Seattle Pacific University: Parents and Families In the Loop

Spring 2009 | Volume 3, Issue 2

SPU's Noteworthy Degree

Jeff Jordan"Music is a powerful way to reach people," says Seattle Pacific University junior Betsy Pinney. And thanks to the emerging field of music therapy, it's becoming a highly employable way to help people.

Music therapy first came about after World War II as a way to aid recovering soldiers. Today, however, music therapists serve all ages and conditions, from autistic kids working on their motor skills to middle-aged adults recuperating from surgery to elderly people suffering from dementia.

In October 2008, Seattle Pacific launched a new major in music therapy, the first of its kind in Washington state. The degree will enable students such as Pinney to utilize their musical and analytical skills professionally -- and at a time when the number of openings nationally for music therapists exceeds the number of qualified candidates.

It's a bright spot during these dismal economic times. And it's another example of how Seattle Pacific is working to engage the culture through innovative and relevant programs.

Learn more about SPU's music therapy degree, and find out what makes it unique.

Tales From the Streets

Urban PlungeTwice a year, during Seattle Pacific University's Winter and Spring breaks, about 20 SPU students become homeless -- voluntarily.

It's all part of Urban Plunge, a five-day immersion experience that gives participants a taste of what it's like to be homeless.

During the event, students spend their days exploring the streets. They learn about resources available to Seattle's homeless population and experience some of the challenges the homeless face. Nights are spent sleeping in a downtown church.

Sponsored by SPU's Urban Involvement, this year's Spring Break Urban Plunge event occurred March 19-23. Find out more about the trip -- and read firsthand accounts from former SPU participants.

Meet Les Steele, VP for Academic Affairs

Les Steele, Vice President for Academic Affairs at SPUFor Les Steele, a key part of an SPU education is the small class sizes that ensure meaningful faculty-student encounters around learning. And he's determined to keep it that way.

"Whatever changes and challenges these economic times bring, we're not compromising on our core values," says Steele, vice president for academic affairs. "We're making sure that our students can get close academic attention from their professors."

Along with preserving the size of classes, Steele says that SPU remains committed to keeping students on track to graduate as soon as they can.

"Students are going to do better in life with a higher-education degree, so we continue to do what it takes to help them achieve it," he says. "Our faculty members across all academic programs are prepared to be advisors, to help students make decisions, to track their academic progress -- all to get students graduated."

Read more from Les Steele in this Q & A.

Financing Your Student's Education

Jordan Grant, director of SPU's Office of Student Financial Services, offers these tips and thoughts for financing your student's education.

  • File the FAFSA. Almost nine out of 10 SPU students receive some form of student aid. File the free application for federal student aid (FAFSA) and increase the odds of being one of the nine.
  • Apply for private scholarships. Most private organizations such as the Elks, Rotary, or your church have scholarship opportunities available in the early winter and spring. Check FinAid on the Web, The College Board, FASTWEB, and GoCollege.
  • SPU has available aid. SPU is committed to supporting students through institutional scholarships and grants, and fully participates in federal and state aid programs such as grants, work study, and low-interest loans. File the FAFSA and make sure your student meets academic and enrollment requirements, and we'll do our part. Contact SFS for more information.

For more tips, including loans available for parents, visit the Parents and Families website.

From the President

If you missed it, check out President Eaton's update on the 2009-10 budget. Or explore his site or new Reading Room for insights on a range of topics.

What Do You Want to See?
Tell us what you like and what you'd like to see more of in this newsletter -- or tell us what topics matter to you and other parents. Just email

Commencement 2009 Info
SPU's Commencement exercises will be held Sunday, June 14, in Safeco Field, just south of downtown Seattle. Visit the Commencement website for more information.

Autumn 2009 Advanced Payments
Payments for new Autumn Quarter students are due May 1. Learn more.

Are These Dates on Your Calendar?
What is the last day my student can register for classes? (Answer: April 3). When is Autumn Quarter Registration for current students? (Answer: May 11-14). Find out more important dates.

SpringBoard: Help Students Find Jobs
Help your student explore career choices, build skills, and discover the tools he or she needs to find a job using great tips and programs from the Center for Career and Calling.

SFS: Protect Your Identity
More than 700,000 people experience identity theft each year. In April, Student Financial Services will offer two informative sessions on how to avoid becoming a victim. Encourage your student to attend.

Got High School Students?
Check Out etc Magazine

Etc magazine serves as a bridge between the SPU community and high school and college students by telling the stories that make us uniquely SPU. It's fresh, fun, and award-winning. Check it out!

Keep Up With Falcon Athletics
Read about Erin O'Connell, SPU's new athletics director, and follow the Falcons as they pursue excellence through gymnastics, track and field, and more. Better yet, come join!

iTunes University
Heard any good lectures lately? Check out SPU's iTunes University to download and hear SPU faculty lectures, guest speakers, chapels, music, sporting events, and more.

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