The Trustees made the recommendation for Whitworth to close the Costa Rica campus and sell the property. We think that while it is unfortunate that the university will lose an asset, it is a good decision. The Costa Rica Center opened in fall of 2010, but did not meet expectations in regards to student and faculty involvement.
While the goal of the Costa Rica Center involved “advancing a long-term university goal to increase cross-cultural learning opportunities for students while also adding affordable capacity for anticipated enrollment growth,” according to a Whitworth press release, the impact was limited to the few students who took advantage of the additional campus, although the students who have attended certainly contributed to that goal.
None of the decision makers involved ever expressed a doubt about the quality of the programming, which is what made the issue so difficult. If the quality and future of the university as a whole is sacrificed for a program with a relatively low percentage of student and faculty involvement, such a program is an overall disadvantage to the university.
Whitworth would be better served to increase development of its real estate in Spokane in order to account for the goal of an increased student population. Perhaps the funds generated from the selling of the Costa Rica property will allow the university to move forward with that goal here in Spokane.
Additionally, with the budget no longer in crisis, the university will be able to focus on increasing the quality of other programs. This will hopefully include other off-campus studies programs the university offers.