Signs of Momentum

A new Chapter is Open at SPU

By Philip Eaton, President

This begins now my fourth full academic year as president of Seattle Pacific University. I could not be more enthusiastic and optimistic. Our planning is now complete we call it the Comprehensive Plan for the 21st Century. We have a vision and we have a plan! We also have an extraordinary team of people in place senior staff, deans, faculty, supportive staff all contributing their individual gifts to reach for this vision.

To use the language of Ellen Charry, an exciting young theologian, God wants his world to flourish. We are called to contribute to that flourishing. That is why we are committed to engaging the culture.

But this is no longer just a vision. The new chapter is open and the story begins to unfold. It is now happening.

Along with all that you read in this issue of Response, let me mention some of the things that are in full swing:

  • We have fully launched our Common Curriculum, an exciting venture of creating core courses and establishing an SPU Canon of works of literature, art, music and theatre. Our faculty have come together growing, stretch- ing and envisioning to create this truly distinctive program, now in its second year.
  • We are in the midst of careful planning for a number of outstanding new buildings: an innovative science complex, a new residence hall, a new chapel/concert hall, and a fine arts center. Teams are coming together from all over campus to create a vision for these new facilities.
  • We will dedicate a new Gwinn Dining Commons this fall, a facility I am told may just be the best in the country, including a third floor for much-needed campus meeting space.
  • Our campaign team is in place, preparing to launch the largest fund-raising effort in the history of SPU. At the same time we will take our annual fund raising to new levels, building on record giving to the University Fund last year.
  • After years of planning, we now have a new dean of the chapel. Dr. Tim Dearborn, a man of vision, energy and a deep heart for Jesus Christ, will lead important new initiatives in Christian formation on our campus.
  • We have now consolidated all of Student Life under the Office of the Provost and have hired a new associate provost/dean of students, Dr. Kathleen Braden. Dr. Braden comes to this new position after a distinguished career as a professor and faculty leader at Seattle Pacific.
  • Our endowment continues to show incredible growth. The Seattle Pacific Foundation now stands at $63 million and finished year-end 1998 with a $16 million increase.
  • I have been convinced that one strategy for a healthy economic future lies with new sources of revenue from new markets. This year we will launch a unique, high-quality Degree Completion Program under the direction of Dr. Rob McKenna. In addition, we will open our first online program this year, a master's degree in curriculum and instruction out of our School of Education.
  • Several years ago we made a strong commitment to cost-effectiveness so that we could ensure for our students and their families reasonable and predictable prices. We have kept our promise. SPU has been picked among the Top 10 Best College Values in the western region by US News and World Report for several years now.
  • Our student persistence rate has climbed by 10 percent over the last decade; SPU was ranked last year by US News as sixth out of 112 universities in the western region in terms of student selectivity; and 12 percent more students have chosen to live in the residence halls over the last two years. Our students understand the value of an SPU education.
All of this is happening, not to claim some greatness for Seattle Pacific, but so that God's world will flourish. That is our vision. We must reach toward excellence in all kinds of ways precisely because we aim to make a difference in the world. We watch now as the vision unfolds, expectant and hopeful, believing that if we are faithful to God's call for this place in this time, we will make a real difference.

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