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Scott McQuilkin installed as Whitworth University president

YouTube screenshot
Scott McQuilkin [right] takes the oath of office from Whitworth from Brian Kirkpatrick, the president of the university's Board of Trustees, with his wife, Janice, at his side.

He becomes only the second Whitworth alum to lead his alma mater.

Scott McQuilkin is now Whitworth University’s 19th president.

The Whitworth alum was installed during a Friday afternoon ceremony on the north Spokane university’s campus. He was named interim president after Beck Taylor left for the presidency of Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama during the summer of 2021. Taylor returned to introduce McQuilkin at the investiture ceremony and heaped praise on his successor.

“How does one introduce a person to a community that knows him so well?” Taylor said. “President McQuilkin has been an important part of the Whitworth family since he was 18 year old. Whitworth, you know this man and he knows you.”

McQuilkin has a long history with the university, going back to his time as a student there in the 1980s. He earned two degrees at Whitworth and played for and later coached its baseball team. He has also served as athletic director, chaired the university’s kinesiology department and oversaw Whitworth’s university advancement department.

“And all the while, no matter the role, Scott McQuilkin’s outsized influence on this community is undeniable,” Taylor said. “The respect and the devotion he has earned from this community over the last 40 years is well deserved.”

McQuilkin is only the Pirates’ third president in 29 years, including Taylor and Taylor’s predecessor, Bill Robinson, who also spoke at Friday’s ceremony.

“Late one afternoon in the fall of 1998, I called Scott to see if he wanted to go for a quick run after work. ‘Oh, I’d love to,’ he said, ‘but I didn’t bring my running shoes.’ Just come over, I answered, between Ben and me, we can find something that fits. So he did. And after trying on a few pairs, ‘Cinderella,’ he said as he slipped on the shoe of our ninth-grade daughter, Bailey,” Robinson said to laughter from the audience.

“Shoe filling is not a great metaphor for Scott, but it is a good metaphor for all of us,” he said. “We need to let Scott wear his own shoes.”

Robinson praised McQuilkin’s leadership abilities and his humility and confidence.

“He will not be afraid to act,” he said. “I know no leader who better unites humility and confidence and he can do that because they are both real in his life.”

After taking the oath of office, McQuilkin said he would continue to lead Whitworth as a place that values intellectual curiosity, at a time when outside pressures discourage the teaching of certain tenets.

“This has been a place where we convene in disagreement, rather than repel against it. With our firm convictions, ideas are offered and heard. They are challenged and respected. For our students, we trust that they will find clarity through curiosity or answers to big questions that aren’t reduced to a tweet or a post,” he said. “They are encouraged to be independent and inquisitive, thoroughly honest about how their world view impacts the choices they make every day.”

McQuilkin is only the second Whitworth alum to come back to lead his alma mater. The other was Mark Koehler, who served for five years in the 1960s.

McQuilkin’s wife Janice is also a Whitworth alum, as are their three children.

One of the Northwest's most seasoned reporters is returning to his SPR roots. Doug Nadvornick will be heard frequently on KPBX and KSFC reporting on local news.