Margaret Diddams, Ph.D., is the director of the Center for Scholarship and Faculty Development. In her role, she works to strengthen faculty teaching and mentorship, creates opportunities for students to undertake research, and provides resources for faculty to enhance their own programs of scholarship. In the Loop caught up with Kato to learn why he gives so much to Seattle Pacific University.
In the Loop: When you talk about student scholarship at Seattle Pacific University, what do you mean?
Margaret Diddams: By scholarship we mean opportunities for students to create original work and demonstrate their skills. But that’s not just collecting scientific data. Scholarship is happening all over; for example, in the humanities, fine arts, theology, business, engineering, and psychology. It’s all across campus.
IL: : So, what is SPU’s view of student scholarship?
M.D.: Student scholarship at SPU rises out of two things: We want to know that our students are learning — which means outcome-oriented work. In an age where institutions are trying to cut costs and push learning online, we value individual involvement with students. We also want to give them the chance to shine, to reflect back on what they have learned, and to give them the chance to grow and change through some amazing scholarship.
IL: Is this unusual among other universities?
M.D.: It’s unusual for a school our size to have so many faculty members mentoring undergraduate students through the students’ scholarship. We use small groups and hands-on relationships built through doing research together. We have multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate what they have learned. SPU’s mission of “engaging the culture and changing the world” calls for active engagement. We want our students to go and see. To get out there. The University believes so strongly in this we’re funding students to present their scholarship at professional conferences where most of the attendees will be professors or other professionals.
IL: How does the University support student scholarship?
M.D.: This year, SPU has granted more than $6,000 to help undergraduate students present research at and attend academic conferences and professional guilds. We give up to $400 per student.
IL: What are some examples of the scholarship we’ve funded?
M.D.: This year we’ve helped seven students in music therapy attend the Western Regional Chapter of the American Music Therapy Association. We had five students present their own research projects at the American Chemical Society. Brent Miles [an SPU history major] was published in a reputable peer-reviewed journal, and he presented research at a conference on faith and history, and at an undergraduate conference in English literature. Other students have attended conferences for mathematics, psychology, philosophy, and dietetics.
IL: Is there anything else you’d like parents to know?
M.D.: Faculty members take the integration of faith and academics seriously, and help students think through vocational choices. Our mentoring through research and scholarship is also about vocational development. Our faculty serve our students. We want students to learn about themselves by serving others.