Stories by Clint Kelly and Hope McPherson

Photos by
Jerry Gay and
Jimi Lott

Gordon Fee


Editor's Note: This poem, written by the late SPU Professor Emeritus Evan Gibson, is a celebration of the ritual of graduation and the career of Associate Professor of English Fan Mayhall Gates, who retired from SPU this spring. Many of you will recognize in the final stanza a reference to Professor Emeritus William Rearick.

The Last Dance With Fan
Identical caps and gowns ascend the stairs,

Identical slips confront an identical dean

Who issues names like colored jawbreakers seen

Descending from a dispensing mouth. In pairs

The feet which pause and walk in a ritual dance

Now stalk the prize and prance in a kind of spastic trance.

The right hand for the presidential shake,

The left hand for the long desired diploma.

Reach and shake and plod as in a coma.

Clock-work marionettes are all we make,

Plastic toys pressed out and trained to totter.

Dancing as son and daughter the tune of their Alma Mater.

But you sit enrobed in identical cap and gown,

Yet no smothering mother enfolds your identity.

I lean and whisper; the warmth of your arm touches me,

And your whispered reply and laugh declare from your crown

To your sole that your soul was not cast in a mold, but grew,

In the Hand that makes all things new, to the winsome vision of you.

And the sway of the robes and the rhythm of bending knees

Does not hide from your eyes, as they glide over figure and form,

The unique in each; and your tone and your words are warm.

"She deserves her honors ... I gave him nothing but C's.

Her diploma? A gift! ... What sort of pastor, I wonder?"

Each separate self from under each robe is sharply asunder.

And the ritual rhythm of board and gown is aglow;

I see in the dance a constantly varied flame

As the ghost of the stereotype subsides, and the name

That the sheepshorn head of Bill recites is Joe

Or Michelle or Raquel or Ed, not cast in a mold

But made by the Maker, whose bold new patterns unending unfold.

Evan Gibson

Shoulder-to-shoulder they stood, black-robed graduates ringing the Loop in the annual rite of Ivy Cutting, linked by the greenery held in their hands. "Change is the hallmark of life," they heard, and by the close of Commencement the next day, they saw in themselves what their professors perceived most clearly: able scholars and uniquely gifted individuals.

"May God give you ... the conviction and courage ... (to) enter into a world where other lords would rule over us, besides the one Lord, who alone is worth our total allegiance." With those words, Commencement speaker Gordon Fee blessed the Seattle Pacific University Class of 1999 as they gathered in Seattle's Mercer Arena on June 12.

An international New Testament scholar and dean of the faculty at Regent College, Fee and his wife, Maudine Lofdahl Fee, are Seattle Pacific graduates of 1956. President Eaton presented Gordon Fee with an honorary doctorate for his dedication to teaching, the church and a better understanding of Scripture.

A total of 633 undergraduates, 139 master's degree recipients and 11 doctoral degree recipients were eligible to participate in Commencement. Representing the caliber of individual student achievement present were the President's Citation winners, three graduates singled out for their commitment to the ideals of the University and academic excellence. They were Matthew Cooper, mathematics/ political science; Sarah Johnson, history; and Heather Tauschek, biochemistry.

Among the proudest witnesses to the granting of degrees and honors were the faculty members who had nurtured each of the graduates. For three of those faculty members, it was the last time they would sit in proud review. They retired from Seattle Pacific after a combined 88 years of academic service.

Whether graduate or retiree, Ivy-Cutting and Commencement closed one chapter in their lives and opened another.

The Retirees of 1999

David Brooks
Professor of Mathematics
David Brooks, Seattle Pacific's "resident statistician," has for years cut mattings and built custom frames for his artist wife, Jackie. Recently, he has even tried his hand at collage art based on mathematical concepts.

This rare combination of left-brained and right-brained genius has long been the cornerstone of SPU's Mathematics Department, and was instrumental in hiring the rest of the current mathematics faculty. A 1958 graduate of SPC, Brooks earned a master's degree from the University of Washington in 1960, and a Ph.D. in biostatistics from the UW in 1978. He has taught at Seattle Pacific for 32 years, serving under seven of the University's nine presidents.

With a wide range of interests from coin collecting to paleontology to the origins of man, Brooks is ever exploring something new. An avid walker, the grandfather of three anticipates the "aftermath" of his retirement decision. "With all the things I'm interested in, I suspect I'll be so busy I won't know how I had time for work."

Robert Chamberlain
Professor of Communication
For years, Bob Chamberlain has assumed tasks requiring the tenacity of a bulldog and the finesse of a chess champion. He is the principal author of the Seattle Pacific Faculty Handbook. He served on every one of the faculty standing committees. Twice he pounded the gavel as faculty chair.

Affectionately labeled "Dr. Bob" by his students, Chamberlain presided over the Department of Communication and Journalism for 15 of his 21 years at SPU. A storyteller, speech maker, professional baker and master carpenter, he likes detail. He's known to complete the New York Times crossword puzzle -- in ink.

The man who earned a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon with a dissertation on 16th century Spanish rhetoric will not allow himself to be typecast by retirement. He plans to assist Betty, his wife and former Salvation Army bandmaster, in her duties as pastor of the Community United Methodist Church in Ridgefield, Washington. He's also thinking of joining a group of retired craftsmen called NOMADS, who camp in church parking lots and build and repair whatever's needed.

Fan Mayhall Gates
Associate Professor of English
For now, Fan Gates chooses to pause and sample the "simple pleasures" of gardening, cooking, reading books and listening to music. Or traveling to England and Italy.

Her sense of engagement with people and society has her sorting through several service options as well. "Volunteer work is very important," she states, as if admonishing a spring classroom of freshmen, "so I won't feel utterly useless and self-indulgent."

One of the most beloved members of Seattle Pacific's faculty, Gates proved herself "useful" in almost every aspect of students' lives, offering lively teaching, careful advising and compassionate mentoring. The former Professor of the Year can count her former students among today's SPU faculty and staff.

Difficult as it is to think of an Seattle Pacific English Department without Fan Gates, it is as much of a struggle for her to begin her post-SPU phase "cold turkey." She leaves open the possibility to returning Winter and Spring quarters to teach a section of the Common Curriculum.

The Graduates of 1999
Members of the Class of 1999 have already begun to put their education to work in a variety of ways. Here are some of their stories:

Anthony Chung
Electrical Engineering
Anthony Chung left friends, family and the warm sunshine of his boyhood home on Oahu, Hawaii, after picking up a Seattle Pacific brochure at a college fair. "It was the cover," he says. "It was distinctively Christian."

Once in Seattle, Chung juggled a tough electrical engineering major with tutoring inner-city kids. He served as president of High Flight, a cadre for science students, and as student ministry coordinator in his residence hall. He volunteered as a CityQuest leader, introducing freshmen to the University, and traveled to Camden, New Jersey, to tutor disadvantaged kids.

Last spring, Chung and 40 other guys piled into eight cars and a motor home to travel to Los Angeles, California. There, he helped renovate a former drug house into a Christian community center for kids. "I don't think of them as accomplishments," Chung says. "I think of them as service."

Charting his future course, Chung says the SPU engineering faculty has helped point him toward various options. In addition to high-tech opportunities, he's also considering ministry. "I'd like to utilize my engineering skills there," he says.

Findley Gillespie
Accounting and Business Administration
"My dad used to hire electrical engineers out of SPU for his company," says 22-year-old Findley Gillespie, a Woodinville, Washington, native. "He was impressed with the quality of the graduates." That convinced Gillespie to enroll four years ago.

A top high school student, he was invited to join the University Scholars program at Seattle Pacific. The four-year honors curriculum features a rigorous cross-disciplinary overview of Western civilization and the Church. By his senior year -- and with a final thesis looming -- Gillespie melded the program with his double major and a future dream.

Majoring in accounting and business administration with a concentration in finance, Gillespie wrote "Wild Adventure Business Plan," which pulled together three loves: God, youth and the outdoors. Ultimately, he says, he wants to found an outdoor guide service or Christian camp to serve junior and senior high kids.

With an eye to that goal, Gillespie is spending the summer leading the Ropes Course and Climbing Wall at Camp Firwood in Bellingham, Washington. Soon after leaving camp in August, he and fellow graduate Susan Cole will marry. Weeks later, he joins the leading Seattle accounting firm, KPMG.

Sarah Johnson
"I grew up around SPU," says 22-year-old history major Sarah Johnson. Her parents, Mark Johnson and Karen Edwards Johnson, are 1972 graduates while her uncle, Gordie Nygard, works for the SPU Foundation. Because of those ties, she planned to avoid Seattle Pacific. But it didn't turn out that way. "I was impressed with SPU in spite of myself," she says.

An honors student, Johnson entered the University Scholars program. Daunted at first by its demands, Johnson soon discovered the program encouraged her to look at life's "big questions." She went on to receive one of only three 1999 President's Citation awards, the highest honor given to graduating seniors.

During her studies, Johnson was taken with the history of theology. She considered how history affects the present when she led this summer's SPRINT (Seattle Pacific Reachout INTernational) team to South Africa. There the SPU students worked with InterVarsity, World Vision and Target Earth to examine sustainable community development.

This fall, Johnson joins a Seattle law firm as a records specialist. She'll also explore options to earn a doctorate in Church history and may teach someday.

Chris Langer
Physics and Electrical Engineering
Chris Langer talks about atomic physics with the excitement many 23-year-olds save for a favorite band -- extolling ions, atoms and Bose-Einstein Condensation.

Earning a double major in physics and electrical engineering, Langer comes from a Seattle Pacific family. His parents, Harold "Art" Langer '66 and Gloria Deckert Langer '65, met at SPC; their four siblings attended too.

Yet Langer spent his freshman year in his hometown, studying music and physics at the University of Denver. As a sophomore, he decided to become a Falcon. "It was totally worth it," he says of his transfer.

Langer and fellow graduate Megan Daniels will marry this month. Then he has his sights set on graduate school and a Ph.D. in atomic physics. Seven top universities accepted him, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, Princeton, and the University of California at Berkeley.

In the end, he chose the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he has an opportunity to help develop the first-ever quantum computer. Using atoms and lasers, its speed and power will dwarf existing computers. Says Langer, "Colorado is doing something revolutionary, and I want to be a part of it."

Marina Soutourina
Because of Russia's precarious economy, Marina Soutourina's mother advised her to leave her hometown of Petropavlovsk and go to America to pursue her dream of a business degree. Then age 17, Soutourina left for the University of Alaska at Anchorage in 1995.

During her freshman year, she met a Seattle Pacific staff member. "We had a really good visit," she recalls, adding that SPU's size, Christian foundation and location on the Pacific Rim convinced her to transfer. Once here, the Office of Special Populations (now Educational Services) played an important role in her transition. "They made my stay a little easier," she says.

The International Club eased her way, too, connecting her with others who were negotiating cross-cultural challenges. She went on to serve as its president during her junior and senior years. By then, Soutourina was tutoring American SPU students in the Russian language.

Now 24, Soutourina recently became a customer sales representative at the National Bank of Alaska in downtown Seattle. She plans to gain experience and consider several future options: banking, investing, financial planning or earning an MBA.

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