About Whitworth University

Our Mission

Whitworth University is a private, residential, liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. Whitworth’s mission is to provide its diverse student body an education of mind and heart, equipping its graduates to honor God, follow Christ and serve humanity. This mission is carried out by a community of Christian scholars committed to excellent teaching and to the integration of faith and learning.

Our Core Values

Since 1890, Whitworth University has held fast to its founding mission to provide its students an education of mind and heart characterized by rigorous and open intellectual inquiry and the integration of Christian faith and learning. Anchored in the Reformed tradition and enriched throughout its history by strong evangelical and ecumenical currents, Whitworth’s mission is carried out by a diverse community of dedicated Christian scholars and staff members who are called to a variety of vocations to serve and support students. Whitworth believes that the best learning occurs in the context of relationships­– inside and outside the classroom­– in which professors and staff members alike invest in the lives of students. Whitworth is committed to modeling the highest standards of integrity and fairness and to being a trusted and valued member of the community. As a Christian liberal arts university, Whitworth provides an education that . . .

  • equips our diverse student body to honor God, follow Christ and serve humanity, working for reconciliation and healing in a broken world;
  • prepares undergraduate and graduate students with an interdisciplinary mind-and-heart education firmly rooted in the liberal arts and sciences;
  • develops students’ understanding of personal responsibility, justice, and love of neighbor in a global and inclusive university community; and
  • builds a community of Christian scholars characterized by shared commitments to Christ, academic excellence, freedom of inquiry, and respect for differences among members of that community.

Our Heritage

In 1853, George Whitworth, a minister in the Ohio Valley, set off for the Western Frontier to establish a college that would provide “learning of the highest grade.” Of the 50 families who joined this mission trek to the Northwest, only Whitworth’s made it to Oregon. It was 30 years before he was able to revive his dream of establishing a college.

In 1883, Whitworth founded Sumner Academy in the village of Sumner, in Washington Territory. Seven years later, the school was incorporated as Whitworth College. The catalog from that year further defined George Whitworth's vision: “It is intended to give both sexes a thorough course of education equal to that of our best eastern colleges, guarding well the moral and religious life of the students, ever directing them in pursuit of that learning and culture of mind and heart that make the finished scholar,” he wrote. “This institution is well fitted for this, being under the control and direction of the Presbyterian Church. While [the college] is denominational, it does not aim to be sectarian, opening its doors to all lovers of truth and learning.” By 1899, the college had outgrown the rural community of Sumner, and during that year the school moved to Tacoma. Fifteen years later, when Spokane developer Jay P. Graves offered land in his Country Homes Estates, Whitworth moved once more. In September 1914, classes began in Spokane, at the current site of Whitworth University.

Years of uncertainty followed, until President Ward Sullivan brought needed stability in the 1930s. He was succeeded in 1940 by Frank F. Warren, who, during his 23-year presidency, brought Whitworth near to its present-day size and scope. Whitworth’s Diamond Jubilee, celebrated in 1965 during the administration of Mark L. Koehler, gave rise to innovative programs — the 4-1-4 calendar, Jan Term and the Core curriculum.

Edward B. Lindaman, president during the 1970s, was a futurist. His leadership team focused on new programs that gained national recognition. Lindaman’s successors, Robert H. Mounce and Arthur De Jong, added clarity of mission and an increase in international programs. William P. Robinson, who led Whitworth from 1993-2010, brought the university to unprecedented strength and prominence, with record levels of enrollment and retention, expanded facilities, financial resources, and national visibility. President Beck A. Taylor, inaugurated in October 2010, launched a bold new strategic plan, Whitworth 2021: Courage at the Crossroads, which calls for enhancing the depth and quality of Whitworth students’ academic experience through expanded learning opportunities, new facilities and resources, and a broader base of constituents and supporters.

Throughout its history, Whitworth has held fast to its founding mission: to provide an education of mind and heart through rigorous and open intellectual inquiry guided by dedicated Christian scholars.


Whitworth University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, the institutional accrediting body in the Northwest.

Whitworth University has formal authority from the state of Washington to offer undergraduate and graduate education programs through the master’s degree under Washington Student Achievement Council approval Section 3675, Chapter 36, Title 38, U.S. Code (Eligibility Requirement 2).

The Whitworth Music Department is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music. Programs in the School of Education are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. The College of Nursing of Washington State University, Eastern Washington University, and Whitworth University is approved by the Washington State Board of Nursing and the Commission for Collegiate Nursing Education. The Whitworth Athletic Training Education Program is nationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education.

Whitworth is also a member of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the Council of Independent Colleges, the Association of American Colleges, the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities, and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.

The 4-1-4 Calendar

In 1969, Whitworth became one of the first educational institutions in the country to adopt the 4-1-4 academic calendar. This calendar is favored by many liberal arts colleges and universities due to its flexibility and potential for innovative short-run and off-campus courses.

Whitworth’s fall semester begins in early September and ends with Christmas Break. During Jan Term, students take one intensive course. Many students participate in internships, independent studies, or study-abroad programs during this month. Whitworth has also developed a number of tuition-reciprocity agreements with other colleges and universities on the 4-1-4 calendar; these agreements allow students to experience another college or university during January without upsetting tuition or financial aid arrangements. The spring semester begins in early February and ends in mid-May. A 12-week period of summer instruction is also offered in varied formats, from weekend workshops to six-week traditional lecture courses.

Academic Calendar


Fall Semester
SaturdaySept. 5Residence Halls Open at 9 a.m. for New Students
MondaySept. 7Residence Halls Open at 10 a.m. for Returning Students
TuesdaySept. 8Advising and Registration
WednesdaySept. 9Day and Evening Classes Begin
Friday-MondayOct. 30-Nov. 2Fall Break
Wednesday-FridayNov. 25-27Thanksgiving Vacation
MondayNov. 30Classes Resume
Tuesday-FridayDec. 15-18Final Examinations
Jan Term
SundayJan. 4Residence Halls Open at at 1 p.m. for Returning Students
SundayJan. 4Residence Halls Open at at 3 p.m. for New Students
TuesdayJan. 5Classes Begin
MondayJan. 18Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday
WednesdayJan. 27Last Class Day
Spring Semester
MondayFeb.1Residence Halls Open at 10 a.m. for New Students
WednesdayFeb. 3Advising and Registration
WednesdayFeb. 3Evening Classes Begin
ThursdayFeb. 4Day Classes Begin
Monday-FridayMar. 21-25Spring Break
Tuesday-FridayMay 17-20Final Examinations
SaturdayMay 21Graduate Commencement
SundayMay 22Undergraduate Baccalaureate and Commencement
Summer school dates to be announced.

Note: Whitworth’s adult degree and graduate studies in business programs operate on a different academic calendar than does the rest of the university. For the most up-to-date adult degree-calendar information, see www.whitworth.edu/evening/classschedule.aspx.