Close Menu

Mind & Heart Newsletter: November 2021

An update from Whitworth University Interim President Scott McQuilkin

I don't know how old I was before I understood that the inn where Jesus was born wasn't a charming bed-and-breakfast or an ancient, rustic Bethlehem Ramada. What the younger adult me finally grasped was that the "inn" was the front room of a cave dwelling, or perhaps the guest space of a two-room home. On that night more than 2,000 years ago, one that would change the world forever, the inn was too crowded to house the weary and expectant mother. The area deeper within the cave, though, occupied by livestock sheltered for the night, had space to accommodate. There the Christ child was born. The doorway to that inner stable area, some biblical commentators suggest, would have been a good measure lower than the ceiling of the front room. And so, after the birth of Jesus, anyone who wished to approach him would have had to stoop, maybe even get on their knees, to encounter him.

I'm reflecting on my own posture as we move from Thanksgiving through Advent season. By God's grace, may our hearts and souls have that same posture of humility toward Jesus in these weeks, approaching him on our knees in praise and adoration.

14 Things to Know This Fall at Whitworth

  1. We welcomed 30 new international students from 13 countries to campus this fall, the university's second largest international student cohort ever. Despite unprecedented challenges facing the international student recruitment sector, Whitworth's international admissions team adapted in new and creative ways to engage with students abroad through virtual events and social media campaigns. These efforts resulted in a record number of applications and admitted students from around the globe. Well done, Whitworth Office of International Education!
  2. Whitworth opened the semester with Fall Convocation, which we were thankful to hold in person in the fieldhouse for the first time since the pandemic began. Associate Professor of Education Keith Lambert '91 was installed as the third holder of the Sue Chandler Endowed Professorship in Education. We also had the honor of presenting the Revs. Rodney McAuley and Leslie McAuley M.A. '18 with Whitworth's Distinguished Ministry Leadership Award for their decades of ministry and work in racial reconciliation and justice.
  3. Student life has launched a new initiative focused on addressing the unique needs of second-year students called Sophomore Spotlight. The sophomore year is typically the most difficult year for college students, and our current sophomores have experienced the extra challenge of beginning their college experience during the pandemic. Sophomores this year are invited to monthly events to help them build community and gain skills for college success. Students met with me, Provost Gregor Thuswaldner and ASWU President Rachel Ayres '22 at the kickoff event in September, and they learned about library resources and the Student Success Team in October. Sophomore Spotlight is designed to help students develop their identity, engage in academic and student life, create a sense of belonging at Whitworth, and explore career and vocational interests.
  4. Whitworth had much to celebrate during one jam-packed October weekend. On Oct. 15, we marked the successful end to The Campaign for Whitworth with a celebration at the Davenport Hotel. Over 11 years, a whopping 23,500 of you gave over $156 million in total gifts. We are humbled and beyond grateful for your investment in Whitworth's future. Later that evening, we welcomed Leslie Odom, Jr., for the President's Leadership Forum Concert at the Fox Theater. The Tony and Grammy award winner blew the audience away as he performed jazz and soul classics, Hamilton numbers, and songs from his debut album, all with the backing of the superb Spokane Symphony (which includes Whitworth faculty members and alumni like Eric Moe '95, who performed a flugelhorn solo with Odom).
  5. From Oct. 15-17, we hosted One Big Whitworth Weekend, our combined homecoming and family weekend. We were overjoyed to welcome so many of you to campus. Since we were unable to host the weekend last year, we held celebrations for alumni who had milestone reunions during the past two years – 12 groups in all! For many families, it was their first time on campus with their student(s). We hope you enjoyed getting a taste of life (even masked and socially distanced) at Whitworth.
  6. In late September, former Secretary of Defense (2006-2011) Robert M. Gates spoke to students on campus and then to an audience downtown for Whitworth's fall President's Leadership Forum. It was a treat to broaden our perspectives on current issues with this influential and longtime public servant.
  7. Whitworth continues to shine in U.S. News & World Report's Best Colleges Rankings. For 2022, U.S. News ranked Whitworth University the fourth best regional university in the West and the second best value, up from third position last year. Whitworth also earned placement in the regional top 10 ranking for best undergraduate teaching and ranked No. 6 in best colleges for veterans.
  8. Speaking of our dedication to our military-connected students, Whitworth is supporting their needs in two new ways. This fall, we opened the Military & Veterans Resource Center, or MAVRC, in a 3,000-square-foot house on the west end of campus. Open to our military members, veterans and ROTC cadets, it currently includes a computer lab, kitchen, relaxation space and game room, and more is planned. If you would like to contribute to renovations, please go to Also this fall, campus ministry created a new position, the student chaplain for veteran & military-connected ministry. The student chaplain will provide spiritual support for veterans at Whitworth in collaboration with Dean of Spiritual Life & Campus Pastor Forrest Buckner and Assistant Director of Military & Veterans Outreach Phil Labrie '11.
  9. The new Pines Cafe & Campus Store has become a popular hangout on the east side of campus. Opened in August along Hawthorne Road, the cafe serves Starbucks coffee and a variety of sandwiches, wraps and treats. Please stop by next time you're in the area! Although the bookstore has moved across campus, the Mind & Hearth Coffee House you know and love remains a fixture of the Hixson Union Building.
  10. Whitworth's commitment to preparing students for careers is now front and center with the relocation of the Center for Career & Professional Development to the extensively remodeled site of the former bookstore in the HUB. The newly renamed center provides resources and guidance to help students and alumni discover their unique talents and abilities, exercise these abilities through experiential opportunities, and initiate and implement their career plans. The center is now able to host more employers on campus and has already seen a 300 percent increase in student engagement during its first month open.
  11. Whitworth has established the Lee Anne Chaney Scholars Fund, made possible through a $250,000 gift from donors. This endowed fund will help cover travel costs for biology, chemistry and health science students who present their research at academic conferences. It recognizes the contributions of Associate Professor Emerita of Biology Lee Anne Chaney, who retired last spring after 41 years of service.
  12. The School of Continuing Studies now offers a Certificate in Software Development, in addition to its certificate programs in operations management and accounting. Led by Professor of Math & Computer Science Pete Tucker '91, the new certificate program will prepare students for entry-level programmer positions in just six months, offering a lower-cost pathway to living-wage jobs. The program starts in February, and applications are open now.
  13. After securing the title of national champions last season, the Arguing Bucs are off to a great start! During the online Lewis & Clark College tournament in October, Whitworth's forensics team took second place out of 69 schools in combined speech and debate. Later in the month, the team won first place in a speech-only regional tournament at Pacific University. Jericho Simone '22 was the top overall speaker at both tournaments. Go Bucs!
  14. We are thrilled Whitworth Athletics has been able to return to much more "normal" seasons this year, with fall sports currently wrapping up. Volleyball completed the Northwest Conference schedule undefeated, 16-0, for the first time and will advance to the NCAA tournament. Football clinched its eighth straight winning season under head coach Rod Sandberg, marking the longest stretch of winning years in school history. The Pirates' final regular-season game is Nov. 13 at George Fox. In cross country, Madelyn Buckley '24 finished second at the conference championships, becoming the NWC Women's Freshman of the Year. This fall, Pirate fans have also been welcomed back to the stands at home events and are able to easily livestream games via the new Go Bucs app or at


Christmas Festival Concert | Dec. 11 and 12 Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox, Spokane
It's back! The Whitworth Music Department presents the Christmas Festival Concert, A Brand New Morn, featuring our choirs and student instrumentalists. Tickets: or 509.624.1200. See additional upcoming fall concerts at

Westside Whitworth Christmas Parties Dec. 4, Seattle | Dec. 5, Bothell
Whitworth is hosting a pair of Christmas parties in Western Washington. I invite you to get to know our new choir director, Xiaosha Lin, hear from me and music department chair Ben Brody '98, and listen to the incredible vocal talent of Chloe Millard '22. Each event will feature heavy appetizers and a no-host bar. Cost: $15 per person. Details and registration are available at

Whitworth Application Deadlines | Various dates
Our Nov. 15 Early Action I deadline for first-year students has almost passed, but students can still apply for free by Jan. 15 to meet the Early Action II cutoff and receive the opportunity for priority consideration in class and housing registration. Jan. 15 is also the Early Action I deadline for fall transfers. See more application deadlines or apply at

Closing Thoughts

If I had a flower in my hand, and I pulled a petal for every reason to be thankful for Whitworth's mission and people, I'd need a bouquet. So let me just very briefly count the ways: For students who we are incredibly blessed to serve and teach. They are the reason we work here. For the relationships I get to observe between faculty, staff and students. Those will be for a lifetime. For the excellent work being done in every corner of campus. And for the prayers of alumni and supporters. We sense them.

It is our custom to include a giving envelope in our November newsletter. If you receive Mind & Heart electronically, gifts may be made by visiting Thank you for considering a gift that impacts all of these ways we equip students for a world that needs Whitworth graduates. For that, I, too, am grateful.

The Lord's blessings to you and your families.

Scott McQuilkin