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Whitworth freshman revs NASCAR racing career

January 26, 2010
When he's not studying engineering physics at Whitworth, freshman Travis Motley spends most of his time at the Toyota Speedway racetrack in Irwindale, Calif. He races NASCAR late-model stock cars for High Point Racing, a high-profile, driver-development racing team.

On Jan. 29 and 30, Motley will compete in the biggest short-track race in the country — the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. Known as the Daytona 500 of short-track racing, the race will be televised live on the Speed Channel in primetime.

Motley grew up watching his dad race off-road cars. At age 13, after years of his begging, his parents allowed him to race go-karts. A typical race weekend would begin with him and his father making the eight-hour drive from his hometown of Tucson, Ariz., to California on Thursday afternoon. Motley would practice on Friday, race Saturday and Sunday, and drive back to Tucson Sunday night.

"Sometimes we wouldn't get home until 3 a.m. on Monday, and I would go to school four hours later. But as crazy as it sounds, I loved every minute of it," Motley says. "After three years of go-kart racing, I moved up to late models and it has been more fun than I ever could have hoped for."

Those long weekends are paying off as Motley's late-model stock car career starts taking off. In the last six races of the 2009 season, he finished fifth or better in a field of 30 of the best racers on the West Coast.

Motley races roughly 20 times a year, from April to November. His late model vehicle is a 400-horsepower, 2,900-lb. purpose-built race car that resembles the cars seen in NASCAR.

Motley's goal is to race in the NASCAR Nationwide Series within five years.

"I wouldn't be where I am now without the love and support of my parents and the help of my race team, High Point Racing," Motley says. "In order continue to do what I love and to keep finishing up front, I am looking for a sponsor to partner with my race team in the 2010 season."

To learn more about Motley's racing career, visit or

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.


Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or

Whitworth alum named national head coach of Bangladesh's squash team

January 25, 2010
Whitworth University alum William Mather has been named the national head coach of Bangladesh's squash team by the Bangladesh Squash Rackets Federation. His first major tournament as head coach will be the 11th South Asian Games, to be held in Bangladesh Jan. 29-Feb. 8.

Mather, who graduated from Whitworth in 2000 with a bachelor's degree in communication studies, was introduced to the game of squash when he moved home to Hawaii and took a position as an administrator at the Honolulu Club in 2003. A former football and track and field athlete for Whitworth, Mather picked up the game quickly and soon became one of the club's premier squash players.

"I was introduced to the game after someone noticed my swing in racquetball," Mather says. "It was all over after that. The rest of the guys at the club really pressed me to play better and I don’t like losing, so I would practice six hours a day, which helped me progress quickly. I also studied the game intensely."

Mather gave up competitive squash when he moved to Bangladesh with his wife, Rachal (Shim) Mather, '00, to work in an orphanage as a missionary from Bluewater Mission Church, in Kalihi, Hawaii. Still wanting to stay connected with the sport, he contacted the Asian Squash Federation's director of coaching and offered to volunteer with the Bangladesh team. The director of coaching then recommended him for the head coach post.

Despite the fact that none of the players on the Bangladesh team have ever played squash professionally, Mather says they are well prepared and he's looking forward to the test that the upcoming South Asian Games will present to them.

"Some of the best in the world are coming to our doorstep," he says. "Powerhouse programs such as Pakistan and India have tremendous talent and depth. You don't want to underestimate your opponent."

As a coach, Mather says he derives his inspiration from Toby Schwarz, head track and field coach at Whitworth. He also credits Jack Burns, a professor for the interdisciplinary minor of leadership studies at Whitworth, as a key mentor in his life.

"Dr. Jack Burns is one of those guys who will have a chapter of my autobiography dedicated to him. He is a great man of God who really supported me as a student and as a person," Mather says. "I wasn't a Christian, but he loved me as if I was his son. He always made time for me. In 2004, I began following Jesus and now I'm in Bangladesh."

Mather continues, "A man like Jack can be used by God to make a difference in a person's life. My wife and I are now trying to do the same according to our own spiritual gifts."

Although his main focus now is coaching, and at age 31 he's entering the twilight of most squash players' careers, Mather hasn't entirely given up his own aspirations as a player. He's training alongside his Bangladeshi players, and he's considering competing in future competitions.

"It's an opportunity and I likely will pursue it, but the development of Bangladesh is more important to me than playing," he says.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which enrolls more than 2,700 students, offers 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or

Iraqi to share stories from his war-torn country during lecture at Whitworth University Feb. 11

January 21, 2010
First guest speaker for university's annual Great Decisions Lecture Series also will discuss his role in counterterrorism efforts in Iraq

As the seventh anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq approaches, one of the country's native sons, Hussam Al-Khalidy, will present the first lecture in the 53rd annual Great Decisions Lecture Series at Whitworth University. The series features five speakers who focus on current political, cultural and economic subjects of interest to the international community. The public is invited to attend the lectures free of charge. Al-Khalidy will present "A Life of Struggle in Iraq," on Thursday, Feb. 11, at 7:30 p.m. in the Robinson Teaching Theatre in Weyerhaeuser Hall at Whitworth University. For more information, please call (509) 777-3270.

"We're looking forward to hearing from someone who has an on-the-ground perspective of what's been happening in Iraq," says Patrick Van Inwegen, an associate professor of political science at Whitworth. "Hussam Al-Khalidy has lived through the things we see in the news, and his experiences and point of view will help us understand some of the major foreign policy issues in Iraq and the surrounding region."

Al-Khalidy was born in Baghdad, where his life was shaped by the strife during the Iran-Iraq war and the first Gulf War, as well as by economic sanctions and sectarian violence after the U.S. invasion in 2003. He worked with coalition forces at the Bucca Prison, in the southern oil port of Basra, where he interviewed prisoners to determine whether they were involved in the insurgency. He immigrated to the U.S. last year and now lives in Spokane, where he works with the growing number of Iraqi refugees who are relocating here.

In addition to the Feb. 11 lecture, Great Decisions lectures will take place on March 11, March 18, April 8, and April 22. The lectures will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will be held in Weyerhaeuser Hall's Robinson Teaching Theatre. For information on upcoming lectures, please call (509) 777-3270. Great Decisions 2010 is sponsored by the Whitworth Political Science Department.

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.


Barbara Brodrick, academic program assistant, political science department, Whitworth University, (509) 777-3270 or

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or

Whitworth leading effort to 'adopt' orphans, clinic, school devastated by Haiti quake

January 20, 2010
Children and workers displaced from an orphanage destroyed in Haiti's powerful earthquake have captured the hearts of the Whitworth University community. Whitworth's Center for Service-Learning and Community Engagement is coordinating fundraising efforts on campus and in the Spokane community to provide food, water, medical supplies and shelter to the Three Angels orphanage, school and medical clinic in Port Au Prince.

"Seeing the devastation and the faces of those who have been impacted by the earthquake compels us to respond," says Rhosetta Rhodes, director of Whitworth's center for service-learning and community engagement. "Living out our faith requires us to respond to our brothers and sisters in need – regardless of where they are located. Whitworth has a local, national and global mission."

Mitchell Flinn, a student in Whitworth's MBA program, worked with the Three Angels orphanage ( in 2007 and with another mission organization in Haiti this past summer. He has been in regular communication with his contacts at Three Angels and has learned the children and workers survived the earthquake. The children in the orphanage have been evacuated to the United States, yet Three Angels will continue to minister to the thousands of orphans who remain in Haiti.

"The work of Three Angels' orphan ministry, school and clinic are vital to the needs of the Haitian people, plain and simple," Flinn says. "Some of the children in the orphanage have one or two parents living, but there is simply no money to take care of them. The parents face the decision of giving their child up for adoption or seeing them die of malnutrition or disease. They live in a reality most of us can barely comprehend."

Whitworth hopes to respond to immediate needs and also to build a long-term partnership to support the children and community served by the orphanage, clinic and school, Rhodes says. Collection containers will be distributed around campus for donations to the Three Angels Haiti ministry. Whitworth students also are planning a series of fundraising events, including the Black Student Union's Soul Food Dinner at 5 p.m., Feb. 12, in the HUB. Cost is $9 and all proceeds will go to the Haiti initiative.

Plans are under way to coordinate with other colleges and universities in Spokane to maximize the fundraising efforts and to "adopt" the orphan ministry, school and clinic for the long term, according to Rhodes.

"We want to focus our efforts and to build a lasting partnership so we can continue to provide assistance for the earthquake recovery and beyond," Rhodes says. "We feel called to support the comprehensive care that Three Angels is providing to children and the surrounding community. We welcome everyone in the Whitworth and Spokane communities to join in this partnership to serve our brothers and sisters in their hour of need."

The poverty, illness and educational needs of Haiti's people existed long before the earthquake and will persist long after the recovery begins, according to Flinn. Sustained prayer and financial support is necessary to make a difference, he says.

"As news coverage fades, my hope is that Whitworth will continue to pray for the nation of Haiti, for the rebuilding effort, for their government, and for the people who were struggling to survive even before this disaster," he says. "The Haitian people have a love for life, even in the face of all they have endured. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ to people who are desperately seeking a source of hope."

The Whitworth Center for Service-Learning and Community Engagement, celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year, engages students, faculty and staff in community service and engagement that enrich educational programs and equip students to honor God, follow Christ and serve humanity.


Rhosetta Rhodes, director of the center for service-learning and community engagement, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4238 or

Greg Orwig, director of university communications, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4580 or

Bill Robinson to lead his final Founder's Day Convocation as part of Whitworth's Heritage Month 2010

January 13, 2010
Other events during Heritage Month to include film festival in honor of longtime English professor, lecture by noted Abraham Lincoln historian

Every February, Whitworth holds a Heritage Month celebration to commemorate its founding, on Feb. 20, 1890. Heritage Month 2010 will kick off with the university's annual Founder's Day Convocation, when students, faculty and staff gather to remember the university's past and dedicate themselves to building upon that legacy in the coming months. On Feb. 4, after 17 years of presiding over the ceremony, Bill Robinson will give his final convocation address as Whitworth's president. In September, he announced that the 2009-10 academic year would be his last at Whitworth, making him the second longest-serving and one of the most influential presidents in the school's history.

In addition to Robinson's convocation address, another focal point of the university's 120th anniversary celebration will be the second annual Leonard A. Oakland Film Festival, Feb. 18-20, which pays tribute to long-serving Professor of English Leonard Oakland. Oakland, who has taught at Whitworth for 44 years, recently moved into a half-time faculty position. He identified film studies as the area in which he wants to establish long-term funding; the university is collaborating with his friends and family to create an endowment in his name that will fund the festival.

The festival will feature showings of three major motion pictures and the showing of an Emmy award-winning documentary produced by a Whitworth alumnus and his wife. A documentary about Oakland produced by a Whitworth alumna will also be shown.

Other Heritage Month events include a lecture by Ron White, a former Whitworth staff member who has written three bestselling books on Abraham Lincoln, including his latest, A. Lincoln: A Biography. White has lectured on Lincoln at the White House, the Library of Congress and the Gettysburg battlefield. He also has been interviewed on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

Members of the Spokane community are invited to join Whitworth students, faculty, staff and alumni for all Heritage Month events. Admission is free unless otherwise noted. Following is more information (for complete details, visit

  • Thursday, Feb. 4

    Founder's Day Convocation
    11 a.m., Cowles Auditorium
    Each semester begins with Founder's Day Convocation, which features music and worship, faculty in academic regalia, and the honoring of top students. Whitworth President Bill Robinson and campus historian and history professor Dale Soden will speak.

  • Friday, Feb. 5

    Thirteenth annual Gospel Explosion
    7 p.m., Cowles Auditorium
    Join Whitworth students and choirs from throughout Spokane for this annual campus celebration of Black History Month.

  • Friday, Feb. 12

    o Annual Soul Food Dinner sponsored by the Black Student Union
    5 p.m., Multipurpose Room in the Hixson Union Building
    Admission: $9

    o Simpson Duvall Endowed Reading with Linda Hogan
    7:30 p.m., Robinson Teaching Theatre in Weyerhaeuser Hall
    Hogan, a full-time author, served previously as professor of American Indian
    studies at the University of Minnesota and professor of English at the University
    of Colorado. She has published six poetry collections, seven books of prose, and
    countless anthologies.

  • Monday, Feb. 15

    The 2010 Hans Moldenhauer Memorial Lecture, "Performance of Sounding Silence: John Cage"
    7:30 p.m., Multipurpose Room in the Hixson Union Building
    Composer and music instructor Donivan Johnson will explore the life and music of maverick American composer and writer John Cage (1912-1992). The annual lecture focuses on contemporary music and its place in society and music education.

  • Feb. 18-20: Second Annual Leonard Oakland Film Festival

    o Thursday, Feb. 18
    Movie No. 1: Waltz with Bashir
    7 p.m., Robinson Teaching Theatre in Weyerhaeuser Hall
    The event will open with a short film, Saving Lives in World War II,
    produced by Whitworth alumnus Doug Bocaz-Larson, '93, and his wife, Kim, who
    received a recent Emmy Award in the Southwest /Rocky Mountain region for their
    work on this historical documentary.

    o Friday, Feb. 19
    Movie No. 2: Sita Sings the Blues
    7 p.m., Robinson Teaching Theatre in Weyerhaeuser Hall
    The event will open with the documentary, A Portrait of Leonard Oakland, produced
    by Whitworth alumna Andrea Palpant Dilley, '00.

    o Saturday, Feb. 20
    Movie No. 3: The Visitor
    3 p.m., Robinson Teaching Theatre in Weyerhaeuser Hall
    The event will open with the announcement of winners of a student-made short-film
    contest and a showing of their films.

  • Monday, Feb. 22

    "Art + Text" CIVA Traveling Exhibit
    This exhibition, from the international organization Christians in the Visual Arts, features works in a variety of media created by artists as a way to express their personal attitudes, opinions and faith.
    Reception: 5-7 p.m.; lecture by artist Daniel Sidell: 7 p.m.
    Bryan Oliver Gallery, Ernst F. Lied Center for the Visual Arts
    The exhibit runs through April 1. The gallery will be closed March 22-26.

  • Wednesday, Feb. 24

    A lecture, "Abraham Lincoln 2010: Wisdom for Today," by Ronald C. White, Jr.
    7 p.m., Robinson Teaching Theatre in Weyerhaeuser Hall
    White, a former Whitworth staff member, is author of the book, A. Lincoln: A Biography, a New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times bestseller.

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.


Nancy Rau, associate director, donor relations and special events, (509) 777-4250 or

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or