WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- With its graduation rate at an all-time high, Whitman College will welcome about 1,400 new and returning students to campus at annual convocation ceremonies set for 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, in Cordiner Hall.

Following welcoming remarks by Whitman President Thomas E. Cronin, associate professor of economics Jan Crouter will present Saturday's convocation address. The title of her presentation is "The New Economy and the Liberal Arts."

The convocation program, which includes an academic procession, musical offerings and remarks by college officers, is free and open to the public.

Residence halls open for new students at 9 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 24, and for returning students at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 25. Opening activities continue through the following week, and classes begin at Whitman on Wednesday, Aug. 29.

The incoming first-year class at Whitman includes about 365 students (plus 23 transfer students), representing 36 states and 15 countries. The class, which includes 43 valedictorians, has a mean GPA of 3.729 (median GPA 3.809) and mean SAT scores of 1306 (median SATs of 1310).

As they resume their academic pursuits, students at Whitman can take encouragement from the school's most recent graduation rate. For students who entered in the fall of 1996, the five-year graduation rate is 85.2 percent, the highest figure in school history. Whitman continues to have the highest graduation rate of any college or university in the Pacific Northwest.

Whitman's graduation rate compares favorably with national statistics recently released by ACT, Inc. (formerly the American College Testing Service). According to those statistics, the graduation rate at four-year public institutions fell to 41.9 percent in 2000, while the average rate at all private schools dropped to 55.1 percent.

Fall semester classes begin at Whitman as construction of the new $13 million Reid Campus Center enters its final stages. The 50,000-square-foot building is scheduled to open in mid-November.

Meanwhile, construction has started on a new $13-million, 35,000-square-foot science building. Scheduled for completion in August of 2002, the new science building is being built next to and will connect to Whitman's existing science complex, two buildings erected in 1964 and 1981.

When work on the new science building is completed, the college will begin a $7 million renovation and upgrade of the existing science facilities. The resulting complex will "ensure Whitman's ability to offer first-rate science courses and to meet the growing demand for science majors," said Whitman President Tom Cronin.


Dave Holden, Whitman News Service, (509) 527-5902
Email: holden@whitman.edu

Lenel Parish, Whitman News Service, (509) 527-51562
Email: parishlj@whitman.edu