President's Report 2016-17
What strategic-plan milestones do you anticipate Whitworth reaching this academic year?
Much of the Whitworth 2021 vision and plan is about continuous improvement, so we will keep up our commitments to enhance every aspect of the student and campus experience. Two important milestones that come to mind are the completion of the new Beeksma Family Theology Center (see Goal 1, page 7), and the first full year of Whitworth's new four-year engineering program.
What has The Campaign for Whitworth's success made possible, and how does this momentum energize the campaign through 2021?
We've just raised the first $100 million in the campaign, making this effort the largest in Whitworth's history, by far. From new endowed scholarships and facilities like Robinson Science Hall and Cowles Music Center, to endowed professorships and programs, the campaign's successes thus far have strengthened the university in immeasurable ways. We have four more years before the conclusion of Whitworth 2021, and our campaign will continue to highlight ways that donors can help us achieve our ambitious goals.
Which campaign goals make Whitworth unique in the higher education landscape?
I am particularly proud of our efforts to improve Whitworth's long-standing commitments to elevate both high-quality academic experiences and the intentional integration of Christian faith and learning. That dual commitment is what separates Whitworth from the pack in American higher education today. Raising funds to improve academic quality and to enable students and faculty to think critically and "Christianly" about important issues will continue to be the centerpiece of the campaign.
In what areas can Whitworth lead the way for private, Christian liberal arts universities?
One of the things I'm most proud of is the way Whitworth is leading in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion. More and more Christian colleges and universities are looking to Whitworth for examples of how to integrate a strong Christ-centered mission with efforts to open doors so that all students and employees feel welcomed and supported. For example, Whitworth is the first institution within the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities to be recognized with the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine (see Goal 4, page 12). Also, Whitworth's efforts to build bridges for first-generation college students and students from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic populations has garnered national attention and praise.
What is your favorite Whitworth tradition and why?
There are so many that are meaningful and fun, but if I have to name just one, I would choose the senior communion and commissioning service held on campus during Commencement Weekend. That service, which highlights important relationships forged between faculty and students, and which serves as an opportunity for the graduating class to be commissioned for lives of service to humanity, always brings tears to my eyes and warms my heart. It's a special time.
What was the most fun experience you had with students last year?
My most memorable times with students are when I have the freedom to just hang out with them, often in their spaces. This past year, as has become my tradition, I visited most of the residence halls and read Christmas stories to students during a crazy finals week before the holidays. My 10-year-old daughter, Chloe, often accompanies me. It's a fun time to blow off steam during an otherwise eventful week in our students' lives.
What do you enjoy most about being president of Whitworth?
The job is so complex and filled with an increasing variety of responsibilities and activities. I like that no day is the same as the previous one, and that my time is spent supporting an institution that I love so deeply. Being with students is always the highlight of any week, but beyond that, my work with benefactors who equip us to do this important work is always rewarding.
How would you define your leadership style?
That's an interesting question. Most would describe me as energetic and aspirational. In my own leadership, I always try to support the leaders around me who have incredibly difficult and important responsibilities. I like to roll up my sleeves and dive into the challenges and opportunities those leaders are facing, always thinking about how I can use my role to remove roadblocks and equip those leaders for success.