is appropriately just a rock.

On Sept. 19, more than 1,100 students and staff participated in Community Building Day, our annual day of service. Together, students contributed 4,400 hours of service at 61 sites across Spokane. The campus also engaged in reflection, responding to the question "For whom are we responsible?"

The student employment office is here to help your student. Staff members ensure jobs are posted online to Handshake, advise students on job searches, help navigate employment paperwork, and lead new student employee orientations. More than 500 on-campus work authorizations have already been processed for the academic year.

Campus ministry is launching a mentor-led Life Groups program across campus. For eight weeks, starting Sept. 17, more than 25 small groups of students will be meeting with a staff or faculty mentor to share life, pray for one another, and open Scripture together. Thanks for your prayers for life-giving relationships to develop.

The On Bended Knee prayer blog has started again. Each week, campus ministry posts prayer requests for the Whitworth community. Read or subscribe at

Financial Aid

About 300 students still need to complete their financial aid files in order for all of their aid to be disbursed. Our financial aid team is working with these students to avoid service charges being applied to their accounts for outstanding balances. Students can view "Missing and Received Documents" related to financial aid on Pirate Port.

Balance Your Bucs is a student-led personal-finance group that provides workshops for students on budgeting, fraud prevention and organizing finances throughout the year. To learn more, see

Alumni & Parents

Will you join us at One Big Whitworth Weekend in October? You'll be in good company as alumni along with families of current students come together to celebrate Homecoming and Family Weekend. All alumni are welcome Oct. 12-14, and the classes of 1958 and earlier, '68, '78, '88, '98, '08 and '13 will have reunion activities. Learn more and register at

What are you up to? Whitworth Today readers would love to know! Go to and share news about your family, work, travel, hobbies or accomplishments. Write as much or as little as you wish, but be sure to submit a life update.

We regret to share that faithful alumna Whitney (McClure) Etter '12 passed away unexpectedly on Aug. 20 in Boulder, Colo. Her husband, Geoff '09, along with her parents Carey and Andy, have established a scholarship to celebrate her legacy. If you'd like to make a gift in Whitney's honor, please visit and indicate your gift is in Whitney's honor.

Are you the parent of a current Whitworth student? There's a Facebook group for you! Log into Facebook, and search for Parents and Families of Whitworth University Students '18-'19.


We are excited to welcome our largest class of new students – 704 first-year students and 101 transfers. These students make up our most diverse incoming class, and they are smart, boasting an average GPA of 3.75 and an average SAT of 1168. They are ready to make their mark at Whitworth and to be shaped in profound ways by the community they find and form here.

Admissions counselors are hitting the road to recruit the classes of 2023, 2024 and beyond. See where they are traveling this fall at Please encourage college-bound students you know to connect with our counselors at their high school or at an area college fair.

We hold our first Why Whitworth Day visit event on Friday, Sept. 21, and have additional visit opportunities almost every week during the school year. Campus visits allow students to sit in on classes, take a tour, eat in the dining hall, connect with current students, professors and coaches, and even stay overnight in a residence hall. There is no better way for students (and parents) to find out if Whitworth is a good fit. Plus, this year we are offering a $1,000 scholarship to admitted seniors who attend one of our visit programs and enroll in the fall. Learn more and sign up at

The Campaign for Whitworth

Choose your own adventure. You have the opportunity to support students by choosing from one of this season's crowdfunding projects, open until Oct. 1. Choose from career development, international student scholarships, mountain bikes and more. Find a project to support at

Support scholarships when you celebrate a milestone reunion. In celebration of reunion donors, during One Big Whitworth Weekend we will adorn a tree in The Loop with red pinecones, each representing an alum who has made a gift to support students during their reunion year. Find out how your class is celebrating its milestone year at


Kayla Leland '18 is a finalist for the NCAA Woman of the Year award! Initially selected as the Northwest Conference's nominee, Kayla was chosen from among 154 nominees to be a top-30 finalist for the prestigious honor. The award recognizes excellence in academics, athletics, service and leadership. Kayla is the first Pirate to become a finalist. She will travel to Indianapolis for the award ceremony on Oct. 28.

The fall sports teams received a rude welcome to campus from Mother Nature in the form of heavy smoke from regional forest fires. That forced our football and soccer teams to practice indoors for several days in August. But our teams adapted in the tennis bubble, U-Rec and fieldhouse. The teams competed well against tough non-conference opposition and are ready to begin Northwest Conference games and matches.

Eight varsity teams are competing this fall: football, volleyball, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's cross country, and men's and women's golf. The winter sports teams will begin practice in October. Swimming meets will begin in late October, while the men's and women's basketball games start tipping off in mid-November.

Remember to make plans to attend Pirate Night on Thursday, Nov. 1. Our annual celebration of all things Whitworth Athletics-related will take place at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Spokane. Call 509.777.3224 for information.

All local Pirate fans are invited to join us for the Whitworth Coaches Show, a radio show that takes place on the third Tuesday of every month during the academic year at McClain's Pizzeria. Bud Nameck, the radio play-by-play voice of the Pirates, hosts coaches and student-athletes for interviews, and gives updates on the season. The show runs from 6-7 p.m., but come early to claim your spot and enjoy fellowship with other fans.

Closing Thoughts

I plan to publish this newsletter slightly less frequently this year given all of the other communications you get from Whitworth, but you can look forward to future editions coming soon. Thanks, as always, for keeping Whitworth in your prayers. Go Bucs!

Signed, Beck