Story by Hope McPherson

Photos by Jimi Lott

Kenneth Cornell is SPU's new assistant vice president for marketing and admissions.

University Vision Motivates Future Students

Admissions Director Jennifer (Feddern) Kenney and staff speak to
prospective students and their parents at college fairs across the country.

Something interesting is happening at Christian college fairs across the country. When the Seattle Pacific University admissions team sets up their booth, other institutions often position themselves nearby.

"They want to be next to us because they get more attention that way," says Jennifer (Feddern) Kenney, SPU's new director of admissions. The other schools, she adds, hope to benefit from the streams of high school students and their parents visiting Seattle Pacific's booth to ask questions and pick up campus recruiting materials. "We've definitely become one of the most popular Christian schools nationwide," she says.

SPU's reputation -- as indicated by this year's record enrollment and a 31 percent increase in applications for next year -- continues to grow nationally. With an active president who is vocal about the University's vision for "engaging the culture and changing the world"; faculty known widely for their expertise; enthusiastic students and alumni; nationally recognized athletic teams; and popular touring performing groups, Seattle Pacific is attracting high-quality students who want to use their abilities to influence the world for good.

"My goal is to graduate from SPU with a deeper, more complete understanding of my faith and a desire to use that faith and knowledge to make a difference in others' lives."
- SPU Transfer Applicant

In a real-life version of the geography game "Take Off," SPU admissions counselors traveled this fall to Washington, D.C.; New York; Minnesota; Illinois; Michigan; Texas; Colorado; Montana; Arizona; Idaho; Texas; Missouri; California; Oregon; Washington; Alaska and Hawaii. They visited nearly 500 high schools and 100 college fairs.

They also took with them a new Viewbook, a full-color, 72-page introduction to the University's vision for engagement in the world titled "What Will Be Your Life Story?" "Students and parents were pleased," says Kenneth Cornell, assistant vice president of marketing and admissions. "The Viewbook creates a very strong first impression."

Cornell himself is in a new role commissioned by President Philip Eaton to create a strong first impression about SPU among students and adults nationwide. He works closely with the academic deans, the Office of Admissions and the Office of University Communications to position Seattle Pacific as a university on the move. Cornell's marketing team has organized full-page ads in Christianity Today, showing ways in which Seattle Pacific alumni -- including best-selling author of The Message Eugene Peterson and internationally known neuroscientist David Wong -- engage the culture. A University "vision film" is in the works. Prospective students are benefiting from a communications plan that includes brand new printed materials as well as an online application, an award-winning Web site, and an innovative e-message delivery system.

The Viewbook and 10 new brochures describing SPU's academic programs were the culmination of a year's research and planning. In the summer of 1999, high school students, Seattle Pacific freshmen and transfers, parents and school guidance counselors were asked how they would translate the University's vision for "engaging the culture and changing the world" to prospective students. A team from the Office of Admissions, the Office of University Communications and an outside consultant considered how to put their responses into action.

The result was the theme, "What Will Be Your Life Story?" "It was clear that students wanted to talk about real life, about the practical ways in which SPU could prepare them to make a difference," says Kenney. "They wanted to explore the possibilities for their own lives."

The Viewbook and other materials are filled with hundreds of candid photographs and dozens of stories about students, alumni and faculty. Readers meet alumni computer guru Larry Wall '76 and Young Life President Denny Rydberg '67. They meet students such as aspiring diplomat Emily Cochran; top U.S. heptathlete Laura Widman; and transfer student Jeff Richards. They also discover ways SPU students engage the Northwest and the world -- from international mission trips to professor-student research projects, internships, and programs such as Urban Plunge and CityQuest.

"I want my college experience to be one that will help shape me into the person God wants me to become. That's a tall order! But I think SPU could help me get there."
- SPU Applicant

"The Viewbook is almost a current history of SPU," says Cornell. "It's a snapshot of the campus and what's going on here."

"I think the University's vision as it's communicated through the Viewbook and our other marketing efforts is very authentic and very motivating to high school students," says Kenney. "It says to students, 'We're not going to make you look like everyone else. God has given each of us a unique story to tell and a unique life to live out. We want to help prepare you to be the person God intends you to be.'"

Editor's Note: The Office of Undergraduate Admissions invites you to submit the names of prospective students who you would like to receive information about SPU. To do so, send an email to or call 800/366-3344.

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