Story by Hope
Photo by Daniel Sheehan
What's the common
denominator in the following events?
High tea in Seattle and in London. Mentoring students and
internships. Mariners Spring Training Camp in Arizona. On-campus academic
with internationally renowned speakers. Four-wheeling in the Cascade
Answer: SPU's Society of
An organization founded in 1968 under President David McKenna, the Seattle
University Society of Fellows has grown over the years to include 2,800
A kinship of SPU supporters — including alumni, parents, business
community members, parents, faculty, staff and others — these members
an important goal. "We're trying to build a 'commitment community' of people
identify with the SPU mission of engaging the culture and changing the
Sig Swanstrom, a Fellow since 1982 and the Society's director since 1999.
A 1973 graduate of Seattle Pacific, Swanstrom and other Fellows leaders have
a new focus and vitality to the organization. "Originally, the Society was a
to raise money for the University," recalls longtime member Mike Macdonald,
of European studies, German and philosophy. "Under President Eaton and Sig,
tied in much more directly to the vision of SPU."
"I had a misconception of what the Fellows were," says Darlene Hartley, a
graduate and retired elementary school principal who became a Fellow three
ago. Now president of the SPU Alumni Board, Hartley thought the Society was
an elite few. "It's actually a community of the mind and heart," she says,
that her husband, a University of Puget Sound alumnus, is also a staunch
In the last several years, the Society has established new
educational and outreach events for Fellows, even co-sponsoring the SPU C.S.
Institute and the SPU Christian Writers Conference. The goal is to encourage
to become friends, lifelong learners and world-changers.
Another important addition came recently when the Society created a new arm
specifically for women Fellows. Its first event, a springtime high tea in
Seattle, was hosted by Sharon Eaton, wife of SPU President Philip Eaton, and
McIntosh, wife of Vice President for University Advancement Robert McIntosh.
had a wonderful turnout of women and, in fact, had to hold two events
interest was so great," says Sharon Eaton. In early October, the women met
this time at Seattle's Canlis Restaurant, where Executive Chef Greg Atkinson
a holiday cooking class.
The aim for all the events goes far beyond entertainment. "The purpose of
events is to provide women Fellows with a place to bring friends, not only
introduce them to SPU but also to expose those who may not be Christians to
Christian faith," says Eaton.
Besides having access to events like the Canlis cooking class, the November
Lewis Institute conference on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, and an upcoming
tour in France, Fellows understand that they're part of an organization that
supports Seattle Pacific in multiple ways. These include, among other
mentoring students, consulting on University initiatives and financial
of universities have donor clubs, but under President Eaton, the Society of
has developed into something more," explains Swanstrom. "It's important to
we're not a mercenary organization, but a community of like-minded people
believe in SPU's vision."
The financial investment of Fellows, says Hartley, serves a purpose. "It's
indication on another level that we're committed to Seattle Pacific," she
out, "and I think it's appropriate."
The premiere group of givers to SPU, Fellows give $1,000 per year or more,
young alumni (those who graduated less than five years ago) give $500 per
as do faculty and staff.
Fellows on the Move
Each year, members of the Society of Fellows participate in a wide
events. Many are in the Seattle area; others are across the country —
ocean. Here is a sampling of Fellows events in 2002:
For more information about these events and others, or to inquire about
the Society of Fellows, call 206/281-2723, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or
- January 17: C.S. Lewis Institute lecture. "Hope for the Whole
in C.S. Lewis" by Randy Maddox, SPU's Paul T. Walls Professor of Wesleyan
- March 14-16: "Spring Zing."
Golf and Mariners spring training game with President Philip Eaton. Phoenix,
- May 9: Women Fellows tour of Butchart Gardens. Victoria, B.C.
- May 24-25: SPU Christian Writers Conference. On campus.
- June 23-July 3: Canal barge tour. Burgundy, France.
- July 12-14: Ashland Shakespeare Festival tour. Hosted by
Emerita Fan Gates. Ashland, Oregon.
Still, that's only part of the story. "We have a special responsibility as
of the largest Christian enterprises in the Northwest to be involved in the
community," says Swanstrom. "As Fellows, we can't cloister ourselves on
We are a resource to the church and greater Seattle. We are a bridge to
our people with the community and to bring the community here."