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Donors Pledge $3 Million to Establish Endowed Dean of Spiritual Life Position

April 12, 2018
Whitworth University has received a pledge of $3 million to establish an endowed dean of spiritual life position.

The gift, from donors who wish to remain anonymous, is believed to be the first of its kind among the nation’s Christian colleges and universities, and is a strong expression of support for Whitworth’s students, their spiritual formation, and for the expansion of Whitworth’s campus ministry programs.

“Whitworth has always valued the opportunities its students have to grow in their faith,” said Whitworth President Beck A. Taylor. “What sets Whitworth apart from so many fine institutions of higher learning is its faithful commitment to engage both mind and heart, and for students to benefit from its strong Christ-centered approach to education. This unique and fabulously generous gift will propel Whitworth’s campus ministry programs into the future, providing for even more opportunities for students to grow spiritually while also receiving an extraordinary education.”

When fully funded, the gift will make possible the expansion of Whitworth’s campus ministry programs and will allow the university to increase its chapel staff. Attendance at campus ministry programs like community chapel, AWAKE and Hosanna remains at/or near all-time highs, and students are benefiting from the numerous service opportunities and student leadership roles offered through Whitworth’s campus ministry programs.

“It is extremely exciting to consider what doors this endowment will open for Whitworth’s campus ministry as we endeavor to participate in God’s Kingdom work here,” said Forrest Buckner, Whitworth’s Dean of Spiritual Life. “It provides important resources to help us fulfill our goal of cultivating opportunities for every student to grow with Jesus during their time at Whitworth.”

Buckner joined Whitworth as dean of spiritual life in July 2015. He is a native of Boulder, Colo., and earned his civil and mechanical engineering degrees at Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo. He served at First Presbyterian Church of Boulder as the director of high school ministry and then as director of student and family ministries. Buckner completed his M.Div. degree at Fuller Theological Seminary in 2012, and then moved to St. Andrews, Scotland, to study systematic and historical theology. He received his Ph.D. from the University of St. Andrews in 2015.

The gift was announced at a blessing ceremony for the construction of the Beeksma Family Theology Center on April 12. The remodel of, and addition to, the Whitworth chapel will be a key component of this joint project to increase campus ministry resources at Whitworth.

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 more than
100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Stacey Smith, associate vice president, institutional advancement, Whitworth University,
(509) 777-4388 or

Trisha Coder, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or