Board of Trustees gives update on campus happenings

by Jennifer Ingram

Nearly 40 members of the Whitworth Board of Trustees gathered in Weyerhaeuser Hall on April 19 to discuss important revisions and resolutions that impact our campus in various ways.

President Beck Taylor also attended this meeting.

“The roles of the Board members are to insure and help guide the mission of this university, financially support the institution, and to hire the staff,” Taylor said.

The  Board reviewed the reports on the 2021 plans and held deep discussions on the future of Whitworth.

Vice President of Enrollment Greg Orwig gave the Board an update on enrollment and financial aid. He said that this upcoming school year, Whitworth is aiming for between 620 and 640 new freshmen. While the school has currently received 659 confirmed applications, many will have a change of plans while many others will register later during the summer.

“We are optimistic that we will meet our target enrollment,” Orwig said.

He said Whitworth now looks more attractive to more students thanks to the Bill Robinson Science Building. Last year there were 201 students who declared science as a major, and that number has now increased to 273. Orwig said Whitworth is proud that nearly 85 percent of students graduate within four years at Whitworth.

The Board also heard that the retention rate of Whitworth students is on the rise. From fall 2011 to spring 2012, retention has gone from 93 percent to 96 percent. According to statistics, Whitworth is well above national average for retention.

Another appealing factor Whitworth gained is the new honors program. Taylor said the new program will provide a pathway for more rigorous academic learning for prospective students.

“Many schools of which we compete have these kinds of programs,” Taylor said. “So Whitworth positions itself well by offering this kind of program.”

The trustee meeting also addressed the issue of gender balance on campus.

“There is a large percent of colleges which have disproportionately high amounts of females,” Orwig said.

Taylor said he believes that having a healthy gender balance is definitely important and they are hoping to see a better balance in the future.

“Specifically in faith-based private institutions, there are more women going to college than men,” Taylor said. “We’re not happy with the current gender balance and would love to see more males coming to Whitworth. It’s a challenge.”

Taylor said currently Whitworth is taking the initiative to position the institution in a way that will pull more men into it. He said Whitworth is working harder with the male candidates to show the value of our successful curricular and co-curricular activities at the university. He said that Whitworth isn’t looking for a 50/50 split, but hoping to mimic a broader composition of 60/40.

Another important factor of the Board of Trustee meeting was that a very important award was given.

Art Symons was nominated for the award of George Frederick Whitworth Medial for his service to Whitworth for the past 44 years. Members of the Board said he has served faithfully and sacrificially and it has greatly influenced the university.

The George Frederick Whitworth Medial is the highest level of distinction, and is given with the deepest gratitude of Symon’s leadership. This award has only been given twice in the past 14 years, the last recipient of this award being Bill Robinson.

Beck said that this award is given in recognition and celebration of Symon’s contribution of the highest form of service towards the universities mission. The Board agreed unanimously.

“He has given financial means, time, talent and leadership in ways that were very appropriate,” Beck said. “He is silent in leadership but clearly effective in result. We have been able to accomplish a lot because of him.”

As Symon stood to receive the applause of the Board, he said “I enjoy working with this college and Board, it has been such a learning experience. God has blessed us generously, so we need to share it with others. Thank you very much, thank all of you very much.”

Beck said he plans to publicly announce Symon’s Medal of Honor in the near future.

Contact Jennifer Ingram at jingram13@my.whitworth.edu.

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