After 115 years as Whitworth College, the private school on Spokanes North Side has decided to change its name to Whitworth University.
On Oct. 14, the small Presbyterian schools board of trustees voted 18-14 to change Whitworths name and resolved to implement the change no later than 2009.
Whitworth spokesman Greg Orwig says the school hasnt worked out the logistical details of executing the name change, but says, We look forward to explaining at the right time what we hope this name change does mean for Whitworth and serving our students.
Whitworths administration also wants to make clear that the name change wont alter the schools mission or identity dramatically, Orwig says.
Whitworth President Bill Robinson declines to comment on the name change at this time. In an e-mail to Whitworth students, staff members, and others, however, Robinson explained why the school is making the change and some of the arguments for and against the change. He had recommended to the board that it approve the name change.
In the e-mail, Robinson said that while the vote was close, a majority of board members believed that Whitworth inevitably would change its name, and the school should make the change at a current, strong period in its history.
Robinson said one argument advocates made in favor of the name change was that other schools in the Northwest that are similar to Whitworth commonly call themselves universities. Of the top 15 masters-level schools in the West, as ranked by U.S. News and World Report this year, only Whitworth and one otherSt. Marys College of Californiareferred to themselves as colleges.
Also, Robinson said, a portion of Whitworths student population is composed of international students, and the school hopes to attract more students from abroad.
In other countries, however, a school like Whitworth rarely would be referred to as a college, he said.
Trustees who opposed the name change noted that the school didnt need to become a university to attract good students.
Whitworth received more than 2,000 applications this year from prospective incoming freshman, only 450 of whom were accepted.
Also, Robinson said, those who opposed the name change argued that Whitworths liberal arts education emphasis is more consistent with that of a college than a university, as is the warm and supportive campus culture.
While the change is due to take place within five years, Robinson said the school doesnt feel any urgency to make the change and will try to minimize expenses when it finally does so.
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