Stories by Clint Kelly and Hope McPherson
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 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.
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
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."
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
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.
Graduates of 1999
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.