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Whitworth University Announces New Chapel Addition Project

October 25, 2016
Whitworth University is excited to announce a $1.5 million lead gift from Barney and Joyce Beeksma (pictured right with Theology faculty) for an addition to and remodel of Whitworth’s Seeley Mudd Chapel. The Beeksma Family Theology Center will become the vibrant new home for the theology department, the office of church engagement, and campus ministries, heralding an exciting new day for service to our students and to the church.

The new and remodeled facilities will provide offices for more than 20 faculty, staff and student employees, new gathering spaces for students, and renovations to the existing chapel restrooms, break room, and audiovisual system. This functional facility enhancement offers significant return on its current project cost of approximately $2.4 million. Construction will commence once fund-raising is complete. For more information about the Campaign for Whitworth, or to contribute to this project, please visit

In talking about the proposed expansion, the Beeksmas said that when they learned of the needs of the theology department and ministry staff, it seemed to be a perfect fit with their view of Whitworth and how they would like to support Whitworth’s ministry. “This building is dedicated to making the Gospel of Christ of paramount importance in learning and life,” they said. “Whitworth seems to be on a solid track of strong theology emphasis and we would like to help make that permanent; this building will unify various components of the theology department and facilitate coordination and communication between staff, students and community. Our theology focuses on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, which will be central to campus life and visible to all.”

Whitworth has a long history of excellence in the teaching of theology at both the undergraduate and now the graduate levels, serving students with vibrant campus ministry opportunities throughout the week, and joining with congregations to strengthen the church through programs like the Whitworth Institute of Ministry. The staffs of the campus ministry program, the theology department, and the office of church engagement look forward to sharing a building, as this will allow for greater synergy between all three programs and for enhanced collegiality between staff and students.

The Seeley Mudd Chapel was completed in 1978. Its unique location in The Loop places the spiritual heart of Whitworth central to the campus core. As the Whitworth student body grew exponentially during the Robinson era, so too did the number of faculty members in the theology department, to the point that they were forced to relocate their offices out of the chapel and into Westminster Hall, at the northern edge of the campus.

“Recent faculty and administrative hires in these areas have secured the direction of the campus ministry and theology programs for the foreseeable future,” said Professor of Theology Jerry Sittser. “The exciting new offerings and entrepreneurial spirit of the office of church engagement have breathed new life into our institutional service to local churches throughout the region and across denominational boundaries.”

Barney and Joyce Beeksma are Whitworth alums, Class of 1954. Barney graduated with a B.A. degree in business management and Joyce with a B.A. in education. Barney spent 40 years in the banking industry and is the former chairman, president and CEO of InterWest Bancorp. He is recognized in the banking industry for growing InterWest from a small savings institution on Whidbey Island to a regional institution with 55 branches throughout Washington state. He also served as a Washington State Representative (R) in 1995-96. He retired in 2000, and in 2003, InterWest was purchased by Wells Fargo.

The Beeksmas have three adult children: Joan Donnell, Mark Beeksma and Julie Dale. Three grandsons are alumni and three more are currently attending Whitworth. Previously, the Beeksmas gave a gift that made the tennis bubble possible. One of their sons-in-law, Clark Donnell, is currently a member of the Whitworth University Board of Trustees.

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 more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Tad Wisenor, director of campaign planning, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4401 or

Lauren Clark, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or