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Bill Robinson to deliver his final commencement address as Whitworth's president May 16

April 29, 2010
Robinson also to present keynote speech at graduate ceremony May 15

Whitworth President Bill Robinson, who has handed diplomas to roughly 40 percent of all living Whitworth graduates, will address graduates as president for the last time at the university's 120th undergraduate ceremony May 16. He plans to step down June 30.

Robinson will give his address, "Hanging On and Moving On," during the ceremony, which will take place at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 16, at the Spokane Arena. Roughly 480 undergraduates are expected to participate in the ceremony.

Robinson also will speak at the university's graduate commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 15, at 10 a.m. in Whitworth's Cowles Auditorium. Robinson will deliver his address, "Synchronizing Your Watch," to an audience including 112 graduates receiving master's degrees in education, teaching, counseling, business administration, international management, and theology.

Robinson's daughter, the Rev. Brenna Robinson Stanfield, '00, will offer the homily, "Great Expectations," for the baccalaureate service on Sunday at 10 a.m. in the Whitworth Fieldhouse.

Commencement Weekend events begin Friday, May 14, and will include a reception honoring continuing studies graduates, a senior communion and commissioning service, a senior reflections slideshow and showcase of senior class talent, an art exhibit, a music recital, and an English department reading featuring graduates' capstone achievements. For complete Commencement Weekend details, visit

During the undergraduate commencement ceremony, six students will receive President's Cup Awards for maintaining a 4.0 grade point average throughout their undergraduate education. Recipients are Peter Cleary, Rachel Dubes, Breena Hagerott, Sean McGuire, Kristin Santroch and Amanda Tufts. The Whitworth Servant Leadership Award, which honors a graduating senior who has exhibited an extraordinary commitment to serving the campus and the larger community, also will be given during the ceremony.

Robinson became Whitworth's 17th president in July 1993. He announced in September 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. During his tenure, the number of freshman applications to Whitworth has increased 565 percent, to 6,397 for the coming fall; enrollment has grown 60 percent, to 2,781 students, while student academic profile and selectivity have steadily improved; and retention and graduation rates have reached record highs well above national averages.

More than $83 million in campus improvements have been made during Robinson's presidency, including a new center for the visual arts, a landmark general academic building, three new residence halls and several outdoor athletics facilities. In addition, the university currently is constructing a biology and chemistry building, to be named the William P. and Bonnie V. Robinson Science Hall, that will be the largest academic facility in the school's history. Meanwhile, financial support from alumni and friends has increased steadily, contributing to an increase of nearly $75 million in the university's endowment before the recent market downturn.

Known for his relational and approachable style, Robinson has devoted much of his energy to connecting in person and in writing with students, employees and friends of the university. His award-winning monthly newsletter, Of Mind & Heart, is read by more than 20,000 people inside and outside the Whitworth community and has been one of Robinson's favorite vehicles for promoting Whitworth's distinctive mission.

Before taking the helm at Whitworth, Robinson served for seven years as president of Manchester College, in Indiana. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Northern Iowa, his master's degree from Wheaton College, and his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. He also studied at Princeton Theological Seminary and Moody Bible Institute. He has done extensive speaking, writing and research on leadership and faith-related issues. He is the author of two books – Incarnate Leadership: Five Leadership Lessons from the Life of Jesus (Zondervan, 2009) and Leading People from the Middle – The Universal Mission of Mind and Heart (Executive Excellence Publishing, 2002), which was republished by IUniverse in 2009.

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.


Beverly Kleeman, registrar, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4548 or

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