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Whitworth University getting $3 million to fund ‘dean of spiritual life’ position

UPDATED: Fri., April 13, 2018, 10:10 p.m.

Forrest Buckner, the dean of spiritual life at Whitworth University, speaks Thursday during a blessing ceremony for the school’s $2.8 million Beeksma Family Theology Center, which is under construction. School officials also announced Thursday that two alumni are giving $3 million to create an endowment that will fund Buckner’s position. (Courtesy of Whitworth University)
Forrest Buckner, the dean of spiritual life at Whitworth University, speaks Thursday during a blessing ceremony for the school’s $2.8 million Beeksma Family Theology Center, which is under construction. School officials also announced Thursday that two alumni are giving $3 million to create an endowment that will fund Buckner’s position. (Courtesy of Whitworth University)

Two alumni have pledged to give $3 million to Whitworth University to fund an administrative position overseeing the Presbyterian school’s campus ministry programs.

Forrest Buckner joined Whitworth as the “dean of spiritual life” in 2015, and beginning soon, his position will be funded through a $3 million endowment, school officials said. Buckner, originally from Colorado, holds degrees in civil and mechanical engineering, divinity and theology.

Whitworth spokeswoman Trisha Coder said the donors are a married couple who live out of state and want to remain anonymous.

“What sets Whitworth apart from so many fine institutions of higher learning is its faithful commitment to engage both mind and heart, and for students to benefit from its strong Christ-centered approach to education,” the university’s president, Beck Taylor, said in a news release. “This unique and fabulously generous gift will propel Whitworth’s campus ministry programs into the future, providing for even more opportunities for students to grow spiritually while also receiving an extraordinary education.”

The gift was announced Thursday during a blessing ceremony for Whitworth’s Beeksma Family Theology Center – a $2.8 million expansion and renovation of the university’s Seeley G. Mudd Chapel.

That project also was made possible by donations, including $1.5 million from alumni Barney and Joyce Beeksma. Other donors include the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust and Jim Cowles, a member of the family that owns The Spokesman-Review.

School officials said attendance in campus ministry programs is near an all-time high.


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