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Sowing the Seeds of Scholarship at Whitworth University in Spokane

On a warm autumn day, students crisscross the grounds of Whitworth University. They move between classrooms and buildings along pathways that meander beneath countless towering pine trees. While some of these trees pre-date the institution that has helped mold young minds for more than a century, their growth mirrors the school’s own growth over the decades.

Founded in 1890 in Sumner, Washington, the school that would become Whitworth College, and ultimately Whitworth University, moved to Tacoma and then to Spokane in 1914. While offering a wide breadth of study—more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs—the university places an emphasis on personalized education and close contact between students and educators, offering an 121:1 student-to-faculty ratio.

Faced with an increased demand for enrollment, Whitworth University has invested heavily in expansion over the last several years. The Murdock Trust has been proud to support Whitworth’s mission through grants totaling more than $6.7 million, dating back to 1980, and supporting a variety of projects, including the renovation and expansion of the university’s library, music center and science building.

Murdock Trust staff recently toured some of these spaces during a visit to Spokane. In addition to seeing firsthand how these projects have improved the campus and educational experience for students and faculty, staff also learned how these endeavors can have a direct impact on the local community. For example, following the expansion of the science building on Whitworth’s campus in 2011, the school saw a 15 percent increase in biology and chemistry degrees. This growth in science education will help spur research and advancement in the Northwest and across the country.

Supporting educational endeavors is one of the core pillars of the Murdock Trust. We are grateful to support the work of the fine educators and staff at Whitworth University and thank them for their hospitality during our visit.