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Whitworth Receives $10 Million Commitment from Philanthropists Dana and David Dornsife

December 15, 2020

Whitworth University has received a $10 million pledge, the largest single gift in its history, from international philanthropists and humanitarians Dana and David Dornsife to support Whitworth’s growing graduate health science programs. 

The Dornsifes have made other significant contributions to higher education, specifically in the areas of the health sciences, humanities and theology. 

Whitworth recently announced the establishment of doctoral programs in occupational therapy and physical therapy. Pending accreditation, students earning their degrees in these programs will begin their studies in 2022 in a new 40,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility that will be named in honor of the Dornsifes. The new facility is already under construction.

“This gift from Dana and Dave Dornsife is transformative for Whitworth,” President Beck A. Taylor says. “It enables us to proceed boldly and quickly to establish our doctoral programs in the health sciences, including the completion of our state-of-the-art health sciences building and the hiring of new faculty and staff in occupational and physical therapy. Also, the Dornsifes’ gift is the largest single gift in university history, and it puts us over the $150 million mark in our campaign. Today marks a new era for philanthropy at Whitworth. Dana and Dave have been longtime champions of Whitworth’s mission, and now the Dornsife name ranks among many other philanthropic giants in Whitworth’s history.”

The Dornsifes have been affiliated with Whitworth for almost half a century, with family ties dating back to the 1970s. During the 1990s, David Dornsife served on the San Francisco Theological Seminary Board with Whitworth President Emeritus Bill Robinson and worked with Robinson to nominate Jim Little, the family’s pastor, for the George F. Whitworth Medal. 

In 2013, Whitworth awarded the Dornsifes with honorary doctorates in humane letters for their philanthropic and professional achievements. Two years later, the university renamed the Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement to the Dana and David Dornsife Center for Community Engagement in appreciation of a $1.5 million gift it received from the couple that year.

“With the opening of the Dana and David Dornsife Health Sciences Building, Whitworth will begin an amazing new chapter in its history,” says Provost & Executive Vice President Gregor Thuswaldner. “Providing this exciting space for our new doctoral programs in occupational and physical therapy, as well as our existing master’s degree in athletic training program, will give Whitworth’s students the opportunity to branch out in much needed health fields. In these times when the demand for health professionals is high, we need well-rounded and highly competent people who have received an education of both mind and heart, and our new health sciences building and programs will make that possible. I’m so grateful to Dana and Dave Dornsife for their generosity and vision.”

This gift by the Dornsifes comes near the end of the 10-year Campaign for Whitworth, an integral part of the university’s strategic plan, Whitworth 2021: Courage at the Crossroads, which will conclude in June. The campaign has received gifts of all sizes, from $4 to $4 million, and has raised $151 million to date, the largest fundraising effort in the university’s history.   

About Whitworth University:

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, comprehensive liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of more than 3,000 students, offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


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