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Summer 2005 | Volume 28, Number 2 | Campus

SPU Honors Faculty and Staff Members for Exceptional Achievement

A PASSIONATE WORK LIFE shimmers with competence, character, and life experience. These are just a few of the qualities that characterize the five Seattle Pacific University faculty and staff members honored at the President’s Recognition Convocation on May 3, 2005.

The award winners were recognized for the quality of their work and for the excellence that marks their personal lives. Response asked the honorees to reflect on their vocational calling at SPU by first completing the sentence, “Because I have God …”

Stamatis Vokos
Associate Professor of Physics
“Because I have God, I’m filled with hope and awe for his mystery.” As a physicist, Stamatis Vokos sees God’s mystery manifested in the beauty and complexity of the universe. As an Eastern Orthodox Christian, he observes Christ’s mystery pervading every aspect of worship. As a professor, he witnesses mystery in the distinctly individual lives of his students.

Lauded as “a born teacher” by President Philip Eaton as he bestowed the President’s Award for Excellence, Vokos shares personal experiences to enliven classroom learning. He might, for example, recall his life as a child in Greece — diving and chasing octopuses, creatures he places among the smartest in all creation.

But accolades for excellence, he says, rightly go to the entire Physics Department. He and his colleagues in both physics and education have been recognized for outstanding work with a $1.3 million National Science Foundation grant to transform the way science is taught and learned at Seattle Pacific and beyond.

John H. West
Executive Director, Corporate, Foundation, and Major Gifts
“Because I have God, I have purpose in the things I do, direction for doing them, and a peace that permeates all of life.” The fact that John West can successfully knock on corporate doors and work with SPU faculty to secure educational grants is due to a life filled with rich personal associations.

For 18 years, this winner of the President’s Award for Excellence worked for the U.S. Air Force as chief of the morale, welfare, and recreation division; director of recreation; and director of youth activities. He has provided development services in Christian missions from Cyprus to Mongolia; and as a trustee or board member, he helped lead a variety of nonprofit organizations, including Youth for Christ, the Boy Scouts of America, and North American Indian Ministries.

Eaton credited West with a significant impact on the successful Campaign for SPU. “There are those who talk about raising money and those who knock on doors and ask,” said the president. “John is one of the latter.”

“SPU has an amazing story to tell,” responds West. “I work at finding the best way to tell it.”

Agnes Baah
Housekeeping Custodian
“Because I have God, I have joy in my work.” Agnes Baah first learned of God’s provision in Ghana, West Africa, at the feet of her mother. Life was difficult, but the Lord saw them through each day. “I saw in my mother’s faith that a good God takes care of his people,” says Baah, now the mother of five.

Baah takes that confidence with her as she teaches housekeeping skills to students who clean the residence halls. Her joy is contagious — so much so that Baah receives cards and calls from the many student employees she has supervised over the years. In one recent letter, a graduate of four years ago wrote, “I know you’ve been praying for me all this time.”

Baah and her husband, SPU Professor of Spanish and Latin American Literatures Robert Baah, are active in a local church of 120 Ghanaians. “The love of Christ beams through Agnes,” says Staff Council President Kelley Unger, who presented Baah with the Staff Member of the Year award.

Sue Perrin
Certification Advisor, School of Education
“Because I have God, I feel I’m where I should be at this point in my life.” A country girl raised on a dairy farm in Ohio, Sue Perrin has the quiet strength and internal resolve to reassure harried education students in a firm, “let’s-not-hit-the-panic-button” manner. It’s not difficult for them to see that Perrin is their advocate. After all, she’s a woman of great competence and vibrant faith who, says Unger, “responds with grace and kindness even when things are tense and difficult.”

As a youth, this Staff Member of the Year was in charge of holding the cows’ tails steady for the milkers. She says farm life grounded her, as did the religious conviction that silenced the tractor every Sunday.

Now her days are filled with state education regulations, scheduling details, and the encouragement of students in their quest for state teacher certification.

Kevin Bartlett
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
“Because I have God, I can trust him with my future.” Kevin Bartlett received Faculty Member of the Year nominations from a large group of Seattle Pacific students — 250 to be exact. Mike Kitson, 2004–05 Associated Students president, bestowed the honor on Bartlett in part for “his desire to create rapport with students, his willingness to accommodate student needs, and his amazing teaching ability.”

All that, and Bartlett also teaches what is perceived to be one of the most difficult undergraduate subjects: organic chemistry. He says it’s his ministry to show he cares and to stop what he’s doing when a student is in need. “He encourages problem solving and creative thinking,” wrote one class member, “so that his students can begin to be independent and solve problems on their own.”

The Bartlett approach? “I want to show my students that organic chemistry is not the hardest thing they will do — it just feels like it at the time.”


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