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Summer 2003 | Volume 26, Number 3

SPU’s Finest

2003 Awards Showcase Five Exceptional Exceptional Faculty and Faculty

It’s an occasion
marked by community pride — and more than a little suspense. When the Seattle Pacific University faculty and staff gather for the annual President’s Recognition Chapel in Brougham Pavilion, the identities of the top honorees are always a closely kept secret.

President Philip Eaton began this year’s ceremony on May 6 by conferring years-of-service awards on 67 individuals whose tenure at SPU ranges from five to 35 years. Eaton then revealed the names of the recipients of the 2003 President’s Awards for Excellence. Given each year to one faculty member and one staff member selected by the president, the $1,000 prizes honor significant achievements on behalf of Seattle Pacific. Says Eaton, “These awards recognize people for their gifts — and for contributing those gifts to the University’s vision.”

The 2003 Staff Member of the Year Awards were presented by Staff Council President Gerard Duguay, who noted that among all the nominations the Council had received, “two staff members clearly stood out.” Jason Van Winkle, president of the Associated Students of Seattle Pacific, concluded the ceremony by announcing the students’ selection for the 2003 Professor of the Year Award. All three awards also included a $1,000 cash prize.

So who are this year’s top award winners? You’ll meet them in the following pages and discover why they’re considered some of “SPU’s finest.”

Luke Reinsma
Professor of English
President's Award for Excellence: Faculty

Now and then, a professor comes along who is a perpetual favorite of all those fortunate enough to take one of his or her classes. Students of such a professor often learn as much about themselves as about the actual subject of the course. Professor of English Luke Reinsma would never say so himself — after all, he comes from a Dutch Calvinist family, not prone to the sin of pride — but Seattle Pacific University students since 1985 have given him high marks for teaching them life lessons.

“There is no better model of excellence on the SPU campus,” said President Philip Eaton when announcing the faculty winner of the President’s Award for Excellence. “He is a gifted teacher and scholar, recognized by students and faculty colleagues alike.”

Born in the Netherlands just after World War II, Reinsma moved with his parents to America, eventually deciding to become a doctor. “After flunking premed,” he cheerfully admits, “I turned to English by sheer accident, because I loved books. I wanted to find a vocation that took care of my soul.”

By reading Greek myths aloud in class, Reinsma urges students to find relationships between ancient literature and their own lives. He asks difficult questions about art’s role in a Christian’s life. He brings up unsettling issues ranging from endangered spotted owls to Civil War deserters.

“I like setting up problems that get solved,” he explains. He says he likes his courses to “ride the crest of anxiety, only to arrive at the beachhead in the final weeks. I like serving as a guide rather than a leader, leading from behind, joining students in conversation.”

Conversation is in fact one of Reinsma’s passions — and hiking is another. Outside the classroom, he carries on conversations with his students on European seminars, in Seattle coffee shops or on weekly hikes up Mount Si, a nearby peak.

In class, Reinsma eschews quizzes and attendance rolls. “It seems to me that genuine conversation is a matter of trust,” he says. “I’ve never been able to engage in conversation with students who are chained to their desks.”

Talking with students about life issues, Reinsma might say, isn’t worthy of an award. “But every once in a while,” he allows, “you say something that might matter.”

Craig Kispert
Assistant Vice President for Finance and Budget
President's Award for Excellence: Staff

In his 10 years at Seattle Pacifi c University, Craig Kispert ’88 has been described as a gifted staff member, a smart and capable co-worker, and a man of integrity, with experience in both accounting and accountability.

Kispert was working at the Seattle branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco when he saw an opening at his alma mater. “I was tinkering with accounting classes,” he says, “when the position for assistant controller came up at Seattle Pacific.” He applied and has been working at SPU ever since, in roles of increasing responsibility.

Working with Vice President of Business and Planning Don Mortenson, Kispert helps manage the University’s finances at the top levels. He makes sure the budget is balanced, financial statements are in order and new projects such as the Science Building get the funds they need. “I see my role as providing perspective and balance to things that can be contentious,” says Kispert. “When different people from all over campus come to a decision that’s best for the University — with understanding on all sides — that’s the best part of my job.”

President Philip Eaton presented the President’s Award for Excellence to Kispert “with great thanks for his contributions to our University’s financial strength at the highest levels of our business, his embrace of the vision and bigger picture, and his teamwork with so many across the campus on many projects.”

Daily at noon, Kispert likes to run along the canal path with other staff members. “It keeps me accountable,” he says. He plays golf and loves his family life. Six-year-old Calvin is older brother to twins Casey and Corey. Asked if he watches the TV series “Everybody Loves Raymond,” which has the same family structure, Kispert laughs. “I live a lot of ‘Everybody Loves Raymond.’”

Besides managing a child-filled home life with his wife, Deri Paulson Kispert ’90, Craig teaches kindergarten Sunday school. “I enjoy kids that age,” he says. They point out things that make you look at life in a different way.”

Kispert views his job at SPU as a mission match: “I resonate with Seattle Pacific’s vision of engaging the culture, not being set apart,” he says. “I’m doing what I like to do, and I’m working at a place that’s consistent with my personal beliefs.”

Lindsey Peterson
Payroll Lead
Oral V. Hemry Staff Member of the Year

She carpools every day to work in the Finance Office at Seattle Pacific University. Far more valuable than the free parking space she receives, says Lindsey Peterson ’97, are the “priceless” friendships she’s made. “They’ve become dear friends who encourage each other in matters of faith, moving forward and education.

”That has been a significant boost to Peterson, who is studying for her M.B.A. at SPU at the same time that she oversees issuing payroll checks for 712 full-time, part-time, adjunct and temporary faculty and staff members. In the process, she says, “You learn about all sorts of things that people like to do. You hear stories from Casey Conference Center to the Washington School Research Center — and all departments in between."

The flute performance graduate was “amazed” to learn of her recognition this year by the Staff Council. She had cut the award checks for the other winners, but a bogus name had been submitted for the Oral V. Hemry Staff Member of the Year Award. At the Recognition Chapel, when she heard Staff Council President Gerard Duguay say the person about to be announced “played flute and volleyball like me, at first I was so surprised. Then I realized I’d been duped, and I was the one he was talking about!”

The staff members who nominated Peterson are impressed with her Christian commitment and exactitude in a job that is detailed and complex. Hers is a calm, positive and spirited attitude that goes over especially well with student workers. Many appreciate her flute skills displayed at various campus venues and in concert with Flutissimo! and the Thalia Symphony Orchestra. “I’ve been playing since fifth grade,” she says.

The combination of math and music in her life brings her great satisfaction, Peterson explains: “I enjoy math because there’s a ‘right answer’; I enjoy music because of the opportunity for creative license. With math, you hope that the same numbers yield the same sum every time, but with music the amazing thing is that the same notes never result in an identical performance.”

Jean Brown
Nurse Manager
Staff Member of the Year

The health needs of the Seattle Pacific University community have been Jean Brown’s concern for more than 20 years. Sniffles, fevers, measles outbreaks, gastro-intestinal flare-ups and white powder scares keep her on her toes, as do the frequent Center for Disease Control and Health Department advisories on everything from SARS to monkeypox. She’s had to learn to screen for anthrax (none found), reassure anxious students convinced they had E. coli from drinking unpasteurized fruit juice (they didn’t) and invest many hours keeping SPU in compliance with stringent federal health regulations (mission accomplished).

“Jean is not only a fine nurse,” a co-worker says, “but someone who has made an impression on hundreds of students over the years. They often write and say they wouldn’t have been able to get through school without her kind words, compassion and excellent care.” Parents have come at graduation time to express their thanks for the difference she made in their students’ lives.

The SPU staff has noticed that difference. In announcing the 2003 Staff Members of the Year, Staff Council President Gerard Duguay quoted from nominators who agreed that “Jean is a joy to work with and keeps us all sane as mentor, guide and leader.”

Brown’s nursing degree from Seattle Pacific in 1974 is part of a proud family tradition. While her oldest child graduated in 1998, her son-in-law received his M.B.A. this spring and her youngest child will be a sophomore next year, she notes that her parents, grandmother, numerous aunts and uncles, and 13 cousins have pursued their educations at SPU as well.

Eight years after completing her degree, the mother of three small children started working in the University’s campus health clinic in the evenings and on call. Today, she manages two nurse practitioners and several student workers in a facility that has 6,000 patient visits during the nine-month academic year.

For several years, Brown has facilitated a popular weekly lunch Bible study at the clinic. “It’s a time for prayer and spiritual support,” she says, “a time to learn how to break free from those things that keep us from being our most productive.”

Ed Smyth
Professor of Educational Ministries
Professor of the Year

Almost 30 years ago, Ed Smyth began teaching Christian education at Seattle Pacific University. He also led Bible studies and prayer meetings on campus, and mentored male students in discipleship and accountability. “We discussed what it meant for them to be intentional about their faith,” he says.

Seventeen years later, Smyth decided to focus on ministry outside the college setting. He and his wife founded The Master’s Men, a nonprofit organization designed to strengthen men in evangelism and discipleship. Smyth says, “The key was to develop men who would follow the Master, asking what it really means to seek after the heart of God.” Teaching was still in Smyth’s blood, however, and the nonprofit organization gave him the context to teach at weekend conferences and local churches.

In the late 1990s, Smyth’s work in discipleship went global. He became director of partner relations at East Gates International, distributing Bibles and ministering to house churches throughout mainland China.

“I was thoroughly enjoying ministry,” he remembers, “but I missed the classroom dynamic. My wife told me, ‘You feel most at home in the classroom.’ And she’s right; I love teaching.” When Les Steele, then dean of the School of Theology at Seattle Pacific, asked Smyth to return in 2000 as a visiting professor of educational ministries, he agreed — and then decided to stay. Now he teaches University Foundations courses in the Common Curriculum, as well as upper-division classes in educational ministries.

Just three years after his return to SPU, students selected Smyth as the 2003 Professor of the Year. When presenting the award, ASSP President Jason Van Winkle noted Smyth’s gift for encouraging students. “Dr. Smyth really shows that he cares for students, and not just in the classroom,” says Van Winkle. “One student had a hard time paying for school, and Dr. Smyth said, ‘If there’s anything I can do, anyone I can call, just let me know.’ The student appreciated how thoughtful he was.”

“My passion is still mentoring one on one,” says Smyth. “I like to listen, share my thoughts and press guys for excellence. That becomes the heart of what I do.”


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