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Whitworth University tabs Scott McQuilkin as interim president, but the search for a permanent one continues

UPDATED: Fri., March 19, 2021

Scott McQuilkin has been selected as Whitworth University's interim president once current President Beck Taylor leaves for a new job at the end of May.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Scott McQuilkin has been selected as Whitworth University's interim president once current President Beck Taylor leaves for a new job at the end of May. (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Scott McQuilkin, Whitworth University’s vice president for institutional advancement, has been selected to serve as the university’s interim president.

McQuilkin will replace Beck Taylor, who is stepping down after 11 years in the position to take over as president of Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. Taylor’s last day is May 31.

The executive committee of Whitworth’s Board of Trustees moved Thursday to select McQuilkin effective June 1. The full board will ratify McQuilkin’s selection at its April meeting, according to Whitworth.

“Dr. McQuilkin provides a deep wealth of experience in administration, education and leadership and brings vast knowledge of the inner workings and goals of the university,” Board of Trustees Chairman Brian Kirkpatrick said in a statement. “He personifies the university’s mind-and-heart mission and brings to each of his roles a focus on faith, integrity and excellence in serving our campus and the greater community.”

McQuilkin, as vice president for institutional advancement, administrates a 40-person operation tasked with fundraising, marketing and communications, university events, donor relations and more. He’s served in the role since 2009.

A 1984 Whitworth grad, McQuilkin joined the Whitworth staff in 1985, serving in various faculty, coaching and administrative roles – including a 14-year stint as athletic director, according to the university.

“Outside of three years in Pennsylvania while I was doing my doctorate, Whitworth has been my professional home,” McQuilkin said. “At different points in my Whitworth career, I have been asked to step into different roles. … This is a place I care deeply about. The mission, our students, our faculty and staff – I’m happy to serve in any way to help fulfill that mission.”

The Board of Trustees plans to meet in April to outline a timeline for a nationwide search process for a new permanent president, university officials said.

McQuilkin, however, does not intend to submit his name as a candidate.

“It’s important for the university to structure a search process by which it can recruit the strongest and deepest pool of applicants,” he said, “and I am confident the presence of an interim president would suppress that interest in that applicant pool. I have no doubt that the Whitworth presidency will attract some terrific people – we always do – but the candidacy of an interim candidate complicates that overarching priority.”

McQuilkin is the university’s first interim president since around 1992.

Taylor took the president’s job in 2010, coming into the position after a five-year period as dean of Samford University’s Brock School of Business. He immediately succeeded Bill Robinson, who served 17 years before stepping down.

While the situation is unusual for Whitworth, McQuilkin said he is not concerned.

“It will be a privilege to serve the university in this interim role until Whitworth’s next president is selected,” he said in a statement. “I cannot imagine a better collection of faculty and staff colleagues to work alongside in service of our students. I am especially grateful for Beck Taylor’s leadership over these past 11 years. His tenure has been nothing short of exceptional. Beck has led us with intelligence, grace, courage and compassion.”

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