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Whitworth ranks among top 10 private schools in Pacific Northwest on Forbes’ 2013 list of Best Colleges

July 29, 2013

Whitworth climbs 43 spots in overall rankings of U.S. colleges

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 10 private schools in the Pacific Northwest.

The list is posted on Forbes’ website and will appear in an upcoming issue of Forbes magazine. The magazine, which says its rankings are consumer-oriented and emphasize financial prudence, bases its rankings on criteria including 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.

Stanford University tops Forbes’ 2013 list, followed by Pomona College, Princeton University, Yale University, Columbia University and Swarthmore College. Of the 650 schools listed, Whitworth is ranked No. 201 overall (climbing 43 spots from 2012) and No. 40 in the West, making it the fifth-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. 62), Reed College (No. 65), the University of Puget Sound (No. 131), Willamette University (No. 133), Gonzaga University (No. 191), Pacific University (No. 198), University of Portland (No. 171), Seattle University (No. 241), Pacific Lutheran University (No. 256), Linfield College (No. 307) and Seattle Pacific University (No. 315).

“At a time of rising concern about the cost of higher education, it is important for families to recognize that the return on investment in a college education has never been higher,” says Greg Orwig, vice president for admissions and financial aid at Whitworth. “The Forbes rankings are based on factors that matter to our students and therefore matter a great deal to us. 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 will award more than $45.7 million in grants and scholarships to undergraduate students in 2013-14. Approximately 99.5% percent of incoming freshmen will receive financial aid, and the average freshman financial-aid award is nearly $30,399. 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 at many public institutions, as well as a longer average time to graduate, make four-year completion rates an increasingly important factor in estimating college costs; these factors directly affect variables such as average debt load.

Whitworth has a strong record of placing students in successful careers and top graduate programs. Taryn Clark, '09 (chemistry), is a fourth-year medical student at Weill Cornell Medical College at Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y., where she is focusing on emergency medicine, global health and disaster relief. Taryn co-founded the Weill Cornell Center for Human Rights, a clinic that assists survivors of torture who are seeking asylum in the U.S. Keith Bisaillon, '09 (music and arts administration), is the band director and fine-arts department chair at Harrison High School, in Colorado Springs. In 2013 he earned a master's degree in educational leadership and administration, and a principal license from the University of Colorado. Emily Campbell, '11 (biology), is a biologist at McCormick Biological in Bakersfield, Calif., where she consults with oil and gas companies on the most environmentally conscious way to carry out their projects. James Spung, '09 (political science and journalism), earned his J.D. in 2012 from Emory Law School and is a judicial clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals in Mobile, Ala.

Whitworth was named a top producer of Fulbright students for 2011-12, the second time in three years the university has been ranked among the nation’s leading schools. Since 2000, 17 Whitworth students have been selected as Fulbright scholars; in addition, four faculty members and one professor emeritus have received Fulbright fellowships in recent years.

Engineering and physics major Micah Spaun, ’13, is the fourth Whitworth student in the last nine years to receive 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. 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

Lucas Beechinor, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or