Story by Clint Kelly
Photos by Jimi Lott

Famed Journalist Addresses Changing Society

Will on the Individual
"Change doesn't begin at the ballot box. It begins in an individual, which is still the locus of American institutional energy - and the fecundity of freedom that has made this country the envy of the world."

Will on the US Government
"One of the amazing complaints I hear from Americans is a complaint about [government] gridlock. That's not an American failing; it's an American achievement. Separation of powers, checks and balances, federalism. There are about six billion people on this planet and about five-and-a-half billion of them live under governments they wish were capable of gridlock."

Will on Social Ills in America
"Americans have come to have a new appreciation of how rooted their problems are in individual behavior, habits, mores, dispositions and cultural values. Things that are utterly resistant to the attempts of legislative edicts - issued from a national legislature on the fringe of a continental nation - to change."

Will on Baseball and Personal Excellence
"Rogers Hornsby, the greatest right-handed hitter in the history of baseball, was at the plate. The rookie pitcher, understandably petrified, threw three pitches that he thought were on the outside corner. But the umpire said, 'Ball one! Ball two! Ball three!' The flustered rookie shouted in at the umpire and said, 'Umpire, those balls were strikes!' The umpire took off his mask, looked out at the pitcher, and said, 'Young man, when you throw a strike, Mr. Hornsby will let you know.' Hornsby, you see, had become the standard of excellence."

Will on Society and SPU
"The social policy argument in Washington is deeper and more serious than people think, and our politics is really much more hopeful than many people think. I believe it is just profoundly gratifying to see the American people at the end of the century looking not to Washington, but to their own communities, and to intermediary institutions such as this university, to bring about a quickening of American civic life."

For a transcript or videotape of Will's address, call the Office of University Communications at 206/281-2051.

"I want to make this pledge: We are dedicating ourselves, in fresh and bold new ways, to be change-agents for good in this city."

With that promise, President Philip Eaton welcomed city leaders to the Greater Seattle Community Breakfast sponsored by Seattle Pacific University on April 16.

The keynote speaker for the event was Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist George F. Will, whose keen intellect and praise for "the American entrepreneurial mind" were warmly received by 900 invited guests and media representatives. It was a privilege, said one guest, to hear from a highly regarded thinker "at the epicenter of the national scene."

The theme for the second annual downtown business event at the Sheraton Hotel was "SPU in Partnership With the Greater Seattle Community." Supported by corporate sponsors Seafirst Bank and the SAFECO Corporation, the breakfast was televised to thousands of viewers across the state on cable channel TVW.

Among the dignitaries present were Seattle Mayor Paul Schell, U.S. Congressman Jim McDermott, State Senator Jeanne Kohl, State Representative Dave Quall '61, KIRO-TV News Anchor Susan Hutchison, and NBA Coach George Karl of the Seattle Supersonics.

In addition to George Will, the program included remarks by Eaton about Seattle Pacific's role in the community. "We are small, but we are exceedingly well-focused," he said. "We know what we are doing. We pack a powerful impact for good in this community. We believe we have something extraordinarily valuable to offer."

Foremost among the assets SPU has to offer Seattle, Eaton underscored, is graduates of competence and character. The program featured several accomplished examples. Providing music were the SPU String Quartet and 90-member Concert Choir. Junior Susan Cole, an accounting major, and alumnus Chris Hill '95 were interviewed about the benefits of an education from Seattle Pacific's School of Business and Economics.

Known for intelligent and principled thought on a wide range of current events, guest speaker George Will's twice-weekly column appears in nearly 500 newspapers in the U.S. and Europe. A founding panelist of ABC TV's "This Week," a contributing editor of Newsweek magazine, and a trustee for two major league baseball teams, he carries an impressive educational pedigree. He earned a bachelor's degree at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut; a bachelor's degree in politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford; and a master's degree and doctoral degree in politics at Princeton.

Alec Hill, dean of the School of Business and Economics, believes Will, like recent SPU guest Chaim Potok, is exemplary of the critical thought Seattle Pacific fosters in its students. "Will is articulate and precise, and someone we knew our business leaders would enjoy. It shows we're serious about building bridges with those leaders."

Will's breakfast address, titled "American Public Policy," ranged widely from welfare reform (which he likes) to baseball (which he loves) to the energy of the American public (which he lauds). The author of two books on baseball and three on political theory, Will is "profoundly hopeful" that the steady "coarsening of American life" in recent years can be corrected. "Awaken Americans to a problem," he is fond of saying, "and they can do anything."

L: Following the breakfast, George Will answered questions and autographed books for invited guests.
R: Will, Phil Eaton and Sharon Eaton talk sports with Sonics Coach George Karl.

Following the speech, emcee Robert Wallace '69, chair of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce and past SPU board member, told the gathering, "I don't know about you, but I think that's one of the most profound and important addresses this business community has heard in decades."

Jim Young, CEO of Seattle Steam Company and a member of the breakfast steering committee, says Will was a strong draw and one able to raise Seattle Pacific's regional visibility. "He's a top speaker and a great way to introduce SPU to the downtown Seattle business community.

"I thought it was a different kind of gathering. Phil Eaton was very intentional about the values SPU holds. There was no backing down."

Will's emphasis on the necessity for ethics in business and society as a whole struck a chord with the CEO of Madison Park Greetings, Judi Jacobsen, also a member of the breakfast steering committee. "He spoke to everyone there, not only with his knowledge, but with his baseball humor," she says. "It was wonderful to see community leaders, government, and the different presidents of large organizations and businesses together in one place."

For KIRO-TV's Susan Hutchison, a breakfast co-chair, the event was unique for that very reason. "All around the room, I saw people I knew from an array of community involvements. This was the greatest confluence of Seattle area leaders I've ever seen."

SPU Vice President for University Advancement Bob McIntosh believes it is critical for the University to sponsor this type of event each year. "Seattle Pacific has such a great story to tell, and we need to tell it to a broader audience so that we gain support for our mission."

The son of a philosophy professor, Will is passionate about education and the essential place of institutions like Seattle Pacific. In an interview with Response, he said, "Young people who are privileged to take four years at a . . . selective school such as yours should spend four years acquainting themselves with large ideas - and then return to full engagement, armed to deal with a complicated world, possessing an historical context and philosophical understanding."

Will commended Seattle Pacific for being one in an "archipelago of small, independent colleges standing for academic truth and against the prevailing trends [of moral decline]. . . .

"The size of an institution is no measure of its saliency. The influence of an idea depends on the power of the idea. SPU is seeding the community with ideas, and with graduates who bring with them a coherent world view."

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