Whitworth is tied for No. 10 in U.S. News' 2010 rankings of 116 master's-level universities in the 17-state region of the West, and is No. 6 in the ranking of best values for the same category. In the magazine's new ranking of schools where professors are known for having an unusually strong commitment to undergraduate teaching, Whitworth was ranked No. 5 in its category.
Whitworth President Bill Robinson says he appreciates that high rankings draw attention to Whitworth's academic excellence and value, but he cautions students and parents against placing too much emphasis on rankings when selecting a college.
"We do what we do to serve students and to be faithful to Whitworth's mission to provide an education that integrates Christian faith and learning and encourages rigorous, open intellectual inquiry," Robinson says. "It's great that our efforts are recognized every year by U.S. News, but we try not to make too much of the rankings and don't recommend that prospective students do either. There are far more important things that determine whether Whitworth or another school is the best fit for a particular student."
The rankings, which U.S. News has published annually since 1983, were posted to the magazine's website (http://www.usnews.com/) today and will hit newsstands on Aug. 24.
U.S. News has consistently ranked Whitworth among the best colleges and best values in its category. This year, Whitworth also was ranked No. 39 in Kiplinger's top 50 best values among all private universities nationwide, was designated “Best in the West” in Princeton Review's 2010 Best Colleges: Region by Region guide and was one of the top 10 liberal arts schools in the Pacific Northwest in Forbes' 2009 America's Best Colleges rankings.
The U.S. News rankings are based on various indicators of an institution's quality, including academic reputation, faculty resources, student selectivity, freshman retention, graduation rate, financial resources and alumni giving.
Whitworth's student selectivity has increased dramatically as the number of freshman applications has grown more than 525 percent to 5,862 for fall 2009, from 1,115 in 2000. With a freshman class of 546 students last year, Whitworth's 51 percent acceptance rate was among the lowest of its peers, and the average high-school GPA and SAT scores of its 2008 freshman class were among the highest. At the same time, the university has achieved all-time highs for freshman retention and six-year graduation rates in recent years.
"The growth of Whitworth's applicant pool – both in overall numbers and in academic qualifications – reflects a commitment to excellence that is also seen in the rankings," says Whitworth Vice President for Admissions and Financial Aid Fred Pfursich. "The fact that our graduation rate and retention rate are among the best in our peer group is a clear indicator that we are attracting excellent students and are helping them to complete their degrees in a timely manner. Those outcomes are even more important to us than high rankings."
U.S. News' best-values rankings are based on academic quality and the net cost of attendance for a student receiving the average level of need-based financial aid.
Whitworth will provide more than $31 million in grants and scholarships to undergraduate students this year. The average total of grants and scholarships awarded to Whitworth students receiving aid for 2009-10 is $15,233.
"We especially appreciate being recognized as a best value because it highlights Whitworth's commitments to both academic quality and a strong financial-aid and scholarship program," says Pfursich. "The high rankings in U.S. News and Kiplinger's affirm that Whitworth students get a tremendous return on their investment in terms of small classes, personalized attention from faculty and opportunities to be involved in athletics, performing arts, study-abroad and other extra-curricular activities."
Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,700 students, offers 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Fred Pfursich, vice president for admissions and financial aid, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4348 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greg Orwig, director of communications, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4580 or email@example.com.
Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or firstname.lastname@example.org.