Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Whitworth climbs in "U.S. News" rankings of best regional universities, best values in West

University listed in top 10 of annual rankings for 11th year in a row

Whitworth University climbed one position in U.S. News & World Report's annual rankings of the best regional universities and best values in the West, making the top 10 of the top universities list for the 11th year in a row.

Whitworth is tied for No. 9 in U.S. News' latest ranking of 115 master's-level universities in the 17-state region of the Western United States, and is No. 5 in the ranking of best values for the same category. U.S. News has published its rankings annually since 1983; the 2011 rankings were posted to the magazine's website (http://www.usnews.com/) today and will hit newsstands on Aug. 24.

Whitworth President Beck A. Taylor welcomes the attention that high rankings draw to Whitworth's academic quality and value. However, he says, the rankings are a reflection of the university's dedication to its students and to its mission to encourage rigorous, open intellectual inquiry and the integration of Christian faith and learning.

"High rankings in U.S. News clearly reflect Whitworth's commitment to excellence in the educational experience we provide our students," Taylor says. "Our record application numbers and enrollment suggest that students already understand what the rankings affirm, and it's the students we're most concerned about. If we continue to challenge our students academically, equip them to thrive socially, stretch them spiritually, and serve them tirelessly, the rankings should take care of themselves."

U.S. News has consistently ranked Whitworth among the best regional universities and best values in the Western U.S. This year, Whitworth also was listed at No. 39 in Kiplinger's 2009-10 ranking of the top 50 best values among all private universities in the U.S., was designated "Best in the West" in The Princeton Review's 2011 Best Colleges: Region by Region guide, and was one of the top 10 liberal arts schools in the Pacific Northwest in Forbes' latest 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.

"These are indicators of the commitment Whitworth and its peer institutions have to allocating resources to support educational excellence," says Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Le Roy. "There also are many intangibles involved in the delivery of a high-quality education, such as the commitment of the faculty to student-learning, the quality of instruction, and the role that the mission of the institution plays in shaping the mind and heart of each student. While we appreciate that a top 10 ranking in U.S. News recognizes positive attributes that can be measured, we also remain committed to striving for excellence in areas that can't be measured."

Whitworth's student selectivity has increased dramatically as the number of freshman applications has grown more than 570 percent, to 6,458 for fall 2010 from 1,115 in 2000. With a freshman class of 555 students last fall, Whitworth's 53 percent acceptance rate was among the lowest of its peers, and the average SAT scores of its 2009 freshman class were among the highest. At the same time, the university's freshman-sophomore retention and six-year graduation rates in recent years have reached record highs that are well above national averages.

"As we welcome the largest and most diverse freshman class in Whitworth's history, we are excited to once again be recognized by the U.S. News college 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 who are a good fit for Whitworth and who are serious about academic life on campus. Being ranked by U.S. News in the top 8 percent of our peer colleges and universities reflects the caliber of our students, the quality of our faculty, and our commitment to small classes, a low faculty-to-student ratio, and individual attention as hallmarks of a Whitworth University education."

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 $35 million in grants and scholarships to undergraduate students this year. The average financial aid award for Whitworth students receiving aid is $24,119.

"We especially appreciate being recognized as a best value because it reflects Whitworth's commitments to both academic quality and a strong financial-aid and scholarship program," Pfursich says. "Our high rankings in U.S. News, Kiplinger's, and The Princeton Review's Best Colleges guide affirm that Whitworth students get an excellent return on their investment in terms of small classes, personalized attention from faculty, and countless  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 2,900 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts:

Fred Pfursich, Vice President for Admissions and Financial Aid, 509.777.4348 or fpfursich@whitworth.edu.

Greg Orwig, Director of University Communications, 509.777.4580 or gorwig@whitworth.edu.