Professors say goodbye to SPU, hello to retirement
It’s hard to see a good person go. At a
May 4, 2006, “Celebration of Service”
dinner, Seattle Pacific University paid
tribute to four retiring faculty members:
Charles Burris, Michael Caldwell, Barbara
Innes, and Delbert McHenry. Colleagues
spoke of the retirees’ love for students, the
classroom, and their respective disciplines —
as well as their great treasury of wisdom,
devotion, and innovation.
“These faculty members have cared for the
‘whole’ student, head and heart,” says Les Steele,
vice president for academic affairs. “They have
made a difference in countless lives.” Among
them, the retirees have 121 combined years of
commitment at Seattle Pacific.
“As an advisor and instructor, no one has
been more patient than Chuck Burris,” says
longtime colleague Professor of Computer Science
Mike Tindall. “His door has always beenopen to students who needed one-on-one help
with the intricacies of coding or analysis.”
To Burris, associate professor of computer
science, a simple algorithm is a thing of beauty.
He began his academic career as a mathematician,
earning a doctorate in applied mathematics
from the University of New Mexico.
But gradually his teaching interests shifted
from math to computer science and, in 1982,
he was appointed the second full-time faculty
member in the Computer Science Department
at Seattle Pacific. He further enhanced
his professional development by earning a
master’s degree in computer science from the
University of Washington.
In his early days at SPU, Burris assisted in
organizing the first student computer club.
He helped plan, administer, and judge the
first student programming competitions held
in a lab filled with what now seem like primitive
machines: DEC Rainbows and IBMs.
In 1996, he coached the first-ever Seattle
Pacific student team to compete in the West
Coast regional programming competition.
His colleagues say Professor of Art Michael
Caldwell can capture the essence of a place with
his art, or motivate an artistically reticent student,
or be a calming influence to his colleagues
— and do it all with equal parts grace and creativity.
“His tolerance, acceptance, and encouragement
have blessed us all,” says Professor of
Art Roger Feldman.
Caldwell has worked with thousands of
students at Seattle Pacific, both art majors and
nonmajors. “Even if Michelangelo started at a
place we’d all like to finish,” he tells students,
“we have to start somewhere.” An accomplished
artist in his own right, with paintings displayed
in many galleries and collections across the
nation, he is both a compassionate teacher and
an example of someone who takes risks and
places his best work in the public eye.
Trained in the Department of Fine and
Applied Arts at the University of Oregon,
Caldwell has been a mainstay at Seattle Pacific
since 1970, serving for many years as chair of
the University’s Art Department and providing
the leadership required to build a credible
visual arts program.
As associate professor of nursing and
director of the R.N. to B.S. program, Barbara
Innes is described by her students as passionate
about caring for patients and teaching others
to be the best health caregivers possible.
“Everyone who knows Barbara knows they
can count on her to function at the highest
level of thinking,” says Lucille Kelley, dean of
the School of Health Sciences. “Her wisdom
is sought for its depth and quality.”
Innes began her career as a nurse educator
at Seattle Pacific in 1976 and has been active
in the Washington State Nurses Association
(WSNA), the King County Nurses Association,
and Sigma Theta Tau International.
Recently, she was one of six people inducted
into the WSNA Hall of Fame, a recognition
for excellence in nursing and achievements
that have enduring value to the profession.
At SPU, Innes has possessed a deep commitment
to faculty governance. She participated
in multiple School of Health Sciences committees
from “Academic and Student Affairs” to
“Graduate and Post-Graduate Studies.”
Associate Professor of Psychology Delbert
“Del” McHenry has taught more than a dozen
different courses in psychology since he came
to Seattle Pacific in 1973. Over the years, he
has moved from a specialist to a generalist —
what he calls a “utility professor” — so that
even in his final quarter, he was responsible
for three of the more challenging courses in
the department’s curriculum.
Hired to teach in the areas of experimental
and learning psychology, McHenry spent his
early years on campus in a temporary corrugated-metal structure behind Alexander Hall.
With limited budget, he used surplus materials
to outfit a comprehensive learning lab.
Those days are a far cry from the high-tech
learning lab he recently helped plan for SPU’s
new Science Building.
A model of good scholarship and personal
discipline, McHenry has had a particular affinity
with older students because, as he put it, he
resonated with their anxieties and sense of
purpose. “Del is an interesting and interested
person,” says Míchéal Roe, dean of the School
of Psychology, Family, and Community. “He is
a kind, gracious, and fun-loving colleague.”
— BY CLINT KELLY
— PHOTO BY MIKE SIEGEL
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