Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

August 18, 2006

U.S. News Ranks Whitworth in Top Five for Regional Universities, Values in West

2007 RankingsWhitworth College is again in the top five in U.S. News & World Report's annual rankings of best colleges and best values. The magazine's 2007 America's Best Colleges guide ranks Whitworth in a two-way tie for fifth among 123 master's-level universities in the 15-state Western region of the U.S. Whitworth ranked fifth in the 2005 best-colleges listing and sixth last year. In the latest rankings of best college values, which consider both academic quality and cost, Whitworth ranks third. The college was ranked second in the 2005 best-values listing and sixth last year.

Whitworth President Bill Robinson says he welcomes the magazine's ongoing recognition of Whitworth's academic excellence and value, but he cautions students and parents against placing too much emphasis on the rankings when selecting a college.

"Of course we're pleased to be ranked so highly in U.S. News, though I continue to feel that mission, faculty, campus climate and other factors should be more significant than rankings in a student's college-choice decision," Robinson says. "We hold an uncompromising commitment to excellence in serving our students; it's a nice bonus when that commitment places us high in U.S. News' rankings as well."

The rankings, which were posted to U.S. News & World Report'swebsite today (Aug. 18) and will be available in newsstands on Aug. 28, are based on various indicators of an institution's quality, including academic reputation, student selectivity, freshman retention, graduation rate, faculty and financial resources and alumni giving.

Whitworth has seen a 141 percent increase in freshman applications since fall 2000, with a record total of 2,689 applications for this fall's incoming class of about 480 students. The college's 90 percent freshman-sophomore retention rate and 74 percent six-year graduation rate are also at or near record highs and are well above national averages. For the second time in three years, U.S. News includes Whitworth in a list of schools with the highest graduation rates in a section of the guide labeled "Key Criteria in Judging Schools."

Dean of Enrollment Services Fred Pfursich credits Whitworth's strong academic reputation and distinctive educational mission for the rising number of applications and the college's ability to be more selective in admitting students who are academically strong and who are a good fit for Whitworth. The academic strength of the student body, he adds, has in turn contributed to the college's strong retention and graduation rates.

"The excellent teaching, advising and scholarship of our faculty, our beautiful campus, the strength of our athletics programs, and the accomplishments of our alumni have all contributed to Whitworth's great reputation and our ability to attract outstanding students," Pfursich says. "And our high retention and graduation rates show that our students are clearly resonating with Whitworth's dual commitments to rigorous and open intellectual inquiry and the integration of faith and learning."

The best-values rankings are based on a formula that relates a school's academic quality to the net cost of attendance for a student receiving the average level of financial aid. Pfursich attributes Whitworth's No.3 ranking to the college's academic reputation and its commitment to providing students with need-based financial aid as well as academic scholarships and grants. At Whitworth, more than 70 percent of students receive need-based aid, and the average scholarship/grant award for 2006 freshmen is $12,450.

"Even as we've invested in the faculty, technology and facilities that are reflected in our academic quality, we've remained committed to keeping a Whitworth education within financial reach of students from diverse backgrounds," Pfursich says. "More than 90 percent of our students receive some form of financial aid, including the two-thirds-plus who receive aid based on financial need."

U.S. News & World Report has published college rankings since 1983. The magazine categorizes schools by mission, and, in some cases, by region, and then ranks them using a weighted composite score of up to 16 indicators of academic quality. The institutional categories used by U.S. News are based on the Carnegie Foundation's classification of higher-education institutions. The master's-level university category in which Whitworth is listed includes schools that offer a full range of bachelor's and master's degrees but few, if any, doctoral programs.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college, which has an enrollment of 2,500 students, offers 53 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. 

Contacts:

Bill Robinson, president, (509) 777-4665 or wrobinson@whitworth.edu.

Fred Pfursich, dean of enrollment services, (509) 777-4348 or fpfursich@whitworth.edu.

Greg Orwig, director of communications, (509) 777-4580 or gorwig@whitworth.edu.

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