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Whitworth alumni establish Amy M. Ryan Endowed Professorship in the Liberal Arts

April 11, 2014

Left to right: Dave Myers, '64, Carol Myers, '65,
President Beck A. Taylor, Provost Caroline Simon
Yesterday in a special ceremony in Robinson Science Hall at Whitworth University, trustee and alumnus Dave Myers, ’64, and his wife, alumna Carol (Peterkin) Myers, ’65, pledged to fund a new endowed professorship named in honor of Carol’s grandmother Amy M. (Johns) Ryan. Ryan attended Whitworth from 1894-97, when the school occupied its original location in Sumner, Wash.

The Myers’ gift will create a professorship within Whitworth's College of Arts & Sciences and will contribute to the university’s endowment. The professorship will be awarded to an outstanding faculty member who embodies Amy Ryan’s love of learning, her skill in writing, and her innovative spirit; who values the mainline church and the aspirations of women; and who exhibits dedication to students and compassion for all.

"This professorship is an endearing manifestation of Dave and Carol’s great enthusiasm and love for Whitworth, and it captures so well their passion to equip the institution’s mission in preparing students to honor God, follow Christ, and serve humanity,” says Whitworth President Beck A. Taylor. “As we look forward to celebrating Whitworth’s 125th anniversary, a professorship in the name of one of Whitworth College’s first students seems to strike a perfect historical note as we dedicate ourselves to supporting faculty members and their important roles in the lives of students.”

Ryan was born in Farmington, Iowa, in 1878. In 1890, her family moved west and eventually settled in Sumner, Wash. After finishing high school, Ryan wished to attend the newly founded Whitworth College, but she found it would be impossible for her family to pay the $12-per-semester tuition. At her mother’s suggestion, Ryan offered to pay her tuition with bales of hay, butter, and eggs. The college accepted her offer.

Amy M. (Johns) Ryan
Amy was an editor of Whitworth’s student newspaper. She passed the teachers’ examination in 1897, cutting short her college career, and then taught for four years before marrying Harry R. Ryan, Class of 1898. She was Sunday School superintendent of Sumner Presbyterian Church for 25 years, served as young people’s secretary and president of the Spokane Presbyterial, and president of the Olympia Presbyterial, and she served on the Presbyterian Church’s Board of National Missions and Board of Foreign Missions.

Dave Myers says the endowed professorship celebrates what Whitworth means to Carol and himself; the institution enabled both of them to go places they “never imagined” after their time as students. “The endowment supports a university that is committed to an identity that, because of its faith tradition, is committed to the open, courageous, free-spirited pursuit of truth,” Dave says.

Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Noelle Wiersma, ’90, expressed deep appreciation for the Myers’ gift. “We are especially grateful for the care and thoughtfulness that went into designing this gift in a way that honors the things in life that were most important to Amy M. Ryan, because those are the very same things that are central to an excellent Christian liberal arts education.”

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


Noelle Wiersma, dean for the College of Arts & Sciences, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4874 or

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