Chris Reichert| Staff Writer
Whitworth is partnering with Beyond the Pines, a student-run public relations agency, to inform students and faculty about the university’s upcoming accreditation review.
“It’s a seven- year cycle where we have to basically address our mission and core themes and show that we are meeting those and that we are sustainable.” Said Deanna Ojennus, director of assessment and accreditation.
This coming April, faculty from other Northwest universities will tour the campus and review the university’s prepared report in an attempt to ascertain whether or not Whitworth is accomplishing its goals. Afterwards, the group will present their findings to the university along with their recommendations. The process will start over with next year, year 1, seeing the university reevaluate its mission based on feedback received this year. Two years later, in year 3, a deeper financial evaluation will be completed to eventually be compiled into a report for the next accreditation review.
To prepare for the visit in the spring, Ojennus is trying to re-familiarize students and faculty with some of the university’s objectives.
“Most people are familiar with Whitworth’s mission, but the three core themes are not as familiar,” she said.
The University mission, as stated on the Whitworth 2021 web page 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.”
According to that same page, these values include promoting the development of students’ worldviews, academics rooted in liberal arts and sciences and an inclusive and multicultural campus.
Beyond the Pines has begun work on the campaign and students may soon notice these core values popping up around the campus on posters and stickers.
“We analyze what is going to be the best way for students to naturally pick up these themes,” Said Izzy Broussard, account manager with Beyond the Pines. “How do we make it accessible…and fun, and beautiful?”
The Beyond the Pines team is developing various techniques to best spread their message. “We’re trying to take the focus away from accreditation, and put more focus on this is what Whitworth is, and we should be proud of that,” Broussard said.
Overall, Broussard is excited about the project. “This job incorporates design, it incorporates working with a lot of clients hands-on, with the university, and it’s [a] big budget. Those are things that you wouldn’t normally see.”
Despite these advantages, she admits that Whitworth isn’t typical of Beyond the Pines’ usual non-profit clients.
“I could see how it’s like, ‘Oh, you’re working for Whitworth – for free!’” She added, “I think Whitworth was really smart by going through Beyond the Pines, since the team of people that is working on this is students I think it’s bringing in a new level of creativity…if you see something that’s student made, student designed, and is appealing to the eye, that’s going to stick, and you might actually read it.”
This is not the first time Beyond the Pines completed projects for Whitworth.
“We have worked with the university in the past on specific outreach projects when it was an entity or a part of the university that really needed to better connect with the university community,” said Erica Salkin, advisor for Beyond the Pines, adding that the group had assisted Student Life informing students about changes to Title IX.
“Sometimes, if you’re trying to connect with students, having a student team create those messages gives you a leg up. It’s an opportunity to work with people who speak the language,” Salkin said.
Ultimately Broussard hopes her team’s message goes beyond accreditation.
“It’s really easy to ignore the foundation of what Whitworth is…I would challenge students to actually care and be interested in what their university stands for and be proud of it,” Broussard said.
Further information concerning accreditation and Whitworth’s themes and values can be found on the university’s website. Those interested in becoming involved with Beyond the Pines can contact Erica Salkin or Izzy Broussard.