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Whitworth ranks among top ten private schools in Pacific Northwest on Forbes’ 2012 list of Best Colleges

August 24, 2012
Whitworth climbs five spots to Forbes’ No. 31 private school in the West

Whitworth has landed once again on Forbes’ annual rankings of the top undergraduate institutions in the United States. Whitworth joins some of the most prestigious schools in the country in the magazine's latest rankings, where it is listed as one of the top ten private schools in the Pacific Northwest.

The list is posted on Forbes’ website and appears in the Aug. 20 issue of Forbes magazine. The magazine, which says its rankings are consumer-oriented and emphasize financial prudence, bases its list on criteria such as quality of teaching and career prospects, graduation rates, and levels of debt upon graduation. The rankings are prepared exclusively for Forbes by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

For the first time since 2008, Princeton University tops Forbes’ list, followed by Williams College, Stanford University, University of Chicago, Yale University and Harvard University. Of the 650 schools listed, Whitworth is ranked No. 244 overall and No. 31 in the West, making it the sixth-highest ranked school, public or private, in Washington state. Other private schools in the Pacific Northwest that made the overall rankings include Whitman College (No. 44), Willamette University (No. 90), The University of Puget Sound (No. 131), Seattle Pacific University (No. 191), Gonzaga University (No. 228), Seattle University (No. 249), Pacific University (No. 251), University of Portland (No. 252), Pacific Lutheran University (No. 282) and Linfield College (No. 325). The complete rankings can be accessed online at

“The Forbes rankings focus on factors that matter to our students and therefore matter a great deal to us: quality of teaching, career preparation, high graduation rates and lower levels of debt,” says Greg Orwig, vice president for admissions and financial aid. “While the high cost of college is understandably getting a lot of attention in the media, it’s important that students and parents recognize that the return on investment in a college education has never been higher and that the small class sizes, individual mentoring, experiential learning opportunities and broad liberal arts education offered at schools like Whitworth provide the best preparation for long-term career success and life satisfaction.”

Forbes’ rankings are based on five general categories: post-graduate success, which evaluates alumni pay and prominence; student satisfaction, which includes professor evaluations and freshman-to-sophomore- year retention rates; debt, which penalizes schools for high student debt loads and default rates; four-year graduation rate; and competitive awards, which rewards schools whose students win prestigious scholarships and fellowships such as the Rhodes, the Marshall and the Fulbright.

Whitworth has a strong record of placing students in successful careers and top graduate programs. Recent grads include Ben Spaun, who received a full scholarship and living stipend for a six-year doctoral research program at Harvard University, and Joshua Breda, a finance support analyst at The Boeing Company in Seattle. Travis Hartanov is the founder and CFO of Krochet Kids International, a nonprofit that empowers women in poor countries to create locally sustainable jobs by making goods sold at retailers such as Nordstrom. Meanwhile, Brisa Calderon was recently accepted to Carnegie Mellon University, the nation's No. 1-ranked engineering program, to study in their graduate program in computer engineering, specializing in human-machine interactions.

Whitworth will award more than $41.4 million in grants and scholarships to undergraduate students in 2012-13. Approximately 98 percent of incoming freshmen will receive financial aid, and the average freshman financial aid award is nearly $27,900. The percentage of Whitworth graduates who finish in four years is 85 percent, well above the national average. In addition, the university has lowered its student-faculty ratio to 11-to-1 even as undergraduate enrollment has risen. Steep increases in tuition and fees, as well as a longer average time to graduate at many public institutions make four-year completion rates an increasingly important factor in estimating college costs; these factors directly affect variables such as average debt load. In 2010 the average debt load for a Whitworth undergraduate was $22,540, compared to the national average of $25,550. The federal Stafford loan cohort default rate for Whitworth students is 0.8 percent.

Four Whitworth seniors, a record number for the university, were awarded Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grants for the 2011-12 academic year. In 2009, the Fulbright Program named Whitworth a top producer of students who received Fulbright awards. Since 2000, 15 Whitworth students have been selected as Fulbright scholars, and three faculty members and one professor emeritus have received Fulbright fellowships in recent years.

Several Whitworth students, most recently Micah Spaun, ’13, have received the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the highest award for undergraduate-student achievement in the sciences. Most Goldwater Scholars go on to Ph.D. programs, where they continue to receive prestigious scholarships and fellowships for their graduate studies.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Greg Orwig, vice president for admissions and financial aid, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4580 or

Andrea Idso, interim public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or