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Autumn 2002 | Volume 25, Number 4 | Features
It’s About Character
Campaign Chair Bruce Walker Shares SPU’s Values

“You don’t have to be a graduate of Seattle Pacific to be impressed with the quality of students and the philosophy of this University. That is tremendously attractive to people who are not necessarily connected in a direct way to SPU.”


He’s not an alumnus of Seattle Pacific University, nor is he the parent of a graduate. But there is something that keeps Bruce Walker deeply connected to SPU, and that’s character.

“We need character in this country in the most urgent way,” says Walker. “Each Seattle Pacific graduate who goes out into the world can and will make a difference; I am continually impressed by that fact.”

Chair of The Campaign for Seattle Pacific University, Walker is someone who doesn’t wait for the ink to dry on one project before beginning the next — literally. He is chairman and co-owner of Valco Graphics, a large-scale printing, mailing and fulfillment enterprise based in Seattle. In 1987, Walker purchased the fledgling company with his longtime associate, Bob Valentine, and together they breathed new life into the business. It now employs more than 100 people and serves such clients as the Bon Marché and Microsoft.

In his off hours, Walker works just as fervently as a volunteer, contributing time and expertise to businesses and nonprofit organizations in the Puget Sound area. The United Way, Lighthouse for the Blind, the Washington Athletic Club and the University of Washington Alumni Association are just a few of the organizations that have benefited from his leadership.

SPU is also one of his causes. From fund raising for the University’s library, built in 1994, to his current work as trustee, Walker has worn many hats on behalf of Seattle Pacific. “I grew up with the motto, ‘Service is a price you pay for the space you occupy,’” he says. “Service has always been important to me, and SPU has been an outlet.”

It was 15 years ago, over a bacon-and-eggs breakfast with former School of Business and Economics Dean Joe Hope, that Walker first discovered what Seattle Pacific was all about. He recalls being profoundly impressed with the University’s Christian mission and, as he says, “the rest is history.”

“It was kind of like walking into quicksand,” he laughs. Walker’s high-profile role as chair of The Campaign for Seattle Pacific University is arguably his most ambitious volunteer position to date. Leading hundreds of volunteers toward fund-raising goal of $52.85 million is not an easy proposition. I consider it an honor to work with the other volunteers in this Campaign,” says the former Air Force pilot. “This is a position that gives me the opportunity to really make an impact.”

Though Seattle Pacific has reached nearly 60 percent of its Campaign goal to date, Walker is realistic about the challenge on the horizon. “In the last eight months, the economy has deteriorated remarkably, particularly in the Northwest,” he says, “and that will make our job more difficult. Our goal is the same, however. We need to build SPU’s endowment so that we can attract the kind of faculty and students who will continue the University’s contribution to the community.”

Broad-based support is critical, he explains. “One major thrust of the Campaign is to widen the base of support, to encourage more graduates — and non-graduates, like myself — to give.”

Why do people invest in SPU? It’s not always about longtime relationship with the University, says Walker, but about values. “You don’t have to be a graduate of Seattle Pacific to be impressed with the quality of students and the philosophy of this University. That is tremendously attractive to people who are not necessarily connected in a direct way to SPU.”

Along with career and volunteer work, Walker’s days are filled to the brim with family and friends. A member of University Presbyterian Church in Seattle, he shares his life with Judy, his wife of 46 years; his three children; and his three grandchildren. On a Saturday morning, you’ll likely find him taking in good book, tending to his garden, throwing out a fishing line or completing h is latest woodwork ing project at the couple’s weekend home on Whidbey Island.

If asked for the secret to such a full, successful life, Walker would likely give a humble reply. His colleagues and friends, however, will share the real answer — and that’s character. Walker is a man who believes in character, seeks to foster it in others and works to preserve its existence at Seattle Pacific University.

“The university experience is certainly about learning, but also know it has to do with character-building,” says Walker. I believe that character can be taught. This happens at SPU, and it’s enormously appealing to me.”


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